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(Updated on MARCH 2, 2009)
Funny… I read that two-state solution originally came from Peace Now, which core members are part of Labor party. Then, I never knew President Peres has been opposed to this. I promise. Kadima’s Mofaz will destroy everything Kadima… or do I still have problem to understand Kadima’s ideology? So far, as I wrote in my previous mail on Feb 23, JIWON: Nationalist-Government is My Most Favorite. WHY is it a bad idea? It should exist for the better future of Israel!!!, I tried very hard to re-interpret Arik’s defense minister in a right way and respect his position as Kadima No.2. What is his exact reason? Is he trying to re-construct Kadima in Bibi’s way or is he a mere inferior, old politician, who is hungry for ministerial portfolio… just as Labor’s Barak?

Clinton: U.S. firm on commitment to two-state solution Mar 2, 2009 / By Haaretz

Channel 1: Abbas drafts demands he plans to make to Netanyahu Feb 24, 2009 / By Jerusalem Post
(…) according to a message sent to the Americans via the US Consulate in Jerusalem, Abbas said he would only resume peace negotiations if Netanyahu recognizes the principle of two states, freezes settlement activity and abides by previous agreements.

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Ari Shavit: Thinking outside two boxes Mar 19, 2009 / By Haaretz

Tzipi Livni is right: We need a two-state solution. The only way to end the Israel-Palestinian conflict is to divide the Land of Israel into two nation states living side by side in peace. Only a comprehensive diplomatic solution between a Jewish democratic state and a moderate Palestinian one can ensure an end to the bloodshed. Mutual recognition, the end of the occupation and the creation of a different political reality are essential to give our children and their children a future. It will not end until we talk to each other.

Benjamin Netanyahu is also right: Even if we talk to each other it will not end. Fact: we talked at Oslo and it did not end. We talked at Camp David and it did not end. We talked at Annapolis and it did not end. We talked and talked and talked. Talk led nowhere. Shimon Peres, Ehud Barak, Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni offered the Palestinians the whole world, and the Palestinians were not satisfied. Just as they cruelly scuppered the negotiations to free kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, they foolishly caused the failure of the diplomatic negotiations. The promise of a two-state solution is now a hollow one that ignores reality.

Tzipi Livni is right: Without dividing the country Israel’s future is in danger. A Palestinian state must be established as soon as possible, not only for the sake of peace, but for the sake of Zionism. Even now, demography is eating away at the Jewish majority between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean. Even now, Israel’s international legitimacy has been worn thin. If an agreement to end the conflict is not signed soon with the Palestinian Authority, the conflict could become a cancer in the Jewish national body. There is no choice but a wide withdrawal, an evacuation of settlements and a division of Jerusalem. To save its own life, Israel must undergo surgery to separate from its Palestinian twin. Without this, Israel is done for.

Benjamin Netanyahu is also right: An operation can kill you, too. A surgeon who does not see well and does not understand how the body’s systems work might cause disastrous bleeding. When Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon, the vacuum was filled by Hezbollah, which established an Iranian beachhead to the north. When Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip, the vacuum was filled by Hamas, which established another Iranian beachhead. Withdrawal from the West Bank will create the most dangerous vacuum of all, in which the Iranians will immediately establish a third base of operations. If Israel is surrounded by armed Islamic sub-states, it will no longer be defensible. Its very existence will be brought into question.

It’s nothing personal. Livni and Netanyahu are the current representatives of two colliding worldviews – worldviews that are both right and wrong. The Livni stream correctly perceives the disease, but offers the medicines of a witch doctor. The Netanyahu stream is realistic when it comes to snake-oil remedies, but tends to ignore the seriousness of the disease. So these two streams have failed again and again; that they’re butting heads in 2009 is ridiculous.

We urgently need a new idea. The paradigm of the right is obsolete, but neither is the center-left’s paradigm relevant any longer. A two-state solution is the right slogan, but not a plan of action. It can’t be implemented in the real world. Instead of repeating the dogma religiously, its fundamental assumptions should be examined. Lessons should be learned from the repeated failures to make it happen.

Ideas are not taboo; perhaps a hudna with Hamas, if it forgoes military power and full sovereignty. Perhaps Egyptian-Jordanian patronage over areas of the Land of Israel, from which Israel withdraws. Perhaps an international umbrella over a long-term, deep process of Palestinian nation-building. Perhaps an Ireland plan, perhaps the Tony Blair approach, perhaps an idea that has not yet been born.

