Palestinians wait for the release of prisoners from Israeli jails, near Erez crossing between Israel and northern Gaza Strip, Oct. 30, 2013. (photo by REUTERS/Mohammed Salem)
One of the problems of political negotiations without a clear reference point is that the parties, especially the stronger party, can change the rules of the game at will. And the absence of a neutral referee on the field allows such a strong party to get away with regularly moving the goal posts.
This is exactly what is happening in the Palestinian-Israeli talks. It began with the Israelis refusing to accept the principle of the 1967 borders and suspend settlement expansion as a reference point, and continued with Israeli negotiators banning US officials from entering the negotiation room.
Palestinians and Israelis have agreed to keep the talks going for nine months. For Israel, talks could go on for nine years as long as the talks masqueraded their continued occupation, but for Palestinians, this meant talking while Israel continued to take away Palestinian lands intended for the future Palestinian state.
The agreement by Israel to release pre-Oslo prisoners in four stages during the nine-month period sealed Israel’s assurance that Palestinian negotiators would not walk out of the talks for any reason whatsoever. Even though the prisoner release was a previous Israeli commitment in the 1999 Sharm el-Sheikh Agreement, the Palestinian side also agreed not to pursue any further UN membership attempts during the nine-month negotiations period.
At the time of the agreement, Palestinian legislator and nonviolent leader Mustafa Barghouti predicted that succumbing to Israeli demands amounted to the potential of Israeli political blackmail. This turned out to be a true prophesy. Whether as part of a secret deal or not, Israel implemented further settlements on the very day that they agreed to release the ageing Palestinian prisoners.
By dividing the release of the 104 prisoners into four stages, the last of which would be at the end of the nine-month period, Israel has ensured the neutralization of the Palestinians’ only significant negotiating weapon, that of walking out of the talks.
While Palestinians badly want the talks to succeed, they find themselves trapped in an unenviable position: If they walk out, the remaining prisoners would not be released; if they stay in the talks, Israel could both claim to be involved in peace talks while at the same time carry out acts that are in violation of international law.
This is where the need for US officials to be listening in on what happens inside the negotiating room would have been important. But alas, even this rather neutral and innocuous request from the sole sponsor of the peace talks was also taken away from the Palestinians, thus allowing Israel to get away with doing nothing of substance in the talks while claiming that they are involved in peace negotiations.
While the actual discussions are held in secret, much can be deduced from public statements. A simple look at where the talks began and what has been publicly stated in recent days shows a clear retraction. The world was told Israel’s prime minister had agreed in principle to the two-state solution and the proof of this agreement was Benjamin Netanyahu’s conditional acceptance as stated in his Bar Ilan speech.
His two conditions at the time were that Palestine be demilitarized and that Palestinians publicly accept that Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people. While the first condition violates the sovereign rights of any independent country, some in Palestine were not opposed to it, the other condition was much more difficult, for it violated Palestinian relations with fellow Palestinians who are citizens of Israel.
When the talks began, both sides agreed that the talks would include all permanent status issues such as borders, Jerusalem and refugees. However, as the talks progressed, the Israelis have recanted on their own commitments. Within a period of one week and possibly in preparation for the visit of US Secretary of State John Kerry, Netanyahu publicly opposed any talks on Jerusalem or refugees. At the outset of the Israeli cabinet meeting he stated: “We ascribe importance to the unity of Jerusalem and, of course, to the cancellation of the right of return.”
Two days before Kerry’s arrival, Netanyahu shocked Palestinians and Americans by ordering the construction of a wall on the Jordan Valley, thus destroying any possibility of an independent and contiguous Palestinian state with open borders with its Jordanian neighbor.
If Palestinians cannot talk about the right of return and Jerusalem, what is the meaning of agreeing early on to include them in the core issues to be negotiated? And if there is an Israeli-built and controlled wall on the Jordan Valley, what is the use of even discussing borders and the idea of a separate Palestinian state? A wall on the Jordan Valley will significantly decrease Palestinian support for the two-state solution and move people more toward the concept of the one-state solution, where all people between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea require equal rights in a single democratic state.
