Setting the Record Straight on Israel-Palestinian Negotiations

From 1937 onward, Palestinian leaders have repeatedly rejected offers, brought to them by the British, the U.S., and Israel itself, to share the territory west of the Jordan River. Yet claims routinely surface suggesting that responsibility for the failures to reach a compromise lies elsewhere. Ben-Dror Yemini examines the evidence, and puts paid to such attempts at distortion:

For decades, many people, for good and bad, have been spreading the narrative that if only Israel would be a little more generous, and if only the Americans brokered a serious peace agreement, peace was within reach. For the bad, this stems from the desire to blame Israel for all world crimes. For the good, this is due to a sincere and genuine desire for peace, mixed with a lack of knowledge, or reluctance to know, or self-deception of those who struggle to reconcile the gap between beliefs and desires on the one hand and facts on the other.

There are . . . official announcements, materials exposed [by Al Jazeera’s publication of thousands of leaked documents in 2011], and always denials trying, unsuccessfully, to create the impression that the Palestinians wanted peace. In 2012, I was invited to attend a meeting with [the former Palestinian chief negotiator] Nabil Shaath. A welcome initiative. It was a wonderful meeting—up to that moment when I presented to Shaath what he himself said on July 3, 2011: “We will never accept the ‘two states for two peoples’ formula to resolve the conflict.” I asked him if he had changed his mind. He was evasive. I was no longer invited to the next meeting. . . .

Why should anyone bother the enthusiasts of illusion? As long as the Israeli and global left wing insist on ignoring facts, they are not promoting peace. Doing so serves Palestinian rejectionism. It’s bad for the Palestinians and it’s bad for Israel.

Read more at Fathom

More about: Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Peace Process


Leaked Emails Point to an Iranian Influence Operation That Reaches into the U.S. Government

Sept. 27 2023

As the negotiations leading up to the 2015 nuclear deal began in earnest, Tehran launched a major effort to cultivate support abroad for its positions, according to a report by Jay Solomon:

In the spring of 2014, senior Iranian Foreign Ministry officials initiated a quiet effort to bolster Tehran’s image and positions on global security issues—particularly its nuclear program—by building ties with a network of influential overseas academics and researchers. They called it the Iran Experts Initiative. The scope and scale of the IEI project has emerged in a large cache of Iranian government correspondence and emails.

The officials, working under the moderate President Hassan Rouhani, congratulated themselves on the impact of the initiative: at least three of the people on the Foreign Ministry’s list were, or became, top aides to Robert Malley, the Biden administration’s special envoy on Iran, who was placed on leave this June following the suspension of his security clearance.

In March of that year, writes Solomon, one of these officials reported that “he had gained support for the IEI from two young academics—Ariane Tabatabai and Dina Esfandiary—following a meeting with them in Prague.” And here the story becomes particularly worrisome:

Tabatabai currently serves in the Pentagon as the chief of staff for the assistant secretary of defense for special operations, a position that requires a U.S. government security clearance. She previously served as a diplomat on Malley’s Iran nuclear negotiating team after the Biden administration took office in 2021. Esfandiary is a senior advisor on the Middle East and North Africa at the International Crisis Group, a think tank that Malley headed from 2018 to 2021.

Tabatabai . . . on at least two occasions checked in with Iran’s Foreign Ministry before attending policy events, according to the emails. She wrote to Mostafa Zahrani, [an Iranian scholar in close contact with the Foreign Ministry and involved in the IEI], in Farsi on June 27, 2014, to say she’d met Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal—a former ambassador to the U.S.—who expressed interest in working together and invited her to Saudi Arabia. She also said she’d been invited to attend a workshop on Iran’s nuclear program at Ben-Gurion University in Israel. . . .

Elissa Jobson, Crisis Group’s chief of advocacy, said the IEI was an “informal platform” that gave researchers from different organizations an opportunity to meet with IPIS and Iranian officials, and that it was supported financially by European institutions and one European government. She declined to name them.

Read more at Semafor

More about: Iran nuclear deal, U.S. Foreign policy