In any case, it’s clear: The time has come to think outside the box. The time has come to think outside two boxes. That will be the new government’s task. Along with dealing with Iran and the economy, it will have to lead a national process of rethinking possible solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

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Aluf Benn: A way out for Netanyahu Mar 18, 2009 / By Haaretz

Benjamin Netanyahu has a problem. The diplomatic scene is closing in on him from all directions and he is beginning his tenure as a suspect in the eyes of the international community. The bad memories of the past decade, the statements he made during the election campaign, his opposition to a Palestinian state and what appears to be his inclination toward a right-wing government have strengthened his image as an extreme conservative who insists on going against views accepted around the world. The proposed appointment of Avigdor Lieberman as foreign minister only bolsters this image.

During his victory lap in the world’s capitals, Netanyahu will try to convince his interlocutors that they should give him some credit. “Wait and see,” he will tell them, and remind them that they didn’t believe Ariel Sharon when he spoke of “painful concessions,” yet Sharon surprised them and evacuated settlements. Sharon needed more than a year – and six trips to Washington – until he convinced George W. Bush to back him. Israel pulled out of Gaza only during Bush’s second term.

Barack Obama expects Israel to fall in line with the new regional order he is promoting, or at least to refrain from disrupting it. Since taking office, Obama has sent Jerusalem three positive signals: He promised to continue providing military assistance, he is boycotting the second Durban conference because its decisions are expected to target Israel, and his administration is sticking to its refusal to talk with Hamas. In all those areas, the new American administration is continuing Bush policies.

But Netanyahu wants more. At his meeting with Obama, he will try to convince the American president to stop Iran’s nuclear program in the short time it will still be possible to do so. He will tell Obama that history will judge him for not dealing with Iran. And then Obama will ask Netanyahu what he is willing to do in return. In diplomacy there’s no such thing as a free lunch, and Netanyahu is experienced enough to appreciate that.

What can he do? The minimum Netanyahu will be asked to do is evacuate outposts and declare a freeze on settlement construction, in addition to the “economic peace” he promised. It’s hard to imagine how Netanyahu’s coalition will put a stop to settlements, even if Tzipi Livni ends up joining the government. Netanyahu will try to buy time by “formulating policy,” or by justifiably pointing out that the governments of Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak also failed to evacuate outposts. But the world will refuse to listen, especially if the incidents on the Gaza border continue and Israel is once more portrayed as violent and as the guilty party. The rightist coalition of Netanyahu will be stable, and will survive as long all it has to do is talk. Netanyahu needs something that will look like a diplomatic breakthrough but that won’t actually cause a single settler to be evacuated from his home.

The Arab League peace initiative that Netanyahu’s predecessors refused offers him just such a way out. Netanyahu can go further than previous prime ministers and announce that the Arab initiative is an unprecedented opportunity for closing ranks against the threat of Iran and the extremists in the region, and that it promises Israel, for the first time, an end to the conflict and full normalization in return for certain concessions it will have to make. He must say that his government is willing to talk with anyone in the region on the basis of the Arab initiative. Those are the sort of words that will sit well with Obama.

Netanyahu does not have to accept the Arab peace initiative as is. He can include his reservations, as Sharon did with the road map, about paving the way toward Palestinian independence. In order to bypass the Arab League’s demand for a withdrawal to the 1967 lines, including in Jerusalem, and the implication that Palestinian refugees have the right of return, Netanyahu should respond with an Israeli peace initiative based on two principles: defensible borders and guarantees for the future of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. Defensible borders are mentioned in UN Resolution 242, which is accepted throughout the Arab world. And Bush’s 2004 letter to Sharon states that refugees will return to a future Palestinian state, not to Israel. The issue of Jerusalem will require a more creative, ambiguous formulation.

If Netanyahu declares his support for the Arab initiative and backs up his statement with steps like lifting roadblocks, tacitly slowing settlement construction and renewing negotiations with Syria, he may be able to gain essential diplomatic credit, at least until the picture clears with Iran. His coalition will not commit suicide over this. There will be heated arguments in the cabinet, just as there were in the Sharon government over the road map, but the plan will ultimately be approved and the government will survive. This is Netanyahu’s way out.

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Aluf Benn: Why isn’t Netanyahu backing two-state solution? Mar 2, 2009 / By Haaretz
Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu is refusing to declare his support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni, that is reason enough to go into the opposition or to attempt to impose a rotation arrangement on Netanyahu. This weekend U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reiterated Washington’s commitment to a two-state solution, effectively joining the foreign minister in portraying Netanyahu as an obstacle to a negotiated settlement.

