The myth of the two-state solution

Israel declared its independence in 1948. Less than twenty years later it expanded its territorial control across the West Bank and Gaza (and Sinai).

What has subsequently come to be referred to as “The Occupation” has referred to the status quo which (with a few modifications) has endured for the overwhelming majority of Israel’s existence.

The Oslo Accords, signed in 1993, and the so-called “peace process” which followed, have merely provided political cover for the relentless expansion of Jewish settlement and Palestinian dispossession across the West Bank.

What right-wing Zionists refer to as Judea and Samaria is not an aspiration — it is the political reality of a state in which full democratic rights are granted to Jews but not Palestinians.

While the mantras of ending the occupation and dismantling the settlements have tirelessly been repeated, year after year, the settlements have grown.

Both the terms settlement and occupation, mask with seeming impermanence a reality that has been set in reinforced concrete.

Given that over the course of more than twenty years, no progress whatsoever has been made towards the implementation of a two-state solution, the fact that it has now been rejected by Benjamin Netanyahu is a non-event. Yet this is a non-event that is deeply upsetting to many American Jews.

It’s not that they believed that peace was just around the corner. On the contrary, the value of the two-state solution has never derived from expectations about the future. Instead, its value is based very much in the present.

For liberal Americans — Jewish and non-Jewish — the two-state solution ideologically sanitized Israel by ostensibly embodying the desire that the political aspirations of both Jews and Palestinians could be recognized. If this promise is taken away, liberals are deprived of a fiction that allowed them to avoid confronting the illiberal nature of the Jewish state.

Americans want to be able to say they support Israel and democracy and Israel is forcing them to choose between the two.

Noam Sheizaf provided a reality check for participants at the J Street conference in Washington DC this week, when he said:

In Israel, we’ve got to the point where arguing for a state for all its citizens — equal rights for everyone — is a form of ‘Arab nationalism’ that should be made illegal. While arguing for an ethnic state that gives privileges to one group over the other is ‘democracy’…

I am 40 and I only know one Israel — and that’s from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea. And in which there live Palestinians and Jews, roughly the same size of populations — they’re totally mixed with each other. They’re mixed in the Galilee, they’re mixed along the coast, they’re mixed in the West Bank by now, they’re mixed in the Negev — everywhere Jews living next to Palestinians.

One group has everything — all the rights — the other one has privileges given to it according to a complicated system of citizenship and where they happen to live and where their grandparents were in ’48…

I think we need to start looking at this in civil rights issues, if that’s what we believe in — and that’s the kind of activism I’m looking for. Not redrawing maps in a way that will keep some people in and some people out so that we can call themself [a] democracy.

Sheizaf also took J Street to task for its failure to talk about Gaza:

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Did Israel steal uranium from the U.S. to build its first nuclear weapons?

Scott C. Johnson writes: Beginning in the early 1960s, investigators from the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), the agency that regulated U.S. nuclear facilities at the time, began to question how large amounts of highly enriched, weapons-grade uranium had gone missing from NUMEC [the Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corporation in Apollo, Pennsylvania]. Any nuclear site had a certain amount of loss, from seepage into walls and floors, for instance. In fact, between 1952 and 1968, lax standards at 20 of the country’s commercial nuclear sites resulted in an apparent loss of 995 kilograms (2,194 pounds) of uranium-235. But investigators found that at NUMEC, hundreds of pounds went missing, more than at any other plant.

NUMEC’s founder, Zalman Shapiro, an accomplished American chemist, addressed the concern in 1978, telling Arizona Congressman Morris Udall that the uranium simply escaped through the facility’s air ducts, cement, and wastewater. Others, such as the late Glenn Seaborg, the AEC’s chairman in the 1960s — who had previously helped discover plutonium and made key contributions to the Manhattan Project — have suggested that the sloppy accounting and government regulations of the mid-20th century meant that keeping track of losses in America’s newborn nuclear industry was well near impossible. Today, some people in Apollo think that at least a portion of the uranium might be buried in Parks [Township], contaminating the earth and, ultimately, human beings.

