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Israel stops US-led peace talks citing Palestinian unity (Updated)

(Photo: Reuters)

(Photo: Reuters)


Israel has announced it is pulling out of the U.S. brokered peace process following the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation deal announced yesterday. The New York Times reports:

The Israel government decided on Thursday to suspend American-sponsored peace talks with the Palestinians because of the reconciliation agreement the Palestinians announced on Wednesday between two rival factions, one of which refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist.

The Israelis said no talks would be held at least until the new unity government announced by the Palestinians takes shape, and that it would not in any circumstances negotiate with a government that was backed by Hamas, the militant Islamic faction it considers a terrorist group.

The move came after a six-hour meeting of top Israeli ministers.

Haaretz adds that the European Union viewed the reconciliation deal favorably, saying it was “an important step toward a two-state solution.”

Original Post:

“Why is U.S. backing Israel’s refusal to negotiate with Hamas? — reporters blitz State Dep’t”:

Netanyahu on twitter

Netanyahu’s response to Palestinian reunification, on twitter

It sure looks like the media’s blame-game has shifted– from blaming Palestinians for the breakdown of talks to blaming the Israelis.

The State Department briefing yesterday was dominated by the reports that Palestinian factions have reached a reconciliation deal. The deal was promptly denounced by the Israelis, who said it could not negotiate a peace deal with a government that includes Hamas; and the U.S. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki echoed this line like a slave clock: Israel can’t talk with a party that does not recognize its existence.

Any Palestinian government must unambiguously and explicitly commit to nonviolence, recognition of the state of Israel… This [deal] could seriously complicate our efforts – not just our efforts, but the efforts between the parties, more importantly, to extend the negotiations, as evidenced by the announcement by the Israelis to cancel the negotiating meeting this evening.

But few of the reporters at the briefing were buying State’s line. They repeatedly questioned why Palestinian unification should be a bar to negotiations. They cited the fact that the Israeli government includes extremists, that negotiations occur in other conflicts in which parties still endorse violence, and that any deal has to include all Palestinians, anyway, so this should be a good thing.

Here are excerpts of those questions. First the statement that not all Israeli government parties recognize Palestinians:

Certainly the Israeli Government has some members in it that do not recognize the Palestinians and so on, but the government itself deals with the Palestinians. Now, if you have exactly the same situation but the reverse on the Palestinian side – the Palestinian Government recognizes Israel, works with it, negotiates with it, but it has members that come from Hamas – why would this jeopardize the process?

MS. PSAKI: There have been longstanding principles, and again, I think I answered that question by conveying,  it’s hard to see how Israel can be expected to negotiate with a government that does not believe in its right to exist. Again, they’ve made these announcements before.

This questioner then cited US support for Israeli footdragging:

Doesn’t that go, then, to the question of whether or not the Palestinians feel that they can actually look to the U.S. and actually trust the U.S. enough to say we’re really, really frustrated by the way things are going with the Israelis; we’re wondering whether they’re negotiating in good faith?

A reporter cited the higher access that Israelis get to Kerry:

You said that the Secretary had spoken to Prime Minister Netanyahu. Has the Secretary spoken to President Abbas about this?

MS. PSAKI: He has not. Our team on the ground has been in touch with the Palestinians, though.

Another reporter pressed the point that enemies negotiate deals, and thus the absurdity of the Israeli conditions:

Why is it hard to expect Israel to negotiate with a group that does not accept its right to exist? It is not as if there have not been, in past history, negotiations between two sides where one does not agree with the other one’s right to exist or doesn’t recognize them as a state or a government; and yet it is through the process of negotiation that you ultimately, if it succeeds, get to a point where both sides recognize the other’s right to exist.

MS. PSAKI: Well, Arshad … It’s up to the Israelis to make that determination. As you have seen, I’m sure, they canceled the negotiating meeting for tonight.

Arshad pushes that historical point:

I don’t understand, just as a matter simply of, like, logic and theory why it is inconceivable to the U.S. Government that two parties who don’t believe in the other’s – or one party that doesn’t believe in the other one’s right to exist could still not be expected to negotiate in the hopes that they might eventually get to a point where they would recognize the other’s right to exist.

MS. PSAKI: Well, negotiating, as you’ve touched on, is certainly about talking about areas where you disagree.

QUESTION: Exactly.


Another reporter says that if anything this should open the way to a deal, because all Palestinian parties are now represented:

Jen, is there any sense in the State Department or the U.S. Government that this could provide an opening? I mean, it does mean that, for the first time, the Israelis would be negotiating with the entire Palestinian polity and not just the West Bank, and that this might provide at least a stepping stone towards a more workable relationship with Hamas and an agreement that’s actually representative of all Palestinians. Is there any sense that there may be a silver lining in this, that there may be something to work with?

Psaki says it’s about what the Israelis want:

MS. PSAKI: It’s not just about what the U.S. Government view is, which I’ve outlined. It’s about whether the Israelis will negotiate with the Palestinians, and they canceled the meeting for tonight.

The reporter presses the matter of US autonomy:

It just seems like from a policy point of view this actually may provide a real opening. I mean, before you’ve had the Secretary pouring a lot of energy and time into a negotiation that was arguably with basically half the Palestinians, not all of them, and now you have a chance to do something that’s actually broader

Another reporter brings in the Iran issue, and says this could be an opening:

Hamas is probably as isolated as it has been in some time probably in the past decade. It is not on good terms, as I understand it, with Iran, which had long been one of its supporters and underwriters. And it’s also found itself estranged from some parts of Egypt. There could be an opportunity to try to persuade them to give up their ways and to convert. Is there not a sense in this building that this could be an opportunity, perhaps the first such one since 2005?

