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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

MENA Mashup: Abunimah, Al-Sisi, and Erdoğan

5:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

I’m certainly looking forward to Ali Abunimah’s FDL Book Salon…!

Now, delving into the muck and mire of the MENA, from Al Jazeera, talk about real Benghazi redux…

Libya army imposes no fly zone over Benghazi

Army issues direct challenge to retired general who has mounted unauthorised campaign against Islamists.

The Libyan army has imposed a no fly zone over Benghazi in a direct challenge to a retired general who has been using government aircraft and troops in an unauthorised campaign against Islamist groups.

Major General Khalifa Haftar, who lived in exile in the United States before returning home to lead ground forces in the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi, heads what he calls a “National Army”.

On Friday his paramilitary force, backed by warplanes and helicopters, pounded Islamist fighters in Libya’s second biggest city, in clashes that killed at least 36 people and injured another 138.

Interim Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni denounced Haftar’s forces as “outlaws” and called on all parties to observe restraint.

But earlier on Saturday, Haftar said he would continue his campaign to free Benghazi of “terrorist groups”.

“The operation will continue until Benghazi is purged of terrorists,” Haftar told Libya Awalan television.

Evacuation call

Armed forces chief of staff Abdessalam Hadallah al-Salihin denied any army involvement in the Benghazi clashes, although he admitted that some officers and army units had defected to join Haftar.

Later, Haftar spokesman Colonel Mohammad al-Hegazi called on people living in the western Benghazi district of Guwersha and the south’s Sidi Fradj to evacuate their homes.

He did not say if this was a prelude to attacks on those neighbourhoods, which are known to be bastions of the Islamists.

The army’s high command then upped the ante by declaring all of Benghazi and its suburbs a “no fly zone until further notice,” the state-run LANA news agency said.

“All military planes flying over the city will be shot down by army units… and units of the revolutionaries (ex-rebels),” it said.

Now, if that isn’t f*cked up enough, lo and behold, this foul f*ckery…

Will Al Sisi repeat Saddam’s mistake and attack eastern Libya for oil?

A breaking news item reported by Al-Jazeera Channel earlier today, 16 May, confirmed that aircrafts were bombing locations belonging to Ansar Al-Shar’ah (Supporters of Shari’ah) and the 17 February Battalions in Benghazi.

Previously, the Algerian Al-Khabar newspaper reported on 12 May that an Israeli website close to the security circles in Tel Aviv said that an American report had warned that Abdul-Fattah Al-Sisi might use the pretext of terrorism along the Egyptian – Libyan borders in order to justify a military operation against the Libyans.

These developments come amid widespread and continuous reports in the Egyptian mass media claiming that a so-called “Egyptian Free Army” was present in eastern Libya.

Al-Khabar noted that the Israeli website Debka said that Field Marshal Al-Sisi, the presidential candidate, plans to resolve Egypt’s economic crisis at the expense of Libyan oil resources. The website explained that Al-Sisi is using the pretext of terrorism along the Egyptian – Libyan borders in order to justify a military operation against the Libyans that will result in the theft of large quantities of oil in Libya’s eastern region.

The report highlighted the anxiety of the United States, which supply Field Marshal Al-Sisi with Apache fighter aircraft. The former army chief, it is believed, now has his sight set on the oil in eastern Libya and that the arms he seeks to obtain from the US will be used to wage war on that country.

According to the Israeli report, Egypt’s Head of Intelligence Muhammad Farid Al-Tuhamy, visited Washington recently and submitted to the U.S. administration a detailed explanation of the threats posed by Al-Qaeda in the Suez region and the area along the borders with Libya. He said to the Americans that fighters from The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) come to Egypt via Jordan and that the regime in Egypt is fighting them. The report also hinted that Al-Sisi may use the American weapons, including the Apache combat aircraft, which were delivered to him by Washington recently, to carry out an offensive in eastern Libya.

Meanwhile, American sources quoted by the World Tribune, claim that the Egyptian army have secured U.S. endorsement and confidence to fight terrorism in the region. According to these sources, the US gave the Egyptian army the green light to launch a military operation in Libya to eradicate the Islamic groups and bomb some of the locations whose specific details were provided by Washington.

