Israeli-Palestinian Talks Revealed

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Today’s Top Stories

1. The White House and Prime Minister’s Office confirmed it: Obama to visit Israel in the spring. Why now? The Independent reports that Israeli and Palestinian officials are already meeting.

Meanwhile, The Independent has learnt from Palestinian sources that weekly meetings have been taking place between the top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and his Israeli counterpart, Yitzhak Molcho, suggesting that at least some progress is being made on efforts to reconcile the two parties.

We flagged Sky News correspondent Dominic Waghorn’s background info on the trip: 10 Month Settlement Freeze Vanishes Into the Sky.

For commentary/analysis of the presidential trip, see Haviv Rettig Gur and Barry Rubin.

2. After Bulgaria blamed Hezbollah for the Burgas bombing, Big Media stepped up with some nice staff-eds. The Washington Post and Times of London agree that it’s time for the EU to designate Hezbollah as a terror organization, while the Beirut-based Daily Star says Hezbollah has some ‘splaining to do. The Post sums it all up:

Several governments, led by France, have resisted; they worry that sanctions could further destabilize Lebanon or subject European peacekeepers in the south of that country to reprisals. Bulgaria’s findings should end the debate. Inaction would mean accepting that Europe can be a free-fire zone for Iran and its proxies.

This super snide tweet is compounded by the fact that Borzou Daragahi is a Financial Times Mideast correspondent. See HonestReporting’s response: “Israel Paid Off Bulgaria”: FT Journo Tweets Conspiracy Theory.

Borzou Daragahi

3. The Turkel Committee, which investigated Israel’s handling of the Mavi Marmara affair, released the second part of its report. This dealt with how Israel investigated the incident. The Times of Israel writes:

The commission concluded that Israel’s system was largely in line with Western standards, but suggested a list of changes aimed at making legal watchdogs more independent, transparent and fast.

Expect Israel’s critics to cherry pick the findings to conclude they can investigate Israel better than it can investigate itself. Indeed, when the Turkel commission released part one of its findings in 2011, there were some media claims that Israel was incapable of policing itself.

4. SodaStream, an Israeli company, is encountering A Super Bowl of Silly BDS Coverage.

Israel and the Palestinians

David Ward

MP David Ward

British parliamentarian David Ward just keeps digging himself into a deeper hole. Here’s what he told The Guardian:

There is a huge operation out there, a machine almost, which is designed to protect the state of Israel from criticism. And that comes into play very, very quickly and focuses intensely on anyone who’s seen to criticise the state of Israel. And so I end up looking at what happened to me, whether I should use this word, whether I should use that word – and that is winning, for them. Because what I want to talk about is the fundamental question of how can they do this, and how can they be allowed to do this.”

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