Mahmoud Abbas speech to the UN – projected on The Wall in Bethlehem

A great shot — photo of Palestinians watching Mahmoud Abbas speaking to the United Nations in New York just before the vote to upgrade the status of Palestine to state. The TV broadcast of the Abbas address in New York was projected onto The Wall at the main checkpoint in Bethlehem.

Mahmoud Abbas address to UN in NY projected on The Wall in Bethlehem - 29 Novemer 2012
Mahmoud Abbas speaking at the UN in NY projected on The Wall in Bethlehem - 29 Nov 2012 - photo by George Hale

The photo was taken by George Hale, English-language editor of Ma’an News Agency in Bethlehem, and sent out via Twitter:
@georgehale Photo – Scene in Bethlehem where Abbas’ UN speech was screened on Israel’s wall

Shortly after this speech, the UN General Assembly voted to upgrade the status of Palestine in the United Nations by a vote of 138 in favor, 9 opposed [including Israel, the U.S., and Canada] and 41 abstentions.

Israeli paper says Palestinian negotiators agreed to swap Sheikh Jarrah [and put it under Israeli sovereignty]

The idea of “land swaps” arose in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations since the Camp David talks in late July 2000.

The Geneva Initiative, signed in Geneva in December 2003 between representatives of Israeli and Palestinian “civil society” [who included or who were in close touch with the former Camp David negotiators] said these proposed “land swaps” should be carried out on a 1:1 basis [of equal size, and also of equal quality].

In an article by correspondent Barak Ravid published today, Haaretz included the following new information as background [it’s left to the final paragraph]:

    “The Palestinians also showed readiness to make certain compromises in Jerusalem, during both the Camp David and the Annapolis talks. The Palestinians were ready to leave under Israeli sovereignty most Jewish neighborhoods founded in East Jerusalem after 1967, with the exception of Har Homa. Also, the Palestinians even expressed agreement to the plan for international administration over holy sites, and offered to leave the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood under Israeli sovereignty in a territorial swap“. This is published here.

Palestinian negotiators are supposed to have agreed that Sheikh Jarrah will be put under Israeli sovereignty? This is the first report about any such Palestinian agreement.

    Israel extended its law and administration to Jerusalem in June 1967, a few weeks after the Six Day / June war — a move tantamount to [but not quite] annexation. This move was declared null and void, and has not been recognized, by almost all UN Member States. At that time, boundaries of a new “Greater Jerusalem” were drawn up by the Jerusalem Municipality, including Sheikh Jarrah and a larger crescent of land extending in an arc from Ramallah in the north to almost Bethlehem in the South. Since then, Israel considers this as Jerusalem, more or less — although a large area of “Greater Jerusalem” was West Bank land before the June 1967 war and the subsequent Israeli military occupation. In 1980, the Israeli Knesset adopted a Basic Law declaring Jerusalem as its eternal + undivided capital [and annexing the Golan Heights].

There have been previous reports that Palestinian negotiators had indicated that French Hill, Ramot, and Pisgat Zeev to the north of the Old City [as well as Neve Yaakov, which was Jewish property under the Ottoman and British Mandate periods] could be left as is. It was not clear about Gilo to the south, near Bethlehem. But the Palestinian negotiators were adamant about the return of Har Homa [which Palestinians call Jabel Abu Ghneim], and they had also not given in on the very large settlement of Maale Adumim to the east, between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea.

But never Sheikh Jarrah…

Continue reading Israeli paper says Palestinian negotiators agreed to swap Sheikh Jarrah [and put it under Israeli sovereignty]

"…the Israeli-Palestinian issue costs a lot of political capital"

Some weary and wary views of Obama’s victory:

Noam Sheizef wrote in Israel’s +972 Magazine today, here, after Barak Obama won reelection: “I think the White House has realized that the Israeli-Palestinian issue costs a lot of political capital, but brings very little results. Furthermore, the administration continues to believe in the Oslo framework, as if two decades haven’t passed. The Palestinian Authority hardly represents anyone these days, the government in Jerusalem is anxious to renew negotiations for the sake of negotiations, and the whole thing is clearly leading nowhere. The only way the White House can move things forward is by confronting the Israeli desire to maintain the current status quo”…

Open Zion’s Peter Beinart wrote, in a post published here that If Obama launches a diplomatic initiative that leads him into conflict with Netanyahu, it will be the Democrats in Congress, especially the ones who run the Democratic Congressional and Senatorial Campaign Committees, and thus spend their time raising money for the 2014 midterms, who will make their displeasure felt. And given how much of Obama’s second term fate depends on Democrats controlling the Senate (and not falling further behind in the House), he won’t easily be able to ignore them … And while the chances of a politically costly confrontation are high if Obama makes a renewed push for peace, the chances of success are low. Netanyahu, a heavy favorite to win reelection, vocally opposes the only parameters—the 1967 lines plus swaps—that could conceivably lead to a peace deal. Mahmoud Abbas publicly favors them, but in the four years since he negotiated seriously with Ehud Olmert, he’s grown weaker and less legitimate in the eyes of his people” … it’s worth noting that while Obama mentioned the peace process often during the 2008 campaign, he barely ever mentioned it this year. He didn’t bring it up in his convention speech, the debates or his acceptance speech. The 2008 Democratic platform promised a “personal” presidential “commitment” to Israeli-Palestinian peace. In 2012, that was taken out”.

Chrise Doy;e of the Council on Arab-British Relations wrote here that: “Received wisdom has always been that second term Presidents will be bolder. They do not have to face the electorate again. If Obama so chooses, he could certainly live up to this, as numerous challenges await him in his international affairs inbox. Much may depend on who he chooses as Secretary of State to replace Hilary Clinton – John Kerry and Susan Rice are in the mix … Obama may think twice before embarking on a direct confrontation. He blinked three times when clashing with Bibi over settlements. He will have to weigh up the pros- and-cons of trying to push for Israeli-Palestinian peace or keeping his distance. Given the limited prospects of genuine negotiations he may opt for the latter. His first test will be to react to any attempt by Mahmoud Abbas to seek non-member status for Palestine at the UN. My suspicion is that the US may still oppose but perhaps in not quite such a strident manner…”