Former Israeli foreign minister Shlomo Ben-Ami: “Israel’s line was busy, or there was no one on the Israeli side to pick up the phone.”
Israel’s increasing integration into European competitions, despite its refusal to revive peace talks with the Palestinians, respect human rights and halt illegal settlement, is, according to critics, contrary to sporting values and should be met with international opposition of the kind faced by apartheid South Africa.
Tony Blair stepped down as British prime minister in 2007 and immediately assumed the position of representative to the Quartet, the international body overseeing the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Against the background of mounting criticism at home over his role in the 2003 Iraq War, this profile examines the record of Blair’s activities in the Middle East over the past five years. The picture that emerges is one of rapid self-enrichment through murky consultancies and opaque business deals with Middle East dictators, and an official role (formally dedicated to Palestinian state-building) whose main results appear to be an unhappy Palestinian Authority and the perpetuation of the status quo.
US diplomats: “Before talking about extermination, and before allowing either the Masada or the Samson complex to progress to obsession, the Israelis might usefully examine their own position and that of the Arabs… All reports we have heard and read from Egypt and Syria lead us to believe that those two countries strongly yearn for peace and that they would like to devote their energies to reconstruction of their countries.”
Unfortunately for Abbas, Obama used his remarks in Ramallah to insist the Palestinians enter direct negotiations without preconditions, not even the settlement freeze he himself had urged. At the same time, he insisted on preconditions for the Palestinians, who “must recognise that Israel will be a Jewish state”, effectively condemning the Palestinian citizens of Israel to perpetual second-class citizenship. His conversion has doubtless encouraged Israel’s most annexationist government to date to carry on with legislation to define itself as the national state of the Jewish people.
The unspoken message of Obama’s visit is that the Netanyahu government is free to pursue its hardline agenda with little danger of anything more than symbolic protest from Washington.
Mustafa Barghouthi: “The main goal of Obama’s visit … is to listen… We Palestinians have been listening for too long. This passivity on Obama’s part is unacceptable and dangerous at a time when the two state solution is under risk.”
The Israeli government has been forcing the Palestinian Authority into approving water infrastructure for illegal West Bank settlements for the past 15 years, according to research by a University of Sussex academic.
Here is the rub. Mr Netanyahu already has a stranglehold on the politics of his potential peace partners. He can easily manipulate the fortunes of the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas on the two biggest tests he faces: the peace process overseen by the international community, and reconciliation talks with the rival Palestinian faction Hamas.
The dawn of a Palestinian state has been a long time coming. After 65 years of dispossession, 45 years of occupation, and 20 years of failed peace attempts, on Thursday Palestine took one step closer to joining the community of nations. Al Jazeera’s Empire program discusses the prospects for peace with our guests: Rashid Khalidi, Peter Beinart, Ethan Bronner, and Tony Karon.
Voting by an overwhelming majority — 138 in favour to 9 against (Canada, Czech Republic, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), Nauru, Panama, Palau, United States), with 41 abstentions — the General Assembly today accorded Palestine non-Member Observer State status in the United Nations.
An uneasy cease-fire has been declared ending Israel’s attack on Gaza, Operation Pillar of Defense. Take this quiz to see how much you know about the situation.
The ceasefire agreed by Israel and Hamas in Cairo after eight days of fighting is merely a pause in the Israel-Palestine conflict. It promises to ease movement at all border crossings with the Gaza Strip, but will not lift the blockade. It requires Israel to end its assault on the Strip, and Palestinian militants to stop firing rockets at southern Israel, but it leaves Gaza as miserable as ever.
Obama may not have to worry about re-election but he will not want to hand a poisoned legacy to the next Democratic presidential candidate, nor will want to mire his own final term in damaging confrontations with Israel.
Hanan Ashwari: “Typical American behaviour but also overkill. It is ridiculous and unconscionable the way they put themselves at the service of Israel in such a blatant way. This is tremendous American pressure and bias.”
In the shadow of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s theatrics at the United Nations last week, armed with his cartoon Iranian bomb, Israeli officials launched a quieter, but equally combative, initiative to extinguish whatever hopes have survived of reviving the peace process. For the first time in its history, Israel is seeking to equate millions of Palestinians in refugee camps across the Middle East with millions of Israeli citizens descended from Jews who, before Israel’s establishment in 1948, lived in Arab countries.
Europe’s only real leverage over Israel is economic: business between the two already accounts for about 60 per cent of Israeli trade, worth nearly 30 billion euros (Dh136 billion). But rather than penalising Israel for repeatedly stomping over the flimsiest prospects for a two-state solution, the EU is handsomely rewarding it.
Senior EU diplomat: “I was struck by the fact that a whole range of relations was offered to Israel – at the request of Israel – as if nothing is happening on the ground… Most ministers are too afraid to speak out in case they are singled out as being too critical towards Israel, because, in the end, relations with Israel are on the one hand relations with the Jewish community at large and on the other hand with Washington – nobody wants to have fuss with Washington. So [ministers] are fine with making political statements but they refrain from taking concrete action.”
Every year the US allocates $250 million to UNRWA, which provides food as well as health, education and employment services to millions of Palestinians in Jordan, Lebanon, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. For years Congressional representatives have been trying to reduce U.S. contributions to the agency, on the grounds that UNRWA was born in sin and that its policies are anti-Israeli.
The Spiegel’s special report on Israel’s German-made nuclear-capable Dolphin class submarines: Many have wondered for years about the exact capabilities of the submarines Germany exports to Israel. Now, experts in Germany and Israel have confirmed that nuclear-tipped missiles have been deployed on the vessels. And the German government has long known about it.
Israeli official: “It’s true that the new British law is better than the original one, which allowed any judge to issue a warrant, but the government promised it would be changed so that only the Attorney General, who is a political figure we can trust, would authorize universal jurisdiction arrests. Instead they decided that the Director of Public Prosecutions, who is a civil servant, may decide that he is going to authorize arrest warrants. We are still waiting for assurances on this from the British government.”
The rift in Israel between the political leadership’s push for an attack on Iran, and the security establishment’s opposition widened in recent weeks. Three new voices spoke out on the question of Iran in the Israeli press, throwing doubt into the motivation of those who push for an attack, namely Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netnayahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Lia Tarachansky spoke to Ha’aretz journalist Gideon Levy and Major General Shlomo Gazit, the former head of Army intelligence.
Benny Morris: “Of course. Ben-Gurion was a transferist. He understood that there could be no Jewish state with a large and hostile Arab minority in its midst… There are circumstances in history that justify ethnic cleansing… A Jewish state would not have come into being without the uprooting of 700,000 Palestinians…There was no choice but to expel that population. It was necessary to cleanse the hinterland and cleanse the border areas and cleanse the main roads. It was necessary to cleanse the villages.”
Israeli Arab MK Ahmed Tibi (Ra’am-Ta’al) criticized the move, saying that it amounted to a “boycott of the UN,” and asked what “Lieberman and Yisrael Beiteinu have in common with human rights.” MK Dov Khenin (Hadash) also condemned the decision, saying that Israel “prefers settlements over human rights and contact with the international community.” Khenin called the move “dangerous,” saying that “through disconnecting from the world, the government is only isolating itself.”