map of israel and palestine


Father Roy writes:

Is it not obvious?  World leaders are cooperating behind the scenes to resolve the issues in the Holy Land.  Notice how the news in the report pasted below relates to this one:  EU ‘to propose’ peace plan after Israel vote.  And notice how both reports relate to this one:  Colin Powell defends Hagel nomination

It’s as tho the International Community is paving the way for President Obama to take decisive action in the peace process.  Diplomatic officials in Israel said they were unaware of any plans.  Netanyahu always has an excuse and accuses Hamas of being the obstacle to negotiations.  See my highlights for confirmation.  

Peace, Roy      

Jordan forming int’l bloc to spur Israeli-Palestinian talks


King Abdullah says he is working with European countries to restart long-stalled negotiations between Jerusalem and Ramallah, adds: "Settlements are eating up all Palestinian lands."

Abdullah, Abbas walk in West Bank, Dec. 6, 2012 Photo: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

Jordan is in the process of consolidating an international coalition to kickstart the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process, the country’s King Abdullah said Sunday in an interview with French publication Le Nouvel Observateur.

"We are working closely with several parties in Europe, including France, to put some effective and workable ideas on the table that would enable the US to engage and play a leading role in the peace process soon after the start of the second term of President [Barack] Obama," Abdullah said in his interview translated into English by The Jordan Times. Abdullah expressed hope that Germany, the UK, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE would participate in the efforts.

Negotiations have been virtually non-existent for most of the last four years, with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas demanding a settlement moratorium as a precondition to talks.

Abdullah said that he was acting in order to take advantage of a "window of opportunity that is closing down on the two-state solution rather quickly." The Jordanian leader cited a confluence of factors which he believes is increasing the likelihood of a peace deal, including: the inauguration of US President Barack Obama, an international community which is increasingly enthusiastic about solving the conflict, the recent successful Palestinian statehood bid at the United Nations, and pressures emanating from the Arab Spring. "We do not have four more years to wait for the next US president to work on Middle East peace, particularly that Israeli settlements are eating up all Palestinian lands," Abdullah said.

Commenting on widespread international condemnation of preliminary plans to build 3,000 new housing units in the E1 corridor connecting Jerusalem with Ma’aleh Adumim, Abdullah said the world was united against unilateral Israeli action in the West Bank. The international community displayed a "strong stance against settlements, which we agree are one of the main obstacles to peace, especially in E1 areas," he said.

Netanyahu maintains that construction plans for the E1 area do not preclude the eventual emergence of a Palestinian state, and that his government has repeatedly called for direct negotiations with the Palestinians without precondition.

Turning to Iran, Abdullah said at least some Israeli politicians are "very determined" to bomb the country’s nuclear sites, though he doubted the feasibility of such a move. "The region doesn’t need another conflict, and I hope the Israeli people realize this," he said. The Jordanian king added a call for a "Middle East free of nuclear weapons" – a thinly-veiled demand for Israel to dismantle its own nuclear weapons, which Jerusalem has not admitted to having.

Diplomatic officials in Jerusalem, meanwhile, said they were unaware of any concrete plans currently underway to bring Israel and the Palestinian Authority to the negotiating table immediately after Israel’s elections next week.

Netanyahu has said in internal meetings in recent days that he hopes that after the elections it will be possible to re-engage with Abbas without any pre-conditions. He has said, however, that he remains skeptical because Abbas seemed more intent at this time in embracing Hamas, rather than in engaging with Israel.


Wise words from James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute.

Certainly the US has run its course as a broker for peace in Israel/Palestine, and only seems interested in fueling the conflict in Syria! The question Zogby doesn’t address though is whether the leaders of the Arab states are really interested in doing anything different? 

The UAE’s recent donation to Gaza is a good sign, and yet the leaders of the Arab states have had a generation and more in which to do something for the Palestinian people and have, for the most part, sat on their hands! And how much interest have Syria’s neighbors shown in bringing the warring factions to the table? They would be happy to see regime change and a consequent weakening of the regional power of Iran, but leaving Syria to burn accomplishes the same end with less effort!

Even so, the scent of the Arab Spring is still in the air and the citizens of the Arab world are tired of having their voices ignored. There may not be broad popular consensus on Syria but popular feeling with regards to the Palestinian situation is unambiguous! Perhaps 2013 will be the year that the Arab states finally take a stand for reconciliation and peace!

