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Perhaps it’s due to the summer heat that has engulfed Tel Aviv like a steam cloud, but the world seems just a bit upside down. On Tuesday evening, I sat in the i24News studio and listened to Jared Kushner speak, as he opened the Economic Conference in Bahrain, aimed at identifying and implementing the start of the economic component of a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The absurdity and disconnect from reality of his remarks seemed to permeate the air.
Kushner spoke about how the Palestinian economy suffers from the fact its borders are armed. He cited one Palestinian businessman who complained how hard it was to get concrete for new construction. Kushner accentuated the difficulty of getting foreign investment, given that people fear terror. These things are true. However, the predicament is that the only way to solve these problems is to reach a political agreement to end the conflict. Kushner’s exhilarating address was one of the most paradigmatic cases of placing the cart before the horse.
Yes, it's terrific to talk about what could happen if there was peace. However, the ideas Kushner presented have been raised in a variety of formats and configurations over the course of the past 50 years. Yet, little is likely possible, without first reaching a political settlement. Twenty years ago, the concept of “a new Middle East” was the dream promoted by the late Israeli President Shimon Peres, in attempts to induce Israelis to agree to concessions for the sake of peace. In short, Peres promised that Israel would thrive in a Middle East at peace. He was no doubt correct. Be that as it may, be, Israel managed to thrive without achieving peace.
Kushner is trying to sell a new version of the Peres plan to persuade Palestinians to make unclear concessions, in order to reach a brighter future. Never mind the fact that with Israel’s severe labor shortage, there is no doubt the Palestinian economy could easily thrive, if peace were to break out — even without the new Trump plan. Of course, chances of this plan ever succeeding were not helped by the ridiculous OpEd article written by Israel's UN Ambassador Danny Danon in the New York Times, titled: “What is wrong with Palestinian surrender — Knowing when to give up is often the first step to making peace”. In the article, Danon compared the Kushner plan to the Marshall Plan. This analogy might have been ok, but, in the title, Danon states the Palestinians should admit “defeat," in order to receive aid, as Germany was given after the war. This assertion is a stunning example of how little Danon understands about the role of honor in national politics.
Once Kushner ended his address, after the other guest and I completed our remarks, I turned to the anchor, Ayman Sikseck (an Arab Israeli author from Jaffa), as we walked out of the studio and we both agreed how profoundly sad we were that after all these many years nothing has changed, nothing has progressed.
By last night, as the heat of the day receded, a little new insanity spread through Israeli political circles. The Likud (Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's party) had suddenly decided — in contravention of the accepted rules — that the new election, which they had forced by dissolving the Knesset, (before the President could assign the job to someone other than Netanyahu), should now be canceled. Within hours, all of the Likud ministers and the potential coalition partners who had voted to dissolve the Knesset a mere month ago, were singing the same song. All of a sudden, Likud ministers declared that a new election is “too expensive,” “would not change anything,” and moreover, “the people do not want a new election”.
There was some attempt to claim the Likud was in negotiations with Gantz’s Blue and White Party to form a broad Unity coalition. Though when the B&W party leadership categorically denied any sort of negotiations had taken place, that line of rhetoric was dropped. Despite the fact that every legal opinion presented all agree there was no legitimate way to turn back the clock, talk of canceling the new election has not stopped. Prime Minister Netanyahu tweeted he would meet with the speaker of the Knesset (#2 in the Likud party list) to discuss the cancellation proposal.
Perhaps it is the heat speaking, but the only path to call off the upcoming election would be to change one of Israel’s Basic Laws (i.e., Israel’s quasi-constitution). While it is true that, only 61 votes are required to change a Basic Law, legal experts all agree that since the Knesset voted to dissolve itself, it no longer has the authority to alter any Basic Laws.
While Israelis, like most people, would love to forget about politics and current events, and just enjoy their summer, with ever larger numbers of daily incendiary balloon attacks from Gaza, and with Iranian threats to violate its commitment on enrichment of uranium, not to mention, another election coming in September, which will include several additional people running (e.g. Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who announced the formation of new party on Wednesday evening) … it is going to be a long, hot summer.
6/26/19 Economic Peace Plan Israeli Poltical Turmoil - History
As America Has Done To Israel
This update includes more information than the United States interfering with Gods prophetic plan for Israel . Several of the disasters in this update had a second component. On several dates, homosexual events occurred simultaneously with events in Israel therefore, I reported these events together. In my first book Gods Final Warning to America, I reported these simultaneous events together.
I wrote As America Has Done To Israel because combining all the events made the book enormous, so I wrote a separate book about Israel . I combined the two in this update so you have the total picture of what is happening with these disasters.
For several months the President had little to say about Israel and his two state peace plan. Then on Monday, July 16, he gave a short but highly significant speech. This speech becomes one of the turning points in the United States of America s relationship with the holy God of Israel. It ranks with the speech that George H. W. Bush gave on October 30, 1991 in Madrid , Spain . Monumental events would soon follow this speech that would begin to shake America to its core.
He began the speech by stating he was the first American President to call for the creation of a Palestinian state. He referred to the Israeli control of the Palestinian areas as an occupation. He again called for two democratic states, Israel and Palestine . The entire speech can be viewed at http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/07/200707167.html
The speech in part follows:
More than five years ago, I became the first American President to call for the creation of a Palestinian state. In the Rose Garden, I said that Palestinians should not have to live in poverty and occupation. I said that the Israelis should not have to live in terror and violence. And I laid out a new vision for the future -- two democratic states, Israel and Palestine , living side-by-side in peace and security.
The President then continued with some statements that are directly contrary to Gods prophetic word about the nation of Israel . He said that the Palestinian state needs to be contiguous. This means that Israel must be divided because 30 miles separates Gaza from the West Bank . He wants Israel cut in two so that Palestinians can have an unbroken state. He said America is prepared to lead the discussions to create such a state. Then he made the most dangerous statement: the final peace would involve Jerusalem . This means the dividing of Jerusalem and making the eastern section the capital of a Palestinian state.
The speech in part follows:
These negotiations must resolve difficult questions and uphold clear principles. They must ensure that Israel is secure. They must guarantee that a Palestinian state is viable and contiguous. And they must lead to a territorial settlement, with mutually agreed borders reflecting previous lines and current realities, and mutually agreed adjustments. America is prepared to lead discussions to address these issues, but they must be resolved by Palestinians and Israelis, themselves. Resolving these issues would help show Palestinians a clear way forward. And ultimately, it could lead to a final peace in the Middle East -- a permanent end to the conflict, and an agreement on all the issues, including refugees and Jerusalem .
President Bush then stated that Israel has a clear path. This clear path was not to continue the occupation of the West Bank, but Israel s future lies in developing areas like the Negev and Galilee . For the second time, he used the terminology that Israel was occupying the West Bank . He called for removing the unauthorized outposts in the West Bank and the ending of settlement expansion.
This speech in part follows:
Israel has a clear path. Prime Minister Olmert must continue to release Palestinian tax revenues to the government of Prime Minster Fayyad. Prime Minister Olmert has also made clear that Israel's future lies in developing areas like the Negev and Galilee -- not in continuing occupation of the West Bank. This is a reality that Prime Minister Sharon recognized, as well. So unauthorized outposts should be removed and settlement expansion ended. At the same time, Israelis should find other practical ways to reduce their footprint without reducing their security -- so they can help President Abbas improve economic and humanitarian conditions. They should be confident that the United States will never abandon its commitment to the security of Israel as a Jewish state and homeland for the Jewish people
He then called for an international conference in the fall for advancing the two state solution. He said Secretary of State Rice would over see the two state plan. The United States would take charge of creating a Palestinian state. He also called for the United States giving the Palestinians $190 million in new aid.
This section of the speech follows:
The world can do more to build the conditions for peace. So I will call together an international meeting this fall of representatives from nations that support a two-state solution, reject violence, recognize Israel's right to exist, and commit to all previous agreements between the parties. The key participants in this meeting will be the Israelis, the Palestinians, and their neighbors in the region. Secretary Rice will chair the meeting. She and her counterparts will review the progress that has been made toward building Palestinian institutions. They will look for innovative and effective ways to support further reform. And they will provide diplomatic support for the parties in their bilateral discussions and negotiations, so that we can move forward on a successful path to a Palestinian state.
In the one speech, President Bush touched every area of dividing the covenant land that Gods word states will bring judgment on a nation. This speech very soon would have disastrous consequences for the United States .
While the President was giving this speech, the United States economy was rolling along without any serious set backs. The stock market was on a four month rally, and at the time of the Presidents speech, it was near its all time high. The stock market surge resulted in an 8 percent gain since March. On Thursday, July 19, the market closed at 14,000.41 for the first time breaking 14,000. The analysts attributed this rally to corporate buyouts, strong corporate profits and companies buying their shares. There was no talk of a recession or unmanageable debt.
The next day, Friday 20, the subprime mortgage debt implosion hit the stock market and the economy. On this day, the market fell 149 points. This was the start of the economic turmoil that shook America and the world. The economic instability that has rocked America can be traced directly back to the week President Bush called for a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as it capital! On Monday, July 16, he gave the speech. On Thursday the Market reached an all time high, but then on Friday, July 20, the market and economy began to unravel.
The next week the market plunged nearly into an economic black hole. The stock market fell 311 points on one day and for the week it lost 4.23 percent. The dollar was plunging and oil prices surged. The world economy was heading into trouble times. On July 27, the headline for the New York Times read: Global Stock Markets Tumble Amid Deepening Credit Fears, and on July 28, 2007 the headlines read: A Second Day of Declines Caps Worst Wall Street Week in Years. This occurred the week following President Bushs speech.
In August the stock market and economy reeled from the collapse of the dollar, surging oil prices, massive problems in the credit markets, and the collapse of the housing market. The entire world was shaking from what was happening to the United States economy starting July 21, 2007.
The Federal Reserve moved in September to release huge amount of funds into the stock market and banking system to stem the crashing economy. The stock market rebounded however, the underlining problems in the economy did not change. On October 9, the market closed at its all time high of 14,164.
Three days later, on October 12, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed six homosexual bills into law. Two of these bills directly impacted youngsters in school. The first is the Student Civil Rights Act (SB 777). This act prohibits any instruction or school activity that promotes a discriminatory bias against gender which includes cross-dressing sex changes, homosexuality and bisexuality. All these lifestyles must be portrayed positively in all government operated schools. The second is the Safe Place to Learn Act (AB 394.) This act will promote transexuality, bisexuality and homosexuality to students, parents and teachers through school training programs against harassment and discrimination. These two acts will attempt to indoctrinate all the public school system children and their parents into acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle. This was a major advancement of the homosexual agenda.
On October 14, Secretary Rice flew to Israel to discuss with the Israelis the establishment of a Palestinian state and the upcoming Annapolis Summit meeting in November. Her trip was to end on October 18 with a meeting in London . Rice was very clear the purpose of her visit was to see if progress was made in the development of a Palestinian state. During a briefing en route she said the following:
when a Palestinian state is established, it's going to be established in the West Bank and Gaza , and there'll obviously have to be some resolution of that situation. But I think the goal now is to paint as concrete a picture as possible of the -- of a Palestinian state to demonstrate that the international community, the region and most importantly the parties themselves believe that one can indeed be established, and then to invite all who have any -- who have the interests of the Palestinian people at heart to join that consensus.
