Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
View this page at www.dailyalert.org|
August 23, 2010
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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced Friday: "After proximity talks and consultations with both sides, on behalf of the United States Government, I've invited Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Abbas to meet on September 2nd in Washington, D.C., to re-launch direct negotiations to resolve all final status issues, which we believe can be completed within one year. President Obama has invited President Mubarak of Egypt and King Abdullah of Jordan to attend in view of their critical role in this effort....These negotiations should take place without preconditions." (State Department)
See also Quartet Statement on Renewing Talks (State Department)
See also PA Clinging to Quartet Statement
The Palestinian Authority is basing its hopes on the Mideast Quartet statement, issued Friday, rather than anything said by American officials, Fatah Central Committee member Azzam Al-Ahmad said Sunday. While Clinton insists that the talks should renew "without preconditions," the Quartet reaffirmed its commitment to previous statements including one on 19 March which called on both sides to adhere to the Roadmap and specifically demanded that Israel "freeze all settlement activity, including natural growth." Al-Ahmad noted that remarks made by U.S. Quartet envoy George Mitchell contradicted those outlined in the Quartet statement. Mitchell said the agenda for talks would not be set in advance but would be worked out during negotiations. (Maan News-PA)
The American invitation on Friday to the Israelis and Palestinians to start direct peace talks was immediately accepted by both governments. But just below the surface there was an almost audible shrug. There is little confidence - close to none - on either side that the Obama administration's goal of reaching a comprehensive deal in one year can be met.
Yossi Beilin, who left politics in 2008 after years as a leftist member of Parliament and government minister, said Friday that the Obama administration was wrong to set a one-year goal. "I think this is a huge mistake by the U.S. administration," he said. "There is not a chance in the world that in a year - two or three - peace can be achieved. The gap between the sides is too big." On the Palestinian side, not even the leadership is enthusiastic. Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, has spent the past year and a half resisting the entreaties of Mr. Netanyahu to sit down together without preconditions. He was hoping that the Obama administration would impose a solution.
As most Israelis see it, twice in the past decade their governments made generous offers to the Palestinian leadership that were rejected or ignored, evidence that peaceful coexistence was not the other side's goal. What happened in Gaza over the past five years has also created intense Israeli disillusionment. Israel withdrew its settlers and soldiers and the result was a victory for Hamas, which rejects Israel's existence, and thousands of rockets shot at Israeli communities from Gaza.
Dore Gold, a former diplomat who has left public service but is closely associated with Mr. Netanyahu, said the negotiations "can be important as long as Israel's red lines are not crossed." The lines he considers red are the need to keep Jerusalem united and under Israeli sovereignty and preserving Israeli control of the area in the West Bank along the Jordan border to prevent any flow of weapons in. (New York Times)
The phrase that Iran's "nuclear clock has slowed" is now one of the Obama administration's favorites when arguing that Iran's progress toward nuclear-weapon capability has diminished, and that more time is available to convince Iran to change its ways. Sad to say, the assumption is false. The clock is still ticking, vigorously.
By the beginning of this year, Iran had produced enough low-enriched uranium to fuel two nuclear weapons if the uranium were further enriched to weapon-grade. By now, Iran has added almost enough of this low-enriched uranium to fuel a third weapon, and by the middle of next year (at the current production rate), it will probably produce enough to fuel a fourth. To make matters worse, in February, Iran started to further enrich this uranium to a higher level, a level at which the Islamic Republic will have accomplished 90% of the work needed to raise its enrichment to weapon-grade. All this is happening at a time when Iran is successfully fielding ballistic missiles that can carry a nuclear payload far enough to reach Israel.
But why quibble about how long the final phase of bomb making might take? Instead, we should keep our eyes on the big fact here, which is that Iran is fast approaching the status of a "virtual" nuclear weapon state - one with the ability to kick out UN inspectors and build a handful of nuclear warheads. We must confront the growth of Iran's nuclear capability, and not be lulled into imagining that it's not real. The writer is executive director of the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control. (Atlantic Monthly)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Prime Minister Netanyahu told the Israeli Cabinet Sunday: "I welcome the U.S. invitation to start direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority without preconditions. Since the Government's inauguration nearly a year and a half ago I have been calling for these direct talks. The achievement of a peace agreement between us and the Palestinian Authority is a difficult thing, but it is possible....We are seeking to surprise the critics and the skeptics, but in order to do this we need a real partner on the Palestinian side. It is possible to succeed with a hand extended in peace, but only if someone on the other [side] likewise extends one. "
"This agreement will be based on three initial components: First of all, on real and sustainable security arrangements on the ground; secondly, upon recognition of Israel as the national state of the Jewish People, and this means that the solution of a problem like the demand for return will be realized in the territory of the Palestinian state; and the third component, the end to the conflict. We are discussing a peace agreement between Israel and a demilitarized Palestinian state. This state, if it should be established after this process, is due to end the conflict and not to be a facade for its continuation by other means." (Prime Minister's Office)
See also In Peace Talks, Israel to Focus on Security Arrangements - Natasha Mozgovaya, Barak Ravid and Avi Issacharoff
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu intends to lead the direct negotiations with the Palestinians in Washington on September 2. Netanyahu said he wants to discuss security issues with the Palestinians first; only then would the two sides focus on borders of a future Palestinian state. Sources said on Saturday that most of the negotiations will take place in Israel or the region and not in the U.S. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
The Palestinian side agreed Friday to come to the talks based on a statement of principles that was issued by the Quartet. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, however, is responding to the invitation issued by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, without endorsing any terms of reference. Indeed, Netanyahu is said to have explicitly rejected the language of the Quartet statement as a framing document. It's a classic piece of diplomacy: One side is responding to one letter of invitation; the other is responding to a subtly different request. It's a finesse that has succeeded in getting both to the table, but it also highlights the huge differences that exist between the two sides. If it was this hard to get people to agree to come to the table, that surely doesn't bode well for the larger issues that need to be resolved. (Washington Post)
The only place for a Palestinian state is the West Bank, which Israel has occupied - legally under international law - since repelling the 1967 aggression launched from there. The West Bank remains an unallocated portion of the Palestine Mandate, the disposition of which is to be settled by negotiations.
There was in 2007 essentially a coup in Gaza by the terrorist organization Hamas. So now Israel has on its western border, 44 miles from Tel Aviv, an entity dedicated to Israel's destruction, collaborative with Iran and possessing a huge arsenal of rockets. Rocket attacks from Gaza increased dramatically after Israel withdrew. The number of UN resolutions deploring this? Zero. The closest precedent for that bombardment was the Nazi rocket attacks on London, which were answered by the destruction of Hamburg, Dresden and other German cities. When Israel struck back at Hamas, the "international community" was theatrically appalled. (Washington Post)
Back to Basics on Israel's Security Needs - Elliott Abrams (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
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