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A Palestinian artist paints a mural protesting Israel's West Bank annexation plans in Rafah, in southern Gaza, on July 1. (Said Khatib/AFP via Getty Images)

The Israeli government may begin taking steps toward unilaterally annexing portions of the West Bank soon. This move would present a grave threat to any possibility of a future two-state outcome that allows Israelis and Palestinians to live in freedom and security, each in a state of their own. It would also shatter the paradigm that has governed resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for decades. Israeli annexation would herald a new era of unilateralism, the consequences of which would be a policy shift on the Palestinian side of the equation as well.

Annexation is far from a foregone conclusion. Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz, Arab leaders, former Vice President Joe Biden and nearly every Democrat in Congress have voiced concern or outright opposition.…  Seguir leyendo »

Le Premier ministre israélien, Benyamin Nétanyahou, a fait part de sa détermination à annexer des territoires en Cisjordanie, une opération qui devait commencer dès le 1er juillet. Si les détails exacts de cette annexion demeurent flous, il est aujourd’hui indéniable que la politique menée par Israël contribuera à imposer aux Palestiniens un régime comparable à celui de l’apartheid en Afrique du Sud.

Nous avons subi la réalité de la ségrégation au XXsiècle, et nous ne pouvons rester indifférents à ce qui se profile comme son équivalent au XXIsiècle. Le but ultime de ceux qui planifient l’annexion israélienne est de diviser la Cisjordanie, donnant à Israël autant de territoires palestiniens que possible, avec aussi peu de Palestiniens que possible, anéantissant ainsi la possibilité même d’un Etat palestinien souverain aux côtés d’Israël.…  Seguir leyendo »

A Palestinian protester and an Israeli soldier during a rally against Israel’s plan to annex parts of the occupied West Bank, Haris, near Nablus, West Bank, June 26, 2020

From July 1, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has the power to bring to the Knesset a vote on whether to extend his country’s sovereignty over portions of the West Bank, in accordance with the Trump administration’s so-called peace plan, a 181-page document that, in essence, gives a US seal of approval to Israel’s expansionist agenda. Extending sovereignty, otherwise known as annexation, entails the further application of Israeli jurisdiction to territory that Palestinians had envisioned would make up part of their future state.

The Trump plan has given a green light to the integration into Israel of up to 30 percent of the West Bank, including more than two hundred Israeli settlements and settler outposts and the larger part of the Jordan Valley, removing the illusion that the occupation is temporary.…  Seguir leyendo »

I had to take a long walk. I needed to get away from the headlines, especially the ones about the impending Israeli annexation of part of the West Bank.

For days, I had compulsively clicked every update about David Friedman, the U.S. ambassador to Israel, meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main coalition partner, Benny Gantz, to get them to agree on annexation. I read the leaked forecasts from Israeli generals that annexation could spark conflict in Gaza, the warnings from King Abdullah II of Jordan that it could destabilize the whole region, the precise argument from analyst Dahlia Scheindlin that annexation cracks the global order that prevents wars.…  Seguir leyendo »

Desde el final de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, la comunidad internacional ha adoptado un simple pero poderoso principio: Ningún país, por poderoso que sea, puede quitarle tierras a sus vecinos por la fuerza. Cuando Argentina invadió las Islas Malvinas en el año 1982, el mundo expresó pocas objeciones a la intervención militar del Reino Unido para retomar su territorio. Cuando Irak ocupó Kuwait en el año 1990, las Naciones Unidas autorizaron acciones militares para expulsar a los iraquís. Y, cuando Rusia anexionó a Crimea en el año 2014, la ONU impuso fuertes sanciones que permanecen vigentes en la actualidad.

Durante 53 años, los palestinos han depositado sus esperanzas en este principio.…  Seguir leyendo »

A demonstrator holding a Palestinian flag stands in front of a mural during a protest against Israel's plan to annex parts of the occupied West Bank, in Gaza City on Monday. (Mohammed Salem/Reuters)

Even though the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands has gone on for decades, the only times that people have really erupted in opposition to Israel have been when they have lost hope.

In every decade, something happened that delayed Palestinian eruptions. In the 1970s, Palestinians expected salvation from Arabs. The 1973 war was followed by an Egyptian-led peace process. Even though Egypt was unable to produce Palestinian peace, the fact that a leading Arab country was engaging the Israelis gave people some hope.

But in the 1980s, the Israeli war against the Palestine Liberation Organization in Lebanon meant that Palestinians could no longer expect that PLO guerrilla fighters would be able to force Israel to withdraw from occupied territories.…  Seguir leyendo »

People gather in the Jewish settlement of Mitzpe Yeriho overlooking the West Bank city of Jericho on Jan. 26. (Oded Balilty/AP)

Israel is about to make one of the most fateful decisions in its modern history — a decision that will have a profound impact on its future as a Jewish democratic state and on the prospect for peace.

