Mitch Joel WARNING... LONG RANT! It takes a lot for me to both get angry and publish about it. Canada’s…
NYT Topics – Israel
J Street the political home for pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans
Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle
(Foreign Policy May/June 2010) Middle East Peace: So Why Have We Failed?
Al Jazeera: The Palestine papers
For a refreshingly different view of Israeli politics : Uri Averny’s columns
Chen Kane: Israeli debate on war with Iran is unprecedented
The recent debate in Israel about the urgency of Iran’s nuclear threat and the wisdom of an Israeli military attack to counter it are historically unprecedented.
While the debate among Israel’s leadership about action against Iran has gone on for years, until recently, the public and media have been shielded from the content of debate. The curtain has been increasingly drawn back since last January when the outgoing head of Israel’s Mossad, Meir Dagan, called an Israeli military action “the stupidest thing I have ever heard.”
Former Mossad chief fears ‘reckless’ leaders
Dagan has expressed fears that the absence of any Israeli peace initiative would leave it floundering in September when the Palestinian Authority is expected to request, and receive, recognition of a Palestinian state by the United Nations. “He is afraid that Israel’s subsequent isolation will push its leaders to the wall and cause them to take reckless action against Iran,” wrote Haaretz reporter Ari Shavit last weekend.
Israel should heed ex-Mossad head’s Iran attack warning
(Haaretz) There is no clearer symptom of the sickly state of public discourse in Israel than efforts at silencing Meir Dagan.
Charles G. Cogan — Netanyahu: “generous concessions” from a hard heart
What is left, then, of the “generous concessions’? They in effect do not exist. There is nothing that would compensate for the red lines that Netanyahu laid down in his speech. One can only conclude, therefore, that this is in effect nothing but an artfully constructed (and maintained) sham.
Israelis Increasingly Resigned to Life without Peace
(Spiegel) There was a time when Israel was anxious to strike a peace deal with the Palestinians. Now, however, the majority of the country’s population seems to have given up hope. While young Arabs are rebelling against autocratic regimes in the region, apathy is spreading in Israel.
A UN Secretary General vs Freedom Flotilla 2
(Al Jazeera) Humanitarian ships to sail to Gaza again, despite current UN disapproval and a previous attempt that turned deadly.
It is expected that at the end of June, Freedom Flotilla 2 will set sail for Gaza, carrying various forms of humanitarian aid, including medical, school, and construction materials. This second flotilla will consist of 15 ships – including the Mavi Marmara from the first flotilla – sailing from Istanbul, but also vessels departing from several European countries, and carrying as many as 1,500 humanitarian activists as passengers. If these plans are carried out, as seems likely, it means that the second flotilla is about double the size of the first that was so violently intercepted by Israeli commandos in international waters on May 31, 2010
A UN Secretary General vs Freedom Flotilla 2
No Harper-Netanyahu G8 talks: spokesman says amid glowing Israeli reports
(Canadian Press) The statement by Dimitri Soudas, Harper’s communications director, appears to contradict a report in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that Netanyahu phoned Harper before the summit to ask him to block G8 support for a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders.
Bibi and the Yo-Yos
IT WAS all rather disgusting.
There they were, the members of the highest legislative bodies of the world’s only superpower, flying up and down like so many yo-yos, applauding wildly, every few minutes or seconds, the most outrageous lies and distortions of Binyamin Netanyahu.
… Netanyahu, along with his associates and political bedfellows, is determined to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state by all and any means. That did not start with the present government – it is an aim deeply embedded in Zionist ideology and practice. The founders of the movement set the course, David Ben-Gurion acted to implement it in 1948, in collusion with King Abdallah of Jordan. Netanyahu is just adding his bit. Uri Avnery
Obama and Netanyahu admit ‘differences’ on Middle East
(BBC) The talks came after Mr Obama said in a key speech that any future Palestinian state must be based on the borders that existed prior to the 1967 war.
A defiant Mr Netanyahu said there may be some concessions but stressed the 1967 lines were “indefensible”.
