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The Palestinians Are to Blame for the Failed Peace Talks, But Not for the Reasons You Think

(Photo: White House/ Paul Morse)

(Photo: White House/ Paul Morse)

Lee Smith, writing at Tablet, says that the real reason Mahmoud Abbas wants out of the peace talks – or wants to be seen as holding a hard line should he remain at the table – is due to internal Palestinian politics. Specifically, Abbas fears that his rivals will use any concessions he makes against him. We’ve discussed this problem before and Smith’s piece is another example of the poisonous nature of Palestinian politics:

For Abbas, staying in power requires keeping his rivals at bay. In particular, there’s Mohamed Dahlan, the former Gaza-based Fatah strongman who’s been licking his wounds ever since Hamas routed his men from the Strip in 2007. At just 52, Dahlan is still young. For the past four years, he has been living in the United Arab Emirates; my sources in the region tell me he recently spent a month in Marrakesh with Saudi intelligence chief Bandar bin Sultan, the former ambassador to Washington, who was in Morocco recovering from shoulder surgery.

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Thursday, April 17th, 2014 at 8:19 AM  | Stand For Israel

Do Unilateralists Own Israel’s Future?

(Photo: Wikinews)

(Photo: Wikinews)

Tom Wilson, writing at Commentary, wonders if the future of the Israeli-Palestinian process depends on further negotiations, on continuing cycles of calm and violence, or on unilateral moves made by each side:

There are two obvious problems with almost all of the unilateral proposals. One is security, the other is international opinion. Those plans that call for a near complete withdrawal from the West Bank risk recreating Gaza on a massive scale and on the strategically important high ground overlooking Israel’s population centers and vital infrastructure.

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Friday, April 11th, 2014 at 8:12 AM  | Stand For Israel

Kerry to Congress: Israel Responsible for Failure of Talks

(Photo: U.S. State Department)

(Photo: U.S. State Department)

Jonathan Tobin excoriates Secretary of State John Kerry for his testimony in Congress yesterday in which America’s senior diplomat strongly suggested that the party responsible for scuttling the most recent round of peace talks is Israel. Tobin wonders why, given that the available evidence is that the accusation is false:

Kerry knows very well that the negotiations were doomed once the Palestinians refused to sign on to the framework for future talks he suggested even though it centered them on the 1967 lines that they demand as the basis for borders. Why? Because Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas wouldn’t say the two little words —“Jewish state”—that would make it clear he intended to end the conflict.

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Wednesday, April 9th, 2014 at 9:54 AM  | Stand For Israel

John Kerry Ruined What John Kerry Built

JohnKerryCapitolHillChairs

(Photo: U.S. State Dept.)

Israeli journalist Ben-Dror Yemini claims in this article that Israeli and Palestinian negotiators were much closer to a deal than is publicly known, but that John Kerry made the mistake of pressuring Israel and not the Palestinians. What followed, predictably, were more demands and a walk away from the table:

Just as great progress was being achieved, Kerry made a series of statements about the boycott that Israel would be facing if negotiations fail. Even the Palestinians couldn’t believe that this man, the insistent broker, was saying these things. He started a campaign of accusations against Israel – just as Netanyahu was ready to make huge compromises. Kerry didn’t mean to – but he signaled the way for the Palestinians to once again raise the bar on their demands. Once again, they could refuse. Kerry made it clear to them that Israel would be paying the price alone. Nothing would happen to them.

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Tuesday, April 8th, 2014 at 8:53 AM  | Stand For Israel

Putting It All On Israel

(Photo: Flickr/ RonAlmog)

(Photo: Flickr/ RonAlmog)

In his piece in the weekend issue of Haaretz, Amos Harel, arguably the top military and defense journalist in Israel, engages in one of those common journalistic lines of reasoning that are repeated so often they come to seem like received wisdom but, upon further inspection, are nonsense. The article, which is behind the Haaretz pay wall, has this as the lead:

“If Israel remains stubborn and refuses to resume talks it will embark on a course that could result in a renewal of terrorism in Israeli cities.”

Did you catch that? It seems quite reasonable, doesn’t it. We’ve written before on these pages that the failure of the peace talks could likely lead to renewed terrorism. So, what’s the big deal?

The problem is that Harel’s construction of the argument has Israeli stubbornness as the genesis of Palestinian terror. Leave aside, for the moment, that we don’t agree with Harel that continuing to build in your capital city and insisting that your enemies promise a real peace agreement can be called “stubbornness.” But how, for people who are reasonable and rational and who believe in things like constructive negotiation, can Harel dismissively excuse Palestinian terrorism? Because, when you say that a new campaign of suicide terror is the totally natural result of the failure of peace talks, we have to ask, “in what way is suicide terror ever natural?”

Harel, who really is a good journalist, concedes in his piece that the Palestinians made ridiculous and unreasonable demands, that they aren’t negotiating in good faith, and that they likely can’t deliver on an agreement even if they ever could muster the courage to forge one. Still, the new wave of terror he foresees will be due to Israeli stubbornness. In this view of the conflict, there are two glaringly incorrect beliefs. They are shared by many on the Israeli left, in Europe, at the U.N. and other international institutions, and among international aid and human rights organizations.

The first is that the Palestinians are mere children, who simply cannot be expected to react to circumstances with…

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Monday, April 7th, 2014 at 8:43 AM  | Stand For Israel

The Many Roads That Lead to War

(Photo: wikicommons/אילן ארד)

(Photo: wikicommons/אילן ארד)

Jeffrey Goldberg concludes his obituary for the most recent peace talks by asking of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, “how can we blame a man for seeking peace?”

