Egypt police clash with pro-Morsi students

CAIRO (AFP) — Police fired tear gas Monday in clashes with Islamist students of Cairo’s Al-Azhar University who hurled stones and torched vehicles during a demonstration backing ousted president Mohamed Morsi, officials said.

Violence in and around the university’s dormitory erupted when a few hundred students began protesting and poured onto nearby streets, security officials said.

Four civilian and two police cars were set ablaze by protesters, who also threw rocks at police, security officials said.

A security official said students cut off the main road in front of the university and disrupted traffic, after which the police intervened.

The interior ministry said police fired tear gas to disperse the students and push them back into their dorms.

Another security official said 58 “rioting students” had been arrested.

The Islamist Anti-Coup Alliance which has staged regular protests backing Morsi called for new protests on Tuesday under the slogan: “Students lead the revolution.”

Pro-Morsi protests have largely been confined to universities in recent weeks as security forces have cracked down on demonstrations elsewhere in the city.

More than 1,000 people have been killed and thousands arrested in a police crackdown on Morsi’s Islamist supporters since his ouster.

(Source / 09.12.2013)

Israel, Jordan, Palestinians sign ‘historic’ water agreement

Israeli Regional Development Minister Sylvan Shalom (L), Jordanian Water and Agriculture Minister Hazem Nasser (C) and Shaddad Attili, head of the Palestinian Water Authority, pose at the World Bank in Washington, DC, after signing a water agreement Dec. 9, 2013

Israel, Palestinians and Jordan signed on Monday an agreement to support the management of scarce water resources and the joint development and use of new water resources through sea water desalination.

The project includes the development of a desalination plant in Aqaba at the head of the Red Sea, where the water produced will be shared between Israel and Jordan; increased releases of water by Israel from Lake Tiberias for use in Jordan; and the sale of about 20-30 million m3/year of desalinated water from Mekorot (the Israeli water utility) to the Palestinian Water Authority for use in the West Bank.

The project will also see a180-kilometer (111-mile) pipeline built to channel water from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea and help manage water scarcity.

About 200 cubic meters of water per year will be channeled, after being desalinated at the plant built in Jordan and then sent for use in Jordan and Israel.

“I am pleased that the long term engagement of the World Bank has facilitated this next step by the three governments, which will enhance water availability and facilitate the development of new water through desalination,” said Inger Andersen, Regional Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa, on behalf of the World Bank at the signing ceremony.

The deal was lauded by Israel’s Water and Regional Cooperation Minister Silvan Shalom as “historic” but it elicited criticism from experts and environmentalists, Associated Press reported.

Eli Raz, a geologist and biologist at Israel’s Dead Sea and Arava Science Center, praised the project as a symbol of regional cooperation, but said it would do little to alleviate the Dead Sea’s woes. The Dead Sea is losing roughly 1 billion cubic meters of water each year, he said, while the project would only return about 10 percent of that amount.

“As a symbol, it’s very good. In respect for the Dead Sea, the deficit, the water balance, this is nothing,” he said, according to AP.

A larger project envisioned in the past, linking either the Red Sea or the Mediterranean to the Dead Sea via a large canal, remains unlikely. Raz said such ideas have suffered from high costs and environmental concerns.

Mira Edelstein, from the Friends of the Earth Middle East environmental group, said the plan threatens the “environmental sensitivity” of the Dead Sea.

The pipeline is expected to cost between $300-400 million and set to be completed within three years of a tender announcement in 2014. It was not immediately clear who would fund the project.

(Source / 09.12.2013)

Settlers Attack Palestinian Cars In Nablus

Two Palestinians kidnapped near Jenin

[Monday December 9, 2013] Extremist Israeli settlers attacked dozens of Palestinian cars driving on roads in various areas, in the northern West Bank district of Nablus.

File - Image Sola Press
Local sources have reported that the settlers caused damage to dozens of cars driving on roads in the district, especially near the Sorra village, the Nablus-Ramallah road, and at a junction close to the Yitzhar illegal Israeli settlement.

Furthermore, Israeli soldiers stationed at the Huwwara roadblock south of Nablus, closed the roadblock, and searched dozens of cars, and interrogating the occupants.

