Israel – Palestine/Gaza 2012
Marching Toward a Third Uprising?
(IPS) – While the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip hasn’t been so quiet for the past two decades, it’s now the turn of the occupied West Bank to show signs of eruption.
As Hamas tries to export its resistance to the Palestinian Authority (PA) territories, President Mahmoud Abbas’ repeated warnings of a third, yet “peaceful”, Intifada in the absence of peace talks might finally materialise.
Twenty-five years ago this month, Hamas was founded in Gaza while the first Intifada (1987 to 1991) against the Israeli occupation erupted. The uprising was dubbed, retrospectively, the “stones Intifada” for it contrasted with the second “armed” Intifada (2000 to 2005).
In commemoration of the anniversary, rallies were organised in the West Bank on Friday by the Islamist movement and, a first since Hamas overthrew the PA in Gaza in 2007, authorised by Abbas.
EU: Treaties with Israel apply only to pre-’67 lines
European FMs dismayed at planning for construction in E1, say it would “seriously undermine prospects of negotiated resolution.”
(Jerusalem Post) The EU said all of its agreements with Israel “must unequivocally and explicitly indicate their inapplicability to the territories occupied by Israel in 1967, namely the Golan Heights; the West Bank, including east Jerusalem; and the Gaza Strip.” The council called for full implementation of existing EU legislations and bilateral arrangements applicable to settlement products.
The statement was part of a larger document on the Israeli- Palestinian conflict published at the end of the EU Foreign Affairs Council’s monthly meeting.
Barriers to peace
Even by the miserable standards of the peace process, Israel’s proposed new settlements are a disaster
(The Economist) RARELY has Israel looked lonelier. On November 29th only the United States, Canada and the Czech Republic among serious countries backed its arguments at the United Nations’ General Assembly against giving the Palestinians an enhanced status at the UN. Now Binyamin Netanyahu’s government has declared its determination to build thousands of new Jewish houses on the West Bank, where the Palestinians hope to turn their virtual state into a real one (see article). It also says it will withhold tax revenues from the Palestinian Authority (PA), which runs parts of the West Bank under Israeli eyes, to punish the Palestinians for their cheek at the UN.
The Elders: This is Europe’s big chance to help the two-state solution become reality
“The EU has repeatedly urged Israel to “immediately end all settlement activity”. And yet, by trading with settlements, Europe is inadvertently shoring up their economic viability and contributing to their permanence.”
The Elders urge the EU to pressure Israel to end expansion of its illegal settlements. By taking action on settlement products, they argue, Europe can help to safeguard the two-state solution. ( See The Guardian for full article)
The World from Berlin ‘This Time, Israel Has Defied the Whole World’
(Spiegel) Europe is furious with Israel for its plan to build 3,000 new settler units to punish the Palestinians, following their elevation to “non-member observer status” in the UN last week. While sanctions appear not to be on the table, German commentators say it is time to get tough with Israeli premier Netanyahu. But nobody does anything
(Haaretz editorial) Netanyahu’s decision to punish the PA has provoked a confrontation with the international community that might plumb new depths for Israel’s international standing. This is a heavy price that cannot be explained away as an investment in national security.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to freeze the transfer of funds to the Palestinian Authority and build 3,000 housing units in the West Bank is nothing less than reckless behavior. The decision to punish the PA has provoked a confrontation with the international community, which voted overwhelmingly to accept the Palestinians as a nonmember observer state at the United Nations.
This policy is seriously threatening Israel. Friendly countries such as France, Britain and Sweden are considering recalling their ambassadors and revisiting their trade accords with Israel. This is a heavy price that cannot be explained away as an investment in national security.
Rather, it is a whim that might plumb new depths for Israel’s international standing. After doing its utmost to prevent a boycott of Israeli goods – including legislation – the government has now given friendly countries a warrant to boycott.
The Observer State of Palestine
By Ian Buruma, Professor of Democracy, Human Rights, and Journalism at Bard College.
(Project Syndicate)To call the Israeli government clumsy is to miss the point. Israel has few illusions about Palestinians toppling their own leaders. In fact, a strengthened Hamas may play into the hands of the Israeli hardliners currently in power. They can point to the violent, anti-Zionist, and, yes, anti-Semitic rhetoric of radical Islamists, and argue that no deal with the Palestinians is possible. The threat of a large stick is the only language that the natives understand.Keeping the Palestinians divided between Islamist revolutionaries and the more business-minded Fatah suits Israeli purposes admirably. As long as Fatah keeps things more or less under control on the West Bank, and all Hamas can do is periodically lob missiles across the Israeli border or occasionally blow up a bus, Israel can easily live with the status quo. Those Israelis who believe that a two-state solution cannot be achieved feel vindicated; those who simply do not want two states to coexist are equally well served.From the current Israeli government’s perspective, then, the correct strategy is to to keep the Palestinian government on the West Bank weak and off balance, without quite bringing it down, and to contain Hamas with periodic displays of military power (while destroying long-range missiles that can do serious damage to Israel).
