Obama Lays Wreath at Warsaw Memorial

Source: JTA, 5-31-11

President Obama participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the memorial to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in Poland’s capital city.obama warsaw ghetto

Obama was joined at the May 27 wreath-laying ceremony by members of the local Jewish community and Holocaust survivors. In the 1943 uprising, lightly armed Jewish fighters battled German forces trying to liquidate the ghetto for nearly a month.

Politico reported that a woman attending the ceremony raised the issue of Israel with Obama, telling him, “It’s the only Jewish state we have, and we trust you,” to which the president responded, “I will always be there for Israel,” an exchange picked up by a microphone.

Obama visited the ghetto uprising memorial an hour after arriving in Warsaw and shortly after participating in a wreath laying at Poland’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. His two-day visit to Poland marked the final stop on his European tour.

G8 Summit Statement on Israel

G8 DECLARATION
RENEWED COMMITMENT FOR FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY

G8 Summit of Deauville – May 26-27, 2011
PREAMBLE

1. We, the Leaders of the Group of Eight, met in Deauville on 26 and 27 May 2011. In this period of change, we reaffirmed our profound commitment to the values of freedom and democracy, and their universality.

2. In light of the recent developments in the Middle East and North Africa, and in Sub-Saharan Africa, we renewed our commitment to support democratic reform around the world and to respond to the aspirations for freedom, including freedom of religion, and empowerment, particularly for women and youth. Democracy lays the best path to peace, stability, prosperity, shared growth and development. We met with the Prime Ministers of Egypt and Tunisia, and decided to launch an enduring partnership with those countries engaging in a transition to democracy and tolerant societies. Our common goal is to develop the rule of law and citizen engagement as well as foster economic and social reforms to meet the aspirations of the people. We have adopted a declaration on the Arab spring.

3. In Deauville, we have renewed a strong partnership with Africa, building on commitments made for over a decade. We have emphasized our mutual responsibilities and decided to be even more accountable regarding our respective commitments to development, peace and security. We reaffirmed our commitment to transparency and governance — critical drivers of progress. We welcomed the new dynamism of our African partners and the spread of democracy, and committed to stand even more strongly side-by-side with the people of the African continent. We welcomed the democratically elected Presidents of Côte-d’Ivoire, Guinea and Niger. For the first time, we have adopted a joint declaration together with African Leaders.

4. In the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on March 11, we expressed our heartfelt sympathy for the victims and solidarity with the people and government of Japan, and paid tribute to the courage and dignity which they have shown in the face of the disaster. We are fully confident in the ability of the Japanese authorities to respond to the challenge and build a speedy and lasting recovery, and we stand ready to assist as needed.

5. We discussed new issues such as the Internet which are essential to our societies, economies and growth. For citizens, the Internet is a unique information and education tool, and thus helps to promote freedom, democracy and human rights. The Internet facilitates new forms of business and promotes efficiency, competitiveness, and economic growth. Governments, the private sector, users, and other stakeholders all have a role to play in creating an environment in which the Internet can flourish in a balanced manner. In Deauville in 2011, for the first time at Leaders’ level, we agreed, in the presence of some leaders of the Internet economy, on a number of key principles, including freedom, respect for privacy and intellectual property, multi-stakeholder governance, cyber-security, and protection from crime, that underpin a strong and flourishing Internet. The “e-G8” event held in Paris on 24 and 25 May was a useful contribution to these debates.

6. Our advanced and closely integrated economies face common challenges and opportunities. Recovery is strengthening. Our priority remains to promote job creations for our citizens. We pledged to continue our efforts to generate strong, sustainable, and balanced growth and will work with our partners in the G20 to this end.

7. New growth drivers are required. We committed to prioritizing growth-enhancing policies such as research, education and innovation, which are crucial to our knowledge economies. We will foster green growth as it is essential to fight global warming, represents a promising source of jobs for our societies, and reflects a shared aspiration for more sustainable development.

8. Building on our experience, we marked our determination to draw all the lessons from the nuclear accident in Japan, including the necessity to promote the highest levels of safety, consistent with the principles of the Convention on Nuclear Safety. We noted the necessity to consider strengthening the Convention on Nuclear Safety and the Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident, as well as upgrading norms and standards of nuclear safety. Meanwhile, we noted with great satisfaction that this year, which marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Chernobyl accident, the international community was able to pledge substantial financial resources for the completion of the international effort to convert the Chernobyl site into a stable and environmentally safe condition.

9. We will continue to act in support of peace and international security.

10. We demand the immediate cessation of the use of force against civilians by the Libyan regime forces and support a political solution that reflects the will of the Libyan people. We call on the Syrian leadership to stop using force and intimidation against the Syrian people and to engage in dialogue and fundamental reforms in response to the legitimate expression of the demands of the Syrian people. We are convinced that the historic changes throughout the region make the solution of the Israeli-Palestine conflict through negotiations more important, not less. We urge both parties to engage without delay in substantive talks with a view to concluding a framework agreement on all final status issues.

11. We renew our commitment to implement all our obligations under the NPT and to support and promote the global non-proliferation architecture in all its aspects. We are committed to stemming the severe proliferation challenges, particularly in Iran and DPRK, which represent a threat to global stability. We ask our experts to explore ways of ensuring fair and responsible access to the benefits of the peaceful uses of technologies. We will consolidate progress in the fight against violent extremism, international terrorism and drug trafficking and will continue our common efforts to tackle these scourges. We renew our commitment in favour of a stable, peaceful and sovereign Afghanistan and of stability and cooperation throughout the region.

12. We will meet next year under the presidency of the United States of America.
* * *

I. SOLIDARITY WITH JAPAN

1. On 11 March, an earthquake and tsunami of unprecedented magnitude struck Japan, taking more than fifteen thousand lives and causing massive destruction and disruption including at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. More than a hundred thousand people still remain displaced and living in temporary evacuation shelters. We expressed to the Prime Minister of Japan our condolences for the victims of this tragedy and our most heartfelt sympathy for their families and the people affected by the disaster. The courage and dignity shown by the people of Japan stirred admiration and respect in our people. The support and solidarity extended by people around the world in turn brought warmth, strength and hope to the people of Japan. The Prime Minister of Japan expressed his deep gratitude for the generous support and friendship extended by G8 members and by the entire international community. He expressed his firm determination to overcome the challenges including the nuclear accident and remain fully engaged with and committed to contributing to the rest of the world.

2. We also expressed our confidence in the resilience of the Japanese economy and our readiness to continue to provide assistance and cooperation. The Prime Minister of Japan explained that his country would make every effort to minimize the uncertainty that the disaster might add to the global economy, including as a result of the nuclear accident. In particular, he committed to provide all relevant information regarding the nuclear emergency in a timely manner, and he ensured that products exported from Japan are safe. We stressed that measures on goods and travel should be based on scientific evidence.

