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Many of you might recall Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to the UN General Assembly in 2012, during which he produced a cartoon bomb drawing to help explain how Iran was vewy vewy scawy. Here's the image that spawned a thousand parodies:

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 27:   Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, points to a red line he drew on a graphic of a bomb while addressing the United Nations General Assembly on September 27, 2012 in New York City. The 67th annual event gathers mor
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Prime Minister Netanyahu voting during Israeli elections.
The issue is that Israeli voters put him over the top after he said there would not be a Palestinian state.

That is what makes a Palestinian state impossible under the current conditions. That is why Netanyahu made his statement against a Palestinian state--he knew he had to if he wanted to win the election. And that is what will force the US and EU to change their approach if indeed they are interested in a two-state solution.

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I know it's election season and everything, but seriously?
The minister, leader of the Yisrael Beiteinu party and an outspoken critic of Israel’s Arab population, made the controversial remarks on Sunday in a speech to an election rally held in the western Israeli city of Herzliya ahead of the March 17 vote.

"Those who are with us deserve everything, but those who are against us deserve to have their heads chopped off with an axe," the ultra-nationalist politician said.

Avigdor Lieberman:

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The ad kind of speaks for itself.


The Iraq War:

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Sweden has become the first European Union member state to recognize the State of Palestine. This move was not expected to happen so soon.

Newly elected Prime Minister Stefan Lofven first announced the move at his swearing-in ceremony on Oct. 3, but he was not expected to follow through so soon, Haaretz reports.

“Some will claim that today’s decision comes too early. I’m rather afraid it’s too late,” writes Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom in the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter. “The past year, we’ve seen how the peace negotiations once again have halted, how decisions on new settlements on occupied Palestinian land have obstructed a two-state solution and how violence has returned to Gaza.”

Recognition of Palestine

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In the mid-19th century, influenced by the nationalism then sweeping much of the continent, some European Jews concluded that the remedy to centuries of persecution and pogroms in Europe and Russia was the creation of a nation state for Jews in Palestine. Some of them subsequently began emigrating to the Holy Land. In 1874, there were about 14,000 Jews in Palestine, and about 426,000 Arabs.
Since that time, the Palestinian people have been subjected to colonialism, ethnic cleansing, massacres and atrocities, terrorism, and dispossession, martial law, blockade, and occupation at the hands of first the early Zionists and then the state of Israel, with a big assist from many Western and Arab powers.

The Palestinians have tried every which way to halt and reverse their dispossession, as anyone would. They have tried revolts, rejectinga partition plan, terrorism, non-violent resistance, violent resistance, working with Israel, recognizing Israel , participating in peace processes, shunning Hamas, unifying with Hamas, maintaining quiet for Israel, non-violent protest, appealing to international bodies, appealing to international law. The result has been further dispossession and regularly-scheduled bouts of grass-mowing by Israel, which is where they find themselves today.


Will You Join BDS?

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Last Saturday, Israel was to have released a fourth and final group of Palestinian prisoners as part of its original nine-month-old negotiations agreement with the Palestinians. Israel did not release them. Instead, it tried to use the release as leverage to force the Palestinians to commit to negotiations beyond the original deadline of April 29th.

Israel's failure to release a final batch of Palestinian prisoners, scheduled for Saturday night, amounts to a violation of the terms of the original agreement reached between Israel and the Palestinians at the start of talks nine months ago, brokered by the United States, US officials have told their Israeli counterparts.

Following the breach, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said he would now seek to strengthen Palestine's position internationally, while continuing to negotiate until the required end date: April 29th.

In response to this crisis, Secretary Kerry put a plan together meant to keep the negotiations going. Oddly on offer was the release of Jonathan Pollard, the American who was sentenced to life for spying for Israel. Israel has long sought his release. The Palestinians were offered the release of the prisoners which had already been agreed to as well as 400 others, many of them women and children. The plan also calls for another partial freeze of settlement building. It seems more a plan to keep Israel at the table, since Palestine has agreed to continue talking until the agreed upon deadline.

Then, on Tuesday, Israel announced 700 tenders beyond the green line. That evening, Abbas signed the applications to join international conventions and treaties, as he said he would if Israel were to renege on the agreement.

What does it mean?

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According to the New York Times, in order to entice Israel to stay at the negotiating table and fulfill the requirements it has already agreed to with the Palestinians, the US is offering to release Jonathan Pollard. Pollard was an American who spied for Israel and turned over so much important information that Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger thought he should have been executed. There was no death penalty at the time (30 years ago), and Pollard is serving a life sentence.


Should the US free Jonathan Pollard?

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Norway's $810 billion Government Pension Fund, also know as The Oil Fund, announced today that it was excluding two Israeli companies, Africa Israel Investments and its construction subsidiary,  Danya Cebus, from the fund due to "contribution to serious violations of individual rights in war or conflict through the construction of settlements in East Jerusalem."

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Yes, just one day after the President declared to the American people that he would, in the name of diplomacy, veto the new Iranian sanctions bill that's coursing its way through congress, Senators Gillibrand (D-NY), Coons (D-Del) and Manchin (D-WV) decided to rethink the extent of their support for the warmongering bill. Senator Blumenthal (D-CT) backed away slowly earlier this month.

Let's recall that this bill, as Meteor Blades so succinctly puts it, is "a bill that would bind the United States to attack Iran if Israel attacked Iran's nuclear facilities and Iran retaliated." It also would be a major provocation were it to come up to a vote and pass while Iran and the P5+1 are in the middle of negotiations. It currently has 59 co-sponsors, including 16 democrats.

So, thanks Mr. President. And sorry, AIPAC. This one's fizzling out. For now.


Climb down. Good move?

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The Dutch pension fund, PGGM, with over $210 billion in assets, announced on Wednesday that it has divested from five Israeli banks, effective January 1, 2014.

The reason given, in a statement posted on its website, is "...their involvement in financing Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. This was a concern, as the settlements in the Palestinian territories are considered illegal under international humanitarian law." Full Statement

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Progress progress progress!

The Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA) announced on December 15th that it will join the boycott of Israeli academic institutions.

The small association becomes the third US academic association this year to join the boycott. In April, the Association for Asian American Studies (AAAS), adopted the boycott, and earlier this month, the American Studies Association (ASA) joined as well. I wrote about that here.

The NAISA council responded to a petition from its members as well the call from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) to join the boycott. After several months of deliberation, the council voted unanimously to join. The decision is non-binding on its members.

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