Thursday, June 22, 2017

UPDATE: Pending Report Between President Donald Trump & Secretary of State Rex Tillerson On Next Steps for Peace Process

Please note that I am patiently waiting for the report to be made between President Donald Trump & Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on what further steps will be taken on the peace process between the PLO & Israel. As soon as news surfaces the internet, I will surely post it on this blog.

The US stressed that “forging peace will take time” after Kushner’s “productive” meeting with Abbas.

Senior Advisor to the President Jared Kushner, Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt and US Consul General in Jerusalem Donald Blome met on Wednesday night in Ramallah with Palestinian Authority (PA) head Mahmoud Abbas and his senior advisers to discuss the prospects of possible diplomatic negotiations with Israel.

In a statement, the White House reported that the two sides “had a productive meeting and reaffirmed their commitment to advancing President Trump’s goal of a genuine and lasting peace between the Israelis and Palestinians that enhances stability in the region.”

Kushner and Greenblatt discussed Palestinian priorities with Abbas and potential next steps, acknowledging the need for economic opportunities for Palestinians and major investments in the Palestinian economy.

Reuters quotes Palestinian sources which said that ahead of Kushner’s meeting with Abbas, they were asked to draw up a list of 12 “bullet point” demands they would demand in any negotiations.

In its statement, the White House underscored that “forging peace will take time” and stressed the importance of “doing everything possible” to create an “environment conducive to peacemaking.”

Abbas’ spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudenieh stated that during the meeting, Abbas discussed all “final status issues.”

A senior Palestinian official divulged that a preparatory meeting with Greenblatt on Tuesday had not gone well and became tense over the issue of Palestinian payments to terrorists, AFP reported. He said the Americans “are buying” Netanyahu’s complaints about Palestinian incitement.

According to the official, the Palestinians rebuffed Greenblatt’s pressure and demanded an Israeli freeze of construction in Judea and Samaria. He said a Palestinian delegation will head to Washington next month for further talks.

The US team met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem earlier in the day.

“This is an opportunity to pursue our common goals of security, prosperity and peace,” Netanyahu said.

Kushner and Greenblatt will return to Washington, D.C. to brief President Donald Trump, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster. Then they will consider their next steps.


Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will halt all financial payments to Gaza in the future and in so doing push Israel into war with Hamas, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman warned on Thursday morning as he addressed the annual Herzliya Conference.

“I have no intention of initiating any military activity; not in the summer and not in the fall, not in the South and not in the North. Our objective is to prevent war and the only way to do that is through credible deference,” Liberman said.

He blamed internal Palestinian politics for creating a humanitarian crisis in Gaza such that its 2 million residents are living on less than four hours of electricity a day. 

“We do not have to enter Gaza forcibly, but this crisis is not about to be resolved,” he said.

Israel this week began to reduce what will be a 40% reduction of the 120 MGW of electricity it provides Gaza, a move which leave its residents with two hours of power a day.

Israel did so at Abbas’s request, after he said he would only pay 40% of the bill to the Israel Electricity Company, which is now Gaza's main provider of electricity. Depriving Gaza of electricity is one Abbas’s tactics to weaken the group, so that he can regain control of the Strip decade after Hamas ousted Fatah in a bloody coup.

In the last couple of months Abbas has also stopped sending medication to the Gaza and has cut payments to the governmental employees there.

“This was not a tactic that he [Abbas] plans to use only once,” Liberman said as he warned the situation would get worse.

With regard to the electricity, Abbas “has not made a one time reduction. He will continue to reduce [electricity] payments and to stop playmates all together in a few months both for the fuel and the medicine and payments of [civic salaries],” Liberman said.

Abbas has taken this step unilaterally without consulting Israel, Egypt or Jordan, he said.

“He is saying that we are just trying to weaken Hamas,” Liberman said. But the only logical conclusion is that there is a double strategy here in which Abbas is crippling Hamas also out of a hope that “he will drag Hamas into a conflict with Israel.”

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Trump and new Saudi heir vow to pursue Mideast peace

US President Donald Trump on Wednesday spoke by telephone with the newly appointed Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia to congratulate him on his recent elevation as next in line for the Saudi throne.

The phone call came after Saudi King Salman earlier appointed his 31-year-old son as crown prince, placing him firmly as first-in-line to the throne.

Trump and Salman committed to “close cooperation to advance our shared goals of security, stability, and prosperity across the Middle East and beyond,” the White House said in a statement.

The two men also “discussed efforts to achieve a lasting peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” as well as prioritizing the severance of all support for terrorism.

“They discussed ways to further deepen economic cooperation between the United States and Saudi Arabia,” and resolving the ongoing dispute between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the statement said.