Israel-Lebanon clashes yield rival UN protests
Protests have been filed with the United Nations over last weekend’s deadly clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian demonstrators on the Israel-Lebanon border — with Lebanon accusing Israel of using excessive force against unarmed civilians, and Israel accusing Lebanon and Syria in the deaths of 14, and the injuries to hundreds. The United States accused Syria of inciting the border clashes in order to draw attention away from its bloody, weeks-old crackdown on anti-government protesters. Google/Agence France-Presse (5/16), Reuters (5/16)
George Mitchell’s exit marks low point in peace process
(Politico) The resignation of U.S. Middle East special envoy George Mitchell on Friday puts a punctuation mark on the end of two years of high-profile meetings and quiet stalemate in the Israel-Palestinian peace process, which has all but collapsed on the Obama administration’s watch.
this year’s developments in the region – the Arab Spring, and a consequent surprise peace deal between rival Palestinian factions brokered by Egypt – cast the Obama administration’s role further to the margins. With the White House signaling that there will be no new push for Arab-Israeli peace in a major presidential speech on the Arab Spring tentatively scheduled for Thursday, there was little reason for Mitchell to stay.
Fatah and Hamas sign reconciliation deal
Palestinian factions agree to form interim government and fix general election date following talks in Cairo.
(Al Jazeera) Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera’s senior political analyst, said: “It is important news … the geopolitical situation wasn’t exactly helpful [to reconciliation] and then we went through six months of upheavals, certainly sweeping through Egypt.
“At the end, you could say that President Abbas has lost his patron in Egypt, which is President Mubarak, and Hamas is more on less facing almost similar trouble now, with Bashar Al-Assad [Syria’s president] facing his own trouble in Damascus.
“So with the US keeping a distance, Israel not delivering the goods on the peace process and the settlements, it was time for Palestinians to come together and agree on what they basically agreed on almost a year and a half ago.”
Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, said on Wednesday that Abbas could not hope to forge a peace deal with Israel if he pursued a reconciliation accord with Hamas.
“The Palestinian Authority must choose either peace with Israel or peace with Hamas. There is no possibility for peace with both,” he said.
Dozens of prominent Israeli intellectuals signed a letter supporting the establishment of a Palestinian state.
(Washington Post) The declaration, which was issued in expectation of moves to recognize a Palestinian state at the United Nations in September, asserts that the end of Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory “is a fundamental condition for the liberation of both peoples, for the fulfillment of the Israeli declaration of independence and for the independence of the State of Israel.”
Israel: A brief history of the fight over a land the size of New Jersey
(Washington Times) For a generation we’ve been hearing about the need for “peace in the Middle East.” Leading to the question, why would the many Muslim states in the world wants to do away with the one tiny Jewish state in existence?
In over simplified terms, the Muslim world wants specific chunks of Israeli territory back as well as the formation of a state called Palestine. The Jews, on the other hand, want security for their own state of Israel.
Mingled into these desires are over 3,000 years of struggle for dominance and diametrically opposing views of God’s will.
Palestinian Authority largely ready to govern, UN says
(BBC) The government in the West Bank is largely ready to govern a Palestinian state, the United Nations has said.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) has successfully built some institutions and public services required for a future state, the UN said in a report.
But it warned that the PA’s efforts could only go so far without resolving its conflict with Israel and the division with the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.
Obama: Israel, Palestinians must make peace now
(Haaretz) Calling Peres “an extraordinary statesman,” Obama also said the two discussed how to help promote both democracy and economic opportunity in Egypt.
The meeting took place even as the United States condemned the announcement this week that new apartment buildings have been approved for the southern Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo.
Israel approves 942 Jewish homes in Gilo settlement
(BBC) The move comes ahead of talks between Israeli President Shimon Peres and US President Barack Obama in Washington.
Almost 500,000 Jews live in settlements on occupied territory. The settlements are illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.
Ship Bound For Egypt Is Seized By Israel
Military officials said that the ship, which was flying a Liberian flag, had sailed to Turkey from Syria. The assessment was that the weapons were bound for Gaza
What do the Muslim Brotherhood and the ultra-Orthodox religious-right have in common?
Israelis complain about the Muslim Brotherhood, but fail to take on rabbis whose rhetoric is no less incendiary.
