MEC Daily Brief: July 7, 2010

President Obama and PM Netanyahu’s meeting calls for direct peace talksFollowing the much-anticipated meeting between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday, the two leaders announced a promise to engage in direct peace talks with Palestinians before Israel’s West Bank settlement freeze expires in September. While Netanyahu didn’t offer any specific concessions his government would ...

President Obama and PM Netanyahu's meeting calls for direct peace talks
Following the much-anticipated meeting between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday, the two leaders announced a promise to engage in direct peace talks with Palestinians before Israel's West Bank settlement freeze expires in September. While Netanyahu didn't offer any specific concessions his government would make, he vowed to take "concrete steps." Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said he thought the meeting would help pave the way for direct negotiations . "I think that once we were in direct talks, everything else, all the other obstacles will take on the proper proportion," he said today. "The main thing is the question of whether these negotiations will have a result. There's a long way to go." Hamas rejected direct peace talks today. Israeli President Shimon Peres said the friendly meeting made an important political message about the state of Israel-U.S. relations.

- Iran will open its first nuclear power plant by September.
- A new poll says most Palestinians want a ceasefire.
- Israeli court filed charges against a soldier for killing two Palestinian women.
- Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak may have cancer.
- Yemeni court sentences two al Qaida members to death.

Daily Snapshot

President Obama and PM Netanyahu’s meeting calls for direct peace talks
Following the much-anticipated meeting between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday, the two leaders announced a promise to engage in direct peace talks with Palestinians before Israel’s West Bank settlement freeze expires in September. While Netanyahu didn’t offer any specific concessions his government would make, he vowed to take “concrete steps.” Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said he thought the meeting would help pave the way for direct negotiations . “I think that once we were in direct talks, everything else, all the other obstacles will take on the proper proportion,” he said today. “The main thing is the question of whether these negotiations will have a result. There’s a long way to go.” Hamas rejected direct peace talks today. Israeli President Shimon Peres said the friendly meeting made an important political message about the state of Israel-U.S. relations.

– Iran will open its first nuclear power plant by September.
– A new poll says most Palestinians want a ceasefire.
– Israeli court filed charges against a soldier for killing two Palestinian women.
– Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak may have cancer.
– Yemeni court sentences two al Qaida members to death.

Daily Snapshot

 

Iraqi Shiite Muslims make the pilgrimage to Northern Baghdad to the Imam Musa al-Kadhim Mosque, commemorating the 8th century Imam’s death. The commemoration comes amidst scores of attacks across the country associated with the pilgrimage, and against the backdrop of Vice President Biden’s trip to the country over the weekend (Ali Al-Saadi/AFP/Getty Images)

Arguments & Analysis

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‘By Hook and By Crook: Israel’s Settlement Policy in the West Bank (July 2010, B’Tselem)
Newly released report (pdf) from the Israeli human rights organization details the means by which the government of Israel procures and maintains the land supportive of the half million Israelis now living over the Green Line–including in 121 settlements and 100 outposts. Building on internal government resources, maps from the Civil Administration, the findings of the government-sanctioned ‘Sasson report‘ on outposts, and more, the report highlights the tangled matrix of legality that surrounds the settlement enterprise. The report comes amidst a New York Times investigation into the relationship between tax-exempt money from U.S. groups supporting several of these settlements.

‘A gentleman’s dialogue with Hamas’ (Sami Moubayed, Asia Times)

Much as the Fateh movement eventually transformed from an outlaw to accepted organization by the West (and Israel), so too is it proving untenable to continue denying the current political reality of Hamas. Through political developments especially in Gaza since 2006, a softening of the group’s core messaging from its leaders of late, and public discussion from those in policy-making circles in the West, now is the time to reevaluate policies on dealing with Hamas and its role in a future agreements.

Fadlallah was Lebanon’s man in full‘ (Rami Khouri, The Daily Star)

The passing of Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, Lebanon’s preeminent Shiite Muslim leader, is an occasion to reflect on not only the totality of his connection to the cause of Lebanon and the region, but his legacy emphasizing the use of Islamic ethics as a launching pad for general social progress.

Maria Kornalian is the executive associate for the Project on Middle East Political Science and an assistant editor for the Middle East Channel.

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