YNet's Ali Waked being optimistic – while Robert Fisk is outraged

Relying on Palestinian sources, Ali Waked has reported today on YNet — the English-language site of Israel’s largest selling Hebrew newspaper — that “Israel has agreed to hand over additional West Bank areas to the Palestinians as a trust-building measure, Palestinians sources said Sunday morning when referring to US special envoy George Mitchell’s efforts to resume peace talks between the Jewish state and the Palestinian Authority. The claim has not been confirmed by Israeli officials. Talking to Ynet, a Palestinian source said the offer Israel relayed to Mitchell and to Egypt included a series of relief measures, led by the transfer of Areas C (which are under full Israeli military + administrative control) to the Palestinians and changing their status to areas under full (Area A) or partial (Area B) Palestinian control”.

This is a little bit confusing. Surely the reporter doesn’t mean all of Area C? This is where the Israeli settlements are located, and Israel will not turn them over to the PA, at least not now. Area C, a designation of Palestinian territory where Israel retains full security control according to terms of the Oslo Accords (which divided the West Bank into Areas A, B, and C in the mid-1990s), comprises over 60% of the West Bank.

Some of the West Bank’s prime agricultural land is also Area C — as are most major and many minor roads. Palestinians living in Area C have had great difficulty in getting permits to build (n.b. — except, as I have written many times before on this blog, in the “Seam Zone” of Dahiet al-Bariid on the Israeli side of The Wall, and their permits were obtained from the ar-Ram municipal council, on the Palestinian side of The Wall).

There have been rumors in the regional media for weeks about discussions of possible “upgrading” of at least parts of Area C into Area B (where there is supposed to be joint Israel-Palestinian security control), and of Area B into Area A (where there is supposed to be full Palestinian control, such as the city of Ramallah).

According to today’s YNet report, the Palestinian source said that “The Israelis have expressed their willingness to seriously implement a real ease of restrictions, and not a fictitious one, which would help the Palestinian Authority … We will see how Mitchell’s ideas are accepted by Arab states before we deliver response to the American side,’ he added. The source also said that according to Mitchell’s latest offers, the negotiations between Israel and the PA would resume in stages and on two different levels. According to the source, the parties would first clarify the basic guidelines of the talks on an indirect channel. If the first stage is believed to be a success, it would be followed by negotiations between high-ranking officials. ‘In any case, it must end with a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders’, the source stated. Nonetheless, the PA sources found it difficult to estimate whether Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas planned to return to the negotiation table, but said that Mitchell’s proposals guaranteed a real examination of the talks’ framework and each party’s need to meet its commitments. ‘The same question remains whether the Israelis are serious or not’, the source said. ‘We don’t want talks about willingness to make far-reaching moves, but actions on the ground – led by a stop to settlements’.” This article by Ali Waked is posted

At the beginning of the month of January, Ali Waked reported in YNet that “The Palestinian sources said senior Egyptian and American officials are scheduled to hold discussions over the course of the next two weeks in hopes that they will give US special Mideast envoy George Mitchell the opportunity to present an agreement on the resumption of peace talks as early as the second half of January. The sources said the negotiations will be based on the ‘Clinton outline’, according to which Arab neighborhoods in east Jerusalem will be under the sovereignty of the Palestinian Authority, while the Jewish quarters will remain under Israeli rule. According to the sources, a team led by chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat had met with Israeli negotiators headed by Netanyahu advisor Attorney Yitzhak Molcho to determine the general guidelines for the peace talks. [n.b. – reports emerged elsewhere during the month that Erekat was meeting Israel’s State President Shimon Peres, informally, on a weekly basis]
One of these guidelines states that the process will result in the establishment of an independent Palestinian state and that all of the core issues, including Jerusalem and the status of the Palestinian refugees, would be put on the table. The parties, said the sources, agreed that the 1967 borders would be the basis for any negotiation. The Palestinians said Israel refuses to put a time limit on the negotiations, which they said would be conducted during the temporary settlement construction freeze recently declared by Israel”…

This same article, published on 1 January, also reported that “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Mubarak in Cairo earlier this week. According to the Prime Minister’s Office, ‘The two leaders discussed ways to jumpstart the peace process with the Palestinians, as well as the efforts to release kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit’ … During his talks with Mubarak, Netanyahu stated that Israel’s conditions include Palestinian recognition of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state and the demilitarization of a future Palestinian state. The PM stressed that while he does not oppose discussions on the core issues, the refugee issue would not be resolved by Israel and Jerusalem’s status as Israel’s united capital was indisputable. According to his past statements, Netanyahu would agree to the establishment of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders without ceding territories that include large settlement blocs or settlements that are deemed vital to Israel’s security”. [n.b. – I am not so sure about how liberally the last sentence should be interpreted…]. This article can be viewed here.

