Reports from Cairo that Hamas will join PLO [election planning/monitoring] commission

This is only a preliminary report… and is still Breaking News —

UPDATE: Nabil Shaath told journalists at a pre-Christmas in Bethlehem tonight [Thursday] that “I heard good news, basically, from Cairo … Hamas is willing to accept non-violence, basically, a long-term ‘hudna’, but they do not want us to talk about it very much … What these people in Gaza are really saying is that our right to armed struggle should not be abandoned, and we agree, but we choose not to exercise it”

The real question at stake in today’s meeting in Cairo was: will arrangements finally be made for Hamas to join the PLO, as previously agreed in Cairo in 2005 — and as suggested in a “reconciliation” agreement between Fatah and Hamas in late April, then encoded in a document signed in Cairo in early May?

Apparently, agreement on that has not yet been reached, but a small step has been taken to keep things moving — or to appear to keep things moving — in the right direction.

Today’s meeting of Palestinian political movements and “factions” in Cairo was chaired by Mahmoud Abbas, who is, simultaneously:
(1) Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization [PLO], recognized by the UN as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people;
(2) head of the largest Palestinian political movement Fatah, and
(3) … um … well … despite the fact that the mandate ran out either in January 2009 or January 2010, depending on one’s legal view … is still President of the Palestinian Authority set up by agreement under terms of the Oslo Accords [+ subsequent practice] between the PLO and Israel.

Last night, in Cairo, there was a previously-unannounced meeting of Abbas and Hamas’ Politburo Chief Khaled Meshaal.

Until now, the major obstacle to Hamas joining the PLO has been the objection of Fatah.

The problem existed even prior to the mid-June 2007 Hamas military rout [in Ramallah, it was called a “military coup”] of Fatah/PA Preventive Security Forces from Gaza, but that sealed the present division. PA President Mahmoud Abbas immediately responded to this “military coup” with his own “political coup”, dissolving a short-lived [3 months, to be precise] “National Unity” government [negotiated in Mecca by Saudi Arabia] — which was, like the two prior governments formed in the wake of the 2006 elections, led by Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas. Hamas reportedly feared an imminent American backed military attack led by Fatah’s Mohammed Dahlan [then a star, now in disgrace].

In the aftermath, Abbas then set up an “Emergency Government”, and named Salam Fayyad as PA Prime Minister. The U.S. and other major donors celebrated with a major “love-in”, praising Fayyad, the American-trained Security Services, and showering Ramallah with donor funding.

Apart from that major rift, the core issue of contention about Hamas joining the PLO: Hamas wanted to have a proportion of seats in the PLO’s Palestine National Council [PNC] similiar to the proportion it won in the 2006 Palestine Legislative Council [PLC] elections = over 60%.

For Fatah, furious that it lost a great deal of ground to Fatah in those 2006 elections, that was, and is, unthinkable.

The most Fatah could agree that Hamas deserves was about 25% maximum.

This is where the new elections come in. Not only has the term expired for the PA President + the PA’s PLC… Fatah is somehow hoping that Hamas will lose any new elections it participates in. This would have the felicitous effect of confirming the correctness of Fatah’s stand [which has prevented Hamas from joining the PLO so far, even if Hamas wanted to]: Fatah firmly believes that Hamas deserves less [preferably, much less] than a majority stake in the PNC.

Basically, the position still is: if Hamas joins the PLO, it will have be on Fatah’s terms, already explained by PLO Chairman [and Fatah leader] Abbas.

As Nabil Shaath said in his remarks to journalists in Bethlehem on Thursday night, if I understood him correctly: Hamas “has to go back to where it was in 2006, apologize to the Palestinian people [for the events of 2007], and abandon all pretense to representing the Palestinian people”…

Does anybody seriously think Hamas is going to apologize for what happened in 2007?

The incremental step announced so far in Cairo — Hamas joining a PLO committee on elections — appears to suggest that some progress in Palestinian reconciliation is being made. [After all, it is something demanded by most Palestinians].

At the same time, the step announced does not yet trespass over the limit suggested by the US, which has said that Hamas must not join any new Palestinian government until it has acceeded to all three conditions set by the Quartet [and by Israel]:
(1) recognition of Israel [Netanyahu has officially set the barrier even higher, at recognition of Israel as a Jewish state];
(2) an end to “terrorism”;
(3) acceptance of all prior PLO agreements and positions.

