The leader of Israel’s main opposition party, Labour chair Avi Gabbay, is currently making headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Yesterday, Gabbay told Israeli television that he opposed discussing the removal of even the most isolated illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The remarks came a day after Gabbay told a meeting of party activists that “the Arabs have to be afraid of us”. He added: “They fire one missile – you fire 20. That’s all they understand in the Middle East”. Read more
When Israeli opposition leader and Labour Party chairman Isaac Herzog published a plan for kick-starting the peace process last month, one of his stated goals was to “save the settlement blocs” – areas of the West Bank where Israel has built clusters of settlements, including larger towns.
Settlement blocs are often referred to by politicians and pundits alike, but there is no common understanding about precisely what the term means. Read more
A eulogy for the two-state solution? Maybe – but Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech Wednesday sounded suspiciously like yet another desperate attempt to sustain the so-called ‘peace process’.
It is only possible to understand the Security Council resolution and Kerry’s speech, how to view them – their weaknesses, and the opportunities they represent – by beginning with a reality check about the two-decade old, US and internationally-led peace process. Read more
Israeli newspaper Haaretz this week published minutes of a secret meeting between then-Israeli premier Menachem Begin and Shimon Peres, who was head of the opposition at the time. The discussions took place on 31 August 1978, ahead of Begin’s talks with Egypt’s leader Anwar Sadat at Camp David, the US presidential retreat.
For Haaretz, the minutes “lay bare the hawk that peacemaker Peres once was”. In fact, the document gives a valuable insight into what shaped Peres’s world view to the very end: settler colonial racism. Read more
The former deputy mayor of Jerusalem had a stark warning for his American audience. Using official figures, Meron Benvenisti showed how the Israeli government had “proceeded methodically and effectively toward de facto annexation of the West Bank.” In terms of the West Bank’s “part in a solution” with the Palestinians, said Benvenisti, the time is “five minutes to midnight.”
Sounds pertinent? In fact, that speech was given 34 years ago, in 1982. Read more
Ever since the the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip began in 1967, successive Israeli governments have taken advantage of every opportunity at hand to increase the settlers’ population in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).
The illegality of Israel’s settlements has been affirmed by the United Nations Security Council, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, settlement policy is a war crime.
Aside from being a grave breach of international law—and, as Amnesty International has put it: “inherently discriminatory”—the settlements are also a substantial obstacle to the establishment of a viable, sovereign Palestinian State in the OPT. Read more
Writing in Middle East Eye last month, I noted remarks made by US Secretary of State John Kerry, where he described “the current situation” between Israel and the Palestinians as “simply not sustainable”. Last week, at the annual Saban Forum in Washington DC, Kerry repeated the warning.
Addressing an audience that included senior Israeli political and military figures, Kerry said “current trends including violence, settlement activity, demolitions, are imperilling the viability of a two-state solution”, and urged action “in order to prevent this untenable one-state reality from taking hold.” Read more
Speaking in Washington DC last week, US Secretary of State John Kerry described “the current situation” between Israel and the Palestinians as “simply not sustainable”.
The senior diplomat reaffirmed that his government sees a “two-state solution” as “the only viable alternative” to the status quo. “Anybody who thinks otherwise,” he added, “can measure what unitary looks like by just looking at what’s been occurring over the past few weeks.” Read more
In his speech to AIPAC last year, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu referred 18 times to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. A year on, and it is clear that for Bibi, BDS is the new public enemy number one. Denounced as an antisemitic “strategic threat,” the Palestinian-led, global campaign to pressure Israel into ending systematic rights violations is now very much in Tel Aviv’s cross-hairs.
Ironically, it is during Netanyahu’s time in office that BDS has made considerable headway. His ambiguity over Palestinian statehood (in public, veering between rejection and unreliable endorsement) is exacerbated by the unambiguous views of his hard-right ministers and coalition partners. Then there was the unprecedented bombardment of Gaza, also under Bibi’s watch, and a slew of anti-democratic, hyper-nationalist legislative initiatives. Read more