After more than a year of turbulence, Syria is still facing both a violent internal opposition uprising and the threat of external intervention. NATO and the Gulf Cooperation Council have backed the opposition, the Syrian Transitional Council, both politically and militarily. Calls for humanitarian intervention in the name of the “responsibility to protect” have been made by the same NGOs as those who acted over Libya last year. Russia and China have vetoed interventionist resolutions in the Security Council, backed by the US, France and the UK, and a chance for reconciliation has been offered with Kofi Annan’s mediation mission. But can it succeed? Will sovereignty remain respected, as provided for by the UN Charter? What are the real aims of NATO and the Gulf Cooperation Council in Syria? Do they want peace and reconciliation or regime change and chaos?
What a clusterf*ck in the making, it’s truly a No-Win scenario for the Syrians, needless death and destruction for what exactly…? Reminds me of the age-old adage, that to ‘save’ the village we must bomb it into oblivion…!
The senior echelons of the PLO are expected to meet in the coming days to discuss a proposal to declare Quartet envoy Tony Blair “persona non grata,” a UK newspaper reported Wednesday.
The Telegraph said PLO officials were predicting unanimous support for a motion intended to isolate the former prime minister to such an extent that his position would become untenable.
“We have been extremely unhappy and dissatisfied with Mr Blair’s performance since he became envoy, but particularly in the past few weeks,” a senior Palestinian official told the London-based daily.
“There is no one within the Palestinian leadership that supports or likes or trusts Tony Blair, particularly because of the very damaging role he played during our UN bid,” a second official was quoted as saying.
“He is considered persona non grata in Palestine. Although we can’t prevent him from coming here, we can hopefully minimise the role he can play because he is not a mediator, he is totally biased on one side.”
Outstanding…! It’s about f*cking time…!
As an avid detractor of the Poodle, ever since the run-up to the Iraqi war, one of my favorite euphemisms being the ‘Butcher of Basra’, it is with great glee, that I’ve been reading the UK Telegraph’s recent reporting…
Tony Blair responds to Telegraph allegations about his ‘jet-set’ lifestyle
In an interview broadcast last night on India’s CNBC-TV18, in which he also defended his relationship with Rupert Murdoch and blamed the children of alcoholics, drug addicts and prostitutes for Britain’s recent riots, Mr Blair said recent allegations against him had been inspired by a left wing media establishment which resented him for creating New Labour, and a right wing establishment which hated him for winning three general elections.
His comments were made amid growing controversy surrounding his ‘billionaire lifestyle’ and alleged pro-Israel bias in his role as envoy of the Quartet on the Middle East – in which he mediates on behalf of the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations. [...]
“I probably spend two-thirds of my time on pro-bono activity, I probably spend the biggest single chunk of my time on the Middle East peace process which I do unpaid,” he said, adding that he raises money for his foundation to fight poverty Africa and his India-based interfaith foundation. “I left office [in 2007] with two people and a mobile phone, I’ve now got about 150 people working for me. So if what I was interested in doing was making money I could make a lot more and have a very gentle and easy life. When you talk about a jet set life, it means I spend a lot of time in jets, which is true” he said.
He rejected claims that he had benefited from a deal to establish a second mobile telephone network in the Palestinian Authority, whose operator borrowed $2 billion from the merchant bank JP Morgan, which employs Mr Blair as an adviser, or from a $6 billion gas project in Gaza, where the operator British Gas is also linked to the bank.
…On the day Tony Blair resigned as Prime Minister, he was appointed the official representative Envoy of the Quartet on the Middle East. By January 2009 he had set up Tony Blair Associates – his international consultancy – which handles multi-million-pound contracts in the Middle East. It is so secretive we don’t know all the locations in which they do business.
Dispatches shows that at the same time as Blair is visiting Middle East leaders in his Quartet role he is receiving vast sums from some of them. If Blair represented the UK government, the EU, the IMF, the UN or the World Bank, this would not be permitted.
He would also have to declare his financial interests and be absolutely transparent about his financial dealings. But no such stringent rules govern the Quartet envoy.
However, he could opt to abide by the rules and principles of public life. They were introduced by John Major, and Tony Blair endorsed and strengthened them for all holders of public office – but chooses not to himself.
Mondoweiss’s Ira Glunts has offered up some great analysis on the Tool’s current plight…
PA says Tony Blair has lost all credibility (though he’s better than Dennis Ross)
When asked about his contribution to the peace process, Tony Blair, the Quartet envoy, former British Prime Minister and Bush poodle, can only point to the closing of a few Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank and the gentrification of Ramallah. But then again peace is hard, to paraphrase our President and Hopemeister Barack Obama, who is a great Blair supporter.
Despite his glaring lack of success, it is said that Tony Blair revels in his role as envoy for the Quartet. Blair has apparently mixed his diplomatic position with his rapidly expanding business interests and some claim his private pleasure, in a manner which calls into question his ability to make any meaningful and unbiased contribution to resolving the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis…
One can only hope that the Poodle’s last flight is straight to Schiphol, and into the Docket…! For something at least, if not war crimes…!
Yes, the US, or rather, Obummer and Foggy Bottom, will be mortified in being left holding the bag, by vetoing the Palestinian Statehood bid, when it reaches the UN Security Council, after attaining near unanimity in the approval of said bid, upon the floor of the UN General Assembly in September…! Also, note that Grenier says that 3/4ths of the Quartet already supports the Palestinian Statehood bid…!
Now, here’s Foggy Bottom’s official Summary of Quartet Meeting on Middle East Peace…! Basically, they had agreed that the ‘status quo’ was completely ‘unacceptable’, but, offered only the thin gruel of ‘renewed talks’… Which, inexplicably, is still being spearheaded by the Poodle Blair…!
