Israel Policy Forum: The state of two states, week of July 21

This week’s news cycle opened with a flurry of reactions to Secretary Kerry’s announcement last Friday evening that “an agreement that establishes a basis for resuming direct final status negotiations” had been reached. On Thursday, the Israel Policy Forum sent a letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu signed by 140 prominent American Jews expressing support for the Israeli Prime Minister’s decision to move the diplomatic process forward. Some of the signatories to the IPF letter included Former Congressmen Gary Ackerman, Howard Berman, Barney Frank, and Robert Wexler; Philanthropist Charles Bronfman; Professor Alan Dershowitz; Senator Joseph Lieberman; and Dov S. Zahkeim, an advisor to both George W. Bush and Mitt Romney. Meanwhile, tensions continued to rise between the transitional Egyptian government and Hamas, potentially signaling a new Egyptian role in the Israeli-Palestinian discourse as well. Talks between Israeli and Palestinian representatives are expected to start on Tuesday, July 30. 

“When will the real crises start? When they start to talk about practical steps on the ground, like a settlement freeze… That will be the first hurdle that Netanyahu will have to cross in his coalition. He will wage tough battles in the Likud, and it is not clear that he will emerge unscathed. It could be that the entire coalition business will then start to unravel.” – Shalom Yerushalmi writing in Ma’ariv (Sunday, 7/21)

“To the left, we say: We must conduct these negotiations the way negotiations are done in the Middle East—with strictness, suspicion, and insistence on ‘selling dearly,’ without compromising on the property of the State of Israel. To the right we say: We have to say farewell to the Palestinians, because a bi-national state would spell the end of Zionism.” – Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid to Yedioth Ahronoth (Sunday, 7/21)

“In the absence of Palestinian-Israeli peace, Israel and the Arabs are condemned to a relationship of confrontation and occasional war, and America will be caught in the middle.” – Shibley Telhamiexplaining why resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an essential American interest (Monday, 7/22)

“If we’re ever going to get anywhere, this is what the beginning is going to look like.” – Hussein Ibish during an IPF video conference explaining why observers should hesitate to confidently predict the nascent diplomatic process will fail (Wednesday, 7/24)

“Our goal in bringing together this diverse group is to demonstrate the broad base of support among American Jews for Prime Minister Netanyahu’s entering the diplomatic process initiated by Secretary Kerry.” – IPF Executive Director David Halperin describing the motivation for sending letter to PM Netanyahu expressing support for resuming talks (Thursday, 7/25)

“[John Kerry] is right on target with what he’s doing. And I just hope the protagonists want peace and a two-state solution as much as he does.” – Marine Corps General James Mattis, the recently retired leader of U.S. Central Command, speaking about American’s great national security interest in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (Thursday, 7/25)

“Egyptian gunboats always watched the borders between Gaza and Egypt, yet never banned any Palestinian boat from sailing to Egypt before last week.” – Nazir Ayesh, head of the Palestinian Fishing Syndicate, speaking to Al-Monitor about Egypt’s decision to ban Palestinian fishing boats from Egyptian waters (Thursday, 7/25)

“Ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi is being held over allegations of links with Palestinian militants Hamas and plotting attacks on jails in the 2011 uprising.” – The BBC reporting on the first official word on Morsi’s status since the military takeover (Friday, 7/26)

Israel Hayom poll released Friday, July 26:

Q: Do you support or oppose resuming negotiations with the Palestinians?
Support: 62.7%; Oppose: 28.1%; Don’t know: 9.2%
Q: Assuming that the agreement is based on the 1967 borders and entails territorial concessions and slight border revisions, how will you vote in the event that a referendum is held?
Against: 54.5%; In favor: 26.7%; Don’t know: 18.8%