October 23, 2010
The Construction Moratorium and Relaunching the Negotiations
- The moratorium on construction in the settlements continues to be an issue. Interviewed by Israeli Channel 1 TV, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said that the demand for a building freeze in the settlements was not a precondition for negotiations but a Palestinian and international demand. It was also, he said, a standing Israeli commitment, from the time of the first contacts between Palestinians and Israel when Yitzhak Rabin was prime minister. He claimed that the American administration promised that Israel would stop building in the settlements, and based on that promise the Palestinians had entered into direct negotiations in September (Israel Channel 1 TV, October 17, 2010).
- Mahmoud Abbas also claimed that American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that all offers would be off the table if the Israeli government did not agree to freeze construction, but according to Mahmoud Abbas, Benyamin Netanyahu was being intransigent because he would "fear for his government" if the freeze continued. Mahmoud Abbas added that in any case there would not be a new intifada in any case, and that if an agreement were reached, the Palestinians were ready to "end the conflict [and] end their historical claims" (Israel Channel 1 TV, October 17 2010).
- Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu said in his speech at the opening of the winter Knesset session that he would agree to a construction moratorium if the Palestinians recognized Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people. Following his remarks, Yasser Abd Rabbo, secretary of the PLO's Executive Committee, said that the Palestinian Authority was prepared to recognize a map based on the 1967 borders, and to recognize Israel "as it calls itself, according to international law." He did not relate to recognizing Israel as a Jewish state (Agence France-Presse, October 13; Haaretz, October 14, 2010).
- Yasser Abd Rabbo's remarks were strongly criticized by both Fatah and Hamas:
Nabil Shaath, senior Fatah figure, claimed that the remarks did not represent the Palestinian position, which "is not prepared to pay the price of recognizing Israel as a Jewish state" (xinhuanet.com website, October 13, 2010).
Hamas and other terrorist organizations denounced Yasser Abd Rabbo's remarks (Hamas' Palestine-info website, October 16, 2010). Mustafa al-Sawaf, former editor of the Hamas organ Felesteen, claimed that the problem of "people who begin to waive rights which don't belong to them" should be solved by reestablishing "popular courts." In such courts, he said, "sentencing must be done on the spot and the sentence is carried out immediately" (Felesteen, October 16, 2010).
October 23, 2010
Iranian President Ahmadinejad visited Lebanon on October 13 and 14. He met with Lebanese President Michel Suleiman, Lebanese Prime Minister Sa'ad Hariri, and the chairman of the Lebanese Parliament Nabih Berri. They signed documents and memoranda of understandings dealing with cooperation on various issues (Fars News Agency, Iran, October 13, 2010). Ahmadinejad participated in a rally in Beirut attended by thousands of Lebanese who waved Iranian flags and signs bearing his picture.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah delivered a speech broadcast on a giant screen. Nasrallah called Ahmadinejad "the bulwark of the resistance." He denied claims that Iran had "an Iranian plan" and was contributing to "a regional civil war," and said that "what Iran is doing in our region is fulfilling a divine duty," and that it was in fact preventing civil war. He added that Iran aspired to have the land of Palestine returned to its true owners "from the [Mediterranean] sea to the [Jordan] river," and for the Palestinian refugees to return to it (Al-Manar TV, October 13, 2010).
Ahmadinejad gave a speech in Lebanon in which he strongly denounced Israel and the United States. He called Lebanon "the school of the resistance" and again called (as he had in the UN) for the appointment of an independent committee to investigate the events of September 11, which he claimed were planned to provide the United States with an excuse to intervene in the Middle East. He suggested that the UN prove its worth and recognize the "Palestinian rights," and claimed that time was running out for Israel (nowlebanon.com website, October 13, 2010).
October 14, 2010, Hassan Nasrallah presents Ahmadinejad with a rifle claimed to have been taken from an IDF soldier during the Second Lebanon War (dailystar.com.lb website, October 16, 2010)On his second day in Lebanon Ahmadinejad visited south Lebanon, including the town of Bint Jbeil. He delivered a speech there in which he praised the "Lebanese resistance" (i.e., Hezbollah). He said the "Zionists have no choice but to surrender to the nations of the region and return to their original homes," i.e., to leave the State of Israel (Fars News Agency, Iran, October 14, 2010). He then met with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and went back to Iran (Al-Manar TV, October 14, 2010).