Well-intentioned American Jewish liberals backing this latest U.S.-led peace process appear to be riding for a fall. What is J Street going to say if, after urging American Jews to support the Kerry peace mission, that mission wins the support of the right-wing Netanyahu government – but not that of the Palestinians, who view it as the terms of their surrender? And what will J Street say if Western liberal opinion, and even much of Israeli liberal opinion, decides that the Palestinians are right? This is a question that J Street and all American Jewish liberals supporting U.S. Secretary of…Read More... | 11 Comments
The tactic of punishing Israel for the occupation was finally beginning to take a psychological toll - then the U.S. secretary of state rode to the rescue. The Palestinian Authority was planning to go to the UN in September, in line with the 20th anniversary of the failed Oslo Accords, and begin the process of taking Israel to The Hague over the occupation. Israel was scared, with good reason. But now that fear has lifted. Assuming that the preliminary Israeli-Palestinian talks in Washington lead to full-blown peace negotiations, which is a safe assumption – the Palestinians aren’t going to walk…Read More... | 6 Comments
The appointment of Senator John Kerry as the next U.S. Secretary of State could represent a new opportunity for Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. But for efforts to be successful, the U.S. will have to reconsider its message that settlement construction is a matter of negotiation. By Lorenzo Kamel The day after the UN voted to recognize Palestine as a non-member observer state, the Israeli government approved construction of approximately 3,000 new residential units in the occupied territories, a decision that was met with strong opposition by various European leaders. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on the contrary, delivered a speech at the…Read More... | 66 Comments
On the country's 10th birthday, Israel's ambassador to Washington touched on issues that remain on the political agenda half a century later: His government's territorial ambitions, the refugee problem and Israel's expectations of the American Jewish community. Mike Wallace, the legendary host of 60 minutes who passed away on Saturday, interviewed in 1958 Israel's ambassador to the United States, Abba Eban. It's an interesting viewing: Eban was the original Mr. Hasbara, unmatched in his mastery of languages and ability to relate to audiences around the world. Many of his talking points, readers may notice, are repeated by Israeli spokespeople to…Read More... | 18 Comments
The international mediators scrapped plans to endorse a Jewish state. That was probably a wise choice. Right now, the threat to dissolve the PA, if credible, could be much more significant than moves on Palestinian statehood The Middle East International Quartet – composed of the US, EU, UN and Russia – issued a statement yesterday, following the Palestinian application for statehood. Initial plans to affirm the 1967 lines as a basis for final borders, and to endorse Israel's identity as a Jewish state, were scrapped, in a favor of a more process-oriented text. This was probably a wise choice. The support…Read More... | 4 Comments
For the last two months the press has staunchly defended the State of Palestine on the 1967 borders. Yet, for many Palestinians refugees - who make up 70% of Palestinians worldwide - and activists on the ground, this state does not represent us. by Diana Alzeer He looks at me, shaking his dirty-blonde hair, and with a mocking tone says: “Come on, Diana, why aren’t you celebrating? I hate to see you sad." He is an American journalist, a friend of mine who is here in Ramallah shooting photos of the festive crowd celebrating the Palestinian Authority United Nations bid to…Read More... | 63 Comments
Noam ended his post from yesterday with an interesting sentence: "Without America’s support for it, there would have been no occupation." It has occurred to me that the US probably does not perceive itself as a supporter of the occupation. So, for the benefit of up-and-coming politicians and diplomats, I have prepared a short test they can take, to see whether they support or oppose the occupation. Question 1: How often do you talk about the Palestinian issue? a. Incessantly, even when asked about Peru or Japan. b. Only when I have something new and substantial to say. c. Only…Read More... | 6 Comments
While there is plenty to be criticized about Dagan, the former head of the Mossad, his recent statements place a long-lost check and balance on a government that seems to bow to no voice of reason. For over two years, Israel has had no serious political opposition. Kadima head Tzipi Livni, who is supposed to be fulfilling this role, has maintained a mysterious radio silence for much of the last two years, as if trying to convince everyone that she is brewing up some very deep and strategic thoughts. In the meantime, Kadima has helped to advance the ultra-nationalist approach…Read More... | 11 Comments
The idea that the tough choice about settlers can somehow be waved away through the magic wand of land swaps is a fantasy. Any solution that will leave most settlers in place (in one state, or two states) will be just a perpetuation of the conflict under another title. Following the uproar in the United States and Israel about his comments regarding 1967 borders, Obama, in his speech to AIPAC last week, stated … since my position has been misrepresented several times, let me reaffirm what “1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps” means. By definition, it means that the parties…Read More... | 16 Comments
The US has many better friends than Israel Among the many troubling statements in Netanyahu's speech before the US congress yesterday, it was something that he said at the very outset, which really stood out: Israel has no better friend than America. And America has no better friend than Israel. The first sentence is true. Indeed, it is probably an understatement. The US extends to Israel support and assistance which it provides to no other country in the world (perhaps not even to some parts of the US itself). The second sentence is false. The US has plenty of better…Read More... | 11 Comments
A lot of people appear to be concerned about the "indefensibility" of 1967 borders. A lot of people also seem to be worried about the prospect of Zombie apocalypse. Far be it from me to imply that there is any overlap between the two groups. Nonetheless, these two notions have one thing in common: much like Zombies, the threat posed by 1967 does not exist. This is not an original point: it has been made by commentators as diverse as Jonathan Chait and Josh Marhsall, and many others, I am sure. Their general message has been that the Israeli security…Read More... | 18 Comments
The raging controversy over President Barack Obama's speech last week, in which he explicitly called for a Palestinian state to be created based on the 1967 borders, with land swaps, caught me personally by surprise. The notion of a Palestinian state has always essentially been conceptualized around the 1967 occupied territories, and the peace negotiations of the last two decades have essentially focused on this. Mr. Obama himself clarified this boldly and precisely in his speech at AIPAC today. Whether or not American Presidents have said it, the Israeli public could not have been surprised - as the notion has…Read More... | 21 Comments
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