mahmoud abbas

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The real issue here is not whether Turkey is relevant to the ‘peace process’ but whether Kerry is!

America no longer has any credibility left as a broker for peace. Obama’s visit confirmed his complete alignment with the values of the Israeli Occupation.

The other character who is becoming largely irrelevant is Abbas. It’s time he stepped quietly aside for someone who will truly represent the hopes of his people.

Father Dave

source: zeenews.india.com…

John Kerry

John Kerry – US Secretary of State

Kerry says Turkey ‘important’ for Palestine-Israel peace process

Ramallah: Top US diplomat John Kerry met Palestinian leaders Sunday on a fresh mission to forge a new path forward after a years-long impasse in Middle East peace negotiations.
Flying in from Istanbul, the first stop on a 10-day overseas trip, the US secretary of state’s convoy sped directly to the Ramallah headquarters of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in the West Bank.

Kerry said after talks with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in Istanbul that he saw Ankara as “an important contributor to the process of peace,” adding it could help with building up the shaky Palestinian economy.

But Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Israel’s newly appointed lead negotiator for peace talks, played down the idea of Ankara’s immediate involvement, saying it was “interesting, but it could take time.” Washington’s top diplomat also urged Turkey and Israel to fully normalise their relationship two weeks after the Jewish state’s US-brokered apology for a deadly 2010 raid on a Gaza aid flotilla organised by a Turkish charity.

Kerry, President Barack Obama’s new pointman on the Middle East, is leading a renewed US effort to coax Israel and the Palestinians back to negotiations which have been frozen since September 2010.

He held talks with Abbas for the third time in a little over a month, in what a top State Department official called “a constructive meeting.”

First the two leaders met for about 20 minutes flanked by several top Palestinian and US officials, focusing on economic development and how to tap into resources and the private sector. The Palestinian Authority, headed by Abbas, is facing a huge budget deficit and economic crisis.

Kerry and Abbas then met for a one-to-one lasting almost an hour during which they “agreed to continue working together to determine the best path forward.”

Abbas said the release of prisoners held by Israel was a “top priority” for resuming peace talks.

“President Abbas stressed that the release of the prisoners is a priority that creates an appropriate climate for the possibility of moving the peace process forward,” his spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina said.

The US diplomat insisted however that the specifics of their solo talks “be kept in the room in order to keep moving forward in a positive direction.”

As the talks got under way, militants in Gaza fired a rocket which crashed into an uninhabited part of southern Israel without causing casualties or damage, police said.

The Gaza-Israel border has been largely quiet for the last four months since an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire ended a deadly eight-day confrontation in November.

When Abbas hosted Obama in Ramallah last month, the Palestinian leader made clear there would be no return to negotiations without a settlement freeze.

But he has also made it known he would suspend for two months all unilateral efforts to seek international recognition to give US-brokered efforts a chance, a Palestinian official told AFP last week.

Abbas also wants Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to present a map of the borders of a future Palestinian state before talks can resume.

“Any return to negotiations requires Netanyahu to agree on 1967 borders,” his political adviser Nimr Hammad told AFP referring to the lines that existed before the Six Day War when Israel took over the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem.

Netanyahu has on several occasions said he would not accept a return to the 1967 lines.

read the rest of this article here: zeenews.india.com…

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Certainly he is no Yasser Arafat. Even so, John Taylor’s analysis of Abbas is a bit harsh. Certainly the President of the Palestinian Authority has done his best to gain ground for the Palestinian people, even if his efforts have been largely inconsequential.

The problem in many ways did begin with Arafat, who promised to pursue Palestinian statehood only through non-violent means. Abbas, his successor, has remained true to the commitment to non-violence, and this has gained the Palestinian people absolutely nothing!  Israel has continued to build settlements, withhold monies owed, imprison Palestinians without trial, demolish homes, etc., and gives absolutely nothing in return for Abbas’ quiet compliance. Hamas, on the other hand, fires rockets from Gaza and refuses to disavow militant resistance. Hamas seems to acheive results!

Surely this is a lose-lose situation for Israel and the US, and yet President Obama only confirmed the status quo in his recent visit, offering absolutely nothing to Abbas and the Palestinian people beyond his formal greetings! God knows what Abbas can do for his people now beyond making a quiet exit from the political scene.

Father Dave

Mahmoud Abbas

Mahmoud Abbas

source: original.antiwar.com…

Mahmoud Abbas: Obama and Bibi’s Man in Palestine

Palestinian Authority boss Mahmoud Abbas has no self-respect and no respect for his constituents. Although the US has rarely shown much sympathy for the Palestinians under Israeli occupation, Obama’s visit to Israel reached a new low. After saying the US-Israeli alliance is “eternal, it is forever,” visiting the grave of Theodor Herzl and pontificating about the Dead Sea Scrolls, looted by the Israelis from the Rockefeller Museum in east Jerusalem, the President proceeded to abandon all official US efforts to halt Israeli settlement construction on the West Bank. Was all this a problem for Mahmoud Abbas? No it wasn’t! “Welcome Mr. President! Welcome to Ramallah! Welcome to our ever shrinking fragment of Palestine!”