There are obvious political reasons for Netanyahu’s refusal to demonstrate a more moderate stance: It would cost him his potential coalition with the right-wing National Union and Habayit Hayehudi, and force him into a rotation arrangement with Livni. But his opposition to a Palestinian state is also a matter of principle, one he has held for many years.

Netanyahu says he doesn’t want to rule over the Palestinians, and has no interest in Nablus, Tul Karm or Jenin; they should govern their own lives, as long as they don’t threaten Israeli security, he says. Netanyahu seeks to deny the Palestinians four rights of any sovereign state: control of its airspace; control of its electromagnetic spectrum; the right to maintain an army and to sign military alliances; and, most importantly, control of the border crossings where arms and terrorists could pass. Netanyahu believes Israel must retain all of these.

Netanyahu’s model is based on the work of Stanford University political science professor Stephen Krasner, who was director of policy planning in the State Department under Condoleezza Rice. Krasner developed a “restricted sovereignty” model for problematic state structures.

Netanyahu also has a tactical reason for objecting to a Palestinian state: He believes that this must come through negotiations, rather than being something conceded by Israel in advance. He considers the Annapolis process that outgoing prime minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Livni conducted with the Palestinian Authority’s Mahmoud Abbas and Ahmed Qureia to be a joke. In his opinion, Israel must not offer a near-total withdrawal from the West Bank in advance, which he believes would achieve nothing and only encourage the Palestinians to demand more.

Netanyahu believes Israel must insist on retaining 50 percent of the West Bank – the open areas in the Jordan Valley and the Judean Desert that are vital as a security zone. In light of statements the outgoing government has made to the Palestinians, Netanyahu’s position is a joke meant to kill the negotiations before they even begin.

In an interview with Lally Weymouth in yesterday’s Washington Post, Netanyahu elegantly avoided the question about two states. Instead of merely saying “No,” he presented a vague formulation: “The Palestinians should have the ability to govern their lives but not to threaten ours.” Such a statement doesn’t explicitly discount the creation of an independent Palestinian state, nor does it address the fine points of control and sovereignty. Netanyahu also undertook to continue the negotiations with the Palestinians, and said Hamas should be toppled by the residents of Gaza [and not by Israel].

Livni demanded Netanyahu explicitly support the establishment of a Palestinian state. The question is what Clinton will make of Netanyahu’s opening gambit. Netanyahu’s aides believe that as a seasoned politician, Clinton will find a way to work with him, not against him, but it will be interesting to see whether she will also try to effect a compromise between Netanyahu and Livni in a bid toward creating a more moderate Israeli government.

Barak tells MKs: We must join coalition Mar 2, 2009 / By Jerusalem Post
(…) Barak told the MKs. “We have to go in. Be on my side. I don’t care if I don’t have a majority in the faction. I can pass it in the central committee.” (…) Former Labor chairman MK Amir Peretz criticized Barak for even thinking of entering a Likud-led government. “If Barak tries to join the government as defense minister, the party will not be behind him,” Peretz warned. “This is Barak’s right, to join the government as a professional appointment to the Defense Ministry, but that is a problem when he heads a party that doesn’t agree with Netanyahu on the most crucial matters, such as collapsing Hamas’s government in Gaza.” Peretz told Army Radio Barak had “no chance” of obtaining a party majority. “Even if Livni heads the opposition and we are a ‘spare tire’ there, we can be a very critical tire because we have a comprehensive agenda,” he said.
(…) Kadima’s Shaul Mofaz will push Livni to join BIBI. He is expected to receive support from several MKs, including Ronit Tirosh, Otniel Schneller, Arye Bibi and Rober Tibaev.

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🙂 From JIWON: Nationalist-Government is My Most Favorite. WHY is it a bad idea? It should exist for the better future of Israel!!! (From Nov 24, 2008 to Present)

Netanyahu to offer Livni full partnership in advancing peace process Feb 27, 2009 / By Haaretz
(…) Nonetheless, Netanyahu wants to show that he tried every option to compromise with Livni with generous, unprecedented offers, so that Livni appears at fault for any failure to create a unity government. (…) Livni is expected, as she did in a meeting Sunday, to demand that Netanyahu announce his support for a two-state solution and for an outline for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations reached at the 2007 Annapolis Conference. Netanyahu is expected to maintain his refusal, but will suggest to Livni that they create joint teams to draft basic political guidelines. (…) Party surveys indicate that most Kadima voters are opposed to national unity.
Meanwhile, in the ultra-Orthodox camp, Shas and United Torah Judaism tried to form a “Haredi bloc,” (…) Habayit Hayehudi has also demanded that (…) National Union wants illegal West Bank outposts declared legal and permission for construction in the territories. The party is also opposed to a withdrawal from the Golan Heights or a Palestinian state.

