"Processus de paix"
- Israeli official: Kerry disappointed in Abbas (Israel Hayom)
"U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is disappointed in the conduct of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, a senior Israeli diplomatic official said on Sunday after Kerry departed Israel following his latest attempt to renew Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. [...] A senior Israeli diplomatic official said that "most of the American pressure is directed at [Abbas] right now." While Kerry did not succeed in arranging a meeting between Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he expressed optimism about the prospects for renewed negotiations. [...]"
- Haniyeh to Abbas: Don't Negotiate with Israel, Elad Benari (Arutz 7)
"Gaza's Hamas prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, on Friday urged Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas not to begin talks with Israel, as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry continued his efforts to get the sides back to the negotiating table. "We ask brothers in the Palestinian Authority and Abu Mazen (Abbas) not to fall yet again into the trap of talks," Haniyeh implored, speaking to journalists after prayers in Gaza, according to the AFP news agency. Abbas, he said, must "build a Palestinian strategy based on reinstating unity and ending division -- building a solid and resistant Palestinian entity" before any decision to talk with Israel is taken. [...]"
- Mahmoud Abbas honors terror leader with “Star of Honor” decoration (PMW)
"Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has awarded the "highest order of the Star of Honor" to arch-terrorist Nayef Hawatmeh. This is a continuation of the policy followed by Abbas and the PA to glorify terrorists responsible for murdering Israelis, as documented by Palestinian Media Watch.
Nayef Hawatmeh is the leader of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP). The DFLP carried out many deadly terror attacks, including the killing of 22 schoolchildren and 4 adults after taking them hostage in Ma'alot, the killing of 9 children and 3 adults in an attack on a school bus, the killing of 7 in a Jerusalem bombing, the killing of 4 hostages in an apartment building in Beit Shean, all of which took place in the 1970's. In addition, the DFLP has participated in and claimed responsibility for dozens of other terror attacks, including a suicide bombing near Tel Aviv that killed 4 in 2003.
Abbas himself signed the PA declaration decorating Hawatmeh with the Star of Honor, which praises Hawatmeh's "efforts to raise the flag of Palestine since the launch of the Palestinian revolution." [...]"
- Why ‘a little more work’ won’t do it, Mr. Kerry, David Horovitz (Times of Israel) - "Where the United States should be placing its energies, and its leverage, and its money, is in encouraging those frameworks that will create a climate in which the Palestinians actually recognize an interest in making true peace on terms that Israel can reasonably live with".
"Insanity — according to a definition variously attributed to Albert Einstein, Mark Twain, Confucius, and most credibly to a 30-year-old book called “Narcotics Anonymous” — is “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
Five times John Kerry has been to our part of the Middle East since taking office in February. Five times, like some hapless gofer, he has shuttled back and forth between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, ferrying demands and proposals, and rejections. The estimate is that he spent 14 hours in the company of Netanyahu on this latest mission alone, and another seven with Abbas.
You’d think he’d have gotten the message by now. But no. In defiance of all his first-hand accumulated evidence of Israeli and Palestinian stubborn immobility, Kerry flew out of Ben Gurion Airport on Sunday afternoon proclaiming that a breakthrough was potentially “within reach.” Just “a little more work” and all that diplomatic failure could yet be translated into success.
Yet this willful “cautious optimism,” insistently invoked by the secretary, is not the reason why the definition of insanity comes to mind. Who knows? If only to spare him further humiliation, Abbas and Netanyahu really might eventually capitulate and agree to shake hands, look meaningfully into each other’s eyes, call each other a partner, and sit down across a negotiating table. It’s not as though they haven’t done so in the past.
Maybe if Kerry honors his Terminator-style “I’ll be back” pledge a few more times, Abbas will consent to a phased process for the release of pre-Oslo Accords Palestinian murderers, Netanyahu will declare a wider settlement freeze, or some other complex formula of declarations and promises, drafted with lawyerly vagueness and finesse, will enable both leaders to claim sufficient face-saving achievement as to resume direct negotiations.
The point is: So what? The point is that Kerry is investing immense personal energy and time, and the United States’ diplomatic prestige, in desperately chivying Netanyahu and Abbas merely to the starting point of a path that has already been walked many times before — a path that, the bitter experience running right through the Clinton and George W. Bush presidencies shows, leads only to a dead end.
That’s why the definition of insanity unfortunately resonates when considering the secretary’s indefatigable efforts. He is straining to persuade Netanyahu and Abbas to begin talking when we know that such negotiations can only lead to the same failure they have yielded in the past.
The Palestinians would argue — and will try to persuade the world of the validity of this account when the talks, if they do start, inevitably collapse — that a hard-hearted, settlement-loving Israeli government refuses to grant their weak, helpless, occupied people the independent statehood that they deserve. But the root of the unavoidable failure of any resumed talks lies primarily, though not solely, with the Palestinians.
