zaterdag 16 mei 2009
"I don't accept the axiom that we are not doing well. With Gaza, the world understood that Israel cannot stand for its citizens coming under fire. It happened as a result of years of diplomatic and media efforts. All in all, if you look at the broad spectrum of the diplomatic community, our stance among Western countries isn't too bad."
De wereld vond vooral dat Israel disproportioneel geweld gebruikte tegen een wanhopig en machteloos volk in een openlucht gevangenis vanwege een paar primitieve raketten die nauwelijks schade aanrichten, dit na een jarenlange blokkade om de bevolking te straffen voor hun democratische keuze voor de legitieme verzetsbeweging Hamas.
Last update - 13:42 15/05/2009
'Israel's PR appeal isn't lost, it just needs a new label'
Although Aharon Abramovich kept a low profile in the seven and a half years he ran the justice and foreign bureaus, he had a significant role in deciding on and executing some of the country's most important diplomatic and security events: the Disengagement from Gaza, Olmert's defunct Convergence Plan, the Second Lebanon War, the U.S.-sponsored Annapolis peace conference, and the IDF incursion into Gaza, also known as Operation Cast Lead.
Abramovich sat down with Haaretz after his retirement, and dished out some thoughts on how Israel might improve its face abroad.
According to Abramovich, the first step for the newly instated government is to adhere to the two-state solution.
"We're not improving our state of affairs by avoiding a solution," Abramovich said. "The world is invested in the Palestinian story day and night. There has not been a single official visiting from abroad who has not raised the Palestinian issue, be they from Europe, Asia or the U.S."
"The world expects us to reach a compromise and an agreement with the Palestinians. It has been decades since negotiations began, and the issue was never taken off our agenda. And if it is taken off, it would not be in our interest, but the other around," Abramovich added.
"Say we're allowed to rule the Palestinians for another few decades. That is not in our interest, even if the world complies. They'll say 'We get it, Israel isn't going out of there so let's discuss the alternatives including granting voting rights [to Palestinians], and a country other than a Jewish one.' That's the danger."
The reality of a Jewish democratic state
Abramovich, 58, went through a difficult personal transformation before he recognized the importance of land partition and the foundation of a Palestinian State.
He was raised by Etzel fighters: his grandfather was one of the organization's founders; his uncle took part in the 1946 bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, and was killed in the operation; and his father participated in the organization's first operational action, was exiled by British authorities to Kenya and Eritrea and escaped captivity. His mother was part of the King David operation's auxiliary unit.
"Two banks hath the Jordan River' wasn't only sung in my house then, it's still sung today," he said.
"At first, as a young man, I believed in those ideals, and even today I consider then impossible dreams. In the reality of a Jewish and democratic Israel those dreams had to be discarded."
The ideological change began during the Yom Kippur War, in which he served as an artillery officer and took part in the shelling of Damascus.
"The war represented a departure since it made it clear that it would be difficult to achieve the Greater Israel ideal if we want to remain a democracy," he said.
"It continued with coming to terms with the peace agreement which Menachem Begin signed with Egypt."
He was recruited to governmental service by former minister Meir Sheetrit, who knew him from their joint work in the Jewish Agency. Abramovich was then appointed director of the Justice Ministry in Ariel Sharon's first government in 2001.
He went on to work under ministers Tommy Lapid and Tzipi Livni, with whom he also moved to the Foreign Ministry. The two had never met, but the common "fighting families" background brought them together.
"Anyone who grew up in an Etzel fighters' family has a common identity. It's a unique and worthy bunch, very committed to the state," he said.
Both sides will concede
And so the children of Etzel fighters, Livni and Abramovich, found themselves leading negotiations with the Palestinians geared at a permanent peace treaty and land division.
Former prime minister Ehud Olmert also ran parallel talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Although no agreement was reached during those negotiations, Abramovich was left with an optimistic conclusion: "There was a sense that both sides were interested in making concessions. It wasn't only Israel that was yielding."
Where did you achieve progress?
"Some progress was made with regard to borders, security issues and refugees. There was no progress in regard to Jerusalem. I can assert clearly that there were no talks concerning Jerusalem," he said.
Do the Palestinians you were dealing with really accept the notion of a division based on the 1967 borders, or is it all just smoke and mirrors, as the right-wing claim?
"We negotiated with serious people who would like to see an independent Palestinian state and understand that it will be established in borders that even narrower than those of 1967, and they accept that concept. They also had interests to protect, and their desire to reach a compromise was just as powerful as ours."
So, where's the problem?
"Conceding borders and settlements is very difficult for Jews and Zionists. Regarding security, any compromise that represents less than what we have today is difficult. Issues such as water and aerial control can also immediately affect the quality of life and security of Israeli citizens."
"But Jerusalem is the most contested issue. We didn't discuss it with the Palestinians, and I'm comfortable for not discussing it, since I don't know if I could have handled it emotionally. My family came here in the 19th century. My father's underground name was 'Yerushalmi' [Jerusalemite]. My grandfather had the fact that he never left Jerusalem inscribed on his grave. I think that's the most difficult issue, one which I do not have an answer for."
And for the Palestinians?
I think for them the refugees represent a more significant national emblem."
Worried about Lieberman
Abramovich said that negotiations were held based on the assumption that an agreement would end conflicts and annul any future disputes. He affirmed that Israel did in fact ask the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state prior to the Annapolis peace conference, a request denied and which was subsequently never raised again. Incoming Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's statement saying Annapolis understandings are no longer relevant to the new government.
"Lieberman said that he supported the Road Map. The Road Map includes discussing Jerusalem and any of the other issues required to reach a Palestinian state. Lieberman said that he was for two-states, but that the current vehicles to achieve a solution had not worked and new ones need to be considered. I think the old vehicles are still relevant. He may return to them after trying, or he may not," he said.
Abramovich was first exposed to the diplomatic issues during the 2005 Disengagement from Gaza, during which he was in charge of talks with evacuees and organizing the 'Pinui Pitzui' [Evacuation-Compensation] Act.
He says that already in the their first meeting, the Gush Katif residents had a document, prepared years ago with the aid of attorneys and accountants, which was to serve as a base for compensation calculations.
He is at peace with the evacuation of the Gaza settlements but said that, in hindsight, things should have been dealt with differently, and that Israel should not have ceded control on Philadelphi Route and should not have evacuated the settlements on the strip's northern border, both as a result of security concerns as well as so not to set a precedent of going back to the 1967 borderlines.
Working on the Disengagement brought Abramovich closer to then prime minister Ariel Sharon. Shortly before falling ill, Sharon put Abramovich in charge or examining the possibility of another unilateral withdrawal in the West Bank, what Olmert later dubbed the Convergence Plan. Sharon never had the chance to listen to the team's conclusions, which were given to Olmert just before the Second Lebanon War.
