Archive for the ‘Arab-Israeli Conflict’ Category

Move the Bedouins?

Friday, December 13th, 2013

There are over 160,000 Bedouins in Negev who are denied basic rights such as water and electricity. Israel had been in a debate about where to move Bedouins into a more civilized town where they will be granted homes, water, electricity, school, and job training.

But it has been criticized by both sides. One side argues it is too generous of an offer and the other is arguing that the plan is removing indigenous Arabs from their land is racist.

Why not just improve Bedouin’s quality of life from their current homes? Government officials say,” impossible because their tents, tin shacks and other illegal structures are scattered over many miles.”

On November 30, 2013 as known as “Rage Day” had gathered people in protest of this legislation being drafted. Now it has been pushed aside and dropped. Many legislators still support the idea, but to create a plan that will combine what the government and the Bedouin want.

“Netanyahu had agreed to have his staff continue development work in Bedouin areas. But without the plan or a comparable replacement, he warned, “the problems in the Negev will only intensify from year to year.”


Which side do you agree with? Is it a generous offer? Or is it racist?

Do you think this proposal will just drop all together?


NY Times

Al Jazeera

Al Jazeera

Kerry Offers Netanyahu Security Proposal

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

United States Security of State John Kerry held a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday since the peace talks had not made any major progress in the past five months. The meeting was aimed to calm Netanyahu after an “infuriating” agreement with Iran to curb Tehran’s nuclear program. Kerry reassured Netanyahu that the “bond between the United States and Israel is unbreakable.” Kerry also stated that Israel’s security was a necessary part of its ongoing peace negotiations.

Kerry provided Netanyahu with “some thoughts” about security arrangements to be put in place once Israelis and Palestinians negotiate a peace agreement. The proposal seemed to consist of a more active United States role in the talks, in which they present their own proposals.

Both the US and Israel expressed their commitment to maintain a good relationship with each other. However, these statements were made before the US’s nuclear deal with Iran. Since then, the tensions have gotten so bad that Israelis officials suggested that the government find new allies.

Obama stated that the fear of the Holocaust has led Israelis to fight back even against historic allies (the US). Because of this, Kerry has lost leverage on  Israeli-Palestinian peace and now he is going to approach Netanyahu and ask him to make compromises. Obama states he did not believe Netanyahu would budge at all.


Why do you think Kerry is trying to ease tensions with Israel now?

What impact will this have for Israeli and US relations? Will they go back to normal even if the US still has an agreement with Iran?


NY Times

Al Jazeera

Saudi Arabia Denies Having Contact with Israel on Iran’s Nuclear Development

Monday, November 18th, 2013

On Monday November 18, 2013, Saudi Arabia made it clear to the world that no partnerships were being made with Israel with the intent to go against Iran. Both Israeli and Saudi Arabian governments are known to be unhappy with the prospect of Iran gaining the right to have nuclear energy, but they are far from having any kind of partnership. Saudi Arabia supports the right or return for Palestinians, which has caused tensions between the two countries. These tensions would make it difficult for the two countries to come to any partnership regarding Iran.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was quoted saying that the fact that Israel and other Arab countries agree on not letting Iran have nuclear energy is “one of the few cases in memory, if not the first case in modern times” that Israel has come to any agreement with Arab countries. However, the Saudi Arabian government is determined to let the world know that they are in no way looking to have relations with Israel. The Saudi Arabian powers will not be letting Israel use their air space to fight Iran at any point in the near future.

Why is Saudi Arabia so determined to let the world know that they have no relations with Israel? Are they afraid they will be rejected by the rest of the Arab world if they are found to have any kind of partnership with Israel?

Would an alliance with Israel have the potential to help Saudi Arabia in their fight against Iran’s nuclear development?



The Jerusalem Post

Netanyahu Supports Contiuned Sanctions on Iran

Monday, October 14th, 2013

Binyamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, is fighting for continued sanctions on Iran. The US has sided with Netanyahu for the most part, but recently discussions of lessening the sanctions on Iran have been taking place. The US is willing to look into the possibility of lessening sections on Iran if the Iranian government complies with the requests to cease their nuclear program.

Netanyahu however does not agree with the US.  Netanyahu firmly believes that lessening the sanctions on Iran would be a “historic mistake” (Aljazeera) because the sanctions are about to “achieve their objective” (Aljazeera). It seems that Netanyahu is not willing to budge when it comes to the topic of the Iranian nuclear program.

On Tuesday, talks will begin in Geneva regarding Iran’s nuclear program for the first time since Rouhani took office in August. It is unlikely that Netanyahu will change his mind during or after this meeting. Netanyahu claims that Rouhani is a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” (Jpost) and that he is not a trustworthy leader. Netanyahu has stated that a strike on Iran may take place if he feels Israel is being threatened by Iran.


Why may Netanyahu be so afraid of the idea of lessening the sanctions on Iran?

Will the US’s willingness to humor the idea of lessening sanctions on Iran negatively effect their relations with Israel?