I’ve been remiss of late, and not posted recently on the I/P, and a lot has happened since my last post…
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday he would like to visit the Gaza Strip after his upcoming trip to Egypt.
Erdogan said the plans are not definite. He said Turkey’s foreign ministry will work on making the arrangements and that “if conditions are favorable,” he will consider making the visit.
Analysts say the prime minister’s statement could reignite tensions between Turkey and Israel, at a time when the two countries are working to mend a diplomatic rift.
Relations between Israel and Turkey, which had long been Israel’s closest friend in the Middle East, were severely strained last year when Israeli commandos raided a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, killing nine Turkish activists.
The Reuters news agency has quoted Erdogan as saying it would be “unthinkable” for his country to normalize ties with Israel, unless Israel apologized for the deaths of the Turkish activists…
Bibi and Avi, along with all our AIPAC Apologists went ape shit… Spearheaded by the Wall Street Journal, no less… (I can’t remember the last time I’d linked to the WSJ)
Turkish Leader Proposes Gaza Visit, Setting Up Possible Clash With Israel
Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday he was trying to arrange a visit to Gaza, a move that highlights diplomatic challenges Israel faces amid the Arab Spring and could undermine efforts to fix relations with Ankara.
Israel opposes any move to provide international legitimacy to Hamas, the militant Palestinian movement that won elections to govern the Gaza Strip in 2006. Mr. Erdogan would be one of the highest international officials ever to have visited Gaza.
The planned visit would be tagged onto a trip to Egypt, Mr. Erdogan told reporters, according to Anadolu Ajansi, Turkey’s state-run news agency. …
…The Knesset’s Ethics Committee voted to suspend Hanin Zoabi from most parliamentary debates until the summer recess early next month, while allowing her to take part in any votes held in the current session.
Zoabi was punished after three lawmakers filed complaints against her for traveling aboard the Mavi Marmara, a converted cruise ship stormed by the Israeli navy as it led a six-vessel pro-Palestinian flotilla toward Gaza in May 2010. [...]
Zoabi, who has denied wrongdoing in the flotilla incident and says she tried to mediate between the activists and Israeli forces, cried foul at Monday’s decision.
“An automatic right-wing majority should not be permitted to punish me for my political views,” she told Israel’s Army Radio.
Zoabi, 42, the only female member of parliament in a party representing Israel’s 20 percent Arab minority, is a vociferous critic of the conservative government’s Palestinian policies. She was stripped of some of her diplomatic privileges by the Knesset last year. [...]
Though guaranteed full civic rights, many Israeli Arabs complain of suffering discrimination under the Jewish majority.
Israel says it keeps Gaza under naval blockade because it fears Hamas could smuggle in arms. But the global outrage caused by its seizure of the ship on the high seas last year has prompted it to allow limited trade through the land borders of the enclave, most of whose 1.5 million Palestinian population depend on aid to survive.
Meanwhile, our despicable Congressional Lemmings continue their blind leaps off the cliff…
Aid to PA on condition that Israel recognized as Jewish state, aid to Lebanon includes stipulation that no Hezbollah member serve gov’t.
A key Congressional committee will consider a foreign aid bill Wednesday that could threaten funding to the Palestinian Authority and Lebanon and would codify in law the George W. Bush letter to Ariel Sharon.
The bill, drawn up by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida), would also end by 2014 the president’s ability to waive the law that requires him to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as well as mandate that official American documents list Jerusalem as part of Israel. The State Department would also have to report on its diplomatic activities on behalf of Israel to end efforts at isolating it.
Coupled with the new Israeli ‘Anti-BDS Bill’ we’ve now descended deep down Alice’s rabbit hole…!
…For nearly a week, Israeli aircraft struck Gaza preemptively. As a result, fear of a new war grows.
Israel claims strikes follow rocket attacks. In fact, when launched, they’re few in number and respond to Israeli aggression in self-defense.
On July 12, IDF jets struck alleged northern Gaza “weapons manufacturing sites,” injuring one woman.
On July 13, three tunnels were bombed. Israel falsely blamed them for “terrorist activity.” Two Palestinians were missing after one of the tunnels collapsed. Later one body was recovered. Five or more other Palestinians were wounded.
On July 14, other targets were struck, wounding four Palestinian civilians.
On July 15, overnight attacks wounded four Palestinians, including two children. Over the weekend, other preemptive raids followed. Blaming the victims, a July 14 IDF statement said:
“The IDF will not tolerate any attempt to harm Israeli civilians, and will respond with determination to any attempt to use terror against the State of Israel. The IDF holds the Hamas terrorist organization solely responsible for any terrorist activity emanating from the Gaza Strip.”
In fact, Hamas is Palestine’s legitimate government. Israel lawlessly terrorizes West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza residents preemptively, falsely claiming self-defense.
On July 17, four new raids struck Khoza village in Khan Yunis, critically injuring two Palestinians and traumatizing dozens of children…
It should be noted that not one Israeli has even been injured, by those recent spate of futile Kassams…!
Two rightwing Arutz Sheva headlines about sums up the situation…
Oo-wee, There is so much hot air, and, packed to the brim with so many hasbara talking points, that it needs to be fully unpacked, and, exposed as the blatant half-truths, and, even outright lies, that they’re based upon!
Now, where shall I begin…?
I do suppose the opening would be the best place…
We continue to consult with the Israelis and the Palestinians, as well as to work with the Quartet and our partners in the region, toward our shared goal of a two-state solution.