According to Abramovich, the Convergence report served as the base for United Nations Security Council resolution 1701, which ended the Second Lebanon War. The Convergence team looked into the possibility of positioning a multinational task force in the West Bank, and so Livni and Abramovich were first exposed to the idea which was later brought up as a possible exit strategy to the fighting in northern Israel.
The Foreign Ministry's proposals, which were being prepared as early as in war's second day, were ultimately realized in the Security Council's resolution. Both the war and the subsequent Winograd Commission report solidified the Foreign Ministry's position.
"I was at every place I thought I needed to be during Operation Cast Lead, in the most sensitive discussions and briefings," he said. It is his opinion that the Foreign Ministry should hold on to those achievements.
Abramovich's lesson from the war in Gaza earlier this year is that "The use of power is something which needs to be improved, the tools that are used in military campaigns."
"I don't know of any systems today that do not affect the civilian population, and in these kinds of systems the question should be raised as to what implements are used. There's a need to examine how these implements influence media concerns, how they influence the willingness of the international community to advance resolutions during fighting, and how they influence the various post-war investigations."
Is there a solution for Israel's media woes?
"I don't accept the axiom that we are not doing well. With Gaza, the world understood that Israel cannot stand for its citizens coming under fire. It happened as a result of years of diplomatic and media efforts. All in all, if you look at the broad spectrum of the diplomatic community, our stance among Western countries isn't too bad."
"There's the issue of addressing the general public. Over the years here in Israel, we've tried to reason with and convince everyone that when you see a newspaper picture with a child and a tank, that the tank is justified, because we are besieged and they are using children. But it's almost impossible to convince anyone that the tank is justified."
"That's where the idea of changing the label of Israel abroad. It's a notion that has yet to be executed, and one which I hope will be advanced by the next government. Israel needs to be identified as a living being, effervescent and breathing, and which, when aggravated, acts. We polled around the world about how we appear to people with no knowledge of the conflict."
"They asked random focus groups about their [conception of] various countries, and what they associate with them. When asked about Italy, people answered 'good wine, beautiful women, antiques.' When asked to draw an Italian house, they drew a garden or a backyard. When they're asked about Israel there's always silence, and no one says anything. The house holds only men, there's a security fence and cameras, and no vegetation. That's how the non-anti-Israel American sees an Israeli house, and that has to change.
According to the report, forces found 266 rockets, 40 mines, 50 mortar shells, 20 hand grenades and at least three anti-aircraft missiles.
No suspects have yet been arrested in the incident, security forces told the paper.
Meanwhile, the Lebanese newspaper Al-Mustakbal reported Friday that earlier this year Egyptian forces arrested four members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard suspected of organizing an espionage ring on Egyptian territory.
The ring was apparently headed by an Iranian intelligence official who entered Egypt using a forged Iraqi passport, according to the report.
Egyptian security forces last months discovered five smuggling tunnels along the country's border with the Gaza Strip, through which the Iran-backed Hezbollah militant group was allegedly planning to deliver explosives designated for terror attacks against Israel.
According to reports, the Hezbollah cell had coordinated its attacks with Israeli Arab citizens.
Also on Friday, Egyptian police shot and killed an African migrant near the border with Israel.
The man, who was shot four times in the chest and abdomen, was not carrying any documents proving his identity or nationality, the medical source said.
The security source said an Egyptian patrol detected him trying to infiltrate into Israel and ordered him to stop, opening fire when he did not.
For years Egypt tolerated tens of thousands of Africans on its territory but its attitude hardened after it came under pressure to halt rising numbers of Africans trying to cross into Israel.
In November, U.S.-based rights group Human Rights Watch called on Egypt to stop shooting African migrants.
An in-depth report by the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzilya) has exposed the false casualty claims of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) regarding the Gaza fighting (January 2009). According to the report:
"by checking the names on the PCHR list against Hamas websites, we found that many of those claimed by PCHR to be civilians were in fact hailed as militant martyrs by Hamas. Others listed by PCHR as civilians killed in Israeli raids later turned out to be Fatah members killed by Hamas, some of them in execution style killings. While both PCHR and ICT consider civil policemen to be noncombatants, our researchers found that many of the civil policemen killed also held operational ranks in the Hamas military wing. In fact, due to the structure of the Hamas military, it was difficult to draw a clear dividing line between purely civilian police functions and activity in support of military operations."
Independent research by bloggers and Jonathan Dahoah Halevi confirm these findings, which follow criticism of PCHR from NGO Monitor and CAMERA.
PCHR claims that only 236 out of 1,417 fatalities were combatants (16.6%). The IDF figures contrast sharply with these numbers: 709 affiliated with terror organizations, 295 classified as "uninvolved [in hostilities]," and 162 not-yet-identified.
PCHR's "statistics" have been widely cited as authoritative by NGOs and the media.
Also, on April 29, 2009, PCHR "Call[ed] upon the PNA [Palestinian National Authority] to announce an immediate moratorium on the use of [the] death penalty," after a Palestinian court sentenced a defendant to death for "treason and selling Palestinian lands to Israel." While not commenting on the issue of the alleged "crimes," PCHR also condemned Palestinian penal codes that "violate international standards of fair trial and do not include fair and independent mechanisms of appeal."
Thanks to MEMRI for gathering and translating these remarks. They could be just about the most important things you read about the Middle East this year.
As you go along, imagine the reaction of the conventional wisdom types if another American or European had said these things.
First up is Tareq al-Homayed, chief editor of al-Sharq al-Awsat, which might just be the best Arab newspaper in the world today. It combines the unusual characteristics of being both Saudi-owned yet relatively liberal.
Homayed explained that if the West is too lenient to extremists this is a grave mistake. Once you start talking to Hizballah you might as well negotiate with al-Qaida. "Openness for the sake of openness," he concluded, "makes the situation more complicated and sends the wrong message."
Khalil Al-'Anani in al-Hayat warned that the Obama administration's readiness to negotiate on a basis of making concessions with radical states and forces would teach Middle Easterners to conclude "that extremism is the most effective way to attract the U.S.'s attention, and to compel them to conduct dialogue." By showing weakness, the United States would ensure its enemies concluded that America was defeated and to make more demands. He even calls this policy one of "appeasement."
Another al-Hayat columnist, Elias Harfoush, reaches the same conclusion. Being too soft on the Taliban, for example, has brought no benefits to the Pakistani government but merely, "More murders and torture of those opposed to the movement and more suffering for the people" victimized by the radicals.
The West, he continued, just doesn't understand these Islamist movements, which equate Western efforts at dialogue with the West being defeated.