If there is Hamas participation in a new Palestinian government prior to fulfilling those conditions, the U.S. has threatened a cut off of humanitarian funding to the PA…

Slowing down the arrival of day that decision may have to be taken, while keeping up the appearance of movement and progress towards reconciliation, is one of the main goals shared by the Fatah + Hamas, the two largest Palestinian movements participating in the current exercise.

Meanwhile, there will be a lot of gymnastically-contortionist statements involving circuitous positions of logic that will be advanced to explain all this…

The Quartet: Proximity talks + Positive thinking

Envoys from the Quartet met, separately, with Israeli and Palestinians at the UN’s lovely and venerable Government House — the seat of government built by the British during the Palestine Mandate period — on the southern edge of Jerusalem today.

The location seems to have been specially selected to please the Palestinian side, and was a gesture laden with symbolic significance.

Quartet Special Envoy Tony Blair, who seriously irritated Palestinian officials recently in what they said was a heavy-handed attempt to dissuade them from pursuing their “UN bid” for full membership in the international organization, was also present. Despite some comments that Blair was “persona non grata”, etc, the Palestinian negotiators seemed to have little-to-no problem in dealing with him in these “proximity” or indirect talks, in which the two sides didn’t actually meet each other, but stayed in separate places while the Quartet envoys moved between them.

According to one news report [in the Wall Street Journal, here], Tony Blair was the essential actor in the Quartet meeting, shuttling in the meetings “between Israelis and Palestinians on Wednesday with an international blueprint for a return to negotiations” — which seems to be just ever so slightly misleading, particularly given the Palestinian anger and unease with his performance during the four+ years he’s held his functions, being present in Israel-Palestine less than one week a month in those four+ years, and meanwhile earning a fortune on the side …

The idea, according to a U.S. State Department official speaking ahead of today’s talks, was “to get each of them working on concrete proposals on security and borders / territories”.

Basically, the U.S. says it has heard “positive noises” from the two sides, and is determined to ignore anything else.

So, the Quartet has just passed the first stage of the plan [the two parties should have an initial meeting] proposed on 23 September, the day Mahmoud Abbas deposited the Palestinian “UN bid” at UN headquarters in New York.

In the second stage, which should last for approximately three months, the two sides must each work, separately, on their own proposals on the two issues [security + borders]. If there is no breakthrough at that point, the problems will become more acute. By six months, which is where the first real crunch will be, the two sides are supposed to have made “substantial progress” in their discussions, if not also on their overall relations with each other…

Two days ago, in a briefing to the UN Security Council, the UN Special Coordinator Robert Serry said: “We remind the parties that the Quartet reaffirmed the international legal basis for peace talks and called for the parties to overcome the obstacles and resume negotiations without preconditions. The Quartet further called for proposals within three months on borders and security, with a view to achieving substantial progress within six months and an agreement no later than the end of 2012. The Quartet stressed the need for the parties to refrain from provocations and reiterated their Roadmap obligations”.

Serry also told the Security Council that “The Palestinian application for United Nations membership is being examined by this Council, and is a matter for Member States. Also, the Palestinian request for membership in UNESCO is being reviewed before a vote by the General Conference. This step could have repercussions for the Organizations as it has legal and political implications for the funding provided by some Member States. The Secretary-General is increasingly concerned about ramifications of such a step for the United Nations and asks all to act wisely in determining a course of action”.

Despite this note of caution, or warning, Mahmoud Abbas said in Ramallah that the Palestinians will press ahead with their UNESCO bid, too.

Serry participated in today’s meetings.

