You may view the 5 minute update this week via audio:
In this week’s 5 minute update, we focused on:
1) The current status of the Israel / PLO peace process
With the collapse of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, the “blame game” begins. US envoy to the peace process, Martin Indyk gave the US view why the peace process failed. According to Indyk, after six months of productive direct negotiations, Palestinian leaders “shut down” and Indyk singled out Israel settlement activity as a major — but not the sole — factor. Assessing the conditions that led to the stalled talks, Indyk cited a lack of a sense of urgency among Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas “are committed to achieving a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through peaceful means,” Indyk explained, but added that “one problem that revealed itself in these past nine months is that the parties, although both showing flexibility in the negotiations, do not feel the pressing need to make the gut-wrenching compromises necessary to achieve peace. It is easier for the Palestinians to sign conventions and appeal to international bodies in their supposed pursuit of ‘justice’ and their ‘rights,’ a process which by definition requires no compromise,” Indyk criticized. “It is easier for Israeli politicians to avoid tension in the governing coalition and for the Israeli people to maintain the current comfortable status quo. “It is safe to say that if we the US are the only party that has a sense of urgency, these negotiations will not succeed,” he added.
The US ambassador criticized steps taken by both sides as contributing to the breakdown of talks. “The fact is both the Israelis and Palestinians missed opportunities, and took steps that undermined the process,” Indyk complained. “We have spoken publicly about unhelpful Israeli steps that combined to undermine the negotiations. But it is important to be clear: We view steps the Palestinians took during the negotiations as unhelpful too. Signing accession letters to 15 international treaties at the very moment when we were attempting to secure the release of the fourth tranche of prisoners was particularly counterproductive. And the final step that led to the suspension of the negotiations at the end of April was the announcement of a Fatah-Hamas reconciliation agreement while we were working intensively on an effort to extend the negotiations.” Indyk also called Israel out for its continued “settlement activity. The settlement movement on the other hand may well drive Israel into an irreversible binational reality,” Indyk warned. Indyk expanded on his argument, saying that settlement activity had “sabotaged negotiations” and now represented “a roadblock to resumption of negotiations. “The expansion of settlements on land that the Palestinians believe is supposed to be part of their state and the prevention of their ability to build on the same land is a very problematic situation in the resolution of this conflict,” he added.
In addition, Indyk argued that public sentiment on both sides of the conflict presented a serious obstacle to negotiations. He said that the Americans had tried to get Palestinian and Israeli leaders to “engage in synchronized positive messaging to their publics,” but to no avail. The veteran ambassador revealed that for the first six months after both sides agreed to resume negotiations, Israelis and Palestinians had engaged in direct bilateral talks, with the Americans largely serving as “silent observers. During those six months all of the core issues were discussed and it was possible to delineate where the gaps were at all of those core issues,” Indyk recounted. At that point, he said, “it became natural” for the US to meet with each side individually to work out arrangements. For two months, the Americans met with the Israelis for “very intensive negotiations” in which top officials including Netanyahu and Secretary of State John Kerry held dozens of conversations over secure calls, video conferences and direct meetings.
According to Indyk, “it was visibly difficult” for Netanyahu but “he moved, he showed flexibility. I think we had him in the zone,” Indyk recalled. At the same time, he said, “The Palestinians were content to sit back and watch the show as a spectator sport. It was clear that there was a good deal of tension between the US and Israel and they were content during that time.” But during that same period, Indyk said, “Abu Mazen shut down.” Although Indyk acknowledged that “settlements were a big factor,” the ambassador also noted that rivalries over the successor to the 79-year-old Palestinian president were also a big factor. “I think he came to the conclusion that he didn’t have a reliable partner for the kind of two state solution he was looking for,” Indyk assessed. “He shifted toward looking at his legacy and his succession.”
