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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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  • How Netanyahu can match Abbas's commitment to peace

    While the Palestinian president is renouncing the Palestinian right of return on Israeli television, Israel's prime minister is announcing new settlement construction. Instead of playing to his own political base, Netanyahu could have his Sadat moment. By Aaron Magid Meeting with a delegation of Knesset members on Thursday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced that in a final status agreement the Palestinians “would not demand to return to Jaffe, Acre or Haifa.” Among other conciliatory comments, Abbas’s statement exemplifies his commitment toward addressing legitimate Israeli concerns and ending the conflict. Unfortunately, although Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has moderated his hawkish positions,…

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  • In response to Palestinian statehood bid, government issues empty threats

    Foreign Minister Lieberman may offer the Palestinians a 'temporary state' with no borders, which actually translates to no state at all. The Israeli government is so threatened by the Palestinian Authority's bid to go to the UN in order to achieve non-member observer state status, that it has gone through a series of moves in recent weeks that began with threats, and has now transitioned into what is being called an "offer" by the Foreign Ministry. According to a report in Haaretz on Wednesday,  Foreign Minister Lieberman is considering offering the Palestinians recognition of statehood within "provisional borders" in exchange for…

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  • Palestinians take to streets in call for Fayyad to step down

    In the past few days, protesters have filled the Palestinian streets. This time, their protest is not against Israel, but rather against the Palestinian Authority and specifically Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. The Palestinians are coming out to protest the rising prices in the West Bank, which have increased at a time when the Palestinian Authority has been unable to pay its employees their full salaries on time. Prime Minister Fayyad found himself at the center of the anger and frustration of the Palestinians. In the first few years following his appointment, Fayyad received rave reviews by locals and internationals alike for…

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  • Fayyad and Abbas: A showdown or minor disagreement?

    Last week, news surfaced in the Palestinian media about a conflict between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. According to Alquds Al-Arabi, Abbas has not been answering Fayyad’s phone calls after his refusal to deliver a letter about the need for Israel to halt settlement construction to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Ma’an News suggested that Fayyad didn’t want to meet with Netanyahu on the same day that 1,000 Palestinian prisoners launched a hunger strike. However Alquds Alarabi reported that the real reason behind the refusal to take the letter is that Fayyad was not consulted on the content…

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  • Today, I join Khader Adnan's hunger strike - will you?

    As Khader Adnan enters his 65th day of hunger strike, he is receiving increasing and substantial support among the Palestinian communities in Palestine and abroad. The Palestinian factions have called for a general strike in solidarity with Adnan on Tuesday. Despite initial frustrations of the delayed attention where rallies on Adnan’s behalf a few weeks ago had low attendance, it seems Adnan has become a symbol and leader of the Palestinian resistance movement. Even politicians couldn’t ignore his existence anymore. President Abbas was reportedly making calls on behalf of Adnan to Russia, China, Britain and the European Union. Hamas Prime…

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  • Reports of Israeli readiness to negotiate an insult

    Ever so often, when it seems like too much time has passed since someone has addressed the "peace process," there is suddenly a meeting followed by reports that nothing has actually changed but that there is sober optimism that Israelis and Palestinians are ready to negotiate. The latest news -- following meetings in Jordan where (surprise!) no significant breakthrough was made -- is that Israel is ready to negotiate immediately with the Palestinians.  According to Haaretz, Prime Minister Netanyahu's exact words were: "I'm ready to get into my car at any time and go to Ramallah, even if it's more than a small…

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  • Fayyad to speak at US Palestinian lobby gala despite rift

    In just few hours, the Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad is slated to give the keynote address at the annual gala dinner of the American Task Force on Palestine, or ATFP.  A few days ago, it was unclear Fayyad would be allowed to attend, much less speak, after the Palestinian Authority severed ties with the group. The ATFP is a non-profit organization based in heart of the U.S. capital that, in its own words, “is dedicated to advocating that it is in the American national interest to promote an end to the conflict in the Middle East through a negotiated…

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  • Palestinians take to the streets for Abbas's speech

    Palestinians poured into the streets of West Bank cities to watch and celebrate Mahmoud Abbas's speech before the United Nations General Assembly. Earlier in the day, clashes erupted at the Qalandia checkpoint and the Israeli shot dead a Palestinian man in the northern West Bank village of Qasra Ramallah - Carrying Palestinian flags and portraits of Abbas, Palestinians of all backgrounds, young and old, men and women, watched attentively in city's Yasser Arafat Square as PLO Chairman and PA president Mahmoud Abbas made the case for his people and their desire for state sovereignty in front of the UN's General Assembly. "Our…

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  • Are Palestinians walking into a trap at the UN?

    When the South African government tried to build non-sovereign states for its blacks they were soundly rejected by the world community. But now the Palestinians appear to be the ones seeking to legitimise their own Bantustan. Virginia Tilley has  a very important post up on Electronic Intifada, discussing the possibility the Palestinian bid at the UN is a political suicide of sorts. She argues they are defiantly riding into the very trap the South African national movement managed to avoid: International recognition for divided, isolated, powerless cantons as a "nation state" solution for national aspirations of the oppressed.  She suggests:…

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  • Interview: Abbas on Hamas, refugees and independence

    On Tuesday, I had a unique opportunity to sit down with the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during his visit to Amman, Jordan.  We discussed the peace process (or lack thereof), refugees, prisoners, Gilad Shalit, incitement and diplomacy. The interview aired on CCTV News (China Central Television English language). Roee Ruttenberg: Mr. President, thank you for your joining us.  You have set a September deadline for a breakthrough in peace talks, or you will resign.  How do you define a breakthrough? President Abbas: We, first, have not said that I will resign. I said I will not run for elections.  However,…

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  • Between the lines (3 October): beyond the settlement freeze

    Headlines: >The top story in most outlets is the Israeli response to pressures to renew the settlement freeze, which lapsed last week. Ha’aretz and Yisrael Hayom [Heb] present Netanyahu’s position as uncompromising: he will only agree to limit construction. The two other dailies, on the other hand, claim that Netanyahu is still considering Obama’s offer of American security guarantees in exchange for sixty more days of freeze, and might discuss it with some ministers during the week. According to Ma’ariv, the sweetener will be continuation of construction that begun during the interim period (and settlers are indeed gearing up [Heb]).…

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