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“Rejectionist front”: Maariv details Netanyahu’s refusal to directly negotiate with PA

January 3, 2011 14 comments

Netanyahu

As Israel’s diplomatic position erodes and the Palestinian Authority’s campaign for the unilateral recognition of a state in the 1967 borders gains ground, the demand for “direct negotiations” has become a central talking point of  Israeli government spokespeople. Here’s the latest example, from a January 2 Associated Press report:

He [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu] said he was ready to sit with Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, for “continuous direct one-on-one negotiations until white smoke is wafting,” an allusion to the Vatican’s custom for announcing a new pope.

“If Abu Mazen agrees to my proposal of directly discussing all the core issues, we will know very quickly if we can reach an agreement,” he said.

This morning’s [January 3] Maariv questions the sincerity of this proposal [full translation at the bottom of this post]:

In the past weeks, Israeli representatives, including Netanyahu, have repeatedly rejected official documents that their Palestinian counterparts have tried to submit to them, with details of the Palestinian positions on all the core issues.  The Israeli representatives are completely unwilling to discuss, read or touch these documents, not to speak of submitting an equivalent Israeli document with the Israeli positions…This completely contradicts the Israeli position, according to which everything is open for negotiation, and Netanyahu is willing to talk about all the core issues and go into a room with Abu Mazen in order to come out of it with an arrangement.  If this is the case, there is no reason for the Israelis not to willingly accept a review of the Palestinian positions in order to present counter-papers that will make it possible to start bridging the gaps.

Of the examples cited by diplomatic affairs analyst Ben Caspit, one is unambiguously “direct”:

in a meeting that was held between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Abu Mazen, in the prime minister’s official residence in Jerusalem.  It has now become apparent that in this meeting, Abu Mazen brought an official Palestinian document for Netanyahu, consisting of two printed pages, with the proposed Palestinian solution on the two issues that the sides were supposed to discuss at the first stage: Security arrangements and borders.  Netanyahu refused to read or discuss the document.  Abu Mazen is said to have left the document at the Prime Minister’s Residence (so that Netanyahu could read it later).

Another, more recent, incident reveals something of the motivation for the Israeli rejections [emphasis mine]:

in the latest meeting that was held between the two negotiators, Dr. Saeb Erekat from the Palestinian side and Attorney Yitzhak Molcho from the Israeli side.  The meeting was held in Washington a few weeks ago, in the presence of the American mediators.  During the meeting, Erekat surprised Molcho, took an official booklet out of his briefcase bearing the logo of the Palestinian Authority and tried to hand it to Molcho.  When the Israeli inquired as to the content of the booklet, Erekat said that this was, in effect, the detailed and updated Palestinian peace plan, with the detailed Palestinian positions on all the core issues.  Molcho refused to take the booklet or examine it.  According to sources who are informed about what took place there, he said to Erekat, and to the Americans, that he could not touch the Palestinian booklet, read it or take it, because as soon as he would do so, “the government will fall.”

—-

Rejectionist front

Ben Caspit, Maariv, January 3 2010 [front-page; Hebrew original here]

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced yesterday that he was willing to discuss all the core issues with Abu Mazen in closed meetings, and said that if he were to go into the room with the Palestinian leader he would sit down and discuss all the issues with him “until white smoke rises.”  Ma’ariv has found that in reality, the situation is the complete opposite: In the past weeks, Israeli representatives, including Netanyahu, have repeatedly rejected official documents that their Palestinian counterparts have tried to submit to them, with details of the Palestinian positions on all the core issues.  The Israeli representatives are completely unwilling to discuss, read or touch these documents, not to speak of submitting an equivalent Israeli document with the Israeli positions.

Read more…

Categories: Diplomacy, Hasbara

Yediot to Abe Foxman: Are we anti-Semitic too?

September 14, 2010 13 comments

Not exactly, but close.