Coming back to Area C, The Independent’s veteran correspondent in Lebanon, Robert Fisk, was apparently in Israel and the West Bank recently. He published two articles yesterday, fuming about restrictions and conditions for the Palestinians living in Area C — a designation he called a “sinister sobriquet”. [Fisk also argues that the real disaster is in the West Bank, not in Jerusalem — a view which is the inverse of the positions of many Israeli activists…]

In the first, entitled “Why does the US turn a blind eye to Israeli bulldozers? Most of the West Bank is under rule which amounts to apartheid by paper”, Fisk wrote that “This majority of the West Bank – known under the defunct Oslo Agreement’s sinister sobriquet as ‘Area C” – has already fallen under an Israeli rule which amounts to apartheid by paper: a set of Israeli laws which prohibit almost all Palestinian building or village improvements, which shamelessly smash down Palestinian homes for which permits are impossible to obtain, ordering the destruction of even restored Palestinian sewage systems. Israeli colonists have no such problems; which is why 300,000 Israelis now live – in 220 settlements which are all internationally illegal – in the richest and most fertile of the Palestinian occupied lands. When Obama’s elderly envoy George Mitchell headed home in humiliation this week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu celebrated his departure by planting trees in two of the three largest Israeli colonies around Jerusalem. With these trees at Gush Etzion and Ma’aleh Adumim, he said, he was sending ‘a clear message that we are here. We will stay here. We are planning and we are building’. These two huge settlements, along with that of Ariel to the north of Jerusalem, were an ‘indisputable part of Israel forever’. It was Netanyahu’s victory celebration over the upstart American President who had dared to challenge Israel’s power not only in the Middle East but in America itself. And while the world this week listened to Netanyahu in the Holocaust memorial commemoration for the genocide of six million Jews, abusing Iran as the new Nazi Germany – Iran’s loony president supposedly as evil as Hitler – the hopes of a future ‘Palestine’ continued to dribble away. President Ahmadinejad of Iran is no more Adolf Hitler than the Israelis are Nazis. But the ‘threat’ of Iran is distracting the world. So is Tony Blair yesterday, trying to wriggle out of his bloody responsibility for the Iraq disaster. The real catastrophe, however, continues just outside Jerusalem, amid the fields, stony hills and ancient caves of most of the West Bank”. This Robert Fisk article is published here.

