Abbas: Bible Says Palestinians Lived in Israel Before Abraham!
PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas fabricates history, claims Palestinians have existed in the Land of Israel for 6,000 years – and that the Bible tells us so!
In order to make Palestinians believe that they have an ancient history that precedes Jewish history in the Land of Israel, Palestinian Authority leaders regularly fabricate tales of a 5,000- or sometimes 6,000-year-old Palestinian nation.
Recently, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and his adviser, Mahmoud Al-Habbash, each spoke on two different occasions about a Palestinian nation that they claim preceded Abraham in the land of Canaan.
Abbas even misrepresented the Bible by claiming biblical support for his claims. (United with Israel/ PMW)
150 Years at the Western Wall
How did the Western Wall look before its liberation in ’67? What did it look like 100 years ago? And 150 years ago? Rare photographs from the National Library of Israel’s collections show a different Western Wall than the one we know today. One area for prayers became two and the uniforms of those who visited and guarded changed, yet one thing has stayed the same: the Jewish people’s yearning to visit and pray at this most revered of sites.
The identities of those who photographed the site also changed over the years, ranging from renowned international photographers in awe of the extraordinary relationship between man and stone, to tourists and pilgrims visiting the Wall as part of a journey to the Holy Land, to local and foreign soldiers simply there as part of their service. The images also reveal the history of photography itself: black and white photographs, hand-colored photographs, changing methods of printing and developing. (The National Library of Israel)
Report: Israeli Air Force attacked Syrian weapons facility over weekend
Israeli Air Force jets attacked a missile storage facility in Syria over the weekend, targeting a number of military sites said to be housing advanced weaponry, according to Syrian Internet publication Al Wasil Time on Tuesday.
The attack took place near the embattled city of Homs and reportedly caused extensive damage to the facility.
The report added that Syrian defense systems identified Israeli aircraft within their airspace but refrained from firing.
If the report is verified, it would be the first operation conducted under the newly minted Minister of Defense Avigdor Liberman, who toured the northern border earlier Tuesday with IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot.
He was also briefed by OC Northern Command, Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, the head of the Northern Formation and Commander of the IDF Staff and Command College, Maj.-Gen. Yossi Bachar, and regional commanders in northern Israel.
“I heard briefings today on this area, which is always sensitive, and I can say that the northern border is in good and secure hands,” Liberman said.
“I was impressed by the readiness, the plans, and preparations. The role of the IDF here is to safeguard the quiet on the northern border, and that is what we are doing. We have no other plans, other than to safeguard the quiet, and I hope that everyone understands that well, including our neighbors.”
Liberman added, “In any case, I would not advise anyone to try and test us.” (Jerusalem Post)
Russia Expert: Netanyahu-Putin Relations Reflect Moscow’s Push for Regional Influence, Jerusalem’s Need for Alternative to America
What distinguishes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s current trip to Moscow from his previous three parleys with the Russian president is that this one will focus on the Palestinians and the future of Syria, Mideast and Russia expert Zvi Magen said on Monday, explaining that the Kremlin wants increased influence in the region, and that Jerusalem needs an alternative to the United States as a guarantor of its interests.
Speaking about the widely reported two-and-a-half-day visit with Vladimir Putin and other officials that Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, embarked on mere hours earlier, Magen – a senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv — repeatedly stressed that “what we are seeing is realpolitik in action.”
The complexity of the situation is obvious, Magen said, pointing to the strange bedfellows created in the wake of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), more commonly referred to as the Iran nuclear deal. Indeed, in its aftermath, Putin – whose country is a signatory to the deal — has been taking the initiative to gain power and influence in the Middle East. Siding with Syrian President Bashar Assad against rebel forces fighting for his overthrow during the so-far five-year civil war, Putin began to dispatch military materiel and forces to the country in September, and created an alliance with Iran – Israel’s sworn enemy. Iran’s Lebanon-based proxy, the terrorist group Hezbollah, too, has been fighting with Assad’s troops in Syria, a country bordering Israel, all of whose forces in the war are enemies of the Jewish state.
As a result, explained Magen – who served as Israel’s ambassador to Ukraine in 1993 and to Russia in 1998, as well as heading Native, the Liaison Bureau of the Prime Minister’s Office, which maintained contact with Jews in the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War from 1999 to 2005 – “Israel had to protect its own interests, and Russia was key to doing this.”
