December 10th

NEWS: PLO officials say they are launching a campaign to restart negotiations with Israel. Hamas celebrates its anniversary with a fiery speech by Politburo leader Mishaal, who vows never to recognize Israel. Many in Gaza, however, are in no mood to celebrate. The PA says it will allow a Hamas rally in the West Bank. PM Netanyahu says the event proves Israel's security is threatened, and Israeli security officials say Hamas is trying to reactivate "sleeper cells" in the West Bank. Concerns are growing in Israel about the prospects for another Palestinian uprising. Pres. Abbas appeals for urgent Arab financial aid. Arab states promise $100 million a month as a "safety net" for the PA. Many Palestinian political figures call for national unity. Some Israelis are comforted by the Iron Dome missile-defense system, while others see it as insulation from deep-seated problems. PA anti-corruption officials say they are following new leads in the Rashid case. Israeli occupation forces arrest 13 Palestinians in the West Bank. Qatar proposes the Arab League withdraw the Arab Peace Initiative. Israeli authorities say undercover antiterrorism units can only take action against Arabs, not Jewish settlers. The EU is reportedly mulling ways for pressing Israel not to go ahead with its planned E1 settlement expansion. COMMENTARY: ATFP Board member Saliba Sarsar says after the UN vote, Israelis and Palestinians need to look for new paths to reconciliation. Thomas Friedman says Israeli hawks risk self-fulfilling prophecies of danger for Israel. The LA Times says Israel's settlement expansion plans only hurt itself. Ha'aretz says Israel has to stop destroying Palestinian cisterns in the West Bank. Leon Wieseltier says he no longer believes Israel and the Palestinians will achieve peace in his lifetime. Eitan Haber says Mishaal's speech shows prospects for peace are receding. David Myers says there are many important parallels between where Palestinians are today and Zionists were in 1947. Jeffrey Goldberg says Australia's UN abstention shows Israel's international allies are greatly diminishing. James Carroll says everyone concerned about peace and Israel's future needs to oppose the E1 settlement plan. Paul Pillar says Mishaal's recent Gaza speech plays perfectly into the hands of Netanyahu. Peter Beinart worries that a second term Obama administration will choose a policy of "benign neglect" regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The National says Hamas is failing the Palestinian people.

December 7th

NEWS: Hamas leader Mishaal makes his first visit to Gaza in 45 years. The visit is widely regarded as a sign of Hamas' growing regional acceptance and wider ambitions. Israel is seen as more openly dealing with Hamas, though still within strict limits. Israel reportedly threatens to cancel the ceasefire if the leader of Islamic Jihad visits Gaza. Human Rights Watch says Israel's attack on the Daloo family home in Gaza during the recent conflict, which killed 12 civilians, was unlawful. Palestinian officials say Jordan's King Abdullah II has passed on US assurances that it will not allow Israel to go forward with controversial new settlement plans. Chancellor Merkel reportedly also urges PM Netanyahu not to implement the plans. Even Canada reportedly warns Israel against the plans. 20 are injured in skirmishes between Israeli occupation forces and Palestinian police near Hebron. Israel's Ministry of Education suspends a literature program for fifth graders that includes a novel by Palestinian writer Ghassan Kanafani. A new guidebook is published in Israel to Palestinian villages destroyed after the 1948 war. Palestinian refugees are being increasingly drawn into the war in Syria. Rabbis at a prominent New York synagogue express "regret" for praising the Palestinian UN upgrade vote. COMMENTARY: Ma'an explains why several Pacific islands voted against the recent Palestinian UN upgrade. Sandy Tolan says both Pres. Obama and Israel are walking away from a two-state solution. Menachem Klein says the E1 settlement plan is "recycled and oppressive." Ilan Baruch says Palestinian reconciliation could set the stage for a new phase in the peace process. Alex Fishman says Israel is conducting regular, secret negotiations with Hamas. The Media Line profiles Khaled Jarrar, whose art is based on concrete pieces cut from Israel’s separation barrier.Nathan Jeffay says many Israelis suspect the government's announced E1 settlement plan is a bluff. George Hishmeh asks what's holding Pres.Obama back from confronting Israel. Gil Troy says both Netanyahu and Pres. Abbas are pandering to extremes.

