Ron Pundak, one of the architects of the Oslo Accord, died Friday at the age of 59. In 1993, Pundak, an expert on Middle East history, was working under Yossi Beilin, who was then the Israeli deputy foreign minister. At the time, Israel was holding formal negotiations in Washington with a Palestinian team, but the talks were heading nowhere and the promise of the Rabin government seemed to be fading away. Along with Yair Hirschfeld, Pundak initiated a secret back channel between Israeli and PLO officials (contact with PLO members was still illegal when Rabin took office), first in London…Read More... | 10 Comments
Israel’s doves may have a Palestinian partner, but they lack a locomotive to pull the peace train to its destination. Read part one: What does the future hold for Israel’s military politicians? By Thomas G. Mitchell From the 1960s until the outbreak of the al-Aqsa Intifada in late 2000, which led to the collapse of the Labor Party and an end to it as an alternative to the Likud in heading coalitions, there have been six major military politicians who had an influence on Israeli policy toward the Palestinians and Israel’s neighbors. These six were: Yigal Allon, Moshe Dayan, Ezer Weizman, Yitzhak…Read More... | 5 Comments
Could the Jewish state ever be lead by a class of non-military politicians? Until there is a peace agreement with the Palestinians, it seems unlikely. And even then, who knows? By Thomas G. Mitchell Historically there have been two types of Israeli leaders who have been willing to give up territory to the Arabs in exchange for peace. The first type consists of conservative civilian politicians who distrust and fear the Arabs, but who, because of foreign pressure or opportunity, are willing to make peace under the right circumstances. Examples of these are Golda Meir in 1974, Menahem Begin in 1977-79 with…Read More... | 12 Comments
Israel's former prime minister Ariel Sharon, who spent the last eight years comatose after a series of strokes, died on Saturday, January 11. He was 85 years old. A general, politician, statesman, and to many a notorious war criminal, Ariel Sharon was known to combine dogged personal ambition with strategic acumen and ruthlessness, which together shaped one of the most controversial and remarkable careers in Israeli political history. Born in the community of Kfar Malal in 1928, Sharon joined the Haganah in the mid 1940s, and first saw action in the run-up to the 1948 War, when his unit staged…Read More... | 11 Comments
And nobody objects. I was listening on the radio to the prime minister's speech in the Knesset on Wednesday for the 18th anniversary (on the Hebrew calendar) of the Rabin assassination, and it just struck me how far we’ve come in this country. Bibi Netanyahu is now preaching to Israel the lessons of Rabin's murder. And nobody says anything. Members of the Rabin family sitting in the Knesset, whatever they were thinking, didn’t say a word. Neither did the MKs of the Labor Party or Meretz, or MK Ahmed Tibi or anybody else who lived through that time and understands…Read More... | 11 Comments
Former Sephardic chief rabbi and spiritual leader of Shas was known for efforts to reconcile Jewish law with modernity, advance the status of Mizrahi Jews in the Israeli religious establishment and in Israeli politics and society. Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the spiritual leader of the Sephardic-Haredi Shas party passed away Monday at the age of 93. Yosef recently suffered from a series of health problems, specifically with his heart and lungs. He was hospitalized several times in the last month. Yosef was a complex and not always well understood figure. He was know for his groundbreaking rulings which tried to incorporate…Read More... | 9 Comments
History has shown that the longer the ultra-Orthodox are excluded from the Israeli coalition, the more likely are the chances that they forge alliances with left-of-centre and dovish partners. Could the Haredi parties be the ones to tip the balance in favor of a peace agreement? By Romana Michelon As of late July, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is once again making global headlines. Largely the result of the diplomatic efforts made by US Secretary of State, John Kerry, this is the first time since 2010 that chief negotiators representing Israel and the Palestinian Authority confront one another in direct, albeit…Read More... | 4 Comments