That would be a half-truth, I’m sure we’re talking to the Israelis daily, probably even with Abbas, but, about the Quartet…
We will continue to work with the Palestinian people as they lay the foundations for a future Palestinian state. At the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee meeting in Brussels on April 13, the United States welcomed the progress the Palestinian Authority has made on the crucial task of building public institutions, capacities, and improving conditions for economic growth. We also underscored the importance of moving forward on the other track: political negotiations that will result in a future Palestinian state. Palestinians deserve the dignity and justice of a state of their own and the freedom to chart their own destiny
…Says Palestinian Statehood Only Possible If Israel Agrees
…President Obama’s top Mideast aide Dennis Ross insisted that the Obama Administration has been “consistent” in its opposition to recognizing Palestinian statehood.
Ross insisted that a Palestinian state could never be created by a UN resolution, but only through agreement by the Israeli forces to tolerate its creation. The Palestinian Authority has been pushing for international recognition.
But this effort is coming not as a way of undercutting direct talks with Israel, but as a consequence of those talks breaking down in September when Israel restarted the settlement construction. Israeli officials have repeatedly insisted since them that peace is entirely impossible, and many in the government have ruled out ever allowing Palestinian statehood.
Next up on the chopping block…
Mr. President, we condemn, in the strongest possible terms, recent attacks on innocent civilians. We are deeply concerned by the escalation of rocket and mortar fire from Gaza into southern Israel. We are particularly disturbed by reports indicating the increased use of advanced weaponry, including rockets, in attacks against Israeli civilians. After enduring dozens of rocket attacks on civilian targets in southern Israel—including the deeply disturbing use of an advanced anti-tank missile in a fatal attack on a yellow school bus—Israel responded by exercising its inalienable right to self-defense.
We must work together to stop Hamas and other violent extremists from launching terrorist attacks and bringing increased misery to the people of Gaza. Let there be no doubt: there is no justification for targeting innocent civilians, and those responsible for these terrorist acts must be held accountable…
The Israelis always had an ‘inalienable right of self-defense’, however, the Palestinians aren’t afforded that very same ‘inalienable right’…? I’m an ardent advocate of Nonviolence, but, the concept of a ‘Disproportionate Response’ needs to be addressed fully…! But, I do digress…
The United States remains concerned about conditions in Gaza. We note that the humanitarian situation has improved over the last year, including increases in the range and scope of goods and materials moving in, an increase in international reconstruction activity, and a gradual expansion of exports. We will continue to work with Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and others to do more to ensure that the people of Gaza’s needs are being met…
Principal human rights problems related to Israeli authorities in the West Bank were reports of excessive use of force against civilians, including killings, torture of Palestinian detainees, improper use of security detention procedures, austere and overcrowded detention facilities, demolition and confiscation of Palestinian properties, limits on freedom of expression and assembly, and severe restrictions on Palestinians’ internal and external freedom of movement. Additionally the IDF, in some cases, failed to pursue investigations and disciplinary actions related to violations. Violence by Israeli settlers was also reported. The IDF imposed serious restrictions on the importation of goods into the Gaza Strip and general prohibition on external travel for Gazans.
Moving along with Ms. Rice’s bullshit remarks…
Mr. President, we strongly condemn Iran’s recent attempts to export advanced weapons and munitions in violation of several Security Council resolutions, including Resolution 1747. The interception of Iranian weapons in Turkey, along the Egyptian-Sudanese border, and aboard the M/V Victoria, which was carrying sophisticated anti-ship cruise missiles and other munitions, all clearly demonstrate that Iran is trying to flout this Council’s will—dramatically increasing the risks of conflict and instability in the region. We urge all member states to make clear to Iran the consequences for regional security of its reckless behavior. All countries have obligations under Security Council resolutions to prevent illicit trafficking in arms and ammunition.
Funny how Iran gets all that overheated rhetoric about ‘illegal’ arms trafficking, yet, not realizing the fact the US is No. 1, and, Israel is No. 4, legal or otherwise, in the World…!
Now, moving along… This utter BS has me ‘up-in-arms’…
We are also deeply concerned about reports that groups are organizing another flotilla that will attempt to sail to Gaza, ostensibly to deliver humanitarian assistance. The recent seizures of advanced weaponry underscore that Israel has clear security interests regarding cargo bound for Gaza. There are existing mechanisms to deliver goods to Gaza, and there is no justification for attempts to sail directly to Gaza. We therefore urge strongly all those who wish to deliver goods and assistance to Gaza to do so through existing mechanisms and avoid any provocative actions.
Notwithstanding the fact that the last ‘flotilla’ had had it’s cargo thoroughly inspected at every port they’d docked at, or had set sail from, and, even their own ‘investigation’ of the Mavi Marmarra incident, had concluded no real weapons, nor, illicit material was found anywhere on board…! Who are we to denounce such efforts…?
Anyways, isn’t it fascinating to see that even Fatah is endorsing the latest Gaza Flotilla…?
Nabil Sha’ath, a member of the Fatah central committee, announced on Thursday that the movement headed by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas will take part in the next flotilla aimed at breaking Israel’s naval blockade on Hamas-controlled Gaza. Interviewed by Nazareth-based Al-Shams radio, Sha’ath said Fatah supports every grass-roots or international activity whose goal is to break the blockade.
Sha’ath said that Abbas has granted Palestinian Authority citizenship to everyone who has taken part in a flotilla. Asked if he would participate himself, Sha’ath said he would be honored to, although it was not on the agenda right now.
Israel’s ambassador to UN warns the organization not to allow new flotilla, planned for May, to launch; U.S., Germany also call on flotilla organizers to find other ways to deliver aid to Gaza.
