Iran Election Guide

Donate to EAWV

Or, click to learn more


Entries in Palestinian Authority (9)


Middle East Inside Line: Coalition Changes in Israel?; Netanyahu's War for Legitimacy; Israel Warns Lebanon

Lieberman-Netanyahu War?: Tension is increasing between Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The latter needs the opposition, "centrist" party Kadima in the coalition, butKadima's leader Tzipi Livni wants the Foreign Ministry.

Lieberman doesn't seem to be too receptive. On Tuesday, he told reporters that Kadima could join the coalition as long as Kadima members agreed to support a land and population swap as a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He continued:
This coalition will not change. We are willing to consider a shift in the coalition only if the entire coalition, including Kadima, supports the concept of a populated land swap rather than the concept of land for peace.

Israel’s Political/Military Alternative to Turkey: Romania?
Gaza Latest: Is Egypt Going to Make a Stand Against Israel? (Yenidunya)

Lieberman has a second condition as well: Kadima will agree to the continuation of construction when the freeze in the West Bank ends in September.

What about Netanyahu? The pressure on his shoulders is increasing day by day.

Here is the latest sign: leaders of Netanyahu's coalition partner Labor have said that, unless Kadima joins the government soon, they may not continue in government. That in turn could start a war between Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu and Netanyahu's Likud, ending up with an early election.

On Thursday, Ha'aretz headlined, "Striking Shift: Complete Lift of Gaza Blockade". According to Israel's Channel Two television, Lieberman proposed to his Italian counterpart, Franco Frattini, that Frattini head a delegation of European diplomats to the Gaza Strip. Although this is a change of policy but a change of tactics, Lieberman might be willing to extend his hand to Netanyahu at this first stage with a "concession".

Netanyahu's War for Israel's "Attacked" Legitimacy: Haaretz learned late Tuesday that Arab and Muslim members of the United Nations, led by Malaysia, are working toward assembling an emergency UN session to discuss Israel's last month raid of a Gaza-bound flotilla.

This was enough for Netanyahu. On Wednesday, during a Knesset discussion on Israel's collapsing international status,  Netanyahu warned  that West Jerusalem's legitimacy is being attacked. He said:
They want to strip us of the natural right to defend ourselves. When we defend ourselves against rocket attack, we are accused of war crimes. We cannot board sea vessels when our soldiers are being attacked and fired upon, because that is a war crime.

They are essentially saying that the Jewish nation does not have the right to defend itself against the most brutal attacks and it doesn't have the right to prevent additional weapons from entering territories from which it is attacked.

Then he targeted the "source of trouble":
The Palestinian side promoted the Goldstone report, organized boycotts, and tried to prevent our entrance into the OECD. The Palestinian Authority has no intentions of engaging in direct talks with us.

I call on [PA President Mahmoud] Abbas, yet again, to enter direct talks with us, because there is no other way to solve the conflict between us without direct dialogue. How could we possibly live side by side if they can't even enter the same room as us?

Lastly, Netanyahu called on activists to go to Iran, not to Gaza:
I call on all human rights activists in the world - -- go to Tehran. That's where there is a human rights violation.

Israel Warns Lebanon: Respondingto Lebanon parliament speaker Nabih Berri's  warning to his Government to start exploring offshore natural gas reserves, claiming that otherwise Israel would claim the resources, Israel's Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau told Bloomberg that Israel would "not hesitate to use force and strength to protect not only the rule of law but the international maritime law".,

Lebanon's former Prime Minister and current member of parliament, Fouad Siniora, also urged the Lebanese government to take the issue of offshore gas reserves in the country's territorial waters seriously.

Middle East Inside Line: Israel Eases Gaza Blockade, Internal Probe on Flotilla Raid Concludes, Obama-Netanyahu Meeting

Israel Votes on "Eased" Blockade: Senior cabinet ministers on Sunday approved steps toward easing Israel's blockade.

The Prime Minister's Office said that Israel would release "as soon as possible" a detailed list of goods that would not be allowed into the Gaza Strip. PM Benjamin Netanyahu said, "Israel seeks to keep out of Gaza weapons and material that Hamas uses to prepare and carry out terror and rocket attacks toward Israel and its civilians. All other goods will be allowed into Gaza."

Middle East Inside Line: US & EU Back Israel on “Eased Blockade”, Lebanon-Israeli Crisis?, Egypt’s Manoeuvre, and More…

Hamas called the Israeli step a "deception" and said that the blockade must be lifted entirely.

Israel's Army Radio quotes Mahmoud Zahar as saying that Hamas would never change its policy of 'resistance' against Israel. In an interview with Al Quds, Zahar then allegedly targeted the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah and said that "rocket launches should happen in the West Bank as well [as Gaza]" He blamed the Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas of "fighting the 'resistance'" and added that it was not Hamas that took over Gaza, but in fact President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement that had seized the power in the West Bank, aided by the Israeli "occupation".