3. We are fully confident in the ability of Japan to swiftly recover from this crisis and come back stronger, and we are determined to draw all necessary lessons from this calamity, including the necessity to promote the highest levels of nuclear safety worldwide.
II. INTERNET

4. All over the world, the Internet has become essential to our societies, economies and their growth.

5. For citizens, the Internet is a unique information and education resource and thus can be a helpful tool to promote freedom, democracy and human rights.

6. For business, the Internet has become an essential and irreplaceable tool for the conduct of commerce and development of relations with consumers. The Internet is a driver of innovation, improves efficiency, and thus contributes to growth and employment.

7. For governments, the Internet is a tool for a more efficient administration, for the provision of services to the public and businesses, and for enhancing their relations with citizens and ensuring respect for and promotion of human rights.

8. The Internet has become a major driver for the global economy, its growth and innovation.

9. The openness, transparency and freedom of the Internet have been key to its development and success. These principles, together with those of non-discrimination and fair competition, must continue to be an essential force behind its development.

10. Their implementation must be included in a broader framework: that of respect for the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms, the protection of intellectual property rights, which inspire life in every democratic society for the benefit of all citizens. We strongly believe that freedom and security, transparency and respect for confidentiality, as well as the exercise of individual rights and responsibility have to be achieved simultaneously. Both the framework and principles must receive the same protection, with the same guarantees, on the Internet as everywhere else.

11. The Internet has become the public arena for our time, a lever of economic development and an instrument for political liberty and emancipation. Freedom of opinion, expression, information, assembly and association must be safeguarded on the Internet as elsewhere. Arbitrary or indiscriminate censorship or restrictions on access to the Internet are inconsistent with States’ international obligations and are clearly unacceptable. Furthermore, they impede economic and social growth.

12. The Internet and its future development, fostered by private sector initiatives and investments, require a favourable, transparent, stable and predictable environment, based on the framework and principles referred to above. In this respect, action from all governments is needed through national policies, but also through the promotion of international cooperation.

13. We commit to encourage the use of the Internet as a tool to advance human rights and democratic participation throughout the world.

14. The global digital economy has served as a powerful economic driver and engine of growth and innovation. Broadband Internet access is an essential infrastructure for participation in today’s economy. In order for our countries to benefit fully from the digital economy, we need to seize emerging opportunities, such as cloud computing, social networking and citizen publications, which are driving innovation and enabling growth in our societies. As we adopt more innovative Internet-based services, we face challenges in promoting interoperability and convergence among our public policies on issues such as the protection of personal data, net neutrality, transborder data flow, ICT security, and intellectual property.

15. With regard to the protection of intellectual property, in particular copyright, trademarks, trade secrets and patents, we recognize the need to have national laws and frameworks for improved enforcement. We are thus renewing our commitment to ensuring effective action against violations of intellectual property rights in the digital arena, including action that addresses present and future infringements. We recognize that the effective implementation of intellectual property rules requires suitable international cooperation of relevant stakeholders, including with the private sector. We are committed to identifying ways of facilitating greater access and openness to knowledge, education and culture, including by encouraging continued innovation in legal on line trade in goods and content, that are respectful of intellectual property rights.

16. The effective protection of personal data and individual privacy on the Internet is essential to earn users’ trust. It is a matter for all stakeholders: the users who need to be better aware of their responsibility when placing personal data on the Internet, the service providers who store and process this data, and governments and regulators who must ensure the effectiveness of this protection. We encourage the development of common approaches taking into account national legal frameworks, based on fundamental rights and that protect personal data, whilst allowing the legal transfer of data.

17. The security of networks and services on the Internet is a multi-stakeholder issue. It requires coordination between governments, regional and international organizations, the private sector, civil society and the G8’s own work in the Roma-Lyon group, to prevent, deter and punish the use of ICTs for terrorist and criminal purposes. Special attention must be paid to all forms of attacks against the integrity of infrastructure, networks and services, including attacks caused by the proliferation of malware and the activities of botnets through the Internet. In this regard, we recognize that promoting users’ awareness is of crucial importance and that enhanced international cooperation is needed in order to protect critical resources, ICTs and other related infrastructure. The fact that the Internet can potentially be used for purposes that are inconsistent with the objectives of peace and security, and may adversely affect the integrity of critical systems, remains a matter of concern. Governments have a role to play, informed by a full range of stakeholders, in helping to develop norms of behaviour and common approaches in the use of cyberspace. On all these issues, we are determined to provide the appropriate follow-up in all relevant fora.

18. We call upon all stakeholders to combat the use of Internet for trafficking in children and for their sexual exploitation. We will also work towards developing an environment in which children can safely use the Internet by improving children’s Internet literacy including risk awareness, and encouraging adequate parental controls consistent with the freedom of expression.

19. We recognize the importance of enhanced access to the Internet for developing countries. Important progress has been achieved since the Okinawa Summit and we pay tribute to the efforts made by developing countries in this regard as well as the various stakeholders, governments, the private sector and NGOs, which provide resources, expertise and innovation. We encourage initiatives, in partnership with the private sector, on the use of the Internet with a development purpose, particularly for education and healthcare.

20. As we support the multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance, we call upon all stakeholders to contribute to enhanced cooperation within and between all international fora dealing with the governance of the Internet. In this regard, flexibility and transparency have to be maintained in order to adapt to the fast pace of technological and business developments and uses. Governments have a key role to play in this model.

21. We welcome the meeting of the e-G8 Forum which took place in Paris on 24 and 25 May, on the eve of our Summit and reaffirm our commitment to the kinds of multi-stakeholder efforts that have been essential to the evolution of the Internet economy to date. The innovative format of the e-G8 Forum allowed participation of a number of stakeholders of the Internet in a discussion on fundamental goals and issues for citizens, business, and governments. Its free and fruitful debate is a contribution for all relevant fora on current and future challenges.

22. We look forward to the forthcoming opportunities to strengthen international cooperation in all these areas, including the Internet Governance Forum scheduled next September in Nairobi and other relevant UN events, the OECD High Level Meeting on “The Internet Economy: Generating Innovation and Growth” scheduled next June in Paris, the London International Cyber Conference scheduled next November, and the Avignon Conference on Copyright scheduled next November, as positive steps in taking this important issue forward.
III. GLOBAL ECONOMY

23. The global recovery is gaining strength and is becoming more self-sustained. However, downside risks remain, and internal and external imbalances are still a concern. The sharp increase in commodity prices and their excessive volatility pose a significant headwind to the recovery. In this context, we agreed to remain focused on the action required to enhance the sustainability of public finances, to strengthen the recovery and foster employment, to reduce risks and ensure strong, sustainable and balanced growth, including through structural reforms.