The army gave no explanation for closing the roadblock, and forced hundreds of cars to line-up for several hours.

In related news, dozens of Israeli soldiers invaded, on Monday evening, the Zababda village, south of the northern West Bank city of Jenin, and kidnapped two Palestinians.

The Palestinian News & Info Agency (WAFA) has reported that the two have been identified as Anwar Ahmad Kamil, 20, and Wael Ahmad Lahlouh, 20. Both are from Qabatia town, south of Jenin.

(Source / 09.12.2013)

AQIM members killed in Algeria

A high-ranking official of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is the latest terrorist to be taken out by Algerian troops.

The Mauritanian AQIM figure and four Algerian terrorists had entered the country from Mali, according to El Khabar, and were driving across the Tamanrasset desert to an al-Qaeda regional meeting last week when their 4×4 vehicles were intercepted by ANP helicopters in Ain Salah.

Khalil Ould Addah (aka Abou Bassen) was the 39-year-old leader of the Ennour brigade.

  • [AFP/Photo/Str] Algeria suffered a great deal as a result of terrorism and paid a heavy price, Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal said in early December.Algeria suffered a great deal as a result of terrorism and paid a heavy price, Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal said in early December.

The action on Wednesday (December 4th) that eliminated the AQIM boss came as part of intensified surveillance and reinforced troop deployments along Algeria’s borders.

“The security crises in Mali, Tunisia, Libya and Niger have spurred the Algerian authorities to strengthen the military presence in the border region,” analyst Sliman Kherif confirmed to Magharebia.

Border security is a collaborative effort, Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal said last week in El Oued.

“We are supporting our neighbours because we are convinced that their security is our security, and their stability is ours too,” Sellal told officials of the wilaya.Sellal added that Algeria had “suffered a great deal as a result of terrorism and paid a heavy price”. Stability was a “precious asset” that needed to be preserved, he said.

Algeria gets FBI support

Algeria is not only boosting co-operation with its neighbours to confront terrorism, it is also strengthening ties with Western partners.

Last Friday, some 30 students at the National Gendarmerie’s Judicial Police College wrapped up a 5-day training workshop offered by American experts.

The programme aimed at helping Algerian security services “build their capacity to investigate terrorist activities and acts of terrorism”, the US Embassy in Algiers said.

Algeria will also receive software from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) is a database that stores DNA profiles.

“Algeria is an important country in the fight against crime and terrorism. The [emergency response] training and CODIS are just two examples of the partnership and close co-ordination between Algeria and the United States in securing the borders of our two nations and halting the spread of cross-border crime and terrorism,” programme official Darrel Hart said in Algiers.

The US-led training for gendarmes came a week after Algeria and another Western partner held bilateral talks on improving co-ordination in the fight against cross-border terrorism.

The meeting with France also discussed the terrorist threat in the Sahel region. Meanwhile, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika installed a new national security commission, El Khabar reported on December 3rd. Both civilian and military representatives will participate in the new panel.

Algeria on December 8th also opened a three-day seminar on African security.

(Source / 09.12.2013)


Palestinian university students hold a rally in solidarity with Hana al-Shalabi, Gaza City, 6 March 2012

Gaza, 6 Safar 1435/9 December 2013 (MINA) –  The Palestinian Center for Prisoners Studies and Human Rights, Ahrar, stated Monday (9/12) that the Palestinian women being held in Israeli prison Hasharon are suffering from deferent diseases and need medical treatment liberate medical neglect.“There are 16 Female prisoners in Hasharon prison held in very bad conditions. The detention conditions are worsening in winter season, Foad al-Khafesh, Director of Ahrar Center said as quoted by Palestine’s Al Ray and MINA (Mi’raj News Agency).

He added that the female Palestinian prisoners do not receive adequate health care or medical treatment, causing their health to deteriorate.

The center listed in a press release the names of the female prisoners who suffered from serious diseases, and they are:

1- Lena Mohammed Saleh Jerboni, 34,from Araba Buttof in Occupied territories of 1948, has been sentenced to 17 years since 2004.She suffers from swelling in her feet and severe head pain, and she underwent gall bladder surgery inside prison. Israeli occupation refused to release her in prisoners exchange in 2011.