On October 19, 2007, the Santa Ana winds began to blow in California which triggered massive fires in Southern California . At one point the winds reached hurricane force on October 20. The fires caused mass evacuations of over 350,000 homes in the largest in California s history. The fires burnt over 500,000 acres with several thousand homes and businesses destroyed. The damages totaled one billion dollars. Just a few days after Secretary Rice returned from Israel , President declared Southern California a disaster area.
On October 12, 2007, Governor Schwarzenegger signed six homosexual bills into law. These bills affected all of California s public school children. On October 24, 2007, President George Bush enacted federal disaster assistance for California . There were only 12 days separating the homosexual legislation from the disaster declaration, and in between, Secretary Rice was in Israel trying to establish a Palestinian State .
The Middle East conference that the President called for in July was held November 27, 28 in Annapolis , Maryland . There was nothing new about this conference as it centered on Israel dividing the covenant land for peace. The only significant item from the conference was President Bush set the end of 2008 as the date for the creation of a Palestinian state.
During the Annapolis conference, the economy was continuing to collapse and the stock market was falling. On November 27, the headlines of the New York Times reported, Stocks Now in a Correction, Down 10% From Recent High. All the economic news was negative as oil continued to claim. On November 27, the USA Today reported, Foreclosures to have profound impact report warns.
This meeting coincided with a major downturn in the stock market. While the conference was meeting, the stock market was classified in a correction. The market reached its all time high of 14,164 on October 9, by the end of November it fell 1400 points.
On the day after the Annapolis Conference, November 29, a powerful weather system developed off the Northwest coast of the United States . It was so powerful that for the first time in history a hurricane warning was issued for Washington State . From December 1-3, the states of Washington and Oregon were struck by three powerful weather systems. The storms were classified as a 500 year event. The wind gusts reached to 147 mph!
The storms created every kind of weather condition possible, including snow, hurricane winds, record rainfall, major flooding, landslides and avalanches. The rainfall so great that it was the highest recorded in more than 100 years of reporting. The floods and landslides isolated entire towns and caused enormous loss of property. This storm was the West Coast equivalent of the Perfect Storm which hit the East Coast in October 1991.
On December 3, President Bush and Secretary Rice, meet with a US-Palestinian Partnership promoting economic and educational opportunities for the Palestinian people. President Bush spoke and his speech was limited to a brief statement. Secretary Rice spoke at length and presented goals of the United States . She refereed to the recent Annapolis Conference and continued to push for a Palestinian state by the end of 2008. A section of Secretary Rices speech follows:
Last week in Annapolis , the parties, Israelis and Palestinians, agreed to launch negotiations to establish a Palestinian state and to achieve a peace treaty by the end of the year -- by the end of 2008. President Bush believes that the goal is achievable We all fully invested in this effort. It's a real opportunity to achieve the goal that President Bush first laid out of two democratic states living side by side in peace and security.
On December 8, President Bush declared that a major disaster existed in Oregon and Washington because of the storms that began on December 1, 2007. He ordered federal aid and assistance to these states.
On January 3, 2008, White House press secretary released the reason for President Bushs upcoming trip to Israel and many Arab nations. The trip was to begin on January 9 and end on January 16. The reason was a follow up to the Annapolis Conference and to promote his two state plan. A part of the press secretarys speech follows:
The trip follows the Annapolis meeting, and offers an opportunity for the President to discuss with Israelis and Palestinians their efforts toward a negotiated peace and achievement of the President's vision of two democratic states, Israel and Palestine , living side by side in peace and security.
The President arrived in Israel and spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Olmert. During the meeting the President once again he spoke about two states, Israeli and Palestinian, living side-by-side. He was clear that the reason for the trip was to foster a Palestinian state.
On January 10, the President gave a speech titled: President Bush Discusses Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process. During this speech, he made it very clear that Israel was going to give up land for a Palestinian state. He also said the boundaries needed to be a long the lines of the 1949 armistice! This meant that East Jerusalem needed to be given to this Palestinian state. He also said that the Palestinian state needed to be contiguous. There is approximately 30 miles separating Gaza from the West Bank . The Presidents plan meant the dividing of Israel into two states so a Palestinian state can be contiguous.
A section of the Presidents speech follows:
Achieving an agreement will require painful political concessions by both sides. While territory is an issue for both parties to decide, I believe that any peace agreement between them will require mutually agreed adjustments to the armistice lines of 1949 to reflect current realities and to ensure that the Palestinian state is viable and contiguous. I believe we need to look to the establishment of a Palestinian state and new international mechanisms, including compensation, to resolve the refugee issue.
On January 7, a tornado outbreak started in the United States . It lasted five days until January11. This was one of the most powerful January storms in history. There were a total 74 twisters. The storm created tornadoes from Alabama to Wisconsin . January tornadoes in Wisconsin are extremely rare.
This proved an ominous sign as tornado storms lashed the United States all through the winter, spring and into the summer. Record tornado outbreaks occurred during this time inflicting tremendous damage throughout the United States . These storms dropped tremendous rains and set the stage for the massive Mid-west floods in June. The start of these horrific storms and tornadoes was January 7.
Unfortunately, the tornadoes were not the only thing devastating the United States . At the same time, the stock market was plunging. The entire time the President was on this trip the stock market was in complete chaos. The market was dropping up to 250 points a day and by January 11, it had fallen 5.00 percent. Wall Street was shaken. When the President returned, he immediately, January 18, called for a $185 billion economic stimulus package to bolster the economy.
While the President was in Israel promoting the dividing of the covenant land into a Palestinian state, the United States was devastated by an unprecedented tornado outbreak and the stock market was in chaos.
The volatility in the stock market and the tornado storms did not end. The President delivered his State of the Union speech on January 28. During the days leading up to the speech, the market was in chaos and was affecting the entire world.
The Presidents speech in part follows:
We're also standing against the forces of extremism in the Holy Land , where we have new cause for hope. Palestinians have elected a president who recognizes that confronting terror is essential to achieving a state where his people can live in dignity and at peace with Israel . Israelis have leaders who recognize that a peaceful, democratic Palestinian state will be a source of lasting security. This month in Ramallah and Jerusalem , I assured leaders from both sides that America will do, and I will do, everything we can to help them achieve a peace agreement that defines a Palestinian state by the end of this year. The time has come for a Holy Land where a democratic Israel and a democratic Palestine live side-by-side in peace.
From the time the President left for Israel on January 9, until the end of the month and beyond the stock market and economy were in chaos. As the President pushed for a Palestinian state, America s economy began to unravel. The following are a few economic news headlines from this time period: Bush Calls for $145 Billion Economy Plan The Next Banking Crisis on the Way Black Monday as the Biggest FTSE Crash Since 9/11 Stocks Plunge Worldwide and Feds Deep Rate Cut Seen as Once-in-a Generation.
On March 10, 2008, Vice President Cheney traveled to the Middle East and on March 22, he arrived in Israel . He met with Prime Minister Olmert, and reinforced the United States position for the creation of a Palestinian state. In a speech the Vice President said the following:
On this journey, I am reiterating the Presidents commitment to his vision of two democratic states, Israel and Palestine , living side by side in peace and security. He stated that vision early in his presidency, and as I like to remind people, he was the very first American President to do so. Reaching the necessary agreement will require tough decisions and painful concessions by both sides, but America is committed to moving the process forward
On March 15, 2008, Secretary of State Rice criticized Israel for not moving fast enough in creating a Palestinian state. Secretary Rice was concerned that the Israelis did not freeze construction in West Bank settlements and remove some of the more than 100 unauthorized outposts set up since the 1990s. When the United States government criticizes Israel building in the West Bank, this includes East Jerusalem . Rice was very upset over the Israelis building in East Jerusalem .
During mid-March the economy was in deep trouble. The dollar was rapidly declining and the price of gold was surging. The headlines of the New York Times read: One Ill Compounds Another, hammering the Economy The Dollar Reaches New Lows and The Price of Gold Roars Past $1,000. On March 14, Bear Stearns one the largest investment banks collapsed and needed to be bailed out by the Federal Reserve and other banks. The Federal Reserve for the first time ever intervened in this way. It was done to prevent the collapse of the entire stock market and financial system.
During this time, ferocious tornado storms were devastating the South and mid-West. On March 15, a severe storm hit Georgia and a tornado actually went through the heart of Atlanta ! The mid-West was being hit by storm after storm with wide spread flooding and tornado damage. On March 19, President Bush declared a major disaster area for large sections of Missouri . These storms built upon the January floods and set the stage for massive flooding in June.
On June 3, Secretary of State Rice gave a speech before a Jewish group and once again she reiterated the need for a Palestinian state. On June 6, Secretary Rice announced she was going to Israel from June 14 to June 16. On June 4, President Bush met with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in the White House, and they discussed the peace process with the Palestinians.
During the first week in June, the economic situation was chaotic. On June 6, the stock market plunged nearly 400 points while oil surged to a record. The value of dollar was falling to record lows and during June the price of housing fell a record 16 percent.
Secretary Rice went to Israel and met with both Israeli and Palestinian officials. Israel had just announced it was building 1300 homes in East Jerusalem . Rice was upset with Israel s intention to build these homes. She responded to a question about this situation in East Jerusalem during an interview and part of her interview follows:
And I think its a problem that were that Im going to address with the Israelis. And its also as the President said today, its also every reason or it gives us every reason that we really ought to be determining the boundaries of the state, because whats in Israel will be in Israel at that point, and whats in Palestine will be in Palestine. And thats the best way to resolve this, but you know, I repeat, weve talked a great deal about the importance of Roadmap obligations, and this one isnt being met.
Secretary Rice made it clear during this interview that she considered East Jerusalem as part of a Palestinian state. She did not say this officially but she did say the Israelis building homes in East Jerusalem was a problem: then she talked about the boundaries of a Palestinian state. It is very clear that she considered East Jerusalem as part of a Palestinian state. Although the United States government has not officially stated it is involved in dividing Jerusalem , Secretary Rices actions made it clear this was the policy.
While Secretary Rice was condemning Israel , the mid-West was experiencing one of the worst floods in history. The severe storms in the mid-West that began when President Bush visited Israel in January continued into June. The massive flooding started on June 7, and by mid-June nearly all of Iowa and parts of Indiana , Illinois Missouri Minnesota and Nebraska were experiencing the worst floods in history. The flood became known as " Iowa 's Katrina . The flooding peaked while Rice was in Israel .
Major cites in Iowa were flooded including Cedar Rapids , Iowa City, and Des Moines . Millions of farm acres were flooded which destroyed crops such as corn, soybeans, and wheat along with livestock. The flood damages reached $20 billion. During June, the President declared Iowa along with parts of five other states as major disaster areas.
June 2008 Homosexual Connection
On June 4, the California Supreme Court made its final ruling to allow homosexual marriage to begin on June 17, 2008. The court had ruled in May that refusing homosexual marriage was discriminatory and violated the state constitution. Thus, the court elevated homosexual marriage as equal to heterosexual marriage. California has no residency requirement and this meant homosexuals from all 50 states can marry in California . This decision was not limited to California but would affect all 50 states.
On June 4, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger proclaimed a drought emergency for the entire state. After two years of continuous drought, the governor chose this day to proclaim an emergency. He stated that in Northern California, March, April and May were the driest months ever in recorded history while Southern California had received only 20 percent of normal rainfall. This declaration occurred on the very day the state Supreme Court made its final ruling to legalize homosexual marriage. The newspapers in California had both the drought emergency and supreme court decision on the front page!
