Tag Archives: Israeli-Palestinian negotiations


BLOG 487

September 28,  2020


Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.


This year in my recent trip to Israel, I observed the bitter feelings that exists between Israelis and Palestinians and vice versa. Hostilities are everywhere.  In recent blogs, I’ve celebrated the diplomatic breakthroughs achieved between Israel and Arab countries. Such is an important achievement. However, those accomplishments only mask a fierce reality waiting below the surface.

The Jerusalem Post suggested that Hezbollah had stored massive amounts of weaponry in Lebanon that were part of the terrible explosion in Beirut. Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said,  “Iran has taken Lebanon hostage through Hezbollah.”   Moreover, in August Prime Minister Netanyahu warned Hamas (who controls the Gaza Strip) that Israel would respond forcefully if the terrorist group did not stop launching incendiary and explosive balloons into Israel.  

What is currently happening inside Gaza? Hamas military prosecutors on Thursday charged three Palestinian activists in the Gaza Strip with “weakening revolutionary spirit” — a charge that could lead to years in prison — for holding a video conference with Israelis.

Rami Aman, a 38-year-old peace activist and Gaza resident, was detained in early April after holding a public “Skype With Your Enemy” video call in which Israelis participated. He has said his organization seeks to empower young Palestinians and that many in Gaza share his view that speaking to Israelis should not be forbidden.

“If I were to go into the streets and tell people ‘let’s talk with an Israeli,’ thousands of people would be here,” Aman said during a videoconference, (Facebook)

Authorities in Gaza view “normalizing” with Israelis as a criminal offense. While Hamas does permit merchants and those seeking humanitarian assistance inside Israel to communicate with Israeli authorities, it has cracked down on those who have sought to establish person-to-person ties with Israelis. “Holding any activity or communication with the Israeli occupation, under any cover, is a crime punishable by law; it is a betrayal of our people and its sacrifices,” Interior Minister Iyad al-Bozm wrote in a Facebook post in April.

Hamas routinely arrests and tortures critics and dissidents within the coastal enclave. Aman himself had already faced harassment by security forces for his activism. In July 2019, Hamas detained him for two weeks after organizing a joint bike ride with Israelis: Gazans biked side by side with Israelis, with only the security fence dividing them. On another occasion, Aman was detained for three days after he publicly criticized the alleged beating of a young man by officers from the Hamas-run interior ministry, according to Human Rights Watch. Although both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International immediately called for the activists’ release, Hamas authorities have held the detainees for five months without trial.

Get the picture? Hostilities could  explode at any time.

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BLOG 459
February 10, 2020



Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.


Keep your seat belt fashioned. Things may begin to heat up in Israel and the Palestinian area. Always an explosive situation, the Trump Peace Plan may have lit a fuse. Here’s Seven Key Points that the media in Israel is saying is immediately ahead.

1. Attack o’clock: A string of attacks in Jerusalem and the West Bank Thursday have pushed tensions simmering just below the surface into full view, raising fears of a fresh wave of violence.

The front page headline in Yedioth Ahronoth reads “Non-stop terror,” which like other tabloids and TV news, is a mix of jingoism, fear and blame casting.

Just don’t mess up: “Don’t try us,” threatens Israel Hayom on its front page. The media focus is on troops being beefed up in the West Bank, Jerusalem and near Gaza. “The string of attacks in the West Bank have an especially flammable potential,” writes Israel Hayom columnist Yoav Limor. “It requires Israel to act with determination, but also smartly, in order to avoid turning this into a mass, deadly wave.”

3. Mistakes were made: The need for not messing up seems obvious, but it apparently was not heeded a day earlier, in Jenin, where Israel went in to demolish a home, leading to intense clashes and a Palestinian police cadet being killed, apparently by accident, after he was misidentified as a terrorist. Such sparks lit forest fires.

4. Mistakes were claimed: Meanwhile, the media reports on car-rammer Sanad al-Turman Friday, focusing on his claim that it was an accident and he lost control of his car, careening into a group of soldiers before fleeing the scene.

• Television news reports that Israeli authorities didn’t believe him for a second. “Firstly, the sources say, the car-rammer blew through a checkpoint while trying to escape [toward the West Bank] — even though soldiers there did not have guns drawn.”

