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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Israeli PM Netanyahu declares 10 month settlement freeze in order to restart peace talks

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2009/11/israeli-netanyahu-declares-10-month.html

Those concerned that peace will break out unexpectedly needn't worry, the Palestinians have already rejected the move.

Netanyahu declares 10-month settlement freeze 'to restart peace talks'
By Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondent, and Agencies
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Wednesday evening that Israel would impose a 10-month freeze on construction in West Bank settlements, saying the move was a bid to restart stalled peace talks with the Palestinians.
"I hope that this decision will help launch meaningful negotiations to reach a historic peace agreement that would finally end the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians," Netanyahu said at a special press conference he held shortly after the security cabinet approved the moratorium.
He added: "We have been told by many of our friends that once Israel takes the first meaningful steps toward peace, the Palestinians and Arab states would respond."
Settlement building has been a key sticking point in U.S. efforts to restart Middle East peace talks; the Palestinians say they will not return to the negotiating table without a complete halt to construction.
During the press conference, Netanyahu said the "far-reaching and painful" move would not be implemented in predominantly Arab East Jerusalem, which is viewed by Israel as a separate issue to be discussed in a final status agreement with the Palestinians.
"We do not put any restrictions on building in our sovereign capital," the premier said.
The freeze applies only to new construction, meaning housing already underway will continue. Also, Netanyahu said, only new homes are included.
"We will not halt existing construction and we will continue to build synagogues, schools, kindergartens and public buildings essential for normal life in the settlements," he said.
Netanyahu concluded with an appeal to the Palestinians to enter into a new round of peace talks.
"Now is the time to begin negotiations, now is the time to move forward towards peace," he said. "Israel today has taken a far-reaching step toward peace, it is time for the Palestinians to do the same."
He added: "Israel's government has made an important step toward peace today, let us make peace together."
Netanyahu: Settlement freeze will prove Israel really wants peace
At the cabinet vote, National Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau (Yisrael Beiteinu) was the only minister to oppose the move.
Shortly before the cabinet session, Netanyahu said the freeze would prove that Israel genuinely seeks to reach peace with the Palestinians.
"In the international circumstances that have been created, this step will advance Israel's broad international interests. This is not a simple step, nor an easy one; but it has many more advantages than disadvantages," Netanyahu told his aides.
He added: "It will enable us to show the world this simple truth: The Government of Israel wants to enter into negotiations with the Palestinians, is taking practical steps to enter into negotiations and is very serious in its intention to advance peace."
At least one key Security Cabinet member, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, came out in favor of the proposal. "Its aim is to open a window for renewing negotiations with the Palestinians," he said.
"I hope that the Yesha [council of settlements] leadership, which is patriotic, responsible and serious, will understand the need for the decision at this time," Barak added.
"The understandings with the United States are of the utmost importance with regard to negotiations, and guarantees of security and its military supremacy."
An official statement from the Prime Minister's Office on Wednesday said Netanyahu would seek approval for the moratorium from his cabinet in order to boost peace prospects.
"As part of our efforts to give impetus to peace talks with the Palestinian Authority and promote Israel's comprehensive national interests, the prime minister will ask the security cabinet to approve a temporary suspension on construction permits for new residences and the [actual] start of new residential construction for a period of ten months," the statement said.
The move is not unexpected; Netanyahu announced several days ago that he intended to declare a settlement freeze for 10 months. Israel began building in the West Bank in 1967, following the capture of the territory from Jordan during the Six-Day War. Today, more than a quarter of million Israelis live in West Bank settlements.
The freeze will also not apply to construction that has already been authorized or to work on public buildings conducive to normal life in the territories.
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad told reporters Wednesday that a settlement freeze was unacceptable without halt in construction in Jerusalem, which the Palestinians want as the capital of a state.
"What has changed to make something that what was not acceptable a week or 10 days ago [acceptable now]?," he told reporters. "The exclusion of Jerusalem is a very serious problem for us."

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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Netanyahu: 'Palestinians ruining peace bids by refusing to recognize Israel'

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2009/08/netanyahu-palestinians-ruining-peace.html

Actually, what the Palestinians refuse to recognize is the right of Israel to exist as the state of the Jewish people.
'Palestinians ruining peace bids by refusing to recognize Israel'
By Haaretz Service
The catalyst behind the long-lasting dispute between Israel and the Palestinians is the latter's unwillingness to recognize Israel's right to exist, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an interview to Israel Radio on Sunday.
When asked whether he thought the original sin of Israeli society was the occupation since 1967 of the West Bank, Netanyahu said that "the original sin was that the Jewish people couldn't protect itself from the verbal and physical assaults which ultimately brought to its destruction."
"I think that in 1967 the Jewish people were on the brink of destruction and the sin would have been our inability to defend ourselves the way we wanted to," the PM added, saying that he regretted "the fact that our glorious victory is presented as the mother of all sin."

Netanyahu said, however, that Israel does "not want to control the Palestinians, we want to reach a settlement," but that the reason for the peace talk stalemate isn't "because of the State of Israel but because of the other side's persistent refusal to recognize the right of the State of Israel to exist."
"I believe that the things I am doing to make that point clearer will lead to their recognition of Israel's right to exist, which will remove the malignant element preventing the peace we want so dearly," the PM added.
On word of an agreement between the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama on a future construction freeze in all West Bank settlements, the PM said that "no decision has been made, and we have not reached an agreement with the United States."
"There are a lot of rumors and a lot of newspaper articles, none of which are my responsibility. We haven't agreed to anything yet, we are still working toward advancing peace talks while safeguarding settlers' rights, who are equal citizens," Netanyahu said.
"Any decision is bound to disappoint someone, every side saying you should have done things differently, but I will conduct myself in the way I believe will promote Israel and peace, something which is ultimately appreciated by civilians as well as Knesset Members."
Regarding comments made by Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya'alon, who told a closed-door meeting of far-right activists a few weeks ago that he was "not afraid of the Americans" and that anti-settlement groups like Peace Now were "viruses" to Israel, Netanyahu made it clear that he found those remarks unacceptable.
"I've discussed the matter with minister Ya'alon and he made it clear to me that that was not his intention. I assume he will never use that term again," Netanyahu said.
"The Left is not a virus, settlers are not a cancer. We have legitimate disagreements, but we must maintain our unity by respecting our political adversaries."
When asked about his 1999 comment, that the "Left forgot what it meant to be Jewish" the PM said that "It was a mistake then, and it's still a mistake."
"Of course I have changed, it's the result of age and wisdom, both of which tell me one thing - we are one people and I am the prime minister of all of us."

