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Argos Media

Middle East Peace: Obama's Mission Impossible - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International - 0 views

  • Unwilling and unable to make a constructive contribution towards a solution and at the same time frustrated that the Americans have taken the initiative, Europeans do what they do best: warn and complain, like the viewers of a soccer game, who -- from the stands -- know they would convert every strike into a goal.

  • After over 40 years' occupation, there can be no return to a status quo ante, because the status quo ante itself is a subject of dispute. For most Israelis, it is Israel within its 1967 borders, while for Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran, it's Palestine prior to the founding of Israel. When they talk about the end of the occupation, they don't mean Hebron, Ramallah, Bethlehem and Nablus, they mean Haifa, Beersheba, Jaffa and Tiberias.
  • One side insists on the expansion of settlements, the other demands their right of return -- like travellers who've taken the wrong train and getting ever farther away from their destination, but not wanting to get off because they've been travelling so long. So the Israelis play victors in a dead end and the Palestinians, heroes without any prospect of success.
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  • The Palestinian ambassador to Beirut, Abbas Zaki, said in a television interview in early May that the two state solution would result in Israel's collapse, the use of weapons wouldn't solve anything, but political negotiation without the use of arms wouldn't work either. "In light of the weakness of the Arab nation and the lack of values, and in light of the American control over the world, the PLO proceeds through phases, without changing its strategy." With Allah's help, Zaki said, "we'll drive them out of all of Palestine." That doesn't sound much like a solution for the Israelis.
  • Obama risks nothing by offering to negotiate with Iran. As he said on Monday, he wants to see results by the end of the year. If Iran doesn't budge, Obama will have to change his strategy. If Bush was a cowboy with a soft heart, Obama is an iron fist in a velvet glove. He shouldn't be underestimated, just because he's charming, polite and obliging. Such traits alone have yet to make an American president.
  • Obama knows that Iran won't attack Israel, because as much as the ayatollahs and mullahs want a "world without Zionism" and wish that Israel would disappear from the map or better yet, from the history books, they still prefer to live in the lap of luxury and -- when needs be -- they send others to paradise. But an nuclear preventative or counter strike by the Israelis would end their comfortable lives for good.
  • For their part, the Iranians know that their threat of force, if credible enough, is just as effective as the actual employment of the threatened means. They don't need to attack Israel; it's enough to float the threat. Israel is not going to collapse overnight, but it could erode with time -- through emigration, demoralization and economic decline. Who wants to live or invest in a country that may one day go up in an atomic mushroom cloud?

Argos Media

U.S., Israel Leaders Discuss Strategies for Mideast - WSJ.com - 0 views

  • Mr. Obama for the first time set out a rough timeline for talks with Iran, saying that by the end of the year the U.S. should have a "fairly good sense ... whether there is a good-faith effort to resolve differences" with Iran.
  • he two remained divided on issues such as the future of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, Palestinians' right to statehood, and whether the Palestinian issue should take priority over concerns about Iran developing nuclear weapons.
  • Mr. Netanyahu said he would engage in peace talks with the Palestinians immediately, though he refused to come out in favor of a Palestinian state, in contrast to past government agreements. But he said any peace agreement would have to include Palestinian recognition of a Jewish state. A two-state solution is a centerpiece of Mr. Obama's Mideast peace strategy.
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  • Mr. Netanyahu says he wants to give Palestinians freedom to govern themselves, but won't grant them all the powers of statehood, such as an independent army that could pose a threat to Israel. "We do not want to govern the Palestinians," he said. "We want them to live in peace and govern themselves absent a handful of powers."
  • Mr. Netanyahu has said he is ready to resume negotiations immediately on three parallel tracks dealing with political, economic and security issues, but the Palestinians have said they won't resume negotiations until Mr. Netanyahu accepts their right to statehood.
  • "By failing to endorse the two-state solution, Benjamin Netanyahu missed yet another opportunity to show himself to be a genuine partner for peace," Mr. Erekat said after the meeting. "Calling for negotiations without a clearly defined end-goal offers only the promise of more process, not progress."
  • Mr. Obama spoke out against Israel's expansion of Jewish settlements. Construction of settlements in the West Bank has continued despite pledges to halt such building by former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. "Settlements have to be stopped in order for us to move forward," Mr. Obama said.
  • Mr. Netanyahu said after the meeting that Israel would halt settlement expansion as part of a mutual process in which the Palestinians also made concessions, such as cracking down on militants.
  • Though Israel has shown little interest in the Arab peace initiative, Mr. Netanyahu appears to share the belief that, in the face of an ascendant Iran, there is a new window of opportunity. "In the life of the Jewish state there's never been a time when Arabs and Israelis see a common threat like we see today," he said.
  • On Iran, Mr. Obama said the U.S. will give talks more time, but that there must be a "clear timetable at which point we say, these talks aren't making any progress."
  • Mr. Netanyahu has been seeking clear timetables for U.S. diplomatic outreach toward Tehran, and assurances that sanctions would follow if negotiations fail. Israel fears Iran is within months of producing enough fissile material to produce an atomic bomb, though Israeli and U.S. intelligence officials believe it could take Iran years to assemble one.
Argos Media

