Reuters | RAMALLAH (West Bank) | Tue Dec 15, 2009 | 7:20pm IST
President Mahmoud Abbas said on Tuesday the Palestinians would only resume peace talks if Israel fully halted settlement building in the occupied West Bank, but ruled out any return to violence. Addressing a meeting of the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s central council, which is expected to extend his term as president, Abbas dismissed Israel’s partial settlement freeze and said the Israelis did not want negotiations.
Abbas, who is under pressure from the United States and the European Union to resume talks that have been frozen for the past year, said he was not setting terms but simply reiterating Israel’s obligations under the “road map” agreement for talks. “When Israel stops settlement activity for a specific period and when it recognises the borders we are calling for, and these are the legal borders, there would be nothing to prevent us from going to negotiations,” Abbas told the PLO meeting in Ramallah.
Expressing frustration over what he said was Israel’s failure to carry out its obligations, Abbas said: “Where do they want to take us? What is required of us? There is one thing I will not accept: a return to violence.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused the Palestinians of delaying talks. Abbas, who replaced the late Yasser Arafat as Palestinian leader in 2004, said Israel was simply deflecting the blame. “It does not want negotiations,” he said. Continue reading
Reuters Mon Dec 14, 2009 10:19pm IST
The Islamist movement Hamas served notice on Monday that it would ignore any decisions by the Palestine Liberation Organisation this week about future leadership and peace talks with Israel. “Hamas will not retreat from Jihad and resistance until it achieves freedom and independence for our people,” Gaza Strip Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh told a huge rally. “We will not recognise Israel and we will not abandon resistance.” he said. In a speech underlining the split in Palestinian ranks between his movement and the secular Fatah group, the Hamas leader in Gaza said any decisions taken by the PLO Central Council meeting in the West Bank would be unconstitutional. “We say to PLO Central Council members who will meet tomorrow in Ramallah that any decision that contradicts the constitution and contradicts the will of the people, will not be binding,” he told tens of thousands of supporters. Hamas rules the cramped Mediterranean enclave, which was hammered by an Israeli military offensive a year ago. Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005 and after driving out the mainstream Fatah movement in 2007, Hamas took full power.
Fatah said in a statement that the speech showed Hamas wanted to entrench the Palestinian division. Hamas had closed the door on Egyptian reconciliation efforts, it added. As supporters celebrated the anniversary of the foundation of Hamas 22 years ago, Haniyeh promised no wavering from the goal of “a Palestine from the sea to the river (Jordan), a land of Islamic Waqf (religious endowment)”. Hamas does not recognise Israel’s right to exist and opposes the Fatah strategy pursued by President Mahmoud Abbas of seeking to negotiate a permanent peace deal. Continue reading
Reuters | Sun Nov 22, 2009 | 6:49pm IST
Israeli President Shimon Peres held discussions in Egypt on Sunday on efforts to restart Middle East peace talks after the Egyptian president accused Israel of creating obstacles to a settlement with the Palestinians. Egypt, the first Arab state to sign a peace deal with Israel, has long played a mediation role. That has recently included involvement in a bid to secure an Israeli soldier’s release from Gaza in return for Palestinian prisoners. Speculation has been mounting that a deal to free Gilad Shalit in exchange for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners might be concluded by the end of this month. But sources on both sides have said there was no certainty of finalising a deal by then.