So also says the director-general of al-Arabiya television, the more moderate and UAE-backed competitor to al-Jazira, Abd al-Rahman al-Rashid. Rashid, former editor of al-Sharq al-Awsat, is one of the most courageous and articulate of the establishment liberals. I wrote about his work in my book, The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East.
No matter how hard Obama tries to please Islamists, Rashid explains, it won't work. "Despite all [Obama's conciliatory actions], violence has increased….None of these elements have changed their positions–despite everything Obama has done since assuming the presidency. Every step [Obama] takes towards [his foes] will only prompt them to challenge him" without making any concessions of their own.
But why are these Arab intellectuals saying these things? Simple, Western mistakes strengthening the Islamist revolutionaries may destroy their societies and even result in their own murders. That's a good incentive for them to encourage the West to stand up to Iran, Syria, Hamas, Hizballah, the Taliban, al-Qaida, and the Muslim Brotherhoods.
Mexicaanse griep "schuld van de Joden"
|dinsdag 12 mei 2009|
Moslimradicalen hebben de Mexicaanse griep aangegrepen om Joden weer in een kwaad daglicht te stellen. Zo verscheen in het Hamas-orgaan Felesteen een artikel getiteld "Allahs oorlog tegen de plunderaars ... varkensgriep". Opvallend is volgens Felesteen dat "zionisten" zijn begonnen met de verspreiding van de ziekte.
"Die plunderaars hebben de oorlog verklaard aan Allah."
De auteur van het artikel, Ka'inat Mahmoud Adwan uit de Gazastrook, voegt er nog aan toe dat de Joden ook profeten van Allah hebben vermoord , wijn drinken, varkensvlees eten en de moraal omlaag halen.
Verder publiceerde een website van de radicale Moslim Broederschap een antisemitische video met de titel "Varkensgriep of griepachtige Jood". De video probeert de Mexicaanse griep te associëren met de Joden, en beeldt de Israëlische minister van Buitenlandse Zaken Avigdor Lieberman af als een varken.
Het Iraanse Fars Nieuwsagentschap meldt dat het farmaceutische bedrijf Gilead Sciences kapitalen verdient aan de dreigende pandemie. Het agentschap wijst op de "joodse connectie" achter het Amerikaanse bedrijf. "Gilead", aldus Fars, "is een Hebreeuwse naam die is afgeleid van een Joodse heilige berg in het Midden-Oosten."
The Jerusalem Post
May 13, 2009 22:29 | Updated May 13, 2009 22:58
Analysis: Damascus gets what it needs
By JONATHAN SPYER
Syria, the President said, was "supporting terrorism, pursuing weapons of mass destruction and missile programs, and undermining US and international efforts with respect to the stabilization and reconstruction of Iraq."
These three accusations are related to verifiable activity currently being undertaken by the Damascus regime. Syria's activity in turn reflects the firmness of the regime's strategic choice to align itself with the regional alliance led by Iran.
Syria's actions should be observed well by all those currently promoting the feasibility of a "grand bargain" between Israel and the Arab world. They are evidence of the reality of a Middle East Cold War, in which the fault lines are growing ever clearer.
First, let's recall the details. With regard to supporting terrorism, it is well known that the leaderships of Hamas and Islamic Jihad are domiciled in Damascus. Syria has over the last decade built a close, mutually beneficial strategic relationship with Hizbullah. Damascus also serves as a large care home for various superannuated leftist Palestinian groups.
On weapons of mass destruction, reports have surfaced in recent days suggesting that the Syrians have constructed a biological weapons facility, on the site of the al-Kibar plutonium reactor destroyed by Israel in 2007. Certainly, Damascus's interest in both biological and chemical weapons is long-standing.
Syria possesses one of the largest and most advanced chemical warfare programs in the Arab world - including chemical warheads for all its major missile systems. It is known to possess a stockpile of the nerve agent sarin, and is in the process of attempting to develop the more powerful VX nerve agent, according to the CIA's bi-annual report on WMD proliferation. Damascus is also thought by western governments to possess a biological warfare development program.
On the "stabilization and reconstruction" of Iraq - the latest news is that after a short pause, Damascus has in the last month recommenced its practice of facilitating the entry of Sunni jihadi fighters into Iraq by way of Syria's eastern border. At the height of the Sunni insurgency, Damascus airport became a transit point for fighters from across the Arab world and beyond it seeking to make their way to Iraq. In mid 2007, 80-100 fighters per month were crossing into Iraq from Syria. Having fallen to close to zero earlier this year, the numbers are now up to 20 per month.
The charge sheet is both substantial, and formidable. It isn't hard to see why the US administration found it necessary to renew the sanctions. But the interesting question remains that of Syria's motive.
Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, and NSC senior official Daniel Shapiro have visited Damascus twice in the last two months. Feltman noted that the two sides found "lots of common ground" between them. Syrian Ambassador to the US Imad Moustapha happily described the "new spirit of serious discussion" that he found in his meetings with Obama administration officials.
So why, four months into Washington's courting of the Assad regime, has there been no improvement of any kind in Syria's stances regarding issues of concern to the US? Rather, where there has been change, it has been for the worse - as in the situation on the Iraqi border, and perhaps with regard to al-Kibar.
The regime has evidently done its calculations, and concluded that it has nothing to gain by loosening its relationship with the Iranians at the present time. US sanctions are not toothless. Oil and gas production in Syria has been hit because of lack of access to US technology. The aviation and banking sectors have also been affected. Damascus would substantively gain from seeing the sanctions lifted.
But Syria is also aware that with the region polarized between US and Iranian blocs, moving toward the former entails moving away from the latter. And it is not at all clear that the US could, or would, wish to provide Syria with the very tangible strategic benefits it currently gains from its close relations with Iran.
Washington wants a free Lebanon, a stable, strong Iraq, and progress towards peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Syria opposes all of these. Damascus seeks to rebuild its own power in Lebanon, to keep Iraq weak and strife-torn, and to benefit from its own self-proclaimed stance as the expression of pride and defiance in the Arab dispute with Israel.
Allies of Iran and Syria may be about to win elections in Lebanon, and are growing daily more powerful among the Palestinians. The alliance with Iran also makes Syrian meddling in Iraq a possibility, and may well prevent the reemergence of a strong and independent Baghdad.
The firmness of the Syrian stance suggests that Damascus expects US attempts at engagement with Iran to fail - making the issue a zero-sum game. On that basis, the reasons for the Syrian choice become clear. While rapprochement with the US might give the Assad regime something of what it wants, its alliance with Iran gives it most of what it needs.
Several diplomats have said that the Americans are asking Arab nations to drop demands for a right of return for Palestinian refugees and agree to either resettle them in the host countries or in the Palestinian territories.
Mubarak ruled out amending the initiative.
