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Palestine II (Hamasstan):


Posted on on May 9th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (



As reported by Matthew Russell Lee from the UN, it seems that there is a Russian-American agreement to let Assad of Syria continue to fight his opposition as it seems that the Qatar, Arab Sunni proposal,leads to an Al-Qaeda domination in a post-Syria configuration. This might be what some Arab States want to happen, but it is totally unacceptable to the US and other States. Syria is doomed one way or another, and the new reality is that the US will not waste more energy on playing along Arab lines.


UNITED NATIONS, May 9 — On the pending Syria UN General Assembly resolution drafted by Qatar, Russia’s Permanent Representative Vitaly Churkin has now written to all member states, opposing the resolution on procedure, substance and on the May 7 announcement by Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov and US Secretary of State Kerry.


Inner City Press has obtained a copy of Russia’s letter and puts it online, here.


Please see Lavrov’s letter and realize that Syria is being moved to the backburners – even though it is clear that people will continue to be killed or driven into exile. No solution in Syria is now also clear reason for not pushing a Palestinian resolution either – all what we expect now is lot of empty noise.



Posted on on May 9th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

The Return of the Jordan Option
For Palestine.

Vehicles drive toward the Allenby Bridge Crossing July 9, 2009. The Israeli-controlled terminal leading to the Allenby Bridge across the Jordan River is the West Bank’s only land link to the Arab world. (photo by REUTERS/Ammar Awad )
By: Geoffrey Aronson for Al-Monitor Posted on May 8. 2013

A recent visitor to Amman reports some senior Jordanians declaring openly that “there never was a place called Palestine. There is no such thing as Palestine, only Jordan.” Such sentiments, while still a minority view, mark a sea change in the long-standing Jordanian deference to the PLO on developments west of the Jordan River. According to one Palestinian, such views are being encouraged by some voices in Fatah, who fear Hamas’ baton more than Amman’s reluctant embrace, and who no doubt believe, as many veterans in Fatah do, that all it will take to turn Jordan into Palestine is a Palestinian decision to do so.

“Jordan is Palestine” is the mirror image of  “Palestine is Jordan.” Jordanians identified with the latter are not contemplating a confederal agreement between respective Jordanian and and Palestinian states, but rather the restoration of Jordan’s uncontested place in Jerusalem and the West Bank on the eve of the June 1967 war.

The ruler of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is not to be envied. History and geography have played a cruel trick on the leader of this unlikely country. He is squeezed between more powerful and often warring parties, presiding over a population of subjects thrown together by war and circumstance.To its credit, Jordan has succeeded more often than it has failed to construct a popular and workable, if fragile sense of national identity shared by disparate Palestinian and Transjordanian communities during the last nine decades. However, the self-immolation of Syria, Fatah’s failure to end Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the uncertain promise of the Arab Spring are posing new and unprecedented challenges for King Abdullah II, whose head lies ever uneasy on the royal throne.

The feasting on the corpse that was once Syria poses the most immediate challenge to Jordan, and it was at the heart of recent discussions during the King’s recent visit to Washington in the last week of April. But Jordan’s cascading problem managing the fallout from Syria complements the more essential challenge that has always been uppermost in the mind of Jordan’s political elite as well as its growing Islamic opposition. This challenge, of course, relates to the Palestinian dimension of Jordan’s national identity, and the King’s ability to manage this without his Hashemite or Transjordanian identity suffering as a consequence.

It is against Jordan’s basic nature to make precipitous moves in any direction, yet a dynamic trend favoring a “New Look” in Jordan’s Palestine policy — one that is viewed sympathetically in both Jerusalem and Washington — is hard to ignore.

For many years now Jordan has been confronting a most unwelcome strategic environment to its west, across the Jordan River. Fatah has failed to end Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the growing power of Hamas as a political factor has proceeded in tandem. Fatah is no friend of Jordan, where memories of Black September remain etched in the consciousness of the Jordanian elite. But Jordan long ago was forced by its own failures and by circumstances beyond its control to make its peace with the PLO, not only as the recognized representative of the Palestinian people — at least those residing east of the Jordan River —- but also as a strategic buffer against Israeli, American and Islamic/Arab claims against Amman. The PLO, notably after King Hussein’s 1988 disengagement from the West Bank, became Jordan’s insurance policy against the imposition of a solution at Jordan’s expense to Palestine’s problems in West Bank and Gaza Strip.

To Jordan’s dismay, it is being forced to realize that Fatah and the PLO it embodies cannot perform this task. This conclusion has been debated from time to time in recent years. The barometer of these discussions is Amman’s on-again, off-again dance with Khaled Meshaal and Hamas, most notably the 2009 thaw in relations engineered by Gen. Mohammad Dhahabi, who was at the time head of Jordan’s General Intelligence Department. If Fatah cannot be a Palestinian shield protecting Jordanian interests in a quiescent West Bank, it is argued, then perhaps Hamas should be given a go.

The other option, and the one today at the center of Jordan’s agenda, suggests a fundamental rethinking of Jordan’s exit from the West Bank that began with King Hussein’s failure in 1972 to reach an agreement on Israeli withdrawal with Moshe Dayan and that gained momentum with the Arab League decision to recognize the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people in 1974.  Like Jordan’s unenthusiastic turn in Hamas’ direction, this option reflects Jordan’s despair at Fatah’s failure and is a hedge against Fatah’s capitulation to Israel in a deal that would endanger Jordan’s interest in preventing an influx of Palestinians eastward across the Jordan River.

One example of this trend is the “historic,” if precipitous, agreement between King Abdullah and PLO head Mahmoud Abbas in March confirming the Jordanian king’s stewardship of the holy places in Jerusalem.

“In this historic agreement, Abbas reiterated that the king is the custodian of holy sites in Jerusalem and that he has the right to exert all legal efforts to preserve them, especially Al-Aqsa mosque,” the palace said in a statement. Abbas said that the agreement confirmed “Jordan’s role since the era of the late King Hussein” and that it consolidated agreements established decades ago.

Abbas’ signature marks the first formal Palestinian recognition of Jordan’s central role in Jerusalem and it complements the understanding detailed in Jordan’s treaty with Israel in 1994. The treaty notes that “Israel respects the present special role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in Muslim Holy shrines in Jerusalem. When negotiations on the permanent status will take place, Israel will give high priority to the Jordanian historic role in these shrines.”

Abbas’ interest in formalizing Jordan’s role is a function of Palestinian weakness and stands in ironic contrast to the nominal, and apparently symbolic boost for sovereignty won at the UN last November.

The understanding on Jerusalem reflects the PLO’s interest in Amman as a diplomatic safe harbor, protecting against both Hamas and Israel, and Amman’s readiness to reaffirm its interest in Jerusalem at the PLO’s (and Hamas’) expense.

These interests are not inconsistent with the evolving diplomatic strategy being pursued by US Secretary of State John Kerry. For more than a year, Amman has been a key way station of Washington’s diplomacy, much to the dismay of some in Egypt who preside over long-stalled reconciliation efforts. But unlike President Mohammad Morsi, King Abdullah is interested in being identified with any American effort. Even if opposed to the ideas Kerry is now circulating, Jordan has rarely viewed itself as in a position to reject US efforts.

“Palestine is Jordan” has long been the rallying cry of Israel’s right wing. It is now finding an uncertain echo in Jordan.

Geoffrey Aronson has long been active in Track II diplomatic efforts on various Middle East issues. He writes widely on regional affairs.


Jordan hails US-Russia plans for Syria peace conference

Jordan’s Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, meeting with US Secretary of state John Kerry in Rome Thursday, threw his support behind the US-Russian call for a Syria peace conference later this month. With over 500,000 Syrian refugees and 2,000 more coming every day, Jordan’s envoy said it’s imperative that a transition get underway to a political resolution that preserves Syria’s multi-ethnic society and borders.

“We are extremely encouraged by the results of the Secretary’s meetings in Moscow with the President and with the Foreign Minister and salute your achievements in that regard by identifying a path forward,” Judeh said at a meeting with Kerry at the US ambassador’s residence in Rome Thursday.

Jordan’s position, Judeh said, is that there “has to be a transitional period that results in a political solution that includes all the segments of Syrian society, no exclusion whatsoever…preserves Syria’s territorial integrity and unity, and…guarantees… pluralism and opportunity for everybody.”

Judeh said he was heading to Moscow Thursday for further discussions.  On Tuesday, Judeh issued a joint call  with Iran’s visiting Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi for both sides in Syria’s civil war to enter talks on a transition government.

Kerry, on the final leg of a trip to Moscow and Rome, said Thursday that he had sent US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford on to Istanbul to meet with the Syrian opposition and begin work to persuade them to come to the peace conference. They have expressed misgivings because it would get underway before any agreement on the departure of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, although US officials insist US policy hasn’t changed and that they do not see any possibility where Assad could remain the leader of Syria.

“The specific work of this next conference will be to bring representatives of the government and the opposition together to determine how we can fully implement the means of the [Geneva] communique, understanding that the communique’s language specifically says that the Government of Syria and the opposition have to put together, by mutual consent, the parties that will then become the transitional government itself,” Kerry said at a meeting with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow on Tuesday.

Washington and Moscow actually have common ground on Syria, except for the issue of the sequencing of the transition, Russian foreign affairs analyst Fyodor Lukyanov wrote  for Al-Monitor Thursday.

“We can say that Russia and the US differ today on only one issue: the sequence of actions,” Lukyanov wrote. “First Assad leaves, then the process of establishing a new political regime in Syria begins, or the other way around. Moscow supports the second version, and Washington the first. As strange as it seems, they are in agreement on everything else: After Assad, there is a risk that Syria will become ungovernable, and the goal of outside forces… is to prevent power from falling into the hands of Islamic extremists.”


How the Arab League Can Help
Israel, Palestine Negotiate

US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) shakes hands with Qatar’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani as they meet with members of the Arab League at Blair House in Washington April 29, 2013. (photo by REUTERS/Jason Reed)

The April 29 meeting between US Secretary of State John Kerry and an Arab League ministerial delegation of the Arab Peace Initiative (API) follow-up committee carried a double message.

The first was the United States’ willingness to seriously explore the possibility of resuming negotiations with the aim of ending the Palestinian-Israeli conflict after visits to the region by President Barack Obama and the secretary of state.

Skeptics worry that a division of labor decided by the US president, whereby he focuses on Asia while leaving the Arab-Israeli conflict to his secretary of state, is not very promising, despite the commitment and personality of the latter.

The second message is that Arabs have been waiting for a willingness to dust off the API, as I have previously argued here, and put it on their agenda with the United States. They are showing a readiness to invest in the Palestinian issue at this critical moment in Syria. The meeting should be the beginning of a process that would also involve intensive US-Israeli contacts and other concerned parties in serious negotiations. Such negotiations should be conducted on a basis different from those that have failed to produce results for two decades.

Yet the Arab willingness to accept the principle of territorial swaps — limited as well as symmetrical in terms of area and quality — was seen by others in the United States and Israel conversely: something to precede the negotiations, or to be addressed separately from the basic issue, which is Israel’s acceptance of the June 1967 borders in conformity with UN Security Council Resolution 242.

Indeed, this resolution should be the basis for a settlement of the conflict and of a resolution of the occupation. The Palestinians have indicated many times their acceptance of minor adjustments to the borders of 1967 — adjustments that will be considered only in the context of negotiations for the two-state solution, not before.

Israel must formally accept the 1967 borders instead of engaging continuously in diplomatic acrobatics over the version of the Resolution 242 in which there is an omission of the word “the” before “territories.” Israel’s aim is to suggest that it does not have to withdraw from all the occupied territories and to legitimize its occupation of the territories it wants to annex. Yet the preamble of the resolution clearly states the inadmissibility of territorial acquisition by means of war, thus invalidating the Israeli argument. Minor, symmetrical adjustments are an integrated part and facilitator of that deal, well defined according to Resolution 242. This does not allow for an unknown offer to be made by Israel.

It is equally important that Israel cease all settlement activity, which Obama mildly criticized during his visit as detrimental to the process. Indeed, they represent a real danger to a peaceful resolution because they systematically destroy any possibility of creating a viable Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders.

Also, suggesting Arab normalization with Israel as an encouraging gesture toward Israel, a free gift, further complicates matters. The focus must be on the United States and other third parties committed to peace in the Middle East and aware of the dangers of inaction to spell out the guidelines for reaching peace.

These guidelines are found in relevant UN resolutions and earlier agreements. These third parties should stand firmly by these guidelines. This is how the United States, a third party, could make the serious resumption of negotiations on the basis of a clear timetable and not mere discussion. The aim is to reach a comprehensive peace that includes normalization, as is clearly stated in the API, without amendment, despite what some have insinuated.

It is worth noting that amending the API necessitates a resolution by an Arab Summit, a matter that is neither on the collective Arab agenda nor on the agenda of the delegation. It is needless to revive once more, under different names, interim solutions that will take us nowhere but to further crisis and result in more conflicts.

Ambassador Nassif Hitti is a senior Arab League official and the former head of the Arab League Mission in Paris. He is a former representative to UNESCO and a member of the Al-Monitor board of directors. The views he presents here are his alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of these organizations.


Posted on on May 3rd, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (


The Arab League offers an improved proposal for peace in the Middle East, a welcome announcement.

One Step Forward

Published – The New York Times on-line: May 2, 2013 2 Comments

In any discussion of a negotiated peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, a crucial question involves what the Arab states would do.
On Tuesday, the Arab League reaffirmed its 2002 peace initiative and suggested that the proposal could be modified to bring it more in line with American and Israeli ideas.

The welcome announcement could be very significant. Arab leaders deserve credit for reviving the initiative, as does Secretary of State John Kerry for trying to reinvigorate some kind of Israeli-Palestinian dialogue. Mr. Kerry, calling the move a “very big step forward,” said it meant Arab leaders were offering a security arrangement for the region.

The Arab League initiative, approved by all Arab states but rejected by Israel 11 years ago, endorses a two-state solution while promising peace and normalization in exchange for Israel’s withdrawal from the West Bank and East Jerusalem and a “just solution” to the Palestinian refugees issue.

After a meeting on Monday with Mr. Kerry and Vice President Joseph Biden Jr., Qatar’s foreign minister said the league had eased its demand that Israel return to its pre-1967 borders. Instead, the minister accepted the possibility of adjusting those borders with a comparable and mutually agreed “minor swap of land.” Israelis and Palestinians were close to a deal along these lines in 2008.

If there is ever to be a peace deal, Israelis will have to be persuaded that the Arab states, not just the Palestinians, accept their right to exist. And Palestinians will need to feel that the Arab states are behind them.

This is the first hopeful sign in a long time. But it soon ran into trouble from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel who reacted coolly on Wednesday and questioned the fundamental idea of exchanging land for peace. “The root of the conflict isn’t territorial,” he told Israeli diplomats. “The Palestinians’ failure to accept the State of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people is the root of the conflict.”

On Thursday, he said any peace deal would be put to a referendum, which some experts say could be an obstacle. However, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Mr. Netanyahu’s peace negotiator, welcomed the Arab proposal, as did Ehud Olmert, the former prime minister, and other opposition politicians.

“Mideast peace” has become a throwaway line. But that goal is unquestionably the right course for the Israelis, Palestinians and an increasingly unstable region. Arab leaders, after standing on the sidelines for too long, have made a contribution by giving the two sides something to talk about. Now it’s up to the Israelis and Palestinians, working with the United States, to take it forward.


Arab Peace Initiative, take 2: Major development or ‘scam’?

  • Thursday, May 2, 2013
  • Iyyar 22, 5773

Could the amended formula for a two-state solution yield a breakthrough?
The consensual answer seems to be, ‘Maybe, but…’

By May 1, 2013, 9:16 pm 9
US Secretary of State John Kerry with Qatar's Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al-Thani, second from left, and Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby, April 29, 2013 (photo credit: AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

US Secretary of State John Kerry with Qatar’s Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al-Thani, second from left, and Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby, April 29, 2013 (photo credit: AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

In 2002, then-prime minister Ariel Sharon tasked his foreign policy adviser, Danny Ayalon, with further exploring the idea of the Arab League’s new peace initiative.

“He sent me to find out if the Saudis were serious,” Ayalon recalled recently, adding that he tried to arrange, through middlemen, a meeting with Adel Jubeir, an adviser to then-crown prince (now King) Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. Earlier that year, Abdullah had proposed the plan, which seemed to offer Israel normalized relations with the Arab world in exchange for territorial concessions, a formula for handling Palestinian refugee claims and the establishment of a Palestinian state.

“We almost met in a restaurant in Washington and at the last minute he didn’t want to meet,” Ayalon said of Jubeir. “We promised it would be under the radar, it would be very low-profile.” The Saudis reneged on the scheduled meeting, and the rest is history — Israel never formally responded to the offer.

Ayalon, who served as deputy foreign minister until earlier this year, said Jerusalem never warmed to the proposal because it was presented on a take-it-or-leave-it basis, with no room for discussions. However, he said in early March, it could serve “as a basis for negotiations in the future, when conditions are much clearer here.”

Two months later, it is harder to argue that the peace initiative’s terms are written in stone. On Monday, the Arab League — which formally adopted the proposal at a March 2002 summit in Beirut — for the first time showed some flexibility in allowing that, to reach a final settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, “comparable,” mutually agreed and “minor” land swaps could be possible.

After both Israeli and Palestinian leaders signaled a certain satisfaction with the Arab League’s move, it seems that a renewal of peace talks may be imminent. But would such talks actually stand a chance? Is the fact that the Arab League now seems to have wrapped its mind around the idea that Israel will never agree to fully withdraw to the 1967 lines enough to enable a breakthrough?

‘In a way, it puts the ball in Israel’s court. It is really now going to be up to Israel to respond to this in some way’

After all, the idea of mutually agreed land swaps has been around for more than a decade, and has been accepted, to varying degrees, by all parties involved. Also, the Saudi-inspired peace initiative asks for more than an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank; some of its demands are ostensible nonstarters for Israel’s newly elected government, such as returning to Golan Heights and dividing Jerusalem.

Still, “this is a significant development in several areas,” said Middle East expert and historian Joshua Teitelbaum. “In a way, it puts the ball in Israel’s court. It is really now going to be up to Israel to respond to this in some way, either through an initiative of its own or beginning to explore the peace process based on the positive aspects of the Arab initiative.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tacitly welcomed the steps to advance the peace process taken by the Arab League. “Israel is ready to start negotiations — anytime, anywhere — without any preconditions,” an Israeli official told The Times of Israel Wednesday. Israeli politicians from the left and the center, ranging from opposition leader Shelly Yachimovich (Labor) to cabinet members such as Minister Yaakov Peri (Yesh Atid), were pleased with the renewed initiative and urged the government to see it as a real opportunity to advance the peace process.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, who hosted the Arab League delegation in Washington that announced its softened stance on the 67 lines, sounded even more optimistic. While the path to a peace agreement was still long, “I don’t think you can underestimate… the significance of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, [United] Arab Emirates, the Egyptians, the Jordanians, and others coming to the table and saying, ‘We are prepared to make peace now in 2013,’” he said.

Teitelbaum, a senior researcher at Bar-Ilan University’s Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, assessed that “chances are not good” for the current government to reach a final-status agreement based solely on the Arab League’s slightly more flexible stance. Yet he called on Jerusalem not let this opening go unnoticed in Arab capitals.

“At times, Israel needs to acknowledge when there’s flexibility on the other end,” he said. “For many years it was a take-it-or-leave-it proposal, and now it’s not anymore. Now they accepted some language that is not entirely objectionable to Israel and many aspects of this peace initiative are acceptable to Israel.”

The author of a comprehensive paper about Israel’s position regarding the Arab peace initiative, Teitelbaum said that despite this week’s modification, there are still many gaps between the Arab and Israeli positions that might prove difficult to bridge.

“There are some nonstarters; they are very difficult and they’re not going away,” noted Teitelbaum, who also serves as consultant for several US and Israeli government agencies. “The question is, tactically, should Israel answer in the positive and say that we have objections to the peace initiative but since now the Arab League has shown some flexibility we will be willing to discuss it in an acceptable forum? That would go a long way toward positioning Israel as a state that is pursuing peace. And it would improve our relations with the United States. It could be a very positive development.”

Netanyahu, Obama and Abbas during a meeting in New York in 2009 (photo credit: Avi Ohayon/GPO/Flash90)Netanyahu, Obama and Abbas during a meeting in New York in 2009 (photo credit: Avi Ohayon/GPO/Flash90)

Gershon Baskin, the co-chairman and founder of the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information, concurred.

“Israel has complained that the Arab peace initiative doesn’t take into account changes that have happened on the ground since 1967,” he said. “In agreeing to the principle of territorial swaps, they have in fact adopted what was the position of George W. Bush in his famous letter to Ariel Sharon.”

In April of 2004, the former US president wrote to the Israeli leader that “in light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949.” Rather, Bush wrote, it is “realistic to expect” that a peace agreement will be on “the basis of mutually agreed changes that reflect these realities.”

Already back in 2000, then-US president Bill Clinton spoke of a “land swap,” in what came to be known as the “Clinton parameters.” At the time, Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak accepted the proposal, albeit with certain reservations. The idea of annexing the settlement blocs to Israel and offering the Palestinians territory from Israel proper in return has since been cited countless times as a model to arrive at a two-state solution.

“We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps,” US President Barack Obama declared in May 2011. This proposition has been accepted, in principle, by both Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and the previous Israeli government under Ehud Olmert. (Netanyahu’s idea of a two-state solution remains unclear.)

So if territorial swaps are a generally agreed-upon concept, is the Arab League’s acceptance of it really such a big deal?

It is, said Akiva Eldar, a veteran Israeli reporter on the peace process. “Up until now, the Americans paid lip service to the Arab Peace Initiative, and Obama mentioned it in his speeches, but there weren’t any official diplomatic contacts to move the process from a bilateral level to a regional peace initiative that also involves the Arab countries,” he said.

“It’s a formal upgrade,” Eldar added. “Up until now, the idea of land swaps was merely an ‘oral tradition.’ Now, the Arab states authorized [Abbas] to reach an agreement that’s based on the Clinton parameters, the road map proposed by the Middle East Quartet, and previous agreements.

It is also important to note that the Arab League’s overture comes at a time of regional upheaval, said Eldar, who wrote for many years for Haaretz and is now a senior columnist at Al Monitor. Despite, or maybe because of, worries about Syria falling apart and Iran heading toward a nuclear weapon, the Arab League is willing to soften its stance vis-a-vis the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A general view of the Arab League summit in Doha, Qatar, Tuesday, March 26 (photo credit: AP/Ghiath Mohamad)A general view of the Arab League summit in Doha, Qatar, Tuesday, March 26 (photo credit: AP/Ghiath Mohamad)

Even Egypt, which is ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood, supports the adjustment of the 2002 peace offer, Eldar pointed out. “The initiative contains the words ‘normal relations’ [with Israel], which is very hard for an Islamist state to accept, but these words are still there. It’s very significant that today they can talk about this. And it also isolates Hamas, which is not ready to recognize Israel’s right to exist,” he said.

