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As I write this, U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell is here in Israel again, and it’s not stirring much excitement or even interest.
On Sunday he met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with the latter saying Mitchell had “interesting ideas” on how to get Israeli-Palestinian talks going again but not saying what the ideas were.
On Friday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas reiterated to Mitchell his refusal to talk with Netanyahu absent a total ban on Jewish building in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and East Jerusalem. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said the fact that Israel had positions at all – on not giving up every inch of the West Bank, on the demilitarization of a future Palestinian state – made negotiating with Israel impossible.
Based on his statements to Time magazine’s Joe Klein last week, it can be surmised that President Obama is not all that surprised by Mitchell’s inability to get anything moving.
“This is just really hard,” Obama told Klein.
“Even for a guy like George Mitchell . Both sides – the Israelis and the Palestinians – have found that the political environment, the nature of their coalitions or the divisions within their societies, were such that it was very hard for them to start engaging in a meaningful conversation . From Abbas’s perspective, he’s got Hamas looking over his shoulder and, I think, an environment generally within the Arab world that feels impatient with any process.
“And on the Israeli front – although the Israelis, I think, after a lot of time showed a willingness to make some modifications in their policies, they still found it very hard to move with any bold gestures .”
It is easy to poke holes in Obama’s evenhandedness here: the fact that while Netanyahu has been ready at all times to negotiate with Abbas, with not even his most right-wing coalition partners objecting to negotiations per se, it is Abbas who has stonewalled; the fact that it was not “after a lot of time,” but very quickly – in a matter of months since taking office – that Netanyahu made quite bold gestures of reversing his lifelong opposition to a Palestinian state and then announcing an unprecedented ten-month settlement freeze in Judea and Samaria, none of which has sufficed to lure Abbas back to the table.
It is also easy to cite the usual political reasons for the stalemate – that Obama, by hitting Israel hard on the settlements issue particularly in his Cairo speech in June, forced Abbas into an uncompromising stance where he could not appear less Catholic than the pope; that the Palestinians, more generally, saw Obama as an ally and were disappointed when he showed understanding for some of Israel’s positions.
All of which is valid – but only grazes the truth.
Looking more deeply into what has “gone wrong” – and has kept going wrong ever since the formal Israeli-Palestinian diplomatic process began in 1993 – would require taking account, for a change, of the cultural difference between Israel and the Palestinian side.
It was less than three weeks ago that Netanyahu complained to the White House and State Department about Palestinian incitement – and not by Hamas in Gaza, but by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.
Netanyahu was reacting to two particularly egregious incidents. In one, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad paid homage to three Palestinian terrorists who had been killed by Israeli forces after murdering an Israeli rabbi (a father of seven). In the other, Abbas named a square in Ramallah after Dalal Mughrabi, the Palestinian woman terrorist who led the “Coastal Road Massacre” in 1978 – the worst terror attack in Israel’s history, killing 37 including 10 children.
Obama, for his part, had no public reaction to Abbas and Fayyad’s behavior, did not mention it in his interview to Klein, and clearly was not deterred by it from sending Mitchell for another round of attempted diplomacy.
As Obama did say to Klein, “we are going to continue to work with both parties to recognize what I think is ultimately their deep-seated interest in a two-state solution in which Israel is secure and the Palestinians have sovereignty and can start focusing on developing their economy and improving the lives of their children and grandchildren.”
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Girlfriend and double cop-killer Ismaaiyl Brinsley apparently was influenced by Islamic extremism.
Thus, despite the increasingly serious problems for the mayor arising out of the current anti-police protests, Mr. de Blasio apparently will be cut no slack by those who seem to be aiming for a significant role in running the city from the streets and who will do whatever they can to prevent their momentum from ebbing.
Despite strong pressure to throw the book at the accused, Mr. Thompson allowed him to plead guilty to assault.
A revolution is taking place between good and evil; light and darkness. Make the light activism!
We see pictures of mosques, monuments for terrorists, illegal schools, and hundreds of apartments being built on Jewish land without repercussions. We are losing Jewish property, so it is up to us to protect it.
Obama’s comments calling Israeli settlements “unhelpful”are harsher than prior US administrations’
He ruthlessly crushed the revolt, and, despite lacking official Roman sanction, ordered the rebel leaders put to death without trial.
Hamas recently stated publicly that a new explosion of violence against Israel is imminent.
We can never allow Israel in the name of democracy to turn herself into an Arab or bi-nationalstate
The Jordanian public is a fertile ground of anger that could be easily exploited by ISIS.
Let us become modern day Maccabees and seize the day. Embrace the challenge. Fight for Hashem.
Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics has released its population data for 2012, the year that just ended. As usual, the trends are favorable. The total Israeli population rose to just under eight million, while the Jewish population for the first time rose to just over six million.
How well are Jews – and non-Jews – doing with regard to the Jewish state? If the question focuses on the highbrow world, and particularly its predominant persuasion of liberalism (or what is still called by that name), the answer that emerges from Edward Alexander’s new book is: not very well.
It’s been a bumpy road for the Palestinians lately.
Recent staged spectacles that were supposed to whip up sympathy for them and put Israel in a bad light again – the Nakba Day (May 15) and Naksa Day (June 4) marches on Israel’s borders, the flotilla, the flytilla – have been disappointments at best, if not outright flops. And the Palestinians’ long-hyped independent-statehood bid at the UN in September is meeting growing opposition from the West.
When Glenn Beck’s upcoming Jerusalem rally was first announced, he saidit would be called “Restore Courage” – modeled on his “Restoring Honor” rally last year in Washington that drew half a million. Or as Beck put it: “Last summer, we set out to restore honor in Washington, DC. This summer, it’s time to restore courage. It is time for us to courageously stand with Israel.”
In reaction to the Palestinian Authority-Hamas unity deal signed in Cairo, Israel decided to turn off the spigot. It halted the transfer to the PA of over $100 million in customs and tax revenues.
The day after last week’s announcement of a Fatah-Hamas rapprochement in Cairo, Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas said he would keep pursuing peace talks with Israel. Almost concurrently, top Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar said Hamas would stick to its stance of neither recognizing nor negotiating with Israel, but “if Fatah wants to negotiate with Israel over trivialities, they can.”
“With the winds of change blowing through the Arab world, it’s more urgent than ever that we try to seize the opportunity to create a peaceful solution between the Palestinians and the Israelis,” President Obama saidlast week after meeting with Israeli president Shimon Peres.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/maybe-one-side-really-doesnt-want-peace/2010/01/27/
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