The meaning? “I’m ready for war,” the channel reports.

5. Intifadeal: But the real blame is not pointed at the attackers but rather Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and US President Donald Trump. There seems to be no doubt that the failing deal is to blame for the attacks.

• “The writing was on the wall from the moment Abbas spoke out publicly against the ‘deal of the century’,’” writes Amir Buhbut in Walla! news. “Abbas is sending double messages to the Palestinian public, not calling for violence … but not hurrying to put out the fires in flashpoint spots.”

• Television news reports that among those blaming Abbas is the architect of the plan, Jared Kushner, calling his comments a “harsh attack.”

6. Ehud-sucker proxy: Most other Israeli outlets focus on Kushner’s comments calling out a planned meeting and press conference between former prime minister Ehud Olmert and Abbas.

• “Olmert is voluntarily volunteering to give credence to the claim pushed by Abbas that only Netanyahu is to blame for the lack of a peace deal,” he writes. “While Abbas is backing ‘days of rage’ Olmert is enlisting to shield him, and hurting not just Netanyahu, but all of us.”

7. If you annex it, it is no dream: Israel Hayom’s Nadav Shragai looks on the bright side of things. Abbas’s rejection means it’s time to rock out with your annexation unfreezing pens out.

• Shragai adds that if Netanyahu cannot start annexing because the US wants him to wait until after elections, he can at least unfreeze building in parts of Jerusalem and the West Bank known as E-1 and Givat Hamatos, stopped because of bitter international opposition.

• “Diplomatic sources say that Netanyahu is devoting hours every day, either directly with the Trump administration or through pressure from Trump’s Evangelical supporters trying to extract something before the Israeli election, some kind of mini-annexation, anything to appease his disappointed base.

Sound ominous? It is.

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Filed under America, Gaza, Israel, Palestinians, The Middle East, Trump


Blog 334 January 23, 2017

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            Obama is now history while Netanyahu still treads water. But their struggles remains worth exploring. As the first month of this new year comes to a close, maybe there are trends and possibilities that are visible and important to consider.

Last week, I alerted you to the Israeli police investigation of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office and family. He has since responded, “long years of daily persecution against me and my family turned out yesterday to be nothing.” However, the criminal investigation has not ended. A serious charge against the Prime Minister remains unknown, but its existence was reported on the news on Channel 2 in Israel. Political leaders opposing Netanyahu claimed an interest only in the democratic process rather than a political war. Stay tuned.

Across the world at the United Nations, out-going Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in his final address to the Security Council noted that Israel has been and is subject to a strong bias in the United Nations. He said, “decades of political maneuverings have created a disproportionate volume of resolutions, reports, and conferences criticizing Israel.” The Jerusalem Post published in Israel kept an account of what Ki-Moon referenced. The UN passed 223 resolutions condemning Israel and only eight against the Syrian regime for the massacre its own citizens during the past six years.

The United Nations’ score card has ended up being a reflection on itself rather than Israel. Even the heated condemnation of Israel just before Christmas turned into a political debacle more than a piece of helpful resolution of a problem. In the background then president-elect Trump signaled sympathy for the Jewish settlements the UN condemned. Nothing settled there!

The hot issue remains accepting or rejecting a two-state solution between the Palestinians and Israel. Many prominent Israeli politicians have already declared the idea dead. Most of the rest of the world demand Israel come to terms with a Palestinian state and that a settlement be reached. Prime Minister Netanyahu has repeatedly said one thing while doing another, creating a suspicion that he wants to scuttle the two-state idea. At this point, no one is certain about what Trump thinks, but whatever policy the new President has in mind appears to pop into his head when he wakes up. Moreover President Trump appears to be able to out flip-flop Prime Minister Netanyahu who has been the ultimate switch artist up until now. Who knows where American policy is actually going?

Perhaps, 2017 is not as certain or the path as clear as we might have thought! Time to buckle up.


