israel and palestine

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The following is an extract from an article by Thomas Friedman’s concerning John Kerry’s potential role as US Secretary of State.

The article appeared last week in the New York Times and it advocates (amongst other things) the US pursuing a solution to the Israel/Palestine deadlock and uses all the politically acceptable language to make a case for a two-state solution.

But is there really any justice in this conventional wisdom.  Father Labib raises some questions below.

source: www.nytimes.com…

An extract From Break All The Rules

by Thomas L. Friedman
New York Times
January 23, 2013

On Israel-Palestine, the secretary of state should publicly offer President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority the following: the U.S. would recognize the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank as the independent State of Palestine on the provisional basis of the June 4, 1967, lines, support its full U.N. membership and send an ambassador to Ramallah, on the condition that Palestinians accept the principle of “two states for two peoples” — an Arab state and a Jewish state in line with U.N. General Assembly Resolution 181 — and agree that permanent borders, security and land swaps would be negotiated directly with Israel. The status of the refugees would be negotiated between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, which represents all Palestinians inside and outside of Palestine. Gaza, now a de facto statelet, would be recognized as part of Palestine only when its government recognizes Israel, renounces violence and rejoins the West Bank.

Why do this? Because there will be no Israeli-Palestinian breakthrough unless the silent majorities on both sides know they have a partner — that Palestinians have embraced two states for two peoples and that Israelis have embraced Palestinian statehood. Neither Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu nor President Abbas have shown a real commitment to nurture these preconditions for peace, and our secret diplomacy with both only plays into their hands. We need to blow this charade wide open by trying to publicly show Iranians, Israelis and Palestinians that they really do have options that their leaders don’t want them to see. (Israel’s election on Tuesday showed that the peace camp in Israel is still alive and significant.) It may not work. The leaders may still block it or the people may not be interested. But we need to start behaving like a superpower and forcing a moment of truth. Our hands are full now, and we can’t waste four more years with allies (or enemies) who may be fooling us.

Father Labib writes:

·         "…send an ambassador to Ramallah” (why Ramallah, it is not the capital of the Palestinian State it is Jerusalem)

·         “on the condition that Palestinians” (already with preconditions… why preconditions on the Palestinians and not on the Israeli Government)

·         “who accept the principle of “two states for two peoples” — an Arab state and a Jewish state in line with U.N (why a Jewish State, he does not say a Muslim State, why not an Israeli State as he says Arab State, do we accept in the USA to form a Catholic State, a Baptist State and a Mormon State in any of our United States?, and what are the UN line, the 181 Resolution speaks about 1948 and not 1967).

·         “General Assembly Resolution 181 — and agree that permanent borders, security and land swaps would be negotiated directly with Israell” (He calls then to the returning of Peace Process  between Israel and Palestine, these negotiations became process  for many years and did not give peace, If he speaks about Two States, then they should have already recognized borders as of resolution 181, so why again negotiations on borders.)

·         “The status of the refugees would be negotiated between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, which represents all Palestinians inside and outside of Palestine” (Why ALL Jews have the right of RETURN after 2000 years and Palestinian should negotiate their RIGHT of RETURN after few years when all Palestinians have the keys of their homes and documents of their belonging of their houses and lands) .

·         “Gaza, now a de facto statelet, would be recognized as part of Palestine only when its government recognizes Israel, renounces violence and rejoins the West Bank.” (Why not asking the same from Israel first, I mean to recognize the State of Palestine… and why he does not say anything about the many settlements…, Amazing how journalists uses us to think their way and ABUSE out intelligence). 

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Father Roy writes:

The Christian, Jewish and Muslim religious leaders listed below have declared their commitment to mobilizing broad public support for U.S. leadership for peace in the Holy Land.  They declared:  “We will mobilize the strong support that exists in churches, synagogues and mosques across the country.”   Key word: “mobilize“.   Peace, Roy

Twilight of Hope for Israeli-Palestinian Peace
January 2013

Twilight has fallen on the possibility of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  As Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious leaders committed to peace, we urge immediate, sustained U.S. leadership before darkness falls on the hopes for a peaceful resolution.