UPDATE: The Jerusalem Post’s Herb Keinon reported on Saturday night here that the Quartet participants in the proximity talks were “David Hale from the US, Helga Schmid form the EU, Sergei Vershinin from Russia and Robert Serry from the UN”…

Keinon added that “Back in the early part of 2010, George Mitchell, who was then Obama’s hand-picked Middle East envoy, was doing the same thing that the Quartet representatives tried to do on Wednesday: meeting with the sides to urge, nudge, cajole, pressure them back to direct negotiations. There was even a name given to this whole exercise: proximity talks. Tellingly, more than a year later, we are pretty much at the same spot: trying to get the two sides once again to agree to direct talks, with the Palestinians saying they will only do so if Israel freezes settlement construction, and various types of pressure being exerted on Israel to stop the building. The Quartet, in its plan for renewing negotiations that was unveiled at the UN on September 23, called for a direct meeting between the sides within a month. Instead, what it got was a reincarnation of ‘proximity talks’, and even that three days late. What distinguishes late 2011 from early 2010 is that now the man in the middle is no longer the US represented by Mitchell, nor even Hale, his low-profile replacement (Mitchell handed in his resignation in May). The man in the middle is actually a grouping of men and women – the Quartet representatives. Is this another example of the US leading from behind? Blair, in an interview this week with the Los Angeles Times, said the Quartet’s more active role in the peace process was not due to the US stepping back, because, as he said, ‘the US is still very much there’. But, he said, the US is ‘also saying to the international community, “You’ve go to step up with us here”.’”

After the proximity talks, Serry’s office put out a statement claiming — with remarkable optimism — that “Both Parties expressed their readiness to engage with the Quartet, on the basis of its statement of 23 September, to overcome the current obstacles and resume direct bilateral negotiations without delay or preconditions. The Parties agreed with the Quartet to come forward with comprehensive proposals on territory and security within three months in the context of our shared commitment to the objective of direct negotiations leading toward an agreement by the end of 2012. Envoys reiterated the Quartet call of 23 September upon the parties to refrain from provocative actions if negotiations are to be effective. Quartet Envoys agreed with the parties to meet regularly for the next 90 days to review progress”.

However, the Chief Palestinian Negotiator, Saeb Erekat gave no indication that the meeting had been quite so positive. Erekat is back on the job despite having resigned [he now explains that his resignation was not accepted] after a series of unflattering revelations following a major leak of documents [the “Palestine Papers”] from his office and a few other places in Ramallah, and then were used as the basis for a series of explosive programs on Al Jazeera TV about the conduct of the negotiations in recent years. 

Instead, after the Proximity Talks hosted by the Quartet, a statement was issued in Erekat’s name saying that “We explained to the Quartet that we are prepared to sit at the negotiating table as soon as the Israeli government freezes all settlement construction and accepts clear terms of reference, specifically the 1967 borders. These are not favors that Israel is doing for us. These are its obligations in accordance with international law and the Road Map. Anything short of that will simply put us back on the failed track that we have been on for the last 20 years”.  The Palestinian participants in these meetings were, apparently Saeb Erekat and Mohammad Shtayyah.

Before these Proximity talks, Erekat issued a statement saying that the continuing Israeli settlement enterprise in occupied Palestinian territory was nothing other than “legalized looting”.

According to a press statement published by the PLO’s Negotiations Affairs Department, “Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erekat said, ‘All Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, are illegal according to international humanitarian law. There are no exceptions to this well-established legal principle’. Dr. Erekat responded to attempts by the Israeli government to draw false distinctions between different kinds of illegal settlement construction, whereby Israel alleges that there is so-called private and public construction. ‘Looting is not made legal under any circumstance. International humanitarian law and relevant UN resolutions draw no distinction between different forms of settlement construction. These actions constitute war crimes under the Rome Statute’, said Dr. Erekat”. This statement is posted here.

According to Israeli media reports, the Israeli participant in the Quartet’s Proximity talks with the two parties was Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu’s aide, Isaac Molcho.

Continue reading The Quartet: Proximity talks + Positive thinking

Netanyahu makes surprising announcement proposing renewal of efforts to complete deal on Gaza gas

In a move stunning in its timing and significance, Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu announced on Friday afternoon – with the Quartet’s Tony Blair standing by his side – that he now thinks it’s time, finally, to develop Palestinian-allocated offshore natural gas deposits buried under the eastern Mediterranean in maritime space, defined by mutual agreement under the Oslo Accords, that extends 20 nautical miles out from Gaza’s coastline.

Netanyahu did specifically mention Egypt in the announcement on Friday, saying: “Most of our [natural gas] supply today is coming from Egypt”, Netanyahu said. But, he added immediately, “It’s important for us to develop additional resources”.

