Samer Badawi, +972 Magazine 4/23/2014
Unlike previous efforts, the current Palestinian reconciliation agreement appears to have been cemented from within; and it might just offer a lifeline to Gaza.
Just as word emerged early Wednesday of an imminent unity accord between rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seized upon the news to issue his Palestinian counterpart an ultimatum: Make peace with Hamas, and you can forget about peace with Israel. In lockstep, Netanyahu’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman immediately dubbed any intra-Palestinian reconciliation a veritable “termination of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.”
If that was a bluff, the Palestinians did not flinch. By the end of the day, the rival factions had announced a way forward on deals they had previously inked in Doha and Cairo. There would be elections within six months, and in the interim, a unity government—with Mahmoud Abbas the “prime minister” at its helm.
Welcome to the post-Oslo world.
It’s not as if Netanyahu and Co. didn’t see it coming. After all, it was the Israeli government, which controls Palestinians’ access to Gaza from the West Bank, that had waved Fatah delegates through the Erez crossing a day earlier. The rationale must have been simple. One week ahead of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s deadline for a so-called “framework agreement,” the Israeli premier is hell-bent to pin Kerry’s failure on Abbas — even if that means pushing the latter closer to Israel’s sworn enemy, Hamas.
Abbas, for his part, seems oblivious to the charge. As if anticipating Liberman’s bluff, he again threatened on Tuesday to disband the Palestinian Authority should a framework agreement with the Israelis remain elusive.... more.. e-mail Martin Indyk and the moral crisis at heart of Obama’s peace
Ramzy Baroud, Ma’an News Agency 4/24/2014
To understand how thoughtless the US latest "peace process" drive has been, one only needs to consider some of the characters involved in this political theater.
One particular character who stands out as a testament to the inherently futile exercise is Martin Indyk.
Indyk, a former US ambassador to Israel, was selected by Secretary of State John Kerry for the role of Special Envoy for negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Under normal circumstances, Kerry's selection may appear somewhat rational. Former ambassadors oftentimes possess the needed expertise to navigate challenging political landscapes in countries where they previously served. But these are not normal circumstances, and Indyk is hardly a diplomat in the strict use of the term.
As the US-sponsored peace process began to falter, Kerry made a peculiar move by dispatching his envoy Indyk to Jerusalem. On Friday, April 18, Indyk took on the task of speaking to both sides separately. International media depicted the event as a last ditch effort to revive the talks, and to help bridge the gap between the PA's Mahmoud Abbas and Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu.
The envoy visit took place a day after intense and difficult talks were reported to have taken place between Israeli and PA negotiators. "No breakthrough was made," an official Palestinian source told AFP of the Thursday meeting.
It was not that any progress was expected. Both sides are not talking about resolving the conflict per se, but the deliberations were mostly concerned with deferring Kerry's deadline for a "framework agreement," slated for April 29. more.. e-mail Israel suspends talks, and Washington’s hypocrisy on Hamas
Michael Omer-Man, +972 Magazine 4/24/2014
By suspending talks over Hamas’s inclusion in the Palestinian leadership, Netanyahu is proving that he was never seeking either a legitimate partner, or a legitimate peace.
The Israeli government announced that it is suspending peace talks with the Palestinians on Thursday as a response to the reconciliation deal signed a day earlier by Hamas and the Fatah-dominated PLO.
In choosing to disconnect from the already flailing peacemaking process, Israel is demonstrating that it never intended to make peace with the Palestinians, but rather with the “good Palestinians.”
Refusing to conduct peace talks with Hamas is one thing, but Netanyahu has decided to boycott Abbas because he had the gall to reconstruct his fractured government – a Palestinian societal and political wound that was one of the biggest obstacles to peace. (Read Noam Sheizaf on why the reconciliation deal is good for peace.)
Israel and the United States may have given Mahmoud Abbas a mandate to conduct peace negotiations without Hamas, but his mandate from the Palestinian people — at least a democratic one — expired a long time ago.
President Abbas’ term in office ended over five years ago. The last elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council, which Hamas won, took place eight years ago. (Fifty PLC members have seen the inside of Israeli prisons since, many under administrative detention.) The PLO (its Central Committee), too, hasn’t seen a ballot box in 18 years.
A reconciliation deal with Hamas that ensures new elections would renew Abbas’ mandate to negotiate peace, or revoke it once and for all. Furthermore, Abbas, like Netanyahu, has declared that any peace deal must be put to referendum, which could not take place absent some rapprochement with Hamas.... more.. e-mail Antagonising Iran: A strategic miscalculation?
Seyed Mohammad Marandi, Al Jazeera 4/22/2014
How the 'crippling sanctions' policy has started to cripple the tormentor.
Even though it was a major exporter of crude oil and held some of the world's largest natural gas reserves, Iran made a compelling case over half-a-century ago that it needed, almost immediately, to produce an additional 20,000 megawatts of electricity by constructing 23 nuclear power plants. At the same time, Iran's government made the case that the country needed to acquire the capacity to enrich uranium in order to fabricate the reactor fuel for such an ambitious programme.
Western governments eagerly endorsed these arguments, praising Iran's then Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi's ambition to rapidly modernise Iran while overlooking the reality that he was presiding over a ruthless dictatorship and diverting much needed capital to purchase massive amounts of weapons from the US and other Western countries. And so, during the 1960s and 1970s, billions of dollars were invested in establishing an Iranian nuclear programme and training thousands of Iranian nuclear experts in the West - until Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution replaced the monarchy with an Islamic Republic.
After charging enormous sums of money to build the infrastructure for a comprehensive nuclear industry in Iran, Western companies pulled out of the country, leaving large numbers of highly qualified experts and scholars wondering about their fate. Iran's new political leaders recognised the importance of an advanced nuclear programme to progress in fields such as medicine, agriculture, industry and energy; attempts were made to find foreign partners to complete the projects, but with little success. Progress in Iran's nuclear development only resumed after Iranians learned to rely on themselves and their own scientists to move the programme forward.
The US, which had enthusiastically supported Iran's nuclear programme under the Western-backed shah, had now become Tehran's leading antagonist, relentlessly threatening countries to refrain from cooperating with Iran.... more.. e-mail
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