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by CTuttle

Gaza Update: Delays, Deceit, and Death

4:15 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

The Ceasefire was in fact extended for another 24 hrs… Palestinians, Israelis agree on extending Gaza cease-fire, continue talks

Egypt late Monday announced a 24-hour extension in talks between Israel and the Hamas militant group aimed at salvaging a long-term arrangement that would allow reconstruction of the Gaza Strip following a monthlong war that killed more than 2,000 people.

The announcement came just minutes before a temporary truce was set to expire at midnight, averting a resumption of the fighting that has caused devastating damage across Gaza and disrupted life throughout southern Israel.

‘Palestinians and Israelis agreed on extending the cease-fire by 24 hours to continue current negotiations,’ the Egyptian government said in a statement. Palestinian and Israeli officials confirmed they had accepted Egypt’s request for an extension.

A Palestinian negotiator said the sides had exchanged draft proposals for a long-term truce that were to be addressed during the 24-hour extension in talks. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media.

Today’s Haaretz revealed the explosive politics at play within Bibi’s rabid Cabinet…

Israeli official: Netanyahu tried to hide Egyptian cease-fire proposal from cabinet

Only when Lieberman brought copy to cabinet meeting did PM reluctantly admit its existence.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried last week to hide from cabinet ministers the draft of a cease-fire agreement drawn up by Egypt. A senior Israeli official said that during last Thursday evening’s cabinet meeting, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman confronted Netanyahu, showing him the copy of the Egyptian proposal that he, Lieberman, had received, and demanded an explanation.

The Israeli official said Lieberman surprised Netanyahu with this revelation. This was the first that the other cabinet ministers had heard that Israel had received a draft cease-fire agreement from the Egyptians, and they demanded copies of their own so they could review it.

A stormy atmosphere ensued and Netanyahu found himself on the defensive. The official said Netanyahu told the cabinet members that it was only a proposal, one of many that had been updated again and again in previous days.

‘I didn’t say ‘yes’ to this draft and for now we do not accept it,’ he told the ministers.

To be sure…

Tikun Olam’s Richard Silverstein wrote yesterday about even more Palace intrigue… Avigdor Lieberman Leaked Secret Gaza Military Briefing

Bless Bibi’s piteous heart… Israel lifts Gaza fishing ban as goodwill gesture for cease-fire

Meanwhile, from Ma’an… Touring the devastated industrial zones of Gaza

From the WaPo… Instagram photos from Gaza: A shift from a summer lull to war

Lest you thought the WaPo was getting soft on Gaza, the odious Richard Cohen, quickly quelled that notion… Israel is held to an impossible standard

Sorry, allow me to cleanse your palate, from Electronic Intifada… An open letter to Israel

In wrapping up, Don’t you just feel the Love…?

by CTuttle

The I/P Peace Farce

4:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

(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… Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: AIPAC, Bibi, and, Iran

6:32 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Obama warns Israel against ‘international fallout’

US President Barack Obama has warned Israel against ‘international fallout’ if direct talks with the Palestinian Authority fail and Tel Aviv continues its illegal settlement expansion in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Speaking to Bloomberg View prior to his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, Obama said that Washington’s ability to protect its staunch ally from being isolated in the world would be ‘limited’ if Tel Aviv continues expanding its illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Obama also warned that international condemnation will mean reduced influence for Washington over issues that are of interest to Israel.

Talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority have stalled over Tel Aviv’s illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.

In his interview, which was published on Sunday, Obama said “the window is closing” for a so-called peace deal with the Palestinian Authority, calling on Netanyahu to ‘seize the moment.’

But, Bibi will have none of that…

Netanyahu dismisses US warnings over failure to reach peace agreement

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, upon his arrival in Washington on Monday, dismissed the warnings made by US President Barack Obama regarding the potential fallout if the current negotiations failed to reach an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians based on the two-state solution.

After stepping off his jet, Netanyahu told reporters that: ‘The tango in the Middle East needs at least three. For years there have been two—Israel and the US. Now it needs to be seen if the Palestinians are also present.’

Netanyahu added that: ‘In any case, in order for us to have an agreement, we must uphold our vital interests. I have proven that I do so, in the face of all pressures and all the turmoil, and I will continue to do so here as well.’

To be sure…

AIPAC presses Obama: Stay firm on Iran

As annual convention opens, pro-Israel lobby circulates letter calling on Obama to adopt approach to Islamic republic that, as described, echoes that of Netanyahu.

After recently leading a losing battle in Congress against President Barack Obama’s diplomatic strategy on Iran, the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC, whose annual convention in Washington opened Sunday, is giving it another try.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee circulated a letter to Obama urging him to take a much more restrictive approach to Iran’s nuclear program – an approach that, as described, echoed that of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The letter was signed by three Democratic senators led by Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (New Jersey), and three Republican senators led by the outspokenly hawkish Lindsey Graham (South Carolina).

