Showing posts tagged as "Palestine"

Showing posts tagged Palestine

17 Oct
Israeli Fears of Palestinian Recognition are Unwarranted | The New York Times - Room for Debate
Crisis Group’s Nathan Thrall joins the latest New York Time’s discussion arguing that Israeli fears of Palestinian recognition are unwarranted.
According to the Palestine Liberation Organization, 134 countries have recognized Palestinian statehood. Such recognition, the majority of it dating back to the Palestinian declaration of independence in 1988, has hardly affected negotiations to end the conflict and made almost no difference in the lives of Palestinians. Recognition by the remaining holdouts, concentrated in Western Europe and North America, will likewise change little.
Nevertheless, because of the perceived moral and diplomatic weight of Western European nations, the overwrought debate about recognizing the State of Palestine has resurfaced, thanks to recent support for the idea in the British Parliament’s symbolic, nonbinding motion this week, in a pledge this month by the new Swedish prime minister, and in a suggestion on Tuesday by the French foreign minister that his country “will naturally have to assume its responsibilities” if Israeli-Palestinian negotiations continue to fail. 
FULL COMMENTARY (The New York Times)
Photo: scottgunn/flickr

Israeli Fears of Palestinian Recognition are Unwarranted | The New York Times - Room for Debate

Crisis Group’s Nathan Thrall joins the latest New York Time’s discussion arguing that Israeli fears of Palestinian recognition are unwarranted.

According to the Palestine Liberation Organization, 134 countries have recognized Palestinian statehood. Such recognition, the majority of it dating back to the Palestinian declaration of independence in 1988, has hardly affected negotiations to end the conflict and made almost no difference in the lives of Palestinians. Recognition by the remaining holdouts, concentrated in Western Europe and North America, will likewise change little.

Nevertheless, because of the perceived moral and diplomatic weight of Western European nations, the overwrought debate about recognizing the State of Palestine has resurfaced, thanks to recent support for the idea in the British Parliament’s symbolic, nonbinding motion this week, in a pledge this month by the new Swedish prime minister, and in a suggestion on Tuesday by the French foreign minister that his country “will naturally have to assume its responsibilities” if Israeli-Palestinian negotiations continue to fail. 

FULL COMMENTARY (The New York Times)

Photo: scottgunn/flickr

14 Oct
Bringing Back the Palestinian Refugee Question
Jerusalem/Ramallah/Gaza/Brussels  |   9 Oct 2014
With Palestinians increasingly doubtful that the refugee question can be resolved within a two-state framework, the Palestinian leadership should seek to reinvigorate refugee communities as well as to reclaim its representation of them. When diplomacy emerges from its hiatus, the leadership will be able to negotiate and implement a peace agreement only if it wins refugees’ support or at least acquiescence.
In its latest report, Bringing Back the Palestinian Refugee Question, the International Crisis Group examines what could be done on the Palestinian side, without compromising core Israeli interests, to mitigate the risk that the Palestinian refugee question would derail a future agreement. For most of the 66 years since the Arab inhabitants of historic Palestine were displaced with the establishment of Israel in what Palestinians call the Nakba (catastrophe), the refugee question was at the forefront of the Palestinian national agenda. It no longer is. Refugees feel alienated from the Palestinian Authority (PA), doubt the intentions of Palestinian negotiators, and resent the class structure that the PA and its economic policies have produced.
The report’s major findings and recommendations are:
Calcified refugee camp leadership committees ought to be renewed by election or selection. While their predicament is largely a reflection of the dysfunction of the overall political system, the relative isolation of the camps could facilitate a more representative local leadership. Given the limited resources of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), credible local leadership is needed.
Palestinian elites, particularly in the West Bank, should combat the notion that refugee political claims can be advanced only by isolating camps from the broader social fabric. Refugees increasingly have come to believe that socio-economic deprivation is not the only way to maintain identity; reinvigorating political structures to better represent them would be more effective and humane.
Donors should continue to fund UNRWA. Its support cannot solve the refugee problem, but the precipitous decline of services could exacerbate it and provoke regional instability. Palestinian political elites should undertake measures to improve daily life for refugees and ensure that economic reforms benefit rather than further marginalise them.
“Only a Palestinian leadership perceived as legitimate, inclusive and representative by all Palestinians will be considered authorised to negotiate a compromise with Israel” says Nathan Thrall, Senior Middle East Analyst. “The lull in talks gives the national movement a chance to reconstruct itself so Palestinians of all sorts, particularly refugees, can influence negotiating positions”.
“The Palestinian leadership, the Israeli government and the international community need to understand that their current approach to the refugee question is a recipe not only for failure and strife, but for further undermining the two-state solution”, says Robert Blecher, Middle East and North Africa Acting Program Director.
FULL REPORT

Bringing Back the Palestinian Refugee Question

Jerusalem/Ramallah/Gaza/Brussels  |   9 Oct 2014

With Palestinians increasingly doubtful that the refugee question can be resolved within a two-state framework, the Palestinian leadership should seek to reinvigorate refugee communities as well as to reclaim its representation of them. When diplomacy emerges from its hiatus, the leadership will be able to negotiate and implement a peace agreement only if it wins refugees’ support or at least acquiescence.