On June 17, California began to perform homosexual marriages. During this week a blistering heat wave struck the state. On June 20, a massive storm hit Northern California with a huge number of lightening strikes that started over a thousand of fires. The fires burnt for months and eventually destroyed 1,300 square miles. These fires were called the largest single fire event in the history of California by the Governors Office. The National Guard and fire fighters from across the nation assisted in controlling the fires. On June 28, President Bush declared California a disaster area.
On June 13, for the first time in history, 52 members of the United States House of Representatives formed a Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Caucus. They officially joined together to promote the homosexual agenda.
While the fires were burning in California , a massive flood was hitting Iowa . The major cities of Des Monies, Cedar Rapids and Iowa City were heavily damaged by the flooding. Gay Pride parades and events were scheduled to be held in each of these cities during the flooding! Capitol City Pride was scheduled for June 14 in Des Moines LGBT Pride was scheduled for June 16, in Iowa City while PrideFest was scheduled for June 22, in Cedar Rapids .
On August 18, Secretary of State Rice announced she was going to Israel on August 25-26 to continue the Presidents two state plan. On this day, Tropical Storm Fay hit Key West , Florida . This storm acted in a bizarre manner and actually zigzagged across Florida going out into the Gulf of Mexico and into the Atlantic Ocean . It struck the state a total of four times in a week! The storm brought torrential rain and flooding throughout the entire state causing tremendous damage. On August 23, the storm hit Florida for the fourth time and then headed toward New Orleans . On August 24, President Bush declared Florida a major disaster area.
On August 24 and 25, the storm soaked Alabama , Mississippi and Louisiana causing widespread flooding. The storm resulted in the death of 35 people with widespread flood damage.
On August 25, Secretary State Rice arrived in Israel to push the Annapolis plan. The next day she held a new conference with Palestinian President Abbas. During the conference, she was asked about the Israelis continuing to build settlements. These settlements include Jerusalem . Rice responded to the question with the following answer:
On the settlement issue, I think Ive made very clear the U.S. position that the settlement activity is not conducive to creating an environment for negotiations, yet negotiations go on. We continue to press the Israelis about their Roadmap obligations and to work with the Palestinians on their Roadmap obligations as well.
Rice also made a general statement about the progress of negotiations which follows:
What I can tell you is that it is a very serious negotiating process. They are dealing with all issues before them. No issue is off the table. This is the most intensive discussions that have been there at least since Camp David
On August 25, Tropical Storm Gustav formed in the Caribbean . It headed northwest toward the United States . On August 29, it would reach hurricane strength and strike west of New Orleans . As Hurricane Gustav approached, New Orleans was evacuated for the second time since 2005. Secretary Rices trip to Israel was bracketed by Tropical Storm Fay and Hurricane Gustav.
August 2008 Homosexual Connection
Starting on August 27 and ending on September 1, New Orleans held its annual Southern Decadence event. During Southern Decadence over 100,000 homosexuals pour into the city for the Gay Mardi Gras. The following is from the Southern Decadence website, http://www.southerndecadence.net/ , describing the event:
As a top gay Labor Day Weekend destination, it has evolved into one of our worlds major annual events. One of the largest celebrations in New Orleans , it has become known as the Gay Mardi Gras. With over 100,000 gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender participants, and an economic impact estimated to be in excess of $100 million, the city has recognized its importance with an Official Proclamation to welcome the event.
Hurricane Gustav headed toward New Orleans during Southern Decadence. The entire city was evacuated which ended this event. Hurricane Katrina hit on the eve of Southern Decadence, and now for the second time in three years New Orleans was evacuated during this event. During Hurricane Katrina, the city was destroyed and never fully recovered.
The events of September make it one of the turning points in American and world history. The economic meltdown that started in July 2007 hit full force in September and carried over into October. This economic collapse can be compared only to the Great Depression of the 1930s. Economic forces were unleashed that affect the very survival of the United States .
On September 11, the US consul general to Israel , Jake Walles, was quoted in the Palestinian newspaper Al-Ayyam about the progress of the Annapolis plan. Walles stated that Israel agreed to give the Palestinians control of East Jerusalem . He also said that Secretary of State Rices recent visits to Israel were about dividing Jerusalem .
The US State Department quickly denied Walles statement and said that the negotiations should be kept private. It is obvious that Walles was telling the truth and that the State Department was trying to keep a lid on its plan to divide Jerusalem until the deal was completed. On September 14, the Jerusalem Post reported that Prime Minister Olmert had offered the Palestinians 98.1 percent of the West Bank, as well as East Jerusalem . Olmert was quoted as having said, The vision of greater Israel no longer exists. Those who speak of it are delusional.
On September 11, Hurricane Ike was heading directly toward Texas , and the Wall Street bank, Lehman Brothers Holding, Inc., was collapsing. Hurricane Ike was extremely large and powerful. It was six hundred miles in diameter and had a massive twenty-foot storm surge. Late on September 12, Ike stuck and damaged almost the entire Texas coast and parts of Louisiana . The hurricane hit Texas as a Category 3 storm just east of Galveston , and it nearly destroyed the entire city. The eye traveled north toward Houston . Most homes in the Houston area lost power in the states worst power disruption in history. The entire city was shut down for days. The damage inflicted by this storm ranged in estimates from $27 to $52 billion, making it one of the most destructive in history.
On September 13 and 14, negotiations to save Lehman Brothers failed, and it went into bankruptcy. At $613 billion, this was the greatest bank failure in United States history. This failure shocked the economic system and ignited a credit crisis, which was like a heart attack to the entire economic system. The stock market immediately began to melt down.
During the next two weeks, the stock market went into wild swings, falling and rising by huge numbers. This became the worst stock market crisis since the crash of 1929. To calm the peoples fears, the president called for a $700 billion taxpayer bailout of the banks and stock market.
On September 25, to promote this bailout, the president invited the two presidential candidates and other congressional leaders to the White House to discuss the economic crisis. This meeting took place at 4:00 p.m. Just three hours prior to this meeting, the president had met with Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, to discuss the progress of the Annapolis Conference. At the height of the economic turmoil, the president was meeting with Abbas to discuss the division of Jerusalem !
On September 29, the great stock market meltdown of 777 points took place. This day was also the biblical feast of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. This 777-point fall was the greatest yet, and it shook the US market to its core. The next biblical holiday, Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement, takes place ten days after Rosh Hashanah this ten-day gap between the two holidays is called the Days of Awe. During the Days of Awe, the world markets began to collapse until, on Yom Kippur, October 9, the market fell 679 points.
During these holidays and the Days of Awe, the market lost 2,400 points for a 22 percent lossthe greatest sell-off since the crash of October 1929. On October 9, 2007, the stock market reached its all-time high of 14,164 points. Exactly one year later, the market had lost $8.1 trillion, and some of the largest banks in the country had disappeared.
The next biblical holiday, the Feast of Tabernacles, fell on October 15. On this day, the stock market again fell 737 points for its second-greatest one-day fall in history. On these three biblical holidays, the market fell a total of 2,193 points!
The crash that shook America on Rosh Hashanah turned into a world collapse on Yom Kippur. On Yom Kippur, the leaders of the West called for international action to stop the crash as markets and banks were collapsing worldwide. To stop the collapse, various countries nationalized their banks in an attempt to halt a complete economic meltdown. This meltdown changed the face of world economics almost overnight.
The Homosexual Connection
On September 2, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) released its 2009 Corporate Equality Index (http://www.hrc.org/documents/HRC_Corporate_Equality_Index_2009.pdf). This index grades the largest United States corporations in relation to their support for the homosexual agenda. For 2009, a total of 259 corporations achieved a 100 percent rating. The speed at which these corporations complied with the HRC is shocking. In 2002, there were 13 companies, while this year it had risen to 259. These corporations represent about 10 million workers.
There are 10 equality principles used to rate corporations. These 259 corporations are in compliance with all these principles. The 10 principles follow:
The Equality Principles (http://www.equalityproject.org/principles/en.html)
1. The company will prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender expression or gender identity as part of its written employment policy statement.
2. The company will disseminate its written employment policy statement company-wide.
3. The company will not tolerate discrimination on the basis of any employee's actual or perceived health condition, status or disability.
4. The company will offer equal health insurance and other benefits to employees to cover their domestic partners regardless of the employee's marital status, sexual orientation, gender expression or gender identity.
5. The company will include discussions of sexual orientation, gender expression and gender identity as part of its official employee diversity and sensitivity training communications.
6. The company will give employee groups equal standing, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
7. The company advertising policy will avoid the use of negative stereotypes based on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
8. The company will not discriminate in its advertising, marketing or promotion of events on the basis of sexual orientation, gender expression or gender identity.
9. The company will not discriminate in the sale of its goods or services on the basis of sexual orientation, gender expression or gender identity.
10. The company will not bar charitable contributions to human rights groups and organizations on the basis of sexual orientation, gender expression or gender identity, nor will it support groups opposed to such rights.
A review of the HRC list revealed most of the nations largest corporations and banks took part in promoting the homosexual agenda. One Wall Street bank in particular, just 10 days after the listing, would play the key role in the collapse of the US economy. On September 13, Lehman Brothers along with Merrill Lynch collapsed which destabilized the entire US economy. Soon Washington Mutual, also in 100 percent HRC compliance, failed which added to the collapse.
Within one month after the release of the HRC list, the US economy was in a tailspin with the stock market collapsing and the US government spending hundreds of billions to try and save the economy. It appears that God is now draining all the wealth from these HRC approved corporations, and in doing so, it will destroy the economy of the United States . The CEOs of these corporations thought they would gain favor from the homosexuals and their supporters however, it brought them in focus for Gods judgment. All of the corporations listed are heading into bankruptcy as they are under Gods judgment. As this economic crisis worsens, watch the wealth of these corporations evaporate.
On October 8, the United States Supreme Court refused to intervene on behalf of Massachusetts parents who wanted their children protected from homosexuality being promoted in the Lexington , MA elementary school. The school was teaching homosexuality to the young children against the parents objections. All the lower courts upheld the school district. The Supreme Courts decision let the lower courts decision stand: thus, allowing the young children to be indoctrinated into the homosexual agenda. All of these courts ruled that the school districts right to teach homosexuality superseded the rights of the parents!
On October 10, Connecticut s Supreme Court ruled that homosexuals have the right to marry. This was the third state to legalize homosexual marriage and the second this year. Justice Richard Palmer wrote the majority opinion which in part follows:
"Interpreting our state constitutional provisions in accordance with firmly established equal protection principles leads inevitably to the conclusion that gay persons are entitled to marry the otherwise qualified same sex partner of their choice. To decide otherwise would require us to apply one set of constitutional principles to gay persons and another to all others,"
September-October 2008 was the turning point in United States history. The diplomatic position of the government is to divide the land of Israel including Jerusalem . America s interference with Gods covenant land and the national promotion of the homosexual agenda came to a head. The US met the biblical requirements for judgment.
After almost exactly 21 years of Gods warning, the United States refused to stop pressuring Israel to divide the land. Most of the nations leading corporations are now fully engaged in promoting homosexuality along with most of the Democratic Party. Three entire state governments are completely given over to the homosexual agenda including homosexual marriage. Many other states along with most of the major cities are in the process of adopting the homosexual agenda.