Israel's Internal Probe Concludes: Israel Radio reported Sunday that a new investigation into the raid by the internal Israel Navy probe concluded. According to the report, during the mass offensive against Israeli soldiers, the commando unit was inadequately prepared, lacked sufficient intelligence, and was ill-used in its approach to the Turkish-flagged ship.

A commander involved in the attack said, "I still awake at three A.M. every morning and ask myself: Damn it, how did we not know more?", Haaretz reports.

Lebanon's Flotilla Not Moving: The Gaza-bound Lebanese flotilla is still in Lebanon, and it may not be allowed to depart since Lebanese law forbids a departing vessel to dock in a port under Israeli occupation. Sources also told the Arab daily Al-Hayat that organizers failed to appeal to the government for the necessary permits, authorizing their departure as well as their travel. However, it is still possible that organizers will submit a travel plan to a different destination, perhaps Cyprus, and then change course during the course of their voyage.

US-Israeli Meeting: Washington also welcomed Israel's recent decision to ease the blockade on Gaza. "We believe that the implementation of the policy announced by the government of Israel today should improve life for the people of Gaza, and we will continue to support that effort going forward," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said in a statement.

President Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu's meeting in Washington, cancelled on 1 June during the flotilla crisis, has been re-scheduled for 6 July. Discussion is expected on two main issues., There is the U.S. position in the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, which called for an international conference in 2012 for a Middle East free of nuclear weapons, called on Israel to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and open its nuclear installations to international inspection, and called for the appointment of a special UN envoy on nuclear weapons in the Middle East.

Then there is the "progress" in proximity talks with the West Bank. US Mideast special envoy George Mitchell completed his four rounds of talks and the two sides are ready to talk again. It is uncertain, however, how the Israel's flotilla crisis and, more broadly, the issue of Gaza will affect the course of the talks.

Speaking at a Jewish Agency conference on Sunday, Israeli President Shimon Peres said that Israel's security remains a top priority for the Americans. Watch for signals as to whether that is the case before Obama and Netanyahu shake hands two weeks from now.

Gaza Latest: Varied Reactions to Israel's "Eased" Blockade 

Contrasting messages over Gaza: In an interview with the BBC, Syrian President Bashar Assad said that the attack of Israel's "pyromaniac government" on the Gaza aid flotilla increased the chances of war in the Middle East. However, the Quartet of the US, European Union, the UN, and Russia have welcomed Israel's decision to ease the blockade on the Gaza Strip on Thursday.

"The Secretary-General[Ban-Ki-Moon] is encouraged that the Israeli Government is reviewing its policy towards Gaza, and he hopes that today's decision by the Israeli security cabinet is a real step towards meeting needs in Gaza," said Martin Nesirky, the UN spokesman.

Gaza: Israel Facing Criticism in European Parliament
Turkey Inside Line: Ankara’s Attack in Iraq; Relations with Israel

Quartet Representative Tony Blair added: "I welcome the Government of Israel’s decision to liberalize the policy on Gaza."

However, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority were critical of Israel's decision. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that Israel's decision to allow more goods into the Gaza Strip was designed to "beautify" the blockade and mislead public opinion. He added:
The Palestinians are not asking for additional goods to be allowed into the Gaza Strip. Rather, they are demanding the complete lifting of the blockade and the reopening of all the border crossings, as well as freedom of movement for all people.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Dr. Saeb Erakat wrote to his e-mail list that ‘‘the Israeli security cabinet vote to ease its land blockade of the Gaza Strip is not sufficient’’ and continued:
With this decision, Israel attempts to make it appear that it has eased its four-year blockade and its even longer-standing access and movement restrictions imposed on the population of Gaza. In reality, the siege of the Gaza Strip, illegally imposed on Palestinians continues unabated.

The facts are that a siege against 1.5 million people in the Gaza Strip continues. Either Israel lifts the siege completely or it continues to violate international law and basic morality.

Israel has used a so-called “white” list of only 114 items allowed into the Gaza Strip. Palestinian basic needs requires at least 8,000 basic items that continue to be prohibited. These include essential materials for rebuilding and for waste-water treatment for the most basic living standards.

He added, “During the first three months of 2007 36,000 trucks entered the Gaza Strip compared to 3,600 trucks that have been permitted to enter during the first three months of 2010. Today, 90% of the Gaza Strip’s civilian population relies on the World Food Organization and the United Nations Relief Works Agency.’’

US envoy George Mitchell held separate meetings with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak Thursday as part of his fourth round of indirect talks between Israel and the Palestinians. He told both leaders not to let day-to-day problems divert talks.

Diplomatic circles from Israel stated that the Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, would have been forced to withdraw, following the flotilla crisis, if there had been direct negotiations. They also stated that Palestinian officials would be placed at border crossings into Gaza so Hamas would not be given credit for the easing of the blockade.