Father Dave

James Zogby

James Zogby


Arabs can act for Syria and Palestine

Before it’s too late, the Arabs must think with more forward vision about the capacities in their hands to press for positive regional change, writes James Zogby

During the next few months, the Arab world will have its hands full with problems requiring urgent attention. Chief among them are the ongoing crises in Syria and Palestine, both of which are fast approaching their respective “points of no return”. Instead of acting as spectators, enablers or waiting for the United Nations or the United States to provide solutions, there are practical steps through collective Arab action that might make a real difference.

The continuing tragedy of Syria will be front and centre for months to come, with both regime and opposition appearing determined to continue their “dance until death”. UN Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi’s dire warnings should be heeded. If no political solution is found, the situation will only worsen. With the regime increasingly desperate and brutal, and the opposition better armed but lacking control of some of its elements, the future promises only an accelerated casualty rate and a deepening of sectarian animosity.

Brahimi has tabled a plan that proposes a political process that transitions the government away from single party domination. The Russians have been given the responsibility for bringing the regime to the table. Key Arab states should assume the parallel responsibility of pressing the opposition to agree to a peaceful transition.

To date, opposition leaders have refused to consider any form of negotiations or compromise with the regime. While their anger at, and distrust of, the Al-Assad government is understandable, holding out for a decisive win is neither responsible nor a politically sound strategy. Given the reality of a divided Syrian polity, compromise and a transitional approach to change appear to be the wisest path forward.

The solution envisioned by Brahimi won’t provide a clear-cut victory for any side, but it will end the bloodletting and pave the way for a political solution that can bring real change and an end to authoritarian rule by the Al-Assad family. Arab states have leverage here since they are funding, arming and supporting the opposition. Instead of merely enabling more conflict, Arab states should use the leverage they have with their allies in Syria to take the lead in ending the killing and destruction, before the country collapses, fragments and/or the violence spills across the border destabilising an already fragile region.

This will not be easy — compromise never is, and success cannot be guaranteed. But it is the least horrible outcome to a terrible two-year long war that with time can only get worse and most certainly will not get better. Compromise will require leadership that, at this time, only Arabs can provide.

Another area where the region’s leadership must play an active and supportive role is in the effort to achieve an Israeli-Palestinian peace.

The Palestinian situation was near tragic four years ago and has not improved since. The Palestinian house remains in disarray, with leaderships in the West Bank and Gaza both physically and ideologically divided. Gaza, under the control of Hamas, continues to be strangled by an oppressive embargo. The West Bank itself is being slowly strangled by never-ending settlement growth, hundreds of intrusive and humiliating checkpoints, and an oppressive wall/barrier snaking in and out of Palestinian lands.

The failed paths chosen by Palestine’s two leaderships, though contradictory, are both flawed; Hamas has made a religion of “resistance” which has won nothing but death and hardship for Palestinians, insecurity in Israel and reinforcement for hardline Israeli policies. Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority’s commitment to diplomacy and negotiations, while commendable, has become pointless, since negotiating without leverage (and without control over the constituency for which they are negotiating) becomes an empty exercise.

Meanwhile, the hardline Israeli government, hell bent on conquest, continues to act with impunity — expanding settlements and tormenting Palestinians under their control. The far right in Israel has come to define Israeli politics, while the “peace camp” has floundered.

If this dynamic remains unchecked, in short order one of two outcomes may occur: either Israel will complete its plan for the physical domination of the West Bank and the total transformation of Jerusalem — making separation into two states impossible; or there will be renewed violence with devastating consequences for the Palestinian people.

Our recent polling in Israel and among Palestinians both in the occupied lands and refugees in Jordan and Lebanon establishes that peace remains possible. The two publics, though divided on many issues, show important points convergence. What is required is a vision that can move opinion and leadership. These will not come from the US or Israel, and cannot come from the Palestinians. But leading Arab states can provide leadership that could alter the dynamic and change opinion.

The first priority must be to achieve Palestinian reconciliation, and the establishment of an effective and unified Palestinian government that can command both popular support and the respect of the international community. This will require more than a redux of the Mecca Accords. Up until now, Arab reconciliation efforts have focussed exclusively on political matters, with hollow threats of sanctions for the party that interfered with implementation. Instead of threats, the Arab leadership ought to create incentives for acceptance.

Clearly what both the West Bank and Gaza desperately need are job creation, infrastructure and capacity-building projects, as well as immediate relief. The Arabs already participate in international efforts to subsidise the Palestinian Authority budget and individual Arab states finance projects in both Palestinian territories. But these funds given this way merely serve to underwrite the two divided Palestinian leaderships, maintaining the unacceptable status quo. To move the reconciliation process forward, I would propose the creation of a massive multi-billion dollar “Peace and Reconciliation Incentive Fund” that would provide immediate relief and job-creating investment once the parties have agreed to, and taken steps to implement, a unity plan. The bottom line purpose of the fund would be to support the Palestinian people and to create the incentive and pressure for their divided leaderships to agree on a new government that, with Arab backing, is ready and able to make peace.