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Monday, August 3, 2009

About Jerusalem: Poor misunderstood George Mitchell and Uncle Sam

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2009/08/about-jerusalem-poor-misunderstood.html

US Mideast envoy George Mitchell believes people are misinterpreting the Obama administration's pressure on Israel as well as the Arab response to Washington's regional peace push.

"One of the public misimpressions is that it's all been about settlements," Mitchell told the New York Times in an interview published Sunday. "It is completely inaccurate to portray this as, 'We're only asking the Israelis to do things.' We are asking everybody to do things."

,,,

"These are discussions among friends, not disputes among adversaries."

Like the song says, "I'm just a soul whose intentions are good; please don't let me be misunderstood."

There are two types of quarrels: Those based on misunderstanding, and those based on understanding only too well.

What George Mitchell is asking Israel to do is to give up its capital city. What are friends for after all, if not to oblige other friends with little favors like that? This is an even handed policy. The Saudis are asked to allow Israeli overflights (and refuse) and Israel is asked to renounce sovereignty over its capital city. Everybody is asked to do something for the cause, and to please smile while doing it.

The heart of the disagreement is that the US insists that Jerusalem is just another "settlement," that the US does not recognize Israeli sovereignty in any part of Jerusalem, and that they can and should dictate to Israel what policies to adopt in Jerusalem and when and where to build. The most recent "misunderstanding" was a public and ugly US protest against removal of illegal Palestinian occupants squatting in propery owned by Jews. It may not be wise for Israel to build in areas that might be subject to future negotiations, but it certainly understandable that Israel will enforce Israeli law, backed by a supreme court decision, in an area that is declared by Israel to be under its sovereignty. There is no misunderstanding. The problem is not that the United States wants Israel to negotiate, but rather that the US is telling Israel and the world that there is nothing to negotiate about in Jerusalem, since the city does not belong to Israel according to them, but to a hypothetical international administration or Palestinian state. This is not a disagreement among friends. It is a hostile diplomatic act. In the 19 years of illegal Jordanian occupation of East Jerusalem, the United States did not once protest any Jordanian action, including the building of King Hussein's summer house, or the wrecking of the last remnants of the Jewish quarter and the Jewish cemetery in the Mount of Olives.

There is no misunderstanding of US policy in this regard whatever and the policy is unmistakable. The United States does not recognize any part of Jerusalem, East or West, as part of Israel, and certainly not as Israel's capital city. UN Security Council Resolution 250 condemned Israel for holding a military parade (the Independence Day parade) in Jerusalem in 1968. The parade was held in West Jerusalem only. The United States did not veto the resolution. The Web site of the United States Conuslate in Jerusalem is all about Palestinian Arabs - in the West Bank and in Gaza. Not a word about Jews, though Jerusalem has a Jewish majority. The consulate refuses to recognize that there are Jews living in any part of Jerusalem it seems. Are they trying to tell us something?

Perhaps some of the misunderstanding is caused by the reticence of the Israeli government, which has never openly protested against the hostile policy of the United States. On the one hand, Israeli governments grandiosely proclaim that "United Jerusalem is the Eternal Capital of Israel." On the other hand, no Israeli government has seriously tried to get the United States to recognize even Kiriat Hayovel and Rehavia as part of Israel.

West Jerusalem, of course, has been part of Israel since 1948, but the US, to placate Arab opinion, continues to pretend that the internationalization of Jerusalem mandated by the UN in 1947 is a reality. The policy of the United States government regarding Jerusalem is contrary to its own laws, since the 1995: Jerusalem Embassy Act mandated that the United States recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and mandated that the embassy must be moved there and that US citizens born in Jerusalem be registered as having been born in Israel. Using a hypocritical loophole, the law has been ignored by successive presidents. If you think this policy is bizarre, you can write to the consulate at JerusalemACS@state.gov and to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: http://contact-us.state.gov/cgi-bin/state.cfg/php/enduser/ask.php, U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW, Washington, DC 20520, 202-647-4000

Ami Isseroff

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Inspiration and ray of hope - Summer Camp for Palestinian and Israeli Youth

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2009/07/inspiration-and-ray-of-hope-summer-camp.html

Danny Shapiro, a friend who has started working at the Peres Peace Center wrote the following account.



July 19 was the first day of a six day camp joining 32 Israeli kids, aged 12 – 14, from the poor southern towns of Yeruham and Sderot, and 28 Palestinian kids living in poverty and despair in the occupied territories.


The camp, held at Kibbutz Galon, is organized by the Peres Center's Sports Department. And as much as I read about this kind of program, no article I could read, or video I could watch, could in any possible way match the almost incredulous sense of wonder and inspiration aroused by seeing these sixty kids playing in Galon's pool together, and enjoying a multi-lingual "Darbuka" session with a Palestinian madrich (leader).


It was also fascinating and deeply impressive to speak at length with Issam, who works on a number of projects with the Peres Center. Issam grew up in Gaza and moved to Ramallah after Hamas came to power and he felt his life was in danger for his many years of reconciliation work. No doubt some of you know him.


His story is amazing. He sat in Israeli prison and had a life-changing experience with an Israeli officer that put him on the path of working towards conciliation and peace. If I have the time I will write the story down and pass it along.


Issam reminded me again and again that not only was this the first time most of the Palestinian children had met an Israeli who not either a soldier or a settler – but for the great majority of them, this was the first time in their lives outside of their town or certainly the territories; the first time they had eaten in a restaurant; the first time they experience what even the lowest social and economic classes in Israel take for granted.


I have no illusions that the experience of these 60 kids, and that of the additional several hundred who will be treated to similar camps this summer, will make any serious dent in overall public opinion or attitudes, and certainly will not make the leaders on both sides more peace loving and conciliatory. But then, that (the latter, at least) is not the goal of the Peres Peace Center.



But this type of program most certainly changes attitudes (this is based on professional evaluation following multiple years of experience), and, if nothing else, humanizes the conflict for those who are involved in it; and injects a few rays of hope into our battered and shattered hearts and minds



That is what Peres Peace Center does. That is what the "peace" group Alternative Information Center finds objectionable. They published an article insisting that Palestinians must boycott Peres Peace Center. The article states:

Shimon Peres is definitely an enemy of the Palestinian people, of human rights and of peace, and any kind of collaboration by a Palestinian organization with the Peres Center is scandalous.


Is the summer camp "scandalous?" You decide. The directors of the Peres Peace Center, in any case, are Uri Savir and Ron Pundak, though Peres founded the Peres Peace Center.

Ami Isseroff

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Thursday, June 4, 2009

Obama in Cairo - We've got plenty of nothing

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2009/06/obama-in-cairo-weve-got-plenty-of.html

The full text of US President Obama's speech in Cairo is here among other places. Below are the highlights. This is the first time that a U.S. President has used the word "legitimacy" about Israeli settlements, but regarding both the Israeli-Palestinian issue, as with the Iranian and other problems, Obama offered no plan - just finely balanced rhetoric that will either please everyone or make them angry. Each media outlet will choose to highlight whatever seems important to them: Here is the Israeli-Palestinian nugget:

Palestinians must abandon violence. Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed. For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights... That is not how moral authority is claimed; that is how it is surrendered.