We recently witnessed shadows of dusk.  We mourn for the lives lost and shattered during the violence that gripped southern Israel and Gaza. What we have seen, recently and before, will keep happening if movement towards a viable two state-solution continues to stagnate.  The status quo is unsustainable and dangerous to both Israelis and Palestinians.  Now is not the time for another cycle of recriminations.  It is time to break the cycle of violence with bold initiatives for peace.

The current dangerous stalemate, including the legacy of past failed peacemaking efforts, undermines our security and that of others, destabilizes the region, fuels terrorism and extremism, allows continuing Israeli settlement expansion, and prolongs Palestinian disunity.    These realities and the absence of negotiations threaten to kill the prospect of a viable two-state peace agreement, the only realistic solution to the conflict.

As people of faith, we proclaim that we should never underestimate what is possible.  Egypt and the United States helped achieve a ceasefire in Gaza. With the support of the international community, Israelis and Palestinians can achieve a lasting peace.  A new dawn is possible.

As members of the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East (NILI), we affirm President Obama’s support for a negotiated two-state peace agreement that provides for a secure and recognized Israel living in peace alongside a viable and independent Palestinian state.

We know the challenges are daunting, but we believe a bold new initiative for an Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement should be an immediate priority of the new Administration in 2013.  We fear the opportunity for a peaceful resolution is rapidly waning and the current stagnation encourages the rejectionists on both sides. Our nation has unique leverage and credibility in the region.  Indeed, no past progress towards peace has occurred in this conflict without U.S. leadership, facilitation or staunch support.   Once again, we need active, fair and firm U.S. leadership to help break the current deadlock and to achieve a two-state peace agreement now before it is too late.

The Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious leaders of NILI are committed to mobilizing broad public support for U.S. leadership for peace. We will mobilize the strong support that exists in churches, synagogues and mosques across the country.

Twilight is upon us; but the hope for a new dawn remains.  Let us together bring the new light of hope and work for negotiations leading to a final status agreement.

List of Endorsers (Organizations for identification only)

Christian Leaders:

Bishop Richard E. Pates, D.D., Chairman, USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace
Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington
Bishop Denis J. Madden, Auxiliary Bishop of Baltimore
Archbishop Vicken Aykasian, Director, Ecumenical Affairs, Armenian Orthodox Church in America
Fr. Mark Arey, Director, Office of Ecumenical Affairs, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
Kathryn Mary Lohre, President, National Council of Churches of Christ USA
Bishop Mark S. Hanson, Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop and Primate, Episcopal Church
Reverend Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk, Presbyterian Church (USA)
Reverend Geoffrey Black, General Minister & President, United Church of Christ
Reverend Dr. Sharon Watkins, General Minister, President, Christian Churches (Disciples of Christ)
Bishop Bishop Mary Ann Swenson, Council of Bishops, United Methodist Church
Richard Stearns, President, World Vision US
Reverend Leighton Ford, President, Leighton Ford Ministries, Board Member, World Vision US
David Neff, Editorial Vice-President, Christianity Today
John Buchanan, Editor/Publisher, The Christian Century

Jewish Leaders:

Rabbi David Saperstein, Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Rabbi Peter Knobel, Past President, Central Conference of American Rabbis
Rabbi Elliot Dorff,  Ph.D. Rector and Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, American Jewish University
Rabbi Burt Visotzky
Rabbi Amy Small, Past President, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association
Rabbi Paul Menitoff, Executive Vice President Emeritus, Central Conference of American Rabbis

Muslim Leaders:

Imam Mohammed Magid, President, Islamic Society of North America
Dr. Sayyid Muhammad Syeed, National Director, Islamic Society of North America
Naeem Baig, Executive Director, Islamic Circle of North America
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, Founder of the ASMA Society and the Cordoba Initiative
Imam Yahya Hendi, Muslim Chaplain, Georgetown University
Dawud Assad, President Emeritus, Council of Mosques, USA
Eide Alawan, Interfaith Office for Outreach, Islamic Center of America
Iftekhar A. Hai, Founding Director, United Muslims of America Interfaith Alliance

Visit the NILI website: www.nili-mideastpeace.org…

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A number of leading American liberal Zionists were jubilant at the Israeli election result.  A press-release from J Street claimed that Israel had voted for a government that would “revive the peace process with the Palestinians and make vital moves to “save” Israel”.

