Posts Tagged ‘Haaretz’

Abbas Turns Down Netanyahu’s Overture

Israeli prime minister Benyamin Netanyahu invited Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas to discuss peace today, but was refused for his failure to halt the settlements under the 2003 U.S.-initiated “roadmap” to peace.

Abbas said last month and again on Sunday in a letter to President Obama that he will not discuss “key issues” unless Israel stops the growth of settlements in the West Bank.

Reuters reports,

[Palestinian chief of the PLO Saeb] Erekat was responding to reports that Israel and the United States were discussing a compromise that would allow some building in existing settlements under what Israel terms “natural growth” to accommodate expanding families.

A U.S. official denied on Wednesday a report in the Israeli daily Maariv that the Obama administration agreed work could continue on 2,500 housing units whose construction had begun, despite its call for a total freeze to spur peace efforts.

The report followed talks in London last week between George Mitchell, Obama’s special Middle East envoy, and Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak aimed at healing a rift over continued settlement activity.

… 500,000 Israelis live in the West Bank and Arab East Jerusalem, areas Israel captured in a 1967 war. Palestinians say Jewish settlements, deemed illegal by the World Court, would deny them a viable and contiguous state.

Western officials said the United States was moving in the direction of making allowances so Israel could finish off at least some existing projects which are close to completion or bound by private contracts that cannot be broken.

Israel estimates that 2,500 units are in the process of being built and cannot be stopped under Israeli law.

In an interview with Ha’aretz, Netanyahu’s national security adviser called the Palestinian government a stooge, or rather a “disorderly constellation of forces and factions.” Of Abbas he said, “But even with him I don’t see a real interest and desire to arrive at the end of the conflict with Israel. On the contrary, he is preserving eternal claims against us and inflaming them.”

— Tina Carter, Trinity ’10

Senior Adviser on Middle East Peace Turned Over

Just one week ago, The Washington Post reported that Dennis Ross, a senior adviser for the State Department on Iran and former heavy-hand in Middle East peace negotiations, was a “diplomatic troubleshooter…legendary talker.”

As one of the main architects of the Obama administration’s Iran policy, Ross is crafting a way to reach out to Iran to persuade its leaders to abandon any plan to develop nuclear weapons. President Obama says this effort will have to show results by the end of the year.

Imagine their surprise when news broke of Ross’ transfer to the National Security Council Monday. A speculative uproar followed.

Al Jazeera English wrote, “The White House and state department declined to comment on the matter but denied a report in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that Ross was being removed from his job.”

According to Haaretz, Iran objected to Ross’ Jewish heritage and his close ties to Israeli civil and defense government officials.

Ross also endorsed military action against Iran with former journalist and co-author David Makovsky in their new book, “Myths, Illusion and Peace: Finding a New Direction for America in the Middle East.”

“Tougher policies – either militarily or meaningful containment – will be easier to sell internationally and domestically if we have diplomatically tried to resolve our differences with Iran in a serious and credible fashion,” they wrote.

Haaretz also speculates that Ross may have been dissatisfied with his position in the State Department, especially considering the rise of George Mitchell and Richard Holbrooke, two other Washington envoys whose clout has surpassed that of Ross.

Of these suppositions, it seems most likely that the man who was once behind Iran foreign policy came to be seen as a diplomatic handicap for a cautious administration.

“…in the Middle East, many officials view him as too pro-Israel, raising concerns about whether he is the right person for the job of coaxing the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Even a former colleague, Aaron David Miller, wrote last year that “Dennis, like myself, had an inherent tendency to see the world of Arab-Israeli politics first from Israel’s vantage point.”

Whatever the truth behind Ross’ move, his absence may make it easier for the Obama administration to gingerly coax Iran out of its nuclear amibtions, support of terrorism, and other great diplomatic misdeeds.

— Tina Carter, Trinity ’10

Music and Tennis Offer Differing Persepctives on Israeli-Arab Relations

February 20, 2009 Leave a comment

With a right-wing government forming in Israel and violence continuing in Gaza, prospects for peace between the Jewish state and the Palestinians seem to be dimming. Yet against this backdrop, the selection of a Jewish-Arab duo to represent Israel in the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest offers a ray of hope for peaceful coexistence.

The selection of the Jewish-Israeli singer Achinoam Nini, who goes by the name Noa, and the Arab-Israeli singer Mira Awad to represent IsraelĀ  marks the first time an Arab will sing for Israel in the highly popular musical competition, which will occur in Moscow in mid-May. Noa and Mira Awad have previously performed together (Click her to see the duo on YouTube), and they told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that they plan to perform a song with lyrics in Hebrew, Arabic and English at the competition to emphasize the importance of coexistence.

“Some people will see an Arab girl who looks Jewish and a Jewish girl who looks Arab, which is what we are,” Nini told Haaretz in an interview. “Maybe it will open some people’s minds.”

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