En el inicio del nuevo año judío a fines del mes pasado, Israel sufría su segundo confinamiento a nivel nacional después de que las tasas per cápita de contagio y muertes por la COVID-19 alcanzaran uno de los niveles más altos del mundo. ¿Cómo pudo fracasar de manera tan espectacular a la hora de contener la pandemia un país con fronteras prácticamente cerradas, sofisticadas tecnologías y capacidades institucionales, un sistema de salud eficiente y de alta calidad, y una cultura de solidaridad en épocas de guerra?

Aunque muchos años de economía neoliberal ciertamente incidieron sobre el sistema de bienestar del país, la respuesta no está allí.…  Seguir leyendo »

A view of Jerusalem: the Israel/UAE agreement ‘threatens the status of Jerusalem’s holy sites’. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Tomorrow, the Israeli parliament will be voting on the agreement to normalise relations with the United Arab Emirates. A large majority will approve a hugely favourable step towards the Israeli government’s goals: perpetuating its systematic violations of international law and of the Palestinian people’s inalienable rights. Those parliamentarians who believe in justice and equality are going to vote against this agreement. I’m afraid, though, that we are a tiny minority.

This week, we were given copies of the agreement, which I read in the three languages (Arabic, Hebrew and English) and figured out a few things. First of all, those who wrote it in different languages tailored it to their audiences.…  Seguir leyendo »

The agreements between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain on the one hand and Israel on the other, brokered by the Trump administration and signed at the White House on Sept. 15, attempted to normalize the abnormal in spite of their misleading declarations about realizing peace.

In fact, they succeeded in normalizing occupation, oppression, annexation, and grave violations of international law, including international humanitarian law.

We must call things by their real name. The UAE and Bahrain agreed to open regular diplomatic ties with Israel, but these were not «peace treaties.» They ended no wars, as the three countries have been engaging in secret security, intelligence, and economic deals for years.…  Seguir leyendo »

Israelis protest parliament's plans to ban them from demonstrating during the nationwide covid-19 lockdown in Tel Aviv on Tuesday. (Oded Balilty/AP)

The new Jewish year has gotten off to a savagely grim start in Israel. On the eve of the Rosh Hashanah holiday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government imposed the country’s second lockdown since the start of the covid-19 pandemic. Last week, the government again tightened restrictions. Citizens may travel no farther than a kilometer from their homes. Much of the economy will shut. The government even ordered synagogues closed, though it allowed indoor prayers under special rules on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year, which fell on Monday.

Superficially, this makes sense. Israel is indeed facing total breakdown in dealing with the pandemic.…  Seguir leyendo »

Lebanese demonstrators burn a portrait of Abu Dhabi’s crown prince outside the Emirati Embassy in Beirut on Wednesday during a protest to denounce the Israeli normalization deals with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. (Anwar Amro/AFP/Getty Images)

On Sept. 11, the Kingdom of Bahrain became the fourth Arab nation to formally normalize relations with Israel. The plan resembles the mid-August announcement by the United Arab Emirates and Israel: the complete normalization of diplomatic, commercial, security and other relations between the respective parties, without any Israeli movement toward the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Supporters of the Emirati and Bahraini moves say these are landmark steps toward peace in the broader Middle East. My research suggests these moves instead reflect the new regional order that has emerged since the 2011 Arab Spring. Nearly a decade later, a shared interest in containing the power of external adversaries, particularly Iran, is the likely driver of these new rapprochements.…  Seguir leyendo »

Des ballons installés sur la place Habima de Tel-Aviv, le 15 septembre, pour symboliser les promesses faites et non tenues du Premier ministre israélien. Photo Jack Guez.AFP

Ecoutons le prophète Osée : «Ils sèment le vent et récoltent la tempête (VIII, 7).» Pendant près de douze années, Benyamin Nétanyahou a semé du vent. Un vent mauvais, un vent de folie. Aujourd’hui, en ces temps de pandémie, voici les effets de son action : un pays déchiré et désorienté, manquant de confiance en sa conduite et en lui-même, proie facile dans la tempête du corona.

