To return to the new Peace Now website click here.

March 2010 Archives

For decades, mainstream Israeli politicians have taken pride in their fingertip feel for the subtleties of American life and politics. Israeli diplomats know the meeting halls of the Midwest almost as well as they do the breakfast room at the Regency Hotel. So it has been disturbing to see, during the 2008 Presidential race and after, that some right-wing members of the Israeli political élite, along with some ordinary Israelis, often seem to derive their most acute sense of Barack Obama from Fox News and the creepier nooks of the blogosphere.

by Letty Cottin Pogrebin, founding editor of Ms. magazine and the author of 10 books, and a past president of Americans for Peace Now.

"From now on, I can never say I didn't know. This, thanks to Hagit Ofran, director of Peace Now's "Settlement Watch," who spends four hours schlepping us around East Jerusalem to see Palestinian properties that have been expropriated by the Israeli government or by Jewish settlers."  We're a six-member delegation from Americans for Peace Now, the U.S. counterpart of Ofran's group, and we've come to assess the damage.

APN Legislative Round-Up for the Week Ending March 26, 2010

1.  Bills and Resolutions 
2.  AIPAC on the Hill this week 
3.  Members of Congress Express Solidarity with Israel 
4.  APN Message to Congress in Advance of AIPAC Lobby Day 
5.  APN: Top 6 Bogus Excuses for East Jerusalem Settlement Expansion 
6.  Looking Ahead:  Anticipated Congressional Condemnation of UN Human Rights Council 
As I write this blog post, Israel's inner cabinet, the so-called "Forum of Seven," is convened in Jerusalem to hammer out a reply to the Obama administration's requests for sincere measures that would advance peace talks with the Palestinians.

How serious are the discussions? Take a look at the interview that Israel's Vice Premier Moshe (Bogi) Yaalon gave to today's Yedioth Ahronoth. All we are doing is "maneuvering" because of pressure from Peace Now and the US government, Bogi says to Yedioth.

Volume 6; Issue 3

By Lara Friedman, Americans for Peace Now and Daniel Seidemann, Terrestrial Jerusalem
You've heard them from Netanyahu, from Barak, from pundits, and from friends and family.  Here we take on directly the bogus excuses offered to justify East Jerusalem settlement expansion.

Etai Mizrav

Peace Now's reality tours arm Israelis with the facts to dismiss the empty slogans that Netanyahu tosses around.

Etai Mizrav is the Jerusalem Activities Coordinator for Peace Now and a combat officer in the Israeli military.

It seems surreal, I know, but most Israelis have never been to the areas of East Jerusalem where the new settler housing is being built. They don't see the construction, the heavy police presence, or the impact on day-to-day Palestinian life.

That's why Peace Now is taking Israelis to see these places. Our reality tours show the tension between the long-time Palestinian residents and the settlers who are moving in. We pull out maps and explain that if these structures are allowed to stand then a two-state solution becomes all but impossible.

Peace Now arms Israelis with the facts they need to dismiss the empty slogans that Netanyahu tosses around like: "building in Jerusalem is the same as building in Tel Aviv." At the end of the tours, everybody understands that the expansion of settlements in East Jerusalem is a deadly provocation, and they are able to explain this reality to their friends, families, and colleagues.

Tomorrow I will lead another tour of the settlements in East Jerusalem. And I want your help to make more tours like this possible. Each tour costs $850. And the number of people who want to join these tours is stretching our Jerusalem education budget.

We need your help to continue these tours. Click here to make a donation.

Peace Now's reality tours are strategic. Some are open to the Israeli public. Others are geared for a targeted audience. Last month we had a bus full of bloggers. Just before that we did a tour with the leadership from one of Israel's political parties.

The tours are just one element of Peace Now's battle against the settlements. We track what takes place in the settlements and make information about their expansion available to the Israeli public. We hold seminars in universities. We use demonstrations to draw media attention to dangerous developments.

And we reach out to the Israeli media: In the last week, Peace Now staff and activists conducted no less than 7 prime-time interviews with Israeli television and radio stations.

This media attention whets the appetite of Israelis who are increasingly hungry to understand what the fuss is about.

Our goal is to raise $8,500 before Passover begins on Monday to cover the costs of 10 tours. I know that with your help we will reach this goal. 

I am both a soldier and a political activist. In the military I command a combat unit. The expansion of settlements deepens the occupation. I know from experience what this occupation does to Israeli soldiers and - even more so - to the Palestinians whose daily lives are affected.