Implicit in the Iran reference is the fact that the U.S. is now negotiating with Iran, so why shouldn’t Israel negotiate with its enemy?

A reporter brings up the fact that the PLO is negotiating, and the PLO recognizes Israel:

But the negotiating partner to Israel has all along been the PLO, and the PLO has amended the charter back in the presence of President Clinton, I believe, in Gaza and so on, to recognize Israel. It has done this before many times, has done this since. Isn’t that the entity that still negotiates, so that sort of renders the issue maybe a non-issue?

Here’s more of the central contradiction. Why do we get to choose who represents the Palestinian people as a whole? Or the Israelis:

I don’t really understand – I mean, to go back to Nicole and Roz’s question – I mean, they may be different parties, but they’re all one people. They’re the Palestinian people. And any peace deal has to, at some point, take into – take that into consideration. You can’t just have a peace deal between one party, Israel, who – which represents all Israelis, whether Orthodox Jews or Arab Israelis, and a section of the Palestinian people who happen to live in the West Bank. I mean, going back to what Nicole said, does this actually not in some way provide a better vector going forward in that if they meet the conditions that you’ve set out, you would have all of the Palestinian people negotiating with all of the Israeli people – or their representatives, rather?

MS. PSAKI: Well, that is an awfully optimistic view and I’m not going to speculate on whether the Palestinians will continue to pursue this.

QUESTION: But I don’t understand why the United States gets to choose which section of the Palestinian people they – Israel should negotiate with.

MS. PSAKI: Well, it’s not us choosing. I think it’s pretty clear that the Israelis, since they canceled the meeting this evening and they have made clear comments about this, that they – and they’re an important partner here.

Ah, so the Israelis are setting the terms. Some cynicism about the U.S.’s independence:

[C]learly, you’re backing the Israeli view on this issue.

And here’s more support for the fairness of the Palestinian stance. They’re prepared to talk:

But Hamas is not saying that it is pre-conditional for the Palestinians, for us to have some sort of reconciliation to drop negotiations, to drop the recognition of Israel. They don’t dictate terms on the PLO to conduct its negotiation. That’s what the Palestinians are saying.

Netanyahu’s twitter campaign began yesterday morning.

More from the PM:

A bristling tone.

Here is Ali Abunimah’s view of the reconciliation deal: “Stillborn.” These two views of Israel can’t be reconciled.

This “reconciliation” is not going to be any more successful than previous deals signed in Cairo in 2011, in Doha in 2012 and again in Cairo in 2012. The reasons are straightforward: the differences between Fatah and Hamas are fundamental and have not changed. Hamas, although it is currently observing a November 2012 ceasefire it negotiated with Israel, remains committed to military resistance. Abbas remains committed to active collaboration – politely termed “security coordination” – aimed at dismantling all Palestinian capacity for military resistance to Israel.

I’ve said that liberal Zionists are going to blame Netanyahu; Steve Clemons appears to do so here:

And here:

Philip Weiss and Adam Horowitz

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71 Responses

  1. traintosiberia on April 24, 2014, 10:19 am

    Netanhayu should start tweeting his embrace,conversations,and silences that signify tacit positive attitude to the philosophies of Benneett , Liberman,Yalom. Settlers , Rabbi and all his own periodic additions to the AntiArab,Anti Iran,Anti Palestinian coalitions that dominate the foundations ,fabrics,and policies of Israel both in secular and religious realms.

  2. amigo on April 24, 2014, 10:35 am

    A very interesting article from from 3 years ago.Nothing changes.

    Israel Should Applaud Fatah-Hamas Deal
    by Uri Avnery, May 02, 2011
    Print This | Share This

    In one word: Bravo! The news about the reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas is good for peace. If the final difficulties are ironed out and a full agreement is signed by the two leaders, it will be a huge step forward for the Palestinians—and for us.

    There is no sense in making peace with half a people. Making peace with the entire Palestinian people may be more difficult, but will be infinitely more fruitful.

    Therefore: Bravo!

  3. eljay on April 24, 2014, 11:00 am

    Fatah and Hamas need to hit back hard with press releases, tweets, interviews, et cetera, in which they stress their unity, their support for a two-state solution and their recognition of Israel.

    • Hostage on April 24, 2014, 2:48 pm

      Fatah and Hamas need to hit back hard with press releases, tweets, interviews, et cetera, in which they stress their unity, their support for a two-state solution and their recognition of Israel.

      They’ve already done that in the past, e.g.

      But the Hebrew press is telling a different story. Both Haaretz and Ynet report—in their Hebrew versions only—that Hamas has agreed, as a condition of joining the PLO, to discontinue “armed struggle” against Israel and apparently has agreed to accept Palestinian statehood within the 1967 borders, alongside Israel.
      The Ynet report quotes Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas directly, from an interview he gave to a Belgian television network a month ago, stating flatly that Hamas political secretary Khaled Meshaal had accepted both those conditions. The article appears in English translation on the website in a truncated version with the paragraph on Hamas peace concessions excised.

      — J.J. Goldberg,–states/

      The news yesterday reported that the deal calls for Hamas and Islamic Jihad to join the PLO. You know, that organization that has officially recognized the State of Israel for more than 20 years now.,7340,L-4512703,00.html

      A member of the Fatah Central Committee reported that the agreement is based on a two-state solution and recognizes the State of Israel.

      • eljay on April 24, 2014, 2:55 pm

        >> They’ve already done that in the past …

        And they need to do it again – clearly, firmly and unequivocally – in the present and in the future.

      • Hostage on April 24, 2014, 6:26 pm

        And they need to do it again – clearly, firmly and unequivocally – in the present and in the future.

        There are a half dozen stories about that very thing that were reported in the legit press yesterday and today. We just need to cite them or write about them.

