U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is meeting with visiting Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni this week and told reporters he will return to Israel in two weeks to push ahead for more “peace process” talks.
In a brief session with reporters, Kerry did not refer to the de facto building freeze that Israel media reported on Tuesday and was allegedly promised to him by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu during Kerry’s visit last month.
The Palestinian Authority has said it knows nothing about the “quiet freeze.” and the Office of the Prime Minister has not commented.
Livni’s visit and the fact that Kerry is returning so soon indicate there is truth to the report.
Livni is Israel’s Justice Minister, but her primary interest is in pushing the American-backed “peace process” to create an independent Palestinian Authority within Israel’s borders.
Kerry reportedly pressured Netanyahu into agreeing with an undeclared building freeze on building for Jews in Judea and Samaria and areas in Jerusalem claimed by Abbas.
However, Netanyahu said he would remove the freeze in mid-June, according to the report of the freeze. That would give Kerry only one month to convince Abbas.
“We all believe that we are working with a short time span,” Kerry told reporters. “I will be travelling back to Israel to meet with both Prime Minister Netanyahu as well as President Abbas around the 21st or 22nd of this month.”. There is no expectation that Abbas and Netanyahu will meet with each other.
Palestinian Authority PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is willing to accept an “unannounced” freeze on building by Jews in Judea and Samaria as a lever to return to talks with Israel, The New York Times reported Thursday.
The newspaper, which often floats trial balloons for the Obama administration or reflects the government’s intentions, said it obtained a document written by PA negotiator Saeb Erekat in which it was stated that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu “can pledge to you secretly that he will stop settlement activities during the period of negotiation.”
PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas forcefully attacked “illegal settlements’ at his joint press conference with President Barack Obama in Ramallah early Thursday afternoon, but President Obama explicitly said that Abbas cannot continue to demands that Israel accept all of his territorial and political demands before sitting down for “negotiations” when there is nothing left to negotiate.
The New York Times report will help President Obama put more pressure on Prime Minister Netanyahu to let both Abbas and the American government to climb down from the weak limb of the “peace process.” which has been the cornerstone of American involvement in the attempt by the Palestinian Authority to establish an independent country based on the Temporary Armistice Lines drawn in 1949, otherwise known as the Green Line.
The report in Times provides convenient pressure on Israel, and Israel’s Channel 2 star analyst Ehud Ya’ari said, almost on cue, that he thinks Israel should withdraw from most of Judea and Samaria.
He asserted that the United Nations would recognize the move, a dubious possibility considering that the General Assembly last November gave de facto recognition to the Palestinian Authority sovereignty over all of the land that Abbas demands.
With Obama having the media’s back and the Times’ report floating around the web, President Obama has all his cards in place for his speech to Israeli university students and guest at the Jerusalem Convention Center Thursday night.
He will be at his oratorical best and is bound to deliver a powerful speech playing on emotions that are evoked by recalling the Holocaust and the deaths of more than 22,000 Israeli soldiers in Arab wars.
The president probably will probably not miss the opportunity to make an obscene comparison between the Exodus of the Jewish People from slavery in Egypt, as retold on the Passover holiday next week, and the Arabs in the Palestinian Authority.
As a warm-up, Obama said in Ramallah that PA Arabs deserve “dignity” that it is prevented by the lack of a Palestinian state, which, as every State Dept. clerk knows, is in turn prevented by “settlements.” The same foreign experts also knew that Jewish settlements in Gaza were the obstacle to peace.
The Hamas rocket attacks on Sderot early Thursday were a chilling reminder of the price Israel paid to advance the “war process,” but President Obama, of course, saw the latest missile attacks as proof that Israel has to stop the settlements” in Judea and Samaria in order to make peace with the Arabs.
But President Obama did not force the issue too hard in the press conference in Ramallah. His failure to publicly demand that Israel withdraw to the 1967 borders was met with an unhappy face by Abbas. Virtually all media outlets headlined that Obama chickened out from demanding that Israel accept a building freeze.
But the president is too smart to cause a commotion when he wants calm. He spared no condemnation for settlements, which he said are illegal.
He was careful with his words and insisted that he came to the region to “listen” to Prime Minister Netanyahu and Abbas to understand what they steps will take to advance the “peace process.”
