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Posts tagged ‘Netanyahu’

Will the two-state solution go the way of the defunct peace process?

In the last week, press reports have suggested that Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu is preparing to give a key speech on the peace process in the next few months, with many flagging up his planned visit to the US in May. Claims of an imminent bold proposal have been met with a good deal of scepticism, from both Palestinians and Netanyahu’s domestic political opponents. Analysts have described the talk of a new plan as a “trial balloon” and a “public relations exercise aimed first and foremost at Washington”.

Netanyahu’s new plan, should it materialise, is rumoured to be based on the “the establishment of a Palestinian state within temporary borders” as part of an “interim peace agreement with the Palestinian Authority”. Other reports have been even vaguer, claiming that Netanyahu is proposing “a phased approach to peacemaking”, but leaving it open if this includes temporary borders. Read more

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Crisis? What Crisis?: U.S.-Israel Relations and the Demise of the Peace Process

In September 2009, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ushered in a much-trumpeted “freeze” on West Bank settlement construction, as a supposed goodwill gesture to revive the defunct peace process. The freeze did not apply to Occupied East Jerusalem, territory which the government argues is part of the Israeli state and not subject to negotiation with the Palestinians. Even in the West Bank, however, the initiative was more a public relations ploy than a sign of changing Israeli policy. Explicitly intended to last a matter of months, the ‘freeze’ excluded both “2,500 housing units already under construction”, as well as “hundreds of new units” announced just prior to the start of the “freeze”. After the announcement, George Mitchell, the U.S. Special Envoy  to the Middle East, was dispatched on a trip described as “a final push to revive Middle East peace talks”. But the transparently disingenuous approach of the Netanyahu government meant that Mitchell’s mission to restart negotiations between Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who has overseen good relations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) on “security issues”, would be doomed to failure. Read more

Real reform in Israel is a distant prospect

Once again, issues like the settlement “freeze” are dominating the official peace process, ignoring not only core questions like Israel’s “matrix of control“, but also the status of Palestinian citizens of Israel. While the increasingly overt racism of Knesset members has got its fair share of headlines, other important developments have escaped scrutiny outside the region. Read more

Killing Israel’s peace process

Following on from Barack Obama’s speech in Cairo, this weekend it was the turn of Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu to stake out his vision for a way forward in the peace process with the Palestinians.

Ever since Netanyahu announced that he would be making an important speech, there had been plenty of speculation about its content. Netanyahu’s hard-right coalition allies desperately lobbied the PM to stick to his “principles” and some of them expressed confidence that the address would end up being satisfactory to their constituencies. The typical build-up spin was that Netanyahu was feeling “the heat” from both Washington and his rightwing government. Read more

What direction will Israel take now?

Three pieces of legislation proposed recently by members of Israel’s Knesset have been making headlines: banning the commemoration of the Nakba; introducing a mandatory ‘loyalty oath’ to the Zionist state; and criminalising public declarations of opposition to Israel being a ‘Jewish state’.

None of these efforts may actually become law – the loyalty oath has already been voted down by the cabinet’s law committee. The Nakba bill though has now been tweaked, so that rather than straightforwardly outlawing any events, there will be economic sanctions for the local authorities and organisations involved. Read more

Peace in our time?

Recently, and in the last week in particular, there has been a flurry of speculation in the Arab and western media about changes afoot in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and in particular, how the US intends to engage with the conflict and the region as a whole. If the reports and analysis are to be believed, something is shifting, and the various players are staking out their positions in the changing landscape.

One of the main questions being asked is whether the US and Israeli administrations are heading for a conflict. Many answer in the affirmative, including the Guardian’s Simon Tisdall, who yesterday wrote that Israel is “under siege” as PM Netanyahu heads for “showdown talks” with Obama on 18 May. Other commentators have also perceived a “widening rift between the U.S. and Israeli governments”. Read more

Economy first in Palestine?

With Israeli domestic politics focused on the election early next year, the various players are busy manoeuvring themselves into positions they feel will count in their favour come voting day, including Likud’s strong contender, Binyamin Netanyahu.

On Sunday, Netanyahu repeated his belief that the best way forward with regard to Israeli-Palestinian peace was to prioritise helping the Palestinian economy from the bottom up. Insisting this was not an “alternative” to negotiations, ‘Bibi’ argued that “economic prosperity significantly reduces terror and the foundations of war”. Read more