In its latest report, Bringing Back the Palestinian Refugee Question, the International Crisis Group examines what could be done on the Palestinian side, without compromising core Israeli interests, to mitigate the risk that the Palestinian refugee question would derail a future agreement. For most of the 66 years since the Arab inhabitants of historic Palestine were displaced with the establishment of Israel in what Palestinians call the Nakba (catastrophe), the refugee question was at the forefront of the Palestinian national agenda. It no longer is. Refugees feel alienated from the Palestinian Authority (PA), doubt the intentions of Palestinian negotiators, and resent the class structure that the PA and its economic policies have produced.

The report’s major findings and recommendations are:

  • Calcified refugee camp leadership committees ought to be renewed by election or selection. While their predicament is largely a reflection of the dysfunction of the overall political system, the relative isolation of the camps could facilitate a more representative local leadership. Given the limited resources of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), credible local leadership is needed.
  • Palestinian elites, particularly in the West Bank, should combat the notion that refugee political claims can be advanced only by isolating camps from the broader social fabric. Refugees increasingly have come to believe that socio-economic deprivation is not the only way to maintain identity; reinvigorating political structures to better represent them would be more effective and humane.
  • Donors should continue to fund UNRWA. Its support cannot solve the refugee problem, but the precipitous decline of services could exacerbate it and provoke regional instability. Palestinian political elites should undertake measures to improve daily life for refugees and ensure that economic reforms benefit rather than further marginalise them.

“Only a Palestinian leadership perceived as legitimate, inclusive and representative by all Palestinians will be considered authorised to negotiate a compromise with Israel” says Nathan Thrall, Senior Middle East Analyst. “The lull in talks gives the national movement a chance to reconstruct itself so Palestinians of all sorts, particularly refugees, can influence negotiating positions”.

“The Palestinian leadership, the Israeli government and the international community need to understand that their current approach to the refugee question is a recipe not only for failure and strife, but for further undermining the two-state solution”, says Robert Blecher, Middle East and North Africa Acting Program Director.

FULL REPORT

6 Oct
Feeling Good about Feeling Bad | Nathan Thrall
My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel by Ari Shavit
Ari Shavit is a Haaretz columnist admired by liberal Zionists in America, where his book has been the focus of much attention. In April 1897 his great-grandfather Herbert Bentwich sailed for Jaffa, leading a delegation of 21 Zionists who were investigating whether Palestine would make a suitable site for a Jewish national home. Theodor Herzl, whose pamphlet The Jewish State had been published the year before, had never been to Palestine and hoped Bentwich’s group would produce a comprehensive report of its visit for the First Zionist Congress which was to be held in Basel in August that year. Bentwich was well-to-do, Western European and religious. Herzl and most early Zionists were chiefly interested in helping the impoverished and persecuted Jews of Eastern Europe, but Bentwich was more worried about the number of secular and emancipated Jews in Western Europe who were becoming assimilated. A solution to the problems of both groups, he believed, could be found by resurrecting the Land of Israel in Palestine.
FULL BOOK REVIEW (London Review of Books)
Photo: Cycling man/flickr

Feeling Good about Feeling Bad | Nathan Thrall

My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel by Ari Shavit

Ari Shavit is a Haaretz columnist admired by liberal Zionists in America, where his book has been the focus of much attention. In April 1897 his great-grandfather Herbert Bentwich sailed for Jaffa, leading a delegation of 21 Zionists who were investigating whether Palestine would make a suitable site for a Jewish national home. Theodor Herzl, whose pamphlet The Jewish State had been published the year before, had never been to Palestine and hoped Bentwich’s group would produce a comprehensive report of its visit for the First Zionist Congress which was to be held in Basel in August that year. Bentwich was well-to-do, Western European and religious. Herzl and most early Zionists were chiefly interested in helping the impoverished and persecuted Jews of Eastern Europe, but Bentwich was more worried about the number of secular and emancipated Jews in Western Europe who were becoming assimilated. A solution to the problems of both groups, he believed, could be found by resurrecting the Land of Israel in Palestine.

