Peace talks between the Israeli government and PLO are suddenly at the front of business for Egypt and France. Secret meetings are reported, and denied. Netanyahu insists it is no business of any foreign government and the PLO says the reports are false. We’ll wait and see.
Saeb Erekat, former negotiator, now PLO secretary general denies that he proposed secret talks with Israel. But former Israeli negotiator Silvan Shalom, says the PLO proposal was rejected by Israel, in secret, so the US would blame Palestinians, not Israel, for no negotiations.
The US consultancy group Stratfor here gives its analysis of the cause and effects of the ‘knife intifada’. They accept that it is in part a product of the complete absence of hope in any peace talks but suggest, as IDF leaders already have, that Israel could afford to make concessions – if asked nicely.
We don’t know if Tony Blair greeted Hamas officials in Doha as ‘my friends’ – he could have if the spirit moved him – but the political officers of Israel, the PA, the UK and Israel know he has greeted them. Israel does not want another war – too costly in terms of money and reputation. Palestinians fear he will sell their birthright – a unified Palestinian state – by treating Gaza as a separate entity.
Henry Siegman, former executive director of the American Jewish Congress (one of the nation’s “big three” Jewish organizations) has become a scourge of Israel in recent years. Here is his interview with Amy Goodman of DEMOCRACY NOW, in which he advocates giving up on Netanyahu and going to the UN to enforce a peaceful solution.
Palestinian / Israeli distrust, the starting Palestinian demand – Israel must define its borders, and Israel’s – Palestine must recognise us as The Jewish State – block any start in talks. But such is the frustration, that there are many talks going on between third parties, mainly other Arab countries whose own fear of Iran has created some common ground with Israel. So Iran may rescue Israel from growing international frustration and threats.
How absurd and cynical it is to maintain an occupation for 47 years and expect the Palestinians to simply obey and feel sanguine about it says Alon Ben-Meir. Netanyahu has no strategy, only a tactic of torpedoing any peace talks. It’s a master-class in losing friends. Will he be surprised or pleased if the Palestinians rebel?
The headline refers to Israel’s religious right, the subject of Ofer Zalzberg’s article though it could be applied to all religious dogmatics including Muslim ones, also excluded from any peace talks. Those involved in the peace-making business for the last decades have excluded the religious as too irrational or extreme to join in. Given their domestic sway, this may be a grave strategic error (if excluding of all women).
Weeks after it became evident that US-brokered peace talks had produced nothing and that the intransigent Netanyahu is in fact on the diplomatic wing of his party, the US is still opposing Palestine going to the ICC on the grounds that – it would damage the peace talks. Eh? And Israel remains unaccountable and above the law.
This might be self-hating- or self-loving-Jew corner. Like Groucho Marx, Bibi does not want to talk with anyone who wants to talk with him, eg anyone from the PNA or John Kerry’s team. He definitely does not want to be in the club which takes negotiating with Palestinians seriously. He wants to have the last laugh. B.Michael makes the link.
Since the Israelis reneged on the prisoner release agreement, the PA has adopted a new strategy: to gather ever greater legitimacy for statehood in the international arena, slowly turning Israel into a pariah nation for refusing to end the occupation. The PA itself is a vehicle that cannot get Abbas to his destination. Jonathan Cook assesses their options.
In their view, the Obama administration had no choice but to believe that hard work and good will would produce observable change in Palestine/Israel relations. They were wrong. Kerry saw Israeli intransigence and ‘poof’, hope went. Israeli hardliners crow at the failure of this ‘Arab lapdog’. With the US no longer a player, who, if anyone, will make the first move to break the status-quo?
A stop to settlement building was the first demand of the PA in the current negotiations with the Israelis who responded with an announcement of 1400 new tenders for housing in the West Bank . Netanyahu linked it to the release of Palestinian prisoners which he has failed to deliver. Abbas now has little choice but to make that release his final stand.
Some Palestinians remained hopeful that Kerry’s efforts would force Israel to be serious. But the failure to release prisoners, as promised, and the announcement of new settlements, show they are not – despite Kerry’s last minute offer of Jonathan Pollard. The PA is now preparing to apply to join up to 15 UN bodies, despite US and Israeli pressure not to, in a demonstration of their statehood.
Netanyahu prevaricates and redraws his red lines (even the NY Times thinks pushing for ‘the Jewish state’ recognition is a step too far); Abbas is pressed by demands he cannot meet and keep the people on side, Kerry is run off his feet what with the Syria and now Ukraine crises to deal with as well. Obama wants these talks to go ahead. He cannot make them happen.
As Mahmoud Abbas points out, Israel did not demand that the governments of Jordan or Egypt recognise Israel as ‘the Jewish state’ before reaching peace agreements with them. Why demand it of the Palestinians? By suddenly making this demand, the Israeli government has, in the judgment of the Arab League, tried to foil the talks. It certaianly hasn’t won the Israelis any friends, outside AIPAC.
Naftali Bennett is a very ambitious politician. Gambling on outpacing Likud in picking up fearful Israeli votes he announces that Jews will be killed in any area governed by Palestinians and blood-hungry Palestinians would flood any territory conceded to them. He is speaking to unnamed ‘international actors’ who are using Palestine/Israel as an ‘experiment’. Those are his triggers. What effect is he hoping for?
During decades of talks about talks between Palestinian and Israeli representatives, the Israelis had not demanded recognition as a ‘Jewish state’. Palestinian negotiators stated their recognition of the state of Israel at Oslo – so what’s new? The demand diverts attention from the key issues of borders, refugees and a Palestinian state; it invites international acceptance of racial discrimination inside Israel – who cares as long as Jewishness is hegemonic? It might scupper the Kerry talks. At the same time, evidence inexorably emerged that the Israeli state was created by extreme, illegal violence.
The Guardian newspaper began the New Year with an editorial acknowledging difficulties in negotiations with Palestinian leaders but saying the obstacle to successful negotiation was Israel’s display of willingness to talk while while reusing to make any decision that will alter the status quo. Letters were published which both supported and disagreed with the editorial.
Both Mick Davis, multi-milionaire former CEO of Xstrata and Avigdor Lieberman have reputations for aggressive zionism – though in the case of Davis, this meant calling for open criticism of Israel if Anglo-Zionists were to have a future. Both have recently had humbling experiences – Davis losing control of X-Strata and Lieberman suspended from office while he was investigated – then cleared – of fraud charges. Time off seems to have added a sense of urgency about getting other Jews to accept the need for a peace deal with the Palestinians under Kerry’s leadership.