"Don't keep asking for an amendment. It will not be amended so long as you ask for it. All the countries are not approving the amendment," he said.
And President Mubarak also said:
Progress in peace negotiations must come before Arab recognition of Israel, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said in an interview with Israel TV broadcast late Tuesday.
Mubarak said in the interview that Egypt's views on the threat Iran poses are different from those of Israel.
He also said Egypt favors a Middle East without nuclear weapons, broadly hinting that he meant eliminating Israel's stockpile of nuclear bombs. Israel does not confirm or deny possessing nuclear weapons.
RAFAEL MEDOFF , THE JERUSALEM POST
Chaim Weizmann called it "a death sentence for the Jewish people." David Ben-Gurion said it was "the greatest betrayal perpetrated by the government of a civilized people in our generation." Seventy years ago this week, England declared a new policy for Palestine: Jewish immigration would be restricted to just 15,000 annually for the next five years, and after that would be permitted only with the agreement of Palestine's Arabs.
Just six months after the Kristallnacht pogrom, with German Jews desperately seeking a haven and country after country shutting its doors, the British closed off the one land that offered the hope of refuge.
Weizmann rushed to London to plead his case before prime minister Neville Chamberlain. "The prime minister sat before me like a marble statue; his expressionless eyes were fixed on me, but he never said a word," Weizmann later recalled. "I got no response. He was bent on appeasement of the Arabs and nothing could change his course." Well, maybe not quite nothing.
The British were, after all, in a particularly vulnerable position in May 1939. Two months earlier, Hitler had completed his dismemberment of Czechoslovakia, leaving the Munich agreement in tatters. War with England seemed inevitable. "London was in such dire need of American support," the historian Selig Adler has noted, "that a strong dissent from Washington would have probably forced a British reversal" of the White Paper.
American Zionists thought likewise. In the weeks before the publication of the White Paper, US Zionist leaders repeatedly urged president Franklin Roosevelt to intervene against the anticipated British action. The Jews closest to FDR, Justice Louis Brandeis and Rabbi Stephen Wise, begged the president to step in. Roosevelt tended to deflect these kinds of requests with a dose of charm. Calling Wise "Stevie" made the American Jewish Congress leader feel he was a personal friend of the most powerful man on earth. "The president glad-handed Zionist leaders," Prof. Adler recalled. "He would pacify his Jewish visitors with promises... but then failed to put these pledges into the executive pipeline."
TO BE SURE, Roosevelt was not happy about the rumored new British policy on Palestine. He instructed the State Department to inform London that the US hoped "no drastic changes" were in the offing. In a memo to secretary of state Cordell Hull on the day the White Paper was issued, FDR called it "something that we cannot give approval to." But there is a huge difference between "not giving approval" and expressing forceful, explicit disapproval. The British took note of Roosevelt's minimalist response and dug their heels in accordingly.
WOULD A DIFFERENT response by FDR have persuaded London to backtrack? An episode from 1936 may be instructive. That summer, the British were preparing to slash Jewish immigration to the Holy Land. Rabbi Wise appealed to Roosevelt to intervene, and with Election Day just a few months off, the president leaned on the British to relent. The restrictions were shelved. As a result, Wise biographer Melvin Urofsky notes, in the next three years, "more than 50,000 Jews, mostly from Germany and Austria, were able to join the Yishuv - men, women and children who would undoubtedly have perished had the 1939 White Paper been issued three years earlier."
It's true that 1939 was not the same as 1936. By 1939, Britain was close to war with Germany and was deeply worried about which side the Arab world would take in such a conflict. Supporters of the White Paper said the restrictions were needed to keep the Arab world from erupting in revolt.
But would there really have been such a serious Arab reaction if Jewish immigration were allowed to continue during the Holocaust years? In her autobiography, Golda Meir characterized British fears of an Arab revolt as wildly exaggerated: "A few Arab leaders might have made threatening speeches. Perhaps there would have been a protest march or two. Maybe there would even have been an additional act or pro-Nazi sabotage somewhere in the Middle East... But thousands more of the 6 million might have survived."
Despite the logic of Meir's argument, the British White Paper went into force. And Roosevelt was silent.
The history of FDR's response to the persecution of European Jewry is littered with empty promises, unfulfilled hopes and missed opportunities. Seventy years ago this week, one of the most important of those opportunities was squandered, and on the eve of the Holocaust, one of European Jewry's last avenues of escape was almost completely shut off. The consequences were catastrophic.
The writer is director of the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies.
Hezbollah deputy chief: We actively support Hamas
By Haaretz Service
Haaretz poll: Netanyahu just as bad as Olmert, if not worse
By Yossi Verter, Haaretz Correspondent
The poll, which Haaretz commissioned from Dialog, found that 28 percent of the 492 respondents said Netanyahu's performance was worse than that of Olmert, who at some stages of his career had only a single-digit approval rating. Another 27 percent of respondents said Netanyahu's performance was the same as Olmert's.
However, 31 percent said Netanyahu was a better premier, while 14 percent said they were undecided.
Asked about the peace process, 57 percent of respondents, or 280 people, said that Netanyahu should tell U.S. President Barack Obama that he supports a two-state solution when he visits Washington next week. Only 35 percent said Netanyahu should not give his consent, while 8 percent were undecided.
About 40 percent of respondents who identified themselves as Likud voter said Netanyahu should agree to a two-state solution.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman received a 31 percent approval rating, compared to 45 percent who said they were not pleased with his performance. Defense Minister Ehud Barak fared better, clinching a 60 percent approval rating, with only 27 percent of respondents unhappy.
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz received the lowest approval rating, with only 18 percent saying they were pleased with his performance. Almost half - 48 percent - said they were not pleased with his performance, while 34 percent said they did not know.
Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar received much better results, earning a 45 percent approval rating.
When asked about the state budget that was approved this week, only 28 percent of respondents approved of Netanyahu's conduct of the budget negotiations, while 52 percent said they were "dissatisfied" with his performance. About a fifth of those polled said they did not have an opinion on the matter.
Half of all respondents said the budget was "not good" for the economy, compared to 18 percent who said it was good. Another 32 percent, or 157 people, said they were undecided.
The central role that Histadrut labor federation chairman Ofer Eini played in formulating the budget irked a quarter of all respondents, who said this was a "negative" development. But 44 percent said Eini had a "positive" influence. The remaining 31 percent were undecided.
A plurality - 44 percent - said the budget should have earmarked more funds for social issues at the expense of defense spending. But 37 percent said the opposite was true, while 19 said they were undecided on this issue.
The survey, which has a 4.5 percent margin of error, was overseen by Professor Camil Fuchs of Tel Aviv University.
