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Entries in Haaretz (36)


Wikileaks Commentary: "Fiasco Doesn't Embarrass Israel One Bit" (Benn)

WikiLeaks did not succeed in penetrating the most sensitive channels of U.S.-Israel relations.

Even after yesterday's revelations, we still do not know what was really said in the meetings between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama, or between former prime ministers Ehud Olmert and Ariel Sharon during their talks with former U.S. President George W. Bush, or between Dagan and his counterparts at U.S. intelligence agencies.

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Israel Analysis: Defying Obama, Defying Netanyahu --- The Latest on Settlement Expansion

Israel's envoy to the UN, Meron Reuben, told Palestianian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas on Monday, "It takes two to tango, Israel cannot reach peace on its own." That statement can be taken a step further: within Israel, Netanyahu "cannot reach peace" on his own. Facing the resistance both at local level and within the Cabinet, he is dancing with himself.

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Israel-Palestine Analysis: Is Knesset Playing a Peace-Deal Trick on Israeli Public?

The opinions of Israel's people will be sought only if the Knesset has approved an agreement signed by the government; those opinions will have no value if the Knesset has rejected a proposal. Haaretz's Akiva Eldar concludes that "the referendum bill uses public as peace-deal rubber stamp".

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Israel Analysis: "Jerusalem Must Be Divided" (Eldar)

On the map hanging in Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's office, such broad swaths of territory are labeled "Jerusalem," and on other maps around the world they are noted as "occupied territories". No country recognizes the annexation of 70 square kilometers of West Bank territory into the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem (whose area was 6.4 square kilometers under Jordanian rule ). Opposing a withdrawal from East Jerusalem will no doubt lead to a failure in the negotiations and turning our back on a two-state solution....

Even in Jerusalem, lies that are repeated too often do not become true. The truth has been and remains: either Jerusalem will become the capital of two peoples or Israel will become the state of two peoples.

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Israel Analysis: What Does Obama Expect from Netanyahu? (Benn)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returned from his journey to the United States with an American dictate: Freeze settlements for three months, during which time speedy negotiations will be held to determine the future border between Israel and Palestine. To soften the impression that this would be seen as giving in to U.S. pressure and to make it easier to gain cabinet approval for the freeze, the dictate was padded with political and security goodies, which can be summed up as such: stealth military aircraft in exchange for an end to Netanyahu's evasive tactics.

The prime minister rejected the offer when it was made before the U.S. midterm elections, but now he understands that the game is up and he has to fall in line.

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Israel the Perpetual Victim? (Levy)

We've always loved victimization, not only when we were real victims, as often was the case in our history, but also when we were the aggressors, occupiers and abusers. And we don't only cast ourselves as victims, but as the only victims. But observe our perception of our wrongdoing. It started with denial, then changed to suppression, then to shamelessness, then to dehumanization and demonization, until we arrived at the current stage: A pride parade.

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Israel Counterpoint: To Weaken Hamas, Open Gaza's Gates (Haas)

Do you really want to weaken Hamas? Surprise it. Go back and open Gaza's gates - to ordinary human movement, not just to cherries, shavers and a handful of pious Muslims who manage to wend their way past the Egyptian bureaucracy. Open the Erez checkpoint. Then you'll see how Gazans yearn for life. 

Let young people study outside the Gaza Strip. Despite the exasperating presence of Israel's foreign rule, in the Palestinian enclaves in the West Bank those young people will encounter a form of diversity that is becoming extinct in Gaza. They will discover that such diversity is better than the monolithic reality imposed by Israel's siege and messianic politics. Allow female pupils and female teachers to tour their land and see that the world is more complicated than brainwashing television programs and competitions to obtain relief packages. Consider this: Diplomats report that most Hamas summer camps in Gaza have been closed; most children preferred camps operated by the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration.

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Middle East Inside Line: Fatah-Hamas Talks; Israel's "Gesture" in the West Ban

Fatah and Hamas Reunification Talks: On Sunday, Hamas announced that it reached an agreement with its rival Fatah party to hold a meeting next week. The two groups were supposed to mee last week in Damascus, but tension between Syria's President Bashar Assad and Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas led to a cancellation, followed by a series of arrests by the rival parties in the Gaza and West Bank.

Though next week's venue is yet be declared, Salah Bardaweel, a Hamas legislator and spokesman in the Gaza Strip, said he did not rule out the possibility that the meeting would still be held in the Syrian capital:

Fatah leaders should not waste their time searching for similarities in the political platforms of Hamas and Fatah. The only thing we could have in common is not recognizing Israel’s existence.

In response, Osama Qawasmeh, a Fatah spokesman in the West Bank, said that Hamas was ready to recognize Israel’s existence if a Palestinian state were to be established in the entire West Bank, Gaza Strip, and eastern Jerusalem.

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Israel-Palestine: Netanyahu's Deal --- A Settlement Freeze in Exchange for a "Jewish State"

As Israel's Knesset reconvened after a three-month break, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered this proposal to the Palestinians: Israel is ready to extend the moratorium on settlement expansion in return for Palestinian recognition of Israel as a "Jewish state". 

The Palestinian response was clear: "the issue of the Jewishness of the state has nothing to do with the matter."

And the Americans? From thousands of miles away, they could only give a general, somewhat tangled response: "U.S. policy has been consistent. Both President Obama and Secretary Clinton are committed to Israel’s democracy as a Jewish state," a State Department official told Haaretz.

Prime Minister Netanyahu, less than 72 hours after his Cabinet mandated a loyalty oath for non-Jews who want to be Israeli citizens, both plays to his domestic gallery and puts the onus back on the Palestinian Authority. The prime issue is no longer Jewish settlements; instead, it is this challenge: you want limits on our expansion in the West Bank, then you must declare, "We Accept Israel as a Jewish State."

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"Welcome to the Jewish Republic of Israel" (Levy)

Remember this day. It's the day Israel changes its character. As a result, it can also change its name to the Jewish Republic of Israel, like the Islamic Republic of Iran. Granted, the loyalty oath bill that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seeking to have passed purportedly only deals with new citizens who are not Jewish, but it affects the fate of all of us.

For decades, we have futilely dealt with the question of who is a Jew. Now the question of what is Jewish will not go away. What is the "state of the Jewish nation"? Does it belong more to Jews in the Diaspora than to its Arab citizens? Will they decide its fate and will this be called a democracy? Will the ultra-Orthodox Neturei Karta sect, which opposes the state's existence, along with hundreds of thousands of Jews who have avoided coming do whatever they want with it? What is Jewish? Jewish holidays? Kosher dietary laws? The increased grip of the religious establishment, as if there is not enough of it now to distort democracy? Swearing an oath to a Jewish state will decide its fate. It is liable to turn the country into a theocracy like Saudi Arabia.

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