In other words, Israel better accept the tiniest of supposed compromise by Abbas, such as “unannounced” freeze, or risk war, which was the result of Israeli concessions in Clinton’s Oslo Accords, which was the result of Israeli concessions in Bush’s Roadmap Plan, and which was the result of Israel’s grandiose withdrawal from Gaza.
An “unannounced” settlement freeze may not come tonight or tomorrow, but if Abbas makes the “great compromise,” he will have crawled back into the arms of President Obama. He also will have returned to the old game of playing the card of compromise to win a no-compromise deal.
The Obama administration refused on Monday to participate in a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting on Israeli settlements and slammed the body for its “disproportionate” focus on Israel.
The council, based in Geneva, debated on Monday a January special report on the settlements that called for Israel to immediately withdraw from the West Bank and suggested that Israel may be liable for war crimes if it does not.
U.S. delegates would not speak during the debate, according to DPA, the German news agency, and in separate comments Eileen Donahoe, the U.S. ambassador to the body, said that “the United States remains extremely troubled by this council’s continued biased and disproportionate focus on Israel.”
Israel no longer associates with the Human Rights Council, in part because of last year’s so-called fact-finding mission on Israeli settlements that culminated in the report. Israel did not cooperate with the council on the settlements report because of the anticipated built-in anti-Israel bias.
The council repeatedly singles out Israel for criticism and has ignored major human rights abusers, some of which are members of the council.
The Obama administration reversed its predecessor’s policy of not participating in the council, and has noted some progress in getting it to address abuses in countries like Iran.
B’nai B’rith International’s representative at the United Nations in Geneva, Klaus Netter, said in a statement to the council that the report was counterproductive.
“Far from advancing the peace process between the two main parties, the fact-finding mission report has only reinforced Israel’s doubts about returning to active participation in this council and produced yet another source of conflict that may occupy this council’s attention for months or years to come,” he said.
The White House wasted ho time in expressing dissatisfaction with Israel’s new Ministry of Housing Uri Ariel, one day after he took office. Ariel said there will be no change in policies and that construction for Jews will continue in Judea and Samaria as in the past.
White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters at a press briefing Monday that building for Jews anywhere in “settlements’ is a “unilateral action.”
“Well, I don’t have anything specific on that particular announcement, except what our general position is, is that unilateral actions that make it more difficult to engage – to resume face-to-face negotiations, direct negotiations, are not things that we view favorably.,” Carney said. “And that was true of unilateral efforts at the United Nations by the Palestinians, and it’s been true of actions by the Israelis.
“It is in our view and it’s the position of the Israeli leadership that a two-state solution is the preferred goal here for both Israelis and Palestinians, and that all of us who are party to that process, but in particular the Israelis and Palestinians, ought to take steps that enhance the prospect of progress. But beyond that, I haven’t gotten any specific reaction.”
Along with that response, Carney said that President Barack Obama is coming to Israel with a message of “the unshakeable commitment the United States has to Israel’s security.”
The Dutch government has advised business owners to refrain from labeling products from the Golan Heights, Judea and Samaria and eastern Jerusalem as “Made in Israel.”
In a circular written by the Dutch Foreign Ministry and published on Wednesday on the website of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, stores are advised but not required to replace “Made in Israel” labels with a label reading “Product from Israeli settlement.”
This applies to products that require a label, such as fresh vegetables, fruit, wine, honey, olive oil, fish, beef, poultry, eggs and cosmetics products, the notice said. The recommendation is in line with guidelines published in 2012 after a meeting by EU foreign ministers that said that “the European Union and its members are obligated to fully and effectively implement existing EU legislation and agreements with Israel regarding products from the settlements.”
The notice also said that labeling products from areas beyond the Green Line as made in Israel would be “misleading,” as international law does not recognize those areas as being part of Israel.
The governments of Ireland, Denmark and the U.K. have also stated their support for labeling settlements products.
Yishai is joined by popular guest Baruch Widen (commentator on Arab society and Arab Jewish relations) to discuss a book by Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson (the 7th Lubavitcher Rebbe) on settling the Land of Israel. Yishai and Widen dig into the phenomenon of young American Jews moving to the Land of Israel and how programs such as Birthright (Taglit) are actually decreasing the intermarriage rate among young Jews.
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“For three years, attempts at negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian leadership have failed because of a lack of trust. It now seems highly unlikely that the two sides will return to negotiations,” wrote Ami Ayalon, a former commander of the Israeli Navy and head of the Israeli GSS, Orni Petruschka, an entrepreneur, and Gilead Sher, peace negotiator and chief of staff to Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Barak, in Monday’s NY Times op-ed section, adding this hopeful note: “but that does not mean the status quo must be frozen in place.”
For starters, it’s gratifying to see three of the leading promoters of the two-state solution according to the Oslo accords accepting the reality of the failure of their program. Those men did not get where they are by deluding themselves, so that if they tell us there won’t be serious negotiations with the Palestinians in the foreseeable future, we should trust them.
But the turn these three are taking at this juncture, where everyone agrees Oslo is bust, is remarkable. It takes guts to state, as they do:
“Israel doesn’t need to wait for a final-status deal with the Palestinians. What it needs is a radically new unilateral approach: It should set the conditions for a territorial compromise based on the principle of two states for two peoples, which is essential for Israel’s future as both a Jewish and a democratic state.”
I believe it was the late Albert Einstein who said that Madness is doing the same thing twice and expecting different results. Indeed, every single time the prospects of two states for two peoples have been entertained seriously and officially, beginning with the 1936 Peel Commission, through the 1947 UN partition resolution, through the 1992 Oslo accords and then at the 2000 Barak-Arafat-Clinton Camp David summit, followed by the 2007 Annapolis conference, every single one of those attempts ended in rivers of blood.
It is a guaranteed, indisputable law of History, supported by thousands of dead bodies of Arabs and Jews: the mere senior-level discussion of a two state solution, never mind the enactment of it, is a recipe for war.
Yet these three gentlemen are tenacious in their insistence that “Israel can and must take constructive steps to advance the reality of two states based on the 1967 borders, with land swaps — regardless of whether Palestinian leaders have agreed to accept it.”
They remind me of the old Communists, back when those still survived in the wild, who, when challenged about the horrors of the Soviet Union, would answer that over there they’re not doing it right, but when we turn Communist it’ll be completely different.
But those three Israeli authors are men of deeds. They’re not just shouting slogans about peace and equality and about turning the other cheek. They write: “Through a series of unilateral actions, gradual but tangible changes could begin to transform the situation on the ground.”
Here’s what they’re planning:
“Israel should first declare that it is willing to return to negotiations anytime and that it has no claims of sovereignty on areas east of the existing security barrier. It should then end all settlement construction east of the security barrier and in Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem. And it should create a plan to help 100,000 settlers who live east of the barrier to relocate within Israel’s recognized borders.”
Easy as pie, right? It’s like that Monty Python sketch in which John Cleese and Eric Idle explain how to rid the world of all known diseases. It’s simple: first of all become a doctor and discover a marvelous cure for something, and then, when the medical world really starts to take notice of you, you can jolly well tell them what to do and make sure they get everything right so there’ll never be diseases any more.
There certainly is a Pythonesque feeling to the entire article, as the three men attest that their plan “would allow settlers to prepare for the move and minimize economic disruption. Israel should also enact a voluntary evacuation, compensation and absorption law for settlers east of the fence, so that those who wish can begin relocating before there is an agreement with the Palestinians.”
And, like all things Pythonesque, the article is also terrifying. And like a Python sketch, it is also deeply autistic, written entirely without the perception of the humans it is setting out to “organize.” It also reminded me of the speeches of those pathetic Neturei Karta representatives to the Palestinian Authority, who have no roots at all within the society about which they’re passing judgment.
I could take the time and assign to the three authors a plethora of unkind motives, to explain why they would propose uprooting 100,000 Jews for the sake of an admittedly failed plan – but I’m sure the reader can do that part without my help.
What I wish to stress instead is just how very mad these three men, and the hundreds who support them, really are.
Have a happy and joyous and free Independence Day, and come to our barbecue if you’re in Netanya tomorrow around 4 o’clock.