Europe has adopted a broad package of measures to deal with the sovereign debt crisis faced by a few countries, and it will continue to address the situation with determination and to pursue rigorous fiscal consolidation alongside structural reforms to support growth. The United States will put in place a clear and credible medium-term fiscal consolidation framework, consistent with considerations of job creation and economic growth. In Japan, while providing resources for the reconstruction after the disaster, the authorities will also address the issue of sustainability of public finances.

We are determined to take the necessary actions collectively and individually to face current challenges. We will also ensure that our macroeconomic policies promote sound economic growth, aiming, together with our employment and social policies, at reducing unemployment and enabling a quick re-entry into the labour market.

24. We expressed our commitment to the ongoing processes in the G20 to expand policy dialogue and cooperation, particularly on our agenda for financial sector reform, mitigating commodity prices volatility, the strengthening of the international monetary system and the in-depth assessments of the causes of persistently large external imbalances and the full range of policies to foster strong, sustainable and balanced growth under the Mutual Assessment Process.

TRADE

25. As part of its continued efforts to support the recovery of the global economy, the G8 reaffirms its longstanding commitment to free and open markets. The WTO plays a critical role in preventing protectionism and constitutes a fundamental part of the global multilateral system. In this regard, G8 members of the WTO note with great concern the unsatisfactory progress in the Doha Development Agenda negotiations. We reiterate our commitment to advance the process of trade liberalization and rule-making to strengthen the multilateral system, and are ready to explore all negotiating options to bring the Doha round to a conclusion including with regard to the priorities of least developed countries (LDCs) in line with the Doha mandate. Russia’s partners in the G8 welcome the considerable progress made by Russia to complete its accession to WTO, and reaffirm their commitments to working closely with Russia, with the intention to finalise this process in 2011.

INNOVATION AND KNOWLEDGE ECONOMY

26. Innovation is crucial for growth, prosperity and jobs in the knowledge economy and plays a central role in addressing many of the key global challenges of our times, ranging from climate change, poverty eradication and public health, to demographic changes and recovery from the recent global economic and financial crisis through employment-generation. We acknowledge that the nature, source and speed of innovation and the method and extent to which it drives growth have changed at a greater pace in the past decades than ever in our history. It has moved from closed to open innovation, and its geographical source has broadened. In meeting future global challenges, innovation, green growth and the Internet will all be crucial and their effective development will help support future economic growth. These changes call for focused policy consideration, notably in the private sector, building on previous work by the G8.

27. Drawing on experiences across countries, we underline that a holistic approach to innovation and growth is needed, which would include both technological and non-technological innovation as well as innovation in social and public services. This requires the broad engagement of our societies and the elaboration of a framework of principles and best practices, guiding collective action towards shared goals, such as market integration and limiting market barriers, while reducing potential frictions resulting from national approaches. We look forward to the results of the work at the OECD on collecting good practices on policy from around the world. In order to enhance policy efficiency and effectiveness, we also invite the OECD to develop in a fully inclusive, open and accountable way in cooperation with relevant international organizations measurements of innovation performance, focussing on concrete impacts on growth and jobs rather than inputs and investigating the systemic relationship between indicators. All G8 countries will participate.

28. We stress the importance of cooperation between various actors, both public and private, large and small; and we strongly believe that Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SME) represent an important leverage point to spread innovation in a sustainable innovation eco-system. We commit to prioritize growth-enhancing policies such as research, education and innovation. We invite the OECD in cooperation with other relevant international institutions to develop a comprehensive analysis on how SME integration into global value chains can be facilitated with a special focus on incentives for private funding including on cross-border venture capital markets for technology transfer and start-up phase, and identifying impediments to their growth.

29. We agree on the necessity of a level playing field in the innovation area, including a strong and robust intellectual property system as an incentive to innovation and a catalyst for growth. We acknowledge the important role of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in developing a broad approach to intellectual property in support of business friendly, robust and efficient national intellectual property systems. Renewing our support to the principles of the patent system, we attach great importance to its promotion and development. We encourage increased international action to strengthen patent quality, and call for improved diffusion of patent information, particularly critical for SMEs and research centres. We support transparency in technology markets and call for the improvement of market places for trading rights. We invite WIPO, in close cooperation with Member States and other relevant entities, to intensify its work in these three areas. In addition we note the importance of enforcement in order to incentivise innovation and protect innovation once developed.

30. We highlight the importance of international cooperation in research, leveraging resources and talents to find solutions to common challenges. We welcome the ongoing work of the OECD for improving global research cooperation and look forward to its recommendations.

GREEN GROWTH

31. We firmly believe that green growth is an essential element to ensuring sustainable global growth, notably to promote resource efficiency and sound water management, fight climate change and conserve biodiversity, and that it contributes to sustainable development. Green growth represents a promising source of job creation for our societies and offers significant prospects for innovators and exporters of all economies. Green growth dynamic needs to be shared: sustainable development is a reachable objective if efforts are made by all economies. We are committed to continuing to play a major role in this field. We will work within all relevant fora and agencies to promote green growth.

32. We look forward to the outcomes of the ongoing work of the OECD on a green growth strategy, following the Ministerial Council meeting of 25 and 26 May. We call for the implementation of ambitious and pragmatic policies by all stakeholders, which envisage different national circumstances and the broadest range of technologies. We call on the private sector to seek opportunities from green growth. We will further support strategies for green growth that mainstream adapted policy mixes at all economic and social levels, supporting both public and private initiatives.

33. To this end and with a view to encouraging long-term investment, we are deploying a broad set of policies including market-based, regulatory and voluntary measures, and promoting R&D for clean technologies and energy efficiency.

34. Recognising the importance of establishing green growth measurement schemes, we will work with relevant international fora, including the UNEP, the OECD and the IEA, to identify an appropriate set of possible indicators.

35. Since employment remains a central concern, we will support carefully designed labour market measures supportive of the creation of green jobs as well as of the greening of traditional jobs and of the development of skills policies, in order to facilitate the transition towards national and local sustained green activities.

36. We strongly support international cooperation on green growth and will intensify our efforts to contribute to progress for the next steps, notably looking toward the June 2012 UN Conference in Rio on sustainable development and various international events planned, including the Bonn Conference on Water, Energy and Food Security in November, the Durban Conference on Climate Change in December, the Marseille World Water Forum in March 2012 and the Conference on Biological Diversity in October 2012 in New Delhi. In this regard, we encourage UNEP and OECD efforts, and welcome complementary messages by these two organisations for the Rio+20 Conference.

37. We believe that it is also crucial to employ a range of measures to encourage efficient and sustainable resource use, including renewable energy, by national and other actors. We will keep on supporting international initiatives launched by the G8, notably the International Partnership for Energy Efficiency Cooperation (IPEEC), which has successfully been extended to other stakeholders, the IEA International Low Carbon Energy Technology Platform, the Global Bio Energy Partnership (GBEP), The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) study, the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). We reaffirm our support to the Kobe 3R (“Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”) Action Plan and welcome the OECD report on its implementation on resource productivity, and invite the OECD to continue to work on this issue.
IV. NUCLEAR SAFETY

38. The events in Japan underline the vital importance of nuclear safety which should be addressed as a top priority on the G8 agenda. We commended Japan’s sharing of relevant information and welcomed its presentation of Fukushima events.

