Reform movement leader blasts money to outlying communities.
The Israeli cabinet’s vote Sunday to pour money into 91 outlying West Bank settlements has touched off a fierce debate here about the propriety of funneling resources into settlements that may be abandoned in a peace treaty.
Some 15 years ago, while there were still high hopes for the Oslo peace process, I interviewed John Wallach, founder of Seeds for Peace.
His program bringing Arab and Jewish kids together for leadership training retreats and conflict resolution studies, a worthy and laudable undertaking, was a few years old at the time and Wallach was thrilled that a group of his alumni got to sit on the dais as Yitzchak Rabin and Yasir Arafat signed papers and shook hands, raising what would shortly turn out to be false hopes around the world.
As a prisoner swap for the release of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was said to be closer than ever this week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was reportedly poised to declare a 10-month settlement freeze.
“Netanyahu is set to announce in the coming days that he will accept a construction freeze in the West Bank settlements for 10 months but will exclude [Palestinian east] Jerusalem,” Yossi Beilin, a former leader of the left-wing Meretz party, was quoted as saying.
A two-state solution is a core goal of U.S. and Israeli policy, but it has been recognized from the outset that it can be accomplished only through a negotiated settlement that will provide Israel with the security assurances it needs to return critica
There’s nothing new in the threat to unilaterally declare statehood, which seems to resurface every time Palestinian leaders confront the consequences of their own failure to negotiate responsibly with Israel. And there’s nothing new in the arguments about why such an action would only heap new fuel on the region’s simmering conflicts.
Billionaire George Soros has no plans to put his money where his mouth is, a spokesman said Tuesday — two days after the philanthropist and political advocate assailed the pro-Israel lobby as a threat to Israeli and U.S. interests.
Rumors, rife since last October, that Soros would fund a dovish alternative to the influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee, quickened when Soros published a blistering attack on the lobby in the New York Review of Books this week. But Soros spokesman Michael Vachon rebutted the notion he would bankroll such an effort.
Speaking at Monday’s Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly in Washington, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sounded very much like a man who didn’t want to antagonize the president he was about to meet under visibly strained circumstances.
Several hours later the White House distributed a meeting “readout” that may have set a new record for brevity. Amid an almost total clampdown on leaks, the statement said only that the two leaders “discussed a number of issues in the U.S.-Israel bilateral relationship” and that President Barack Obama “reaffirmed our strong commitment to Israel’s security, and discussed security cooperation on a range of issues.”
I remember Tom Friedman from the Madrid peace talks in Washington in the early 1990s. An up-and-coming Israeli politician named Benjamin Netanyahu was the briefer at the Israeli delegation's daily press conferences at the Madison Hotel. Dozens of reports fought to get Bibi's attention every afternoon, usually unsuccessfully, but Tom would stand in the back, seemly above the melee; the merest nod from the New York Times diplomatic correspondent would cause Netanyahu to stop what he was saying and give him the next question.
Sunday, November 8th, 2009
After all the pre-convention hoopla, the Jewish Federations of North America (“No acronyms, please,” said a press spokesman for the group formerly known as UJC), President Barack Obama won’t be addressing the group on Tuesday, after all.
Instead, Obama will be traveling to the memorial service for the Fort Hood army base massacre victims, and sending White House chief of staff Rahm Emmanuel to the Jewish philanthropy’s meeting in his place.