Posts Tagged ‘Palestine’


Just what was it that sent the US and Israel into apoplectic fits last week? What egregious sin did the Palestinians commit to re-ignite American threats to cut of funding to the PA and Israeli ones to once again start pocketing for themselves the Palestinian tax monies they collect? Why, they are trying to sign on to human rights commitments. The temerity! The US has sent a clear message: Israel is to be coddled or even rewarded for breaking its commitments to the US, by reneging on its prisoner release deal, and to international law by expanding settlements; but the Palestinians must be punished for joning international human rights conventions. I explain and explore at LobeLog today.

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A slightly edited version of this article originally appeared at LobeLog, where I and many other foreign policy experts regularly

Photo: US Secretary of State John Kerry leaves the US Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, behind as he concludes his failed trip to Israel on April 1, 2014. Credit: State Department

Photo: US Secretary of State John Kerry leaves the US Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, behind as he concludes his failed trip to Israel on April 1, 2014. Credit: State Department

publish. I’d recommend the site just as strongly even if they didn’t publish my stuff. 

There are many false clichés about the Israel-Palestine conflict. There are also some very true ones, though these are heard less frequently. Perhaps the most profound of these was proven once again this week: the United States is incapable of playing a positive role in this arena.

There is nothing about that statement that should be controversial. A decades-long line of U.S. politicians and diplomats have spoken of the need to resolve this conflict. In recent years, these statements have often been accompanied by an acknowledgment of the need for “Palestinian self-determination.” But Israel is the one country, among all of the world’s nations, of whom those very same leaders speak in terms of an “unbreakable bond,” a country between whose policies and ours there “is no daylight.”

Let’s say my brother gets in a dispute with someone else, perhaps even someone I am acquainted with. Would anyone think that I would be the appropriate person to mediate that conflict? If my brother also had a lot more money and influence in the conflict, and therefore a fair mediation needed a broker who was willing to pressure my brother into compromise because, right or wrong, he does not have incentive to do so. Am I the person to be expected to level that playing field? (more…)

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My latest report for Inter Press Service, this one is about a new poll commissioned by pollster Shibley Telhami. The poll examines American attitudes in the event of the failure of a two-state solution. The results may surprise many.

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My friend, Yousef Munayyer unearthed this remarkably prescient letter from 1919, ahead of the post-WWI peace conference. It was published in full by the Times, in the wake of its having been presented to President Woodrow Wilson. It was brought to Wilson by Julius Kahn, a Jewish Congressman from San Francisco.

The objections raised to the Zionist enterprise and the disagreement with the recently presented Balfour Declaration are interesting. They are, primarily, rooted in concern for the welfare of Jewish people around the globe, although due consideration is given to the Palestinian population. The case they made was a pretty powerful one, though it did not sway Wilson or the other world leaders of the day, who, as history has well noted, were tantalized by the ideas of fulfilling biblical prophecy with the Jewish return to Zion, having a permanent European presence in what was quickly becoming the most important region of the “oriental” world, and ridding their own countries of Jews. (more…)

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This article originally appeared at LobeLog

US Secretary of State John Kerry was shuttling between Jordan and Saudi Arabia on Sunday, shoring up support for his efforts to

Kerry with Saudi King Abdullah (photo courtesy of State Department)

Kerry with Saudi King Abdullah (photo courtesy of State Department)

find some kind of framework for negotiations that Israel and the Palestinian Authority could both sign on to. But back in Israel, the difficulties Kerry faces became even more apparent.

First, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman stated that, while he believed the deal Kerry envisions is the best Israel is likely to get, he would not support any peace deal that did not involve transferring Arab towns in Israel to the Palestinian Authority. In other words, Lieberman is insisting on a condition he has long held that forces the expulsion from Israel of some significant number of its Arab citizens. That is something that even the United States will find difficult to endorse, although most in Congress probably would have no problem with it (as long as AIPAC pushes them in that direction). The PA is not going to accept that condition, so Lieberman is basically putting a poison pill inside conciliatory language.

By the end of the day, Yuval Steinitz, a far right wing member of Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud coalition and Minister of Intelligence, Strategic Affairs and International Relations, stated that Israel could not accept anything less than a sole Israeli military presence for an indefinite period in the Jordan Valley, a clear non-starter. Steinitz made this statement despite the insistence of the former head of the Mossad that the Jordan Valley was not a vital security concern or Israel, so one has to wonder about the motivation for Israel’s insistence on this point. (more…)

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