  4. American on April 24, 2014, 11:03 am

    Back to the future. Nothing’s changed.
    We didnt ‘pacify’ Nazism for 40 years.
    Send the Marines.

    “Jesus Christ couldn’t please them when he was here on earth, so how can anyone expect that I would have any luck?” ….Harry Truman

  5. Justpassingby on April 24, 2014, 11:12 am

    Why? Obvious – palestinians are weak if they (hamas/fatah) are enemies.

  6. Les on April 24, 2014, 11:14 am

    The simple answer is that that the US backs the Israeli leadership no matter what, always has and always will.

    • on April 24, 2014, 11:17 am

      Les: Always will? I don’t think so. This power the Lobby has over the US elites will come to an end. It is a matter of when and how much damage.

    • Blownaway on April 24, 2014, 5:23 pm

      Yeah but it’s getting old. Sooner or later American pride will be injured enough to bite back. The tail has the temerity to ” demand” the dog to protest louder about the unity government. They feel the US wasn’t severe enough to the Palestinians. There are not many more cheeks to turn. Sooner or later these slaps will sting

  7. Citizen on April 24, 2014, 11:37 am

    Likud has espoused opposition to Palestinian statehood and support of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. So why doesn’t the honest broker US defend Palestinian right to choose whether or not to choose to continue the negotiations, especially since the official stance of the honest broker use to be officially against settlements, and even currently describes said settlements are “not helpful” to arrive at peace, and indeed, are, quite the contrary, “an obstacle to peace”?
    Take note of Kerry’s “poof” comment, when questioned about why the I-P talks are getting nowhere.

    It’s amazing to me there’s never a dip in the endless supply of goy Americans willing to get up in front of the Washington press corp and endlessly speak Alice-in Wonderland nonsense to those in said press courageous enough to even ask pertinent questions regarding the I-P conflict, peace process, and US illogical and de facto enablement of both.

    Why, at the WH, does one explanation work to justify Likud, but not HAMAS?

    Why has nothing changed since Truman gave us the answer?

    I hope the average American’s ever-growing enlightenment about our government on domestic issues (as illustrated by the increasingly negative polls on any POTUS or Congress) glues to US foreign policy in the Middle East.

    • ritzl on April 24, 2014, 12:30 pm

      Our “relationship” with Israel and what it makes our pols do exposes/spotlights the generic flaws in DC thinking, across all issues.

      I used to focus on this glaring elite “blanking out” as something more narrowly, say the NYT mgmt should be concerned with (i.e. the obvious, provable slant on Israel negatively casts everything that paper writes about anything else), but it’s a much broader condition and contrast.

      To your larger point, Citizen, I think the high hypocritical contrast that we are seeing on P/I will hasten general popular awareness of the way we’re being politically herded around on this issue, and as that reflects on all others.

  8. Maximus Decimus Meridius on April 24, 2014, 11:42 am

    And here we are again… back to the ol’ ‘must recognise Israel’s right to exist’ mantra. Which has already been followed by ‘must recognise Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state’ mantra. Which in turn will probably be superseded by a demand to recognise hummus as an Israeli food, and then the requirement to recognise Bar Rafaeli as the most beautiful woman in existence. And then…. well, you get my drift.

    Genuine question: Has ANY senior Israeli politician EVER recognised Palestine’s right to exist in 1967 borders (no ‘land swaps’), with East Jerusalem as its capital, with full control over its airspace, army, borders and foreign policy?

    Anyone? Ever?

    • JeffB on April 25, 2014, 9:57 am


      Genuine question: Has ANY senior Israeli politician EVER recognised Palestine’s right to exist in 1967 borders (no ‘land swaps’), with East Jerusalem as its capital, with full control over its airspace, army, borders and foreign policy?

      Sort of. Right after the ’67 war Israel made an offer to trade the territory acquired for peace treaties. Golan back to Syria, Sinai back to Egypt and West Bank back to Jordan. At that time the PLO was still sponsored by Arab governments and wasn’t aiming for independence. The Arab response was to take the Soviet position that the Arab states should “liquidate the consequences of the war without concessions”. So it was rejected.

      Israelis were kinda shocked at the reaction and having had their peace offer rebuffed the right in Israel gained strength. Since then, no there has never been an offer of 100% return.

      • Hostage on April 26, 2014, 12:15 am

        Sort of. Right after the ’67 war Israel made an offer to trade the territory acquired for peace treaties.

        It didn’t apply to Jerusalem or the Haram al-Sharif and the Israeli government was already colonizing the occupied territories a month before the Khartoum conference, but JeffB never tires of repeating this myth about the insincere offer.

        He also tries to pretend that no American Jews or ZOA members served as an Israeli fifth column in illegally diverting US government weapons-grade uranium and other materials to Israel under Benjamin Blumberg and Rafi Eitan’s espionage programs. But the members of the conspiracy included Jewish directors of the American holding company, Ivan J. Novick, David Lowenthal, Zalman Shapiro, and Elliott W. Finkel. Eitan was one of Pollard’s handlers too.

      • talknic on April 26, 2014, 12:52 am

        No results found for “liquidate the consequences of the war without concessions”“liquidate+the+consequences+of+the+war+without+concessions” HELP!

        “Israel made an offer to trade the territory acquired for peace treaties. Golan back to Syria, Sinai back to Egypt and West Bank back to Jordan”

        An offer to “trade”? What ain’t Israel’s to trade?

        Read the Egypt Israel Peace Treaty = Withdraw BEFORE peaceful relations are assumed

        IOW get out of other folk’s territory for peace.

        Otherwise the occupied have a right to capture, try, execute, shoot, bomb, stab, strangle, slit the throat of, drown, hang, electrocute, throw pebbles/stones/hand grenades at, any armed alien stupid enough to be in occupied territory.

