Twenty-two years ago, then-head of Israel’s opposition Ariel Sharon, escorted by a thousand Israeli police officers, provocatively visited Jerusalem’s Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif, igniting the second popular Palestinian uprising (the second intifada). This protracted armed conflict, which included brutal Palestinian terrorist attacks and ruthless Israeli operations to re-conquer the West Bank, caused more than 1,000 Israeli fatalities and more than 2,700 Palestinian fatalities. Thousands more were injured and hundreds of thousands traumatized.
Twenty-nine years ago this week, the leaders of Americans for Peace Now stood among the many dignitaries at the signing ceremony of the Oslo Accords on the White House lawn. APN has worked behind the scenes in the years that preceded Oslo to push the vision of Israeli-Palestinian peace, advancing the dialogue between Washington and the PLO, and helping induce the détente in relations between the Israel and the Palestinian leadership.
A poll released recently by the Brookings Institute shows that over half of Americans (46% of Republicans and 57% of Democrats) do not know what the Biden administration’s position is on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Surprising? Not really. Because although the administration has a position on the issue, it does not have a solid policy, and definitely not the kind of vision-driven conflict-solving policy that past administrations had.
Based on private conversations and public statements by members of the Biden administration’s Middle East policy team, the administration’s policy on this issue partially stems from Israel’s policy, which can best be characterized as “conflict management” rather than conflict resolution.
Jerusalem’s municipality is reportedly planning the erection of a 100 yard tall flag pole, twice the height of the Statue of Liberty, to hoist a blue-and-white Israel flag that is 108 feet long and 79 feet wide. The goal, according to the report, is for the flag to be seen from every corner of the city. It will, not coincidentally, be most visible from the Old City and its surrounding East Jerusalem Palestinian neighborhoods.
The Biden administration last week issued a joint statement with the Palestinian Authority announcing the resumption of the U.S.-Palestinian Economic Dialogue (USPED).
In a virtual meeting, administration officials and senior representatives of the Palestinian Authority “recognized the importance of restored political and economic relations between the U.S. government and the Palestinian Authority and pledged to expand and deepen cooperation and coordination across a range of sectors,” the statement said. The re-activation of this body reverses one more component of the Trump administration’s sweeping anti-Palestinian policy.
On Tuesday, November 9th, I joined the first West Bank settlement tour organized by Peace Now since the onset of
the COVID-19 pandemic. Co-sponsored by the Geneva Initiative, it was organized for diplomats stationed in Israel
and it attracted some twenty diplomats from foreign embassies and consulates.
These settlement tours are a staple of APN’s annual study tours to Israel and the West Bank. Having organized the study tours for almost fifteen years, I knew the route and recognized the storyline of the tour guide, Peace Now's Settlement Watch Co-Director, Hagit Ofran.
But despite the familiarity, every time I join one of Hagit's tours I learn something new. Every time, I am devastated by the depth of the de facto annexation process caused by the settlements and their disastrous impact on future prospects for achieving Israeli-Palestinian peace.
Actor Mandy Patinkin and singers Netta Barzilai, Ahinoam (Noa) Nini, Peter Yarrow, Ali Paris, and David Broza will perform at Americans for Peace Now’s October 20th event, commemorating the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinated 25 years ago by an Israeli extremist.
Speaking at the event will be Rabin’s granddaughter Noa Rothman, Congressman Jamie Raskin, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, as well as other American and Israeli public figures and an official Palestinian representative.
Americans for Peace Now (APN) strongly condemns the Israeli government's advancement of plans for construction of almost 5,000 new homes in West Bank settlements.
As APN's sister organization Shalom Achshav (Peace Now) points out, the approval of these settlement homes makes 2020 a record year in terms of plans approved for settlement construction since Peace Now started systematically documenting the building of settlements in the West Bank in 2012. The tally so far is 12,159 units approved in 2020, with the possibility for another round of settlement construction plan approval before year's end.
Rabin was no saint, but he changed, and was gunned down for it. When the U.S. left refuses to remember his peacemaking with the Palestinians, they hand victory to Netanyahu and the Israeli right
In the mid-1990s, I spent most of my working hours talking to Palestinians in the West Bank. I covered Palestinian affairs for Haaretz, and during that period I was speaking day-to-day with more Palestinians than with fellow Israelis.
On the night of Nov. 4, 1995, having just heard from the news desk editor that Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin had been shot, I called Palestinian officials for reaction. I was on the phone with Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat when I heard on Israel Radio that Rabin’s spokesman was about to make a statement.
As Eitan Haber hushed the crowed, I started translating for Erekat: "The government of Israel announces in dismay, in great sadness, and in deep sorrow, the death of Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Yitzhak Rabin, murdered by an assassin tonight in Tel Aviv."
As I cried, I could hear Saeb’s voice crack. I had known Dr. Erekat for years, a relationship that began when he was the editorial writer of the Palestinian daily al-Quds, briefing Israeli reporters on Palestinian politics while sharing a smoke on the steps of the newspaper’s East Jerusalem office. Over the years, we laughed a lot together. Now we were crying.
We are sorry to hear that Rep. Ocasio-Cortez will no longer be speaking at our Oct. 20th Yitzhak Rabin memorial. Her participation would have added to the event. We are certain that the event will be a success and invite the public to register and attend.