In the second of his two articles published yesterday, whose title asserts that “Palestine is slowly dying”, Fisk writes that “A drive along the wild roads of Area C – from the outskirts of Jerusalem to the semi-humid basin of the Jordan valley – runs through dark hills and bare, stony valleys lined with deep, ancient caves, until, further east, lie the fields of the Palestinians and the Jewish settlers’ palm groves – electrified fences round the groves – and the mud or stone huts of Palestinian sheep farmers. This paradise is a double illusion. One group of inhabitants, the Israelis, may remember their history and live in paradise. The smaller group, the Palestinian Arabs, are able to look across these wonderful lands and remember their history – but they are already out of paradise and into limbo. Even the western NGOs working in Area C find their work for Palestinians blocked by the Israelis. This is not just a ‘hitch’ in the ‘peace process’ – whatever that is – but an international scandal. Oxfam, for example, asked the Israelis for a permit to build a 300m2 capacity below-ground reservoir along with 700m of underground 4in pipes for the thousands of Palestinians living around Jiftlik. It was refused. They then gave notice that they intended to construct an above-ground installation of two glass-fibre tanks, an above-ground pipe and booster pump. They were told they would need a permit even though the pipes were above ground – and they were refused a permit. As a last resort, Oxfam is now distributing rooftop water tanks. I came across an even more outrageous example of this apartheid-by-permit in the village of Zbeidat, where the European Union’s humanitarian aid division installed 18 waste water systems to prevent the hamlet’s vile-smelling sewage running through the gardens and across the main road into the fields. The £80,000 system – a series of 40ft shafts regularly flushed out by sewage trucks – was duly installed because the location lay inside Area B, where no planning permission was required. Yet now the aid workers have been told by the Israelis that work ‘must stop’ on six of the 18 shafts – a prelude to their demolition, although already they are already built beside the road – because part of the village stands in Area C. Needless to say, no one – neither Palestinians nor Israelis – knows the exact borderline between B and C. Thus around £20,000 of European money has been thrown away by the Israeli ‘Civil Administration’ [n.b. – despite its name, this is a part of the Israeli military]. But in one way, this storm of permission and non-permission papers is intended to obscure the terrible reality of Area C. Many Israeli activists as well as western NGOs suspect Israel intends to force the Palestinians here to leave their lands and homes and villages and depart into the wretchedness of Areas B and A. B is jointly controlled by Israeli military and civil authorities and Palestinian police, and A by the witless Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas. Thus would the Palestinians be left to argue over a mere 40 per cent of the occupied West Bank – in itself a tiny fraction of the 22 per cent of Mandated Palestine over which the equally useless Yasser Arafat once hoped to rule. Add to this the designation of 18 per cent of Area C as ‘closed military areas’ by the Israelis and add another 3 per cent preposterously designated as a ‘nature reserve’ – it would be interesting to know what kind of animals roam there – and the result is simple: even without demolition orders, Palestinians cannot build in 70 per cent of Area C. Along one road, I discovered a series of large concrete blocks erected by the Israeli army in front of Palestinian shacks. ‘Danger – Firing Area’ was printed on each in Hebrew, Arabic and English. ‘Entrance Forbidden’. What are the Palestinians living here supposed to do?”
This Robert Fisk article can be read in full here.

Is there a "White Intifada"? Are negotiations on "maintenance"?

Aluf Benn has written in an article published in Haaretz this evening that “The Palestinian Authority is conducting a campaign to isolate Israel, based on the Goldstone report and the hatred for the Netanyahu government. Political scientists Shaul Mishal and Doron Mazza are calling it ‘the white intifada’, which is aimed at enlisting international support for a unilateral declaration of independence in the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem. In a document they distributed last week, they warn of Israeli complaisance and present a disturbing scenario: The Palestinians declare independence, and Israel refuses to recognize it and is faced with a boycott. Regardless of whether it yields or reacts with force, Israel cannot win, and will also lose control of the process. Therefore the two scholars recommend a preemptive diplomatic move … Obama’s approach – to ‘park’ the diplomatic process for lack of achievements and to concentrate on domestic issues – has not surprised Netanyahu. Three months ago, a senior Israeli official said the Obama administration would probably put off the Israeli-Palestinian problem to his second term, explaining: ‘Now they’re weak, they have unemployment and the economic crisis, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, and they aren’t emerging from that. They don’t have the strength to complete an agreement. In the meantime, the maintenance will continue.” U.S. officials are hoping talks will be renewed within six months. The main thing is that there be some negotiations. They have no expectations of more than that … In the coming weeks Israel apparently will request an American veto in the Security Council again, in order to bury the Goldstone report. Netanyahu is planning a fourth meeting with Obama, concerning the nuclear security conference in Washington on April 12 and perhaps even before then. The agenda will center on Iran – or ‘the new Amalek‘, as Netanyahu called it in Auschwitz on Wednesday. The question is whether alongside his demand that Obama take action against Iran, Netanyahu will also tell him that in exchange, Israel will take some sort of initiative vis-a-vis the Palestinians. This would be in an attempt to persuade the world to believe him and ameliorate Israel’s increasing diplomatic isolation”. This article can be read in full on Haaretz’s website here.

According to another report also posted this evening in Haaretz. “Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Saturday that he was considering the U.S. proposal to start indirect talks with Israel. Abbas was referring to a proposal made by U.S. Mideast envoy, George Mitchell, who suggested that negotiations between Israel and the PA would take place in the format of proximity talks, similar to the indirect negotiations that Israel held with Syria under Prime Minister Ehud Olmert” …

Continue reading Is there a "White Intifada"? Are negotiations on "maintenance"?

No progress — yet — in negotiations as Israel keeps up pressure + Palestinians wait

According to a report published by Ma’an News Agency today, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) had a frustrating conversation with U.S. Special Envoy for the Middle East, George Mitchell, who came to Ramallah on Friday.