Still, despite the ostensible rapprochement, some pundits don’t see how the mere acceptance of land swaps could help reach a genuine breakthrough.

Barry Rubin, director of the Herzliya-based Global Research in International Affairs Center, thinks the Arab peace initiative is “both a good thing and a scam.” While he agrees that the Gulf States are ready to consider ending the conflict with Israel, partly because they are afraid of Iran and could use good publicity in the West, there are a number of issues he thinks will make peace on the Arab League’s terms impossible.

First of all, Rubin doubts that all countries which signed on to the initiative really mean it. “Are we to believe that the Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt, the Hezbollah-dominated regime in Lebanon, and the quirky but pro-Hamas and pro-Muslim Brotherhood regime in Qatar have suddenly reversed everything that they have been saying in order to seek a compromise peace with Israel? Highly doubtful to say the least,” he wrote.

Rubin also points to several provisions in the text of the Arab Peace Initiative that were hardly mentioned in the media coverage this week, and that in his view will kill any prospects of a deal. For instance, the initiative calls for a “just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem,” which he understands to mean that Israel would have to accept “the immigration of hundreds of thousands of passionately anti-Israel Palestinians” within its borders.

However, Israeli proponents of the initiative point to a clause in the draft that states that any solution to the refugee question needs “to be agreed upon,” meaning that Israel will have a definitive say in the number of Palestinians who would enter its territory.

The Arab League initiative also contains several other possible deal-breakers: a demand to make East Jerusalem the capital of a future Palestinian state; a provision allowing Arab states to refuse to take in Palestinian refugees; and a call for Israel to return the Golan Heights to Syria. To whom should Israel give the Golan?, some analysts wonder: Syria is deeply embattled in a bloody civil war, with no side willing — or able — to sign, much less honor, an agreement with Israel.

Yet more optimistic pundits say that none of the issues is unsolvable. With regards to Syria, the Arab League is willing to leave a seat empty for Syria, suggested Eldar, just like Jews do for the Prophet Elijah on seder night.

“Even the Arabs understand that now is not the time; they are not expecting Israel to return to the 1967 lines in the Golan. They are rational enough to know there is no one with whom to conduct negotiations. But it leaves an opening for the moment there is a proper government in Syria,” he said.

The division of Jerusalem is another key element of the Arab Peace Initiative that will likely prevent the current government from accepting it as the basis for peace talks.

Yair Lapid, leader of the Yesh Atid political party, seen embracing Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett in the Knesset, February, 2013. (photo credit: Miriam Alster/FLASH90)Yair Lapid, leader of the Yesh Atid political party, seen embracing Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett in the Knesset, February, 2013. (photo credit: Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

Netanyahu is a staunch opponent of any plan that would divide the city. So are the two key allies in his coalition — centrist Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, of the right-wing Jewish Home party.

“I’ve been saying and writing for a long time that there is an Arab partner but there is no Israeli partner,” Eldar said. The only way for the current government to endorse the peace plan is for Lapid “to wake up and realize the potential he has,” he added. “He could bring down the government. But I don’t believe that will happen.”

Baskin, who two years ago initiated the secret back channel between Israel and Hamas that led to the release of Gilad Shalit, believes that a final-status agreement is possible — even with the current government. In the past, more than one Israeli leader pledged never to touch Jerusalem, only to later conduct serious negotiations about its division, he said. “Peace negotiations have a dynamic of their own.”

amd from Uri Avnery:

Uri Avnery

May 4, 2013


                                                No, We Can’t!



AN AMBASSADOR is an honest man sent abroad to lie for the good of his country, a British statesman famously wrote some 400 years ago. That is true, of course, for all diplomats.


The question is whether the diplomat lies only to others, or also to himself.


I am asking this these days when I follow the arduous efforts of John Kerry, the new American foreign secretary, to jump-start the Israeli-Arab “peace process”.


Kerry seems to be an honest man. A serious man. A patient man. But does he really believe that his endeavors will lead anywhere?



TRUE, THIS week Kerry did achieve a remarkable success.


A delegation of Arab foreign ministers, including the Palestinian, met with him in Washington. They were led by the Qatari prime minister – a relative of the Emir, of course – whose country is assuming a more and more prominent role in the Arab world.


At the meeting, the ministers emphasized that the Arab Peace Initiative is still valid.


This initiative, forged 10 years ago by the then Saudi Crown Prince (and present King) Abdullah, was endorsed by the entire Arab League in the March 2002 Summit Conference in Beirut. Yasser Arafat could not attend, because Prime Minister Ariel Sharon announced that if he left the country, he would not be allowed to return. But Arafat officially accepted the initiative.


It will be remembered that soon after the 1967 war, the Arab Summit Conference in Khartoum promulgated the Three Noes: No peace with Israel, No recognition of Israel, No negotiations with Israel. The new initiative was a total reversal of that resolution, which was born out of humiliation and despair.


The Saudi initiative was reaffirmed unanimously in the 2007 Summit Conference in Riyadh. All Arab rulers attended, including Mahmoud Abbas of Palestine who voted in favor, excluding only Muammar Gaddafi of Libya.


The initiative says unequivocally that all Arab countries would announce the end of the Arab-Israeli conflict, sign peace treaties with Israel, and institute normal relations with Israel. In return, Israel would withdraw to the June 4, 1967 border (the Green Line). The State of Palestine, with its capital in East Jerusalem, would be established. The refugee problem would be solved by agreement (meaning agreement with Israel).  


As I wrote at the time, if anyone had told us in May 1967 that the Arab world would make such an offer, they would have been locked up in an institution for the mentally ill. But those of us who advocated the acceptance of the Arab initiative were branded as traitors.


In his conference with the Arab ministers this week, John Kerry succeeded in pushing them a step further. They agreed to add that the 1967 Green Line may be changed by swaps of territories. This means that the large settlements along the border, where the great majority of the settlers reside, would be annexed to Israel, in return for largely inferior Israeli land.



WHEN THE initiative was first aired, the Israeli government was desperately looking for a way out.


The first excuse that sprang to mind – then as always – was the refugee problem. It is easy to create panic in Israel with the nightmare of millions of refugees “flooding” Israel, putting an end to the Jewishness of the Jewish State.


Sharon, the Prime Minister at the time, willfully ignored the crucial clause inserted by the Saudis into their plan: that there would be an “agreed” solution. This clearly means that Israel was accorded the right to veto any solution. In practice, this would amount to the return of a symbolic number, if any at all.


Why did the initiative mention the refugees at all? Well, no Arab could possibly publish a peace plan that did not mention them. Even so, the Lebanese objected to the clause, because it would leave the refugees in Lebanon.


But the refugees are always a useful bogeyman. Then and now.



ONE DAY before the original Saudi initiative was submitted to the Beirut Summit, on March 27, 2002, something terrible happened: Hamas terrorists carried out a massacre in Netanya, with 40 dead and hundreds wounded. It was on the eve of Passover, the joyous Jewish holiday.


The Israeli public was inflamed. Sharon immediately responded that In these circumstances, the Arab peace initiative would not even be considered. Never mind that the atrocity was committed by Hamas with the express purpose of sabotaging the Saudi initiative and undermining Arafat, who supported it. Sharon mendaciously blamed Arafat for the bloody deed, and that was that.


Curiously – or maybe not – a similar thing happened this week. On the very day the upgraded Arab initiative was published, a young Palestinian killed a settler with a knife at a checkpoint – the first Jew killed in the West Bank for more than a year and a half.


The victim, Evyatar Borowsky, was the 31-year old father of five children – usual for an orthodox man. He was a resident of the Yitzhar settlement near Nablus, perhaps the most extreme anti-Arab settlement in the entire West Bank. He looked like the quintessential ideological settler – blond, bearded, with East-European looks, long payot (side locks), and a large colored kippah. The perpetrator came from the Palestinian town of Tulkarm. He was shot and severely injured. He is now in an Israeli hospital.


Before the incident, Netanyahu had been hard at work to formulate a statement that would reject the peace initiative without insulting the Americans. After the killing, he decided that there was no need. The terrorist has done his job. (As an old Jewish saying goes: “The work of the righteous one is done by others”.)


Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who is in charge of the (nonexistent) negotiations with the Palestinians, and President Shimon Peres welcomed the Arab statement. But Livni’s influence in the government is next to nil, and Peres is by now a joke in Israel.



IF THE American Secretary of State really believes that he can nudge our government slowly and gradually to “meaningful” negotiation with the Palestinians, he is deluding himself. If he does not believe it, he is trying to delude others.


There have been no real negotiations with the Palestinians since Ehud Barak came back from the Camp David conference in 2000, waving the slogan “We Have No Partner for Peace”. With this he destroyed the Israeli peace movement and brought Ariel Sharon to power.


Before that, there were no real negotiations either. Yitzhak Shamir announced that he was happy to negotiate for ever. (Shamir, by the way, declared that it was a virtue to “lie for the fatherland”.) Documents were produced and gathered dust, conferences were photographed and forgotten, agreements were signed and made no real difference. Nothing moved. Nothing – apart from settlement activity, that is.


Why? How would anyone entertain the belief that from now on everything would be different?       


Kerry will elicit some more words from the Arabs. Some more promises from Netanyahu. There may even be a festive opening of a new round of negotiations, a great victory for President Obama and Kerry.


But nothing will change. Negotiations will just drag on. And on. And on.


For the same reason that there has been no movement in the past, there will be no movement in the future – unless…



UNLESS. UNLESS Obama takes the bull by the horns, which, it seems, he is exceedingly unwilling to do.


The horns of the bull are the horns of the dilemma, on which Israel is sitting.


It is the historic choice facing us: Greater Israel or Peace?


Peace, any conceivable peace, the very basis of the Arab Initiative, means Israel’s withdrawal from the occupied Palestinian territories and the establishment of the State of Palestine in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with its capital in East Jerusalem. No ifs, no buts, no perhapses.


The opposite of peace is Israeli rule over the whole of the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, in one form or another. (Lately, some despairing Israeli peaceniks have been embracing this, in the absurd hope that in this Greater Israel, Israel would grant equality to the Arabs.)


If President Obama has the will and the power to compel the government of Israel to make this historic decision and choose peace, may the political price for the president be as it may, then he should proceed.


If this will and this power do not exist, the whole great peace effort is an exercise in deception, and honorable men should not indulge in it.


They should honestly face the two sides and the world and tell them:


No, We Can’t.



Posted on on April 28th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (


We found this information on-line 0n page 3 – left lower corner – of the Hebrew edition of the Right-Wing Israel Hayom newspaper. We got directed to it by the English language APN News Nosh of April 28, 2013 which is a Left-Wing media. So, we give it some credibility.

If the following turns out to be a correct description of Qatar readiness to deal with Israel – this is a serious development that can lead to the Arab Gulf States recognition of Israel de-Jure and not just de-Facto.


Qatari prince likely to visit Israel?

The representative of the royal family will arrive to launch the Israeli-Palestinian Center for Business Arbitration in Jerusalem, said Gen. (res.) Oren Shahor, head of Israel Chamber of Commerce. “Qatar is interested in investing hundreds of millions of dollars in developing the hi-tech field and sees Israel as a strategic source for gaining knowledge and technology.”
(Israel Hayom, April 28, 2013, p. 3)


Posted on on March 24th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

To the Europe and Eurasia and the Near East lists of the US Department of State
– following the President’s trip to the Middle East:

Press Statement

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
March 23, 2013



The reconciliation between Israel and Turkey is a very important development that will help advance the cause of peace and stability in the region. Prime Minister Netanyahu and Prime Minister Erdogan deserve great credit for showing the leadership necessary to make this possible.

As I discussed with Prime Minister Netanyahu this evening, this will help Israel meet the many challenges it faces in the region.

We look forward to an expeditious implementation of the agreement and the full normalization of relations so Israel and Turkey can work together to advance their common interests.


Posted on on March 23rd, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (




President Barack Obama, accompanied by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, views the Dead Sea ScrollsPresident Barack Obama, accompanied by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, views the Dead Sea Scrolls at The Israel Museum in Jerusalem, March 21, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The day ended with a dinner at the residence of President Peres in Jerusalem.


On Friday, the U.S. president visited Israel’s Holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem, where he called for tolerance against others.
“This is our obligation: not simply to bear witness, but to act. For us, in our time, this means confronting bigotry and hatred in all of its forms, racism, especially anti-Semitism, none of that has a place in the civilized world,” Obama said.


Accompanied by Israeli President Shimon Peres and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Obama spoke after viewing the Hall of Names: a circular room ringed by thousands of volumes containing names of people killed in the Holocaust.
During his visit to Israel, the president took part in a wreath-laying ceremony at the graves of Theodor Herzl – the founder of the movement to establish a Jewish state – and slain prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.




President Barack Obama and President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority walk past an honor guard

President Barack Obama and President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority walk past an honor guard at the Mugata Presidential Compound in Ramallah, the West Bank, March 21, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)



Full text of President Obama’s speech in Ramallah

United States President Barack Obama traveled to Ramallah, on the West Bank, where he offered remarks in a joint press conference with President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority.

Obama in Ramallah

U.S. President Barack Obama,  and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at a joint news conference in Ramallah, Thursday, Thursday, March 21, 2013 Photo by AP
President Obama:

Marhaba. Thank you, President Abbas, for your generous words and for welcoming me to Ramallah. I was last here five years ago, and it’s a pleasure to be back — to see the progress that’s happened since my last visit, but also to bear witness to the enduring challenges to peace and security that so many Palestinians seek. I’ve returned to the West Bank because the United States is deeply committed to the creation of an independent and sovereign state of Palestine.
The Palestinian people deserve an end to occupation and the daily indignities that come with it. Palestinians deserve to move and travel freely, and to feel secure in their communities. Like people everywhere, Palestinians deserve a future of hope — that their rights will be respected, that tomorrow will be better than today and that they can give their children a life of dignity and opportunity. Put simply, Palestinians deserve a state of their own.

I want to commend President Abbas and his Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, for the progress that they’ve made in building the institutions of a Palestinian state. And the United States is a proud partner in these efforts — as the single largest donor of assistance that improves the lives of Palestinians, both in the West Bank and Gaza. As your partner, we salute your achievements and we mourn your losses. We offer condolences, in particular, over the loss of your fellow Palestinians last weekend in the tragic accident in Jordan.

Ramallah is a very different city than the one I visited five years ago. There’s new construction. There’s new businesses, new start-ups, including many high-tech companies, connecting Palestinians to the global economy. The Palestinian Authority is more efficient and more transparent. There are new efforts to combat corruption so entrepreneurs and development can expand. Palestinian security forces are stronger and more professional — serving communities like Bethlehem, where President Abbas and I will visit the Church of the Nativity tomorrow.

Moreover, this progress has been achieved under some extremely challenging circumstances. So I want to pay tribute to President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad for their courage, for their tenacity, and for their commitment to building the institutions upon which a lasting peace and security will depend.

I would point out that all this stands in stark contrast to the misery and repression that so many Palestinians continue to confront in Gaza — because Hamas refuses to renounce violence; because Hamas cares more about enforcing its own rigid dogmas than allowing Palestinians to live freely; and because too often it focuses on tearing Israel down rather than building Palestine up. We saw the continuing threat from Gaza again overnight, with the rockets that targeted Sderot. We condemn this violation of the important cease-fire that protects both Israelis and Palestinians — a violation that Hamas has a responsibility to prevent.

Here in the West Bank, I realize that this continues to be a difficult time for the Palestinian Authority financially. So I’m pleased that in recent weeks the United States has been able to provide additional assistance to help the Palestinian Authority bolster its finances. Projects through USAID will help strengthen governance, rule of law, economic development, education and health. We consider these to be investments in a future Palestinian state — investments in peace, which is in all of our interests.

And more broadly, in our discussions today I reaffirmed to President Abbas that the United States remains committed to realizing the vision of two states, which is in the interests of the Palestinian people, and also in the national security interest of Israel, the United States, and the world. We seek an independent, a viable and contiguous Palestinian state as the homeland of the Palestinian people, alongside the Jewish State of Israel — two nations enjoying self-determination, security and peace.

As I have said many times, the only way to achieve that goal is through direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians themselves. There is no shortcut to a sustainable solution.

In our discussion with President Abbas, I heard him speak eloquently about the difficult issues that cannot be ignored — among them, problems caused by continued settlement activities, the plight of Palestinian prisoners, and access to holy sites in Jerusalem. I understand that the status quo isn’t really a status quo, because the situation on the ground continues to evolve in a direction that makes it harder to reach a two-state solution. And I know that the Palestinian people are deeply frustrated.

So one of my main messages today — the same message I’m conveying in Israel — is that we cannot give up. We cannot give up on the search for peace, no matter how hard it is. As I said with Prime Minister Netanyahu yesterday, we will continue to look for steps that both Israelis and Palestinians can take to build the trust and the confidence upon which lasting peace will depend. And I very much appreciate hearing President Abbas’s ideas on what those steps could be.

I want both sides to know that as difficult as the current situation is, my administration is committed to doing our part. And I know that Secretary of State John Kerry intends to spend significant time, effort, and energy in trying to bring about a closing of the gap between the parties. We cannot give up on the search for peace. Too much is at stake.

And if we’re going to succeed, part of what we’re going to have to do is to get out of some of the formulas and habits that have blocked progress for so long. Both sides are going to have to think anew. Those of us in the United States are going to have to think anew. But I’m confident that we can arrive at our destination to advance the vision of two nations, two neighbors at peace — Israel and Palestine.

If given the chance, one thing that I’m very certain of is that the Palestinians have the talent, the drive, and the courage to succeed in their own state. I think of the villages that hold peaceful protests because they understand the moral force of nonviolence. I think of the importance that Palestinian families place on education. I think of the entrepreneurs determined to create something new, like the young Palestinian woman I met at the entrepreneurship summit that I hosted who wants to build recreation centers for Palestinian youth. I think of the aspirations that so many young Palestinians have for their future — which is why I’m looking forward to visiting with some of them right after we conclude this press conference.

That’s why we can’t give up, because of young Palestinians and young Israelis who deserve a better future than one that is continually defined by conflict. Whenever I meet these young people, whether they’re Palestinian or Israeli, I’m reminded of my own daughters, and I know what hopes and aspirations I have for them. And those of us in the United States understand that change takes time but it is also possible, because there was a time when my daughters could not expect to have the same opportunities in their own country as somebody else’s daughters.

What’s true in the United States can be true here as well. We can make those changes, but we’re going to have to be determined. We’re going to have to have courage. We’re going to have to be willing to break out of the old habits, the old arguments, to reach for that new place, that new world. And I want all the people here and throughout the region to know that you will have the President of the United States and an administration that is committed to achieving that goal.

By Alon Pinkas | Mar.22,2013
And  FROM GAZA: With no clear peace initiatives to push, US President Barack Obama has received a mixed reception on his visit to Israel and the West Bank from Palestinians, writes Hazem Balousha.

Original Title:  Obama Receives Mixed Reception on Mideast Visit
Author: Hazem Balousha
Translated by: Sahar Ghoussoub

While the visit of US President Barack Obama to Palestine and Israel attracted a great deal of Palestinian media attention, ordinary Palestinian people have been occupied with meeting the needs of their everyday life. The Palestinian political factions, on the other hand, have not been pleased with the American president’s visit and the negative position of the American administration toward the Palestinian cause.

Hamas expressed pessimism about Obama’s visit. Obama visited Ramallah, the city of Hamas’ rival, President Mahmoud Abbas. In a brief statement, Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’ prime minister, said, “We do not expect that Obama’s visit would lead to any breakthrough in the political equation on the ground. We do not believe that the American policy will help end the occupation. On the contrary, Washington seeks to consolidate and legalize settlements under the banner of peace.”

Haniyeh warned the Palestinian Authority against returning to the negotiating table with Israel under US pressure. “The PA should realize that its future depends on the degree of its commitment to national principles and achieving a deeply entrenched reconciliation,” he said.

In the defense of the Islamic Republic , which is the biggest supporter of Hamas financially and politically, Haniyeh said, “We also reject all efforts designed to make Iran be perceived as the enemy of Arabs instead of Israel, despite our differences regarding some issues.”

Obama was warmly received by the PA during his visit to the cities of Ramallah and Bethlehem, while his photo, along with the American flag, were burned during a march organized by Palestinian factions in Gaza City, in protest at the visit.

Salah Bardawil, spokesman for Hamas, said, “Obama’s speech in Ramallah was a humanitarian speech, in which he appeared as a failed political analyst trying to elude critical questions. He failed to commit to the pledges he has made and is seeking to force the PA to re-launch bilateral negotiations with Israel without any references.”

He added, “Obama has also condemned the resistance, while exonerating the Zionist aggression. The president claimed that he supported the Gaza Strip. He clearly demonstrated his support by sending US-made phosphorous bombs and F-16 warplanes, used to attack the children of Gaza.”

Bardawil stressed Hamas’ refusal of the political settlement, saying that the movement will continue to resist as it is the only way to liberate the land, achieve self-rule and get prisoners released.

The Islamic Jihadist movement in Gaza agreed with Hamas that Obama’s visit aims at pressuring the Palestinian people and the PA to bring forth a political settlement based on American requirements.

In this context, Khaled al-Batch, a leader in the jihadist movement said that “this visit is not to the Palestinian’s people’s advantage. It rather serves the interests of the ‘Jewish State’ and the Israeli military superiority over Palestinians.”

On another note, rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip on Thursday before the arrival of Obama to Ramallah, landing in the southern Israeli town of Sderot, causing damage to a house. During his press conference with Abbas, the US President condemned this attack.

He noted that Palestinians in Gaza are continually confronted with “misery and repression … because Hamas refuses to renounce violence.” He then added, “We saw the continuing threat from Gaza overnight, with the rockets that targeted Sderot.”

Hamas implicitly denied responsibility. The group’s spokesman, Taher al Nunu said in a statement that “The resistance has nothing to do with the rockets, especially as they have been fired during this timing.”

On the other hand, Hizb ut-Tahrir organized marches in protest at Obama’s visit in different areas in Gaza, where protesters raised banners that read “Obama, the child murderer, is not welcomed,” “America is the greatest evil. It must be the enemy,” and “Terrorist America sanctions the killing of Muslims under the pretext of terrorism.”

For his part, Mukhaimar Abu Saada, a political analyst, believes that the visit is positive in general and that Obama’s speech in Ramallah was negative and positive at the same time. He assured his listeners that Palestine is a sovereign independent state. Regarding the settlements, the president said that settlements do not enhance the chances of peace, reneging on what he had said to the American administration to this effect.

Saada explained that Palestinian factions hold Obama accountable for his record during the past four years and for not committing to the promises he made during his speech in Cairo in 2009. The expert said that these positions of the Palestinian factions are defensible, since the American president visits the region to listen only without setting forth any initiative to reach a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli dilemma.