Meanwhile, Al Sisi needs to check his own six…

Anan to Sisi: You will be sentenced to death soon

A group of officers supporting Egyptian former chief of staff Sami Anan said that the latter is compiling evidence that would implicate presidential candidate Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi in crimes punishable by death.

The “Officers of Egypt Front” said on its Facebook page Friday that Anan is “promising to expose secrets” that would lead to a death sentence against Sisi.

According to the page, known for its backing of Anan as a presidential candidate before he quit the race, said: “Anan decided to leave Sisi for Egyptians to judge him by themselves. He will then return powerfully after Sisi’s arrest, soon.”

In wrapping up…

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: Egypt, Iran, Israel, and Turkey

9:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Upon the third anniversary of the Tahrir Square revolution…

What a President Sisi must clarify

…The troubling thing for Egyptians is not that they are about to elect a new soldier-president, but that they are about to elect a new soldier-president about whose policies, capabilities, democratic values, governance style and national plans they know virtually nothing.

Sisi should be aware of the fact that he is preparing to assume the presidency on the strength of the two greatest but most fickle passions that any political leader can count on to shape his or her incumbency – blind love and fierce fear – because the mass adoration he enjoys on the basis of these frenzies can disappear as quickly as it appeared. The combination of intense love for Sisi as the national savior and deep fear of the hapless Muslim Brotherhood due to its miserable and greedy yearlong performance in office means that Sisi’s strong mandate can last as long as any fleeting emotion lasts with a human being – perhaps months at best.

By summer, the three big problems that plague modern Egypt and the entire Arab region – chronic military governance, domestic secular-religious schisms and socioeconomic distress – will remain unresolved and likely could worsen. They will resurface and could damage and threaten Sisi, as they have all other Arab leaders since the 1970s, depending on how he uses the power at his disposal. {…}

This soldier-president will be unlike any other in Egypt, because of the manner in which he assumes office and the continuing desire by Egyptians for a credible democratic transition from the old ways of security-state governing. Sisi will need to reveal in the coming weeks and months if he has the character, wisdom, courage and honesty to address Egypt’s enormous political problems and socioeconomic stresses. And he has to wind down the two important stressors that he himself has been contributed to – military rule of governance and the violent antagonism toward Islamist politics in society.

Now, which Master shall Sisi serve, the Egyptians, or, the MOTU’s…?

Well, I suppose, this speaks volumes…Wall Street figure to advise Al Sisi

To be sure, the bloody Poodle even parachuted into Cairo, recently…Tony Blair Backs Egypt’s Military Government Despite Human Rights Crackdown

Interestingly… Senior Muslim scholar calls on Saudi to stop supporting coup in Egypt

Another worthy read… The hidden history of the Egyptian revolution

Moving along…

Talk about your ‘Cognitive Dissonance’…

Netanyahu: Israel not obliged to agree to U.S. peace plan framework

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday night that Israel would not be obliged to agree to all the terms of the framework document that was being proposed by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Haaretz reported.

Netanyahu’s statements were made in a conference of the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv. He told the conference that Washington is putting pressure on Israel to withdraw from the Jordan Valley in order to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians, a thing the Israelis refuse because it threatens the Israel’s security.

He added that there are two main issues that are considered as the key to reaching a peace agreement: the Palestinian recognition of Israel as the Jewish state and robust security arrangements.

Regarding Iran, Netanyahu said that Iran won’t be allowed to develop nuclear weapons, nor would Israel allow Iran to create another state alongside Israel, as it has done with Lebanon and Gaza.

God forbid that saner minds should prevail…! Israel finance minister: Peace talk failure costly

And, Palestinians: Yes to Jews, no to settlers in our state

Looking at the bigger picture… Israel Welcomes Sunni-Shia Conflict

So, what’s the definition of Insanity, again…? From the Grey Lady…

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by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Assad, Erdogan, and Gates

7:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

As the Syrian delegation checked into Montreux earlier…

Syria FM says Assad’s status ‘red line’

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al- Moallem said Tuesday that subjects related to the status of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are ‘red lines’ and can’t be ‘touched,’ the state-run SANA news agency reported.

