In an interview with the 'New York Times,' Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid rejects the idea of a settlement freeze or compromise on Jerusalem, instead offering an updated version of the Oslo Accord as an interim solution. Yair Lapid, the surprising star of the last elections and Israel's current finance minister, gave an interview to the The New York Times in which he left only “a little daylight” between himself to Prime Minister Netanyahu on the Palestinian issue, as the Times’s Jodi Rudoren put it. That was clearly an understatement. Except for paying lip service to the need to…Read More... | 26 Comments
One hundred Jewish leaders from Russia sent a public letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urging him to ignore the call from Jewish-American leaders and public figure to make territorial concessions for peace. “…we believe that the decisions of the Head of the Government of Israel on critical issues should be taken for the sake of people of Israel only... Decisions on national security issues must not be made under external pressure, regardless of its origins: world public opinion, U.S. leaders or even influential American Jews.” In response to both letters, Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin (Likud-Beitenu) told the…Read More... | 5 Comments
Veteran Israeli negotiator Shaul Arieli discusses the failure of the Oslo Accords, various Israeli prime ministers' commitment (or lack thereof) to ending the occupation, and the only solution he believes both sides could live with, however unsatisfied they might be with it. Shaul Arieli is a man on a dual mission: educating Israelis about the conflict and diplomatic process with the Palestinians, and making the point that the two-state solution is both possible and necessary. His latest publication in Hebrew, A Border between Us and You (Yeditoth Ahronoth Books 2013), is a 500-page handbook to the history of the conflict, with an emphasis on…Read More... | 32 Comments
Some initial thoughts on President Barack Obama's speech in Jerusalem (full text here): Measuring the value or effect of a speech on its own is futile. Words matter in a political context, power relations and the actions that they accompany. Just as nobody seriously thinks that a good speech can make health care reform pass in the House, Obama's speech needs to be evaluated within the politics that surrounded his first term and his current visit to Israel and the Occupied Territories. On the level of words and rhetoric, there was a mixture of "good" and "bad" in Obama's speech. The worst parts,…Read More... | 29 Comments
It doesn't seem like the president's visit to Israel is generating much excitement, but even if it did – political changes are unlikely to follow. It’s anyone’s guess why President Obama arrived on an official visit to Israel with no important event attached to it, no major meetings and no issues that require his presence. Obama, Netanyahu and President Abbas could have met anywhere in the world, and since no negotiations are taking place, there is not much for the three leaders to discuss. The same probably goes for the coordination on the Iranian and Syrian issues – those take place on…Read More... | 4 Comments
With Tzipi Livni joining Netanyahu’s government and President Obama heading to the region, we might be in for another round of a pseudo-'peace process,' which has become a code name for an attempt to impose 'a deal' on a Palestinian pseudo-leadership. Hatnuah – Tzipi Livni’s new party that won six seats in the last Israeli elections – was the first Knesset party to sign a coalition agreement with Binyamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu needs another 24 Knesset members to have the minimum majority for a ruling coalition. It is very unlikely that he will fail to get them. Livni was appointed as…Read More... | 23 Comments
Maariv daily paper reported last week that Ron Dermer, Netanyahu's American aid, is leaving the Prime Minister's Office. The story cited family reasons - a standard in such cases - and Netanyahu has refused to comment on the issue to follow-up pieces in the Jerusalem Post and Times of Israel. Personal changes between governments are not that unique, but Dermer's case is special. He was the neocon ambassador in Netanyahu's office (or vice versa). The Israeli media has put some of the blame for Netanyahu's support in Mitt Romney - now widely considered a diplomatic fiasco - on Dermer (in an interview to Yedioth…Read More...
The U.S. president’s decision to visit Israel and the Palestinian territories in the spring is an unexpected political gift to the Israeli prime minister. Yet without confronting Netanyahu on the issues of the settlements and the '67 borders, we could end up with another diplomatic failure and even a renewal of violence in the region. The White House’s confirmation regarding the planned visit by President Barack Obama to Israel and the Palestinian Authority came just at the right time for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been facing some difficulties in putting together his next coalition. As was the case…Read More... | 40 Comments
What will the third Netanyahu government look like, and how will it deal with the Palestinian issue?
Netanyahu would like to include some centrist elements in his government in order to present a more moderate face to the world. However, any meaningful effort to end the occupation is not very likely. The Israeli post-election routine is under way, and tomorrow (Saturday) night, President Shimon Peres will officially ask Benjamin Netanyahu to try and form a new government. Netanyahu will have 28 days for his coalitions talks (which are already underway), and he may ask for an extension of 14 days. While I do not have high hopes from the new government regarding the Palestinian issue, it is enough…Read More... | 9 Comments
The counting of the votes has ended, and we now have the official results for the 2013 Knesset elections. In the last 24 hours Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home party has won one more seat at the expense of the United Arab List. The rest of the map is unchanged. Here are the full results: Likud Beitenu 31; Jewish Home 12, Shas 11; United Torah Judaism 7; Yesh Atid (Yair Lapid) 19, Kadima 2, Hatnuah (Livni) 6; Labor 15; Meretz 6. Hadash 4; United Arab List 4; Balad 3 Notable changes from the previous elections: Jewish Home, associated with the settlers,…Read More... | 6 Comments
Netanyahu is most likely to form his next government around the religious and the secular middle class, represented by election victors Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid. The coalition will concentrate on domestic reform and will only strengthen the status quo on the Palestinian issue. Also: Did Israelis really move left? Seven takeaways from the elections. 1. The future government At the time of writing, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s base of Orthodox and right-wing parties has 60 Knesset seats – the same as the potential opposition. Estimates are that the Jewish Home party will finish with another seat at the expense…Read More... | 22 Comments
The last polls ahead of Tuesday’s election have been published. Netanyahu’s Likud-Beitenu joint ticket could lose as many as eight seats, but the right-wing coalition he is projected to lead is still strong. Meretz is trending up, while Livni is losing support. We have updated out Poll Tracker with the surveys published over the weekend. Election laws forbid publishing polls in the days immediately prior to the vote, so this is likely the last round of numbers we will see from the various polling firms, at least publicly (the parties continue to conduct internal polls sometimes). This pie represents the…Read More... | 5 Comments
The irony: Sheldon Adelson’s Israel Hayom paper is quoting top Likud officials that accuse President Obama for trying to interfere with Israeli elections. A few weeks ago, a well-known Israeli politician visited one of the large daily newspapers. During a meeting there, this person discussed his meetings with a top-level official in the U.S. administration. “Do the Americans know that the window of opportunity to influence Israelis ends on January 22?” the politician was asked. The answer he gave was somewhat positive. It seems that the Israeli politician got it right: in an article for Bloomberg, Jewish-American journalist Jeffrey Goldberg…Read More... | 13 Comments
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Last Metro to Taksim
Yuval Ben-Ami reports from Istanbul.
Reports, maps, infographics and other documents on human rights and democracy.
Children under occupation
The effects of occupation on minors.
On the challenges facing a growing population of asylum seekers and refugees in Israel.
A series of striking infographics.
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