Now is the time for Palestinians to focus on what they can build. The Palestinian Authority must develop its capacity to govern, with institutions that serve the needs of its people. Hamas does have support among some Palestinians, but they also have responsibilities. To play a role in fulfilling Palestinian aspirations, and to unify the Palestinian people, Hamas must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, and recognize Israel's right to exist.

At the same time, Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel's right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine's. The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop.

Israel must also live up to its obligations to ensure that Palestinians can live, and work, and develop their society. And just as it devastates Palestinian families, the continuing humanitarian crisis in Gaza does not serve Israel's security; neither does the continuing lack of opportunity in the West Bank. Progress in the daily lives of the Palestinian people must be part of a road to peace, and Israel must take concrete steps to enable such progress.

Finally, the Arab States must recognize that the Arab Peace Initiative was an important beginning, but not the end of their responsibilities. The Arab-Israeli conflict should no longer be used to distract the people of Arab nations from other problems. Instead, it must be a cause for action to help the Palestinian people develop the institutions that will sustain their state; to recognize Israel's legitimacy; and to choose progress over a self-defeating focus on the past.

America will align our policies with those who pursue peace, and say in public what we say in private to Israelis and Palestinians and Arabs. We cannot impose peace. But privately, many Muslims recognize that Israel will not go away. Likewise, many Israelis recognize the need for a Palestinian state. It is time for us to act on what everyone knows to be true

What does "continued Israeli settlements" mean? Is it a deliberate imprecision? Does he mean continued settlement, or the continued existence of settlements? Is Jerusalem a "settlement?" If he is referring to existing settlements, then Obama's speech directly contradicts the letter of Predident Bush given in 2004. It did take some courage to say, in Cairo, addressing the Arab world, that the bond between israel and the United States will never be broken. This was not a AIPAC meeting after all.

Ami Isseroff

Obama: I'll personally pursue two-state solution
By Haaretz Service

In his long-anticipated Cairo address to the Muslim world, U.S. President Barack Obama reaffirmed Washington's strong backing for a Palestinian state, highlighting his administration's commitment to follow through on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

While reaffirming Washington's "unbreakable bond" with Israel, Obama said that there can be no denying of the right of Palestine to exist, and that he would "personally pursue" the realization of a Palestinian state "with all the patience that the task requires."

"Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel's right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine's," Obama said.

The president also issued a blunt repudiation of Israel's settlement enterprise in the West Bank, an issue that has strained Washington's ties with Jerusalem.

"The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements," Obama said. "This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop."

"The obligations that the parties have agreed to under the Road Map are clear," Obama said, referring to the multi-stage peace plan agreed to by Israel and the Palestinians during the Bush presidency. "For peace to come, it is time for them - and all of us - to live up to our responsibilities."

"If we see this conflict only from one side or the other, then we will be blind to the truth," Obama said. "The only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security."

"That is in Israel's interest, Palestine's interest, America's interest, and the world's interest," the president said.

In addressing the Iranian nuclear program, Obama acknowledged longstanding Muslim accusations of Washington's double standard in objecting to Tehran's drive for nuclear weapons while tolerating Israel's alleged possession of atomic bombs.

The president reiterated his desire to see a world free of nuclear weapons.

"I understand those who protest that some countries have [nuclear] weapons that others do not," Obama said. "No single nation should pick and choose which nations hold nuclear weapons. That is why I strongly reaffirmed America's commitment to seek a world in which no nations hold nuclear weapons."

Obama conceded that Iran has rights to nuclear energy "if it complies with its responsibilities under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty."

Obama said his government will close the gap between public pronouncements and difficult truths that are often acknowledged behind closed doors in the halls of power throughout the Middle East.

"America will align our policies with those who pursue peace, and say in public what we say in private to Israelis and Palestinians and Arabs," Obama said.

Obama urged Muslims around the world to acknowledge Jewish suffering and to repudiate Holocaust denial. The Arab and Muslim world ought to reconcile with the existence of Israel, the president said.

"Threatening Israel with destruction - or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews - is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve," Obama said.

The president also noted the plight of the Palestinians, who "have suffered in pursuit of a homeland" and who "endure daily humiliations ... that come with occupation."

"Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead," Obama said. "So let there be no doubt: the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own."

The president urged the Palestinians to draw upon the example of African slaves in the United States, arguing that a "peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America's founding" had led to their gaining civil rights.

"Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed," Obama said. "For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights."

Obama said the Palestinians "must focus on what they can build." He urged Hamas to accept the Quartet's preconditions for international recognition - recognition of past signed agreements with Israel, recognition of Israel's right to exist, and a renunciation of violence.

"I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect," Obama said.

Obama offered the Arabic greeting of assalaamu alaykum, or "peace be unto you", in the early part of his speech. He also quoted a passage from the Koran and cited his father's Muslim background in a bid to highlight his sensitivity to Islamic grievances against the West.

"America is not and never will be at war with Islam," Obama said. "We will, however, relentlessly confront violent extremists who pose a grave threat to our security."

"The relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of co-existence and cooperation, but also conflict and religious wars," Obama said. "Violent extremists have exploited these tensions in a small but potent minority of Muslims."

"Much has been made of the fact that an African-American with the name Barack Hussein Obama could be elected President," Obama said. "But my personal story is not so unique."

Obama is delivering his long-anticipated speech seeking to turn a new page in Washington's relations with the Arab and Muslim world.

Obama arrived in Egypt hours before giving long-promised speech in Cairo, the ancient seat of Islamic learning and culture.

The U.S. president is hoping to usher in a new era in the United States'
relationship with the world's 1.5 billion Muslims. Aides say Obama will blend hopeful words about mutual understanding with blunt talk about the need for Muslims to embrace democracy, women's rights and economic opportunity.

Obama met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, a key American ally, at his palace in the capital.

"We discussed how to move forward in a constructive way to bring peace and prosperity to people in the region," Obama told reporters after talks with Mubarak, who has ruled Egypt since 1981 and kept a tight lid on opposition.

"I emphasized to him that the U.S. is committed to working in partnership with countries in the region so all people can meet their aspirations," he said before heading to a mosque in a quarter of Cairo that is full of Islamic architectural gems.

The mosque is a 600-year-old center of Islamic worship and study called the Sultan Hassan mosque. Obama will then tour the Great Pyramids of Giza on the capital's outskirts.