Another gap that Indyk described as “very wide” was the Israeli demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state. “Netanyahu says it’s foundational and Abbas says he will not discuss it,” Indyk revealed, while adding that America has been consistent in its support for Israel as a Jewish state. Nevertheless, Indyk thinks that there is hope to revive the process in the future. “We have passed the nine-month marker for these negotiations, and for the time being the talks have been suspended,” Indyk said, however, peace process is not over.
In response to Indyk’s comments, a senior Israeli official familiar with Israeli-Palestinian peace talks lashed out at US special envoy Martin Indyk over his ‘hypocrisy’ for singling out settlement construction as a major factor for the talks’ collapse. He said that the US envoy was informed of all construction plans, down to the number of homes. “Furthermore, [Indyk] knew that it was on this basis that Israel agreed to enter the talks,” the Israeli official said. “So it’s not clear why now that should be criticized.” The senior Israeli official fired back saying, “Indyk comes and blames others without speaking about his own responsibility for the current impasse. [It is] difficult to point to any significant contribution that [Indyk] had made to the process,” he added, noting that the top US negotiator “demanded to be present at all of the meetings, despite the fact that the process was meant to be primarily bilateral.” Indyk’s presence at some of the meetings had harmed progress, the official hinted without elaborating: “In certain meetings, his absence would, indeed, have been advantageous.” Israel Deputy Minister Ofir Akunis (Likud) was also critical of Indyk’s views by saying that settlements in the West Bank were not the main reason for the collapse of the peace talks. “It is unfortunate that a Palestinian lie also affects our friends,” Akunis stated. “There are not two truths here, only one: the Palestinians torpedoed the negotiations by choosing to reconcile with Hamas and take unilateral steps to apply to UN agencies.” Akunis also noted the flaws in Indyk’s logic that construction over the 1949 Armistice lines destroyed chances for peace. “There were no ‘settlements’ until 1967,” he said. “Why didn’t the Palestinians extend a hand in peace before that?”
However, Israel chief negotiator, Tzip Livni shared a different view by saying, “Settlement construction hurt Israel, it hurts the Palestinians and it hurt the negotiations,” she said. Livni added that she could defend Israel against delegitimization efforts around the world, but could not “explain or defend settlement construction and expansion. There are people in the government who don’t want peace,” Livni said just days before negotiations broke down. “[Economics and Trade Minister and Jewish Home party leader Naftali] Bennett and Uri Ariel represent those who want to prevent a peace process,” she accused.
Other US officials that while the Netanyahu government’s settlement program is the original sin committed in the peace process, the US is also highly upset with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for, in essence, checking out of the peace process as early as February. One key moment in this drama came in March, when Abbas, at his own request, met U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House and heard Obama present a set of fairly dramatic American-inspired proposals (some of which had to do, apparently, with the future borders of the Palestinian state). Obama told Abbas in a direct way that he would be awaiting his response to the proposals. “I want you to get back to me soon,” Obama said, according to officials. The US likened this behavior to the decision made 14 years ago by Abbas’s predecessor, Yasser Arafat, to leave the 2000 Camp David peace talks without even countering an Israeli proposal for Palestinian statehood.
Israel says that is has evidence that the Palestinians were responsible for the collapse of the peace talks. In a letter reportedly sent by Israel’s national security chief to the US, the EU and numerous ambassadors blames the Palestinians for the collapse of peace talks, and claims to include hard proof that PA officials were devising measures to thwart the process even before Israel refused to release a fourth round of Palestinian prisoners at the end of March. In the April 22 letter, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s national security adviser, Yossi Cohen, revealed that chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat wrote a policy paper in March in preparation for a Palestinian rejection of American mediation efforts and Israeli overtures — nearly a month before Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas made a unilateral move to sign 15 international conventions, ostensibly in response to Israel’s refusal to honor its commitment to release the final round of prisoners.