Exemplified by Ariel Sharon’s political turnaround, a consensus has gradually emerged in Israel over the past generation that an accommodation with the Palestinians — a separation that frees Israel of responsibility for the millions in the West Bank and Gaza — is a vital Israeli interest. Most of us want a Jewish and a democratic Israel, and we don’t want to be ruling over another people.
The Palestinians have reached no parallel, self-interested conclusion. The despicable Yasser Arafat bequeathed his people the toxic narrative that there was no Jewish temple in Jerusalem, and by extension that there is no Jewish sovereign legitimacy in this part of the world, and that Palestinian steadfastness, attachment to the land, and birthrate would ultimately see the unrooted Jewish colonialists sent back to their European homelands. The weak-willed Abbas has allowed that false narrative to fester, including in his schools and his media, rather than energetically disseminating a more accurate picture of competing, legitimate claims to a small, coveted area of land, requiring conciliation and compromise.
Last month, the Israeli prime minister who almost five years ago offered Abbas everything the Palestinians ostensibly seek, Ehud Olmert, concluded publicly for the first time, presumably with some reluctance, that Abbas is simply “not a big hero” — he didn’t have the guts to take the deal, because he hadn’t had the guts to lay the groundwork for a deal by telling his people some unpalatable truths about historic Jewish sovereign legitimacy.
The path to Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation does not run along the route much traveled by the well-intentioned Secretary Kerry between Jerusalem and Ramallah. Pulling Abbas and Netanyahu back to the table will only presage another failure — and the Second Intifada demonstrated how catastrophic the consequences can be.
Where the United States should be placing its energies, and its leverage, and its money, is in encouraging those frameworks that will create a climate in which the Palestinians actually recognize an interest in making true peace on terms that Israel can reasonably live with (terms that do not leave Israel vulnerable to military threat, and do not seek to alter the country’s demographic balance), because the Jews aren’t going anywhere, and Palestinian independence can only be attained in partnership with the Jewish state. The US should be supporting educational programs, and grass-roots interactions, and media channels that offer an honest perspective on the history of our conflict, and that promote a mutually beneficial future of co-existence. It should neither fund, nor encourage others to fund, institutions and organizations that perpetuate false narratives and consequent false grievances.
Change the climate. Gradually create an atmosphere of mutual respect, and a shared, fervent desire for an accommodation. Then you won’t have to be cajoling reluctant leaders back to the peace table.
Israel, too, has its share of extremists — willfully blind to Palestinian legitimacy, and to the counterproductive nature of the status quo — some of whom sit in government today, encouraging the growth of settlements in areas where Israel will never attain sovereignty, exacerbating hostility, discrediting Israel. Like most Israelis, the US observes this self-defeating process with legitimate bafflement and concern. The hawks in Israeli politics are becoming increasingly intransigent, wishing away the Palestinians by citing less troubling demographic prognoses, or reconciling themselves to the subversion of Israeli democracy. On the ground, “price tag” extremists exemplify a lawlessness and amorality that shames us all.
But as the elections in 1992 and 1999 underline, the Israeli middle ground has elected would-be peacemakers when it sensed that hard-line prime ministers were missing genuine opportunities. There is no such sense today, no consensual feeling that Netanyahu — kicked out of office in 1999, remember — is blowing it; that a deal is there to be done if only we had a different prime minister. That’s how successful Arafat, Hamas, Fatah’s military wing, Abbas’s disingenuity, and the chilling Arab Spring have been in shattering Israeli confidence.
In a region where instability is now the norm pretty much everywhere bar Israel, and where Iran has thus far outmaneuvered the West as it speeds toward a nuclear weapons capability, this is a pretty discouraging time for a tiny country to be contemplating high-risk territorial compromise — especially when Hamas’s quickfire violent takeover from Fatah of Gaza in 2007 constituted a profoundly worrying precedent for what might occur were Israel to withdraw from the West Bank.
Kerry’s unfathomable enthusiasm notwithstanding, there are no short cuts. The only source of potentially justifiable optimism lies in a process of changed atmosphere and changed attitudes — a gradual process — in a Middle East, moreover, where Iran has been successfully faced down and relative moderates consequently emboldened.
There is immense merit in working to create a climate in which reconciliation and co-existence are regarded by both sides as serving their national interest. There are no diplomatic quick fixes. Believing otherwise? That’s insanity."
- Kerry, Jerusalem, and the Palestinian concessions, Elliott Abrams (senior fellow for Middle East Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations) - "as has almost always been the case in the so-called "peace process," all the concessions are being sought on the Israeli side".
