negotiation


  • Peace is Not Magic

    By Kobi Skolnick
    In the last few weeks, there have been many developments in the Middle East conflict. People around the world have been following the speeches of President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu, as well as Hosni Mubarak’s essay in the Wall Street Journal. This high-level discussion signals a shift in policy and progress toward peace. However, some skeptics wonder if this is just another phase in a cycle of false hope. After all, it is not difficult to imagine another suicide bombing in one of Israel’s cities, or an ill-timed Israeli Defense Force operation in the Palestinian Territories, both of which would immediately make peace look like a mere fantasy.

    This danger has always existed in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. Even when top leaders sign treaties, on the ground there remains a deep enmity between Israelis, Palestinians, and the Arab world. With this in mind, …

  • Land Swapping for Peace in Israel and Palestine

    This piece is worth reading and debating. I don’t agree with many of its assumptions about blame and the causal chain of connections, but I do think that jumping to final status on land swaps may be a way out of the current impasses. The problem I have is where they will get the rest of the land inside Israel for the swap, and will it play into Lieberman’s anti-democratic plans to give away the Arabs in Israel’s triangle area in order to disempower an Arab voice in Israel. It is very important that every affected community have a stake in these negotiations, and Israel’s domestic relations with the Arab community of Israel is going in the opposite direction right now of disenfranchisement of Israel’s Arab citizens. I think David’s focus on land is a good idea because it could do an end run around all ideological opponents of a …

  • A Penetrating Analysis of the Israeli Electorate

    Uri Avnery, in his regular column for Gush Shalom, has an important analysis of the Israeli elections that is well worth reading. I will react to his comments in the coming days. Here are excerpts:

    The results of the elections are not as clear as they might seem. The victory of the Right is not so unambiguous.

    Central to the election campaign was the personal competition between the two contenders for the Prime Minister’s office: Livni and Netanyahu (or, as they call themselves, as if they were still at kindergarten, Tzipi and Bibi.)

    Contrary to all expectations and all polls, Livni beat Netanyahu. Several factors were involved in this. Among others: the masses of the Left were terrified by the possibility of Netanyahu winning, and flocked to Livni’s camp in order to “Stop Bibi!” Also, Livni – who was never identified with feminism – remembered at the last

  • GEORGE MITCHELL FOR ISRAEL AND PALESTINE? A NEW HOPE

    A surprise development in the million dollar question of who President Obama will appoint to overseeĀ  Israeli/Palestinian conflict intervention. I had lobbied hard in these pages earlier in the year for George Mitchell to be sent in. More recently there had been much speculation and controversy over the appointment of Dennis Ross. Serious media reports now indicate that former Senator Mitchell may be a strong possibility, and that this will meet with a much better reception in the world beyond the United States. I want to reiterate my arguments earlier for why Mitchell is crucial.

    Here is an excerpt from Change in U.S. Middle East Policy:

    The president must be a person who sees the need for constant engagement on the ground in Israel, so that both sides have a third party they can rely on to push for compliance to agreements. Both sides of the conflict need …

  • Friendship in a Mad World: The Art of the Possible in an Impossible Region

    This report in from Sami Moubayed in Damascus. Moubayed speaks with great authority for the official mood in Syria. This cancellation of negotiations by Syria has sent shock waves in an Israeli establishment that thought the talks with Syria were going well. My shock is at their shock:

    According to veteran British journalist and Syria expert Patrick Seale Israel’s ‘savage war’ brings home a number of truths:

    1) Syria’s fate is tied to the Palestinians. It cannot distance itself from the Palestine cause, whatever incentives Israel might in future be inclined to offer it.

    2) Only a comprehensive accord can bring peace to the Middle East – but of this there is at present no sign.

    3) Third, by its violence and its brutal indifference to human life, Israel has demonstrated yet again that it is not ready for peace. Its primal urge remains to expand and to dominate, as

  • VERY GOOD NEWS FROM PAKISTAN’S MILITARY

    The fact that Musharraf is resigning is excellent news. Yesterday’s news that the military was not going to interfere with his impeachment is far more important. The military was prepared to turn its back on Musharraf’s old ways, of engineering military coups, possibly assassinations, and throwing thousands of democracy proponents in jail.

    This is a major turning point in the history of modern Pakistan, and perhaps the beginning of an authentic democratic evolution. The foundation of democracy is the willingness of militaries to submit to civilian rule. The only reason that the United States achieved democracy as early as it did is because General George Washington went home. With all that power and popularity, amazingly, he just went home! It was a damn miracle in history. Only after constant prodding did he accept the Presidency. He never had imperial ambitions, though he easily could have succumbed to that common …

  • Is There Hope for the Zimbabwe Negotiations?

    Donna Bryson reports in the Boston Globe today that Mugabe has accepted an arrangement in which Tsvangirai, the leader of the opposition movement, will become Prime Minister with a variety of important responsibilities.

    Protesters in Johannesburg demonstrated yesterday against Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe, whose role has been a major sticking point in the contentious power-sharing talks. Protesters in Johannesburg demonstrated yesterday against Zimbabwe’s president, Robert Mugabe, whose role has been a major sticking point in the contentious power-sharing talks. (jerome delay/Associated Press)

    Maybe this is the beginning of the end of the Mugabe era’s destruction of Zimbabwe, and perhaps this is an important milestone for President Mbeki of South Africa who has been brokering this deal in person all week.

    Tsvangirai said compromise is necessary because Zimbabweans would reject a deal “if any party is greedy.”

    “We have agreed that Mr. Mugabe will be president whilst I become prime minister,” he told the SADC ministers. “We envisage that the prime minister must chair the Cabinet and be responsible for the formulation, execution and

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