Devinette : si les Israéliens répondaient sincèrement à la question de savoir quels sont leurs vœux pour ce nouvel an juif, hormis, bien sûr, la santé, je parie qu’une bonne partie d’entre eux, y compris des partisans de Nétanyahou, répondraient simplement : une vie stable, paisible, sûre, une vie débarrassée de la corruption, avec le sentiment solide et évident que l’ordre et la loi nous gouvernent.…  Seguir leyendo »

Mil espejos que reflejan su imagen

Si los israelíes fueran sinceros con sus deseos para el año nuevo judío, aparte de querer buena salud, por supuesto, estoy seguro de que muchos —incluidos bastantes partidarios de Netanyahu— se conformarían con una vida estable, tranquila y segura, sin corrupción y firmemente sostenida en la legalidad y el orden público. Probablemente muchos también querrían un primer ministro que no fuera ningún “mago”, sino un líder dedicado a los asuntos de Estado y a hacer todo lo posible para sanar las heridas que lo desgarran.

Eso es lo que yo desearía para nosotros: una vida dominada por la claridad.

También se lo deseo a Benjamin Netanyahu, de un ser humano a otro.…  Seguir leyendo »

El primer ministro israelí Benjamín Netanyahu celebró el acuerdo que normaliza las relaciones entre Israel y los Emiratos Árabes Unidos —que ambos países firmarán en una ceremonia en la Casa Blanca el 15 de septiembre— como un paso histórico igual a los anteriores acuerdos de paz de Israel con Egipto y Jordania. El líder israelí también presumió de que el acuerdo con los EAU reivindicó su «doctrina Netanyahu» de paz a cambio de paz, en vez de tierras a cambio de paz.

Pero incluso lograr la paz con un país con el que Israel no comparte ninguna frontera y nunca estuvo en guerra obligó a Netanyahu a renunciar a sus planes de anexar gran parte de Cisjordania.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Emirati, U.S. and Israeli flags are pictured attached to an airplane of Israel's El Al upon its arrival at the Abu Dhabi airport in the first commercial flight from Israel to the United Arab Emirates on Aug. 31. (Karim Sahib/AFP/Getty Images)

Some observers seem to assume that the recent agreement to normalize relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates means the end of efforts to achieve a reasonable, two-state outcome to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Some Israelis may hope that improving relations with Arab states would obviate the need for further negotiations with the Palestinians.

Yet the Palestinians are not going anywhere, and the reality is that Israel cannot retain its core character as both a Jewish and democratic state if it ignores the Palestinian issue. Fortunately, those who still seek a two-state solution have no cause for despair. The Emirati-Israeli breakthrough could be a much-needed bridge to overcoming the current impasse.…  Seguir leyendo »

Last week, an Israeli flight made its way from Israel to the United Arab Emirates in what was regarded as a historical journey. Credit Christopher Pike/Reuters

Last week, an Israeli airliner made its way from Israel to the United Arab Emirates in what was regarded a historical journey. The first ever such flight, the direct flight was the outcome of a deal made last month between the two countries.

While Israel and the Trump administration celebrated the moment, Palestinians sounded an opposite note. The Palestinian prime minister, Muhammad Shtayyeh, declared the flight “a clear and a blatant violation of the Arab position toward the Arab-Israeli conflict.”

“We had hoped to see an Emirati plane landing in a liberated Jerusalem, but we live in a difficult Arab era,” he said.…  Seguir leyendo »

On 13 August 2020, US President Donald Trump announced the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). He celebrated the development as a breakthrough that will “advance peace in the Middle East.” The two states plan to exchange ambassadors and begin open cooperation in areas of security, tourism, trade, and healthcare. The agreement makes the United Arab Emirates the fourth Arab country—after Egypt, Jordan, and Mauritania—to formally recognize Israel. In exchange, the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to pledge not to move forward with annexation, with the White House declaring that Israel had agreed to “suspend declaring sovereignty over areas outlined in the [US] president’s Vision for Peace and focus its efforts now on expanding ties with other countries in the Arab and Muslim world.”…  Seguir leyendo »

The impending peace agreement between the United Arab Emirates and Israel is a game-changer for the entire Middle East.