39. We acknowledge that those countries having chosen to rely on nuclear energy already pay due attention to the safe operation of their nuclear installations. We recognise that countries may have different approaches regarding the use and contribution of nuclear energy to their energy mix, including the phasing-in or the phasing-out.

40. The events in Japan confirm that there is a continuing need to re-evaluate safety and we recognise the importance of learning from the Fukushima accident and its aftermath. We welcome the initiative taken by many countries to carry out comprehensive risk and safety assessments of their existing nuclear installations, and invite all other countries operating nuclear power plants to launch similar assessments as soon as possible. Such assessments should include accident prevention, emergency preparedness, crisis management and mitigation, and post-accident management. All together these measures will contribute to strengthen the safety infrastructure worldwide.

41. We urge countries to complete periodic review of safety assessments and to carry out assessments at every stage of a nuclear installation’s lifetime, building on experience, and we reaffirm the high priority that we place on safety in the siting and design of new reactors, and the necessity of continuous improvement, learning from incidents and accidents everywhere.

42. We underscore the importance of international cooperation on nuclear safety, including cooperation among governments, industry, research institutions and regulatory bodies. This cooperation will strengthen safety culture worldwide and improve transparency.

43. We recognise the important role of the IAEA for the enhancement of nuclear safety worldwide, and we encourage countries to make use of the relevant IAEA capabilities to help enhance the safety of their nuclear installations. We also urge countries that have not yet done so to ratify the relevant international conventions adopted under the auspices of the IAEA (Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident, Convention on Assistance in the Case of a Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency, Convention on Nuclear Safety, Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management), which are crucial to the international safety regime.

44. Regarding the Convention on Nuclear Safety, the cornerstone of the international safety regime, we welcome the extraordinary meeting of contracting parties to take place in August 2012 to review measures that could strengthen the Convention, notably regarding safety objectives, the responsibility of governments for timely and sufficient measures on accident prevention and management, including the adjustment of procedures for coordination and interaction between the government, the operator and the safety authority, as well as an effective peer review mechanism.

45. We also recommend that countries embarking on or expanding nuclear programmes should establish the relevant infrastructure, with sufficient and qualified human resources, in accordance with IAEA recommendations. We also call on the IAEA to consider the relevant IAEA standards to identify issues that may warrant examination and revision in light of the Fukushima accident, and, in particular, to consider developing or improving additional standards for the construction and operation of nuclear power plants in seismically hazardous areas, as well as in areas that might be otherwise exposed to other external events, taking into account their integrated impact.

46. We will also consider a possible strengthening of the other relevant conventions. Regarding the Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident, efficiency and substance of notifications on the nuclear accident should be further improved, and the Convention could be amended if necessary.

47. We are committed to promoting the highest levels of safety worldwide consistent with the principles of the Convention on Nuclear Safety, through strengthening of international cooperation on safety practices, crisis management, and transparency. Improvements in nuclear safety will gain from the work already being undertaken by safety authorities and operators in fora such as the Multinational Design Evaluation Programme (MDEP), the Western European Nuclear Safety Regulators’ Association (WENRA), the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO), as well as by the International Framework for Nuclear Energy Cooperation (IFNEC). We welcome the announcement made by the IAEA to convene an international ministerial conference on nuclear safety in Vienna on 20-24 June 2011. We also welcome the initiative of the Presidency to gather the regulatory bodies, as well as ministers, of interested countries, to examine ways to further improve nuclear safety worldwide through contributions to the 20-24 June conference. We expect that discussions to be held in the framework of the IAEA for promoting the highest levels of nuclear safety worldwide will bear a fruitful outcome. We ask the Nuclear Safety and Security Group to include these issues in their future work.

48. As we are now engaged in a renewed effort to strengthening nuclear safety worldwide, we must at the same time bring to a conclusion our past commitments, in this year which marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Chernobyl accident. We note with great satisfaction that the international community came together to bring closure to this legacy. Donors, together with the EBRD, were able to pledge substantial additional financial resources for the completion of the ongoing international effort to convert the Chernobyl site into a stable and environmentally safe condition, and we expect countries that have not yet pledged to do so rapidly. We call upon all parties involved in the Chernobyl projects to redouble efforts to implement them on schedule and within budget, and we urge the Ukrainian government to make the adequate institutional and financial provisions to ensure an efficient and successful implementation of the programme within budget.
V. CLIMATE CHANGE AND BIODIVERSITY

49. Tackling climate change is a global priority. We, members of the G8, have undertaken ambitious measures, and are committed to long-term efforts, with a view to doing our part to limit effectively the increase in global temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, consistent with science. We express our determination to act as part of a larger global effort to address this threat as well as our solidarity with developing countries, particularly the poorest and most vulnerable.

50. We reaffirm our willingness to share with all countries the goal of achieving at least a 50% reduction of global emissions by 2050, recognising that this implies that global emissions need to peak as soon as possible and decline thereafter. We are cooperating to that end. As part of this effort, we also support a goal of developed countries reducing emissions of greenhouse gases in aggregate by 80% or more by 2050, compared to 1990 or more recent years. Consistent with this ambitious long-term objective, we will undertake robust aggregate and individual mid-term reductions, taking into account that baselines may vary and that efforts need to be comparable. Similarly, major emerging economies need to undertake quantifiable actions to reduce emissions significantly below business-as-usual by a specified year.

51. We are determined to do our part to reach those objectives and move rapidly towards a low-carbon economy that will generate significant benefits for the protection of the environment and health, for energy savings and energy security, while also delivering job opportunities and growth.

52. We welcome the outcome of the Cancun Conference, which marked a successful effort of the international community building on the Copenhagen Accord. We welcome the positive spirit in which the Cancun Conference took place and progress made under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). We support the provisions adopted including those related to transparency, mitigation, finance (in particular the creation of the Green Climate Fund), adaptation, technology and the fight against deforestation and forest degradation — REDD+.

53. The Durban Conference at the end of the year (COP 17) will be another important step forward, for working towards a comprehensive, ambitious, fair, effective and binding agreement involving all countries, and including the respective responsibilities of all major economies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We need to operationalise the Cancun Agreements and deal with unresolved issues. We are determined to deliver on our commitments as listed in Copenhagen, and confirmed in Cancun, and call on all countries, including all major economies, to deliver on their listed commitments as well. We strongly support South Africa as the incoming Presidency of the Durban Conference and offer our cooperation to make this Conference the success that the world needs in order to successfully combat global climate change.