As a civilian, I am an organizer with Peace Now. I know that political change comes from the ground up. Peace Now is the only group in Israel educating and mobilizing everyday Israelis to push for peace.

Thanks to your ongoing support, our efforts break past the slogans and the stale debate on the headlines of the newspapers. Together, we are helping Israelis realize that expanding settlements in East Jerusalem endangers their security and threatens Israel's viability as a Jewish and democratic state.

Etai Mizrav
Jerusalem Activities Coordinator
Peace Now

Click here to see photos from the last East Jerusalem reality tour.

TJ - Plan 12705 and Shepherd's Hotel.jpgSpecial to APN from Daniel Seidemann and Lara Friedman

Two "new" East Jerusalem settlement projects have hit the news in the wake of the Biden debacle - one for the Shepherd's Hotel and the other for the Shimon Ha-Tzaddik neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah (Click here for a larger map of the area). 

Shepherd's Hotel:  As is now being widely reported in the Israeli and international press, Israel has issued permits for new settler construction in East Jerusalem. 

The details are as follows:  on March 18, 2010 the final permits were issued for the construction of 20 units for settlers at the site of the Shepherd's Hotel (a pdf of the actual permit is available here).  According to the Municipality, the settlers applied for and paid the fees for the permits on March 15, 2010.  

It should be recalled that the Shepherd's Hotel project was approved (final approval) in July 2009.  Thus, barring intervention from the government of Israel, the project could have moved forward at any time since then - all that was needed was for the settlers to pay the fees and the issuance of the permits would be automatic. 

That said, it is clear that the timing of the settlers' decision to move on this project at this time was neither coincidental or nor innocent.  This is why we have been asserting for some months that the day after indirect talks were announced, there would be a provocation in Jerusalem, and it could well be bulldozers knocking down the Shepherd's Hotel. 

Passover Readings

matzah5.pngPassover is a holiday commemorating freedom and renewal. This year APN is proud to offer to  resources for you. 

Click here to download a prayer for peace that you can add to your Passover Seder, prepared by Rabbi Esther Lederman of Washington, DC. 

Click here for a reflection on the leadership required to part of the Red Sea.
Data collected by Macro Center indicate main bulk of West Bank construction during Sharon, Olmert terms conducted west of separation fence in order to promote convergence plan. Yesha Council elements say data utterly groundless.

Sad Day for US-Israel Relations

It is a sad day for US-Israel relations.

It's a sad day when an Israeli prime minister chooses to impassion a large Washington crowd by defiantly championing and re-committing to a policy that the US administration rejects.

It's a sad day when Israel's prime minister comes to Washington to give a much-anticipated speech that is almost all demagoguery, dogma and defiance rather than vision, courage and leadership.

APN Spokesman Ori Nir on BBC World News

Ori Nir for Website.jpg**March 21, 2010** - Nir was interviewed as part of a discussion on the Middle East policy of the Obama administration in the aftermath of the recent announcement of housing construction in East Jerusalem during Vice President Biden's visit. Listen to the audio

Middle East Peace Report- March 22, 2010

Vol. 11, Issue 21

Clinton Speaks Frankly; Israelis Disillusioned with Netanyahu; American Public Supports Settlement Stop; Time for an East Jerusalem Settlement Freeze?; Will Palestinian Fatalities Lead to an Intifada?

Push Congress to back Obama's leadership on peace

This is an important moment for those of us who care about Israel and about peace. I'm asking you to take action: call your Representative and Senators so that our voice is heard.

Tomorrow, thousands of activists in Washington for the AIPAC conference will be on the Hill claiming to speak for all Americans, and especially American Jews who care about Israel. I know from experience that their agenda is often not the same as ours.

This lobby day comes hot on the heels of the crisis sparked by the announcement - during Joe Biden's visit to Israel - of a massive settlement expansion.

Today Hillary Clinton defended the administration's action on the issue. She told the AIPAC conference that is is America's devotion to peace for Israel that led the administration to condemn the announcement of plans for new construction in East Jerusalem.

"This is about getting to the table, creating and protecting an atmosphere of trust around it - and staying there until the job is done," she said.

Nevertheless, a number of groups have attacked the Obama administration for publicly speaking out about the settlement expansion. You can be sure that this will be a topic discussed during AIPAC's lobby day tomorrow.

