We are searching data for your request:
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.
A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
June 12, 2011- Syria- America Presses For Negotiations Between Israel and Palestinians
The situation in Syria is getting ever more violent, with the Assad regime now openly using tanks and helicopter gunships against protesters. The world is outraged, but stands largely silent on the sidelines. The opinions in Israel, both on whether Assad is doomed and why the world is mostly silent, vary widely.
Some Israeli commentator believe the end may be near. This weekend the demonstrations in Homs and even Damscus grew exponentially. There were tens of thousands of demonstrators in the street. They also refer to signs that ever larger numbers of Syrian army troops seem to be defecting. Skeptics take the opposite view, believing the brutality of the regime will insure it maintains powers. As to the world, some Israeli commentators believe its because no one knows whether Assad will win or not, so the world is waiting, so as not to be on the losing side. Others say the West actually hopes Assad will win; fearing what might come after. I hope that is not the case. Unfortunately, I know enough to say that I clearly have no idea what is best. However, as usual, my one clear opinion is that anyone who says he or she knows for sure, is wrong.
The nascent Palestinian unity seems to be in trouble, with a major disagreement on who should be the interim Prime Minister. Though It is still too soon to write off the plan. In the meantime, the Obama Administration is pressing the Netanyahu government to accept the "Obama" plan as a basis for resuming negotiations. The Palestinians have accepted it, agreeing to forego their demand that building cease as a precondition. This, of course, puts the Israeli government in the unfortunate position of being the ones to say "no". The Israeli government needs to come up with a creative plan to say "yes" and then put the onus on the Palestinians.
How Biden Enabled Israel’s Ethnic Cleansing of Palestinians
The post of U.S. ambassador to Israel is still vacant, but the charge d’affaires, Jonathan Shrier, sent over some objections to caretaker Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu last month complaining about the Israeli construction of squatter settlements on Palestinian land in East Jerusalem. The “Green Line” that separates Israel within 1948 borders from the Occupied Palestinian territories Israel illegally grabbed by military conquest in 1967 runs through Jerusalem. The Netanyahu government approved 450 housing units in the Har Homa district in the east of the city, and the Biden administration objected that Israel should not be building beyond the Green Zone.
The planting of more and more squatter settlements on land owned by Palestinian families is among the actions that produced massive unrest in Jerusalem last Friday and Saturday. In particular, the Israeli plan to make dozens of families homeless in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood has raised tensions to a fever pitch. The Israeli government pretends not to recognize the property titles of many families there, and prevents them from making additions to their homes. When they do so anyway, the Israelis schedule them for demolition. This behavior is among the reasons that Human Rights Watch has just branded Israel an Apartheid state.
There were further Palestinian protests Sunday night in Jerusalem, as far right wing groups (the Israeli equivalent of Q-Anon) planned to parade through Palestinian neighborhoods waving Israeli flags, just to make it clear who is in control of people’s lives there. Palestinians are not allowed to protest, and the Israeli commandos come in to break heads and throw stun grenades. For a Palestinian to wave a Palestine flag is a crime that could result in long years in jail. That is what the US press calls “clashes” or “skirmishes,” managing to avoid naming Israeli repression.
The Biden administration has revived the old, phony, language about a “two-state” solution. Since Israel is unimpeded in building throughout the West Bank, 60% of which is under direct Israeli military occupation and 40% of which is under indirect Israeli military occupation, no two-state solution has been plausible for at least a decade and maybe more. Speaking of two states that can never materialize is just a way of, in Mitt Romney’s words, “kicking the can down the road.”
So the new construction in Palestinian East Jerusalem was denounced by Washington. But the denunciation is toothless.
Netanyahu knows that it is toothless, and engaged in one of his favorite sports, owning the Libs in Washington. Jerusalem, he said, “is not a settlement,” it is the capital of Israel.
The Biden administration says that the ultimate disposition of East Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. So Washington disagrees, at the moment, with Netanyahu.
But President Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken don’t have a leg to stand on in rejecting, Netanyahu’s position, since they decided to ratify the decision of the odious Trump to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Only a handful of countries has agreed to recognize undivided Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a recognition that forestalls final status negotiations. Trump symbolically acquiesced in Netanyahu’s claims. Biden let the symbolism stand.
Although Israelis often attempt to use the 1947 UN General Assembly partition plan as a charter of legitimacy, it isn’t. It was never ratified by the UN executive branch, which is the Security Council, and so has no force of law. Moreover, Israeli leaders such as Ben Gurion only paid lip service to it, ignoring it when they could seize further territory by main force.
But even that very pro-Zionist 1947 plan did not award Jerusalem to Israel. The city, given its importance to Jews, Christians and Muslims, was to be under an international regime. But in the 1948 War, Israel captured the west of the city, while Jordanian troops held the east. In 1967, even though Palestinian played no appreciable role in the Six Day War, Israel overran East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza. The General Assembly had not awarded those to Israel because there were virtually no Jews there.
The Israelis annexed East Jerusalem and other Palestinian West Bank territory, which is an egregious violation of the United Nations charter, which forbids the acquisition of territory by military force. Israel is a signatory. Then the Israeli government began flooding Israeli squatters onto Palestinian land in East Jerusalem. This transfer of population from the Occupying power to militarily occupied territory is a severe violation of the 1949 Geneva Convention on the treatment of occupied populations. The Fourth Geneva Convention was aimed at preventing a repeat of Axis war crimes, as with the attempt of the Nazis to settle occupied Poland with ethnic Germans and to ethnically cleanse Poles from their own country to make way for Germanization.
Today, 370,000 Palestinians live in East Jerusalem, and the Israelis have managed to plant over 200,000 Israelis in squatter settlements on land owned by Palestinians. The goal of the Israeli Right is to evict the Palestinians slowly and gradually (so as to avoid a backlash from the rest of the world) and to replace them with Israeli settlers, so as to create a monochrome Israeli Jerusalem. Currently, the Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem are being turned into cantons surrounded by Israeli squatter settlements and sometimes cut off from other Palestinians, and they are all heavily surveiled and patrolled by Israeli security forces.
The 5 million Occupied Palestinians in the West Bank view East Jerusalem as their future capital, and Netanyahu’s purpose in life is to prevent that scenario from ever occurring.
The Biden administration gives lip service to a negotiated settlement and a two state solution. But Washington has done nothing at all to prevent the gradual colonization of the Palestinian West Bank, including East Jerusalem, by the Israelis over the past for the past 54 years, and so will just go only sending over memos. Sending the memos from Jerusalem is a way of telegraphing that they are not serious.
The Land and the People
In the nineteenth century, following a trend that emerged earlier in Europe, people around the world began to identify themselves as nations and to demand national rights, foremost the right to self-rule in a state of their own (self-determination and sovereignty). Jews and Palestinians both started to develop a national consciousness and mobilized to achieve national goals. Because Jews were spread across the world (in diaspora), the Jewish national movement, or Zionist trend, sought to identify a place where Jews could come together through the process of immigration and settlement. Palestine seemed the logical and optimal place because it was the site of Jewish origin. The Zionist movement began in 1882 with the first wave of European Jewish immigration to Palestine.
At that time, the land of Palestine was part of the Ottoman Empire. This area did not constitute a single political unit, however. The northern districts of Acre and Nablus were part of the province of Beirut. The district of Jerusalem was under the direct authority of the Ottoman capital of Istanbul because of the international significance of the cities of Jerusalem and Bethlehem as religious centers for Muslims, Christians and Jews. According to Ottoman records, in 1878 there were 462,465 subject inhabitants of the Jerusalem, Nablus and Acre districts: 403,795 Muslims (including Druze), 43,659 Christians and 15,011 Jews. In addition, there were perhaps 10,000 Jews with foreign citizenship (recent immigrants to the country) and several thousand Muslim Arab nomads (Bedouin) who were not counted as Ottoman subjects. The great majority of the Arabs (Muslims and Christians) lived in several hundred rural villages. Jaffa and Nablus were the largest and economically most important towns with majority-Arab populations.
Until the beginning of the twentieth century, most Jews living in Palestine were concentrated in four cities with religious significance: Jerusalem, Hebron, Safed and Tiberias. Most of them observed traditional, orthodox religious practices. Many spent their time studying religious texts and depended on the charity of world Jewry for survival. Their attachment to the land was religious rather than national, and they were not involved in—or supportive of—the Zionist movement that began in Europe and was brought to Palestine by immigrants. Most of the Jews who emigrated from Europe lived a more secular lifestyle and were committed to the goals of creating a modern Jewish nation and building an independent Jewish state. By the outbreak of World War I (1914), the population of Jews in Palestine had risen to about 60,000, about 36,000 of whom were recent settlers. The Arab population in 1914 was 683,000.
News of Terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict June 26 – July 2, 2013
This past week Israel’s southern border was quiet, after rockets were fired the previous week. A terrorist network was detained in Judea and Samaria, weapons were seized, an Israeli bus was shot at and Palestinian violence continues as part of the so-called “popular resistance.”
John Kerry, the American Secretary of State, ended a week of shuttling between Jerusalem, Ramallah and Amman in an attempt to renew Israel-Palestinian negotiations. He said that significant progress had been made. The Palestinians, on the other hand, claimed that there were still great disparities between the sides and that Israel was the one causing the difficulties. However, Saeb Erekat, a member of the politician’s Executive Committee and the Palestinians’ chief negotiator, said that the discussions would continue and the Kerry would return to the region for another round of talks.
The Situation in Israel’s South
Rocket Fire on the Southern Border
This past week there was quiet along Israel’s southern border. No rockets and no mortar shells were fired into Israeli territory.
Judea and Samaria
Palestinian Shot near Hebron
On the night of July 1, 2013, a young Palestinian was killed in the village of Dura (south Mt. Hebron) by IDF fire. According to the IDF spokesman, during a nighttime operation in Dura Palestinians attacked an IDF force with stones. The force responded by using riot control equipment. A Palestinian was reported wounded, and later died of his wounds. The IDF is investigating the circumstances of his death. The Palestinian was a cadet at the Palestinian Academy for Security Sciences in Jericho (Ynet, July 2, 2013).
The Border Police Detain a Terrorist Network Planning an Attack
During a Border Police patrol in the area of El-Khader (near Bethlehem) on June 28, 2013, after Molotov cocktails had been thrown in the region, the soldiers noted a suspicious vehicle with three passengers. They ordered it to stop. An examination uncovered three sniper rifles, telescopic lenses, two silencers, magazines and ammunition. An initial investigation revealed that the three were planning to carry out a terrorist attack (Israel Border Police website, June 28, 2013).
Weapons Seized in Nablus
A joint Israeli security forces activity carried out on the night of June 26, 2013 uncovered a large quantity of weapons in the homes of terrorist operatives in Nablus. Among them were two hand guns, parts of an M-16 assault rifle, magazines, various types of ammunition and military equipment. Three suspects were detained (IDF spokesman, June 27, 2013).
Israeli Bus Attacked
On June 25, 2013, shots were fired at an Israeli civilian bus in the region of the village of Hawara (near Nablus). The bus driver reported that he heard gunfire and that at least one shot was aimed at him. The security forces called to the scene found a bullet hole in the bus, and initiated a search for the shooter or shooters. The previous week an Israeli bus was shot at in the same location. There were no casualties in either attack (Ynet, June 25, 2013).
Terrorist Squad from Hebron and Nablus Detained
In May 2013 the Israeli security forces detained a Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist squad from Hebron and Nablus. One of the operatives shot at Israeli tourists near Wadi Qelt (in the Judean Desert) in May 2013. The operative from Hebron belonged to the PFLP andmade contact with its operatives abroad. He had met with operatives in Jordan to carry out the attack. His interrogation also revealed that PFLP operatives abroad were directed by and collaborate with Hezbollah in Lebanon. Four other operatives from Hebron and Nablus were detained, all of whom confessed to having carried out other attacks. One of them was a woman named Sati Yussuf Mansour, 30, from Kafr Qallil (near Nablus), who confessed to having helped plan the terrorist attack in Wadi Qelt and to collecting information for other attacks (Israel Security Agency website, June 27, 2013).
Palestinian Continue Rioting in Judea and Samaria
This past week violence and riots between Palestinians and the Israel security forces continued at the traditional friction points, part of the so-called “popular resistance.”
Palestinians confront IDF forces at Ma’sara (Bethlehem district) at one of the weekly riots protesting the security fence and the settlements (Wafa News Agency, June 28, 2013).
Developments in the Gaza Strip
The media continue to issue reports about the severe economic crisis developing in the Gaza Strip in the wake of increased Egyptian security activities along Egypt-Gaza Strip border. The security activities, carried out in light of internal events in Egypt, led to the closing of tunnels and the cutting off of supplies to the Gaza Strip. Most critical are the shortages of fuel and building materials, and as a result many building projects have stalled and the workers have been dismissed (Al-Ayam, June 27, 2013). According to Maher Abu Subha, head of general administration for the crossings and borders young Gazans have recently found it difficult to leave the Gaza Strip via the Rafah crossing, and most of those allowed passage are older men with families (Safa News Agency, June 26, 2013).
On June 25, 2013, Israel ordered the reopening of the Kerem Shalom and Erez crossings, after they had been closed following the rocket fire targeting Israel’s south (on the night of June 23, 2013).
Attempts to Repair Hamas-Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) Relations
Following the tension between Hamas and the PIJ caused by the killing of a senior PIJ operative, Hamas has made attempts to repair their relations. Senior PIJ figures were in favor of the return to normal relations:
- Khader Habibsaid that his organization had renewed contact with Hamas following the differences of opinion over the death of Ra’ed Jundia. He said the PIJ maintained close relations with Hamas and that the two organizations were a united front against Israel (Palestine Online, June 25, 2013).
- Khaled al-Batashsaid that the appointing of an investigation committee, Ismail Haniya’s phone conversations with the PIJ’s leadership and its secretary general Ramadan Shallah, and the visit of a Hamas delegation to the home of the PIJ victim helped to calm the troubled waters and to restore friendly relations. He said those who had been involved in the killing would be tried and dealt with according to Muslim religious law (Ma’an News Agency, June 26, 2013).