FULL BOOK REVIEW (London Review of Books)

Photo: Cycling man/flickr

22 Sep
Israel & the US: The Delusions of Our Diplomacy | Nathan Thrall
In the early days of the Gaza war that took the lives of some 2,100 Palestinians and seventy-two Israelis, a number of officials in Washington, Ramallah, and Jerusalem began to speak of renewing Israeli–Palestinian negotiations mediated by the United States. As the fighting dragged on, this talk intensified, again showing that the “peace process” gains greatest urgency from the threat of Israeli–Palestinian violence.
There is little reason to believe that renewed talks would succeed. The obstacles that caused the failure of the negotiations led by Secretary of State John Kerry have not disappeared. Many of them have grown larger. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his political program of nonviolence and negotiation have been weakened by Hamas’s strategy in Gaza, which impressed many Palestinians, although the costs were enormous. Hamas sent thousands of rockets into Israel, killing seven civilians, while Israeli air strikes and artillery killed hundreds of children, devastated large parts of Gaza, and left tens of thousands of people homeless. Reconstruction will cost many billions and take years.
Still, Hamas demonstrated that its militancy and its willingness to endure a ferocious Israeli attack could achieve more in weeks than Abbas’s talks have achieved in years. During the Gaza war, Israel did not announce a single new settlement in the West Bank. Although Israel did not agree to some of Hamas’s most important requests—for example, the opening of a seaport and the release of recently arrested prisoners—it showed eagerness to negotiate with the Palestinians and willingness to make significant concessions, including the easing of some border crossings, extending fishing rights, and facilitating the supply of construction materials.
FULL ARTICLE (The New York Review of Books)
Photo: U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv/flickr

Israel & the US: The Delusions of Our Diplomacy | Nathan Thrall

In the early days of the Gaza war that took the lives of some 2,100 Palestinians and seventy-two Israelis, a number of officials in Washington, Ramallah, and Jerusalem began to speak of renewing Israeli–Palestinian negotiations mediated by the United States. As the fighting dragged on, this talk intensified, again showing that the “peace process” gains greatest urgency from the threat of Israeli–Palestinian violence.

There is little reason to believe that renewed talks would succeed. The obstacles that caused the failure of the negotiations led by Secretary of State John Kerry have not disappeared. Many of them have grown larger. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his political program of nonviolence and negotiation have been weakened by Hamas’s strategy in Gaza, which impressed many Palestinians, although the costs were enormous. Hamas sent thousands of rockets into Israel, killing seven civilians, while Israeli air strikes and artillery killed hundreds of children, devastated large parts of Gaza, and left tens of thousands of people homeless. Reconstruction will cost many billions and take years.

Still, Hamas demonstrated that its militancy and its willingness to endure a ferocious Israeli attack could achieve more in weeks than Abbas’s talks have achieved in years. During the Gaza war, Israel did not announce a single new settlement in the West Bank. Although Israel did not agree to some of Hamas’s most important requests—for example, the opening of a seaport and the release of recently arrested prisoners—it showed eagerness to negotiate with the Palestinians and willingness to make significant concessions, including the easing of some border crossings, extending fishing rights, and facilitating the supply of construction materials.

FULL ARTICLE (The New York Review of Books)

Photo: U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv/flickr

12 Sep
How not to demilitarize Hamas  | Ofer Zalzberg 
In a few weeks, indirect negotiations between Israel and Hamas are to take place in Cairo with the aim of consolidating a durable ceasefire. The problem is that the two sides have two quite different agendas – while Hamas chiefly seeks the removal of the siege over Gaza, the Israeli government is primarily interested in demilitarizing Gaza.
But is pushing for demilitarization of Hamas in Gaza alone really in Israel’s interests?
FULL ARTICLE (CNN)
Photo: Dale Spencer/flickr

How not to demilitarize Hamas  | Ofer Zalzberg 

In a few weeks, indirect negotiations between Israel and Hamas are to take place in Cairo with the aim of consolidating a durable ceasefire. The problem is that the two sides have two quite different agendas – while Hamas chiefly seeks the removal of the siege over Gaza, the Israeli government is primarily interested in demilitarizing Gaza.

But is pushing for demilitarization of Hamas in Gaza alone really in Israel’s interests?