In addition to wedding one of world’s wealthiest states (the UAE) with its most innovative (Israel), it also opens new avenues toward peace. Realizing that other Arab states may soon follow the UAE’s lead, and that time is no longer on their side, the Palestinians may well return to the negotiating table.

An Israeli public that is secure in its newfound relations with the Arab world will be more likely to make concessions. Stalemated for almost 30 years, the peace process might finally be revived.…  Seguir leyendo »

We don’t hear many good news stories out of the Middle East, particularly recently, in the midst of the despair over Beirut, regional conflicts and the ravages of covid-19. But on Thursday there was a hopeful development: President Trump announced a historic peace agreement that will normalize relations between the United Arab Emirates and Israel.

Now what had been taking place below the table will be put on top of it. Security cooperation can be acknowledged in public and won’t have to exist in the shadows. Israeli companies will be able to operate openly in the UAE, and Israelis will be able to fly directly to the Emirates using their Israeli passports.…  Seguir leyendo »

Demonstrators dressed as aliens during a protest against the Israeli government near the prime minister’s residence on Aug. 8. Credit Guy Prives/Getty Images

Just when Israeli democracy most needed saviors, they materialized.

No one saw where they came from. They just appeared amid the thousands of horn-blowing, pot-banging protesters in Jerusalem: seven caped superheroes in matching pink spandex, striking Superman poses and going through coordinated dance moves as they advanced toward the protest’s focal point at the official residence of the man known here as the “crime minister.” One superhero with a megaphone led her comrades in a chant about “hope” and “democracy,” and everyone cheered, but I couldn’t hear much more because of the guy next to me and his accordion.

The protests growing since early summer outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s residence in Jerusalem on Balfour Street, and smaller demonstrations across the country, have given Israel’s battered moderate camp an outlet for its political energies and grievances — an outlet outside Parliament, that is, where its representatives are hapless, impotent and divided.…  Seguir leyendo »

Israeli police use a water cannon to disperse people during a protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu In Jerusalem on July 18. (Oded Balilty/AP)

At twilight, Paris Square in central Jerusalem was already packed late last week with more protesters than at the four previous demonstrations that had taken place there in little more than a week against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. A long banner hung on the side of a building, bearing a single Hebrew word that means, “We’ve woken up” — describing the protests, or possibly an entire generation of Israelis.

Hundreds of people sat meditating in lotus position, as if to announce, “This is a peaceful protest.” Their ability to focus was astounding. The square, and the avenue leading toward the prime minister’s residence on Balfour Street, was awash in a tsunami of noise.…  Seguir leyendo »

These images obtained from the state-run Iran Press news agency on June 30 shows footage of a powerful explosion at a clinic in northern Tehran. (Roy Issa/AFP/Getty Images)

Over the last few weeks, Iran has been hit by a series of unusual explosions at such sensitive facilities as its nuclear enrichment complex, factories and gas pipelines. Many analysts and diplomats suspect sabotage by Israel, the United States or some other outside force. While reliable information from within Iran is difficult to come by, and conflicting accounts are emerging, at least two of the incidents occurred at sites linked to Iran’s missile and nuclear programs. The New York Times quoted a “Middle Eastern intelligence official” claiming that Israel planted a bomb at the Natanz nuclear facility in the building where Iran had resumed work on advanced centrifuges.…  Seguir leyendo »

La anexión unilateral de partes de Cisjordania es una mala idea. Ni siquiera forma parte del plan de paz de Trump. Yo formé parte del equipo que elaboró el plan con los estadounidenses, así que lo conozco perfectamente. Una anexión unilateral supone una interpretación completamente errónea del plan Trump. Netanyahu se ha limitado a quedarse con las dos páginas del plan que más le convienen y está intentando impulsar lo que en ellas se dice. Es como tener un plan económico basado en el gasto sin tener ni idea de cómo conseguir el dinero.

Según el plan original, aplicar la soberanía israelí sobre el valle del Jordán y los principales bloques de asentamientos era parte de un proceso que culminaría con la creación de dos Estados que pudieran coexistir: un Estado palestino desmilitarizado y un Estado de Israel a salvo de la amenaza del terrorismo islamista.…  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 »

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 »

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 »