It is not momentum or errors or personality quirks which have sustained the occupation, but a clear determination by Israel’s elite to maintain control of the West Bank and Gaza. Those who are willing to openly examine how Israel – and the pre-state Zionist Jewish community in the Holy Land – conducted itself prior to 1967, can only view the occupation as part of a natural continuum. Cursed Victory: A History of Israel and the Occupied Territories. By Ahron Bregman. Allen Lane; 416 pages; £25. I received my copy of Cursed Victory – Ahron Bregman's history of the occupation – on the…Read More... | 9 Comments
Once again, Prime Minister Netanyahu is allowed to avoid Israel's moment of truth. When the new round of direct talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators began, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced a solid framework for the process: nine months of dialogue, by the end of which the parties will need to sign a final status agreement -- or at least a framework for one. Since the Israeli government refused to accept the terms of reference agreed upon in previous rounds of negotiations, the time limit was necessary in order to prevent "talks for the sake of talks," i.e.,…Read More... | 9 Comments
More and more reports are suggesting that the U.S. is planning to put forward an offer that would end the impasse in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Martin Indyk, the American envoy for Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, gave an hour-long address at the end of the J Street Conference in Washington last month. Indyk said nothing about the talks themselves but some commentators noticed a couple of references to them: first, the American envoy said the talks' goal was to reach a final status agreement and nothing else; second, that by next year’s conference, he said, “the leaders will have had to make their…Read More... | 48 Comments
In what might be a shot to the heart of current peace negotiations, Netanyahu is reviving plans to build a 'security fence' in the Jordan Valley. If the fence follows the original route it will enclose any future Palestinian state, cement impossible Bantustan borders and give birth to a new map of Israel's borders. Ten years after international pressure led Israel to scrap construction plans for the Jordan Valley section of the security/separation fence, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is on track to revive them. Two Ma'ariv – Makor Rishon correspondents on Sunday reported that several government ministries are already making preparations for the…Read More... | 115 Comments
A settler in the Jordan Valley was killed in his yard Thursday night. This is the third such incident in the West Bank in less than a month. A retired Israeli colonel was killed in his home last night (Thursday) in the Brosh Habika settlement in the Jordan Valley. The incident brings the number of Israeli casualties in the West Bank to three in less than a month. According to his wife, Seraiah Ofer was attacked with iron rods and axes in his front yard. She escaped through a hole in the back fence, while her husband was beaten to…Read More... | 34 Comments
During a recent interview with Charlie Rose in New York, Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid tacitly reveals why the Israeli-Palestinian conflict endures and why Israel will only accept peace on its own terms. Over the past week or so, as the United Nations General Assembly brought leaders from around the world to New York, several of them made their way onto American political talk shows. Charlie Rose, one of America’s best and most watched interviewers, hosted a number of political leaders from the Middle East, including Bashar al-Assad of Syria (from Damascus) and Hassan Rouhani of Iran. Rose also interviewed…Read More... | 68 Comments
The sad but true story of chief Palestinian negotiator Dr. Saeb Erekat. Can the hero of the Palestine Papers survive another round of peace talks? By Hakim Bishara There was a time, back in the 1990s, when inveterate Palestinian negotiator Dr. Saeb Erekat was on top of his game. Confident, eloquent and dolled up with an elegant pair of tortoise architect glasses, the capable young diplomat was a rising star. Together with colleagues such as Hanan Ashrawi, Sari Nusseibeh and the more proactive Marwan Barghuti, he emerged out of exile and anonymity as part of the next generation of PLO…Read More... | 3 Comments
Settlers are celebrating 'the first official settlement in 20 years.' Housing Minister: 'There are no two states, and there won't be two states.' The regional council for Jewish settlements in the northern part of the West Bank (Samaria) celebrated on Sunday the construction of a new settlement called Leshem, located in the western part of the occupied Palestinian territories. According to a report in Maariv, 72 families have moved into their homes in Leshem, and 70 more are expected to do so in the coming year. The plan is to build around 400 more housing units. Israel has committed –…Read More... | 12 Comments
The Left is mobilizing around the process while ignoring troubling signs: the dangerous dynamic of the Oslo/Camp David period is already here. On Wednesday night, as members of the Israeli Knesset were getting ready to vote on a package of amendments that could push the Palestinian parties out of the Israeli parliament, political activists were conducting last-ditch efforts to persuade coalition members who previously opposed the bill to actually vote against it. Only one did, former Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin, who called the new legislation what it is: not an attempt to improve government procedures, but part of a dangerous…Read More... | 13 Comments
What does the possibly-revived peace process John Kerry announced on Friday have going for it? - “Diplomatic Tsunami” – a catch-phrase that stands for high-level global isolation of Israel as punishment for its policies is the great fear on everyone’s mind in Israel this week. Israel is smarting from a recent spate of symbolic blows highlighting international opprobrium in new and painful ways: Stephen Hawking refusing to attend the President’s conference, and the new EU guidelines are two very significant examples of very mainstream figures increasingly putting actions behind words Israel has come to ignore. - Palestinian power play. The…Read More... | 11 Comments
It's time to acknowledge that the paradigm based on the notion that 'we are here and they are there,' is no longer feasible. What's needed is a shift from a separation paradigm to one of sharing. By Riman Barakat and Dan Goldenblatt As President Obama’s arrives for a visit to Israel and Palestine, many Palestinians and Israelis do not anticipate any euphoric moments or breakthroughs with regards to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Beyond the list of actions and words that Obama will address with regards to Israel’s regional fears and the Palestinian concern that the two-state solution is no longer feasible,…Read More... | 7 Comments
A way out of the diplomatic dead end. By Dahlia Scheindlin and Noam Sheizaf The Israeli-Palestinian negotiation process has reached a dead end. The two-state paradigm has been deemed unrealistic so many times, that mentioning it creates cynicism and bitterness in both societies. But a generally agreed alternative to the principle of partition has not yet emerged. We therefore suggest a new framework for diplomatic engagement, one that carries with it a clear deadline. Without diminishing the many facets, layers and problems in the conflict (refugees, land, control over resources, holy sites, sovereignty and national self-determination), one issue is the most urgent…Read More... | 57 Comments
On the Palestinian issue, the new leader of the Israeli center holds positions that take several steps back from ideas held by Israeli negotiators in the previous decade. The surprising success of Yair Lapid in the Israeli elections has led many people to believe that a new window of opportunity could be open for a settlement between Israel and the Palestinians. Lapid himself had said before the elections that he will demand a resumption of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Lapid did not, however, detail the policy principles which could reignite said negotiations. His party's platform – available…Read More... | 93 Comments
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