The exact situation on the ground, resulting from the Egyptian-Israeli natural gas deal, is rather unclear.

The announcement – as CNN’s Jerusalem correspondent Kevin Flowers pointed out in a Tweet on Friday afternoon – came on the eve of the first meeting of the Middle East Quartet principles of 2011 on Saturday (February 5) in Germany, on the margins of the Munich Security Conference.

Continue reading Netanyahu makes surprising announcement proposing renewal of efforts to complete deal on Gaza gas


Monday 21 June 2010

Ram Cohen, principal of the Aleph High School in Tel Aviv, was summoned to appear before the Knesset Education Committee and the Minister of Education, Mr. Gideon Saar, today, as Cohen explained in an article published in YNet, “following my unequivocal words to my students, condemning the 43 year-old occupation and rule over the life of the Palestinian people …

Continue reading Round-up

Quartet Statement on "indirect" Israeli-Palestinian talks + East Jerusalem

Russia has wanted to host an international conference on Middle East Peace since the start of the Annapolis process of direct negotiations in late November 2007.

It wasn’t exactly a full international multilateral conference, but today the Quartet of Middle East negotiators (US, Russia, European Union + UN) met in Moscow — with their Special Representative Tony Blair — and issued a statement on proposed U.S.-brokered “indirect” talks which is being billed as “strong”:

[In the statement’s last line, it says that “The Quartet reaffirms its previous statements and supports in consultation with the parties on international conference in Moscow at the appropriate time, concurrent with direct negotiations”.]

Most of the specifics in this Quartet statement were addressed to Israel – in particular, to the position expressed by Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu and others in his government about East Jerusalem.

But, there is not much in it that would encourage the Palestinians – many of whom remain unconvinced that the proposed U.S.-mediated “indirect talks” between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators will do anything good.

The Quartet statement called for an Israeli freeze on settlement expansion — and for Israel “to refrain from demolitions and evictions in East Jerusalem”.

And, the Quartet said, “Recalling that the annexation of East Jerusalem is not recognized by the international community, the Quartet underscores that the status of Jerusalem is a permanent status issue that must be resolved through negotiations between the parties and condemns the decision by the Government of Israel to advance planning for new housing units in East Jerusalem. The Quartet reaffirms its intention to closely monitor developments in Jerusalem, and to keep under consideration additional steps that may be required to address the situation on the ground. The Quartet recognizes that Jerusalem is a deeply important issue for Israelis and Palestinians, and for Jews, Muslims, and Christians, and believes that through good faith and negotiations, the parties can mutually agree on an outcome that realizes the aspirations of both parties for Jerusalem, and safeguards this status for people around the world”.

What is it like in East Jerusalem these days? Here are two instructive videos:

(1) Filmed on 15 March – Hagit Ofran, who documents settlements for Peace Now, has posted this encounter at the entrance to the Old City of East Jerusalem on her new Eyes on the Ground in East Jerusalem Blog, here:

(2) Filmed one month earlier, on 14 February – this video taken by International Solidarity Movement volunteers was posted showing participants in a bus tour for Jewish groups visiting the homes built by the UN in the mid-1950s in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem to house Palestinian refugees. Four of these homes have been evacuated by Israeli court orders over the past 18 months, and handed over to Jewish settlers. This video was made in the entryway to the home of Rivka Kurd — the front wing of her house, built apparently without proper permit, was the most recent property turned over to Jewish settlers. The family property was tossed out on to the front lawn that these visiters mill around it. The family, who sits in a tent from where this video was made, say that it is ironic that the part of their house built without a proper permit was declared illegal for them to live in, but legal for the Jewish settlers:

Is it really enough for the Quartet to express the intention to “closely monitor” developments — and maybe even to “keep under consideration additional steps that may be required to address the situation on the ground”?