Obama arrived in Egypt from Saudi Arabia, where he stayed overnight at King Abdullah's horse farm in the desert outside Riyadh.

In his Cairo address Thursday, Obama called on Israel and the Arab states to change their approach to the Middle East peace process.

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Obama: No options off the table on Iran, not my place to determine Israeli security needs

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2009/05/obama-no-options-off-table-on-iran-not.html

US President Obama gave a carefully timed interview to Newsweek ahead of the visit of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. The interview ranged over a wide variety of subjects. President Obama had some very important messages on Iran and Israel and Middle East peace, that do not look or sound anything like what has appeared in the media or has been published about this interview. He said that no options are off the table, and repeated that he is not naive. He also said that he can understand why Israel considers Iran to be an existential threat and emphasized that the United States cannot determine Israeli security needs. He did not explain, and was not asked, why American officials have been going around warning Israel not to attack Iran, nor did he say that he himself believes Iran to be an existential threat to Israel. He did say, when asked, that "NO" the United states will not stop Israel from attacking Iran. In fact, he said:
They're right there in range and I don't think it's my place to determine for the Israelis what their security needs are.
His words were chosen skilfully, even if the delivery seemed off hand. They should not be distorted, as some have already begun to do.
Notably absent from this interview as published on the Web: Any mention of Palestinians, peace intitiatives, settlements and two-state solutions. Literally, those words are not there, and neither is the word "Arab."
Here is the part of the interview that relates to Israel and Iran:

Prime Minister Netanyahu is coming [to Washington this week]. How do you expect to talk to him about the possibility of Israeli military action against Iran? And some people have argued that we should not take [American military action] off the table.
I've been very clear that I don't take any options off the table with respect to Iran. I don't take options off the table when it comes to U.S. security, period. What I have said is that we want to offer Iran an opportunity to align itself with international norms and international rules. I think, ultimately, that will be better for the Iranian people. I think that there is the ability of an Islamic Republic of Iran to maintain its Islamic character while, at the same time, being a member in good standing of the international community and not a threat to its neighbors. And we are going to reach out to them and try to shift off of a pattern over the last 30 years that hasn't produced results in the region.

Now, will it work? We don't know. And I assure you, I'm not naive about the difficulties of a process like this. If it doesn't work, the fact that we have tried will strengthen our position in mobilizing the international community, and Iran will have isolated itself, as opposed to a perception that it seeks to advance that somehow it's being victimized by a U.S. government that doesn't respect Iran's sovereignty.

And you would expect the Israelis, as an ally, to follow along with that and not take unilateral [military] action?

No, look, I understand very clearly that Israel considers Iran an existential threat, and given some of the statements that have been made by President Ahmadinejad, you can understand why. So their calculation of costs and benefits are going to be more acute. They're right there in range and I don't think it's my place to determine for the Israelis what their security needs are.

I can make an argument to Israel as an ally that the approach we are taking is one that has to be given a chance and offers the prospect of security, not just for the United States but also for Israel, that is superior to some of the other alternatives.

Make of it what you will, in the context of all other buzz, spin and rumors.

Cross posted:

Ami Isseroff

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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Peace initiative - Good for Israel?

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2009/05/israel-and-peace-initiative.html

Israel and the peace initiative

The American sponsored peace initiative seems to have little rational thinking behind it and little chance of success. But while the President of the United States may not be right, he is certainly the President of the United States. Israel cannot afford to forget that. Nonetheless, Israel's first responsibility must be to ensure that it has a viable defense.

A great peace initiative is being undertaken by the United States. The general idea seems to bundle a remodeled Arab Peace Initiative for regional peace, Palestinian-Israeli peace based on a two state solution and a solution to the problem of Iranian nuclear weapons development. Lately, a fourth element was apparently added - general nuclear disarmament and arms control, including hints that the U.S. expects Israel to become a signatory of the Nuclear Non-proliferation treaty. All this will somehow, so the theory goes, make it easier for the United States to secure its withdrawal from Iraq, and prevent a disaster in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Continued here:
Israel and the peace initiative

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Barry Rubin: Two state dissolution?

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2009/04/two-state-dissolution.html

Barry Rubin knows better than this. To a great extent, "Two state solution" is a slogan that is necessary for the sake of U.S. diplomacy, regardless of its utility as an actual policy.

Dissolving in the Two-State Solution

By Barry Rubin*

April 25, 2009

Ring! Ring! The Israeli prime minister's alarm clock went off. He quickly sat up in bed and immediately shouted out: "Yes! I'm for a two-state solution!"

At breakfast, lunch, and dinner, during his talks and all his meetings, in greeting his staff as he walked down the corridor to the office, endless he repeated that phrase.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what the world seems to want from Israeli policy.

But the fact is that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepted the two-state solution back in 1997 when he took over in the midst of the Oslo agreement peace process and committed himself to all preceding agreements.

This is not the real issue. The real issue is this: much of the world wants Israel to agree in advance to give the Palestinian Authority (PA) what they think it wants without any concessions or demonstration of serious intent on its part.

Continued here:
Dissolving in the Two-State Solution



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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Surprise: 'Lieberman says two states the only way'

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2009/04/surprse-lieberman-says-two-states-only.html

The ultranationalist right wing, war monger expansionist neocon, racist, right wing (did I mention that?) Israeli FM of the right wing (did I mention that?) expansionist Zionist war criminal Israel government is reported to have said that a two state solution was the only way to achieve peace and security.

Go figure.

'Lieberman says two states the only way'

Apr. 25, 2009
JPost.com Staff , THE JERUSALEM POST

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman was "very moderate" during his meeting with Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman last week, and told him that a two-state solution with the Palestinians was the only way to achieve peace and security in the region, according to a report in the London-based Arab paper Al-Hayat Saturday.

The paper was quoting an unnamed Egyptian official who it described as "reliable." Lieberman, the official said, also told Suleiman that economical development of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip was of utmost importance to the peace process. The official said that the meeting between the two was successful and achieved its objective.

The Jerusalem Post could not confirm the report.

Regarding Gaza, the source said that the Israeli position on the subject was that any renewed cease-fire with Hamas was conditional to the release of Gilad Schalit, But, he added, any possible prisoner exchange for the abducted soldier has been put on hold as the new Israeli government studies the issue. The source said Suleiman had made it clear to Israeli officials that the current quiet on the Gaza front was due to understandings between Egypt and Hamas.

Israeli leaders told Suleiman that the strengthening of Israeli-Egyptian relations was at the top of their agenda, the official said. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, he added, was expected to visit Egypt following his upcoming visit to Washington.