Dr. Charles Cogan: Not Even an Itsy-Bitsy Step
(HuffPost) It would seem that even an itsy-bitsy step toward the goal of a two-state solution in ex-Palestine would be welcomed in all capitals. On Nov. 29, the United Nations General Assembly voted to upgrade the Palestinian status from that of a non-member “entity” to that of a non-member “state.” … Israel demonstrated once more, implicitly, that it does not favor a two-state solution. It also demonstrated once more that it has no strategic vision as to how to end its 45-year-old occupation of the Palestinian territories. And while it calls on the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table “without preconditions,” while it continues to build settlements in these territories, this festering problem is reduced to the level of farce.
Israel approves new homes in West Bank
Cabinet authorises 3,000 units in illegal settlements in occupied territory, a day after UN upgraded Palestine’s status.
(Al Jazeera) The Israeli government has approved the construction of 3,000 new homes in illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, less than 24 hours after the UN voted for Palestine to be upgraded to a non-member observer state, according to Israeli media reports.
The homes will be built both in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, but the government did not stipulate in which settlements.
According to a report in Haaretz, prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu also plans to “promote planning and construction” in the so-called E-1 area between Jerusalem and Ma’ale Adumim, a major settlement with nearly 40,000 inhabitants.
Robert Landori: A glimmer of hope
Qatar is now positioning itself to rival Iran in its bid for being the region’s ideo-political leader. It has sought to use its immense wealth to win over Hamas with investments and humanitarian aid, while Iran is pushing its long-time role as the builder of the rocket arsenal for Hamas’s military wing.
Qatar’s influence with Hamas could edge it away from armed action toward diplomacy. “What Qatar is trying to do is change the reality, to blaze a trail that will weaken the international isolation of Gaza from the Israeli blockade,” said Salman Shaikh the director of the Brookings Doha Center in Qatar.
Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber bin Muhammad Al Thani, Qatar’s Prime Minister suggested recently that his country would be willing to open dialogue with Israel on a long-term Gaza truce if it leads to lifting the blockade.
It may just be that Qatar, in its quest for leadership of the region, proves to be the key to finding peace in the Middle East.
Palestinians win implicit U.N. recognition of sovereign state
(Reuters) – The 193-nation U.N. General Assembly on Thursday overwhelmingly approved the de facto recognition of the sovereign state of Palestine after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called on the world body to issue its long overdue “birth certificate.”
The U.N. victory for the Palestinians was a diplomatic setback for the United States and Israel, which were joined by only a handful of countries in voting against the move to upgrade the Palestinian Authority’s observer status at the United Nations to “non-member state” from “entity,” like the Vatican. As was to be expected Israel says U.N. vote won’t hasten Palestinian state
Irwin Cotler:Today could have been Palestine’s 65th birthday
(Haaretz) The State of Palestine could have been 65 years old today if the UN partition plan of 1947 had been accepted by the Arab world. A just and lasting peace between two sovereign states is still prejudiced by the false narrative that Palestinians were the only refugees created in 1947.
Berlin Stuck in the Middle on Palestinian Vote
(Spiegel) Ahead of the United Nations vote that is set to recognize a Palestinian state, Germany has announced it will abstain. The move reveals Berlin’s complicated foreign policy loyalties on the issue — and once again reveals Europe’s inability to reach consensus on a key foreign policy issue.
Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle confirmed on Thursday that Germany would abstain on the issue, citing fears that the enhanced status could damage the peace process at this point in time … While Germany supports an independent Palestinian state, this is better achieved through direct negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel, he added.
The Palestinians’ bid … would grant them recognition as a state in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, areas taken by Israel in 1967. It would also grant them access to the International Criminal Court, where it is thought they might try to bring war crimes charges against Israel.
Both Israel and the United States [and Canada] are strongly opposed to the bid, preferring bilateral negotiations instead, and both could withhold funding to the Palestinians in response.
OpenCanada.org – RAPID RESPONSE
SHORT ANSWERS FROM THE EXPERTS
Should U.S. diplomats meet with Hamas leaders when conducting ‘shuttle diplomacy’ in the Middle East? Not surprisingly the answer is yes from all four experts
(Reuters) – Israel and the Islamist Hamas movement agreed on Wednesday to an Egyptian-sponsored ceasefire to halt an eight-day conflict around the Gaza Strip that has killed more than 140 Palestinians and five Israelis.Announcing the ceasefire in Cairo, Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr said it would come into force at 9 p.m. (15:00 EDT)
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, standing alongside him, thanked Egypt’s new Islamist President Mohamed Mursi for his peace efforts, saying his government was assuming “responsibility, leadership” in the region.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told U.S. President Barack Obama he was ready to give the ceasefire a chance, but that “more forceful action” might be needed if it failed, according to a statement from his office.