(Haaretz) Of course there is a world of difference between the Islamist and the Israeli ultra-Orthodox religious-right establishments, but they have one trait in common, and that is fundamentalism. They share a firm and unshakable belief that in every instance, their religious code is supreme over all man-made legal systems, especially democracy. In other words, sharia or halakha trumps every other consideration.
Egypt, Israel and a Strategic Reconsideration
(Stratfor) The worst-case scenario for Israel would be a return to the pre-1978 relationship with Egypt without a settlement with the Palestinians. That would open the door for a potential two-front war with an intifada in the middle. To avoid that, the ideological pressure on Egypt must be eased, and that means a settlement with the Palestinians on less-than-optimal terms. The alternative is to stay the current course and let Israel take its chances. The question is where the greater safety lies. Israel has assumed that it lies with confrontation with the Palestinians. That’s true only if Egypt stays neutral. If the pressure on the Palestinians destabilizes Egypt, it is not the most prudent course.
There are those in Israel who would argue that any release in pressure on the Palestinians will be met with rejection. If that is true, then, in my view, that is catastrophic news for Israel. In due course, ideological shifts and recalculations of Israeli intentions will cause a change in Egyptian policy. This will take several decades to turn into effective military force, and the first conflicts may well end in Israeli victory. But, as I have said before, it must always be remembered that no matter how many times Israel wins, it need only lose once to be annihilated.
To some it means that Israel should remain as strong as possible. To me it means that Israel should avoid rolling the dice too often, regardless of how strong it thinks it is. The Mubarak affair might open a strategic reconsideration of the Israeli position. Read entire article. Egypt, Israel and a Strategic Reconsideration is republished with permission of STRATFOR.
James Taub: The White House Waits
(NYT) By late last year, the Middle East peace process had become a process in name only. … This was the dismal state of play when the Arab world was jolted by an eruption of “people power” in Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere. … In an interview conducted in early February, nine days into the Egypt protests, Vice President Joseph Biden told me, “I think we’ll have to wait and see what the nature of the transition is” — in Egypt and other key U.S. allies in the region — “and whether it sheds light or sets fires.”
YOSSI KLEIN HALEVI: Israel, Alone Again?
(NYT Op-ed) ISRAELIS want to rejoice over the outbreak of protests in Egypt’s city squares. They want to believe that this is the Arab world’s 1989 moment. Perhaps, they say, the poisonous reflex of blaming the Jewish state for the Middle East’s ills will be replaced by an honest self-assessment.
But few Israelis really believe in that hopeful outcome. Instead, the grim assumption is that it is just a matter of time before the only real opposition group in Egypt, the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, takes power. Israelis fear that Egypt will go the way of Iran or Turkey, with Islamists gaining control through violence or gradual co-optation (sic).
Either result would be the end of Israel’s most important relationship in the Arab world.
Charles Cogan: The One-and-a-Half-State Solution
(HuffPost) A number of observers have noted recently the progress being made in the West Bank under the premiership of a former economist at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Salam Fayyad.
It would seem very doubtful that the Israeli Government would agree to Fayyad’s terms for a peace settlement, especially given the Israelis’ intransigence in the face of the Palestinians’ flexibility in the 2008 negotiations, as revealed by al-Jazeera earlier this week. The Israelis, then, might continue to stall and feint, paying occasional lip-service to the idea of a two-state solution while letting the 40 per cent of the West Bank continue to develop. Such a situation would prevent Israel from becoming an Arab-majority state faced with the dilemma of remaining Jewish and also remaining democratic [our italics].
Instead of a two-state solution, … a one-and-a-half state solution, if you will, may well be the Israeli end-game, …. However, it would not give Israel the international legitimacy it seeks. And it could well bring on a third Arab uprising (intifada).
Palestinian leader hits back at claims that he ‘sold out’ to Israel
(The Independent) Palestinian officials were scrambling yesterday to head off a mounting political crisis by claiming that thousands of leaked communiqués documenting unprecedented concessions in favour of Israel were a mixture of fabrications and distortions. Rioters turn their fury on Al Jazeera
Introducing The Palestine Papers
Al Jazeera has obtained more than 1,600 internal documents from a decade of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
Over the last several months, Al Jazeera has been given unhindered access to the largest-ever leak of confidential documents related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There are nearly 1,700 files, thousands of pages of diplomatic correspondence detailing the inner workings of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. These documents – memos, e-mails, maps, minutes from private meetings, accounts of high level exchanges, strategy papers and even power point presentations – date from 1999 to 2010.