The phone call came as Trump’s son-in-law and special adviser Jared Kushner met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.

The White House said that Kushner and Greenblatt were to return to Washington, where they will brief Trump, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and US National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster.

A senior Palestinian official said that a preparatory meeting with Greenblatt on Tuesday had not gone well and became tense over the payments. He said the Americans “are buying” Netanyahu’s complaints about Palestinian incitement, and that Greenblatt was insisting on an end to the welfare payments.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was discussing a closed diplomatic meeting, said the Palestinians had rebuffed Greenblatt’s pressure and demanded an Israeli settlement freeze. He said a Palestinian delegation would head to Washington next month for further talks.


Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met with US President Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, Middle East special envoy Jason Greenblatt, and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman Wednesday to discuss the peace process with the Palestinian Authority.
The American side reported that the meeting was "positive and fruitful" and that both sides reaffirmed their commitment to advancing the goal set by US President Donald Trump to achieve a real and stable peace between Israel and the PA.

The three senior US officials discussed the Israeli position on key issues in the political process and on the next steps that Israel and the United States see as necessary, in recognition of Israel's important role in ensuring the security and stability of the region.
American officials stressed during the meeting that achieving peace will take time, and that it is important to do everything possible to create an atmosphere conducive to peacemaking.
Kushner and Greenblatt were to meet before leaving the region with Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

At the end of the week, they will return to Washington and bring their summary of meetings in the region to President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
After that, discussions will be held about the next steps the administration intends to take, while the American side makes it clear that the desire is to bring a meeting between Netanyahu and Abbas in the near future.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

ALERT! June 21st, 2017 Meetings Between Trump's Senior Advisor, Benjamin Netanyahu & Mahmoud Abbas...

President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and Senior Advisor to the President Jared Kushner will be heading to Israel later this week to lay the groundwork for future negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, a White House official confirmed to The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post Sunday night.

According to the official, Kushner will meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in the Israeli capital, Jerusalem. Kushner is also slated to meet with Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.

Special White House envoy Jason Greenblatt will join Kushner for the meetings, which come a month after President Trump’s trip to Israel and his own meetings with both Netanyahu and Abbas.

Kushner and Greenblatt are expected to arrive in Israel on Wednesday, June 21st.

President Trump has pledged to bring the two sides back to the negotiating table, after a three-year hiatus in peace talks.

Kushner and Greenblatt will “continue conversations” with Netanyahu and Abbas, the White House official said, saying that this week’s visit was likely to be the first of many by the Greenblatt and Kushner.

“It is important to remember that forging a historic peace agreement will take time and to the extent that there is progress, there are likely to be many visits by both Mr. Kushner and Mr. Greenblatt, sometimes together and sometimes separately, to the region and possibly many trips by Israeli and Palestinian negotiators to Washington, D.C., or other locations as they pursue substantive talks,” the White House official said.

At Security Council briefing, diplomat cites Gazan who likens Strip to ‘concentration camp’

At Security Council briefing, diplomat cites Gazan who likens Strip to ‘concentration camp: Lakhdar Brahimi says international community must protect Palestinians; Israeli envoy Danon blasts ‘malicious blood libel’

Update of what happened Tuesday June 21st, 2017 at UN:

During a briefing with the UN Security Council on Tuesday, a senior Algerian diplomat said too little had been done by the international community to bring about the establishment of a viable Palestinian state, and lamented Palestinian “suffering” under years of Israeli rule, going so far as to quote a Palestinian who likened the Gaza Strip to a “concentration camp.”

Seeking Saudi friends, Israel must still bridge gulf with Palestinians

Seeking Saudi friends, Israel must still bridge gulf with Palestinians: Reports of Riyadh’s willingness to establish economic ties with Jerusalem are likely premature, but current US peace push could yield first harbingers of normalization

To hear Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, much-warmed ties between Israel and the entire Arab world are imminent, if not already taking shape. This week, his oft-made claim that moderate Sunni states are willing to bury the hatchet even before Jerusalem signs a peace deal with the Palestinians received significant backing in a newspaper report, which purportedly revealed Israeli-Saudi Arabia negotiations over the establishment of formal economic ties.

But the path to full-fledged peace treaties remain long and arduous, experts say. Arab leaders currently have little interest in upgrading their clandestine ties with Israel, which currently focus on intelligence sharing and counter-terrorism measures.

Even those who take a more upbeat view, and see the US administration’s push for Israeli-Palestinian peace talks as a genuine opportunity for Riyadh to at least start formalizing its ties with Jerusalem, say it won’t happen without Israel showing it’s serious about peace.