        Unfortunately in the process, unarmed civilians of the Occupying Power might just become collateral thanks to their stupid Government for encouraging them to break a convention adopted to protect them from the possible violent consequences of occupying another people.

        I ask. What kind of a Government PURPOSEFULLY endangers their citizens AND illegally sells them land that is quite simply not within the territory of the state?

  9. ritzl on April 24, 2014, 11:44 am

    In its “quest” for peace, Israel has NEVER tried the obvious strategy – talk to Hamas. Make them a stakeholder in the outcome such that they (Hamas) moderate their policies sufficiently to warrant inclusion. It looks like that practice continues, now for all to see.

    Chicken-and-egg the process forward already, if peace is the objective. The opportunity to do so (as the reporters picked right up on) is now showcased with bright blinking neon arrows of many colors. Tokyo style.

    Conclusion: Peace is not the objective.


    • Patrick on April 24, 2014, 12:47 pm

      Actually, hasn’t Israel negotiated ceasefire agreements with Hamas in the past? In fact, I recall reading the comments of some Israeli minister to the effect that in agreements reached with Hamas, the Israelis are confident that Hamas will hold up their end. Apparently, when it suits Israel, they’ve been willing to talk.

      • ritzl on April 24, 2014, 1:04 pm

        @Patrick- Yeah, they have talked. But the talk has always (in my read) been subterfuge to mask an upcoming killing spree, e.g. Cast Lead.

        They have a truce now, but Israel continues to kill Gazans as first instance (incitement to prove a PR point via the almost always subsequent rockets?).

        Israel’s talk has never been in good faith toward moderation and ultimately resolution.

        And yes, Hamas does mostly/generally hold up its end.

        As and aside, and wrt “mostly,” I tend to reconcile the sporadic/reactionary rocket attacks that do occur as “crime.” Maybe not. Maybe it’s all orchestrated through third parties/IJ, but it’s hard for me to hold the government of ~2M intentionally-made-desperate-through-collective-punishment people responsible at a zero tolerance level. I mean there are still murders/bad acts in every US city.

    • Stephen Shenfield on April 24, 2014, 7:39 pm

      The Israeli government can see that they now face a real threat of peace. It is natural that they should try to avert the threat.

      • American on April 24, 2014, 9:19 pm

        Stephen Shenfield says:

        April 24, 2014 at 7:39 pm

        The Israeli government can see that they now face a real threat of peace. It is natural that they should try to avert the threat>>>>>>

        yep …..the threat of peace and losing an ever present enemy and justification for stealing their land is the true threat to Israel.

  10. pabelmont on April 24, 2014, 12:00 pm

    When will Matt Lee (e.g.) ask DoS whether USA requires Israel to renounce the use and threat of armed violence in its relations with Palestinians?

    • ritzl on April 24, 2014, 12:16 pm

      Heh, and/or recognize Palestine’s right to exist in secure borders, or whatever the catch phrase du jour is.

  11. LeaNder on April 24, 2014, 12:16 pm

    Great, we hear more questions than just from Matt Lee. No video?

    Ahhh? I see not up yet.

  12. brenda on April 24, 2014, 12:30 pm

    “The April 23 agreement in Gaza appears, on paper, to be a total Hamas capitulation to the PLO and Abbas”: this is from Palestinian journalist Daoud Kuttab. If all goes well, hopefully we can expect an announcement that will satisfy the US State Department — that Hamas has rejected violence and recognizes the state of Israel, conforming with long time Palestinian Authority policy.

    Kuttab’s analysis makes interesting reading; here are a few excerpts:

    “With the reconciliation agreement signed, Palestinians need to answer the important question: What next? Israel’s prime minister already returned to his usual rhetoric, repeating an earlier statement that Abbas has to choose between peace with Hamas and peace with Israel.

    “Responding to a question about a post-talks strategy, (Fatah leader) Zannoun said the alternative is “steadfastness,” as well as the Arabization and internationalization of the conflict.

    “We will approach the international community and will activate our membership in 65 international organizations and treaties. We will also go back to the Arab initiative and prove on all fronts that we have given everything that needs to be given and that the Israeli side is not interested in what is offered by Americans, Europeans and the Arab League,” he said.

    ” Zannoun was also supportive of nonviolent activities against Israel. “I support BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] and all nonviolent actions against Israel. We support the peaceful popular struggle against Israelis.” It is not clear though how much a bump that BDS and other nonviolent activists will get out of the expected end of direct peace talks.

    “Palestinians and Israelis are well-aware of their needs of each other and will most likely be back at the negotiating table sooner or later, possibly under different terms of reference.

    “For the time being, Abbas can register a big win in his internal fight with Hamas and a draw in the Palestinian struggle for freedom with Israelis.

    “Unless Secretary of State John Kerry and President Barack Obama can pull a last-minute rabbit out of their magic hat, the current round of talks will not be renewed.”

    Read more:

    • ritzl on April 24, 2014, 1:19 pm

      Oh to be the proverbial fly on that wall…

      • Kathleen on April 24, 2014, 2:55 pm

        Yes indeed.

        And these days with the way intelligence devices are so incredibly sophisticated, that fly on the wall could be a listening device.

        So can we expect a new Israeli military incursion into West Bank? More announcements of increased illegal settlement building etc? Sure sounds like it.

    • puppies on April 24, 2014, 1:45 pm

      “For the time being, Abbas can register a big win in his internal fight with Hamas and a draw in the Palestinian struggle for freedom with Israelis.”
      The first part, sure. The second part… what if any are Abbas’ connections to any Palestinian struggle “for freedom with Israelis”? Apart from the clueless preposition, that is.