2- Inam Abdul – Jabbar Alhassnat, 30, from Dheisheh camp in Bethlehem. She has been imprisoned since 2012 and was sentenced to two years in prison with a fine of 1000 Israeli New Shekel NIS. She suffered from  migraine which causes sever head pains.

3- Nawal Saadi, 56, from Jenin, a mother of five children. She has been detained since 2012,  without conviction to date. She suffered from high blood pressure and constant fatigue.

3- Mona Ka’adan , 42, from Arraba in Jenin, she was arrested several times and was last captured in 2012. She suffered from blood pressure. She lost her mother while being in Hasharon prison.

4-Intissar Alssayyad, 38, from Alzaitoon mountain in Jerusalem .She was detained in 2013 and sentenced to 30 months. She is the mother of four sons and she suffered from asthma.

5- Nahil Talal Abu Aisha, 23, from Hebron. She was arrested near Alharm AL-Ibrahimy in 2013 and charged with trying to stab a settler, but is yet to be convicted. She suffered from severe pain  in her stomach.

6-Tahrir Algueni,  from Kofr Kalil in Nablus .She is currently detained in Hasharon Prison since her arrest in 2013. She suffered from sever infections in her eyes and her conditions are deteriorating

(Source / 09.12.2013)

Israel refuses Dutch-donated security scanner at Karem Abu Salem border crossing

Mark Rutte

‘Installation of the Dutch scanner, which would have been used to verify the contents of containers leaving Gaza and destined for export, was postponed after the Netherlands made unexpected demands’

Israel and the Netherlands are at loggerheads after Israel turned down a request to install a new security scanner donated by the Netherlands at the Karem Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) Crossing, the only semi-functioning commercial border crossing into the besieged Gaza Strip.The conflict coincides with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s visit to Israel and Palestine. Rutte, who is currently in the West Bank, cancelled his visit to the border crossing on Sunday, where he was scheduled to launch the operation of the security scanner.

An Israeli official confirmed that it has postponed installing the security scanner, which would have helped accelerated the movement of exported goods through the Karem Abu Salem Crossing.

The official told Agence France Presse that: “Installation of the Dutch scanner, which would have been used to verify the contents of containers leaving Gaza and destined for export, was postponed after the Netherlands made unexpected demands.”

“Technically, there is no problem about installing the scanner at the Kerem Shalom crossing, through which goods originating in Gaza could pass. However, the Dutch suddenly imposed political conditions, notably on the percentage of merchandise destined for the West Bank or abroad. These are political issues that need to be resolved at the highest level, and which have delayed the start-up of the scanner,” the Israeli official added.

(Source / 09.12.2013)

Oud ambassadeur Wijenberg overhandigt petitie ‘Nee tegen Veolia’ aan Gedeputeerde Staten

Dinsdag  10-12 om 1600 uur is een delegatie van actiegroep “Nee tegen Veolia in Zuid Nederland” uitgenodigd bij Gedeputeerde Staten om hun petitie te overhandigen aan gedeputeerde dhr R. van Heugten.
Delegatieleider en oudambassadeur in het Midden Oosten Jan Wijenberg zal toelichten waarom Veolia geen partner (meer) moet zijn van de provincie Noord-Brabant.

Voorafgaand zal om half 4 een picketline gevormd worden voor ingang van het Provinciehuis, om aandacht te vragen voor “De dag van de Mensenrechten” ( 10-12 ) – mensenrechten die Veolia schendt door zaken te doen met de Israelische bezetting en door met haar bedrijven Israels illegale nederzettingen te ondersteunen.

Op 29-11 was de actiegroep actief in den Bosch met een infostand  bij de markt en het ophalen van handtekeningen. Briefschrijvers vanuit heel de provincie en de rest van Nederland, maar ook uit het buitenland w.o. Palestina en Israel, hebben het  provinciebestuur en leden van de Commissie Mobiliteit verzocht Veolia niet in aanmerking te laten komen voor de busconcessies na 2015.

U bent hartelijk uitgenodigd de petitie-ontvangst dinsdag bij te wonen.
De Heer Wijenberg is vanaf heden beschikbaar voor een vraaggesprek en om nadere informatie te verstrekken.

Namens “Nee tegen Veolia in Zuid Nederland”,

“Nee tegen Veolia in Zuid-Nederland”.