The left-wing Popular Front took the same stance as Hamas towards Obama’s visit. “Obama’s speech is merely sweet talking, as was the case during his first mandate. There is a great discrepancy between his speech about a Palestinian state for the Palestinian people and the American efforts made to prevent the resolution of the UN Security Council to this effect,” said Kaed al-Ghoul, the Front’s spokesman.

The most significant outcome of Obama’s visit to Ramallah is that the US has resumed financing and political supporting. Negotiations, however, are not likely to be resumed any time soon, especially in light of the gap between the Palestinian and Israeli sides regarding settlements. This could pave the way to a new round of mutual accusations between Palestinian factions, mainly between Hamas, on the one hand, and the Palestinian president and Fatah on the other.

Hazem Balousha is a Palestinian journalist based in Gaza City, with a Master of International Relations from Turkey, as well as a BA in journalism. He has worked as a news producer for BBC World Service, as well as contributed to The Guardian (UK), Deutsche Welle (Germany), Al-Raya (Qatar) and many other publications.



Posted on on March 22nd, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (


In Jerusalem – March 20, 2013:

(Obama’s full speech here. Peres’ full speech here. Netanyahu’s full speech here.)

In Jerusalem – March 21, 2013 – In the Binyanei Haumah – to the People of Israel and the Arab World as well – before an audience of Israeli students and others.

(Obama’s full speech and Rabbi Michael Lerner’s reaction included in this posting.)


Obama’s charm offensive was the top story in today’s Israeli papers, which decidedly agreed: it was a success! But on the tough subjects, Maariv reports that there were no understandings between the US President and the Israeli Prime Minister on the red line for Iran.

It began working almost as soon as he stepped off the plane. When Obama gave his arrival speech on the tarmac at Ben-Gurion Airport, he broke the hostile image he had among Israelis. He began by declaring what he didn’t in his 2009 Cairo speech: that Jews have a 3000-year connection to the land of Israel. This has long been a sore point between Israelis and Obama. Indeed, even the pro-settler party chairman of Habayit Hayehudi, Naftali Bennett, said so afterward. Israel Hayom wrote that many observers consider it a reversal of his Cairo speech – in which he said that Israel was born from the Holocaust. Morevoer, he didn’t even mention a Palestinian state,  whereas both President Shimon Peres and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu both did. Netanyahu called the visit a “historic moment” and thanked Obama profusely for his support of Israel.

The sense of warmth and lack of formality was highlighted in the Israeli media. Walking down the red carpet Obama took off his jacket and was followed by Netanyahu. The photo of the two of them jacketless was on the front page of all the papers, noting the casual friendliness between them. Even better were the jokes. Instructed to follow the red lines marked on the floor at the airport, Obama jokingly referred to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: “He’s always talking about red lines.” Netanyahu answered: “It was carefully planned.” See the video here of the best of Obama’s airport comments. Also, you can hear his fairly long exchange with Yair Lapid, the leader of Yesh Atid, who also said he believes he will soon be prime minister. At the airport the operators of the Iron Dome anti-missile battery awaited him and said afterwards they were moved by Obama’s ‘warmth.’ Ynet reported that there was criticism from the US media, which said his visit was symbolic, not substantial. They called his visit a photo-op.

But commentators say Obama’s goal is to make the Israelis like him so that later he can convince them to make peace (see commentary below.) Atlantic magazine columnist, Jeffrey Goldberg told Haaretz+ that Obama is using his visit to ‘create the space to combat Israeli policy.’ He also said that ‘The president is a faithful representative of those American liberals who love Israel but don’t quite understand the path Israel is taking.’ Later, at Peres’ official residence, Obama even charmed Israeli kids who sang to him upon his arrival.


  • Obama’s plant placed in quarantine – Agriculture Ministry says seedling Obama brought with him to plant in Peres’ courtyard must be checked for possible pests; likely to be returned to President’s Residence. (Ynet)
  • Ehud Barak: “Israel should launch a daring peace initiative vis-à-vis the Palestinians” – One day after leaving office and on the day that Obama arrives in Israel, the former defense minister publishes an Op-Ed in Wall Street Journal saying, “The status quo leads to a binational state.” (Haaretz Hebrew and Wall Street Journal Op-Ed.)
  • The president’s entourage, armed to the teeth and ready for anything – Two massive C-17 cargo planes land at Ben-Gurion Airport, bringing two of the president’s Marine One helicopters, Black Hawk helicopters, hundreds of security guards, and a nuclear briefcase. (Israel Hayom)
  • Israeli doctor ready to operate on Obama – US president has medical team with him, but Israel’s Professor Avi Rivkind is on call in case Obama requires serious care. ‘The Americans were here and examined equipment and the buildings,’ he told Ynet, sharing details of special room ready for any eventuality. (Ynet)
  • How much will Obama’s visit cost? President Barack Obama’s state visit to Israel will cost more than 40 million shekels ($10.9 million). Cost includes salaries and overtime for security, hotels, transportation, gas and other expenses, such as compensation for the King David Hotel, which is closing an entire wing for the president’s entourage. (Israel Hayom)
  • Feeling at home – The King David Hotel has hosted heads of state, presidents and even kings – but no one can remember a celebratory reception like the one organized in honor of President Obama. (Yedioth, p. 8)
  • Facing the (Passover) music at Yad Vashem – Obama to receive musical notes to original Passover melody composed by former chief cantor of Amsterdam, who was killed in Holocaust. (Haaretz+)
  • US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to visit Israel – Controversial new Pentagon chief to visit Israel in April. “I look forward to strengthening cooperation between the two defense establishments,” Hagel tells Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon. Meanwhile, Putin invites Netanyahu to Moscow. (Israel Hayom)
  • Time to put an Alawite state on the map (Ely Karmon, Haaretz+) Obama’s visit is an important opportunity for Israel to lobby for a grand agreement between the U.S. and Russia to protect and disarm the Alawite minority in Syria after the fall of Bashar Assad’s regime.



Full text of Obama’s BRILLIANT speech in Jerusalem – March 21, 2013 – The Spring Equinox – A TIME OF RENEWAL:

“So long as there is a United States of America, ah-tem lo lah-vahd” (you are not alone). “

The full text of U.S. President Barack Obama’s speech to Israeli students in Jerusalem on March 21, 2013.


PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you. Thank you so much. Well, it is a great honor to be with you here in Jerusalem, and I’m so grateful for the welcome that I’ve received from the people of Israel. Thank you. I bring with me the support of the American people — and the friendship that binds us together.


Over the last two days, I’ve reaffirmed the bonds between our countries with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Peres. I’ve borne witness to the ancient history of the Jewish people at the Shrine of the Book, and I’ve seen Israel’s shining future in your scientists and your entrepreneurs. This is a nation of museums and patents, timeless holy sites and ground-breaking innovation. Only in Israel could you see the Dead Sea Scrolls and the place where the technology on board the Mars Rover originated at the same time.


But what I’ve most looked forward to is the ability to speak directly to you, the Israeli people — especially so many young people who are here today — to talk about the history that brought us here today, and the future that you will make in the years to come.


Now, I know that in Israel’s vibrant democracy, every word, every gesture is carefully scrutinized But I want to clear something up just so you know — any drama between me and my friend, Bibi, over the years was just a plot to create material for Eretz Nehederet. That’s the only thing that was going on. We just wanted to make sure the writers had good material.


I also know that I come to Israel on the eve of a sacred holiday — the celebration of Passover. And that is where I would like to begin today.


Just a few days from now, Jews here in Israel and around the world will sit with family and friends at the Seder table, and celebrate with songs, wine and symbolic foods. After enjoying Seders with family and friends in Chicago and on the campaign trail, I’m proud that I’ve now brought this tradition into the White House. I did so because I wanted my daughters to experience the Haggadah, and the story at the center of Passover that makes this time of year so powerful.


It’s a story of centuries of slavery, and years of wandering in the desert; a story of perseverance amidst persecution, and faith in God and the Torah. It’s a story about finding freedom in your own land. And for the Jewish people, this story is central to who you’ve become. But it’s also a story that holds within it the universal human experience, with all of its suffering, but also all of its salvation.


It’s a part of the three great religions — Judaism, Christianity, and Islam — that trace their origins to Abraham, and see Jerusalem as sacred. And it’s a story that’s inspired communities across the globe, including me and my fellow Americans.

In the United States — a nation made up of people who crossed oceans to start anew — we’re naturally drawn to the idea of finding freedom in our land. To African Americans, the story of the Exodus was perhaps the central story, the most powerful image about emerging from the grip of bondage to reach for liberty and human dignity — a tale that was carried from slavery through the Civil Rights Movement into today.


For generations, this promise helped people weather poverty and persecution, while holding on to the hope that a better day was on the horizon. For me, personally, growing up in far-flung parts of the world and without firm roots, the story spoke to a yearning within every human being for a home.


Of course, even as we draw strength from the story of God’s will and His gift of freedom expressed on Passover, we also know that here on Earth we must bear our responsibilities in an imperfect world. That means accepting our measure of sacrifice and struggle, just like previous generations. It means us working through generation after generation on behalf of that ideal of freedom.


As Dr. Martin Luther King said on the day before he was killed, “I may not get there with you. But I want you to know that we, as a people, will get to the promised land.” So just as Joshua carried on after Moses, the work goes on for all of you, the Joshua Generation, for justice and dignity; for opportunity and freedom.


For the Jewish people, the journey to the promise of the State of Israel wound through countless generations. It involved centuries of suffering and exile, prejudice and pogroms and even genocide. Through it all, the Jewish people sustained their unique identity and traditions, as well as a longing to return home. And while Jews achieved extraordinary success in many parts of the world, the dream of true freedom finally found its full expression in the Zionist idea — to be a free people in your homeland. That’s why I believe that Israel is rooted not just in history and tradition, but also in a simple and profound idea — the idea that people deserve to be free in a land of their own.


Over the last 65 years, when Israel has been at its best, Israelis have demonstrated that responsibility does not end when you reach the promised land, it only begins. And so Israel has been a refuge for the diaspora — welcoming Jews from Europe, from the former Soviet Union, from Ethiopia, from North Africa.


Israel has built a prosperous nation — through kibbutzeem that made the desert bloom, business that broadened the middle class, innovators who reached new frontiers, from the smallest microchip to the orbits of space. Israel has established a thriving democracy, with a spirited civil society and proud political parties, and a tireless free press, and a lively public debate -– “lively” may even be an understatement.


And Israel has achieved all this even as it’s overcome relentless threats to its security — through the courage of the Israel Defense Forces, and the citizenry that is so resilient in the face of terror.


This is the story of Israel. This is the work that has brought the dreams of so many generations to life. And every step of the way, Israel has built unbreakable bonds of friendship with my country, the United States of America.


Those ties began only 11 minutes after Israeli independence, when the United States was the first nation to recognize the State of Israel. As President Truman said in explaining his decision to recognize Israel, he said, “I believe it has a glorious future before it not just as another sovereign nation, but as an embodiment of the great ideals of our civilization.” And since then, we’ve built a friendship that advances our shared interests.


Together, we share a commitment to security for our citizens and the stability of the Middle East and North Africa. Together, we share a focus on advancing economic growth around the globe, and strengthening the middle class within our own countries. Together, we share a stake in the success of democracy.


But the source of our friendship extends beyond mere interests, just as it has transcended political parties and individual leaders. America is a nation of immigrants. America is strengthened by diversity. America is enriched by faith. We are governed not simply by men and women, but by laws. We’re fueled by entrepreneurship and innovation, and we are defined by a democratic discourse that allows each generation to reimagine and renew our union once more. So in Israel, we see values that we share, even as we recognize what makes us different. That is an essential part of our bond.


Now, I stand here today mindful that for both our nations, these are some complicated times. We have difficult issues to work through within our own countries, and we face dangers and upheaval around the world. And when I look at young people within the United States, I think about the choices that they must make in their lives to define who we’ll be as a nation in this 21st century, particularly as we emerge from two wars and the worst recession since the Great Depression.


But part of the reason I like talking to young people is because no matter how great the challenges are, their idealism, their energy, their ambition always gives me hope.

And I see the same spirit in the young people here today. I believe that you will shape our future. And given the ties between our countries, I believe your future is bound to ours. (Audience interruption.)


No, no — this is part of the lively debate that we talked about. This is good. You know, I have to say we actually arranged for that, because it made me feel at home. I wouldn’t feel comfortable if I didn’t have at least one heckler.


I’d like to focus on how we — and when I say “we,” in particular young people — can work together to make progress in three areas that will define our times — security, peace and prosperity.


Let me begin with security. I’m proud that the security relationship between the United States and Israel has never been stronger. Never. More exercises between our militaries; more exchanges among our political and military and intelligence officials than ever before; the largest program to date to help you retain your qualitative military edge. These are the facts. These aren’t my opinions, these are facts. But, to me, this is not simply measured on a balance sheet. I know that here, in Israel, security is something personal.


Here’s what I think about when I consider these issues. When I consider Israel’s security, I think about children like Osher Twito, who I met in Sderot — children the same age as my own daughters who went to bed at night fearful that a rocket would land in their bedroom simply because of who they are and where they live.


That reality is why we’ve invested in the Iron Dome system to save countless lives — because those children deserve to sleep better at night That’s why we’ve made it clear, time and again, that Israel cannot accept rocket attacks from Gaza, and we have stood up for Israel’s right to defend itself. And that’s why Israel has a right to expect Hamas to renounce violence and recognize Israel’s right to exist.


When I think about Israel’s security, I think about five Israelis who boarded a bus in Bulgaria, who were blown up because of where they came from; robbed of the ability to live, and love, and raise families. That’s why every country that values justice should call Hezbollah what it truly is — a terrorist organization. Because the world cannot tolerate an organization that murders innocent civilians, stockpiles rockets to shoot at cities, and supports the massacre of men and women and children in Syria right now.


The fact that Hezbollah’s ally — the Assad regime — has stockpiles of chemical weapons only heightens the urgency. We will continue to cooperate closely to guard against that danger. I’ve made it clear to Bashar al-Assad and all who follow his orders: We will not tolerate the use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people, or the transfer of those weapons to terrorists. The world is watching; we will hold you accountable.


The Syrian people have the right to be freed from the grip of a dictator who would rather kill his own people than relinquish power. Assad must go so that Syria’s future can begin. Because true stability in Syria depends upon establishing a government that is responsible to its people — one that protects all communities within its borders, while making peace with countries beyond them.


These are the things I think about when I think about Israel’s security. When I consider Israel’s security, I also think about a people who have a living memory of the Holocaust, faced with the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iranian government that has called for Israel’s destruction. It’s no wonder Israelis view this as an existential threat.


But this is not simply a challenge for Israel — it is a danger for the entire world, including the United States. A nuclear-armed Iran would raise the risk of nuclear terrorism. It would undermine the non-proliferation regime. It would spark an arms race in a volatile region. And it would embolden a government that has shown no respect for the rights of its own people or the responsibilities of nations.

That’s why America has built a coalition to increase the cost to Iran of failing to meet their obligations. The Iranian government is now under more pressure than ever before, and that pressure is increasing. It is isolated. Its economy is in dire straits. Its leadership is divided. And its position — in the region, and the world — has only grown weaker.


I do believe that all of us have an interest in resolving this issue peacefully. Strong and principled diplomacy is the best way to ensure that the Iranian government forsakes nuclear weapons. Peace is far more preferable to war. And the inevitable costs, the unintended consequences that would come with war means that we have to do everything we can to try to resolve this diplomatically. Because of the cooperation between our governments, we know that there remains time to pursue a diplomatic resolution. That’s what America will do, with clear eyes — working with a world that’s united, and with the sense of urgency that’s required.

But Iran must know this time is not unlimited. And I’ve made the position of the United States of America clear: Iran must not get a nuclear weapon. This is not a danger that can be contained, and as President, I’ve said all options are on the table for achieving our objectives. America will do what we must to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran.


For young Israelis, I know that these issues of security are rooted in an experience that is even more fundamental than the pressing threat of the day. You live in a neighborhood where many of your neighbors have rejected the right of your nation to exist. Your grandparents had to risk their lives and all that they had to make a place for themselves in this world. Your parents lived through war after war to ensure the survival of the Jewish state. Your children grow up knowing that people they’ve never met may hate them because of who they are, in a region that is full of turmoil and changing underneath your feet.


So that’s what I think about when Israel is faced with these challenges –- that sense of an Israel that is surrounded by many in this region who still reject it, and many in the world who refuse to accept it. And that’s why the security of the Jewish people in Israel is so important. It cannot be taken for granted.


But make no mistake — those who adhere to the ideology of rejecting Israel’s right to exist, they might as well reject the earth beneath them or the sky above, because Israel is not going anywhere. And today, I want to tell you — particularly the young people — so that there’s no mistake here, so long as there is a United States of America — Atem lo levad. You are not alone.


The question is what kind of future Israel will look forward to. Israel is not going anywhere — but especially for the young people in this audience, the question is what does its future hold? And that brings me to the subject of peace.


I know Israel has taken risks for peace. Brave leaders — Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Rabin — reached treaties with two of your neighbors. You made credible proposals to the Palestinians at Annapolis. You withdrew from Gaza and Lebanon, and then faced terror and rockets. Across the region, you’ve extended a hand of friendship and all too often you’ve been confronted with rejection and, in some cases, the ugly reality of anti-Semitism. So I believe that the Israeli people do want peace, and I also understand why too many Israelis — maybe an increasing number, maybe a lot of young people here today — are skeptical that it can be achieved.


But today, Israel is at a crossroads. It can be tempting to put aside the frustrations and sacrifices that come with the pursuit of peace, particularly when Iron Dome repels rockets, barriers keep out suicide bombers. There’s so many other pressing issues that demand your attention. And I know that only Israelis can make the fundamental decisions about your country’s future. I recognize that.


I also know, by the way, that not everyone in this hall will agree with what I have to say about peace. I recognize that there are those who are not simply skeptical about peace, but question its underlying premise, have a different vision for Israel’s future. And that’s part of a democracy. That’s part of the discourse between our two countries. I recognize that. But I also believe it’s important to be open and honest, especially with your friends. I also believe that.


Politically, given the strong bipartisan support for Israel in America, the easiest thing for me to do would be to put this issue aside — just express unconditional support for whatever Israel decides to do — that would be the easiest political path. But I want you to know that I speak to you as a friend who is deeply concerned and committed to your future, and I ask you to consider three points.


First, peace is necessary. I believe that. I believe that peace is the only path to true security. You have the opportunity to be the generation that permanently secures the Zionist dream, or you can face a growing challenge to its future. Given the demographics west of the Jordan River, the only way for Israel to endure and thrive as a Jewish and democratic state is through the realization of an independent and viable Palestine. That is true.


There are other factors involved. Given the frustration in the international community about this conflict, Israel needs to reverse an undertow of isolation. And given the march of technology, the only way to truly protect the Israeli people over the long term is through the absence of war. Because no wall is high enough and no Iron Dome is strong enough or perfect enough to stop every enemy that is intent on doing so from inflicting harm.


And this truth is more pronounced given the changes sweeping the Arab world. I understand that with the uncertainty in the region — people in the streets, changes in leadership, the rise of non-secular parties in politics — it’s tempting to turn inward, because the situation outside of Israel seems so chaotic. But this is precisely the time to respond to the wave of revolution with a resolve and commitment for peace. Because as more governments respond to popular will, the days when Israel could seek peace simply with a handful of autocratic leaders, those days are over. Peace will have to be made among peoples, not just governments.


No one — no single step can change overnight what lies in the hearts and minds of millions. No single step is going to erase years of history and propaganda. But progress with the Palestinians is a powerful way to begin, while sidelining extremists who thrive on conflict and thrive on division. It would make a difference.


So peace is necessary. But peace is also just. Peace is also just. There is no question that Israel has faced Palestinian factions who turned to terror, leaders who missed historic opportunities. That is all true. And that’s why security must be at the center of any agreement. And there is no question that the only path to peace is through negotiations — which is why, despite the criticism we’ve received, the United States will oppose unilateral efforts to bypass negotiations through the United Nations. It has to be done by the parties. But the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination, their right to justice, must also be recognized.


Put yourself in their shoes. Look at the world through their eyes. It is not fair that a Palestinian child cannot grow up in a state of their own. Living their entire lives with the presence of a foreign army that controls the movements not just of those young people but their parents, their grandparents, every single day. It’s not just when settler violence against Palestinians goes unpunished. It’s not right to prevent Palestinians from farming their lands; or restricting a student’s ability to move around the West Bank; or displace Palestinian families from their homes Neither occupation nor expulsion is the answer. Just as Israelis built a state in their homeland, Palestinians have a right to be a free people in their own land.


I’m going off script here for a second, but before I came here, I met with a group of young Palestinians from the age of 15 to 22. And talking to them, they weren’t that different from my daughters. They weren’t that different from your daughters or sons. I honestly believe that if any Israeli parent sat down with those kids, they’d say,


I want these kids to succeed; I want them to prosper. I want them to have opportunities just like my kids do. I believe that’s what Israeli parents would want for these kids if they had a chance to listen to them and talk to them. I believe that.

Now, only you can determine what kind of democracy you will have. But remember that as you make these decisions, you will define not simply the future of your relationship with the Palestinians — you will define the future of Israel as well.


As Ariel Sharon said — I’m quoting him — “It is impossible to have a Jewish democratic state, at the same time to control all of Eretz Israel. If we insist on fulfilling the dream in its entirety, we are liable to lose it all.” Or, from a different perspective, I think of what the novelist David Grossman said shortly after losing his son, as he described the necessity of peace — “A peace of no choice” he said, “must be approached with the same determination and creativity as one approaches a war of no choice.”


Now, Israel cannot be expected to negotiate with anyone who is dedicated to its destruction. But while I know you have had differences with the Palestinian Authority, I genuinely believe that you do have a true partner in President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad. I believe that. And they have a track record to prove it. Over the last few years, they have built institutions and maintained security on the West Bank in ways that few could have imagined just a few years ago. So many Palestinians — including young people — have rejected violence as a means of achieving their aspirations.


There is an opportunity there, there’s a window — which brings me to my third point: Peace is possible. It is possible. I’m not saying it’s guaranteed. I can’t even say that it is more likely than not. But it is possible. I know it doesn’t seem that way. There are always going to be reasons to avoid risk. There are costs for failure. There will always be extremists who provide an excuse not to act.


I know there must be something exhausting about endless talks about talks, and daily controversies, and just the grinding status quo. And I’m sure there’s a temptation just to say, “Ah, enough. Let me focus on my small corner of the world and my family and my job and what I can control.” But it’s possible.


Negotiations will be necessary, but there’s little secret about where they must lead — two states for two peoples. Two states for two peoples.


There will be differences about how to get there. There are going to be hard choices along the way. Arab states must adapt to a world that has changed. The days when they could condemn Israel to distract their people from a lack of opportunity, or government corruption or mismanagement — those days need to be over. Now is the time for the Arab world to take steps toward normalizing relations with Israel.