Continue reading Quartet Statement on "indirect" Israeli-Palestinian talks + East Jerusalem

Now that Netanyahu has finally called…

Barak Ravid reported in Haaretz, rather quickly after the announcement of Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin’s almost-overdue phone call to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (she was in Moscow attending a meeting of the Quartet), on what Israel will do now to help mend its most important external relationship.
Both the White House and the U.S. State Department pointedly announced, publicly, on Thursday that they were waiting for Netanyahu’s call:
“Israel is willing to carry out trust-building moves in the West Bank in order to facilitate peace talks with the Palestinian Authority, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly told U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday. In a phone call between Netanyahu and Clinton, the Israeli PM reportedly conveyed a detailed list of gestures Jerusalem was willing to perform in order to restart negotiations with the Palestinians. The Prime Minister’s Office stated following the conversation between Netanyahu and Clinton that there was ‘a real effort by Israel to aid the U.S. administration in renewing negotiations though trust-building measures with the Palestinian Authority’.” This Barak Ravid report can be read in full on the Haaretz website here.

UPDATE: A clarification was issued later saying that Netanyahu has now indicated that his willingness to take “confidence-building measures” does not extend to “Jerusalem”.

Continue reading Now that Netanyahu has finally called…

St. Patrick's Day in Ramallah

A day before the Quartet (USA, EU, Russia + UN ) meets in Moscow, European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton was (1.) in Jordan meeting King Abdallah II [“Jerusalem is a red line”] and (2.) in Ramallah to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas [Abu Mazen] on St Patrick’s Day — was she “wearing the green” for the occasion?

Catherine Ashton in the Muqataa - 17 March 2010

[Brazil’s President Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva was also in Ramallah on Wednesday — but he wasn’t wearing anything especially green.  At one point, when he was in Abu Mazen’s office, he had a black-and-white checked kuffiyah draped around his shoulders… It has been predicted that President Lula was bringing a new peace proposal, but there was no word of anything like that – although Abu Mazen dropped a broad enough hint, saying he is “keen to reach peace through talks”.]

YNet reported that “According to chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, Abbas ‘gave Ashton a letter asking her to pressure Israel to completely halt construction in the occupied Palestinian territories’. He added that the letter included maps and documents presenting the volume of building in the settlements since September 2009”.    This YNet story can be read in full here.

Earlier, the Chief Palestinian Negotiator Sa’eb Erekat told Ma’an News Agency that “he has been mandated by President Mahmud Abbas to travel to Moscow, carrying with him written messages, documents, and maps for Quartet members, which shed light on the inflammatory Israeli practices in Jerusalem. He further argued that the Israeli policies are playing with fire and adding fuel to it. Therefore, the written messages urge the international community to intervene immediately in order to curb the Israeli occupation and force it to halt its practices and unavailing policies”.

Then, it was later announced that there would be no Palestinian representative attending the Quartet meeting in Moscow…

Continue reading St. Patrick's Day in Ramallah

What will Palestinians do now? U.S. reportedly accepted Israel's position…

According to a report compiled by three senior Haaretz correspondents (Barak Ravid, Akiva Eldar, Avi Issacharoff) published today, U.S. Special Envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell, who met with the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah yesterday after two days of talks in Israel, “told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during talks this week that the understandings reached following the 2007 Annapolis Conference are non-binding in the current round of negotiations, Haaretz has learned.

Continue reading What will Palestinians do now? U.S. reportedly accepted Israel's position…

Quartet statement – the current situation in Gaza is unsustainable and in nobody's interest

On the sidelines of a meeting of the G-8 countries in Trieste, Italy, the Middle East Quartet (United Nations, European Union, Russian Federation, and the United States) — joined by Quartet Representative Tony Blair — met to review the situation in the region, and issued a statement on Friday that reflected the somewhat tougher tone being taken by the Obama administration (a freeze of all settlement activity — but not a roll-back beyond 2001, and an early resumption of negotiations without preconditions), combined with some long-held EU positions (unilateral actions will not be recognized by the international community).

The Quartet was formed at American invitation to help implement U.S. President George W. Bush’s “vision” of an independent Palestinian State (“If we’re talking about a state, why don’t we call it a state?”, Bush reportedly said at a meeting of his advisers in 2002, during global protests at Israel’s repression, particularly its re-invasion of West Bank cities, duringthe second Palestinian intifada.

It was also the Quartet which adopted and promoted the three-phase Road Map which was originally supposed to lead to a Palestinian state with provisional borders and a seat in the United Nations by the end of 2003, and a solution of all outstanding issues by 2005 – and which all parties are still called on to support now.

