Neither Salam Fayyad nor Yasser Abed Rabbo were at meeting with Netanyahu this evening

Palestinian Authority [P.A.] Prime Minister Salam Fayyad did not accompany the P.L.O.’s Chief Negotiator Sa’eb Erekat today to see Israel’s Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, as previously announced [ten days ago].

The meeting was held in the Israeli Prime Minister’s Official Residence in Jerusalem.

Israeli PM Netanyahu receives 2 Palestinians [center] on 17 April 2012Photo posted on YNet here and also on the website of the Israeli Foreign Ministry here – it does not look good for the Palestinians hereinvolved — is that why Salam Fayyad and Yasser Abed Rabbo did not attend?

In the morning Fayyad presided over a meeting of the P.A. cabinet in Ramallah.

By midday, as the P.A. Cabinet meeting was drawing to a close, or soon thereafter, there were hints that Fayyad might not head the delegation that delivered a long-awaited letter signed by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.

But, there was then total silence for some seven hours.

Sometime between 6:30 and 7:00 p.m., the news broke, via AP [and Tweeted by @diaahadid] that Fayyad had “backed out” of the meeting, and the Palestinian side offered no public explanation.

Continue reading Neither Salam Fayyad nor Yasser Abed Rabbo were at meeting with Netanyahu this evening

Bitter Palestinians joke: Netanyahu wants only a state-and-a-half

“Netanyahu only wants one-and-a-half states”.

Continue reading Bitter Palestinians joke: Netanyahu wants only a state-and-a-half

Are they crazy!!?? – Part Two

Here are several items that are right on the mark about the present situation here:

(1) Thanks to a link on Dion Nissenbaum’s blog, Checkpoint Jerusalem, one can find a gem of a paragraph posted on 30 March on Richard Silverstein’s blog, taking serious issue with what he calls a “fantasy” of Gershom Gorenberg, who tried in an article entitled “The Missing Mahatma” to conjure up the image of a Palestinian Ghandi who could solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by stopping the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory through non-violent resistence.

But first, a bit from Gorenberg, who is co-author of the South Jerusalem blog here, and who wrote about a non-violent march of Palestinians from Ramallah who were intent on passing The Wall to be able to pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City of East Jerusalem [ I don’t think this is a new story by Gorenberg. I remember reading it (or something quite like it) a while ago]: “They filled the road to Jerusalem, a long procession of men, women, and children wearing white robes to show they were on a pilgrimage and that they had no pockets in which to hide weapons … The river of marchers streamed forward. From the troops came the voice of another megaphone, proclaiming ‘Halt!’ in Arabic and Hebrew. Al-Masri answered, ‘We come in peace to pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque, as is our sacred right’. Soldiers lifted their guns. The sound of the first volley was dull thuds. Tear gas canisters fell on the asphalt. The wind scattered the white plumes. Gasping, the marchers kept advancing. Again came thuds, and rubber bullets showered the marchers … Lying on the road, the sheikh whispered to a follower, who spoke through the megaphone. ‘We will fast here’, he said, ‘until we are allowed to go on. We will testify to our faith’ … The number of journalists grew almost as quickly as the number of soldiers. Provided a laptop from the Palestinian neighborhood next to the road, a young marcher began a blog whose address showed up in agency reports … Al-Masri, whispering on the air in Hebrew he’d learned in prison, demanded free access to Al-Aqsa as the first step toward Palestinian independence alongside Israel … [After international intervention at the highest levels] Early on the third morning, a Friday, the Israeli cabinet met. Afterward, the brigade commander got orders to let the march proceed. Trucks arrived with food. Al-Masri’s followers lifted him onto a stretcher. At Qalandiya checkpoint, where the road passed through the Israeli security wall around Jerusalem, soldiers stood aside, watching the procession pour into the city. It reached Al-Aqsa in time for the sheikh to speak at noon prayers. News websites reported that the Israeli prime minister would address his nation before Sabbath began at sundown, amid rumors he would offer to meet the wounded sheikh to begin negotiations”. Gorenberg then goes on to discuss Mubarak Awad, and his disciple Nafez Assaily, and his nephew Sami Awad, and more. Mubarak Awad advocated non-violence, then became an activist: “he agreed to lead the villagers in taking down the fence, if they agreed not to bring guns or throw stones and not to run away even if shot at or arrested … By one account, 300 people showed up, confronting armed settlers. ‘We refused to run. We turned numb. We were hugging each other’, Awad says, recalling the strange ecstasy of the moment. The military governor arrived–and allowed the Palestinians to remove the fence”. In 1988, Awad was deported. The Gorenberg “fantasy” then turns into an interesting analysis of the first and second Palestinian intifadas and the Iranian revolution and the early Fatah and the more. He concludes by writing that “The first Israeli reaction to his [the future Palestinian Ghandi’s] acts of defiance could well be massive force. Yet if he stuck absolutely to nonviolent means, he could awaken a political storm in Israel. Today’s radical Islamicists would attack him, but Islam itself could provide the language to move people. His greatest challenge would be to redefine what it means to be a Palestinian. In a time of despair, like the current time, that might be possible”. This story can be read in full here.