Now, moving along to the last of Amb. Rice’s specific remarks on the I/P…
Mr. President, as colleagues know, the Goldstone Report is back in the news. We have long said the issues it raised should be resolved through credible domestic investigations and follow-up. Israel has the democratic institutions and ability to carry out serious investigations—and is doing so. Justice Goldstone recently concluded that Israel has undertaken an appropriate review process and made changes in its combat doctrine. As we made clear when the Goldstone Report was first presented, we did not see evidence that the Israeli government intentionally targeted civilians. Justice Goldstone has now reached the same conclusion. He also concluded that Hamas has “done nothing” to investigate the “allegations of its war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.” The United States urges the United Nations to end, once and for all, its actions in relation to the Goldstone Report…
Again, that is utter BS on the Goldstone Report… As I’d noted in my last diary…
…The new documents, though consistent with public U.S. statements at the time opposing a U.N. investigation into Israeli military operations, reveal in extraordinary detail how America wields its power behind closed doors at the United Nations. They also demonstrate how the United States and Israel were granted privileged access to highly sensitive internal U.N. deliberations on an “independent” U.N. board of inquiry into the Gaza war, raising questions about the independence of the process… [...]
…We also continue to fight for fair and normal treatment everyday for Israel throughout the United Nations system. The tough issues between Israelis and Palestinians can be resolved only by direct negotiations between the parties, not in New York. That’s why the United States vetoed a Security Council resolution in February that risked hardening both sides’ positions. We consistently oppose anti-Israel resolutions in the Human Rights Council, the General Assembly, and wherever they may arise.
But, this is also the very country that there’s “no daylight” between it and the U.S., according to our very own Vice-President Joe Biden…
US Vice President Joe Biden delivered an impassioned speech in support of Israel at the Jewish Federations of North American’s General Assembly in New Orleans on Sunday, saying whatever differences have recently existed between the White House and Jerusalem these were tactical rather than fundamental.
He reiterated what he said was the Obama administration’s deep commitment to Israel’s security and to preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons… …“When it comes to Israel’s security there can be no daylight – no daylight – between Israel and the US,” he said…
Ironically, I’m truly perplexed as to what ‘points’ Bibi is truly set to score by his appearance before a joint session of Congress… Netanyahu address a bid to ‘score points’… What’s the difference between our AIPAC-bought and paid for-Congress, and the Knesset…?
…If US President Barack Obama puts forward an American plan in the coming days, it will likely include four principles, or terms of reference, built around the final status issues, The New York Times reported.
According to the report, the terms of reference could call for Israel to accept a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders. For their part, the Palestinians would have to accept that they would not get the right of return, to land in Israel from which they fled or were forced to flee. Jerusalem would be the capital of both states, and Israeli security would have to be protected, according to officials who spoke to the daily.
Also Thursday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on Israel and the Palestinians to resume peace talks immediately, Israel Radio reported. Washington believes the only way to reach a two-state solution is by means of negotiations, and a return to the negotiating table is in both sides’ interest, she said…
So, what exactly should Bibi and Abbas talk about at the ‘table’, Madame Hillary…? The weather…?
Egypt’s military rulers have accepted the surprise resignation of Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq, seen by protesters as a symbol of ousted president Hosni Mubarak’s regime.
The army said on Thursday he will be replaced by Essam Sharaf, a former transport minister who took part in the mass rallies in Cairo’s Tahrir Square which led to strongman Mubarak’s resignation on Feb.11 after three decades in power.
Sharaf, was transport minister from 2002 to 2005. He was sacked over differences with then-premier Ahmad Nazif who was sacked four days after the start of the protests.
Sharaf is popular with the youths who launched the revolt against Mubarak, having taken part in the huge demonstrations.
Egypt PM routed on live TV, sign of media upheaval
An unprecedented live television show featuring a shouting match between the Egyptian prime minister and opposition figures summed up the scale of the transformation sweeping the Arab world’s most populous nation.
A few hours after the Wednesday night show, Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq was out of a job and some commentators said his unconvincing TV performance had played a part in his downfall. Egypt’s military rulers replaced him on Thursday morning.
A Revolution In Egyptology: Zahi Hawass Has Finally Gone
For most people, Zahi Hawass, star of his own cable TV series, purveyor of his own line of Indiana Jones-style wide-brimmed hats, and most prominently the man in charge of all the top cultural sites in Egypt, personified the swashbuckling adventurer of yore, determined to protect and cherish the many wonders of Ancient Egypt.
There was another side to Dr. Hawass, however, and his reactionary and sometimes capricious rulings on who could visit and research the sites were the stuff of legend among Egyptologists outside of his approved, establishment allies.
I’m a little skeptical that his resignation is anything more than a power play and suspect that he may very well make a well-staged, dramatic comeback — but if he really has gone for good, I’m hopeful that we may enter into a new era of breakthrough research in Egypt…
Veteran diplomat’s rebuke of Netanyahu, Lieberman strikes chord with colleagues
…[Ilan Baruch] wrote the letter on Tuesday, his last day at the Foreign Ministry. In it, he said: “Over the past two years the political and diplomatic messages by the state’s leaders, which have grown more pointed, have infuriated me and given me no rest. I find it difficult to represent them and explain them honestly.” [...]
“I felt I could not represent the government and so I retired. After my retirement, having ended my position as a state employee, I expressed my feelings.” [...]
He sensed an initial warning sign, he added, the day Lieberman took office as foreign minister and gave a speech in which he rejected the possibility of peace with the Palestinians.
“Lieberman completely denied [Israel's] role in the failure of the peace process,” Baruch said. “The outcome is not good and it is not only because of the Palestinians’ conduct.” [...]
“It has become impossible to explain Israel to others these days,” one ambassador said. “There is no clear policy and it is very difficult to respond to international criticism.”
Another ambassador said: “The diplomatic impasse is dangerous to the State of Israel, and it doesn’t seem as if the prime minister has a solution in the form of a diplomatic initiative. Under such circumstances, the international community will simply force a solution on us.”
