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An Israeli View: The Fatah-Hamas reconciliation process

By Yossi Alpher Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is currently managing two very different and in many ways contradictory negotiating tracks. Neither has produced any sort of substantive success thus far. If one does produce a breakthrough, the other will probably collapse. Meanwhile, the counterpoint between them is instructive. In Amman, Abbas’ representative Saeb Erekat …

DNE

AN ISRAELI VIEW: At best, 2012 will be a year of reassessment

By Yossi Alpher The year 2012 will almost certainly not witness any progress toward agreement between Israelis and Palestinians. We’ll be lucky if there is no serious backsliding in the form of violence or formal withdrawal from negotiating frameworks. Meanwhile, however, we can and should be making good use of this year to reassess the entire …

DNE

AN ISRAELI VIEW: The regional Islamist circumstances are changing

By Yossi Alpher The notion of integrating Hamas, and with it the Gaza Strip, into a Palestinian unity government reflects the primary trend that has thus far defined the Arab revolutionary wave: Arab Islamist movements are entering government. In this sense, Hamas’ victory in the 2006 Palestinian elections was very much a harbinger of things to …

DNE

AN ISRAELI VIEW: Not central to independence

By Yossi Alpher Revelations concerning the Palestinian financial crisis of recent weeks touch upon three issues. The most obvious one is the seeming inability of the Palestinian Authority under Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to accumulate sufficient reserves to withstand a few weeks’ shortfall in income. Put differently, it is the PA’s huge reliance on donor-nation funds …

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AN ISRAELI VIEW: The Quartet initiative: Pointless and depressing

By Yossi Alpher Last week, representatives of the Quartet met with Israeli and Palestinian negotiators and declared they had extracted a commitment from both sides to submit their final status negotiating positions on borders and security within three months. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat proceeded to deny any such Palestinian commitment, while Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman …

DNE

Prisoner swap: Not relevant to the real issue

  The best hint the Middle East could provide as to the ramifications of last week’s prisoner exchange for the overall conflict came two days after the exchange itself. It was the dramatic death of Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi. The pace of events in the region, particular in light of the Arab revolutions surrounding Israel and …

DNE

Three speeches, no progress

By Yossi Alpher Last week, we heard three dramatic speeches at the United Nations General Assembly that were ostensibly intended to offer new ideas for dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian issue. They did not. United States President Barack Obama made an unusually pro-Israel speech that was obviously motivated by domestic American political considerations. Obama made clear that …

DNE

Egypt, Gaza and the approaching UN vote

By Yossi Alpher Egypt escalated its involvement in the Israel-Gaza conflict following the August 18 attack from Sinai against Israelis near Eilat, which caused Israeli, Egyptian and Palestinian casualties. Cairo demanded (and got) an Israel-Hamas ceasefire, clamped down militarily in Sinai and may even have begun taking serious steps to seal the Sinai-Gaza border. The trigger …

DNE

September can still produce something useful

By Yossi Alpher September 20 is the day the PLO has targeted for submitting to the United Nations its request for state recognition. It is still not clear how that request will be worded and whether it will be submitted first to the Security Council or directly to the General Assembly. But despite this lack of …

DNE

AN ISRAELI VIE: Justified, despite the many mistakes

By Yossi Alpher Successive Israeli governments since those of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon have made nearly every mistake possible in creating the West Bank security fence. Yet the fence has not only served its original security purpose well; it has also delineated the broad outline of a future Israeli-Palestinian border everywhere in the West Bank except …

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AN ISRAELI VIEW: Why the Quartet fears the UN track

By Yossi Alpher The Quartet failed to find a formula for restarting the peace process because it is either unable or unwilling to recognize that both the Israeli and the Palestinian leaderships are uninterested right now. It failed because all four of its component actors — the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and …

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AN ISRAELI VIEW: Why we are going to the UN

By Yossi Alpher The Palestine Liberation Organization has now officially decided to ask the United Nations to recognize a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders. Leaving aside speculation as to whether this really will happen in September and what the consequences might be on the ground back home in Palestine and Israel, this is a …

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AN ISRAELI VIEW: Beware the ides of September

By Yossi Alpher President Barack Obama’s two recent speeches on the Middle East, at the State Department and the AIPAC conference, and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s response and related rhetoric, indicate that neither really understands that September at the United Nations is the only relevant arena they should be addressing. Meanwhile, Netanyahu picked a totally superfluous …

DNE

Accept with minor “interpretations”

By Yossi Alpher There is a certain formalistic justification in Israel’s standoffish attitude toward the Arab Peace Initiative. After all, the API was never seriously “marketed” to Israel. The concluding paragraph of the API asks every relevant institution in the international community to “pursue the necessary contacts to gain support for this initiative” —everyone, that is, …

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AN ISRAELI VIEW: Peace process: No one is really interested

By Yossi Alpher The question why there is no peace progress offers a good opportunity to review the obstacles to peace that have emerged in the course of the past two and a half years. During that time, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama took office, and the Olmert-Abbas peace talks ended …

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AN ISRAELI VIEW: Six months to September: The wages of Palestinian ambiguity

By Yossi Alpher “I’ll speak in vague sentences,” stated Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas last week at a meeting in Ramallah when asked to discuss Palestinian plans for the period beginning September 2011. That is when the United Nations General Assembly reconvenes, with a request to recognize a Palestinian state probably high on its agenda. Of course, …

DNE

AN ISRAELI VIEW: It’s just as well the world is busy elsewhere

By Yossi Alpher The brutal murder some 10 days ago of five members of an Israeli family in the settlement of Itamar, presumably by Palestinian terrorists, has to be seen in several contexts. They seemingly form concentric circles of ramifications, beginning with the local and reaching the regional and even global. The local context is one …

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AN ISRAELI VIEW: Negative consequences already evident in Sinai

By Yossi Alpher Because the events in Egypt continue to fall into the category of “revolutionary situation”, we know they will affect Israeli-Palestinian relations, but we do not yet know in what way. We can only speculate. This requires caution, but is nevertheless a useful exercise if we wish to prepare ourselves for possible events to …

DNE

AN ISRAELI VIEW: A theoretical but important discussion

By Yossi Alpher The demand to submit an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement to a popular referendum is not exclusive to either side. Last November, the Israeli Knesset passed a law mandating a referendum under certain circumstances. Hamas leaders have from time to time indicated that a two-state solution affirmed by a referendum of all Palestinians, including …

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What we’ll learn from the next round of Wikileaks

By Yossi Alpher Wikileaks leak of December 2011: Secret cable from DCM, US Embassy Tel Aviv, to deputy under secretary of state for Middle East affairs, State Department, Washington. Dec. 28, 2010: I exploited the Christmas/New Years lull here at the embassy, where just a few of us have not left on vacation, to make …

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