Palestinians and Israeli Jews to reach equal number by 2016, data shows
By Haaretz Service
According to the Bureau, 5.1 million of those who call themselves Palestinians reside in Israel or the Palestinian territories. Currently, there are 5.6 million Jews living in Israel.
donderdag 14 mei 2009
ZE09051205 - 2009-05-12
Prayer Placed by Pope in Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
"Send Your Peace Upon This Holy Land, Upon the Middle East"
JERUSALEM, MAY 12, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is the text of the prayer Benedict XVI placed in one of the cracks of the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem today.
* * *
God of all the ages,
on my visit to Jerusalem, the "City of Peace",
spiritual home to Jews, Christians and Muslims alike,
I bring before you the joys, the hopes and the aspirations,
the trials, the suffering and the pain of all your people throughout the
God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,
hear the cry of the afflicted, the fearful, the bereft;
send your peace upon this Holy Land, upon the Middle East,
upon the entire human family;
stir the hearts of all who call upon your name,
to walk humbly in the path of justice and compassion.
"The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul that seeks him" (Lam 3:25)!
© Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana
May 13, 2009 17:30 | Updated May 13, 2009 21:58
Visiting refugee camp, pope says W. Bank barrier 'tragic'
By JPOST.COM STAFF
The Palestinians scored a major publicity coup on Wednesday when Pope Benedict XVI spoke from a podium near the security barrier in the Aida refugee camp and the pontiff called the erection of the fence "tragic."
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salaam Fayad were in attendance as the pope visited a school near the barrier and 61 black balloons, symbolizing the 61 years since Israel was established, were released into the air.
Schoolchildren filed passed the pontiff and shook his hand.
"Towering over us, as we gather here this afternoon, is a stark reminder of the stalemate that relations between Israelis and Palestinians seem to have reached - the wall," said the pope. "In a world where more and more borders are being opened up - to trade, to travel, to movement of peoples, to cultural exchanges - it is tragic to see walls still being erected."
He said that on both sides of the wall, great courage was needed if fear and mistrust were to be overcome and if the urge to retaliate for loss or injury were to be resisted.
"My visit to the Aida refugee camp this afternoon gives me a welcome opportunity to express my solidarity with all the homeless Palestinians who long to be able to return to their birthplace, or to live permanently in a homeland of their own," said the pope. "To all the officials of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency who care for the refugees, I express the appreciation felt by countless men and women all over the world for the work that is done here and in other camps throughout the region."
He urged residents of the refugee camp to prepare for the time when they will be responsible for the affairs of the Palestinian people in years to come.
"Parents have a most important role here, and to all the families present in this camp I say: be sure to support your children in their studies and to nurture their gifts, so that there will be no shortage of well-qualified personnel to occupy leadership positions in the Palestinian community in the future," he said.
The pope went on to say that his "heart goes out" to all Palestinians who have suffered through family divisions caused by imprisonment, bereavement or movement restrictions.
"All Palestinian refugees across the world, especially those who lost homes and loved ones during the recent conflict in Gaza, are constantly remembered in my prayers," he assured them.
He said that the "Palestinians' longing for peace" took on a particular poignancy as they recalled the "events of May 1948" and the years of conflict that followed.
"You are now living in precarious and difficult conditions, with limited opportunities for employment," he said. "It is understandable that you often feel frustrated. Your legitimate aspirations for permanent homes, for an independent Palestinian State, remain unfulfilled. Instead you find yourselves trapped, as so many in this region and throughout the world are trapped, in a spiral of violence, of attack and counter-attack, retaliation, and continual destruction."
Benedict stressed that the entire world was longing for end to the constant fighting and that history had shown that peace could only come when the parties to a conflict were willing to move beyond their grievances and work together towards common goals, each taking the concerns and fears of the other side seriously and striving to build an atmosphere of trust.
"There has to be a willingness to take bold and imaginative initiatives towards reconciliation," he said. "But if each insists on prior concessions from the other, the result can only be stalemate."
Benedict added that while humanitarian aid had an essential role to play, the long-term solution to the Middle East conflict could only be political.
"No one expects the Palestinian and Israeli peoples to arrive at it on their own," he continued. "The support of the international community is vital, and hence I make a renewed appeal to all concerned to bring their influence to bear in favor of a just and lasting solution, respecting the legitimate demands of all parties and recognizing their right to live in peace and dignity, in accordance with international law."
He emphasized, though, that diplomatic efforts could only succeed if Palestinians and Israelis themselves were willing to emerge from the cycle of violence.
Warme en meelevende woorden voor de Palestijnen en de moeilijke situatie waarin zij verkeren.
Wanneer spreekt de paus zich even ondubbelzinnig uit voor een vrij Koerdistan, een vrij Tibet, of een onafhankelijk West Sahara?
En waarom spreekt hij geen medeleven uit met de vele Joodse vluchtelingen uit de Arabische landen, en de duizenden slachtoffers van terorristische aanslagen?
May 14, 2009
Pope Urges Palestinians to Resist Terrorism
By RACHEL DONADIO and ALAN COWELL
Rachel Donadio reported from Bethlehem and Alan Cowell from Paris.
"You represent a large nation of believers that knows what the Bible is, and it is your duty to pass on the message that the Jewish people deserve a revival, and to give us a little respect - to live in this land," Amar said.
Maar dat liet de paus na, in tegenstelling tot de warme woorden die hij had voor de Palestijnen en hun lijden op woensdag.
Een evenwichtiger houding was mooi geweest, maar wellicht ijdele hoop gezien het feit dat het Vaticaan Israel pas in 1994 erkende.
Last update - 13:36 12/05/2009
Pope: I am committed to Jewish-Christian reconciliation
By Yair Ettinger, Haaretz Correspondent and Haaretz Service
The pontiff met with Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yonah Metzger and Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar in Jerusalem, telling them he has delivered a prayer to God to help enact the command that one love their neighbor as they do themselves.
Metzger told the pope that he regretted that such meetings had not been held earlier in history.
"I thought to myself, if only a historic meeting like this in which the head of the biggest religion in the world meets in Jerusalem with the heads of Judaism, if this had happened many years earlier, so much innocent blood could have been saved," Metzger said.
"So much senseless hatred could have been prevented in the world," he said.
Amar reminded the pope that the Jewish people have been forced to run away from annihilation like no other people on earth.
"You represent a large nation of believers that knows what the Bible is, and it is your duty to pass on the message that the Jewish people deserve a revival, and to give us a little respect - to live in this land," Amar said.
"We pray to God that he will instill love and peace in the hearts of all the leaders of the world," he added.
The pope continued his historic pilgrimage through the Holy Land earlier Tuesday, visiting the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
He recited a prayer in Latin, before placing a note in the cracks of the wall, as is the custom. The Chief Rabbi of the Western Wall, Shmuel Rabinovich, also recited a prayer.
