(Pls watch from the 40 min mark, at least!)

From today’s Ma’an News…

PA: Israel settlements led to peace talks impasse

US-sponsored peace talks with Israel have reached an impasse because of Jewish settlement activity, a Palestinian spokesman said, as plans for over 2,000 West Bank units were moved forward.

The latest crisis comes as Washington scrambles for a formula to allow the Palestinians and Israelis to carry on the peace talks beyond an April 29 deadline.

“Israel’s settlement activity caused the negotiations to fail and led them to an impasse,” Nabil Abu Rudeina, a spokesman for Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, told AFP.

Abu Rudeina was reacting to the decision of an Israeli defense ministry committee, revealed earlier on Thursday, to push forward with plans to build 2,269 new West Bank homes.

A ministry spokesman said last month the committee had approved the building of 1,015 units in Leshem, Beit El and Almog, leaving Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon’s approval as the final step.

The same committee approved 1,254 units in Ariel, Shvut Rachel and Shavei Shomron. Those projects will be published in the media for public comment before returning to the committee for further discussion.

Israeli-Palestinian peace talks are teetering on the brink of collapse, with Washington fighting an uphill battle to get the two sides to agree to a framework proposal to extend the negotiations to the year’s end.

To be sure…

From hocus pocus to open sesame to recognition as Jewish state: It’s a kind of magic

Forget refugees, settlements, Jerusalem or security: Everyone is waiting for Abbas to say the magic words that will launch a whole new world, presto-change-o.

To the long list of such enchanted incantations as open sesame, hocus pocus, and bibbedy-bobbedy-boo, we can now add “recognition as a Jewish state.” If Mahmoud Abbas would only say the magic words, then presto-change-o, the walls will come tumbling down, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will end and we’ll have a whole new world, shining, shimmering and splendid.

This, at least, the impression one gets from the focus of the discussion in recent weeks about U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s struggling peace initiative. Forget once-burning but now-boring issues such as settlements, security, refugees, borders, Jerusalem or Temple Mount: recognition as Jewish state is the only game in town. Once the words are said, it’s going to be wham-bam-alakazaam, welcome to the magic kingdom.

It’s not for nothing that Benjamin Netanyahu was once widely known in Israel as hakosem, the magician. His mastery of the media, his meteoric rise in the Likud, his utterly fantastic victory over Shimon Peres in the 1996 elections – all of these endowed Bibi with a supernatural mystique. And while the magic didn’t last forever and Netanyahu was subsequently subjected to a barrage of obligatory clichés – his spell is broken, no more tricks up his sleeve, King Midas in reverse etc – once an illusionist, always an illusionist. He’s still got plenty of wizardry left up his sleeves.

Standing up to AIPAC means supporting Israeli dissidents

The voice of ‘pro-Israel’ militarism has been ringing through the halls of Washington D.C. since the 1970s. Now, to end the occupation, American citizens must couple their opposition to AIPAC with support for anti-occupation groups in Israel.

BDS works…! Boycott movement has empowered Palestinians, says co-founder

However, it seems the PA is not the solution either, from Haaretz…

The Palestinian Authority is on the brink of collapse, study says

Only achieving statehood could save the West Bank from an impending wave of violence, crime, chaos, disease, says major Palestinian report

The breakdown of the Palestinian Authority would turn the West Bank into a violent, criminal, chaotic, disease-ridden place. But even though most Palestinians want the PA to survive, either for the sake of basic social order or personal interest, and although Israel dreads having to resume responsibility for 3 million West Bankers, President Mahmoud Abbas’ regime will collapse before too long if Israel continues to thwart Palestinian aspirations for independence.

This is the conclusion of a massive six-month study by the highly-regarded Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah, directed by Dr. Khalil Shikaki.

A great many Palestinians have a deeply vested interest in the PA’s continued existence, Shikaki notes. Connections with the PA bring “financial well being, social and political status in society, and there are circles that depend on their relation to PA. Anything that happens to the PA will take all of that away from them. These could be organizations, business interests or individuals who have positions of power that allow them to reward sympathizers.