The release of the second stage of prisoners has exploded the very essence of serious peace talks that aim to find a reasonable solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. The American sponsors, who have refused to allow any other side to intervene and have claimed to be honest brokers, have to ensure that the rules of the game are honored and that the goal posts are not changed by the side with the military advantage
The US Treasury added three top Hezbollah figures to its list of sanctioned individuals on Tuesday, including two members of the Lebanese Parliament and a security official responsible for coordinating between Hezbollah and Lebanon’s security agencies.
It was the first time the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control had designated a member of Lebanon’s Parliament under a sanctions list that targets those accused by Washington of providing support to terrorist organizations. Washington has designated Hezbollah as a terrorist group.
South African fans in Cairo celebrating their team’s win over Egypt at the African Cup of Nations. Photo: Reuters / Sumaya Hisham.
Three days after South Africa stunned the world of international soccer by knocking hosts Egypt out of the 2019 African Cup of Nations, the sound of elation remains clearly detectable in the voice of the team’s Jewish midfielder, Dean Furman.
“It was a fantastic victory, just fantastic,” Furman told The Algemeiner during a break in training on Tuesday, as South Africa prepared for its crucial quarterfinal game against Nigeria, another of the continent’s toughest sides, tomorrow.
Pieter van Oordt, left, with his brother, Roger, at the Israel
For the second time in recent history, a Dutch Christian organization dedicated to supporting Israel has gone head-to-head with the government. With their family tradition of belief in Israel that preceded the state of Israel by almost one hundred years, it seems unlikely that the van Oordts are about to back down, no matter what the odds.
Last month, the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy made a request from the management of the Israel Products Center (IPC) to ensure they were in compliance with regulations adopted in 2015 by the European Commission requiring products made by Jewish owned companies in Judea, Samaria, the Golan Heights, and sections of Jerusalem to be labeled in a manner indicating their origins.
Studies have shown that dairy cows contribute large amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, caused by the organisms living in their microbiomes.
Genetically modifying cows may help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and feed world populations, a new study led by Prof. Itzhak Mizrahi of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev suggests.
“Our findings are both a major breakthrough for basic science and will have a positive impact on two major challenges facing the international community for the foreseeable future: climate change and food security,” Mizrahi said.
The decision by IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi to promote Brig. Gen. Ofer Winter reflects his future political aspirations.
Incoming Israeli Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi walks out at the end of a handover ceremony where he replaces Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, Israel, Jan. 15, 2019.
Israel has its own version of Napoleon’s famous saying, “Every soldier carries a marshal’s baton in his pack.” In these parts, every general carries a prime minister’s baton — or at least that of a defense minister — in his pack
As Islamist Watch has pointed out many times before, Islam is enormously diverse – containing many competing schools of theology, schools of jurisprudence, sects, ethnicities, cultures and mysticisms. Islamism is also not a single force; it comprises dozens of (both) competing and collaborating radical ideologies.
One of the most intriguing divisions, then, within both American Islam and Islamism of late has been growing dissent over the question of liberalism.
Right after Trump’s inauguration, I ran an article about how incredibly fake the news coverage was about his inauguration. (Those reading my site know I’m not a big Trump fan, but credit where credit is due and calling fake where calling fake is due.) The media was nothing short of spectacularly fake in the news it contrived that week on CNN, the New York Times and the other major fake media, and they mostly got away with it.
It wasn’t condescension or contempt. Recent remarks by former Mossad head Shabtai Shavit reek of racism. That is the proper way to frame them, calling them anything else is letting him off easy. In its classic, formal sense, racism is when a certain social sector perceives itself as superior because of clear racial criteria. Shavit represents an updated version of racism that doesn’t require ethnicity or religion as proof of a defect – you can call it “essential racism.”
Little Napoleon Barak is going to save Israeli Democracy? What a bunch of claptrap Orwellian doublespeak.
Well let’s check out history. How well did the original Napoleon save France’s democratic revolution against the monarchy?
Hmm, if I recall he crowned himself emperor!
For years, the pundits have been telling us that Israeli democracy is in danger because of the Arab birthrate, or because of the Jewish nation-state law, or because of the debates over the powers of Israel’s High Court.
I wonder if they will recognize the danger posed by the 10 left-wing American Jewish organizations that have formed a new umbrella organization, the essential purpose of which is to undermine Israeli democracy.