Meanwhile, Palestinians must recognize that Israel will be a Jewish state and that Israelis have the right to insist upon their security. Israelis must recognize that continued settlement activity is counterproductive to the cause of peace, and that an independent Palestine must be viable with real borders that have to be drawn.

I’ve suggested principles on territory and security that I believe can be the basis for these talks. But for the moment, put aside the plans and the process. I ask you, instead, to think about what can be done to build trust between people.


Four years ago, I stood in Cairo in front of an audience of young people — politically, religiously, they must seem a world away. But the things they want, they’re not so different from what the young people here want. They want the ability to make their own decisions and to get an education, get a good job; to worship God in their own way; to get married; to raise a family. The same is true of those young Palestinians that I met with this morning. The same is true for young Palestinians who yearn for a better life in Gaza.


That’s where peace begins — not just in the plans of leaders, but in the hearts of people. Not just in some carefully designed process, but in the daily connections — that sense of empathy that takes place among those who live together in this land and in this sacred city of Jerusalem.


And let me say this as a politician — I can promise you this, political leaders will never take risks if the people do not push them to take some risks. You must create the change that you want to see. Ordinary people can accomplish extraordinary things.

I know this is possible. Look to the bridges being built in business and civil society by some of you here today. Look at the young people who’ve not yet learned a reason to mistrust, or those young people who’ve learned to overcome a legacy of mistrust that they inherited from their parents, because they simply recognize that we hold more hopes in common than fears that drive us apart. Your voices must be louder than those who would drown out hope. Your hopes must light the way forward.

Look to a future in which Jews and Muslims and Christians can all live in peace and greater prosperity in this Holy Land. Believe in that. And most of all, look to the future that you want for your own children — a future in which a Jewish, democratic, vibrant state is protected and accepted for this time and for all time.


There will be many who say this change is not possible, but remember this — Israel is the most powerful country in this region. Israel has the unshakeable support of the most powerful country in the world. Israel is not going anywhere. Israel has the wisdom to see the world as it is, but — this is in your nature — Israel also has the courage to see the world as it should be.


Ben Gurion once said, “In Israel, in order to be a realist you must believe in miracles.” Sometimes, the greatest miracle is recognizing that the world can change. That’s a lesson that the world has learned from the Jewish people.


And that brings me to the final area that I’ll focus on: prosperity, and Israel’s broader role in the world. I know that all the talk about security and peace can sometimes seem to dominate the headlines, but that’s not where people live. And every day, even amidst the threats that you face, Israelis are defining themselves by the opportunities that you’re creating.


Through talent and hard work, Israelis have put this small country at the forefront of the global economy.


Israelis understand the value of education and have produced 10 Nobel laureates. Israelis understand the power of invention, and your universities educate engineers and inventors. And that spirit has led to economic growth and human progress — solar power and electric cars, bandages and prosthetic limbs that save lives, stem cell research and new drugs that treat disease, cell phones and computer technology that changed the way people around the world live.


So if people want to see the future of the world economy, they should look at Tel Aviv, home to hundreds of start-ups and research centers. Israelis are so active on social media that every day seemed to bring a different Facebook campaign about where I should give this speech.


That innovation is just as important to the relationship between the United States and Israel as our security cooperation. Our first free trade agreement in the world was reached with Israel, nearly three decades ago. Today the trade between our two countries is at $40 billion every year. More importantly, that partnership is creating new products and medical treatments; it’s pushing new frontiers of science and exploration.


That’s the kind of relationship that Israel should have — and could have — with every country in the world. Already, we see how that innovation could reshape this region. There’s a program here in Jerusalem that brings together young Israelis and Palestinians to learn vital skills in technology and business. An Israeli and Palestinian have started a venture capital fund to finance Palestinian start-ups. Over 100 high-tech companies have found a home on the West Bank — which speaks to the talent and entrepreneurial spirit of the Palestinian people.


One of the great ironies of what’s happening in the broader region is that so much of what people are yearning for — education, entrepreneurship, the ability to start a business without paying a bribe, the ability to connect to the global economy — those are things that can be found here in Israel. This should be a hub for thriving regional trade, and an engine for opportunity.


Israel is already a center for innovation that helps power the global economy. And I believe that all of that potential for prosperity can be enhanced with greater security, enhanced with lasting peace.


Here, in this small strip of land that has been the center of so much of the world’s history, so much triumph and so much tragedy, Israelis have built something that few could have imagined 65 years ago. Tomorrow, I will pay tribute to that history — at the grave of Herzl, a man who had the foresight to see the future of the Jewish people had to be reconnected to their past; at the grave of Rabin, who understood that Israel’s victories in war had to be followed by the battles for peace; at Yad Vashem, where the world is reminded of the cloud of evil that can descend on the Jewish people and all of humanity if we ever fail to be vigilant.


We bear all that history on our shoulders. We carry all that history in our hearts. Today, as we face the twilight of Israel’s founding generation, you — the young people of Israel — must now claim its future. It falls to you to write the next chapter in the great story of this great nation.


And as the President of a country that you can count on as your greatest friend — I am confident that you can help us find the promise in the days that lie ahead. And as a man who’s been inspired in my own life by that timeless calling within the Jewish experience — tikkun olam -) — I am hopeful that we can draw upon what’s best in ourselves to meet the challenges that will come; to win the battles for peace in the wake of so much war; and to do the work of repairing this world. That’s your job.

That’s my job. That’s the task of all of us.

May God bless you. May God bless Israel. May God bless the United States of America. Toda raba. Thank you.



 Uri Avnery’s Column 
The Speech that was Not Delivered

Note: This text was written on Wednesday, a day before
President Obama made his historic speech in Jerusalem. It appears that my text came much closer to his actual speech than I had dared to hope. Some passages are almost identical. Readers may want to compare the texts, to see what he left out.


I feel the need to speak to you directly, and especially to the young Jewish people amongst you, in order to reach out to your minds and to touch your hearts.

To do so, I gave up the great honor of speaking in your Knesset, as my predecessors have spoken before me. The Knesset, like all parliaments, is composed of politicians, but this time I want to speak directly to you.

I COME as a true friend. A true friend is bound to tell you the truth as he sees it. A true friend does not flatter you. He does not twist the truth to make you feel good.

I know, foreign statesmen and women come to visit your country and feel obliged to tell you how wonderful you are, how brilliant your leaders, how great your achievements. I don’t think that a true friend needs to do this.

When you are drunk, a true friend does not encourage you to take the wheel. A true friend asks you for the keys of the car.

If you are drunk with power and success, a true friend does not egg you on to behave irresponsibly. A true friend asks you to calm down, to reflect, to weigh your next steps carefully.

That is my aim today.

I CAN honestly tell you that I have always admired the State of Israel, which was born just 13 years before I was.

You have created a vibrant state out of nothing. Just a few years after the terrible Holocaust, one of the greatest crimes in the annals of mankind, this ancient people has arisen from the ashes and established itself as a powerful presence among the nations. You have established a flourishing democracy. Your science, agriculture, high-tech industry and all the other accomplishments in many fields have aroused the envy of many. Your military prowess is acknowledged by all.

No one with eyes to see can deny the profound similarities between the history of our two nations. From a small group of pioneers, driven by religious persecution, we have developed into mighty nations. Against huge odds, we have built new civilizations. Each of us has built a shining city on the hill. Both of us have achieved liberty and independence in the middle of a terrible war, which threatened our very existence. Both of us had to fight many more wars, earlier and more recent. Both of us can look back on our past with pride and satisfaction.

But both of us know that this history also harbors dark shadows. We have dealt harshly with the people who lived in our countries before us. We have much to apologize for. We should not suppress the bad while celebrating the good.

THOUGH MENACED by enemies, like all of us, Israel can look forward to a bright future. However, dark clouds threaten these prospects. Some of them, I am sorry to say, are of your own making.

It is of these that I want to speak to you.

For the last four years I have followed events in your country with growing apprehension. Indeed – with great fears for your future.

No nation, great or small, can prosper for long without peace. War is the curse of mankind. It coarsens our spirit, consumes our resources, spreads death and destruction. In our time, with the development of ever more deadly means of mass destruction, war threatens our very existence.

Yet there seems to be among you a curious aversion to peace. Peacemakers are denounced as traitors or enemies. Even I have been termed a “Destroyer of Israel” because of my efforts at the beginning of my first term, to bring about peace between you and your neighbors.

I am told that in your recent election campaign, all parties studiously avoided the word “peace”. That sounds incredible to me. You need peace, perhaps more than any other people on earth.

I am also told that most Israelis, while longing for peace, strongly believe that “Peace is Impossible”. Peace is never impossible, if good men and women earnestly strive for it.

History is full of implacable enemies who made peace after generations of conflict. Look at the peace my country made with Germany and Japan after the deadly struggle not so long ago. Look at the peace between France and Germany after many generations of war. Indeed, Israel herself has made peace and now lives in friendship with Germany, so soon after the Shoah.

Granted that the conflict between you and the Palestinian people is more complex than most, I tell you: peace between you is not only necessary. It is also possible.

PEACE STARTS with seeing your enemy as a human being. With looking him in the eye.

That should be easy for Jews. Do not the Holy Scriptures, our common heritage, tell us that God created all human beings in his image? Did not your great spiritual teacher, Hillel, tell you that the basis of all moral behavior is not to do unto the Other that which is hateful to you?

I am told that lately, there has become evident a rising tide of racism among you, that there have even been incidents of lynching, that many young boys and girls are proud to announce that they are racists.

I find this incredible. Jews? Racists? After centuries as the victims of racist persecution? Barely more than half a century after the Holocaust?

I am a dark-skinned person. Luckily, my forebears never experienced the ultimate evil of slavery. Unlike millions of Africans, my father’s family was not kidnapped from their ancestral village in Kenya. But the evils of slavery are deeply imprinted on my mind. The awful sight of the lynchings is still vivid before my eyes.

So are the freedom marches, in which determined black people braved racist mobs, guns and attack dogs. We shall ever be grateful to the white young men and women who joined these marches, so many of whom were Jews. I just cannot understand: how can any Jew in Israel be a racist, and be proud of it? What on earth do you learn in your schools?

I DID not come here to try and impose a peace plan on you.

Peace should not be imposed. It must flow from the heart. It must be approved by the mind.

Let me share with you, however, a few things that seem to me self-evident:

Peace must be based on what is commonly called the “two-state solution”. Two states for two peoples, for the Israelis and for the Palestinians.

It is not only the best solution – it is the only solution.

Those who bandy about other “solutions” are deluding themselves. There is no other solution.

There must be a Palestinian state, side by side with Israel. Your fathers and mothers were content with nothing less than a state of their own, and the Palestinians will not settle for anything less either. Freedom and independence under their own flag is the right of all human beings. You should be the first to understand that.

The State of Palestine must include all the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967. Any changes to the borders must be agreed between the two sides, and be of equal extent.

Jerusalem, this wonderful old city where we are meeting now, and which fills me with excitement, must be shared by the two peoples. What is Arab should be the capital of Palestine, what is Jewish should be the capital of Israel, recognized at long last by all.

The security of Israel must be safeguarded and guaranteed by the world, especially by the United States of America. And so should the security of Palestine.

Obviously, the millions of Palestinian refugees cannot return to Israel. Justice cannot be restored by imposing a new injustice on the present inhabitants. But we must make a great international effort to compensate the refugees generously, and at least a symbolic number should be allowed to exercise their Right of Return.

These peace terms have been lying on the table for a long time. The time has come – indeed, the time is long overdue – to turn them into a permanent peace treaty. The other Arab nations, whose commendable peace plan has also been lying on the table for many years, should be welcomed as partners in this effort.

My administration will do its duty by signing a solemn guarantee for the security of both Israel and Palestine.

A WORD about the settlements.

The United States has always regarded them as illegal under international law. This is as true now as ever.

Those Israelis who remain on Palestinian territory after the mutually agreed exchange of territories must be repatriated to Israel. As gently as possible. With as much compassion as possible. With as generous compensation as possible. But they cannot stay without the permission of the government of Palestine.

Many of them have settled in the occupied territories for the express purpose of making peace impossible. They must not be allowed to achieve their aim.

I STAND here today, so soon after the swearing-in of your new ministers, before your new government has yet settled down for business, because I feel a great urgency.

Time is passing, settlements are expanding, the chances of peace are diminishing. Therefore we must act now.

If you continue on your present course, disaster will surely overtake you. You are already a minority in the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and your proportion is bound to diminish. Very soon you will be faced by the choice between glorious Israel becoming an odious Apartheid state, a pariah among the nations, or becoming a state governed by the Arab majority. Either way, it will be the end of the Zionist dream.

Don’t tell me, don’t tell yourselves, that there is nothing you can do.

You are the people of the future. The future is your lives.
It is up to you to assure yourselves a life in peace.

Yes, you can!!!


Posted on on March 19th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

A 1759 map entitled The Holy Land, or Land of Israel, showing not only the Ancient Kingdoms of Judah and Israel in which the 12 Tribes have been distinguished, but also their placement in different periods as indicated in the Holy Scriptures by Tobias Conrad Lotter, Geographer. Augsburg, Germany


Obama in Israel: Running to Stay Put.

By March 19, 2013   –  we include two of the  Comments
Israel Prepares For President Obama's Visit
Uriel Sinai / Getty ImagesPreparations continue a day a head of the arrival of US President Barack Obama at the president’s residence in Jerusalem, March 19, 2013.

President Barack Obama heads to Israel late Tuesday for the first foreign trip of his second term, a visit more about maintaining the status quo in a region filled with upheaval than about historic treaties or groundbreaking peace deals. When U.S. presidents have visited Jerusalem in years past, it was for big reasons, usually involving the ends of various conflicts or to make a push for Middle East peace. Obama’s ambitions are a lot smaller.

The President’s hopes for this trip are about getting leaders not to do things, rather than prompting action. In Jerusalem, he needs Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to bomb Iran before diplomatic talks have run their course. He also wants Netanyahu to stop, or at least slow, the building of new settlements in Palestinian areas so as to give the peace process a chance. And Obama would like Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas not to report Israel to the Internal Criminal Courts for human rights violations. “This trip is about managing Middle East problems. It’s not about solving them,” says Haim Malka, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “The president’s broad objectives are to convince the Israeli and Palestinian publics that he’s protecting their interests and preventing their leaders from taking any unilateral steps that would undermine U.S. interests and their own,” Malka says.

(MORE: The Secret of the Wonder Weapon That Israel Will Show Off To Obama)

For an American president, Obama is unusually unpopular among Israelis: he had a 33% approval rating last year. Which is why instead of speaking to the Israeli parliament, Obama chose to do a speech directly to the Israeli people. “Given this is his first trip to Israel as President, we thought that it was very important for him to speak directly to Israelis about the nature of the friendship between the United States and Israel, and the challenges that we’re faced with,” Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters ahead of the trip. Obama may not change public opinion with a single speech, but courting the Israeli public will help build trust when the President asks their leaders to have faith that America will act to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

Israel worries that Iran is using talks with international powers as a way to stall while building a program that can rapidly enrich enough uranium not just for one bomb, but for many. “Think of the Iranian nuclear weapons program as a horse race: Now, when the bell goes off, a single horse might be able to gallop out of the gate and run a full track in front of spectators,” Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren says. “The Iranian regime, though, wants to unleash 20 horses out of the gate, at the same time,” he says. For Israel, Iran obtaining nuclear weapons is a much more existential threat than for Washington, lying safely 6,000 miles away. Jerusalem’s military opportunity to strike Iran is closing, while the U.S. has a longer timeline to hit Iran’s centrifuges. Obama is asking Israel to trust he’ll protect them when they no longer can protect themselves; that would give negotiators more time to come to a diplomatic resolution.

On the peace process, Obama intends to do a listening tour, visiting with both Israelis and Palestinians and seeing where common ground might be found. Little has been done on a two state solution since U.S. Special Envoy to the Mideast George Mitchell resigned in disgust in May 2011, saying the process had “hit a brick wall.” Secretary of State John Kerry, who will be traveling with Obama, is anxious to take advantage of Israel’s recent election – Netanyahu literally only just formed a government over the weekend – to see if moderate Israeli support can be drummed up for a new round of talks. But no breakthrough is expected on this trip — indeed the White House did everything it could to lower expectations publicly.

(MORE: Israel Uneasy on Iran Ahead of Obama’s Visit)

Peace talks mean getting the Palestinians to the table as well, and Abbas has not wanted to restart a whole new process, insisting the Israelis go back to the terms he negotiated with the last Israeli government under Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in 2008. Netanyahu has repeatedly insisted the talks begin anew. Abbas is further debilitated by Hamas’s control of the Gaza Strip and the Islamist group’s growing popularity in the West Bank. Without the popular support of all Palestinians, Abbas’s bargaining position is weak and he has little incentive to come to the table. Until the Palestinian factions are united, it will be impossible for Abbas — or any Palestinian leader — to compromise with Israel without losing credibility at home.

Abbas’s only power – and popularity – of late has come when he defied both Israel and the U.S. to petition the United Nations to recognize Palestine as a state. Having Israel tried for human rights violations by the International Criminal Courts is wildly popular among Palestinians and one of the only threats remaining to Abbas. Obama’s job will be to convince Abbas that coming to the table with Israel and the U.S. is in his better interests than going outside the process. Obama must also reassure the Palestinian people of America’s support. To that end Kerry has said he will deliver $700 million in aid to Palestine withheld by Congress after Abbas’s push for statehood at the UN. Since Obama took office in 2009, some 60,000 more Israelis have settled on Palestinian lands, and Obama will press for a freeze or slowing of those developments. The Palestinians are also hoping Israel will release 1,000 prisoners and return some of tax money Jerusalem collected from Palestinians but have held back for months.

Perhaps Obama’s trip will also be highly symbolic. He will view the Dead Sea Scrolls, 2,000-year-old evidence of Israel’s long ties and ancient claim to the land. The President will also visit Mount Herzl, where he’ll lay wreaths at the graves of slain Israeli President Yitzhak Rabin and Zionist Theodor Herzl, who envisioned an Israeli state before the Holocaust. In the West Bank, Obama will visit the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

(MORE: Netanyahu Finally Forms a Government, But It’s Nearly as Painful as the Election)

The President will wrap his tour in Jordan, where he’ll try to convince King Abdullah not to close his borders to Syrians fleeing the two-year-old civil war, even as Jordan’s economy buckles under the strain of 400,000 refugees with twice that number expected by year’s end.

Jordan’s economy has also taken a hit as tourism has fallen off due to regional unrest and the perception of insecurity. To promote Jordan, Obama will play tourist for a day, visiting the ancient site of Petra with 500 international journalists in tow, demonstrating how safe – and appealing – Jordan’s tourist attractions remain.

Jordan also hopes for more pledges of support from the U.S. for the Syrian refugees and for their own economic reforms.

All of Obama’s efforts this week will be running to stay in place: from pushing Israelis and Palestinians to place international interests above domestic pressures, to bolstering Jordan’s regime against the pressures of the Arab Spring. Sometimes the second term presidents look abroad for a legacy. So far Obama’s second term foreign policy ambitions in the Middle East are hardly lofty: striving for the status quo ante lest things get worse than they already are.

MORE: State of the Union: No Obama Doctrine on Foreign Policy



@deconstructiva I claim no expertise in this matter, but I think Israelis — like Americans, only many times as much — are concerned with their own security.  If keeping Israelis safe means oppressing Palestinians, that’s a price they’re willing to pay.  And that, is my one-sentence summary of what’s preventing any significant alteration in the status quo.  As long as Bibi keeps Israelis safe, he’s going to be running their government.

Notwithstanding Stein’s Law (Anything that can’t go on forever, won’t), I don’t see anything in the internal dynamics between the Israelis and the Palestinians that’s going to alter things.  But there are plenty of externalities — from Iran’s nuclear program to the Syrian Civil War to the turmoil in Egypt — and eventually one of those is going to break into the current closed cycle of Israeli-Palestinian relations.  If you or anyone else can tell me what will happen then, I’d be grateful.


Thanks for an excellent summary, Jay.  In the Middle East today, as usual there seem to be all sorts of possibilities for disaster and very few opportunities for improvements on any front.  If the most Obama can hope for is not to make things worse, then it’s appropriate that he apply the first principle of healing to this bleeding sore of a geographical area: First, do no harm.

I’m smart enough to know I’m not smart enough to come up with a panacea for what ails the Middle Esat. Fortunately for the Middle East, that’s not my job.  Unfortunately for the Middle East, the people whose job it is don’t seem to be doing any better.


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Final Preparations in High Gear as Israel Awaits Obama.

March 19, 2013 2:27 pm

Author: Zach Pontz


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama at a previous occasion. Photo: AP/Charles Dharapak.

Final preparations are being made ahead of U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Israel Wednesday. From security arrangements to party planning, the process of welcoming, securing and entertaining one of the most powerful men in the world is in the home stretch.

Obama is expected to arrive at Ben Gurion Airport Wednesday then take a helicopter to Jerusalem, but not before a lavish welcoming ceremony in which he will be greeted by Israel’s President, Shimon Peres, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In Jerusalem he’ll be staying at the King David hotel. His entourage has reportedly reserved 230 rooms for the visit. Major destinations and roads in the city will be shutdown during his stay. For example, the Israel Museum has closed its doors to the public both Wednesday and Thursday ahead of a planned visit by the U.S. president. According to Major General Yossi Pariente, commander of the Jerusalem District, police are trying to minimize the effect on the city’s residents, but still, he said, “residents will feel some impact.”

Wednesday night Obama will dine at the President’s residence. Staff there have been working frantically ahead of the event. Ninette Cohen, in charge of utility workers on the compound, has the unenviable task of making sure everything is placed precisely as it should. “Everyone has energetically pitched in,” she told “I’m looking forward to meeting Obama, shaking his hand and taking a photo with him. I will tell him ‘Welcome to Israel, we love you.’”

On Thursday evening, Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will participate in a ceremonial dinner. Only 120 people will be invited to partake, 70 of them Israeli. Yoram Ravid, deputy director of the President’s Residence told, “It was a challenge simply to decide on the list. There was immense pressure to provide invitations to the event. The participants at the dinner are senior members of Israeli society. We tried to create a heterogeneous group covering all colors of the rainbow.”

Guests at the dinner will include the IDF chief of staff, the heads of the Mossad and the Shin Bet, the Supreme Court president, and Nobel Prize recipients. Israeli singers Rita and David D’Or will perform. Peres will present Obama with the Presidential Medal.

Security in the areas in which Obama will visit will be significantly bolstered. Even the cake with figures of the two presidents on it was x-rayed.”The President’s Residence looks like a fortress,” a high level security source within the compound told







Posted on on March 8th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

Gaza Marathon Canceled After Women Are Barred From Participating.

Published by The New York Times – March 5, 2013

GAZA — Gaza’s third marathon run, an annual fund-raising event planned for April 10, was canceled after the Palestinian territory’s Islamic leaders barred women from participating, the organizer, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency said on Tuesday.

The ban is the latest in a series of decisions by Hamas, which governs here, seeking to enforce tougher Islamic strictures on an already conservative society. But some of the measures have been unpopular, and enforcement has ebbed and flowed.