The De-Facto Hamas Administration Trains Officers and Instructors for Its Al-Futuwwa Program
At the beginning of June 2013 the training administration of the de-facto Hamas administration’s national security service began a course to train officers and instructors for the coming school year’s Al-Futuwwa program, which gives school children military training. The participants in the training course underwent physical and military training and were listened to lectures on various theoretical topics. They also received a visit from Colonel Muhammad al-Nakhaleh, Al-Futuwwa director (Facebook page of Al-Futuwwa, June 5 and 17, 2013).
Anniversary of the Abduction of Gilad Shalit
On the seventh anniversary of the abduction of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military-terrorist wing, issued a video entitled “We began with our goal…and we will reach its end.” Beginning with the end of the 1980s, the video boasts about the abductions and murders of IDF soldiers, and gives names of Israelis who were abducted and murdered. Gilad Shalit is shown on the day of his release as he dresses in a cell before he is turned over to Israel (Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades website, June 26, 2013).
Pictures of Gilad Shalit from the Hamas video (Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades website, June 26, 2013)
North Korean Nuclear Negotiations
Nuclear negotiations between the United States and North Korea have proceeded in fits and starts across three decades and have failed to halt the advance of the North’s atomic weapons program.
North Korea ratifies the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), a multilateral agreement whose dozens of signatories have committed to halting the spread of nuclear weapons and technology and promoting peaceful cooperation on nuclear energy. North Korea built its first nuclear facilities in the early 1980s.
The United States announces it will withdraw roughly one hundred nuclear weapons from South Korea as part of the original Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. The agreement between President George H.W. Bush and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, known as the START treaty, limits the deployment of offensive nuclear weapons abroad.
The governments of North and South Korea agree to “not test, manufacture, produce, receive, possess, store, deploy, or use nuclear weapons,” as well as ban nuclear reprocessing and uranium enrichment facilities. The treaty also commits the two Koreas to use nuclear energy only for peaceful purposes.
Pyongyang rejects inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and announces its intent to leave the NPT. However, the country suspends its withdrawal following talks with U.S. diplomats in New York. Pyongyang agrees to comply with IAEA safeguards, including inspections at seven declared nuclear sites. The first inspections take place in March 1994.
Amid escalating tensions on the peninsula, Jimmy Carter becomes the first former U.S. president to visit North Korea, where he meets with Kim Il-sung, the country’s founder. Carter’s trip paves the way for a bilateral deal between the United States and North Korea. Kim dies weeks later and is succeeded by his son, Kim Jong-il.
The United States and North Korea sign the Agreed Framework [PDF], in which North Korea commits to freezing its illicit plutonium weapons program and halting construction on nuclear reactors, in Geneva. In exchange, the United States pledges to provide sanctions relief, aid, oil, and two light-water reactors for civilian use. Earlier in the year, the CIA assessed that North Korea had produced one or two nuclear weapons.
The United States, Japan, and South Korea establish the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO) to implement the 1994 Agreed Framework and oversee the financing and construction of the two light-water reactors. KEDO breaks ground in August 1997.
North Korea agrees to suspend testing of long-range missiles following talks with the United States in exchange, the United States eases economic sanctions for the first time since the beginning of the Korean War in 1950.
South Korean President Kim Dae-jung meets with Kim Jong-il in Pyongyang for the first summit between Korean leaders since the peninsula’s division five decades prior. The rapprochement results in a number of joint commercial and cultural projects, including construction of an industrial complex and the reunification of families separated during the war. Following the summit, the United States eases sanctions further, allowing some trade and investment.
North Korean General Jo Myong-rok meets with U.S. President Bill Clinton in Washington, making Jo the highest-ranking North Korean official to visit the United States. A few weeks later, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright travels to North Korea to discuss the country’s ballistic missile program and missile technology exports. The diplomatic overtures lead to missile talks in November, but Clinton’s presidency ends without making additional nuclear or missile deals.
President George W. Bush takes office in 2001 and pursues a harder line toward Pyongyang, characterizing North Korea, along with Iraq and Iran, as part of an “axis of evil” and imposing new sanctions. In April 2002, Bush states in a memorandum that the United States will not certify North Korea’s compliance with the 1994 Agreed Framework, due to a rocket test and missile-related transfers to Iran.
Pyongyang admits to running a secret uranium-enrichment program to power nuclear weapons, a violation of the Agreed Framework, the NPT, and agreements between North and South Korea. By December, the country says it will reactivate its nuclear plant in Yongbyon. The following month, North Korea withdraws from the NPT after disrupting IAEA monitoring equipment and expelling inspectors.
Amid an increasingly tense climate, South and North Korea, China, Japan, Russia, and the United States launch a diplomatic initiative known as the Six Party Talks. There are no breakthroughs during the first round of talks, in Beijing, where North Korea denies having a uranium-enrichment program.
The U.S. Treasury Department designates the Macau-based Banco Delta Asia a primary money laundering concern and freezes $25 million North Korea holds there. These funds will prove to be a sticking point in negotiations between the United States and North Korea.
Despite stalemates at previous rounds of the Six Party Talks, its members agree to a joint declaration in which North Korea commits to abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons and to implement IAEA safeguards and the terms of the NPT. As part of the agreement, the United States asserts that it has no intention of attacking North Korea.
North Korea carries out an underground nuclear test with an explosion yield estimated around one to two kilotons. In July, North Korea tested seven short-, medium-, and long-range ballistic missiles. These tests prompt the UN Security Council to issue unanimous condemnations and trade sanctions.
North Korea commits to halting operations at its Yongbyon nuclear facilities in exchange for fifty thousand tons of oil. The deal is part of an action plan agreed to by the Six Party members to implement the September 2005 statement.
After the United States releases the $25 million in frozen North Korean funds in June, the Six Party Talks resume. Its participants issue a joint statement outlining the North’s commitment to declare all of its nuclear programs, disable its facilities, and stop the export of nuclear material and technology. In exchange, the North is to receive nine hundred thousand tons of oil and the United States pledges to remove the country from its list of state sponsors of terrorism.
Lee Myung-bak is elected president of South Korea. As the leader of a conservative government, Lee shifts from his predecessors’ push for reconciliation to exert more pressure on North Korea to denuclearize. He takes office a few months after the second inter-Korean summit, held between the North’s Kim Jong-il and South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun.
Pyongyang declares its fifteen nuclear sites to Beijing, the chair of the Six Party Talks, stating that it had thirty kilograms of plutonium and used two kilograms in its 2006 nuclear test. In turn, Bush rescinds some restrictions on trade with North Korea, announces plans to take the country off the list of state sponsors of terrorism, and waives some sanctions. In October, the U.S. State Department announces a preliminary agreement with North Korea on verifications. However, by December, discussions break down because of disagreements on verification procedures.
President Barack Obama takes office signaling a willingness to revive the Six Party Talks, but these efforts are initially rebuffed by North Korea, which launches a rocket believed to be a modified version of its long-range ballistic missile. It also ejects international monitors from its nuclear facilities in April and the following month tests a second nuclear device, which carries a yield of two to eight kilotons. In December, Obama administration officials hold their first bilateral meetings with their North Korean counterparts.
Pyongyang reveals its new centrifuge for uranium enrichment, which was built secretively and swiftly, as well as a light-water reactor under construction, suggesting that despite sanctions, the regime is committed to advancing its weapons program. The news comes amid escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula after forty-six South Koreans were killed when a patrol ship, the Cheonan, was torpedoed and then sank in March. The South blames North Korea for the attack and cuts economic ties. The North denies its involvement and later fires artillery at the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong.
Kim Jong-il dies after seventeen years in power and is succeeded by his son Kim Jong-un. The not-yet-thirty-year-old Kim is relatively unknown, and foreign observers anticipate a political struggle until he begins to assert power.
Following a meeting between the United States and North Korea in Beijing, North Korea commits to suspend its uranium enrichment operations in Yongbyon, invite IAEA monitors, and carry out a moratorium on long-range missile and nuclear testing. In exchange, the United States is to provide tons of food aid. The deal falls apart after North Korea launches a rocket and displays road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles at a military parade.
Diplomacy stalls for several years as the Obama administration opts for “strategic patience,” in which the United States and its partners ratchet up sanctions in hopes that the regime will return to the negotiating table. Meanwhile, North Korea carries out nuclear tests in February 2013 and again in January and September 2016. Its ballistic missile capabilities improve, with more tests of short-, medium-, and long-range missiles carried out under Kim Jong-un than under his father and grandfather combined.
President Donald J. Trump is inaugurated in January 2017 and shifts course in U.S. policy toward North Korea. In September, Pyongyang conducts its sixth nuclear test, which it claims is a hydrogen bomb and raises international alarm due to the yield of its explosion. Trump redesignates North Korea a state sponsor of terrorism in November. U.S.-North Korean relations during Trump’s first year are volatile as Pyongyang boasts it can reach U.S. soil with nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles and the Trump administration threatens a military strike.
South Korea’s national security advisor announces in Washington that Trump has accepted an invitation to meet with Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang by May. The news comes on the heels of diplomatic overtures between the North and South spurred by the Winter Olympic Games, hosted by South Korea in Pyeongchang.
Kim becomes the first North Korean leader to cross the border south for a summit with South Korea’s Moon Jae-in at the truce village of Panmunjom. The summit marks the first meeting between the heads of the Koreas in eleven years. The two pledge to convert the armistice that ended the hostilities of the Korean War into a formal peace treaty. They also confirmed the shared goal of achieving a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.
The U.S. president pulls out of the meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, citing “anger and hostility” in North Korea’s latest statements. Threats out of Pyongyang had raised doubts about whether the summit would go forward. Still, North Korea had taken some action in recent weeks to demonstrate good faith by releasing three U.S. prisoners and demolishing the nuclear test site at Punggye-ri, where foreign journalists were invited to witness the event.
In an about-face, Kim and Trump hold a historic meeting in Singapore, where they signal a desire to change the U.S.-North Korea relationship. The two leaders sign a joint statement pledging to pursue lasting peace and complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, although the declaration provides few details. They also commit to recovering the remains of U.S. soldiers who fought in the Korean War. Separately, Trump says he would suspend U.S.-South Korea military exercises and Kim agrees to destroy a missile-engine test site.
In the third summit between Kim and Moon, this time in Pyongyang, the leaders sign a joint declaration outlining steps toward reducing tensions, expanding inter-Korean exchanges and cooperation, and achieving denuclearization. It states that the North will permanently shut down the Dongchang-ri missile test site, allow international inspectors into North Korea, and dismantle its nuclear site pending “corresponding measures” by the United States. An accompanying military declaration outlines steps to curtail ground exercises, establish no-fly and no-sail zones under the jurisdiction of inter-Korean bodies, and transform the demilitarized zone into a peace zone. The two sides also pledge to strengthen economic cooperation.
Israeli Public Opinion Polls: Regarding Peace with the Palestinians
In 2020 the United States administration put forward its peace plan for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Called by some &ldquoThe Deal of the Century,&rdquo the plan provides, in part, for: Israel to annex about 30% of the West Bank the opportunity for Palestinians to establish a state in the remaining areas of the West Bank and Gaza, with some additional lands adjacent to Gaza that Israel will cede to them and a package of grants and loans to help kick-start the Palestinian economy. From what you know about the plan, is your attitude favorable or unfavorable? (Zogby Research, June 24-July 5, 2020)
Which of the following statements best describes why you hold a favorable view of &ldquothe Deal of the Century&rdquo? [Only asked of the 52% of Israeli respondents who view the plan favorably.] (Zogby Research, June 24-July 5, 2020)
The deal is the most realistic way forward because of the facts on the ground.
The deal provides the quickest path to end the violence.
Which of the following statements best describes why you hold an unfavorable view of &ldquothe Deal of the Century&rdquo? [Only asked of the 48% of Israeli respondents who view the plan unfavorably.] (Zogby Research, June 24-July 5, 2020)
The deal will never be accepted by many Israelis.
Israel should never give the Palestinians any of the land between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea.
If annexation is to go forward, in your opinion, which areas should Israel annex? [Select all that apply.] (Zogby Research, June 24-July 5, 2020)
Just the settlement blocs along the border
Some say annexation should be done now, while U.S. President Donald Trump is still in office. (Zogby Research, June 24-July 5, 2020)
This is a legitimate reason to support annexation now.
This is a not a legitimate reason to support annexation now.
Some settlers say annexing parts of the West Bank under the terms of the U.S. peace plan leaves the rest of the territories to the Palestinians to create a Palestinian state, which will pose a danger
to Israel. (Zogby Research, June 24-July 5, 2020)
I agree with this position and believe we should annex all of Judea and Samaria now.
I disagree with this position and feel that a limited annexation should take place leaving the rest of the area to the Palestinians.
As you consider all of these factors &mdash the European, American, and Arab reactions &mdash what is your overall attitude toward annexation? (Zogby Research, June 24-July 5, 2020)
Israel should ignore them and proceed with annexation of all of Judea and Samaria as soon as possible.
Israel should take these views into consideration, proceed cautiously, and only annex a few areas now.
&ldquoThe coalition agreement signed between Likud and Blue and White says that after a discussion between Netanyahu and Gantz, a plan coordinated with the United States for applying sovereignty to parts of the West Bank/Judea and Samaria will be brought for the government&rsquos and/or the Knesset&rsquos approval. Do you support or oppose such an application of sovereignty in the near future?&rdquo (Israeli Voice Index, April 2020)
And what, in your opinion, are the chances that Israel will indeed apply its sovereignty to parts of the West Bank/Judea and Samaria in the coming year? (Israeli Voice Index, April 2020)
If Israel annexes territories in Judea and Samaria/the West Bank, what political status should it give the Palestinian residents of these territories after the annexation? (Israeli Voice Index, April 2020)
The status of residents, which is less than citizenship&mdashfor example, they would not be able to vote in elections
They should not be given any status beyond what they have today
The peace plan that President Trump will soon present will apparently include recognition of a Palestinian state. In your opinion, should Israel agree to any plan that includes such recognition? (Israeli Voice Index, January 2020)
I&rsquom sure Israel should agree
I think Israel should agree
I think Israel should not agree
I&rsquom sure Israel should not agree
Some claim that presenting the peace plan at the current time adds up to U.S. intervention in the Israeli election campaign, and that its purpose is to help Netanyahu win. Do you agree or disagree with this claim? (Israeli Voice Index, January 2020)
When asked about the Israeli-Palestinian Authority conflict (not exact wording - Tel Aviv University and the &ldquoMidgam&rdquo institute, September 2019)
When asked whether they support the establishment of an independent Palestinian state alongside the State of Israel (not exact wording - Tel Aviv University and the &ldquoMidgam&rdquo institute, September 2019)
Can a peace agreement with the Palestinians be achieved in the near future? (INSS, National Security Index 2018-19)
Do you support or oppose the solution of two states for two peoples? (INSS, National Security Index 2018-19)
What is Israel's best option regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? (INSS, National Security Index 2018-19)
Strive to reach a comprehensive aggreement
Transitional arrangements to separate from the Palestinians
Israeli annexation of Judea and Samaria and establishment of one state
*2017 wording slightly different
What will be the consequences of another failure in the political process between Israel and the Palestinians? (INSS, National Security Index 2018-19)
To what extent to you agree with each of the following sentences? (INSS, National Security Index 2018-19)
What is your position on holding peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority?