Make sure that our voice is heard. Tell Congress that the real pro-Israel thing to do is to stop the expansion of settlements. Settlements undermine the prospect for peace, which is key to Israel's future.

APN Salutes Sec. Clinton's Bold Pro-Peace Speech

Washington, DC - Americans for Peace Now today saluted Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for making a compelling case for Israeli-Arab Peace and for restating the administration's unwavering commitment to achieving comprehensive peace for Israel and its neighbors. 

This morning APN sent the following message to every Hill office to help prepare them for tomorrow's AIPAC lobby day. 


Tomorrow, thousands of "pro-Israel" activists will be on the Hill claiming to speak for all Americans, and especially American Jews, who care about Israel.  We want you to know: they do not speak for the entire Jewish community. 

Most American Jews want Israeli-Palestinian peace talks to succeed and understand that robust, sustained US leadership is needed.  We know that sometimes this must include pressure on Israel's government.  We also know that Iran poses a serious threat to Israel and US national security interests, and that addressing this threat requires a sober, rational approach, not a knee-jerk reaction that is more reflective of frustration than strategic thinking.

Alpher answers questions about the long-range implications of the East Jerusalem housing construction crisis.

The AIPAC-backed sign-on letters regarding US-Israel relations and the peace process, as well as sign-on letters regarding Iran sanctions, are circulating in both the House and Senate and posted on AIPAC's website.  As expected, these are the two main "asks" that AIPAC will be bringing to Congress during its lobby day tomorrow.

US-Israel relations and the peace process:  APN's analysis/comments regarding the (link has expired) Senate letter, being circulated by Senators Boxer (D-CA) and Isakson (R-GA) are available here.   The (link has expired) House letter, being circulated by Hoyer (D-MD), Cantor (R-VA), Berman (D-CA), Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Ackerman (D-NY), and Burton (R-IN) is similar to the Senate version, but different in two key ways.  First, it omits the paragraph blaming the Palestinians for the failure to re-start peace talks (the Senate version asserts that it is Palestinian intransigence and preconditions, not Israeli actions, that are to blame).  Second, the House letter makes explicit the call for US-Israel disagreements to be handled "quietly" (something that is implied, but not explicitly stated, in the Senate version).

Iran sanctions:  Also circulating (and available on AIPAC's website) are AIPAC-backed House and Senate letters urging the President to impose "crippling" sanctions on Iran -- a somewhat odd ask, since the legislation that AIPAC is lobbying for would actually force the president to impose such sanctions, meaning "urging" unnecessary.  The letters also urge him to implement his "existing authority" on Iran - an implied criticism that he is not fully implementing the sanctions already imposed under US law.  The House version of the letter, being circulated by Reps. Jackson Jr. (D-IL) and Pence (R-IN) is available (link has expired) here.  The Senate version, being circulated by Sens. Schumer (D-NY) and Graham (R-SC), is available (link has expired) here.

Clinton Tells It Like It Is at AIPAC

This morning Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered a much-anticipated speech at the AIPAC policy conference (full text after the break).  In her speech she emphasized the strength of the US-Israel bilateral relationship and made some crowd-pleasing comments about the US commitment to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons (though she pointedly did not endorse or even mention the "crippling" sanctions legislation that is AIPAC's top lobbying objective this week, instead focusing on the Administration's efforts to build support for multilateral sanctions). 

She also made some important, and probably less welcome, statements about the peace process, including:

On settlements and the settlement "moratorium""We also made clear that this was just a first step and, like every administration for decades, underscored that the United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. As Israel's friend, it is our responsibility to give credit when it is due and to tell the truth when it is needed."

On the imperative to achieve peace
"The conflict with the Palestinians and with Israel's Arab neighbors is an obstacle to prosperity and opportunity for Israelis, Palestinians, and people across the region. And it threatens Israel's long-term future as a secure and democratic Jewish state."

On the "demographic threat":
  "As Defense Minister Barak and others have observed, the inexorable mathematics of demography are hastening the hour at which Israelis may have to choose between preserving their democracy and staying true to the dream of a Jewish homeland. Given this reality, a two-state solution is the only viable path for Israel to remain both a democracy and a Jewish state."