Last year Lieberman told a group of ambassadors that “some ambassadors’ identification with the other side [the Palestinian side] is so great that they want to justify and explain it all the time.”
Veteran diplomat Ilan Baruch quits, says he can no longer represent government; Israel’s foreign policy is ‘wrong,’ he says, adds that blaming global anti-occupation views on anti-Semitism is ‘simplistic, artificial’
Foreign Ministry earthquake: A veteran diplomat says he has resigned from his post because he had a hard time defending the policies of Israel’s current government, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Wednesday.
Ilan Baruch says he quit because “Israel’s foreign policy is wrong,” pointing to the Palestinian issue.
Should this trend continue, he warned, Israel will turn into a pariah state and face growing de-legitimization.
Baruch told Israel TV Wednesday that Israel’s standing was in danger because of its policies, which he said were “difficult to explain.”
“I can no longer honestly represent this government,” he said earlier. “As (Foreign Minister) Lieberman was elected by a large public in a legitimate manner, I cannot question him – but I don’t have to serve him, and therefore I’m quitting.”
“I have nothing against Lieberman the person,” Baruch added. However, he said he had a problem with the diplomatic messages conveyed by the Jewish state at this time and its dismissal of former understandings pertaining to the Road Map and the Palestinians.
‘Don’t blame anti-Semitism’
Baruch sent a personal letter to all Foreign Ministry employees Tuesday to explain the motives for his decision.
“Identifying the objection expressed by global public opinion to the occupation policy as anti-Semitic is simplistic, provincial and artificial,” he wrote. “Experience shows that this global trend won’t change until we normalize our relations with the Palestinians.”
Israel skips Quartet meet, as PM eyes interim deal
Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu is considering pushing for a long-term interim agreement with the Palestinians in the absence of any moves to renew peace talks, press reports said on Wednesday.
The idea was splashed across all of Israel’s main newspapers as Palestinian negotiators held talks about resuming peace dialogue in Brussels with envoys of the Middle East Quartet of peacemakers — in a session which Israel declined to attend.
“The Palestinians are unwilling to enter into serious negotiations and therefore we should examine the idea of a long-term interim arrangement,” a senior source in the premier’s office told Israel Hayom, a newspaper considered close to Netanyahu.
“In light of the instability in the region, the only possibility is to go for an interim arrangement, on condition that it is a long-term one — and this is what we are currently examining,” he said, referring the unrest sweeping the Middle East.
Details of the plan are still sketchy but the idea is believed to involve the establishment of a Palestinian state within temporary borders, while at the same time holding talks on the principles of final status issues, the Haaretz newspaper said.
After warning of the threat of a bi-national state, PM to put forward draft for peace which could mention East Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state.
…In some of the drafts East Jerusalem is mentioned as the capital of the Palestinian state.
Sources in the Prime Minister’s Office say that in recent weeks Netanyahu has been talking with the Obama administration in order to formulate a program that would restart the peace process.
His adviser, Ron Dermer, flew secretly to Washington a week ago and met with senior White House officials. U.S. envoys Dennis Ross and Fred Hoff also visited Israel and met with Netanyahu.
“The prime minister has realized that the political impasse is not working in favor of Israel,” one of Netanyahu’s advisers said.
“Following a few weeks of revolution in the Arab world he is convinced that there are opportunities, not just threats, and that it is important to take advantage of the situation that was created in order to restart the peace process and put an end to the unilateral initiatives of the Palestinians.”
In private talks recently, Netanyahu has reportedly begun discussing the growing threat of a binational state.
“This trend will intensify and become stronger,” Netanyahu told his advisers. “However there are those in Israel who think that one state is a good idea. I think it is a disaster.”
Netanyahu would like to announce his peace plan in a speech in the coming weeks. One of the ideas being considered is that Netanyahu would speak before a joint session of the U.S. Congress.
A little more insight into Bibi’s true intentions…
Israel has concluded that a final peace deal with the Palestinians cannot be reached at this time and is weighing alternatives to try to prove that it is interested in keeping peacemaking with the Palestinians alive, officials said Thursday.
With popular protests shaking up the Mideast, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is under fierce international pressure to prove he is serious about getting peacemaking moving again, especially after the U.S. vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israel’s West Bank settlement construction last month.
Israeli officials are meeting with international mediators, including U.S. envoy Dennis Ross and representatives of the Quartet of Mideast peacemakers — the U.S., European Union, United Nations and Russia — due to arrive in the region next week.
Government officials say Netanyahu is expected to deliver a major policy speech on peacemaking in the coming weeks, hinting at a change in direction away from direct talks on a peace treaty. [...]
“The consistent refusal of the Palestinian leadership to negotiate with Israel has made a negotiated agreement all but impossible to achieve, at least for the time being,” one government official said. “And so we’re looking at an Israeli initiative, and steps that we can take that would be a phased approach to a final status agreement.”
Even former PM, Ehud Barak, lashed out at Avigdor Lieberman’s and Bibi’s unholy alliance, which he had just joined, as he’d just deserted the Labor party…
Mitchell proposes ‘parallel’ but separate U.S. talks with Israel, Palestinians
Palestinian source tells AFP news agency that the aim of the talks ‘is for the U.S. administration to form an idea of what the two parties want.’
…According to the French news agency AFP, Mitchell suggested that the U.S. hold separate but “parallel” talks with both sides, for a period of six weeks. A Palestinian source told AFP Mitchell had proposed that the U.S. conduct bilateral talks with each side, rather than any direct peace negotiations.
Representatives from both sides will, under the terms of the proposal, meet separately with officials from the Obama administration, to discuss security and borders, as well as other issues.
