U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace efforts have gained support from the Arab League, signaling greater prospects for direct Israeli and Palestinian peace talks. Kerry met with representatives from the Arab League in Jordan in his sixth trip to the region attempting to reignite negotiations that have been stalled for nearly three years. Despite "very significant gaps" between the Israelis and Palestinians, Kerry said yesterday, "we have been able to narrow those gaps very significantly." The Arab League released a statement saying Kerry’s ideas "lay the proper foundation to start the negotiations." The Arab League support shows likely backing by the Palestinians for a resumption of talks. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is meeting with Palestinian leaders Thursday to discuss resuming negotiations. Palestinians have insisted Israel freeze West Bank settlement construction as a precondition for talks. On Wednesday, Israel approved the construction of over 700 new settlement homes in Modiin Illi, between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Meanwhile, Israel has appealed to the EU to stop the release, planned for Friday, of new guidelines blocking grants, prizes, and funding to West Bank entities. Israeli President Shimon Peres urged the EU to delay publishing the guidelines while peace talks are "within reach." He appealed to the EU, "Don’t bring forward irresponsible sanctions that will sabotage peace negotiations."
Momentum in Syria appears to be shifting toward President Bashar al-Assad. While analysts do not believe Assad can regain control of all of Syria, the government has retained control of the capital, Damascus, and has been solidifying its hold over major northern cities. At the same time, there has been increased infighting and a loss of territory by opposition fighters. While Assad is receiving continuous military and financial backing from Russia and Iran, in addition to the participation of Hezbollah fighters, the opposition continues to experience delays in international support. Commander of the opposition Supreme Military Council General Salim Idriss said, "We are really in a very critical situation, and we don’t understand why our friends delay and delay and delay and hesitate to support us." On June 13, the United States committed to send weapons to the Syrian opposition after determining that the Syrian regime used chemical weapons. However, the initiative has been stalled in Congress. Additionally, Britain appears to be retreating from its pledge to send arms, although Prime Minister David Cameron has not made an official statement on the subject. Meanwhile, a Syrian helicopter reportedly fired four rockets into the pro-rebel region of Arsal in eastern Lebanon early Thursday, in a further instance of spillover of the Syrian conflict into the neighboring country.
- Morsi supporters continued protests Wednesday gathering outside the Cabinet building in Cairo as the interim government, which received tacit backing from the U.S. and Arab League, moved forward with plans to amend the constitution.
- After days of clashes with Islamist fighters, Syria’s Kurdish Democratic Union Party, which has links to Kurdish militants in Turkey, has seized Ras al-Ain on Syria’s northeastern border with Turkey.
- Dubai police have reportedly arrested a man who recorded and posted on YouTube a video of an Emirati man beating an Indian expatriate van driver.
Arguments and Analysis
‘Alas, Nobody Lives There Anymore‘ (Bassem Yousef, Tahrir Squared)
"This ‘victory high’ and arrogance that you see in the private media is the same sort of behavior that ended the Brotherhood’s era, and overthrew their popularity. We are now repeating the Brotherhood’s same mistakes. It’s as though we have the memory span of a goldfish.
I could write volumes on the lack of intelligence on the part of the Brotherhood and their corruption of both religion and politics, but that is another battle that requires different tools. We are losing this battle before it has even begun: those who claim to be freedom fighters and have been denouncing the fascism and discrimination of the Brotherhood are now contributing to the building of sympathy towards them. They are a disgrace to the principles of freedom they claim to stand for. We are returning par excellence to the atmosphere of the nineties when we settled for ‘the security option’ and the media corruption and let the chests rage with a fire of hatred, and allowed extremism to deepen day after day. I do believe that shutting down the Islamist channels [last week] was an important decision during a sensitive period, but I’m now calling for their return. Let them talk as they wish; it has only served to make people hate and be repulsed by them. Do not give them the chance to play the victim. What are you afraid of? Of their discriminatory media rhetoric? Or of their public political stupidity?
My dear anti-Brotherhood liberal, allow me to remind you that just a few weeks ago you were desperately complaining about how grim the future looked, but now that you have been ‘relieved’ of them you have become a carbon copy of their fascism and discrimination. You could respond by saying that they deserve it; that they supported the security forces and used them to overpower you, to cheat and spread rumors and widen sectarian strife. But is that really your argument? Have you made of their lowly ways a better alternative for you than abiding by the principles you have stood by for so long? They lost their moral compass a long time ago- do you want to follow suit?"
‘Why the Prawer Plan is just a Continuation of the Nakba‘ (Yousef Munayyer, The Daily Beast)
"The Nakba is not a moment in time. The Nakba is an ongoing process.
The Nakba is an experience of dispossession that transcends both time and space. Indeed the depopulation of Palestine of most of its native inhabitants from 1947-1949 did not merely become dispossession when an individual was forced from his home or his land. Rather, the dispossession became cemented when, after hostilities, a new state — the state of Israel — enforced this dispossession by preventing the return of refugees and razing their houses to the ground so that they would have no homes to return to.
In short, the experience of the Nakba is the experience of someone else forcibly determining your territorial identity. Who you are and where you are from becomes secondary to where the state wants you to be.
With this in mind, it is easy to understand how the Prawer plan is nothing more than the continuation of the Nakba in another phase. The full plan calls for the removal of 35 ‘unrecognized’ villages home to some 70,000 ethnically Palestinian Bedouin living in the Naqab.
Unrecognized? You might ask, unrecognized by whom? Certainly the 70,000 Bedouin who live there recognize the villages they live in; it is the state, the state of Israel, that refuses to recognize them."
–Mary Casey & Joshua Haber