    • American on April 24, 2014, 6:56 pm

      ”….Unless Secretary of State John Kerry and President Barack Obama can pull a last-minute rabbit out of their magic hat””

      Please dont genocide any more innocent bunnies for Israel …..every rabbit the US has pulled out of its hat has been DOA–dead on arrival.

  13. lysias on April 24, 2014, 12:41 pm

    Obama continues to refuse to call the Armenian massacres “genocide” (at the same time that he claims he is being honest and urges others to be honest): Statement by the President on Armenian Remembrance Day (April 24, 2014):

    Today we commemorate the Meds Yeghern and honor those who perished in one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century. We recall the horror of what happened ninety-nine years ago, when 1.5 million Armenians were massacred or marched to their deaths in the final days of the Ottoman Empire, and we grieve for the lives lost and the suffering endured by those men, women, and children. We are joined in solemn commemoration by millions in the United States and across the world. In so doing, we remind ourselves of our shared commitment to ensure that such dark chapters of human history are never again repeated.

    I have consistently stated my own view of what occurred in 1915, and my view has not changed. A full, frank, and just acknowledgement of the facts is in all of our interests.

    The U.S. government is incapable of being anything other than hypocritical.

    • W.Jones on April 24, 2014, 2:17 pm

      You do know it is because of the Turkish-Israeli-U.S. alliance? Turkey uses one and advocates directly with the third, to avoid recognition.

      • lysias on April 24, 2014, 3:07 pm

        In 2008, Obama was quite clear that the Armenian massacres were genocide, and that he would call them that as President. Obama breaks promise (again) to commemorate Armenian ‘genocide’:

        During the 2008 campaign, Barack Obama could not have been clearer about what he thought of the mass killings of Armenians at the hands of Ottoman Turks in 1915.

        “My firmly held conviction (is) that the Armenian Genocide is not an allegation, a personal opinion, or a point of view, but rather a widely documented fact supported by an overwhelming body of historical evidence,” he said in a statement. “The facts are undeniable,” Obama wrote. “As President I will recognize the Armenian Genocide.”

        Yet now he says:

        I have consistently stated my own view of what occurred in 1915, and my view has not changed. A full, frank, and just acknowledgement of the facts is in all of our interests.

        Yeah, sure, and Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia.

      • Stephen Shenfield on April 24, 2014, 7:32 pm

        Liar! Provocateur! Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia!

    • Maximus Decimus Meridius on April 24, 2014, 3:25 pm

      ”when 1.5 million Armenians were massacred or marched to their deaths in the final days of the Ottoman Empire,”

      In situations like this, the use of the passive (”were massacred”) is a dead giveaway. You can be sure that the aim is to avoid any and all fingerpointing, as though these people ”were massacred” by nameless, shadowy figures. Who does Obama actually think massacred those Armenians? He knows the answer, of course, but he’s too cowardly to come out and say it.

      • lysias on April 24, 2014, 3:43 pm

        The 1.5 million Armenians who were killed by the Turks and their accomplices were one half of all the Armenians in the world. The 6 million Jews killed by the Nazis were one third of all the Jews in the world. How can what was done to the Armenians not have been genocide?

      • W.Jones on April 24, 2014, 10:40 pm

        Follow up question: Why don’t Armenians have a massive siege mentality complex combined with nationalism due to the tragedy and to achieving independence in the 1990’s with only scattered examples of sovereignty over numerous preceding centuries?
        Feel free to continue after comments close here:

      • wondering jew on April 24, 2014, 10:55 pm

        w. jones- Fair enough question. But who are you to ask it? Armenian? What was the worst that happen to your people or is there a people that you identify with? If not, then what is the worst that has happened to the human species in the last 100 years? He who lives in a glass house and throws stones can comment about other people who live in glass houses and throw stones, but he who lives in a brick house, let him not cast the first stone.

      • RoHa on April 25, 2014, 3:32 am

        Yonah, are you claiming that if I, or W. Jones, or Walid, cannot work ourselves up into paroxysms of second-hand grief over something that happened, before we were born, to our ancestors or a group we “identify” with, we are in some way barred from commenting on those who so indulge?

        If so, I would love to see you spell out why that is so.

        In the meantime, in between time, oh woe, oh woe! During WW2, my parents had their house destroyed by bombs – twice – just because they lived in Manchester.

        Is that sufficient trauma for me to qualify?

      • lysias on April 25, 2014, 3:52 pm

        I cannot answer for W. Jones, who, to judge by his name, is Welsh, but I am Irish (Irish-American, actually). The English/British have acted genocidally towards my people a number of times (Cromwell, Potato Famine, other times). I bear no ill will towards the English of today. The guilty parties were members of the ruling class generations ago. Much better to blame the systems, like the laissez-faire that accounted for the Potato Famine, and the settler colonialism that accounts for Cromwell’s crimes. I do, however, have sympathy towards the victims of such crimes, the Armenians of the early 20th century, the Jews of the mid-20th century, and the Palestinians of today.

      • W.Jones on April 25, 2014, 4:41 pm

        Mine were Irish refugees from the Potato famine when 1 million of 8 million Irish died. But it shouldn’t matter: Armenians are a better analogy and people should ask about them on their behalf.

        For that matter, Palestinians have similarities. They were under Turkish rule for centuries, and before that under the Egyptian Caliphate, and more recently half of them were expelled from their homes, and the new occupants are working to impose their expulsion as a permanent event.

  14. ritzl on April 24, 2014, 1:31 pm

    RE: Update… The EU view that reconciliaton is “an important step toward a two-state solution” is exactly right. It’s also exactly why Israel blew it off.

    When does discussion of “two states” in the context of “opportunity” come to a definitive end? I realize there’s a huge amount of inertia, but really, what does it take?

    I waffle terms myself, but then I’m not paid to make sensible or rational decisions on this and how it affects all other USG FP business.

    Enough already.