Al-Moallem made the remarks upon his arriving to Geneva, Switzerland Tuesday evening, heading a Syrian official delegation to participate in the Geneva II peace conference, which will open on Wednesday in Montreux.

The minister’s remarks came apparently to make the Syrian government’s stance clear ahead of the conference, hinting that the government’s delegation to Geneva will not accept talks about Assad’s departure.

The Syrian government repeatedly said that it wasn’t going to Geneva to hand over the power, but to negotiate with the opposition to find a solution to the crisis.

It also said that the peace talks must focus on combating terrorism in Syria, while the opposition wants the conference to lead to the formation of a transitional government without any role for al-Assad.

Syria wants the Geneva II conference to be successful as a first step to launch a Syrian-Syrian dialogue on their territories, al-Moallem said in Geneva.

The goal of Geneva II is to achieve a political solution to the conflict through a comprehensive agreement between the government and the opposition for the full implementation of the Geneva communique, adopted after the Geneva I conference in 2012.

The communique, which has been endorsed by the UN Security Council, lays out key steps to end the violence.

Funny how the Syrian delegation ran into probs en route to Montreux…

…The crisis over Syria is set to deepen after recent claims of photographic evidence of torture under Assad’s regime. The photos have been reviewed by a team of international prosecutors who said there was evidence of systematic abuse and murder involving 11,000 detainees.

It is likely to increase demands for Assad to step down and face an international war crimes trial.

And the Syrian delegation’s plane was held up when a Greek firm in Athens refused to refuel it, citing an EU trade embargo.

Now, I smell a rat about that ‘Photographic Evidence’…! How convenient that a defector should just happen to release all those gruesome photos on the eve of Geneva II, and, did you also notice how fast(and many!) MSM outlets rushed to publish them…?

Let’s remember that last rush to judgement in Syria…

Human Rights Watch’s Syria Dilemma

Which brings me to Erdogan’s recent rich hypocrisy…

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by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Erdoğan, Kerry, and Sisi

6:17 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Last time I’d checked, Erdoğan, was sputtering about how it was foreign powers that were propagating “dissemination propaganda”…!

Well, Voilà…

Erdogan’s corruption defense falls flat

Denying the corruption accusations that brought his party under a disconcerting spotlight, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been lamenting press attempts to “throw the mud and see if it sticks.” He indirectly accused the judiciary of being taken over by the Fethullah Gulen religious movement, as well as acting as a subcontractor to foreign powers who, out of envy for Turkey’s political and economic success, manufactured this corruption plot to finish him off just as they tried to do at the Gezi Park protests in June.

Erdogan’s approach to this scandal, however, is best challenged — surprisingly — by his very own party members. Justice and Development Party (AKP) Burdur Deputy Hasan Hami Yildirim resigned on the last day of 2013, bringing the total resigned deputies from the ruling party to seven.

“It’s necessary to correctly identify the problem and the request,” he said Dec. 31. “The issue is not to cut short Turkey’s growing success story. The issue does not embed a conspiracy, foreign powers’ intervention, a mob or a gang. And it certainly is not a coup attempt against the government. In simple terms, the problem and the request is a call for democracy. The people demand that the ruling party not cover up these corruption allegations, but faces them, to come clean.”

Moving along to Kerry’s recent activities…

Naturally, it was well received…

US Secretary of State John Kerry held fresh talks yesterday with Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas seeking to brush aside bitter Israeli-Palestinian recriminations and advance difficult peace negotiations.

After five months of mostly sticking to pledges not to air their grievances in public, the mutual distrust between the two sides has burst into the open with each accusing the other of trying to scupper the talks.

US officials have acknowledged a sought-after agreement on a framework to guide the negotiations forward would not be reached on this trip, signaling Kerry may return to Israel soon.

Kerry, who has made it a personal quest to reach a peace deal, is on his 10th trip to the region since becoming secretary of state in March.

On Friday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had accused Abbas of not being committed to peace.

Moving on to the Egyptian ‘Coup’…

With Sisi cracking skulls, Mubarak-style, he actually has the audacity to announce his run for the
Presidency…

Al-Wafd newspaper reported that Egypt’s Defense Minister Abdel-Fatah el-Sissi will soon step down from his position in preparation of his possible candidacy in Egypt’s next elections.