In fact, Cohen said, Palestinian chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat lanned the maneuver weeks before Israel announced its refusal to release the prisoners — timing that, according to Cohen, demonstrates that the Palestinian leadership never intended to follow the peace talks through. Cohen attached Erekat’s policy paper to his letter, copies of which were reportedly sent to his US counterpart Susan Rice, US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, all Israel-based EU ambassadors, and ambassadors from China, Russia and other countries. He appealed to the recipients to peruse the Erekat document and “draw conclusions” as to the Palestinians’ “bad faith” and responsibility for the failure of the latest round of peace talks.
According to Cohen, the 65-page Erekat document, which contained a “highly selective” account of the peace talks held since July and a “series of recommendations” for unilateral Palestinian actions, was presented by Erekat to Abbas on March 9, prior to Abbas’s visit to the United States and his meeting at the White House with US President Barack Obama on March 17. The paper, Cohen said, serves as proof that Palestinian policymakers had recommended a strategy of unilateral moves “outside of the agreed negotiation framework” to Abbas as early as March, nearly two months before the April 29 deadline for the completion of the talks. Thus when Obama tried at their White House meeting to persuade Abbas to make progress at the negotiations, Cohen indicated, the PA president was already bent on torpedoing the talks and following a unilateral course. In the document, Erekat recommended that the Palestinian Authority apply to international treaties such as the Geneva Convention.
He also recommended reconciliation with Hamas, revealing that the push for a unity government with the terrorist organization, which does not recognize Israel, began long before negotiations with Israel reached a stalemate. This, Cohen said, proved that the Palestinians’ unilateral moves, ostensibly direct responses to perceived Israeli intransigence, were actually “premeditated” and “calculated” steps aimed at sinking the peace process and hindering American mediation efforts.
Israel Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman blamed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for adopting a negotiation strategy of trying to wear one’s opponent down without committing to anything. Lieberman said that he wanted to tear off Abbas’ mask and “say clearly that he consistently rejects peace,” and that the Palestinian behavior shows that “there is absolutely no desire on the part of the Palestinians to reach an agreement with Israel.” Lieberman said that the Palestinian decision last month to apply for acceptance into 15 treaties and conventions, coupled with the Fatah-Hams unity agreement, repeats a “long standing and familiar pattern of behavior by Abbas and the Palestinians. Whenever there is progress and a step forward in negotiations, the Palestinians take two steps back.” Liberman said that Abbas’s application to the international treaties and conventions came just two hours before “everything was ready for the signing of a document that would lead to the continuation of negotiations between us and the Palestinians.” Settlements in the West Bank are not the “real problem,” Lieberman stated. The real problem is the “reluctance of the Palestinians time after time to pursue peace.”
Furthermore, there are those in the European Community who “do not want to admit this.” The foreign minister said that even after Abbas signed an agreement with Hamas, “an organization which openly seeks the destruction of the very state where we are celebrating independence, some, especially in Europe, continue to blame Israel for the deadlock in negotiations.” While rejecting peace, Lieberman said Abbas “enjoys his status as the leader of a national liberation movement and travels around the world.” Lieberman said Israel expected the international community to stand by its commitments and demand that Hamas renounce violence, recognize Israel and accept previously singed agreements before engaging with it. He predicted that Hamas would win Palestinian elections wherever they are held, and as a result Abbas – who “brought Hamas to power in Gaza – will also bring them to power in the West Bank.
However, Lieberman said, Israel is determined to prevent the “West Bank from becoming the new Gaza.” Lieberman also said that there could be no compromise on two other issues: the need for the Palestinians to recognize Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people, and the abandonment of the “so-called Palestinian ‘right of return’.” Lieberman said that while Abbas is demanding a “100 homogenous” Palestinian state — a Palestinian state that will be “Judenrein, without a single Jew” – he seeks a bi-national state in Israel. Regarding a Palestinian “right of return,” Lieberman said Israel “will not agree to even the return of one person to Israel. Those who talk about a “right of return”, knowingly or not, are talking about the destruction of the State of Israel de-facto. If we allow one refugee to come to Israel, a million will follow after him.” Israel seeks peace, Lieberman assured the gathered diplomats. “Israel wants an agreement, but we will not be fools.”