On the linkage between the conflict and extremism:  "The status quo strengthens the rejectionists who claim peace is impossible and weakens those who would accept coexistence. That does not serve Israel's interests or our own. Those willing to negotiate need to be able to show results for their efforts. And those who preach violence must be proven wrong. All of our regional challenges -- confronting the threat posed by Iran, combating violent extremism, promoting democracy and economic opportunity - become harder if rejectionists grow in power and influence. Conversely, a two state solution would allow Israel's contributions to the world, and to our greater humanity, to get the recognition they deserve; would allow the Palestinians to realize their own legitimate aspirations; and would undermine the appeal of extremism across the region."

Reiterating US "principles" and policy on final status:  "...we believe that through good-faith negotiations, the parties can mutually agree to an outcome which ends the conflict and reconciles the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state based on the '67 lines, with agreed swaps, and Israel's goal of a Jewish state with secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet Israel's security requirements."

Reiterating US "principles" and policy regarding Jerusalem:  "The United States recognizes that Jerusalem is a deeply important issue for Israelis and Palestinians, and for Jews, Muslims, and Christians. We believe that through good faith negotiations the parties can mutually agree on an outcome that realizes the aspirations of both parties for Jerusalem, and safeguards its status for people around the world.  For negotiations to be successful, they must be built on a foundation of mutual trust and confidence. That is why both Israelis and Palestinians must refrain from unilateral statements and actions that undermine the process or prejudice the outcome of talks."

Re-iterating US opposition to settlement construction in East Jerusalem:  "New construction in East Jerusalem or the West Bank undermines mutual trust and endangers the proximity talks that are the first step toward the full negotiations that both sides want and need. It exposes daylight between Israel and the United States that others in the region could hope to exploit. And it undermines America's unique ability to play a role - an essential role, I might add -- in the peace process. Our credibility in this process depends in part on our willingness to praise both sides when they are courageous, and when we don't agree, to say so, and say so unequivocally."

Is AIPAC Telling the Full Story?

The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg gets it right in his criticism of AIPAC's (link has expired) stacking the panels of its Policy Conference with conservatives and hawks. By not exposing its activists to a broad spectrum of views on Israel, AIPAC does a disservice not only to the 7,000-odd participants but to Israel.

One of the beauties of Israel's political culture - still, despite the efforts of Israel's ultra-nationalists to squash dissent - is the diversity of views and the relative tolerance of conflicting political views. It is a democratically-harmonious, often chaotic, cacophony of opposing views, negotiated in the public arena. Goldberg correctly points out that there seems to be little of that echoing at Washington's Convention Center this week.

The title of this year's AIPAC conference is "Israel: Tell the Story." Does the makeup of the conference's panels really reflect the Israeli narrative? Does it fairly represent the makeup of the pro-Israel community in the United States? How accurate, fair and honest is the story that AIPAC is telling its activists and Israel's supporters on Capitol Hill?

Ori Nir

Ori Nir 186x140.jpgNir was interviewed as part of a discussion on the Middle East policy of the Obama administration in the aftermath of the recent announcement of housing construction in East Jerusalem during Vice President Biden's visit.

Ignatius: Time to State Negotiations Principles

The current crisis in US-Israel relations regarding construction in East Jerusalem is an opportunity for the Obama administration to assert its vision for a final-status resolution to the question of Jerusalem, and perhaps for all the "core issues" that Israelis and Palestinians need to resolve.

Many foreign policy experts say that this is the time for Obama to do just that. The Washington Post's David Ignatius, on of America's chief experts on Washington's Middle East policy, advocates such a course of action. His article in Sunday's Post follows. What do you think?

CLARIFICATION:  Nothing in this post reflects secret, leaked, or internal AIPAC documents.  The Senate letter was circulating widely by email among Senate staff as of late Friday afternoon.  All the other documents referenced here are available for anyone to see on the AIPAC website (and links to them, on the AIPAC website, are provided).

As noted in today's Round-Up, AIPAC will be on the Hill next week lobbying members of Congress to pass "crippling" Iran sanctions and to sign on to letters to the Administration regarding US-Israel relations and the peace process. 

The Senate version of that letter, being circulated by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA), can now be read here; the Dear Colleague circulating with it can be read here.  As expected, it is a carefully crafted, moderate-sounding letter -- an updated version of last year's Bayh-Risch letter.  In brief, the letter (addressed to Secretary Clinton):

  • implies that the problem with the recent announcement of new Jerusalem settlement plans was a problem of timing, not substance, and that the construction itself is not a serious issue since it will take place sometime in the future ("We write to urge you to do everything possible to ensure that the recent tensions between the U.S. and Israel over the untimely announcement of future housing construction in East Jerusalem do not derail Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations or harm U.S.-Israel relations.")