  15. Shmuel on April 24, 2014, 2:37 pm

    A reminder that even if one takes the Israeli peace charade at face value, all Israeli “offers” since June 2006 (including Olmert’s “napkin” gambit) have been contingent on regime change in Gaza. In other words, Abbas could have signed anything (assuming the Israelis had let him — see e.g. the Palestine Papers) and it would still not have amounted to a deal. To paraphrase, the talks that Netanyahu has suspended have in fact been nothing more than vanity, wrapped in pointlessness, inside futility.

    • Walid on April 24, 2014, 3:02 pm

      Were’re 5 days away from finding out what the 9-month charade has really been about and if there will be fire and brimstone manifestation before then. In signing whatever he is going to be signing, he’d be doing it in the name of all Palestinians now that Hamas has gotten on his bus.

  16. Kathleen on April 24, 2014, 2:51 pm

    One thing for sure that is in the positive the White House Press Corp sure asking more serious questions and trying to put the responsibility for the breakdowns where they belong. This is a sea change. For decades the only one in there asking a few tough questions was Helen Thomas then AP’s Matt Lee. Now the news herd are following their leads. Been a long time coming.

  17. talknic on April 24, 2014, 2:54 pm

    UNSC res 1860 Resolution 1860 (2009)

    Adopted by the Security Council at its 6063rd meeting, on 8 January 2009

    The Security Council,

    Recalling all of its relevant resolutions, including resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 1397 (2002), 1515 (2003) and 1850 (2008),

    Stressing that the Gaza Strip constitutes an integral part of the territory occupied in 1967 and will be a part of the Palestinian state,

  18. wondering jew on April 24, 2014, 6:01 pm

    The Netanyahu government is not ready to negotiate in good faith anything close to something acceptable by any Palestinian representative from Fatah let alone Hamas and thus the assertion that it is Hamas’s stridency/rejectionism which now infects Fatah by reconciliation that is the chief obstacle rings hollow (understatement).

    Abunimah has more credibility than anyone else to assert the difficulty of this reconciliation taking flight when all the others have crashed and burned within minutes. Hamas is in a hard place because the coup d’etat in Egypt has increased the pressure on the Gaza Strip (the suffering of the people in the Gaza Strip) for which Hamas is responsible (not cause and effect responsible, but legally, politically the first address the people can recognize- responsible.)

    if someone like olmert were in office with his state of mind before his departure from office, then one could concede a couple points and state the need for excluding Hamas from the government. Since I don’t believe an agreement is possible given the current Israeli governing coalition, the idea of an Olmert-Abbas peace agreement is not really present enough to oppose Hamas participation which would kibosh Olmert-Abbas. There is no Olmert-Abbas, and so then Hamas is just an excuse for Netanyahu’s rhetoric.

  19. weareone on April 24, 2014, 6:31 pm

    Interesting article–“Moral crisis at heart of Obama’s ‘peace'”

  20. irishmoses on April 24, 2014, 7:34 pm

    The reconciliation of Hamas and Fatah into a united Palestinian entity encompassing Gaza is a critical defeat for Netanyahu and Likud. I think it came as total surprise to them, hence the shock and outrage.

    The problem for the Greater Israel crowd has always been what to do with all those pesky Arabs. Netanyahu had hoped that the Gaza-West Bank separation would become permanent and Gaza could be viewed as a separate entity or even country that houses over 1.7 million unwanted Palestinian Arabs. This would allow annexation of all or most of the prized West Bank without creating the huge demographic problem (too many pesky Arabs) for Greater Israel. A Greater Israel without Gaza would have about 3.5 million Palestinians or about 38 percent. Adding Gaza kicks the percentage up to 47 percent (5.2 million). Adding the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan (another 3.5 million) raises the percentage of Palestinians to about 60 percent, or a total of 8.7 million.

    Greater Israel cannot have many pesky Arabs. Eliminating Gaza and the refugee populations of Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan is critical to the success of the Greater Israel project.

    A unified front encompassing Fatah and Hamas is a brilliant accomplishment, particularly if there are elections and a new unified government. It will make the Palestinian claim for a state of their own far more credible and powerful, particularly if they insist that the 3.5 million Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan be included in any solution.

    In my view, this is potentially huge.

    • Hostage on April 24, 2014, 11:00 pm

      The reconciliation of Hamas and Fatah into a united Palestinian entity encompassing Gaza is a critical defeat for Netanyahu and Likud.

      Well Netanyahu can’t pretend he has complied with the resolution 242 criteria regarding withdrawal and termination of all belligerent claims, while he is still committing two of the constituent acts of the crime of aggression, the continued occupation of the settlement blocks and a blockade of Gaza. Turkey won’t even normalize relations until the blockade is ended, I’m guessing the Gazans would vote against anything less in the national referendum that Abbas has promised.

      • irishmoses on April 25, 2014, 11:18 am

        My point wasn’t addressing the legal issues but more the desires and intentions of the Likud/Greater Israel crowd. A separate “state” of Gaza not only would isolate over 1.7 million Palestinian Arabs from Israel (while remaining under Israeli external control, including slant drilling into the offshore Gazan oil resources), it would also provide a convenient dumping point for “transfering”Palestinian undesirables out of the West Bank.

        Palestinian unity will preclude these possibilities hence Netanyahu’s shock and anger at an unexpected brilliant move by Abbas and Khaled Meshaal. Palestinian unity will open a lot of doors and will dramatically increase the political pressure on Israel.

        I also think the plight of the external Palestinian refugees needs to be brought front and center into the negotiations and heavily stressed in the international debate. The Israeli position that they can’t allow more than a token number to return to Israel proper is absurd. Even if 1 million were allowed to return, that would only raise the Arab population in Israel to 2.5 million or 29 percent from the current 20 percent, hardly a demographic threat to Israel.