These interests include making sure that sophisticated weapons do not fall into the hands of Hezbollah, some of whose leading operatives Israel has reportedly assassinated over the past few months. To enable freedom of movement over the skies of Syria for the Israel Air force, Netanyahu appealed to Putin, and the two agreed to coordinate air sorties, to prevent unwitting Russian casualties.
“During their last meeting, Netanyahu and Putin discussed ongoing cooperation over Israel’s sovereignty in the Golan Heights,” said Magen, referring to an April tete-a-tete between the two leaders, when Netanyahu reiterated his “appreciation” for Putin’s “heartfelt hospitality and the ongoing connection between us. I came here with one main goal — to strengthen the security coordination between us so as to avoid mishaps, misunderstandings, and unnecessary confrontations.”
This week, Netanyahu’s trip is being touted as one whose purpose is to mark the 25th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Israel and Russia. “And that is part of it,” said Magen, “as is Putin’s desire to retain a cultural connection with the many Russians who live in Israel today. But his interest in being a major player where resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is concerned is core to his realpolitik, which is why it has good reason to welcome Netanyahu.”
Russia, said Magen, “is in trouble. It thought it would be able to ‘sell’ the Americans and Europeans all kinds of regional achievements. Meanwhile, Israel has its own issue with the United States, and flaunting its increased ties with Moscow is a way of saying, ‘America, where have you been? Ok, if you’re not doing your part, I have to do it alone, with the help of Russia.’”
Another shared interest, according to Magen, has to do with neither side’s desire for Iran to become a regional hegemon. In addition, he said, Russia has put forth its vision for Syria – dividing the country into Swiss-like cantons, creating a federal government with autonomous provinces.
In a symbolic gesture of strengthening ties, Russia announced last week that it would return to Israel a tank that Syrian forces captured in 1982 during the Battle of Sultan Yacoub in the First Lebanon War. (The Algemeiner )
Putin to Netanyahu: Israel, Russia ‘unconditional allies’ in war against terror
Israel and Russia agreed to strengthen their regional military cooperation, when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin met face-to-face in the Kremlin on Tuesday.
The two leaders agreed to tightened their cooperation in the fight against terrorism and stressed the importance of ending regional violence such as in Syria. They also reiterated the importance of Israel ending its short-term conflict with Turkey and its long-standing one with the Palestinians.
“We discussed the continued coordination between our two militaries in the region, which already works quite well,” Netanyahu told reporters at a joint press conference in the Kremlin with Putin after their meeting.
It is their fourth meeting in the last year, and their third in Moscow. Both countries have air forces that are reportedly operational around the Syria region, and tight coordination is needed to ensure de-confliction. “We want to avoid conflict and make sure we are operating against those same entities that endanger everyone,” Netanyahu said.
“We talked about the challenges to all civilized countries such as terrorism and radical Islam,” Netanyahu added.
According to an English translation of Putin’s words by the Tass News Agency, the Russian leader stated: “We spoke about the necessity to pool efforts to counter international terrorism. Israel knows only too well what it means and it is fighting against terrorism. In this sense, we are unconditional allies.”
The meetings are also a sign of the warming ties between Moscow and Jerusalem, as the two countries celebrate 25 years of diplomatic relations.
“Israel’s doors are open to Russia and Russia’s doors are open to Israel,” Netanyahu told reporters earlier in the day.
He and Putin were photographed greeting each other warmly and shaking hands. There were no reports of the kind of tensions that have marked Netanyahu’s meeting with US President Barack Obama.
Although the US remains Israel’s chief military ally, it is not as active as Russia in the region and Netanyahu has had only one face-to-face meeting with Obama this year.
At their joint press conference Putin welcomed news that Israel and Turkey could be ready to re-establish full diplomatic ties after almost six years. He also spoke of the importance of creating a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Russia, which is a member of the Quartet and also holds one of five permanent seats on the UN Security Council, is actively involved in attempts to revive the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations which have been frozen for over two years.
But all past peace processes have been led by the US. There is some speculation that Israel could be open to increased Russian involvement on the Palestinian track in addition to its work with the Quartet.
“We speak for overwhelming and just settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict,” Putin said. “Active joint efforts, including in the framework of the Middle East Quartet, are in demand now.
“Russia is ready to take part in that work,” he added according to Tass.
On Wednesday Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov plans to meet with Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki, who will also be visiting Moscow, just as Netanyahu gets ready to fly back to Jerusalem.
Regional conflicts, however, were not the only item on Netanyahu and Putin’s agenda. They also discussed increased energy cooperation, with Netanyahu assuring Putin that no legal limitations would be placed on Russian firms wanting to participate in Israeli energy projects.
