Posts Tagged ‘Hamas’


This piece originally appeared at LobeLog

There was a real diplomatic blowup in the Knesset last week, when Naftali Bennett led a walkout of the chamber by his HaBayit

Rooftop water cisterns in Jenin.

Rooftop water cisterns in Jenin.

HaYehudi party during a speech by European Union Parliamentary President Martin Schulz. The comment Schulz made that elicited his response was this: “A Palestinian youth asked me why an Israeli can use 70 cubic liters of water and a Palestinian just 17. I haven’t checked the data. I’m asking you if this is correct.”

Is this just another example of Israeli hyper-sensitivity and over-reaction? In fact, it is not. At first glance, this seems like a foreign leader framing a question, one that seems to be regarding an issue that makes Israel look no worse than frequent statements about settlements and foot-dragging on the peace process. It actually touches on an issue that is at the very heart of the Israel-Palestine conflict, but that is too often overlooked. That issue is water. (more…)

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This article originally appeared at LobeLog.

When it comes to the tedious dance between the United States, Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the more things change, the

Shimon Peres, John Kerry and Mahmoud Abbas at the World Economic Forum in May 2013

Shimon Peres, John Kerry and Mahmoud Abbas at the World Economic Forum in May 2013

more they stay the same. As 2013 draws to a close, we have another proof of that cliché.

As 2013 dawned, President Barack Obama began his second term, and Benjamin Netanyahu — whose horse in the US race, Mitt Romney, had lost decisively — was winning re-election but embarking on a very difficult set of talks to cobble together a governing coalition in Israel. As there always is with a second-term US president, there was some speculation that Obama might decide to damn the torpedoes of domestic politics and put some moderate pressure on Israel to compromise. Despite some illusions, by the end of the year it became clear that this wasn’t happening.

A little less than a year ago, John Kerry was named Secretary of State and vowed not only to restart talks between Israel and the Palestinians but to bring them to a conclusion. Few believed he could get the two sides talking again, but Kerry managed it and thereby breathed a bit of life into Washington groups like J Street and Americans for Peace Now who have staked their existence to the fading hope of a two-state solution. But even fewer objective observers believed Kerry could actually fulfill the second part of his pledge, and as 2013 comes to an end, all the evidence points to the vindication of that pessimistic view. (more…)

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Twenty years ago today, YItzhak Rabin and Yasir Arafat shook hands in front of Bill Clinton on the White House lawn. Even those who recognized that the Oslo Accords were not all they were cracked up to be had to be moved by the moment. But when the moment was over, Israeli-Palestinian-American took over and the agreement was a worsening disaster from the start. What happened, why did it happen and what did it mean? I explore in Souciant this week.

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This article originally appeared at LobeLog. 

It’s time to ask some tough questions about US policy regarding Egypt. The most pressing being what that policy is, exactly?

John Kerry in a pre-June meeting with then Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr, and then-President Mohammed Morsi

John Kerry in a pre-June meeting with then Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr, and then-President Mohammed Morsi

agreed with the easily assailable decision by the Obama administration to refrain from labeling the ouster of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi a coup. It still is my belief that doing so might be consistent with US law, but would not be helpful to Egypt. Instead of taking funding away from the military which, since it now directly controls the Egyptian till, would simply divert the lost funds from other places (causing even more distress to an already reeling Egyptian economy) it would be better to use the aid as leverage to push the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) toward an inclusive political process that would include drafting a broadly acceptable constitution and, with all due speed, re-installing a duly elected civilian government. (more…)

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This piece originally appeared at LobeLog.

John Kerry meeting with Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, July 19, 2013 (from State Department photos)

John Kerry meeting with Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, July 19, 2013 (from State Department photos)

I’m always pleased when something surprises me in the realm of Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy. It doesn’t happen often. Today’s announcement that Secretary of State John Kerry has apparently succeeded at bringing Israel and the Palestinian Authority back to the table was one such surprise.

The announcement should not be overstated, of course. At this writing, there is a proviso out there that a few details still need to be worked out. So, there’s a convenient back door that both parties can exit through.

Even if the talks did resume, there is no reason to believe they will succeed. As Stephen Waltdetails, Israel’s governing coalition remains hostile to a two-state solution, the Palestinians remain divided and, despite whatever pushes and prods Kerry used to achieve this outcome, the US remains politically paralyzed and feckless. Coming up with a positive scenario that is even marginally realistic is therefore not easy. But here is one shot at it. (more…)

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