Adnan Abu Hasna, a spokesman for the United Nations agency, said the marathon was canceled after Hamas informed the agency that women would not be allowed to take part under any circumstances.

Of the more than 2,400 people registered for the race, some 370 were women, nearly two-thirds of them Gazans.

Hamas had no objection to the participation of girls among the 1,600 schoolchildren set to run.

In a statement, the agency called the development “disappointing.” It said runners who intended to come from outside Gaza to race were still welcome to visit the coastal enclave, and that alternative activities were being studied.

Taher al-Nounou, a spokesman for the Hamas government, said in a text message that his government had informed the United Nations agency that the marathon should respect “some regulations related to the Palestinian people’s traditions and customs.” He said the government regretted the cancellation.

Salma al-Qadoumi, 22, who was among more than 250 female Gazans who intended to run, said she was “saddened and shocked” by the ban. “This is against Islam, because Islam encouraged Muslims to learn sports, and it did not stipulate that it’s only men who should practice sport,” she said.

But Maha Abu Shaban, an economic researcher, supported the ban, to preserve modesty and prevent mixing of males and females “in violation of the religion.”

Mr. Abu Hasna said the fund-raising was to benefit the agency’s summer games programs, which serve about 250,000 children. Hamas also provides summer programs for children here, and competes with the agency for enrollment.

The agency, which takes care of Palestinian refugees in Gaza, the West Bank, and refugee camps in the neighboring Arab countries, suffers from a $66 million shortfall in its budget.

Since taking over Gaza in 2007, Hamas has issued several orders for stricter behavioral codes, mainly about women’s dress. Last month, the Hamas-appointed council of Al-Aqsa University here imposed an Islamic dress code on women.


Posted on on March 5th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

Full Text of Netanyahu Speech to AIPAC 2013

March 4, 2013 2:59 pm

— Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks by video
at AIPAC 2013 Policy Conference. Photo: Arsen Ostrovsky

The following is the full text of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s March 4th speech at the 2013 AIPAC Policy Conference. For The Algemeiner’s report on the speech click here.

“Thank you, Lee.  And thank you Howard, Michael, Robert and all the leadership of AIPAC.

Thank you for everything you do to strengthen the great alliance between Israel and America.

Let me say a special hello to my friend, Vice President Biden, who just spoke. Thank you, Joe, for your steadfast support for Israel over so many decades. I also want to recognize Ambassador Oren and Ambassador Prosor. Michael and Ron, Thank you both for your terrific service to Israel. Finally, I want to thank all of you who have come from far and wide to be there today to express your support for Israel.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I was hoping to speak to you in person.  But unfortunately, I had to stay in Israel to do something much more enjoyable – put together a coalition government. What fun!

If I can offer a free piece of advice – Don’t adopt Israel’s system of government.

You know, every system has its plusses and minuses.  But believe me, it’s a lot easier finding common ground between two parties than it is finding common ground among ten parties.

Despite the difficulties, I intend to form a strong and stable government in the days ahead.

The first thing that my new government will have the privilege to do is to warmly welcome President Obama to Israel


I look forward to President Obama’s visit. It will give me and the people of Israel the opportunity to express our appreciation for what he has done for Israel. The President and I agreed to focus our discussions on three issues: First, Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons; Second, the deteriorating situation in Syria;  Third, the need to find a responsible way to advance peace with the Palestinians.

On the first point: Iran has made it clear that it will continue to defy the will of the international community. Time after time, the world powers have tabled diplomatic proposals to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue peacefully. But diplomacy has not worked. Iran ignores these offers. It is running out the clock. It has used negotiations to buy time to press ahead with its nuclear program.

Thus far, the sanctions have not stopped the nuclear program either. The sanctions have hit the Iranian economy hard. But Iran’s leaders  grit their teeth and move forward. Iran enriches more and more uranium.  It installs faster and faster centrifuges Iran has still not crossed the red line I drew at the United Nations last September.  But they are getting closer and closer to that line.

And they are putting themselves in a position to cross that line very quickly once they decide to do so.

Ladies and Gentlemen, To prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, we cannot allow Iran to cross that line. We must stop its nuclear enrichment program before it will be too late.  Words alone will not stop Iran.  Sanctions alone will not stop Iran.  Sanctions must be coupled with a clear and credible military threat if diplomacy and sanctions fail. I deeply appreciate something that President Obama has said repeatedly. And you’ve just heard Vice President Biden say it again. Israel must always be able to defend itself by itself against any threat to its existence. The Jewish people know the cost of being defenseless against those who would exterminate us.We will never let that happen again. Joe Biden described his meeting with Golda Meir. Well, we have our place under the sun. And ladies and gentlemen, we shall defend it.

The second issue I intend to discuss with President Obama is the situation in Syria. Over 70,000 Syrians have been killed. Hundreds of thousands have been wounded. Millions have been forced to flee their homes. Besides this humanitarian crisis, Syria could soon become a strategic crisis of monumental proportions. Syria is a very poor country. But it has chemical weapons, anti-aircraft weapons, and many other of the world’s most deadly and sophisticated arms.

As the Syrian regime collapses, the danger of these weapons falling into the hands of terrorist groups is very real. Terror groups such as Hezbollah and Al Qaeda are trying to seize these weapons. They are like hyenas feeding off a carcass — and the carcass is not even dead. These terror groups are committed to Israel’s destruction. They have repeatedly attacked the United States. They are global terrorist organizations that can perpetrate attacks anywhere in the world.

That is why we have a common interest in preventing them from obtaining these weapons.

I know that here too President Obama fully appreciates Israel’s need to defend itself.

And I look forward to discussing with him ways to address this challenge to our common security.

The third issue I intend to discuss with President Obama is our common quest for peace.

Israel seeks a peace with our Palestinian neighbors that will end our conflict once and for all.

That peace must be grounded in reality. And it must be grounded in security. Israel withdrew from Lebanon. We withdrew from Gaza. We gave up territory.  We got terror. We cannot allow that to happen a third time. Israel is prepared for a meaningful compromise. But as Israel’s Prime Minister, I will never compromise on our security. We must work to find a realistic path forward — a measured step-by -step process in which we advance to a verifiable, durable and defensible peace.

I look forward to  discussing all these issues with President Obama when he comes here later this month.

But in addition, I’ll have a chance to show President Obama a different side of Israel.  Israel that has become a technological marvel teeming with innovation. Israel that each day pushes the boundaries of medicine and science to the ends of human imagination. Israel that has one of the world’s most vibrant cultures and one of the world’s most dynamic peoples.  Israel, the modern Jewish state living in the ancient Jewish homeland — an oasis of liberty and progress in the heart of the Middle East where these ideas have yet to take root.  That is the Israel that all of you know.

That is the Israel that all of you love.  And that is the Israel that will never stop standing shoulder to shoulder with the country that has been the greatest force for good that the world has ever known –  the United States of America.

God bless America. God bless Israel, and God bless the American-Israeli alliance. God bless you all. Thank you.”


Posted on on March 4th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

Israel – a hub of a true Alliance of Civilization developed its medical sector with the help of Jewish refugees from a Europe under Nazi boots. Many Professors at the first modern medical school in the Middle East escaped from Vienna, then part of the joint Austro-Germany under Hitler’s leadership. Today, Jewish refugees from Muslim States – from Morocco to Iran – and Arab/Palestinian-Israelis – are members of the medical staff as well.

This posting is for the benefit of Messrs. Erdogan,  Ahmedi-Nejad, and Morsi.

Ailing Turkish Politician Treated in Israel

March 3, 2013 2:17 pm     3 comments
Kemal Unakitan. Photo: Haber5.

A senior member of the Turkish government, former Finance Minister Kemal Unakitan, recently visited Israel for stem cell treatment. Unakitan, who is suffering from chronic renal failure, served seven years with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government from 2002-2009.

According to Turkish media, the 67-year-old Turkish politician was treated at Tel Aviv’s International Center for Cell Therapy & Cancer Immunotherapy (CTCI) for  almost two and a half months.

Chronic renal disease, also known as chronic kidney disease, is a common condition of the worsening and loss of the kidney function. The kidney disease can be treated with a form of dialysis or by a kidney transplant. However, Israel’s groundbreaking methods in stem cell treatments of the disease may help Unakitan avoid a kidney transplant and cease dialysis treatments.

Turkish media reports indicate that Unakitan will visit Israel again for additional treatments in the future.

Israel’s highly advanced medical innovations and treatments have been utilized by patients across the Middle East. The Jewish state has opened its doors to patients of adversary countries, including Iraq and Iran. In 2008, Israel treated a 12-year-old boy from Iran suffering from a brain tumor.

In August 2012, the husband of Suhila Abd el Salam, the sister of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, was admitted to Beilinson Hospital in Petach Tikva for immediate medical treatment following a serious heart condition. Haniyeh’s brother-in-law opted to come to Israel instead of Egypt for treatment and was transferred at the Gaza border by a Magen David Adom Ambulance.


Posted on on February 23rd, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

ISRAEL TRAVELS – By  February 23, 2013

Israeli history: it’s all about roots

The oldest of our ancient trees have lived through wars, religious upheavals, conquests and defeats; the youngest have seen the return of the Jews to their ancient homeland.

For the full article and the terrific photos of tres – please go to:…

Legend holds that after the Temple was destroyed, all the trees in the Land of Israel shed their leaves in mourning. All the trees, that is, except for the olive.

“Why are you not sad?” the other trees asked the olive. “You, who provided oil for the sacred menorah, why are you not full of sorrow, as we are?” The olive tree replied: “Can you not see the torment in my heart?” And, indeed, olive trees are twisted and gnarled, as if their hearts are in travail.

Unless their leaves are swaying in the breeze — or falling in a forest — trees rarely make a sound. Yet what if they could talk? As the oldest forms of life in the universe, they could tell riveting stories about long-ago events and the people who made them happen!

The oldest of Israel’s ancient trees have lived through wars, religious upheavals,  conquests and defeats; the youngest have seen the return of the Jews to their ancient homeland. Here are but a few, together with their fascinating tales!


Terebinth, Henion Haela recreation site (photo credit: Shmuel Bar-Am)Terebinth, Henion Haela recreation site (photo credit: Shmuel Bar-Am)

1) Atlantic Terebinth in the Kedesh Valley

“And Absalom was riding upon his mule, and the mule went under the thick boughs of a great terebinth, and his head caught hold of the terebinth, and he was taken up between the heaven and the earth; and the mule that was under him went on.” (2 Sam 18: 9)

The stunning 450-year-old Atlantic terebinth located in the Galilee’s Kedesh Valley is considered to be the oldest and biggest of its kind in the country. Indeed, it is so impressive that one of its ancestors could easily have caught Absalom’s heavy mane in its branches.

Today, located inside a charming JNF recreation area along Route 899, the tree can provide shade — or so we were told — for more than 50 people at one time! Adding ambience to the site are several younger terebinth, delightful log-shaped tables and a little footbridge over an intermittent stream. Wheelchair accessible site.


Pequi’in tree (photo credit: Shmuel Bar-Am) Pequi’in tree (photo credit: Shmuel Bar-Am)

2) Carob and Mulberry at the Galilee town of Pequi’in

Rabbi Shimon Bar-Yochai was a brilliant 2nd Century scholar, during the time of Roman rule in the Land of Israel. One day, in a desperate effort to wipe out every last remnant of Judaism, the Romans decreed that keeping the Sabbath was forbidden and prohibited circumcision. Rabbi Shimon Bar-Yochai spoke out openly against the Roman decrees.

Soldiers were sent to execute the rabbi. According to Jewish tradition, he fled with his son Elazar to Pequi’in — the only town in Israel to have maintained a continuous Jewish presence for the last 2,000 years.

Elazar and his father found refuge in a miniscule cave, living in this tiny niche for 13 years, and subsisting only on the fruit of a carob tree that miraculously appeared nearby — perhaps one of the carob trees that still stands near the cave! To slake their thirst they drank water from a spring that providentially burst through the ground.

Pequi’in grew up around that very special spring, which, for centuries, has been a pilgrimage site for religious Jews. The houses here are the oldest in town, and until modern times this is where villagers would water their animals, do laundry, and wash their dishes. Here they held celebrations, sat spellbound listening to storytellers, and watched magicians perform sleight of hand. Older people gathered here to gossip; young people came here to find a spouse.

Towering about the spring is a mulberry tree, whose leaves are used in producing silk. A symbol of Pequi’in, it appeared until recently, on the 100-shekel bill.


Sycamore fig tree, Tel Aviv (photo credit: Shmuel Bar-Am)Sycamore fig tree, Tel Aviv (photo credit: Shmuel Bar-Am)

3) Sycamore Fig

Hundreds of years ago, sycamore fig trees covered a sandy hill in today’s Tel Aviv. In the early days of the city – which was established in 1909 – people would bask in their shade, talking, laughing and, perhaps singing upbeat songs about reclaiming the Land of Israel.

Then, in 1953, plans for a cultural center on that very same hill came to fruition. Worried that leveling the hill for construction would destroy the trees, nature lovers raised a huge public outcry. Their campaign to save the trees was partially successful, and a few of these 400-year-old trees survived.

Eventually the lovely Yaakov Park (Gan Yaakov) was developed around the trees, and next to the center — today the Mann Auditorium and the Helena Rubinstein Pavilion for Contemporary Art. Once again, families relax under gorgeous sycamore trees, talking and laughing and solving the problems of the world.


Beerotayim Tamarisks (photo credit: Shmuel Bar-Am) Beerotayim Tamarisks (photo credit: Shmuel Bar-Am)

4) Tamarisk trees at Beerotayim

During World War I, the Turkish authorities decided to draft young men from Mikve Israel into the Turkish army. The principal had a better idea: he offered to have his pupils grow beautiful trees and plant them at Turkish army posts. One desert post was at Beerotayim, named for the two wells (“beer”) found within its confines and located along the Turkish railroad line.

Beerotayim (south of Nitzana off Highway 10) is, today, a lush oasis boasting trees of incredible beauty. Nearby, graceful gazelles gaze at visitors with startled looks; perching here and there on the branches is a bird that Israelis call “kova hanazir” (monk’s cap), because the top of its black head is white.


Bengali fig tree, Jaffa (photo credit: Shmuel Bar-Am)Bengali fig tree, Jaffa (photo credit: Shmuel Bar-Am)

5) Bengali Fig in Tel Aviv’s American Colony

In 1878, Russian-born Baron Plato Von Ustinov bought a house in Jaffa. Originally part of an American Colony that had been abandoned a decade earlier, the building had been serving as headquarters for a group of German Protestants called the Templers. Ustinov, grandfather to British actor Peter Ustinov, turned the large, rambling structure  into a veritable palace and created a fabulous garden in the back.

His gardens were overseen by Nissim Alchadaf, one of the earliest pupils at Mikve Israel. Mikve Israel was the first agricultural school in modern Israel, and its landscaped gardens included a Bengali fig tree, planted in 1888 and today considered by many to be the most beautiful tree in the country. Alchadaf planted a Bengali fig in Ustinov’s gardens at around the same time. Although most of the 19th-century garden is no more, the Bengali fig remains standing, in all its glory.


Eastern strawberry tree, Mount Scopus (photo credit: Shmuel Bar-Am)Eastern strawberry tree, Mount Scopus (photo credit: Shmuel Bar-Am)

6) Eastern Strawberry Tree on Mount Scopus

Once upon a time, a young man from the Judean Hills was called into the army only a few days before he was to be married. When he didn’t return, the youth’s father took pity on his son’s betrothed and married her himself.

As luck would have it, the son came home soon afterwards and furiously hacked off his father’s head. Eastern strawberry trees immediately sprang up at the spot, their trunks covered with the older man’s blood.

One magnificent Eastern strawberry tree is situated in the very center of the British War Cemetery on Mount Scopus. It is possible that the tree was there even before the British conquered Jerusalem in 1917, and kept in its place because the bark’s blood-red color symbolized the blood that is spilled in the war.

Most of the 2,515 soldiers buried within the peaceful, lovingly maintained cemetery fell in battles over Jerusalem. The troops belonged to Commonwealth forces and were from South Africa, Britain, India, Australia, and New Zealand. A number of Jewish graves are located high on the slope; many of the soldiers who are buried there served together in the Royal Fusiliers.


Ma'ale HaHamisha Cedar of Lebanon (photo credit: Shmuel Bar-Am)Ma’ale HaHamisha Cedar of Lebanon (photo credit: Shmuel Bar-Am)

7) Cedar of Lebanon at Kibbutz Ma’aleh HaHamisha (Ascent of the Five)

Named for five members of their pioneer group who were murdered while preparing the ground for their settlement, Ma’aleh HaHamisha was established in 1938. The following year, four cedar trees were planted next to the communal dining room: two Atlas cedars and two cedars of Lebanon. When Theodor Herzl was reinterred on the mountain that bears his name, one of the latter cedars was replanted near his grave.

Snow had fallen in Jerusalem and on the Jerusalem Hills, a few days before we travelled to Ma’aleh HaHamisha in January to take a photo of the tree: while we were busy filming it from every possible angle, a family from Kfar Saba took excited pictures of a small pile of snow that remained on the ground.


Jerusalem pine tree, Masrek (photo credit: Shmuel Bar-Am)

Jerusalem pine tree, Masrek (photo credit: Shmuel Bar-Am)

8) Jerusalem Pine at the Masrek Nature Reserve

As tired, unshaven Palmach forces neared the hostile Arab village of Beit Machsiain 1948, during the War of Independence, one of them observed that a row of tall pine trees resembled the teeth of the comb (masrek) he wished he could run through his unruly hair! In time, HaMasrek became the official name of a nature reserve, today part of the JNF’s Rabin Park.

Despite a forest fire that devastated most of the reserve’s ancient Jerusalem pine trees in 2001, HaMasrek is still lush and green. A circular trail takes hikers to a breathtaking view of the Judean Hills and Plains, while a special sight is the tomb of Sheikh Ahmed al-Ajami. Moslem tradition holds that the sheikh, buried next to the “comb”, was Mohammed’s barber!


Aviva Bar-Am is the author of seven English-language guides to Israel.

Shmuel Bar-Am is a licensed tour guide who provides private, customized tours in Israel for individuals, families and small groups.

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Posted on on February 21st, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (


WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 2013,  6:30 – 7:45 PM

New York University Downtown – Woolworth Building, Room 430
15 Barclay Street (bet. Broadway and Church Street)
New York, NY

Contact Information: Email –


Alon Ben-Meir, professor of international relations, journalist, and author, hosts leaders from around the world in conversations that probe critical global issues and explore the policies designed to address them.

H.R.H Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein
Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to the United Nations

PRINCE ZEID: A PHOTO TRIBUTE from MaximsNewsNetwork by Dr. Max Stamper. PHOTO:  Zeid Ra'ad Zeid Al-Hussein, Permanent Representative of Jordan to the United Nations, addressing the 111th plenary meeting of the General Assembly on the question of equitable representation on an increase in the membership of the Security Council at UN Headquarters. 11 July 2005. United Nations, New York. UN Photo: Rick Bajornas

Prince Zeid is now Jordan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, a post he held previously from 2000-2007 then was away 2007-2010.

In 2006 Prince Zeid, at 42, was the youngest candidate to run for the position of United Nations Secretary-General, to replace Kofi Annan.

The selection of the S-G normally rotates from one world region to another, and in that year it was Asia’s turn to head the world body, with Jordan being classified as an Asian country by U.N.’s definition, even though it is on the far western edge of the region.

Despite Jordan’s size and location within Asia, the Prince was one of the most highly respected and well-liked candidates in the International Community and his candidacy gave the opportunity to have a Muslim leader as the world’s top diplomat.  However large East- and South-Asian countries prevailed and the selection went to Ban Ki-moon.

From 2007-2010 he was Jordan’s Ambassador to the United States of America; then in 2010 he returned to the UN.

Currently, Prince Zeid is Jordan’s “Sherpa” on Nuclear Security. From September 16, 2010 to March 7, 2012, he was the Chairman of the Country-Specific Configuration (of the UN Peacebuilding Commission) for Liberia.

From 2002-2005, he was the first President of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. He was also Chairman of the Working Group on the Crime of Aggression at the Review Conference of the Rome Statute in Kampala.

While at the UN he chaired the Consultative Committee for the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) from 2004-2007 and, from 2004-2006, he was the Advisor to the Secretary-General on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by UN Peacekeeping Personnel.

In 1989, he received his commission as an officer in the Jordanian desert police (the successor to the Arab Legion) and saw service with them until 1994.

Prince Zeid holds a B.A. from The Johns Hopkins University and a Ph.D. from Cambridge University (Christ’s College) and has served as an officer in the Jordanian military.

Prince Zeid is a member of the Advisory Committee to the Institute for Historical Justice and Reconciliation.

He was also a member of the World Bank’s Advisory Council for the World Development Report 2011.

His publications include: ‘A Nightmare Avoided: Jordan and Suez 1956’ in Israel Affairs (Winter 1994), and ‘Religious Militancy in the Arab Middle East: Threats and Responses 1979-1988’ in the Cambridge Review of International Affairs (Spring 1989).


Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein was born 26 January 1964 in Amman, Jordan to Prince Ra’ad bin Zeid head of the Royal Houses of Iraq and Syria and pretender to the Iraqi throne and his Swedish-born wife Margaretha Inga Elisabeth Lind, henceforward known as Majda Raad.

The father, Prince Ra’ad bin Zeid was born 18 February 1936 in Berlin where his father, Prince Zeid (the grandfather) was Iraqi ambassador at the time.

Thus grand-father and -mother were  Prince Zeid bin Hussein, of the Hashemite House, and Princess Fahrelnissa Zeid (Fakhr un-nisa), a Turkish noblewoman. Upon the death of his father on October 18, 1970, he inherited the position as head of the Royal Houses of Iraq and Syria. Ra’ad has lived in London and Paris. The Kingdom of Jordan has confirmed his style as His Royal Highness and Prince.

Raad’s paternal first cousin once removed was Faisal II, the last king of Iraq, who was killed in a bloody coup d’etat on 14 July 1958 (Crown Prince Abd-al-Illah was also killed). Following the regicide, Prince Zeid, Raad’s father, took the representation of Iraqi monarchy as the next heir, and was recognized as the Head of the Royal House of Iraq by his remaining agnatic co-heirs of Jordan. They continued to live in London, where the family resided during the coup, as Zeid was the Iraqi ambassador there.


The current Ambassador to the UN, Zeid the son of Ra’ad the son of Zeid the son of Hussein Kink of Heijaz, speaks a perfect British English and seems to be steeped in Western thinking.

He feels that troubles in the Middle East could be eased by turning to non-partisan thinkers or scientists, insulated from political elements, who could present ideas to find ways for solutions. Given the depth of feelings, specially when it comes to Jerusalem, there is no other way out – he said.

