Israel’s Former Defense Minister on the Turmoil in the Middle East

April 20 2017

Describing the current situation in the Middle East as “the greatest crisis since the days of Muhammad,” Moshe Yaalon explains how Israel can remain secure in the face of a host of threats and points the best way forward in the conflict with the Palestinians:

I supported the Oslo process at the beginning; I value human life more than land, and I’m not messianic. I [also] believe that, on the one hand, there is no chance on the horizon of reaching a final settlement. Yasir Arafat was not ready to accept such an arrangement when negotiations were based on the 1967 lines and the dividing of Jerusalem. He was not ready then, and Mahmoud Abbas is not ready today to state that he will consider [such an agreement] a viable end to the conflict. In other words, he is not ready to recognize Israel’s right to exist as the nation state of the Jewish people in any boundaries.

On the other hand, I do not want to rule the Palestinians or annex them. This means we have to make our own decisions about annexations . . . and on where to settle. If we wish the Palestinians to be a political entity, we cannot settle everywhere. We must also make progress on the economy, infrastructure, and security. . . .

There is a fundamental problem regarding the dream of Oslo, and it is that the promotion of terror still exists in Palestinian refugee camps. If you educate the young generation that Palestine exists from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River, and that there is no room for concessions, and that “Tel Aviv is the biggest settlement,” then you are not preparing your people for co-existence and reconciliation. The people of Tel Aviv don’t understand that these Palestinians see them as settlers. Young kids are educated to hate us—as Israelis, as Jews, as Zionists. You can see it by watching Palestinian television programs for children, or reading their textbooks. It is shocking. This was my personal awakening in 1995 while serving as head of intelligence under Prime Minister Yitzḥak Rabin.

Read more at BICOM

More about: Israel & Zionism, Middle East, Oslo Accords, Two-State Solution, Yasir Arafat

How the White House Can Bring Mahmoud Abbas to the Negotiating Table

April 28 2017

Next month, the Palestinian Authority president is expected to arrive in Washington to meet with President Trump, perhaps as a prelude to a summit between Abbas and Benjamin Netanyahu under American auspices. A Palestinian delegation is currently in the U.S. to conduct preliminary meetings with administration officials. Eran Lerman discusses what can be accomplished:

The most important aspect [in the present discussions] may remain unspoken. It can be defined as “strategic reassurance”: the realization that after years of uncertainty under Barack Obama, the American administration . . . is once again committed without reservation to its friends in the region, the so-called “camp of stability.”

President Obama’s abandonment of [the former Egyptian president], Hosni Mubarak, regardless of the merits of the case, was catastrophic in terms of the loss of any residual political courage on Abbas’s part. Obama was sympathetic to the Palestinians’ cause, but his policies generated an acute level of uncertainty for the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah, laced with what seemed like a measure of support on Obama’s part for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and elsewhere. This was not an environment in which to take fateful decisions.

The Trump team seems to be working to restore confidence and reconstruct [alliances with] both Israel and the pro-Western Arab states. In this new environment, it could be safer for Abbas to take measured risks and enter into an open-ended negotiation with Netanyahu. The effort may still fall apart, if only because the Palestinians have fallen into the habit of posing preconditions. But there seems to be a better chance of drawing them in when they feel that their traditional patrons in the Arab world, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, are once again basking in the sunshine of American strategic support. . . .

At least in theory, it should therefore be easier now for . . . the White House to persuade Abbas to accept a point of entry into negotiations that stays within the two-state paradigm but is no longer predicated on strict adherence to the June 4, 1967 lines.

Read more at BESA Center

More about: Donald Trump, Hosni Mubarak, Israel & Zionism, Mahmoud Abbas, Peace Process, U.S. Foreign policy