Stratfor Analysis: This cessation of violence is likely highly tenuous. Israel will only agree to a truce if it has guarantees from Egypt — overseen by the United States — that the Palestinian arsenal of Fajr-5 long-range rockets will be neutralized and that measures will be taken to prevent future weapons transfers to Gaza. It remains to be seen what details surface on this core Israeli demand, especially given its incompatability with Hamas’ demand for the blockade on Gaza to be lifted.
There is also the outstanding issue of Iran … The Fajr-5 rockets are Iranian-made, and Iran facilitated the movement of those weapons into Gaza. Iran may have an interest in prolonging the conflict and could try to use militant levers in Gaza to derail the truce. Israel must also contend with the broader dilemma of future Iranian attempts to smuggle advanced weaponry into Gaza. This is where Egyptian cooperation with Israel on border security becomes crucial. …
We must watch now if Hamas honors the cease-fire and if the organization will have the authority to enforce the cease-fire among other groups, namely the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Until Israel has a guarantee on the Fajr-5s and a cessation of rocket fire, it is unlikely to forgo the option of a military ground operation.
Hamas, Fatah rivals agree to unite over Gaza crisis
(Al Jazeera) Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas said on Monday they have decided to end years of infighting in a show of solidarity over the Gaza crisis, an AFP news agency reporter said.
Israel Military Implements Gaza War, Phase1 of Iran Nuclear Attack Plan
(Market Oracle) The bottom line is that the Israeli Government had put its military plans on hold until after the US Presidential Election, following which it has now implemented it’s 3 stage plan the ultimate goal for which is the destruction of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, towards which it is using the cover of actions in defence of attacks from Gaza that the Israeli elite has engineered as part of a series of war gaming scenarios and plans put together many months ago. These plans have now been put into action and the events in motion suggest that we will first see a Gaza invasion, then of Lebanon, followed by a strike against Iranian nuclear and military infrastructure, all within the next 3 months so as to chime with the January Israeli general election that Prime Minister Netanyahu aims to win.
In respect of the consequences for a region wide war, Israel has miscalculated in their rush to implement plans, as they see the country’s security being underwritten by the United States therefore have ignored the wider middle eastern, Russia, and China dimensions to a conflict that they seem determined to instigate. For instance we could see that whilst the US is preoccupied in another war in the middle east, that China uses that as an excuse to seize the East China Sea Islands that it disputes with Japan and thus change the whole strategic balance of East Asia / Pacific that the US has dominated since the end of World War 2.
The probability of an Israeli ground invasion of Gaza – 90%.
An invasion of Lebanon – 70%.
An conventional attack on Iran’s nuclear infrastructure before the end of January 2013 – 65%.
Use of tactical nuclear weapons on Iran’s deep under ground nuclear infrastructure – 40%.
Probability that Iran will do a deal with the US / UN and disarm before being attacked – 20%.
Gaza a dangerous crisis for turbulent Middle East
(BBC) This crisis is especially dangerous because the Middle East is more turbulent and less stable than at any time since the 1950s.
The old certainties and some of the old faces have gone.
Just look round the borders of Israel and the Palestinian Territories.
Syria is deep in a civil war. Lebanon has so many connections with Syria that it can’t help but be involved.
In Jordan, demonstrators are chanting the slogan they used in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria and all the other places – the people want the fall of the regime.
And Egypt no longer has President Hosni Mubarak, the man that the Americans and the Israelis relied on at moments like this, to uphold the status quo.
Israel’s Shortsighted Assassination
By GERSHON BASKIN, co-chairman of the Israel Palestine Center for Research and Information, a columnist for The Jerusalem Post and the initiator and negotiator of the secret back channel for the release of Gilad Shalit.
(NYT) … No, Mr. Jabari was not a man of peace; he didn’t believe in peace with Israel and refused to have any direct contact with Israeli leaders and even nonofficials like me. … Passing messages between the two sides, I was able to learn firsthand that Mr. Jabari wasn’t just interested in a long-term cease-fire; he was also the person responsible for enforcing previous cease-fire understandings brokered by the Egyptian intelligence agency. Mr. Jabari enforced those cease-fires only after confirming that Israel was prepared to stop its attacks on Gaza. On the morning that he was killed, Mr. Jabari received a draft proposal for an extended cease-fire with Israel, including mechanisms that would verify intentions and ensure compliance. This draft was agreed upon by me and Hamas’s deputy foreign minister, Mr. Hamad, when we met last week in Egypt.