But a number of nuclear experts and intelligence officials propose another theory straight out of an espionage thriller: that the uranium was diverted — stolen by spies working for the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency. In the 1960s, to secure nuclear technology and materials, Israel mounted covert operations around the world, including at least one alleged open-ocean transfer of hundreds of pounds of uranium. Some experts have also raised questions about Shapiro himself. He had contacts deep within Israel’s defense and intelligence establishments when he ran NUMEC; several of them even turned up at his facility over time and concealed their professional identities while there.

Fifty years after investigations began — they have involved, at various times, the AEC and its successors, Congress, the FBI, the CIA, and other government agencies — NUMEC remains one of the most confounding puzzles of the nuclear era. [Continue reading…]

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Israel spied on Iran nuclear talks with U.S.

When Israel is described as one of America’s closest allies, maybe more emphasis should be placed on the term close than ally — as in too close, which would be to call Israel, America’s most intrusive, troublesome ally.

And this would explain why, as U.S. officials say: “The U.S. expends more counterintelligence resources fending off Israeli spy operations than any other close ally.”

What the following report speaks to is a conviction among Israeli leaders and their supporters — many of whom are American citizens — that Israel has a right to use any means available not merely to influence but rather to control and if needs be, to sabotage U.S. foreign policy.

The Wall Street Journal reports: Soon after the U.S. and other major powers entered negotiations last year to curtail Iran’s nuclear program, senior White House officials learned Israel was spying on the closed-door talks.

The spying operation was part of a broader campaign by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to penetrate the negotiations and then help build a case against the emerging terms of the deal, current and former U.S. officials said. In addition to eavesdropping, Israel acquired information from confidential U.S. briefings, informants and diplomatic contacts in Europe, the officials said.

The espionage didn’t upset the White House as much as Israel’s sharing of inside information with U.S. lawmakers and others to drain support from a high-stakes deal intended to limit Iran’s nuclear program, current and former officials said.

“It is one thing for the U.S. and Israel to spy on each other. It is another thing for Israel to steal U.S. secrets and play them back to U.S. legislators to undermine U.S. diplomacy,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on the matter.

The U.S. and Israel, longtime allies who routinely swap information on security threats, sometimes operate behind the scenes like spy-versus-spy rivals. The White House has largely tolerated Israeli snooping on U.S. policy makers—a posture Israel takes when the tables are turned.

The White House discovered the operation, in fact, when U.S. intelligence agencies spying on Israel intercepted communications among Israeli officials that carried details the U.S. believed could have come only from access to the confidential talks, officials briefed on the matter said.

Israeli officials denied spying directly on U.S. negotiators and said they received their information through other means, including close surveillance of Iranian leaders receiving the latest U.S. and European offers. European officials, particularly the French, also have been more transparent with Israel about the closed-door discussions than the Americans, Israeli and U.S. officials said.

Mr. Netanyahu and Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer early this year saw a rapidly closing window to increase pressure on Mr. Obama before a key deadline at the end of March, Israeli officials said.

Using levers of political influence unique to Israel, Messrs. Netanyahu and Dermer calculated that a lobbying campaign in Congress before an announcement was made would improve the chances of killing or reshaping any deal. [Continue reading…]

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Israeli officials talk with French to try to influence Iran nuclear deal

The New York Times reports: Fearing that the Obama administration may not take what they consider to be a tough enough stand in the next round of negotiations on a nuclear deal with Iran, senior Israeli officials held talks in Paris on Monday with senior members of the French government and will go to London on Tuesday in an attempt to influence the final terms of any agreement.

France and Britain are among the six world powers — along with the United States, Russia, China and Germany — that are negotiating with Iran on an accord that would require Tehran to submit to verifiable limitations on its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of United Nations sanctions, as well as separate sets of sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union.

Negotiations are scheduled to resume later this week in Lausanne, Switzerland, with negotiators working against a self-imposed deadline of March 31 to reach a preliminary agreement. Secretary of State John Kerry will meet on Thursday with the chief Iranian negotiator, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, and some of the foreign ministers from other countries are expected to arrive subsequently.