Sources: Aljazeera


    Jerusalem Post

Israel defiant on settlement expansion

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

“Britain and France have both summoned Israeli ambassadors in protest at Israel’s decision to approve the construction of 3,000 new homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.”BBC

Israel has declared it will stick to its plan, despite growing international concern that this act may kill any chance of furthering peace talks with Palestine. Sweden, Spain and Denmark have also summoned ambassadors and Russia and Germany have openly opposed the plan, both adding to the condemnation of the expanse. A source from Israel’s Prime Minister’s office said, “There should be no surprise that Israel will not stand idly by in the face of unilateral Palestinian steps. If they continue taking unilateral steps, Israel will act accordingly.”

Questions: Will Israel’s isolation of itself through continuing expansion end up hurting it in the long run? How should the U.S respond to this act? How do you think it will respond? What actions beyond openly condemning the plan can countries in opposition take? Do you think Israel can be persuaded to end the development?



Israel Authorizes Construction of More Settler Homes in Occupied Palestinian Territories

Friday, November 30th, 2012

Just a day after the UN upgraded Palestine’s status to non-member observer state, Israel has began construction of over 3,000 housing settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem occupied territories. The Israeli construction plans, if carried out, will essentially cut the Palestinian territory in the West Bank in half. This will almost assuredly lead to greater struggle from the Palestinians to form a contiguous state. The Palestinian Authority has responded stating they will not continue peace talks with Israel unless there is a halt in the construction of settlements. This response from the Israelis, however, may have been predicted. In an article from the Israeli foreign ministry, the push by Palestine for the UN vote was “a red line that would require the harshest Israeli response.”

Discussion Questions: Is the the construction of Israeli settlements a clear response to Palestine gaining further recognition in the UN? How might the construction of these settlements further delay, or minimize the possibility of peace talks?

Sources: BBC, Haaretz

‘Palestine’ wins historic upgrade at the United Nations

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

In this Thursday the general meeting of the UN in an overwhelming majority of 138 countries voted in recognition of Palestine as a non-member observer state in the UN. This incident brought unseen happiness to Abbas and many Palestinians in the West bank and surprisingly Hamas allowed celebrations in Gaza. Hamas is in supportive of the outcome but they still firmly believe that Israel should not be recognized by Palestine and that Palestinians has the right of return. Palestine gains some powers as a result of this vote. Now Palestine can participate more actively in debates in the UN and it can easily join UN agencies like the International Criminal Court. The leader of the PLO Mr. Abbas claimed that this UN to recognize Palestine as a non-member observer state is a crucial step towards “serious final attempts” to peace negotiations with Israel. Nevertheless, the two leading opponents of this vote clearly reiterated their uncompromising stance on the UN vote. US’s envoy for the UN described the decision made by the mass UN members of the UN as “unfortunate” and reaffirmed US’s endorsement of direct negotiations between Palestine and Israel. On the other hand, Israeli’s Prime Minister Netanyahu in response to Palestine’s victory clearly conveyed that it the number of countries who approved Palestine to be a non-member observer in the UN would not alter the reality on “ground” but it would rather delay negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Questions: How can these conflicting ideas be reconciled? Is there any chance that Hamas would unite with Fatah? What would be Palestine’s next political move?







How Long Will the Gaza Ceasefire Hold?

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

NPR asks, can and will the Gaza-Israel ceasefire hold?



Remembering a bitter event in Israel’s past

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

As you all read in Side by Side, there were vast differences of opinion with regards to the purpose and direction of the nascent Jewish state back in the 1940s and earlier. An incident that we did not discuss in detail in class, is worth recalling, as it was a pivotal moment in Israeli history.


The BBC discusses the Altalena affair – when 16 Jews were killed at the hands of their brethren. The 16 killed represented the Irgun paramilitary group, that differentiated itself from the Labor majority by advocating for a maximalist position (avoid compromise, aim for as much land as possible, aim for as much Jewish immigration as possible).


The man who made the decision to attack the Irgun group was the first Prime Minister of Israel, and leader of the Labor movement which would dominate the state in its first 30 years, David Ben-Gurion. Opposite Ben-Gurion was another future prime minister, Menachem Begin, who headed the Irgun.

Read the BBC piece for an understanding of the divergent narratives (within Israel) of the Altalena affair.


Was it a critical and necessary moment in establishing state sovereignty? Was it an avoidable clash among the Jews who were still fighting to establish Israel, and in the wake of the horrific acts of the Holocaust?

Tunnels of Gaza

Monday, November 26th, 2012

National Geographic ran an excellent story on the tunnel system in Gaza in their latest issue. The author of the story gives a detailed and first-hand account of the tunnels, their operation, and their goods.


Of course, this story was written and published prior to the recent outbreak of violence and subsequent cease-fire.


90% of the tunnels were reportedly destroyed during the recent fighting. Additionally, the story reports that  Gaza fishermen had hitherto been only allowed 3 nautical miles off the coast line. That was increased to 6% by the Israeli authorities following the fighting, ostensibly as a sign of good faith in negotiations.


I highly recommend reading the story off-line. The library has a copy, complete with the magnificent photos.