The latest debate: Do the Palestinians (in the West Bank at least) really want a state?

The latest issue takes the “Two-State vs One State” solution even further. It is a debate that has so far taken place mostly among a few intellectuals, puzzled at some of what would otherwise appear as truly incompetent behavior of the Palestinian Authority, and the apparent near-collapse of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Now, it has been seized upon — largely for its lurid appeal (it’s sensational, runs against official positions, appears to be based on deep insights, and, it sells) to propagandists — by some of the Israeli and pro-Israeli media crowd.

Do Palestinians (at least those in the West Bank) really want a State?

Now, one writer in the Jerusalem Post (he’s Shmuel Rosner, based in Washington), has written — reviewing articles written in recent months — that the question of the moment is: “Do Palestinians really want a state”. And the answer, he wrote, is this: “In sum, two years ago, an open question, more recently, no, no and no“.

Rosner then went on to mock a comment by Ed Abington, former US Consul General in Jerusalem and former adviser to the Palestinian Authority, who, Rosner wrote: ” has commented yesterday on my link to these new articles with this sarcastic massage: “I’m sure Kaplan and Grygiel are right; most Palestinians would prefer to live under Israeli occupation forever than accept responsibility for running their own affairs. Duh“.

Yes, Duh. Because the Palestinians do want a state. The question for them is, what kind? And, of course, there is no real debate on the Palestinian political scene that might illuminate the issues on there side — they are too busy looking over their shoulders, worrying about what their enemies and rivals would say. So, instead of hashing out the issues amongst themselves, the Palestinians are just developing their critique of Israel.

There have been no real intellectual advances, of course.

Continue reading The latest debate: Do the Palestinians (in the West Bank at least) really want a state?

A Last Chance for a Two-State Israel-Palestine Agreement – a "naive and myopic initiative"

In mid-January, as was reported on UN-Truth, here, “Former U.S. National Security Advisers Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski, and former World Bank President James Wolfensohn, were among the ten authors of a newly-revealed letter handed to Barack Obama just before his inauguration, urging the new president-elect to change policy and make contact with Hamas … The group is preparing to meet this weekend to decide when to release a report outlining a proposed US agenda for talks aimed at bringing all Palestinian factions into the Mid-east peace process, according to Henry Siegman, the president of the US/Middle East Project, who brought the former officials together and said the White House promised the group an opportunity to make its case in person to Obama … The Boston Globe reported that ‘Siegman and Scowcroft said the letter urged Obama to formulate a clear American position on how the peace talks should proceed and what the specific goals should be. “The main gist is that you need to push hard on the Palestinian peace proces”, Scowcroft said in an interview. “Don’t move it to end of your agenda and say you have too much to do. And the US needs to have a position, not just hold their coats while they sit down”. Along with Scowcroft, Volcker, and Brzezinski, who was national security adviser under President Jimmy Carter, signatories included former House International Relations Committee chairman Lee Hamilton, a Democrat; former United Nations ambassador Thomas Pickering from the first Bush administration; former World Bank president James Wolfensohn; former US trade representative in the Ford administration Carla Hills; Theodore Sorensen, former special counsel to President John F. Kennedy; and former Republican senators Chuck Hagel and Nancy Kassebaum Baker”.

Now, apparently, the report — containing “recommendations for U.S. Middle East peacemaking” — has been released. Entitled “A Last Chance for a Two-State Israel-Palestine Agreement”, it can be read in full here].

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Helena Cobban predictions on Mitchell's team

In her Just World News blog, here, Helena Cobban has reported that her sources in Washington have confirmed her suspicion that U.S. Middle East Envoy George Mitchell reports to both President Barack Obama and to U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton.

When Mitchell’s appointment was announced in January, a day or two after Obama’s inauguration, it seemed clear that Mitchell would report to the President. When Hilary Clinton visited Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the Palestinian Presidential Headquarters in the Muqata’a on 11 March, she indicated that Mitchell reports to both her and to Obama.

Helena reported in this posting on her blog yesterday that one of her “(regrettably anonymous) sources in the administration” … said that “It is very important that there is no daylight between any of the three of them”.


Then, Helena wrote, “it seems the staffing pieces are starting to fall into place. Mitchell will have, it turns out, four people who will report directly to him. Their exact job titles seem not to be clear– whether they will be “deputies”, or “chief of staff”, or something else…. But the important thing is these four will be expected to coordinate closely with each other and each will report directly to Mitchell”.

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U.S. State Dept: "Special Envoy Mitchell Will Discuss Many Issues with the Israeli Government"

President Obama’s Special Envoy on the Middle East has arrived in Israel today, and met right off with Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Tomorrow, Thursday, Mitchell with meet with the new Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and other members of his government, including Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. On Friday, Mitchell will meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the Palestinian Presidential Headquarters, the Muqata’a, in Ramallah, and he will apparently then meet with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem, before flying out of Ben Gurion Airport to his next stop.

Today, there was this exchange between the U.S. State Department Spokesperson, and journalists in Washington:

“QUESTION: Senator Mitchell, any more details on his trip for the Gulf? And what’s his position and what’s the Administration’s position on the Saudi peace initiative?

MR. WOOD: You mean the Arab peace initiative?

QUESTION: Yeah, that was sponsored by Saudi Arabia in 2002.

MR. WOOD: Yeah, yeah, I don’t have any update on it. I mean, we still think that it has utility and – but I don’t have any update beyond what we’ve said before” …

Continue reading U.S. State Dept: "Special Envoy Mitchell Will Discuss Many Issues with the Israeli Government"

Haaretz editorial on new Netanyahu government: Next!

Haaretz published an editorial today saying: “Israel’s 32nd government, which was sworn in last night, is destined to fail”

The editors wrote that: “In putting this government together, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has demonstrated sophisticated political skills and impressive tricks of wheeling and dealing, along with a total lack of vision, courage and practical judgment. The fate of the State of Israel was not on the agenda in forming this government, but rather the lust for power of a handful of politicians and the creation of power for their boss. Israel has received the largest government in its history and one of its most meager. Its makeup bodes ill. When coalition considerations are the only criterion for forming a government, the outcome is a finance minister with no qualifications in economics, a foreign minister liable to be shunned abroad, a defense minister who has failed at the job, an education minister with no experience in education, a Health Ministry without a minister and a long list of ridiculous ministers and useless ministries. There is also a batch of ministers without portfolio and without a role to play, apart from filling a seat at the cabinet table. Such a giant government sends a message of scandalous wastefulness, with the economy on the brink of a grave financial crisis … Netanyahu has presented a government of paralysis that will have difficulty functioning and making fateful decisions; a government without vision or enthusiasm for getting things done and without ministers to lead change. Not a single spark of hope was ignited yesterday. The government that was born in sin, the sin of petty politics, is destined to spend its days in battles for survival, and that alone. This is highly depressing news as Israel faces bold and crucial decisions; it’s bad news for the peace process and for economic recovery, and it’s bad news for every worried Israeli. Israel sent the world a message last night that it is not headed for peace and change. Netanyahu’s second government is in no way better than his first, and all the hopes that he has changed have been proved unfounded in a single stroke”.

This Haaretz editorial can be read in full here.