A view from Washington

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Exceptionally we circulate below a single item, an address by former US ambassador Chas Freeman to the 22nd  Annual Arab-U.S. Policymakers Conference last week in Washington. His curriculum vitae is that of an archetypal Washington insider, Yale and Harvard Law School followed by a remarkable career in foreign service, beginning as a China specialist but including …

The Israel/Palestine peace talks

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Peace talks which are planned to reach a solution within nine months have been taking place in secret since July. Very little information about them has been made public. Speaking at a meeting of donors on 25 September John Kerry said that the two sides had met seven times since 29 July, although Netanyahu and President …

Gaza and Hamas

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Two Egyptian tanks crossed an initial border fence leading to Gaza for the first time yesterday 12 September, without entering Gaza itself. Yousef Rizqa the political adviser on Hamas to the Egyptian prime minister said that it is unlikely that the Egyptian army would launch a military offensive on the Gaza Strip: “The geographical and historical depth between the two countries precludes such possibility.” How has the situation deteriorated to this point? Events of the last few months have put the population of Gaza under ever more severe pressure. …

Palestine: talking

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Very little information has been available about direct talks between Israeli and Palestinian delegations which have been meeting continuously since 29 July. Although the talks were said to be without preconditions it appears that both sides had agreed to leave it to the US to speak publicly about them. Reports suggest that the US representative Martin Indyk was not …

Egypt: the Muslim Brotherhood

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Mass protests called by Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood for Friday 23 mostly failed to materialise. Events in Egypt, and in particular the fate of the Muslim Brotherhood, will influence events throughout the Arab world and in Israel. We thank Conflicts Forum for their weekly comment circulated on 23 August which describes as "perhaps the most significant …

Israel: a villa in the jungle

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In an article in the Guardian of 20 August  the Israeli journalist Aluf Benn describes the normality of life in Israel contrasting with a deadly crackdown on protests in Egypt, civil war in Syria, car bombs in Lebanon, a refugee crisis in Jordan and sectarian war in Iraq. Israel has never appeared so …

America: love and hate

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America is both loved and hated in the Arab world and Iran. Loved for the progress it stands for including material development and non-material values from education to accountable government, hated for its political and military interventions nearly always ending in tears through the law of unintended consequences. In this it follows after the European imperialist powers …

Palestine: talks to begin

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Following initial meetings in Washington last month what Reuters calls "the real discussions" start today 14 August "with Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni facing Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat in Jerusalem's King David Hotel. The negotiations will be moderated by U.S. envoy Martin Indyk, with the next encounter already pencilled in for later this month in the …

The Palestine negotiations

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With peace talks due to begin the Israeli cabinet is reported to have authorised extra subsidies for a number of Jewish settlements, including three formerly classified as "illegal outposts" that were recognised last year, Bruchin, Rachelim and Sansana. Hanan Ashrawi of the PLO described the move today 4 August as a confidence-destruction measure. The Prime Minister's spokesman Mark …

Gaza: primed to explode

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Recent political developments have greatly complicated the situation in Gaza, controlled by Hamas. Hamas has long been viewed as part of a "rejection front", a Sunni partner in tactical and political alliance with Iran and Hizbullah, and in a fuller and more natural partnership with the Muslim Brotherhood. Muslim Brotherhood ascendancy in Egypt seemed to offer new …