December 6th

NEWS: Israel's relations with Europe are at a low point in many decades, but experts believe this is unlikely to lead to a widespread boycott of settlement goods. PM Netanyahu visits Germany as ties are strained over lack of progress on peace. Israel bars a dissident Jewish Israeli academic from a diplomatic event in Germany. Jordan's King Abdullah II visits the West Bank. Israel and the Palestinians both harden their position on proposed settlement expansions. Hamas leader Meshaal may visit Gaza on Friday, as speculation grows Israel may increasingly try to talk to him. In retaliation against the Tunisian Foreign Minister's visit to Gaza, Israel bars a Tunisian diplomat from resuming his post in Ramallah. Palestinians say Israel must be held accountable for settlement activity by the international community. Ordinary Palestinians quickly find the UN upgrade hasn't changed anything on the ground. Hamas says it wants to establish the first ever Palestinian "Defense Ministry." COMMENTARY: ATFP Executive Director Ghaith Al-Omari and David Makovsky of WINEP discuss Israel's settlement expansion on PBS' NewsHour. The LA Times says Israel's retaliation against the Palestinians, especially building the E1 settlement, only hurts itself. Ma'an interviews FM al-Maliki. Ari Shavit says the political right is becoming so extreme it is dangerous to Israel. Yossi Verter says Deputy FM Ayalon has been thrown off of his party list because he would not obey commands to keep quiet. Shaul Arieli says Ben Gurion and other early Israeli leaders understood an Israeli state is only possible next to a Palestinian one. Ami Ayalon says Palestine's UN upgrade presents an opportunity to revive peace talks. Shimon Shiffer says ordinary Israelis will pay the price for a collapse in relations with Europe. Shlomo Ben-Ami says Israel needs to launch a vigorous new peace initiative. Noam Sheizaf says Israel is addicted to the status quo. Lara Friedman outlines ways Pres. Obama can "get tough" with Netanyahu. Akiva Eldar says Israel's settlement expansion plans are meant to "punish" the US as well as the Palestinians.

December 5th

NEWS: Jewish congregations experience controversy in embracing the Palestinian UN upgrade. Israel says it's moving forward with controversial building plans in near occupied East Jerusalem. Pres. Abas says the plans cross a Palestinian and international red line. Palestinians would face many obstacles in trying to bring international criminal prosecution against Israeli officials. Palestinians say Israeli settlement construction is leading to the creation of a single, unequal state. PM Netanyahu says Israel is still committed to a two-state solution. Deputy FM Ayalon is dumped from his party's election list. The UK downplays the prospect of European economic sanctions against Israel. Palestinians say European states are considering ways of reviving peace negotiations. Israel's high court is hearing a case about a law that allows the targets of boycotts to sue boycotters. Chancellor Merkel is reportedly warning Netanyahu that Israel faces further isolation without a meaningful peace process in place. Hamas says it wants to reopen the airport in southern Gaza. Efforts to include retaliatory measures against the Palestinians for their UN upgrade fail in the US Senate. COMMENTARY: Tom Friedman says missile defense systems and walls are not enough to protect Israel. Carlo Strenger says Netanyahu is leading Israel into an abyss.Yossi Alpher says the UN may have set the stage for a rebirth of the peace process. The Jerusalem Post argues that it's completely reasonable for Israel to be excluded from the NPT and nuclear nonproliferation regimes. Jill Jacobs says the silence of Jewish-American groups over Israel's planned expansion of the E1 settlement block is shocking. The Forward condemns the plan. Osama Al Sharif says the UN vote upgrading Palestine has transformed the legal and diplomatic context of the issue. Ian Buruma says history shows the kind of rule Israel is conducting in the occupied Palestinian territories is very fragile. Khaled al-Houroub says Abbas should go to Gaza. Danny Rubinstein says Israeli-Palestinian economic ties have declined and are unlikely to improve under the current circumstances. Saree Makdisi says that if Israel will not agree to two-state solution, it must accept a single, equitable state.

