president mahmoud abbas

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Father Roy writes:   The highlight in the following article is mine.  Also note what our Vice President is doing:  Biden: U.S. prepared to hold direct talks with Iran.  

Peace, Roy

Kerry calls PM, Abbas, vows commitment to peace

US secretary of state discusses Syria, Iran with Netanyahu, vows to work to restart talks in phone call with PA president.

Netanyahu, Kerry at the US Capitol, March 23, 2010. Photo: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

New US Secretary of State John Kerry phoned both Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday to discuss the diplomatic process, in an early sign he intends to make this a top priority on his agenda.

In both conversations he commended Netanyahu’s decision last week to release some NIS 400 million in tax revenues to the PA and praised it as a positive step.

The calls followed Kerry’s phone conversation Saturday with President Shimon Peres, who said the election results in Israel provided new opportunities in the diplomatic process.

Kerry is expected to visit the region on his first trip abroad in the middle of the month.

A US State Department communiqué said that Netanyahu updated Kerry on his efforts to put together a new government.

The statement also said Kerry “underscored his personal commitment and that of President [Barack] Obama to support Israel’s security and to pursue a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”

Kerry and Netanyahu also spoke about Iran and Syria, and – according to the statement – pledged to work closely together during Kerry’s tenure.

Kerry spoke to Abbas of his “personal commitment and hope for continued efforts to pursue peace,” and pledged to continue efforts with Congress to release budget support for the PA.

According to Palestinian news agency Wafa, Kerry conferred with Abbas about the necessity of holding meetings in the near future with the ultimate aim of restarting the peace process.

Citing PA spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh, Wafa reported that Kerry assured the PA head that Obama “cares about the peace process” and is eager restart the stalled talks.

Last week, Kerry suggested that time was running out for a two-state solution with Israel living alongside a sovereign Palestinian state, and said such an eventuality would be “disastrous.”

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Father Roy writes:   The following report was published in today’s Jerusalem Post.  Why would the US be pressuring the Arab countries not to provide the promised financial aid to the Palestinians?  One can speculate.  Perhaps Benjamin Netanyahu has threatened a unilateral attack on Iran … or Syria or Lebanon or somebody … if Israel’s “security” is put in jeopardy.  One thing is certain.  The illegal settlements-building continues. 

Israel’s elections on January 22 will reveal the kind of leadership the people of Israeli want in the future.  One wonders whether the highly-organized World Jewish Community will attempt to influence the elections.  As the crisis in the Holy Land develops, UN officials stress the urgency of the situation.  Many of us fear another resurgence of anti-Semitism at the grassroots level.  

Peace, Roy  

Father Roy

Father Roy

source: www.jpost.com…

PA official: US pressuring Arab FMs not to visit Ramallah

By KHALED ABU TOAMEH

12/29/2012 16:41

Arab League Secretary-General visits Ramallah for the first time while four foreign ministers cancel visit at last minute; PLO official says US, Israel pressure Arab countries not to provide financial aid to the Palestinians.

Palestinian officials in Ramallah on Saturday accused the US of putting pressure on Arab foreign ministers not to visit Ramallah.

The accusation came as Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby arrived in Ramallah for talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. This was the first visit to the West Bank by an Arab League secretary-general.

Four Arab foreign ministers who were supposed to accompany Elaraby backtracked in the last minute.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Amru was the only minister to accompany the Arab League chief on his visit to Ramallah.

PLO executive member Wasel Abu Yusef told reporters that the US Administration was behind the cancellation of the four Arab ministers’ visit to the West Bank.

“The Americans prevented the Arab foreign ministers from visiting Ramallah,” Abu Yusef charged.

Some of the ministers who called off their visit claimed that they did not want to pass through IDF checkpoints on their way to Ramallah.

But Elaraby and the Egyptian foreign minister arrived in Ramallah aboard a Jordanian helicopter, which landed in the Mukata presidential compound.

Abu Yusef and other Palestinian officials also accused the US of exerting pressure on the Arab countries not to provide the Palestinians with financial aid.