For those of you who have missed the latest chapter of what Matt Duss calls “the continuing attempt to redefine ‘blood libel’ as ‘saying things about Israel I don’t particularly like’”, here’s a brief: This week’s TIME Magazine cover story was a feature by Karl Vick, entitled “Why Israel doesn’t care about peace” was not very useful from the current Hasbara perspective. Unfortunately, attacking it on its merits proved to be somewhat difficult. But Abe Foxman is always ready to play the anti-Semitism card. Haaretz:

A Time magazine cover story claiming Israelis are more interested in their booming economy than reaching an historical peace agreement with the Palestinians is another version of the anti-Semitic falsehood that Jews prefer money above any other interest, the Anti Defamation League said in a statement on Thursday.

This vile anti-Semitism has apparently penetrated Israel’s largest daily,  Yediot Acharonoth. Here’s how senior political columinist Sima Kadmon wraps her analysis of the latest polling on this morning front-page (entitled “Goodbye to peace”, full translation and poll results at bottom of this post):

What has happened to us? When did we come to be so lacking in faith? A week ago Time magazine ran a cover story about why Israelis don’t want peace. Many people criticized the article’s point of departure.

When one reads the findings of this poll, one is forced to contemplate the possibility that that thesis is not so ludicrous.

Goodbye to peace

Sima Kadmon, Yediot, September 14 2010 [page three with front-page teaser]

Profound pessimism — that would probably be deemed the understatement of the year in describing the Israeli public’s positions on the morning that the prime minister leaves for a summit meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh.

A Mina Tzemah poll that was conducted yesterday proves that the Israeli public has lost its faith: it has lost its faith in Netanyahu’s intentions, it has lost its faith in Abu Mazen’s abilities and his intentions to be a partner, it has lost its faith in peace. And worst of all, it has lost hope.

It would seem that somewhere along the way to a peace arrangement with the Palestinians we turned into a bitter, untrusting, weary and despairing people. Only that can explain how 48% are opposed (versus 45% who support) a peace arrangement with the Palestinians in which they recognize Israel as a Jewish state and Israel concedes most of the territories in the West Bank, while keeping the settlement blocs in Israeli possession. Since when would a plan of that sort be unacceptable to the public, when would we not have endorsed such a plan wholeheartedly?

Perhaps the reason is that only 36% of the public believes that Netanyahu is sincere in his intentions to reach an arrangement with the Palestinians. Fifty-six percent believe that he is doing everything as a result of American pressure. And that is relatively good in comparison to what the Israeli public thinks about Abu Mazen’s intentions. Only 23% believe that Abu Mazen and the Palestinians are sincere in their intentions. Seventy percent believe that they were forced into the talks by American pressure. So is it any wonder that only a quarter of the Israeli public, 25%, believe that there is a chance that the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians will lead to a peace agreement? Seventy-one percent reject that notion.

And if that is the state of affairs and there is no chance of reaching a peace arrangement, why continue with the internal disagreements about a construction freeze? Why continue to wrack our brains on compromises, on calming tempers? Let’s tell everyone we’re not playing that game any more and go all out. When the respondents were asked whether they believed that the resumption of construction would lead to the derailment of the talks with the Palestinians, 68% said they believed it would certainly lead to their derailment. Nevertheless, 51% of the public believes that construction should be resumed everywhere throughout Judea and Samaria. In other words, despite the fact that a large majority believes that a resumption of construction while talks are underway will derail those talks, that course of action is acceptable to more than half of the Israeli public.

Even when the respondents are offered the option of a compromise in which construction is partially suspended and will be pursued mainly in the settlement blocs—a compromise that on the face of things ought to be acceptable to a majority of the public—it turns out that only 42% are prepared to consider that possibility. Thirty-two percent of the public object to that compromise because they believe that the construction moratorium ought to be ended altogether.

What has happened to us? When did we come to be so lacking in faith? A week ago Time magazine ran a cover story about why Israelis don’t want peace. Many people criticized the article’s point of departure.

When one reads the findings of this poll, one is forced to contemplate the possibility that that thesis is not so ludicrous.

—-

Poll: Majority opposed to moratorium

Poll by Dahaf Polling Institute, Yediot, September 14 2010 [page three with front-page teaser]

Q: Should Netanyahu extend the settlement construction freeze after September 26, or should construction be resumed?

Extend construction freeze: 39%

Resume construction: 51%

No response/don’t know: 10%

Q: Would you support a compromise in which construction in the territories is partially suspended—in other words, for there to be construction only in the settlement blocs?