54. As with climate change, we recognize that the current rate of loss of biological diversity is unacceptable, since biologically diverse and resilient ecosystems are critical to human wellbeing, sustainable development and poverty eradication as well as food security. We are therefore committed to intensifying our efforts to slow the loss of biodiversity. We also recognise that ecosystems play a key role in the global carbon cycle, through carbon storage and adaptation to climate change.

55. In this context, the outcomes of the tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Nagoya are a significant step forward, in particular the adoption of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, the decision on the Strategy for Resource Mobilisation and the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS). We welcome the study on The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB), which was initiated by the G8 in 2007, the operationalisation of the Intergovernmental Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and look forward to timely decisions regarding the Nagoya Protocol on ABS as soon as possible.
VI. ACCOUNTABILITY ON DEVELOPMENT

56. Development is a common challenge. While leadership by developing countries is a key condition for development, the responsibility for aid effectiveness is shared between donor and partner country. We fully support mutual accountability, with a strong focus on results. There is a need for a more comprehensive and coordinated approach to aid effectiveness among all donors and stakeholders, including new donors, under the leadership of State and local authorities, in close partnership with civil society, and based on political will, evidence-based assessment and transparency. We welcome the accountability process undertaken by African partners.

57. We remain strongly committed to meeting our commitments and to tracking their implementation in a fully transparent and consistent manner. We endorse the Deauville Accountability Report: “G8 Commitments on Health and Food Security: State of Delivery and Results” which documents G8 action on health and food security, and mobilisation of financial resources including 85% of all commitments to the L’Aquila Food Security Initiative, 78% of the overall resources of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, 44% of funding for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, and $1.8 billion to the GAVI Alliance through direct contributions and innovative financing mechanisms. We will continue to improve the rigour of G8 accounting for progress in meeting its non-financial commitments and will follow-up on the report’s recommendations.

58. We welcome the outcome document on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) “Keeping the Promise” and we reaffirm the commitments that we have made during the High-level Plenary Meeting on the MDGs, stressing the importance of democratic governance as a central element for achieving these goals. While we recognise the magnitude of the challenges, the actions of both developing countries and donor partners have already contributed to positive results. We will continue to support developing countries to work towards achieving and sustaining the MDGs by 2015 and encourage all stakeholders to do the same, focusing on the protection and empowerment of individuals and communities to improve human security. In this context, we welcome the MDGs follow-up meeting to be held at ministerial level in Tokyo in June of this year as an opportunity to maintain political momentum towards the MDGs. We will redouble our efforts to promote transparency and accountability.

59. In 2005, the OECD estimated that official development assistance (ODA) from the G8 and other donors to developing countries would increase by around USD 50 billion by 2010 compared to 2004. There is a gap of USD 19 billion in constant dollars or USD 1.27 billion in current dollars, relative to OECD estimates for 2010. . Despite the worldwide economic crisis, the G8’s ODA increased from USD 82.55 to 89.25 billion in current dollars between 2009 and 2010. This represents 70% of global ODA, which reached USD 128.73 billion in 2010, representing a 7.27% increase in current dollars compared to 2009. While all commitments have not been met in full, we will strive to maintain our efforts, together with other donors. ODA is a significant element of financing for development, among other resources, particularly domestic resources, innovative financing, remittances, market instruments used by development banks and private sector flows.

60. The G8 has catalysed significant action on health and food security and we are ready to further work with other stakeholders. In this regard:

a. We will continue to support the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. We welcome the commitment of the Global Fund Board to implement a reform agenda to improve oversight, accountability and effectiveness in using its resources. Based on these reforms, traditional donors will be enabled to meet their respective pledges to the Global Fund. We encourage non-traditional donors and the private sector to provide resources to the Global Fund.

b. We reaffirm our commitment to improving maternal health and reducing child mortality, most notably through the Muskoka Initiative for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health launched in 2010. We are delivering our Muskoka commitments. We will continue to monitor their implementation in coordination with all partners, including stakeholders in the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health. We support the recommendations of the Commission on Information and Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health established by the WHO at the request of the UN Secretary General. We will implement them, and urge others to do so.

c. We recognise the impact of the GAVI Alliance and strongly welcome its efforts to expand access to new and under-used life-saving vaccines in the poorest countries including through tiered pricing and innovative mechanisms such as the International Finance Facility for Immunisation. We call for a successful completion of the first pledging conference of GAVI in June in London, involving all relevant actors. We also welcome the development of the Advanced Market Commitments and notably the pilot project on pneumococcal vaccines.

d. We stress our continuing commitment to the eradication of polio which is a reachable objective. Our past support has contributed to the 99% decrease of polio cases in the developing countries. We flag the need for a special focus on this issue and renewed momentum. To this end, we will continue to support the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

e. We will work, together with major bilateral donors, global health programmes and country coordination initiatives, to improve these funds’ implementation of aid effectiveness.

f. We welcome the Patent Pool Initiative launched by UNITAID in order to facilitate the production of affordable generic medicines well-adapted for use in resource-poor settings, and we encourage the voluntary participation of patent owners, private and public, in the project.

g. We encourage a strong and comprehensive multilateral and bilateral response to improve food security. Launched in 2009, the L’Aquila Food Security Initiative (AFSI) brings together a diverse group of stakeholders to address the challenges of food insecurity. Since the L’Aquila Summit, 22% of the AFSI pledges have been disbursed, and an additional 26% are formally in the process of being disbursed for specific purposes. We will disburse or allocate our commitments in full by the end of our respective pledging periods. We reaffirm our support to country-led and regional processes and stress the need to improve coordination among development partners, ensuring a strong focus on results and impact, as well as bilateral support based on the value-chain approach to improve food security. We will intensify our efforts to foster sustainable agricultural production and productivity with an emphasis on smallholder’s farmers, including through public-private partnerships, and research and innovation.

61. In the perspective of the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness to be held in Busan, South Korea later this year, we welcome progress made in aid delivery since the endorsement of the Rome and Paris Declarations and the Accra Agenda for Action. We call for a review of the Aid Effectiveness Agenda in Busan which recognises the shift towards broader issues of development outcomes and impacts.

62. We will improve transparency of our aid information. In particular, we will make further efforts on publishing information on allocations, expenditure and results. Information will be provided in accessible formats that deliver on the needs of partner countries and citizens. In this respect, it is important that partner countries also improve transparency. We recognise that individual countries will proceed at their own pace but we will lead by example through increasing transparency in this area and work with others in advance of the Fourth High Level Forum in Korea in November 2011. We will continue to support transparency in other areas including through the full implementation of the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI), which we all support, We call on all countries, notably resource-rich countries, and extractive companies to join or support this initiative. We also welcome the complementary efforts to increase revenue transparency, and commit to setting in place transparency laws and regulations or to promoting voluntary standards that require or encourage oil, gas, and mining companies to disclose the payments they make to governments.