(Peace Index - December 2011 April 2012 October 2013 September 2014 November 2015 December 2016 December 2017 July 2018)
Do you believe that negotiations between Israel & the Palestinian Authority will lead to peace in the coming years?
(Peace Index - December 2011April 2012 October 2013 September 2014 November 2015 December 2016 December 2017, July 2018)
Somewhat Don't Believe
Don't Believe at All
Somewhat Don't Believe
Don't Believe at All
Somewhat Don't Believe
Don't Believe at All
If the Trump administration announces support for Netanyahu's declarations about annexing Area C, will you support or oppose such an annexation? (Israel Democracy Institute, August 25-August 29, 2019)
Sure they wouoldn't support it
Think they wouoldn't support it
Think they wouold support it
Sure they wouold support it
If Israel indeed annexes Area C, what should be done with the Palestinians who live there? (Israel Democracy Institute, August 25-August 29, 2019)
Transfer them to the parts of the West Bank that are under the Palestinian Authority's control
Allow those Palestinians who want to remain in the area to be annexed to do so, but without granting them rights (for ex ample, the right to buy land)
Allow those Palestinians who want to remain in the area to be annexed to do so, while granting them residency rights but not full citizenship rights (for example, without the right to vote in Knesset elections)
Grant the Palestinians who want to remain full citizenship rights, like those of the Jews who live there
If Israel annexes Area C, will you support or oppose establishing a Palestinian state in the rest of the West Bank/Judea and Samaria? (Israel Democracy Institute, August 25-August 29, 2019)
Recently U.S. president Donald Trump and his team are said to be preparing a new American plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace. What, in your opinion, are the chances that such a plan, under Trump&rsquos stewardship, will succeed?
(Peace Index, July 2018)
Which grade would you give the Israeli government for how it has dealt with the Palestinians&rsquo ongoing struggle along the border with Gaza? (Peace Index, July 2018)
In your opinion, will the State of Israel be successful in contending with the following challenges? (National Security Index, December 2017)
Yes (Israeli Jews)
Wars on two fronts simultaneously in the North and in Gaza
Consecutive major terrorist attacks
Are you more worried about external/security threats to Israel, or internal/social threats? (National Security Index, December 2017)
Worried about both equally
In your opinion what is the gravest external threat to Israel today? (National Security Index, December 2017)
Northern arena (Iran, Syria, Hezbollah)
Iranian nuclear capability
Terrorist activities against Israelis at home and abroad
Do you agree or disagree with this opinion: In reality, Jerusalem is already divided into two cities: the eastern city and the western city? (Peace Index, December 2017)
In your opinion, what will be the implications of another failure in the political process between the Israelis and Palestinians? (National Security Index, December 2017)
New intifada will break out
International community will force Israel to end it's control over the territories
To what extent did President Trump&rsquos public declaration that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel contribute to or damage the state of Israel&rsquos real interests? (Peace Index, December 2017)
Contributed to a great extent
Contributed to a moderate extent
Damaged to a moderate extent
Damaged to a great extent
In your opinion, what is Israel's best option in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? (National Security Index, December 2017)
Strive towards a permanent arrangement
Transitional arrangements separating from the Palestinians
Annexation of all territories in Judea and Samaria to Israel
What, in your opinion, should be Jerusalem's status after there is stable peace between Israel and the Palestinians? (Peace Index, December 2017)
The united Capital of Israel
The united Capital of Israel except Islamic Holy Places
West Jerusalem Israeli Capital, East Jerusalem Palestinian
The united Capital of Israel and Palestine
Which of the following incentives is most likely to increase your support for the peace process (respondents provided two answers)?
(Mitvim Israeli Foreign Policy Index, October 2017)
Normalization of relations with the Arab world
Security gaurantees & arms supplies from the U.S.
In your opinion, do the policies of the current Israeli government. (Mitvim Israeli Foreign Policy Index, October 2017)
Distance a 2-state solution to the conflict
Advance a 2-state solution to the conflict
It appears that U.S. president Trump is interested in renewing the Israeli-Palestinian talks. What, in your opinion, are the chances that Israel and the Palestinians will indeed soon be returning to the negotiating table?
(The Peace Index, June 2017)
In your opinion, is the current Israeli government interested or not interested in reaching a permanent peace settlement with the Palestinians?
(The Peace Index, June 2017)
In your opinion, is the Palestinian Authority interested or not interested in reaching a permanent peace settlement with Israel?
(The Peace Index, June 2017)
What, in your opinion, are the chances that in the coming year a Third Intifada against Israel will erupt in the Palestinian Authority?
(The Peace Index, June 2017)
In your opinion, is the claim that the settlements are an obstacle to peace with the Palestinians right or not right?
(The Peace Index, May 2017)
In your opinion, could or could not the involvement of Arab states such as Saudi Arabia help in reaching a permanent Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement?
(The Peace Index, May 2017)
What, in your opinion, are the chances that President Trump will succeed in the coming months to bring the two sides&mdashIsrael and the Palestinians&mdashback to peace negotiations?
(The Peace Index, May 2017)
What, in your opinion, are the chances of reaching an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement under Trump's auspices in the next year or two?
(The Peace Index, May 2017)
Do you believe or not believe that negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority will lead in the coming years to an Israeli-Palestinian agreement?
(JCPA, March 2017)
In your opinion, is it desirable or undesirable for Israel to renew the talks on a peace agreement with the Palestinians?
(Peace Index, October 2016)
If you have to choose from among the following three possible approaches to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, which one you would say is most promising?
(PCPSR, June 2016)
There is talk these days about a possible collapse of the Palestinian Authority. When considering the potential impact of such a collapse on the current relative quiet, would you say it might increase or decrease Palestinian-Israeli violence?
(PCPSR, June 2016)
Which side is more responsible for the collapse of the peace negotiations over the years? (PCPSR, June 2016)
Which of the following two things is more important to you: that a peace agreement is reached with the Palestinians or that the Palestinians recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people? (Question only asked to Jews) (Peace Index, April 2016)
In your opinion, would it now be appropriate or inappropriate to renew the political negotiations with the Palestinian Authority? (Peace Index, April 2016)
What, in your opinion, are the chances that in the coming years the international community will impose substantial pressures on Israel to put an end to its control of the territories?
(Peace Index, January 2016)
Opposition chairman Isaac (Buji) Herzog recently said, &ldquoI want to separate from the Palestinians as much as possible, as quickly as possible&rdquo and proposed building a large wall between Jerusalem and the nearby Palestinian villages because, at the moment, there is no partner for peace talks on the other side. Do you agree or disagree with Herzog&rsquos position?
(Peace Index, January 2016)
In your assessment, would the signing of a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians bring a stop to the Palestinian terror against Jews?
(Peace Index, November 2015)
In your opinion, did the current wave of terror arise spontaneously from the Palestinian population itself or did it arise with the planning and involvement of the Palestinian leadership?
(Peace Index, November 2015)
In a recently published assessment, security officials say the current wave of terror is a &ldquolimited uprising,&rdquo that is, not just a random assortment of attacks but also not a full?fledged intifada. Do you agree or disagree with this assessment?
(Peace Index, November 2015)
In your opinion, how long can the current state of Israeli-Palestinian relations continue without a peace agreement before a third Intifada erupts?
(Peace Index, September 2015)
What, in your opinion, are the chances that if a peace settlement based on the two-state formula is not reached in the near future, the Palestinian leaders will not just threaten to dissolve the Palestinian Authority but actually do so, leaving Israel with the responsibility for governing the Palestinian population of the West Bank?
(Peace Index, September 2015)
In your opinion, will the international community keep avoiding an intervention even if the current Israeli-Palestinian state of affairs continues, or is a substantial international intervention, aimed at pushing the sides to sign an agreement, likely in the foreseeable future?
(Peace Index, September 2015)
In your opinion, is Hamas currently capable or incapable of controlling the other organizations that are now in Gaza?
(Peace Index, September 2015)
Do you support or oppose Israel signing a long-term truce with Hamas, which would include Israel granting Hamas access to a seaport and opening the commercial crossings to Gaza?
(Peace Index, September 2015)
Do you support or oppose the Saudi Peace Plan?
(PCPSR, June 2015)
What do you consider to be Israel's long term aspirations?
(PCPSR, June 2015)
What do you consider to be the Palestinian's long term aspirations?
(PCPSR, June 2015)
What is your expectation for the immediate future?
(PCPSR, June 2015)
Before the elections Prime Minister Netanyahu said that so long as he was prime minister no Palestinian state would be established. After the elections he said he was not retracting what he had said in his Bar-Ilan speech, in which he supported the two-states-for-two-peoples solution. In your opinion, does Netanyahu sincerely support or not support the two-states-for-two-peoples solution?
(Peace Index, March 2015)
Given Likud's victory in the elections and the high chances of the forming of a right-wing government that is not committed to promoting a peace agreement that would include the creation of a Palestinian state, what in your opinion are the chances that the Palestinians will launch a Third Intifada?
(Peace Index, March 2015)
The peace process with the Palestinians is stalled and there is no chance that it will advance in the foreseeable future. What is your opinion on that statement? (The Peace Index, December 2014)
Following Operation Protective Edge and rising tensions in Jerusalem, do you think the Israelis and Palestinians will return to the negotiating table? (PCPSR, December 2014)
They will soon return to negotiations
They will not return to negotiations
They will soon return to negotiations and armed attacks will continue to take place
They will not return to negotiations and armed attacks will continue to take place
They will not return to negotiations but no more armed attacks will take place
If PM Netanyahu reaches a peace agreement with the Palestinians and calls a referendum, how would you vote?
In Favor/Likely Favor
Will the Israelis and Palestinians stop the violence and return to the negotiating table?
(Palestinian Center for Policy & Survey Research, June 2013)
Will return to negotiations violence will stop
Will return to negotiations violence will not stop
Will not return to negotiations violence will stop
Will not return to negotiations violence will not stop
Do you support or oppose the following plans and/or solutions to the Arab-Israeli conflict?
(Palestinian Center for Policy & Survey Research, June 2013)
One binational state solution
Saudi Peace Plan
Mutual Recognition of National Identity
What is the one thing that Israel must never relinquish in peace negotiations with the Palestinians?
(Israel Hayom/New Wave Research, June 2013)
What is your opinion on offering the Palestinians goodwill gestures such prisoner releases, easing of travel restrictions, etc?
(Israel Hayom/New Wave Research, June 2013)
Do you support the effort of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to revive peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority?
(Israel Hayom/New Wave Research, June 2013)
To what extent, in your opinion, is renewing the peace talks with the Palestinians urgent or not urgent for Israel at present?
(Peace Index, April 2012)
To what extent is there a chance to resolve the conflict according to the "two states for two peoples" formula in the next ten years? (Peace Index, April 2012)
Do you agree or disagree with the claim that if Israel continues to rule the West Bank for a long time, what will emerge in the entire Land of Israel is one state for the Jews and Palestinians that will not have a Jewish majority? (Peace Index, January 31, 2012)
If you knew that continued Israeli control of the West Bank would lead to one state for the Jews and Arabs in the entire Land of Israel that would not have a Jewish majority, would you support or oppose continued Israeli rule in the territories? (Peace Index, January 31, 2012)
Some believe that even long-term continued rule in the territories will not prevent Israel from remaining a Jewish and democratic state. do you agree or disagree with that view? (Peace Index, January 31, 2012)
Do you support or oppose the formula of 1967 borders with land swaps as a basis for an agreement with the Palestinians? (Geocartographia Institute, May 2011)
What is your position on holding peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority? (Peace Index, May 2011)
What is your position on holding peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority? (Peace Index, December 28, 2011 January 31, 2012)
Do you believe or not believe that negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority will lead to peace between Israel and the Palestinians in the coming years? (Peace Index, December 28, 2011 January 31, 2012)
In your opinion, was Prime Minister Netanyahu right or wrong when he decided not to define the perpetrators of "price-tag" actions as terrorists, while the defense minister and the internal security minister said that perpetrators of such actions should be defined as terrorists to enable effective action against them? (Peace Index, December 28, 2011)
In your opinion, do a majority of settlers support or oppose price-tag actions (such as uprooting trees, burning mosques, etc.) against Palestinians? (Peace Index, December 28, 2011)
In the Israeli Jewish public as a whole, does the majority support or oppose price-tag actions against Palestinians? (Peace Index, December 28, 2011)
In principle, what is more important to you: that Israel be a state with a Jewish majority or that Judea and Samaria always remain under Israel's control even if they are areas with a large Palestinian population? (Peace Index, December 28, 2011)
Recently Germany, France, Portugal, and Britain condemned the Israeli government&rsquos decision to renew construction in the territories as well as Israel's inability to prevent price-tag actions. Foreign Minister Lieberman reacted sharply, saying the condemnation made those countries &ldquoirrelevant&rdquo to the process of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In contrast, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that these are friendly countries, and that &ldquoin dealing with them, we not only have to be right but also smart.&rdquo With which of these two positions do you tend to agree more? (Peace Index, December 28, 2011)
Do you believe or not believe that negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority will lead to peace between Israel and the Palestinians in the coming years? (Peace Index, June 2011)
To what extent to you believe that there is a real chance to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the next two or three years based on the principle of two states for two peoples? (Peace Index, June 2011)
And in the next ten years, to what extent do you believe or not believe that there is a real chance to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on the principle of two states for two peoples? (Peace Index, June 2011)
Among the possibilities, what in your opinion is the main description that describes the current conflict between Israel and the Palestinians? (Peace Index, June 2011)
It emerged from Prime Minister Netanyahu's speech to the Knesset that Israel will insist on retaining the large settlement blocs in the West Bank and would be prepared to evacuate the rest of the settlements in the West Bank and Jordan Valley. What is your view of Netanyahu's position on this matter? (Peace Index, May 2011)
In your opinion, will the Palestinian leadership try to prevent or, alternatively, encourage the outbreak of a third intifada in the event that an independent Palestinian state is declared? (Peace Index, May 2011)
Would you agree to international control of the holy places within the framework of a peace agreement? (Geocartography Knowledge Group, May 2011)
Would you oppose or support having part of Jerusalem part of a Palestinian state? (Geocartography Knowledge Group, May 2011)
Should construction be frozen in Jerusalem neighborhoods beyond the 1967 lines? (Geocartography Knowledge Group, May 2011)
Do you support or oppose a deal according to which hundreds of terrorists would be released in exchange for Gilad Shalit? (Dahaf, May 2011)
Do you think Israel is or is not doing all it should to bring about peace in the Middle East? (Gallup)
June 12, 2011- Syria- America Presses For Negotiations Between Israel and Palestinians - History
WHAT HAS BEEN THE ROLE OF THE UN IN THE ISRAEL-PALESTINE STRUGGLE?