Silverstein in his post, wrote that Gorenberg’s “fantasy” doesn’t have “half a chance in Hell of coming anywhere close” to being true. He says that “There is unfortunately no longer (if there ever was) an Israeli conscience regarding Palestinian rights or ending the Occupation. The Israeli left is either dead or in suspended animation. The values it used to represent are no longer ones embraced (at least consciously) by most Israelis. In short, it is simply impossible to rouse Israel’s conscience to the justice of the Palestinian struggle. As hard as it is for me as a progressive Zionist to write this, such a non-violent march as the one described by Gorenberg would be met with massive and lethal force. Scores, if not hundreds would die. Demonstrators would be scattered to the winds. The Israeli government would call them rabble-rousing Arab scum who entered a closed military zone in order to deliberately provoke the IDF to act. They’ll say they got what they deserved. And hardly anyone but the usual suspects within Israel will raise a peep in dissent”. This rebuttal can be read in full here

In today’s Haaretz, Gideon Levy wrote that “Our own Barak, Defense Minister Ehud, who used to be considered at least as brilliant as Obama, told Etgar Keret in an interview with Haaretz yesterday: ‘Where does the [Palestinian nation] live? In a cage? A jail? A swimming pool?’ And Barak’s own answer to this question: ‘It lives in its country’. After the prime minister’s top diplomatic adviser determined that two states is a childish solution, along comes another statesman and determines that we’re all children. Stupid children, it must be said, to whom you can sell any bit of nonsense, including all the nonsense in that interview. The Palestinians, who cannot travel from one village to another without permission from Israel, who have no basic human rights and who have been trampled underfoot, humiliated and imprisoned without any sign of sovereignty, are already living as a free people in their country. If the defense minister really thinks so, then there is grave cause for concern: Mr. Security is deranged and has lost touch with reality. If he doesn’t think so, then he’s messing with us. Which is worse? … An attempted attack by Palestinians on horseback, or maybe muleback, is depicted in the media as a prevented mega-terror attack, a consequence of the smuggling of sophisticated and advanced Iranian weaponry through the tunnels, which we are being told about in horror day and night. El Al is apologizing for having called the fence a ‘separation wall’, as though it were a department of the Foreign Ministry; the prime minister is saying that the demand to freeze natural growth in the settlements is ‘not fair’, as though it were possible to talk about fairness when discussing the settlements … [And] Minister without Portfolio Yossi Peled (yes, he too is a minister) is proposing that Israel impose sanctions on the United States …” This piece can be read in full here.

Continue reading Are they crazy!!?? – Part Two

Are they crazy!!??

This is what people say. here in Israel, if they disagree with somebody else’s proposition: “Are they crazy!!??”

According to an article by Aluf Benn published in Haaretz today, “confidants” and “aides” of Prime Minister Netanyahu said that “Netanyahu believes that U.S. President Barack Obama wants a confrontation with Israel, based on Obama’s speech in Cairo last week … In Netanyahu’s opinion, the Americans believe an open controversy with Israel would serve the Obama administration’s main objective of improving U.S. relations with the Arab world”.

Really, this is too much. After all that Obama said, in his 4 June speech in Cairo! “America’s strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable”, Obama said. No one can seriously think that Obama is favoring the Arab world over Israel.

No, this appears to be a manipulative attempt to bully George Mitchell and Barack Obama into backing down in the increasingly confusing confrontation over Israel’s continued settlement activities in the West Bank — which Netanyahu and a number of his appointed government ministers have said they have every intention of continuing.

Continue reading Are they crazy!!??

Mitchell due in Israel today – Netanyahu announces big speech coming this week

Israel’s Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu has announced he will make a big speech this week [UPDATE: at the beginning of next week, Netanyahu’s office confirmed this evening.  FURTHER UPDATE: It will be delivered on Sunday at Bar-Ilan University, as Obama’s speech was delivered at Cairo University. And, by the way, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal will also deliver a speech from Damascus in the coming days, which will reportedly come after Netanyahu’s big speech, but which is also supposed to be a response to Obama].  Netanyahu has said he will present Israel’s idea for “peace”.

Maybe it will even be an “initiative”.

Israeli journalist Akiva Eldar has said, as reported earlier here, that the main Israeli objection to the Arab Peace Initiative is its name. 

Yes, really.

Now, after provoking most of the world into a tizzy by [rather recently] refusing to endorse a two-state solution, analysis and multiple leaks to the media suggest that Netanyahu believes he has gotten the American administration to agree to some kind of less-than-state for the Palestinians.  The model mentioned today is Andorra (no longer Hong Kong or Singapore, or even Switzerland).

Netanyahu may want an “initiative” to supersede the 2003 Road Map.

Members of Netanyahu’s new government have spoken against the Road Map, but voices are now being heard extolling the advantages of this document to which former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon affixed some 13 or 14 reservations.

Even though Phase I has not been fulfilled in the six years since the Road Map was launched in 2003, the supposed benefits of Phase II, which calls for the establishment of a Palestinian “State” with provisional — not final — borders, are now coming under renewed examination.

(In addition, Phase II also calls for the Palestinian “State” to take its full place in the United Nations, where it is at presented only represented by an “Observer” mission.)

Over the weekend, interesting reports in the Israeli media suggested that Mitchell might push for an immediate designation of “provisional” borders. which would be in accordance with the Road Map’s Phase II (and should therefore accordingly accompany the creation of a Palestinian state), in order to know where settlement activity would be legal or not.

The notion that agreement on borders would clarify settlement activities originated in the Bush administration during the 2008 Annapolis process of negotiations, and was publicly articulated by former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezzaa Rice. However, she did not mention “provisional” borders — which is something that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has firmly opposed.

Continue reading Mitchell due in Israel today – Netanyahu announces big speech coming this week