A day before Peres arrived; Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak told parliament that Israel was making “new obstacles” to peace. “I tell them, stop your practices in the West Bank and lift the siege on Gaza and respond to the call of peace,” he said in a speech to mark the start of parliament’s new session. Egypt and other Arabs have blamed the United States for not doing enough to push Israel to stop building settlements on occupied Palestinian land. Peres, whose post is largely ceremonial, last visited Egypt in July for talks with Mubarak. He was met in Cairo by Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, a witness said. “The two presidents will discuss recent developments in the Middle East, advancing the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians and various bilateral issues on the agenda,” the Israeli president’s office said in a statement before the trip. Continue reading
Reuters | Tue Nov 17, 2009 | 8:29pm IST
Mahmoud Abbas’s term as Palestinian president will be extended by the supreme body of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) when it meets in December, senior PLO officials said on Tuesday. Abbas, the Western-backed leader committed to negotiating peace with Israel, will stay in office, they said. Though Abbas has said he does not want to run again for the presidency, several members of the PLO Central Council interviewed by Reuters said the body would effectively extend his tenure to avoid a vacuum when it expires on Jan. 25. Following his Nov. 5 announcement that he did not want to stand again for the presidency in elections he had called for Jan. 24, the PLO urged Abbas to stay on. However, the debate over his candidacy was rendered largely irrelevant last week when the independent election commission advised him to postpone the vote. Cancellation of the election is now seen as a mere formality. The commission told Abbas it could not organise presidential and legislative elections, mainly because they had been banned in advance by the Islamist Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip, which disputes Abbas’s legitimacy. So his threat not to stand will not arise. Continue reading
BBC NEWS | 2009/09/25 | 08:37:12 GMT
Extensive diplomatic efforts towards reviving Mid-East peace talks have yielded little. The US has continued to demand Israel freeze settlement activity in the West Bank, while Palestinians refuse to negotiate without a freeze. In the second of a two-part investigation, the BBC’s Martin Asser sees the effect of settlements on the lives of Palestinians. They are called the Seven Villages, situated north-west of Jerusalem where the West Bank hills fall away towards the Mediterranean. Though their inhabitants live within the Palestinian Authority’s Jerusalem governorate, few get to visit Jerusalem – though the city was “like a mother to us” one man said. While Israelis in nearby Givat Ze’ev settlement bloc zip to Jerusalem by car in minutes, the Palestinian villagers need permission from Israel’s military authorities. If they don’t get permission, apparently the norm, there are roundabout ways past Israel’s defences and into the city, but this risks jail and a stiff fine. Israel says all restrictions are imposed to prevent Palestinian militants wreaking havoc with suicide bombings. But, the Seven Villages is known as a quiet area. Israeli soldiers I spoke to said there was very little militant activity. Palestinian residents insist they are peaceable folk – famers, labourers, some professionals – who just want to live normal, decent lives. Continue reading
The following article was published in renowned International Magazine ‘Le Monde Deplomatique’ which is printed in French and English mainly. Recently it began its editions in few other languages. It is well known for its unbiased dealing with the subject in question. It mainly concentrates on International political and financial affairs. Though the present article came in March 2007 issue, in view of its importance in the context of recent developments I’m reproducing it here for this blog’s readers.
LEILA FARSAKH | Le Monde diplomatique | March 2007
Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas may have afﬁrmed that they want a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conﬂict, but it may be more promising to return to a much older idea.
THERE is talk once again of a one-state bi-national solution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict. The Oslo peace
process failed to bring Palestinians their independence and the withdrawal from Gaza has not created a basis for a democratic Palestinian state as President George Bush had imagined: the Palestinians are watching their territory being fragmented into South African-style Bantustans with poverty levels of over 75%. The area is heading to the abyss of an apartheid state system rather than to a viable two-state solution, let alone peace (1).
There have been a number of recent publications proposing a one-state solution as the only alternative to the current impasse. Three years ago, Meron Benvenisti, Jerusalem’s deputy mayor in the 1970s, wrote that the question is “no longer whether there is to be a bi-national state in Palestine-Israel, but which model to choose” (2). Respected intellectuals on all sides, including the late Edward Said; the Arab Israeli Continue reading
IANS | Fri, Nov 6 | 08:24 PM
Tel Aviv Friday deplored a UN resolution backing the Goldstone report that investigated human rights violations during the brief war between Israeli forces and Islamic militants in the Gaza Strip early this year. The UN resolution suggests if either of the two sides fails to launch a credible investigation, then the matter should be submitted to the Security Council, Xinhua reported. Israel has denied any violation of international humanitarian laws. The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) had appointed a former South African judge Richard Goldstone to investigate any possible human rights violations during the 22-day war in December and January in the Gaza Strip. After a debate, majority of the 192-member UN General Assembly voted in favour of an unbinding resolution that calls upon both Israel and the Palestinians to conduct ‘independent and credible’ investigations into alleged war crimes.
In response, Israel’s foreign ministry said in a statement ‘Israel rejects the UN resolution which is completely detached from the ground realities it faces.’ The ministry also said it had the right for self-defence and would continue to act to protect its citizens from terrorist attacks. Israel said it launched the offensive in response to eight years of continuous rocket fire from Gaza. At least 1,400 people were killed in the fighting. While defying international pressure for an inquiry based on the Goldstone report, Israel said it has been conducting its own investigation into a number of civilian deaths and other incidents during the Gaza war, including some listed in the report.