How can any Palestinian, Israeli or anyone else for that matter, respect Abbas when he puts aside his role as the guarantor of his peoples’ lives and property and welcomes the man who just acquiesced to Israeli colonization in what remains of Palestine? Obama even promised the Israelis that the US would continue to oppose any Palestinian effort to find international legal redress for their plight, a pledge consistent with a US boycott earlier in March of a UN Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva.

If Abbas had the least bit of personal or political courage he would have said firmly to Obama: “You are not welcome here.”

Only a fool doesn’t recognize that Obama values Mahmoud Abbas only because he is a willing tool of the Israelis. The Palestinian Authority’s major role these days seems to be restraining resistance to the Israeli occupation while ignoring Israel’s galloping land seizures, settlement construction, check points, closures and house demolitions. Israel holds hundreds of Palestinian political prisoners without charge and the Palestinian Authority now also locks up those opposed to political cooperation with Israel, particularly Hamas supporters.

By now it must be clear to every resident of the West Bank that Uncle Sam has nothing meaningful to offer the Palestinian Authority except money to buy its corrupt leadership and to pay its security forces, but only if the Authority functions as an adjunct to Israel’s West Bank security apparatus. No Israelis were killed on the West Bank in 2012. But what did protecting Israeli settlers get the Palestinians? Nothing! West Bank colonization was not derailed by Palestinian passivity. In fact, the absence of an armed resistance to Israel settlement building actually facilitated construction; meanwhile the Israeli military continued to employ lethal force against unarmed Palestinian protestors.

In a speech to a select group of Israeli young people Obama stated, “Israelis must recognize that continued settlement activity is counterproductive to the cause of peace…” Fair enough, but the problem with Obama’s new stance on Israeli settlement construction is that it places the decision to build or not to build firmly in the hands of the Israeli government. And further, and even more outrageous, Obama promised Uncle Sam’s best efforts to keep illegal settlement construction beyond the reach of the International Criminal Court. Obama seems to have learned an important lesson from the horse whipping Netanyahu gave him in the Oval Office a few years ago: official US opposition to Israeli settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories is a policy no one in the US government wanted to take responsibility for.

What can Abbas and the Palestinians expect from the new Israeli government? No letup in settlement building, that’s for certain: Appointed to the Economics and Trade portfolio in Netanyahu’s new cabinet was Naftali Bennett, former chief of the Yesha Settlers Council. Bennett’s view of the West Bank is simplicity itself, “…there is no such thing as an occupation of one’s own land.” Uri Ariel, the new Housing and Construction Minister, a man who built his political career advancing Israel’s colonization of the occupied territories, stated his Ministry’s goal will be “many more” settlers and that “there can be only one state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea-Israel.” Avigdor Liberman, the incumbent Foreign Minister and ex Moldovian night club bouncer, has already stated his opposition to a settlement freeze as has Netanyahu’s Defense Minister, Moshe Yaalon, no surprises in either case.

Abbas now finds himself in an impossible position: He can no longer pretend to his constituents that the Obama Administration will restrain Israeli settlement building. But if Abbas takes Obama’s advice and returns to direct negotiations without preconditions, Palestinian weakness preordains failure. A child can’t bring a child molester to justice alone.

In fact the Palestinians have achieved nothing negotiating within the Oslo framework. As the leaked Palestine Papers reveal, when the Palestinians began negotiating with the Israelis more than twenty years ago they offered numerous territorial concessions in the Old City of Jerusalem and on the West Bank. The Palestinian Authority even agreed to limit the Right of Return of Palestinian refugees to a mere 10,000 out of five million. Negotiation results? No political settlement and 500,000 Israeli settlers in 200 illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. Those figures alone show the extent of the disaster which has befallen the Palestinians since the start of the “peace process.”

Abbas’ strategy of throttling the Palestinian resistance with the hope of receiving something in return from the Israelis and the Americans has clearly failed. Abbas’ regime has been so subservient to American and Israeli interests that it even refused to forward the Goldstone Report on war crimes during the Israeli bombardment of Gaza to the UN Human Rights Council for action.

Abbas has brought the Palestinians to the edge of another great tragedy, second only to the Nakba of 1948, which will likely see Israeli colonization preclude the establishment of a Palestinian state and squeeze the indigenous population into ever smaller Bantustans. Events have entirely discredited Mahmoud Abbas and senior members of the Palestinian Authority. Their democratic mandate expired years ago and their shameful collaboration with Israel has profited the Palestinians nothing. They should resign immediately.

