The idea that “direct, bilateral negotiations are the only viable path to achieve an enduring peace,” is repeated often in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The truth of it is obvious; any

(L-R) Quartet Representative Tony Blair, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and EU representative Catherine Ashton

lasting agreement will require the full buy-in from both Israelis and Palestinians, and it is unlikely that an imposed settlement of the conflict would hold. The frequency with which this axiom is repeated suggests that an imposition of an agreement by outside actors such as the United Nations, the European Union or even the United States is a real possibility. In fact, virtually no one seriously suggests that an agreement simply be imposed on Israelis and Palestinians.

The real issue is how the statement is defined. In general terms, supporters of Israeli policies take this rule to mean that no pressure should be brought upon Israel, as any such pressure is seen as undermining bilateral negotiations. Opponents of Israel’s occupation, on the other hand, tend to see outside pressure, in the form of international diplomacy or economic pressure, as crucial to incentivizing both sides into serious negotiations and toward making the difficult compromises necessary to achieve a final agreement. Read more at FMEP’s web site


Conventional wisdom, like most things in politics, changes very slowly. Politicians usually stay the safe course until evidence mounts that there’s a better one. The pile of evidence for a new Berniedirection is starting to become substantial when it comes to the discourse around Israel and Palestine.

This presidential primary season has had its fair share of candidates who insist the United States support Israel unconditionally. Nowhere was that more clearly on display than at the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). With the exception of Bernie Sanders, who declined to attend the conference, each candidate for the White House tried to outdo the others in professing their love and commitment to Israel. Continue reading at The New Republic


It comes as no surprise that Bernie Sanders’ gaffe in his interview with the editorial board of the New York Daily News regarding the 2014 clash between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip has 14777243476_4f4b3f01b0_z-620x350gotten a lot of play. Sanders cited a figure of approximately 10,000 deaths, which was actually the figure for wounded and about five times the number killed.

Sanders immediately accepted the correction, and issued a statement confirming the error. But since then, he has stuck with his basic point: that the Israeli response to Gaza was disproportionate and exceeded any acceptable level of collateral damage to civilians and civilian infrastructure. Read more at Medium.com


On February 17, 2016, ten members of the House of Representatives, led by Hank Johnson (D-GA), joined with Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) in a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry requesting that the State Department look into violations of the Leahy Law by Israel and Egypt. The Leahy Law stipulates that if a military unit of a recipient of US military aid is shown to have committed a “gross violation of human rights,” aid may not be provided to that unit, and any aid given to the country in question cannot be used for the unit that committed the violation(s). The letter specifies several cases in which Egyptian or Israeli units are accused of such violations. The Foundation for Middle East Peace issued the following statement in support of the letter.

Senator Patrick Leahy

Senator Patrick Leahy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Matthew Duss 
mduss@fmep.org 
202-835-3650

Washington, DC: The Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP) strongly supports the congressional letter to Secretary of State John Kerry requesting assurances that Leahy Law restrictions are being applied to Israel and Egypt. The letter, led by Representative Hank Johnson and signed by nine other representatives and Senator Patrick Leahy, notes specific incidents where grave violations of human rights by Israeli and Egyptian forces are alleged have occurred and calls on the Department of State to investigate these accusations and to determine what action, if any, should be taken under the Leahy Law. Continue Reading »


On Monday, most of the presidential candidates addressed the annual conference of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). The speeches hit all the usual marks, with the Occupation in Jerusalemcandidates striving to show that they would promote Israel’s interests better than the others. Palestinians were mentioned almost exclusively in the role of the demonized villain, and the notion of a resolution of the conflict was barely given even the emptiest kind of lip service, if it was mentioned at all.

All of these speakers avoided using one particular word: occupation. None of them offered any hint that they acknowledged that Israel was occupying territory not legally its own, ruling over millions of Palestinians without basic rights. Only Bernie Sanders, delivering a speech from the campaign trail in Utah, mentioned the word.

This is a problem. Read more at Facts On the Ground, FMEP’s blog


The spectacle of Donald Trump getting standing ovations at AIPAC was appalling to a wide range of Jews and others across the United States and the world. But that same spectacle can create Trump at AIPACopportunities for finally cracking apart the wall that prevents a serious debate on US policy in the Middle East. I explore how in The New Republic today.


The past months have witnessed an unprecedented series of attacks on Israel progressive, peace and human rights groups. Right-wing organizations, many with close ties to the Netanyahu government, have worked to paint these groups as “plants” for foreign powers, or even as traitors. Back in December, the Foundation for Middle East Peace issued a statement in support of these groups, and we reaffirm that support today.1446906402_152994b6ec_z

No group has faced more frequent or aggressive attacks than Breaking the Silence. This group of veterans who served in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in the West Bank and Gaza gathers
testimony from other soldiers, goes to enormous lengths to corroborate those testimonies, clears them all with Israel’s military censor before publishing and then uses those testimonies to explain to Israeli citizens what the occupation is and what their sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, and parents do when they serve there.

Breaking the Silence opposes the occupation, and their purpose in gathering and publicizing these testimonies is to make Israelis understand both the human rights violations that occur as a result of the occupation and experiences of the soldiers whose job it is to maintain it. Because they are IDF veterans, and all of their testimonies are gathered from other veterans (including many who do not share the views of BtS), they are special targets of the right.

On March 17, Israeli Channel 2 aired a report based on information gathered by Ad Kan, an organization of right-wing settlers with a history of using deceptive methods to build their cases against progressive Israeli groups. Yet Channel 2 aired their charges unquestioningly. According to Breaking the Silence:

“The report showed footage of members of BtS, filmed with hidden cameras by moles of Ad Kan who infiltrated our organization. Among the false claims in the report was the argument that BtS collects confidential information that could potentially endanger the security of the state. Another grave claim was that we persuade pre-military youth to enlist in specific IDF units to collect intelligence and spy on the IDF from within. The implications of such claims led to public turmoil and accusations that BtS members are guilty of treason, in the words of Defense Minister Moshe (Boogie) Ya’alon. Needless to say, both of these claims are false. They are also malicious and slanderous and it is highly disturbing that they come from the highest political echelons.”

In response to these attacks, Breaking the Silence has published a response, and answers to some of the questions that these accusations have raised: Read more at Facts On The Ground, FMEP’s blog

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