The Israeli intelligence minister, Yuval Steinitz, said in a statement released Monday night that the talks with the French national security adviser, Jacques Audibert, and the French nuclear negotiating team were “serious and profound” and that the Israelis had laid out their reservations about the emerging deal.

Mr. Steinitz indicated, however, that the Israelis had no illusions that their flurry of international meetings would stop an accord. [Continue reading…]

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What it feels like to be a ‘demographic threat’ to Israel

Yousef Munayyer writes: I am a demographic threat.

I am a demographic threat; I am the son, grandson and father of demographic threats; and I am the husband of demographic spillover. I am a Palestinian citizen of Israel, and this is the language that the State of Israel, its leaders and its elites have sanctioned within their discourse to refer to me and to millions of other human beings.

And once you have defined a threat, what action is there to take other than to attack it, marginalize it, contain it or eliminate it?

It is refreshing to see that so many are appalled at the rhetoric Benjamin Netanyahu used in Israel on election day, when he mobilized ultra-right-wing voters by saying “right-wing rule is in danger” because “Arab voters are streaming in huge quantities to the polling stations.” Some have likened it to the “Southern Strategy” in the United States, when the Republican Party appealed to racism among white Southerners in the late 1960s to draw them away from a Democratic Party that had come out in support of civil rights.

But Netanyahu’s language was not just an electioneering tactic. Indeed, as Palestinians — whether citizens of Israel, residents of Jerusalem or those living under occupation in the West Bank and Gaza or in refugee camps or in the diaspora — know, this demographic fear-mongering is rooted in the foundation of the Zionist project in Palestine. The origin and maintenance of Zionism has relied on demographic engineering to ensure that political power remains in the hands of one ethno-religious group, Israeli Jews. This isn’t about an election tactic; this is about Zionism itself. [Continue reading…]

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Under Israeli rule, Palestinians are destined to remain subject to a regime of state terror

David Shulman writes: Benjamin Netanyahu has won again. He will have no difficulty putting together a solid right-wing coalition. But the naked numbers may be deceptive. What really counts is the fact that the Israeli electorate is still dominated by hypernationalist, in some cases proto-fascist, figures. It is in no way inclined to make peace. It has given a clear mandate for policies that preclude any possibility of moving toward a settlement with the Palestinians and that will further deepen Israel’s colonial venture in the Palestinian territories, probably irreversibly.

Netanyahu’s shrill public statements during the last two or three days before the vote may account in part for Likud’s startling margin of victory. For the first time since his Bar Ilan speech in 2009, he explicitly renounced a two-state solution and swore that no Palestinian state would come into existence on his watch. He promised vast new building projects in the Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem. He made it clear that Israel would make no further territorial concessions, anywhere, since any land that would be relinquished would, in his view, immediately be taken over by Muslim terrorists.

And then there was his truly astonishing, by now notorious statement on election day itself, in which he urged Jewish voters to rush to the polls because “the Arabs are voting in droves.” One might have thought that those Arab voters were members of the body politic he headed as prime minister. Imagine a white American president calling on whites to vote because “blacks are voting in large numbers.” If there’s a choice to be made between democratic values and fierce Jewish tribalism, there’s no doubt what the present and future prime minister of Israel would choose. [Continue reading…]

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Netanyahu stoked primal fears in Israel. Now my country is divided as never before

Anshel Pfeffer writes: 48 hours before the polls opened, on a train from Jerusalem, making the winding journey downhill to Tel Aviv, the passengers, mainly soldiers and police officers returning to their bases after a weekend’s leave, were talking about the election. “I didn’t want to vote Bibi, he’s been around too long, but now there’s a danger of the left coming to power, so we have to vote Bibi,” was a sentence I heard repeated up and down the train.

The fatigue that most Israelis felt for Netanyahu was very real. In poll after poll large majorities answered that they would prefer change and more votes were cast for parties who were critical of his policies and whose leaders, if they could find a way of sitting together in one government, would have gladly replaced him.

So how did Netanyahu manage in the last six days of the campaign to convince more than 250,000 voters to change their minds and vote Likud? Why did his rivals fail so miserably at mobilising the anti-Netanyahu sentiment into a coherent and cohesive political force?