Prepared by Phyllis Bennis
Institute For Policy Studies, Washington. January 2001
The United Nations was both venue and player in the complicated international diplomacy that led to the partition of Palestine in 1947 and creation of the state of Israel in 1948. By the end of that year the UN General Assembly had passed Resolution 194, affirming the right of Palestinian refugees from the 1947-48 war to return to their homes and to receive compensation for their losses. When Israel joined the UN the following year, its membership (resolution 273) was contingent on its acceptance of the obligations imposed by earlier resolutions, including 194.
But from the start, once Israel was created and on its way to stability, the UN was largely excluded from the politics of the issue. UN peacekeepers were stationed on the Israeli-Egyptian border, and UNRWA, the UN Refugee Works Agency was established to provide for the refugees until such time as they would return home, but there was little involvement of the UN as an institution in political decision-making. That process was largely dominated by the Security Council’s powerful permanent members -- and by the time of the 1967 war, the U.S., France, Britain and the Soviet Union were in charge.
In 1966 the U.S. had begun providing Israel with new, advanced planes and missiles. Describing the new U.S. strategy in the Middle East, James Feron wrote in the New York Times (11 June 1966), that the "United States has come to the conclusion that it must rely on a local power -- the deterrent of a friendly power -- as a first line to stave off America's direct involvement. Israel feels she fits this definition." The Cold War had come to the Middle East, and the UN was out of the loop.
Over the next months tensions increased between Israel and each of the surrounding Arab states. In April 1967 there were artillery exchanges between Israel and Syria. The U.S. Sixth Fleet remained on maneuvers off the Syrian coast. Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser symbolically asked the UN to move its observers, then inside Egyptian territory, to the Israeli border. The UN told him he could not ask for UN troop movement, his choice was only to demand complete removal of the UN troops, or to leave them where they were. Under pressure from other Arab governments, and unwilling to back down, Nasser demanded the withdrawal of all UN troops from Egypt. On May 23 Egypt closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping. The rhetoric escalated, and in early June Israel attacked Egypt, destroying virtually all of Cairo’s air force on the ground.
The end of the Six Day War occupied the remaining parts of Palestine, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem, plus the Syrian Golan Heights and the Egyptian Sinai. Two hundred fifty thousand more Palestinians were forced into exile, and a million more were now under Israeli military occupation. After 1967 U.S. willingness to rely on Israel vastly expanded, and relations with the Arabs would be secondary to the emerging U.S.-Israeli alliance.
WHAT ROLE DID THE UN PLAY AFTER THE 1967 WAR?
But a different international consensus took shape in the UN following the June war and Israel's subsequent occupations. Resolution 242 began with a statement emphasizing "the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in which every State in the area can live in security." While referring to the Palestinians only in the context of refugees, rather than reaffirming their national rights, the resolution unequivocally called for "the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict." The resolution was drafted largely by the four powers of the Security Council -- the limited reference to Palestinian rights was a reflection of U.S. influence on the process. And for another two years or so, the same powers operated within the UN to shape the direction --and the limits -- of Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy.
For years following the 1967 war, the UN voted over and over in favor of an international peace conference, under the auspices of the UN, with all parties to the conflict (including the Palestine Liberation Organization which emerged as a serious force after 1967) to solve the Israel-Palestine conflict once and for all. But the U.S. always voted no. By about 1969, Britain and France, the former colonial powers of the Middle East but now colonial has-beens, had largely ceded influence to the Cold War’s main contenders, the U.S. and the Soviet Union. In the UN context, it was increasingly only Moscow and Washington who played a role in orchestrating and limiting the diplomacy.
After the death of Nasser in September 1970, Egypt's new president, Anwar al-Sadat, began strong peace overtures to the U.S., believing only Washington could pressure Israel to return the occupied Sinai. By the summer of 1972, Sadat went even further: he expelled the 15,000 Soviet military advisers from Egypt, providing Washington with an unmistakable signal of Cairo's intentions.
But it proved insufficient to break through. Egyptian diplomats, even after the dramatic Soviet expulsion, received an icy reception in Washington. Sadat began to believe that only a limited war could create the necessary pressure for an Israeli-Egyptian settlement.
The strategic significance of the Middle East was increasing already, as U.S. defeat in Viet Nam loomed. In May 1973 King Feisal of Saudi Arabia made clear to President Nixon and to Henry Kissinger that the Saudis needed Arab allies to help defend U.S. interests in OPEC, and that he could not find such allies as long as the U.S. backed Israeli occupation of Arab lands. U.S. oil companies agreed. U.S. control of Middle East oil provided not only enormous profits but important U.S. leverage over Western Europe and Japan, for whom the U.S. served as guarantor of oil access. Kissinger, a longtime associate of the Rockefeller family of oil barons, agreed that changes were needed, but was unwilling to risk a major collision with Congress by suddenly pressuring Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories.
As it turned out, the Egyptian and Syrian leaders were just then beginning plans for what they thought would be a limited war designed to create just the sort of crisis that could lead to more serious changes in political alliances and on the ground. On October 6, 1973, Egyptian troops launched a surprise attack across the Suez Canal into the Israeli-occupied Sinai, while Syrian troops stormed the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. The Arab members of OPEC announced a 25% cut in oil production, and an embargo on oil shipments to the U.S.
HOW DID THE 1973 ARAB-ISRAELI WAR THREATEN WORLD PEACE? WHY DIDN’T THE UN PLAY A MORE SIGNIFICANT ROLE IN IT?
The Soviet Union, which maintained relations with Egypt despite Sadat's expulsion of its advisors, sent word to Nixon and Kissinger that Moscow would not permit the destruction of the Egyptian military. The threat of a U.S.-Soviet confrontation, on top of the oil embargo, was too much for Washington. On October 22 the U.S. and Soviet Union jointly sponsored a ceasefire call and a plan for U.S.-Soviet sponsored peace talks in the UN Security Council, and Washington pressured a reluctant Israel to sign on.
The jointly-sponsored U.S.-Soviet talks in Geneva collapsed almost as soon as they started, which led to Henry Kissinger’s famous "shuttle diplomacy" based on organizing separate agreements between Israel and each Arab government. The UN was left out of the loop again.
But Kissinger’s negotiations ignored the Palestinians. One result was a major escalation in international support for and recognition of the PLO, culminating in Yasir Arafat's appearance in November 1974 at the UN General Assembly. The UN voted 105 to 4 to recognize the Palestinians’ right to self-determination, and to grant the PLO observer status within the UN itself. Only Israel and the U.S., along with U.S.-dependent Bolivia and the Dominican Republic, voted against the resolution. It was a major defeat for U.S. policy.
In September 1975 the U.S. brokered an agreement between Egypt and Israel. Israel promised to return part of the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt, while Egypt signed a non-aggression pledge. But implementation of the accords stalled. On November 19, 1977, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat moved to break the stalemate. In an historic visit, the first by any Arab leader, he travelled to Jerusalem to address the Israeli Knesset. The U.S. soon moved to take control of the diplomacy, leaving the UN behind.
In the summer of 1978, President Jimmy Carter summoned the two leaders to his retreat in Maryland. Sequestered for 13 days, Begin and Sadat finally emerged with the Camp David Accords. Both sides, and the U.S., hoped other Arab countries would follow suit, and accept U.S.-brokered bilateral agreements with Israel. But almost all the Arab states and the Palestinians continued to hold out for comprehensive regional negotiations under UN auspices.
WHY DIDN’T THE UN TAKE OVER THE NEGOTIATING PROCESS?
And the U.S. position isolated it from its own allies. In June 1980 the nine-member European common market issued its Venice Declaration. It reaffirmed the commitment to Israeli security, but went on to support the principle of Palestinian self-determination, condemn Israeli settlement policy, and call for PLO involvement in the peace process. Washington reiterated its opposition to dealing with the PLO, and Europe retreated from active Middle East diplomacy.
In 1978, when Israel first invaded Lebanon, the UN Security Council passed resolution 425, calling for immediate and unconditional withdrawal. But Israel remained in violation of that resolution, through the anti-PLO invasion of Lebanon in 1982, and the 18-year occupation, until its unilateral withdrawal in the spring of 2000.
WHERE WAS THE UN DURING THE OSLO PROCESS?
Throughout the late 1980s and into the 90s, Israel-Palestine diplomacy lay squarely at Washington’s door. The UN remained excluded, with the exception of a series of condemnations of various specific violations of international law and UN resolutions inherent in Israel’s actions as an occupying power in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. By 1994, after the Oslo Declaration of Principles had been signed, then-Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright wrote in a letter to the General Assembly that the U.S. goal for that year was to make existing UN resolutions on the Israel-Palestine conflict irrelevant, since bilateral negotiations were underway.
In 1996 Israel’s “Operation Grapes of Wrath” in Lebanon included the bombing of a United Nations refugee center in Lebanon, killing 106 civilians sheltering there and wounding several UN peacekeepers. The release of a UN report, which the U.S. had worked hard to keep secret, proving Israeli knowledge of the center, caused enormous international anger towards Israel in UN circles.
But as the Oslo “peace process” wound on in inconclusive fits and starts, the UN remained sidelined. Other international actors – notably the European Union and Japan, were encouraged by the U.S. to pay billions of dollars towards the costs of Oslo’s infrastructure, but were similarly excluded from political decision-making.
WHAT WAS THE 2000 CAMP DAVID SUMMIT ALL ABOUT? WHY DIDN’T THE UN CONVENE TALKS INSTEAD?
By the summer of 2000, Oslo’s five-year “interim period” had stretched to seven. No progress was in sight on the major issues (a Palestinian state and its borders, Jerusalem, settlers, refugees) and little progress had been made on the “easy” issues that were supposed to be resolved already (release of prisoners, connecting roads, the Gaza air and seaports, water, security arrangements, etc.)
It was in that context that President Clinton convened the two sides, again at Camp David, for intensive talks focused directly on the “final status” issues. Shortly after Camp David’s collapse, Ariel Sharon’s provocative walk on the Temple Mount and the killing of several Palestinian demonstrators there the next day, the second intifada began.
But this time, some of the diplomacy began to look just a bit different. There was the hint, though only a hint, that Washington’s iron grip on the diplomatic motion in the region had begun to slip. There was a growing sense, in the region and internationally, that the U.S. could no longer maintain its historically absolute control over Middle East negotiations. Other forces -- regional and international -- are suddenly thrust into center-stage.
As the Intifada escalated, the Arab League summit convened in Cairo on October 21st and 22nd. For the first time in a decade, and in a clear effort to show the U.S. that Gulf War-era divisions paled before the current crisis in Palestine, the Iraq president was invited to participate. (Saddam Hussein didn’t come himself, of course, but he sent his vice-president in his stead.) The final communiqué limned the fine line the Arab leaders walked. On the one hand, enormous mass protests were erupting in all their capitals (and at least initially allowed to go on, likely in the hopes the anti-Israel focus would deflect potential anti-regime trajectories) targeting U.S. and, where present, Israeli institutions. Yet virtually all of those regimes remain fundamentally dependent, either financially (such as Egypt) or militarily (such as Saudi, Kuwait, etc.) on the U.S. Egypt and Jordan, of course, are bound by peace treaty to Israel, and Amman signed a new Free Trade Agreement with Washington on 24 October, at the height of the crisis.
The language was fiery, but the statement broke little new ground. It pledged full support to the Palestinians, and raised the possibility of calling for the Security Council to initiate an international war crimes tribunal in response to Israel’s massacres. It called on Arab states to halt further normalization efforts with Israel, but did not include Jordan and Egypt, the two with significant diplomatic and economic ties, in that call. Beyond the rhetoric, the summit’s main accomplishment was the creation of a Saudi-led effort to provide up to $2 billion to the Palestinians, partly to support the families of Intifada casualties, and partly to help defend the Arab and Muslim character of Jerusalem.
WHO WERE ALL THOSE NON-PALESTINIANS AND NON-ISRAELIS HOVERING AROUND THE RECENT DIPLOMATIC MOVES?
And beyond the Arab world, perhaps the most visible sign of the shifting relations was the physical presence of a host of international leaders in and around Israel and Palestine during the early period of the al-Aqsa Intifada. What would ordinarily have been a scene overrun with Americans -- Martin Indyk and Dennis Ross racing from Gaza to Jerusalem, Madeleine Albright raising the stakes with high-level shuttle diplomacy, President Clinton dangling White House meetings as bait for eager summiteers -- was suddenly crowded with French President and rotating European Union chief Jacques Chirac, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, the special envoy of the EU Javier Solana, all jostling for position. And suddenly UN Secretary General Kofi Annan was not only on the scene, but serving as the at least titular center of negotiations during the weeks leading up to the Sharm al-Sheikh “ceasefire summit”.