Gaza strikes: Motives and consequences
As widespread attacks and counter-attacks continue, we ask if these are the opening shots in Israel’s election battle.
(Al Jazeera) As Israel and Hamas fighters attack each other, fears are growing that their conflict could develop into a full-scale ground war in the Gaza Strip.
Israel says all options are on the table.
Khaled Meshaal, Hamas’ leader, while attending a conference in Sudan, talked about Israel’s attacks on Gaza:
Today Israel is testing the pulse of the nation, testing Egypt, testing the Arabs and Muslims … if it is able to dictate its orders as in the past or [if] today’s leaders have another vision.
Israel mobilizes, launches airstrikes throughout Gaza
In response to a wave of more than 350 rocket attacks by Hamas militants, Israel has called up army reserves and launched airstrikes against targets throughout Gaza. Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi called the Israeli actions “unacceptable aggression,” while the U.S. has urged that Egypt, Turkey and European nations to demand that Hamas stop its rocket attacks. BBC (11/16)
Israel’s Gamble in Gaza — The Perils of Operation Pillar of Defense
(Foreign Affairs) Israel’s latest campaign in Gaza, which began on Wednesday with the killing of Hamas’ military commander, Ahmed Jabari, and air strikes on the group’s long-range rocket launchers, is a gamble — and one that Israel might lose. Its goal is to compel Hamas to stop shooting rockets into Israel from the Gaza Strip and to crack down on other groups who are also doing so. Hamas, however, will find it hard to bend to Israeli pressure. In turn, it will be up to outside states, particularly Egypt, to foster a deal to end the fighting.
War looms over Gaza as death toll rises
(Reuters) – A Hamas rocket killed three Israelis north of the Gaza Strip on Thursday, drawing the first blood from Israel as the Palestinian death toll rose to 15 in a military showdown lurching closer to all-out war and an invasion of the enclave.
Israeli foreign minister threatens Palestinian president on UN statehood
If the Palestinians pursue state recognition at the UN, then President Mahmoud Abbas should be removed from office, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman demanded in a document released to the media. “A reality in which the United Nations recognizes a Palestinian state according to a unilateral process will destroy all Israeli deterrence and completely harm its credibility,” Lieberman argued in his white paper. The Guardian (London) (11/14)
Did the Israeli military defy PM Netanyahu?
By Samuel Burke
(CNN) A sensational story is rocking Israel this week – alleging that the Israeli military defied orders from its commander in chief, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Leading Israeli journalist Ilana Dayan is reporting that Netanyahu ordered his military to prepare for an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities nearly two years ago. Dayan’s story documents that both the army chief and the head of Mossad (Israeli intelligence) refused to comply with Netanyahu’s order.
Jonathan Sas: Breaking the taboo against criticizing the Jewish state
(National Post) … the Post’s editorial board, like many staunch Zionist voices, is ignoring the fact that Israel’s critics include North American Jews who care deeply about the country’s future.
We care about Israel’s security. And we resent not being able to talk openly about — and, yes, criticize — Israel’s diminished democratic status without being scolded as naive, or even ostracized.
… Our generation cannot ignore when Jewish settlers burn mosques. We cannot explain away the mistreatment and at times violent racism toward African migrants seeking refuge in a country created in the ashes of the Jewish Holocaust. Nor can we ignore attacks on women’s rights in religious Jewish communities.
Finally, we want to be loud and clear that we can’t except that there are two sets of laws, rights and privileges in the West Bank, one for Jews and the other for Arabs.
This does not mean ignoring the security of Israelis. I will never forget that my cousins living in Haifa are within the range of Hezbollah missiles. Nor can my grandmother, who survived through Auschwitz, ignore Ahmadinejad’s disturbing Holocaust denial and Iran’s desire to develop nuclear weapons that would allow Iran to wipe Israel off the map.
Still, we want our voices and legitimate concerns to be heard within our own Jewish communities. We want to fight for what little chance still is left for a two-state solution. And if the Jewish establishment wants a future for Zionism in North America, then it must be a Zionism steeped in the liberal-universalist ideals laid out in the country’s declaration of independence.
Canada, Israel Call for UN Investigator’s Resignation
Allege bias against special investigator on human rights in occupied Palestinian territories
By The Associated Press
(CBC via Information Clearing House) – The UN special investigator on human rights in the Palestinian territories called Wednesday for a boycott of all companies that have dealings with Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem until they adhere to international rights standards and practices.
Israel, the U.S. and Canada all rejected Richard Falk’s report, accusing the UN special rapporteur of bias against Israel and calling for his removal.
In a report presented to the UN General Assembly, Falk said a number of Israeli-owned and multinational corporations headquartered in the U.S., Europe and Mexico appear to be violating international human rights and humanitarian laws by exploiting Palestinian resources and helping Israel construct illegal settlements and provide security for them. However, he said further investigations will be made to determine whether the allegations are well-founded.