December 4th

NEWS: Israeli officials confirm they are not only planning building in the sensitive E1 corridor, but also the extremely controversial Givat HaMatos settlement near Beit Safafa. Israeli media reports suggest construction is aimed more at the United States than at the Palestinians. Leading European states and Australia summon Israel's ambassadors to complain about settlement construction. The US also intensifies its criticism. Palestinians say they might pursue war crimes charges if Israel continues with the settlement plan. Palestinian officials say they're ready to resume negotiations with Israel. Israel arrests settlers suspected of attacks in the occupied West Bank. The UN General Assembly calls on Israel to open its nuclear facilities to international inspection. Hamas' leader Al-Zahar says armed struggle is the only way forward for Palestinians. The UN accuses Syria of violating the 1974 cease-fire terms with Israel. COMMENTARY: ATFP calls on the US to ensure Israel doesn't build in E1. Hussein Ibish says the international community must stop Israel's settlement plan or drop the pretense of pursuing a two-state solution. The New York Times says Netanyahu is making a strategic mistake by planning to build in E1. Reuven Pedatzur says, now that the war is over, Israeli officials must explain their decision to assassinate Hamas commander Jabari. Ha'aretz says Netanyahu is behaving recklessly. Shlomo Avineri explains how Israel might've used the Palestinian UN initiative to its own advantage. Emanuel Rosen says extremists on both sides are leading Israel and the Palestinians towards disaster. Gerson Baskin says the conflict is entering a lose-lose scenario, although it is not too late. Ian Black says it's time for Europe to propose its own peace initiative. Mary Robinson and Martti Ahtisaari say Europe can make its voice heard by boycotting settlement products. Yossi Alpher looks of the lessons of the recent Gaza conflict. The Daily Star says if the West wants peace, it's going to have to stand up to Israel on settlements. Blake Hounshell interviews former PM Olmert. Alon Pinkas says the two-state solution is in big trouble. Michael Koplow says Netanyahu is bluffing about building in E1.

December 3rd

NEWS: Israel's plans to expand the highly sensitive and controversial E1 settlement area threatens to cut off East Jerusalem from the rest of the occupied West Bank, and reportedly "shocked" the United States. Israeli officials reportedly say they only improved planning, not building, in E1, but commitments not to build in the area made to the US are nonetheless "no longer relevant." Israel also says it will "retaliate" by withholding millions of dollars in Palestinian tax revenues. The Israeli announcement poses a familiar challenge to Pres. Obama. EU states, including Britain and France, voice extreme displeasure over the move and may take additional diplomatic action. UNSG Ban says the plans could be a "fatal blow" to a two-state solution. PM Netanyahu dismisses international criticism. Despite euphoria over the UN vote, Palestinians still face the same challenges. Suspected collaborators in Gaza face a grisly fate. Gaza fishermen struggle despite slightly eased restrictions. A Palestinian man attacks occupation forces in the West Bank. Gaza smuggling tunnels are operating effectively again in the aftermath of the conflict with Israel. Israeli settlers in occupied East Jerusalem seize control of a five-story house. The World Bank announces a $6.4 million effort to save the water system in Gaza. A surge of support for Hamas in Gaza following the conflict with Israel is already beginning to fade. COMMENTARY: B'Tselem looks at the E1 settlement expansion plan and its implications for human rights in the occupied West Bank. The Jerusalem Post defends the plan. Meir Javedanfar says the E1 plan creates the very diplomatic crisis for Israel that Iran failed to create. Barak Ravid says punitive measures aimed at the Palestinians also hurt Israel. A.B. Yehoshua says it's time for Israel to talk to Hamas. Yehuda Ben Meir says the recent UN vote was mainly an international protest against Israel's settlement policies. Mouin Rabbani says Palestinians will have to work hard to make sure the UN vote is not purely symbolic. Raghida Dergham looks at the strategy behind the Palestinian UN initiative. William Saletan says Israel is losing friends by insulting everyone's intelligence. John Bell says after the Gaza war, Palestine has again become a central Arab concern. Matt Duss looks at a recent Washington event featuring PM Fayyad. Mark Baker looks at why Australia abstained at the UN. Hussein Ibish explains how Israel lost almost all European support at the UN. David Remnick describes his interview with Fayyad.

American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017