Obama clarified last week that the United States has its own distinct interests, and renewing Israeli-Palestinian peace talks is certainly one of them. But is the U.S. actually aiming for peace, or does the peace process itself serve American interests in the region? The United States is once again thrusting itself into one of the more intractable conflicts of the past century. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has touched down in Israel every few weeks since taking office and Barack Obama finally made his first visit as president, throwing his weight behind Kerry's efforts. Although it may seem like a given,…Read More... | 9 Comments
An Israeli decision to continue the occupation is illegitimate, even if it was reached through a democratic process. Democracy has no meaning when the population at hand is not allowed to take part in it. This is a slightly modified translation of my weekly op-ed in the Israeli daily Maariv. "Occupation denial" is the latest trend in the Israeli (and American) conversation regarding the conflict. Conservative scholars are presenting a revisionist reading of the Fourth Geneva Convention, claiming that it never applied to the West Bank and Gaza, while politicians are claiming that the term "occupation" is biased. Yet all those…Read More... | 33 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
Now that negotiations have officially failed, it's time for the U.S. to join three South American countries and endorse Palestinian unilateralism. True, a viable Palestinian state will not be ready by August 2011, but that's besides the point. This declaration is only a means to an end As expected, the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians are now officially dead. Last night, Israeli and U.S. officials confirmed that the Obama administration is abandoning its effort to renew the freeze on settlement building in the West Bank. As the NY Times reports: After three weeks of fruitless haggling with the Israeli…Read More... | 7 Comments
Abu Mazen threatens, Netanyahu responds, the right wingers go berserk and Haaretz pundit has a strange plan: if you can’t beat the wild card - join it. Plus - a small surprise The talk about unilateral moves by Palestinians was all over the media the past few days - but unfortunately, still little talk about the Wild Card (U.S. recognition of such a move). Still, even a little is better than nothing. We’ll keep waiting for a leading pundit to pitch it and for an official American response against or for the Wild Card. But there's a surprise at the…Read More... | 6 Comments
The wild card (a Palestinian declaration of independence recognized by the U.S. and the rest of the world) just keeps gaining momentum. Here's what Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said today: Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said Friday that Arab nations may seek UN recognition of a Palestinian state if Israel continues to build settlements in the West Bank. Gheit said an Arab League request to the UN may come next month. If Israel goes ahead with building settlements, "the Arab League will study some other options such as going to the United Nations and ask for the…Read More...
Update below Last week I called for a grassroots movement to put pressure on the U.S. to recognize a declaration of independence by the Palestinian leadership. A wild card that may change the rules of the game. Since then, two interesting developments took place. The first took place at the Arab League meeting on Friday. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has told Arab leaders he may seek U.S. recognition for a Palestinian state, which would include all of the West Bank, should peace talks with Israel break down, an aide said on Saturday. The idea, raised during Arab League deliberations in…Read More... | 1 Comment
Originally published in The Jerusalem Post "Pessimism," "doomed to fail" and "waste of time" - these words and phrases litter the reporting and blogging on the current talks between Israel and the Palestinians. One can only hope to be pleasantly surprised and hear that by the end of next summer they will be deemed a success. But seeing as how the pessimists seem to be a majority, now may just be the time to think of creative ways to end the stalemate. One possibility would be for a third party to change the rules of the game. This would fundamentally…Read More... | 5 Comments
Bill Clinton is known to pretty much say whatever he wants to, whenever he wants to. He's not a Joe Biden, but he's out there. Today he allowed himself to show off his expert knowledge of Israeli demographics and voting habits and claimed that the Russian sector was an obstacle to peace. As reported on Foreign Policy: "An increasing number of the young people in the IDF are the children of Russians and settlers, the hardest-core people against a division of the land. This presents a staggering problem," Clinton said. "It's a different Israel. 16 percent of Israelis speak Russian."…Read More... | 2 Comments
This just in. Ynet reports on a terrible forecast for the future by Foreign Ministor Avgidor Lieberman: “Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman does not share Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's optimism as to the chances of the Washington peace summit maturing into an agreement. "You have to understand that signing a comprehensive peace agreement is an unattainable goal – not next year and not in the next generation," he said Sunday, in a Yisrael Beiteinu event celebrating Rosh Hashana. According to the report on Ynet, Lieberman also had grim views on other topics. “The American economy is not only headed for a double…Read More... | 2 Comments
Where are the days when I used to get all excited and hopeful ahead of peace talks? Where are the days when I used to wait for the press conference, the photo op? Where are those days when I used to watch the TV closely for facial expressions, in search of sincerity or a genuine gesture of friendship? Where are those days when I hung on the words of each analyst? Where are they? Where’d they go? Why don’t I give a f-ck? Why haven’t I watched one single news report about this summit? Is it because of the almost…Read More... | 1 Comment
I have a new piece in Foreign Policy, discussing the relations between Jewish and Arab MKs and their perspective on the one state solution. Interviewed are Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud), Deputy-Speaker Ahmed Tibi (Raam-Taal), and MK Hanin Zoabi (of Balad and of the Gaza flotilla fame). Naturally, I don't think they're all talking about the same "one state" solution; but if we get to a situation where the main argument is about which kind of a one state is most desirable, this will be after tremendous shift in Israeli and regional politics. For now, the fact they are talking…Read More... | 1 Comment
The following was originally posted on The Magnes Zionist. A very good example of what is fundamentally wrong about how Americans view the Israel/Palestinian Conflict is provided by Barbara Slavin here. In a contrarian spirit of being a teeny bit upbeat about the next round in Israeli Arab peace talks (going on for around sixty plus years, but in its present Israeli-Palestinian format, for almost twenty years), she lists five reasons for optimism, before turning to reasons for pessimism. Since I am a pessimist I will focus on her first five reasons. Here they are with my comments. "1. The outlines of a…Read More...
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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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