It was further reported that the Supreme Council of the Egyptian army decided in a meeting held last Tuesday that Egypt’s army chief of staff Sedki Sobhi will take on el-Sissi’s position. The reason for the replacement is to give el-Sissi a buffer period before the elections take place.

Can you say stuffed ballot-boxes…?

Anyways, in wrapping up, some more newsworthy links…

His Highness the Amir expressed condolences for Saudi King for death of Prince Bandar

Finally, perchance…?

Western Intelligence Agencies: Saudi Regime to Collapse This Year

And, here’s a new acronymn to learn… From BRIC to MINT

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Egypt, Israel, and Turkey

4:45 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

After a month-long hiatus, I felt it was high time that I should resume my mashups…!

Egypt is still a mess… At least 265 arrested in crackdown on Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood

So with Sisi arresting the MB… Enter the Muslim Sisterhood

Col. Lang provides some insights…

Many people want to say that you can’t suppress political movements successfully. When they say that, they are wrong. The MB is finished in Egypt for at least a generation. Their bold faced attempt to write a new constitution that would have made Egypt a sharia law state was their undoing. Everyone except the R2P ladies understood the full import of what the MB was trying to do and all the while smiling and smiling and smiling. Westernized Egyptians, women generally, the military itself, the Israelis, and everyone in Egypt who stood to be the ruled and not the ruling, in MB Egypt came to understand what their lives would be like if Mursi succeeded…

The problem is that the MB will not go quietly into the night…!

Moving along to Israel…

Seriously, as Bibi just became the longest serving PM, there never was a ‘Peace Plan’… Ben Gurion Foresaw Palestinian Expulsion in 1937

The ever-intrepid Max Blumenthal hammers the point home… ‘Time is running out’: The peace process and the fierce urgency of never

So finally…

PA Official Calls for ‘Smart Resistance’ Against Israel

Nabil Shaath predicts that peace talks will fail, says the PA should then resort to pursuing statehood through the UN.

Of course the Peace Talks will fail, Bibi, all but ensures it…!

Case in point… Israel’s new settlements will coincide with the release of Palestinian prisoners

It’s insane to see Bibi even bring up Pollard once again, and Kerry Offered Pollard Release to Israel

Moving along to the sordid Turkish affair…

From the WaPo… How Erdoğan has reshaped Turkish politics, and what it means for current corruption scandal

The fallout from the anti-corruption investigation in Turkey that began Dec. 17 continues to unfold rapidly. Much of the focus has rightly been on Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. As the head of the Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi (AKP, or Justice and Development Party) that has dominated Turkish politics for the past 11 years, Erdoğan’s role in Turkish policymaking has been all but unchallenged until now.

Leaders who see themselves as infallible and who have no institutional constraints on their ability to make policy don’t leave power willingly. This can include leaders elected democratically. They weaken political institutions in their campaign to fend off challengers and remain in office. So whether or not Erdoğan survives is less important for Turkey than the damage being done to Turkish institutions, which in turn poses a real challenge for American interests in the Middle East that depend heavily on a strong Turkey. {…}

Erdoğan set about adapting the institutions of Turkish politics. He amended the Constitution (a process that had begun under previous governments) and the legal system, and he shifted the balance in the national security decision-making process in favor of civilians over security officials. All of this was consistent with the process of democratization, and made the political system more democratic.

But there was a darker side to this process. While removing the army from politics, Erdoğan also undermined the ability of any actor or agency to dissent from his authority or to criticize it. Over the last few years, Erdoğan has seen himself as the embodiment of the Turkish state and Turkish identity. His comments during the Gezi Park protests alongside his scolding of Turks on their morals and demands about their personal behavior are part of this. Without any institutional constraints on his policy, some argue he has become as authoritarian as the army he has replaced.

This makes the current struggle over the corruption scandals so consequential. It is one part tug-of-war between the two main elements of Turkey’s Islamist-conservative movement, the AKP and the Gülenist movement (also known as Hizmet, or the Service), one part Erdoğan responding to what he sees as illegitimate criticism of his rule.

From FP…

Iran’s Turkish Gold Rush

At the center of Turkey’s corruption scandal is a “gas for gold” scheme that the Obama administration dragged its feet on stopping.