Uri Bar-Joseph: Why Israel Should Trade Its Nukes
Stop Iran’s Centrifuges by Accepting a Nuclear-Free Middle East
Israel does not need its nuclear arsenal to remain the strongest power in the Middle East. It can make good use of the stockpile, however, by offering it up as a bargaining chip to end Iran’s nuclear program.
(Foreign Affairs) For 45 years, Israel has been the only nuclear power in the Middle East, enjoying a formidable strategic safety net against any existential threat. Since 1957, Israel has invested tremendous resources in building up a solid nuclear arsenal … For Israel to give up these assets in the midst of an ongoing conflict strikes most Israelis as irrational. This consensus, however, overlooks the fact that Israel’s nuclear capability has not played an important role in the country’s defense. Unlike other nuclear-armed states, Israel initiated its nuclear project not because of an opponent’s real or imagined nuclear capability but because of the worry that, in the long run, Arab conventional forces would outstrip the power of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
Eric Alterman: Shut Up About the Jews Already…
(The Nation via Other News) Few issues are as crucial to the future of the human race as the dynamics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and few are as misunderstood in American politics. The reasons, naturally, are complex; so too, God knows, is the conflict itself. But much of the confusion arises from the combined ability of professional Jewish organizations, right-wing think tanks and media-based neoconservative pundits to misrepresent both the views and the influence of American Jews and to enforce their misrepresentations on the mainstream media via political intimidation.
Warning from above
Analysis: Drone carried with it Iranian message to Israel regarding any future conflict
(Ynetnews) Israel, which threatens Iran and flies regularly over Lebanon to take photos, received a warning on Saturday: We too can fly above you, take photos and reach your most sensitive sites, so don’t mess with us. … For now there are more questions than answers, but there is no doubt that this incident constitutes a major turning point as far as Israel’s security is concerned. The Iranians sent us a message via Lebanon: You will be attacked not only with rockets and missiles, but with explosives-laden unmanned aircraft as well.
Robert Fisk: Benjamin Netanyahu’s warning reveals his moments of memory loss
But whoops! Here’s a little downgrading for the reader. “Iran is the centre of terrorism, fundamentalism and subversion and is … more dangerous than Nazism, because Hitler did not possess a nuclear bomb …” Bibi speaking on Thursday? Nope. The ex-Prime Minister of Israel, Shimon Peres, in 1996. And – I’m indebted here to the indispensable Roger Cohen – Peres himself said in 1992 that Iran would have a nuclear bomb by 1999! That’s 13 years ago. And Ehud Barak – now Bibi’s Defence Minister – said in 1996 that Iran would have a nuke by 2004. That’s eight years ago. Maybe cartoons are all that’s left.
Netanyahu’s ‘red line’
(Al Jazeera) As Israel demands a nuclear ultimatum for Iran, what will happen if Tehran refuses to back down?
‘Bibi Bomb’ cartoon inspires jokes around the world
Israeli prime minister may be ridiculed for his use of props, but supporters say at least it gets him publicity
Netanyahu’s Iran ‘Red Line’ Deadline May Buy U.S. Time
(Bloomberg) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used a drawing of a cartoonish, short-fused bomb to challenge the international community at the United Nations to shut down what he says is Iran’s sophisticated effort to attain nuclear weapons.
Now the world, in particular the U.S., will have to decide what steps may need to be taken to defuse the potentially explosive stand-off between Israel and Iran. Netanyahu, who spoke today by phone with U.S. President Barack Obama, focused on Iran’s production of enriched uranium, potential atomic bomb fuel if removed from international safeguards and further processed.
(Foreign Policy Election Weekly Report) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu provided the U.N. General Assembly’s most memorable moment with a speech during which he drew a literal “red line” on a cartoon bomb, meant to signify the point at which Iran would have nearly enough enriched uranium to build a nuclear weapon, necessitating an Israeli military strike. …
The red line in Netanyahu’s speech, which he predicted would come in “by next spring, at most by next summer,” seemed to indicate that Israel is not planning to attack Iran this year — minimizing the chances of an “October surprise” before the U.S. election. On the other hand, Netanyahu’s statement still seems to be at odds with the White House’s position by suggesting that it is unacceptable for Iran to even have the capacity to build a weapon.
Half of Israelis fear war with Iran would endanger Jewish State’s existence
(The Independent) It is a startling finding that will worry Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has argued that a pre-emptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities may be necessary to prevent it from obtaining the atom bomb. … Undermining the calls for military action from the government are the sober warnings from retired defence officials, who fear that a pre-emptive strike would precipitate a new Middle East war, the consequences of which would be impossible to predict.