The Israeli cabinet is on the verge of unilaterally annexing territories in the West Bank. This is not a technical issue. It is a question that has a direct bearing on the very nature of the state of Israel — its identity, its values and its future.

Our country is deeply divided over competing visions of our national fate that lead us in starkly different directions.…  Seguir leyendo »

Israeli security forces stand guard near the West Bank city of Hebron on June 14. (Hazem Bader/AFP/Getty Images)

Determined to advance a realistic solution to the conflict with the Palestinians, Israel’s prime minister laid out his vision of peace in a speech to the Knesset. The Palestinians, he said, would have “less than a state,” Israel would retain security control over the Jordan Valley “in the broadest meaning of that term,” Jerusalem would remain united under Israel’s sovereignty, and settlement blocs in Judea and Samaria would become part of lsrael.

Those words were not spoken recently by Benjamin Netanyahu but by then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, when he defended the Oslo peace process he had initiated two years earlier with President Bill Clinton and Yasser Arafat and for which he would be assassinated one month later.…  Seguir leyendo »

Iraqi students pose for selfies with a member of the security forces during anti-government protests in Diwaniyah. Photo by HAIDAR HAMDANI/AFP via Getty Images.

After the drone assassinations of senior Iraqi politician Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and Iranian general Qassim Soleimani, Washington hopes that agreeing issues of mutual economic interest will result in Iraqi calls for immediate troop withdraw to disappear.

But the hype surrounding these talks overlooks profound problems in the relationship. US foreign policy under Donald Trump is frankly incoherent and, beyond the bluster, focused on reducing US commitments across the Middle East, which has led to a rapid decrease in America’s diplomatic presence in Baghdad.

Added to this is that Iran has steadily increased its influence over Iraq’s ruling elite to the point where there is a distinct lack of freedom of action.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Trump declared a national emergency last Thursday — but it wasn’t about the covid-19 pandemic or police brutality or nationwide protests. Rather, the subject of the emergency declaration was the International Criminal Court, the body investigating the United States for suspected war crimes in Afghanistan.

Trump announced that the ICC represents an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.” The executive order pushes back by authorizing economic and diplomatic sanctions on ICC personnel working on the Afghanistan probe and anyone who helps them.

The Trump administration has consistently and directly opposed the ICC, in contrast to the more passive opposition or even ad hoc support from previous administrations.…  Seguir leyendo »

Menahem Kahana/AFP via Getty Images Leader of the Arab-Israeli Joint List parliamentary group Ayman Odeh attending a protest outside the Knesset in Jerusalem, Israel, March 23, 2020

A remarkable thing happened in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, on April 21, as the assembly was marking the country’s Holocaust Memorial Day. Mansour Abbas, a Knesset member of the Joint List, the bloc of Arab-Israeli parties, took the podium and delivered a speech commemorating the Holocaust’s Jewish victims. “As a religious Palestinian and a Muslim Arab,” he said, “I have empathy for the pain and suffering over the years of Holocaust survivors and the families of the murdered. I stand here to show solidarity with the Jewish people, now, and forever.”

For an outsider, this gesture might perhaps seem a mere formality.…  Seguir leyendo »

Many Pakistanis tempered this year’s Eid greetings with words of condolence or prayers for the victims of coronavirus and Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight PK-8303.

The flight from Lahore crashed in a dense residential area adjacent to Jinnah International Airport in Karachi on May 22, killing all but two of the 99 people on board. Investigators have recovered the flight data recorder but the cause of the crash is yet to be determined.

The crash was a horrific tragedy at a time when the country is battling the mounting toll of the pandemic. But as with most things in Pakistan, it is also political.…  Seguir leyendo »

Israelis protest against Benjamin Netanyahu, who denies charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. Photo by Amir Levy/Getty Images.

After almost a year and a half – and three elections – Benjamin Netanyahu, the grand magician of Israeli politics, managed to pull off another of his tricks to mobilise a majority of MKs to support a coalition government he will lead, in theory, for only the next 18 months. Unless he is found guilty in the corruption trial he faces.

Significantly, his personal victory will be detrimental to the future of the country’s democracy, the justice system in particular, good governance, and whatever slim chance may remain of a peace process leading to a two-state solution with the Palestinians.

Attributing Netanyahu’s success in forming a government to his vast experience, personal charm, unscrupulous manipulative nature, and limitless hunger for power provides only part of the answer.…  Seguir leyendo »

An artist's rendering of the Dubai Expo 2020 site.