63. We will continue to work with the OECD and in other fora to foster accountability processes and call on all donors to engage in similar exercises.
VII. PEACE AND SECURITY

64. We demand the immediate cessation of the use of force against civilians by the Libyan regime forces as well as the cessation of all incitement to hostility and violence against the civilian population. In that regard, we take note of actions undertaken by UN Member States to implement fully UNSCRs 1970 and 1973. We stress the need to hold to account those responsible for attacks on civilians. These criminal actions will not go unpunished. We welcome the work of the International Criminal Court in investigating crimes in Libya and note the Chief Prosecutor’s request on 16 May for three arrest warrants. Qadhafi and the Libyan government have failed to fulfil their responsibility to protect the Libyan population and have lost all legitimacy. He has no future in a free, democratic Libya. He must go.

65. We are committed to supporting a political transition that reflects the will of the Libyan people. We recall our strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national unity of Libya. We stress the central role of the Secretary-General’s Envoy to Libya, Mr Al-Khatib, in facilitating an inclusive and lasting political solution, based on the legitimate demands of the Libyan people and taking into account the role of regional organisations, the League of Arab States and the African Union. We recognise the initiatives undertaken by the members of the Contact Group on Libya. We welcome the Interim National Council’s “Road Map on Libya” as an important contribution to the transition process which has to be Libyan-led. We reiterate the central role of the UNSC in accordance with the UN Charter.

66. We are appalled by the deaths of many peaceful protesters as a result of the sweeping use of violence in Syria as well as by repeated and serious violations of human rights. We call on the Syrian leadership to immediately stop using force and intimidation against the Syrian people and to respond to their legitimate demands for freedom of expression and universal rights and aspirations. We also call for the release of all political prisoners in Syria. Only the path of dialogue and fundamental reforms will lead to democracy, and thus to long-term security and prosperity in Syria. Should the Syrian authorities not heed this call, we will consider further measures. We are convinced that only by implementing meaningful reforms will a democratic Syria be able to play a positive role in the region.

67. We are convinced that the historic changes throughout the region make the solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through negotiations more important, not less. Aspirations of the peoples in the region need to be heeded including that of the Palestinians for a viable and sovereign State and that of Israelis for security and regional integration. The time to resume the Peace Process is now.

a. Negotiations are the only way toward a comprehensive and lasting resolution to the conflict. The framework for these negotiations is well known. We urge both parties to return to substantive talks with a view to concluding a framework agreement on all final status issues. To that effect, we express our strong support for the vision of Israeli-Palestinian peace outlined by President Obama on May 19, 2011.

b. We appreciate the efforts and the progress made by the Palestinian Authority and the leadership of President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad as they are building a viable State as recently commended by the IMF, the World Bank and the ad hoc liaison Committee.

c. We look forward to the prospect of the second donors’ conference for Palestine in Paris, also in view of the resumption of negotiations.

d. We call on Israel and the Palestinian Authority to abide by existing co-operation agreements and to abstain from unilateral measures that could hamper progress and further reforms. We call for the easing of the situation in Gaza.

e. We demand the unconditional release of the abducted soldier Gilad Shalit without delay.

68. We are increasingly concerned about the situation in Yemen and the crisis which has shaken the country for too long. We condemn the use of violence in response to peaceful protest throughout Yemen. We commend the efforts of the Gulf Cooperation Council and appreciate the constructive response from the opposition. We remain supportive of an inclusive process that should bring about political and social reform in Yemen and lead to a peaceful and orderly transition. We urge President Saleh to immediately follow through on his commitments and ensure that the legitimate aspirations of the Yemeni people are addressed.

69. We remain seriously concerned about the ongoing suppression of democratic rights in Iran, especially given that Iran has repeatedly professed support for freedom and democratic behaviour elsewhere in the region. At the same time, we deplore violence which has led to the loss of lives of Iranian civilians, and we deplore interference with media, unjustified detentions and arrests. We call on the Iranian authorities to stop repression against their people and respect their international commitments, including under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. We also call on the Iranian authorities to lift restrictions on freedom of movement and communication of Iranian opposition leaders. Iran should play a constructive and responsible role in the region.

70. We reiterate our strong concern about severe proliferation challenges and the major threat they represent for international peace and security. We will spare no effort in fighting the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery. We reiterate our commitment to working to resolve them through diplomatic means. We recall our commitment to seeking a safer world for all and to creating the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons in accordance with the goals of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), in a way that promotes international stability based on the principles of undiminished security for all.

71. We are determined to strengthen the global non-proliferation architecture by supporting all relevant multilateral treaties and arrangements and by promoting their implementation and universalization. In this respect, we are committed to maintaining and strengthening the global nuclear non-proliferation regime based on the NPT and its three pillars of non-proliferation, disarmament, and peaceful uses of nuclear energy, including by taking the actions in the plan adopted by consensus at the 2010 NPT Review Conference. We also call upon all States still not Parties to the NPT, the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) to accede without delay.

72. Iran’s persistent failure to comply with its obligations under six UNSC resolutions and to meet the requirements of ten IAEA Board of Governors resolutions is a cause of utmost concern. We note with deep concern the recent report by the IAEA which underlines that Iran is not implementing a number of its obligations, that areas of concern remain regarding possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear programme and that the Agency is therefore unable to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities. We recognise Iran’s right to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy under the NPT, but this right also comes with obligations that all States parties to the NPT, including Iran, have to respect. We regret that while Iran finally met twice with China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union High Representative, following their intensive diplomatic efforts and the adoption of measures in UNSCR 1929, it was not possible to reach any substantive result, Iran having not yet entered into a genuine dialogue without preconditions. Depending on Iran’s actions, we will determine the need for additional measures in line with the dual-track approach.

73. We condemn the DPRK’s provocative behaviour with regard to the Armistice Agreement and numerous Inter-Korean agreements, its continued development of nuclear and missile programmes and its uranium enrichment programme and light water reactor construction activities in violation of UNSC Resolutions 1718 and 1874. We reiterate our commitment to implementing fully the UNSC Resolutions and call upon all UN Member States to do the same. We urge the DPRK to comply with its international obligations, including the complete, verifiable and irreversible abandonment of all its nuclear programmes and ballistic missile programmes and promptly to address international humanitarian concerns, such as the issue of abduction. While taking note of relevant parties’ willingness to resolve problems through the Six Party Talks, we urge the DPRK to take concrete actions to create an environment conducive to the resumption of the Six Party Talks and express support for the current efforts by the Republic of Korea to this end.

74. We note with deep concern the lack of cooperation by Syria reflected in the most recent IAEA report. We urge Syria to fulfil its obligations and fully cooperate with the Agency and respond to the IAEA Director-General’s requests for access and information in order to clarify all outstanding issues. We look forward to the IAEA Board of Governors addressing the seriousness of the issue.