“What is discussed with each side will not be divulged to the other, but the aim is for the U.S. administration to form an idea of what the two parties want with a view to drawing up a strategy to relaunch direct negotiations at the time it deems appropriate,” AFP quoted the Palestinian official as saying.
Why the constant need for secrecy…?
Especially when Michael Oren was spilling the beans anyways…
Israel Seeks Guarantees Before Border Pact, Oren Says
Israel will insist on security guarantees before agreeing on the borders of a future Palestinian state or halting Jewish settlements, Israeli Ambassador to Washington Michael Oren told Bloomberg News.
With the U.S. reviving shuttle diplomacy in the Middle East, “the deeper our sense of security, the more flexibility we can show,” Oren said yesterday in an interview on Bloomberg Television. “Keep in mind that we are looking at a Palestinian state that is going to be right opposite our major cities, right opposite Tel Aviv, right opposite our major airport. We’re taking some immense risks here.” [...]
Oren said the deal fell apart because Palestinians refused to accept a settlement freeze that didn’t include Jerusalem. Nevertheless, he said Israel still expects to acquire the additional Lockheed Martin Corp. F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, on top of 20 already ordered. The planes “are very much on the table,” he said.
Talk about some Chutzpah…! The Israelis still expect to get the 20 additional F-35′s, also on our dime…! I’m sure our pocket veto of any UN Security Council resolution directed towards Israel is still in effect too…!
The blogger Andrew Sullivan has called America’s policy toward Israel “assisted suicide.” That may be an exaggeration, but on Friday it became less of one. The occasion was a speech by Hillary Clinton, much anticipated after the collapse of talks between Israelis and Palestinians.
The good news is that Clinton sees the peril that Israel is moving toward. “The ever-evolving technology of war” means that, in the absence of a peace deal, “it will be increasingly difficult to guarantee the security of Israeli families.” Further, “long-term population trends … are endangering the Zionist vision of a Jewish and democratic state.”
Translation (with embellishment): If there is no two-state solution, Israel can either (a) give Palestinians in the occupied territories the vote and watch as the Arab birth rate turns Israeli Jews into a minority; or (b) keep denying the vote to Arabs it has ruled for decades, thus incurring charges of apartheid, moving toward pariah status among nations, continuing to give propaganda fuel to regional troublemakers and raising the chances of disastrous war…
…Sure, he’d have to endure some noise from America’s Israel lobby. But at least he’d have to put on his noise-canceling headphones only twice: (1) when he agreed to explore this path with other members of the “quartet” — the European Union, Russia, the United Nations; (2) when the quartet, having produced a plan, handed it to the Security Council, at which point America would vote for it, or at least not veto it.
By contrast, the current path involves Obama taking political heat every time he tries to move Netanyahu a few inches toward the goal line. And there are 97 yards to go.
The defeat of US President Barack Obama by Israel’s Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu over the question of West Bank settlements has delivered a shock to the international system.
Netanyahu was able to brush aside Obama’s repeated requests to freeze settlement expansion largely because of the influence of Israel’s friends inside the US political system—an influence which has now been enhanced by the gains of right-wing, pro-Israel Republicans in last month’s US Congressional elections.
Outside of the United States, there’s been widespread amazement and alarm at this latest setback to US Middle East diplomacy—and to Obama personally—which has prompted a rethink of what can realistically be expected from Washington in the coming year to help resolve the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Indeed, there’s a growing tendency in the European Union and Russia to challenge the US monopoly of the Arab-Israeli peace-process, which has proved ineffective, and to demand firm joint action.
Arab FMs oppose Mideast talks without U.S. stance on borders
Qatari FM: Arabs skeptical that U.S. can pressure Israel on core issues after failure to get Israel to renew settlement freeze.
Arab foreign ministers spoke out Wednesday against any talks between Israel and the Palestinians, direct or indirect, unless the United States takes a firm stance on the future borders of a Palestinian state.
Palestinians to Mitchell: U.S. must demand talks based on 1967 borders
U.S. envoy meets with Abbas, who says Palestinians have already submitted their stance on core issues and that the U.S. must now turn to Netanyahu with demands.
In a meeting with U.S. envoy George Mitchell in Ramallah on Tuesday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas expressed his disappointment with the United States for failing to declare that talks on borders with Israel will be based on 1967 lines.
Abbas said he was upset that Mitchell insisted that border negotiations won’t necessarily be based on 1967 lines, a term former prime ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert committed to in the past.
The Palestinians told Mitchell that Abbas has already submitted a document to the United States in the spring detailing the Palestinian stance on all the core issues. They emphasized that their stance hasn’t changed, and that the U.S. must demand terms from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, not them.
Talk about Chutzpah…! MEMO, today, reported this obnoxious turn of events…
Netanyahu demands that Obama commit to predecessor’s promises on settlements and refugees
Israeli political sources have revealed a number of additional safeguards that Tel Aviv is demanding from the U.S. administration in return for its announcement of a "partial freeze" on the construction of Jewish settlements in the Occupied West Bank.
The sources indicated that the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has requested that U.S. President Barack Obama commit to the assurances that were given by his predecessor, George Bush, in a letter sent out in April 2004 to then Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon. It included assurances of Washington’s support for the principle of annexing major settlement blocs to Israel under any agreement for the demarcation of the Palestinian state’s boarders as well as the rejection of the return of Palestinian refugees to the territories occupied since 1948.
The sources referred to a "positive initial American reaction" to the Tel Aviv demands as Netanyahu’s requests "are usually listened to by the senior officials in the US administration."
Jackson Diehl, the Post’s deputy editorial page editor, speaks with Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren about Israel’s provisions for peace talks with Palestinians and emphasizes that Palestinian recognition of Israel is the DNA of the peace process.