Nee Veolia

Het Provinciebestuur van Noord-Brabant besluit deze maand wie vanaf 2015 voor komende 10 jaar de Brabantse busmaatschappij zal zijn. Veolia is één van de gegadigden die meedingen naar de concessies  , naast Syntus en Arriva.  Een groep “bezorgde burgers, O.V.reizigers en mensenrechtenactivisten zijn onlangs gestart met de actie “Nee tegen Veolia in Zuid-Nederland”. Ze willen voorkomen dat de busconcessies in Noord-Brabant aan Veolia worden gegund. Multinational Veolia schendt het internationaal recht en de mensenrechten door haar verwevenheid met de Israelische bezetting en Israels nederzettingenpolitiek op de Westelijke Jordaanoever.

Veolia bouwde en financierde de Jeruzalem lightrail, een sneltramdienst die door Veolia thans wordt geëxploiteerd ten behoeve van de illegale koloniën op de Westelijke Jordaanoever. De lijn verzorgt voor kolonisten een  snelle verbinding met het ‘Israelische thuisland’. Palestijnen kunnen van dit vervoer geen gebruik maken hoewel de tramlijn over Palestijns land loopt, men spreekt wel van “apartheids-o.v.”… Internationaal ligt Veolia onder vuur van mensenrechtenorganisaties wegens haar betrokkenheid bij Israels bezetting. Overal ter wereld loopt Veolia grote contracten mis of worden die niet verlengd. Mede onder die internationale druk heeft  Veolia in 2010 beloften gedaan haar aandelen in de Jeruzalem Lightrail te zullen verkopen, maar dit is nu drie jaar na dato nog niet gebeurd.

Veolia faciliteert Israels illegale expansie op meer manieren.Ook de exploitatie van de gigantische Tovlan vuilnisbelt op de West Bank is Veolia’s business. Daar wordt industrie-afval van binnen Israel naar toe getransporteerd en samen met afval uit de illegale nederzettingen gedumpt op Palestijnse grond. Hierdoor wordt het milieu terplaatse zo ernstig vervuild dat Palestijnse dorpen dcihtbij de vuilstort kampen met statistisch aantoonbare toename van kanker en verminderde volksgezondheid. Veolia recyclet het afval met behulp van ( gestolen) Palestijnse grondstoffen.

Dan bezit en exploiteert Veolia nog een groot  waterzuiveringsproject op de West Bank,  ten behoeve van de koloniën.

En Veolia verleent diensten aan het Israelische leger, dat de nederzettingen beschermt ten koste van de veiligheid en mensenrechten van de Palestijnen

Veolia’s faciliterende ondernemingen spelen een belangrijke rol in Israels streven de illegale nederzettingen levensvatbaar en de annexatie van Palestijns grondgebied onomkeerbaar te maken. Mede door Veolia’s  bedrijvigheid op de West Bank worden de kansen op een rechtvaardige vrede voor het Palestijnse volk kleiner..

Israels bezetting en expansie worden door de Verenigde Naties , het Russel Tribunaal en  het Internationaal Strafhof veroordeeld en illegaal geacht.  Veolia profiteert van de Israelische bezetting en maakt zich medeschuldig aan Israel s schendingen  van de mensenrechten en het internationaal recht ( volgens de 4e Geneefse Conventie) . De overheid ( Minister Timmermans) voert een ontmoedigingsbeleid tav bedrijven die betrokken zijn bij Israels illegale nedezettingen.Ook in provincie Brabant moet de provincie het contract met Veolia niet verlengen, vindt “Nee tegen Veolia in Zuid Nederland”.Dergelijke besmette bedrijven horen niet in ons OV thuis.

Petitie  “Nee tegen Veolia in Zuid-Nederland”.

Over Veolia’s illegale praktijken in  Palestina:

Jewish National Fund “repents” for erasing Palestinian villages

Has a senior figure in the Jewish National Fund (JNF) repented for his part in the dispossession of Palestinians?

website from a group calling itself the New Keren Kayemeth Leisrael — or the New JNF — indicates that such a radical conversion has taken place.  It introduces us to Rafi Schtendel, a JNF chairperson who begins to understand that claims by his organization to care for the environment by planting trees are bogus. Schtendel came to this realization after reading Facing the Forests by the Israeli novelist A.B. Yehoshua.

