With or without a ceasefire, the brutality of the last week will be revisited upon the Palestinians of Gaza – a fact that, unsurprisingly, leaves no room for diplomacy. It should come as no surprise that Hamas Tuesday de facto rejected what by all accounts was an Israeli diktat – disguised as an Egyptian ceasefire proposal – to end Israel's relentless assault on the organization and its base of operations, Gaza. Following a week of near-constant Israeli bombing, the brunt of which has been borne by Palestinian civilians, the Egyptian proposal featured none of the demands on which Hamas had been most vocal, chief…Read More... | 38 Comments
The Israeli cabinet voted to accept an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire Tuesday morning. Hamas, who was not consulted, is in direct discussions with Cairo but has criticized the initial proposal. What does all this mean? 1) Israel is willing to return to the status quo, a status quo that serves Israeli interests. Sure there is occasional rocket fire from Gaza but Israel has the Iron Dome and, in the sparsely populated south of the country, the rockets usually fall in open spaces. The occasional rocket from Gaza actually helps Israeli hawks strengthen their case for continuing the "occupation" of the West Bank…Read More... | 19 Comments
Unlike previous efforts, the current Palestinian reconciliation agreement appears to have been cemented from within; and it might just offer a lifeline to Gaza. By Samer Badawi Just as word emerged early Wednesday of an imminent unity accord between rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seized upon the news to issue his Palestinian counterpart an ultimatum: Make peace with Hamas, and you can forget about peace with Israel. In lockstep, Netanyahu’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman immediately dubbed any intra-Palestinian reconciliation a veritable “termination of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.” If that was a…Read More... | 25 Comments
Egypt's newest candidate for president could be the perfect test case for Egyptian democracy and a lightening rod for opposition to the military. Following the unfolding Egyptian revolution is not often rewarded with good news. Today was a little different: Hamdeen Sabbahi, one of the surprise stories from Egypt's first post-revolution presidential election, has announced his candidacy for the office, once again. Sabbahi, who came in third place after Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate who was ousted from power last July, and Ahmed Shafiq, the former commander of the Air Force who was considered by many as faloul, or…Read More... | 2 Comments
Three years after the revolution that set the benchmark for the Arab Spring, Egypt is now coming full circle, and the promise of the mass movement with it. On the first anniversary of Egypt’s momentous 18-day revolution, the country was still in a state of flux. A powerful military council remained in charge of a transitional government and the outcome of the revolution was unclear, but people were cautiously optimistic of what the future might hold if they kept pushing. By the second anniversary, the Muslim Brotherhood was in power, the country was polarized and in upheaval over the Islamists’…Read More... | 7 Comments
Ankara's strong stance on the Syria conflict helped bolster its status as a rising leader in the region. But its approach to the coup in Egypt could undo that. By Ilhan Tanir In early 2012, I visited Damascus and its suburbs and stayed there for two weeks. I met with Syrians of diverse professions, from shoe repairmen and teachers, to college students. I interviewed half a dozen commanders of the then-nascent Free Syrian Army local battalions, who sometimes hosted me at their family homes. Neither civilians nor FSA members had any difficulty explaining why they rose up against the Assad…Read More... | 10 Comments
In one of the more insightful comments on the Egyptian military coup, The New Yorker’s George Packer wrote back in July on the political culture of “winner takes all” that dominates the country in the post-Mubarak era. Islamists and secular-minded Egyptians regard one another as obstacles to power, not as legitimate players in a complex game that requires inclusion and consensus. Versions of this mutual negation can be seen across the region, from the liberal mini-uprising in Istanbul’s Taksim Square to the brutality of Syria’s sectarian civil war. Clearly, today’s massacre (is there any other fitting word to describe what…Read More... | 9 Comments
Two incidents in three days, in which Israel’s military was caught with its hand beyond its borders, raise questions of sovereignty and what it means to Israel. Sovereignty is a funny thing. Some countries claim more of it than they really have, some don’t have full control over their sovereign territory or airspace, and others willingly cede some of their sovereignty for a number of reasons. Two cases of Israel violating the sovereignty of its neighbors made headlines in the past few days. The first incident involved Israeli combat soldiers infiltrating Lebanon’s borders on Wednesday. Israeli violations of Lebanon’s airspace, maritime…Read More... | 13 Comments
This time 'people power' returned Egypt to the Mubarak era, only worse. Since I spend most of my writing time denouncing the Israeli public for its rotten political inclinations, I think I have the right to call it as I see it about the Egyptian public, which has really put on a show these last few days. One of the polite hypocrisies of democratic society is that the public, in any country, is fundamentally good, that it wants good things, that it’s entitled to have what it wants, and that when masses of people are suffering and crying out for…Read More... | 24 Comments
Just one year after Mohammed Morsi was sworn into office, Egypt's army responds to popular protests by deposing the democratically elected president. How did we get here and can the army be trusted to return the country to a path of democracy? On June 29, 2012, Tahrir Square erupted in cheers as Mohammed Morsi, Egypt's first democratically elected president, took office. On July 3, 2013, the square was once again packed with cheering Egyptians. This time, they were celebrating the military's announcement that Morsi had been ousted, the constitution suspended and a senior judiciary figure appointed interim leader pending early…Read More... | 18 Comments
Israel's Channel 10 news anchor Guy Zohar interviewed Egyptian journalist and political activist Heba Abo Seif live from Tahrir Square on Tuesday. Abu Saif, who spoke excellent Hebrew, assured Zohar that the military stands behind the Egyptian nation, and urged the Israeli people to stand up to their own government. She specifically references "Bibi and Lapid," saying that Israelis should not remain silent if they are not getting what they were promised. She also said that Egypt "will never be Syria," referencing the unity between Egyptian nation and the military. Here is the video interview, translated in full (Note it…Read More... | 17 Comments
In what is likely the first statement of its kind, Egyptians and Israelis call upon their governments to exempt conscientious objectors from mandatory military service. A small group of young Egyptians gathered in downtown Cairo for a vigil yesterday, the likes of which have probably never before been seen in any Arab country. The group held signs calling for the release of Israeli draft resister Natan Blanc, who was recently sent to prison for a record-breaking ninth consecutive sentence. According to Israeli movement Yesh Gvul, the gesture was highly appreciated by Blanc's family. The Cairo vigil is part of a new type of cooperation…Read More... | 17 Comments
In February 2011, when it was clear Hosni Mubarak's 30-year authoritarian rule over Egypt would not survive the popular uprising that had begun on January 25, the Israeli media’s reporting was characterized primarily by a combination of confusion and unease about the big issue that concerns the country above all others – security. On the evening television magazine shows, panels of white-haired male analysts in their 60s reminisced in tones of near-nostalgia about their army service in the 1967 and 1973 wars with Egypt. They mentioned the porousness of the border in the south and implied that without Mubarak to…Read More... | 7 Comments
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