  • asserts that the failure to re-start Israeli-Palestinian negotiations is entirely due to Palestinian intransigence and in no way due to Israeli actions ("Despite your best efforts, Israeli-Palestinian negotiations have been frozen over the past year.  Indeed, in a reversal of 16 years of policy, Palestinian leaders are refusing to enter into direct negotiations with Israel.  Instead, they have put forward a growing list of unprecedented preconditions.  By contrast, Israel's prime minister has stated categorically that he is eager to begin unconditional peace negotiations with the Palestinians."

  • implies that the Obama Administration should not publicly criticize Israel, even when Israel does things to publicly embarrass it ("We recognize that our government and the Government of Israel will not always agree on particular issues in the peace process.  But such differences are best resolved amicably and in a manner that befits longstanding strategic allies."

APN Legislative Round-Up for the Week Ending March 19, 2010

1.  Bills and Resolutions 
2.  Congress and the Jerusalem Settlements Dust-Up 
3.  AIPAC on the Hill Next Week 
4.  Dear Colleague Bashing PA 
5.  APN on Iran Sanctions, Jerusalem Settlement Issue 

New Israeli public opinion poll

Haaretz today published a poll of Israeli public opinion, with some very significant findings in the wake of the tensions between Israel and the United States following the Israeli decision to approve a massive new settlement expansion in East Jerusalem.

I could not find the full poll results in English. So I have translated them. The original Hebrew is here if anybody wants to check my translation.

Foxman should stop crying wolf

ADL put out a statement today criticizing General David Petraeus for his testimony Tuesday before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Petraeus had made the observation that "enduring hostilities between Israel and some of its neighbors present distinct challenges to our ability to advance our interests in the area of responsibility."

"Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of U.S. partnerships with governments and peoples [in the region]," Petraeus added.

This is common sense. America's interests are directly tied to Middle East peace and to Israel. The U.S. is fighting two wars in the greater Middle East, and is trying to mobilize an international effort to address the threat posed by Iran.

Ending the "business-as-usual" settlements era in East Jerusalem?

Why did Israel greet Vice President Biden with an announcement of more settlement activity in East Jerusalem?  Was it a deliberate insult?   A provocation?  A sign of colossal hubris?  

The more likely answer is less sinister but no less ominous: this was just business-as-usual - an Israeli government thumbing its nose at the US, assuming there will be no consequences.  

Most insiders agree that Netanyahu probably didn't know in advance about the settlement plan coming up for approval, and that the timing was more about one of Netanyahu's ministers trying to embarrass him than about trying to pick a fight with Washington.   But that absolves Netanyahu of nothing.  For him to not be keeping track of (and taking control of) Jerusalem settlement plans at this point is either gross negligence or willful ignorance.  

And that, too, is business-as-usual: an Israeli Prime Minister who believes it is politically easier and less costly to clash with the US than with his own cabinet or domestic constituencies.

AIPAC doesn't speak for me

Ramat Shlomo Settlement 186x140.jpg

For months APN has been working to get President Barack Obama to step up his efforts in support of peace for Israel. We've called on him to be prepared to confront Israel, the Palestinians, or the Arab states when they fail to play ball.

Last week the Obama administration did just that.

My new piece on Iran and sanctions, published today on Foreign Policy's Middle East Channel...

Getting over the sanctions delusion

Recently I was talking with a friend from the military-intelligence world about the mounting pressure on Congress to pass the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act - legislation aimed at "crippling" Iran's civilian economy.  Reportedly a House-Senate conference is already informally underway trying to craft a consensus version of the bill, and last week AIPAC sent a message to every Member of Congress urging that IRPSA be enacted "without delay."

I explained that in my view sanctions aimed at civilians were a bad idea, and that sanctions in general, while a potentially powerful tool, do not, on their own constitute a policy.  My friend's  response? "Sanctions are the sign of a failed policy, period."

He makes a good point.  Fundamentally, sanctions are how the US tells a foreign government:  we don't like you, we can't convince you to see things our way, and we can't (or aren't ready to) overthrow you - so get ready to feel some pain.

Alpher answers questions about US-Israel tensions following last week's announcement of construction of 1,600 housing units in an East Jerusalem. 