"U.S. Secretary of State Kerry is about to visit Jerusalem again, seeking to get negotiations between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization restarted. News reports make it clear that the Palestinians are seeking various concessions as the price of returning to the negotiating table, including some prisoner releases (of prisoners convicted of violent crimes) and a partial freeze of construction in the settlements. The United States appears to be pushing in the same direction, asking Israel to take these steps so that talks can begin.
Meanwhile, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz published a story quoting a "senior cabinet minister from Netanyahu's Likud party" about Prime Minister Netanyahu's intentions. According to this source, Netanyahu "would be willing to withdraw from most of the West Bank and evacuate numerous settlements as part of an agreement with the Palestinians, as long as his security demands were satisfied. ... 'Netanyahu understands that for a peace agreement, it will be necessary to withdraw from more than 90 percent of the West Bank.' The minister said the issue of security arrangements is Netanyahu's main concern, and this will be his main demand in the negotiations. If his security demands are met, he is prepared to make significant territorial concessions, the minister added. ... Netanyahu wants the future Palestinian state to be demilitarized, and he also wants the Israel Defense Forces to be able to maintain a long-term presence along the Jordan River, even if Israel cedes sovereignty there.
"The Likud minister's statements echo those made last week by the heads of Netanyahu's two biggest coalition partners, Economy Minister Naftali Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi) and Finance Minister Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid). In separate interviews with The Washington Post, both said Netanyahu seriously wants to advance the peace process. Most settler leaders think this as well." The story also notes that "the senior minister said that Netanyahu very much wants to resume talks with the Palestinians, but the premier isn't convinced that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is equally eager. 'He's not certain there's a partner,' the minister said."
I wonder what Kerry thinks. After all, the Palestinians should be jumping at the chance for serious negotiations, not creating obstacles for their resumption -- yet PLO and Palestinian Authority head Abbas does not appear anxious for talks to start. He seems to be satisfied with the status quo, and concerned above all with Palestinian internal politics -- right now, with appointing a new prime minister. After former Prime Minister Salam Fayyad was forced out, the next appointee resigned after only 18 days in office and the power struggle continues.
But it is also striking that as has almost always been the case in the so-called "peace process," all the concessions are being sought on the Israeli side. The United States has not, for example, demanded an end to Palestinian glorification of terrorism or incitement against Israel in official media as the price for starting new negotiations. Abbas continues to repeat the lie that Israel is endangering or seeking to destroy Al-Aqsa mosque; Palestinian official media continue to celebrate prisoners who committed vicious acts of violence and terror; terrorists who prepared the bombing of civilian sites are honored by PA officials. Yet it is Israel's commitment to peace that is doubted and from whom concessions are sought, as if the Palestinians are doing Israel and the United States a great favor by entering into negotiations that are the only route to their stated goal of an independent state.
Kerry has said he seeks progress by September. Progress is more likely if he tells the PA and PLO officials that they must do more than complain and criticize and condemn Israel. He should tell them that he will judge their own commitment by their conduct this summer, and that "incitement" -- the catch-all phrase that is used in diplomatic circles to include anti-Semitic attacks, lies about Israeli behavior, and glorification of violence and terror -- must cease. That is the least the Palestinians can do, yet they do not appear willing to do it -- and we do not appear willing to insist on it."
- It’s Time to Tell the Truth About the ‘Peace Process’, Barry Rubin (director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA), and professor at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya, Israel)
"“He who tells the truth is driven from nine villages.” — Turkish proverb. It’s time for the absurd paradigm governing the Israel-Palestinian and Arab-Israeli conflict — as well as the “peace process” — be abandoned or challenged. This narrative has become increasingly ridiculous. The following is close to being the official version:
"The Palestinians desperately want an independent state and are ready to compromise to obtain that goal. They will then live peacefully alongside Israel in a two-state solution. Unfortunately, this is blocked either by: a) misunderstanding on both sides; or b) per the recent words of the Huffington Post, “the hard-line opponents who dominate Israel’s ruling coalition.” Israel is behaving foolishly, not seeing that — as former President Bill Clinton recently said — Israel needs peace in order to survive. One reason, perhaps a leading one, why Israel desperately needs peace is because of Arab demographic growth. Also, the main barrier to peace is the Jewish settlements."
This interpretation has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with reality. People on both sides know this, even if they rarely say so publicly.
For the Palestinian side, the pretense of peacemaking — which every Palestinian leader knows — obtains money, diplomatic support, popular sympathy, and brings pressure on Israel. Here’s the dirty trick involved: if anyone in Israel raises concern about whether a “peace process” can actually bring peace, or raises concern about how it would be implemented, or raises concern about the documented experience of Palestinian behavior in the past, the response is that “Israel doesn’t want peace”.
The actual arguments and evidence about these problems is censored out of Western mass media and distorted in terms of political stances.