Meanwhile, at the coal-face, nothing has changed. The video below documents a woman and her 18-month-old baby being arrested for the crime of trying to cultivate their own land in the West Bank.

Alex Kane writes in Mondoweiss that the liberal Zionists are delusional:

“their rhetoric about the outcome of the elections represents a fantasy with little bearing in the reality of what the Israeli government is and will continue to be: a settlement expanding, occupation supporting right-wing government that is committed to the suppression of Palestinian rights within the Green Line and in the West Bank and Gaza. The Israeli government, in other words, will remain committed to the status quo of apartheid.”

Father Dave

If you can’t view this video, click here

 

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A sign of the times – the Malaysian PM makes an official visit to Gaza!

Datuk Seri Najib Razak entered Gaza through the Rafah crossing in Egypt, thus by-passing Israel completely. He is the first Malaysian PM ever to visit Palestine, and I have a feeling that Mahmoud Abbas would have been hoping for the privilege of meeting him first.

The Malaysian PM paused for a photo opportunity with the son of Ahmed Al-Jaabari – the Hamas leader whose assassination was the catalyst to the latest Israeli assault. And so Malaysia follows in the path of Egypt and other Islamic countries in paying homage to the Hamas government for their militant resistance to the Israeli occupation while Abbas struggles to make the most of Palestine’s new UN status.

Hopefully Abbas won’t be too distraught over the Malaysian PM’s visit for this is good news for all Palestine. The inertia towards a new Palestinian unity government seems unstoppable, while Israel’s international isolation seems almost complete. One can only hope and pray that America will eventually come into line and apply the necessary leverage to see the long-talked-about two-state solution become a reality!

Father Dave

Datuk Seri Najib Razak

Datuk Seri Najib Razak – the Prime Minister of Malaysia

source: www.nst.com…

ALWAYS A FRIEND: Najib offers to help in peace talks

GAZA CITY (Palestine) : PRIME Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak set foot here yesterday in a historic humanitarian visit where he pledged solidarity with  Palestinians and offered to facilitate  renewed reconciliation efforts between Hamas and Fatah.

Najib, who entered the tiny Palestinian enclave via the Rafah crossing from Cairo, became the first Malaysian PM ever to visit Palestine.

Upon his arrival at the Gaza immigration complex in Rafah, Najib was met by Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, Deputy Prime Minister Dr Ziad al-Zaza and head of Hamas International Relations, Usamah Hamdan.

Speaking later in Gaza, Najib said Malaysia was ready to offer Palestinians the experience it had facilitating peace talks in the southern Philippines.

“Should it be needed, we stand ready to offer you the benefit of that experience.

“Malaysia, always a friend of the Palestine people, is willing to help facilitate the reconciliation plan in whichever way we can,” he said after being conferred with an honorary doctorate degree from Al-Aqsa University (Gaza).

“We believe in the rights of all people to live in peace, security and dignity, and we hope that the rights are realised for the people of the Palestinian soon.”

Read the rest of this article: www.nst.com…

 

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This is a startling article that just appeared in the New York Times!

I have nothing but respect for Sam Bahour (one of the authors) and so I take what he says seriously. It seemed to me that Mr Netanyahu’s plans for more settlements in the crucial ‘E1’ area between Gaza and the West Bank were the final nail in the coffin for the ‘two-state solution’, but if Sam and his co-author still hold out hope, who am I to question their wisdom? Further, they still believe that America has a role to play in re-starting negotiations!

The authors suggest that the sort of disillusionment people like myself feel is based on four assumptions:

In my words, these are:

  1. That the ideological differences between the two sides are irreconcilable.
  2. That demographic realities will force negotiations anyway, without need for foreign interference.
  3. That Abbas’ government is penniless and useless.
  4. That Obama’s hands are tied by the powerful US Zionist lobby.

The article responds to each of these assumptions but I confess that I remain unconvinced. Bahour and Avishai argue that the fervent ideology of Hamas is fueled by the frustration experienced by years of failed peace negotiations but this obviously doesn’t apply to the ideology of the settlers. And do either of the two sides trust America any more as a broker? I get the feeling that, for the Palestinians, they are looking more to their Arab neighbours now as potential intermediaries.

Father Dave

source: www.nytimes.com…

U.S. Inaction, Mideast Cataclysm? 

