On Monday, just two weeks after saying that he accepted the “general idea” of the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative (API), Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected it as a basis for talks with

the Palestinians. This rejection is actually more than it seems, and it is important to understand both what the API itself says and, concomitantly, what Netanyahu’s rejection implies. Read more at FMEP’s blog, Facts On The Ground.


Over the past few years, there has been a good deal of consternation in Israel and in the American Jewish community about the relationship between the two. That concern has grown as Israeli Abrams-Elliott-620x350Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu consistently works to please his right flank with ever more controversial statements and actions amid a petrified peace process.

Neoconservative pundit Elliott Abrams reviewed two new books that document this phenomenon and try to explain it. Trouble in the Tribe: The American Jewish Conflict over Israel by Dov Waxman of Northeastern University and The Star and the Stripes: A History of the Foreign Policies of American Jews by Michael Barnett of George Washington University both look at shifts in Israeli policy over the years and examine the effects of those policy shifts on Jews in the United States. Abrams sees both books as blaming Israel for the growing divide with the US Jewish community, and he feels compelled to respond by laying the blame instead on Jews in the United States. Read more at LobeLog


Earlier today, it was reported that Avigdor Lieberman, the head of Israel’s right wing Yisrael Beiteinu party, has agreed to join the government of Benjamin Netanyahu in the post of Defense Yvet
Minister. This is a concerning development for a number of reasons.

The agreement between Lieberman and Netanyahu comes in the wake of Netanyahu’s negotiations to bring the Zionist Union into the government, during which Netanyahu made a point of refusing to offer the Defense portfolio to ZU Chairman Isaac Herzog. While it might seem that Netanyahu turned to Lieberman only because he was unable to come to satisfactory terms with Herzog, Labor Party MK Stav Shaffir is likely correct in observing that “It is now clear that Bibi used (Herzog) in order to bring Lieberman into the government.” That is, Herzog was used as bait. Read more at FMEP’s blog, Facts on the Ground 


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today brought the one right wing party in the opposition, Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party, into the government. This capped a tumultuous Stav 2period where Netanyahu appeared to be courting the centrist Zionist Union party, raising a great deal of anger within that party from members, including most of the party leadership, that opposed such a deal.

MK Stav Shaffir, the #3 on the list of Labor Party MKs (Labor is the largest party in Zionist Union) has already been vocal in her opposition to joining the government. Now that the episode appears to have reached its conclusion, she issued a statement, in Hebrew, on her Facebook page calling on Herzog to resign.

I translate that statement here. Any errors in translation are obviously mine. Read Stav’s statement at Medium.com


MK Stav Shaffir, the #3 on the Labor Party list in Israel, has long made it clear that she opposes her party’s entry into the governing coalition headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. She Stavis far from alone in this. Many notable Knesset Members from the Zionist Union party (which is composed of the Labor Party and the smaller Ha’Tnuah party), including #2 Shelly Yachimovich and Ha’Tnuah head Tzipi Livni among others, have made it clear that they oppose such a decision.

MK Shaffir put her statement on her Facebook page. It in Hebrew only, and I have translated it below. Any inaccuracies in translation are fully my own. Continue reading at Medium.com


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

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