Palestinians’ deepening financial crisis ‘threatening Oslo Accords’
(The Independent) World Bank urges donors to act urgently and calls on Israel to remove trade barriers in the West Bank
The Palestinian economy is in a deepening crisis because of a shortfall in donor funding and Israeli obstacles to Palestinian investment in the most fertile parts of the occupied West Bank, the World Bank warned yesterday.
The stark depiction of the Palestinians’ economic woes is likely to revive fears in the West of further unrest in the Occupied Territories amid a stagnating peace process and a week of protests against the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.
Benjamin Netanyahu warning on Iranian nuclear progress
Benjamin Netanyahu stubbornly ignored warnings from the White House to tone down his rhetoric on Iran, warning that Tehran would be on the brink of nuclear weapons capability in six to seven months.
Benjamin Netanyahu’s angry threats against Iran have put West on edge over possible Israeli attack
Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is weighing up the options for an attack against Iran, to the consternation of many western leaders.
Revolution in the air at last
Palestinians are becoming a lot more restless and angry again
WHEREAS Israel’s settlements, the building of a separation barrier through the West Bank and sporadic bouts of violence have failed in the past seven years or so to rouse the Palestinians to a mass insurrection, the cost of petrol and bread might yet succeed. In recent demonstrations across the West Bank, where the Palestinian Authority (PA) is supposed to be in charge, cries of anger have quickly switched from “Down with prices!” to “Down with Salam Fayyad!”, the PA’s prime minister, “Down with Mahmoud Abbas!”, the PA’s president, and, after a week of protests, “Down with the Oslo accords!”, the agreement in 1993 between Israel and the Palestinians which gave birth to the PA. With the PA now offering no clear strategy for liberation, many Palestinians deem it to have become a vehicle for Israel’s 45-year-long military occupation. …
This is not yet an Egyptian-style revolution, though some of the protesters wish it were. Outside Hebron, the Islamists, who could swing the balance, have cautiously watched from the sidelines. Young Palestinians are leaderless. Many seem satisfied, at least for the time being, by Mr Fayyad’s volte face on prices.
But the PA’s deeper problems are far from resolved. Tied into Israel’s economy thanks to an additional feature of the Oslo accords, West Bankers pay Israeli prices for goods while earning a fifth of Israeli salaries. The Palestinians, like the PA, are deeply in debt; if the banks refused to shell out, the Palestinian financial system could collapse. Mr Fayyad limps along from month to month, seeking foreign handouts. But Gulf donors now feel as reluctant as Palestinians to support an entity that seems incapable of ending Israel’s occupation, and have switched their funds to Gaza, the seaside enclave from which Israel withdrew in 2005 and which has been fully run since 2007 by the Islamists of Hamas, Fatah’s bitter rival.
Palestinian statehood: Is the 2-state solution finished?
The bid by Palestinians to gain recognition at the United Nations, widely seen as an alternative to decades of failed negotiations with Israel, began with great fanfare, but is now flagging. As Palestinian leaders prepare to state their case before the General Assembly, observers are asking whether chances for a two-state solution are finished. BBC (9/14)
Stop! Go! The great Israeli debate on Iran
The breadth and scope of Israel’s internal debate and disagreement over a potential attack on Iran are unprecedented in the country’s history. International analysis naturally centres on an attack’s strategic ramifications. Domestically, though, the nature of the Iranian threat underscores four unresolved issues of governability. They’ve always been at the core of the Israeli reality, but the debate on Iran renders these issues more acute.
First is the challenge of governance. Israel’s commander-in-chief isn’t a person but an entity – a coalition government whose members often disagree. Coalition politics makes decision-making difficult at the best of times, but, to go to war, the Prime Minister needs consensus within his cabinet as well as within the public.
Israel: an innovation gem, in Europe’s backyard
Israel is a first-tier innovation hub, second in the world only to Silicon Valley in its concentration of start-up companies
Kelly McParland: Benjamin Netanyahu is playing a dangerous game with U.S. support and Israel’s future
Mr. Netanyahu believes fiercely that a pre-emptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities may be the only possible means of preventing that country from obtaining a weapon capable of wiping Israel off the map, a goal Iran’s leadership has often professed. President Barack Obama, along with many within Israel’s own security and defence apparatus, believe it has not yet reached that point.
It is impossible to know who is right. Certain of his convictions, however, Mr. Netanyahu has launched a very public challenge of the U.S. at a time it is in the final weeks of a close election race. He is very clearly rolling the dice in a risky move that could go very badly. Israel has many friends around the world, Canada not least of them; many of those friends could be forgiven for wondering whether Mr. Netanyahu’s bet is ill-advised at such a crucial and dangerous moment.