Now, parsing the latest demands: ‘the principle of annexing major settlement blocs to Israel’, and, ‘the rejection of the return of the ’48 (let alone, ’67) Palestinian refugees’… Is a complete non-starter for any continued dialogue, by every concerned party, but, the US and Bibi…! I mean, really…!
Egypt FM: Lieberman’s views do not represent Israel
Ahmed Aboul Gheit says in response to Lieberman’s controversial UN speech that he is pessimistic about the peace talks due to renewal of settlement construction.
… A statement by the Prime Minister’s Office stated following Lieberman’s speech that "Lieberman’s address was not coordinated with the prime minister," adding that "Netanyahu is the one handling the negotiations on Israel’s behalf. The various issues surrounding a peace agreement will be discussed and decided only at the negotiating table, and nowhere else."
No, Bibi, it will not be decided at the negotiating table…
The US Fifth Fleet will commence bombing Iran in 5, 4, 3, 2…
The Letter of Guarantees sent by US President Barack Obama to Israeli premier Binyamin Netanyahu in exchange for extending settlement construction freeze has drawn widespread mockery among Palestinian citizens in the West Bank who urged the PA officials in Ramallah not to wager on the Americans…
A waste of time
Palestinian public in the West Bank, however, derided the Obama’s promises, describing them as "worse" than the Letter of Guarantees sent by former US president George W. Bush to former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon when he presented his infamous roadmap plan.
"Obama’s guarantees are worse than the guarantees given by Bush to Sharon in the Road Map and prove that the peace option is a waste of time. This no more than a subtle way of enabling Israel to keep full control of the West Bank and liquidating the Palestinian issue," said Palestinian citizen Rateb Al-Khaldi, adding that the Palestinian people in the West Bank mock the futile negotiations that the PA is conducting with the Israeli occupation.
"If you conduct genuine polls in the Palestinian street, you would find that no one is optimistic about the success of negotiations even those who defend the PA negotiating team", Khaldi added.
…According to senior U.S. officials, the administration’s efforts culminated in a draft letter negotiated with Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak and chief Israeli peace negotiator Yitzhak Molcho, and ultimately sent from President Obama’s desk to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. [...]
Regarding policy issues, the draft letter guarantees that Washington will not ask for a moratorium extension beyond sixty days. Rather, the future of settlements is to be settled at the table as part of territorial negotiations. Second, the draft letter promises that the United States will veto any UN Security Council initiative – Arab or otherwise — relating to Arab-Israeli peace during the agreed one-year negotiating period. Third, Washington pledged to accept the legitimacy of existing Israeli security needs and not seek to redefine them. In this context, the draft letter explicitly mentions the need to ensure a complete ban on the smuggling of rockets, mortars, arms, and related items, as well as the infiltration of terrorists into Israel. [...]
Finally, the draft letter explicitly discusses the need to enhance Israel’s defense capabilities in the event that the parties reach security arrangements… …The Obama administration realizes that these needs would mean an unspecified increase in U.S. security assistance to Israel once a peace agreement is concluded.
Now, let’s look at responses to that ‘draft’ Letter of Guarantees ‘sent’ to Bibi…
First, Laura Rozen reports on the ‘nondenial’ denial from the WH on the Letter…
Worth keeping in mind as you parse the White House "no letter was sent to Netanyahu" Thursday response. (Followed by — as if to perhaps give an excuse to what seems a strained and belated and not totally convincing denial — "We’re not going to comment on sensitive diplomatic matters.”)
Interestingly, the White House did not offer a denial when queried about the Makovsky piece on Wednesday evening, instead saying, "as we’ve said repeatedly, we are not going to comment on any private correspondence with either party." That’s not a confirmation, but it’s not a denial either, or even a wave off.
(I parse a bit of what strikes me as perhaps misleading if technically accurate about the statement in the update here. Along the lines of whether if it was not a "letter" per the White House but a "draft letter" as Makovsky described it, or a proposed U.S. package, etc. and also whether it was perhaps not "sent" but delivered for Netanyahu’s review by Barak, as the Ma’ariv article reports.)
… The White House’s Tommy Vietor writes further Thursday, in reference to the U.S. offer as described by Makosvky above: “No letter was sent to PM Netanyahu. We’re not going to comment on sensitive diplomatic matters.”
If you look closely at what Makovsky writes, he says, "According to senior U.S. officials, the administration’s efforts culminated in a draft letter negotiated with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and chief Israeli peace negotiator Yitzhak Molcho, and ultimately sent from President Obama’s desk to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu." [...]
In other words, I suspect the White House’s comment today is technically accurate but also not contradicting the accuracy of what Makovsky described by way of a written U.S. package offer delivered to Netanyahu.
Obama in personal appeal to Netanyahu: Extend settlement freeze for two months Netanyahu inclined to reject Obama’s offer, which includes string of security incentives, citing lack of political support.
U.S. President Barack Obama offered to support the presence of Israel Defense Forces soldiers in the Jordan Valley even after the establishment of a Palestinian state, if Israel would agree to a two month settlement building freeze, in a letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu, according to a researcher with ties to an Obama aide.
Netanyahu is inclined to reject the offer and has not replied to the letter as of yet, though the Prime Minister’s office has refused to answer questions regarding the issue.
‘Inclined to reject’ that gift horse…? Well, Bibi did reject it, stating…
Netanyahu: Restrained settlement construction won’t affect peace process PM says settlement freeze wasn’t easy, PA must now show their flexibility; U.S. and EU meetings with Israeli, PA officials end with no signs of breakthrough
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asserted Friday that the Palestinians are at fault for the stalemate in peace talks and claimed that the renewal of construction in West Bank settlements should not affect the peace process.