Palestine Papers: Al Jazeera, Guardian Release Documents On Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Today, Al Jazeera and the Guardian released the first of more than 1,600 documents related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
(HuffPost) The document dump comes just hours after The Associated Press reported that Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is drafting plans for a provisional Palestine. Palestinian leaders have rejected the notion as a “publicity stunt.”
The Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland explains the significance of the Palestine Papers.
On the Israeli side, the papers show the level of Israeli intransigence: “There are no exposés of hypocrisy or double talk; on the contrary, the Israelis’ statements inside the negotiating room echo what they have consistently said outside it.”
On the Palestinian side, however, the papers reveal the deep concessions Palestinian negotiators were willing to make on issues from control of Jerusalem to the right of return for Palestinian refugees, in order to achieve peace.
These revelations, Freedland writes, “blow apart what has been a staple of Israeli public diplomacy: the claim that there is no Palestinian partner. That theme, a refrain of Israeli spokesmen on and off for years, is undone by transcripts which show that there is not only a Palestinian partner but one more accommodating than will surely ever appear again.”
Palestine papers: Now we know. Israel had a peace partner
(The Guardian) The classified documents show Palestinians willing to go to extreme lengths and Israel holding a firm line on any peace deal
Palestinians push ahead with UN gambit, risk U.S. favor
The Palestinian move to bring the issue of Israeli settlements to the fore via a resolution before the UN Security Council is also intended to gauge support for international recognition of a Palestinian state as early as next fall. Israel’s UN-based diplomats went on strike Wednesday as Palestinians pressed ahead with their bid for UN condemnation of the settlements, a measure the United States opposes. Google/The Associated Press (1/20) , ForeignPolicy.com/Turtle Bay blog (1/19)
Minority rule: They make up 9% of Israelis, but the Haredim’s extremist influence is far reaching
(National Post) About half of ultra-Orthodox adults do not work and nearly 60% of the men are full-time Torah students who receive government stipends.
But with a birth rate that far exceeds the national average, their numbers are expected to double over the next 15 years.
Since their schools, which focus on religion, refuse to teach core subjects such as mathematics, science or English, economists fear the Haredim could soon become a drag on the economy.
Government studies show already 56% live below the poverty line and make up 20% of the country’s poor.
Some economists believe, in the long run, the growth of the Haredim could create an “existential danger,” since the proportion of Israelis who contribute most to the economy and military is shrinking.
U.S. support is lacking for UN resolution on Israel settlements
The permanent Palestinian observer at the United Nations says that he and others have been unable, thus far, to garner U.S. backing for a draft resolution condemning the continued Israeli construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The resolution, submitted last month, could be considered by the Security Council as early as next week. Reuters (1/10) , Bloomberg (1/7)
Israel seeks bigger share of gas profits
(FT) The Israeli government is poised to raise sharply its cut of the expected profits, likely to run into billions of dollars, from a spate of offshore discoveries of natural gas [See: Noble Says Tests Show Leviathan Is Significant Gas Discovery Off Israel
Gwynne Dyer: The vanishing two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
(Straight.com) What does it mean when the United States, Britain, France and Spain upgrade the diplomatic status of the Palestinian delegations in their capitals, as they all did in the past year? When the number of countries recognizing Palestinian statehood now exceeds one hundred?
Binyamin Ben Eliezer, former deputy prime minister of Israel and Minister of Industry, Trade and Labour in the current government, thinks he knows. “I wouldn’t be surprised if within one year the whole world supports a Palestinian state, including the United States,” he warned his cabinet colleagues recently.
Ben Eliezer doesn’t mean a hypothetical Palestinian state at some point in the distant future, after Israelis and Palestinians have miraculously agreed on borders, refugees, etc. He means a real Palestinian state, declared this year and promptly recognized by practically everybody.
2 January 2011
Palestinians to appeal to U.N. with anti-settlement resolution
(LATimes) The carefully worded resolution declares Jewish settlement in the West Bank a major obstacle to ending the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. It is meant to increase pressure on Israel and the U.S. to move forward.