The vast majority of the church is silent or agrees with the homosexual agenda. The convergence of the homosexual agenda and violating Gods covenant with Israel , along with the dead church, has brought divine judgment to America . The nation has crossed over from Gods warnings to His wrath.
The following are links to show the worst stock market declines fell on the days of biblical holidays.
If the Israeli leader leaves, his replacement won’t be as divisive—but there will still be more process than peace.
By ROBERT MALLEY and AARON DAVID MILLER
Robert Malley is president and CEO of the International Crisis Group. He was the White House coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa and Gulf Region under President Obama.
Aaron David Miller is a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment and a former State Department Middle East analyst and negotiator in Republican and Democratic administrations.
Israel's political turmoil has brought the country to an important inflection point: For the first time in a decade, its prime minister could be someone other than Benjamin Netanyahu. Barring an eleventh-hour deal to form a government by the December 11 deadline, it seems as if Israel—for the third time in less than a year—is fated to go to yet another election next spring. And with Netanyahu facing formal indictment and trial on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, and having already twice failed to form a government, it’s hard to imagine him winning at the polls, never mind assembling a governing coalition.
When he departs, a lot will change right away: Netanyahu’s cult-like figure will have left the stage, and his corrupt practices will be over. The state’s illiberal drift might well be halted and respect for the rule of law, the judiciary and democratic norms enhanced and the fanning of hate and fearmongering toward Israel’s Arab minority potentially could abate.
But as for significant changes to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process—the one issue that seems to retain the bulk of the world’s interest? Not so much. And that will be the case regardless of what government replaces Netanyahu's. In fact, paradoxically, Netanyahu’s replacement by a less contentious and more reasonable prime minister may well ensure that the Israeli-Palestinian peace process remains more about managing a process than securing a peace.
This is true no matter if the election’s outcome is a National Unity Government composed of Likud (minus Netanyahu) and Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party, or a narrower coalition formed by Gantz, the former chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces. There could be ameliorations, of course. A Gantz-led government in particular might seek to improve living conditions in the West Bank, slow down the pace of settlement construction outside of the major settlement blocs and avoid some of its predecessor’s most provocative desires such as formal annexation of the Jordan Valley. The Palestinian leadership, under virtually no international pressure to restart negotiations with Israel as long as Netanyahu is in power, might feel compelled to do so with a more acceptable prime minister in his place. And the U.S. administration might finally unveil its peace plan, long-awaited and long-forgotten in equal measure.
Yet none of this would add up to measurable progress on the way to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. History has long taught that economic betterment of the Palestinians is no substitute for steps that address their political aspirations. Prospects for successful peace negotiations on core final status issues—such as borders and Jerusalem—seem equally dubious. Gantz would be greeted with high expectations he is, after all, a former Israeli general and chief of staff cut in the mold of Yitzhak Rabin: strong, pragmatic and potentially flexible.
But Gantz is no man of the left. He is, if anything, a representative of the old right—a tough, militant patriot whose primary focus isn’t on ending conflict with the Palestinians but ending incivility, divisiveness and polarization among Israelis. Gantz was virtually silent on the Palestinian issue during his two electoral campaigns, preferring, like Netanyahu, to focus on the threat from Iran. He has taken the current government to task for being too soft in its policies toward Gaza. He supports permanent Israeli control over the Jordan Valley. He has welcomed all of President Donald Trump’s most controversial steps, including his administration’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights and announce that settlements do not contravene international law. He may have done some of this chiefly for electoral purposes, to avoid being painted as too far to the left. But Gantz is hardly a free agent. He will be constrained by his party’s leadership, including the hawkish Moshe Ya’alon and more than a few of its members who might feel just as comfortable among the ranks of the Bibi-less Likud.
Not that the Israeli government’s makeup would be the only obstacle to meaningful peacemaking. The Palestinian side presents its own considerable challenges. Divided and dysfunctional, its leadership has lacked a coherent military or diplomatic strategy to end the occupation or negotiate a two-state solution. The split between Fatah and Hamas, the principal branches of the national movement, has meant that there are now two of everything—two statelets, two security services and at least two visions of what and even where a future Palestine should be. President Mahmoud Abbas, whose mandate expired years ago, lacks the authority and legitimacy to make consequential decisions on behalf of his people, let alone decisions pertaining to a final status deal—and so, he has systematically preferred to avoid rather than make them, his presidency becoming an exercise in inertness.
David Ben-Gurion proclaims the establishment of Israel in a ceremony in Tel Aviv on the day the British officially end their rule in Palestine. The following day, Israel is invaded by the armies of five Arab states, beginning the War of Independence.
An armistice agreement is signed between Israel and Egypt, formally ending hostilities. Israel signs similar agreements with Jordan, Lebanon and Syria in the months to come.
Golda Meir, Prime Minister of Israel from 1969 to 1974, once joked that "in Israel, there are 3 million prime ministers".  The particular version of proportional representation used, in which the whole country is a single constituency, encourages the formation of a large number of political parties, many with very specialized platforms, and often advocating the tenets of particular interest-groups. [ citation needed ] The prevalent balance [ citation needed ] between the largest parties means that the smaller parties can have strong influence disproportionate to their size. Due to their ability to act as tie breakers, they often use this status to block legislation or promote their own agenda, even contrary to the manifesto of the larger party in office.
From the founding of Israel in 1948 until the election of May 1977, Israel was ruled by successive coalition governments led by the Labor Alignment (or Mapai prior to 1967). From 1967 to 1970, a national unity government included all of Israel's parties except for the two factions of the Communist Party of Israel. After the 1977 election, the Revisionist Zionist Likud bloc (then composed of Herut, the Liberals, and the smaller La'am Party) came to power, forming a coalition with the National Religious Party, Agudat Israel, and with others.
The 2013 Freedom in the World annual survey and report by U.S.-based Freedom House, which attempts to measure the degree of democracy and political freedom in every nation, ranked Israel as the Middle East and North Africa's only free country.  (However, the organization's 2015 and 2016 reports also listed Tunisia as free.  ) The Economist Intelligence Unit rated Israel a "flawed democracy" in 2019.  [ needs update ]
Netanyahu I (1996–1999)
In those elections – the first direct election of a prime minister in Israeli history – Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu won by a narrow margin, having sharply criticized the government's peace policies for failing to protect Israeli security. Netanyahu subsequently formed a predominantly right-wing coalition government publicly committed to pursuing the Oslo Accords, but with an emphasis on security first and reciprocity. His coalition included the Likud party, allied with the Tzomet and Gesher parties in a single list three religious parties (Shas, the National Religious Party, and the United Torah Judaism bloc) and two centrist parties, The Third Way and Yisrael BaAliyah. The latter was the first significant party formed expressly to represent the interests of Israel's new Russian immigrants. The Gesher party withdrew from the coalition in January 1998 upon the resignation of its leader, David Levy, from the position of Foreign Minister.
On 27 May 1999, Ehud Barak from One Israel (an alliance of Labor, Meimad and Gesher) was elected Prime Minister, and formed a coalition with the Centre Party (a new party with centrist views, led by former generals Yitzhak Mordechai and Amnon Lipkin-Shahak), the left-wing Meretz, Yisrael BaAliyah, the religious Shas and the National Religious Party. The coalition was committed to continuing negotiations however, during the two years of the government's existence, most parties left the coalition, leaving Barak with a minority government of the Labor and the center party alone. Barak was forced to call for early elections, the only prime ministerial elections not held alongside Knesset elections.
On 17 February 2001, elections resulted in a new "national unity" coalition government, led by Ariel Sharon of the Likud, and including the Labor Party. This government fell when Labor pulled out, and new elections were held 28 January 2003.
Based on the election results, Sharon was able to form a right-wing government consisting of the Likud, Shinui, the National Religious Party and the National Union. The coalition focused on improving Israeli security through fighting against terror, along with combating economic depression. However, when Sharon decided on his 2004 disengagement plan, which included evacuation of Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories (particularly the Gaza Strip), the National Union and National Religious Party withdrew from the coalition. Sharon's attempt to add the Haredi United Torah Judaism to the coalition drove Shinui out, and forced Sharon to bring the Labor Party back into his coalition.
Since not all Likud Knesset members supported Sharon's disengagement plan, he still lacked a clear majority in the Knesset. Apparently calculating that his personal popularity was greater than that of the party, Sharon pulled out of the Likud on 21 November 2005 and formed his own new Kadima party. He was joined only days later by Shimon Peres, who pulled out of the Labor party to join Sharon in a bid for a new government. This represented a cataclysmic realignment in Israeli politics, with the former right and left joining in a new centrist party with strong support (unlike previous centrist parties in Israel, which lacked the popularity Kadima now seemed to enjoy).
On 4 January 2006 Prime Minister Sharon suffered a massive stroke and went into a coma, and subsequently died in 2014.  Designated Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert took power, becoming interim Prime Minister 100 days after Sharon's incapacitation. He did not become full Prime Minister due to elections being held in March and a new government being formed.
Following the March 2006 elections, which left Kadima as the largest party in the Knesset, Olmert became prime minister. He included Labour, Shas and Gil in a 67-seat coalition. In November 2006, Yisrael Beiteinu (11 seats) also joined the government, but departed from the coalition in January 2008. Faced with internal opposition due to mounting corruption charges, Olmert announced that he would not seek reelection in the next elections held in February 2009. Tzipi Livni won the September 2008 Kadima leadership elections, but failed to form a new coalition government.
Netanyahu II (2009–2021)
On 31 March 2009 the Knesset approved the appointment of Benjamin Netanyahu as Prime Minister, despite Kadima having won slightly more votes than Netanyahu's Likud. Netanyahu's government took office the following day, 1 April 2009.
On 19 March 2013 Netanyahu was designated Prime Minister again after Likud Yisrael Beiteinu won the most seats in the January elections. The new coalition included the Yesh Atid, the Jewish Home and Hatnuah parties, and excluded ultra-Orthodox parties.
Netanyahu achieved reelection to the national post on 18 March 2015, and subsequently formed a right-wing governing coalition with Likud at the forefront, which included the Jewish Home, Kulanu, Shas and United Torah Judaism.
An agreement was made by Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid in early June 2021 to form a coalition government that would replace the long-lasting government led by Netanyahu. On 13 June 2021, Knesset voted and approved the appointment of the new catch-all coalition government, and on the same day Bennett was sworn-in as the new prime minister of Israel.
Compared to other countries, the number of parties contesting Knesset elections is relatively high considering the population size. This has resulted in a fragmented legislature where smaller parties have representation in the Knesset and no party has the 60+ seat majority needed to form a Government on its own.
This system also allows fringe parties which hold views outside of the mainstream political and public consensus to have representation in the Knesset. Examples of these are the Haredi religious parties, parties that represent the national religious or limited agenda parties such as Gil, which represented pensioners in the 2006 elections.
Israeli politics are subject to unique circumstances and often defy simple classification in terms of the political spectrum. Groups are sometimes associated with the political left or right, especially in international circles, according to their stance on issues important to the Arab–Israeli conflict.
- , Israeli nationalists advocating Jewish populating (a.k.a. settlement) of Judea & Samaria, a.k.a. West Bank (and formerly of the Gaza Strip), and opposing evacuation of any of these communities. (Largely defunct) (Yesha being a Hebrew acronym for "Judea Samaria Gaza"), a loose formation of local office-bearers in the Occupied Territories who represent the interests of the Israeli settlers in the West Bank. : an association of terror victims.