“The US and Israel are imposing an economic blockade on the Palestinian State and are preventing the Arab countries and Western donors from providing Palestinians with financial aid,” he added.

“Unfortunately, these countries have succumbed to the pressure, further intensifying the financial crisis in the Palestinian Authority.”

Abu Yusef, who is also head of the Palestinian group Arab Liberation Front, accused the US and Israel of waging war on the Palestinians following last month’s UN vote in favor of enhancing the status of a Palestinian state.

Elaraby said after the meeting with Abbas that the Arab countries have yet to fulfill their promise to give the Palestinians $100m. per month to solve its severe financial crisis.

He said that the Arab League would hold “consultations” with its members to ensure that they meet their commitment toward the Palestinians.

“We must admit that Palestine needs material and political support,” Elaraby said. “The Palestinian Authority can’t manage its affairs without financial support.”

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Father Roy writes:   Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and other PA spokespeople have made clear in recent days that they intend to bring a resolution to the UN General Assembly, possibly as early as Thursday, November 29.   The highlights in JPost’s article are mine.   Peace, Roy

After Gaza, focus turns to Palestinian bid at UN

11/23/2012 04:16

‘Post’ learns that Washington urging Israel not to build in E-1 area between J’lem, Ma’aleh Adumim in response to PA statehood bid.

Washington is urging Israel not to allow construction in the area known as E-1 between Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim as a possible response to the Palestinian bid for statehood recognition next week at the UN, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

Building in E-1, which would create contiguity between Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim to the northeast beyond the Green Line, is something various Israeli governments have long wanted to do, but which US opposition has prevented.

Building there is one of a number of measures Jerusalem has discussed as a possible retaliation for a Palestinian statehood bid.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and other PA spokespeople have made clear in recent days that they intend to bring a resolution to the UN General Assembly, possibly as early as Thursday, November 29, which is the anniversary of the 1947 UN partition vote.

Diplomatic officials said the recent fighting in the Gaza Strip would likely serve as an even greater impetus for Abbas to bring the measure to the UN, in an attempt to make himself – and the PA – relevant after being sidelined throughout the eight-day crisis.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has come out publicly against the move, as have a number of key EU countries, such as Britain, Germany and France.

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague told Parliament on Thursday: “While there is any chance of achieving a return to talks in the coming months, we continue to advise President Abbas against attempts to win Palestinian observer state status. We judge that this would make it harder to secure a return to negotiations, and could have very serious consequences for the Palestinian Authority.”

The Post has also learned that European diplomats are holding separate discussions with Israel and the PA about the wording of the resolution that will be brought to the UN, and the possibility that it will be modified a bit to mollify Israel and temper Jerusalem’s response.

One of Israel’s chief concerns regarding the step is that as a result of being given statehood status by the UN General Assembly, the Palestinians will be able to take Israel to the International Criminal Court, something only states can do. One suggestion under review is the possibility of a side letter whereby the PA would commit not to take Israel to the ICC as long as diplomatic negotiations begin within a certain period of time.

It is not yet clear how the EU will vote on the UN measure, and whether it would reach a consensus and abstain or – as was the case when the Palestinians sought entrance into UNESCO as a state last year – some EU countries will support the measure, others will oppose it, and still others will abstain.

On Thursday, France indicated it is likely to support the PA’s statehood bid. Without specifically saying which way France would vote, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius hinted at support.

“I would like to remind you of campaign pledge number 59 of…President François Hollande, which said that there would be an international recognition of a Palestinian state,” Fabius told members of the French Senate.

A French government source said the comment was intended to indicate that Paris was leaning towards voting for the Palestinian request.

During a visit by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to Paris late last month, Hollande said he regretted “the temptation of the Palestinian Authority to go to the General Assembly to get what it couldn’t through negotiations.”

But Fabius, who met Abbas last weekend amid attempts to secure a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, appeared to be signaling a change of tack.

The government of then-president Nicolas Sarkozy voted in favor of granting the Palestinians full membership of UNESCO last year.