The Palestinians need to recognize that cooperation with the American government is a dead end. Obama’s trip to the Holy Land shows, if additional evidence were needed, that the US is wholly in Israel’s camp and that Uncle Sam has absolutely no intention of providing the Palestinians with the kind of leverage which would enable them to negotiate a fair settlement with Israel. The US will continue to ignore international law as it pertains to colonization of the occupied Palestinian territories. It will also ignore the reprehensible and outrageous Israeli policies which have caused untold suffering to 1.5 million people in Gaza.

The Palestinians should pursue Israeli human rights violations in the occupied territories through the International Criminal Court and in every other venue they can access. Security cooperation with Israel should end forthwith-unless settlement activity is terminated. Products made in Israel should join the boycott the Palestinians already have in place against goods produced in Israeli settlements-unless Israel lifts the siege of Gaza. Palestinians abroad should support local BDS efforts. Unarmed resistance of every sort should be organized recognizing, however, that it is likely that such efforts will likely be met with deadly force. All political prisoners should be released, especially members of Hamas. The armed forces of the Palestinian Authority should prepare themselves to defend Palestinians, not protect Israeli settlers.

Is resistance the correct course? It is certainly a recipe for further, potentially much greater, Palestinian suffering and death. Is there any other choice? What is best for the Palestinians is not for me to decide. I can only observe that the right to resist a foreign occupier is both a natural and legal right and that history celebrates those who fight to free their countries from foreign occupations while the Quislings, Lavals and Petains are rightly consigned to the dust bin of history.

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Russia has proven to be the new power-player  in the Middle East of late, much to the annoyance of the US and the European Union. It was Russia that prevented the US and NATO from openly arming the rebels in Syria. Now Russia is affirming support for the State of Palestine!

Of course Russia’s role in Syria has been entirely dictated by self-interest as the last Russian military facility outside the former Soviet Union is located in the port of Tartus in Syria, and exists there due to the goodwill of the current Syrian government. Mahmoud Abbas has no similar point of leverage.

Father Dave 

Dmitry Medvedev

Prime Minister of Russia – Dmitry Medvedev

source: http://english.ruvr.ru/2013_03_14/Medvedev-for-cooperation-with-Palestine/

Medvedev for cooperation with Palestine

At a meeting between Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and President of the Palestine Autonomy Mahmoud Abbas in Moscow, Mr. Medvedev said that Russia will always support the efforts of Palestinian leaders to make Palestine a strong and modern state.

He added that Russia is ready to cooperate with Palestine to settle its conflict with Israel, as well as to cooperate with it in the economic and humanitarian spheres.

In his turn, Mr. Abbas said that Palestine’s cooperation with Russia would be much broader if Palestine becomes a sovereign state.

Earlier, Mahmoud Abbas met with President Putin.

During his meeting with the President of the Palestinian autonomy Mahmoud Abbas in Moscow, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said that he hopes for a successful settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Mr. Putin said that Russia will do everything that may depend on it to stabilize the situation in the Middle East.

In his turn, Mahmoud Abbas praised the current level of Russian-Palestinian relations and said that there is every reason to believe in further progress in these relations.

The Russian President noted that Russia and Palestine have long-standing traditions of good relations.

Palestine expects to start peace talks with Israel this year to reach a political settlement through the establishment of two states, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said.

“We hope that substantive peace talks with Israel will begin this year. While these hopes are perhaps not very great, nevertheless, we expect sooner or later to achieve a political settlement based on the principle of the establishment of two states,” Abbas said at a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin outside Moscow on Thursday.

read the rest of this article here: http://english.ruvr.ru/2013_03_14/Medvedev-for-cooperation-with-Palestine/

 

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Ramzy Baroud’s analysis is depressingly realistic – “Until Palestinians find an alternative to this sorry trio of Israel-US-PA peacemakers, all they can expect is more of the same.” Mahmoud Abbas’ achievement of enhanced UN status for Palestine is soon to become another “footnote” in the struggle for justice, he says, as violence, settlements and the daily grind of the Occupation continues as usual.

But perhaps the ‘alternative’ is closer than Baroud thinks? The UN vote certainly reflects the growing international support for Palestine, and that vote has been followed up with tangible signs of support from numerous countries (Cyprus being the latest example). The Muslim world seems to be coming together in their support (as indicated in the latest statements from Bangladesh) and there are no shortage of alternative peace-brokers.

Father Dave

source: english.alarabiya.net…

Bulldozers and more talks: Paving the road for Palestine’s new status quo

By Ramzy Baroud

Despite much saber-rattling by Israel and the U.S. administration and hyped-up expectations by the Palestinian leadership, the recognition of Palestine as a non-member observer state late last year is on its way to becoming yet another footnote in protracted conflict that has endured for 65 years.