- supports territorial concessions in the West Bank and was critical of government's policy in withdrawing from Lebanon after the 1982–1986 war and the subsequent withdrawal from South Lebanon. and The People's Voice (HaMifkad HaLeumi), two peace initiatives led by prominent Israeli and Palestinian public figures that surfaced in 2004. These initiatives were based on unofficial bilateral understandings between the two sides, and offer models for a permanent agreement.
- HaHistadrut ("The Union" short for "the General Union of the Workers in Israel"), an umbrella organization for many labor unions in Israel. In the past, was identified with the different forms of the Israel Labor party nowadays, the chairman of the Histadrut is Offer Eyni. The former chairman Amir Peretz became head of the socialist One Nation party, which eventually merged into Labor in 2004, which Peretz led from November 2005 to June 2007.
- Several radical left-wing organizations calling soldiers to refuse service in the West Bank and Gaza the best known are Ometz LeSarev ("Courage to Refuse") and Yesh Gvul (There's a limit/border). (Socialist Struggle) campaigns against privatisation and the worsening conditions faced by workers and young people in Israel.
Left-leaning politics are traditionally supported by Israel's academic, cultural, and business elites, as well as its security establishment.  
The political centre (represented in the Knesset by Yesh Atid and Kulanu, and in the past represented by Kadima and Gil)   combines the Israeli right's lack of confidence in the value of negotiations with the Palestinians and the Arab states with the assertion of the Israeli left that Israel should reduce the Israeli presence in the areas of the West Bank. As a result, the political centre supports unilateral actions such as the Israeli West Bank barrier and Israel's unilateral disengagement plan alongside the continuation of militaristic actions (such as the selective assassination policy) as a means of fighting against terrorism. Economically, the centre is liberal, supports economic liberalism, and has a capitalistic approach. Until recently, the political centre in the Knesset was relatively small—it never won more than 15 seats on average and centre parties tended to disintegrate within less than two terms (for example: Democratic Movement for Change, the Centre Party and Shinui). Other centre parties split up into factions which joined one or both of the two major parties, like Yachad (Ezer Weizman's party, which merged into the Alignment in 1987), Telem (Moshe Dayan's party, which eventually split up between the Alignment party and Likud), Independent Liberals (also merged into the Alignment) and the General Zionists (which together with Herut created Gahal, the forerunner of Likud).
Parties which do not identify themselves as political right or political left are also considered to be centre parties. For example: The Greens, [ citation needed ] which focuses on environmental subjects and so far has not been able to enter the Knesset.
Before the peace talks began, both sides offered concessions. The Palestinian Authority offered to put on hold international recognition as a state by applying to international organizations while Israel offered the release of 104 Palestinian prisoners, 14 of whom are Arab-Israelis and all of whom had been in Israeli jails since before the 1993 Oslo I Accord.   The prisoners were responsible for killing, in all, 55 Israeli civilians, 15 Israeli security forces personnel, one French tourist and dozens of suspected Palestinian collaborators. 
Commenters have however pointed out that Israel had already promised to release these same 104 Palestinians, back in 1999 under the Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum,  but never did.  Critics also worry that Israel will simply quietly re-arrest the potentially released Palestinians, and state that Israel is using the slow release to hold the negotiations hostage and that the main goal of the release is to bolster Israel's image.  According to the Sharm el-Sheikh Fact-Finding Committee Report, Israel's decision not to release the prisoners at the time was due to significantly increased violence against Israel by their partner in the memorandum, the PLO, leading up to the Second Intifada. In the time leading up to the planned release, Israel perceived "institutionalized anti-Israel, anti-Jewish incitement the release from detention of terrorists the failure to control illegal weapons and the actual conduct of violent operations" as a sign that "the PLO has explicitly violated its renunciation of terrorism and other acts of violence, thereby significantly eroding trust between the parties." 
Over the 9 months period, John Kerry met with the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas on 34 occasions, and Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu roughly twice as many times.  On 29 July 2013, as Israeli and Palestinian negotiators met for a second day in Washington to discuss renewing peace talks, Mahmoud Abbas said "in a final resolution, we would not see the presence of a single Israeli – civilian or soldier – on our lands." His comments drew immediate condemnation from Israeli officials, who accused him for discriminating against Jews.    
On 13 August, the first day, the Palestinian team leaders were Saeb Erekat and Muhammed Shtayyeh while their Israeli counterparts were Tzipi Livni and Yitzhak Molcho. The US mediators were Martin Indyk and Frank Lowenstein.  On 13 August, Israel released the first batch of 26 Palestinian prisoners.  On 19 August, Mahmoud Abbas called for the US to step up its involvement in the talks, saying its role should be proactive and not merely supervisory.  On 20 August, Israel urged the United States to back Egypt's military government, saying failure to do so would risk derailing the peace talks.  On 22 August, Mahmoud Abbas said that no progress had been made in the first four talks. He also said that the Palestinian right of return would likely have to be waived in the event of any peace agreement. He also walked back his earlier statement that he wanted a Palestinian state without a single Israeli he said that what he meant was no Israelis who were "part of the occupation", but that he wouldn't have a problem with Jews or Israelis coming to Palestine for business or tourism reasons, as long as they were not an occupying force. 
On 5 September 2013, Palestinian negotiator Nabil Shaath said that Israel has yet to put any new offers on the table, that Israel has only allowed Martin Indyk to attend one of the six talks so far, and that the Palestinian leadership would not accept "temporary solutions", only a permanent peace deal.  On 8 September, Israel accused the Palestinians of leaking information about the talks, which are supposed to be kept secret, to the press. An Israeli official also stated that some of the information leaked by Palestinians was not true.  On 25 September, both Israel and the Palestinians agreed to intensify peace talks with an increased United States role. 
On 26 September, Mahmoud Abbas spoke in front of the UN Security Council, and welcomed the resumption of peace talks while at the same time criticizing Israel's settlement building. The Israeli delegation was not present for Abbas' speech, because they were observing the holiday of Sukkot.  Hamas and the Islamic Jihad called for a third intifada, and a spokesman for Hamas' armed wing said that the current peace talks were "futile". 
On 17 October 2013, Abbas reiterated his view that he would not accept any Israeli military presence on Palestinian territory.  On 22 October, Israel and the Palestinians are reported to have discussed the issue of water.  On 27 October, Israel prepared to release another round of Palestinian prisoners to create a positive climate for the ongoing peace talks.  On 28 October, Netanyahu categorically rejected the Palestinian right of return and said that Jerusalem must remain undivided.  On 29 October, the second stage of the Palestinian prisoners' release was completed as 26 prisoners were released. 
On 6 November, Israeli negotiators said there will not be a state based on the 1967 borders and that the Separation Wall will be a boundary.  On 14 November, the Palestinian team quit the negotiations blaming the "escalation of settlement-building." 
On 4 December 2013, Saeb Erekat told John Kerry that the peace talks with Israel were faltering and urged Kerry to salvage them. Also, an Israeli newspaper reported that Israel was prepared to hand 2000 hectares (5000 acres, or 7 sq. mi.) of land to the Palestinians to show that it was prepared to allow Palestinian projects on these lands. The land had been privately owned by Palestinians but militarily occupied by Israel.  On 26 December, Likud ministers led by Miri Regev began pushing a bill to annex the Jordan Valley, which would prevent Netanyahu from accepting the American proposal for the Jordan Valley and border crossings into Jordan to be placed under Palestinian control, with border security provided by IDF soldiers and the US.  On 30 December, Saeb Erekat said that the peace talks had failed, citing the aforementioned Israeli bill to annex the Jordan Valley. Erekat said that denying the Palestinian state a border with Jordan would be a clear step toward apartheid, and that the PA should instead unilaterally seek international recognition and membership in organizations. Erekat also said that "Israel wants to destroy the two-state solution through its daily practices." The PLO senior official also rejected the idea of extending the peace talks beyond their nine-month deadline.  On 30 December, Israel released its third set of prisoners, consisting of 26 Palestinian security prisoners. 
On 1 January 2014, Maariv reported that Israeli and American leaders had been discussing, and seriously considering, the possibility of ceding parts of the Arab Triangle to the Palestinians in exchange for Jewish settlements in the West Bank. The residents of the Triangle would automatically become Palestinian citizens if this happened. This idea is similar to the Lieberman Plan. Rami Hamdallah also said that despite Erekat's insistence that the talks had failed, the Palestinians would continue participating in the talks until the April deadline.  On 5 January, hardliners in Netanyahu's coalition threatened to withdraw from the government if he accepted the 1967 borders as a baseline for talks. Dovish opposition parties, such as Labor, said they would join if this occurred, in order to prevent the coalition from breaking up completely.  On 9 January, according to insiders, support for a two-state agreement within the Knesset stood at 85 in favor to 35 opposed. In addition to the Labor Party, American negotiators were also attempting to persuade Haredi parties Shas and United Torah Judaism, both of which are generally supportive of the peace process, to join the government to keep negotiations alive. 
On 10 January 2014, Israel approved plans for 1,400 settler homes. Saeb Erekat responded by saying "The recent announcement shows Israel's clear commitment to the destruction of peace efforts and the imposition of an apartheid regime".  Tzipi Livni, who also opposed new settler homes, was responded by Israeli politician Ze'ev Elkin, who suggested the settlements were vital for Israel's security: "The path that Livni recommends means we will have to say goodbye to our security," he said.  On 14 January, Israel's defense minister Moshe Ya'alon rejected the negotiations and insulted John Kerry, saying he was acting based upon "messianic feeling", and that "The only thing that can 'save' us is that John Kerry will get a Nobel Peace Prize and leave us alone." Yuval Steinitz, another members of the Likud, expressed general agreement with Ya'alon's views, but disagreed with the personal insult.  However, Yaalon later issued an official apology in a written statement sent to media from the Defense Ministry.  On 18 January, Israel's finance minister Yair Lapid threatened to take his party, Yesh Atid, out of the coalition if peace talks did not advance. This would have toppled the government and forced either the formation of a new coalition, or early elections. 
On 21 January 2014, Israel announced plans for 381 new settler homes in the West Bank. The Palestinians condemned this move, and also ruled out the possibility of the peace talks extending beyond the nine-month deadline.  On 22 January, Abbas said he would like Russia to take a more active role in the negotiations.  On 27 January, the Palestinians said they would not allow "a single settler" to remain in a Palestinian state, but that this did not stem from anti-Jewish attitudes. Rather, Jews living in the West Bank would have the option of remaining if they renounced their Israeli citizenship and applied to be citizens of Palestine. A poll has shown that 4.5% of Jewish settlers would consider becoming Palestinian citizens under such an arrangement.  On 31 January, according to Martin Indyk, the framework for the US-backed Middle East peace deal will allow up to 80 per cent of Jewish settlers to remain in the West Bank. The deal would redraw borders so that some 80 per cent of settlers' homes would be redesignated as being in Israel, while other parcels land would be handed back to Palestinian control in a proposed land-swap deal. Another key point of the framework would be that Israel would be allowed to retain a role in maintaining security along the West Bank's border with neighbouring Jordan. The new security arrangements would see a zone created with hi-tech fences equipped with sensors and drone surveillance planes flying overhead. Also the final peace treaty could also provide compensation for victims on both sides of the historic conflict. 