Schtendel writes, “It is so sad that in the story, only after the Arab worker burns the JNF forest, it exposes what’s buried beneath it. Why must it be that way? Why not simply acknowledge what we’ve done, destroyed and covered up? Yehoshua has his worker’s tongue cut off, but ours is intact and we must use it to say out loud: Sixty-five years ago there was an entire culture here that we have destroyed to establish a Jewish State, whose ruins are covered by KKL forests.”


Schtendel confesses that he should have paid closer attention to comments made five years ago by Michal Katorzah, a JNF employee in charge of signposting. “Actually, a great part of our parks are on lands that were Arab villages, and the forests are a cover-up,” Katorzah said.

To underscore that he is a changed man, Schtendel has undertaken a personal mission of posting new signs to commemorate the Palestinian villages that used to stand where JNF parks are now located.

One New JNF sign recalls that the village of Ayn al-Zaytun in the Galilee region had 567 inhabitants living in 127 houses in 1931. By the mid 1940s, 820 Muslims lived in the village, which had a mosque, an elementary school and its lands covering an area of some 110 hectares.

The villagers cultivated olives, cereals and grapes. According to various testimonies, seventy local men were killed by fighters from the Palmach, a Zionist force, when the village was captured in early May 1948. They were shot in the head, after their hands and feet had been tied up. The Palmach unit burnt or blew up the village’s houses in a calculated move also designed to terrorize the inhabitants of the neighboring town, Safed, who watched in horror from the hills.

The comments published on the website are in general positive about the New JNF. One reader posted a video in which she expresses the feelings of a tree in a JNF forest. “Until today, I lived under the illusion that I had been planted to be a tree and grow like a tree, not in order to hide the ruins of Imwas and Yalu villages destroyed by the IDF [Israel Defense Force] in 1967,” rages the angry tree.

Too good to be true?

While reading about the New JNF, I felt this was too good to be true.

My suspcions were confirmed when I saw a report on the Real News Network about activists from the New JNF handing out leaflets in the center of Tel Aviv. “We are the new JNF,” says an activist wearing a t-shirt with the logo of the organization. “People have never known the names, they know the new, Zionist names of these forests, but not what is underneath them. So the New JNF is here to educate people about them.”

A still taken from a video published by the REALnews.

The report reveals that the New JNF blog is a parody and that Rafi Schtendel is a slight alteration of the name of JNF chairperson Efi Stenzler.

The activists will certainly appreciate the latest actions of the Stop the JNF Campaign-UK, which last week accused Britain’s Charity Commission of not applying its guidelines to the JNF. Stop the JNF pointed out that the JNF had been involved in the demolition of al-Araqib, a village where Palestinian Bedouins live in the Naqab (Negev).

In March, Stop the JNF requested that the Charity Commission remove the JNF from the register of charities. The campaign group argues that the JNF is not a charity but an Israeli institution which plays a key role in the administration of land and practices systematic discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel.  The JNF’s “charities” registered in the UK provide funding for the maintenance of the this racially discriminatory system.

However, the Charity Commission has decided to allow the JNF to remain listed as a charity.

(Source / 09.12.2013)

See the Prawer Plan map Israel’s government was keeping secret

Former minister Benny Begin, who helped draft the Prawer Plan, denies saying Israel’s Bedouin support the plan: How could they if they never even saw it?

Map of the planned land confiscation and compensation as part of the Begin-Prawer Plan
Light blue: Jewish town
Orange: Bedouin municipality
Purple: To be expropriated by the state
Green outline: Land to be given to unrecognized villages
Red outline: Land for other uses (pasture, etc.)

Until now, nobody knew the extent of the Prawer-Begin Plan. No government official or statement has detailed how many Bedouin citizens will be displaced, how many unrecognized villages razed and how much land will be expropriated by the state.

MK Dov Khenin (Hadash) on Monday published a copy of a map distributed to members of the Knesset Interior Affairs Committee. The map was prepared by the Prime Minister’s Office for Housing Minister Uri Ariel of the Jewish Home party in an attempt to assuage his party’s fears that too much land would be given to the Bedouin.