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Proactive foreign policy: Israel meeting the Obama challenge

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2009/04/proactive-foreign-policy-israel-meeting.html

..."Moderate" Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has refused to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. From the beginning, that should have been the cornerstone of Israeli policy - Arabs, Palestinians included, must recognize the validity of the League of Nations British Mandate for Palestine and of UN General Assembly Resolution 181, both of which explicitly recognize the right of the Jewish people to self determination. After all, that is what the whole conflict is about. Once the Palestinians are will willing to accept international law, we can quibble about borders, refugees and other issues. President Obama's off-the-cuff remarks must be converted into a commitment by the United States to support the existence of Israel and its recognition by its Arab neighbors as the homeland of the Jewish people. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has already made a statement demanding that Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Too bad that demand was not part of Avigdor Lieberman's speech. It will be remembered, also, that Ehud Olmert made a similar effort and then mysteriously dropped it. This issue has to be a centerpiece of Israeli policy, raised at every opportunity. not just a sound bite to be used when the occasion seems to call for it.


Similarly, though it is not a prior condition for negotiations, everyone should be made to understand that Israel will assert the historic rights of the Jewish people in "East Jerusalem." The Palestinians have been allowed to establish a historical "fact on the ground" by dint of repetition: They have convinced at least themselves, and perhaps much of the world, that they have a "right" to a capital in East Jerusalem, even though Jerusalem was never the capital of any Arab state, and was not even included in the Palestinian area in the 1947 partition plan. Jerusalem was always known as the ancient capital of Jewish people, and the old city had a large Jewish community until it was ethnically cleansed in pogroms beginning in 1920 and culminating in the expulsion of the remaining Jews by force by the Jordanian Legion in 1948. Absurdly, a sizeable part of world opinion now believes that somehow "East Jerusalem" ought to be the capital of an Arab state and that Israel and the Jews have no rights there.

On these bases, when it is clear what is is being negotiated and what the end of the process will be for Israel, and it is clear that the agreements will be kept at least by the Fatah lead Palestinian Authority, it makes sense to continue negotiations. If they have any intellectual honesty, even the most enthusiastic proponents of "Annapolis" in the USA and in the EU would have a hard time explaining why Israel has to negotiate and what is to be negotiated with a partner that declares that its constituent groups - containing the same personnel who do the negotiating - are not bound by any agreements, and that the end goal of the negotiations is to destroy Israel as a Jewish state. But we can hardly expect others to agree with this point of view if the Israel Foreign Ministry itself has not advanced it at every opportunity.

Read the whole article here:

Proactive foreign policy: Israel meeting the Obama challenge


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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Palestinians: No rights for Israel in East Jerusalem

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2009/04/palestinians-no-rights-for-israel-in.html

This is the Palestinian position:

There will be no peace whatsoever unless East Jerusalem – with every single stone in it – becomes the capital of Palestine.

Yasser Arafat said to Clinton defiantly: "I will not be a traitor. Someone will come to liberate it after 10, 50, or 100 years. Jerusalem will be nothing but the capital of the Palestinian state, and there is nothing underneath or above the Haram Al-Sharif except for Allah." That is why Yasser Arafat was besieged, and that is why he was killed unjustly.

In November 2008… Let me finish… Olmert, who talked today about his proposal to Abu Mazen, offered the 1967 borders, but said: "We will take 6.5% of the West Bank, and give in return 5.8% from the 1948 lands, and the 0.7% will constitute the safe passage, and East Jerusalem will be the capital, but there is a problem with the Haram and with what they called the Holy Basin." Abu Mazen too answered with defiance, saying: "I am not in a marketplace or a bazaar. I came to demarcate the borders of Palestine – the June 4, 1967 borders – without detracting a single inch, and without detracting a single stone from Jerusalem, or from the holy Christian and Muslim places. This is why the Palestinian negotiators did not sign

This claim made below is false:

East Jerusalem is an occupied area, just like Khan Yunis, Jericho, and Nablus were. Its status in international law will never be anything else. Therefore, any arrangements regarding East Jerusalem are categorically unacceptable.

The truth is that under international law, according to UN Security Council resolution 252 of 1968, passed following the Six Day War, and reaffirming several previous resolutions, Jerusalem does not have the same status as the rest of the "West Bank" at all. Jerusalem is a corpus separatum that was to have been an internationalized area. It was occupied illegally by Jordan. It is a myth that East Jerusalem is "Arab East Jerusalem." Jews lived in the Old City of Jerusalem for hundreds of years until they were ethnically cleansed from Jerusalem in 1948. According to international law, there is no reason to favor Arab sovereignty in East Jerusalem over Israeli sovereignty.

Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erekat: Abu Mazen Rejected the Israeli Proposal in Annapolis Like Arafat Rejected the Camp David 2000 Proposal

Following are excerpts from a TV debate with chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, which aired on Al-Jazeera TV on March 27, 2009.

Saeb Erekat: I am sitting in Jericho, in the house where I was born, four kilometers from the Jordan River, and there are Israeli flags from the Jordan River all the way to the Mediterranean Sea. Therefore, we are living under Israeli occupation. But let me say that Jerusalem has not been – and will not be – lost. 300,000 Palestinian citizens live in Jerusalem.

[…]

Jerusalem has not gone anywhere. Jerusalem is here to stay – in the same place throughout the ages. The important thing is for us to return and to liberate Jerusalem.

[…]

It is true that the negotiations continued for many years, but don't you know that President Yasser Arafat was besieged in Camp David and was killed unjustly, only because he adhered to Jerusalem, and because he refused to let the Israeli measures on the ground give rise to any [Israeli] right or any [Palestinian] obligation? The Palestinian negotiators could have given in in 1994, 1998, or 2000, and too months ago, brother Abu Mazen could have accepted a proposal that talked about Jerusalem and almost 100% of the West Bank, but it is not our goal to score points against one another here. Our strategic goal, when we strive for peace, is not to do so at any price. We strive for peace on the basis of an Israeli withdrawal to the June 4, 1967 borders, the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem as its capital, and with the West Bank and the Gaza Strip geographically connected.

[…]

There will be no peace whatsoever unless East Jerusalem – with every single stone in it – becomes the capital of Palestine.

[…]

In my family, we are seven siblings. My six brothers and sisters are in the diaspora. But this does not deny them the right to inherit this land. Ten million Palestinians own Palestine, just like I do. Our survival and steadfastness on this land, our wresting of an independent Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital – this is what we can achieve in our generation.

[…]

Let me recount two historical events, even if I am revealing a secret. On July 23, 200, in his meeting with President Arafat in Camp David, President Clinton said: "You will be the first president of a Palestinian state, within the 1967 borders – give or take, considering the land swap – and East Jerusalem will be the capital of the Palestinian state, but we want you, as a religious man, to acknowledge that the Temple of Solomon is located underneath the Haram Al-Sharif." Yasser Arafat said to Clinton defiantly: "I will not be a traitor. Someone will come to liberate it after 10, 50, or 100 years. Jerusalem will be nothing but the capital of the Palestinian state, and there is nothing underneath or above the Haram Al-Sharif except for Allah." That is why Yasser Arafat was besieged, and that is why he was killed unjustly.