On 3 February 2014, Abbas suggests that US-led NATO troops patrol a future Palestinian state instead of Israeli troops having a presence in Jordan Valley, but Israeli settlers and soldiers have five years to leave Palestine once the state is formed.  On 6 February, Israel reportedly sought to annex 10 percent of the West Bank, but Palestinian negotiators insisted that they keep at least 97 percent.  On 9 February, ministers voted down a proposal by Likud legislator Miri Regev to annex certain West Bank settlements and the roads leading to them. 
During the course of negotiations, Netanyahu followed the precedent of Israel's former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert  and made recognition of Israel as a Jewish state a requirement for peace. Some news sources falsely reported that Netanyahu was the first Israeli Prime Minister to make such a requirement.  Urging Abbas to recognize Israel as the Jewish-nation state, he reportedly said:
'it's time for the Palestinians to stop denying history. Just as Israel is prepared to recognize a Palestinian state, the Palestinian leadership must be prepared to recognize the Jewish state. In doing so you will tell your people that, though we have a territorial dispute, Israel's right to exist is beyond dispute. You would finally make it clear that you are truly prepared to end the conflict." 
To that end, he announced his intention to introduce such a definition of Israel in a Basic Law. The proposed law would be in addition to Israel's declaration of independence of May 1948 which defines Israel as a Jewish state. Justice Minister Tzipi Livni expressed concern over the proposal. Although she was in favor of defining Israel more clearly in law as "the national home of the Jewish people and a democratic state", she has expressed opposition to "any law that gives superiority" to the Jewish nature of state over the country's democratic values. Livni also said she could only support legislation where "Jewish and democratic would have the same weight, not more Jewish than democratic, nor more democratic than Jewish". 
Abbas dismissed this demand, pointing out that the Palestinians had already extended recognition of the State of Israel, both in 1988 and in the 1993 Oslo Accords. He added that, neither Jordan nor Egypt, with whom Israel had made peace treaties had been asked to recognize Israel's Jewish character. The Palestinians would never accept Israel as a 'religious state' since, it would damage the rights of Israel's Palestinian minority and
'to accept it now as a Jewish state would compromise the claims of millions of Palestinian refugees whose families fled the fighting that followed Israel's creation in 1948 and were not allowed to return."   
On 28 March 2014, Israel failed to release the fourth tranche of 26 Palestinian prisoners, as scheduled, in what Palestinian sources say was a violation of the original terms for the peace talks,  According to Israeli officials, the Palestinians had publicly claimed that they would break off peace talks once the final batch of prisoners were released.   Israel reportedly demanded an extension of the April 29 deadline before the release.  The agreement had included a Palestinian undertaking not to sign up for international conventions. After Israel withheld the prisoners' release, Mahmoud Abbas went ahead and signed 15 conventions regarding adhesion to human and social rights. Israel then demolished several EU funded humanitarian structures in E1 [ citation needed ] and stated the prisoners' release depended on a Palestinian commitment to continuing peace talks after the end of April deadline.  Some days later, Israel approved tenders for 708 more Israeli residential units beyond the Green Line, in Gilo, followed by various sanctions against Palestinians in retaliation for their joining of international conventions.  
At the end of March, Haaretz reported that the United States, Israel and the Palestinian Authority were negotiating a "grand bargain" to "salvage peace talks".  Kerry and Netanyahu discussed a possible deal to extend them until the end of 2014 and to ensure the Palestinians didn't make unilateral moves at the United Nations.  The Israeli proposal conditioned the release of the fourth tranche of 26 Palestinian prisoners on an extension of the negotiations beyond the current deadline of 29 April and included the release about 400 low-profile Palestinian prisoners, as well as the 26 high-profile prisoners, including 14 Israeli Arabs.   It excluded the high-profile prisoners Marwan Barghouti and Ahmad Saadat who Israel categorically refused to release.  Israel also offered to put an unofficial freeze on most settlement construction outside of East Jerusalem for the next eight months.  Israel said it would resolve the status of family reunification requests submitted by some 5,000 families in the West Bank and Gaza.  According to Israeli officials, the United States would release Jonathan Pollard as a concession to Israel.  On 23 April 2014, The Jerusalem Post reported that Abbas listed 3 conditions for extending peace talks beyond the 29 April deadline that the borders of a future Palestinian state be dealt with during the first three months of the extended talks, a complete freeze on all settlement construction, and the release without deportation of the fourth batch of Palestinian prisoners, including Israeli-Arabs. 
Israel reacted angrily to the Fatah–Hamas Gaza Agreement of 23 April 2014 whose main purpose was reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas, the formation of a Palestinian unity government and the holding of new elections.  Israel halted peace talks with the Palestinians, saying it "will not negotiate with a Palestinian government backed by Hamas, a terrorist organization that calls for Israel's destruction", and threatened sanctions against the Palestinian Authority,   including a previously announced Israeli plan to unilaterally deduct Palestinian debts to Israeli companies from the tax revenue Israel collects for the PA.  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Abbas of sabotaging peace efforts. He said that Abbas cannot have peace with both Hamas and Israel and has to choose.   Abbas said the deal did not contradict their commitment to peace with Israel on the basis of a two-state solution  and assured reporters that any unity government would recognize Israel, be non-violent, and bound to previous PLO agreements.  Shortly after, Israel began implementing economic sanctions against Palestinians and canceled plans to build housing for Palestinians in Area C of the West Bank.  Abbas also threatened to dissolve the PA, leaving Israel fully responsible for both the West Bank and Gaza,  a threat that the PA has not put into effect. [ citation needed ]
Notwithstanding Israeli objections and actions, a Palestinian Unity Government was formed on 2 June 2014. 
On 8 July 2014, in David Intercontinental Hotel  (Tel Aviv) took place Haaretz's "Israel Conference on Peace". Among participants: Members of Knesset, President Shimon Peres, Minister Naftali Bennett and representatives of Israelis and Palestinians peace organizations.   
- . Peace is the only path to true security for Israel and the Palestinians, an exclusive article for Haaretz's Israel Conference on Peace // This article was written before 30 June 2014. Published in Haaretz, 8 July 2014 | 4:00 AM . Palestine's vision of peace is clear // Haaretz, 7 July 2014 | 6:00 PM . Peace would be possible with the Arab Peace Initiative at its core // Haaretz, 7 July 2014 | 9:17 PM
On 2 May 2014, the Hebrew daily Yedioth Ahronoth, cited an anonymous senior American official as placing the blame for the break-down in talks mainly on Israel's settlement stance, directly quoting the remark: 'Netanyahu did not move more than an inch." Israeli sources in Jerusalem later reported that the remarks came from the US Special Envoy Indyk himself, who was reportedly preparing to hand in his resignation.  Whoever the source of the comment, the White House cleared the interview in which the remarks were made.  In this the officials appeared to be referring to the Israeli government announcement of a record 14,000 new settlement housing units.   Mark Landler has written that the remark attributed to Indyk reflected the President's own views:
Publicly, Mr. Obama has said that both sides bear responsibility for the latest collapse. But the president believes that more than any other factor, Israel’s drumbeat of settlement announcements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem poisoned the atmosphere and doomed any chance of a breakthrough with the Palestinians. 
In a talk later given at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Indyk stated that Netanyahu had shown enough flexibility to come within the zone of an agreement. However, Indyk also stated that Netanyahu was undermined by members of his coalition, who kept making announcements of new settlements.  Although Israeli sources insisted that Netanyahu negotiated in good faith.  In an interview with The New York Times, Indyk further added that his impression was that, 'For Israelis . .(t)The Palestinians have become ghosts,' citing what he felt was the most meaningful personal moment in the talks, when the Palestinian Director of Intelligence, Majid Faraj, told his Israeli counterparts across the table, "You just don't see us." He also said that "there is so much water under the bridge. the difficulties we faced were far more because of the 20 years of distrust that built up". 
Pope Francis during his three-day pilgrimage to the Middle East, intervened in the collapsed peace process, endorsing the State of Palestine, calling the situation "increasingly unacceptable" and issuing an invitation to both the Israeli and Palestinian presidents to join in a prayer summit at his home in the Vatican. A meeting was scheduled to that effect for 6 June. 
In June 2014, a leaked recording from an unknown date showed that chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat believed the reason Netanyahu entered the peace talks was to build more settlements and disliked how President Mahmoud Abbas had committed to not go to international bodies. 
However, Israeli national security adviser Joseph Cohen revealed a 65-page document that chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat submitted to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on 9 March, three weeks before Israel was to release the final batch of Palestinian prisoners. In it, Erekat proposed a strategy for the PA during the final month of negotiations and after 29 April, when the talks were originally scheduled to end before their premature collapse. Erekat recommended applying to join various international conventions, informing the U.S. and Europe that the Palestinians wouldn't extend the talks beyond 29 April, demanding that Israel nevertheless release the final batch of prisoners, intensifying efforts to reconcile with Hamas to thwart what he termed an Israeli effort to sever the West Bank from Gaza politically, and various other diplomatic and public relations moves. Cohen concludes that even while the Palestinians were talking with Washington about the possibility of extending the peace talks, they were actually planning to blow them up, and had been planning to do so even before Abbas met with U.S. President Barack Obama on 17 March.  
According to Peace Now, during the nine months of peace talks Israel set a new record for settlement expansion at nearly 14,000 newly approved settler homes. [ citation needed ] Despite freezing settlements was not a precondition to restart peace talks,   Palestinian official Nabil Shaath condemned settlement construction, saying "the settlement activities have made negotiations worthless."  For its part, Israeli spokesman Mark Regev condemned sporadic Palestinian incitement, saying "the terrorist attacks against Israelis over the last few days are a direct result of the incitement and hatred propagated in Palestinian schools and media."  According to B'Tselem, during this same period forty-five Palestinians and six Israelis were killed. 
US Secretary of State John Kerry said that if the peace talks failed, there would likely be a third intifada.  Despite all efforts of John Kerry, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas blamed Israel for the lack of progress, saying "the problem is with the Israeli side and not with us,"  In January, a PLO member reported that the US implied a threat to cut all aid to the Palestinian Authority and a future inability to control Israeli settlement expansion if a peace agreement was not reached. 
EU Ambassador to Israel, Lars Faaborg-Andersen said if peace talks fail, Israel will likely be blamed for the break down.  Yair Lapid said that the country could be targeted by an economically costly boycott if peace talks with the Palestinians fail, signalling that concerns about growing international isolation have moved centre stage in Israel's public discourse. 
Some critics believe that Israel is only trying to "put on a show," claiming the Israelis do not seek a peace agreement, but are using these peace talks to further other goals, including improving their image, strengthening their occupation of the West Bank, and decreasing the viability of Palestine as a state free of Israeli occupation.    Henry Siegman faults the United States, arguing that it is 'widely seen as the leading obstacle for peace' for its repeated failure to use leverage against Israel, and for failing to impose red lines for an agreement, and leading Israeli leaders to believe no consequences would ensue were Israel to reject American proposals. 
Danny Danon stated that the Palestinians failed to make concessions during the negotiations period and that they were only interested in seeing militants released from prison.  Netanyahu told Kerry "I want peace, but the Palestinians continue to incite, create imaginary crises and avoid the historical decisions necessary for a real peace." 