The two men reportedly met again on Sunday, in Amman — after Mitchell had a second meeting while in the region with Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu. — and no details of the second meeting have been released.

But, according to the Ma’an report today, Presidential aide Nimr Hammad said “that Abbas asked first that Israel commit to a settlement freeze even for a limited period of time. He also asked that negotiations be on the basis of a withdrawal” to the lines of 4 June 1967.

The Presidential aide offered the following summary of the Friday meeting:

Mitchell: The Israelis have requested renewed negotiations, saying they froze settlements for ten months.

Abbas: Go to Jerusalem and see for yourself the settlement activity and Judaization of the city – you’ll see the situation on the ground looks nothing like a settlement freeze.

Mitchell: The Israelis could take confidence-building steps like releasing prisoners, removing checkpoints, changing areas classified as “C” [according to the Oslo Accords] to “B” classification, and areas “B” to “A.”

Abbas: This is a good thing.

Mitchell: But there’s a prerequisite for that, resuming negotiations.

Abbas: We welcome these ideas but not as preconditions for talks.

“After this dialogue, Mitchell suggested indirect negotiations between other parties, during which he would shuffle between other sides, including the Palestinians, Syrians, and Lebanese.

This summary account of last Friday’s Abu Mazen-George Mitchell talks is published here.

Continue reading No progress — yet — in negotiations as Israel keeps up pressure + Palestinians wait

Geneva Intiative input into Annapolis negotiations

Haaretz reporters Aluf Benn and Barak Ravid have published an account of a meeting of the Israeli team that supports the Geneva Initiative between Israeli and Palestinian civil society (in December 2003) that gives a glimpse into what happened in the direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations under the Annapolis process in 2008. This account also explains why Israel’s then-Prime Ehud Olmert was looking for information from the experts who had worked on drafting the Geneva Intiative.

Here is an extended excerpt from the Haaretz article:

    “I do not believe that in the foreseeable future there is a possibility of an agreement with the Palestinians on all the issues, especially on the problematic core issues,” says Udi Dekel, who headed the negotiations task force in the previous government. Dekel spoke on Thursday at a conference on the unofficial “Geneva Initiative” peace plan … He was highly critical of the negotiating tactics of former prime minister Ehud Olmert and his Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni in their dealings with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and the head of his negotiating team, Ahmed Qureia. “The biggest mistake was that everything was based on the premise that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed,” Dekel said. “We thought at the time that this could provide the necessary flexibility in the negotiations, but in practice, every time someone showed flexibility, the other side tried to pin him down. Therefore, I suggest that the model be changed and that whatever is agreed is implemented.”

    Continue reading Geneva Intiative input into Annapolis negotiations

Chances of renewing peace talks are said to be "slim" – Does Obama blame Saudi Arabia?

As George Mitchell visited Ramallah on Friday, Akiva Eldar published an article in Haaretz saying that “Exactly a year after trumpeting the appointment of former senator George Mitchell as his special envoy to the Middle East, U.S. President Barack Obama is holding Israel and the Palestinians equally responsible for the stalemate in the peace process. In an interview with Time magazine marking his first year in the White House, Obama said neither side has been willing to make the bold gestures necessary to move the process forward. A senior minister told Haaretz Thursday that the chances of renewing the peace talks are ‘slim’. According to the minister, Mitchell’s present mission is not likely to succeed either, as he will probably not persuade Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to renew the negotiations over the permanent status settlement. Nor is he likely to receive from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a clear answer as to whether he is ready to adopt U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s formula to base Israel’s permanent borders on the 1967 lines … The results of Mitchell’s meetings this week with Netanyahu and Abbas will determine whether Washington continues the efforts to bring the parties back to the negotiations table. … However, the Time interview shows that Obama has not bought the prime minister’s contention that Israel has moved a long way toward the Palestinians by freezing settlement construction. Netanyahu blames Abbas for setting unreasonable conditions for resuming talks. Obama spoke in the same breath about the political environment and nature of the coalitions, and gaps in the Israeli and Palestinian societies, which make it difficult to jump-start a significant dialogue. One can detect a hint of criticism of Netanyahu, who prefers a right-wing coalition to partnership with Kadima, which represents more central positions. On the other hand, heavy American pressure on Abbas and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak have put an end to the attempt to set up a Fatah-Hamas unity government. Speaking about the Arab world’s intolerance to the peace process, Obama aimed his criticism mainly at Saudi Arabia. He was expressing his disappointment from King Abdullah’s refusal to offer Israel gestures of normalization in a bid to muster public support for the peace process. Obama was surprised by the force of the Saudis’ support in freezing the construction in the settlements and East Jerusalem completely. The Americans fear that in the absence of progress in the next few weeks, Arab leaders like the Syrian president may suspend the Arab peace initiative in the Arab summit in Tripoli in two months”. This Akiva Eldar report can be read in full here.