FULL ARTICLE (CNN)

Photo: Dale Spencer/flickr

25 Aug
Explained: What will it take for the Gaza crisis to finally end? | AFP
Future developments in the Gaza conflict — attrition warfare, a ground incursion or a ceasefire — depend on events on the ground, the status of the forces on both sides and internal dynamics, analysts say.
What is the current balance of power in the conflict?
Israel has dealt a heavy blow to Hamas by eliminating three of its senior military commanders, with the outcome of its attempt to assassinate the Palestinian movement’s military chief Mohammed Deif unclear.
Israel has also destroyed around two-thirds of the 10,000 rockets Hamas was believed to possess, killing some 900 “terrorists” and destroying their network of underground attack tunnels, army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner told AFP.
"Hamas no longer has the same capabilities as before, there is a gap between the reality on the ground and the military and political statements," said Mukhaimer Abu Saada, a professor of political science at Gaza’s Al-Azhar University.
FULL ARTICLE (Agence France-Presse via First Post)
Photo: Kashfi Halford/flickr

Explained: What will it take for the Gaza crisis to finally end? | AFP

Future developments in the Gaza conflict — attrition warfare, a ground incursion or a ceasefire — depend on events on the ground, the status of the forces on both sides and internal dynamics, analysts say.

What is the current balance of power in the conflict?

Israel has dealt a heavy blow to Hamas by eliminating three of its senior military commanders, with the outcome of its attempt to assassinate the Palestinian movement’s military chief Mohammed Deif unclear.

Israel has also destroyed around two-thirds of the 10,000 rockets Hamas was believed to possess, killing some 900 “terrorists” and destroying their network of underground attack tunnels, army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner told AFP.

"Hamas no longer has the same capabilities as before, there is a gap between the reality on the ground and the military and political statements," said Mukhaimer Abu Saada, a professor of political science at Gaza’s Al-Azhar University.

FULL ARTICLE (Agence France-Presse via First Post)

Photo: Kashfi Halford/flickr

21 Aug
Israeli airstrikes kill 3 top Hamas commanders in Gaza Strip | William Booth and Ruth Eglash
JERUSALEM — Israeli airstrikes killed three top Hamas commanders in Gaza early Thursday, marking the most significant blow to the leadership of the Palestinian militant group’s armed wing in six weeks of fighting in the battle-scarred enclave.
Hamas spokesmen confirmed that Israel killed the three men, whose bodies were pulled from a demolished building in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.
The killings came a day after an assassination attempt on Mohammed Deif, the top commander of the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the Hamas military wing. Hamas leaders mocked Israel for failing to kill Deif, although Israeli analysts said it was possible that the organization was withholding information on his death to maintain morale.
The al-Qassam Brigades said in a statement that Mohammed Abu Shamala, Raed al-Attar and Mohammed Barhoum were killed in the al-Sultan neighborhood of Rafah.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri called the targeted killings “a despicable crime for which Israel will pay dearly.” He vowed, “The strike won’t break the resistance of the Palestinian people,” according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
FULL ARTICLE (The Washington Post)
Photo: RafahKid Kid/flickr

Israeli airstrikes kill 3 top Hamas commanders in Gaza Strip | William Booth and Ruth Eglash

JERUSALEM — Israeli airstrikes killed three top Hamas commanders in Gaza early Thursday, marking the most significant blow to the leadership of the Palestinian militant group’s armed wing in six weeks of fighting in the battle-scarred enclave.

Hamas spokesmen confirmed that Israel killed the three men, whose bodies were pulled from a demolished building in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.

The killings came a day after an assassination attempt on Mohammed Deif, the top commander of the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the Hamas military wing. Hamas leaders mocked Israel for failing to kill Deif, although Israeli analysts said it was possible that the organization was withholding information on his death to maintain morale.

The al-Qassam Brigades said in a statement that Mohammed Abu Shamala, Raed al-Attar and Mohammed Barhoum were killed in the al-Sultan neighborhood of Rafah.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri called the targeted killings “a despicable crime for which Israel will pay dearly.” He vowed, “The strike won’t break the resistance of the Palestinian people,” according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

FULL ARTICLE (The Washington Post)

Photo: RafahKid Kid/flickr

20 Aug
Hopes of Prolonged Truce Dashed as Gaza Conflict Reignites | David Stout 
Fighting in Gaza continued into the early hours of Wednesday morning after talks between Israel and Hamas over a cease-fire collapsed in Cairo.
The negotiations in the Egyptian capital came to an abrupt end after three rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel eight hours before the latest truce was set to expire. Hamas denied launching the initial barrage of artillery on Tuesday night, but later claimed responsibility for rockets fired at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
Israel responded to the salvos with renewed airstrikes into the Gaza Strip and pulled its negotiation team from Cairo, where it had been engaged in talks with Palestinian representatives over the establishment of a prolonged truce.
FULL ARTICLE (TIME)
Photo: Iyad al Baba/Oxfam International/flickr

Hopes of Prolonged Truce Dashed as Gaza Conflict Reignites | David Stout 

Fighting in Gaza continued into the early hours of Wednesday morning after talks between Israel and Hamas over a cease-fire collapsed in Cairo.