APN Legislative Round-Up for the week ending March 12, 2010

1.  Bills and Resolutions 

2.  House/Senate/AIPAC Gear Up on "Crippling" Iran Sanctions 

3.  New APN Policy document - Needed: A Rational Approach to Iran

4.  Crowley Circulates Dear Colleague in support of Israeli-Palestinian Coexistence Programs

APN Leadership Meets with Fayyad, Livni

Livni - Fayyad - Bresler - DeLee b 3-10 320x265.jpgA leadership delegation of Americans for Peace Now, on a fact-finding trip to Israel and the West Bank, met today in Ramallah with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, and in Jerusalem with Israel's Opposition Chair MK Tzipi Livni.

(Pictures on left: Livni with APN's Debra DeLee & Martin Bresler; right: Fayyad with Bresler)

By Jo-Ann Mort, March 11, 2010

The announcement by Israeli Interior Minister that Israel is building 1600 more housing units in East Jerusalem made during VP Biden's visit was probably not an accident--hard to imagine otherwise. But, not simply because Eli Yishai, the Minister, wanted to embarrass the VP; also because he honestly has little interest in listening to any elected official--from his own Prime Minister to our nation's VP.

Hagit Ofran leading tour in E J'lem 186x140.jpg(Special to APN by Daniel Seidemann and Lara Friedman)

Attention today is riveted on headlines in the Israeli press reporting Israeli plans for 50,000 residential units in East Jerusalem.  Coming on the heels of the Biden visit debacle, the interest in this report is unsurprising.  Here we offer some information and analysis about the facts behind the headlines and what they mean for the prospects of peace and the two-state solution.

(picture: Peace Now's Hagit Ofran leads a tour in East Jerusalem)

Biden: US will Hold Israel and Palestinians Accountable

Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority are well advised to take note of Vice President Joe Biden's comments in Ramallah today.

From now on, Biden said, "As we move forward, the United States will hold both sides accountable for any statements or actions that inflame tensions or prejudice the outcome of talks, as this decision did." The decision he was referring to was Israel's decision to build 1,600 new housing units in East Jerusalem. The Obama administration's reaction was swift and harsh. If it reflects the way in which the administration will hold the parties accountable to their actions from now on, it signifies a change in Washington's role as a broker.

following is the full text of Biden's comments at the photo-op, following his meeting with President Abbas:

(Special to APN by Daniel Seidemann and Lara Friedman)

On 3/9/10 - just in time for the visit to Israel of Vice President Biden and just a day after Special Envoy George Mitchell announced that Israel and the Palestinians had agreed to indirect talks - news broke in the Israeli press that Israel had approved the construction of 1600 new settlement units in East Jerusalem.  The decision was strongly condemned by the US, the Palestinians, and the members of the international community.  The Arab League, which the previous week had endorsed indirect talks, announced that it would meet March 10 to consider its reaction to the decision.

biden israel 320x265.jpgOn Monday -- during the vice president's visit to Israel -- American peace envoy George Mitchell announced that Israelis and Palestinians will soon resume peace talks.

This is good news for those of us who care about peace for Israel. Negotiations are needed to achieve a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

But then on Tuesday -- while Biden was still in Israel -- the Israeli government announced plans for 1600 new housing units in contested East Jerusalem.

APN Denounces New Israeli Settlement Plans in East Jerusalem

APN denounces in the sharpest terms Israel's announcement today of plans for new settlement construction in East Jerusalem.  Speaking from Jerusalem, where he is part of an APN leadership delegation to Israel, APN spokesman Ori Nir commented:

APN Welcomes Indirect Israeli-Palestinian Talks

APN New Logo 186x140.jpgWashington, DC -- APN welcomes today's announcement that Special Envoy George Mitchell will be brokering indirect talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. APN welcomes the involvement of Arab governments in the process that lead to today's announcement.

APN Leadership Meets with Ayalon

Bresler Ayalon.jpg
A leadership delegation of Americans for Peace Now, on a fact-finding trip to Israel, met today in Jerusalem with Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon.
APN urged Ambassador Ayalon to:
- Fully implement the settlement freeze.
- Realize the urgency of making progress toward peace and act accordingly.

"Israel is not entitled to simply shrug its shoulders at the revival of the peace process."


The visit to Israel this week by U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden, along with American Middle East envoy George Mitchell's meetings here, testify to the United States' readiness to not miss the opportunity to advance the peace process. 
This week's questions:

It looks like Israeli-Palestinian proximity talks are about to commence. What are the circumstances? What are the chances of success?

