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binyamin netanyahu

  • Why I oppose recognizing Israel as a Jewish state

    A country can, at least in theory, be 'Israeli and democratic.' It cannot and will never be 'Jewish and democratic.' Early into his second term as prime minister, as he was presenting his conditions for negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a new demand for any final status agreement, one which was absent from every previous round of talks, both formal and informal. Unlike his predecessors, Netanyahu wasn't satisfied with Palestinian recognition of the State of Israel, something the PLO did in 1988, and once again as part of the Oslo Accords. He wants them to…

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  • Why the EU shouldn't amend its new settlement guidelines

    This might be remembered as a key moment in determining the future of the occupation. In an effort to preserve the alliance with settlers and maintain its current settlement policies, the government will demand key provisions of the EU guidelines be changed or postponed.  One of the most important rounds of talks on the future of the territories Israel occupied in 1967 is about to take place – and it’s not the meeting between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators this week. The Israeli government is seeking to modify the new guidelines set by the European Union, which will forbid cooperation with Israeli institutions…

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  • What does the peace process have to do with Iran?

    Several analysis are linking the resumption of the peace talks with Prime Minister Netanyahu's desire to legitimize a strike on Iranian nuclear facilities. Some even claim that the U.S. administration is in the loop.  There were at least three articles in the Hebrew media this week speculating on the option of an Israeli strike on Iran. All pieces linked those scenarios to the peace process, and to the Wall Street Journal's report on reactor in Arak, which is due to become operational in the coming months and could be used for the creation of a plutonium bomb (those reports were already disputed,…

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  • Don't cheer these peace talks

    To register their recent success, Secretary of State Kerry and the Obama administration destroyed whatever was achieved in the last two decades. For the first time since the 1991 Madrid Conference, the starting point for the negotiations are the positions of the Israeli right. The headlines celebrating the fact that “Israelis and Palestinians are talking again” were misleading. The Palestinian Authority is no more than a regional council in a territory controlled by Israel. Since the PA is completely dependent on Israel for almost all of its functions, Israelis and Palestinians are talking all the time, including on the political…

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  • The day Europe got Israel’s attention

    Responding to the EU's decision to limit all joint projects at the Green Line, Prime Minister Netanyahu displayed a confrontational attitude, vowing not to let anyone 'harm' the settlers.   UPDATE: This post has been updated with clarifications from an EU source regarding the nature of the new guidelines. Read the full guidelines here.  The European Union’s decision to limit all joint projects with Israel beyond the pre-1967 borders accomplished what all of President Obama’s speeches and Secretary of State Kerry’s diplomatic missions have failed to – it put the occupation back as the top story on the Israeli agenda. The new…

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  • Collision course: Plan to displace tens of thousands of Bedouin passes first Knesset vote

    The implementation of the Prawer Plan for unrecognized villages in the Negev has become a major policy objective for the Netanyahu government. Following one of the most heated debates the Israeli parliament has seen in recent years, the Knesset approved the Prawer-Begin Plan for the Arrangement of Bedouin-Palestinian Settlement in the Negev yesterday (Monday). Commonly referred to as the Prawer Plan, the new legislation will allow the government to destroy dozens of so-called “unrecognized” villages in the South and remove between 30-40,000 Bedouin from their homes. According to the plan, those Bedouin citizens who have registered land claims will be offered monetary…

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  • Lapid and Netanyahu aren't the problem, their voters are

    In an interview with the 'New York Times,' Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid rejects the idea of a settlement freeze or compromise on Jerusalem, instead offering an updated version of the Oslo Accord as an interim solution. Yair Lapid, the surprising star of the last elections and Israel's current finance minister, gave an interview to the The New York Times in which he left only “a little daylight” between himself to Prime Minister Netanyahu on the Palestinian issue, as the Times’s Jodi Rudoren put it. That was clearly an understatement. Except for paying lip service to the need to…

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  • Israel’s deputy FM: Russian Jews get what some American Jews forget

    One hundred Jewish leaders from Russia sent a public letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urging him to ignore the call from Jewish-American leaders and public figure to make territorial concessions for peace. “…we believe that the decisions of the Head of the Government of Israel on critical issues should be taken for the sake of people of Israel only... Decisions on national security issues must not be made under external pressure, regardless of its origins: world public opinion, U.S. leaders or even influential American Jews.” In response to both letters, Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin (Likud-Beitenu) told the…

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  • The Israeli negotiator who thinks the two-state solution is still possible

    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…

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  • Obama's speech: Israel's Left and Right can be happy, and the occupation is here to stay

    Some initial thoughts on President Barack Obama's speech in Jerusalem (full text here): Measuring the value or effect of a speech on its own is futile. Words matter in a political context, power relations and the actions that they accompany. Just as nobody seriously thinks that a good speech can make health care reform pass in the House, Obama's speech needs to be evaluated within the politics that surrounded his first term and his current visit to Israel and the Occupied Territories. On the level of words and rhetoric, there was a mixture of "good" and "bad" in Obama's speech. The worst parts,…

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  • Obama's visit to Israel: Low risk and no effect

    It doesn't seem like the president's visit to Israel is generating much excitement, but even if it did – political changes are unlikely to follow. It’s anyone’s guess why President Obama arrived on an official visit to Israel with no important event attached to it, no major meetings and no issues that require his presence. Obama, Netanyahu and President Abbas could have met anywhere in the world, and since no negotiations are taking place, there is not much for the three leaders to discuss. The same probably goes for the coordination on the Iranian and Syrian issues – those take place on…

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  • Fake peace talks are far worse than no peace talks

    With Tzipi Livni joining Netanyahu’s government and President Obama heading to the region, we might be in for another round of a pseudo-'peace process,' which has become a code name for an attempt to impose 'a deal' on a Palestinian pseudo-leadership. Hatnuah – Tzipi Livni’s new party that won six seats in the last Israeli elections – was the first Knesset party to sign a coalition agreement with Binyamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu needs another 24 Knesset members to have the minimum majority for a ruling coalition. It is very unlikely that he will fail to get them. Livni was appointed as…

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  • Why did Ron Dermer decide to leave PM Netanyahu's office?

    Maariv daily paper reported last week that Ron Dermer, Netanyahu's American aid, is leaving the Prime Minister's Office. The story cited family reasons - a standard in such cases - and Netanyahu has refused to comment on the issue to follow-up pieces in the Jerusalem Post and Times of Israel. Personal changes between governments are not that unique, but Dermer's case is special. He was the neocon ambassador in Netanyahu's office (or vice versa). The Israeli media has put some of the blame for Netanyahu's support in Mitt Romney - now widely considered a diplomatic fiasco - on Dermer (in an interview to Yedioth…

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