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  • Why it may be time to rethink Abbas

    There is great desire and momentum for change in Israel and Palestine, yet a dire lack of leadership to harness it. If given the international support he needs, could Mahmoud Abbas be the one to guide that change? By Abraham Gutman Last week, on my way to listen to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speak at Cooper Union, I was talking to my sister on the phone. I told her that I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to feel going into the speech. As an Israeli, I tend to automatically get defensive when it comes to issues of Israel and…

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  • The mirage of Israel's 'diplomatic horizon'

    The term 'diplomatic horizon,' a catch-phrase among Israeli politicians and the media, points to the need to offer a viable diplomatic plan together with military efforts against Palestinian violence. But can it offer Palestinians a real vision for their longing for statehood? By Prof. Elie Podeh Israeli political jargon occasionally invents “laundered” terms designed to create an illusion of a reality that does not exist. Such is the concept of the “diplomatic horizon,” which has become popular among politicians and the media. Even Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during Operation Protective Edge, said on August 20 that “dramatic changes in the region promise…

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  • What to expect from the Israeli Right after Protective Edge

    Progressive forces in Israel need to be prepared: The Israeli Right has yet to exhaust all of its options for dealing with the Palestinians. The alternatives to Netanyahu's status quo involve moves toward a Greater Israel and full segregation based on extreme nationalism and hatred. By Mati Shemoelof (translated by Rotem Nir) If there is one thing we should have learned from the past couple of months, it’s an appreciation of just how high the stakes are in Israel. The Israeli Zionist Left is not capable of leading this country to serious change; change will only come when the Right betrays its…

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  • Netanyahu tweets Foley execution shot to score points against Hamas

    Bibi went there. [This post has been updated.] The official account of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went on a roll today comparing apples and oranges ISIS and Hamas. First there was a Venn diagram comparing some of the key similarities between the two groups (although inexplicably skipping some of the equally relevant ones, such as that both group use guns, sport woolly balaclavas and operate east of Sicily.) Then, however, the prime minister stepped it up a notch by using a frame from James Foley's murder video and a frame from Hamas's 2012 summary execution of suspected informants, to indicate that ravens and…

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  • Will there be peace if Palestinians lay down their arms?

    The world expects millions of people in Gaza and the West Bank to happily and quietly live under occupation. While laying down arms is a positive step towards peace, it is not enough to end this conflict. Written with Dr. Marc Gopin In the past few weeks the pro-Israel pundits have been recycling an argument that runs as follows: If Palestinians were to lay down their guns tomorrow, there would be no war. If Israel were to lay down its arms, there would be no Israel. This argument is based on two false assumptions about Palestinians. The first statement is…

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  • A premier failure: Where is Israel's leadership?

    With Netanyahu’s hints at revenge, his imperviousness toward the rage surrounding the murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir and his complete absence in the Israeli media, the prime minister is a party to the growing Jewish-Arab animosity. Instances of violence between Jews and Arabs are piling up: the video from the bus in Tel Aviv, reports of ‘price tag’ attacks, police violence, continued protests in Shuafat, protests in Wadi Ara and the Triangle, and there, overnight, a few Jewish drivers were reportedly attacked. In contrast to the Palestinians, the Jewish public hasn’t been exposed to the horrifying details of Muhammad Abu Khdeir's murder…

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  • Palestinian teen murdered in suspected 'revenge kidnapping'

    Heavy clashes take place in a number of East Jerusalem neighborhoods, leading to dozens of injuries, including two photographers from Activestills; Kerry conveys condolences to the Palestinian people over despicable murder; 'revenge' calls spread throughout Israeli social networks, streets of Jerusalem. Clashes between Palestinian youths and Israeli police broke out Wednesday morning when news broke of a suspected kidnapping and murder of a Palestinian teenager in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina hours earlier. Speculation that the killing was a nationalistically motivated and perpetrated by Jewish Israelis as revenge for the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers in the…

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  • Unilateral withdrawal makes a comeback in Israeli politics

    What is it that is making Israeli leaders (Netanyahu and Barak among them), think tanks and pundits talk more about a 'unilateral solution,' and what would such a plan look like? Details below. I published the following post on my Hebrew blog earlier this week. Yesterday, in an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, Prime Minister Netanyahu said: “it’s true that the idea of taking unilateral steps is gaining ground, from the center-left to the center-right. Many Israelis are asking themselves if there are certain unilateral steps that could theoretically make sense.” While don't I think that Netanyahu is planning such a move…

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  • Netanyahu gains popularity as peace talks collapse

    The prime minister's personal popularity goes up, while the Likud and Habyait Hayehudi gain seven more seats between them if elections were tomorrow. The Left loses four seats. Coalition troubles aside, 'peace' remains electorally toxic.  The biggest losers from the collapse of the peace talks are the pro-peace parties, a Haaretz weekend poll suggests - a finding unlikely to delight those hoping Netanyahu would swap his hard-right coalition partners for more moderate ones. According to the poll, conducted soon after the peace talks went into a spiral due to a cancelled prisoner release and the newly announced settlement building plans…

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  • Netanyahu's 'gift' of Palestinian statehood

    Statements by Israel's prime minister give insight into the -- problematic -- way he views peace talks with the Palestinians. And Naftali Bennett's emptiest threat yet. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday reiterated one of the most problematic views that he and his government hold -- that any future Palestinian state, if there ever is one, will be a painful, albeit generous gift from him to the Palestinian people. Responding to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s intent to accede to 15 international treaties and conventions, Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting: “[The Palestinians] will achieve a…

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  • What does Bibi actually want?

    Finally recognizing the pressure over the Palestinian issue, Netanyahu seems to be negotiating for 'an agreement with the world.' What does Bibi want? I don’t know how many times I’ve heard that question. With so many attempts to decipher him – in interviews with his proxies, accounts by former employees and analyses by pundits - speculation over the Israeli prime minister’s true intentions should have been recognized as an Olympic sport by now. TIME magazine had no problem twice posing the exact same question -- will Netanyahu make peace – on its cover, 16 years apart. The answer is hidden…

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  • An important year for Iran nuclear talks: What Israel got wrong

    President Obama’s exceptional appearance at the Saban Forum amounts to an authorized interpretation of the nuclear agreement with Iran. Israeli leaders should be paying attention to the points he made. By Shemuel Meir The nuclear agreement with Iran, known as the “Joint Plan of Action,” which was signed in Geneva on November 24 between Iran and the superpowers is a great American diplomatic achievement with positive implications for Israel’s security. The agreement limits Iran’s capability to enrich uranium and begins to “roll back” those elements of Iran’s nuclear program that possess dangerous military potential. This is an agreement that has…

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  • How 24,000 new settlement homes allowed Netanyahu to save face

    Israel's nearly unprecedented announcement and subsequent 'review' of plans for 24,000 new settlement units was actually a win-win situation - for everyone but the Palestinians, of course. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was outflanked from the right on Tuesday, purportedly surprised by an announcement of 24,000 – yeah, you read that right – new settlement housing units in the West Bank. Immediately following the first report of the unprecedented settlement expansion, Netanyahu announced he would block construction in E-1, one of the West's least favorite proposed settlement plans. Some eight hours later, he publicly reprimanded his housing minister, denied having…

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