One European official said that while it was clear Abbas had a built-in majority at the UN to get the measure passed, he wanted European support to ensure it had the legitimacy of the world’s established democracies. He said it was not clear whether the lack of EU support would prevent Abbas from moving forward with the bid.

Even during the height of the Gaza crisis, Netanyahu, during numerous talks he held with various world leaders, raised this issue. According to government sources, Netanyahu asked his interlocutors why they were not calling on Abbas to stop the rockets from Gaza.

“They would tell him to ‘get serious,’ and that Abbas has no control, to which Netanyahu would reply, ‘So what is all the talk about statehood recognition at the UN,’” one source said. The idea, he added, was to demonstrate how divorced from reality the whole UN proposal was, and how Abbas needed to be convinced not to go through with the plan.

Further, the source asked, “If the Palestinians go to the UN and get recognition, next time there is a rocket attack from Gaza, why can’t we attack Ramallah, and why can’t we take them to the ICC and accuse them of war crimes?” Reuters contributed to this report.

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Father Roy writes:   One wonders what positions our recently “unshackled” President will take on the issues at the Helsinki Conference next month.  Peace, Roy

Obama in Cairo in 2009

Obama in Cairo in 2009

Will Unshackled Politicians Deliver Peace in Palestine?  

Reelected U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to be able to conduct policy with much more vigor.

While on domestic and economic issues he will need to work with a Republican House (the Senate will be Democratic), foreign relations is where the executive branch (the White House and the State Department) has the ability to apply his policies.

America’s first African American president who grew up in several parts of the world should be able to produce a foreign policy much closer to his heart and beliefs without having to worry about another election.

Second-term U.S. presidents, who naturally care about their legacy, often look overseas to find ways for history to remember them.

War and peace cannot be addressed in any part of the world more than in the Middle East, where the U.S. is fighting a war in Afghanistan and will continue to need to win the hearts and minds of Arabs and Muslims.

Obama’s win also signals a clear vote of confidence from American Jews who voted for him. More than 70 percent of U.S. Jews supported the president (unlike American Israelis who supported Romney).

On the Palestinian side, the newly reelected U.S. president can count on a Palestinian leader who, similarly, is not shackled by the need to run for office again. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is determined not to run for office again, which leaves him free to say his mind, as he did last week when he said on Israel TV’s second channel what most Palestinians think.

Abbas declared that Palestine is the territories occupied in 1967 and that most Palestinians (including himself) do not insist on returning to live in their homes in Israel.

Even the head of the Islamic movement Hamas is not planning to run for reelection as the head of the political bureau. Khaled Mishaal, who left Syria and has publicly supported popular rather than military struggle as the way to liberate Palestine, also supports the two-state solution based on the 1967 borders.

So with the reelection of Obama, and with his strong foreign policy record and his tough policy against radical extremist forces around the world, he should be in a good position to push for a vigorous policy in the Middle East.

Solving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict must rank high in Obama’s second term. Obviously new blood and new ideas are needed to give this effort a serious push.

As was proved before, moving ahead in the Middle East will most likely have to be done through a mix of pressure and behind-the-scenes politicking.

The Egyptian-Israeli peace agreement and the initial Palestinian-Israeli memorandum of understanding were prepared in secret. Obviously, once a package deal is agreed upon, it will require public support. Previous experience makes one inclined to believe that the public will most likely support a deal that leaders would agree to.

Almost everyone knows what such a deal would entail. A two-state solution will have to be basically based on the 1967 borders with some land swaps based on equity in percentages and quality of lands.

The refugee issue has been widely discussed and a solution will most likely include an admission by Israel of historic and moral responsibility for causing the refugee problem, in return for most Palestinians opting not to return (possibly a small percentage can be allowed to return over a number of years).

For Jerusalem, also, there are many solutions suggested that can be focused on. The Clinton parameters called for Palestinian neighbourhoods as part of the Palestinian state and Jewish-populated areas that could be part of the state of Israel.

An unshackled U.S. president along with Palestinian leaders yearning for peace can be a perfect formula for progress in this centuries-old conflict. No case can enable the reelected president to etch his legacy and be remembered in history more than the Palestinian case.