'Peace talks? What peace talks,' the Israeli prime minister jokes with supporters from his party. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu boasted of his settlement building achievements in a recent meeting with young Likud supporters. Responding to a question from the audience, Netanyahu said: “I was threatened in Washington: ‘not one brick’ [of settlement construction] … after five years, we built a little more than one brick…” Asked "about peace talks with the Palestinians," Netanyahu reportedly replied, "about the - what?" to which the audience responded by breaking out into laughter. Last year was a record year in settlement construction in…Read More... | 10 Comments
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…Read More... | 62 Comments
The details of the unprecedented offer Israel got from the Palestinian leadership have been revealed – along with the Israeli response. Still, if you only listen to the Israeli media, you might think it was Abbas who got cold feet. A new theory is taking shape in Israel these days: according to some heavyweight analysts and politicians, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu indeed went through a “personal transformation” in the months leading to the peace talks, and it was PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas who got cold feet at the last moment, turning instead to unilateral moves like his request to join…Read More... | 19 Comments
Americans involved in Kerry initiative give interview indicting Netanyahu government and exonerating Palestinian leader Abbas. Yedioth Ahronoth’s Nahum Barnea, Israel’s No. 1 print journalist, has a long interview on Friday with unnamed U.S. officials involved in the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, giving their view of why they failed. The interview is quite a bombshell, as well as a historic document. (Hours after this post went online, Yediot translated the interview and put it up on its English-language website.) The quote from the Americans that’s likely to make the most news is this: It seems we’re in need of another intifada to…Read More...
By ensuring that the diaspora’s rights are fully represented in the Palestinian liberation struggle, Palestinians can draw upon the combined financial and human resources of that worldwide community to finally shed the manacles of Oslo. By Samer Badawi Last week’s unexpected détente between the would-be “governments” of Fatah and Hamas raises more questions than it answers. What exactly is a government of technocrats, and who best to christen their political agnosticism? And so what if Hamas has accepted the terms of the Oslo accords? Can common cause lead to a unified command structure, encompassing, for example, Gaza’s Izz a-Din al-Qassam…Read More... | 13 Comments
President Obama and Secretary Kerry’s statements on Thursday are the most important - and positive - development to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in decades. Now we’ll have to see if they leave the stage for good. After we all dealt with the surprising Hamas-Fatah unity deal for the past few days (is it good, is it bad?), the U.S. on Thursday gave the most important statement in President Barack Obama’s presidency concerning Israel/Palestine. Not only is it the most important, it’s probably the most positive development this region has seen since the Oslo Accords were signed. It is the beginning of…Read More... | 5 Comments
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…Read More... | 9 Comments
The Middle East peace process is very much a partisan issue in American politics. Until J Street figures out how to solve the problem of Likud penetration of the Republican Party, there is no American solution for the Middle East. By Thomas G. Mitchell It appears that Secretary of State John Kerry’s mediation in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process has come to an end as Israel refuses to release the last group of security prisoners that it previously promised to release. This is because Jerusalem has no confidence in the peace process, partly based on expectations of the Palestinians and partly based…Read More... | 9 Comments
Sometimes you just have to wait for the right opportunity. It could be a sports game, where you wait for your rival to make a mistake. It could be a blind date gone bad, where you wait for that phone call you planned earlier with your best friend. It could be that windfall you needed to finally buy that house. It’s always about a set of conditions that finally, at the right time, converge to make an opportunity. That opportunity has come for the United States. John Kerry has blamed the Israelis (or did he?) for the recent impasse. The…Read More...
If the road to the UN was open to the Palestinians before, now there may as well be a red carpet on it. It goes without saying that Kerry’s blaming of Israel for the blow-up in the peace talks is a great thing, a bigger win for the fight against the occupation than anyone could have expected to come out of this process. From the time about a year ago that these negotiations were a twinkle in Kerry’s eye, the name of the game for Israel and the Palestinians was to avoid being held responsible for their inevitable failure. The…Read More...
The current round of peace talks can only continue if the U.S. changes its approach, a senior Fatah official says. The PLO will seek membership in an additional 48 international organizations, treaties and conventions if peace talks are not salvaged by the end of this month, Ma’an news agency quoted senior Palestinian official and Fatah Executive Committee member Nabil Shaath as saying on Monday. PLO Chairman -- and PA President -- Mahmoud Abbas began the process of acceding to 15 international treaties and conventions last week after Israel failed to follow through with the release of a fourth group of…Read More... | 30 Comments
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…Read More... | 22 Comments
Abbas stopped a few steps short of 'going back to the UN,' which he committed to not doing. So where does that leave Kerry's peace talks? The peace process is dead; long live the peace process. That was the mood Tuesday night among journalists covering the Middle East as news broke that PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas was signing onto 15 international treaties – an act which he sort of said he wouldn’t do until next month. Much of the media immediately assumed that Abbas was “going back to the UN,” or joining UN institutions, or doing something big. That he…Read More... | 37 Comments
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