Posts Tagged ‘diplomacy’


An edited version of this article first appeared in LobeLog

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met with U.S. President Barack Obama this week, following in the footsteps of

Abbas and Obama confer at the White House

Abbas and Obama confer at the White House

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier in the month. But unlike Netanyahu, Abbas is a much less heralded, or even well-known figure in Washington. And, above all, he is a man with far fewer options.

With a deadline looming at the end of April by which U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had promised first to broker a permanent Israel-Palestine agreement and, later, a more modest goal of a framework for continuing talks, Abbas arrived in Washington with little to offer and less room to make further concessions. It’s a familiar position for the Palestinian leader, one he has been in since 2004, when he assumed the leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) upon the death of Yasir Arafat.

Arafat was a universally respected leader to the Palestinian people, even, grudgingly, among his rivals; a fighter who had proven his worth in conflict. Abbas, by contrast, had long been Arafat’s number two, but he was more intellectual, having been an advocate, a resistance politician and a fundraiser for most of his time in exile and then after his return to the Palestinian Territories in 1994. (more…)

Read Full Post »


This article originally appeared at LobeLog

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the outset of a meeting focused on the Middle East peace process in Bethlehem, West Bank, on November 6, 2013. US Dept. of State/Public Domain

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the outset of a meeting focused on the Middle East peace process in Bethlehem, West Bank, on November 6, 2013. US Dept. of State/Public Domain

 

There is an odd sort of atmosphere today around the soon-to-fail Israel-Palestine talks. A dramatic gesture by the United States, presenting its own security plans to both Israel and the Palestinians, has engendered mostly yawns. Yet the events of recent days have clarified the likely results of these talks, despite the ongoing secrecy around them.

Secretary of State John Kerry has apparently proposed that Israel agree to abandon the Jordan Valley (constituting some 20% of the West Bank and situated in Area C, which falls under complete Israeli control under the current arrangement) in stages over an extended period of time and subject to the “good behavior” of the Palestinians. The current plan seems to be that Israeli forces would remain in the Jordan Valley for ten years while Palestinian forces are “trained.”

Not surprisingly, the Palestinians, including PA President Mahmoud Abbas disapprove of this idea. But they do so in lukewarm terms, not wanting to offend Kerry, with the hope that when the April deadline for the current round of talks rolls around that the Palestinian side will not, as it was in 2000, be portrayed as the party who refused peace. Still, as former US President Jimmy Carter once told me, a continued Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley is unacceptable to the Palestinians. Indeed, it is impossible to say that an occupation has ended when the occupying army is still there. That should be obvious. (more…)

Read Full Post »


President Obama shocked many with his announcement that, despite the fact that he had decided to strike Syria, he was going to seek Obama situation roomauthorization from Congress. At LobeLog, I examine some of the implications for US politics and foreign policy, as well as the immediate meaning for an attack on Syria.

Read Full Post »


This article originally appeared at LobeLog.

When is a coup not a coup? When calling it that carries repercussions that make a bad situation worse.

US President Barack Obama is struggling with recent events in Egypt. Once again he’s presented with a situation in the Middle East where he has few good options but is still facing expectations based on a long history of US influence over events — an influence that is no longer situated in reality.

In contrast to the revolution that deposed Hosni Mubarak two years ago, the ouster of Mohammed Morsi raises some profound questions, not only for foreign powers, but for Egyptians themselves. There is no doubt that Morsi brought a lot of this on himself. He neglected the major issue for almost all Egyptians, the economy; he shamelessly tried to grab dictatorial powers; he did not follow through on his campaign promises to include the widest spectrum of Egyptians in his government; and, when confronted with all of this, he remained obstinate. (more…)

Read Full Post »


We won’t miss Michael Oren, an Israeli ambassador to the US so in thrall to the Israeli right he actually considers J Street anti-Israel. But the rumored replacement, Ron Dermer is even farther to the right. He is, at least, more forthright than Oren. I explore at LobeLog.

Read Full Post »


This post originally appeared at LobeLog.

Outside of Iran, there is no doubt that the biggest losers in Iran’s election this past weekend were the Likud government in Israel and its supporters, especially neoconservatives, in the United States.

The response of Israel’s Prime Minister to the election of centrist candidate Hassan Rouhani as Iran’s next President was almost comical in its sharp reversal from the rhetoric of the past eight years. As was widely reported, Benjamin Netanyahu said that it was Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and not the president who sets nuclear policy.

Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s new president

That is, of course, true, and it is precisely what opponents of an attack on Iran have been saying for the past eight years. Netanyahu and his neocon allies, on the other hand, were repeatedly pointing to outgoing president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the fearsome specter, the man who wanted to “wipe Israel off the map” and must be prevented from acquiring the means to do so. With Ahmadinejad gone, and, much to the surprise of many observers, not replaced by someone from the arch-conservative (or, in Iranian political terms, principlist) camp, the hawks have lost their best tool for frightening people and getting them behind the idea of attacking Iran.

So, Netanyahu has stepped up his push for a hard line on Iran, saying, “The international community must not become caught up in wishful thinking and be tempted to relax the pressure on Iran to stop its nuclear program.” Netanyahu is admitting that all the rhetoric around Ahemdinejad was insincere, and that the Iranian president is only relevant insofar as his visage can be used to whip people into a frenzy behind his call for war. (more…)

Read Full Post »


John Kerry’s charade in Israel and Palestine is growing exceedingly tiresome. As I explain in Lobelog today, Israelis are laughing at him, other US diplomats are sneering and Palestinians, as usual, are just frustrated.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,290 other followers

%d bloggers like this: