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Veteran Middle East peace negotiator strikes back at Jimmy Carter op-ed

Posted by Tip Staff - November 30, 2016


Former President Jimmy Carter claimed that America “must” recognize Palestine in the pages of The New York Times Monday, a proposition to which veteran Middle East peace negotiator Aaron David Miller is firmly opposed.
"Having spent the better part of my adult professional life working to promote, facilitate and consummate negotiations between Arabs and Israelis,” Miller wrote in a counter op-ed on Wednesday, “my advice is precisely the opposite of Mr. Carter's.” True peace, he argues, can only come from negotiations between the two parties themselves, not from external measures.
Miller warns that unilateral action (such as recognition of statehood) might make matters worse. “It could unlock a host of unpredictable – and mostly negative – consequences,” he writes.
Such a move also undercuts the spirit of negotiation championed so firmly by former President Carter in brokering Egyptian-Israeli peace. It was Carter’s sensitivity to both sides that produced a successful treaty, Miller asserts. One-sided efforts are doomed to polarize the Israelis and Palestinians further, as it would be rewarding Palestinians by recognizing their stated aim – an independent state – before the holding of negotiations and without meeting Israeli security needs, and strip Palestinians of the need to be flexible and willing to make compromises.


Eleven high-ranking diplomats from seven African countries toured Jerusalem’s Old City on Monday, in what is the latest indication that diplomatic ties between Israel and African countries are improving. The diplomats’ tour was sponsored by Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce in an effort to promote Israeli-African business ties.Diplomats typically don’t visit the Old City because most countries don’t recognize Israel’s sovereignty there. But in a break with that protocol, the ambassadors of Ethiopia and Zambia, as well as other diplomats from Cameroon, Ghana, Angola, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, participated in the tour and met with Israeli officials there. “We had a very interesting visit this morning,” Ethiopian ambassador to Israel Helawi Yossef said. “It was very enlightening for us.”
Tomer Heyvi of the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce said that the goal of the tour was to unite parties who could enhance business ties between Israel and African nations. He explained that trade between and Africa is poised to expand. “In 2015 trade with African countries made up only only three percent of Israel’s international trade, and we believe that the potential is far greater and still not materialized,” he told the Times of Israel.
The Palestinian Authority objected to the tour. “The Israeli-organized visit of senior diplomats from seven African countries aims at normalizing the illegal Israeli annexation of occupied East Jerusalem, in particular when it comes to legitimizing projects led by settlers that continue to harm the daily lives of thousands of Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem,” Palestine Liberation Organization secretary-general Saeb Erekat told the Times.
This has been a year of diplomatic breakthroughs for Israel, especially with African nations. Netanyahu embarked on a historic tour of East Africa in July, restored diplomatic ties with the Muslim-majority nation of Guinea, met with 15 African heads of state and ambassadors at the United Nations General Assembly in September, and announced plans to attend a summit of the Economic Community of West African States in the near future.


Families in rebel-held eastern Aleppo are nearly out of food, The Washington Post reported Tuesday. “We’re only eating two small meals a day now, and it’s just rice and cracked wheat,” said Moataz Khattab, 26, who lives with nine family members. “We eat together, what we can, but we are losing so much weight. We’re running out of supplies, and now we talk about starving to death.” Another feared the fate of a local neighborhood boy: “He has become a skeleton.”
Forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad captured about 40% of the territory in eastern Aleppo that had been held by rebels on Monday. Planes dropped ominous leaflets: “If you don’t leave these areas quickly you will be annihilated. Save yourselves. You know that everyone has left you alone to face your  doom and have offered you no help.”
For the past four months, Assad’s forces have blockaded more than 200,000 people in eastern Aleppo, nearly half of them children, according to U.N. officials. Thousands are fleeing for their lives.


The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed two bipartisan bills on Tuesday that call for increased cybersecurity cooperation with Israel. The measures – the United States-Israel Advanced Research Partnership Act of 2016 and the United States-Israel Cybersecurity Cooperation Enhancement Act of 2016 – were sponsored by Reps. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) and Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) and now await a vote by the Senate. “Israel is a vital strategic partner, and I’m pleased to be working closely with Rep. Langevin to preserve and strengthen this important bond through joint cybersecurity efforts,” Ratcliffe said. Langevin added, “My trip to Israel...reinforced my belief that our countries have much to learn from one another when it comes to cybersecurity...Our legislation will further strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship and drive innovative, collaborative thinking about homeland security priorities.”
The U.S. and Israel, as strategic allies, have a history of cooperating in matters of cybersecurity. This past June, the U.S. and Israel came to an agreement under which the two countries’ cyber defense intelligence will be shared automatically. In April, speaking at an energy conference in Tel Aviv, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz emphasized the importance of U.S.-Israeli cooperation in cyber defense, because “a very large fraction of cyber attacks involves the energy sector and that’s a recent experience.” Moniz also said that the U.S. would be able to learn from Israel’s “forward-leaning approach” in cybersecurity. The director of the National Security Agency, Admiral Michael Rogers, reportedly visited Israel in March to discuss cooperation in cyber defense, particularly with regard to Iranian and Hezbollah infiltration attempts. Rogers, who is also the head of the U.S. Army’s Cyber Command, was the guest of the commander of the IDF’s Intelligence Corps Unit 8200, an elite unit responsible for signals intelligence and cyber warfare. The report on Rogers’ secret visit came just days after the Department of Justice revealed that Iran had launched a cyberattack on the controls of a dam 25 miles north of New York City.

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