The Middle East Channel

Daily News Brief — July 30, 2010

Arab League approves direct talks with IsraelThe Arab League agreed in principle for Palestinians to speak directly with Israel in peace negotiations, after three months of stalemated “proximity talks.” Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa said the league is still looking for “written guarantees” on settlements. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has been demanding Israel freeze ...

Arab League approves direct talks with Israel
The Arab League agreed in principle for Palestinians to speak directly with Israel in peace negotiations, after three months of stalemated “proximity talks.” Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa said the league is still looking for “written guarantees” on settlements. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has been demanding Israel freeze West Bank settlements as a precondition to moving onto direct talks, while the Israeli government has insisted its 10-month freeze — which expires in September — was enough to move into direct talks. A spokesman for the Palestinian Authority, Ghassan Khatib, says President Obama provided a letter to Palestinians and Arab governments easing some of their concerns, but not all of them.

  • Syrian and Saudi leaders visit Beirut today to defuse Hariri-indictment tensions.
  • Palestinian militants fire a rocket into Israel.
  • Israeli settlers evict a Palestinian family from their home of 70 years.
  • Yemeni President offers to bring rebel leaders into Yemen’s political process for the first time.
  • UN Human Rights Committee tells Israel to end its Gaza blockade.

Daily Snapshot

Palestinian children in Gaza attending UNRWA’s (United Nations Relief and Works Agency) Summer Games attempt to smash their own world record for the number of kites flown simultaneously on the beach in Gaza City on July 29, 2010 (Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images).

Arguments & Analysis
‘Palestinians hold to preconditions for talks with Israel’ (Tony Karon, Time)
In order to advance concretely on the direct talks path, the U.S. will have to reverse it’s unofficial ethos of ‘not wanting it more than the parties’. Left to their own devices, Israel is seeking direct talks because it knows its position of strength and desire to appear like the constructive party; the Palestinians, wanting prior assurances on the meat of direct talks on issues like settlements, know that without U.S. support, directionless direct talks are the only thing that can make them look even more impotent.

‘Mubarak’s regime may be a victim of its own success’ (Shadi Hamid, The National)
In many ways, Hosni Mubarak’s regime has mastered the ‘economy first, political reform later’ model of development–literacy, economic growth, and social mobility have all been aided by years of status quo rule. Yet rather than putting off social yearnings for the untouchable–political liberalization–such an autocratic development model could well be signing its own death warrant, as greater comfort levels have created higher expectations elsewhere.

‘Human rights in Tunisia: No to opposition’ (The Economist)
Tunisia’s aging autocrat Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali often talks up his country’s relative stability, economic well-being, and liberal views on the role of women in society. Yet his monopoly on power is unchallenged, and recent moves by the Tunisian human rights community to complement the country’s ongoing advanced-status negotiations with the EU have been met by internal repression and international silence.

‘A barely tolerated minority’ (Daniel Seidemann, Haaretz)
The Israeli government’s ongoing appropriation of East Jerusalem, at the expense of an indigenous land-owning class of Palestinians it deems temporary residents, continues unabated. In a situation where “all Palestinian political activity more radical than a Cub Scout meeting is illegal”, the implications for both Palestinian livelihood and Israeli democracy are stark.

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