Sari Nusseibeh: stop negotiations immediately – they have become useless

Lawrence of Cyberia has translated an interview with Palestinian intellectual and dormant politican Sari Nusseibeh, head of Al-Quds University (now cut off by The Wall) in East Jerusaelem, that was published on 17 January in French in Le Figaro newspaper.  Here are a few excerpts from the Lawrence of Cyberia blog:

Why have the Palestinians failed?

We failed, it is true, partly because of our inability to negotiate or to understand negotiating, and partly because of our corruption. Still worse, while playing politics, while running after a state, we allowed the living conditions of our people to deteriorate significantly. Twenty years ago, Palestinians in Gaza had no political rights, but they could travel to the West Bank, or even to Tel Aviv, to work there, go to the beach, to the restaurant. But we also failed because of the other party, which didn’t want to give us anything. Today, the Israeli dynamic goes against any concession. They no longer see the need for a compromise. The Israelis think more than ever in a Machiavellian way, believing that force is the only thing that matters, that it is the only guarantee of survival. Why would they be interested in negotiations?…

What do you recommend today?

The latest plan I have proposed is a letter I sent six months ago to Obama and George Mitchell. I suggested they should immediately stop the negotiations, which have become useless; all the issues have been more or less settled, only the unsolvable points remain. Instead, the United States should propose its own solution to the remaining problems. Each side would put forward this plan to its own people in a referendum. The vote would take place on the same day, and the result would be conditional upon the acceptance of the other party”

These excerpts are from the translation posted on the Lawrence of Cyberia blog here.  The full original text, in French, is published here.


[Another exchange from the interview with Sari Nusseibeh published by Le Figaro that Lawrence of Cyberia posted, which shows a slightly less pessimistic attitude, is this:

What will happen to the Palestinians without a state?

We are still there, and that’s the paradox: in 1948, the Israelis wanted to create a state without Palestinians, and they almost succeeded in driving them out.  In 1967, their victory reunited the refugees with those who had remained in Israel. We were scattered, they brought us back together. The Israelis are sowing their own failure by their success. The colonization of Jerusalem and the West Bank, which makes impossible a two-state solution, will force Israel to live with a sizeable Arab population and to reconsider its democratic system“.

Mitchell: He's no James Baker, no Kissinger

Haaretz columnist Yoel Marcus has written today that “U.S. envoy George Mitchell, who returned to Israel this week, has not achieved anything in his visits so far. Despite the halo he won by his successful mediation in Northern Ireland, he is no James Baker. Nor is he Henry Kissinger. Baker was tough and didn’t like our tricks. Kissinger, who was closer to his president, knew how to turn algebra into arithmetic, as Zalman Aran once reportedly said. Mitchell’s views on solving the conflict, as he outlined them back when he chaired a presidential commission in 2001, may have been reasonable, but they were unfeasible at that time. He believed Israel had to freeze settlement construction and the Palestinians had to stop the terror attacks. Yet Mitchell’s visit this week could be very important, if he abandons his slow mediation and instead puts a more definite and effective presidential plan on the table. After Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed publicly to a two-states-for-two-peoples solution, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ response was peculiar [sic]. Instead of agreeing to begin negotiations, he demanded that Israel first freeze construction in the settlements and added several other conditions. This refusal appeared on the face of it like a continuation of the Palestinian tradition of not missing any opportunity that could be missed. For Netanyahu’s approach, at least in theory, marked a dramatic turnabout that put his stand in line with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s formula – the 1967 lines plus territorial swaps. Mitchell said in a television interview that he believed it was possible to reach an agreement within two years. But the truth is that the chances of an agreement are getting smaller – not least due to the settlement-freeze policy adopted by U.S. President Barack Obama, on one hand, and Netanyahu’s condition – that the Iranian nuclear issue must be solved first – on the other”. This article can be read in full in Haaretz here.