        The 2-3 million external Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan aren’t chopped liver and can’t be ignored in the resolution of the I-P conflict. Israel is responsible for either taking them back or funding their relocation to other countries. If the Jewish establishment (I’m talking organizations, not cabals) wanted to put their minds and immense resources to the task (both political and economic), these refugees could be finally be found homes and decent lives in the new Palestinian state or in other countries. They just need to decide that’s what needs to be done. The international community needs to stress Israel’s responsibility for the ongoing plight of these refugees and insist Israel solve the problem it created.

  21. James Canning on April 24, 2014, 7:54 pm

    The EU quite sensibly welcomes a unity deal between Hamas and Fatah. The US, very predictably, attacks such a deal. Typical idiocy on the part of the US.

  22. Krusty on April 24, 2014, 8:55 pm

    Provided that this unity deal includes Hamas renouncing violence and extinguishing their paramilitary arm, abiding by past PLO/PA agreements, and recognizing the right of Israel to exist, this is a *major* step forward and one that the Netanyahu government should welcome and reciprocate by re-opening talks, freezing settlements, and discussing borders.

    Likud is as much a capitalist enterprise as it is anything else, and normalization of relations would be a boon for the Israelis as they could finally take advantage of potential economic partnerships with neighboring states assuming ensuing diplomatic regularization. Moreover, a two state peace would mean that Israel (which is growing more conservative) would remain fertile ground for Likud and its coalition partners.

    (Granted, as I’ve stated before in other posts, I’m not exactly enthralled with Likud, and would much rather a Labour-led Israeli government and the sort of Coalition that would enable that.)

    • Hostage on April 24, 2014, 11:11 pm

      Provided that this unity deal includes Hamas renouncing violence and extinguishing their paramilitary arm

      Why? So long as they’ve renounced aggression, they can be considered legitimate branches of the state’s constabulary and armed forces. Israel has to treat them as such too, now that Palestine is a high contracting party to the Geneva and Hague Conventions. There is nothing in international law that permits Israel to blockade neighboring states to prevent them from obtaining conventional weapons or maintaining conventional forces.

    • Woody Tanaka on April 25, 2014, 12:25 pm

      “Provided that this unity deal includes Hamas renouncing violence and extinguishing their paramilitary arm, abiding by past PLO/PA agreements, and recognizing the right of Israel to exist, this is a *major* step forward and one that the Netanyahu government should welcome and reciprocate by re-opening talks, freezing settlements, and discussing borders.”

      Well, if you’re going to require Hamas to renounce violence, extinguish their paramilitary arm, abide by past PLO/PA agreements, and recognize the right of Israel to exist, then surely re-opening talks, freezing settlements, and discussing borders falls far short of what the Israelis must be prepared to do. That must include, at a minimum, renouncing violence, extinguishing the IDF as an occupying force, abiding by such things as the UN Resolutions calling for the return of refugees and the return of all land over the green line to the Palestinans and recognizing Palestine’s unfettered right to exist in full soverignty within its side of the green line.

      What’s good for the goose…

  23. American on April 24, 2014, 9:54 pm

    ”I’ve said that liberal Zionists are going to blame Netanyahu; Steve Clemons appears to do so here:’>>>>>

    Steve isnt a liberal zionist, he’s a ‘social’ zionist. Meaning he observes the ‘existence’ of Israel to get along in the DC circles and stay a ‘insider’…lol
    But he makes no bones about US interst vr Isr interest.
    I used to frequent his blog, TWN, regularly and was looking back thru the articles and comments there 3 and 4 years ago.
    I was there during the time he went after Bolton, went after Wolfowritz, went after Schumer.
    He went after I-Firstdom so hard Rubin at WP and the zios launched a full blown attack on him.
    He was a bit more circumspect after that attack but I guarentee his views on USA-Isr have not changed.
    The thing is Clemons, despite being the political insider that he is, really does represent how most Americans would see or feel about USA-Isr-I/P if they all knew what he and we know.
    Here’s a perfect example from back in 2010:

    Israel and Health Care?

    ”During one of my times at bat during the interesting show, I suggested that Israel’s continued settlement expansion was directly helping Iran and enhancing its pretensions and goals in the region. The Washington Institute’s David Schenker responded that he really didn’t see a linkage between the settlements and Iran’s position.”

    ” But that’s not the issue that most caught my attention in this exchange.
    Schenker, who offered some interesting insights on the show, went on to assert that while he saw no linkage between Israel’s settlement expansion and a boost to Iran’s regional posture, he suggested there was a linkage between US-Israel relations and getting Obama’s health care reform passed.

    What?? Play that again.

    So, David Schenker sees no linkage between what a huge number of observers see as Israel wrecking chances for a credible two state track — and the use of this grievance by Iran in its support of transnational Arab networks in the region, but nonetheless sees linkage between President Obama’s fragile health care reform position and the state of US-Israel relations?!

    ”Schenker’s view was that Obama couldn’t afford to have a testy, strained relationship with Israel because it would cost him support in Congress for his health care legislation.

    If he is right, then the relationship with Israel has gone too far indeed.

    Any US Congressperson or Senator who actually explicitly withdrew or withheld support for health care reform because of loyalty first to Israel and its needs would invite serious questions about his or her patriotism and oath to the US Constitution and American people.”

    But my most favorite was when he wrote a article asking Chuck Schumer if he worked for Israel or the US. lol…that was a doozy.
    The Zio’s very, very nasty attack on him in the WP I think did make him tone it down some but they wernt successful in getting him kicked out of the insiders circle or the social network of Georgetown. Clemons is a very social animal, enjoys that socializing circut and I bet that it was that social network that held the zio attack dogs at bay and prevented them from running him out of the political circle.

