Tag Archives: Netanyahu

Negotiations Without Negotiations!

There are times when the cynicism of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defies understanding. He constantly tells the world that Israel seeks peace with its Arab neighbors and to demonstrate his desire to move forward with negotiations he announced a freeze on settlements. However, he told the Cabinet not to be upset at the freeze since it was only a temporary move. Even as he emphasized Israel wants negotiations, he told the Cabinet: “We want to renew negotiations without negotiations.” Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has made clear there can not be negotiations unless Israel institutes a complete freeze. Naturally, Netanyahu blames Palestinians for problems in negotiations.

How can any Palestinian leader enter into negotiations with a man who has publicly stated he is not interested in meaningful dialogue with anyone. He will not budge, but remains committed to maintaining the status quo.

Netanyahu Bids For Peace Deal With USA

There are reports Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seeks to finalize an agreement with the United States government on how peace talks with the Palestinian Authority might resume. President Abbas wants negotiations to deal with restoring 1967 borders, but the Israel government wants those borders to be modified in light of what has transpired over the past half century. Netanyahu may accept the reality that it will take a year or more in order to reach any peace agreement. However, while the US wants a peace agreement to be concluded by the end of 24 months, Netanyahu will only commit to talking for two years.

The good news is Netanyahu agrees the end result of any peace discussions must result in the establishment of a Palestinian state. The prime minister supposedly is only willing to discuss the refugee issue within a multilateral framework. However, if Netanyahu continues to agree on a settlement freeze and then announces further housing construction, no talks will result in anything other than a stalemate.

PEACE OR SETTLEMENTS-WHICH WAY ISRAEL?

The people of Israel for half a century have sought in vain to encounter Arab groups which seek peace rather than violence. Ironically, finally, the long desired event has come true with the emergence of President Mahmoud Abbas, leader of the Palestinian Authority, who has demonstrated a desire for peace. So, what happens when peace if possible? The Israel government decides to pursue the desire for land and politics over the desire for peace. Abbas dismissed an offer by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to implement a temporary freeze in housing settlements in the West Bank for ten months as a ploy since it still would allow housing to go on in Jerusalem. Actually, even as Netanyahu was announcing a “freeze,” Defense Minister Barak was authorizing further housing.

One is left with the impression either those in the Israel government do not know what is the policy or that Prime Minister Netanyahu is playing word games. As Abbas put it succinctly, “the Israel minister had to choose between peace and occupation.” The ball is in the court of Israel, which game will it decide to play-peace or continued impasse?

Israel Says Yes And No To Settlement Freeze

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is running rings around President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on issues pertaining to peace in the Middle East. Netanyahu’s strategy is simple- make outrageous demands and proclaim refusal to make any alterations in Israel policy in the West Bank, and then grudgingly give in on a point as though it indicates a desire for peace. The Israel prime minister announced an eight month freeze on West Bank settlement construction while refusing to budge an inch on housing in East Jerusalem. However, even as Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered the IDF to issue a temporary freeze, at the same time he authorized construction of 28 new public buildings in settlements on the West Bank. There are reports Barak will ask the Israel Supreme Court for authorization to raze illegal settlements. One wonders if the court is asked for authorization on illegal housing in Israel?

French Foreign Minister Barnard Kouchner and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the freeze order was a step in the right direction, but neither asked exactly what is the direction that Netanyayu is heading. We suspect he will not abandon settlements in the West Bank, he will not abandon further construction and he certainly will not halt construction in East Jerusalem. So, where does that leave the Palestinian Authority? With a bag of dust!

Benjamin Netanyahu-Con Man, Extraordinaire!

It increasingly becomes clear that Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is simply too much for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to handle, let alone President Obama. He runs rings around the inept American leaders by saying contradictory things that conceal his real goals that entail securing Israel dominance in the West Bank and control over Jerusalem and blocking any opportunity for Palestinians to secure their rightful place as controlling east Jerusalem. There are reports Netanyahu will offer a ten month freeze on West Bank construction while at the same time proceeding with plans to build 900 new apartments in east Jerusalem. So, which is the Netanyahu one deals with, the man who offers a freeze that is not a freeze or the man who throws several balls into the air and dares Obama or Clinton to figure out which of the balls are destined to fall where he desires?

Former Israel foreign minister Tzipi Livni challenged Netanyahu in the Knesset by stating bluntly his policies has led to Israel being “delegitimized” in the eyes of the world and losing the trust of nations. Until Obama and Clinton are willing to confront Netanyahu on his twists and turns that make difficult the issues at stake, there is no hope any Palestinian government can negotiate with Israel. What does one expect from Palestinian leaders who are told by Netanyahu there can be no preconditions before negotiations while adding Abbas has to agree to recognize the Jewish state of Israel and not discuss return of refugees. When Netanyahu demands preconditions in the next breath he says there are no preconditions. This is truly a con man, extraordinaire!