Read +972′s full coverage of the Prawer-Begin Plan

According to a report published yesterday on +972, the new map details plans to displace some 40,000 Bedouin and for the state to expropriate 250,000 dunams (61,700 acres) of Bedouin land.

“The government hid this map from the Bedouin. The government hid this map from the Knesset,” MK Khenin wrote on his Facebook page.

It was not clear whether the map was merely an explanatory document meant to swing votes in the Knesset or an actual working document for the eventual implementation of Prawer. MK Merav Michaeli wrote on Twitter Monday afternoon, “[I]t seems the doc the gov presented isn’t the original doc, the gov is still hiding the original and why the changes.”

Another central figure in the formulation of the Prawer-Begin Plan, half of its namesake, former minister Benny Begin, sent a surprising letter to the Knesset Interior Affairs Committee on Monday.

Coalition leader Yariv Levin (Likud) has insinuated and declared that Begin told him the Bedouin community supports the Prawer Plan, or at least that it is a compromise they would accept.

Begin on Monday refuted that he ever made such statements, writing, “I have never said to anyone that the Bedouin accept my plan.”

He couldn’t have made such a claim, he explained, because he never even presented the Bedouin community with his plan, “and therefore I could not have heard their reactions to it.”

“[Because] I was not able to know their level of support for the law, it therefore follows that I couldn’t say that I know anything about their support for the law.”

In addition to Levin’s now-contested Begin quote, Israeli government spokespeople have responded to anti-Prawer protests in recent weeks by making an unsubstantiated claim that 80 percent of the Bedouin population supports the Prawer-Begin Plan.

“How can you claim that 80 percent of the Bedouin population accepts the Prawer Plan when the most basic information about he plan is hidden even from members of Knesset who are voting on it, and certainly hiding from the Bedouin in the Negev,” anti-Prawer activist Huda Abu-Obaid said on Monday.

Read more about the state’s treatment of anti-Prawer activists

“Now it won’t be possible to hide behind vague statements about a plan ‘for the benefit of the Bedouin’,” added another activist, Fadi Elobra. “These documents show anyone who wants to see that this is a plan that will bring about the expulsion of at least 40,000 people from their homes and the expropriation of most of the land under Bedouin ownership in the Negev.”

The activists called on Knesset members to listen to them and their objections to Prawer, vowing to continue protesting against it until the dozens of unrecognized villages in the Negev are recognized and connected to state infrastructure.

(Source / 09.12.2013)

The only two-state solution that might work

The U.S. and Israel want to limit Palestinian sovereignty, to demilitarize their state, to prevent a Palestinian return and to implement any agreement in stages. But in order for the two-state solution to have a chance at working, they need to do the exact opposite. 


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has so far refused to discuss the future borders of the Palestinian state in public, and leaks from the talks suggest that Israel will only discuss the territorial aspects of an agreement after the security aspects are resolved. The American proposal is designed to tackle this new hurdle or at least prepare the ground for a full American two-state proposal.

As I’ve written here in the past, I remain a sceptic regarding the administration’s ability to promote a real agreement, mainly due to the strategic decision by Israel to hold on to the status quo, along with an American reluctance to confront Jerusalem. As long as the administration is not willing to push Israel out of its comfort zone, the only available course of action would be to force the PA to move toward Israel’s position.

So far, this has been the American approach. Kerry backed Netanyahu’s refusal to enter talks based on the terms of reference agreed upon in previous rounds, and instead forced the Palestinians to “negotiate without preconditions.” Now, it seems the U.S. is gradually moving toward two other Israeli demands: maintaining an Israeli presence on the Jordan River for several years, and recognizing Israel “as a Jewish state.”

According to some reports, the Palestinian Authority rejected the American security arrangements proposal. As a result, the Maariv daily reported today, the Obama administration might allow Israel to postpone the coming prisoner release – the very gesture that was promised to the Palestinians in exchange for abandoning all other demands when entering talks.

If the Washington applies enough pressure, I believe it could get the Palestinian Authority to agree to Israel’s terms. Ultimately, the Palestinians simply don’t have much leverage in the diplomatic process and the PA is completely dependent on the U.S. for any political achievement. The only real threat Abbas could make is to resign and dismantle the Authority, and that is a high-risk, no-turning-back kind of act that could have devastating effects on the Palestinians living in the West Bank.