In November 2008… Let me finish… Olmert, who talked today about his proposal to Abu Mazen, offered the 1967 borders, but said: "We will take 6.5% of the West Bank, and give in return 5.8% from the 1948 lands, and the 0.7% will constitute the safe passage, and East Jerusalem will be the capital, but there is a problem with the Haram and with what they called the Holy Basin." Abu Mazen too answered with defiance, saying: "I am not in a marketplace or a bazaar. I came to demarcate the borders of Palestine – the June 4, 1967 borders – without detracting a single inch, and without detracting a single stone from Jerusalem, or from the holy Christian and Muslim places. This is why the Palestinian negotiators did not sign…

TV host: Okay…

Saeb Erekat: This is the Palestinian position.

TV host: But let's return to Camp David. When you were in the meetings with Shlomo Ben-Ami… After two weeks of meetings between Barak, Arafat, and Clinton, which led to nothing, there was a meeting in which you proposed that there be [Palestinian] sovereignty, with arrangements in the Old City, including the Haram Al-Sharif. In other words, you proposed Palestinian sovereignty, with Israel playing a role in the administrative aspects. In other words, Israel would participate in the administration of the Haram area – unlike the "reduced sovereignty" demanded by Shlomo Ben-Ami at that meeting. In other words, you wanted to let [Israel] play a role, one way or another, with regard to the so-called Holy Basin.

Saeb Erekat: They will never have this. Like President Abu Mazen said in front of President Bush and PM Olmert: I am not in a marketplace or a bazaar. East Jerusalem is an occupied area, just like Khan Yunis, Jericho, and Nablus were. Its status in international law will never be anything else. Therefore, any arrangements regarding East Jerusalem are categorically unacceptable.

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Abbas: Olmert agreed that East Jerusalem should be Palestinian-ruled

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/11/abbas-olmert-agreed-that-east-jerusalem.html

 

Ramallah – Ma'an Exclusive – Outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has accepted that East Jerusalem should be placed under Palestian control, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Wednesday.
 
In addition, Israel has recognized the existence of only 200,000 Palestinian refugees from the violence at its creation in 1948, Abbas said.
 
Abbas said this recognition took place in secret final-status negotiations with Israeli negotiators. Israel's acknowledgment of these refugees falls short of the list of 950,000 refugees the Palestinian Authority says were expelled in 1948, along with five million total refugees and their descendants, the Palestinian president claimed.
 
Abbas revealed this and other information about the negotiations with Israel and with his Palestinian rival, the Hamas movement, during a two-hour meeting with senior Fatah officials in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
 
Abbas said the Palestinian leadership takes the negotiations seriously: "Those who think that we sit with Israelis for sake of publicity; they are wrong."
 
"We armed ourselves with documents, maps, data and statistics ahead of each session and we have a fortified, professional expert negotiating team. We get prepared each time as if studying before class at school," he said.
 
Abbas said that he had rejected an Israeli offer of a Palestinian state that would include 92% of the land of the West Bank, saying that he would not accept any deal that left out even 1% of the land.
 
Abbas also explained that Israel had hesitated to make a firm commitment to the pre-1967 borders during the negotiations. However, in recent meetings, Israeli leaders had finally accepted that occupied East Jerusalem ought to be a part of the Palestinian State.
 
He said: "Whenever we asked them about the borders they had usually responded that they are not so sure. Only in the last two sessions they recognized those borders including East Jerusalem, as Olmert explained that a two-state solution is the best choice and Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem should be ruled by PA."
 
The president also recounted an anecdote about his first meeting with United States President George W. Bush. After presenting the US leader with a map of the West Bank showing the route of the separation wall and other Israeli installments, Bush became angry, throwing the maps in the face of an assistant.
 
"This way there won't be a Palestinian state and Israel is cutting off the road to a solution," Abbas reported Bush as saying.
 
Abbas said that when he went to Switzerland he was asked why he rejected Hamas' suggestion of a Palestinian state with temporary borders. He said he replied that he advised Hamas leader Isma'il Haniyeh at the time to stop making such suggestions, as he sees them as harmful to the negotiations with Israel.
 
He said Hamas's suggestion of a long-term truce with Israel would actually stabilize the current situation, with Palestinians controlling less than 60% of the West Bank and Gaza, and the Israeli wall remaining in place.
 
Abbas said that Hamas is damaging the Palestinian national cause out of anger of their exclusion from politics, "destroying the game because they are not allowed to play."
 
Blaming Hamas for the collapse of Palestinian internal talks, Abbas also criticized Israel for refusing to allow Palestinian political leaders from the West Bank representing Fatah, the PFLP, and the DFLP, to travel to the talks in Cairo.
 
Abbas said that three points must be accepted in order for the dialogue with Hamas to proceed: The presence of Arab forces to support Palestinian security forces, reform of the Palestinian government and simultaneous presidential and legislative elections.
 
Abbas also said that that the Palestinian prisoners slated for release by Israel before the upcoming Eid Al-Adha holiday include lawmakers and prisoners serving long sentences. 
 

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Sunday, October 5, 2008

Livni: I oppose Olmert's peace plan

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/10/livnir-i-oppose-olmerts-peace-plan.html

Livni says what everyone knows: Neither Israel nor the Palestinians are ready to make a deal.
Last update - 01:50 06/10/2008
Livni tells France's Kouchner: I oppose Olmert's peace plan
By Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondent and News Agencies
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told her French counterpart Bernard Kouchner that she opposes the agreement in principle that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has offered Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
"I do not believe in far-reaching proposals and an attempt to expedite matters, especially in light of the political situation," Livni, the prime minister-designate, told Kouchner on Sunday.
In the morning, Kouchner met with Olmert, who said he was frustrated that Abbas had not accepted his proposal. "You've read what I said in the interview," Olmert told Kouchner, referring to his statements in Yedioth Ahronoth favoring concessions. "Still, the Palestinians do not want to sign."