Netanyahu won the election because he succeeded in stoking a deep and irrational fear of the left. A left which – or so runs the line – is too complacent, too cosmopolitan, too secular and too lacking in an ideological backbone to stand up for Israel’s interests.

Netanyahu’s cynical ploy on election day, when he warned in a personal message on his Facebook page of “droves of Arabs” descending on the polls, was appealing less to the racism of his potential voters than to their fear that the left was incapable of keeping a hold on power and would be easily manipulated by outside forces. He was warning them that should they vote for someone else, Jews would be losing control of their destiny in their land. [Continue reading…]

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To evangelicals, Zionism is an increasingly tough sell

Ryan Rodrick Beiler writes: While the lobby giant AIPAC wields power in Washington, evangelical Christians have long been the grassroots base of Israel advocacy in the US. But that support is eroding.

According to a National Association of Evangelicals poll, forty percent of US evangelical leaders have changed their thinking about Israel over the past fifteen years.

The most common change? “A greater awareness of the struggles faced by the Palestinian people,” the survey concludes.

“One of the most important developments is that Christian voices are coming out of Palestine,” said Munther Isaac, Vice Academic Dean of Bethlehem Bible College in the occupied West Bank. “They are challenging evangelicals to be in conversation with them.” [Continue reading…]

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Growing skepticism about whether Israel and the U.S. genuinely have ‘shared values’

McClatchy reports: For years, American politicians have waxed poetic about the “shared values” of the United States and Israel – ideals that typically aren’t spelled out but usually are taken to mean the basic tenets of Western democracy.

That time-worn phrase came under scrutiny this week in the aftermath of a particularly ugly Israeli election. Some Americans, both Jews and non-Jews, have questioned what the common threads are as Israeli provocations force the Obama administration into the uncomfortable role of having to publicly rebuke an ironclad ally.

In the past several weeks, Americans have seen Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu undermine their president before Congress over differences on Iran, use anti-Arab language about his own citizens, and jettison the two-state framework that international powers have agreed for years is the best way to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Meanwhile, the Israeli foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, made headlines this month by saying that any Arab Israeli who isn’t sufficiently loyal to Israel should take an ax to the head.

“Can you imagine a foreign minister anywhere else in the world saying that his citizens should be beheaded? We’ve gotten to this environment of complete impunity,” said Diana Buttu, a former legal adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian negotiators. “It’s not just that Netanyahu won – it’s that the entire country has shifted to the right.”

Analysts said that such inflammatory conduct by top Israeli officials runs the risk of fueling what they described as a glacial, grass-roots shift in American public opinion from unconditional support for Israel to greater skepticism about policies such as the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza or settlement construction. And while the United States is no stranger to racial politics, the overt anti-Arab sentiment coming from Israel’s highest offices probably isn’t what American politicians have in mind when they talk of shared values. [Continue reading…]

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Enraged by Netanyahu’s rhetoric, White House officials believe Israeli-U.S. relations fundamentally changed

Peter Beinart writes: On Wednesday, I asked a senior Obama administration official whether there was anything Benjamin Netanyahu could do to repair the damage done by his comments late in his reelection campaign. The official’s answer: “You can’t unring the bell.” Other officials, off the record, put it far, far more harshly than that.

Top Obama officials loathed Netanyahu already. But three of his campaign comments drove them to new levels of fury.

The first was Netanyahu’s comment about “Arab voters coming out in droves,” which some in the administration view as racist. There is little President Obama considers more loathsome, administration officials note, than stoking racism to win votes. “Given our own history we have a unique perspective on the idea that minorities’ voting is not something to be condemned or feared,” said one administration official. The analogy is significant because the civil rights movement is Obama’s moral compass. For an administration official to compare Netanyahu to George Wallace or Bull Connor, even obliquely, says a lot about which side of history they believe he’s on.

The second comment that enraged Team Obama was Netanyahu’s boast that he built the settlement of Har Homa as “a way of stopping Bethlehem from moving toward Jerusalem.” Bibi, said a senior administration official, was “confirming that settlement policy has been a means of undermining a Palestinian state.” Which is to say: Netanyahu was confirming that by continuing settlement expansion, he had knowingly sabotaged John Kerry’s peace negotiations. White House officials believed that already. But they didn’t expect Bibi to publicly rub it in their face.

