Israel: life on the edge

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A new book on Israel, “My Promised Land” by Ari Shavit, concludes according to a review in the New York Times for which we thank Caroline Cracraft that “What this nation has to offer is not security or well-being or peace of mind. What it has to offer is the intensity of life on the edge.” …

France, Iran and the Arabs

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When the P5 +1 talks with Iran ended on 9 November without full agreement (but with agreement to resume on 20 November) the media reported a split between France and the other Western powers, although this was not confirmed in statements by John Kerry, William Hague, Catherine Ashton etc. The French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told …

Palestine: halfway point

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The Israel/Palestine talks led by John Kerry are now roughly halfway through their allotted nine months. Secrecy has been well maintained, but they appear to be passing through a crisis point, though pushed out of the headlines by news about Syria and Iran, as well as the Arafat story and the acquittal of Avigdor Liberman. The sharp …

Israel unsettled

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Recent political developments, above all the possibility of a thaw in US/Iranian relations and more generally a feeling of loss of control in Washington, have disconcerted Israeli opinion. One article in the Jerusalem Post of 4 November is headed "It’s time to reassess Israel’s strategic assumptions – All of Obama’s second term foreign policy goals are harmful …

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 …