Earlier, Benedict visited the Temple Mount, where he shook hands with the mufti of Jerusalem and senior Islamic Waqf officials.
The German-born pope stood in prayer for several minutes at the Western Wall, a remnant of the Roman-era Temple complex that is Judaism's holiest place, after meeting the Grand Mufti, Palestinians' senior Muslim cleric, at the Dome of the Rock which dominates the Old City.
With the mufti, he recalled the common roots of all three monotheistic religions in the story of Abraham and Jerusalem. He placed a written prayer in the Western Wall, a traditional gesture, and then met Israel's two chief rabbis.
"Send your peace upon this Holy Land, upon the Middle East, upon the entire human family," the prayer said, according to text provided by the Vatican.
Palestinians later released balloons over Jerusalem's Old City in the colors of the Palestinian flag while the pope was at the Western Wall.
woensdag 13 mei 2009
Er is een interessante discussie gaande in de Arabische wereld:
May 13, 2009
All pigs must die because they descend from Jews:
According to Egyptian Islamic scholar
by Itamar Marcus & Barbara Crook
All pigs alive today are descendants of the Jews who were turned into pigs by Allah, according to a senior Egyptian religious leader. Since all pigs are descendants of Jews, it is obligatory to kill all pigs, says Sheikh Ahmed Ali Othman.
Presumably if pigs were merely animals, they would not face destruction. It is their Jewish ancestry that condemns them to death.
The Jordanian newspaper Al-Hakika al-Dawliya adds that this is not the only opinion. It cites Sheikh Ali Abu Al-Hassan, head of the Fatwa Committee at Al-Azhar [Sunni Islamic university], who believes that all the Jews who were turned into pigs by Allah died out without reproducing, and therefore there is no relationship between today's pigs and Jews.
The following is the transcript from Al-Moheet Arab News Network:
"CAIRO -- Sheikh Ahmed Ali Othman, supervisor of the Da'awa [Islamic Indoctrination] of the Egyptian Waqf [Islamic Holy places], has issued a Religious Ruling (Fatwa) that pigs in our time have their origins in Jews who angered Allah, such that He turned them into monkeys, pigs, and Satan-worshippers, and it is obligatory to kill and slaughter them [the pigs].
Othman based his ruling on the respected Quranic verse, 'Say [to the People of the Book - Jews and Christians], Come and I shall make known to you who receives the worst retribution of all from Allah: those whom Allah has cursed and upon whom He has poured His wrath, whom He has made into monkeys and pigs, and who have served abominations. Their place is worst of all, and their deviation is the greatest of all...' (Quran, sura 5, verse 60)
Sheikh Othman noted that this verse concerning the nation of the prophet Moses descended [from Allah to the Quran], and the books of commentary confirm this. There are two opinions among the Ulama [Islamic scholars] in this regard: The first is that the Jews, whom Allah transformed and turned into pigs, remained in that state until they died, without producing descendants. The other opinion is that the Jews who turned into pigs multiplied and produced descendants, and their line continues to this day. Sheikh Othman also cited Hadiths (traditions attributed to Muhammad) as support...
The Jordanian newspaper Al-Hakika al-Dawliya quoted Othman: "I personally tend towards the view that the pigs that exist now have their origins with the Jews, and therefore their consumption is forbidden in the words of Allah: 'A carcass, and blood, and the flesh of a pig are forbidden to you....' Moreover, our master Jesus, peace be unto him - one of the tasks that he will fulfill when he descends to earth is the killing of the pigs, and this is proof that their source is Jewish.
Sheikh Othman said that whoever eats pig, it's as if he ate meat of an impure person, and stressed that this Religious Ruling is backed by the Islamic Sages of Al Azhar, but they are afraid to say this publically... so the Sages won't be accused of Anti-Semitism.
Sheikh Ali Abu Al-Hassan, head of the Fatwa Committee at Al-Azhar [Sunni Islamic university], said that the first view is accurate, because when Allah punishes a group of people he punishes only them. When Allah grew angry with the nation of Moses, He turned them into pigs and monkeys as an extraordinary punishment... but they died out without leaving descendants."
[Al-Moheet Arab News Network, May 10, 2009]
[Al-Hakika al-Dawliya, May 9, 2009]
Contact Palestinian Media Watch:
p:+972 2 625 4140e: email@example.com
f: +972 2 624 2803w: www.pmw.org.il
PMW | King George 59 | Jerusalem | Israel
The Jordanian option is back
MICHAEL BAR-ZOHAR , THE JERUSALEM POST
In a speech in Turkey, US President Barack Obama stressed his commitment to the "two-state solution" of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Like him, many world leaders and Israeli statesmen keep repeating the two-state formula as if it were a magic spell.
One wonders if all those who parrot that mantra also understand what it means. In his speech Obama said the Israelis should try to see the problem through Palestinian eyes. But he should have done the same; if he had really tried to understand the Palestinian plight, he should have looked for a different solution.
The total area of the West Bank is 2,270 square miles, less than half the size of Los Angeles County. Out of this territory, the Judean desert occupies more than a third - 775 square miles. Does anybody believe that this tiny slice of territory, sandwiched between Israel and Jordan, will provide enough living space for the local 2.4 million Palestinians, and for millions of Palestinian refugees who will return to their homeland?
Moreover, 1.5 million Palestinians live in Gaza, on a territory of 141 square miles; those who want to give them a decent chance in life will have to transfer most of them to other parts of Palestine, namely the West Bank. Would the West Bank will be able to absorb another million Palestinians on its poor, arid territory?
One can imagine the poor masses of Palestinians looking over the border at the flourishing State of Israel, or coming to do manual work in its cities and watching the high-rises, the shiny new cars, the hi-tech tycoons, the elegant women, the investors flocking from all over the world. Wouldn't they be bitter and frustrated? Wouldn't they listen to the inflammatory speeches of hatred or revenge by their radical leaders, accusing Israel of taking their land? Wouldn't they be inclined to choose once again the path of terror and violence?
It appears that the supporters of the two-state solution are determined to give the Palestinians a state that would not be able to sustain itself economically.
But this isn't all. Everybody agrees that the state of Palestine should be demilitarized forever, and denied the right to sign defense agreements with other Muslim countries. Thus from its inception, the Palestinian state will have limited sovereignty. The very symbol of independence - the right to have their own army - will be denied to the Palestinians. That will be another source of frustration, and young Palestinians will be deeply hurt in their pride. Moderate Palestinian leaders who will try to reason with their people will find themselves overpowered by extremist leaders preaching violence.
IS THERE no solution, therefore, to the plight of the Palestinians? There is one, but it goes far beyond the childish two-state approach. It must be a regional solution, and it has to include at least Jordan or, even better, Jordan and Egypt.