I would support such a compromise: 42%

I am opposed because the construction freeze should be comprehensive: 20%

I am opposed because the construction freeze should be ended: 32%

No response/don’t know: 6%

Q: Do you believe that Netanyahu is serious in his intentions to reach an agreement, or do you believe that he has entered negotiations because of American pressure?

Because of American pressure: 56%

His intentions are sincere: 36%

No response/don’t know: 8%

Read more…

Israeli Finance Ministry explains recent IDF-sourced Hezbollah stories

July 11, 2010 11 comments

Why the sudden spate of Israeli-sourced publications on Hezbollah’s military power?

On Wednesday (July 7 2010) this one, in the Jerusalem Post, elicited a sarcastic Tweet from Foreign Policy’s Marc Lynch:

Israel’s shocking discovery of Hezballah presence in….Lebanon. Believe it or not!

This morning (July 11 2010), Maariv provided a mundane (by Israeli standards) explanation from the Finance Ministry:

“it’s interesting how every time the military budget is on the table, they release from the stocks Hezbollah’s missile array and expose sensitive classified material”

—–

[Front-page teaser] The Finance Ministry accuses: “The IDF is using Hezbollah in the battle over the budget”

[Headline] Finance Ministry: Barak most expensive Defense Minister ever

[Sub-headline] The battle for the defense budget goes ad hominem; senior Finance Ministry officials: The IDF is even using Hezbollah to prevent cuts

Ben Caspit, Maariv, July 11 2010 [page 7; Hebrew original here and at bottom of post]

“Ehud Barak is the most expensive defense minister in Israel’s history”; “The IDF is impertinently disregarding all of the Brodet Commission’s findings, while deceiving the public”; “it’s interesting how every time the military budget is on the table, they release from the stocks Hezbollah’s missile array and expose sensitive classified material,” — these are just some of the harsh statements that were heard over the weekend among senior Finance Ministry officials and directed against the IDF and the security establishment.

A brutal struggle over the Defense Ministry’s budget is expected next week. Finance Ministry officials, headed by the finance minister versus the security establishment headed by the defense minister. A personal dual in which Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is to give the final ruling. The cabinet is expected to vote on the Finance Ministry’s demand that the Defense Ministry’s budget be slashed next year, a cut, the Finance Ministry argues, that will only annul budgetary expansions and not harm the existing budget itself.

In order to promote the cut the Finance Ministry officials are stressing that the Defense Ministry’s budget has increased by dozens of percentage points in recent years. The finance minister himself, Yuval Steinitz, said in recent days that the Defense Ministry’s budget was soaring sky high like an F-16, whereas the other budgets were barely getting off the ground like a Piper plane.

At the core of the dispute are the different interpretations of the Brodet Report. According to Finance Ministry officials, the Defense Ministry has not been abiding by the cuts as required by the report, and has simply disregarded it.

[…]

Another sensitive issue: Finance Ministry sources accuse defense establishment representatives of deliberately “talking to the protocol” and insinuating that whoever approves cuts in the defense budget will be held accountable in the report in the next commission of inquiry. “They threaten us by transparently hinting that there is already a commission of inquiry in the background,” said the Finance Ministry sources, who called the move “unacceptable and unwarranted behavior.”

Read more…

Categories: Hasbara

Haifa Mayor wants to turn Mavi Marmara into “floating hotel” so it can become a “symbol of reconciliation and hope”

July 9, 2010 12 comments

Cruiseship Marmara

Mayor of Haifa Yonah Yahav has a creative idea: to turn the Turkish ship into a floating hotel

Amir Buhbut, Maariv, July 8 2010 [Hebrew original here and at bottom of post]

While Turkey is demanding Israel apologize over the flotilla to Gaza, the mayor of Haifa has an interesting idea: in a letter to the defense minister he asks to turn the Turkish ship Marmara into a floating hotel opposite the shore of Haifa.

After the 13 Israeli commandos took control of the ship and killed nine extremist activists who had tried to kill the soldiers, the ship was brought to Haifa. Since then defense officials are waiting for a decision by the political echelon about the future of the ship.