Thirdly, of course, Bibi said he would not allow a Palestinian state. Administration officials expect their Israeli counterparts to parse Bibi’s words in an attempt to downplay their importance. In private conversations, top AIPAC officials have already tried. But people inside the administration find that effort laughable, in part because they never thought Bibi wanted a Palestinian state even when he was on record as supporting one.

It is the Palestinian state comments, in particular, that are leading the Obama administration to, in one official’s words, “reassess our options.” The administration’s basic problem is this: For years, America has fought Palestinian efforts at the UN by insisting that bilateral negotiations offered the only path to Israeli-Palestinian peace. Administration officials stress the extraordinary, exhausting, diplomatically costly lengths to which they went to stymie various Palestinian UN moves. Obama and Kerry lobbied world leaders personally. Now, they argue, Netanyahu has destroyed their argument. How can they tell other countries that negotiations offer the best path to a Palestinian state when the leader of Israel has said he will not allow a Palestinian state? “It’s the prime minister taking this position,” says a senior administration official, “that forces this reassessment.” [Continue reading…]

Haaretz adds: U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday evening spoke by phone with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and protested remarks made by the latter during his election campaign against the establishment of a Palestinian state and Israel’s Arab citizens.

Obama did not accept the explanations Netanyahu provided during an interview with NBC, in which he backtracked on some of the statements he has made.

According to a senior White House official, Obama told Netanyahu that the U.S. will need to reassess its options regarding the Israeli-Palestinian peace process in light of the prime minister’s new position rejecting Palestinian statehood.

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Israel and Netanyahu: A racist prime minister can only stay in power with the support of racist voters

Allison Kaplan Sommer says that: “Israelis, whether they want to admit it or not, have spent a good part of the past year feeling afraid.”

She goes on to detail how Benjamin Netanyahu masterfully built his election campaign around the exploitation of that fear.

He systematically painted the main contenders vying for the premiership Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni as weak and ineffective, laughably so. He began by feminizing them and infantilizing them with mocking videos that portrayed them as gossiping girlfriends in a kitchen and misbehaving children in a preschool.

As the campaign wore on, he moved away from a comic approach and started making his charges more seriously. His rivals were naive dupes, he said, vulnerable to foreign pressure, and would leave Israel exposed to its enemies – while he positioned himself in contrast as a strong protector who can stand up to pressure no matter where it came from (even the White House!) and whatever he deems necessary to keep Israelis safe, no matter how brutal, immoral, or racist.

The derisive manner in which Netanyahu condescended to “Tzipi” and “Bougie” and “the left” when he spoke evoked the famous Jack Nicholson speech in “A Few Good Men” when, testifying as Col. Jessup, he smirks “Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who’s gonna do it? You? I have a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom … My existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall.”

At every juncture, when the going got tough for Netanyahu, appealing to fear was his go-to campaign strategy. Some might argue it was his entire campaign strategy. To those who understood this, it was clear in his showdown with President Obama that he would never submit to White House pressure to cancel his speech before Congress, no matter how hard Obama and the Democrats piled on the pressure.

The reason had nothing to do with the urgency of the issue of Iran or even Netanyahu’s desire to impress his electorate with the speech – but because backing down would utterly undercut the tough unbending image he was working to project to the electorate.

The ultimate proof of the effectiveness of his scare-mongering tactics – and his willingness to cross any line to implement them – was the now-infamous last-minute online video released well into Election Day, expressing fears based on factually-challenged claims: “Arab voters are coming out in droves to the polls. Left-wing organizations are busing them out.” He compared the need to vote for him to the emergency military reserve call-up notice: “Get out to vote, bring your friends and family – in order to close the gap between us and Labor. With your help, and with God’s help we’ll establish a nationalist government that will safeguard the State of Israel.”

