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 »

Goldstone Report presents real opportunity for the US

Posted: October 17th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, The Settlements, the US and us | Tags: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Shmuel Rosner writes in Maariv that the UN Human Rights Council’s endorsement of the Goldstone Commission Report in Geneva on Friday might be the end of the Obama initiative and the effort to renew negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. PM Netanyahu took a similar stand before the vote in Geneva, declaring that endorsing the report will bring the end of the peace process, as it will reward terrorism and strengthen the Hamas (strange to hear this from Netanyahu, who did just about everything in his power to humiliate Abu-Mazen and consequently, help Hamas).

Rosner writes (my Italic):

The administration has three major concerns regarding this report: the Americans understand that Israel is under enormous pressure, and that Goldstone could be the last nail in the Obama initiative’s coffin; at the same time they understand that Abu-Mazen is under great pressure as well, and that it is impossible to ask from him anything that will be seen as a surrender to the US or Israel’s orders; and they also have political concerns: Obama can’t confront the international institutions or to discount and ignore them the way the previous president did.

I disagree. While it is clear the Abu-Mazen is in troubles, I think that the report gives the US a good opportunity to apply effective pressure on Netanyahu, and finally get some sort of declaration on a limited settlement freeze and renewed negotiations, in exchange for an American support for the Israeli position when the report is brought before the UN Security Council.   Read the rest of this entry »

Israel prefers the Hamas (II)

Posted: October 12th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: In the News | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off

Abu-Mazen – who did as Netanyahu ordered and withdrew the demand to discuss the Goldstone report in the UN Council for Human Rights, only to be humiliated publicly by the PM and his Foreign Minister – has learned the real lesson we have been giving the Palestinians for so long: That if you try to do business with Israel, you stand the risk of losing all you have, and in return, you will get nothing but shame and humiliation.

It’s no wonder he changed his mind. What else can he do, after Israel all but declared publicly that the Palestinian president supported the attack on his own people in Gaza?

It has been this way from the first Intifada, when we tried to crash the moderate local leadership, through the unilateral withdrawal and Sharon calling Abu-Mazen “a featherless chicken”, to this very day: Israel has always brought the worst fate on the moderate Palestinians. I guess we truly do prefer the Hamas. Read the rest of this entry »

Peace, a dirty word (or: where Obama got it wrong, and what’s the better way to go)

Posted: October 10th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, Polls, The Settlements, the US and us | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

The common belief, often quoted by well-wishing visitors to Israel and the Palestinian territories, is that “both people, Israelis and Palestinians, want peace. It’s the politicians who bring war.” The reality is almost the opposite: even when leaders consider some sort of agreement, the public makes it clear that such move won’t be in their best interest. Consequently, the naive belief that “basically, everyone wants peace” is a source of endless political mistakes, the latest of them done by the new American administration. I would like to explain here why, and to suggest a different way to conceptualize the political and diplomatic situation.

There are consistent polls showing a certain majority in both societies for the two-states solution, but this is all on a very abstract level. When you break it down to questions about the price each side would pay for this peace, the numbers drop, sometimes rapidly. Yes, most Israelis say they will agree to a Palestinian state, but without sharing Jerusalem, or evacuating the big settlement blocks; and yes, Palestinians will support an agreement, but without giving up the right of return to all original villages and towns within the Green Line. Obviously, this won’t work. Read the rest of this entry »

There will be no peace. Rejoice!

Posted: September 23rd, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, media, the US and us | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

A vague promise for the renewal of negotiations in the near future, that’s what came out of the Obama-Abu Mazen-Netanyahu summit in New York, and it seems that Israelis are overwhelmed with joy. Pundits and commentators are actually celebrating what seems like a failure of the new US administration in his effort to reignite the peace process.

Maariv’s diplomatic correspondent, Ben Caspit, calls the summit “a corridor to nowhere”. In his page 1 article Caspit writes that “the peace process’ corps will be washed to the beach by next summer”. Ynet’s correspondent in Washington, Yitzhak Ben Horin, quotes the Washington Post in declaring that the summit was a failure, and “little more than a photo-op”. On Arutz 7, Zalman Shoval, former Israeli ambassador to Washington, praises the event “a considerable political achievement for Netanyahu and Israel”. Read the rest of this entry »

Back to the 90′: the “Phased Plan” argument strikes again

Posted: June 10th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: The Right | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Whenever the prospect of renewed negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians remerges, those who oppose the peace process bring up again the famous “Phased Plan” or the “Phased Strategy” argument.

At the base of this argument is the assumption that the Palestinians don’t want peace, pure and simple. They might negotiate with Israel in the hope of winning concessions, but this is only in order to move to the next phase – from which they will start fighting again, to win more concessions, and so on, until all Jews – much like the Crusaders – are kicked out of the Middle East (“thrown into the sea”). During his lifetime, Yasser Arafat symbolized this approach in the eyes of the Israeli Right Wing and its supporters, and now they try to pin this to Abu Mazen.

It is almost impossible to argue against this logic – not because it’s true, but because the people who hold it claim to know the hearts and minds of the other side. Nothing the Palestinians do would satisfy the Phased Plan prophets: even if they abandon the armed struggle completely and start teaching Zionism in their school, it would only be perceived as a trick, aimed at getting more concessions out of Israel. And if the Palestinians continue the armed struggle – well, this is just further proof that they don’t want peace. It’s a perfect circle, who’s only possible conclusion is that you should never sign an agreement with the Palestinians or offer them any territorial concessions.

Read the rest of this entry »