The Americans were still in charge, of course. Ambassador Indyk was given a reprieve from his no-access-to-classified-documents-until-you-learn-to-behave scolding. Albright and Clinton both weighed in on a daily, sometimes hourly basis. And more significantly, the participation of other parties, Annan in particular, was harshly constrained by unmistakable U.S. fiat. The UN chief had already had to “earn” Israel’s at least grudging acceptance. It was largely attributed to Annan’s role at certifying Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon (despite an unresolved conflict over where to draw the border in the Shaba Farms area), and his behind-the-scenes efforts to convince the European countries to accept Israel, long an outcast from the UN’s regional groups, as a member of the Western European and Others Group (WEOG) in the General Assembly. Membership in such a group is a prerequisite for Security Council consideration and other UN perks. When it came to Annan’s participation as a new mediator, Israel’s UN Ambassador Yehuda Lancry acknowledged, “It’s a new dynamic. I can’t say he has a formal track alongside the U.S. sponsorship. But he is very appreciated.” (AP, 12 Oct.)
WHY DID THE U.S. SUDDENLY EASE ITS ONCE-ABSOLUTE REJECTION OF ANY OTHER PLAYER HAVING A ROLE?
More significant than Israel’s reluctant acquiescence, however, was the diminishing set of options available to the U.S. to deal with the crisis. The fury of the Arab street increased pressure on Washington’s Arab allies they showed new, if symbolic, independence by flying plane after plane into Baghdad to challenge the U.S.-led sanctions regime. Even the long-compliant Palestinian Authority refused, at first, to meekly accept the U.S. demand to at least go through the motions of attempting to quash Intifada Two. And crucially, unlike the pre-cable years of the first Intifada, the ubiquity of CNN- and Jazeera-driven footage (despite biased commentary the images, especially in the early stages, were unmistakable) made starkly evident the vast disparity of power between the two sides. Those factors all combined to limit the effectiveness of ordinary U.S. efforts, especially those of an almost-lame duck administration. And when the three Israeli soldiers were kidnapped along the Lebanon border, Washington’s choices narrowed even further. It was at that point that Kofi Annan appeared on the scene.
It remains uncertain whether the UN secretary-general’s personal role will be broadened to create a new, UN-centered peace effort to replace the long-failed Oslo process. Certainly key limits on Annan’s role are already visible his early efforts focused on persuading the Palestinians to accept the U.S.-Israeli terms for a “cease-fire,” including giving up their demand for a UN-based international commission of inquiry. On one occasion Annan even referred to hoping for an end to the escalating violence so that “normalcy will be restored,” implying, presumably unintentionally, that Palestinian life under military occupation was somehow “normal” if no shooting was going on. (NY Times, 21 Oct.)
WHAT WOULD A UN INITIATIVE LOOK LIKE?
But the emerging constraints on unilateral U.S. diplomacy, and a matched set of UN resolutions in the Security Council, the General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Commission, do herald a potential opportunity to return to the longstanding UN consensus: an international peace conference under the auspices of the United Nations, based on all the relevant UN resolutions. That would mean a new peace process based not only on 242’s call for an exchange of territory for peace, but as well on the panoply of resolutions including 194, mandating Palestinian refugees’ right to return and compensation, those identifying East Jerusalem as occupied territory, defining settlements as illegal, etc.
Raising that optimistic possibility does not assume such a campaign will be easy. In October 2000, Tel Aviv insisted that any UN fact-finding commission would be nothing but a "kangaroo court," and that it would accept only separate Israeli and Palestinian investigations under overall U.S. authority, a position ultimately agreed to by the PA. When 14 out of 15 members of the UN Security Council voted to condemn Israel’s excessive force against civilians, it was the U.S. alone that abstained. U.S. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke threatened to veto any further resolution, stating that the virtually unanimous current resolution had taken the UN "out of the running" to play a role in negotiations.
A special session of the UN’s High Commission for Human Rights in Geneva in October passed a strong resolution condemning the "grave and massive violations of the human rights of the Palestinian people by Israel", and calling for an international "human rights inquiry commission." Washington launched an enormous lobbying campaign that resulted in a close vote, with Washington’s European allies opposing the resolution and even some non-aligned countries abstaining. When the General Assembly convened, U.S. diplomats again went into high gear to dampen the language of the resolution. But at the end of the day, the resolution still condemned Israel’s “excessive use of force,” and with 92 countries in favor, only the U.S., Israel, and four tiny island states fully in thrall to the U.S. voted no. (U.S. pressure did result in a large number of abstentions nonetheless the vote was clearly lopsided in favor of the Palestinians.)
U.S. efforts to sideline international law and bypass the UN are not new. Especially since 1993 and the canonization of the Oslo process, the “bilateral” Israeli-Palestinian talks under U.S. sponsorship have defined the limits of acceptable diplomacy, even acceptable discussion, on the Israel-Palestine crisis. Anything outside that narrowly constrained box was dismissed as irrelevant, anachronistic, or dangerous. Peace means Oslo, Oslo means peace: a pax oslo is the region’s component of a global pax americana.
HOW DID WASHINGTON KEEP THE UN OUT ALL THOSE YEARS?
To maintain absolute control over the diplomatic process required Washington’s assertion of raw unilateral power, since it meant sabotaging existing international understandings. Since Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, those understandings included the nearly unanimous international consensus on how to resolve the crisis: an international conference based on international law and United Nations resolutions. But since 1967 Israel disagreed, and the U.S. backed Israel’s rejection.
The US, while referring to resolution 242 as the ostensible basis of its own “peace process,” kept Israel-Palestine diplomacy under its own control. Washington claimed the role of the "honest broker” while proudly asserting its continuity as Israel’s major financial, diplomatic and military backer. The actual requirements of international law (like Israel’s obligations under the Geneva Conventions as an occupying power to protect civilians and to prohibit settling Israeli citizens in occupied territory) and existing UN resolutions were sidelined in favor of U.S.-brokered “even-handed” talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
In the run-up to the 1991 Madrid talks, the U.S.-Israeli Memorandum of Understanding stated explicitly that the UN would be allowed no role. In Oslo’s 1993 Declaration of Principles, the UN was ignored. By 1994, when the first post-Oslo General Assembly convened, then-U.S. Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright announced in her annual letter to Assembly members that dissolving the Palestine-related consensus was on top of her agenda. According to her letter, “contentious resolutions that accentuate political differences without promoting solutions should be consolidated (the various UNRWA resolutions), improved (the Golan resolution) or eliminated (the Israeli nuclear armament resolution and the self-determination resolution)." (Letter, August 8, 1994.) The piece de resistance was the demand that "resolution language referring to 'final status' issues should be dropped, since these issues are now under negotiations by the parties themselves. These include refugees, settlements, territorial sovereignty and the status of Jerusalem.” (Emphasis added.) This was, of course, precisely the moment at which those same final status issues were taken off the negotiating table for five, eventually a full seven years. In 1999 when over 100 signatories of the Geneva Conventions met to assess Israeli compliance with the Conventions, the meeting lasted only ten minutes in order, according to the Oslo-infatuated PLO delegation, to "avert friction" with Israel’s new Labor-led government. The failed summer 2000 Camp David summit, of course, had ignored the UN altogether.
But after months of clashes, rising numbers of Palestinian dead, a military occupation and siege tighter than ever, the best hope for a comprehensive and just peace remains a return to UN resolutions, international law, international protection and a new peace process under UN supervision. The incoming Bush administration, particularly its oil industry-linked foreign policy team of Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleeza Rice and Colin Powell, has made clear that its Middle East priority will be oil and rebuilding ties with the despotic governments of the Arab Gulf. That bodes badly for Iraq, with a likely effort to escalate the on-going unilateral bombing raids and tighten the already crippling economic sanctions.
Olmert Offers Golan to Syria
I srael’s prime minister has offered to withdraw all troops and cede sovereignty of the Golan Heights to Syria, according to Hebrew newspaper Yediot Ahranot. In return, he has asked Syria to cut all ties with Iran, Hezbollah and Palestinian organizations.
“I know that a peace agreement with Syria requires me to return the Golan Heights to Syrian sovereignty,” Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said. “I am willing to fulfill my part in this deal.”
Olmert’s discussion with Syria, said to have began last month through Turkish and German mediators, was meant to ease growing tension between the two nations. The reality of the situation, however, is that both nations continue to prepare for war. debka file recently reported: “Tehran sent Moscow a check for $327 million to pay for assorted missiles consigned to Damascus. A further $438 million has been pledged by the end of June for more hardware to Syria.” If Syria is serious about peaceful negotiations, why is it investing time and money into such preparations?
Meanwhile in Israel, the military conducted a large-scale exercise last week at Shizafon Base in the south of Israel simulating “an invasion of Syria within the context of a war, involving infantry units, tank divisions and the Air Force,” according to Arutz Sheva.
Prime Minister Olmert’s land-for-peace deal has outraged fellow politicians and the public alike. Knesset members from both the Likud and National Union/National Religious Party have called on two other coalition parties to cease their partnership with the Olmert government in response to the proposition.
“It would be better to replace Olmert than to give up the Golan Heights,” said Likud MK Yisrael Katz. A poll conducted by Teleseker published in Maariv revealed that 84 percent of Israelis opposed a complete withdrawal from the Golan, with 44 percent unwilling to accept any pullback at all. And for good reason.
The Golan Heights provides a massive catchment area from which water flows into the Sea of Galilee, Israel’s largest source of drinking water. The region is also home to many tourist attractions such as orchards and wineries. Most importantly, however, the mountainous Golan region is a strategic buffer between Syria and Israel’s large population centers along the western shore of Galilee. Giving it up would put Israel at a tremendous strategic disadvantage.
The decision to place the Golan Heights on the negotiation table after over 40 years in Israeli hands reveals the desperation of the Olmert government to scavage some kind of success following the 2006 Lebanon war. But as history has shown, a policy of land for peace only results in increased aggression.
Extended Interviews: American Jews and Israel
Rabbi Avi Weiss, Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, New York:
America is my home. I’m grateful to the US forever and ever. Israel is my homeland and that’s where my family lives, literally and figuratively. When I think about existentially who I am I think of Israel. My roots, I’m grounded, my ancestry all there.
The biblical narrative, and even if one doesn’t buy into the biblical narrative, the history of the Jewish people is wed to the land of Israel. The Bible talks about a special mission that the Jewish people has, and whenever it talks about the covenant which is our contract with God, it talks about children, people, and land, and from the very beginning that land is defined as the land of Israel. That’s where Abraham and Sarah walked.
As wonderful as I feel in America, in Israel I feel like I’m spiritually flying. I can’t explain it. It’s like asking someone why they are in love.
When you love something there could be different opinions, and I think those different opinions aren’t a bad thing. I think it’s a good thing. I think a consensus is being reached, and we are at a point now where there is an interdependence within the Jewish community. Israel is not going to make it with the political right alone or the political left. It’s not going to make it with the religious alone or those who couldn’t care less about religion. It’s only going to make it with the both, and there has to be a sense of interdependence between the two.
The political right has to understand that it has no monopoly on loving the land of Israel. The left loves the land just as much, but it thinks you’ve got to give away land for the sake of peace. The left has to understand that it has no monopoly on wanting peace. The right wants peace just as much. If both sides would stop impugning each others motives then that unity, interdependence, will be able to allow us to move forward.
Blessed be the nation that has as its army the Israeli defense forces, not only a strong army but, I believe, one of the most moral armies on the face of this earth. I know the families of the soldiers who fought house to house in Jenin at a great price, because when we went into Jenin back a couple of years, Israel could have taken out Jenin from the air but wanted to minimize loss of civilian life. Look, I mourn the loss of innocent Palestinian life. I mourn that. It’s a Jewish concept. But one must talk about intentionality. The intention of the Israeli defense forces to limit civilian losses, it’s only to target military who, unfortunately, they hide themselves amongst the civilian population. The intention of the other side: to murder as many men, women and children as possible. Are there aberrations? Of course, but it’s not part of the mainstream. It’s not part of the very system which Israel is about. Unfortunately, on the other side terrorism is very much a part of their whole motif.
I feel for Palestinians. The fault lies with Palestinian leadership. It lies with Hamas. It lies with Hezbollah. This is not a Ghandi-Martin Luther King movement. If the rockets stop lobbing into Sderot, if they are going to stop the terrorism Israel is the first one to want peace. Unfortunately, the more Israel has given, the weaker Israel is perceived from the other side, and the more the other side wants.
All I can say that whenever we have withdrawn up to this point, it has precipitated the other side wanting more. We withdrew from Lebanon and what happened was suddenly the rockets came in. We withdrew from Gush Kativ, from Gaza, the rockets came into Sderot, and I have great fears if we are going to withdraw from the West Bank, from Samaria and Judea, then Tel Aviv is right there in the line. And I think America has to understand that Israel today is the frontline against the spread of terror. I think this is one of the most important debates. Some people think that Israel’s war on terrorism is kind of isolated to the Middle East. I say no. Israel’s war against terrorism is America’s war against terrorism. I believe with all my heart when an Israeli soldier falls fighting terror, he is not only fallen in the defense of Israel and the Jewish people, he has fallen in the defense of the West, of the free world.
Israel is alone and Israel needs as much support as possible, and so it’s critical that there ought to be support not only from Jews, but from non-Jews as well. But as much as American Jewry helps Israel and as much as America helps Israel, I think it’s reciprocal. I think Israel is America’s greatest friend in the Middle East. I think today Israel really stands strong, being the bulwark against the spread of terror as it was the bulwark against communism during the cold war era.
I see the grassroots as being front and center and being in absolute solidarity with the people of Israel. There are of course those who would criticize, but by and large the support is overwhelming, and what I would do is, I think, it’s important for American Jews to visit Israel. I think it’s important for them to live in Sderot. If you live amongst those wonderful people you will see how peace-loving they are. I take second place to no one when it comes to an understanding the spirituality and potential holiness of all people, including Palestinians. I desperately want to live in peace with Palestinians. Rabin used to say you have to make peace with your enemy. You can only make peace with an enemy who wants to make peace with you. Having Gaza which is controlled by Hamas, by terrorists, or withdrawing from the West Bank, which could then be taken over by Hamas or Hezbollah— that is not good for Israel, and it’s not good for America.
