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  • Translating a Palestinian family's grief for Netanyahu

    The least I could do was go to the hospital to support the Dawabshe family after their 18-month-old baby was burned alive by Israeli settlers. But before I knew it I became Prime Minister Netanyahu's Arabic translator. On that terrible Friday morning I found myself finishing up a lecture in Tel Aviv and driving toward Tel Hashomer hospital. Following the stabbing at the Jerusalem Pride march and the burning of the family homes in Duma, I heard that two members of the Dawabsha family had been brought into Israel for medical treatment. I wanted to see how they were doing,…

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  • From Iran to the tunnels: Do we really have to live this way?

    Those who spot an existential threat at every turn, turn their backs on diplomacy and mock peace efforts are now astonished to find that the enemy has sought out their own weapons of attack. The tunnels are a self-fulfilling prophecy; the time has come to look for another way. By Nir Baram It is heartrending and frustrating to see us, citizens of a country full of accomplishment and potential, repeatedly stupefied by a cynical propaganda machine whose real intent is simply inaction. What is meant by “inaction”? To avoid putting forth any solution, to not present any creative initiative or…

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  • Why is Mahmoud Abbas negotiating on behalf of Gaza?

    When they emerge from the rubble, as they always do, who among Gaza's Palestinians will look to Abu Mazen as their legitimate leader? The Fatah chief is reportedly in Cairo today to meet with Egyptian strongman Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, whose "ceasefire proposal" to end the bloodshed in Gaza was promptly rejected as "a joke" by the Hamas leadership on Tuesday. Today's Haaretz affirms why: Senior Israeli officials and Western diplomats said the reason the Egyptian ceasefire initiative was so short-lived is that it was prepared hastily and was not coordinated with all the relevant parties, particularly Hamas. Why, then, had Abbas…

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  • Is Israel recognizing the Palestinian national unity government after all?

    If the Israeli government insists on boycotting the new Palestinian unity government, how can it also insist on pouring money into the Palestinian Authority? By the end of June, Israel is expected to once more sit at the same table as the Palestinian Authority - the same Palestinian Authority that it has been so adamant on boycotting following the formation of the new national unity government. The two parties will sit together with the Ad-Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC), a coordinating body formed in 1993 to regulate donations from various states to the PA, with Israel as a monitoring party, at…

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  • De-coding the Israeli-Palestinian peace process

    A breakdown of recent statements by principal players in the Kerry-led peace process. The Israeli/Palestinian negotiations remind me of a volleyball court. With a lack of hard information available to the public, each player punts a ball into the air at regular intervals with identifying marks on it, to remind everyone that he or she is still there for ten seconds before the ball drops and another pops up. These blips sound like a standard shouting match on the surface. But their subtext can give a snapshot of the peace process at this moment – and reveal why it’s so…

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  • 'Wave of Palestinian terror'? Not exactly

    It’s pretty difficult to pinpoint anything resembling a starting point for the latest violence; prior to last week, Israeli forces killed 19 Palestinians since July, compared to four Israelis who were killed. The violence is neither unilateral nor arbitrary. The latest escalation between Israel and the Palestinians has taken lives on both sides over the last week. The Israeli media is now describing the violence as a new “wave of Palestinian terror.” Commentators have said that it’s not clear yet whether this is a third Intifada, indicating an organized uprising, since the attacks appear to have been perpetrated by individuals.…

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  • Endgame: Conditions for the success and failure of the peace process

    What does the possibly-revived peace process John Kerry announced on Friday have going for it? - “Diplomatic Tsunami” – a catch-phrase that stands for high-level global isolation of Israel as punishment for its policies is the great fear on everyone’s mind in Israel this week. Israel is smarting from a recent spate of symbolic blows highlighting international opprobrium in new and painful ways: Stephen Hawking refusing to attend the President’s conference, and the new EU guidelines are two very significant examples of very mainstream figures increasingly putting actions behind words Israel has come to ignore. - Palestinian power play. The…

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  • John Kerry's Kodak moment at the Dead Sea

    John Kerry: Hey, Abu! Abu! Over here! Come here a sec! Abu Mazen: What? Kerry: Come here a sec, we wanna take a pic. Abu Mazen: For what? Shimon Peres: Just do it. Kerry: Whaddya mean ‘for what’? Cuz we’re here! All three of us! Abu Mazen: So? Peres: Just do it. Kerry: Come on! Let’s do the three-way shake! Abu Mazen: But why? We haven’t agreed on anything. FIRST you do the agreement, THEN you do the shake thingy! Peres: Just do it. Kerry: Just come here already! There... good. Now give me your hand. And give Shimon your…

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  • Obama compares Israeli occupation to racial discrimination in U.S.

    The speech Barack Obama gave this evening in Jerusalem was supposed to be the pinnacle of his visit. But actually, things worked out a bit differently. The most important comments the president made were just a few hours before the Jerusalem speech, while he was still in Ramallah talking with Palestinian officials. Everyone was wondering just how much tough love the president was going to show his friend, Israel, during his Jerusalem speech. And indeed, there were a few moments. Condemning settlement violence was a first, for example. And although his criticizing the settlements and the occupation on the whole…

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  • President Obama: When in the Middle East, walk on water

    If President Obama plans on trying to kickstart the Israeli-Palestinian peace process during his visit this week, he should reframe the process. Tackling the toughest issues first, such as Jerusalem, has proven to only prolong the stalemate. Why not start with water? By Oded Eran and Gidon Bromberg The Israeli-Palestinian political process has been stalled for too long. It could soon be replaced by a third Intifada or a Palestinian version of the Arab Spring. If the renewed Obama Administration wants to try and avoid this possible turn of events, it has to change the paradigm that has guided all previous efforts…

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  • Response to Abbas: We'll be together in Jerusalem forever

    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' speech at the International Conference on Jerusalem in Doha on Saturday set off the most proverbial alarm bells in Israel. Caveat: Without actually seeing the full text of the speech, or being at the conference, I am dependent on excerpts in news reports that seem designed to reinforce auto-pilot rallying cries of each side. Abbas' general theme seemed to be raising awareness of the grave injustices perpetrated on the Palestinian population of East Jerusalem, such as Israel's attempt to build walls to keep them in or out, Judaize the eastern part, and use archeological/historical research to…

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  • Palestinian leaders reinforce Fatah-Hamas reconciliation in Qatar

    Mahmoud Abbas and Khaled Meshaal sign agreement in Qatar on Palestinian reconciliation. Leaders of the two main Palestinian political parties, Fatah and Hamas, signed an agreement in Qatar on Monday, reinforcing efforts at reconciliation and reform. Reports from Qatar say that current Palestinian Authority President and Chairman of the PLO, Mahmoud Abbas, will also be in charge of a new interim government as Prime Minister until upcoming elections usher in a democratically elected one. Mahmoud Abbas met with Hamas’ politburo chief Khaled Meshaal for the second day of talks in Qatar. According to the Palestinian Central Elections Commission's (CEC) Twitter…

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  • To Mideast peacemakers: You are all George Costanza!

    Jason Alexander comes here to make peace, but sounds more like George Costanza. Problem is, he's not alone. Jason Alexander (“George Costanza” in Seinfeld) is a good liberal, he cares about Israel and wants to see peace, he wants to see Palestinians have their freedom and Israelis their security. He and an American group called “One Voice” were just in Israel and the West Bank again, talking to Shimon Peres and Salam Fayyad, to Israeli and Palestinian notables of all sorts. On Thursday Alexander wrote an op-ed in Yediot Aharonot titled, “Yes, you can,” which was almost mathematically even-handed. He…

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