Given the frequently bombastic rhetoric that has come from the new President of the United States in his first two weeks in office, it is not surprising that many observers are reading the statement from the White House about Israeli settlements as being much sterner than it is. Expectations (and fears) have been raised in some quarters that President Donald Trump would be even more supportive of settlements than Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and the statement has been read by many in that context. Read more at Facts On the Ground
New York Magazine’s Q&A with me yesterday:
Tomorrow, Israelis will go to the polls and decide whether they want Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his allies to continue to run the Knesset, or whether they would like Isaac Herzog and the Zionist Union to change things up. The race looks impossibly close, and because this is a parliamentary election and there’s no chance that either of the possible prime ministers can form a government alone, there are a host of smaller parties that hold the government’s future in their grasp. Daily Intel talked to Mitchell Plitnick, program director at the Foundation for Middle East Peace, who explained some of the most important variables to keep an eye on tomorrow — and what potential electoral outcomes could mean for Israel’s relationship with the United States, peace talks with Palestinians, and nuclear talks with Iran. Read More at New York Magazine.
The media in Israel is abuzz with the news that Tzipi Livni will bring her Ha’Tnuah party into a joint ticket with the much larger Labor party. Now there is a tandem that can outpoll Likud, they are saying. The Israeli center just might be able to assert itself in this election.
Permit me to throw some cold water on this excitement. Livni, who has been the lone voice in the current government who has actively supported talks with the Palestinians, is doing this because if she doesn’t, there is a very strong possibility that her party will not get enough votes to remain in the Knesset. Labor leader Isaac Herzog, who has very little international experience, ran for the party leadership based on his commitment to resolving the long-standing conflict with the Palestinians. As the prospective Number Two, Livni gives Herzog some credibility in this regard. Read more at LobeLog
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.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called on Barack Obama to jump-start the “peace process.” At LobeLog, I examine whether Obama is likely to heed that call and the grim position Abbas is in that prompted him to make it.
Ha’aretz reports that Israel is asking the US to “prod” the Palestinians back to talks. OK, nothing new there, but what I found interesting was this:
The Prime Minister’s Office said that the conversation with Clinton lasted 45 minutes, and quoted Netanyahu as saying, “Israel is interested in continuous talks with the Palestinians while preserving the security interests of Israeli citizens.”
No doubt, there was some clumsy wording here, but doesn’t that sound an awful lot like Bibi is saying he wants endless negotiations while continuing to go about his business as usual?
In my latest post on the Meretz USA blog, I look at Avishai Braverman’s call to fire Avigdor Lieberman for his opposition to the peace process. I conclude that a lot more than that is needed for Israel to deal with this virulent racist in its midst.