Israel has been very busy lately – something that makes for a lot of good, but occasionally depressing reads. In addition to the deportation of journalists, there are several more tasty bits.
In peace process news, Abu Mazen and George Mitchell are proposing a temporary and discreet settlement freeze in East Jerusalem as a way to jump-start negotiations between Netanyahu and Abbas. The proposal was rejected by Netanyahu as it would be politically disastrous for the Israeli PM – last week FM Avigdor Lieberman said that Israel was out of concessions for the Palestinians. However, Bibi did mention that the occupation of the West Bank would not end after peace is made.
In other news, Israel is facing some troubles in its bid to join the OECD (the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development), though it should become a member later this year. Three technical problems are holding up Israel:
1) Arms trade bribery worries (Israel is a large supplier of arms and bribery is very common in that field)
2) Copy-write worries (American and Swiss pharmaceutical companies regularly accuse Israel of lazy copy-right regulation)
3) Israel’s definition of its territory (the international community sees Golan Heights and East Jerusalem as occupied territories while Israel considers them to be Israel proper)
Angle Gurria, the Secretary General of the OECD, calls these ‘technical’ issues and not ‘political’ issues. I can get on board with numbers one and two being technical, but how is number three not a political issue? Two countries and one piece of land is not a technical issue – particularly when the two sides of the argument are made up of Israel (and tacitly, at least, the United States) on one side and the rest of the world on the other. Interesting definition of technical.
In Israeli Odds-and-Ends, the Knesset passed a vote of no confidence on Monday entitled “Benjamin Netanyahu’s governments’ failing foreign policy.” And finally, does it seem fair that one of the biggest winners in yesterday’s special election in Massachusetts was Israel? That seems like it should have been a domestic thing…