Kouchner raised the matter later when he met with Livni and asked why she objects to Olmert's proposal. Olmert's plan proposes a comprehensive solution on borders and refugees and postpones a decision on Jerusalem.
Livni's explanation was a criticism of Olmert. "Abu Mazen [Abbas] in his present political situation cannot accept such an agreement," she said. "The political situation in Israel also does not allow it to be signed."
Livni also argued that blaming the Palestinians for refusing to accept Olmert's offer does no good. "We can say this is their fault - but what will that do?" she said. "We had the same thing after Camp David in 2000 and look where that got us."
Livni: Annapolis will continue, regardless of political upheaval
Earlier Sunday, in her first foreign policy address since winning the Kadima party primary, Livni voiced her commitment to continue peace negotiations with the Palestinians.
"Annapolis will continue," Livni said, referring to a U.S.-sponsored peace conference last November that restarted negotiations on a Palestinian state.
"Let us not allow dates or political changes to stand in our way," she said, in her address to Foreign Ministry conference on policy and strategy in Jerusalem.
"The point is to understand the required concessions in order to conduct a correct process," Livni said.
Sunday's conference marked the first of what is to be annual assessments of Israel's foreign policy, and was also attended by Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki.

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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Barak: Arab areas in Jerusalem could be Palestinian capital

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/09/barak-arab-areas-in-jerusalemlem-could.html

Israel Defense Minister Ehud Barak has said some Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem could become the capital of a future Palestinian state as part of a final peace agreement. This is no different from the formula he offered in 2000. Palestinians continue to insist that Israel has no national rights whatever in East Jerusalem. The late Yasser Arafat amazed American politicians by claiming repeatedly that there had been no Jewish presence in Jerusalem in antiquity. Archeological finds give evidence of the Jewish monarchy as early as King Hezekiah in 700 BC and ancient writers commonly referred to Jerusalem as the former Jewish capital, but Palestinian leaders pretend this evidence does not exist. Arafat's views were frequently seconded by the former Mufti of Jerusalem, Ikremah Sabri.
Prior to 1948, about 5,000 Jews lived in the Jewish quarter of the Old City. The community underwent attrition due to Arab riots in 1929 and 1936. In 1948, the entire community was ethnically cleansed by the Transjordan Legion under the supervision of British officers. East Jerusalem was also the site of the original campus of the Hebrew University, which was reconstituted after 1967. Arab media however, ignore the Jewish connection to East Jerusalem in modern times as well as ancient, and commonly refer to it as "Arab East Jerusalem" on the basis of the 19 year illegal Jordanian occupation.
East Jerusalem is also the site of Masjid Al Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock, important Muslim holy places.
Fatah leaders have been promising a Palestinian state with its capital in Jerusalem since the signing of the Oslo accords, though Israel never undertook to cede all of Jerusalem or any of it as part of a peace setltement.
"We can find a formula under which certain neighborhoods, heavily-populated Arab neighborhoods, could become, in a peace agreement, part of the Palestinian capital that, of course, will include also the neighboring villages around Jerusalem," Barak told Al-Jazeera television.
"I'm not sure whether the gaps are close enough," Barak said when asked if a deal was possible this year.
Officially, Israel is not discussing Jerusalem with the Palestinians at all, since the non-Zionist ultraorthodox Shas party insisted they would leave the coalition if any concessions were offered in Jerusalem. Orthodox and ultraorthodox Jews in the United States and Israel, rather than Zionists, are the chief opposition to Israeli compromise on the issue. As long as the Palestinians remain intent on excluding Israel entirely from East Jerusalem, the issue of Israeli compromise is a moot point.
Ami Isseroff

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Israelis support "calm" but think it won't last.

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/06/israelis-support-calm-but-think-it-wont.html

The latest poll shows that a plurality of Israelis support the "calm" with Hamas but think it won't last. Interestingly, Kadima voters support the "calm", but are pretty certain it won't last. Knesset polls show a significant relative advantage for the Kadima party if Tzippi Livni is its candidate for Prime Minister, and a drop in the popularity of Labor and the Likud relative to other scenarios and previous polls. Still, the Likud is the party that gets the largest number of mandates in all scenarios.

Polls: 40.6%:32.9% support calm agreement with Hamas, 74.8% expect to last
days
Dr. Aaron Lerner Date: 19 June 2008

Telephone poll of a representative sample of 497 adult Israelis (including Arab Israelis) carried out by Shvakim Panorama for Israel Radio's Hakol Diburim (It's All Talk) the afternoon and evening of 18 June 2008 after the announcement of the "calm" in the Gaza Strip.

If elections were held today how would you vote (expressed in mandates - based on the 81.2% who indicated what party they would vote for)

Four scenarios:
[A] Kadima headed by Livni
[B] Kadima headed by Mofaz
[C] Kadima headed by Dichter
[D] Kadima headed by Shetreet

Actual Knesset today in [brackets]
[A][B][C][D]
22 18 09 08 [29] Kadima
14 17 19 19 [19] Labor
25 22 29 30 [12] Likud
11 11 11 11 [12] Shas
11 12 11 12 [11] Yisrael Beteinu
07 08 08 07 [09] Nat'l Union/NRP
06 06 06 06 [06] Yahadut Hatorah
06 07 07 07 [05] Meretz
04 05 06 06 [00] Green Party
03 03 03 03 [00] Social Justice (Gaydamak Party)
** ** ** ** [07] Retirees Party
11 11 11 11 [10] Arab parties
** does not get minimum votes for Knesset representation

Do you support or oppose the calm agreement with Hamas?
Total: Support 40.6% Oppose 32.9% No position 26.5%
Kadima voters: Support 38.1% Oppose 31.8% No position 30.1%
Likud voters: Support 22.3% Oppose 60.4% No position 17.3%
Labor voters: Support 69.2% Oppose 10.1% No position 20.7%

You think that the calm will continue for a short time (days) or a long time (months)?
Total: Short 74.8% Long 17.1% Don't know 8.1%
Kadima voters: Short 81.5% Long 5.3% DK 13.2%
Likud voters:: Short 91.4% Long 2.2% DK 6.4%
Labor voters: Short 59.6% Long 12.8% DK 27.6%

Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
(mail POB 982 Kfar Sava)
Tel 972-9-7604719/Fax 972-3-7255730
INTERNET ADDRESS: imra@netvision.net.il
Website: http://www.imra.org.il


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Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Extending sympathy to the parents of Rachel Corrie

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/04/extend-sympathy-to-parents-of-rachel.html

Send your sympathy to the parents of Rachel Corrie, one of many thousands of victims of the Israeli-Arab conflict, who was killed in 2003 by accident. Ask them please not to allow anyone to use her death in order to spread hatred and cause more and more deaths.
 

To the parents of Rachel Corrie,
I am sorry for your loss. In 2003, your daughter Rachel became one of the many victims of the struggle between Jews and Arabs in the land of Israel, AKA (between 1917 and 1947) as "Palestine." I am sure that you love your daughter as much as every one of the bereaved parents and relatives of victims of the conflict loved their children. Your daughter was killed, apparently by accident, by a civilian bulldozer driver. I wish that Israel would open a full investigation of the matter and issue an apology, even if the death was purely accidental. As an Israeli, I apologize, but I can only do so as an individual.