In the longer run, however, imposing on the Palestinians an agreement tailored to suit the political needs of Israel’s leadership is a recipe for disaster. It basically means repeating all the mistakes of the Oslo process. Back then, for pretty much the same reasons – Israeli politics, Israeli fears – the settlements were excluded from the interim agreement, undefined military zones were left in the West Bank(Netanyahu famously boosted that this was the loophole that helped him torpedo Oslo); and the implementation phase was prolonged in a way that allowed the opposition on both sides to organize, gain momentum and ultimately derail the entire process. Sometimes I think the negotiators are determined to repeat the same mistakes.

* * *

Settling for an implementation in stages and accepting fierce Israeli security measures intuitively seems like the right way to go (since trust needs to be built, fear needs to be overcome, and so on), but I propose the opposite idea: If the two state solution has any chance of succeeding in the current geo-political environment – and that’s a big “if” – it needs to be a swift and extremely generous process (towards the Palestinian side).

For starters, such a solution should completely abandon the “zero-sum game” attitude which currently dominates the talks – according to which any gain for one side is a loss for the other. In fact, the more the Palestinians gain from the agreement, the greater their interest in it becomes, and the more isolated those rejecting it will be. The opposite of Oslo.

If Israel, for example, maintains an army presence on the Jordan border or anywhere inside the Palestinian state – even on a temporary basis – any Palestinian political force with a grudge will make this presence the object of his campaign. There will be political attacks, and then there will be physical attacks. For the same reason all Palestinian prisoners need to be released; keeping them in Israeli prisons will create a political time bomb and an on-going sense of resentment.

If the Palestinian Authority doesn’t control its borders or airspace, or if it needs to give up valuable land in the north and around Jerusalem for the settlements and get desert hills in return – in the spirit of some of the recent land swaps maps – the whole idea of statehood becomes meaningless to the average Palestinian. A chair at the UN, after all, is not the object of the Palestinian national struggle. Freedom and dignity are.

I am not a big fan of the security oriented debate since I think it has become a way for Israeli society to avoid making political choices. It should be clear, however, that a strong central government on the Palestinian side is a precondition for making any security arrangement work. The weaker Israel makes Ramallah (which should become Jerusalem), the less capable it is of being accountable for violations. If the Palestinians have no air space and no armed vehicles, they won’t be able to operate as an effective state. And ineffective states are where terrorism grows.

Giving armored vehicles or helicopters to a Palestinian state will not pose a security threat to Israel. The Israeli army has proved time and again that dealing with conventional weapon systems is extremely easy, due to its technological superiority and unique firepower. Much like Hezbollah’s strategic, long-range missiles, a Palestinian tank that fires on Israeli targets won’t survive 10 minutes. The challenge for Israel is the single person with a grudge or the committed underground cell. You want a Palestinian state? Allow it to have tanks. Otherwise you won’t have a state and you won’t have security; you will have something else.

Finally, there can not be a stable agreement without addressing the refugee problem. Even advocates of the two-state solution don’t want to turn 7 million refugees into opponents of the agreement, that is on top of the opposition to it in the OPT. Here also, the generous approach (in Israeli political terms) is the only approach. Israel should allow in hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and compensate and help resettle the others (this is where the Arab world and the international community, which owes a lot to the Palestinians, could help).

I usually don’t use demographic arguments either, but since those have become an inherent part of the two-state conversation, it should be noted that they don’t stand in the way of a substantial return. If a real two-state solution is to take place, Israel will “lose” 250,000 Palestinian residents and citizens in East Jerusalem, which means that accepting as many as 500,000 Palestinian refugees would have resulted in a rise of 250,000 people in the total number of Palestinian citizens in Israel, or an equivalent of 3.1 percent of the whole population. A lot, but in the context of a real final status agreement, it’s not that much. I actually think that we could take many more.

This maximalist approach is, in my opinion, the only way to reach an agreement that is not simply imposed on one side – or worse, implemented through a puppet regime – but has a chance of actually working. As for the ideas being discussed now, history has taught us that a bad agreement can be much worse that no agreement at all

(Source / 09.12.2013)