75. We express our grave concern at the continued proliferation of WMD delivery systems and at the acquisition of key technologies and development of certain ballistic missile programmes usable for weapons of mass destruction. In particular, the Iranian and DPRK’s programmes are a serious cause for concern. We recognise the need to step up our efforts to combat the threat of proliferation of ballistic missiles capable of delivering WMD to international peace and security, including by promoting multilateral arrangements and instruments, such as the Hague Code Of Conduct and the Missile Technology Control Regime.

76. We fully support the paramount role played by the United Nations Security Council in addressing proliferation issues as well as the key role of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in assuring the exclusively peaceful nature of nuclear activities. We call on all States that have yet to do so to sign and ratify a Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement together with an Additional Protocol and to bring these agreements into force as their combination is meant to constitute the universally accepted international verification standard.

77. We welcome the ratification by the United States and the Russian Federation of the New START Treaty and its subsequent entry into force as significant progress on the disarmament agenda. We call on all States participating in the Conference on Disarmament to start substantive negotiations on a Treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices (FMCT), building on the CD/1864 programme of work. We express our support for the moratorium on the production of such material announced by the G8 nuclear-weapon States and call on the other States concerned to follow suit. We will continue our efforts for the permanent and legally binding cessation of all nuclear weapon test explosions or any other nuclear explosion through the swift entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and we call upon all States to join our efforts in this regard as well as to uphold the moratorium on testing pending the entry into force of the CTBT.

78. We welcome the concrete achievements and measurable results of the Global Partnership against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction launched in Kananaskis in 2002 for a 10-year period. We remain committed to completing priority projects in Russia. Our assessment of the Partnership recognises the significant progress the 23 Partners have achieved on the full range of WMD non-proliferation activities worldwide. The assessment also provides directions for the future. As such, we agree to extend the Partnership beyond 2012, based on the areas of focus enunciated at Muskoka (nuclear and radiological security, bio-security, scientist engagement, and facilitation of the implementation of UNSCR 1540). We will work with all Partners in discussing assistance needs and coordinating possible projects in the above-mentioned areas, and we will expand membership of the Partnership. Partners will decide on funding of such projects on a national, joint, or multilateral basis.

79. While proliferation must be fought, we ask our experts to explore ways of ensuring fair and responsible access to the benefits of the peaceful uses of technologies and to report back by the next Summit. We support the exchange, in conformity with the obligations of the NPT, of equipment, materials and scientific and technological information for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, in particular for developing countries. We will consider the enlargement of the suppliers’ groups to responsible stakeholders in a manner consistent with the groups’ procedures and objectives. We reiterate our commitment as in paragraph 8 of the L’Aquila Statement on Non-Proliferation.

80. We remain committed to holding a conference in 2012 on a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, as endorsed by the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, with a view to creating a peaceful environment in the region.

81. Fighting terrorism and addressing the conditions conducive to its spread remains one of our priorities. While the death of Usama Bin Laden represents a significant step in the fight against international terrorism, we remain concerned about the continuing threat from terrorist groups, as well as their increased presence in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and across the Sahel. We reiterate our absolute condemnation of terrorism in all of its forms and manifestations, including the upsurge in hostage-taking, and our commitment to work together to eradicate this threat in full compliance with international law. All acts of terrorism are criminal, inhumane, and unjustifiable irrespective of motivation. We express our deepest condolences for lives lost and disrupted by these senseless acts, and we reaffirm our strong commitment to help victims of terrorist acts, and support their powerful message against violence.

82. We emphasize a continued need to pay attention to global efforts to counter the phenomenon of radicalisation leading to violence and violent extremism in all of its manifestations. We recognise that such efforts to counter violent extremism are strengthened when states engage all relevant stakeholders. We also note the resilience and unity of communities and countries in the face of terrorism, which underscores the capacity of societies to absorb tragedy and emerge with renewed strength. We reaffirm that an effective counter-terrorism strategy must be based both on a comprehensive approach that includes security and development-oriented initiatives and on full respect for human rights, including the right to practice religious faith in safety and security, without fear of violence and repression, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law. We take note of the status report prepared by the G8 Roma/Lyon group, detailing the measures undertaken to implement the priorities we set out in our Statement on Counter-Terrorism adopted last year during the Muskoka Summit. We welcome the prospect of further such reports.

83. We look forward to working with partners from all regions within the soon-to-be launched Global Counter-Terrorism Forum (GCTF). This Forum will be aimed at strengthening the international consensus in the fight against terrorism, creating new opportunities of cooperation and furthering the implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. We underscore the central role that the UN must continue to play in global counterterrorism efforts and commit to ensuring that effective UN tools, such as the 1267 al-Qaeda and Taliban sanction regime, remain relevant in the future.

84. We welcome the outcome of the Ministerial Meeting on Transatlantic Cocaine Trafficking held on 10 May. We endorse the Political Declaration and Action Plan adopted by the Ministers and aimed at strengthening international and regional cooperation in the fight against drug trafficking. Emphasizing the global nature of illicit drug trafficking, we also welcome the outcome of the Transatlantic Symposium on Dismantling transnational Illicit Networks and express our support to the incoming Ministerial Conference of the Paris Pact.

85. We reaffirm our commitment to a stable, peaceful and sovereign Afghanistan, free of terrorism, extremist violence, and illicit drug production and trafficking, with full ownership of its own security, governance and development, based on the principle of non-intervention in Afghanistan internal affairs and mutual non-interference. We welcome the announcement by President Karzai of the first areas to begin the process of transition to Afghan-led security in the coming months. We will continue to support the transition process endorsed by Afghanistan and the international community at the London and Kabul Conferences as well as at the NATO Lisbon Summit.

86. We welcome the work of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and its High Peace Council to take forward a political process of reconciliation and reintegration for Afghans who meet its end-state conditions of renouncing violence, breaking ties with al Qaeda and abiding by the Afghan Constitution, including its protection for all Afghan women and men. A political process, culminating in an inclusive and sustainable settlement is required. We support this process, which has to be Afghan-led.

87. We welcome the opportunity to address these issues and discuss long-term engagement of the international community in support of Afghanistan at the International Conference of Foreign Ministers to be held in Bonn on 5 December 2011.

88. We strongly condemn the attack against the United Nations office in Mazar-e-Sharif on 1 April, which resulted in the death of United Nations staff. We reaffirm our support for the work of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), conducted in partnership with the Afghan Government, for strengthening peace and democracy in the country.

89. We stress the importance of political and economic regional cooperation and developing the rule of law for stability, peace and prosperity in Afghanistan and the wider region. In this respect, we welcome the prospect of increased transborder cooperation on transport, including rail, as well as on water, energy and human resources.

90. We are committed to supporting Pakistan and re-emphasize the importance of Pakistan itself tackling its political, economic and social challenges by undertaking the urgently needed reforms supported by the international community. We acknowledge the crucial importance of education for the economic and social development of Pakistan. Our cooperation programmes will make getting more children into better schools a priority.