I walk the length and the breadth of Israel. I don’t only see Israel being involved in a political kind of equation. I see Israel as a place of spirituality. I see it as an extraordinary place where people reach out for the vulnerable. I see a medical system I see a social service system. Yes, I see Jews and Arabs in many, many places doing everything they can to find a language to talk peacefully and embrace each other. I see it as an extraordinary light, as Isaiah would say, to the nations of the world.
I take second place to none of those critics when it comes to concern for the Palestinians. Where we part company is where you place blame. They are placing blame on the state of Israel, on the army. I place the blame squarely on the heads of Hamas, and I will say it clearly. I would say to the Palestinians, if they had a Martin Luther King, nonviolent disobedient movement, they would have had a state many years ago. But when you’ve got a movement where you go bomb buses and you go into restaurants lobbing rockets and you maintain that it can be justified—nothing justifies terror.
We have to find some kind of way of making peace with the Palestinians, which I believe the settlers desperately want, while allowing people who have lived in these places to continue doing so. I can only tell you this: If from the other side there would be a show of trust in real peace rather than terrorism, the history of Israel is that Israel made peace with every Arab country who wanted to make peace with Israel. I believe it’s very fair for there to be natural growth [of the settlements]. Imagine someone turning to an American family saying you can’t have more children, or if you have more children you can’t add a home. What I find very difficult is when America and an American administration starts bullying Israel and starts pushing Israel around. Israel is a sovereign state, and I believe Israel knows best what is in its best security interest. From my perspective Israel knows more about security-wise in the Middle East than America knows. It’s got the experts, it is on the ground, and in that sense it makes an extraordinary contribution to America as well.
I think the mission [of Israel] is to be in a place where one has sovereignty and autonomy and can develop a society that really cares for the oppressed and for the vulnerable. It does so in its own place, in its own land, and does its share to set an example for others. That’s the Israel that I know. That’s the Israel that I love. That mission, I think, is ultimately going to evolve with people of all political persuasions and all religious backgrounds.
In the rabbinic literature Israel is compared to a dove. A dove can’t fly with one wing. You need both wings, and they may have disparate ideas, but there’s got to be a blending together and a consensus and a coming together. I think that’s the most critical challenge Israel faces today.
Rabbi Michael Paley, scholar-in-residence and director of the Jewish Resource Center of the UJA-Federation of New York:
I stand with Israel, and I love Israel. I love the Jewish people, and I love Israel. It’s been one of the most important aspects of my whole life. I came of age at 1967, and it fired my identity. But Israel has to make a choice: a democratic state, a Jewish state…and my particular flavor is a Jewish democratic state with territorial compromise. This does not take away my love for Israel or my hope for its security.
Because I love Israel, because I stand with Israel, I believe and hope and pray in its destiny. I believe its destiny is probably better within or closer to the 1967 borders. I’m not critical of Israel it’s a democratic state. I don’t want to take away the rights of the voters who live there, like my brother, or my nephew who is in the Army now, are people who live and vote in Israel.
The 20th century for Jews was a difficult century, and we had to, for morality reasons, take power, and power is more difficult. We haven’t been very good at it. We haven’t had to decide the fate, as a Jewish people, of other people who are not Jews. We haven’t been in control of even the Jewish faith. We are in control of other people and sometimes we’ve been too aggressive, sometimes we haven’t listened to their rights, sometimes we’ve blotted out their voices. Sometimes they made us blot out their voices. Sometimes our trauma of the last century comes out and bites us and we say, “oh, what, are you crazy, you are not going to have any compromise at all? You know what happened the last time.” Of course, I’m conflicted. I don’t like to see these things. But still I stand with Israel. That’s the unique contribution of the Jewish people right now, and it’s a place in which our destiny is going to be wrapped up. It comes from our deep history, and it will also be our future. I hope we can do it with vision and understanding, even prophetic wisdom.
Abby Bellows, Jewish activist and community organizer:
I grew up in the Havurah movement. It was founded in the early ’70s as a breakaway from the Conservative movement and the Reconstructionist movement. It was people who wanted a more vibrant, more social justice-oriented Judaism. There were rabbis who were part of the movement but weren’t presiding over it. I grew up in one of the original Havurot in DC, Fabrengen. I’m involved in a lot of independent minyanim in New York—independent prayer communities. My Judaism has always been kind of free-form.
I feel complex in my feelings towards Israel. My grandmother escaped from Germany. A lot of our family was killed there. I get the need for a Jewish state from that kind of visceral level, and I recognize that anti-Semitism still exists in the world, but at the same time I feel that there is something fundamentally tense for me about having a state that by definition gives preference to one group over another, because my Jewish values taught me about egalitarianism, and I feel like they are not being represented necessarily in the policies of Israel.
The lack of Palestinians being able to get permits for building homes easily or the challenges with civil rights for a lot of Arab Israelis, Bedouin Israelis. Those things really concern me. The way that the Orthodox community is privileged over other types of Jews in Israel is really concerning to me and in a lot of ways I feel doesn’t reflect the Jewish values that I have been taught.
A lot of my friends are into progressive Israel activism. They are post-Zionist or they are progressive Zionist. They find some way with organizations like the New Israel Fund, J Street—organizations that are trying to better Israel with a progressive bent. But I have a lot of other friends who just feel really alienated from the state. I’m a community organizer, and a lot of left-Jews really don’t connect or are embarrassed by Israel or feel really alienated.
For a lot of people in my generation, we are struggling to understand the connection to Israel, the relevancy of it. For a lot of us anti-Semitism isn’t a daily reality, although the attempted attacks in Riverdale brought it close to home for a lot of us in New York. We still question how our values are reflected in the world, given Israel. For a lot of us what comes up more often than not, people in my circle at least, is friends of our who are on the left saying disparaging things about Israel or saying things that are particularly critical. I think a lot of people my age aren’t equipped to respond in a way that’s not just total right-wing-they-can-do-no-wrong, and I think that the path to fighting anti-Semitism is not only about drawing inward and protecting the Jewish state. It’s about educating and building relationships with people who are different than us. It’s painful for me to see Israel activists who are only in the paradigm that my grandmother told me: “Jews need to care for the Jews.” That’s not the interpretation that I’ve taken from the Holocaust and from the history of persecution of our people. Yes, we need to have a fall-back position of protection. What’s really going to change our future is building relationships that are interfaith, intercultural, and reflect the best of Jewish tradition, which is about being questioning and critical and open-minded.
For me it’s about the treatment of Palestinians. It’s also about the treatment of Bedouins, the Arabs who have become Israeli citizens. It’s also about Jews who aren’t Orthodox in Israel. I have friends who have made aliyah and had to do an Orthodox conversion, when previously they were very strong, practicing Conservative Jews.
I think Israel has to be much more upfront about human rights as a first, bottom-line priority, and that is something we can be proud of because Jews believe in human rights.
The most recent time I went, last summer, I went for my cousin’s wedding, who made aliyah. It was a feeling of home culturally. I love the feeling of walking down a street that’s called Hillel and the feeling of integration, of having the words that I use to pray be the words I hear on the street. The last trip I was on was a narrow trip. My vision was within my family and my friends, and it was pretty easy to not see what was happening in the West Bank, at the checkpoints, at other sites of contestation in Israel.
My Judaism has always been fully expressed in this country. I have never been raised with a Judaism that is referential to Israel necessarily, and when I was the president of Hillel I remembered having a conversation with the other leaders about taking down a sign in the entry way of Hillel that said “Wherever we stand, we stand with Israel,” which was Hillel’s motto, because it turned off a lot of my friends who didn’t feel comfortable coming into the space. I always try as a Jewish leader to create a Judaism that doesn’t have to be about Israel for the sake of the continuity of our people, celebration of all the richness of our heritage. I think right now for young Jews, it’s really important to have a Judaism that can be a Jewish home where people can feel comfortable even if they don’t put out their credentials about their support of Israel.
Professor Steven Cohen, Hebrew Union College:
In 1948, the State of Israel is born and American Jewish involvement with Zionist and other organizations is at its peak it will never be as high as it is then. It plummets in 1949 and kind of putters along. There is a blip in 1956 with the Sinai campaign and still Israel is not a major part of the American Jewish consciousness until 1967. In 1967, we have the Six Day War. American Jews are mobilized and because they are coming out and becoming full-fledged Americans and proud Jews and ethnic Jews Israel will play a major role in their consciousness from ’67 probably through the 1980s. And since the 1980s there has been a declining American Jewish interest in Israel, in large part because of changes in the identity of American Jews. They are becoming more personal, less collective, more religious, and less ethnic, and Israel is a very unusual symbol for a religio-ethnic group in America. American Jews regard it as their homeland, but hardly any have ever lived there. Israel is their quasi-national symbol. They love the country. It represents ethnicity, nationality, culture, pride, heart, soul to the vast majority of American Jews.
In part, [American Jews] are reacting to Israel as a response to the Holocaust. For years, Jews have suffered from persecution. That persecution never reached the height that it did in the destruction of 6 million Jews in Europe. A fragment of those Jews joined other Jews who had been in the land of Palestine, then Israel. Before that Israel is born as a result of a Zionist movement and the return of Jews to Israel and American Jews are very aware of that narrative from ashes to the glorious, miraculous state of Israel, and that really cements the American Jewish relationship with Israel starting with 1948.
Both Jews on the left and Jews on the right want to blame Israeli politics for the alienation of some American Jews from Israel. The right says the left is too critical of Israel, the left says Israel deserves to be criticized. If it had better policies, it would hold the attention of American Jews.
The real engine of declining American Jewish interest in Israel is changes in American Jewish identity, the way American Jews think of themselves as Jews, and in particular intermarriage. The more Jews marry non-Jews, the more they adopt a definition of being Jewish which is very much like American Protestant Christianity, and American Protestant Christianity is spiritual. It’s about faith, it’s about religion, and there isn’t an automatic place for a national homeland.
On measure after measure, older people outscore middle-aged people, middle-aged people outscored younger people. Older people are more attached to Israel than younger people. Why is that? In large part, younger people are more likely to marry non-Jews, and it’s the result of that marriage, that their attachment to Israel is lower than older people. Among non-Orthodox Jews, most young Jews marry non-Jews. Were we to only look at the in-married, we would find that in-married Jews today are as if not more attached to Israel than in-married Jews of yesterday.
The Orthodox is a growing segment of American Jews. Eight percent of Jews my age, I’m in my 50s, twenty-three percent of American Jewish children are being raised in Orthodox Jewish homes. They are the China of American Jewish life, the growing force. Orthodox Jews, as opposed to everybody else, have become more attached to Israel. More travel to Israel, more study in Israel, more settlement in Israel. It may be that one-fourth of American Jewish Orthodox people will move to Israel in their lifetime. That is an amazing number, and it reflects the deep commitment of Orthodox Jews to the land, state, and people of Israel.
Orthodox Jews will come to exercise even more influence over the ways of which American Jews relate to Israel politically, culturally, religiously and in other ways. They are more conservative, some say hawkish, about Israel’s conflict with its Arab neighbors, and their approach to Middle East politics will come to more and more influence the way American Jews relate to that part of the world.
Left of center American Jews—and let’s remember Jews are the most left of center group in America—left of center American Jews are adopting more dovish stances towards the conflict, pretty much in keeping with the current American administration’s approach to the conflict. They want a two-state solution to the conflict, Palestinian state alongside a Jewish state. They want peaceful negotiations, and they want the withdrawal of settlements from the West Bank.
We have more left-of-center Jews than Orthodox Jews, but we have more Orthodox Jews who are deeply involved with Israel. Most Jews see themselves as progressive, liberal, left-of-center sorts of people. Israel is very unpopular in the American left, and in fact the world left. The same principles which make the non-Jewish left unhappy with Israel make the Jewish left uncomfortable with Israel. So they are attached to Israel as a family matter, but they are unhappy with this member of the family, and they somehow would like this member of the family to behave a little better.
American Jews who would like Israel not to be there are a very small number. They get a lot of attention from the press, they get a lot of attention from American Jews, but when we go to the surveys we find very few Jews are in opposition to the Jewish state of Israel. The vast majority like the fact there is a Jewish state in Israel. They care about Israel they care about the Jews who are there.
Israeli officials recognize that America is Israel’s primary strategic ally, and in that equation American Jews play a vital role. If American Jews don’t support Israel, then America won’t support Israel, and Israel will stand alone in the world against all of its enemies. Most Israelis think that way.
One of the problems that highly engaged Jewish young people have is that right now they have a choice either to be advocates for Israel or to be apathetic, and by creating other ways and other spaces in which Jews can be pro-Israel these people can be engaged with Israel and still, like many Israelis, take issue with particular policies of the Israeli government.
I have long been what we call a Labor Zionist. I believe in partition, the 1947 resolution that divided the land of Israel into an Arab state and a Jewish state. I would like to see a return to partition, a Palestinian state and a secure democratic Jewish state of Israel, and I think the way to get there is through serious negotiations with our Palestinian counterparts and a strong American and European presence in those negotiations and guarantees for the state of Israel. Without security, I am not willing to countenance significant withdrawals. But I believe that withdrawals from the West Bank will enhance Israeli security in the long run.
From our surveys we know that American Jews are widely concerned about the Iranian threat to Israel and to world peace as well. They, like our leaders, are unclear about what is the appropriate response, what will work to prevent Iran from becoming a serious nuclear threat to world peace and to the very survival of Israel.
America is an exceptional country. It has made Jews different from Jews everywhere else in the world, including Canada, Argentina, the UK, France. American Jews have adopted a more religious, faith-oriented definition about what it means to be Jewish. Jews in those other countries are still more cultural, more national, more ethnic, and therefore, in certain senses, more patriotic about their connection to Israel.
I’m very concerned about changes in American Jewish identity. The lack of interest in Israel among Jewish young people is important in and of itself, and important for what it says about changing Jewish identity. I’m a Jew who happens to believe that Jews need to be fully Jewish, religiously and ethnically Jewish. I’m very concerned that the ethnic aspect of being Jewish is in decline.