Israel wants peace talks, Binyamin Netanyahu tells Barack Obama | World news | The Guar... - 0 views

  • Israel's prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, met President Barack Obama yesterday and said that he wants to begin immediate peace talks with the Palestinians aimed at self-government, but he stopped short of explicitly committing Israel to Palestinian independence.
  • Obama said he told Netanyahu that the goal of "an extraordinary opportunity" for peace must be "allowing the Palestinians to govern themselves as an independent state".
  • "I want to start peace negotiations with the Palestinians immediately," he said. "I want to make it clear that we don't want to govern the Palestinians. We want to live in peace with them, we want them to govern themselves without [control over] a handful of powers that could endanger Israel. There'll have to be compromises by Israelis and Palestinians alike."
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  • He said a precondition of any agreement is for the Palestinians to recognise Israel as a Jewish state, which Hamas has refused to do. That in turn is likely to mean that the Israelis will insist on negotiating only with Fatah, a move likely to deepen the divide in the Palestinian camp.
  • "Israel is going to have to take difficult steps," Obama said. "Settlements have to be stopped in order for us to move forward. That's a difficult issue, I recognise that. But it's an important one and it has to be addressed."
  • But Netanyahu's failure to speak of an independent state – instead talking of "an arrangement where Palestinians and Israelis live side by side in dignity, in security and in peace" – and his insistence that the Palestinians be denied certain powers, such as control over their own borders and airspace, is a reminder to Obama of the difficulties he is likely to face in dealing with Israel's well practised tactics of prevarication and obstruction.
  • But Obama suggested that Hamas should be brought in to the talks, when he spoke about the failure of isolation in dealing not only with the Palestinian group but also Hezbollah and Iran.
  • "Understand that part of the reason that it's so important for us to take a diplomatic approach is that the approach we've been taking, which is no diplomacy, obviously has not worked. Nobody disagrees with that. Hamas and Hezbollah have got stronger. Iran has been pursuing its nuclear capabilities undiminished. Not talking clearly hasn't worked," he said.
  • "Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon would not only be a threat to Israel and to the United States, but would be profoundly destabilising in the international community as a whole and could set off a nuclear arms race in the Middle East that could be extraordinarily dangerous for all concerned, including for Iran," Obama said.
  • He said the settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the Iran nuclear issue had a bearing on each other. "To the extent we can make peace between the Palestinians and Israelis then it strengthens our hand in the international community in dealing with a potential Iranian nuclear threat."
  • Obama is likely to urge Arab states to recognise Israel as part of a package that would include its withdrawal, not only from the West Bank but also the Golan Heights, after they were captured from Syria in the 1967 war.

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