The main part of the solution is a plan that some Israelis have named "the Jordanian option." It is based on the idea of a Palestinian-Jordanian federation.
The Palestinian state will have to enter into a federation with Jordan. Jordan is a largely uninhabited country that possesses huge tracts of land where the excess population of the West Bank, Gaza and the returning refugees can establish new towns and villages and find a little breathing space. Most of Jordan's citizens are Palestinians. If a West Bank Palestinian would like to serve in his nation's army, all that he'll have to do would be to cross the Jordan River (that is much deeper in history than in water) and become a soldier in the federation army. Thus the young Palestinians will feel that they are part of a sovereign nation and not impotent marionettes of two hostile states that encircle them.
Will Jordan agree to enter into a federation with the West Bank? King Hussein yearned to regain control over the West Bank. His son, King Abdullah II, should follow in his footsteps, not by regaining control but by creating a federal nation. He must realize that if he doesn't, the Palestinians may become a threat to his kingdom. If they can't get any more concessions from Israel, which is strong, they may try to spill into the weaker state of Jordan and get by force what they can't get by negotiation - participation in the life and government of Jordan.
WE ALSO have to tackle the painful issue of Gaza. If the peacemakers wouldn't be able or willing to evacuate the majority of Gazans into the West Bank and Jordan, they must give them more land to develop and settle. That land exists: the empty spaces of northern Sinai, between Rafah and El-Arish. This land belongs to Egypt, which fiercely refuses to cede even one inch of its territory to the Palestinians. But if Egypt wants to avoid a conflagration on its border, it must give Gazans a better solution than eternal confinement in their squalid, overpopulated refugee camps.
It turns out that the two-state solution will become one only if Jordan and Egypt join in creating a viable Palestinian nation that will not be suffocated in the teeming Gaza Strip and the inadequate West Bank. Israel should also join in that effort, by relinquishing a major portion of the West Bank, keeping only the small pieces vital for its security and compensating the Palestinians with equal territorial concessions. The outside world should participate in that endeavor by helping build the Palestinian economy and securing the federation's survival.
The writer is a former Labor Party MK and the official biographer of David Ben-Gurion and Shimon Peres.
David Horovitz , THE JERUSALEM POST
Early in his interview with The Jerusalem Post last Thursday, the international Quartet's envoy Tony Blair observed that "you'd be nuts if you were naively optimistic" regarding the chances of a peacemaking breakthrough "after all we've been through over the years."
But he then proceeded to sound at least cautiously optimistic about the prospects of precisely such progress on the Israeli-Palestinian front. The new American government was committed from the get-go. Israel had a stable coalition sensibly determined to work "bottom up" as well as "top down." Moves were ongoing to improve the Palestinian economy and security capacity. The ideological gulfs were bridgeable. And Hamas had some hard choices to make.
As he said, given "all we've been through over the years," such assessments might sound risibly rosy. But Blair does have his feet on the ground: The central characteristic of his mission has been to concentrate on detail - the advocacy of specific projects to improve day-to-day life in the West Bank, the focus on specific Israeli security concerns.
Now, he insisted, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu "certainly can play the role of peacemaker." And the Palestinians were ready "to push ahead on security and capacity."
Why might the current constellation of players succeed where Annapolis had failed? Because the region was changing, he said, and the choice, given the rise of Iran, was getting starker - the choice, as he put it, between modernizing or living in the past. The way Blair sees it, we've reached "the moment of truth."
We have a new government here and we're hearing about a determination to build from the bottom up with the Palestinians, including assurances that economic projects that had been stymied will now be advanced. There's also a new American presidency that is trying to invigorate the process, and talk of possible new Arab League thinking - though it's not clear how true that is. In contrast to Annapolis, which did not lead to any breakthrough, do you have the sense that there is genuinely a chance now of something substantial changing for the better?
The short answer is yes, I do. You'd be nuts if you were naively optimistic after all we've been through over the years. But I do think this is a moment of opportunity. A moment of truth. After many months of semi-paralysis, frankly, for all sorts of reasons, we now have a new American administration that, from the outset, is determined to focus on [this]. We've got a new Israeli government that, at least for the time being, is secure with an empowered prime minister. And I think the Palestinian side of the politics are a little clearer too, in a way.
There is a consensus that you have to build from the bottom up as well as negotiate from the top down. That is absolutely the right thing.
It's also a moment of decision because once you take the three "headings" - politics, economics and security - you have to put substance into that... Each of these things take decisions... Over the next few months it will become apparent, one way or another, whether the Israelis are really prepared to build from the bottom up, and whether the Palestinians are really prepared to understand that the only state that Israel will tolerate as a Palestinian state is one that is a stable and secure neighbor, and that requires, obviously, decision-making on their part too.
I don't know what will come out of the next few weeks, but it seems to me that people are reflecting from the beginning on their policy... I'm confident that people will take the decisions with the right will and intention, that we can move it forward.
What do you see as having become clearer on the Palestinian side?
For the moment, at any rate, people are going to carry on working with Prime Minister Fayad... I feel the Palestinians themselves are ready now to push ahead on security and capacity. There is a whole set of proposals now on the rule of law for the Palestinians, supported by various parts of the donor community, for things like courts and prisons and the judiciary and the prosecution service and so on, along with further training with [US] Gen. Dayton of the [PA] security forces. So all that is moving along.
People are saying to Hamas, "You've got a decision to make." If you want to change and get on board with a two-state solution, that's your decision. If you decide that you won't, that's also your decision, but we want to move ahead. I see the next few weeks as when we try and devise a framework that then takes us forward at least to the end of the year.
I don't see the faintest prospect that Hamas is going to accept Israel. Therefore, what's going to happen to Gaza in this kind of framework?
It can't be put to one side. We've got to do what we can to help the people there. I am sure from all the contacts I have in Gaza - I mean habitually non-Hamas contacts; people in business and civil society - that if people think there is a serious momentum moving this whole thing forward, the majority of the people in Gaza will want to be part of it. I don't have a doubt about that. So the most important thing is for us to concentrate on getting this thing moving forward.
The Israeli government has practical objections to Palestinian statehood. The Israeli prime minister is saying, 'The way the world works, statehood gives you the right to do things that, in the Palestinian case, we would feel threatened by: if they aligned with Iran, if they start importing weaponry...' How serious a problem do you think that is? And on the other side, there's the Palestinian refusal to define Israel as the state of the Jewish people. Are these red herrings, that can be left aside, that won't interfere with an effort to change things, or are these issues that have to be tackled, real problems?
If everything is moving forward, these are resolvable issues to the satisfaction of both parties... I always get out a map now when I'm talking about this issue to people in Europe or in America. You get out a map showing the Israel-Palestinian territory. Then you get out a map showing the position of this plot of land amongst the broader region. And you educate people to the fact that, for Israel, you can't contemplate a Palestinian state that is not stable and secure. That's just the way it is. Now, likewise for the Palestinians, they can't contemplate a state if it's separated and broken into little bits, or even big bits.