...In view of Turkey's increasingly dynamic regional role, shouldn't Israel be interested in patching up relations and using Ankara's good offices again vis-a-vis Damascus?

How is the Arab world dealing with the elections in Iraq held yesterday?

Needed: A Rational Approach to Iran

APN today released new policy language to address the changing political situation in Iran.

March 2010

An Iran armed with nuclear weapons represents an alarming scenario that neither the U.S. nor Israel, nor for that matter, the world, can afford to ignore, and one that the U.S. and the international community should be exerting all efforts to avoid. 

Arabs and Jews refuse to be enemies


I'm proud to be one of the thousands of Israelis and Palestinians who joined the demonstration on Saturday night in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. The crowd, mobilized by a broad range of groups (including the Israeli Peace Now movement), is united in our opposition to settler groups who are evicting Palestinian families and moving into their homes there.

APN Legislative Round-Up for the week ending March 5, 2010

1.  Bills and Resolutions
2.  FY12 ForOps Season Opens - President's Budget Request
3.  FY12 ForOps Season Opens - Hearings
5.  Ros-Lehtinen attacks UNRWA (again)

The Silwan/Bustan Drama - two new articles from the Hebrew press

Earlier this week I blogged about Mayor Barkat's efforts to implement a grandiose settler-friendly development scheme in the Bustan area of Silwan (which Barkat calls the "Kings' Garden").  Today there are two important pieces in the Hebrew-language press today on Silwan/Bustan drama.

A Tender Ray of Hope

The graduation ceremony of the class of 2002 at Jerusalem's Anglican International School was a heartbreaking experience.

Most of the graduates, sons and daughters of Jerusalem's diplomatic and foreign community, were on their way to Europe or the US, leaving behind Israeli and Palestinian friends engulfed in raging violence, which at the time seemed endless. The school is located on Hanevi'im Street. It connects East Jerusalem with the center of West Jerusalem. During the Second Intifada, the street was known as "suicide alley." Several Palestinian suicide bombers walked up the street to downtown West Jerusalem to blow themselves up. In one case, a suicide bomber detonated the explosives he strapped to his body just outside the neighboring French School. Body parts flew over the fence into the schoolyard.
Settlers Singing Praise for Goldstein Video 186x140.jpg

Residents of east Jerusalem neighborhood celebrate holiday with songs of praise for Cave of Patriarchs massacre. Left-wing activists plan protest

Bustan - Behind the Headlines

My brilliant colleague in Jerusalem Hagit Ofran has posted an excellent summary of the Bustan story (including maps) on her blog, Eyes on the Ground in East Jerusalem. 

As most people know by now, Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat has agreed to delay his plans to demolish tens of Palestinian homes in Silwan (and at the same time legalize a illegally-built settler high-rise apartment building in the area), following a carefully-worded intervention by Prime Minister Netanyahu (who pointedly did not say he disapproved of the mayor's plan, but rather urged the Mayor to try harder to convince the Palestinians to voluntarily agree to have their homes demolished and to be re-located to some site where the mayor thinks thinks their presence is more welcome/appropriate).  The US is reportedly pleased with the Prime Minister's action and the outcome.

Support Iran sanctions that can work

Congress is now considering two pieces of legislation that will limit the Iranian regime's ability to crack down on freedom of speech within Iran.

This is a great opportunity. Empowering the Iranian people must be a vital part of the American strategy to deal with the threat posed by Iran to Israel and to key American national security interests.

Middle East Peace Report- March 2, 2010

Vol. 11, Issue 20

Silwan Scheme Deferred; Heritage Firestorm, Parts 1-3; Contempt of Court?

Thumbnail image for Yossi Alpher 186x140.jpgAlpher answers questions about Palestinian rioting in Hebron and the Syrian "resistance" summit. 

Following repeated violations of court orders in settlement of Kiryat Netafim, High Court justices criticize State's conduct, say no steps taken to enforce edicts, punish violators

By Aviad Glickman

Volume 6, Issue 2

On November 25, 2009, the Government of Israel announced a 10-month moratorium on settlement construction and planning.  As we noted from the outset, the impact of this decision - both on the ground and on the Obama Administration's efforts to launch new Israeli-Palestinian negotiations - will depend mainly on the good faith (or lack thereof) that characterizes the government of Israel's implementation of the moratorium.