But the other victims of the conflict are as dear to their parents and loved ones as Rachel was to you. Here for example, are Rachel Thaler (left) age 15, killed in a suicide attack on a pizzeria, and by her side is Rachel is Rachel Levi, age 19, killed in a suicide attack while waiting for a bus.







There is also Carlos Chavez. I call him "the other Rachel Corrie." He is the Rachel Corrie nobody will remember. He was a volunteer, like Rachel. He was harming nobody. He was working on a kibbutz near the Gaza border. He came all the way from his home in Ecuador to do that. He was murdered intentionally by Palestinian Arab terrorists, not accidentally.

Continued here: Condolences for Rachel Corrie

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Are there Israeli secret talks with Syria?

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/03/israeli-secret-talks-with-syria.html

Are Israel and Syria talking?


Israel hinted at secret talks with Syria.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Wednesday that he wants to resume peace talks with Syria that stalled in 2000, though Jerusalem has balked at preconditions by Damascus such as the complete return of the Golan Heights.

"I hope that the Syrians are prepared to make peace with Israel, and I hope that the circumstances will allow us to sit together," Olmert told foreign reporters on Wednesday. "That doesn't mean that when we sit together you have to see us."

The suggestion that secret contacts already are under way followed media reports that Turkey has been trying to bring together senior Israeli and Syrian officials for discreet and preliminary exchanges of ideas.

Olmert's comments were echoed Thursday by Israeli National Infrastructure Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, who told Army Radio: "I know that the Israeli government, and he who is empowered by it, are doing everything possible to create a dialogue with Syria."

Expanding on the unidentified emissary, Ben-Eliezer said that "anyone who meets him, and there are such people, is told in spoken Hebrew that the State of Israel is prepared to sit down tomorrow and talk."

Source

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Bush radio address: A Jewish state and an Arab Palestinian state

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/01/bush-radio-address-jewish-state-and.html

The higlight of President Bush's radio address from the Middle East:

In plain language, the result must be the establishment of a free and democratic homeland for the Palestinian people, just as Israel is a free and democratic homeland for the Jewish people. For this to happen, the Israelis must have secure, recognized, and defensible borders. And the Palestinians must have a state that is viable, contiguous, sovereign, and independent. Achieving this vision will require tough decisions and painful concessions from both sides.


The entire address is below.
Ami Isseroff


THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. I'm speaking to you from the Middle East, where I have been meeting with friends and allies. We're discussing how we can work together to confront the extremists who threaten our future. And I have encouraged them to take advantage of the historic opportunity we have before us to advance peace, freedom, and security in this vital part of the world.

My first stop was Israel and the Palestinian Territories. I had good meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Olmert and Palestinian President Abbas. Both these men are committed to peace in the Holy Land. Both these men have been elected by their people. And both share a vision of two democratic states -- Israel and Palestine -- living side by side in peace and security.

I came away encouraged by my meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Each side understands that the key to achieving its own goals is helping the other side achieve its goals. For the Israelis, their main goal is ensuring the safety of their people and the security of their nation. For the Palestinians, the goal is a state of their own, where they can enjoy the dignity that comes with sovereignty and self-government.

In plain language, the result must be the establishment of a free and democratic homeland for the Palestinian people, just as Israel is a free and democratic homeland for the Jewish people. For this to happen, the Israelis must have secure, recognized, and defensible borders. And the Palestinians must have a state that is viable, contiguous, sovereign, and independent. Achieving this vision will require tough decisions and painful concessions from both sides.

I believe that a peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians that defines a Palestinian state is possible this year. Prime Minister Olmert made clear to me that he understands a democratic Palestinian state is in the long-term security interests of Israel. President Abbas is committed to achieving this Palestinian state through negotiation. The United States cannot impose an agreement on the Israelis and Palestinians -- that is something they must work out themselves. But with hard work and good will on both sides, they can make it happen. And both men are getting down to the serious work of negotiation to make sure it does happen.

The United States will do all we can to encourage these negotiations and promote reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians. But the international community has a responsibility to help as well. In particular, the Arab nations of the Gulf have a responsibility both to support President Abbas, Prime Minister Fayyad, and other Palestinian leaders as they work for peace, and to work for a larger reconciliation between Israel and the Arab world. And in my meetings with Arab leaders over the next few days, I will urge them to do their part.

A democratic Palestinian state is in the interests of the Palestinians. It is in the long-term security interests of Israel. And it is in the interests of a world at war with terrorists and extremists trying to impose their brutal vision on the Middle East. By helping the Israeli and Palestinian people lay the foundation for lasting peace, we will help build a more hopeful future for the Holy Land -- and a safer world for the American people.

Thank you for listening.

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Monday, January 7, 2008

Mr. Bush: You are not in Kansas anymore

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/01/mr-bush-you-are-not-in-kansas-anymore.html

07.01. 2008
http://www.zionism-israel.com/log/archives/00000476.html
Original content copyright by the author
Zionism & Israel Center
http://zionism-israel.com

Not much peace is likely to come out of President Bush's upcoming visit to the Middle East. As Hillel Halkin notes, nobody in the Middle East probably really wants peace anyhow.

Unlike Hillel Halkin, I do not think this is a Good Thing. But it certainly seems to be a fact. As I note elsewhere, if US diplomats ever grasp this truth, it may set US policy in the Middle East on a much firmer footing. Since sometime after the Six Day War, the U.S. has held to the same policy in the Middle East. It is based on these principles:
  • Arab-Israeli peace will stabilize the region and open the way to further progress.

  • The various actors in the Middle East really want peace, though they each want it on their terms.

  • Peace can be obtained by using US leverage on Israel to extract territorial concessions from Israel. LI>

    By achieving peace and return of territories, the US can leverage Israeli return of territories into US influence with Arab states.

  • The US can maintain its leverage over Israel by making Israel dependent on US aid and weapons, and likewise, it can use the same mechanism to maintain leverage over other states in the region.

The model that is supposed to have validated the thesis is Egypt. Egypt made peace with Israel and got its territories back, and Egypt and Israel remain firm allies of the US, in part because of hefty foreign aid subsidies. But what if all the above assumptions are false? What if peace between the Arabs and Israelis would violate cultural taboos that have been in place in the Arab world for the last 100 years? What if it would destabilize all the regimes that signed peace treaties with Israel, by labeling them as "Jew lovers" and an easy target for extremists? What if the Israelis, once anxious for peace even in 1967 borders have in the interim gotten used to the "new" situation that has prevailed for 40 years, and are not anxious to trade real estate for flimsy peace agreements like the one with Egypt? What if instability in the Middle East, backward conditions and volatility are the cause of the Israel-Arab conflict rather than the effect?

Continued: Mr. Bush: You are not in Kansas anymore


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