Israel Accuses Sweden Of Diplomatic Coup

Once upon a time a long time ago there was a nation named Israel which held itself up to the world as a symbol of decency and respect for the rights of all humans. But, as the years passed, Israeli leaders adopted the stance the entire world was against their nation and therefore it could act and do as it wished regardless of world public opinion. However, this brave stance doe snot apply when nations suggest that all may not be perfect in the kingdom of Israel. Israel newspapers charge that Sweden in its role as the alternating president of the European Union will make reference to Jerusalem as being both the capital of Palestine and Israel. Of course, most European Union nations support the concept that Jerusalem should be the capital of both nations, but the very thought appears outrageous to the Israel government.

It is rather amusing when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insists Palestinians can not come to the bargaining table with preconditions, but he insists that all nations accept Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Isn’t that a preconditon?

Abbas Stands Firm On Palestinian Rights!

President Mahmoud Abbas not only postponed elections, but used the anniversary of the death of Yasser Arafat to send a message to the United States and Israel that Palestinians were tired of being pushed around and compelled to accept demands before they attend any peace conference. He was never enthralled by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s remarks that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should be praised for agreeing to exercise “restraint” on building more settlements in the West Bank. Abbas was reacting to the hypocritical comments of Netanyahu who demanded no preconditions from Abbas at a peace meeting even as he insisted Israel would not allow discussion of the return of refugees nor of the future of east Jerusalem.

At this point in time, the israel government is completely responsible for the current impasse. It can not on one hand insist on no preconditions while on the other hand demand that Palestinians are not allowed to discuss the refugee issue, the issue of east Jerusalem, and promise to accept that Israel is a “Jewish state” even though about 20% of the population is Muslim. That would bee equivalent to requiring nations of the world to agree the United States was a “Christian nation.”

Netanyahu To Abbas–Let’s Have Peace-On My Terms!

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told President Abbas that”we should not place preconditions for holding talks,” but went on to note on the desire for Palestinians to allow return of refugees who fled in 1948, “they must abandon the fantasy of flooding Israel with refugees, give up irredentist claims to the Negev and Gaiilee and declare unequivocally that the conflict is over.” I assume when Netanyahu is informing Palestinians what they must agree to prior to talks he is not stating preconditions, just the basic goals of his government. The prime minister boasted his willingness to proceed with current construction was a major offer that no prior Israeli government had given.

It’s clear Benjamin Netanyahu views the process of “negotiation” as an opportunity for Palestinians to agree to his views about any settlement. No wonder President Abbas is tired of this ridiculous bargaining stance by the Israel government and no longer wants any part of it.

If there are no preconditions, then it must equally apply to Palestinians and to the Israel government. We avoid saying, “Jews,” since hundreds of thousands of Muslims live in Israel. It is the state of Israel, it is not a “Jewish state.”

Obama Pushes Middle East Peace Forward

After President Obama met with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, both sides agreed to resume discussions on peace for the Middle East. According to Netanyahu, “there was general agreement, including on the part of the Palestinians, that the peace process has to be resumed as soon as possible with no preconditions.” President Abbas has displayed a desire for peace by backing off his legitimate demand for an end to further housing in West Bank settlements. He expects Israel to discuss “restraining settlement activities.”

Obama praised Palestinians for improving their security system and he praised Israel for ending certain restrictions on the movement of Palestinians. Now, is the time for Prime Minister Netanyahu to make a dramatic statement that would push forward the peace process. How about:

1. Promising that Israel will not fight to keep all settlements on the West Bank and is ready to negotiate on this issue!
2. Agreeing to a conference which would discuss Arab refugees from Israel and Jewish refugees from Arab nations.
3. Establishment of an Education Committee of Arabs and Jews which would review educational materials in both Israel and Palestinian schools that deal with the 1948 war.

Can Israel Leaders Learn From Obama?

Aluf Benn, writing in the Israeli Haaretz, argues that Israel leaders could learn from President Obama how to conduct foreign policy. “In Israel, war is declared after a two-hour debate and daring peace plans are concocted without deliberations or consultations. In America months are devoted to preparing every diplomatic or military move.” He notes many Israelis feared or hoped that Obama would reveal his peace plan and force it on Palestinians and Israelis but nothing like that has happened. Benn believes Americans work at a slower and more deliberate pace than Israel leaders.

He points out that Obama appointed George Mitchell as his envoy and that has resulted in numerous discussions as Mitchell attempts to develop relations with each party. He suggest Obama/Mitchell are working to secure agreement on minor issues as they build for larger agreements. On the other hand, Netanyahu worries about what someone in his coalition will do if he makes the slightest attempt at compromise. The result is stalemate for Netanyahu and an inability to offer dramatic new choices.

Can coalition governments ever achieve lasting peace?