Peace process

Minister says UK has crucial MidEast role

By Marcus Dysch, August 27, 2009

Ivan Lewis, the Middle East minister, believes Israel and the Palestinians are facing their “best last chance for peace in a generation”.

Speaking after returning from a tour of the region which took in Israel, the Palestinian territories, Syria and Lebanon, Mr Lewis outlined a ten-point plan which he believes will help Britain play an important role in the peace process.

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Analysis: Settlements will be the key

By Daoud Kuttab, August 27, 2009

Palestinians understand clearly that any political resolution of their conflict with Israel will require compromises, possibly very difficult ones. But one area in which Palestinians do not see room for compromise is the issue of Jewish settlement activities in areas Palestinians hope will be their independent state.

If the Netanyahu-Mitchell framework for talks muddles this issue — for example by leaving the settlements to the final stage of the peace talks — it will be hard to see how there can be a functional peace process.

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Changes to Fatah boost pragmatists

By Ben Lynfield, Bethlehem, August 13, 2009

The election of new blood to the Fatah movement’s top ranks has brought hope that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will gain ground against political rivals Hamas.

“Those Israelis who really want a peace process that will last should be happy with the congress. Those like Netanyahu who want everything and to give up nothing should be unhappy,” said Nabil Shaath, a veteran peace negotiator and one of the few members of the movement’s old guard re-elected to Fatah’s central committee.

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Lieberman: Cyprus the blueprint for peace

By Stephen Pollard, May 14, 2009

Israel’s controversial Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, appears to have persuaded Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to adopt a peace plan which the leader of Yisrael Beiteinu views as an alternative to the two-state solution as it is usually defined.

Mr Lieberman, who has been visiting European capitals, revealed the outlines of his plan at a reception in London on Tuesday, on the eve of his meeting with British Foreign Secretary David Miliband. He also discussed the plan, which he has floated before, in Italy last week.

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Peace duo on visit

By James Martin, May 7, 2009

Two prominent speakers in the campaign to bring peaceful dialogue to the Middle East have been touring the country this week.

Former Palestinian resistance fighter Ali Abu Awwad and Israeli Robi Damelin have been speaking on behalf of the UK Friends of the Bereaved Families Forum, a group that supports the work of the Israel-based BFF which campaigns for peaceful dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians.

The pair spoke to around 200 people at a fundraising dinner in the West End about the efforts of the forum in promoting greater understanding about the conflict to both sides.

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What Shimon Peres told Barak Obama

By Nathan Guttman and Anshel Pfeffer, May 7, 2009

Israel’s new right-wing government made its debut in the American capital his week, with President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu trying to convince the Obama administration that they are committed to the peace process.

Mr Peres, who met with President Obama at the White House on Tuesday and gave the keynote speech at the annual policy conference of the pro-Israel lobby group, Aipac, assured his audience that Mr Netanyahu’s government will not renege on its roadmap commitments.

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Ron Prosor and Gerry Adams: road to peace

By Marcus Dysch in Belfast, May 7, 2009

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has said he “would like to help” advance the Middle East peace process using his experience from Northern Ireland.

His comments came as Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor made a two-day tour of Belfast this week.

When Mr Adams visited the Middle East in March, Israeli officials refused to meet him after he held talks with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza.

But he offered Mr Prosor a warm welcome to Ulster ahead of an hour of private talks on Wednesday afternoon.

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Obama sends ‘let’s talk’ message

By Nathan Guttman, March 26, 2009

True to his campaign promise to reach out diplomatically to Iran, US president Barack Obama issued a public appeal to the Iranian leadership on the occasion of the Iranian holiday of Nowruz.

President Obama’s overture to Tehran marks the beginning of the US effort to engage with Iran, a strategy viewed with skepticism by Israel. The President’s public call for rapprochement comes days after senior administration officials were urged by Israel’s chief of staff not to shelve the military option against Iran.

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No truce with Hamas until Shalit is freed

By Anshel Pfeffer, February 19, 2009

Israel will refuse to agree a new truce with Hamas unless the release of captured soldier Gilad Shalit is part of the deal.

The decision, approved unanimously by a cabinet vote on Wednesday, came as both Israel and Hamas appeared to toughen their negotiating positions.

The indirect talks over a ceasefire, mediated by the Egyptian government, reached an apparent impasse this week despite an earlier agreement by the Hamas leadership in Gaza to link a prisoner exchange deal to a two-year truce.

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Shin Bet fears settlers may turn to arms

By Ben Lynfield, November 6, 2008

Amid growing tensions with radical settlers, the head of the Shin Bet security service has warned that extremists can be expected to engage in armed attacks against the IDF in the event of peace moves with the Palestinians.

Yuval Diskin did not explicitly say that he expected attempts at political assassination in the event of a push for removal of settlements and outposts in the West Bank.

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