    • ritzl on April 25, 2014, 6:12 pm

      Thanks American. That was an eye-opener when it happened. Now its just exhibit #96 of how Zionism corrupts everything it touches.

      Still, it’s important and I wish we had names to go along with the threats.

  24. wondering jew on April 24, 2014, 11:14 pm

    Those who speak about a two state solution should refer to the Geneva Accord of 2003 or the Clinton Parameters of December 2000. If you have some other concept in mind, go right ahead, but please specify, for anything that is not quite near to those two models is really referring to something other than the international concept (as in Brzezinski, Jimmy Carter, and EU).

    The belief that Hamas is near to these concepts of peace seems to be stretching it. So those who assert the reconciliation of Hamas and Fatah as somehow conducive to peace seems to be asserting something other than the two stated models and should therefore either desist or specify the model they have in mind.

    As we move away in time from 2000 and 2003, it is no surprise that new models will be endorsed or evolve, but to avoid confusion, one should specify.

  25. kalithea on April 25, 2014, 12:07 am

    If Hamas accepted Israel’s existance along the 67 borders there would be wailing heard from Tel Aviv to the WB settlements. But wait…,7340,L-3249568,00.html

    Zionists already know it’s within the realm of possibility, but then that’s the real threat isn’t it? Hence the wailing, should Hamas dare to firmly utter: we accept Israel along the 67 borders. Cause everyone knows there’s no price in Palestinian land robbed that Israel is willing to return for peace. And I agree with Truman’s Jesus quote because these Zionists are so selfish even Jesus couldn’t save them.

    And can we please dismiss Ali Abunimah’s cynicism as just that: cynicism! And now that the long-expired illegitimate Abbas government has reconciled with Hamas, can everyone please stop pretending there is hope for anything by continuing to govern a non-state and instead focus on dragging Zionists to the ICC with one unified effort and voice!

  26. Hostage on April 25, 2014, 5:00 am

    Statehood is simply a legal status conferred on another entity by other existing states. States are juridically equal, enjoy the same rights, and have equal capacity in their exercise. The recognition of a state merely signifies that the state which recognizes it accepts the personality of the other with all the rights and duties determined by international law. See for example the Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States

    The only reason Palestinians have the right to drag Israel to the ICC, is because they have been recognized as a state.

    So make that: “can everyone please stop pretending there is hope for anything by continuing to govern a non-state an occupied Palestinian state and instead focus on dragging Zionists to the ICC with one unified effort and voice!” and you’ve got a deal. Palestinians still need to accept the PLO Executive as the provisional government of their state pending independence, even of it’s just a Bantustan victim state. Only the government of a state can voluntarily accept ICC jurisdiction and demand prosecution of the Israeli officials who have committed crimes on its territory and citizens.

  27. brenda on April 25, 2014, 7:53 am

    Fatah insisting unity government recognize Israel
    PA ‘won’t complete the reconciliation process’ unless Hamas agrees to international conditions, senior (Palestinian) official says

    Read more: Fatah insisting unity government recognize Israel | The Times of Israel
    Follow us: @timesofisrael on Twitter | timesofisrael on Facebook

    Abbas and Fatah, the official said, “won’t agree to complete the reconciliation process” unless Hamas agrees to a new government that “accepts the two-state solution — Israel and Palestine — along the 1967 lines.” The new government must also “adhere to the conditions of the Middle East Quartet: recognize Israel, ratify all signed agreements and renounce violence,” he said.

    The official said that a phone conversation on Thursday between Abbas and US Secretary of State John Kerry was “positive” and that Washington would “continue to promote” the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.
    The official’s comments echoed remarks attributed to Abbas on Thursday evening after a meeting with the United Nations’ peace envoy, Robert Serry, in Ramallah.

    According to a statement from Serry’s office, Abbas emphasized during the meeting that a Palestinian unity government would have to be founded on “recognition of Israel, nonviolence, and adherence to previous agreements,” along with “continued commitment to peace negotiations and to nonviolent popular protests.”

    Read more: Fatah insisting unity government recognize Israel | The Times of Israel
    Follow us: @timesofisrael on Twitter | timesofisrael on Facebook

    • brenda on April 25, 2014, 7:54 am

      I think this train has left the station

    • Citizen on April 25, 2014, 12:27 pm

      Since Abbas insists on HAMAS agreeing on such basic items, where is Netanyahu’ similar insistence to drop the formal Likud’s stance favoring continued settlements and a Greater Israel? Why does the US continue only asking one side for concessions at the heart of the matter?

  28. amigo on April 25, 2014, 8:20 am

    “U.S. President Barack Obama said Friday that a pause in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians may be needed so both sides can consider the alternative to negotiating.”Haaretz

    But, but but, have YOU not all been claiming there is no alternative to negotiation.

    This charade gets more and more obscene.Take Prof Khalidi,s advice, Palestine and book flights to the ICC.

  29. brenda on April 25, 2014, 11:32 am

    Obama applies the brake:

    “U.S. President Barack Obama said on Friday a “pause” might be needed in U.S.-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, suggesting leaders on both sides lacked the will to make the necessary compromises.”

    good move. Israeli politicians have been making noises about calling new elections related to crisis in peace talks and new government in Palestine needs to get its act together over next 6 months — elections planned for Palestine also.

    I think our team has done ok, everything considered. An unpromising line-up that did better than expected and still moving steadily to the goal. Gave the Izzies more grief than what they expected.

    • irishmoses on April 25, 2014, 5:14 pm

      I find the term “Izzies” for Israelis just as offensive as “Pals” for Palestinians. Moreover, it labels or tars all Israelis with the same brush when in fact most or the greater share of the problem stems from Likudnik Israelis and the Greater Israel crowd.

      On everything else, I agree with you Brenda.

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