Only hours after the announcement, Israel had its own announcement to make: the building of a new illegal settlement (according to international law, all of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories are illegal) in Palestinian land. The area is called the E-1 zone by Israel. A couple of European countries responded with greater exasperation than usual, but soon moved on to other seemingly more pressing issues. The U.S. called Israel’s spiteful move “counterproductive”, but soon neglected the matter. Palestinian activists who tried to counter Israel’s illegal activities by pitching tents in areas marked by Israel for construction were violently removed.

Mutual interest?

Mahmoud Abbas’ PA is at a standstill in the same pitiful possession. It continues to serve as a buffer between occupied, ethnically cleansed and rightfully angry Palestinians. Its existence would not have been possible without Israel’s consent. Fiery speeches, press releases and conferences aside, the PA has affectively sub-contracted part of the Israeli occupation – as in maintaining Israel’s security for example –in exchange for perks for those affiliated with the PA. Examples of these privileges include easier access to business contracts or jobs. It is this symbiosis that constantly averts any serious confrontation between Israel and the PA. Both parties would lose if the status quo were seriously hampered. For Israel to reclaim its responsibilities as an Occupying Power under international law would be a huge financial and political burden that could impede its settlement constructions in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. In fact, Israel is able to maintain all the benefits of military occupation without much cost. For Abbas, shutting down the PA conglomerate would mean financial and political suicide for the branch of Fatah politicians affiliated with him.

Thus some clever manifestation of the ‘peace process’ show must be found that would help both parties save face – Israel to finish its settlement plans and the PA to sustain its enterprise.

In fact, Israel’s decision on Jan 30 to release $100 million of taxes and tariffs collected on behalf of the PA (which it has withheld, some say robbed to punish the PA for its U.N. bid) was possibly a prelude to the resumption of the same ongoing peace charade. According to an Israeli official cited by AFP, the transfer was a “measure to ease the financial crisis faced by the Palestinians,” ironically manufactured by Israel. That gesture of ‘good will’ is likely to be harnessed into some ‘confidence building measures’ in hopes of resetting the entire ‘peace process’ game.

Read the rest of this article here: english.alarabiya.net…

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This looks like Israel’s worst nightmare! A coming together of the two Palestinian factions would be bad enough, but having it happen courtesy of Mohamed Morsi – President of Egypt and a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood – adds insult to injury!

Israel’s strategy has been to control the compliant Fatah government and to exclude and wage war against the defiant Hamas faction. What will they do though against a Fatah-Hamas coalition? Moreover, if the coalition has Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood behind it, it can count on extensive support from across the Muslim world!

Netanyahu doesn’t seem to be in any mood for conciliatory dialogue, so what happens next? The stage seems to be being set for a violent showdown! We must pray that sanity prevails.

Father Dave

Mohamed Morsi

Mohamed Morsi

source: www.asianews.it/news-en/Cairo,-reconciliation-efforts-re-launched-between-Fatah-and-Hamas-26821.html…

Cairo, reconciliation efforts re-launched between Fatah and Hamas

Mahmoud Abbas (Fatah) and Khaled Meshaal (Hamas) will meet tomorrow in Cairo for a series of talks led by Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. The meeting follows the recent protests in the West Bank Hamas and Fatah in Gaza.

Cairo (AsiaNews / Agencies) – Mahmoud Abbas, leader of Fatah, and Khaled Meshaal, the exiled leader of Hamas, will meet tomorrow in Cairo to discuss reconciliation between the two Palestinian factions. The announcement was made by Yasser Ali, presidential spokesman for Mohamed Morsi. Before the historic face to face talks, the two leaders will have a series of separate talks with Egyptian President.

The meeting tomorrow comes after the major protests of Hamas in the West Bank and Fatah in Gaza between December and January. They were the first since the violent division between the two movements began in 2007 and culminated in the expulsion of their representatives from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

According to Azzam Al-Ahmed, head of the reconciliation program of al-Fatah, Abbas intends to break the current stalemate in the negotiations to end the political division between the two factions.

The mandate of Abbas as president of the Palestinian Authority expired in 2009. Currently he holds the position of interim president. The presidential elections for the renewal of the Palestinian Authority were to be held January 24, 2010, but fell through because of the split with Hamas.

The talks between Fatah and Hamas resumed in 2011 with a conference in Cairo that was meant to lead the territories in presidential and legislative elections in 2012. However, due to political differences the agreement was never implemented. At the beginning of 2012, Meshaal and Abbas met in Doha to resume negotiations and sign a new reconciliation program for the election of an interim president who would have authority over the government pending elections. On this occasion, Hamas accused its own leader Meshaal of taking unilateral decisions and rejected the deal.