So there is a reality check that you can give people that makes it very obvious that these types of questions, in the end, can be resolved if everything else is moving forward, because the world will be there to resolve it. And actually they're not that hard to repair.
Settlement-wise, is it too late for a two-state solution?
No, but I do think it's important for Israeli opinion to be sensitive to how seriously people take this issue. People want to be kind of understanding of it on one level, but the fact is that if you're going to negotiate the parameters of statehood in the end, you don't want, on either side, for there to be a situation where the facts on the ground just make it impossible. Now, again, I happen to believe there are ways through that as well...
Can you elaborate a little?
Provided people understand what the problem is with the settlement issue: It is where the Palestinians see not just the issue of settlements - the concept of land swaps is already there - it's where they see it as effectively breaking up the Palestinian territory. In particular where you've got outposts and so on that then have to be guarded. For example, as I saw when I was down in Hebron recently, it's hard, impossible sometimes, for the Palestinians to develop their own land, whilst they see land being developed around them, actually in contravention sometimes of Israeli law.
This will be something to be discussed over the next few weeks and it's probably not sensible to get into all the details, but I personally believe that, again, there are ways around this issue. The answer to your question is no, I don't think it's gone so far that we cannot still have a Palestinian state. But it is important that people are alive to the sensitivity of this, because it will be one major issue that has to be tackled at some point.
You met with Netanyahu [on Wednesday]. What's your sense of the degree of sensitivity on settlements? How is he going to reconcile his own ideology, coalition constraints, international interests, the position on the ground and so on?
My view is that he most certainly can play the role of peacemaker. He understands that this is going to be a very tough challenge internally and externally. His big preoccupation is the security of Israel. He's very focused, obviously, on the issue of Iran.
He also understands - and this is certainly something that I stress constantly to people in Israel, including him - that people like myself are completely sympathetic to the security question. We also believe it is possible, consistent with that and provided the Palestinians adhere to their responsibilities, to give the Palestinians control of their own territory and a state.
My view is that he understands that. But, you know, we're at the beginning of this journey. It's for him to speak for himself. The policy review of the Israelis will come out, I assume, in advance of the visit to Washington.
I think the bottom-up approach [being advocated by Netanyahu] is absolutely sensible, simultaneous with a political negotiation top-down. You need the two things together... It was actually at my request several years back that the predecessor to Gen. Dayton was first appointed, precisely because after the [Ariel Sharon Temple Mount] visit [in 2000] and after the [second] intifada had broken out, and all the troubles and so on, and particularly what I saw in and around the disengagement from Gaza, I suddenly understand what the Israel problem was. It wasn't actually about a negotiation over territory per se, it was really about a fear over the nature of the state that would be created.
From that moment on, I really focused on [trying improve the security] capacity of the Palestinian side and economic development of the Palestinian side - giving people a stake in the future, but also understanding that in this small territory you simply cannot have a situation where you've got gangs of militia and allies of Iran in charge. You can't. You can't. I wouldn't stand for that if I was Israel.
There is a way of Israel making its case, which is both to explain their genuine security concern and how the nature of a Palestinian state dramatically affects that concern, provided that at the same time, they are prepared to help the Palestinians and empower the ones who really do want to take the right decisions and make progress.
Will there be more money now for the Dayton program of training Palestinian security forces?
Yes. It's not a problem getting money either for the European support on [building institutions for the Palestinian] rule of law, or for Gen. Dayton's mission. It's important that Prime Minister Fayad is there, but there's little doubt in my mind that the Americans will support this...
Israel had a government that pushed for an accord and couldn't reach it. What lessons should be learned from the failure of Annapolis?
On Annapolis, they did get into the detail, and they did get further than people think. But if you put all your eggs in the top-down basket, it won't work.
What is required for an agreement to happen? The agreement must pass a minimum credibility threshold on the ground. In other words, if Israel cannot see that the Palestinians could possibly handle their security, Israel is not going to agree. Whatever the detail of why they don't agree, they're not going to agree.
Likewise, if the Palestinians think, here we are, we're going to be asked to make serious compromises on things like refugees - which goes back a long way into their history - if the facts on the ground make them think that the occupation, as they see it, is not going to end, they're not going to make these concessions.
My point all the way through is that you've got to have the top-down and the bottom-up going together. The problem has been that the relationship between those two things has not been properly understood. In particular, we have not understood the essential nature of capacity building on the Palestinian side.
The key to understanding a state is that states are not about maps. States are about institutions. They're about governing capacity. They're about what actually happens within that defined territory. You can have a map with a border that isn't what I would recognize as a state in any functioning sense.
That's my reason why I don't think [Annapolis] worked in the end.
I'm prepared to really give the new [Israeli] government a chance on this [because]... I've found people now willing in the new government to sit down. I mean, the prime minister [on Wednesday] announced this committee [that Netanyahu is heading to develop the Palestinian economy and improve the quality of life in the PA]. That's what I want...
People have been saying to me in the last year, why are you bothered about such and such a checkpoint or whether there's a bit of agri-industrial thing around Jericho. And I say, because it matters. The detail on the ground really matters. Just supposing you've [created the conditions] in the Jericho area to exploit the [tourism] potential it has got. You're creating a whole set of stake-holders who, when it comes to those difficult concessions, are going to say, "We want the state." They are then believing in a reality, not a shibboleth...
And yet there are ideological positions that couldn't be reconciled last time. Do you think these current players - Abbas and Fayad, and Netanyahu and his coalition - can reconcile the ideological gulfs?
Yes I do. The world is different. There is another issue that is the focus of attention: not just Iran, but the whole [question] of does this region modernize or does this region stay in the past? Not staying in the past, one part of that, is two peoples living together here in this small bit of territory, when if they did live together in peace they could make it into, obviously, a highly successful and vibrant part of the world.
The state of Israel is an extraordinary creation in a way. The way that Israelis did that - created and built it - is not a bad model in many ways.
Israel says you have to stop Iran. Hillary Clinton says you have to move forward on the Palestinian track. How should this tie together?
It's all part of one issue, which is: Do we move forward in peaceful coexistence? Different cultures, different faiths. That's the only way the modern world works, given the power of globalization. It's important that Israel gets its security, that the Palestinians get the justice of statehood, and it's important that Iran does not get a nuclear weapons capability. We're going to have to move on all fronts.
And how much time is there left on Iran?
It's difficult to judge. We are far more likely to avoid confrontation if we are absolutely clear and plain right from the beginning, with no ambiguity, that they cannot have a nuclear weapons capability.