U.S. ambassador discusses Settlements, Goldstone, Peace process, Iran (plus commentary)

Posted: November 4th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, The Settlements, the US and us | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »
ambassador James Cunningham

ambassador Cunningham

U.S. ambassador to Israel, Mr. James B. Cunningham, gave today a short lecture at the Tel Aviv University on “U.S. Foreign Policy in the Middle East: One Year into the Obama Presidency”. Mr. Cunningham said that the Administration has “a sense of urgency” in trying to bring the renewal of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, and emphasized several times that “time is not on our side” and that “the status quo is not sustainable”.

The ambassador admitted though that the task of bringing the parties back to the negotiating table “has proved to be very difficult”, and that the administrating is currently looking for “new ways”. Among the reasons for the current standstill Mr. Cunningham mentioned the situation created by the Goldstone report. He also noted that with regards to the settlement issue, the response the administration got from the Israeli government “is less than we hoped for”. Read the rest of this entry »


PLO senior: I give up the Palestinian State

Posted: November 2nd, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, The Settlements, the US and us | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments »

The one state solution gaining momentum: Fatah senior and former Palestinian Authority minister Dr. Sufian Abu Zaida said yesterday in a Geneva Accord event that:

“I give up the [demand for] Palestinian state. I want one state. I’m ready to sign a one state [solution] and don’t want two states. If there won’t be a Palestinian state, it will be like South Africa here.”

While Abu-Zaida doesn’t hold any official position in the Palestinian Authority at the moment, one cannot emphasize enough the importance of this statement. As I wrote before, I believe that a clear Palestinian demand for civil rights within the state of Israel is the way out of the current political deadlock.

Instead of playing games around the settlements issue – it seems that Mrs. Clinton has just managed to kill the little hope there was for the renewal of meaningful negotiations – the Palestinians should simply focus on getting equal rights from the Israeli government. This is one fight Israel will have a really hard time winning – in Europe for sure, but even in the US. Are we going to explain that we need to keep the Arabs as second rate citizens so we can have a Jewish majority? How is that going to sound to the Jews who took part in the civil rights movement, or to a nation which just elected a black president?

UPDATE: this is big. Saeb Erekat is in a one-state-mood as well


A Message from the White House

Posted: March 2nd, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: elections, The Right, the US and us | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

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There are already some signs indicating a change of tone regarding the Palestinian issue from the Obama administration.

Sen. John Kerry’s visit to Gaza and to Syria was the first of them. Though Kerry is not an official WH envoy, it is clear he wouldn’t have gone without some sort of approval from the president. There haven’t been a top level American visit to Gaza for some time, and Syria was until recently part of ”the axis of evil”, so this visit could hint a rapid shift from the Bush policies.

Another sign was the intended appointment of former US ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Chas Freeman, to the role of Director of the National Intelligence Council. Freeman is a know critic of Israel’s occupation of the West bank, and the news of his candidacy already drew criticism from the Jewish Lobby
 
But the clearest massage to come out of Washington was Hilary Clinton’s trip to the Middle East. Clinton is taking part in the Gaza donor conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, and will later on arrive to Jerusalem. Haaretz’s Natasha Mozgovaya mentioned it today, and wondered what exactly the Secratery of State would say to the Israelis. But that’s missing the point. The visit is the message, and it is a very strong one. There is no government in Israel. I don’t remember such a high level visit under similar circumstances. This could – and I believe should – be seen as a blunt interference in local politics.

The night after the election in Israel, the WH was too confused to understand who of the two candidates won, and therefore who should be congratulated by the president. Obama ended up calling president Peres, and complimenting him on Israel’s democratic process, like we were some African nation holding its first elections ever. But now the administration knows who the next PM will be. They also understand that in all likelihood, Netanyahu’s partners will be from the extreme-right. By sending Clinton to Jerusalem before we have a government, they send Jerusalem a very clear message: the diplomatic game starts now. Are you in or are you out?

If Netanyahu does give the Foreign Office to Liberman, the world might feel it got its answer.