But the two countries remain at odds over Moscow’s ties with Tehran including the shipment of sophisticated weaponry to Iran, a country which has pledged to annihilate the Jewish state. Israel is particularly concerned that Iran is gaining a foothold in Syria.
In an interview with the Russian news agency Interfax, Netanyahu said, “We have made a point of staying out of the Syrian conflict, with two exceptions: treating wounded Syrians on a humanitarian basis and preventing Iran from using Syria to attack Israel or to transfer sophisticated weapons to Hezbollah. We don‘t know what will come of Syria, but in any arrangement, it cannot be an Iranian base for terrorism and aggression.”
Earlier in the day Netanyahu laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Lone Soldier and helped inaugurate an exhibit at Moscow’s main Manege exhibition hall, “Open a Door to Israel,” on innovation and technology.
Among those presenting made-in Israel products is a settler delegation organized by the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea and Samaria. Settlers have turned increasingly to Russia as an alternative friendly market for their products in response to the increasingly hostile climate toward them in Europe.
Netanyahu spoke in general of the warming Russian-Israeli ties at the exhibit.
“We are marking 25 years since the resumption of relations between us, and not only in culture and technology, but in so many other fields as well,” he said, as he referenced the role that Russian immigrants play as a bridge between the two countries.
“There is also a human bridge of over one million Russian-speakers who are our bone and our flesh, but who also come as goodwill ambassadors of a deep sympathy, Israeli citizens who emigrated from the former USSR. “Those who were born and raised in the country absorbed much Russian culture and music,” Netanyahu said . “There are bonds of sympathy and empathy between Israel and Russia, with a common past that has tragic chapters for both peoples, but also a very strong willingness to grasp and develop the future and move forward in creating a better future.”
When Putin first greeted Netanyahu he said, “We attach great importance to our contacts with Israel, not only because Israel is one of the key countries on the situation in the Middle East, but also due to historical relations between our countries,” Putin said. (Jerusalem Post)
Israel ‘keeps the status quo on the Temple Mount,’ Netanyahu assures Muslims on Ramadan eve
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attempted to thwart any attempt to use the Temple Mount to spark violence during the Ramadan holiday by assuring Muslims that no changes had been made to the Al-Haram Al-Sharif compound there.
‘I want to clarify, we strictly keep to the status quo on the Temple Mount,” said Netanyahu of the al-Aksa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock that are the third holiest sites for Islam.
That compound is under the control of the Islamic Wakf and only Muslims are allowed to pray there, but others including Jews can visit.
“To my sorrow, this year again extremist elements are trying to stir up tensions in Jerusalem and the Temple Mount.
“They are inciting violence and spreading lies about Jews, the Temple Mount and our intentions regarding the al-Aksa mosque,” Netanyahu said.
“It is all lies,” he added.
“We make sure that Muslims have the right to freedom of worship. We will not allow any element to disturb the order and cause unrest and violence at the holy sites,” Netanyahu said.
“Muslim citizens of Israel, citizens of Arab states, I wish to bless you in honor of the month of Ramadan. Happy New Year,” the prime minister said in a short video he shot in honor of the holiday.
“Jews, Muslims and Druse, we all live here together in the State of Israel,” Netanyahu said.
“Israel is a true lighthouse of coexistence and religious tolerance. We are very proud of this,” the prime minister said.
“Jerusalem is open to who ever wants to pray and visit,” Netanyahu said and ended with, “I wish you all happy Ramadan.” (Jerusalem Post)
Sex abuse suspect wanted by Australia released from house arrest
A former Australian school principal, wanted in her home country on suspicion of sexually abusing students, was freed from house arrest in Israel on Tuesday but ordered to undertake medical treatment after a court ruled her mentally unfit for extradition.
Malka Leifer will receive mandatory drug treatment for six months before her case is reassessed by the Jerusalem District Court, according to a ruling released by the Israeli Justice Ministry.
Leifer, who has Israeli citizenship, fled Australia in 2008 with what Australian authorities believe was the assistance of the insular Adass Jewish community, after accusations against her surfaced.
She is the former principal of the Adass Israel School, an ultra-orthodox Jewish girls’ school in Melbourne, and is wanted by police in the Australian state of Victoria in connection with 74 sexual assault offenses involving students at the facility.
Last week, a court in Jerusalem decided not to extradite Leifer, basing its ruling, her lawyer said, on the determination of a psychiatric panel that she was not mentally competent to stand trial.