Yoel Marcus: Livni isn’t budging Feb 24, 2009 / By Haaretz
Maariv reported this week that sources close to President Shimon Peres are fiercely critical of the Kadima leader. “She’s acting like a political amateur,” they say, “and we’re struggling to understand what exactly she wants.” If we’re wondering who exactly are these “sources close to Peres” (his secretary or the presidential cleaner?), perhaps we should consider that the comments came from the president himself, given the coldness with which his proposal to form a unity government was met?
(…) Netanyahu understands that sooner or later such an administration is likely to transform the principle of two states for two peoples into one state for two peoples, as in South Africa. Regardless of how much we bomb Gaza, enough Arabs will remain to form the majority we fear.
(…) Kadima faces twin dangers: If it moves to the opposition, it is likely to crumble. If it joins a Netanyahu-led government, Livni risks being seen as having misled her electorate. This dead-end can be breached if the two build a rotation government (two years Netanyahu, two years Livni) on the basis of agreed guidelines that allow Kadima one hand on the whip and the other on the bridle. This arrangement would also make it easier for Netanyahu to break free of his dependence on the diktats of the rightist parties.

Editorial: Livni, don’t give in Feb 24, 2009 / By Haaretz
(…) At their meeting Sunday night, Livni demanded Netanyahu accept the two-state solution and agree in principle to the establishment of a Palestinian state. Netanyahu has always opposed this, and still does. Six years ago, when he was finance minister in Ariel Sharon’s government, he abstained in the cabinet vote that approved the road map, which calls for a two-state solution. Since then, his basic position has not changed. Netanyahu supports negotiations with the Palestinians, but he believes the focus should be on economic development in the territories, not on a final-status agreement, which he views as impractical. He also opposes withdrawing from most of the West Bank and insists on continuing to expand the settlements. (…)

Entire political system shifting rightward: 40% of Kadima’s voters chose party in final 3 days Feb 13, 2009 / By Haaretz, Shahar Ilan
How did the right grow by 15 seats while Kadima maintained its strength? The entire political system has shifted rightward, it turns out. Labor, the Pensioners Party and Meretz lost a total of 16 seats. Many Kadima voters also moved rightward, but they were replaced by new voters from the left. That is how the right swelled to 56 seats, while the leftist Zionist parties were left with only 16 Knesset members.

J’lem votes Likud, Tel Aviv – Kadima Feb 11, 2009 / By Jerusalem Post
The capital Jerusalem tilted heavily right-wing and haredi, with the Likud garnering 24%, more than double Kadima’s 11.5%. Over one-third of the vote – 34% – went to one of the two haredi parties, Shas and UTJ. Meanwhile, Tel Aviv gave an overwhelming victory to Kadima (34%) and the best showing in any region for Meretz-Hatnua Hahadasha (8%). Labor, trailing some 2 points nationally behind the right-wing Israel Beitenu, handily defeated the latter party in Tel Aviv by a two-to-one margin, taking 15% to Israel Beitenu’s 6%. Haredi parties, by contrast, garnered less than 7.5% of the vote in Tel Aviv.

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🙂 From Dieharddoves-&-Settlement
Analysis: Does the Left really want Kadima in the opposition? Feb 17, 2009 / By Jerusalem Post
Labor and Meretz members keep on publicly attacking Kadima leader Tzipi Livni for even thinking about sitting in a coalition with the Likud and Israel Beiteinu, but some observers say it may just be for show.
(…) Labor MKs Ophir Paz-Pines and Eitan Cabel harshly criticized Livni and Kadima for pursuing negotiations with Israel Beiteinu’s Avigdor Lieberman. However, no Labor MKs agreed to say on the record that Labor preferred Kadima in the opposition.
Hatnua Hahadasha-Meretz chairman MK Haim Oron, on the other hand, said his party had no problems sharing the opposition benches with Kadima and Livni.
“Kadima is no left-wing party and it doesn’t feel the need to define itself like that. I am always glad to have new partners in the opposition,” Oron said.
“I have an annoying habit of asking first what is better for the country,” he added. “I think that the right-wing bloc, which has been screaming in the past week that it won, should not look for a fig leaf to cover itself with, and simply implement the policies it claims it has and prove once and for all what it can do.
“Who knows, if they succeed, maybe we will vote for them next time,” Oron quipped.
MK Dov Henin, chairman of the left-wing Hadash Party, which actually gained a mandate last week, said that if Kadima wanted to maintain its integrity it would sit in the opposition and not join an extreme right-wing government.
“I expect Livni to be loyal to the path she has proclaimed she would follow. Otherwise the politicians will lose what little respect the public has left for them,” Henin said.