Now the situation seems to cry for above approach even more then ever. Now we have more construction by Israelis and the threat of a reaction by the Palestinians going to the International Criminal Court – the ICC. If these issues are moved to the courts this is the end of the search for a two-States solution, he said. There was an Arab peace plan, then there was the 2002 blow up in Netanya – and that was it. Israel stated to seek security in a garrison State surrounded by walls. A garrison democracy that does not talk to anyone while there seems a lack of trust in authority on the Arab side. Can the President’s trip to the region on March 20th help now – by starting something? A vehicle that the Arab side could see as acceptable to some issue? He added – a vehicle for “all of us” not just the Palestinians.

Professor Ben-Meir added that the Jewish Community in the US was “holier then though” and has sympathy for the settlements – I do not think that these people understand the hole Israel is digging for itself – he said. Diplomacy cannot solve this. Time has come for the sides to wake up.

The Ambassador thinks that someone could come and declare what every factor should do – this to avoid the going to ICC. Here Ben-Meir reminded that the danger from Iran shows that time is not on the side of the Israelis nor the Palestinians. There will be serious consequences if we do not solve the problems now. A problem he said is that there is so much mediocrity in public officials today. We cannot name ten people we trust, maybe even not five – he said.

Here I had a chance to ask something I was contemplating for a while – the difference between a de facto acceptance of a situation and grudgingly try to do some moves to peace, or rather a recognition de-jure of a situation, and then try to adjust. What if the Arab States that rejected 65 years ago the right of Israel to exist as an independent unit within an Arab world. would declare that they do now recognize this right and accept it?

Above, without being a declaration of Peace, so it does not indeed give up anything of real value, nevertheless removes the psychological obstacle that in 1948 led the Israelis to believe that nothing they would do for peace will help, when considering the absolute negation of their rights to existence as declared by the Arab side.

The Ambassador answered that something big should be contemplated, if not exactly what I suggested, but nevertheless something that can jump-start a new way of seeing the situation – so he thanks for the idea.

Start with a dramatic step he said. Also,  from his own experience as a negotiating intermediary – he would always summarize the common points and write them up as a starting point for next day’s negotiations – this in order to move by incremental steps to show progress.


I had then further chance to talk with the Ambassador and ended the evening happy that I was in the academic environment of the NYU, considering that actually I had first intended to go this evening to the event at the Asia Society that I posted about earlier in the day. I did not get in there as the public relations office at the Asia Society gives no hoot about people that like to ask questions on the record. The meeting there was seemingly sold out to their regular membership with little access to the press. That meeting had also a good panel and was about Iran, but I doubt that it was as free and forthcoming as our event here.

It seems that with outside help some generic peace plan could be forged for the Middle East.


Posted on on February 16th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

by Uri Avnery – many years ago Maverick Clairvoyant Member of the Israeli Parliament – the Knesset.

February 16, 2013

The Zuabis

THE SOLE contribution of Ya’ir Lapid to Israeli folklore so far is his saying that he would not join a move to block Binyamin Netanyahu, since this would mean joining forces with “the Zuabis”.

This needs explanation to a foreign audience. The Zuabi family is a large Hamula (extended Arab family) located in Nazareth and the vicinity. Several members of this family served in the Knesset in the early days of Israel, all as members of Zionist parties or Arab factions attached to Zionist parties.

The present member of the Knesset bearing that distinguished name is Ms. Hanin Zuabi, the 44 year-old representative of the Arab nationalist Balad party. The founder of the party, Azmi Bishara, left Israel after being accused of security offenses. He said that because of his severe diabetes, he could not afford to go to prison.

Hanin. however, is widely hated on her own account. She has a knack of getting under the skin of Jewish Israelis. She is intentionally provocative, abrasive and infuriating. Once she was physically attacked by one of Avigdor Lieberman’s female storm troopers while making a speech from the Knesset rostrum. She did not flinch.

But her main claim to glory (or hatred) was the audacious decision to go aboard the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara that tried to run the blockade and take supplies to Gaza. The incident, in which 9 Turkish activists were killed by Israeli commandos, raised a tsunami of emotions in Israel. Hanin Zuabi was branded as a traitor. Many Arab citizens admire her courage, but that did not prevent her party from losing a seat in the recent elections. However, Zuabi kept her seat in the Knesset.

She is now the pet hatred object. In a recent article, a leading journalist put her picture next to that of Sarah Netanyahu and called them the two most hated women in Israel – one on the left, one on the right.

So if Lapid had refused to cooperate with Hanin, few Jewish Israelis would have criticized him. What aroused a storm of protest was a single letter. Lapid did not refuse to cooperate with Hanin Zuabi but with “the Zuabis” – in the plural. This was understood to mean all members of the three Arab factions in the Knesset.

“Racist!” the cry arose from many sides. “Inexcusable!”, “intolerable!”, “detestable!”

THESE CRIES might have sounded convincing, except for one fact: in all the present efforts to build a new government coalition, no one even suggested including the “Arab” factions.

There are three “Arab” factions. (“Arab” in quotes, because one of them, the communist “Hadash”, has one Jewish MK, the popular Dov Hanin. However, the voters of the party are almost all Arab. The size of its Jewish vote did actually decrease this time.)

The members of these factions live practically in a parliamentary ghetto. They function like other members, have full rights, one them is a deputy speaker and presides over sessions, in theory they can even make their speeches in Arabic, though all of them choose to speak in Hebrew.

Yet there is a glass wall between them and their colleagues. There is a tacit agreement among the Jewish members that they should not be included in coalitions. The closest they ever got was in 1993, when Yitzhak Rabin depended on their support, without including them in his coalition. Without it, the Oslo agreement would never have happened, nor would Rabin have been assassinated. The fiercest denunciation of his policy was that he had no “Jewish majority”, that he was giving away our God-given land with the help of Arab factions. One of the most bitter accusers was Binyamin Netanyahu.

ONE MAY well ask how the Arabs got into the Knesset in the first place.

This was by no means a foregone conclusion. After all, in Israel’s Declaration of Independence the new state was defined as “Jewish”. Why should Arabs be allowed to participate in enacting the laws of the Jewish State? Why should they be citizens at all?

There was a lively debate about this in the secret deliberations at the time of the founding of the state in 1948. It was David Ben-Gurion who made the final decision. He was concerned about world opinion, especially at a time when Israel was fighting for admission to the UN. Since Ben-Gurion was a politician, he was very good at combining the national interest with his own.

The first Knesset was elected in January 1949, while the war was still going on (I remember voting near the army convalescence camp where I was recovering from my wounds). At the time, the Arabs who remained in Israel after the mass flight and expulsion were subject to “military rule”, which made the life of every individual Arab, down to the smallest detail, totally dependent on the military governor.

Ben-Gurion saw to it that the Arab citizens – while enjoying a free vote – voted for his party, Mapai. The heads of the extended families were told that life would be made miserable for them if they did not deliver the prescribed number of votes for the party. Each one was told how his people must vote – for Mapai itself or for one of the Arab factions set up by Mapai precisely for this purpose. Thus it was easy to check how each family had voted.

Without these captive votes, it would have been difficult for Ben-Gurion to set up his coalitions during his 15 years in office.

AFTER THE Naqba of the 1948 war, the remaining 200 thousand or so “Israeli Arabs” were in a state of shock. They neither had the means nor dared to oppose the government in any way.

The only exceptions were the communists. During the 1948 war, the Zionist leadership was closely allied with Stalin, who provided us with almost all our arms. This alliance continued for some years, until Israel’s tightening ties with the West and Stalin’s mounting anti-Semitic paranoia put an end to it.

By that time, the Israeli communist party had built up a strong position within the Arab community in Israel. It was in practice an Arab party, though Moscow dictated, for reasons of its own, that the General Secretary be Jewish. The relations between the party’s leadership and the government were full of contradictions – while the party was tolerated because of Israel’s ties with Moscow, from time to time it was persecuted by the Shin Bet as a Fifth Column.

Since no other Arab party (except Mapai’s aforementioned Arab Quislings) was tolerated at all, the communist party enjoyed what practically amounted to a monopoly in the Arab street. Its hold on the Arab towns and villages in Israel came close to the stranglehold Mapai had until 1977 on the Jewish population. Woe to the Arab who dared to oppose it!

After Ben-Gurion was kicked out by his own party in 1963, the official attitude towards the Arab citizens gradually became more liberal. Military rule was officially abolished in 1966 (it was one of my first votes in the Knesset). Eventually, new Arab parties were allowed to be set up and entered the Knesset.  The relations between the Arabs and the state entered a new phase – a phase very difficult to define.

ISRAEL IS officially defined as a “Jewish and democratic state”. Some consider this an oxymoron – if it’s Jewish, it cannot be democratic, if it’s democratic, it cannot be Jewish. Official doctrine has it that the state is Jewish in its character, but that all citizens enjoy (or should enjoy) equal rights.

As a matter of fact, Israel has never really come to grips with this basic contradiction: what is the status of a national minority in a state that is totally identified with the national majority? To wit, how can Arab citizens really be equal in a state that claims to be “the nation-state of the Jewish people”?

From the Law of Return, which applies only to Jews and their descendents, through the Law of Citizenship, which makes a sharp distinction between Jews and non-Jews, to dozens of minor laws which bestow privileges on people who are defined as “individuals to whom the Law of Return might apply” – there is no real equality. In practice, discrimination, open or hidden, permeates society.

Many Israelis assert that they abhor discrimination, but claim that other democratic countries do not treat their own national minorities any better.

A THIRD generation of “Israeli Arabs” is now growing up. It is no longer cowed by the government, but lives in a mental limbo. They proudly define themselves as Palestinians and support the Palestinian struggle in the occupied territories, but also are  becoming more and more Israeli. Another Zuabi, Abd-al-Aziz, a member of the Knesset many years ago, coined the phrase: “My state is at war with my people”. The most prominent Arab Knesset member at present, Ahmad Tibi, once a close advisor to Yasser Arafat, is to my mind the most Israeli of all Knesset members, both in character and behavior.

Actually, Arabs are far more integrated in Israeli society than many people realize. Jewish patients in government hospitals are often unaware of the fact that the doctor and the male nurse treating them are Arabs. In football matches between Jewish and Arab teams, Jewish hooligans shout “Death to Arabs” and their Arab equals shout, with equal enthusiasm, “Allah is Great!”

A few years ago, Lieberman proposed that the Arab towns and villages located in Israel near the border with the West Bank should be joined to the future Palestinian state, in return for Jewish settlements in the West Bank on the other side of the border. There was a storm of protest from the Arab population. Not a single Arab spokesman supported the idea.

However, the growing bitterness of the Arab citizens is driving the Arab members to more and more extreme positions and strident utterances, while the Jewish right-wing politicians become more and more extreme in their anti-Arab racism. Thus the gulf between the two camps in the Knesset is getting wider, not narrower.

So Lapid was shrewdly courting the mainstream when he expressed his contempt for the “Zuabis”. Hanin Zuabi, of course, was flattered.


It is all relative! The most free State for the Arabs in the Middle East is still Israel, and the Israeli Arabs know it and by their acts acknowledge it.  M.K. Hanin Zuabi is a living example of this. Amazing her Tango with Yair Lapid who is in effect the hope for a new Israeli Government.


Posted on on February 7th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

Ahmadinejad: We’re Nuclear But Won’t Harm Israel.

Wednesday, 06 Feb 2013 01:30 PM

By Cyrus Afzali for Newsmax

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran now possesses nuclear technology — something the international community has worked hard to prevent — but despite fears to the contrary, Tehran has no interest in attacking Israel.

International sanctions have been in place against Iran since July 2006, as countries around the world have sought to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

Iran has consistently maintained its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, a claim that is treated with suspicion in the west.

“We’re already an industrial and nuclear country, a country that has conquered space,” Ahmadinejad told the Egyptian newspaper al-Ahram on Wednesday, referring to the country’s recent claim that it launched a monkey into space.

Ahmadinejad is in Egypt for an Islamic summit, marking the first time since 1979 an Iranian leader has visited the country. He said his nation has no interest in attacking Israel.

“They want to attack Iran, but we’re not preparing any attack against them because the purpose of our program is defense,” he said, according to an English-language translation of his interview.

He told the Egyptian paper that while Israel might find it easy to launch missiles or attack the country using fighter jets, Iran’s defense capabilities could withstand such an attack.

News of a potential Israeli attack on Iran first circulated in late 2012 when Martin Indyk, the former U.S. ambassador to Israel, predicted a war between the two countries is likely in early 2013. Speaking on the issue in September 2012, Indyk said he thought Iran had at most six months to negotiate a solution to avoid war.

The Iranian leader said the country’s economy is able to withstand the impact of sanctions currently in place, saying that domestic oil production has replaced imports.

One of the most damaging effects of sanctions has been a decline in the value of Iranian oil. Speaking to The New York Times in January, Iran’s oil minister conceded that the value of oil exports had declined by up to 40 percent in the past year.

Ahmadinejad said he wants the world to treat Iran as a nuclear country and that it “will not go back to what it was in the past.”

“They assume we’ll give in to pressure; such thoughts are misguided,” he said.

“For years, we have been thinking about sending a human being into space and we will do that, with [God’s] help. We must ensure development and growth and bring them to pass and the world must acknowledge our progress.”

Ahmadinejad again used anti-Israel rhetoric when discussing the Palestinian situation.


Ahmadinejad: We’re a nuclear state, but we won’t strike Israel

Visiting Egypt, president warns of grave consequences should ‘the Zionists’ attack Iran’s nuclear facilities.

By February 6, 2013, 1:33 pm
Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad meets with Grand Sheik Ahmed al-Tayeb, the head of Al-Azhar, the Sunni Muslim world's premier Islamic institution on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013 (photo credit: AP/Amr Nabil)

Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad meets with Grand Sheik Ahmed al-Tayeb, the head of Al-Azhar, the Sunni Muslim world’s premier Islamic institution on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013 (photo credit: AP/Amr Nabil)

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has claimed that his country has attained nuclear capabilities, but will not use them to strike Israel.

In an interview published Wednesday by Egyptian establishment daily Al-Ahram, Ahmadinejad said that even though “the Zionists” are intent on attacking Iran, Iran is “not planning a military strike against them, because our system is defensive.”

On the second day of a three-day visit to Egypt, Ahmadinejad warned Israel against launching a preemptive strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities, saying that such an attack would cause grave consequences for the Jewish state.

“Launching missiles or a fighter jet would not be difficult [for Israel], but what is important is the reaction to such a strike, as well as Iran’s defensive capabilities,” he said.

Speaking of Iran’s technological advances, Ahmadinejad claimed that his country is now “an industrial country, a nuclear and aerospace country.” He told Al-Ahram that for years Iran has dreamed of launching a man into space, and will do so in the future. The Iranian president did not acknowledge that Iran was developing nuclear capabilities for military purposes.

“From now on, the world should treat Iran as a nuclear state,” he said, challenging the West to recognize Iran’s technological advances and cooperate with it.

Zionists, Ahamadinejad argued, are playing a special role in the world, taking control of political positions of power, natural resources and money. They also strive “to monopolize many sectors by destroying cultures and economies and by waging wars.”

Ahmadinejad highlighted the economic woes of the United States, saying it was in the process of transferring its problems to the rest of the world “through the dollars.” America, he added, continues to push its hegemony by “placing its hands in the pockets of others.”

Addressing the Egyptian fear of Iranian-backed Shiite proselytizing, Ahmadinejad denied any official Iranian policy of spreading Shiite Islam in the Arab world, while acknowledging that some individuals may be involved in such activity.

Attending a summit of the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation in Cairo on Wednesday, Ahmadinejad is the first Iranian leader to visit Egypt in 35 years. Following the Islamic revolution in 1979, Iran cut diplomatic relations with Egypt, which sheltered the deposed Shah and signed peace accords with Israel. The Islamic Republic subsequently named a Tehran street after the assassin of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, Khaled Islambouli.


Egypt Hosts Ahmadinejad in First Iran Leader Visit Since 1979 Revolution.

Tuesday, 05 Feb 2013 09:36 AM

CAIRO — Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived in Egypt Tuesday on the first trip by an Iranian president since the 1979 revolution, underlining a thaw in relations since Egyptians elected an Islamist head of state. President Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood politician elected in June, kissed Ahmadinejad as he disembarked from his plane at Cairo airport. The leaders walked down a red carpet, Ahmadinejad smiling as he shook hands with waiting dignitaries.

Visiting Cairo to attend an Islamic summit that begins on Wednesday, the president of the Shiite Islamist republic is due to meet later on Tuesday with the grand sheik of al-Azhar, one of the oldest seats of learning in the Sunni world.

Such a visit would have been unthinkable during the rule of Hosni Mubarak, the military-backed autocrat who preserved Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel during his 30 years in power and deepened ties between Cairo and the West.

“The political geography of the region will change if Iran and Egypt take a unified position on the Palestinian question,” Ahmadinejad said in an interview with Al Mayadeen, a Beirut-based TV station, on the eve of his visit.

He said he wanted to visit the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian territory which neighbors Egypt to the east and is run by the Islamist movement Hamas. “If they allow it, I would go to Gaza to visit the people,” Ahmadinejad said.

Analysts doubt that the historic changes that brought Morsi to power in Egypt will result in a full restoration of diplomatic ties between states whose relations were broken off after the Iranian revolution and the conclusion of Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel in 1979.


At the airport the two leaders discussed ways of boosting relations between their countries and resolving the Syrian crisis “without resorting to military intervention,” Egyptian state media reported.

Egypt is concerned by Iran’s support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is trying to crush an uprising inspired by the revolt that swept Mubarak from power two years ago. Egypt’s overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim population is broadly supportive of the uprising against Assad’s Alawite-led administration.

The Morsi administration also wants to safeguard relations with Gulf Arab states that are supporting Cairo’s battered state finances and are deeply suspicious of Iran.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr reassured Gulf Arab allies that Egypt would not jeopardize their security.

“The security of the Gulf states is the security of Egypt,” he told the official MENA news agency, in response to questions about Cairo’s opening to Iran and its impact on other states in the region.

Morsi wants to preserve ties with the United States, the source of $1.3 billion in aid each year to the influential Egyptian military.

His government has established close ties with Hamas — a movement backed by Iran and shunned by the West because of its hostility to Israel — but its priority is addressing Egypt’s deep economic problems.

“The restoration of full relations with Iran in this period is difficult, despite the warmth in ties . . . because of many problems including the Syrian crisis and Cairo’s links with the Gulf states, Israel and the United States,” said one former Egyptian diplomat.

Speaking to Reuters on the sidelines of preparatory meetings for the two-day Islamic summit, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said he was optimistic that ties could grow closer.

“We are gradually improving. We have to be a little bit patient. I’m very hopeful about the expansion of the bilateral relationship,” he said. Asked where he saw room for closer ties, he said: “Trade and economics.”

Ahmadinejad’s visit to Egypt follows Morsi’s visit to Iran in August for a summit of the Non-Aligned Movement.

Sheik Ahmed al-Tayeb, head of the 1,000-year-old al-Azhar mosque and university, will meet Ahmadinejad at his offices in medieval Islamic Cairo, al-Azhar’s media office said.

Salehi, the Iranian foreign Minister, stressed the importance of Muslim unity when he met Sheik al-Tayeb at al-Azhar last month.

Egypt and Iran have taken opposite courses since the late 1970s. Egypt, under Mubarak’s predecessor Anwar Sadat, concluded a peace treaty with Israel in 1979 and became a close ally of the United States and Europe.

Since 1979, Iran has turned into a center of opposition to Western influence in the Middle East.

Symbolically, Iran named a street in Tehran after the Islamist who led the 1981 assassination of Sadat.

Egypt gave asylum and a state funeral to Iran’s exiled Shah Reza Pahlavi, who was overthrown by the 1979 Iranian revolution.

He is buried in a medieval Cairo mosque alongside his ex-brother-in-law, Egypt’s last king, Farouk.


Ahmadinejad Says Iran Isn’t Looking to Attack Israel, Ahram Says

By Tarek El-Tablawy – Feb 6, 2013 8:26 AM ET Reported by Bloomberg News

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said his nation has no interest in attacking Israel and reached out to Egypt with an offer of aid amid that nation’s economic troubles, the state-run al-Ahram newspaper reported today.

Ahmadinejad, who arrived yesterday in Cairo for an Islamic summit in a trip marking the first to Egypt by an Iranian leader since 1979, said “Zionists,” his standard reference to Israel, “very much want to strike Iran, and we haven’t until now given, and will not give, them this chance,” the newspaper cited him as saying. “They are well aware of our Iranian defensive capabilities.”

The Iranian president said his nation had now become a state with nuclear technology despite western nations’ best efforts to prevent that, according to al-Ahram. Iran is under international sanctions for its nuclear program, an effort which the United States and its allies maintain is aimed at developing weapons. Iran says its nuclear program is for purely peaceful purposes.

Ahmadinejad said Iran’s economy is able to withstand the impact of the sanctions regime currently in place, arguing the nation’s domestic production will take the place of imports, al- Ahram reported.

Reaching out to Egypt, a traditional rival under President Mohamed Mursi’s predecessors, Ahmadinejad said Iran was ready to offer aid and stressed that cooperation between the two countries was key to cementing their strength in the world, the newspaper reported.

While Egyptian-Iranian relations have thawed slightly since Mursi’s June election, the Arab state’s foreign minister said earlier that a full normalization of ties would be left to circumstances and the Iranian president was in Cairo, like other leaders, for an Islamic summit that started today.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tarek El-Tablawy in Cairo at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at


Posted on on December 25th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

The three sections below are from the Begin – Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA) at the Bar Ilan University in Israel Russia’s Declining Influence in the Middle East” by Dr. Anna Geifman, a senior research fellow in the Department of Political Studies at Bar-Ilan University and Professor Emerita at Boston University, and Yuri Teper, a PhD candidate in political studies at Bar-Ilan University.

We find the material lacking as it looks only at Russia in the Middle East and omits looking at the “Middle East in Russia.”

What I mean is the conflicts within Russia stoked by Islamism among the Islamic citizens of Russia which are being kept by force in the Federation but would rather like to be free. It is in religion that they find the only possible outlet and their predisposition to the post Arab Spring Islamization of the Arab Street creates an internal danger in the Russian Federation.

The friendship for Assad’s Syria made sense, like it did for Saddam’s Iraq – that because they were secular leaders with whom they could deal and help stoke doses of anti-Americanism. But the moment the stage moves on to a mix of social and religious leadership this might get trickier.

Further, Putin is not Stalin even though he might like to fit on shoes of a dictator, he is basically a Capitalist and not a Bolshevic. What I mean is what I learned this last Sunday by watching Fareed Zakaria’s CNN/GPS program where he found that Egypt today might be in a stage of de-learning democracy before it had any, rather then of establishing democracy. The example of the way the Bolshevics stopped the evolution of democracy in the Soviet Union is  what evolves now in Egypt where Islamism is using methods that were perfected by Communism in order to manage the people away from a really free future. The West is not going to like this and Putin will find it difficult to side with this while keeping an eye on his own backyard as well.