Reconvening on Tuesday, the court said Leifer would no longer have to remain under house arrest but a “flight risk” ban on her leaving the country would remain in effect.
Australia’s ambassador to Israel, Dave Sharma, said last week that Canberra would “remain patient and determined in pursuing justice” in the case.
Since 2013, an Australian commission on tackling child sexual abuse has shed light on offenses and cover-ups, including within ultra-orthodox Jewish communities in Sydney and Melbourne, triggering the resignations of some senior figures. (Jerusalem Post)
The artillery brigade that can send missiles into a living room window
Hafiz missile launcher, used to fire the Tamuz.
The story of the “David’s Sling” Artillery Brigade reflects, in ways few other units do, the radical transformation of Israel’s security environment over the past decades. Today the brigade has the ability to fire a missile through a living-room window.
Originally set up after the 1973 Yom Kippur War to destroy advancing enemy tank formations with antitank missiles, the unit today specializes in precision strikes in urban warfare settings, targeting enemies embedded in Lebanese and Gazan civilian population centers.
“The brigade is not an ordinary artillery unit,” Col. M., commander of the brigade, told The Jerusalem Post recently.
He noted its special components, including the Meitar and Moran units that fire guided surface-to-surface missiles, often hitting with pinpoint accuracy targets beyond the line of sight. The brigade also includes the Sky Rider Unit – the only one in the IDF’s ground forces that operates its own tactical drones.
“The challenge today is targeting an enemy in an urban setting, with all of the restrictions.
It is about identifying the enemy and striking it and it only, and not hitting noncombatants. We cannot bring down a whole building because of one suspect who is there. We must be very precise,” Col. M said.
Young officers have to know when to order strikes, and also, “when to stop,” Col.
M added, referring to their responsibility for making life and death decisions under intense pressure.
The brigade has become known as the most air forcelike unit in the ground forces, due to its precision fire capabilities and drones.
“Some in the air force jokingly calls us one of their best squadrons,” the commander said. The unit must forge and maintain close ties to the IAF, to ensure its drones do not collide with the IAF’s platforms. The brigade is also responsible for calling in air strikes to assist ground forces during engagements on the battlefield and in maneuvers.
In the 1970s, the unit was dubbed the “judgment day weapon” due to its role in stopping what was then an existential threat – the conquest of Israel by Syrian or Egyptian armored forces.
Now that this threat has vanished, the brigade faces the 21st century threats of Hezbollah and Hamas, and potentially jihadists in Syria.
These groups could attempt to overwhelm Israel’s home front with rocket barrages, and attack the country’s borders with suicide bombers armed with shoulder-fired missiles.
The brigade incorporated the Sky Rider tactical drone Unit in 2011. Today, the drone has become central to all IDF operations, Col. M. said.
“No battalion commanders will go anywhere without it,” he stated. “We deploy drone crews in every sector.
As young as it is, this unit is already highly valued.”
Drone unit soldiers carry the Sky Rider and its mobile command equipment on their backs, meaning they must navigate terrain carrying 50 percent of their body weight.
Today, drone-equipped soldiers can be found on all the country’s borders and in the West Bank, providing overthe- hill reconnaissance assistance to infantry and armored corps.
In 2014, the IDF revealed that Meitar Unit is responsible for firing the Tamuz, known outside of Israel as the Spike. The fourth generation man-portable fire-and-forget anti-tank guided missile and anti-personnel missile, which has a tandem-charged HEAT warhead, is manufactured by the Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. Most details on the brigade’s missile capabilities remain classified.
The missile units are composed of personnel “who work with their brains, less with their muscles,” Col. M.said.
He declined to provide additional details, saying only that “They leave no stone unturned to generate new techniques. They are creating the next battle doctrine, and using their [combat] systems in ways that the system designers did not think of.” (Jerusalem Post)
PA textbooks support violence and demonization of Israel, Jews, report finds
Palestinian Authority school books continue to promote violence and demonization of Israel and Jews.
The study, carried out by Impact-SE, found encouraging signs relating to gender issues, civil society, the environment, respect for the “other” Muslim or Arab, and respect for people with disabilities and the elderly.
However, the curricula convey a message rejecting negotiations with Israel and promote a strategy combining violence and international pressure against Israel.
It also promotes the “demonization of Israel and Jews, including the characterization of Israel as an evil entity that should be annihilated,” the report found.