Israel was accused by Palestinian officials of trying to sabotage the peace talks by approving nearly 1200 new settlement homes shortly before the negotiations were due to start.  Israeli settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.  Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev stated that these settlements would "remain part of Israel in any possible peace agreements."  
The British Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt said: "We condemn the recent decisions taken by the Israeli authorities to advance plans for 1096 settlement units in the West Bank, and to approve the construction of 63 new units in East Jerusalem. Israeli settlements are illegal under international law, undermine trust and threaten the viability of the two-state solution." 
On 13 August, Israel approved another 900 settler homes in East Jerusalem in addition to the 1,200 settlements announced on the 10th.  On 30 October, Israel stated it would go ahead with plans to build 3,500 more homes for settlers.  Netanyahu then said "any further settlement construction may stir unnecessary clashes with the international community". 
US will push economic side of peace plan at late June ‘workshop’ in Bahrain
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration on Sunday announced the first stages of its peace plan rollout, confirming that it will host a “workshop” in Bahrain in late June to focus on directing more economic investment to the West Bank and Gaza.
The gathering — formally dubbed the “Peace to Prosperity” workshop — will take place on June 25-26 in Manama, when the Trump team indicated it will release the first portion of its ambitious and highly anticipated proposal to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“This workshop is a pivotal opportunity to convene government, civil society, and business leaders to share ideas, discuss strategies, and galvanize support for potential economic investments and initiatives that could be made possible by a peace agreement,” the White House said in a joint statement with the Kingdom of Bahrain.
The summit, the statement added, will “facilitate discussions on an ambitious, achievable vision and framework for a prosperous future for the Palestinian people and the region, including enhancements to economic governance, development of human capital, and facilitation of rapid private-sector growth.”
The White House did not indicate whether Israel and the Palestinians would attend the summit in Bahrain, and nor did it specify other participants. According to CNN, finance ministers, rather than foreign ministers, will be invited to take part.
A senior administration official told reporters that invitations to the workshop are being sent to individuals in the United States, Europe, the Gulf, the wider Arab world and “some” Palestinian business leaders. The Trump administration decided to roll out the economic and political parts of the plan separately, the official said, adding that there will be no discussion about the political aspects of the plan at the upcoming workshop.
There was no immediate comment on the announcement from Israel or the Palestinians.
The Trump administration suggested the economic framework of the peace proposal would be debated before the resolution of core political issues, such as the question of Palestinian statehood.
White House Special Advisor Jared Kushner has already said that the team he is leading has refrained from even using the term “two-state solution.” The reason, he said, is that the term has different meanings to different people.
“Economic progress can only be achieved with a solid economic vision and if the core political issues are resolved,” Kushner said in a statement on Sunday. “We look forward to presenting our vision on ways to bridge the core political issues very soon.”
Kushner has said previously that the full contents of the plan will address all final-status issues, i.e., the major disputes to be resolved in negotiations, including borders, the status of Jerusalem, and what to do about Palestinian refugees.
An unnamed US official told CNN that the political aspects of the plan would be released at a later date.
“We recognize that this needs to go hand in hand with the political plan, but this will be the first chance to roll out details of the economic plan,” the official said.
“We think this will showcase the potential of the entire region,” the official added. “If there’s peace, it will touch on not only the West Bank and Gaza but also Jordan, Lebanon, Israel and Egypt. The economies will become integrated.”
“Think about how much money is spent on bullets right now,” said the official. “If it could be spent on infrastructure and human capital, think about how much better the region could be.”
Addressing all the outstanding issues on the political side, along with the White House’s economic vision for the Palestinians would make it “tough to digest,” said the official.
“It’s tough to digest both the economic and political proposals at once, since they’re both very detailed proposals,” the official said.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will attend the June confab, which the Trump administration said will include multiple business and political leaders throughout the region.
“This workshop will engage leaders from across the entire Middle East to promote economic growth and opportunity for the people in this important region,” Mnuchin said.
His Bahraini counterpart said the summit shows that the Trump administration was working with Arab countries in the Middle East to improve economic conditions.
“The ‘Peace to Prosperity’ workshop underscores the close strategic partnership between the Kingdom of Bahrain and the United States as well as the strong and shared interest in creating thriving economic opportunities that benefit the region,” said Bahrain’s Minister of Finance and National Economy Shaikh Salman bin Khalifa Al Khalifa.
Recent reports have said that the administration is preparing to offer a peace deal that will not include the establishment of a Palestinian state, which would be a non-starter for not only the Palestinian Authority but the rest of the Arab world and international community.
In March, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was looking into effectively annexing West Bank settlements, but wanted to coordinate the move with Washington.
US President Donald Trump has been criticized by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as favoring Israel over the Palestinians. Over the last three years, the president has moved the US Embassy to Jerusalem, cut aid to the Palestinians and United Nations Agencies that support the West Bank and Gaza, and recalled the Palestinian envoy to Washington.
In response, the Palestinians have refused to engage with Washington on diplomatic issues, and have preemptively dismissed the administration’s plan.
The rollout of the plan has been repeatedly delayed. Kushner said in March that the proposal would not be made public until after Israel forms a new government and the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which would put it at early June or later.
AP contributed to this report.
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Israel: A country at a crossroad
Yossi Mekelberg is an Associate Fellow at the Middle East and North Africa Program at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House, where he is involved with projects and advisory work on conflict resolution, including Track II negotiations. He is also the Director of the International Relations and Social Sciences Program at Regent&rsquos University in London, where he has taught since 1996. Previously, he was teaching at King&rsquos College London and Tel Aviv University. Mekelberg&rsquos fields of interest are international relations theory, international politics of the Middle East, human rights, and international relations and revolutions. He is a member of the London Committee of Human Rights Watch, serving on the Advocacy and Outreach committee. Mekelberg is a regular contributor to the international media on a wide range of international issues and you can find him on Twitter @YMekelberg.
For the last sixteen years the Interdisciplinary Centre Herzliya (IDC), one of the leading academic institutions in Israel, convenes what is probably the most important political-strategic conference in the country.
The Herzliya Conference, named after the city which hosts this prestigious institution, became a place of pilgrimage for vigorous and rigorous debates on the most fundamental issues affecting Israeli security and prosperity. It is an opportunity for politicians, generals, academics and social activists to reflect on the past and set an agenda for the years ahead.
A notable absentee was Prime Minister Netanyahu, who despite being scheduled to deliver the closing speech opted for a no show. By skipping this year’s conference he spared himself hearing some home truths about his lack of leadership and the disastrous direction in which he takes the country. Some of the boldest criticism was delivered by those who served in his government not that long ago.
As always, public debates in Israel are vibrant and painfully frank. They also bring to the surface not only areas of consensus, but likewise areas of deep divisions that polarise the political system and the society. Divisions are not confined to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is the most obvious issue that splits political opinion, or to relations with the surrounding Arab world, or even Iran.
They are as much about domestic priorities in education, the economy, welfare, and role of law for instance. With very few exceptions there is general agreement that the country’s military and economic strength ensures that Israel does not face any existential threat right now or in the foreseeable future.
It is the short-sightedness of this government that sees peace and ending the occupation as a price to pay for gaining acceptance in the region, instead of a win-win situation
Nevertheless, an absence of an existential threat does not equate to a lack of looming security challenges. Israeli strategists see in front of them an increasingly more complex region, in which state rivalries and conventional battlefields are almost confined to the past. It is the perils of uncertainty and unpredictability, which are disconcerting to any political and military leadership, and Israel is no exception to this rule.
Military doctrines find it very difficult to thwart, for instance, terrorism carried out by individuals or by small groups with no organisation behind them, but who are instead motivated by fanatical ideology and hatred.
There is also a growing understanding that in my mind is well overdue, that the term Arab-Israeli conflict is irrelevant anymore. Most of the Arab world appears to have no interest in conflict with the Jewish state. Peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan have survived considerable tests, and the turmoil in large parts of the region has presented not only threats, but also new opportunities for closer cooperation with those who are seen as pragmatic or stability seeking states, whether in the Gulf or in North Africa.
The Arab Peace Initiative
This resulted in a newfound enthusiasm, some tactical some strategic, with the Arab Peace Initiative (API) – conceived in Riyadh and delivered by the Arab League in Beirut more than fourteen years ago. Whereas, the Netanyahu government and the prime minister himself pay no more than lip service to this initiative, others in Israel gradually internalise that this initiative provides Israel with the best opportunity to end the conflict with the Palestinians and be accepted in the region.
Netanyahu and his delusional political camp hope that rapprochement between Israel and those in the Arab world, who see Israel as an asset in fighting radicalism or containing Iran, could be satisfied by statements of support for the API alone. Those who are more grounded in Middle Eastern realities, and I had heard quite a few of them over this past week, recognise that there is a need for progress on the Palestinian track to create a more conducive environment for improving relations with Israel.
It is the short-sightedness of this government that sees peace and ending the occupation as a price to pay for gaining acceptance in the region, instead of a win-win situation.
Not surprisingly the most critical views, in a packed and fascinating gathering, came from two figures, who served in Netanyahu’s government as Defence Ministers and intimately know how he operates. Both Ehud Barak and Moshe Ya’alon, former generals who also led the Israeli military, accused the current prime minister of endangering the product of the Zionist movement – the state of Israel.
It would be difficult to argue with their very sober and sombre verdict that Netanyahu is ruling by dividing the society, very effectively utilising fear and cronyism as his main tools for staying in power. Moreover, due to his obsession with power, he left himself hostage in the hands of the most fanatical in the Israeli political system, and wanders from one political crisis to another with no strategy or direction.
Beyond these gentlemen’s own personal ambitions, there was a real concern in their voices that the current government is destroying the very foundations of Israeli democracy through anti-democratic legislation and attacks on the High Court of Justice. Furthermore, corruption, growing inequalities, incitement and discrimination of the ‘other’, is crushing the Israeli society, and evidence is definitely on their side. Moreover, without peace with the Palestinians based on a two state solution, Israel is heading, as Barak warned, towards becoming either an apartheid state or a bi-national one, but not one that is Jewish and democratic.
Not for the first time, I left Israel with mixed feelings regarding the direction the country is taking and concerned about its future. I have heard diverse and lucid expressions about the need for peace and the sacrifices that come with it, the need for engagement with the region and the need for urgent domestic reforms.
However, there is a sense of resignation that the same public that expresses support of all of this, still elects those who do exactly the opposite to power. I cannot help but think that one must rely on the discipline of psychology to explain this phenomenon instead of political science. No one understands this better than the incumbent prime minister.
Yossi Mekelberg is an Associate Fellow at the Middle East and North Africa Program at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House, where he is involved with projects and advisory work on conflict resolution, including Track II negotiations. He is also the Director of the International Relations and Social Sciences Program at Regent’s University in London, where he has taught since 1996. Previously, he was teaching at King’s College London and Tel Aviv University. Mekelberg’s fields of interest are international relations theory, international politics of the Middle East, human rights, and international relations and revolutions. He is a member of the London Committee of Human Rights Watch, serving on the Advocacy and Outreach committee. Mekelberg is a regular contributor to the international media on a wide range of international issues and you can find him on Twitter @YMekelberg.
George W. Bush Administration: Speech Outlining the "Bush Peace Plan"
For too long, the citizens of the Middle East have lived in the midst of death and fear. The hatred of a few holds the hopes of many hostage. The forces of extremism and terror are attempting to kill progress and peace by killing the innocent. And this casts a dark shadow over an entire region.