The negotiations in the Egyptian capital came to an abrupt end after three rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel eight hours before the latest truce was set to expire. Hamas denied launching the initial barrage of artillery on Tuesday night, but later claimed responsibility for rockets fired at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

Israel responded to the salvos with renewed airstrikes into the Gaza Strip and pulled its negotiation team from Cairo, where it had been engaged in talks with Palestinian representatives over the establishment of a prolonged truce.

FULL ARTICLE (TIME)

Photo: Iyad al Baba/Oxfam International/flickr

12 Aug
Dream of a Gaza Seaport Is Revived in Truce Talks | Jodi Rudoren
SHEIK EJLEEN, Gaza Strip — An unmarked dirt lot about the size of a football field, on a cliff above the crashing waves of the Mediterranean, could be a crucial element in ending the monthlong battle between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.
It was here that a European contractor began building a commercial seaport back in July 2000, only to have its work destroyed by Israeli tanks and bombs within three months. Now, Palestinian leaders trying to negotiate terms in Cairo for a durable truce have made the revival of the seaport project a prime demand.
The port has become the embodiment of Palestinian aspirations to break the siege of Gaza, at once a symbol of independence and a potential economic engine that would reduce the territory’s reliance on increasingly hostile neighbors. First promised by the Oslo Accords in 1993, the seaport — or at least an interim proposal for a floating pier under international supervision — has won some backing from Europe, Egypt and the United Nations, albeit with caveats to address Israeli security concerns.
FULL ARTICLE (The New York Times)
Photo: Mohammed Al Baba/Oxfam International/flickr

Dream of a Gaza Seaport Is Revived in Truce Talks | Jodi Rudoren

SHEIK EJLEEN, Gaza Strip — An unmarked dirt lot about the size of a football field, on a cliff above the crashing waves of the Mediterranean, could be a crucial element in ending the monthlong battle between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.

It was here that a European contractor began building a commercial seaport back in July 2000, only to have its work destroyed by Israeli tanks and bombs within three months. Now, Palestinian leaders trying to negotiate terms in Cairo for a durable truce have made the revival of the seaport project a prime demand.

The port has become the embodiment of Palestinian aspirations to break the siege of Gaza, at once a symbol of independence and a potential economic engine that would reduce the territory’s reliance on increasingly hostile neighbors. First promised by the Oslo Accords in 1993, the seaport — or at least an interim proposal for a floating pier under international supervision — has won some backing from Europe, Egypt and the United Nations, albeit with caveats to address Israeli security concerns.

FULL ARTICLE (The New York Times)

Photo: Mohammed Al Baba/Oxfam International/flickr

7 Aug
How cement could de-rail the Gaza peace talks | Christopher Woolf
The Israeli goal in the Tunnel War was purportedly to destroy the massive network of ‘invasion’ tunnels built by the Palestinian militant group, Hamas. The tunnels allowed the militants to move under the border and launch raids into Israel proper. The ability of the militants to re-build those tunnels could now be a critical factor in negotiating a lasting truce.
Israel will want to prevent Hamas from re-building the tunnels. One way to do that is to control the flow of building materials, such as cement, gravel and re-bar, into the Gaza Strip.
But those same building materials are essential for civilian reconstruction as well. At least 10,000 buildings were damaged or destroyed in the month of fighting that ended Monday.
Hence, the battle for cement.
FULL ARTICLE (Public Radio International)
Photo: Marius Arnesen/flickr

How cement could de-rail the Gaza peace talks | Christopher Woolf

The Israeli goal in the Tunnel War was purportedly to destroy the massive network of ‘invasion’ tunnels built by the Palestinian militant group, Hamas. The tunnels allowed the militants to move under the border and launch raids into Israel proper. The ability of the militants to re-build those tunnels could now be a critical factor in negotiating a lasting truce.

Israel will want to prevent Hamas from re-building the tunnels. One way to do that is to control the flow of building materials, such as cement, gravel and re-bar, into the Gaza Strip.

But those same building materials are essential for civilian reconstruction as well. At least 10,000 buildings were damaged or destroyed in the month of fighting that ended Monday.

Hence, the battle for cement.

FULL ARTICLE (Public Radio International)

Photo: Marius Arnesen/flickr