“We hope to be able to discuss with those who influence the curriculum of the Palestinian Authority that education is both the most efficient method of promulgating extremist narrative and influences, and by far the most powerful tool to puncture them,” Marcus Sheff, CEO of Impact-SE, told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday. “We would very much want them to choose the latter and educate for peace and tolerance.”
“There was a moment after Arafat died [in 2004] and before Hamas won the parliamentary elections in 2006 that the curriculum improved. Change then is clearly possible,” he added.
“In curricula it is, of course, important to refrain from inciting to hatred and to promote standards for peace, tolerance and mutual respect.
This is also necessary for the well-being of children in the Palestinian Authority,” he said.
Impact-SE, founded in 1998 and based in Jerusalem, is a research center that monitors and analyzes education around the world and determines compliance according to UNESCO standards for tolerance.
The report compares the current situation with a 2011 survey of PA school curricula.
The study was carried out by Dr. Eldad Pardo of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and focuses on 78 textbooks in a variety of subjects for grades 1 to 12.
Examples in the report of positive developments include a picture of a boy and a girl sitting together on a bench and studying. The picture, in a sixth-grade science textbook, is notable because while the girl is dressed modestly, she is not wearing a hijab hair covering.
While the textbooks do promote protecting the environment, they ignore cooperation with Israel in this area and even blame the Jewish state for environmental damage.
One improvement in the curriculum from 2001 to 2009 was the removal of images such as that of a shahid, or “martyr,” on his way to burial and covered by a Palestinian flag.
Another was the removal of an inciting sentence from a 2013 edition of an Arabic language textbook for grade 12: “The Messenger of God [The Prophet Muhammad] instructed Zayd ibn Thabit to learn the language of the Jews so that he would be safe from their deception.”
However, problematic sentences remain, such as this from a sixth-grade textbook, History of the Arabs and Muslims: “The brave warrior prefers death to humiliation and capitulation.”
Sheff commented, “In recent years we have seen a tendency on the part of Palestinian leaders and the international community to declare that they are promoting a two-state solution, in addition, of course, to the Oslo Accords. Yet the same Palestinian government’s Ministry of Education appears to be promoting exactly the opposite.”
Israel still does not appear on textbook maps (with one exception), and the entire area from the Jordan Valley to the Mediterranean Sea is marked as Palestine. In addition, the Israeli “occupation” is mentioned in reference to the area inside the Green Line, i.e. all of Israel.
A seventh-grade textbook, Our Beautiful Language, refers to pre-1967 Israel as “occupied” and as “The Return,” where Palestinians will settle in the future.
In a problematic image appearing in the National Education textbook for second grade, the Hebrew letters are removed from a trilingual stamp from the British Mandate period.
And a sentence from a PA eighth-grade textbook, Reading and Texts, encourages students to wage jihad: “Oh brother, the oppressors have exceeded all bounds and jihad and sacrifice are necessary.”
Religious hatred and violence are promoted in Shari’a studies such as a passage also found in the Hamas Covenant, calling for the murder of Jews: “The End of Days will not take place until the Muslims fight the Jews, and the Muslims will kill them…” (Jerusalem Post)
For Israel and the Palestinians, the peace plans just keep coming
By Ben Sales JTA
Here a plan, there a plan, everywhere a peace plan.
Conditions in Israel and the Palestinian Authority may not exactly seem conducive to peace — Israel just formed what may be its most right-wing government ever, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is aging and becoming less popular.
Yet peace plans have been coming at the region from all sides. No less than three Israeli-Palestinian peace proposals have been put forward in recent weeks, spanning a range of countries, leaders and organizations.
A conference of some two dozen countries in Paris on Friday reiterated the need for a two-state solution.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi reportedly has been pushing Netanyahu and Abbas to meet in Cairo.
This week, the U.S.-based Israel Policy Forum, a center-left pro-Israel group, presented two plans in tandem that are designed to lay the security groundwork for a peace treaty.
And despite their limitations, Netanyahu and Abbas have also said they’re game for talks. On Sunday, Netanyahu declared his commitment to a two-state solution and praised the Arab Peace Initiative. Last month, JTA reported that Abbas allegedly sent Netanyahu three separate negotiation proposals in recent years.
So is peace in the offing, or is it all talk? Here are the plans on the table, what Israel and the P.A. are saying and why these efforts are coming together now.
Three paths to peace: International intervention, a trusted ally or confidence-building steps
The Paris summit that took place Friday was more than a year in the making. It was based on the idea that after more than two decades of inconclusive direct talks between Israelis and Palestinians, it was time for the international community to take a more active role. Nearly 30 countries attended the summit; neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians were invited.