By BERNARD AVISHAI and SAM BAHOUR 

ISRAELIS go to the polls today in an election that will likely give Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a third term; like the current one, Israel’s next governing coaltion will probably be heavily reliant on right-wingers and religious parties.

Even so, Mr. Obama’s second term could offer a pivotal opportunity to restart the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. In his first term, he backed away from the process, figuring that America could mediate only if the parties themselves wanted to make peace — and that new talks were unlikely to be productive.

This is a mistake. The greatest enemy to a two-state solution is the sheer pessimism on both sides. Unless President Obama uses his new mandate to show leadership, the region will have no place for moderates — or for America either.

The rationale for inaction rests on four related assumptions: that strident forces dominate because their ideologies do; that the status quo — demographic trends that would lead to the enfranchisement of occupied Palestinians, a “one-state solution” and the end of Israel as a Jewish democracy — will eventually force Israel to its senses; that the observer-state status secured by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the United Nations is empty because his West Bank government is broke, dysfunctional and lacking in broad support; and that given the strength of the Israeli lobby, Mr. Obama’s hands are tied.

These assumptions seem daunting, but they are misguided. First, while Hamas, the militant Islamists who control Gaza, and Israel’s ultra-rightists, who drive the settlement enterprise, are rising in popularity, the reason is not their ideologies, but young people’s despair over the occupation’s grinding violence.

Last month, a poll by the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace, based in Washington, found that two-thirds of Israelis would support a two-state deal, but that more than half of even left-of-center Israelis said Mr. Abbas could not reach binding decisions to end the conflict. The same month, the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, in Ramallah, found that 52 percent of Palestinians favored a two-state resolution (a drop from three-quarters in 2006, before two Israeli clashes over Gaza). But two-thirds judged the chance of a fully functional Palestinian state in the next five years to be low or nonexistent. In short, moderates on both sides still want peace, but first they need hope.

Second, the status quo is not a path to a one-state solution, but to Bosnian-style ethnic cleansing, which could erupt as quickly as the Gaza fighting did last year and spread to Israeli Arab cities. Right-wing Israelis and Hamas leaders alike are pushing for a cataclysmic fight. Mr. Abbas, whose Fatah party controls the West Bank, has renounced violence, but without signs of a viable diplomatic path he cannot unify his people to support new talks. If his government falls apart, or if the more Palestinian territory is annexed (as right-wing Israeli want), or if the standoff in Gaza leads to an Israeli ground invasion, bloodshed and protests across the Arab world will be inevitable. Such chaos might also provoke missiles from Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Shiite militant group based in Lebanon.

Third, the Palestinian state is not a Fatah-imposed fiction, but a path toward economic development, backed by international diplomacy and donations, that most Palestinians want to succeed. It has a $4 billion economy; an expanding network of entrepreneurs and professionals; and a banking system with about $8 billion in deposits. A robust private sector can develop if given a chance.

Fourth, American support need not only mean direct talks. The administration could promote investments in Palestinian education and civil society that do not undermine Israeli security. Mr. Obama could demand that Israel allow Palestinian businesses freer access to talent, suppliers and customers. He could also demand a West Bank-Gaza transportation corridor, to which Israel committed in the 1993 Oslo accords.

America is as much a player as a facilitator. The signal it sends helps determine whether the parties move toward war or peace. The White House, despite its frosty relationship with Mr. Netanyahu, hasn’t set itself up as a worthy mediator by opposing Palestinian membership in the United Nations and vetoing condemnations of settlements.

In nominating Chuck Hagel to lead the Pentagon, Mr. Obama rightly ignored attacks by “pro-Israel” (really pro-Netanyahu) groups. He should appoint a Middle East negotiator trusted by all sides — say, Bill Clinton or Colin L. Powell. He should lead, not thwart, European attempts to make a deal. He has stated that the settlements will lead to Israel’s global isolation; he should make clear that they endanger American interests, too.

Washington has crucial leverage, though this won’t last forever. When it weighs in, it becomes a preoccupying political fact for both sides. If it continues to stand back, hopelessness will win.

Bernard Avishai is an Israeli-American writer in Jerusalem. Sam Bahour is a Palestinian-American business consultant in Ramallah, the West Bank