Reaction to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ speech to the UN General Assembly today was swift and sharp. One of the most incisive
Mahmoud Abbas addresses the UN general Assembly, 9/26/14
Israeli columnists, Chemi Shalev of Ha’aretz, broke it down very well. He considered Abbas’ speech to be a welcome gift to the Israeli right. And I agree with him. But that’s not really the point.
Abbas has often used the UN podium as a way to be more direct and combative than he usually is regarding Israel, de-emphasizing the “partner for peace” charade and instead being more of an advocate for and leader of the Palestinian cause. But this time, he really turned up the heat. His reference to the attack on Gaza as “genocide” was calculated to play very well in Ramallah and Gaza City, and he willingly sacrificed the rest of the world’s approval. Continue reading
Egypt’s crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood continues on the diplomatic front with the opening of two sets of talks this week in Cairo. One set will have Egypt brokering discussions with Fatah and Hamas on the future of governance in the Gaza Strip, while the other will see Egyptian and Palestinian Authority (PA) representatives shuttling between Hamas and an Israeli delegation.
Although Egypt brokered the ceasefire deal between Hamas and Israel that ended 50 days of rockets flying out of Gaza and Israel, which devastated the tiny strip, it cannot have escaped Hamas’ notice that Egypt has an agenda of its own—and it is shared with just about every other party involved. Read more at LobeLog.
An edited version of this article appeared at LobeLog.
The moral high ground is always a tenuous piece of property. It is difficult to obtain and is easily lost. It is seen, however, as crucial because most people, all over the world, cannot accommodate the notion that life is composed of shades of grey; they desperately need to see black and white, good guys and bad guys, heroes and villains, in every situation. Nowhere is this truer than in the Israel-Palestine conflict.
It has become even more important for Israel to fight this rhetorical battle because, while it can always count on mindless support from Washington and from the most radically nationalistic and zealous Zionists around the world, the current escalation and ugliness is going to be very difficult to defend to even mainstream pro-Israel liberals, let alone the rest of the world. The hasbara (propaganda) has been flowing at a rapid pace, even more so than usual, as Israel struggles to maintain the treasured hold on the “moral high ground” that its own actions have increasingly undermined. Continue reading
What we’re seeing now in Israel-Palestine is what this looks like when the US-led peace process is removed and nothing replaces it. Maybe it’s better than an institutionalized process that serves only to sustain the occupation while Israel gobbles up more land for settlements, maybe it’s even worse. That is for Israelis and Palestinians especially to decide. What is certain, however, is that it is a more overtly violent and volatile situation and a fertile ground for the plans of annexationists in Israel. I explore today at LobeLog.
An edited version of this article originally appeared at LobeLog.
Palestinians in Gaza protest ICRC’s neutrality on Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strike (Photo by Joe Catron)
There is a sure, albeit contemptible, way to get the attention of virtually the entire state of Israel. That is to kidnap some of its younger citizens. It worked with Cpl. Gilad Shalit, and it seems to be playing well again, this time with civilians (living in the settlements does not strip one of their civilian status under international law).
Israel, as a whole, is riveted on the fates of these three young men. There is a national outcry in Israel when kidnappings occur that is even louder than when Israelis, even young Israelis, are killed. There is a sense of urgency; that something must be done to free the captives before a worse fate befalls them. The attention is widespread and constant, both in cases, like Shalit’s, where the captive is known to still be alive and in cases where the captives are believed or known to already be dead. Israelis press hard for a resolution to the situation. Political leaders do respond, but sometimes, sadly, they do so in self-serving ways.
At +972 Magazine my friend and colleague, Larry Derfner, a former columnist for the Jerusalem Post, says he believes that by deciding to go forward with a third unity agreement with Hamas at this time, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas “has shot the cause of Palestinian independence in the foot.” Put bluntly, I disagree completely. I explain why at LobeLog today.
An edited version of this piece first appeared at LobeLog.
The collapse of the U.S.-led talks between Israel and the Palestinians is now complete. In the wake of the latest agreement between Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas, Israel has announced the termination of talks. The United States, true to its form, is backing the Israeli position. In so doing, we see yet another demonstration of why the process, as it has been constructed for two decades, cannot possibly lead to a resolution of this long and vexing conflict.
U.S. Angered and Confused
Starting with the United States, one need look no further than the statement made by State Department spokeswoman, Jen Psaki. “It is hard to see how Israel will negotiate with a government that does not recognize its right to exist,” Psaki said. “The Palestinian reconciliation deal raises concerns and could complicate the efforts to extend peace talks.”
Well, as it turns out, it led to the suspension, at least for now, of the effort by the U.S. to extend the talks, an effort that any U.S. citizen, whatever their politics, should find embarrassing. But let’s examine that statement. Why, one wonders, would Psaki find it so “hard to see” how an Israeli government could negotiate with a unified Palestinian one? It is not Hamas Israel would be negotiating with, for a start, but a representative Palestinian Authority. Indeed, one of Israel’s chief complaints has long been that even if they struck a deal with Abbas, it might not hold since he did not represent all of the Palestinian body politic as, for example, Benjamin Netanyahu does for the Israeli one. Continue reading