“If they could call the shots, they would do their best to prevent [the PA’s collapse],” Shikaki said, “But even those who have a vested interest in satisfying Israel, for the sake of preserving the PA, cannot do it for too long.”

If ordinary Palestinians still support the existence of the PA, it’s because they have a need for some kind of order, he adds. “People do not want to see themselves without a central authority that prevents chaos and anarchy in the streets, even if they have a lot of criticism of the PA and its functioning. But the Palestinians are willing to risk it collapsing completely, if it happens in the midst of a struggle for a change in the status quo. If there is a good reason for it to collapse, then [the attitude is] let it be.”

The PA is 20 years old, but voices questioning its efficacy were already being heard at the start of the second intifada in 2000. They’ve returned and intensified over the past two or three years, as it has become clear that the PA is not delivering on either of the two goals it was established to achieve: statehood and the provision of public services. Add to this the increasing economic difficulties and the rupture with the Gaza Strip, and the picture of failure is complete.

And, I have to agree with Abbas’ son…

Dissolve Palestinian Authority , Abbas’ son says

The son of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called on his father to dissolve the Palestinian Authority, end the negotiations with Israeli and seek a one-state solution.

In a rare interview with the New York Times published on Wednesday, Tareq Abbas expressed his rejection of the idea of extending the negotiations with the Israeli occupation and said the Palestinian Authority (PA) must take action and press for statehood through international organisations in response to Israel’s continued settlement construction.

He also suggested his father dissolve the PA and hand over the responsibility of the West Bank to Israel once again.

From Mondoweiss… Netanyahu’s map of ‘Israel’ annexes West Bank, leaves out Gaza

The three truths the U.S. needs to accept about Gaza

Hamas calls on Abbas and Dahlan to refrain from revealing secrets serving Israel

A senior member of the Islamic Resistance movement Hamas, Mousa Abu Marzouk, has called on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and former Fatah leader Mohamed Dahlan to refrain from exchanging accusations that serve only the Israeli interests.

Abu Marzouk said yesterday that Hamas “distances itself” from Fatah’s internal quarrels as the dispute between Abbas and Dahlan continues to escalate.

“Hamas distances itself from the bickering between Abbas and Dahlan; although [the resistance movement] is a common denominator between both parties,” Abu Marzouk posted on his Facebook account.

Abu Marzouk pointed out that the accusations being exchanged between both parties prove Hamas’s theory that some of Fatah’s leaders are responsible for the Palestinian internal division and have plotted to target the leaders and cadres of Hamas.

Abu Marzouk stressed that the open altercation between the two sides harms the Palestinian cause and splits the movement.

“Despite the party’s internal differences with Hamas and other Palestinian factions, the effort must be made so Fatah can unite and reconcile with the other Palestinian groups. Fatah continues to be the backbone of the PLO, which leads the Palestinian Authority and represents Arabs in the international arena,” he said.

Abu Marzouk called upon both parties “for Palestine’s sake to stop revealing your secrets that served and serve Israel’s interests. Do not divert attention away from Israel’s responsibility for the assassination of Yasser Arafat over to Mohammed Dahlan or to Mahmoud Abbas.”

And, Hamas happy for Jordan to mediate unity talks

Egyptian army delegation visits Israel

…A senior Israeli official told Haaretz that the Egyptian delegation spent a week in Israel, met Israeli officials, and toured a number of areas.

In the same context, Israeli journalist Barak Ravid said in his latest Haaretz article that Israel urged senior officials in the US Administration and Congress not to cancel the sale of 10 advanced Apache combat helicopters to Egypt, quoting an Israeli official as saying that supplying Egypt with the helicopters “is crucial to Egypt’s fight Against jihadist organizations in the Sinai, and will improve regional security.”

Ravid stressed that security cooperation between Egypt and Israel has been enhanced since June, and that Israel has made huge efforts to support the interim Egyptian government.

In wrapping up…