The AIPAC letter said that if and when a final nuclear treaty is signed with Iran, Obama should be guided by the principles that Iran has ‘no inherent right to [uranium] enrichment;’ and that there is ‘no reason’ for Iran’s enrichment facility at Fordo, nor for its heavy water facility at Arak.

Needless to say, the AIPAC critters are hard at work in the Halls of Congress…

US legislators propose law to punish academic boycotts of Israel

Two members of the US Congress have introduced a bill to deprive American educational institutions of federal funding if they implement an academic boycott of Israel.

According to Israel’s Maariv newspaper, the bill has been drafted by Republican Peter Roskam and Dan Lipinski of the Democratic Party, both from the state of Illinois. The draft stipulates that ‘every academic institution to boycott Israel will lose federal funding.’

Maariv said that the bill does not prohibit anyone from boycotting Israel on the basis of freedom of expression, but stipulates that institutions which do so will be deprived of privileges they receive from the federal government.

Although still in its early stages with the Congress Cultural Committee, the bill has already been signed by 134 members. In order for it to pass into law, it has to be signed by 435 legislators.

In wrapping up, Iran has always been the shiny bauble to distract the masses from the I/P…

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Al Qaeda, Egypt, False Flags, and Hasbara

7:15 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

(Part 2) (I enjoyed seeing Paul cite an FDL article!)

The U.S. needs to withdraw militarily from the Middle East. I’ve made this argument over the course of several years. I think that the projection of American power comes at great environmental and human cost. I think we prop up regimes that are bad for the region, including the Saudis, the Bahrainis, now the Egyptian military, and others. I think this antagonistic relationship with Iran has been counterproductive on so many levels, from the perspective of the energy, but also from human rights and from suffering in the region, almost constant war.

-Toby C. Jones, associate professor of history at Rutgers University and author of Desert Kingdom: How Oil and Water Forged Modern Saudi Arabia

I couldn’t agree more with Toby…!

Now, it’s always refreshing to see a MSM outlet shine some sort of light on our perfidy…

New analysis of rocket used in Syria chemical attack undercuts U.S. claims

A team of security and arms experts, meeting this week in Washington to discuss the matter, has concluded that the range of the rocket that delivered sarin in the largest attack that night was too short for the device to have been fired from the Syrian government positions where the Obama administration insists they originated.

However, b @ MOA takes McClatchy to task…

Missile Experts: White House Made False Claims Over Syrian WMD Use

…The short version of this whole story is this: The scientific facts are clear and the White House version of the WMD story is definitely false. These facts are not new but where known when the White House claims were made. Obama (and Kerry) deliberately lied about the WMD attack in Syria to wage an open war against the Syrian government and people. Threatened with a possible conflict with the Russian fleet and a possible impeachment Obama caved in. But he has not yet given up on his aim of regime change and of destroying Syria and its people.

It is time for Congress to investigate who prepared, on who’s order, the false claims about chemical weapon use in Syria and to draw consequences.

Speaking of the White House… White House releases summary of six-month Iran nuclear plan

I must say, despite the obvious Neocon Bias, I concur…

Obama has ‘No Sense’ of Military Strategy

A top British defense adviser has called President Barack Obama “chronically incapable” of implementing a successful military strategy in Syria and Afghanistan, and has “no sense of what he wants to do in the world.”

Sir Hew Strachan, a member of the United Kingdom’s Chief of the Defense Staff’s Strategic Advisory Panel, told The Daily Beast Wednesday that Obama’s handling of the Syrian crisis was “crazy” and, as the publication put it, perhaps “the most egregious example of a fundamental collapse in military planning that began in the aftermath of 9/11.”

“If anything it’s gone backwards instead of forwards. Obama seems to be almost chronically incapable of doing this,” Strachan said. “[Former President George W.] Bush may have had totally fanciful political objectives in terms of trying to fight a global War on Terror, which was inherently astrategic, but at least he had a clear sense of what he wanted to do in the world.

Obama has no sense of what he wants to do in the world,” he added.

*ouch*

Here’s another great look-see at our misbegotten FP…

To be sure, Kerry is truly tone-deaf… Geneva-2 to establish Syria’s transitional governing body: Kerry

Moving along to Egypt’s recent referendum…

Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Folie à deux!

4:00 am in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Isn’t it strange that Al Qaeda has never struck inside of Israel, nor the House of Saud for that matter…

Folie à deux! – Madness shared by two

Pardon my French, but it is sometimes the right language in which to express things. Folie à deux!

Yes, folie à deux which is a madness or psychosis shared by two people. Think of two people believing themselves to be omnipotent (perhaps as a King and Queen who act capriciously and despise their subjects) and you will have some understanding of the madness. Needless to say, the madness invariably ends in some form of destruction.

In this case, however, the folie is not that shared by two individuals but by two regimes. Or rather, two entities both of which have no true legitimacy, but only an existence which comes from force instead of widespread consent. In both cases, the crux of the matter is the lack of legitimacy.