The Israelis’ analysis looks at the region from the angle of their clash with Hamas, but the world at large has other angles and reasons in its viewing the changing Middle East. The world at large loved the potentates as long as they delivered the oil at low price. The Russians like to see this disturbed, and hike the price of oil by disrupting the security of supply from Arab and Iranian sources. For them destabilizing the Gulf would be just dandy, and much more interesting then playing the Hamas card. Stoking religion or secularism in Saudi Arabia would lead to similar results externally, but have different effects internally in Russia. I believe that Lavrov has more to balance in his mind then the fate of Hamas.


The BESA article suggests:

Syria has long been Russia’s closest ally in the Middle East, practically the only one since the end of the Cold War. Lacking the resources to make an impact elsewhere, Russia has maintained a close, though largely one-sided, relationship with Syria, based primarily on supplying Damascus with weapons. Syria paid back with promises of future economic preferences and provided the Russian navy with a maritime supplies base in Tartus, on the Mediterranean coast. It also fed Russian hunger for a great-power status, contributing to the illusion of Moscow’s regional influence.

Despite the central role that Syria played in Russia’s foreign policy, Putin’s efforts during the ongoing civil war in Syria have mostly been confined to diplomacy. Moscow provides President Bashar Assad’s regime with a diplomatic umbrella in the UN, protecting it from harsh resolutions and preventing a possible international intervention. However, it significantly lags behind Iran in helping the Syrian government suppress the uprising. Russia vocally protested against international involvement in the conflict, but has been unable to counter the assistance streaming to the rebels. At the same time, Moscow’s stubborn diplomatic support for the Syrian regime has taken a heavy toll on its relations with the rest of the Arab world.

Moreover, Moscow has apparently been unwilling to endanger its vital economic interests for a flimsy chance to influence the situation in the Middle East. Thus, despite opposing views on Syria, Russia and Turkey achieved a significant breakthrough on the construction of the South Stream gas pipeline to Europe. While Turkey is the second-largest consumer of Russian gas, after Germany, Russia is the weaker side in the relationship, dependent on Ankara’s permission to run the pipeline across its territory.


Russia’s relationship with Hamas began in 2006, after the organization won the Palestinian elections, and strengthened in 2007, when Hamas took control of the Gaza strip. Russia is among the few great powers that maintain official relations with Hamas and do not recognize it as a terrorist organization. In 2006, a Hamas delegation paid an official visit to Moscow and was received by Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, thus gaining valuable international recognition. Since then, Lavrov has met regularly with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, who went to Moscow in 2010. Russian officials have justified their country’s position; they claim that having connections on both sides of the conflict will allow negotiation and constructive dialogue towards a resolution. They had previously applied the same approach in the Korean conflict, presumably aiming to maintain Russia’s international significance far beyond the country’s actual capacity to have an effect.

In practice, when the opportunity to make an impact presented itself during the last Israel-Hamas standoff, Russia stayed out of the way, confining itself to firm anti-Israeli rhetoric and empty calls for restraint on both sides. Speaking at a news conference after a meeting with Arab foreign ministers in Riyadh, Lavrov described Israeli actions as “disproportionate” and “entirely unacceptable,” while Putin called on the parties to exercise restraint. At the same time, Russia Today, Moscow’s official international satellite network broadcasting in English and Arabic, persistently aired vicious anti-Israeli propaganda, bordering on incitement.

These statements apparently reflect Russia’s desperate effort to mend its shattered image in the Arab world caused by its support of the Assad regime. Still, it was the US-backed Egypt which played the central role in achieving the ceasefire agreement between Hamas and Israel, reaping the benefits of international prestige. Russia did not have any role whatsoever, and during the whole crisis remained entirely irrelevant.


Their Conclusion is thus: The oil issue is almost automatically assumed to be of pivotal significance for all players involved in the Middle East gambit, especially Russia, whose financial fortunes are directly linked to the fluctuations of oil prices. However, the traditional instability in the region, the latest shockwaves of the ”Arab Spring,” and the escalation of tension between Israel and Iran keep prices high without a special intervention from Moscow. Aside from this, Russia has little to gain from its involvement in the region, as its Middle Eastern politics seem to be more about pride than about financial gains.

Lacking the ability to impact the situation on the ground and losing last bits of diplomatic influence, Russia might be tempted to take a more adventurous stand on Middle Eastern issues in order to restore its ruined status on the Arab street. Yet, as long as the US maintains relations with the new Islamist regimes, Russia’s response will be mainly confined to the diplomatic realm. There is simply no space for the Russians in the new Middle East, as they have little or nothing to offer or contribute to the developing situation. On the other hand, should anything trigger a break in the fragile relationship between the Islamists and the US, and should the Americans retract their support, the Russians will be sure to jump in to fill the vacuum, seeking to regain influence – as they have always in the past – by supporting anti-American regimes. Unable to make serious financial contributions, however, they may try to compensate by offering weapons and diplomatic cover.


Posted on on December 24th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

The following arrived just in English and Hebrew and points at a meeting that will be held in Israel.
It mentions that an Arab from the Gaza Hamas-held mini-State (Strip) will participate by phone.
He is unnamed and we have no problem envisioning why. Nevertheless we consider this a potentially important event.

Israelis from the left – the Hadash party, and the more centrist Labor party will participate, as well as Arab Israelis – the Bedooui of the Negev.

The residents of the missile stricken region centered around Sderot and up to Ashkelon on the coast, will participate with that across the border Arab to tell both sides that time has come for Israel and the Hamas led mini-State to talk in order to end this bombing non-sense.
It is the civil population of the stricken area Sderot and Gaza that want to lead the way. In Israel you can attempt this legally and have your name listed –  in Gaza this is not possible – we know this and we considered the un-named Arab a hero. But then we also publicized that an Egyptian Arab hero, Maikel Nabil,  is attempting to bring together closer the Egyptian and Israeli people – this like Israeli heroes Uri Avnery and Abie Nathan did in the past. Progress will be possible when this first – rather one sided meeting – will grow into a movement. Let us help them by telling the world that this is in the cards.

Uri Avnery is a hero of our website and of our times. Born in Germany, former fighter for establishing a State called Israel, politician – now just an activist – was the link between Israel and Yasser Arafat.
Abie Nathan, born in Iran, educated in India, former WWII pilot in the British R.A.F., volunteer fighter-pilot for Israel in 1948, flew solo to Egypt to start talks with President Nasser then brought ice-cream to Egyptian children with his Peace ship.

Peace will not happen unless someone starts it by reaching out and it would be nice if this time the effort starts with an Arab ready to risk his life.
Would it not be nice for Israel to recognize Hamas as the de-facto leader in Gaza (Hamasstan – if you wish) and show readiness to negotiate with them? What is surely needed in step 2 is that the poster be written in Arabic as well.

Gaza-Sderot: Now Let's                     Talk!
Gaza-Sderot: Now Let's Talk!

For assistance:



Posted on on November 30th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (


Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Noting New Status Accorded to Palestine, Secretary-General Tells General Assembly –

‘No Substitute for Negotiations’ in Efforts towards Peace, Two-State Solution.

Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the General Assembly on the question of Palestine, in New York, on 29 November:

An important vote has taken place today in the General Assembly.

The decision by the General Assembly to accord Palestine Non-Member Observer State status in the United Nations was a prerogative of the Member States.  I stand ready to fulfill my role and report to this Assembly as requested in the resolution.

My position has been consistent all along.  I believe that the Palestinians have a legitimate right to their own independent State.  I believe that Israel has the right to live in peace and security with its neighbors.  There is no substitute for negotiations to that end.

Today’s vote underscores the urgency of a resumption of meaningful negotiations.  We must give new impetus to our collective efforts to ensure that an independent, sovereign, democratic, contiguous and viable State of Palestine lives side by side with a secure State of Israel.

I urge the parties to renew their commitment to a negotiated peace.  I count on all concerned to act responsibly, preserve the achievements in Palestinian State-building under the leadership of President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad, and intensify efforts towards reconciliation and the just and lasting peace which remains our shared goal and priority.

Thank you.


For our previous posting please see –

Posted on on November 30th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

For an introduction to long last night’s event at the UN General Assembly that extended for many hours before an empty Hall and a line-up of speakers for the record:

Remarks to the press by Ambassador Sir Mark Lyall Grant, Permanent Representative of the UK Mission to the UN, following the UK  ABSTAINING  on the Vote on the Palestinian resolution at the UN General Assembly – 29 November 2012.


JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Hours after the United Nations voted overwhelmingly to grant de-facto statehood to Palestine, Israel responded on Friday by announcing it was authorizing 3,000 new settler homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

An official, who declined to be named, said the government had also decided to expedite planning work for thousands more homes in a geographically sensitive area close to Jerusalem that critics say would kill off Palestinian hopes of a viable state.

The decision was made on Thursday when it became clear that the U.N. General Assembly was set to upgrade the Palestinians’ status in the world body, making them a “non-member state”, as opposed to an “entity”, boosting their diplomatic clout.

The motion was backed by 138 nations, opposed by nine, while 41 members abstained – a resounding defeat that exposed its growing diplomatic isolation.

An Israeli official had earlier conceded that this represented a “total failure of diplomacy” and warned there would be consequences – which were swift in coming.

Plans to put up thousands of new settler homes in the wake of the Palestinian upgrade were always likely, but the prospect of building in an area known as E-1, which lies near Jerusalem and bisects much of the West Bank, is seen by some as a potential game changer.

“E-1 will signal the end of the two state-solution,” said Daniel Seidemann, an Israeli expert on settlements. He added that statutory planning would take another six to nine months to complete, meaning building there was not a foregone conclusion.

About 500,000 Israelis already live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem on land Israel seized in the 1967 Middle East war – territory the Palestinians claim for their independent state.

The United States, one of the eight countries to vote alongside Israel at the U.N. General Assembly, said the latest expansion plan was counterproductive to the resumption of direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

ABSURD: Ahead of the U.N. vote, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government had argued that the unilateral Palestinian move breached their previous accords and accused the 193-member world body of failing in its responsibilities.

“The General Assembly can resemble the theatre of the absurd, which once a year automatically approves ludicrous, anti-Israeli resolutions,” said government spokesman Mark Regev.

“Sometimes these are supported by Europe, sometimes they are not,” he added, alluding to the fact that only one European state, the Czech Republic, had voted against the Palestinians.

Nonetheless, analysts said the vote exposed the gulf that had opened between Europe and Netanyahu over his handling of the Western-backed administration of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and the depth of EU opposition to settlement expansion.

“The government has failed to appreciate the gravity of the challenge to Israel’s fundamental legitimacy in Europe,” said Gidi Grinstein, head of the Reut Institute think-tank.

“The Palestinian bid in the U.N. is turning out to be a bigger defeat than anticipated.”

In many ways, Israel was caught off guard.

Last week it was fighting Islamist militants in the Gaza Strip, grateful to see much of the West offering support for its determination to stop indiscriminate rocket fire from the Palestinian enclave whose leaders preach Israel’s destruction.

The eight-day bombardment ended in a truce that was widely viewed as handing Gaza’s Hamas Islamists a PR boost at the expense of Abbas and the Palestine Liberation Organization, who have renounced violence in favor of diplomacy.

The West pumped billions into Abbas’s administration over the years to bolster a partner for Middle East peace and felt they had to rally to his support in New York. Before the Gaza conflict, the Palestinians said they would win 115 ‘yes’ votes at the United Nations. They ended up with more.

COURT THREAT:  By itself, the U.N. upgrade will make little practical difference to the Palestinians or Israelis. However, the new position will enable Abbas to seek membership of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague if he wants.

This is what worries Israel.

The Geneva Convention forbids occupying powers from moving “parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies”, leaving Israeli officials potentially vulnerable to an ICC challenge. Israel says its settlements are legal, citing historical and Biblical ties to the West Bank and Jerusalem.

The Palestinians say they are in no rush to go to the ICC, but the threat is there, putting pressure on Israel to come up with creative solutions to overcome the peace-talks impasse, which the Jewish state blames on Abbas.

“This U.N. vote is a very strong signal to the Israelis that they can’t shove this matter under the carpet for any longer,” said Alon Liel, former director-general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry. “This is a red light for Israel.”

With politicians campaigning ahead of a January 22 election, Israel is unlikely to change course.

Opinion polls suggest Netanyahu’s right-wing bloc will win a new term in office. The coalition includes pro-settler parties, and the prime minister’s own Likud group appeared to shift to the right in primaries this week, making any land-for-peace compromise with the Palestinians look more complex than ever.

His opponents seized on the U.N. vote, with ex-foreign minister Tzipi Livni, aspiring to become Israel’s second female prime minister, blaming a failure of initiative.

“When we do not initiate, we are imposed upon,” she said.

Israeli officials say the Palestinians themselves must show they are ready to make the sort of concessions that they believe are needed to secure an accord – such as renouncing any right to return to modern-day Israel for refugees and their descendants.

However, analysts say that with the elections out of the way, the new government will have a period of calm to try once more to end their decades-old conflict with the Palestinians.

“The strategy toward the Palestinian Authority and statehood is likely to be on the top of the agenda of the next government in the winter,” said the Reut Institute’s Grinstein.

“The outcome of its strategic reassessment may well be active engagement in upgrading the powers and responsibilities of the Palestinian Authority toward statehood, and eventually recognizing the Palestinian Authority as a state.”

If E-1 building goes ahead, the chances of talks resuming will be close to non-existent.


Posted on on November 30th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

Full Transcript: Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor’s Speech to the UN General Assembly

November 29, 2012 
Ron Prosor, Israel’s ambassador to the UN. Photo: UN Multimedia.

Below is posted the full transcript of Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor’s address at the United Nations General Assembly
before the UN voted to upgrade the Palestinian Authority’s status November 29, 2012.

Mr. President,

Today I stand before you tall and proud because I represent the world’s one and only Jewish state. A state built in the Jewish people’s ancient homeland, with its eternal capital Jerusalem as its beating heart.

We are a nation with deep roots in the past and bright hopes for the future. We are a nation that values idealism, but acts with pragmatism. Israel is a nation that never hesitates to defend itself, but will always extend its hand for peace.

Peace is a central value of Israeli society. The bible calls on us:

“seek peace and pursue it.” ??? ???? ??????

Peace fills our art and poetry. It is taught in our schools. It has been the goal of the Israeli people and every Israeli leader since Israel was re-established 64 years ago.

Israel’s Declaration of Independence states, “We extend our hand to all neighbouring states and their peoples in an offer of peace and good neighborliness, and appeal to them to establish bonds of cooperation and mutual help…”

This week was the 35th anniversary of President Anwar Sadat’s historic visit to Jerusalem. In a speech just before that visit, President Sadat famously stood in the Egyptian parliament in Cairo and stated that he would go “to the ends of the earth” to make peace with Israel.

Israel’s Prime Minister at the time, Menachem Begin, welcomed President Sadat to Israel, and paved the way for peace. This morning Prime Minister Netanyahu stood at the Menachem Begin Center and said this about the resolution that you are about to vote on:

“Israel is prepared to live in peace with a Palestinian state, but for peace to endure, Israel’s security must be protected.  The Palestinians must recognize the Jewish State and they must be prepared to end the conflict with Israel once and for all.

None of these vital interests, these vital interests of peace, none of them appear in the resolution that will be put forward before the General Assembly today and that is why Israel cannot accept it.  The only way to achieve peace is through agreements that are reached by the parties and not through U.N. resolutions that completely ignore Israel’s vital security and national interests.  And because this resolution is so one-sided, it doesn’t advance peace, it pushes it backwards.

As for the rights of Jewish people in this land, I have a simple message for those people gathered in the General Assembly today, no decision by the U.N. can break the 4000-year-old bond between the people of Israel and the land of Israel.”

Mr. President,

The People of Israel wait for a Palestinian leader that is willing to follow in the path of President Sadat. The world waits for President Abbas to speak the truth that peace can only be achieved through negotiations by recognizing Israel as a Jewish State. It waits for him to tell them that peace must also address Israel’s security needs and end the conflict once and for all.

For as long as President Abbas prefers symbolism over reality, as long as he prefers to travel to New York for UN resolutions, rather than travel to Jerusalem for genuine dialogue, any hope of peace will be out of reach.

Mr. President,

Israel has always extended its hand for peace and will always extend its hand for peace. When we faced an Arab leader who wanted peace, we made peace. That was the case with Egypt. That was the case with Jordan.

Time and again, we have sought peace with the Palestinians. Time and again, we have been met by rejection of our offers, denial of our rights, and terrorism targeting our citizens.

President Abbas described today’s proceedings as “historic”. But the only thing historic about his speech is how much it ignored history.

The truth is that 65 years ago today, the United Nations voted to partition the British Mandate into two states: a Jewish state, and an Arab state. Two states for two peoples.

Israel accepted this plan. The Palestinians and Arab nations around us rejected it and launched a war of annihilation to throw the “Jews into the sea”.

The truth is that from 1948 until 1967, the West Bank was ruled by Jordan, and Gaza was ruled by Egypt. The Arab states did not lift a finger to create a Palestinian state. Instead they sought Israel’s destruction, and were joined by newly formed Palestinian terrorist organizations.

The truth is that at Camp David in 2000, and again at Annapolis in 2008, Israeli leaders made far-reaching offers for peace. Those offers were met by rejection, evasion, and even terrorism.

The truth is that to advance peace, in 2005 Israel dismantled entire communities and uprooted thousands of people from their homes in the Gaza Strip. And rather than use this opportunity to build a peaceful future, the Palestinians turned Gaza into an Iranian terror base, from which thousands of rockets were fired into Israeli cities. As we were reminded just last week, the area has been turned into a launching pad for rockets into Israeli cities, a haven for global terrorists,  and an ammunition dump for Iranian weapons.

Time after time, the Palestinian leadership refused to accept responsibility.  They refused to make the tough decisions for peace.

Israel remains committed to peace, but we will not establish another Iranian terror base in the heart of our country.

We need a peace that will ensure a secure future for Israel.

Three months ago, Israel’s Prime Minister stood in this very hall and extended his hand in peace to President Abbas. He reiterated that his goal was to create a solution of two-states for two-peoples—where a demilitarized Palestinian state will recognize Israel as a Jewish State.

That’s right. Two states for two peoples.

In fact, President Abbas, I did not hear you use the phrase “two states for two peoples” this afternoon. In fact, I have never heard you say the phrase “two states for two peoples”. Because the Palestinian leadership has never recognized that Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people.

They have never been willing to accept what this very body recognized 65 years ago. Israel is the Jewish state.

In fact, today you asked the world to recognize a Palestinian state, but you still refuse to recognize the Jewish state.

Not only do you not recognize the Jewish state, you are also trying to erase Jewish history. This year, you even tried to erase the connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem. You said that Jews were trying to alter the historic character of Jerusalem. You said that we are trying to “Judaize Jerusalem”.

President Abbas, the truth is that Jerusalem had a Jewish character long before most cities in the world had any character! Three thousand years ago King David ruled from Jerusalem and Jews have lived in Jerusalem ever since.

President Abbas, instead of revising history, it is time that you started making history by making peace with Israel.

Mr. President,

This resolution will not advance peace.

This resolution will not change the situation on the ground. It will not change the fact that the Palestinian Authority has no control over Gaza. That is forty percent of the population he claims to represent!

President Abbas, you can’t even visit nearly half the territory of the state you claim to represent.

That territory is controlled by Hamas, an internationally recognized terrorist organization that rains missiles on Israel’s civilians. This is the same Hamas that fired more than 1,300 rockets into the heart of Israel’s major cities this month.

This resolution will not confer statehood on the Palestinian Authority, which clearly fails to meet the criteria for statehood.

This resolution will not enable the Palestinians Authority to join international treaties, organizations, or conferences as a state.

This resolution cannot serve as an acceptable terms of reference for peace negotiations with Israel. Because this resolution says nothing about Israel’s security needs. It does not call on the Palestinians to recognize Israel as the Jewish State. It does not demand an end of conflict and a termination of all claims.

Let me tell you what this resolution does do.

This resolution violates a fundamental binding commitment. This is a commitment that many of the states here today were themselves witness to. It was a commitment that all outstanding issues in the peace process would only be resolved in direct negotiations.

This resolution sends a message that the international community is willing to turn a blind eye to peace agreements. For the people of Israel, it raises a simple question: why continue to make painful sacrifices for peace, in exchange for pieces of paper that the other side will not honor?

It will make a negotiated peace settlement less likely, as Palestinians continue to harden their positions and place further obstacles and preconditions to negotiations and peace.

And unfortunately, it will raise expectations that cannot be met, which has always proven to be a recipe for conflict and instability.

There is only one route to Palestinian statehood. And that route does not run through this chamber in New York. That route runs through direct negotiations between Jerusalem and Ramallah that will lead to a secure and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

There are no shortcuts. No quick fixes. No instant solutions. As President Obama said in 2010, “Peace cannot be imposed from the outside.”

The real message of this resolution for the people of Israel is that the international community will turn a blind eye to violations of these agreements by the Palestinians.

Mr. President,

In submitting this resolution, the Palestinian leadership is once again making the wrong choice.

65 years ago the Palestinians could have chosen to live side-by-side with the Jewish State of Israel. 65 years ago they could have chosen to accept the solution of two states for two peoples. They rejected it then, and they are rejecting it again today.

The international community should not encourage this rejection. It should not encourage the Palestinian leadership to drive forward recklessly with both feet pressing down on the gas, no hands on the wheel, and no eyes on the road.

Instead it should encourage the Palestinians to enter into direct negotiations without preconditions in order to achieve an historic peace in which a demilitarized Palestinian state recognizes the Jewish state.

Mr. President,

Winston Churchill said, “The truth is incontrovertible.  Panic may resent it … ignorance may deride it … malice may distort it … but there it is.”

The truth is that Israel wants peace, and the Palestinians are avoiding peace.

Those who are supporting the resolution today are not advancing peace. They are undermining peace.

The UN was founded to advance the cause of peace. Today the Palestinians are turning their back on peace. Don’t let history record that today the UN helped them along on their march of folly.

Thank you, Mr. President.


Address by Minister Baird to United Nations General Assembly in Opposition to Palestinian Bid for Non-Member Observer State Status.

November 29, 2012 – New York City, New York

Mr. President,

Canada opposes this resolution in the strongest terms because it undermines the core foundations of a decades-long commitment by the international community and the parties themselves to a two-state solution, arrived at through direct negotiations.

While we understand a final resolution remains elusive, Canada has long opposed unilateral actions by either side as these are unhelpful. The outstanding issues are too intricate and too complex to be resolved by symbolic, unilateral measures.

We do not believe that unilateral measures taken by one side can be justified by accusations of unilateralism directed at the other. That approach can only result in the steady erosion and collapse of the very foundations of a process which—while incomplete—holds the only realistic chance to bring about two peaceful, prosperous states living side-by-side as neighbours.

Canada’s support for a negotiated settlement, like our opposition to the initiative before us today, is rooted in the very history of this venerable organization and in the sustained international effort to resolve this matter.