Over the past few months, the United Arab Emirates has worked diligently to meet the needs of all our citizens and residents, even at a time of unprecedented global uncertainty and insecurity.

We have safely shut down, and now seek to reopen, what is today a major international hub for trade, tourism, logistics and more. And we have achieved this while also meeting significant and myriad external interests and obligations.

This is how we have responded to our new reality.

The United Arab Emirates had planned to host the largest and most ambitious international event in the history of the Middle East, Africa and South Asia, over the span of six months starting this October.…  Seguir leyendo »

An antigovernment protester in Beirut on Monday. (Hassan Ammar/AP)

Once the breadbasket of the Eastern Mediterranean, Lebanon is facing a dramatic challenge that seemed unimaginable a decade ago: the risk of a major food crisis. A few weeks ago, Lebanon witnessed its first “hunger protests.” Many Lebanese have already stopped buying meat, fruits and vegetables, and may soon find it difficult to afford even bread. Human Rights Watch and the World Bank have both warned that over half of Lebanese households may not be able to afford to purchase food by the end of the year.

How did we get here? Lebanon and its people have been struck by a triple crisis.…  Seguir leyendo »

Abdullah Abdullah, left, and President Ashraf Ghani signing a power-sharing deal in Kabul, Afghanistan, on 17 May 2020. Screenshot of video recording by the Presidential Palace of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan - ARG

Why was the Ghani-Abdullah agreement needed and what does it achieve?

President Ashraf Ghani and former Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah, as well as their respective allies, had been locked in a dispute over the results of Afghanistan’s presidential election held on 28 September 2019. While preliminary numbers suggested that Ghani held a firm lead, official results were delayed for months as electoral bodies conducted recounts and, later, audits. Final results that gave Ghani just over 50 per cent, which would narrowly avoid a run-off against Abdullah, were abruptly announced in February, before the electoral complaints process was completed. Abdullah and his supporters declared the results invalid and announced their intent to establish a “parallel government”.…  Seguir leyendo »

An Iraqi fighter with the Popular Mobilisation Forces inspects the site of the Islamic State (IS) group attack, May 3, 2020. AFP/AHMAD AL-RUBAYE

On the night of Friday, 1 May, the Islamic State (ISIS) launched one of its most ambitious operations in Iraq in recent memory. Several units of the jihadist group converged on Iraqi paramilitary forces securing a rural section of Salahuddin province, engaging them in an hours-long attack that ended with ten paramilitaries dead. The 1 May assault followed a month in which ISIS had become more direct and aggressive in its attacks on Iraqi security forces.

A military official in the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, the U.S.-led multilateral partnership that has supported Iraq’s fight against the group, noted the complexity of the Salahuddin attack and several others that weekend.…  Seguir leyendo »

Afghanistan’s «peace deal» has been blown up. The government has resumed fighting the Taliban after a horrifying attack by gunmen on a maternity ward run by Doctors Without Borders in Kabul. Mothers and nurses were the main victims in the first attack, with 16 killed. Two of the dead were newborns.

Although the Taliban denied being responsible for the attack, Afghanistan’s national security adviser, Hamdullah Mohib, stated on Twitter that «their attacks this spring against Afghans are comparable to the level of fighting in past fighting seasons …This is not peace, nor its beginnings,» and that there is «little point in continuing to engage Taliban in ‘peace talks.’ …  Seguir leyendo »

A placard with a picture of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his rival-turned-partner Benny Gantz at a demonstration in Tel Aviv on May 2. (Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images)

On paper, the score was 11-0. In a rush decision, delivered near midnight on May 6, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the Knesset could name Benjamin Netanyahu to form the next government and stay on as prime minister — even though he has been indicted on fraud and bribe-taking charges in that office.

The real score, peaking out between the lines of the ruling, appears to be simpler: Netanyahu’s belligerent populism 1; rule of law, 0. The meaning of the decision is that, having procured a parliamentary majority by whatever means necessary, Netanyahu can ride roughshod over constraints on the majority’s power.…  Seguir leyendo »

Iraqi PM-designate Mustafa al-Kadhimi who is at the parliament for vote of confidence in Baghdad, Iraq makes a speech on May 06, 2020. Anadolu Agency via AFP

On 6 May, after five months and two earlier failed attempts, Iraq’s parliament confirmed the – still incomplete – government of the new prime minister, Mustafa al-Kadhimi. The country had been without a functioning government since the resignation of Adil Abdul-Mahdi in late November 2019 following weeks-long mass protests against the ruling elite. Just like his predecessor, Kadhimi will preside over a broad coalition government that must cater to the interests of nearly all the country’s major political forces. He will be highly constrained in his ability to initiate long-overdue reforms, but having so many constituencies to satisfy may help preserve the precarious balance between the U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »