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Netanyahu and the Israeli settlements

Added on October 19, 2010
In the evening of October 18, 2010 Netanyahu came to the conclusion that the loyalty oath should also include Jewish immigrants. He told the justice minister to prepare a bill in that sense and told the public: “The state of Israel was founded as the sovereign state of the Jewish people and as a democratic state in which all its citizens - Jews and non-Jews alike - enjoy equal rights. Any person wishing to become an Israeli citizen must recognize these two key principals.” Does this make it better?

Added on October 12, 2010
Was this intended to be a face-saving move by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu yesterday, a settlement freeze in return for the Arab recognition of the state of Israel? The settlers were outraged. Abbas' spokesman Nabil Abu Rdainah coolly said a return to peace talks required a settlement freeze. Meanwhile, Lieberman leaked details of his confidential conversation with France's and Spain's Foreign Ministers Kouchner and Moratinos to the Israeli media: “Before coming here to tell us how to solve our conflicts, I would expect you could have at least solved all the problems within Europe”, Lieberman told them. How long will the agony of the Israeli government with Netanyahu, Lieberman and Barak continue?

Added on October 10, 2010
On October 10, the Israeli cabinet has approved the “loyalty oath” for non Jewish citizens seeking citizenship with 22 against 8 votes. Opposition leader Tzipi Livni (Kadima) called it “politics at worst.” She was asking for “equal rights for all [of Israel's] citizens”.

Update added on October 5, 6, 7 and 8, 2010
On October 8, 2010 the foreign ministers of the Arab League countries endorsed the decision by Palestinian President Abbas to stop peace talks unless Israel agreed to halt all settlement construction in the West Bank. At the same time, the foreign ministers gave the US an additional month to find a compromise.

In New York o
n October 7, 2010 the United States and Israel signed a contract for 20 F-35 stealth fighters, including an option for additional 75 planes, which are capable of reaching Iran undetected by radar.

Netanyahu and Lieberman agreed on October 6 to introduce a loyalty oath. Any non-Jew taking the Israeli citizenship would have to swear allegiance to Israel as a “Jewish and democratic state”. According to newspaper reports, the Labor ministers were not involved in the decision. They were outraged but at the same time expected it to be part of a deal that would allow an extension of the settlement freeze. The Knesset will discuss the oath and it could be approved by the government on October 10.


On September 28, 2010 in his
New York speech in front of the United Nations, Israel's Foreign Minister Lieberman said that he saw no chance for a final-status arrangement in the coming years. He said that it “could take decades”. Prime Minister Netanyahu said that Lieberman's speech did not reflect the government's official position. However, in the past, Netanyahu had hinted that any framework agreement with the Palestinians would be implemented over a 20-year period. The visions of the two Israeli politicians may not be that far apart.

Either we are very close to a major breakthrough in the negotiations or the discussed 60-day settlement freeze extension is only a way to help Obama over the mid-term elections on November 2. An unlimited freeze is needed since Israeli settlements in the territories that would become Palestinian in a two-state solution do not make sense anyway.

Against many expectations, Netanyahu and his forum of seven senior ministers (the prime minister included) have not decided on the matter during their reunion on October 5.

A lasting peace deal must include Hamas. Elections in the Palestinian territories, giving Abbas and Fatah a new legitimacy to speak on behalf of a majority of Palestinians and/or a referendum on the possible peace treaty would be needed. A 60-day freeze is not a credible time frame, unless a major breakthrough is imminent.

Netanyahu and the Israeli settlements

Article added on October 4, 2010 in Riga at 11:15 local time
Netanyahu's “peace efforts” have been doomed from the very beginning by the simple fact that he formed a cabinet including Lieberman and his Yisrael Beiteinu as well as the ultra-orthodox Shas and the nationalist-Zionist Jewish Home (HaBayit HaYehudi) parties.

Obama was right to try to push Netanyahu to extend the settlement freeze, which ended on September 26. But there are ways and means to do it. As pointed out in April (in German), public humiliation - such as having the Israeli Prime Minister wait for hours in Washington before receiving him - is not a good way. Maybe it fired back now with Netanyahu ignoring the White House's concerns. However, by far the best explanation is that Netanyahu simply could not afford - or rather: thought he could not afford - to prolong the settlement freeze. It could have destroyed his coalition.

At the same time, it is clear that there is no alternative to the Middle East negotiations. The settlement freeze is one of the conditions for them to continue. The Obama administration rightly continues to pressure Netanyahu to extend the freeze, whereas Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has postponed the decision to stop the negotiations because settlement building has restarted.

According to Haaretz, a possible cabinet decision to extend the moratorium on settlement construction hinges on the support of both Foreign Minister Lieberman and Construction Minister Atias. According to Shas officials, Atias would follow the lead of the party leader, Interior Minister Yishai, who is strongly opposed to extending the freeze.

Haaretz writes that both Atias and Yishai were absent from the last cabinet vote on the moratorium. That means that Shas does not take its voters seriously because its minister do not attend key votes! It furthermore means that, for the crucial vote, it was only Lieberman who needed to be convinced by Netanyahu to extend the settlement freeze.

Haaretz however mentions that other ministers are expected to vote against a new moratorium. In addition to the three Yisrael Beiteinu ministers, the newspaper also mentions Benny Begin, Moshe Ya'alon and Silvan Shalom. A bit confusing.



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By now, it should be clear to everyone that Israel's 22-day war against Hamas from December 2008 to January 2009, in which 1400 Palestinians and 13 Israeli soldiers died, was a disaster, on the humanitarian, diplomatic and military level. There is no military solution to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

At the same time, according to the Middle East Quartet (UN, USA, EU and Russia) as well as all serious analysts, a peace treaty has to rely on a two-state solution. The additional 2000 new flats and houses that will be built by settlers on the territory that should become Palestinian does not fit in the picture. Already now, some 300,000 Jewish settlers live in the West Bank territories, together with 2,4 million Palestinians.

Sending additional Jewish settlers to the West Bank does not make sense. Netanyahu calls it “moderate, restrained construction”. Sending people to areas that should be evacuated anyway? The Israeli prime minister does not realize that he puts President Abbas into an impossible position. The Palestinian leader would lose what is left of his credibility if he accepted continued settlement construction in the West Bank.

As for President Obama, the decision by
Netanyahu's cabinet to end the freeze is a slap in his face. The Israeli prime minister is confronting his country's most important ally, the United States of America. Obama even came up with all kinds of assurances to support Israeli's position, namely the country's security concerns. It was all not enough for Netanyahu.

The lust for power pushed Netanyahu into a coalition with Lieberman and others who are not ready for a two-state solution and, therefore, not ready for peace. Is the prime minister not ready himself? What does Labor do in such a government? Is everyone behind Barak?

After some 2000 years, some Israelis wanted to go back to their ancestor's land. They should understand that the Palestinians, many of whom had been forced out of their homes in the 20th century, would like to control their land too. The self-righteous Israeli (not only the ultra-orthodox and not only the right) should look in the mirror and then show some flexibility.

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Deutsch Politik Geschichte Kunst Film Musik Lebensart Reisen
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© Copyright www.cosmopolis.ch  Louis Gerber  All rights reserved.