It ended after five hours with a statement asking the Israelis and Palestinians to demonstrate “a genuine commitment to the two-state solution in order to rebuild trust.”
France, which organized the meeting, plans to convene another conference including Israel and the Palestinians by year’s end. But while the P.A. has praised the initiative, Israel has demurred, saying the only way to peace is through direct talks. Israel objects in particular to a French pledge to recognize a Palestinian state should talks fail.
Sissi’s initiative, reported last week in the Israeli publication Ynet, may be more promising. Sissi hopes to organize a tripartite meeting of Egypt, Israel and the P.A. to restart talks. Israel views Sissi as a trusted security partner, and he’s an ally of Abbas — so he could be better able to coax both sides back to the table.
On May 17, Sissi gave a speech urging relaunched negotiations. Egypt didn’t want to lead the initiative, he said, but would “make every effort” to reach peace.
A third push, meanwhile, has come from a coalition of American and Israeli military officials hoping to reassure Israelis that a Palestinian state would not degrade their security. They see Israeli security fears as one of the primary obstacles to peace.
The plan by Commanders for Israel’s Security, a group of pro-peace former generals, calls for Israel to complete its security barrier around the West Bank, freeze settlement construction outside the barrier and provide incentives for settlers outside it to relocate within Israel. The plan calls on Israel to forfeit sovereignty over the West Bank and acknowledge that sections of eastern Jerusalem will be part of a future Palestinian state.
A parallel plan from the Center for a New American Security focuses on the details of security arrangements in a future Palestinian state. It calls for a phased Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank based on a timetable and benchmarks. It would also place an American security force in the Jordan Valley, the border between the West Bank and Jordan.
Both the CIS plan and the CNAS plans were promoted by the Israel Policy Forum, a group of Jewish community leaders aiming to build support for a two-state solution.
Netanyahu and Abbas both say they’re ready — but won’t meet.
Netanyahu and Abbas have not met formally since 2010. Each insists he is not the obstacle to another round of talks. Netanyahu has called several times recently for direct talks and welcomed Sissi’s speech. He offered qualified praise for the Arab Peace Initiative, a 2002 Arab League proposal that calls for full relations with Israel in return for a Palestinian state, Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and Golan Heights, and a negotiated solution for Palestinian refugees.
“The Arab Peace Initiative includes positive elements that can help revive constructive negotiations with the Palestinians,” he said Sunday at the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. “We are willing to negotiate with the Arab states revisions to that initiative so that it reflects the dramatic changes in the region since 2002, but maintains the agreed goal of two states for two peoples.”
Abbas also says he is committed to peace. Gershon Baskin, an Israeli who has acted as an unofficial conduit between Israel and Palestinian leaders, told JTA last month that he personally delivered three Abbas offers for direct talks to Netanyahu’s office over the past three years. Netanyahu’s spokesman denied the claim. And in a March interview on Israel’s Channel 2, Abbas said he was “prepared to meet Netanyahu anywhere, any time.”
But the leaders’ declarations haven’t led to action. Abbas refuses to meet with Netanyahu absent prior Israeli commitments or concessions. He also lacks the support of his constituents. According to a September 2015 poll, two-thirds of Palestinians demanded Abbas’ resignation.
Netanyahu, meanwhile, refuses to participate in international peace conferences, demanding only direct talks. In addition, the pro-settler Jewish Home faction, as well as many in Netanyahu’s own Likud party, oppose Palestinian statehood.
Observers worry the window for peace is closing.
Despite adverse conditions, advocates for peace say there is an urgent need for another round of negotiations. They say continued settlement growth, as well as growing disenchantment among Israelis and Palestinians, mean a two-state solution may soon be impossible to reach.
Israeli and Palestinian actions are “dangerously imperiling the prospects for a two-state solution,” said a statement released by the foreign ministers attending the Paris conference, which “underscored that the status quo is not sustainable.”
Even if talks are unlikely, detailed proposals are still important, said Ilan Goldenberg, lead author of the Center for a New American Security study. By showing Israelis and Palestinians that an agreement is still possible, he said, the study keeps the opportunity for peace alive until Netanyahu and Abbas are ready.
“Abbas and Bibi have a complicated personal relationship, and that makes this more difficult in the short term,” he said Thursday at a briefing for reporters, using Netanyahu’s nickname. “But that doesn’t mean this isn’t the solution in the long term.”