For that matter, neither is George Mitchell a Brent Scowcroft, either …

Daniel Levy on Relaunching (or not) Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks

Daniel Levy. the original key player (on behalf of Yossi Beilin) on the Israeli team of the Geneva Initiative (a “civil society” effort to outline a peace agreement), is now in Washington D.C. (a senior fellow at the New America and Century Foundations), and he has recently published a new article (posted originally on Haaretz here and also on his own blog here, in which he argued that:

“If history repeats itself, Netanyahu could drag out talks indefinitely. Once negotiating, there is ample opportunity to create diversions, distractions and provocations … The PLO-Fatah leadership, so far at least, has cast itself in the role of skeptical party pooper. Its members know the consequences of another meaningless negotiation process for their national – not to mention party-political – cause. Many outsiders have been surprised, and some impressed, by the determination displayed over the last several months by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in refusing unconditionally to resume talks. Yet that same leadership has not offered an alternative strategy to replace negotiations, nor has it reunified the Palestinian national movement. The PLO-Fatah leaders are viewed by all sides
as the weakest link, hence the full-court press currently being applied to them. Should they succumb, they will no doubt have to justify such a move by clinging to whatever political fig leaf they are offered, but that will not shield them from what are likely to be harsh domestic political consequences … The main wild card in this equation is the
Obama administration. Year One combined early engagement and a strong declarative commitment to Israeli-Palestinian peace with a frustrating lack of new thinking or political daring from the George Mitchell team, while the president was not personally involved and did not take ownership of the issue. The United States may be satisfied with a convenient and showy re-launch of negotiations, followed by the plodding predictability of process over substance. President Obama may, however, take seriously his own admonition that this issue matters to American strategic interests. That would translate into U.S. leadership in shaping a breakthrough, preferably with EU and Quartet support, creating real choices and deploying new incentives and disincentives with the parties, notably Israel. Ultimately, for all the noise and speculation regarding their resumption, Israeli-Palestinian negotiations are likely to prove rather inconsequential. Success or failure in achieving de-occupation and two states will depend primarily on the conversation between Obama and Netanyahu, their political calculations, priorities and persistence”.

Danny Ayalon, again

January 13, 2010

H.E. The Ambassador of Turkey
Mr. Ahmet Oguz Celikkol

His Excellency,

I wish to express my personal respect for you and the Turkish people and assure you that although we have our differences of opinion on several issues, they should be discussed and solved only through open, reciprocal and respectful diplomatic channels between our two governments.

I had no intention to humiliate you personally and apologize for the way the demarche was handled and perceived. Please convey this to the Turkish people for whom we have great respect.

I hope that both Israel and Turkey will seek diplomatic and courteous channels to convey messages as two allies should.


Danny Ayalon
Deputy Foreign Minister of Israel

Henry Siegman on "the collapse of the latest hope…"

As the excellent Mondoweiss blog notes, Henry Siegman was “Executive Director of the American Jewish Congress from 1978 to 1994, and is now connected to the Council on Foreign Relations”…

Here are some excepts from Henry Siegman’s latest article, entitled Imposing Middle East Peace, published on 7 January 2010 in the January 25, 2010 edition [yes] of The Nation magazine:

It is now widely recognized in most Israeli circles–although denied by Israel’s government–that the settlements have become so widespread and so deeply implanted in the West Bank as to rule out the possibility of their removal (except for a few isolated and sparsely populated ones) by this or any future Israeli government unless compelled to do so by international intervention, an eventuality until now considered entirely unlikely. It is not only the settlements’ proliferation and size that have made their dismantlement impossible. Equally decisive have been the influence of Israel’s settler-security-industrial complex, which conceived and implemented this policy; the recent disappearance of a viable pro-peace political party in Israel; and the infiltration by settlers and their supporters in the religious-national camp into key leadership positions in Israel’s security and military establishments.

Olmert was mistaken in one respect, for he said Israel would turn into an apartheid state when the Arab population in Greater Israel outnumbers the Jewish population. But …  the turning point comes when a state denies national self-determination to a part of its population–even one that is in the minority–to which it has also denied the rights of citizenship

Continue reading Henry Siegman on "the collapse of the latest hope…"