Why Abbas looks unready to say "yes" to Kerry

Why Abbas looks unready to say “yes” to Kerry

March 14, 2014

PA President Mahmoud Abbas is due to visit Washington this weekend, following on from the visit last week by Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu. While reports say that Israel is prepared to say yes, with reservations to the “Framework agreement” on Israeli-Palestinian peace that US Secretary of State John Kerry is brokering, signs from Abbas have been less positive, with reports from Palestinian sources that Abbas “exploded with rage over the US Secretary’s proposals, and described them as ‘insanity'” at a meeting in late February. He even gave a speech on March 6 to young Fatah activists which emphatically ruled out compromise on both the right of return or any recognition of Israel as a Jewish homeland (video here, transcript here.)

Lyons' angry roar hides lack of substance

Lyons’ angry roar hides lack of substance

March 13, 2014 | Allon Lee

In a nearly 1,100 word response to Greg Sheridan’s dismissal of his “Four Corners” hatchet job on Israel, one might have expected John Lyons would have found space to answer the factual questions raised by his critics. Instead he preferred to attack Sheridan for relying on analysis by the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) that debunked many of Lyons’ claims (Australian, March 8).

In Gaza

In Gaza, some NGOs place water politics over public health

March 11, 2014 | Ahron Shapiro

Gaza’s water quality issues, due to years of overpumping from their coastal aquifers as well as other factors such as agricultural pollution, and sewage dumping, are well documented. However, efforts by some NGOs to implement what has been determined by experts to be the most effective solution – desalination – has been met by staunch opposition by some 30 Palestinian and pro-Palestinian organisations and NGOs. They made this clear in a position paper they issued on March 9 through the Palestinian water issue-focused NGO umbrella coalition EWASH. It’s enlightening to examine their reasons for opposing desalination, in their own words.

Letter: Free speech has some boundaries

March 8, 2014 | Colin Rubenstein

Your editorial (6/3) correctly states that, “A free and robust exchange of ideas is essential to democracy” and laudably chastises University of Sydney academic Jake Lynch for attempting to stifle any such exchange via his discriminatory boycotts of Israeli academics. However, its call for the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs council to also abandon our support for section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act was a complete non-sequitur.

Not all doom and gloom in Hebron

Not all doom and gloom in Hebron

March 7, 2014 | Michael Thurin

In a display that would leave anti-Israel proponents seething, Israeli media has captured an incident of Israeli-Palestinian harmony.

The Elder of Ziyon posted the following video on March 4, showing an IDF soldier giving two young Palestinian boys sandwiches in the West Bank town of Hebron. One of the boys spontaneously hugged the soldier and then cheekily replied “shukran” (“thank you” in Arabic) after receiving the gift.

AIPAC Policy Conference 2014 - Highlights and Controversies

AIPAC Policy Conference 2014 – Highlights and Controversies

March 7, 2014 | Sharyn Mittelman

The annual AIPAC (America-Israel Public Affairs Committee) Policy Conference wrapped up on March 4, following an eventful three days with important statements made by US and Israeli leaders.

The conference came at a critical time for US-Israel relations, as US Secretary of State John Kerry is soon expected to announce a ‘framework’ for continued Israeli and Palestinian negotiations, and after AIPAC’s decision to withdraw its support for a new Iran-sanctions Bill, following strong pressure from the US Administration. The conference also came on the same day that US President Barack Obama had some strong words for Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an interview with Bloomberg‘s Jeffrey Goldberg.

Israel seizes an Iranian arms shipment to Hamas/ The Kerry Plan

Israel seizes an Iranian arms shipment to Hamas/ The Kerry Plan

March 7, 2014

On Wednesday, the Israeli Navy stopped a merchant vessel, the Klos-C, in the Red Sea. It was carrying advanced Syrian-made long-range surface to surface missiles allegedly bound for Gaza and sent there by Iran (all probably unknown to the crew). The IDF has released a detailed video explaining the origins and previous movements of the missiles, and another showing their discovery by Israeli soldiers in shipping containers supposedly carrying cement.

Settlement housing starts

Settlement housing starts, by the numbers

March 6, 2014 | Ahron Shapiro

During an interview published on Sunday between Bloomberg‘s Jeffrey Goldberg and US President Barack Obama, the President made the allegation that “we have seen more aggressive [Israeli West Bank] settlement construction over the last couple years than we’ve seen in a very long time”.

Then on Tuesday, the Australian news portal Yahoo7 published an AFP story headlined “West Bank settlement starts double in 2013: Israel”. The wire story, apparently distributed without a byline, used newly released data from the Israeli Bureau of Statistics as the basis for a story that relied on comments from Obama, Palestinian official Jibril Rajub and Peace Now to promote a narrative that the construction is out of proportion to previous trends and imperils the possibility of creating a contiguous Palestinian state as part of a two-state peace outcome. 

Beyond the rhetoric, however, the real questions that must be asked are whether current construction in the settlements are actually at high levels, and does the character of construction taking place adversely affect the possibility of a viable Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement? In response to both questions, the evidence overwhelmingly says “no”.

The Ukrainian Jewish Community: Between a rock and a hard place

The Ukrainian Jewish Community: Between a rock and a hard place

March 5, 2014 | Or Avi Guy

The unfolding turmoil in the Ukraine is now dominating headlines around the world. Meanwhile, the large Jewish population in the country is caught between a rock and a hard place, and there is a growing concern that antisemitic incidents are also on the rise.

The Syrian Conundrum

The Syrian Conundrum

March 4, 2014

In the wake of the complete failure of the Geneva 2 talks in late February to make any progress toward an agreement that would end the Syrian civil war, journalists, columnists and academic experts have been exploring what foreign policy options now exist to try and change that ugly situation there. This Update incorporates some of their thoughts and advice. 

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