Gaza Latest (16 June): The Blockade and the Proximity Talks

On Tuesday, Tony Blair, the envoy to the Middle East of the Quartet (US-UN-European Union-Russia), hailed the Israeli cabinet’s expected approval of a plan to ease the blockade of the Gaza Strip and allow more aid into the territory as “a very important step”. He said: "It will allow us to keep weapons and weapon materials out of Gaza, but on the other hand to help the Palestinian population there."

According to the plan, there are three elements: the formulation of a blacklist of goods and supplies that will not be allowed into Gaza, particularly items that could be put to use in manufacturing weapons; Israel’s acquiescence to the entry of building materials for UN-sponsored construction projects; and Israel’s agreement to consider stationing EU  as well as Palestinian Authority monitors at border crossings to inspect incoming goods.

For the time being, it is still not certain whether construction materials for houses damaged or ruined following Israel's Operation Cast Lead in December 2008/January 2009 will be allowed.

In contrast, speaking at the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Shin Bet security service director Yuval Diskin took a tough line. First, he said that Hamas was buying up land in East Jerusalem. Then he warned Knesset that lifting the naval blockade on Gaza would be a "dangerous development for Israel". He continued:
It would be a huge security breach, even if ships are inspected along the way in international ports en route to Gaza.

Diskin is not the only person warning against concession. On the same day, a Palestinian Authority official in Ramallah said that the flotilla incident two weeks ago had played into the hands of Hamas. He said:
The [Israeli] assault on the aid ships on May 31 has boosted Hamas... It came as gift from heaven to Hamas...

We want to see the blockade on the Gaza Strip lifted. But at the same time we must be careful not to allow Hamas to reap the fruits and consolidate its control over the Gaza Strip.

This is not the end of the story.... PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who met separately in Sharm e-Sheikh on Tuesday with Amr Moussa and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, reportedly relayed to them his deep concern over attempts to recognize Hamas’s authority in the Gaza Strip.

Meanwhile, late Tuesday evening, the Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement saying that the Terkel Committee, which is looking into the raid, would convene on Wednesday for what was called an “introductory meeting”.

All of this occurs amidst the next move for the now-overshadowed "proximity talks". U.S. Mideast special envoy George Mitchell is arriving Israel on Wednesday night to start discussions with Israeli officials on Thursday. He is expected to meet Palestinians on Friday and to fly to Cairo on the weekend.

On Tuesday, in advacne of September's end of the 10-month freeze on settlement construction, Cabinet Minister Dan Meridor said that Israel should refrain from building in areas that will be annexed to the Palestinian Authority in the future. He added:
The freeze will be over in three months, and from then on we will not be committed to it: it's a matter of where it is wise and logical for us to build.

Gaza Latest (15 June): US & Britain Welcome Israeli Enquiry; Abbas Opposes Lifiting of Blockade

UPDATE 0630 GMT: Mahmoud Abbas has denied the report that he opposed the lifting of Israel's blockade on Gaza.

Both the White House and Britain's Foreign Ministry moved quickly on Monday to welcome Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's confirmation that Israel would hold an internal enquiry into the assault on the Freedom Flotilla, with the three Israeli members buttressed by former Northern Ireland First Minister David Trimble and Brigadier General Ken Watkin, a former judge advocate general of the Canadian Armed Forces.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs issued this official response:

The Latest from Iran (14 June): The 2nd Year Is Underway….

We believe that Israel, like any other nation, should be allowed to undertake an investigation into events that involve its national security. Israel has a military justice system that meets international standards and is capable of conducting a serious and credible investigation, and the structure and terms of reference of Israel's proposed independent public commission can meet the standard of a prompt, impartial, credible, and transparent investigation. But we will not prejudge the process or its outcome, and will await the conduct and findings of the investigation before drawing further conclusions.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague called the Israeli announcement "an important step forward" and said, "Clearly it is very important that it is a truly independent enquiry and a thorough investigation that the international community can respect".

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee quickly welcomed Washington's "dramatic and courageous statement", adding: "[We] call on the Obama administration to act decisively at the United Nations and other international forums to block any action –-- including alternative investigations supported by the Secretary General –-- which would isolate Israel."

Others were not as positive. Turkey continued to insist on an independent international investigation, as Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu declared, “We don't have any confidence at all that Israel will conduct an impartial investigation -- as a country which attacked a civilian convoy in international waters, thereby committing a violation of international law....Any investigation conducted unilaterally by Israel will have no value to us.”

Critics claimed that the "international" dimension of Israel's enquiry was already compromised by the appointment of Trimble, a fervent supporter of West Jerusalem. Ha'aretz noted that the Nobel Prize laureate --- ironically, the second laureate to be involved in this crisis, as Mairead Corrigan was a passenger on the Flotilla --- had joined the “Friends of Israel” initiative launched in Paris on 31 May, an initiative which includes  Israel’s former ambassador to the United Nations, Dore Gold, a close associate of Netanyahu.

In another Gaza development, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas said that the Israeli blockade should not be lifted before a reconciliation between his party Fatah and Hamas, Gaza's political leaders, and that the step should only come through a Palestinian Government led by the current Prime Minister of the PA, Salam Fayyad.