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After flying in from Tel Aviv to Newark, I discovered an unexpected winter snow storm had blown in. The cold winds left me stranded in the airport with no way out (not exactly what I had hoped for) and it felt like walking into a parable of what is happening across the world today. When I left America, the Ukrainian people were objecting to a relationship with Russia; now they are on the verge of a war with Putin! Karzai is leaving office in Afghanistan accusing America of no interest in the future of his country when a painful number of Americans died fighting Al-Qada and supporting a free Afghan where the USA spent billions. Are those blizzards out of nowhere or what?

My time in Israel with people who affect the future as well as common folks proved clarifying and helpful. The dynamics of changes have certainly not slowed. I was impressed again with the importance of trying to stay in touch with the essence of critical events. Unfortunately, the media shims across the top of stories and seldom touches the center of historic situations. As a former Israeli official related concerning the Obama administration, the Arabs attacked within hours of the birth of Israel and then again in the Six-Day war and once more in the Yom Kippor War. He said, “You think we don’t know what makes them tick? The trouble with Obama is that he doesn’t know that he doesn’t know.” Another way to express this man’s opinion is that in the view of many Israelis the American administration is missing the essence of the problem.

Currently, the American administration keeps leaning on Netanyahu to settle the Palestinian issue. Media reporting suggests that the Israeli Prime Minister is being obstinate and not committed to negotiations. What I universally found across Israel was a recognition that the Palestinian’s basic position is that Israel must be wiped out. It’s hard to bargain with people’s whose objective is to kill you. Anyone not see the problem?

The essence of the struggle is achieving an agreement with the Palestinians who must recognize the right of Israel to exist and guarantee their security. Netanyahu is not going to back off of that problem. Would you?

In a later blog, I’ll detail the mounting possibility of an economic boycott from Europe to put additional pressure on Israel. However, when outside countries take sides and attempt to create leverage, they are throwing the dice in a game that they may not actually understand. I would maintain that one must live in both the Palestinian and Israeli worlds to understand what is actually going on behind the scenes. The Jews and the Arabs constitute two highly divergent perspectives. To have insight into where the future is going, one must grasp how these realms function. More to come.

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By the way, the last edition of The Jerusalem Post ran an advertisement headed “Israel’s next leader is Moshiach”(the Messiah). It said, “Moshiach is now in Tel-Aviv.” The advertisement advised that the USA and Canada would sink under water on March 17, 2014. The ad suggested that mega earthquakes, floods, and volcanoes were coming. Resurrections are on the way! If you like that one, I’ve got some land at the South Pole I would love to sell you. I believe the street name for that problem is “The Jerusalem Complex,” given to the multitudes who show up annually claiming to be the messiah.

              However, it is worth noting that many, many Israelis have paid a high price for the current negotiations with Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinians. With the American government shut-down because of the childish struggle between Democrats and Republicans (which I would be delighted to address but that’s not what this blog is about), the focus of all media is currently locked on Washington. However, negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians continue.

Little attention has been given to the price paid in Israel to start these current conversations. It is worthwhile to stand back for a moment and remember what it took for the Israeli public to go along with these talks.

Yoram Cohen, the head of the Shi Bet (an Israeli security organization) advised the cabinet that these 104 prisoners would probably return to terrorist acts as the years go by.

Israeli protestors gathered outside of the Israeli Prime Minister’s office on July 27 to protest against the release of Palestinian prisoners. Wearing the traditional Palestinian keffiyehs, they held up their hands covered with fake blood to remind the world of the price they were personally paying. During the cabinet meeting to discuss the release of these terrorists, Prime Minister Netanyahu reminded everyone that he knew well the price that was being paid. His brother Yani was killed in the Entebbe raid to release hostages being held to negotiate the release of terrorists. Netanyahu was injured in a raid on a Sabena airplane that was hijacked in order to force the release of terrorists. Everyone knows that the families who lost their children because of terrorism will grieve over the release of 104 Palestinian terrorists necessary to start the negotiations.

Obviously, Hamas and Fatah continue to attempt to kill each other. Torture and ill-treatment  is part of daily life in Gaza. In contrast to Israel, life seems to be cheap in the Palestinian world.

The point is that the price paid to start negotiations has rippled through the entire Israel society. If the talks fail, the prisoners that have been released to date will still be free. It’s a fact worth remembering as the talks continue.

On second thought, it would be nice if that advertisement proclaiming the Moshiach had come were true. It certainly might help push matters along.

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