The Israeli government has not yet decided what to do with the ship, which is presently docking in Haifa under guard, but Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav showed creativity and did not wait for a decision by the political echelon. He recently sent a letter to the defense ministry calling on Defense Minister Ehud Barak to confiscate the Turkish ship and turn it into a tourist attraction.

“If Israel decides to confiscate the Turkish ship, I ask for it to be given to the city of Haifa to turn it into a floating hotel opposite the city’s shore,” Mayor Yahav wrote in his letter.

Yahav added, “I feel that Haifa, a symbol of coexistence and cooperation between all religions, would be the appropriate home for this ship, which will turn into an international symbol of reconciliation and hope.”

Read more…

Categories: Hasbara

[Video] Birthright group visits (Jewish Settlement of) Hebron?!

July 5, 2010 24 comments

The “Hebron” account at WeJew.com (a kind of Jewish YouTube wannabe) has just (July 5 2010) uploaded a video purportedly documenting a visit this month of an Australian Birthright group to the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. This site is the stated raison d’être of the extremist Jewish Settlement in the the West Bank city and its cultural center. Watch the video (if it’s been taken down, I’ve embedded a recording of the video playing on WeJew at the bottom of this post): At 01:46, “Daniel”, the apparent trip leader, is interviewed. He seems to know exactly what he’s doing.

What’s the problem?

Well, for starters, in its Safety and Security rules, Birthright makes an explicit commitment to participants, parents and, presumably, insurers:

Our tours do not travel to or through areas of the West Bank, Gaza or East Jerusalem, other than the Jewish Quarter of the Old City.

In addition, Birthright has been repeatedly criticized for providing young Jewish-Americans a skewed perception of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Some of the most scathing criticism has come from within the Jewish-American community. For example, here is a remarkable piece of soul-searching from a Hillel campus organizer:

So what am I doing behind this Birthright table, trying to rally Jews and only Jews to go to Israel with a program whose agenda is to make them rabid, unquestioning supporters of its actions?

Birthright has a response to this kind of criticism, which is particularly interesting in the context of the Hebron visit video:

“The conflict bubbles up,” said Barry Chazan, a professor emeritus of education at Hebrew University and education director for Birthright Israel.

“But it’s not a seminar in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. … The fact that they don’t meet the head of the Palestinian Authority doesn’t mean they’re not experiencing issues of the conflict.”

Indeed.

Hasbarapocalypse — Leaked Frank Luntz memo: Israeli public diplomacy in US on Flotilla failed dismally

July 5, 2010 26 comments

Luntz

The Israel Project (TIP), an American Hasbara outfit, commissioned Republican political consultant Frank Luntz to examine the effectiveness of Israel’s public diplomacy in the US on the Flotilla debacle. TIP gave the memo to the Prime Minister’s Office, where someone promptly leaked it to Chico Menashe, Channel Ten TV News diplomatic affairs correspondent.

Luntz’s findings are grim. Here’s a summary:

  1. 56% of Americans agree with the claim that there is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza;
  2. 43% of Americans agree with the claim that people in Gaza are starving;
  3. [Only] 34% of Americans support the Israeli operation against the Flotilla;
  4. [Only] 20% of Americans “felt support” for Israel following announcement of easing of Gaza closure.

Menashe wraps:

The figures are troubling and worrisome. If that is the situation with our great friend the US, it is easy to imagine the situation in other, somewhat less sympathetic countries.

Below is the full translated transcript of the report. An embedded link to the video is appended at bottom.

—–

Frank Luntz analyses Netanyahu’s media performance in the flotilla affair

The figures are troubling and worrisome. If that is the situation with our great friend the US, it is easy to imagine the situation in other, somewhat less sympathetic countries.

Channel Ten TV News, July 1 2010 20:38

Yaacov Eilon (host): Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is considered to make an extremely persuasive presentation in the world press. But a professional analysis by a US expert presented yesterday to his senior aides strongly criticizes him. Netanyahu’s messages on the flotilla caused more harm than good. Our political correspondent Chico Menashe has obtained the report.