"For 17 years they negotiated with the Israeli government during settlement construction, including the last year of the former government," Netanyahu said during discussions with his advisers on Friday. "Everyone knows that restrained and moderate construction in Judea and Samaria in the next year will not even affect the peace process. Therefore the international community needs to call on the Palestinians to continue engaging in peace talks. It is in the interest of the Palestinians just as it is in ours," he said.
Following meetings with President Mahmoud Abbas, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and US Middle East envoy George Mitchell, EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton said no progress had been made.
Though she described the meetings as "positive and constructive dialogue," Ashton told reporters in Jerusalem on Friday that she had requested that Israel extend its moratorium on settlement construction.
"I regret that so far they have chosen not to," she said, adding that "Those of us engaged in the process have been very concerned that the ending of the moratorium puts at risk the possibility of long term peace."
US’ Middle East envoy George Mitchell concluded talks with Palestinian and Israeli leaders yesterday without agreement on how to keep alive peace negotiations that are on hold due to a dispute over Jewish settlement building.
Mitchell said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had agreed to keep talking indirectly.
"Both the president and the prime minister have agreed that we will continue our discussions in an effort to move forward in this process toward what we all share as a common goal: the establishment of comprehensive peace in the Middle East," he said.
Hamas, Fatah make effort to achieve ‘national unity’ After meeting in Damascus joint statement says two sides have reached an understanding on "the majority of points of difference."
Hamas and Fatah representatives expressed optimism over the weekend regarding the prospects of ending their power struggle and said they were now close to achieving “national unity.”
The declarations followed a meeting in Damascus between Hamas and Fatah officials – the first of its kind in several months. [...]
The rapprochement between Hamas and Egypt was further boosted last week by the release of two Hamas operatives from Egyptian prison. One of them, Muhammad Dababesh, is a senior Hamas security official who was recently arrested at Cairo International Airport. The second man is Muhammad Naim, son of Hamas’s minister of health, who was arrested by the Egyptians last month.
Referring to the meeting in Damascus, Salah Bardaweel, a Hamas official and spokesman, said: “The talks were conducted in a cordial atmosphere.
However, the IDF seems concerned about that prospect…
The IDF has expressed its concerns over the reports that rival PA factions Hamas and Fatah are moving towards a reconciliation.
Senior IDF officials have praised the successful cooperation with PA security forces but have admitted that this cooperation has occurred due to Hamas being a common enemy to both the IDF and the PA.
…Hamas’ Khaled Meshal said Monday in Damascus that the two groups have taken serious and real steps toward reconciliation and will meet in early October in Cairo. The rival sides had said Saturday they agreed on steps to end divisions.
The hope is that both sides actually agree to hold new ‘national elections’ soon…!
A Fatah Revolutionary Council member said Monday that "serious progress" has been made in finalizing a unity deal between his party and Hamas following a meeting in Damascus over the week.
Faisal Abu Shahla told Ma’an that representatives from the rival parties agreed on three disputed points of four during the Damascus meeting, which have thus far stalled the ratification of the Egyptian-backed unity deal.
Officials agreed in Damascus on the structure of the Central Elections Committee, whose members would be agreed on in advance then referred to President Mahmoud Abbas for approval, and on the formation of an elections court, which has been referred to the president, Abu Shahla said.
Hamas praises PFLP decision to freeze PLO membership
Hamas praised the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) for suspending its participation in PLO legislative committee meetings, calling the decision “wise”.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said in a press release on Monday that the Front’s position came in light of the “dangerous slope in which Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] has slipped in his negotiations with the enemy.”
Lieberman: Palestinians to blame for absence of peace deal Foreign minister meets with UN chief, says the PA did not show ‘real good intention’ during negotiations this past month, though insists that direct talks should continue.
Abbas: No alternative to peace talks, we will continue efforts Palestinian President speaks at ceremony welcoming U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the West Bank.
Offering a positive note after two days of inconclusive Mideast peace negotiations, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday he sees no alternative to continuing the talks in search of a peace deal with Israel.
"We all know there is no alternative to peace through negotiations, so we have no alternative other than to continue these efforts," Abbas said, speaking through an interpreter during a welcoming ceremony for visiting U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Clinton urges Israel: Extend settlement freeze, even for a limited time Secretary of State tells Channel 10 such a move would be ‘extremely useful’; Arab League: No point negotiating if settlements continue.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Israel on Thursday to extend its freeze of construction in West Bank settlements, telling Channel 10 in an interview that such a move would be "extremely useful" in advancing peace negotiations with the Palestinians.
Clinton, who was visiting the region this week for a second round of direct talks between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamain Netanyahu, suggested extending the partial freeze for even a limited amount of time.
Ironically, from that earlier Haaretz article, the Arabs, Palestinians,et al… Called absolute bullsh*t on Abbas’ complete sellout…
It was not clear whether Abbas was suggesting that the Palestinians would remain committed to the talks even if Israel does not extend moratorium on construction in West Bank settlements, set to expire in 10 days. He had previously said the talks could not survive without continued restrictions on the construction in areas the Palestinians want for a future state.
Despite Abbas’ remarks, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said Thursday that negotiators would quit direct peace talks if Israel builds any new settlements after the end of a partial moratorium on construction in the West Bank.
"If one settlement is built after the end of the freeze, we will stop direct talks with Israel," al Maliki told reporters on the sidelines of an Arab League meeting in Cairo.
The Arab League also backs the Palestinians’ refusal to continue direct peace talks if Israel resumes building settlements, the organization’s chief said at the meeting in Cairo on Thursday.
"If settlement construction does not stop, then there is no use for continuing negotiations," Amr Moussa told a press conference, saying this was the opinion of the Arabs and Abbas. "Negotiating with occupation is simply a waste of time."
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