The CSS Blog Network

A new State on the Horizon

The Times They Are A-Changin. Photo: Rusty Stewart/flickr

Following the breakdown of direct peace talks last autumn, the Palestinian Authority (PA) ruling the West Bank has now come to adopt a new diplomatic strategy: its aim is securing United Nations’ recognition of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital. And chances are that this plan will succeed.

Israel and the United States both oppose such a move, arguing a real solution can only be reached through negotiations. However, if no changes are made between now and September 2011, the UN is almost certain to declare a Palestinian state. And if a state of Palestine is declared, Israel will inevitably be put into the uncomfortable position of being considered an occupier of another UN-member country.

Hardly surprising, therefore, the Palestinian march towards statehood is unnerving both Israel and the United States. As a result they have come out with new peace plans to act as counterweights: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is to travel to Washington next month, where he will present his initiative, has not yet spelled out the content of his plan. However, it is said to include a repositioning of Israeli occupation forces in parts of the West Bank, as well as some improvements of Palestinian daily life. Furthermore, Israel is said to transfer some of the territories classified as Area B and Area C to Palestinian control. But not a single Jewish settlement will be dismantled. » More

Extortion, Exploitation and Annihilation in the Sinai Desert

Danger lurks everywhere, photo: Ernesto Graf/flickr

On Sunday, 5 December 2010, Pope Benedict XVI called on the world to pray for “the victims of traffickers and criminals, such as the drama of the hostages, Eritreans and of other nationalities, in the Sinai desert”. By doing so, he lifted the lid on years of international indifference to the plight of the refugees fleeing from the East African chaos northwards towards safety. Shortly thereafter, the Israeli NGO Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) bolstered the papal call with a well-researched report showing that African refugees in Sinai are habitually tortured, assaulted, raped and held for ransom by smugglers hired to bring them through Egypt’s desert.

As a consequence of a number of ongoing human-rights crises in the Horn of Africa, the Sinai has turned into a major center for people trafficking. On their search for safety, the refugees become easy prey to agents of Bedouin traffickers who promise access to Israel via Egypt. Since 2007, the Sinai Bedouins have thus developed a well-established, sizable, and highly organized trafficking network. However, in addition to smuggling people across borders for money, the Bedouins in the Sinai habitually abuse the migrants under their control and hold them for ransom.

The traffickers hold the asylum seekers hostage in various locations across the Egyptian peninsula for weeks or months until their relatives pay thousands of dollars to secure their release. In order to exact those payments the traffickers hold the refugees in steel containers, depriving them of food and water. The defenseless Africans are tortured with hot irons, electric shocks, or whippings. Women are separated from the men, detained in secluded rooms, and subjected to repeated sexual abuse and rape at the hands of their captors. According to the PHR report, many migrants were abused in one or more of these ways every two to three days – sometimes for months – until the demanded money arrived.

Yet even the migrants who finally do find their way over the border into Israel find no safe haven. » More

ISN Quiz: Inside Israel

In our latest Special Report we explored the heterogeneity and complexity of Israeli society- now you can put your knowledge to the test!

[QUIZZIN 29]

ISN Weekly Theme: A Look Inside Israel

Menorah, Knesset in Jerusalem. Photo: Jerzy Strzelecki/wikicommons

The heterogeneity and complexity of Israeli society is often ignored in the mainstream media, which focuses almost exclusively on Israeli foreign policy and the Arab-Israeli conflict. This week the ISN takes a closer look at the dynamics of Israeli society today, revealing a broad range of political viewpoints and visions of what the state of Israel is all about.

This week’s Special Report contains the following content, easily navigated along the tab structure above:

  • An Analysis by Dominic Moran on the divides between secular and religious Jews and within Jewish religious communities.
  • Publications housed in our Digital Library, including reports on Israel’s Gaza blockade.
  • Primary Resources, including historical documents on the founding of the state of Israel.
  • Links to relevant websites and articles on Israel.
  • Our IR Directory, featuring a broad range of Jewish NGOs, such as the Yitzhak Rabin Center.

How United Is the Arab Front?

Arab stone design, courtesy of Eusebius@Commons/flickr

The Arab community has always publicly supported its Muslim counterparts. As a result there is an alliance among these states in opposition to Israel and the occupation of Palestine. However, it appears that behind the facade of Arab unity lies a game of dirty politics, where each state acts in self-interest often in contrast to the projected image of unity and loyalty.

A recent article by The Times publicized Saudi Arabia’s green light to Israel to use its air space to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities.  This is surprising as it pits Muslim states against each other openly and brings the reality of Arab loyalty into question.

In order to attack Iran’s nuclear sites, Israel has the choice of three routes. The northern route involves passing the Syrian-Turkish border. The central route goes over Jordan and Iraq, while the third southern route goes through Saudi Arabia and Iraq or Kuwait. So let’s assess where these Middle Eastern states stand. » More

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