More analysis on the corruption clusterf*ck…

Make No Mistake About It: The Storm Has Hit in Turkey

To be sure… Turkey’s Erdoğan Will Probably Hang in There. The Economy May Not

In wrapping up, two worthy links…

A Long Ferment in the Middle East

And… All in play in the New Great Game

Hau’oli Makahiki Hou…!

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: The Peace Farce Drags on, Iran Proposes Sweeping Changes

6:30 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Phil Weiss, of Mondoweiss, best described today’s tête-à-tête between Bibi and Kerry…

Netanyahu tweets tense photo of meeting with Kerry

Here’s the transcript. Netanyahu begins by talking all about Iran. The Palestinians are an afterthought, and they’re to blame. His manner is impatient: “I see the Palestinians continuing with incitement, continuing to create artificial crises, continuing to avoid, run away from the historic decisions that are needed to make a genuine peace…”

We seek peace with the Palestinians. We’ve spoken, John, many, many times about this, and because of your efforts, we launched several months ago an initiative to seek a peaceful agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. I want peace with the Palestinians; Israel wants peace with the Palestinians. We agreed three months ago on certain terms. We stand by those terms. We abide scrupulously by the terms of the agreement and the understanding on which we launched the negotiations.

I’m concerned about their progress because I see the Palestinians continuing with incitement, continuing to create artificial crises, continuing to avoid, run away from the historic decisions that are needed to make a genuine peace. I hope that your visit will help steer them back to a place where we could achieve the historical peace that we seek and that our people deserve.

Kerry begins his remarks by commenting on who Netanyahu’s not, Yitzhak Rabin:

We are in the Rabin Suite here, and last night I had the privilege of visiting the site where violence took the life of a great prime minister who was moving towards peace. And I’d often heard President Clinton talk about the meaning of that loss and that moment to the loss of an opportunity for peace.

So I’m honored to be in the Rabin Suite meeting with the Prime Minister of Israel at a moment where we are in critical talks with respect to the possibilities of a long, long sought goal here in the Middle East. Israel deserves security, deserves to live in peace. The Palestinians deserve a state and deserve to live in peace, and that is what we are working towards.

He touches on Iran but says that the peace process is the big enchilada, and that Israel too has to show good faith:

We are now three months into this negotiation. There are always difficulties, always tensions. I’m very confident of our ability to work through them. That’s why I’m here. We will spend serious time this morning. I will meet with President Abbas this afternoon. Again this evening, the Prime Minister and I and his team will share a working dinner, and we’ll work as late as it takes. And again tomorrow, I will be here in the region and working on this. So I hope that we will continue in the good faith that brought the parties together in the first place that this can be achieved. With good faith, with a serious effort on both sides to make real compromises and hard decisions, this can be achieved. President Obama sees the road ahead, as do I, and we share a belief in this process or we wouldn’t put this time into it.

Greeting Kerry, as well, was this lovely little Israeli declaration…

Israel says Separation Wall will be border

Negotiators tell Palestinian officials they will not get a state based on 1967 borders, Israeli reports say.

Israeli negotiators have told their Palestinian counterparts that the Separation Wall that cuts through the occupied West Bank will serve as the border of a future Palestinian state, local media reports said.

Just hours before US Secretary of State John Kerry’s arrival for top-level talks on ongoing direct peace negotiations on Tuesday, two press reports said the Israeli team had made the proposal.

“Israel’s opening position was that the border be the route of the separation barrier [wall], and not the 1967 lines as the Palestinians have demanded,” public radio said in a report, which also featured in the top-selling Yediot Aharonot.

Since talks resumed in late July, the Palestinians have repeatedly complained about Israel’s lack of clarity on the issue of borders.

The Palestinians insist the talks be based on the lines that existed before the 1967 Six Day War, when Israeli seized and occupied Gaza, the West Bank and Arab east Jerusalem.

But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected any return to the 1967 lines as “indefensible”, saying that would not take into account the “demographic changes” over the past 46 years, in a clear euphemism for Jewish settlements.

McClatchy describes it as merely… A linguistic debate on Israeli settlements.

Another reason Bibi was so tense…

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