One of them is Israel, a racist, arrogant entity, embarked on a creeping genocide of the Palestinians, intent on expansion into the lands of others and which wants to attack Iran.

The other is Saudi Arabia, a gruesome, totalitarian, sectarian entity which thinks that it has something (Takfiri Wahhabism) that is welcomed in the lands of others (which, in reality, is nothing but a foul smell) and which also wants to attack Iran.

Both entities think that they are God’s gift to the human race and are in the last stages of hubris…

‘The folie à deux is then compounded by their belief that the USA will come in on their side because, at the moment, there is no doubt that there is a partnership, indeed, an Axis of Evil, consisting of Israel, Saudi Arabia and the USA.’

In the case of Israel, the Zionists have absolute control of the American political process with the politicians, even after the recent international agreement with Iran, determined to impose more and more sanctions. On top of that are the fifty to sixty million demented Christian Zionists who actually want a full-scale war in the Middle East – they want this because they think that such a war is the prelude to their being wafted up to Heaven.

Please ‘Rapture’ them already…!

Anyways… I must say that I was surprised by this completely empty gesture from Bibi…

Netanyahu puts settlement construction plans on hold until after Kerry visit

A senior official in Jerusalem says the prime minister asked the housing minister to delay publication of tenders for new West Bank homes; ‘nobody wants to stick a finger in Kerry’s eye,’ he says.

Kerry will arrive in Israel on Thursday for a series of meetings with Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in order to continue efforts at drafting the ‘framework agreement’ for peace talks, which the U.S. hopes to present by the end of the month.

The secretary of state will stay in the region until Sunday, at least, and is likely to extend his visit by a few extra days.

Netanyahu announced last week that he planned to publish the new tenders after the third stage of the Palestinian prisoner release, which was carried out on Monday night. Tenders for construction were published after each of the first two stages of the prisoner release.

Although the number of units and location of construction were leaked unofficially to the public, the actual contracting tenders have not yet been published on the Housing Ministry website or in the media.

A senior official in Jerusalem said that Netanyahu and Ariel have an understanding that the tenders will be published after Kerry’s visit: ‘Nobody has an intention of sticking a finger in Kerry’s eye,’ said the official. ‘On this matter, there is full coordination between the prime minister and the housing minister.’

Hmm, it’s never seemed to bother Bibi before…!

Naturally… Israel lawmakers appeal to Obama for spy’s release.

So, let’s look at what else is on Bibi’s plate… Israel Ready to Invade Gaza. Planned Attack Would “Exact a Heavy Toll”

Could another Cast Lead be used as a distraction…?

Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

The Israel/Palestine Peace Farce Drags On and On

3:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

I’ve been covering the Israel/Palestine situation for well over a decade now, and one would think I’d be inured to the farcical actions by now…! But, once again, my jaw hit the desk with this bit of news…

Kerry, Abbas Knew of Building Plans in Advance

In a press conference in Brazil, US Secretary of State says Netanyahu had been “completely up front” about building from the start

US Secretary of State John Kerry revealed Tuesday that he and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas were fully aware that the Israeli government intended to continue building in parts of Judea and Samaria which “will not affect the peace map” when the decision was made to restart talks.

As such, despite the “outcry” by the Palestinian Authority, Abbas is still committed to talks with Israel over the next nine months, he said.

At a press conference in Brazil, Kerry declared that “the policy of the United States with respect to all settlements, is that they are illegitimate.”

“But, that said, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was completely up front with me and with president Abbas that he would be announcing some additional building in places that will not affect the peace map, that will not have any impact on the capacity to have a peace agreement,”he continued.

Kerry also stressed the “urgency to get into the discussion of borders and security”

Seriously… What Borders…?

To be sure of Israeli intentions… Israel approves another 942 settlement units…

…The units are in addition to the more than 1,000 settlement homes approved by Israel on Sunday, in a move that has angered the Palestinians and drawn fire from the international community.

“The Jerusalem municipality has approved a construction plan for 942 homes in Gilo,” an existing settlement in East Jerusalem, deputy mayor Yosef Pepe Alalu told AFP. {…}

US Secretary of State John Kerry, who convinced the two sides to return to the negotiating table after a three-year hiatus, urged the Palestinians “not to react adversely” to Israel’s approval on Sunday for new homes in East Jerusalem and the West Bank…

Well, indeedy… Palestinians committed to peace with Israel through talks: Abbas

Now, I hold the unelected, excreable Abu Mazen(Abbas) in the same esteem as Bibi…! As I’d noted, two years ago, when the Palestine Papers first came out…

The Palestinian leadership will surely face criticism for what The Palestine Papers reveal. Some will be merited; some not. The overwhelming conclusion one draws from this record is that the process for a two-state solution is essentially over, that the history of the peace process is one of abject failure for all concerned. The Palestinian participants, having lost the most, will likely suffer most. But I can only come away with the passionately-held belief that these people deserved better.

The ensuing thread to that old post is well worth the perusal too…!

Here’s some of the Guardian’s coverage of the Papers…

Read the rest of this entry →