Canada was proud to be one of the countries preparing the blueprint for peace as part of the 1947 UN Special Committee on Palestine. That committee came up with a proposal for a two-state solution—one predominantly Jewish and the other predominantly Arab living side by side—which ultimately resulted, in November 1947, in the passage of UN General Assembly Resolution 181 setting out the Partition Plan. However, not all of those who should have supported this vision were prepared to do so, and the people of the region have suffered for seven decades as a result.

Even in those early, difficult days, however, the principle of collaboration between the two parties was seen as an inherent necessity, as reflected in the elaboration of a plan for economic union between the two sides. While Resolution 181 has never been fully implemented, this principle—the idea that the two parties need to work together to achieve their mutual and intertwined destinies and potential—has survived as an essential ingredient in successive efforts to find an elusive peace.

In 1948, UN Resolution 194 set up a Conciliation Commission aimed at finding solutions to the full range of problems facing the two sides. It established an important principle in calling for the parties involved to seek agreement, through negotiations, “with a view to the final settlement of all questions outstanding between them.”

In 1967, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 242. The Council requested the dispatch of a Special Representative of the Secretary-General to the region to “promote agreement and assist efforts to achieve a peaceful and accepted settlement,” entrenching further the principle that solutions required the acceptance and collective action of both sides.

This idea was reaffirmed in 1973 in UN Security Council Resolution 338, which decided that “immediately and concurrently with the ceasefire, negotiations shall start between the parties concerned under appropriate auspices aimed at establishing a just and durable peace.”

These two resolutions—242 and 338—form the explicitly recognized cornerstone of all the subsequent peace commitments, accords and understandings that followed between the two parties, enshrining the need for negotiations as a core principle.

Both the Israelis and the Palestinians reaffirmed their acceptance of the principles and obligations laid out in both resolutions in 1993 with the signing of the Oslo Accords. Article I made the point explicitly in highlighting that the “interim arrangements are an integral part of the whole peace process and that the negotiations on the permanent status will lead to the implementation of Security Council resolutions 242 and 338.”

In 1995, Oslo II built on those important foundations. In the preamble, both sides reaffirmed “their desire to achieve a just, lasting and comprehensive peace settlement and historic reconciliation through the agreed political process.” Article 31, under Final Clauses (section 7), stipulated that “Neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and Gaza pending the outcome of the permanent status negotiations.”

These principles were, again, reaffirmed in 2002. UN Security Council Resolution 1397 called on “the Israeli and Palestinian sides and their leaders to cooperate in the implementation of the Tenet work plan and Mitchell Report recommendations with the aim of resuming negotiations on a political settlement.” It also offered support to the Secretary-General and others in their efforts to “resume the peace process.”

The following year, 2003, the Middle East Quartet was established. It developed the Roadmap, which was a performance-based, goal-driven plan covering peace, security and humanitarian areas. Its approach and directions were based explicitly on the principles contained in UN Security Council Resolutions 242, 338 and 1397. A key element of the Quartet Principles contained in the Roadmap was the requirement that “a clear, unambiguous acceptance by both parties of the goal of a negotiated settlement” was needed to reach the destination. It goes on to underscore that “a settlement, negotiated between the parties, will result in the emergence of an independent, democratic, and viable Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbors.” The Quartet Roadmap requires, by its very nature, a collaborative effort explicitly requiring “reciprocal steps” by the two sides.

Later that year, UN Security Council Resolution 1515 formally “endorse[d] the Quartet Roadmap, while calling on the parties to “fulfil their obligations under the Roadmap in cooperation with the Quartet and to achieve the vision of two States living side by side in peace and security.”

Resolution 1850, passed in 2008, underscored the Council’s explicit support for the negotiations undertaken in Annapolis in 2007, including “its commitment to the irreversibility of the bilateral negotiations.” The Resolution reaffirmed international support for the Quartet Principles and the determination of both parties to “reach their goal of concluding a peace treaty resolving all outstanding issues, without exception.” It also called on both sides to “refrain from any steps that could undermine confidence or prejudice the outcome of negotiations.”

Mr. President, successive UN Security Council resolutions and various international commitments and understandings over nearly seven decades have formed the building blocks of a collaborative peace process that remains unfinished. The path to peace has historically rested in direct negotiations between the two parties to resolve all outstanding issues and it remains the same today. Solutions can only come through the two sides working together.

This resolution will not advance the cause of peace or spur a return to negotiations. Will the Palestinian people be better off as a result? No. On the contrary, this unilateral step will harden positions and raise unrealistic expectations while doing nothing to improve the lives of the Palestinian people.

Canada is committed to a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East whereby two states live side-by-side in peace and security.

Any two-state solution must be negotiated and mutually agreed upon by both sides.

Any unilateral action, from either side, outside of the bilateral framework outlined above is ultimately unhelpful.

Canada has long supported efforts to bring the two sides to the bargaining table to resolve all outstanding issues, and we remain committed to that objective.

But we cannot support an initiative that we are firmly convinced will undermine the objective of reaching a comprehensive, lasting and just settlement for both sides.

It is for these reasons that Canada is voting against this resolution. As a result of this body’s utterly regrettable decision to abandon policy and principle, we will be considering all available next steps.

We call on both sides to return to the negotiating table without preconditions. Canada will be there to offer its good offices and support.

Thank you.


Uri Avnery

December 1, 2012

The Strong and the Sweet

IT WAS a day of joy.

Joy for the Palestinian people.

Joy for all those who hope for peace between Israel and the Arab world.

And, in a modest way, for me personally.

The General Assembly of the United Nations, the highest world forum, has voted overwhelmingly for the recognition of the State of Palestine, though in a limited way.

The resolution adopted by the same forum 65 years ago to the day, to partition historical Palestine between a Jewish and an Arab state, has at long last been reaffirmed.

I HOPE I may be excused a few moments of personal celebration.

During the war of 1948, which followed the first resolution, I came to the conclusion that there exists a Palestinian people and that the establishment of a Palestinian state, next to the new State of Israel, is the prerequisite for peace.

As a simple soldier, I fought in dozens of engagements against the Arab inhabitants of Palestine. I saw how dozens of Arab towns and villages were destroyed and left deserted. Long before I saw the first Egyptian soldier, I saw the people of Palestine (who had started the war) fight for what was their homeland.

Before the war, I hoped that the unity of the country, so dear to both peoples, could be preserved. The war convinced me that reality had smashed this dream forever.

I was still in uniform when, in early 1949, I tried to set up an initiative for what is now called the Two-State Solution. I met with two young Arabs in Haifa for this purpose. One was a Muslim Arab, the other a Druze sheik. (Both became members of the Knesset before me.)

At the time, it looked like mission impossible. “Palestine” had been wiped off the map. 78% of the country had become Israel, the other 22% divided between Jordan and Egypt. The very existence of a Palestinian people was vehemently denied by the Israeli establishment, indeed, the denial became an article of faith. Much later, Golda Meir famously declared that “there is no such thing as a Palestinian people”. Respected charlatans wrote popular books “proving” that the Arabs in Palestine were pretenders who had only recently arrived. The Israeli leadership was convinced that the “Palestinian problem” had disappeared, once and forever.

In 1949, there were not a hundred persons in the entire world who believed in this solution. Not a single country supported it. The Arab countries still believed that Israel would just disappear. Britain supported its client state, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. The US had its own local strongmen. Stalin’s Soviet Union supported Israel.

Mine was a lonely fight. For the next 40 years, as the editor of a news magazine, I brought the subject up almost every week. When I was elected to the Knesset, I did the same there.

In 1968 I went to Washington DC, in order to propagate the idea there. I was politely received by the relevant officials in the State Department (Joseph Sisco), the White House  (Harold Saunders), the US mission to the UN (Charles Yost), leading Senators and Congressmen, as well as the British father of Resolution 242 (Lord Caradon). The uniform answer from all of them, without exception: a Palestinian state was out of question.

When I published a book devoted to this solution, the PLO in Beirut attacked me in 1970 in a book entitled “Uri Avnery and Neo-Zionism”.

Today, there is a world consensus that a solution of the conflict without a Palestinian state is quite out of the question.

So why not celebrate now?

WHY NOW? WHY didn’t it happen before or later?

Because of the Pillar of Cloud, the historic masterpiece from Binyamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak and Avigdor Lieberman.

The Bible tells us about Samson the hero, who rent a lion with his bare hands. When he returned to the scene, a swarm of bees had made the carcase of the lion its home and produced honey. So Samson posed a riddle to the Philistines: “Out of the strong came forth sweetness”. This is now a Hebrew proverb.

Well, out of the “strong” Israeli operation against Gaza, sweetness has indeed come forth. It is another confirmation of the rule that when you start a war or a revolution, you never know what will come out of it.

One of the results of the operation was that the prestige and popularity of Hamas shot sky-high, while the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas sank to new depths. That was a result the West could not possibly tolerate. A defeat of the “moderates” and a victory for the Islamic “extremists” were a disaster for President Barack Obama and the entire Western camp. Something had to found – with all urgency – to provide Abbas with a resounding achievement.

Fortunately, Abbas was already on the way to obtain UN approval for the recognition of Palestine as a “state” (though not yet as a full member of the world organization). For Abbas, it was a move of despair. Suddenly, it became a beacon of victory.

THE COMPETITION between the Hamas and Fatah movements is viewed as a disaster for the Palestinian cause. But there is also another way to look at it.

Let’s go back to our own history. During the 30s and 40s, our Struggle for Liberation (as we called it) split between two camps, who hated each other with growing intensity.

On the one side was the “official” leadership, led by David Ben-Gurion, represented by the “Jewish Agency” which cooperated with the British administration. Its military arm was the Haganah, a very large, semi-official militia, mostly tolerated by the British.

On the other side was the Irgun (“National Military Organization”), the far more radical armed wing of the nationalist “revisionist” party of Vladimir Jabotinsky. It split and yet another, even more radical, organization was born. The British called it “the Stern Gang”, after its leader, Avraham Stern”.

The enmity between these organizations was intense. For a time, Haganah members kidnapped Irgun fighters and turned them over to the British police, who tortured them and sent them to camps in Africa. A bloody fratricidal war was avoided only because the Irgun leader, Menachem Begin, forbade all actions of revenge. By contrast, the Stern people bluntly told the Haganah that they would shoot anyone trying to attack their members.

In retrospect, the two sides can be seen as acting as the two arms of the same body. The “terrorism” of the Irgun and Stern complemented the diplomacy of the Zionist leadership. The diplomats exploited the achievements of the fighters. In order to counterbalance the growing popularity of the “terrorists”, the British made concessions to Ben-Gurion. A friend of mine called the Irgun “the shooting agency of the Jewish Agency”.

In a way, this is now the situation in the Palestinian camp.

FOR YEARS, the Israeli government has threatened Abbas with the most dire consequences if he dared to go to the UN. Abolishing the Oslo agreement and destroying the Palestinian authority was the bare minimum. Lieberman called the move “diplomatic terrorism”.

And now? Nothing. Not a bang and barely a whimper. Even Netanyahu understands that the Pillar of Cloud has created a situation where world support for Abbas has become inevitable.

What to do? Nothing! Pretend the whole thing is a joke. Who cares? What is this UNO anyway? What difference does it make?

Netanyahu is more concerned about another thing that happened to him this week. In the Likud primary elections, all the “moderates” in his party were unceremoniously kicked out. No liberal, democratic alibi was left. The Likud-Beitenu faction in the next Knesset will be composed entirely of right-wing extremists, among them several outright fascists, people who want to destroy the independence of the Supreme Court, cover the West Bank densely with settlements and prevent peace and a Palestinian state by all possible means.

While Netanyahu is sure to win the coming elections and continue to serve as Prime Minister, he is too clever not to realize where he is now: a hostage to extremists, liable to be thrown out by his own Knesset faction if he so much as mentions peace, to be displaced at any time by Lieberman or worse.

ON FIRST sight, nothing much has changed. But only on first sight.

What has happened is that the foundation of the State of Palestine has now been officially acknowledged as the aim of the world community. The “Two-State solution” is now the only solution on the table. The “One-State solution”, if it ever lived, is as dead as the dodo.

Of course, the apartheid one-state is reality. If nothing changes on the ground, is will become deeper and stronger. Almost every day brings news of it becoming more and more entrenched. (The bus monopoly has just announced that from now on there will be separate buses for West Bank Palestinians in Israel.)

But the quest for peace based on the co-existence between Israel and Palestine has taken a big step forwards. Unity between the Palestinians should be the next. US support for the actual creation of the State of Palestine should come soon after.

The strong must lead to the sweet.


Posted on on November 30th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

For an introduction to long last night’s event at the UN General Assembly that extended for many hours before an empty Hall and a line-up of speakers for the record:

Remarks to the press by Ambassador Sir Mark Lyall Grant, Permanent Representative of the UK Mission to the UN, following the UK vote on the Palestinian resolution at the UN General Assembly – 29 November 2012.

Good evening ladies and gentlemen,

As you know the United Kingdom abstained on the resolution just adopted by the General Assembly on the status of Palestine. In my explanation of vote I explained why, and my Foreign Minister has issued a statement which explains that. In our view the focus now should be very much on the future and that is why we are encouraging the United States to show decisive leadership in energizing the parties to restart direct negotiations. And the United Kingdom, supported by other Europeans and the full international community stands four square behind those efforts. We are committed to the creation of an independent Palestine through negotiations between both parties. That is the only way that sustainable peace will be achieved in the region and we will now be devoting our energies to achieving that objective. Thank you.

Q: You seem to be saying that you sought an assurance that Palestine wouldn’t try to join the ICC or take a case there. What would you say to the people of the idea of the depoliticized ICC or accountability? Does it make the ICC a political chip in this process?

A: No, we are very strong supporters of international justice and particularly the International Criminal Court. But we did seek assurances that Palestine would not take any steps during a peace process, which could undermine the chances of those peace negotiations being successful. We were in intensive dialogue, as I said, with the Palestinian delegation in the run-up to today’s events in order to try and ensure that those assurances were made because that might have affected our vote. On the day we did not receive those assurances, which is why we abstained in the vote.

Q: The Turkish foreign minister asked a question which I thought was interesting: He said, if not now, when? For 65 years the Palestinians have been delayed to have their own state. What would you say to that question?

A: Well we strongly agree with the sense of urgency that the Turkish Foreign Minister was setting out today. We believe that the window for the two-state solution is closing and that is why we are encouraging the United States and other key international actors to grasp this opportunity and use the next 12 months as a way to really break through this impasse that has lasted now for 60 years and have a negotiated solution which brings about an independent State of Palestine.

Q: …in a few months, or six months, or whatever, after the election of Israel?

A: Well we didn’t believe that the timing was ideal for the Palestinians to bring this resolution to the vote now so soon after the American elections. But we would have been prepared to vote in favour of it had we received the assurances that we were requesting that this would lead to an immediate and unconditional return to negotiation by the Palestinians and that they would not take steps which would undermine the chances of a rapid resumption of negotiations.

Thank you very much.


The de-Facto Palestinian State of Gaza, or what we call Hamastan, was not represented at the UN debate. What we heard about was the Mahmoud Abbas led Palestine of the West Bank – who with the help of his Prime Minister Salam Fayyad – following former leader Yassir Arafat, is trying to formulate a modern State wedged in between Israel and Jordan. We are ready to stand by him, and in order to show clearly the real dilemma of President Abbas we bring up the honored persona of the unelected Prime Minister who personifies the fact that in reality it is only Israel that is capable of assuring or denying the rule of Mr. Abbas in the territories of the West Bank. As we found through Wikipedia, Mr. Fayyad puts his hope on building first with US help the basis of a State and then the confluence with Israel ought to lead to the two State solution as nobody wants the alternative which is a bi-National State.

Salam Fayyad ( Sal?m Fay??; born 1952) is a Palestinian politician and Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority. His first appointment, on 15 June 2007, which was justified by President Mahmoud Abbas on the basis of “national emergency”, has not been confirmed by the Palestinian Legislative Council, the Palestinian Authority’s parliament. He was reappointed on 19 May 2009. Fayyad has also been the finance minister from 17 March 2007 and previously held the post from June 2002 to November 2006. Fayyad is an internationally respected economist and politician.

Salam Fayyad was born in Deir al-Ghusun. He graduated from the American University of Beirut in 1975 and received his MBA from St. Edward’s University in 1980.
Fayyad has a PhD in economics from the University of Texas at Austin, where he was a student of William Barnett and did early research on the American Divisia Monetary Aggregates, which he continued on the staff of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Fayyad began his career teaching economics at Yarmouk University in Jordan, before joining the International Monetary Fund in 1987, where he served as representative to the Palestinian National Authority from 1996-2001. Following this Fayyad served as the regional manager of the Arab Bank in the West Bank and Gaza until he accepted an offer to become Yasser Arafat’s finance minister.

Meeting George W.Bush

Upon resigning as finance minister, Fayyad ran as founder and leader of the new Third Way party in the legislative elections of 2006 alongside Hanan Ashrawi and Yasser Abd Rabbo. Fayyad and Ashrawi won their seats.

He is seen as pro-Western and was predicted to be offered prime minister by both Fatah and by the winner of the elections: the List of Change and Reform. Fayyad was credited for the U.S. Congress’ deposit of $200 million to the Palestinian Authority in 2009. In response to the offer, Fayyad presented several conditions to becoming prime minister, including that Hamas would recognise Israel, which Hamas declined.

On 17 March 2007, Fayyad was again appointed finance minister, this time within the Fatah-Hamas coalition government. On 15 June 2007, following the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip, Fayyad was appointed prime minister of a new “independent” government (without any Fatah or Hamas members) which is supported by the Fatah, Israel and the West. In April 2007, during his time as Palestinian Minister of Finance, Fayyad visited the Palestine Center in Washington, DC and gave a lecture entitled “Building a Thriving Economy and a Strong Democracy.”

Known as “Fayyadism”, Fayyad’s political agenda holds that neither violence nor peaceful negotiations have brought the Palestinians any closer to an independent state. His main tenets are: 1) strong security, 2) good governance, and 3) economic opportunity.

On August 23, 2009, Fayyad came out with a detailed working plan for the 13th Government of the Palestinian Authority for establishing the fundamental infrastructures of a Palestinian State, called “Palestine — Ending the Occupation, Establishing the State”, in which he detailed a two year working plan for reinforcing the institutions of the future Palestinian State. This included, among other elements, a separation of powers, a free market, the development of existing infrastructure, and the building of new infrastructure such as government offices, a stock market, and an airport, all with the purpose of establishing a “de facto Palestinian State,” based on the premise that the peace talks with Israel were faltering.

Thomas Friedman, has praised Fayyad for trying to build functioning institutions of a Palestinian state, and not focusing on Israel. Friedman wrote – “Unlike Yasser Arafat, Fayyad calls for the opposite — for a nonviolent struggle, for building non corrupt transparent institutions and effective police and paramilitary units, which even the Israeli Army says are doing a good job; and then, once they are all up and running, declare a Palestinian state in the West Bank by 2011.”

In September 2010, The New York Review of Books published an article by Nathan Thrall that raised serious questions about the Fayyad plan and one of its central elements: United States-sponsored training, equipping, and funding of the Palestinian Authority’s security forces, which have been cooperating with Israel at unprecedented levels in the West Bank to quell supporters of Hamas, the main Palestinian Islamist group that opposes negotiations with Israel.

This appointment has been challenged as illegal, because while the Palestinian Basic Law permits the president to dismiss a sitting prime minister, the appointment of a replacement requires the approval of the Legislative Council. The law provides that after removal of the prime minister (in this case, Ismail Haniyeh), the outgoing prime minister heads a caretaker government. The current Legislative Council, in which Hamas holds a majority of seats, has not approved the appointments of Fayyad or the balance of his new government. Fayyad’s appointment was never placed before, or approved by it. Haniyeh continues to operate as prime minister in Gaza, and is recognized by a large number of Palestinians as the legitimate acting prime minister.  Anis al-Qasem, a constitutional lawyer who drafted the Basic Law, is among those who publicly declared the appointment of Fayyad to be illegal.

On 17 October 2008, while visiting the University of Texas in Austin, he received the Distinguished Alumni Award before the Texas-Missouri football game, presented by the Ex-Students’ Association of the University of Texas.

On 7 March 2009, Salam Fayyad submitted his resignation to President Mahmoud Abbas.

Salaam Fayyad won international and domestic approval for his management of the West Bank. The World Bank credited him with making substantial improvements in Palestinian state institutions. A polling in November of 2009 showed that 60.7% of Palestinians credited his government with improving the economy of the West Bank;
61.9% faulted Hamas for the deterioration in the economy of Gaza. 54.4% of Palestinians believed that Fayyad’s government is superior to the Hamas government. 57.1% of Palestinians believed that Fayyad’s government advanced reforms of the Palestinian Authority, 52% believe corruption decreased and 48% believed that security improved under his governance.

Mr. Salam Fayyad’s views on Palestinian Statehood:

Fayyad has rejected calls for a binational state and unilateral declaration of statehood:

“[Statehood] is not something that is going to happen to the Israelis, nor something that is going to happen to the Palestinians…. is something that will grow on both sides as a reality… creating a belief that this was inevitable through the process, a convergence of two paths, the political and the process, from the bottom up and the top down”

On 29 June 2011, in contravention of the Palestinian Authority‘s official position, and that of President Mahmoud Abbas, Fayyad expressed skepticism about its approach to the UN for a vote on statehood, saying it would be only a symbolic victory.

On 19 May 2009, Fayyad was reappointed to the post of Prime Minister.


On Thursday, November 29, 2012, the United Nations General Assembly endorsed an upgrade in status for Palestine in the UN, in spite of opposition from Israel and the United States. The resolution elevated their status from “non-member observer entity” to “non-member observer state,” the same category as the Vatican. Palestinians hope the recognition will provide new leverage in their negotiations with Israel. Its leaders had been working with dozens of supporting nations to develop a formal draft, enlisting the support of European countries such as France and Spain.

The vote was 138 delegates in favor of the measure, 9 against and 41 abstentions. That ads up to 188 States voting and leaves 5 States unaccounted for.

Voting “no” were Israel, the United States and Canada, joined by the Czech Republic, Panama and the Pacific island nations of Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, and Palau.

Not voting at all: Equatorial Guinea, Kiribati, Liberia, Madagascar, Ukraine.

The 41 States that voted ABSTAIN: Albania, Andorra, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Bosnia/Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Colombia, Croatia, Dem Rep of Congo, Estonia, Fiji, Germany, Guatemala, Haiti, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malawi, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro,  Netherlands, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Poland, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Rwanda, Samoa, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, TFYR Macedonia, Togo, Tonga, UK, and Vanuatu.

UN observer state status voting results:
In favour (green),   Against (red – 9),   Abstentions (yellow – 41),    Absent (blue – 5),   Non-members (white – Vatican. This is the future status of Palestine as well).

Countries that have recognized the State of Palestine (green – 131 States as of November 2012).
This means that some States voted “yes” even though they have not recognized Palestine as of this time, while others that do recognize Palestine did not vote “yes.”