Ariel Sharon

Forget the monumental Gaza withdrawal in 2005.Forget his creation of Kadima in 2005 as a new centrist force in Israeli politics.Forget the infamous 2000 Temple Mount visit that may have sparked the Second Intifada.

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Ariel Sharon, 1928-2014

He ultimately confronted the right wing. Will Netanyahu do the same?

Peace in Israel will depend on whether Netanyahu is prepared to follow in Sharon’s footsteps.

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The End of the Two-State Solution

Why the window is closing on Middle-East peace

We're on the cusp of a generational shift that will make the dream of peace not just implausible but impossible.

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The real drama of Israeli politics will occur after the votes are tallied.

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The prime minister will still win the election but could have trouble forming a new coalition.

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The Visionary

If you were to pinpoint one moment when it looked as if things just might work out for Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian prime minister, it would probably be February 2, 2010. That day, Fayyad addressed the annual Herzliya Conference, a sort of Israeli version of Davos featuring high-powered policymakers and intellectuals. It is not a typical speaking venue for Palestinians; yet Fayyad was warmly received.

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Only once before has a U.S. President applied overt diplomatic pressure on Palestinians the way President Obama did this week at the United Nations, as he pressured Palestine to rescind its request from the U.N. Security Council for immediate full membership status. Unfortunately, the precedent for this type of overt pressure is not particularly encouraging, neither for Israel, nor for the United States. It was in 2006 that President George W. Bush demanded that Hamas be allowed to participate in Palestinian general elections without it first having renounced the use of terrorism.

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Forget Negotiations

The reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas is certainly bad news for peace. But this does not mean it is bad news as such. Because the most urgent need for the future survival of both Israel and Palestine is not peace. It is partition. And the reconciliation may actually be good news for the prospect of partition. It is, by now, abundantly clear that the two sides of the conflict are unable to reach a peace accord.

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A Separate Peace

It is more than likely that the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) will reach a dead end. If not on the issue of settlements then on other matters. It’s not in the details, it’s in the big picture: Benjamin Netanyahu will not go as far as his predecessor, Ehud Olmert, and the Palestinians have already rejected Olmert’s generous deal. So it is probably a good idea to start thinking about Plan B. To do this, we Israelis must first set our priorities straight: The more urgent goal is not peace; it is partition.

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James Risen, a Washington-based writer, and Yossi Klein Halevi, a Jerusalem-based writer, have been friends since they both crashed the Nazi Party headquarters in Chicago as student reporters 30 years ago. They have been joking and arguing about news and politics ever since, especially when it comes to Israel and the Middle East.  This e-mail exchange began in the shadow of the dispute between the Obama administration and the Netanyahu government.

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