Chico Menashe: Criticism of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s current PR messages and Israeli PR in general comes from the international elite of media consultants and pollsters and from the mouth of Frank Luntz, considered one of the leading American political consultants, a Republican pollster, a consultant to many governments throughout the world and to dozens of the biggest corporations in the US. He was asked by the Jewish organization The Israel Project to check the opinions of the American public on the messages Israel issued to the world during and after the flotilla events. The result is a harsh document that primarily criticizes the media strategy of the person considered Israel’s number one propagandist in the world, Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Netanyahu: Once again Israel faces hypocrisy and a biased rush to judgment.

Chico Menashe: Every time Israeli speakers begin with accusing the international community, writes Luntz, they lose their audience [emphasis mine]. For example, Netanyahu’s comments after the flotilla about the world hypocrisy were rejected by most of the American participants who listened to them. The findings were presented last night to senior members of Netanyahu’s Bureau. Luntz checked the opinions with focus groups, not a poll. He warns of a dangerous slide in the public opinion of the only country considered pro-Israeli, the U.S. Israel misses simple opportunities to change world public opinion, he writes, and the consequences are significant. The American public increasingly hesitates to accept arguments that support Israeli positions.

Ehud Barak: There is no hunger in Gaza and no humanitarian crisis.

Netanyahu: There’s no shortage of food, there’s no shortage of medicine, there’s no shortage of other goods.

Chico Menashe: Luntz says Israel must immediately stop using the argument that there is no hunger and no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. He says this fatally destroys Israel’s credibility in light of the images on the television screens. Israel must admit that there is a problem, he says, to gain the listeners’ sympathy [emphasis mine]. Luntz finds the troubling figure that 56% of participants agree with the claim that there is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and no less astonishing is that 43% of participants from the American public agree with the claim that people in Gaza are starving. But even lifting the closure that was supposed to improve Israel’s image missed the opportunity, according to Luntz.

Netanyahu: Yesterday an important decision was made by the security cabinet. Its meaning is clear. On the one hand, allowing civilian goods into Gaza, and on the other hand maintaining the military blockade of Hamas.

Chico Menashe: The statement by Netanyahu’s bureau of lifting the closure missed the opportunity to gain support in international public opinion [emphasis mine]. Only 20% of the Americans polled felt support of Israel following the statement. According to Luntz, this is the summary of the flotilla damage in American public opinion: Only 34% of the American public support the Israeli operation against the flotilla, and he says that is a dangerously low percentage.

Read more…

Categories: Gaza, Hasbara

[NOT satire] Maariv: Netanyahu aides say they’ve decided that Blair lead Gaza Hasbara

June 22, 2010 9 comments

[Teaser] Quartet’s Middle East envoy stands at the front of Israeli Hasbara]

[Headline] Israel introduces: Spokesman Tony Blair

[Sub-headline] Israel’s policy has a new media representative: Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who has enlisted his vast experience and international standing to explain the decision to ease the the Gaza blockade;  And media whiz Netanyahu? He continues to hide behind the curtains

Eli Bardenstein, Maariv, June 22 2010 [page 8; Hebrew original here and at bottom of post]

It turns out that Quartet envoy to the Middle East Tony Blair was the person who in fact presented to the international media the change in the policy of the Israeli government on the Gaza blockade. This was decided in coordination with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. And what was the prime minister’s contribution to helping Israeli PR efforts? He made do with a short statement to the press that he gave at the Likud faction meeting, and another laconic statement in English that was given to the foreign media.

Indeed, since two evenings ago, Blair has been going from one television studio to the next; he gave six interviews in two days, he handled tough questions from interviewers and he is trying to employ his great experience to enlist support in international public opinion for the relaxing of the blockade and for Israel’s new policy.

Netanyahu’s aides explained that the most important arena was that of the media and international public opinion. It was therefore decided that it would be better to have Blair present the important change in the government’s policy since he is considered objective and of international stature and since the decision about relaxing the blockade was made in coordination with him.

Blair met in Israel yesterday with a series of public figures and politicians, among them Regional Development Minister Silvan Shalom, Deputy Prime Minister and Intelligence Affairs Minister Dan Meridor and Opposition Chairwoman Tzippi Livni. Earlier he met in Ramallah with PA Chairman Abu Mazen and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

[...]

Read more…

Categories: Gaza, Hasbara
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