If secular Jews are angry at Israel for the way their way of being Jewish is being treated, by definition they are Israel-engaged. My concern is with secular Jews who don’t even know that secular Jews in Israel from their point of view are getting a raw deal.
No one is more critical of Israel than Israelis. Criticism of Israel indicates engagement with Israel. American Jews should be worried when their children stop criticizing Israel.
I didn’t have much of a relationship with Israel until after the Iraq war. Close friends of my family moved there when I was young, but it didn’t really interest me, and it was only after the Iraq war when I really began to look at my country’s relationship with Israel. My best friend told me, “oh they just destroyed the air force in Egypt and Syria on June 5th, 1967, and I was somewhat indifferent to that, I confess. I was 12 years old it just did not mean that much to me. My family were secularized, academic Jews and they were tempted—because they thought anti-Semitism was an important factor in American life, a belief I don’t share with them—they certainly thought about moving to Israel. But I think the importance of opportunity for their children in the US came before that.
Israel is pursuing disastrous policies on its own that, as a Jew, I have to stand up and say this goes against all my training as an American, this goes against the civil rights struggle in which I took a part, this goes against the Vietnam War struggle in which I took a part, so I’m going to stand up as a Jew, a proud Jew, and denounce these policies and say you have to find a new path—the Jim Crow policies in the West Bank, the 600-700 checkpoints, the destruction of all hope for Palestinians for one-and-a half million Palestinians under occupation, for the Palestinians who were blockaded in Gaza, this sort of contempt for Palestinian human rights for certainly the last 40 years. It’s not just Jewish in my view. I come to this as a very proudly identified Jew. I grew up, that was my whole identity of being Jewish, and I developed a more diverse, American Jewish identity. As I became an adult I intermarried, I broke Jewish law in that respect. I don’t keep a kosher household, so there are many ways in which I represent sort of a typical kind of integrating Jew. I’m not very religious. I’m certainly not an observant Jew and I’m—no other religion calls to me. I go to synagogue a couple of times a year. I define myself as a Jew because apart from the fact that my mother and father are Jews, that I was raised Jewish and I feel Jewish all the time, I would say the ways in which I’m Jewish are that I’m a very bookish person. Books and reading are very important to me. I think of myself as Jewish because I bring a kind of an intellectual sensitivity to issues that I think is very Jewish. This sort of universal tradition in Jewish life of “rachmanes,” concern for others, is something that is part of me.
There is a little bit of love. I think about that often, because I criticize Israel night and day. I spend a lot of time criticizing Israel, just as I think I would have been criticizing the American South when it was segregated in the 1960s, I would have been criticizing it night and day. I would have been a Freedom Rider. The things that I love about Israel, and I’ve only spent a week there, but the things that I love, and I study the place, I think that journalism is wonderful journalism. Right now, the best journalism in the world is coming out of Israel. You have very brave Jews who are exploring things in a very open way. I think that intellectual tradition that I associate with Jewish life is very alive in Israel. When I’ve walked in Jerusalem, when I walked in small towns on my one visit, it was very pretty and beautiful.
I have been frequently been accused of being disloyal, and I think it is—I don’t care about that. I think that I’m being very loyal. I respect the power of communities to define themselves, and so in the 1600s the Jewish community in Amsterdam defined itself in such a way that Spinoza was outside. He was excommunicated, he was considered disloyal, and I respect that religious communities can do that, and today the religious community and the Jewish leadership of the US is trying to exercise a monolithic orthodoxy. In some ways it is reminiscent of the Soviet Union in terms of its tolerance of heretical ideas. What are my heretical ideas? They are that one man-one vote, all men are created equal. These are values I was given by Abraham Lincoln, by the civil rights struggle, by my American experience. So I think they have Jewish roots, too. I actually feel very strongly that I am trying to help my people. I feel a real, as assimilated as I am in many ways, I feel a great loyalty to the Jewish people, and I think the leadership, especially when it exercises these loyalty oaths or any prohibition on open discussion on this is making a very bad call. And so I assert myself as a Jew, and I say Jews have to talk about these things.
What I think is intolerable is a state that is oppressing a minority to the degree the Jewish state is doing so now. So I think Israel is facing a choice right now, that the two-state solution which Obama is pushing is truly its last opportunity to save the Jewish state, and if it fails, if it fails to take the two-state solution, it’s going to be involved in governing a majority population of Arabs in a Jewish state.
A million Jews have left Israel. They are living in Europe, they are living in the US. They don’t want to live there, and these are largely secular Jews, and they are Jews like me, who seek opportunity in a diverse society that respects minority rights. So I think Israel, which has taken a very sharp turn to the right under Netanyahu and Avigdor “Loyalty Oath” Lieberman, Israel faces a choice what kind of society it wants to be. I think it should grab the two-state solution.
Israel should learn from its Jewish cousins in the US that minority rights are essential, and diversity is essential, and these things make Jews safe.
You will notice Netanyahu has not said one word against the settlements. There is now a move to close down outposts. He can’t say he’s going to close down settlements because his coalition falls apart, and those settlements include these people of a fanatical religious character.
Take down the checkpoints in the West Bank is the first thing they should do. I think they should start taking down the wall, I think they should lift the blockade on needles and cloth and everything else that can’t get into Gaza.
I am obviously a minority and a very distinct minority. I represent a fringe of American Jewish life and yet the concern of the American Jewish leadership in the US is the concern that my fringe is getting bigger by the moment, and it is getting bigger because of the Gaza slaughter which woke up a lot of American Jews, thinking what kind of society is this? By the election of Avigdor Lieberman, of Netanyahu. There are many demographic changes that are going on in American Jewish life that is giving me more and more company by the day.
The tradition that I cherish in Judaism is respect for man in God’s image, the words “bitzalem,” which the human rights organization in Israel has, that God created man in his own image. That means all men, and so that kind of respect for all human beings, regardless of their ethnicity, I see as Jewish and is it true that many Jews do not accept my definition? Absolutely, but do we also understand in America that identity is fluid? Yes. I think that I represent a strain in Judaism. If Judaism is going to survive as a sort of a meaningful, moral presence, which I want it to be, then it’s going to have to embrace my views, and it’s why I have so much company now.
Under 35, 60 percent of American Jews are doing what I’m doing. They are intermarrying. They are fully enjoying their minority freedoms in the US, and I think many of them do not see Israel as sort of necessary. Israel came out of a movement that responded to horrific conditions for Jews in Europe. This is something that I think everyone has to remember, that I have to bear in mind whenever I’m criticizing Israel. If it were 100 years ago, I think I would have been a Zionist. If I were living in Vienna or Berlin, which is what I would have been doing, trying to be a journalist in the early 20th century, I would have been a Zionist, because there was a glass ceiling for Jews and worse, there were programs that my ancestors fled in Russia. Those are all real conditions that Zionism came out of. It’s why it captured the Jewish people, and those conditions don’t exist anymore and that is why summoning the Holocaust, which is what the Jewish leadership is reduced to again and again in order to maintain support for Israel in the American Jewish population—that has run its course. And for Jews under 35, I think their attitudes are going to be much more detached about Israel, and that’s the big threat the special relationship faces.
U.S. Department of State
Index for Today's Briefing:
- U.S. Applauds Historic Adoption of UN Resolution on Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Persons
- Appointment of Special Rapporteur Ahmed Shaheed on Iran Human Rights
- Secretary Clinton's Meeting with South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan
- Delivery of Second U.S. Shipment of Non-lethal Aid to Benghazi / Working Closely with TNC
- President Saleh / U.S. Deplores Use of Violence Against Protesters / U.S. Call for Peaceful and Orderly Transition / Encourage All Sides to Engage in Dialogue / Acting President Hadi / U.S. Wants to See Yemen Transition to a Democratic Future / GCC Agreement
- Secretary Clinton's Discussion with Foreign Minister Lavrov / UN Security Council Resolution 1267 / Discussions Ongoing in New York / Syrian Refugees
- David Hale and Dennis Ross Still in Region / List of Meetings / Goals Outlined in President's Speech
- Issue of Food Aid to North Korea
- South China Sea / Call on All Parties to Find a Way to Negotiate Issues Collaboratively
- U.S. Support for Greece / Prime Minister Papandreou
MS. NULAND: Good afternoon, everybody. Happy Friday. We have four announcements, and I hope some pictures, at the top. So let me do those if you can bear with me and then we&rsquoll go to your questions.
First of all, the United States applauds the historic adoption today of the first UN resolution on the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons. This landmark resolution makes it clear that no one should face such human rights violations on any grounds, irrespective of whom they love. All over the world, people face human rights violations because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, including torture, rape, criminal sanctions, and killings. The United States is proud to have taken a leading role on this resolution adopted today at the Council. As Secretary Clinton said last year, gay rights are human rights human rights are gay rights.
Staying with the Human Rights Council, we also welcome the council&rsquos appointment today of Ahmed Shaheed as special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran. The special rapporteur will serve as a voice for the millions of Iranians who have suffered egregious human rights violations and are not heard by their own government. We encourage all members of the United Nations to support Mr. Shaheed in his duties, and call on the Iranian Government to live up to its commitments to universal human rights and to respect the writ of the special rapporteur.
Third, yesterday we were asked about Secretary Clinton&rsquos meeting with her South Korean counterpart. I would like to confirm today that Secretary Clinton will meet with South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan in Washington on June 24 th . They will discuss a wide range of bilateral, regional, and global affairs, including next steps on the Korean Peninsula.
And now, roll photos. I hope we can roll the photos. Here we go. I&rsquom proud to announce that the United States has delivered a second shipment of non-lethal aid to Benghazi, Libya, which was requested by the Transitional National Council. These items are being provided to support the TNC&rsquos efforts to protect civilians and civilian-populated areas under threat of attack. The shipment consists as &ndash of uniforms, body armor, first aid kits, tents, and related materials transferred from existing Department of Defense stocks. We&rsquore working closely with the TNC on a daily basis to assess additional assistance requirements, and no decisions have been made, as yet, on any additional requirements.
Did the pictures come up? There you go. You can see the things being unloaded on the dock.
QUESTION: Do you have a &ndash is there a monetary amount attached to this shipment?
MS. NULAND: I don&rsquot have a breakdown of this specific shipment, but as you know, this is part of the 25 million that we were able to draw down.
QUESTION: But &ndash well, does this complete that 25 million, do you know?
MS. NULAND: I have to &ndash I&rsquoll have to take that question and get back to you. I&rsquom not sure.
QUESTION: And this body armor is for combat use, or are they for civilians, civilian workers?
MS. NULAND: Body armor could &ndash can be dual use, of course.
QUESTION: I understand, but they are different. I served in Iraq with the United Nations. Their personal protection equipment for civilian use, for the UN in this case, are different than, let&rsquos say, what soldiers and combatants use.
MS. NULAND: I&rsquoll have to take the question on --
MS. NULAND: -- precisely what kind of body armor.
Are there &ndash and now on to your questions. Yes?
QUESTIONS: What&rsquos your understanding of the situation in Yemen right now? What do you know about President Saleh&rsquos intentions to go back or not go back?
MS. NULAND: We don&rsquot have any further updates from yesterday. He remains in Saudi Arabia. We don&rsquot have anything further on his health or his intentions. More broadly with regard to Yemen, we deplore the use of violence against protesters in any country, and we underscore our support for the right to demonstrate, based on such demonstrations being peaceful.
One thing we&rsquod like to note is that Yemen is a very heavily armed country and it is a traditional, tribal society. But what&rsquos been remarkable is that civil society and youth protests have been going on for months without these kinds of issues coming up. When demonstrators have been fired on by security forces, they haven&rsquot run home to get their own guns. Instead, we&rsquove seen &ndash we&rsquove been encouraged to see that very few demonstrations have &ndash demonstrators have resorted to violence.
More broadly, we call for an immediate, peaceful, and orderly transition in Yemen that allows the Yemeni people to realize their aspirations, and we encourage all sides to engage in dialogue and peacefully move Yemen forward.
QUESTION: Are you aware of any contact between U.S. officials and President Saleh or his inner circle?
QUESTION: But there has been contact with the acting president?
MS. NULAND: Yes, our Ambassador on the ground has been in contact with him.
QUESTION: And that would be recently? I mean, yesterday you had mentioned that you were pleased with his efforts to date. Has there been any &ndash that you&rsquore aware of, any recent contact between the ambassador or people in this building and the acting president?
MS. NULAND: And Vice President Hadi? I&rsquom not sure whether they have met in the last couple of days, but I do know that after President Saleh departed the country, they were in regular contact. If you&rsquod like an update on that, we can get it for you.
QUESTION: Does the United States think that Saleh should return?
MS. NULAND: We&rsquore not going to comment on whether he comes and goes. What we&rsquore encouraged by, as we said yesterday, was &ndash is that Vice President Hadi is using the power that he has to begin to convene conversations with people from across Yemen, and we would like to see those conversations turn into a process that takes Yemen in a democratic direction.
QUESTION: Does the United States have a position on the opposition&rsquos call for a transitional council in Yemen?
MS. NULAND: Our goal is the same as that of Yemeni people, to see Yemen transition to a democratic future, and it&rsquos up to the Yemenis how that is achieved.
QUESTION: Do you have a sense of how organized the Yemeni opposition is? Is it as disparate as it seems to be in Syria? What&rsquos the U.S. Government&rsquos read on that?
MS. NULAND: We, as you know, have been meeting with a cross-section of Yemenis. We are interested to see that they are beginning to meet, as I said, with Vice President Hadi. What comes of those conversations and whether that brings more structure, I think, remains to be seen.
MS. NULAND: Oh, sorry, anything else on Yemen before we move to Syria?
QUESTION: Do you believe that the possible return of Mr. Saleh could exacerbate the volatility of the situation in Yemen?
MS. NULAND: I&rsquom not going to comment on the hypothetical situation of what will happen in Yemen &ndash if he does come back, if he doesn&rsquot come back. As I said, we are interested in seeing the democratic transition process move forward in Yemen.
MS. NULAND: Thanks. Here, please. Anything else on Yemen before we --
QUESTION: Well, just as &ndash just following &ndash I mean, are you concerned that, if he does go back, there will be &ndash that will create new problems?