Gaza ‘will not be liveable by 2020’ – UN report
(BBC) Basic infrastructure in water, health, education and sanitation “is struggling to keep pace with a growing population”, according to the report.
It estimates Gaza’s population will rise from 1.6m to 2.1m by 2020.
Gaza has no air or sea ports, and the economy is heavily dependent on outside funding and smuggling through tunnels under the Egyptian border.
The Rise of Settler Terrorism — The West Bank’s Other Violent Extremists
(Foreign Affairs September/October) Late this past June, a group of Israeli settlers in the West Bank defaced and burned a mosque in the small West Bank village of Jabaa. Graffiti sprayed by the vandals warned of a “war” over the planned evacuation, ordered by the Israeli Supreme Court, of a handful of houses illegally built on private Palestinian land near the Israeli settlement of Beit El. The torching of the mosque was the fourth such attack in 18 months and part of a wider trend of routine violence committed by radical settlers against innocent Palestinians, Israeli security personnel, and mainstream settler leaders — all aimed at intimidating perceived enemies of the settlement project.
This violence has not always plagued the settler community. Although many paint all Israeli settlers as extremists, conflating them with the often-justified criticism of Israeli government policy in the West Bank, the vast majority of them oppose attacks against Palestinian civilians or the Israeli state. In the past, Israeli authorities and the settler leadership often worked together to prevent such assaults and keep radicalism at bay. Yet in recent years, the settler movement has experienced a profound breakdown in discipline, with extremists now beyond the reach of either Israeli law enforcement or the discipline of settler leaders…
Dr. Charles G. Cogan: The Balfour Declaration and the Rationale for Jewish Settlements in the West Bank
(HuffPost) Putting aside other agreements made before and after the Balfour Declaration (including the 1947 UN partition plan for Palestine, accepted by the Jews but not by the Arabs), the Balfour Declaration called for a Jewish national home in “Palestine” which later became defined, per above, as ending at the Jordan River. Which meant that West Bank was included within Palestine as so defined and therefore could be considered justified as an area where Jews could legitimately settle. This is not just an antique argument; I heard the Balfour Declaration recently cited by a Jewish interlocutor as a justification for Israeli settlements on the West Bank (which the Arabs claim as the area for a future Palestinian state.)
But the British Mandate also specified the following: … “it being clearly understood that nothing should be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”
Palestinian campaign is under way for new UN status
High-ranking Palestinian officials are slated next month to address the United Nations General Assembly in a campaign to gain non-member observer status, which would enable eligibility for certain UN agencies and the International Criminal Court at The Hague. Israel’s UN envoy said greater recognition of Palestinians at the world body would not boost their chances for peace or statehood. United Press International (8/5), Reuters (8/5)
It’s Not (Just) the Culture, Stupid: 4 Reasons Why Israel’s Economy Is So Strong
The government has learned from economic disaster, embraced high-skilled immigrants, played venture capitalist, and imported one heck of a good central banker.
(The Atlantic) Romney’s stand does raise a few good questions. Among them: How on earth has Israel become so successful? Sure, its economy has no shortage of problems — in particular, a startling degree of income inequality. But in the span of just a few decades, the Jewish state has “transformed itself from a semisocialist backwater into a high-tech superpower,” as The Economist put it in 2010. Per capita, it gives birth to more technology startups and is the destination for more venture capital than any other country is the world. Its economy barely flinched during the financial crisis.
Israel’s Draft Exemption For Ultra-Orthodox Expires
(Reuters via HuffPost) – An Israeli law that exempts ultra-Orthodox Jewish seminary students from military service expired on Wednesday under a court ruling, a highly emotive issue that has shaken Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government. (Al Jazeera) Israel’s ultra-Orthodox to face army draft — Defence minister orders army to prepare conscription for men from conservative community previously exempt from duty.
Israel Walls Itself In
(IPS) – As Israel continues to build walls and fences along virtually each of its borders, analysts say the country’s isolationist policies and unwillingness to deal with the Palestinians and other Arab neighbours through anything other than forceful means spells disaster.
Israel’s eight-metre high “Separation Barrier” with the West Bank – referred to by most Palestinians as the Apartheid Wall – is now in its tenth year of construction. As of April 2012, 434 kilometres, or almost 62 percent of the total length of the wall, had been completed.The Israeli government promotes the wall as a way to protect Israeli civilians from Palestinian violence. Palestinians say that the wall, which cuts deep into the occupied West Bank, is a means for Israel to seize more Palestinian land.
When finished, the wall is expected to annex 530 square kilometres of Palestinian land, equivalent to the area of Chicago, the United States’ third largest city, according to the Palestinian human rights group Al Haq.
But Israel’s push to erect walls and fences around itself doesn’t end at the Separation Wall; construction of a 230-kilometre fence along Israel’s southern border with Egypt is moving forward at a frantic pace, in an attempt to keep African asylum seekers out.