On Saturday, the Times of London reported on a “dramatic move that would put the Jewish state on a path to normal relations with the bastion of Sunni Islam and guardian of the two sacred Muslim cities.”

Citing anonymous Arab and American sources, the paper noted that initially these links would include opening Saudi airspace to Israeli aircraft and allowing Israeli businesses to operate on its territory.

Against the background of the Gulf states’ 70-year-old boycott of Israel — Jerusalem formally still considers Saudi Arabia an enemy state and prohibits its citizens from entering the country — such baby steps would be nothing short of a revolution.

Even before the London Times report, US President Donald Trump had for weeks fanned speculation over a larger regional deal that would include the pragmatic Sunni camp, as has Netanyahu.

“Many nations are changing their attitudes toward Israel very rapidly. And I have to say that nowhere, nowhere, is this happening so dramatically and so rapidly than in the Arab world,” Netanyahu said earlier this month during a conference in West Africa. “Many Arab countries no longer see Israel as their enemy. They see Israel as their ally, I would even say, their indispensable ally in the fight against terrorism and in seizing the future of technology and innovation.”

But it’s a long leap from seeing Israel as a counter-terror ally to opening an Israeli Embassy in the middle of Riyadh, especially with the Palestinian issue unresolved and the Jewish state openly criticized throughout the Arab world, moderate or not.

Several analysts focusing on Arab-Israel relations said the Saudis and other Gulf states will insist on working with Jerusalem behind closed doors, refusing to formalize ties until the Palestinian problem has been solved.

“Without some serious movement on the peace process there will be no qualitative change in relations with Saudi Arabia,” maintained Joshua Teitelbaum, a senior researcher at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.

Dismissing the anonymous sources quoted by the London Times, he argued that such articles serve Israel’s interests. “They attempt to demonstrate that the Palestinian game isn’t the only game in town. And it puts pressure on Abu Mazen,” he said, referring to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

‘Why should the Saudis buy the cows if they get the milk for free?’

Such reports can be seen as trial balloons to gauge the Arab public’s feelings about an overt alliance with Israel. But without serious progress on the Palestinian front, the status quo works just fine with the powers that be in Riyadh, Teitelbaum argued.

“Why should the Saudis buy the cows if they get the milk for free?” he asked, asserting that Israel willingly provides the kingdom with the intelligence and security assistance it needs without any public declarations.

“I don’t see Saudis leaders, who are under threat by ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood and are challenged by the mostly conservatives elites in in the country, agreeing to open an economic Israeli office in Riyadh,” he said. “I just don’t see it. It’s just not worth it for them.”

Full diplomatic relations between Riyadh and Jerusalem, modeled after Israel’s peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, remain “unlikely,” agreed Gregory Gause, a leading expert on Arab politics at Texas A&M University. “I am sure that all sorts of things are going on behind the scenes, involving anti-Iranian measures. But that is not new.”

Others, though, say the Saudis may not insist on an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal being signed and sealed before talking about normalizing ties, imagining the two tracks working in parallel.

The very fact that Trump is making a bid to restart peace talks — two of his most trusted advisers will be in Israel this week for talks in Jerusalem and Ramallah — could potentially trigger the onset of Arab-Israeli normalization, according to Yoel Guzansky, an expert on the Gulf monarchies at Tel Aviv’s Institute for National Security Studies.

“There is some smoke, but not real fire yet,” said Guzansky.

Netanyahu’s vision of an Arab-Israeli detente preceding a Palestinian peace agreement is often called the “outside-in” approach, as opposed to the traditional view, known as “inside-out,” that promises Israel full relations with much of the Muslim world after a final-status deal is signed.

In light of Trump’s eagerness to relaunch Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, a dual track — “outside-in and inside-out in parallel” — could work, Guzansky posited. “Negotiations will start and the Gulf countries will start taking small positive steps vis-a-vis Jerusalem.”

Dan Shapiro, the former US ambassador to Israel, also believes that advancement on the Palestinian track and a larger Israeli-Arab detente will have to coincide.

“There is interest in the Gulf to open relations with Israel. It definitely builds on the strategic alignment that has developed as the Gulf states and Israel share the same adversaries,” Shapiro, now a fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies, said Monday.

“That said, it’s difficult to imagine the Gulf Arab states, and the Saudis in particular, openly beginning those normalization gestures, unless they can point to very concrete steps that give them confidence that a two-state solution that achieves Palestinian aspirations for independence and a state of their own, as part of a package that gives Israel recognition and security, is really on the horizon.”

These processes, added Shapiro, “are much more likely to move together in parallel rather than in a sequence that says first normalization with the Arab world and only later clarity on the two-state outcome.”