In the video, Netanyahu puts out the call in the urgent tones of of a military commander planning strategy and giving out orders with a tone of urgency. He makes the pronouncement seated in front of a map of the Middle East, clearly designed to remind voters of the neighborhood in which they reside: Hamas to the south, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and now, ISIS just over the border with Syria.

It all worked brilliantly. Israelis went for the devil they know – they voted for an internationally unpopular bully rather than roll the dice on a man they feared might be too nice to keep them safe.

Whether one is an Israeli or not, Jewish or gentile, everyone understands what it means to be afraid. Fear is easy to exploit and so those whose fears are exploited are easy to view as victims.

From this perspective, Netanyahu, the bully, coerced Israelis and took advantage of their prevailing fears.

For Israel’s liberal supporters — especially in America — this way of viewing Netanyahu’s ability to retain his hold on power is essentially sympathetic. It provides room for loving Israel while despising its leader.

But Israel’s prime minister did not get re-elected simply by being a very effective fear-monger. What he did was wholeheartedly tap into the racism that lies at the core of Israelis’ fears.

Netanyahu did not snatch victory from the jaws of defeat by desperately resorting to racism. Racism was his trump card which he played with perfect timing, confident that it would have its desired effect.

Rather than letting the power of racism become blunted by being scattered among the small parties of the Right, Netanyahu successfully presented voting for Likud as the best way of holding back the Arab threat.

In America, for a politician, even at a minor local level, to make such a blatantly racist move would almost certainly destroy his career.

Even though racism still pervades American culture in many ways, it is no longer culturally acceptable. Even though a lot of the political opposition to Barack Obama has had racist undertones, racism rarely blatantly shows its face in contemporary America — at least among those who hope to win elections. Racism has to be concealed, but when exposed, is generally disavowed.

When Netanyahu warned about “Arab voters coming out in droves,” he was in fact reiterating the core presupposition upon which Zionism is founded: that non-Jews pose a threat to Jews and Jewish security depends on the protection of Jewish power.

Peter Beinart, one of Netanyahu’s harshest critics, describes Israel as “the one state in the world that has as its mission statement the protection of Jewish life.”

That is indeed true, but the implication is that without the protection of such a state, Jewish life is inevitably in jeopardy.

Yet even though the U.S. Constitution has no provisions that relate specifically to the protection of Jewish life, it’s hard to argue that Jews living here are any less safe than those living in Israel.

On the contrary, what protects Jewish life and the lives of every other minority more than anything else is not any form of nationalism, but instead it is democracy.

In a democracy, citizens share equal rights. In Israel they do not.

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Dear Mr Netanyahu: Sorry we dared to dream. Yours, Israel’s Arab population

Sayed Kashua writes: For a moment I was optimistic.

For one moment this week the hope I had utterly lost last summer – a summer suffused with racism, hatred, blood and devastation – came back. For one moment, after I left Jerusalem with my family for life in Illinois, I thought that maybe there’s still a chance, maybe there are still enough people in Israel who refuse to rule and oppress another nation.

The last pre-election polls in the Israeli media predicted a loss for the prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, and the head of the Arab parties’ Joint List, the young lawyer Ayman Odeh, gave me hope that it was not too late to stop the fascism. Odeh took part in a television debate with Israel’s foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, who as usual called Odeh and the rest of the country’s Arab citizens – people like me – a fifth column, the spearhead of the terrorist organisations in the Knesset.

Odeh smiled tranquilly, and spoke about unity, cooperation, terminating the occupation in the Palestinian territories and forging a future of equality in Israel. The young lawyer succeeded in cutting Lieberman down to size, and showed him exactly for what he is: a benighted, pathetic racist.

For a moment I no longer felt afraid of Lieberman and of his threats against the Arab citizens; for a moment I wanted to believe it was still possible. [Continue reading…]

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Netanyahu’s win is good for Palestine

Yousef Munayyer writes: The re-election of Mr. Netanyahu provides clarity. Two years ago Secretary of State John Kerry declared that the maximum time left for a two-state solution was two years. Mr. Netanyahu officially declared it dead this week in order to drive right-wing voters to the polls. The two-state solution, which has seen more funerals than a reverend, exists today only as a talking point for self-interested, craven politicians to hide behind — not as a realistic basis for peace.