Is the peace process after 40 years (if you count from its origins) or 20 years (if you count from the time of the “Oslo” agreement) at a dead end? Of course it is. That should be obvious.
The vast majority of Palestinian leaders favor establishing no Palestinian state unless it can continue the work of trying to wipe Israel off the map. They are in no hurry. They do not want to negotiate seriously. And, of course, in the case of Hamas, which controls or has the support of about one-half of the Palestinians, this violent and genocidal intention is completely in the open. You can’t negotiate seriously with those who are not — to recall the old PLO slogan — the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. I say this with deep regret, but it is the truth. [...]
Israelis generally — not just those on the left — want peace and a two-state solution. Israelis generally — not just those on the right — do not believe it is possible at present, and they can offer much proof on this point. Moreover, given the region’s rapid movement toward revolutionary Islamism, the atmosphere is totally unwelcoming to any progress toward peace.
Even if the Palestinian Authority wanted to have a different policy, it knows that the hegemony of anti-peace Islamists makes such a move suicidal. Just turn on your radio or pick up a Palestinian newspaper and you can find the hatred, incitement, and rejection of Israel’s existence, the indoctrination of young people to carry on the conflict for decades, the celebration of terrorists and especially suicide bombers. [...]
There are two phony arguments raised by those who believe Israel obstructs the peace it desperately needs: settlements, and demography. It should take only a moment to dispel this nonsense. These arguments must be pushed out of the mainstream debate by ridicule and insult.
Can settlements be blocking a successful peace process? Of course not. If the Palestinians were so discomfited by construction of settlements they would logically want to accelerate the peacemaking process. This is what King Hussein of Jordan warned them about at the 1984 Palestine National Council meeting. Hurry and get peace, he said, before the settlement process has gone forward too long. They ignored the advice; they weren’t in any hurry.
Again, though, if settlements are gobbling up the land perhaps to the point of no return, shouldn’t the Palestinians demand negotiations immediately instead of refusing to talk for a dozen years and setting countless preconditions that seem to become more demanding as any previous ones are met?
Then we have the bogus demographic issue. The Gaza Strip and West Bank are not part of Israel. Nobody today seeks annexation. Palestinians — except those who live in Israel’s borders — are never going to be citizens of Israel. Ironically, let’s remember, it is the Palestinians who demand that they will through the fictional “right of return” get to be Israelis. [...]
Israel has not annexed and never will annex the Gaza Strip and West Bank. No one thinks the Palestinians there are citizens and they do not want to be citizens. In fact, they vote in their own elections, or at least once did so, and live under their own government and laws. How could anyone not understand this? [...]
Perhaps it is possible that Israeli leaders actually do know more about the Middle East and their people’s interests than does Washington, or do Western journalists and “experts.” Perhaps Israel’s people, as shown by their own repeated votes in free elections, are better informed than those thousands of miles away who never lived through this history, and understandably don’t put Israeli interests first. [...]"
Gaza & Hamas
- Hamas manufacturing rockets capable of reaching central Israel, Gili Cohen (Haaretz) - "Since Operation Pillar of Defense in November, Hamas has ramped up its production capacity for the M-75".
- Guess who uses the phrase "Judea and Samaria"? (Elder of Ziyon) - "These are all official documents in the UN archives. [...] The UN didn't start capitalizing "West Bank" as a place name until at least 1968".
- En Egypte, la rue lance un ultimatum à Mohamed Morsi, Claire Talon (Le Monde) - "Pendant ce temps, quelque 30 000 frères musulmans, réunis à Medinat Nasr dans la banlieue du Caire, ont continué à vilipender "les juifs et les foulouls (vestiges de l'ancien régime) de Tahrir" en brandissant des corans".
- Warning: Egypt may become failed state, Ron Ben-Yishai (Ynet) - "Unless Egypt's economy experiences a surprising turnaround, it will become a failed state, like Somalia and Afghanistan. Regional and global history has shown us that the violent nightmares in failed states also affect neighboring countries".
- L'Iran entend poursuivre son programme nucléaire (Reuters)
"L'Iran va poursuivre l'enrichissement d'uranium, a affirmé vendredi le responsable du programme nucléaire de la République islamique. [...] "L'enrichissement lié à la production de combustible ne connaîtra lui non plus aucun changement", a-t-il ajouté lors d'une conférence sur l'énergie nucléaire à Saint-Pétersbourg. L'Iran va aussi poursuivre ses activités sur le site souterrain de Fordow, dont les pays occidentaux réclament la fermeture, a dit Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, dont les propos étaient traduits par un interprète. [...]"
- Un drone fait 17 morts au Pakistan (Reuters) - "Le nouveau chef du gouvernement [pakistanais] a réclamé un arrêt immédiat des frappes menées au moyen de drones".