Category: MidEast Conflict

Obama Proposes Devastating Peace Deal for Palestinians

Article first published as Obama Proposes Devastating Peace Deal for Palestinians on Blogcritics.

Obama doesn’t know the value of peace. He doesn’t know how to achieve peace at all. Now, one can be sure that we cannot expect a viable peace plan for Middle-East from a person who received a Nobel peace prize within 13 days of his rule, even before he began signing palestine-mapgovernment’s papers. We cannot expect a promising peace from a persona who confirms wars are needed to establish peace while receiving Noble peace prize. That is what Mr. Obama proved by his latest peace plan for Palestinians. It is actually more like maintaining status quo for Israeli state rather than delivering peaceful state for Palestinians.

It is no wonder Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu is confident of convincing his pro-settler cabinet to accept the new Obama-sponsored peace deal. One is well aware of Netanyahu’s far-right views on Palestinians and their leaders, which came to light through a leaked video. It was revealed in that video that Netanyahu preferred continuous beating Palestinians till they accept what was imposed by Israeli state as a peace deal. Given such views, his acceptance to the Obama-sponsored peace deal means a death blow to the national aspirations of the long-suffering Palestinian people.

Salient Features

Some features of Obama’s new peace deal are:

  • A declaration by Israel “an additional suspension of construction in the West Bank for a mere 90 day period that does not include East Jerusalem occupied by Israel in 1967 war but not accepted by the international community
  • A pledge not to seek any extension to the settlement freeze after the expiry of 90 days even the talks are not concluded
  • A guarantee to veto any resolutions deemed to be anti-Israel, brought to the United Nations Security Council and other international organisations that seek to impose a political settlement on Israel
  • A supply of $3 billion worth war planes to Israel to maintain its qualitative edge in the region
  • Signing of a more comprehensive deal by the US to enhance its substantial security aid to Israel as part of any future agreement with Palestinians

It can be seen that this is completely one sided deal prepared for the advantage of Israelis. A peace deal should not be advantageous to either parties, but should confirm the genuine aspirations on both sides.

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Strains in Israel coalition over U.S. freeze package

Cracks emerged in Israel’s right-wing coalition on Tuesday ahead of an expected cabinet vote on whether to accept U.S. inducements to freeze West Bank settlement building so that stalled peace talks can resume. "I think we are facing a real disagreement," said Benny Begin, a respected right-wing minister and son of the late Menachem Begin who made peace with Egypt in the late 1970s. He said Washington’s offer to Israel of 20 F-35 stealth warplanes worth $3 billion was "the bait to push us into the diplomatic trap" by agreeing to a proposed 90-day halt to Jewish settlement building in the occupied territory.

Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor confirmed on Tuesday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was waiting to receive the offer in writing from Washington before putting it to a vote in cabinet which is expected to convene on Wednesday. If the letter reflected verbal agreements between Netanyahu and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in New York talks last week, then the cabinet would vote on it, he said.

In addition to ultranationalist, religious and pro-settler allies in his coalition, Netanyahu faces stiff opposition from within his own right-wing Likud party, where many lawmakers have vehemently stated their opposition to Israeli concessions. "(We) will do everything we can to prevent a decision on a freeze. We are also appealing to all members of our Likud faction to express their view," prominent Likud lawmaker Zeev Elkin said on Monday.

An Israeli diplomatic source said the U.S. written commitment was being delayed by pressure from the Palestinians, who object that it exempts East Jerusalem from a freeze, denies them any chance of seeking a further moratorium, and prevents them from pursuing an imposed settlement via the United Nations. Palestinian presidential aide Nabil Abu Rdainah said the Palestinians had yet to receive details of the final proposal and had made no formal remarks to the Americans concerning it.

STAKES GET HIGHER

U.S. President Barack Obama invested substantial political capital in persuading the Palestinians to resume direct talks with Israel in early September, after months of mediation. But, true to their warnings, they halted negotiations when Netanyahu refused to extend the 10-month partial construction moratorium on Jewish settlements in the West Bank after it expired at the end of that month.

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Obama calls latest Israeli plan promising

AP | MSNBC | 11/14/2010 | 5:03:09 PM ET

President Barack Obama on Sunday hailed the prospect of a new settlement freeze in the disputed West Bank as a promising step toward peace, urging Israelis and Palestinians to get back into serious negotiations quickly. An upbeat president also pledged to return to the basic principles that drove his thinking when he first came to the White House, including sticking to a more bipartisan tone and better explaining his decisions to the American people.

He spoke of moving from an "obsessive focus" on policy and making changes to his approach after a humbling midterm election. "The fact that we are out of crisis — although still obviously in a difficult time — I think will give me the capacity," Obama told reporters aboard Air Force One at the end of long Asia trip.

On the Mideast, Washington’s new proposal for reviving peace talks includes a 90-day ban on housing starts in West Bank settlements — but not in east Jerusalem, the Palestinians’ hoped-for capital. The goal is to give the two sides a three-month period to shape borders of side-by-side states, a daunting, elusive mission. Obama commended Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for making a "very constructive step" toward creating an environment for peace. "I think it’s a signal that he’s serious," Obama said.

U.S. officials said Netanyahu told the administration that he supports the plan and will try to win approval from his Cabinet. Obama said he hopes the Israeli leader and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will resume negotiations soon. A previous 10-month moratorium in the West Bank expired Sept. 26, and talks have stalled, casting doubt about the notion of a peace deal within a year’s time, as Obama has sought. Just a few days ago, during a stop in Indonesia, Obama acknowledged he was worried about the peace process and urged both sides to show more effort.

Looking rested after two legs of an all-night flight from Asia, Obama on Sunday made an unannounced visit to the press cabin of Air Force One just before the plane landed at Andrews Air Force Base in Washington. The president sounded optimistic about getting Senate ratification of a new U.S.-Russia nuclear arms treaty during the postelection session of Congress, during which lawmakers try to push through matters before a new Congress convenes.

