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West Bank Demonstrators Fewer than Expected - Avi Issacharoff (Ha'aretz)
Only about 10,000 people showed up on Wednesday for the PA rally in Ramallah, which had been planned for weeks.
Given that schools, universities, government offices and large companies had shut down for the day to allow people to demonstrate, one would have expected a far larger number.
A Surprise Consequence of Palestinian Sovereignty - Ed Morgan (Globe and Mail-Canada)
One legal consequence of statehood is that a state is responsible internationally not only for its own acts but for all acts from its territory - even by groups beyond its control.
The statehood gambit will impose full international responsibility on the Palestinian Authority for anyone operating from Gaza and the West Bank, including groups beyond the PA's reach such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Resistance Committees.
The writer is a professor of law at the University of Toronto.
IDF Uses New Sonic Crowd Dispersal Device - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
As a few thousand Palestinians gathered for a peaceful protest in Ramallah on Wednesday,
about 50 people gathered near the Kalandia checkpoint between Jerusalem and Ramallah and threw stones at IDF soldiers.
In response, the army activated the "Scream" sonic device for the first time in an effort to disperse the crowd.
See also Israeli Army Uses New Device to Disperse Protesters (WAFA-PA)
Within seconds, the sound emitted by the acoustic device causes people to fall to their knees, unable to maintain their balance.
The weapon also causes dizziness and nausea, and can be heard even if earplugs are used.
It caused the Palestinian protesters to immediately disperse.
PLO Hires British PR Firm - (O'Dwyer's)
The British firm Bell Pottinger receives a $30K monthly retainer for providing strategic communications advice to the general delegation of the Palestine Liberation Organization to the U.S., according to its letter of agreement.
The firm will draft and continually refine "messages that tell the story of Palestine, your challenges and your objectives in a way that is concise, compelling and effective."
Congressional outreach also is part of the PR package.
In addition, the Qorvis PR company is involved in a three-month $90K branding campaign for Palestine that is bankrolled by the Palestinian American Chamber of Commerce.
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- Obama Rebuffed as Palestinians Pursue UN Seat - Helene Cooper and Steven Lee Myers
A last-ditch American effort to head off a Palestinian bid for membership in the UN faltered. President Obama tried to qualify his own call, just a year ago, for a Palestinian state. And President Nicolas Sarkozy of France stepped forcefully into the void, with a proposal that pointedly repudiated Obama's approach.
Even before Obama declared to the General Assembly that "Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the UN," American officials acknowledged that their last-minute attempts to jump-start Israeli-Palestinian negotiations with help from European allies and Russia had collapsed. (New York Times)
Obama Rejects Palestinians' UN Bid - Scott Wilson
President Obama delivered his clearest statement of support and sympathy for Israel on Wednesday in a speech to the UN General Assembly that rejected the Palestinians' bid to have the UN recognize their statehood. Obama's speech marked a retreat from his early ambitions to help broker an enduring peace in the Middle East, as well as a step back from his call from the same podium a year ago for the creation of a Palestinian state by this session of the General Assembly. (Washington Post)
See also below Observations - Obama to UN: Any Agreement Must Assure Israel's Security (White House)
- Palestinians Prepared to Delay Statehood Bid by "Several Months" - Adrian Blomfield and Alex Spillius
Palestinian officials on Wednesday signaled a willingness to delay a UN Security Council vote on their bid for statehood by "several months," as President Obama publicly rejected their plans. Under a deal still being thrashed out on Wednesday, PA President Abbas would still launch his bid for full UN membership on Friday, but would not seek to expedite a debate at the Security Council, where the U.S. has threatened to wield its veto.
"The important thing for us is to submit our application as planned," a senior Palestinian official said. "After that, we are prepared to be reasonable. We understand that things can take time. If the process is going to take some months, we are happy to let things take their course." Palestinian officials said they were unlikely to raise objections to a compromise being advanced by the Middle East Quartet that would postpone the debate but grant the PA enhanced observer status. (Telegraph-UK)
- Australia Likely to Vote No to Palestine - Dan Oakes and Daniel Flitton
Prime Minister Julia Gillard told the Labor caucus that voting for a Palestinian state at the UN was not the ''path to peace,'' lining Australia up alongside the U.S., which is fighting to convince other nations not to support the bid. Sources said that while Australia would almost certainly not support Palestinian statehood, the possibility of abstaining was still open.
(Sydney Morning Herald-Australia)
See also Direct Negotiations Are the True Path to Peace in the Middle East - Prime Minister Julia Gillard (The Australian)
- Israeli Prime Minister Thanks Canada for Support at UN - Campbell Clark
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper for his support for Israel when the two leaders met at the UN on Wednesday. Both said the solution to the Israel-Palestinian impasse lies in a resumption of two-way peace talks, not a UN declaration of statehood for Palestine.
(Globe and Mail-Canada)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Netanyahu to Obama: Thank You for Supporting Peace through Direct Negotiations
Prime Minister Netanyahu told President Obama at a meeting in New York on Wednesday: " I want to thank you, Mr. President, for standing with Israel and supporting peace through direct negotiations. We both agree this is the only way to achieve peace. We both agree that the Palestinians and the Israelis should sit down together and negotiate an agreement of mutual recognition and security. I think this is the only way to get to a stable and durable peace."