Tourists seen as casualties of Mideast “shadow war”
The attack on Israeli tourists Wednesday by a suicide bomber on a bus in Bulgaria is being characterized as a potential strike in a “shadow war” between Iran and Israel. Five tourists were killed and dozens injured in the incident, which Israel says was orchestrated by Iran or Hezbollah. But Hezbollah says Israeli tourists are not targets for reprisal for attacks it blames on Israel. The Washington Post (7/19), Spiegel Online (Germany) (7/19), The Christian Science Monitor (7/19)
Who Poisoned Yasser Arafat (and Why?)
By Uri Avnery – TRANSCEND/Human Wrongs Watch
(via other-news.info) … Ariel Sharon’s determination to kill Arafat was well known. Already during the siege of Beirut in Lebanon War I, it was no secret that agents were combing West Beirut for his whereabouts. To Sharon’s great frustration, they did not find him. Even after Oslo, when Arafat came back to Palestine, Sharon did not let up. When he became Prime Minister, my fear for Arafat’s life became acute.
… Arafat was the man who was able to make peace with Israel, willing to do so, and – more important – to get his people, including the Islamists, to accept it. This would have put an end to the settlement enterprise.
That’s why he was poisoned.
What’s going on in Israel?
By Stephen M. Walt, Robert and Renée Belfer professor of international relations at Harvard University.
(Foreign Policy) One of the more enduring myths in the perennial debate on the Israel-Palestine conflict is the claim that Israel has always been interested in a fair and just peace, and that the only thing standing in the way of a deal is the Palestinians’ commitment to Israel’s destruction. This notion has been endlessly recycled by Israeli diplomats and by Israel’s defenders in the United States and elsewhere.
Of course, fair-minded analysts of the conflict have long known that this pernicious narrative was bogus.
Bibi’s Shell Game in the West Bank
The public lost track of the real story, which is the utter legal, political, and moral bankruptcy of Israel’s settlement policy.
(Foreign Policy) The United States isn’t the only country where the highest court in the land is making its voice heard on the thorniest political issues. In Israel, the whole country has been gripped by the fate of five apartment buildings in the West Bank settlement of Beit El. The Israeli Supreme Court ruled last year that these buildings, which were built on privately owned Palestinian land without the owner’s permission, must be removed by July 1.
But unlike in the United States, it was far from clear that the Supreme Court’s verdict would actually be respected.
Uri Avnery: The War of Lies
THIRTY YEARS ago this week, the Israeli army crossed into Lebanon and started the most stupid war in Israel’s history. It lasted for 18 years. About 1500 Israeli soldiers and untold numbers of Lebanese and Palestinians were killed.
Uri Avnery: The New Protest
RABIN SQUARE in Tel Aviv has seen many demonstrations, but none quite like last Saturday’s.
Gideon Levy: Israelis can be angry with Gunter Grass, but they must listen to him
(Haaretz) After we denounce the exaggeration, after we shake off the unjustified part of the charge, we must listen to the condemnation of these great people.
Gunter Grass’s Controversial Poem About Israel, Iran, and War, Translated
(The Atlantic) On Wednesday, Nobel-winning German writer Günter Grass published a poem denouncing Israel’s nuclear program and aggression toward Iran. The poem, in which Grass says he has kept silent on the issue for fear of being labeled anti-Semitic, has sparked controversy within Germany, where relations with Israel are often colored by a sense of national guilt for the Holocaust. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the poem’s assertion that Israel poses a greater threat to world peace than Iran a “shameful moral equivalence.” The poem also laments Germany’s decision to sell submarines to Israel that are capable of launching nuclear weapons.
Israel allows export from Gaza to West Bank for first time since Hamas coup
NGO Gisha calls it a key step by Jerusalem to encourage Gaza’s economic development.
(Haaretz) The question is whether this is a one-time gesture to the WFP or a change in policy. If marketing goods to the West Bank can be approved once, why can’t it be allowed on a routine basis?
Egypt presidential hopeful: Peace treaty with Israel is over
Dr. Ayman Nur, a secular and liberal member of the opposition, tells Egypt radio that it would behoove the new government to renegotiate the terms of the Camp David accord.
In a recent speech before the Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI), Ambassador Daniel Shapiro clarified what drives US policies:
“The test of every policy the Administration develops in the Middle East is whether it is consistent with the goal of ensuring Israel’s future as a secure, Jewish, democratic state. That is a commitment that runs as a common thread through our entire government.”
Shapiro went on to say: “This test explains our extraordinary security cooperation, our stand against the delegitimization of Israel, our efforts on Iran, our response to the Arab Spring, and our efforts on Israeli-Palestinian peace.”