For the sake of all humanity, things must change in the Middle East.
It is untenable for Israeli citizens to live in terror. It is untenable for Palestinians to live in squalor and occupation. And the current situation offers no prospect that life will improve. Israeli citizens will continue to be victimized by terrorists, and so Israel will continue to defend herself, and the situation of the Palestinian people will grow more and more miserable.
My vision is two states, living side by side, in peace and security. There is simply no way to achieve that peace until all parties fight terror.
Yet at this critical moment, if all parties will break with the past and set out on a new path, we can overcome the darkness with the light of hope.
Peace requires a new and different Palestinian leadership, so that a Palestinian state can be born.
I call on the Palestinian people to elect new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror. I call upon them to build a practicing democracy based on tolerance and liberty.
If the Palestinian people actively pursue these goals, America and the world will actively support their efforts. If the Palestinian people meet these goals, they will be able to reach agreement with Israel and Egypt and Jordan on security and other arrangements for independence.
And when the Palestinian people have new leaders, new institutions and new security arrangements with their neighbors, the United States of America will support the creation of a Palestinian state, whose borders and certain aspects of its sovereignty will be provisional until resolved as part of a final settlement in the Middle East.
In the work ahead, we all have responsibilities. The Palestinian people are gifted and capable and I'm confident they can achieve a new birth for their nation.
A Palestinian state will never be created by terror. It will be built through reform. And reform must be more than cosmetic change or a veiled attempt to preserve the status quo. True reform will require entirely new political and economic institutions based on democracy, market economics and action against terrorism.
Today, the elected Palestinian legislature has no authority, and power is concentrated in the hands of an unaccountable few. A Palestinian state can only serve its citizens with a new constitution which separates the powers of government.
The Palestinian parliament should have the full authority of a legislative body. Local officials and government ministers need authority of their own and the independence to govern effectively.
The United States, along with the European Union [EU] and Arab states, will work with Palestinian leaders to create a new constitutional framework and a working democracy for the Palestinian people. And the United States, along with others in the international community, will help the Palestinians organize and monitor fair, multiparty local elections by the end of the year, with national elections to follow.
Today, the Palestinian people live in economic stagnation, made worse by official corruption. A Palestinian state will require a vibrant economy, where honest enterprise is encouraged by honest government.
The United States, the international donor community and the World Bank stand ready to work with Palestinians on a major project of economic reform and development. The United States, the EU, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund are willing to oversee reforms in Palestinian finances, encouraging transparency and independent auditing. And the United States, along with our partners in the developed world, will increase our humanitarian assistance to relieve Palestinian suffering.
Today, the Palestinian people lack effective courts of law and have no means to defend and vindicate their rights. A Palestinian state will require a system of reliable justice to punish those who prey on the innocent. The United States and members of the international community stand ready to work with Palestinian leaders to establish, finance and monitor a truly independent judiciary.
Today, Palestinian authorities are encouraging, not opposing terrorism.
This is unacceptable. And the United States will not support the establishment of a Palestinian state until its leaders engage in a sustained fight against the terrorists and dismantle their infrastructure.
This will require an externally supervised effort to rebuild and reform the Palestinian security services. The security system must have clear lines of authority and accountability, and a unified chain of command.
America's pursuing this reform along with key regional states. The world is prepared to help, yet ultimately these steps toward statehood depend on the Palestinian people and their leaders. If they energetically take the path of reform, the rewards can come quickly. If Palestinians embrace democracy, confront corruption and firmly reject terror, they can count on American support for the creation of a provisional state of Palestine.
With a dedicated effort, this state could rise rapidly, as it comes to terms with Israel, Egypt and Jordan on practical issues such as security. The final borders, the capital and other aspects of this state's sovereignty will be negotiated between the parties as part of a final settlement.
Arab states have offered their help in this process, and their help is needed.
I've said in the past that nations are either with us or against us in the war on terror. To be counted on the side of peace, nations must act. Every leader actually committed to peace will end incitement to violence in official media and publicly denounce homicide bombings. Every nation actually committed to peace will stop the flow of money, equipment and recruits to terrorist groups seeking the destruction of Israel, including Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah.
Every nation actually committed to peace must block the shipment of Iranian supplies to these groups and oppose regimes that promote terror, like Iraq.
And Syria must choose the right side in the war on terror by closing terrorist camps and expelling terrorist organizations.
Leaders who want to be included in the peace process must show by their deeds an undivided support for peace.
And as we move toward a peaceful solution, Arab states will be expected to build closer ties of diplomacy and commerce with Israel, leading to full normalization of relations between Israel and the entire Arab world.
Israel also has a large stake in the success of a democratic Palestine. Permanent occupation threatens Israel's identity and democracy. A stable, peaceful Palestinian state is necessary to achieve the security that Israel longs for.
So I challenge Israel to take concrete steps to support the emergence of a viable, credible Palestinian state.
As we make progress toward security, Israel forces need to withdraw fully to positions they held prior to September 28, 2000. And consistent with the recommendations of the Mitchell committee, Israeli settlement activity in the occupied territories must stop.
The Palestinian economy must be allowed to develop. As violence subsides, freedom of movement should be restored, permitting innocent Palestinians to resume work and normal life. Palestinian legislators and officials, humanitarian and international workers, must be allowed to go about the business of building a better future. And Israel should release frozen Palestinian revenues into honest, accountable hands.
I've asked Secretary [of State Colin L.] Powell to work intensively with Middle Eastern and international leaders to realize the vision of a Palestinian state, focusing them on a comprehensive plan to support Palestinian reform and institution building.
Ultimately, Israelis and Palestinians must address the core issues that divide them if there is to be a real peace, resolving all claims and ending the conflict between them.
This means that the Israeli occupation that began in 1967 will be ended through a settlement negotiated between the parties, based on U.N. Resolutions 242 and 338, with Israeli withdrawal to secure and recognized borders.
We must also resolve questions concerning Jerusalem, the plight and future of Palestinian refugees, and a final peace between Israel and Lebanon and [between] Israel and a Syria that supports peace and fights terror.
All who are familiar with the history of the Middle East realize that there may be setbacks in this process. Trained and determined killers, as we have seen, want to stop it. Yet the Egyptian and Jordanian peace treaties with Israel remind us that, with determined and responsible leadership, progress can come quickly.
As new Palestinian institutions and new leaders emerge, demonstrating real performance on security and reform, I expect Israel to respond and work toward a final status agreement.
With intensive effort by all of us, agreement could be reached within three years from now. And I and my country will actively lead toward that goal.
I can understand the deep anger and anguish of the Israeli people. You've lived too long with fear and funerals, having to avoid markets and public transportation, and forced to put armed guards in kindergarten classrooms. The Palestinian Authority has rejected your offered hand and trafficked with terrorists. You have a right to a normal life. You have a right to security. And I deeply believe that you need a reformed, responsible Palestinian partner to achieve that security.
I can understand the deep anger and despair of the Palestinian people. For decades you've been treated as pawns in the Middle East conflict. Your interests have been held hostage to a comprehensive peace agreement that never seems to come, as your lives get worse year by year.
You deserve democracy and the rule of law. You deserve an open society and a thriving economy. You deserve a life of hope for your children.
An end to occupation and a peaceful democratic Palestinian state may seem distant, but America and our partners throughout the world stand ready to help, help you make that possible as soon as possible.
If liberty can blossom in the rocky soil of the West Bank and Gaza, it will inspire millions of men and women around the globe, who are equally weary of poverty and oppression, equally entitled to the benefits of democratic government.
I have a hope for the people of Muslim countries. Your commitments to morality and learning and tolerance led to great historical achievements, and those values are alive in the Islamic world today. You have a rich culture, and you share the aspirations of men and women in every culture. Prosperity and freedom and dignity are not just American hopes or Western hopes, they are universal human hopes. And even in the violence and turmoil of the Middle East, America believes those hopes have the power to transform lives and nations.
This moment is both an opportunity and a test for all parties in the Middle East: an opportunity to lay the foundations for future peace a test to show who is serious about peace and who is not.
The choice here is stark and simple. The Bible says, "I have set before you life and death . . . therefore choose life . . . " The time has arrived for everyone in this conflict to choose peace and hope and life.
Forget peace. Trump and Israel want Palestinian surrender.
It’s tough to recall a recent U.S. diplomatic initiative as universally derided as Jared Kushner’s “Peace to Prosperity” workshop held in Bahrain. President Trump’s son-in-law and chief Middle East adviser convened the two-day event, which ends Wednesday, as a key plank of his drive to forge the “ultimate deal” between the Israelis and Palestinians. But to a wide range of American, Palestinian and Israeli experts, the proceedings in Bahrain’s capital, Manama, illustrated everything that’s wrong with the White House’s approach to Mideast peace.
On paper, Kushner’s vision for raising $50 billion in investment in the region for a raft of infrastructure and business projects may seem unobjectionable. But the source of these funds remains unclear and unlikely to be resolved this week. Moreover, a significant number of the proposals detailed in a 96-page pamphlet released by the White House this past weekend are revising or rehashing old plans already dreamed up by foreign governments, the World Bank, the Rand Corp. and others. These efforts mostly failed, noted my colleague Claire Parker, “in the absence of a mutually satisfying political agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians.”
That absence remains all the more glaring now. In the document outlining the White House’s economic vision, there was no mention of Palestinian statehood or ending the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories — two fundamental Palestinian demands that have been at least acknowledged by previous American administrations for close to three decades. Neither right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu nor Trump and his lead Middle East envoys seem interested in the creation of an independent Palestinian state. Trump’s ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, recently appeared to champion the Israeli annexation of areas in the West Bank.
Not surprisingly, Palestinian officials chose to boycott the initiative in Manama, rejecting any talk of economic aid without a meaningful political solution. Their decision came after the Trump administration systematically antagonized and alienated potential Palestinian interlocutors with a slew of actions over the past two years that undermined Palestinian interests and buttressed Netanyahu’s domestic political position. Key administration officials routinely take to Twitter to berate and bully Palestinian negotiators but never contradict their Israeli counterparts.
As a result of the Palestinian boycott, Israel didn’t send an official delegation, either. “You need two to tango, and the two of them are not here,” one Western diplomat in Manama told my colleague Loveday Morris.
Instead, the conference in Bahrain features a set of glitzy plenary speeches and panels, including various business leaders and bigwigs such as International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde and former British prime minister Tony Blair. A handful of delegations from Arab governments are in attendance, largely in recognition of their close ties to Washington.
“Those attending the event are doing so for largely cynical reasons. The Trump administration is under pressure to show some result from the more than two years of work that Kushner and his team have supposedly invested in their ‘deal of the century,’ ” wrote Gerald Feierstein, a former U.S. diplomat and senior vice president of the Middle East Institute, a Washington think tank. In an emailed memo, Feierstein concluded that “it’s likely that, after two days of sweaty rhetoric in Bahrain’s steamy capital, the participants will return to their normal affairs and the exercise will soon be consigned to the dustbin of history.”
Kushner and other American officials are aware of the main complaint. “To be clear, economic growth and prosperity for the Palestinian people are not possible without an enduring and fair political resolution to the conflict,” Kushner said during opening remarks Tuesday night. But he and his colleagues have deferred announcing the details of their political plan at least until after new elections and the formation of the next Israeli government, a process expected to conclude by November.