Gideon Levy: Netanyahu, put your money where your mouth is Feb 19, 2009 / By Haaretz

Why isn’t Benjamin Netanyahu setting up a right-wing government? Why isn’t he carrying out the voters’ will to position the right wing in power? Why isn’t he taking the opportunity that fell into his hands to form a government in tune with his doctrine?
Why is he talking about a broad coalition, knowing it would force him to compromise his principles? Because he is afraid. Now, at the moment of truth, when he has the ability to implement his ideology, he has gotten cold feet and wants to dilute his government with components that are alien to his doctrine.

Together with Yisrael Beiteinu, Shas, United Torah Judaism, Habayit Hayehudi and National Union – a majority of 65 Knesset members who are all distinctly far right – Netanyahu could carry out his political ideas. After all, the right wing always has answers for everything, a solution to every problem. So go for it, Netanyahu, go for it.

First, go for the economic peace. Let’s see you obtain funding – from the Arab world and perhaps from Israel, too, especially in these economic times – to carry out the projects you promised. Persuade the Palestinians and Americans that this is enough. Let’s see what happens after the first suicide attack in the industrial zone built on the outskirts of Nablus or behind Hebron.
Been there, done that. We’ve had industrial zones – so-called “peace parks” – in Erez, Tul Karm and Atarot. They stand abandoned, in ruins.
Why? Because they weren’t enough for the Palestinians. Because the Palestinians understood the deception behind the approach that we give them work and they remain quiet. After all, Palestinians, like other nations, need not only bread but also freedom and self-definition. A weird sort of notion that Netanyahu’s fathers also dreamed of.
So go for the economic peace, Netanyahu, the right-wing government will applaud you. A broad coalition may, however, demand more.

Bomb Iran, Netanyahu, because sanctions aren’t enough for you, you don’t believe in diplomatic negotiations with Iran and you pledged that you, Mr. Iran, would prevent Tehran from obtaining nuclear arms at any cost. Let’s see you get Barack Obama’s permission for the most dangerous escapade of all. Bombard and let’s see what happens.
A broad government could stop your quirks, so why go there? This is the most crucial issue on your agenda. Topple Hamas’ rule in Gaza, as you promised. Release Gilad Shalit without freeing murderers, as you wrote in your book about terror. Go forth on your way.

In your speech at the last session of the 17th Knesset you outlined this way: Any territory released from the IDF’s control would be occupied by Hamas, so don’t evacuate a single dunam, you said. Explain that to Obama and Mahmoud Abbas. Tell them you won’t ever negotiate over Jerusalem. That the Jordan Valley and Judean Desert will remain in our hands for eternity. Ya’akov Katz (National Union) will cheer you on, Moshe Ya’alon will salute you. A broad coalition, however, could demand something else.

Offer the Syrians peace for peace. After all, you wouldn’t uproot the tender sapling you planted in the Golan just last week, on Tu Bishvat. You wouldn’t renege on your statement, “Gamla will not fall again.”

Build more and more settlements – there is plenty of “state-owned land” and private land to usurp. Then annex the territories. There is no reason not to apply Israeli law to territories that will remain forever in our hands. Annex and annex, from Jenin to Hebron, distribute Israeli identity cards to the residents and, hey, on to the next Knesset elections with two million new voters.

Perhaps America will finally tell you, annex or evacuate, and you will have to decide. Try selling Obama this political merchandise, and we’ll see how he reacts. And let’s see how you react if he says no. Why not ask his administration for more and more weapons, more economic aid, more diplomatic support and still stand on your principles. Let’s watch you in action, Netanyahu.
But the truth is, Netanyahu knows that this would be a horrific sight. He wants Kadima and Labor in his government to hold him back, to prevent him from carrying out his doctrine. This is exactly why they must not join his coalition. Render unto Netanyahu the things that are Netanyahu’s. Let’s see how it ends up working out for him. And for us.


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