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Settlers start 600 new homes after ban ends – report

BBC | 22 October 2010 | 03:58 GMT

Jewish settlers have started building more than 600 homes in the West Bank since a building freeze expired last month, an Israeli pressure group says. The pace of building was four times faster than before the restrictions were put in place, Peace Now said. Palestinian negotiators have threatened to walk out of the recently resumed direct peace talks with Israel unless the construction freeze is reinstated.

New settlement constructionA UN envoy criticised Israel over the report, describing it as "alarming". Robert Serry, the UN Special Co-ordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, said building on occupied land was illegal under international law and would "only further undermine trust" in the peace process.

‘Natural pace’

A spokesman for Peace Now, Yariv Oppenheimer, told the BBC that more details on the new homes being built by settlers would be released in a report on Monday. Another official from the group, Hagit Ofran, added, "I estimate that work has started at about 600 housing units [since the end of the construction freeze], and I’m looking to complete the survey in order to know the exact number, and it is [at] different stages of construction. In some places, it is only levelling the ground that has started and in others, it’s the very foundation that is now being dug."

A separate count by the Associated Press estimated that ground had been broken on at least 544 new West Bank homes since 26 September, when Israel lifted its 10-month freeze on most new settlement building in the West Bank. Palestinian Authority spokesperson Ghassan Khatib said the figure was "alarming and is another indicator that Israel is not serious about the peace process, which is supposed to be about ending the occupation".

But Israeli government spokesperson Mark Regev said Israel wanted to "proceed to move forward in the peace process and all the difficult issues, all the core issues of the conflict are on the table, including the sensitive issue of settlements.

"In the interim, the limited construction under way will in no way impact upon the final contours of a peace agreement. Ultimately, it’s not about settlements, it’s about reaching a historic peace settlement," he added. An organisation representing Jewish settlers told the BBC they were not counting houses and the settlements needed to grow at a "natural pace".

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US given one-month deadline to rescue Mid-East talks

BBC News | 8 October 2010 | 21:39 GMT

Arab League foreign ministers have given the US one month to rescue deadlocked Middle East peace talks. At a meeting in Libya, they endorsed a decision by the Palestinian negotiators to stay away unless Israel restored a partial settlement construction freeze. But the ministers said the US had to be given more time to break the impasse.

Arab league The direct negotiations, the first in almost two years, resumed in September but later stalled when Israel refused to extend the freeze in the West Bank. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas attended the meeting of Arab League foreign ministers in the Libyan city of Sirte.

Afterwards Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr al-Thani, who chaired the meeting, told reporters: "The committee endorses the decision of President Abbas to stop the talks." "It urges the American side to pursue its efforts to prepare adequate grounds and circumstances to resume the peace process and put this peace process back on the right track, including stopping settlements," he added.

The Arab League ministers are now due to meet again in a month’s time to review the situation. The US state department later said: "We appreciate the Arab League’s statement of support for our efforts to create conditions that will allow direct talks to move forward."

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Arabs to seek alternatives for stalled peace talks

Reuters | Oct 8, 2010 | 6:57pm IST

Arab leaders will begin drafting alternatives for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process because the current round of talks has stalled, Arab League Secretary-General Amir Moussa said on Friday. "We will meet to formulate the beginning of alternatives within the framework that the negotiations are not bearing fruit," Moussa said after a meeting of the Arab League’s peace process follow-up committee in Libya.

"There are no talks at the moment because the position of the Israelis is very, very negative. They are not cooperating in the negotiations," Moussa said. The committee would meet the Palestinian delegation on Friday night but would not advise Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas what he should do next, Moussa said.

The Arab League foreign ministers met in the Libyan town of Sirte to hear Abbas’s case for suspending talks with Israel until it extends a moratorium on Jewish settlement building in the occupied West Bank. Launched in Washington just five weeks ago, the talks veered into a dead end on Sept. 26 when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Nentayhu refused to extend a halt to construction of Jewish settlements, which he had said would last 10 months.

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West Bank mosque ‘set alight by Jewish settlers’

BBC News | 4 October 2010 | 11:19 GMT

  • More than 430,000 settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, alongside 2.5 million Palestinians
  • 20,000 settlers live in the Golan Heights
  • Settlements and the area they take up cover 40% of the West Bank
  • There are about 100 settlements not authorised by the Israeli government in the West Bank

West Bank mosque attack Israel is investigating Palestinian reports that a mosque in the West Bank has been set alight by Jewish settlers. Palestinian officials say settlers set fire to the mosque in Beit Fajjar, near the town of Bethlehem. They blame residents of a nearby settlement because the arsonists reportedly scrawled Hebrew graffiti on one of the mosque’s walls.

The assault comes as Palestinian-Israeli peace talks have faltered over the issue of settlements. Israel has occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, since 1967, settling close to 500,000 Jews in more than 100 settlements. Some 2.5 million Palestinians live in the West Bank. Jewish settlements are illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.

Failed investigations

A spokesperson for the Israeli military said it was taking the burning of the mosque very seriously. "The IDF as well as the other security forces in Israel see the incident this morning in a very severe manner," army spokesperson Avital Leibowitz told reporters in Tel Aviv. "We are doing the utmost in order to reach those law-breakers." Previous Israeli investigations of mosque attacks have failed to produce results.

In April, a mosque was vandalised with Hebrew graffiti, cars were burnt and olive trees uprooted in the village of Hawara, near the Yitzhar settlement. And in May, a mosque in the Palestinian village of Lubban al-Sharqiya, near Nablus, was gutted by fire, which also destroyed holy books. No charges were brought against anyone in either case.

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