The old land-for-peace model must now be replaced with a rights-for-peace model. Palestinians must demand the right to live on their land, but also free movement, equal treatment under the law, due process, voting rights and freedom from discrimination.

Mr. Netanyahu’s re-election has convincingly proved that trusting Israeli voters with the fate of Palestinian rights is disastrous and immoral. His government will oppose any constructive change, placing Israel on a collision course with the rest of the world. And this collision has never been more necessary. [Continue reading…]

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Light between Israel and America becomes increasingly visible

The New York Times reports: President Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel had a poisonous relationship long before Mr. Netanyahu swept to victory on Tuesday night in elections watched minute-by-minute at the White House.

But now that Mr. Netanyahu has won after aggressively campaigning against a Palestinian state and Mr. Obama’s potential nuclear deal with Iran, the question is whether the president and prime minister can ever repair their relationship — and whether Mr. Obama will even try.

On Wednesday, part of the answer seemed to be that the president would not make the effort.

In strikingly strong criticism, the White House called Mr. Netanyahu’s campaign rhetoric, in which he railed against Israeli Arabs because they went out to vote, an attempt to “marginalize Arab-Israeli citizens” and inconsistent with the values that bind Israel and the United States. The White House press secretary, Josh Earnest, told reporters traveling with Mr. Obama on Air Force One on Wednesday that Mr. Netanyahu’s statement was “deeply concerning and it is divisive and I can tell you that these are views the administration intends to communicate directly to the Israelis.”

And with Mr. Netanyahu’s last-minute turnaround against a Palestinian state alongside Israel, several administration officials said that the Obama administration may now agree to passage of a United Nations Security Council resolution embodying principles of a two-state solution that would be based on the pre-1967 lines between Israel and the West Bank and Gaza Strip and mutually agreed swaps. [Continue reading…]

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Palestinian leaders see validation of their statehood effort

The New York Times reports: Under most circumstances, an Israeli leader’s frank admission that he would never agree to a Palestinian state would be a disaster for the Palestinian leadership. But when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said precisely that in the heat of the recent election campaign, it seemed to have the opposite effect, validating the unilateral approach the Palestinians have decided to follow.

“We will continue a diplomatic intifada. We have no other choice,” said Assad Abdul Rahman, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s central council and executive committee, its top decision-making body.

With Mr. Netanyahu having dropped, for now at least, the pretense of seeking a two-state solution, the Palestinians can argue to Europe and the United States that they no longer have a negotiating partner, strengthening their case for full statehood and recognition in the United Nations, as well as membership in important international bodies. They are already members of the International Criminal Court and Unesco.

“If somebody said, ‘We are with two states, and real negotiations,’ we would return to negotiations,” said Assad Abdul Rahman. “But there is no partner for that.”

In addition to considering seeking full statehood at the United Nations, the Palestinians may now curtail security coordination with Israel, reducing Israel’s ability to seize suspected militants in the West Bank, two P.L.O. officials said.

“There is a feeling that if there really is no hope for the peace process, the best thing they can have is an Israeli government that will advance its own isolation,” said Nathan Thrall, senior analyst with the Middle East and North Africa Program of the International Crisis Group. [Continue reading…]

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Israel may lose U.S. protection at the UN Security Council

Politico reports: In the wake of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decisive re-election, the Obama administration is revisiting longtime assumptions about America’s role as a shield for Israel against international pressure.

Angered by Netanyahu’s hard-line platform towards the Palestinians, top Obama officials would not rule out the possibility of a change in American posture at the United Nations, where the U.S. has historically fended off resolutions hostile to Israel.

And despite signals from Israel suggesting that Netanyahu might walk back his rejection, late in the campaign, of a Palestinian state under his watch, Obama officials say they are taking him at his word.

“The positions taken by the prime minister in the last days of the campaign have raised very significant substantive questions that go far beyond just optics,” said a senior administration official, adding that recent Israeli government actions were in keeping with Netanyahu’s rhetoric. [Continue reading…]

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Spitting in the face of Israel’s Arab citizens

Haggai Matar and Yael Marom write: Nearly one quarter of Israeli voters cast their ballots for a prime minister whose central message to the public on election day was that Arab citizens of Israel are the enemy.