In addition, the Arab League, instead of merely reaffirming their 2002 and 2007 peace plan, would do well to enlarge upon it by putting, as it were, “meat on the bones”. They could, for example, spell out in greater detail for Israelis the types of investment and/or trade incentives that would accompany final peace and/or normalisation. And they could even create a staged sequencing (for example, with the signing of an Israeli-Palestinian framework, stage one will occur; with removal of settlements and checkpoints in compliance with agreement, stage two will occur, etc). Our polling shows that the Arab Peace Initiative has strong support among Palestinians and has the potential to positively change Israeli opinion. Spelling out, therefore, the benefits and vision that accompany final peace could be of benefit. If Arab leaders were then to “go on the road” selling their plan to world public opinion, it would have a tremendous impact in advancing peace and transforming the views of Arabs.

Promoting a peaceful transition in Syria, Palestinian reconciliation, and a comprehensive Middle East peace will not be easy. Demonstrating leadership, making a difference and changing the trajectory of history never is.


According to the report from Gulf News posted below, the UAE has donated fifty million dollars to Gaza. Apparently the donation has been specifically targeted for the building of a city for released prisoners!

Is this a sign of where the Arab world is moving? The UAE has given its support to the Hamas government in Gaza and by-passed Mahmoud Abbas and his government in the West Bank. Meanwhile, according to this report from Al Jazeera, Abbas has again threatened to disband his Ramallah-based administration if Israeli settlement-expansion continues.

Once again it seems that the militant route taken by Hamas is paying dividends while cooperative path taken by Abbas leads only to a dead end. This does not portend well for Israel or for the world at large.

Father Dave


UAE donates $50 million to Palestine

Gaza: The UAE has donated $50 million to build the Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan city in Gaza strip for released Palestinian prisoners.

The donation was announced by Yousuf Sabhi Al Ghariz, Minister of Public Works and Housing in Gaza’s government.

Al Ghariz praised the prominent and massive role played by the UAE in supporting the Palestinian people, as well as its support and solidarity for Palestine’s justified cause.

He extended his heartfelt thanks to the UAE President, government, and people for the donation.



According to the article from… featured below, a proposal for Israel to officially annex all of Gaza and the West Bank is back on the agenda!

It seems that only last Tuesday various political candidates, including members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, publicly debated the issue before an audience dominated by settlers!

What sort of a bubble do these people live in? They would do well to heed the words of their 8th Century prophet, Hosea: “They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind” (Hosea 8:7)

Father Dave


Serious talk in Israel about annexing Palestine

Occupied Jerusalem: Three Israeli right-wing parties, including two that are expected to be part of the next government after elections this month, are talking seriously about annexing all or part of the occupied West Bank.

Seized by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War, the West Bank is now home to hundreds of thousands of Israeli colonists, as well as about 1.7 million Palestinians.

Talk of annexing the territory, as Israel did with Occupied east Jerusalem — in a move never recognised by the international community — is not new.

But as rightwing parties battle for the colonist vote ahead of the January 22 elections, the idea is being discussed increasingly seriously by mainstream parties.

On Tuesday, candidates from three factions, including the Likud party of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, debated the issue before an audience dominated by colonists.

“We must begin to talk about it because this question will, I hope, be the order of the day for the next government,” Netanyahu’s information minister Yuli Edelstein told AFP.

Annexation of the entire West Bank is not part of the Likud party platform, but Edelstein’s views are shared by a number of the party’s electoral list, which skews to the right wing of the party.

“Our historic right to this region should be cemented by the application of Israeli law in Judea and Samaria [West Bank],” Likud deputy Yariv Levin said.

Annexation has never been a Likud policy, but is now increasingly mentioned by its representatives, as well as those from the rival national religious Jewish Home party.

“No one has talked about it for five years and now it could be a subject of debate in the next parliamentary session,” said Yehuda Glick, a rightwing activist who helped organise the Tuesday discussion.

For Jewish Home, the decision to adopt the annexation policy is directly linked to its new leader, Naftali Bennett, who is being credited with the formerly tiny faction’s meteoric rise in the polls.

He is the author of the Bennett Plan, which he promoted before joining Jewish Home, a road-map for the annexation of the 60 per cent of the West Bank designated as Area C, where Israel has administrative and security control.

The area includes Israeli colonies, but is also home to around 150,000 Palestinians.

The extreme right-wing Otzma LeyIsrael (Strength to Israel) party advocates the annexation of the entire West Bank.