[One of the diplomatic peculiarities in recent years has been that the EU actually has three representatives in these Quartet meetings: High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy of the European Union (Javier Solana), European Commissioner for External Relations (Benita Ferrero-Waldner), and the representative of the current EU Presidency Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout]

It was the first meeting of the Quartet since Barack Obama was inaugurated as U.S. President on 20 January — just hours after Israel and Hamas each implemented unilateral cease-fires following the IDF’s Operation Cast Lead in Gaza.

The Quartet said that “the establishment of a state of Palestine in the West Bank and Gaza in which the Palestinian people can determine their own destiny is in the fundamental interests of the international community“.

And in one of its strongest statements to date, the Quartet said that the current situation in Gaza is “unsustainable” — and in nobody’s interest.

In its statement, The Quartet “underscored that the only viable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one that ends the occupation that began in 1967 and fulfills the aspirations of both parties for independent homelands through two states for two peoples, Israel and an independent, contiguous, and viable state of Palestine, living side by side in peace and security”.

The Quartet suggested, diplomatically, that it somehow (through rose-colored glasses) has seen the “commitment of Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas to the two-state solution”.

And the members of the Quartet said they were determined “to actively and vigorously seek a comprehensive resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict, on the basis of UN Security Council Resolutions 242, 338, 1397, 1515, 1850, the Madrid principles including land for peace, the Roadmap, and the agreements previously reached between the parties” — presumably including whatever agreements were reached in bilateral and more-or-less secret Annapolis process of negotiations under U.S. monitoring.

The statement said that “The U.S. briefed the Quartet on its intensive, ongoing discussions with all parties in the region to create the conditions for the prompt resumption and early conclusion of negotiations to resolve all permanent status issues, without preconditions. The Quartet affirmed that these negotiations must result in an end to all claims“.

The Quartet “urged the government of Israel to freeze all settlement activity, including natural growth; to dismantle outposts erected since March 2001; and to refrain from provocative actions in East Jerusalem, including home demolition and evictions“. It “called on Israel and the Palestinians to implement their obligations under the Roadmap and affirmed that unilateral actions taken by either party cannot prejudge the outcome of negotiations and will not be recognized by the international community“.

The Quartet said that they had “discussed Gaza and agreed that the current situation is unsustainable and not in the interests of any of those concerned. The Quartet expressed serious concern at the humanitarian and human rights situation of the civilian population. It reiterated the urgency of reaching a durable solution through the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1860. The Quartet called for the unimpeded provision and distribution throughout Gaza of humanitarian assistance, including food, fuel, and medical treatment. The Quartet called for a complete halt to all violence, as well as an intensification of efforts to prevent illicit trafficking in arms and ammunition into Gaza and for a sustained reopening of all crossings points to ensure regular flow of people and humanitarian and commercial goods. The Quartet offered its support in this regard for the proposals of the United Nations to resume early recovery construction activities in Gaza. The Quartet called on those holding the abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit to release him without delay”.

The Quartet also expressed its desire for Palestinian divisions to be overcome, and Palestinian unity to be “restored — based on the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) commitments”.

And the Quartet “appealed to all states in the region to play a constructive role in supporting the [Palestinian] reconciliation process”. In addition, the Quartet statement “underscored the importance of fostering peaceful coexistence throughout the region through the conclusion of peace agreements between Israel and Syria and Israel and Lebanon, in a manner that is mutually reinforcing with efforts to establish the state of Palestine, and through the full normalization of relations between all states based on the Arab Peace Initiative”. The Quartet also “called on Arab states to take steps to recognize Israel’s rightful place in the region; to affirm that violence cannot achieve regional peace and security; and to assist the Palestinian people in building their future state through consistent support for the Palestinian Authority” [in other words, to chip in and pay up].

Another set of "generous proposals" — another set-up?

Another Prime Minister of Israel, Ehud Olmert, is saying that Palestinians have inexplicably hardened their stances and rejected another set of “generous proposals”.

Ehud Olmert and company did that after the failed Camp David negotiations in late July 2000. Years later, and the verdict is still not in.

Olmert sent out the same message last night, and is now going to convene the Israeli Cabinet at 2 pm today to offically throw the gauntlet down, yet again.

Egyptian officials have a few more frantic hours to try to work on all parties.
Continue reading Another set of "generous proposals" — another set-up?