Certainly, all people of goodwill would like to see a world at peace, and perhaps Goldberg meant that rhetorically. But let’s try to provide a few possible answers to Goldberg’s question:

When both sides tell you there is little to be accomplished by forcing them to the negotiating table, you can be blamed.

When one side has to bribe the other side by – at your insistence – releasing from prison hundreds of convicted murderers with nothing in return, you can be blamed.

When one side isn’t even the controlling political and military power in half of its putative country, and would almost assuredly be swept from power in the other half if left to its own devices, thereby making it clear to everyone that any agreement will be utterly meaningless on the ground, you can be blamed.

When the predictable failure of the negotiations is likely to bring about new Palestinian efforts to demonize Israel on the international stage, or a new cycle of violence and suffering on both sides, you can be blamed.

That last point may be the most salient. This was the overwhelmingly likely outcome and P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas’ move to join 15 U.N. committees as a result of the talks’ failure was equally likely. To push the one when the likely outcome is the other is, at best, negligent.

The Christian writer C.S. Lewis, whose own nation was plunged into a terrible war not long after being promised “peace for our time,” once wrote, “I think many would now agree that a foreign policy dominated by desire for peace is one of the many roads that lead to war.” Similarly, we have seen for years of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process that peace is impossible when one of the parties involved in negotiations has no real desire for it, and that negotiations under such circumstances may not…

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Friday, April 4th, 2014 at 8:40 AM  | Stand For Israel

Abbas Fled Talks the First Chance He Got

(Photo: wikicommons/ Peter Fedynsky)

(Photo: wikicommons/ Peter Fedynsky)

It may sound like a broken record, but since Israel’s enemies will keep blaming the Jewish state for the imminent failure of the latest round of peace talks, we feel the need to keep sharing with you early postmortems that call it like it is. Today, Jonathan Tobin of Commentary takes a different angle on Abbas’ refusal to make any concessions:

Abbas had no room to maneuver to make peace even if he were truly willing to do so. Negotiating an agreement, even one that would give the Palestinians pretty much everything they want in terms of statehood in the West Bank and a share of Jerusalem, isn’t in his interest because signing such an agreement is far more dangerous than being blamed for scuttling the peace talks. The safer thing for Abbas is to seize any pretext to flee the talks and claim he’s seeking Palestinian independence via the U.N., a futile gesture that will do nothing for his people.

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Thursday, April 3rd, 2014 at 8:15 AM  | Stand For Israel

John Kerry’s Departure from Reality

(Photo: World Economic Forum)

(Photo: World Economic Forum)

Jackson Diehl, writing at The Washington Post, tears apart the efforts of U.S. Secretary of State to impose his version of reality on a variety of foreign crises in which the principles have a very different conception of what’s happening. Reserving his strongest criticism for Kerry’s handling of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Diehl says Kerry should have known better:

Ignoring the counsel of numerous experts who warned neither side was ready for a deal, Kerry lavished time on the two men, convinced that his political skills would bring them around. Predictably, that didn’t happen. The leaders have not budged a millimeter from the positions they occupied on Palestinian statehood a year ago, and Abbas has been strident in publicly rejecting terms Kerry tried to include in a proposed peace “framework.”

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Tuesday, April 1st, 2014 at 8:27 AM  | Stand For Israel

Kerry’s “Last Chance” Diplomacy Implodes

(Photo: U.S. State Dept.)

(Photo: U.S. State Dept.)

Authoring the effective obituary of the latest round of negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians, Commentary’s Jonathan Tobin faults U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry for creating a false sense of urgency which, along with his overwrought rhetoric, will have a long-term harmful impact on prospects for peace:

But the real problem here isn’t the unbalanced nature of such a deal that is not likely to be carried out anyway. Rather, it is the sense of hysteria that has been invested in the latest iteration of the Middle East peace process. Having decided to try to succeed where all of his predecessors have failed, Kerry did so by claiming that it was the region’s last chance for peace even though there was no reason to believe the conflict was in danger of re-igniting or there were reasonable prospects for success.

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Tuesday, April 1st, 2014 at 8:13 AM  | Stand For Israel

Could the Peace Process Be Destroying Israel’s Legitimacy?

(Photo: ASHERNET/GPO)

(Photo: ASHERNET/GPO)

We have written and posted here often that the peace process is not helping Israel (or the Palestinians). But is it possible that the endless concessions and threats and false starts are actually hurting the Jewish state? Tom Wilson, writing at Commentary, thinks the answer is yes:

Israel has been locked down in the latest round of negotiations for months now. To make these talks happen Israel was first compelled to consent to the release of 104 convicted Palestinian terrorists. In the past Israel has been forced to freeze Jewish communities in the West Bank and even projects in Jerusalem. In both cases these concessions were to no avail. President Obama and Secretary Kerry regularly threaten Israel that should this current round of allegedly last-chance negotiations fail, Israel will be cast asunder to meet its fate in a cold world of boycotts and diplomatic isolation. Concessions and goodwill from Israel are rarely cause for praise from Western allies, they have simply come to be expected.

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Friday, March 28th, 2014 at 8:19 AM  | Stand For Israel
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State of Israel"

Rabbi's Commentary
God Is Present This Holy Season

Even as efforts for peace seem to be at an impasse all around the world, the Passover story can give us hope and affirmation that God is always present in our lives, and even when situations seem impossible, He is working in ways we cannot imagine.


Read Rabbi Eckstein's message »

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