February 3, 2010

BIBI'S SHARON MOMENT?:

Herzliya Diary: Fayyad appeals for peace, and so does Barak, who warns Israel could become an ‘apartheid state’ (Judith Miller, Feb 1, 2010, The Tablet)

Ignoring threats and condemnations by his rivals in Hamas for his decision to appear here in the packed auditorium, Fayyad called upon Israel to stop expanding settlements on the land of the future Palestinian state.

His message was not particularly new. Nor was that of Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who also appeared to restate Israel’s official position. But both men made gestures that went beyond what the stalled peace process would seem to allow. Fayyad did that simply by showing up on Tuesday night, rather than canceling, as he has done before. And Barak delivered a shot across the bow of his fractious coalition government by warning that unless progress on the peace front occurred now, Israel would either become a “bi-national” or an “apartheid state” headed inexorably into global isolation.

A few participants gasped to hear the defense minister in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government use the language of Israel’s most virulent critics. Apartheid state? One of the panels here at Herzliya had described the effort to paint Israel’s occupation policies in the West Bank as analogous to South African apartheid as part of a “soft war” against the Jewish state.

One veteran European diplomat called the dueling appearances by Barak and Fayyad at the highly charged conference a “mood-changing moment.” “Both sides were signaling what they really wanted to do,” the diplomat said. Now they just have to figure out how to do it.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 3, 2010 5:52 PM
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