"I think the Palestinians want to achieve a state in the international community, but they're not prepared yet to give peace to Israel in return."
(Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
- Obama Tells Israelis What They've Been Waiting to Hear - Herb Keinon
It took some 34 months, but on Wednesday at the UN Israel finally heard the speech it wanted to hear from President Obama. This was a dose of empathy and understanding Obama had not articulated strongly in the past. Obama did not jettison his desire to see a Palestinian state, he just gave articulate expression to the truth that it will only come about through talks. He acknowledged that there were no shortcuts, and even spoke of the need for the Palestinians to compromise as well.
See also An Impassioned Pro-Israel Obama Speech at the UN - Jeffrey Goldberg
My clear impression, based on some actual reporting, is that Obama and his administration are particularly pissed-off about UN hypocrisy on Israel, and are also angry at the disrespect shown them by Mahmoud Abbas. In other words, it's Abbas' turn to feel Obama's wrath today. Netanyahu is off the hot seat for the moment.
- Stand Up Against Palestinians' UN Statehood Bid: It's Dangerous to Israel - U.S. Reps. Eric Cantor and Steny Hoyer
The decision facing Abbas was a simple one: return to direct peace negotiations with Israel or rebuff the U.S. and renew diplomatic warfare against Israel. In choosing the latter, Abbas has put at risk not only the Palestinian Authority's relationship with the U.S., but the aspirations of his own people. We are deeply concerned that the Palestinians' misguided pursuit of unilateral resolutions over negotiated agreements is moving the Arab-Israeli peace process in the wrong direction.
Congress will not sit idly by. The U.S. will likely reconsider its assistance program for the PA and other aspects of U.S.-Palestinian relations should the Palestinians choose to move forward in requesting a vote on statehood. We urge Abbas to eschew the route of diplomatic warfare at the UN and embrace negotiations with Israel immediately. Direct negotiations with Israel are the only way to achieve true and lasting peace for Palestinians and Israelis.
Eric Cantor (R-Va.) is the House majority leader. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) is the House minority whip.
(New York Daily News)
- The Perils of the Palestinians' Big Moment at the UN - Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Michael Herzog
A UN resolution endorsing maximalist Palestinian positions on the core issues, such as on borders and refugees, could close the door on negotiations for a long time. The Palestinians will find it hard to compromise on such internationally endorsed positions and Israelis will find it hard to negotiate under one-sided terms of reference which predetermine the final agreement.
Once the international community recognizes Palestinian statehood, UN-affiliated bodies such as the International Criminal Court (ICC) can decide it has jurisdiction over the Palestinian request, filed in 2009, to investigate Israeli "war crimes." This will open the door to countless attempts to bring politically motivated charges against Israel. Such legal confrontations will provide a constant distraction from the attempt to restart the peace process. The writer, an
international fellow of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, served as a key participant in nearly every Arab-Israeli peace negotiation between 1993 and 2010.
- Palestinians Refused Statehood in the Past Because It's Not Their Real Goal - Jeff Jacoby
Were Palestinian statehood Abbas' real goal, he could have delivered it to his people three years ago. In 2008, then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert proposed the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state on territory equal (after land swaps) to 100% of the West Bank and Gaza, with free passage between the two plus a capital in the Arab section of Jerusalem. Yet Abbas turned down the Israeli offer. And he has refused ever since even to engage in negotiations.
For the better part of a century, Arab leaders of Palestine have consistently said no when presented with the chance to build a state of their own - in 1937, 1947, 1967 and 2000.
There is no shortage of stateless peoples yearning for a homeland - Kurds or Tamils or Tibetans - whose longstanding quests for a nation-state the world ignores. They must be baffled by the Palestinians' refusal to take yes for an answer. (Boston Globe)
Obama to UN: Any Agreement Must Assure Israel's Security (White House)
President Barack Obama told the UN General Assembly on Wednesday:
- One year ago, I stood at this podium and I called for an independent Palestine. I believed then, and I believe now, that the Palestinian people deserve a state of their own. But what I also said is that a genuine peace can only be realized between the Israelis and the Palestinians themselves....Israelis must know that any agreement provides assurances for their security. Palestinians deserve to know the territorial basis of their state.
- Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the United Nations....Ultimately, it is the Israelis and the Palestinians - not us - who must reach agreement on the issues that divide them.
- America's commitment to Israel's security is unshakeable. Our friendship with Israel is deep and enduring. And so we believe that any lasting peace must acknowledge the very real security concerns that Israel faces every single day.
- Let us be honest with ourselves: Israel is surrounded by neighbors that have waged repeated wars against it. Israel's citizens have been killed by rockets fired at their houses and suicide bombs on their buses. Israel's children come of age knowing that throughout the region, other children are taught to hate them.
- Israel, a small country of less than eight million people, looks out at a world where leaders of much larger nations threaten to wipe it off of the map. The Jewish people carry the burden of centuries of exile and persecution, and fresh memories of knowing that six million people were killed simply because of who they are. Those are facts. They cannot be denied.
- The Jewish people have forged a successful state in their historic homeland. Israel deserves recognition. It deserves normal relations with its neighbors. And friends of the Palestinians do them no favors by ignoring this truth.
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