Can Israeli, Palestinian and American negotiators learn from their mistakes in order to bring about a peaceful resolution to the conflict? New negotiations offer hope like a quarter-drop of water splashed onto scorched and desiccated earth. How quickly such a drop can be absorbed as if it never was, and ground into the dust by the overwhelming forces of failure. Once, hope went beyond a drop: in 1993, the Oslo Accords were a shining symbol of progress. After years of despair and death, it has become synonymous with failure for many. Yet it is the only model for agreements actually…Read More... | 11 Comments
Perhaps the greatest similarity between Abraham Lincoln and Yitzhak Rabin is that both men’s assassins succeeded in altering history. Following Lincoln’s death the reconstruction of the American south was abandoned and the Supreme Court accepted the notion of 'separate yet equal.' Following Rabin’s assassination, the occupation of the West Bank and the Palestinian people has deepened as Israeli settlements continue to grow. By Ilan Manor It was Ernst Lubitsch, an American filmmaker of Jewish decent, who used his 1942 classic comedy To Be or Not to Be to remark on the fate of dictators saying that "if they named a brandy…Read More... | 7 Comments
Veteran Israeli negotiator Shaul Arieli discusses the failure of the Oslo Accords, various Israeli prime ministers' commitment (or lack thereof) to ending the occupation, and the only solution he believes both sides could live with, however unsatisfied they might be with it. Shaul Arieli is a man on a dual mission: educating Israelis about the conflict and diplomatic process with the Palestinians, and making the point that the two-state solution is both possible and necessary. His latest publication in Hebrew, A Border between Us and You (Yeditoth Ahronoth Books 2013), is a 500-page handbook to the history of the conflict, with an emphasis on…Read More... | 32 Comments
As Benjamin Netanyahu rakes in endorsement after endorsement, first from Donald Trump and later today from Chuck Norris, his rival in the right wing bloc, Naftali Bennett (Bayit Yehudi) scored a huge run by getting the support of no other than Yigal Amir, the man who murdered Yitzhak Rabin. Lately, his brother Hagai (whom +972 interviewed here in the first - and only - interview he gave since his release from jail earlier this year) has been fooling around on Facebook, holding joking discussions about the murder and other topics. Many of the people he talks with, most of them…Read More... | 9 Comments
Twenty-five years ago this past weekend, a large-scale popular uprising by Palestinians began against Israel's then 20-year-old military occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza. Sparked by an incident in which four Palestinians were hit and killed by an Israeli driving in Gaza on December 8, 1987, Palestinian frustration at living under repressive Israeli military rule and Israel's growing colonial settlement enterprise erupted, grabbing international headlines and drawing attention to the plight of Palestinians living in the occupied territories. On this 25th anniversary, the IMEU offers the following fact sheet on the First Intifada. By The Institute for…Read More... | 14 Comments
Netanyahu didn't invent the E-1 dealbreaker that's got the world so mad at him; it goes back to Rabin and reflects overwhelming Israeli opinion. Except for right wingers, people look at the outrage over Bibi's revival of the E-1 plan, which would connect Jerusalem and the eastward Ma'aleh Adumim settlement with thousands of new homes, and say: Well, that's Bibi for you, picking fights for no good reason. Who needs more settlement construction? But if you ask them - "them" meaning all but the left-wing fringe among Israeli Jews and the country's supporters abroad - whether they're willing to give…Read More... | 39 Comments
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"One of the most contested cities on earth is destined to remain a powder keg for the foreseeable future" http://t.co/HbccD1ulxx
There are no good guys in Jerusalem http://t.co/HbccD1ulxx by @MikeOmerMan
RT @Benhartman: Jerusalem police chief says Temple Mount to be open tomorrow, decision made to return status quo to mount #Israel
BREAKING: Israel recalls ambassador after #Sweden recognizes state of #Palestine
RT @jvplive: ‘Death to Arabs’ sprayed on one of only five non-segregated schools in Israel: http://t.co/4qjbyBWvVM http://t.co/phEyaajyfL
Bibi ain't "chickenshit" - he's just really good at maintaining the status quo: http://t.co/8BZZYfEOWA
The White House got it wrong. Bibi's status quo strategy makes a Palestinian state impossible: http://t.co/8BZZYfEOWA