Give peace a chance, says Mitchell. Fat chance, says Lieberman.

No chance of peace for years, says Israel’s Foreign Minister

There is no chance of an early solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and people must “learn to live with it”, the Israeli Foreign Minister warned yesterday.

“Anyone who says that within the next few years an agreement can be reached ending the conflict… simply doesn’t understand the situation and spreads delusions, ultimately leading to disappointments and an all-out confrontation here,” Avigdor Lieberman said in a radio interview.

He added: “I am going to say very clearly: there are conflicts that have not been completely solved and people have learnt to live with it, like Cyprus.”

Mr Lieberman, the head of the far-right Yisrael Beitenu party, suggested that a long-term, interim deal with the Palestinians could ensure prosperity, security and stability, but tougher questions should be left until later.

“We have to be realistic,” he said. “We will not be able to reach agreement on core and emotional subjects like Jerusalem and the right of return of Palestinian refugees.” [continued…]

Palestinians change course on UN report

The Palestinian leadership has quickly backtracked in its approach to a U.N. report accusing Israel of possible war crimes in Gaza, in what its top diplomat acknowledged Thursday is erupting into a “clear crisis” for its people. [continued…]

UN Security Council to discuss Gaza report next week

A divided U.N. Security Council will meet next week at the request of Arab countries to discuss a U.N. report on war crimes committed by both Palestinian militants and Israel’s army during last December’s conflict in the Gaza Strip.

The Security Council’s monthly meeting on the Middle East was scheduled for October 20, but after a request from council member Libya that some western diplomat’s characterized as a bit of a “surprise”, the 15-member body agreed in closed consultations Wednesday to move up its session to October 14. [continued…]

After Goldstone, Hamas faces fateful choice

Naming collaboration — even treason — for what it is has always been a painful taboo among Palestinians, as for all occupied peoples. It took the French decades after World War II to begin to speak openly about the extent of collaboration that took place with the Nazi-backed Vichy government. Abbas and his militias — who for a long time have been armed and trained by Israel, the United States and so-called “moderate” Arab states to wage war against the Palestinian resistance — have relied on this taboo to carry out their activities with increasing brazenness and brutality. But the taboo no longer affords protection, as calls for Abbas’ removal and even trial issued from Palestinian organizations all over the world.

Hamas too seems to have been taken by surprise at the strength of reaction. Hamas leaders were critical of Abbas’ withdrawal of the Goldstone resolution, but initially this was notably muted. Early on, Khaled Meshal, the movement’s overall leader, insisted that despite the Goldstone fiasco, Hamas would proceed with Egyptian-mediated reconciliation talks with Fatah and smaller factions scheduled for later in the month, stating that reaching a power-sharing deal remained a “national interest.”

As the tremors continued, however, Hamas leaders escalated their rhetoric — seemingly following, not leading, public opinion. Mahmoud Zahar, a prominent Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, labeled Abbas a “traitor” and urged that he be stripped of his Palestinian nationality. Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, speaking before a hastily convened session of the Palestinian Legislative Council, said Abbas was personally responsible for the “crime” committed in Geneva, and a senior officer from the Hamas-controlled Gaza police force held a press conference to announce that Abbas and his associates would be subject to arrest if they set foot in Gaza. [continued…]

Netanyahu, the tunnels opener

Last week, an incident that could have set the entire Middle East on fire was prevented. Netanyahu’s secret plan to visit a disputed tunnel in the East Jerusalem Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan, at the site known as Ir David (the City of David), was canceled, probably with some international intervention. Am I exaggerating the danger? No. Judging from past experience, provocations in Jerusalem never end well, and with the tensions in Jerusalem clearly rising in recent weeks, the potential for an explosion is very real. [continued…]

Israel considers recalling its ambassador to Sweden

Israel is considering recalling its ambassador to Stockholm in light of Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt’s remarks in support of a UN report claiming war crimes were committed by both sides during the Israel-Hamas Gaza conflict.

Bildt told reporters in Stockholm Thursday that South African jurist Richard Goldstone, who headed the investigation into the war, is a person with “high credibility” and “high integrity” and that his report carries weight.

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon called to re-examine Israel’s relations with Sweden. [continued…]

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