Some Nice Reading to Keep You Busy

[tweetmeme] I am pretty busy today, so I don’t have time for a real post.  In lieu of anything substantial, I am going to jump on the back of others.  Here are some pieces that are interesting or have something to do with an issue I mentioned recently.

– Foreign Policy has revealed the Middle East Channel and has already stocked it with several good essays.  Under the auspices of Marc Lynch and others, the site is very informative and certainly worth checking out.

– Speaking of the Middle East Channel, Bernard Avishai looks at the necessity of developing Palestine economically in this piece.  Salam Fayyad’s plans on creating a Palestinian infrastructure to prepare for a Palestinian nation are well-known.  Here Avishai looks into the damaging effects that the Israeli occupation have on businesses.  After a peace is made, Palestine is going to need to provide jobs for millions of youth and the territories need to start preparing now.  An excerpt:

Problems of mobility are most widely reported: over 60 percent of land in the West Bank is so-called Area C–controlled by the Israeli army to secure Israeli settlements, but turning Palestinian cities into economic islands. Try growing a supermarket chain when your just-in-time logistics system has to deal with 600 roadblocks; try planning meetings to open a new store. The drive from Ramallah to Jerusalem should take about 12 minutes, but with the checkpoints, it’s normally an hour, and that’s if you have permission. A Palestinian businessman routinely waits a half day just to collect an Israeli permit to enter Jerusalem and begin the journey. The World Bank estimates that, in spite of a projected 6-7 percent growth, per capita GDP is falling and unemployment may be as high 20 percent.

– Peter Harling writes an article that looks at the evolving complexities of the Middle East and warns against US disengagement without creating a balance.  The article resembles the one he co-authored in the Washington Post a few days ago and the one with which I took some exceptions.  Yet the article is a good read and helps underline the “undefinability” of Middle East actors.

– In Haaretz today, David Zonsheine writes that Israel must talk to Hamas if it wants to have true security.  Zonsheine contends that any peace made with Fatah will be rendered useless because of the exclusion of Hamas and, thus, by ignoring Hamas, Israel is undermining the possibility for peace.  Zonsheine also actively backs a prisoner exchange with Hamas as a way to get talks started and produce some good-will between the two sides.  Readers of the blog know that I think excluding Hamas from talks is folly – thus, this is a good read!

– I recently came across Bernard Avishai’s blog.  Some really god analysis and coverage of the peace movement in Israel.  Take a look.

– Yesterday I wrote about the Israeli announcement of further settlement construction despite the moratorium imposed in December and how the announcement hurt the recently declared indirect peace talks.  Although the announcement was a slap in the face of both George Mitchell – who has worked hard to get both sides to agree to indirect negotiations – and Joe Biden – who arrived in Israel only hours after the announcement- there was, predictably, little response from Washington.  A State Department official agreed with Israeli logic for the new construction, but did say the announcement could “create obstacles.”  Reuters reports that Biden has focused most of his energy on Iran (trying to dissuade an Israeli attack) and made little reference to the announcement of new construction.

Meanwhile Eileen White writes about the arrival of Biden and the Palestinian reaction to the settlement announcement.  She goes on to say that the chances for success in the indirect negotiations are high, only because expectations are so incredibly low.

Al Jazeera, meanwhile, has an article about how the new Israeli settlement construction severely hinders the negotiations before they even start. Importantly, the article mentions that by announcing the new construction plans immediately after Palestine agreed to indirect talks, Israel is undermining Palestinian faith in George Mitchell, the main negotiator in the talks.

From Al Jazeera:

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