An almost equal number of people cast their votes for: the guy who joined him in delivering that message, the head of the most right-wing party in the Knesset (Naftali Bennett); the guy who based his entire campaign on incitement against Arabs (Avigdor Liberman); the guy who said he would not sit in a government that relies on the votes of Arabs (Moshe Kahlon); and, the guy who rejected an outstretched hand from the Arab parties offering to form an alliance of the oppressed (Arye Deri). Their levels of support are even higher if you look only at the Jewish voting public.

Meet the 34th government of Israel, ladies and gentlemen.

Do not discount the message delivered at the ballot box on Tuesday, especially considering the massive victory of the Joint List, the third-largest party in the next Knesset. With 14 seats representing over 400,000 voters, and with above-average voter participation, the success of the Joint List is the Palestinian public in Israel’s message to its Jewish compatriots, which was the antithesis of the message it got in return.

For weeks, Joint List chairman Ayman Odeh has been all over Israeli television, radio, newspapers and every type of online media. He broadcast a message of openness, of partnership, of striving for equality, of democracy, of a struggle for social justice — for all Israelis. He spoke of reconciliation and of turning a new leaf. [Continue reading…]

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Israelis have voted for Apartheid

Neve Gordon writes: Benjamin Netanyahu is truly a magician. Just this past Friday, most polls indicated that his Likud party would likely receive around 21 seats in the Israeli Knesset, four seats less than Yitzhak (Bougie) Herzog’s Zionist Camp (Labour Party’s new name).

Revelations of corruption at the prime minister’s residence followed by a damning comptroller report about the real estate crisis, alongside industrial downsizing, union strikes, predictions of a weakening economy, a diplomatic stalemate, and increasing international isolation all seemed to indicate that Netanyahu was on his way out. But just when it seemed that the Zionist camp would replace the nationalist camp, the crafty campaigner began pulling rabbits out of his hat.

As if his decision to alienate the Obama Administration over the Iran negotiations was not enough, Netanyahu began pandering to the right by notifying the world that Palestinians were destined to remain stateless since he no longer believed in the creation of another Arab state alongside Israel.

He presented the Likud party as the victims of a leftist media conspiracy aimed at ousting the right-wing government, while conveniently ignoring that his ally Sheldon Adelson owned Yisrael Hayom, Israel’s most widely circulated paper.

He entreated his voters to return “home” promising to address their economic needs. And on Election Day itself, he frightened the Jews by declaring that Israel’s Palestinian citizens were rushing to the polls in droves, thus presenting Palestinians who cast votes for their own representatives as an existential threat.

Pandering and fear mongering together with hatred for Arabs and the left are the ingredients of Netanyahu’s secret potion, and it now appears that many voters were indeed seduced. [Continue reading…]

Sheera Frenkel reports: For many of the Israelis who spoke to BuzzFeed News on election day, the decision to vote for Netanyahu was an emotional one. They spoke of Netanyahu’s last-minute media blitz – in which he gave five interviews in three days – and of feeling “safe” with Netanyahu as prime minister.

“He said things which made sense to me,” said Mordechai Zemut, a 39-year-old accountant who spent the day at the beach with his children before deciding at the last minute to rush to the polls and vote. “I wasn’t going to vote because I’m so sick of all Israel’s politicians. But then I realized that all these other left wing groups were voting and that I could wake up tomorrow with some kind of socialist, communist left-wing group in power.”

Zemut said he listened to Netanyahu’s appeal on Facebook, in which the Israeli premier talked about Arabs “voting in droves.” In previous posts, Netanyahu has referred to a global-backed conspiracy to support the left-wing and oust him writing, “Scandinavian governments have spent millions of dollars on a campaign to remove me from power.”

Speaking to Israel’s Reshet Bet radio station Wednesday morning, pollsters said they saw a significant uptick in voters going to vote in the late evening hours on Tuesday – which they said were likely “emotional votes” made in response to Netanyahu’s appeal.

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