MS. NULAND: Again, I think we&rsquore taking ourselves down a hypothetical road that we don&rsquot need to go down right now.
QUESTION: Well, no, we&rsquore not: He either goes back or he doesn&rsquot. It&rsquos a 50-50 proposition. It&rsquos not a hypothetical. One or the other is going to happen.
MS. NULAND: Well, at the --
QUESTION: So, I mean, does the U.S. have any concerns about what might &ndash what would happen or could happen if he does go back?
MS. NULAND: We want to see Yemen move in a democratic direction.
MS. NULAND: I&rsquom not going to comment --
QUESTION: Would his &ndash is his &ndash would his return be a move in a democratic direction?
MS. NULAND: I&rsquom not going to comment on the effect of his return, one way or the other, or whether he&rsquos going to --
QUESTION: But surely you have a view about this. Does no one in this &ndash no one in this building has considered the possibility of what would happen if he goes back?
MS. NULAND: Again, it is up to Yemenis to work together to take themselves in the direction of a democratic future for the country. With regard to whether President Saleh goes back and plays a role in that or does not, I&rsquom not going to comment on what that might bring. That would be hypothetical. I&rsquom simply saying what we would aspire to see.
QUESTION: Whether or not you want to comment on it, does the U.S. have a view? Yes or no? Or has really no one ever &ndash no one has contemplated this?
MS. NULAND: I think I&rsquove answered this question. Is there any --
QUESTION: Well, actually, no. Does the U.S. have a view or not? Don&rsquot &ndash I&rsquom not asking you what it is, but surely someone has &ndash someone in this building has given it some thought as to what the ramifications would be if he goes back or if he stays in Saudi.
MS. NULAND: Our goal and our aspiration is the same as that of the Yemeni people, to see a peaceful transition there. We had been encouraging President Saleh for many weeks to meet his commitments under the GCC agreement, to sign it, to move on to a democratic transition. He is now in Saudi Arabia receiving medical treatment. We are encouraged that the democratic conversation is beginning in Yemen. Whether or not he plays a role in that, we&rsquore not going to speculate on.
QUESTION: If I may, on the GCC agreement, you support the GCC agreement, which explicitly calls for him to leave power. So you &ndash then you have a position on that.
MS. NULAND: We do have a position. That position hasn&rsquot changed.
MS. NULAND: The question, I thought, had to do with whether there was an effect on that by him returning to the country.
Please, anybody else on Yemen? Jill? No? Syria then.
QUESTION: On Syria, has Secretary Clinton spoken with her Russian counterpart, Lavrov?
MS. NULAND: She did speak to Foreign Minister Lavrov this morning, and she did discuss Syria with him. She also discussed Middle East peace, Libya, UN Security Council 1267, and Russian-Georgian relations. With regard to Syria, the discussion focused on action in the UN Security Council and how the U.S. and Russia can work together to make sure that we can get to a UN Security Council resolution that supports peace and security in Syria.
QUESTION: Was there any indication that the Russians are softening their animosity towards that resolution at all?
MS. NULAND: I don&rsquot think I want to go further into the substance of her conversation. I would simply say that it was a good conversation.
QUESTION: I&rsquom sorry. What was the resolution they discussed? The Bolivia resolution?
MS. NULAND: This is the UNSC 1267, which is the resolution &ndash
QUESTION: The Bolivia &ndash
MS. NULAND: -- that we&rsquore going to split now with regard to designating terrorists in Afghanistan, Taliban, and al-Qaida. So something that &ndash
QUESTION: Sorry. What was the number of it again?
QUESTION: So that &ndash it doesn&rsquot have anything to do per se with Syria?
MS. NULAND: No. No. Syria&rsquos separate. Syria is a resolution that is in discussion and negotiation now, so it wouldn&rsquot have a number until it&rsquos passed.
QUESTION: So but they discussed this 1267?
MS. NULAND: Correct. Middle East Peace, Libya, Syria, UNSC 1267.
QUESTION: But they discussed the Syrian resolution?
MS. NULAND: And she expressed her hope that the U.S. and Russia can work together to come to a resolution.
QUESTION: On 1267 though, that&rsquos terrorism in &ndash terrorists &ndash that&rsquos the list?
MS. NULAND: That&rsquos the resolution that&rsquos under discussion in the UN today. It &ndash that&rsquos the &ndash 1267 is the resolution that allows for the sanctioning of al-Qaida and Taliban, extremists on terrorists list, and we are now working to split that resolution in two so that we can more stringently sanction al-Qaida and so that we can keep the right Taliban on the list but also allow for appropriate reconciliation, assuming former members of the Taliban want to meet the conditions of reconciliation.
QUESTION: So does that &ndash so in effect, this is making it easier to remove people from the list if they are interested in reconciliation?
MS. NULAND: Without getting too far into it, if we need more detail, we will get our UN folk to help you with this. My understanding is that when this was first passed, right after September 11 th , all of the extremists were lumped together. And so this is going to &ndash this action in the UN today is going to split the lists. It&rsquos essentially a housekeeping issue, which will allow us to strengthen the al-Qaida sanctions to ensure that those Taliban who remain extremists can stay on a separate list, but that those who are reconciled can come off.
QUESTION: And the Russian view &ndash I mean, there had been some problems before with the Russians and taking specific individuals off the list where they had objected, even though President Karzai and ISAF had kind of signed off and said okay, these people are okay. Is it your understanding that the Russians are prepared to support this now?
MS. NULAND: The conversation was simply about the aspiration to get this one finished in the near future.
QUESTION: And then on the Syria &ndash
QUESTION: -- part of it, the Syria resolution, where exactly can you give us update where we are on that?
MS. NULAND: Discussions continue in New York. As I said yesterday, we&rsquore working individually with the various members of the UN Security Council on a text. The Secretary&rsquos diplomacy today with Foreign Minister Lavrov was in support of that resolution effort, and the work continues.
QUESTION: Could I just follow up?
QUESTION: Do you feel that you made any progress with Mr. Lavrov?
MS. NULAND: As I said before, I don&rsquot want to characterize the conversation or get into their diplomatic exchange in any detail, besides saying that it was a good conversation, productive on all issues.
QUESTION: Did she have any conversations &ndash
QUESTION: Just to follow-up to Jill&rsquos on this very issue.
QUESTION: Yes. Just to follow-up to Jill&rsquos question on this very issue, two weeks ago, Mr. Juppe, the French foreign minister, said that they have already nine vote, not including Russia or China. Could you tell us where we are today? Are there like 11 votes or 12 votes that are actually in support of a very strong UN Security Council resolution against the regime in Syria?
MS. NULAND: I would say with discussions ongoing in New York, it&rsquos probably not helpful to that effort to be counting votes from this podium.
QUESTION: What about any discussions between the Secretary and her counterpart in Beijing? Have there been any discussions on Syria?
MS. NULAND: She has not yet had that phone call. I think as &ndash she&rsquoll make calls as appropriate depending upon how negotiations go in New York.
QUESTION: Can I just ask for clarification?
QUESTION: Why is it not the time to do that?
MS. NULAND: I think we were at a stage where she had a number of things to talk to Foreign Minister Lavrov about. As I said, she went through quite a list, including where we&rsquore going on Middle East Peace. And she always stands ready, as you know, to support diplomacy ongoing in New York as necessary.
QUESTION: So you wait until there&rsquos a bigger list for the Chinese and then talk?
MS. NULAND: I&rsquom not going to speculate about when the phone call will be timely, but she&rsquos always ready to do these things as necessary.
QUESTION: So you&rsquore not suggesting --
MS. NULAND: In the back, please.
QUESTION: -- that there&rsquos not enough on the agenda with the Chinese, are you? I mean, there&rsquos always plenty of things to talk about with the Chinese.
MS. NULAND: I&rsquom certainly not suggesting that.
QUESTION: But I guess the question &ndash I&rsquom sorry &ndash would be: If it is important to the United States to get support for what &ndash you took kind of a stronger line yesterday &ndash to get China and Russia to see it the same way, why wouldn&rsquot the Secretary simply pick up the phone regardless of what else she has to discuss and talk with the Chinese?
MS. NULAND: It &ndash as we are negotiating a resolution in New York, it&rsquos always a matter of how much negotiating room the folks in New York have, how those negotiations are going, how a text is evolving. And as necessary, she is always ready to support that diplomacy, but we haven&rsquot made that call yet.
QUESTION: On the Middle East peace process --
QUESTION: -- we are getting a bit mixed messages from the U.S. Administration officials because, on the one hand, there is this message that there is barely a month to get back to the negotiations in order to vote &ndash the September UN General Assembly vote on the Palestinian state. On the other &ndash and the Palestinians gave their yes and Israel is still hesitating &ndash and on the other hand, there is this message that Israel cannot be expected to negotiate with the Hamas. So what exactly David Hale and Dennis Ross were trying to do in the region? I mean, what Israel is actually expected to do? To negotiate, not to negotiate now?
MS. NULAND: As I said yesterday, David Hale and Dennis Ross are still in the region. Our expectation is that early next week, we will be able to give you a more detailed readout on how those talks are going. We did put out a list of the folks that they were talking to yesterday. I can add to that list today. I think you can see from simply the list of meetings they&rsquore having that they are fully engaged with both Israelis and the Palestinians. This weekend, Special Envoy Hale will meet with Jordanian foreign &ndash with the Jordanian foreign minister in Cyprus. Next week, he will meet with the Egyptian foreign minister and the head of Egyptian intelligence. And the Quartet envoys at the David Hale level are scheduled to meet in Brussels later next week.
So I think you can see that this diplomacy is quite rich. We &ndash they have met with the parties, they are now meeting with the regional states, and they will go on and meet with the Quartet next week. This is all designed to support the President&rsquos vision as outlined in his May speech.
QUESTION: Do you have a date on that Brussels meeting?
MS. NULAND: I have later next week. We can get a precise date for you.
QUESTION: And I&rsquom just &ndash this is kind of a logistical question, but you said that Hale was meeting Nasser Judeh in Cyprus?
QUESTION: Is there some reason why they&rsquore meeting in &ndash I mean, he was just in Amman the other day meeting with Saeb Erekat.
MS. NULAND: Perhaps that&rsquos where they were able to meet. I don&rsquot know about the foreign minister&rsquos schedule.
QUESTION: Well, wait. And then the Egyptian &ndash then with the Egyptian foreign minister, that&rsquos in Cario or is that also in Cyprus?
MS. NULAND: In Cairo. In Cairo.
QUESTION: Could you confirm to us if Mr. Ross already met with Mr. Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president, and where?
MS. NULAND: Yes. Right. They have already met with Prime Minister Netanyahu, with Israeli negotiator Molho, with Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. And David met &ndash David Hale met separately with Saeb Erekat.
QUESTION: Now just a quick follow-up. Mr. Erekat suggested yesterday that the Palestinians will go to the United Nations whether there is a restart of negotiation or not. So did that subject come up in these meetings, and what was the U.S. position on that?
MS. NULAND: I think we need to wait until David Hale has finished his regional consultations for me to characterize the shape of the discussions. As I said yesterday, I don&rsquot think it&rsquos productive to get in the middle of it from this podium. But you know that our goals were outlined in the President&rsquos speech.
Anything else on Middle East peace? No? Please.
QUESTION: Different topic?
QUESTION: On that meeting between Secretary and South Korean foreign minister next week --
QUESTION: -- do you expect that the issue of food aid to North Korea is going to come up in the meeting and --
MS. NULAND: I don&rsquot want to speculate on the specific Korean Peninsula issues that will come up, but we usually talk about the full range of issues.
QUESTION: Do you have any update on the issue that &ndash food aid?
MS. NULAND: On Korean food aid?
QUESTION: Yeah. To North Korea.
MS. NULAND: No decisions have been made yet. We continue to evaluate the results of the trip that was made to the DPRK.
QUESTION: On South China Sea, the U.S. Ambassador to Philippine Harry Thomas made a statement several days ago and he said the U.S. assure Philippine on all subjects the United States are with Philippines. And yesterday, the Philippines said they are going to send their navy flagships to the disputed South China Sea. So do the U.S. mean &ndash or the U.S. support all actions even that &ndash including increasing the tension in that area?
MS. NULAND: I believe we spoke to this subject yesterday. We are concerned about rising tensions in the South China Sea, and we call on all parties to find a venue where we can have a collaborative, negotiated resolution to these issues.
QUESTION: Could you elaborate what do you mean by all subjects?
MS. NULAND: Where the parties involved can find a way to negotiate these issues collaboratively and in a way that respects the sovereignty and freedom of navigation of all states.
QUESTION: Do you have an update on the refugee situation on the Syria-Turkey border? How many refugees have now crossed into Turkey? And you had previously said &ndash or it had been previously said that U.S. was involved through the UNHCR. Is that still the case?
MS. NULAND: As of Wednesday at noon, we had a count of about 8,500 refugees across the Syrian border. I don't have an updated number today. We can check and see what we can find for you. We have made offers to the Government of Turkey and through the UNHCR to be helpful and we stand ready to do that, and we certainly welcome the Government of Turkey&rsquos willingness to shelter these refugees and the hospitality that they have shown them so far.
QUESTION: This is not the State Department&rsquos bailiwick per say, but the Greek debt crisis --
QUESTION: -- is really reaching some massive proportions, at least concern. Is there anything that the State Department is doing in this regard or expressing a level of concern, talking with the government, et cetera?
MS. NULAND: As we said yesterday, we support the Government of Greece and the people of Greece in these challenging times. We welcome the determination of Prime Minister Papandreou and his government to make these difficult choices. We are urging Greece in our diplomatic contacts with them to continue on the path to financial health and to improving their competitiveness. You probably saw that Prime Minister Papandreou shuffled his cabinet yesterday, and we do support his continued efforts to move Greece towards fiscal health and economic competitiveness and we&rsquove made those views clear.
QUESTION: You said in your diplomatic discussions you&rsquore urging Greece to continue on that path. What discussions have there been?
MS. NULAND: Our Embassy there and our ambassador there are in contact with Greeks &ndash with the Greek Government at all levels. And I believe that the Treasury Department has been working with Greece, but I don't want to speculate too much. Perhaps that&rsquos a subject better directed to them.
QUESTION: But are you aware of any specific contact between this building here and people in Athens?