“We will present a project for a proposed law to annex all of Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley in the next Knesset,” said Aryeh Eldad, who heads the party’s list.

Edelstein is more cautious, and warns “there are many necessary steps before the annexation, because doing it won’t solve the problem of the territories.”

“We have to create an atmosphere in the international community to be able carry out this annexation bit-by-bit,” he said.

The organisers of the debate estimate that 73 per cent of those voting for Likud, Jewish Home or Otzma LeyIsrael favour annexing the West Bank, either in full or in part.

Many of those are colonists, whose votes are up-for-grabs and the subject of a fierce battle between Likud and Jewish Home.

Bennett’s faction estimates they will win the majority of the settler vote, which in 2009 went strongly for Likud.

The battle has prompted some members of Likud to push Netanyahu to adopt the conclusions of the Levy Report, issued last year, which recommended that the government legalise unauthorised colony outposts.

It also deemed Israeli colony construction in the West Bank legal, despite the opinion of the vast majority of the international community to the contrary.

The report has been criticised by the international community, but won support among Israel’s right-wing.

“Adopting this text is the best way to show the world our right to this land,” Bennett said.


It seems that a new movie – “The Gatekeepers” – has done the impossible! It has exposed one of the tightest security networks in the world – the Shin Bet (Israeli National Security Agency)!

Of course it’s not the secrets that are exposed but rather the men who were responsible for hiding them. The documentary movie interviews each of the men who have led the Shin Bet since 1967 and finds them to be men of deeply troubled consciences who made many decisions that they now regret.

I’ve taken an excerpt from a long review featured on… below.

Father Dave

‘The Gatekeepers’ Unmasks Israeli Security Apparatus

By: Shlomi Eldar for Al-Monitor Israel Pulse

The film “The Gatekeepers” was over. The credits started running down the screen in Tel Aviv’s Cinemateque to the sound of soft music, and a tense silence filled the theater. The audience was glued to their seats, a look of disbelief spread across its faces. The atmosphere was heavy and tense. Even the lights took their time to go back on, as if they wanted to leave the audience in the dark for just a little longer. When they did go on in the end, the real faces of those very people after whom this film was named — the six former heads of the Shin Bet [Israel National Security Agency] — could be seen seated in the hall. These were the men who appeared on screen for the past 95 minutes, exposing the almost human side of Israel’s political and security apparatus. They had once achieved the rank of public heroes. Now that the film was over, even they seemed stunned.

“The Gatekeepers” is a film about our story, Israel’s story, from the Six Day War until today, as told from a security perspective. Each of the film’s six protagonists — Avraham Shalom, Yaakov Peri, Carmi Gillon, Ami Ayalon, Avi Dichter and Yuval Diskin — served successively as the head of Shin Bet from 1980 to 2012. Director Dror Moreh seated them in front of a camera so that they could each describe the main events that marked their tenures. They did so with chilling simplicity, and they had lots to describe: the bus 300 affair, the First and Second Intifadas, the Jewish Underground [militant organization], suicide attacks, targeted assassinations, Rabin’s assassination, etc. And that is just a very partial list.

One of the first images appearing on screen was one of many clips collected from the archives of Israel’s state television channel. It showed the first wave of arrests of Palestinians in Jerusalem. Terrified men and boys were made to sit on the pavement, facing a stone wall, in footage we’ve all seen hundreds of times. Still, there was something unique about this scene. We saw the faces of Israeli soldiers too, and they seemed no less terrified, embarrassed and confused. They didn’t know what they were supposed to do, or to what degree they were supposed to do it. How much force should they use? Against whom? For the first time they were forced to confront, not some army in uniform, but a civilian population.

As this film clearly shows, we’ve mastered the job since then. In fact, we’ve become quite the professionals.

It seemed as even if the audience had kept its eyes shut tightly until now, this film pried them wide open. If until now we all thought, or at least we wanted to think, that there was some responsible adult in charge and that momentous decisions about Israel’s future were being made in the wisest of manners, after deep thought and careful consideration, we suddenly discovered — and from the heads of the security apparatus themselves — that the thought process wasn’t always that deep and that the most dramatic decisions weren’t always made after careful consideration, with a long-term strategy in mind. And we’re not talking about one single government either. The same was true for all of Israel’s governments since 1967.

It really was a rude awakening. The film was over and the audience was still trying to absorb what it had just seen, when suddenly someone turned to Avi Dichter, a former head of the Shin Bet (2000–2005), and raged: “How could you collaborate on this ‘thing,’ on this film? How could you do a thing like that? It’s disgraceful. People all over the world will see it. Shame on you! Shame on you, Dichter!”

Read the entire review here:…