As the curtain drops on 2017, it drops too on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process as we have known it. At the age of 24, that process has finally died, with none other than President Donald Trump
Shimon Peres, John Kerry and Mahmoud Abbas at the World Economic Forum in May 2013
pulling the plug. But let’s not give him too much credit or blame for that. The killing blow was struck by his predecessor, Barack Obama.
There was much to like in Obama’s presidency, especially given the mess he was handed in 2009 and the unprecedented obstructionism of the Republican Party during his tenure. But he also had abject failures that were due to his own shortcomings, and the sharp degeneration in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict under his watch is at the top of the list. Read more at LobeLog
It seems the long reign of Benjamin Netanyahu is coming to its end. Nothing is certain yet, and there will doubtless be more scenes in this tragedy before the curtain falls. But the prospects of Netanyahu continuing as Israel’s prime minister are growing dim.
More than a few are understandably celebrating the light at the end of the tunnel of Netanyahu’s tenure. And, unlike some, I would contend that Israelis have reason for optimism. But for those of us outside of Israel who support the rights of Palestinians as well as Israelis and wish for all of those in the troubled region to enjoy equal rights, the fall of Netanyahu comes too late to make much difference.
In fact, it might set us back in some ways. Read more at LobeLog
Senator Bernie Sanders is no stranger to igniting fiery passions with his views and speeches. But he is better known for doing so on economic and even social issues than on foreign policy. At the annual conference of the dovish, pro-Israel lobbying group J Street, however, Sanders gave a speech that can and should become the impetus for a new policy discourse on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
During the race for the Democratic nomination last year, Sanders exploded myths by calling forcefully for Palestinian rights while also strongly affirming Israel’s right to exist and need for security. When, in the wake of those remarks, the editorial board of the New York Daily News asked him more detailed questions, it was clear that he had not given enough study, time, or thought to the matter.
That has changed, and Sanders’ rousing speech at the J Street conference on Monday demonstrated a different, more nuanced, but no less powerful stance. Sanders advocated strongly for an approach that treats Palestinian and Israeli needs for security, hope, and justice equally. Read more at LobeLog
On Friday, yet another poll on the Middle East was released. They seem to come in a very steady stream, and once
Tzipi Livni and Saeb Erekat flanking John Kerry at the kickoff of the new Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in 2013
you identify the questions, the results are almost entirely predictable.
But Shibley Telhami, the Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland, regularly produces polls that are always worth looking at. Unlike most surveys of American views on US policy in the Middle East, Telhami tends to dig deep as opposed to simply establishing general opinions. The poll he released Dec. 5 includes some very interesting developments and reminders as to why things still aren’t changing—in the region or in Washington. Read more at LobeLog.
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
My latest at LobeLog reviewing John Kerry’s recent testimony before Congress and the ripples on the Israeli right in response to the collapse of the talks, at least for now.
Also, Dimi Reider has a piece up at 972 Magazine which goes well with mine.
It’s easy to feel like one is trapped in some sort of alternate reality where the world is just a big funhouse of mirrors these days. After
US Secretary of State John Kerry is greeted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as he arrives at his office in Jerusalem on March 31, 2014, for peace talks with his government and Palestinian Authority leaders. Credit: State Department
decades of right wing Israelis and even more radically right wing American Jews campaigning for the release of Jonathan Pollard, his release might actually happen. But it will not be a result of the right wing campaign, nor will it be the US playing its ace in the hole with Israel for some extraordinary Israeli concessions. It won’t even be some dramatic gesture of friendship or a “humanitarian” gesture now that Pollard is old and has been reportedly sickly.
No, Pollard might be released so that the talks between Israel and the Palestinians, which have gone on for eight months with noting but negativity resulting from them, can continue pointlessly. All this time, freeing Pollard has been one thing every administration has refused to do, and now they will do it for, essentially, nothing. Why? I explore this and other questions today at LobeLog.