Furthermore, Israel officials insist that Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was genuinely considering all the issues raised by the negotiators, weighing earnestly the pros and cons of every idea brought to his desk. While always putting Israel’s security interests first in his mind, these officials insist, he wholeheartedly asked himself how things could be sorted things out in a way that would allow Israel to sign a final-status deal with the Palestinians. Netanyahu spent several hours every day pouring over the matters raised in the negotiating room, asking himself which positions Israel could allow itself to adopt in order to advance toward an agreement.
Netanyahu has stated many times in the past that he is interested in a peace agreement with the Palestinians. Last May, he said: “The purpose of the future agreement with the Palestinians is to prevent the eventuality of a binational state and to guarantee stability and security.” While unwilling to compromise on his core convictions — especially regarding security arrangements and Jewish state recognition — Netanyahu understands that a two-state solution is required if Israel wants to remain a Jewish and democratic state. Nonetheless Netanyahu insisted if we’re talking about two nation-states for two people, it needs to be guaranteed that Israel is recognized by the Palestinians as the nation-state of the Jewish people. Israel said that such recognition is the main blame for lack of progress in the peace talks. US officials said, “We can’t understand why this bothers him so much. For us, the Americans, the Jewish identity of Israel is obvious. We wanted to believe that for the Palestinians this was a tactical move — they wanted to get something (in return) and that’s why they were saying ‘no.’
In efforts to form a unity government between Hamas and Fatah, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah stated that Hamas has not been asked to recognize Israel and will not be part of a transitional government that is to be built soon. Abbas also repeated his intention to construct an interim government which will, allegedly, recognize Israel and condemn violence and terror. However, Hamas continues to be adamant over its full control of a “unity” government, expressing over and over again that it would remain in control of both Gaza and the PA after elections and insisting that Hamas leader, Ismail Haniyeh, would rule the government. Under the terms of the Hamas-Fatah unity deal, signed on April 23, the two sides would work together to form an “independent government” of technocrats, to be headed by Abbas, that would pave the way for long-delayed elections.
Reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah is apparently going well.Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in an interview with a Palestine newspaper that Fatah had agreed to release all Hamas terrorists from prison – regardless of their crimes or current political affiliation. Meanwhile, Hamas has allegedly jumped on board as well – allowing journalists from Fatah-backed papers Al-Quds and Al-Ayyam to enter Gaza and releasing Fatah prisoners held in Gaza over their own political affiliations.
An agreement to divide Jerusalem and establish a PLO state is a tribulation event.
The link to these articles are as follows:
1) US envoy Indyk insists peace process not dead
2) Senior Israeli official slams Indyk’s ‘hypocrisy’
3) Minister Slams Indyk’s ‘Lies’
4) Tzipi Livni: Settlement activity hurt negotiations
5) U.S. Officials: Blame Palestinians, Too
6) Top Netanyahu aide: Here’s proof Abbas deliberately destroyed peace talks
7) Liberman on Independence Day: Abbas must decide if he wants peace, and with whom
8) Liberman: ‘We extend our hands in peace – but we will cut off every hand that threatens us’
9) Countering US narrative, some Israeli sources insist PM negotiated sincerely
10) PA Insists: Hamas Will Not Be Part of ‘Unity’ Government
11) Fatah Agrees to Release All Hamas Prisoners
12) Israel’s insistence on full Iranian nuclear rollback risks new rift with US
From a Biblical prophetic perspective, the reason why the God of Israel would allow these events to happen is because it will result in the end of the exile of the house of Jacob and the reunification of the 12 tribes of Israel (Ephraim and Judah).
We will to be “watchmen on the walls of Jerusalem” and we will not rest until the God of Israel makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth (Isaiah 62).
Shalom in Yeshua the Messiah,
Hebraic Heritage Ministries Int’l