91. We express our deep concern regarding the recent rise of political tension and the culture of impunity in Zimbabwe. We call for the end of all forms of violence and intimidation. We encourage the SADC to continue their facilitation efforts on the basis of the Livingstone Communiqué of the Organ Troika on Politics, Defence and Security of 31 March 2011 to assist Zimbabwe in completing the implementation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA). We encourage the SADC Facilitation to renew its efforts to assist Zimbabwe in completing the implementation of the GPA and to secure agreement and implementation by all parties to the GPA of a roadmap to organise free, peaceful and transparent elections within a new constitutional framework approved by referendum.

92. We welcome the work on strengthening capacity building for peace and security, in compliance with the Sea Island (2004) and subsequent commitments. We acknowledge the positive results achieved by the relevant training facilities in G8 Countries and recall that national ownership and mutual accountability are key elements for the success of these capacity-building actions, as well as the establishment of adequate training programmes close to the needs.

93. We stress the necessity to avoid duplications in our peacekeeping/peacebuilding actions and to pool our efforts and encourage to that end the implementation of an enhanced capacity-building coordination mechanism in partnership with the United Nations. We support the development of initiatives on the reinforcement of international civilian capacities in post-conflict situations and commit to enhance the recruitment, training and deployment of experts in this regard.
ANNEXES
1. Chair’s Summary of the Meeting of the G8 Ministers of Foreign Affairs (14-15 March 2011, Paris)

2. Statement on the 7th Review Conference for the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention adopted by the G8 Ministers of Foreign Affairs (14-15 March 2011, Paris)

3. Political Declaration and Action Plan adopted by the Ministers responsible for the Fight against Illicit Drug Trafficking (10 May 2011, Paris)

4. Deauville Accountability Report: G8 Commitments on Health and Food Security, State of Delivery and Results

5. Declaration on Non Proliferation and Disarmament

6. Report on the G8 Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction

7. G8 Global Partnership – Assessment and Options for Future Programming

8. Report of the G8 Nuclear Safety and Security Group (NSSG)

Canadian PM Stephen Harper Lone Support for Israel at G8 — Prevents Reference to 1967 Borders in G8 Statement

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings and JBuzz. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in Jewish Studies at Concordia University.

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper makes statements during a closing news briefing at the G8 summit in Deauville, northern France May 27, 2011.

Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper makes statements during a closing news briefing at the G8 summit in Deauville, northern France May 27, 2011.

Photograph by: Jean-Paul Pelissierr, Reuters

IN FOCUS

  • G8 Summit Statement on Israel: G8 DECLARATION RENEWED COMMITMENT FOR FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY G8 Summit of Deauville – May 26-27, 2011 – G8 Summit 2011

THE HEADLINES….

  • Harper blocks mention of 1967 border in G8 Mideast statement: Stephen Harper blocked G8 leaders from declaring in their summit statement that Middle East peace talks should be based on returning to Israel’s pre-war 1967 borders, plus negotiated land swaps.
    U.S. President Barack Obama had made that stand a key part of his campaign to re-launch peace talks, making the call for talks based on 1967 borders in a May 19 speech that was endorsed by most leaders of the Group of Eight countries gathered here.
    Prime Minister Stephen Harper answers reporters’ questions following the first day of the G8 Summit in Deauville, France. Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press
    But it’s a position that has been rejected by Israel, which regards returning to its smaller 1967 borders as unacceptable because they did not include East Jerusalem, which the Israeli government views as part of its capital, and key strategic territory for its security.
    G8 leaders meeting in Deauville, France had sought to include the reference to 1967 borders as a way to prod talks by signalling concessions must be made – they argued embracing the Arab Spring of pro-democracy movements should be combined with an urgent press for Mideast peace. But Mr. Harper judged that the draft other G8 leaders wanted wasn’t balanced, and didn’t refer to key Palestinian concessions that Mr. Obama also outlined in his speech…. – Globe & Mail, 5-27-11
  • G8 leaders omit mention of 1967 borders in Middle East statement: Diplomats say that Canada objected to a specific mention of the 1967 borders in statement issued by world leaders calling for resumption of Israel-Palestinian peace talks.
    Group of Eight leaders had to soften a statement urging Israel and the Palestinians to return to negotiations because Canada objected to a specific mention of 1967 borders, diplomats said on Friday.
    Canada’s right-leaning Conservative government has adopted a staunchly pro-Israel position in international negotiations since coming to power in 2006, with Prime Minister Stephen Harper saying Canada will back Israel whatever the cost.
    Diplomats involved in Middle East discussions at the G8 summit said Canada had insisted that no mention of Israel’s pre-1967 borders be made in the leaders’ final communique, even though most of the other leaders wanted a mention.
    “The Canadians were really very adamant, even though Obama expressly referred to 1967 borders in his speech last week,” one European diplomat said…. – Haaretz, 5-27-11
  • Harper’s role in Middle East peace efforts causes stir at G8: Prime Minister Stephen Harper praised a G8 resolution on the Middle East peace process Friday that, according to a media report, was watered down at his request to avoid a reference that has infuriated Israel.
    The stir at the summit over Harper’s role arose as the G8 leaders emerged with a $40-billion U.S. plan to help Egypt and Tunisia transform from dictatorships to democracies.
    French President Nicolas Sarkozy said $20 billion would come from multilateral institutions, such as the African Development Bank, $10 billion from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait, and $10 billion in direct bilateral aid from G8 countries — including $1 billion from France.
    But Canada refused to commit to any country-to-country aid, saying it has given sufficient funding since 2009 to multilateral institutions tasked to help the region.
    Reuters cited diplomatic sources saying that Harper insisted there be no reference to Israel’s borders before 1967, when it seized the West Bank and Gaza from Jordan and Egypt, respectively, during the Six Day War…. – Montreal Gazette, 5-27-11
  • Obama statement on Israeli borders should be looked at in totality: Harper says: Focus over a return to 1967 borders as a condition for peace between Israel and Palestine misses some of the other points the U.S. is trying to make in how to achieve an end to that historic conflict, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Friday.
    Talks on unrest in the Middle East and North Africa have dominated the G8 summit in France. While the discussions have largely been about the economic and political impact of recent uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere, addressing the older conflict in the region was revived ahead of the talks, thanks to a landmark address this month by U.S. President Barack Obama.
    In it, Obama urged that a Palestinian state be based on 1967 borders _ before the Six Day War in which Israel occupied East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. It marked a significant shift in the U.S. position and infuriated Israel.
    Obama’s remarks were called “courageous” by French President Nicolas Sarkozy at a news conference Thursday, but Harper didn’t go that far in his first public comments on the speech.
    Obama’s speech needs to be looked at as a whole, Harper said. “President Obama emphasized that in a two-state solution, one of those states has to be a Jewish state and conceded to be a Jewish state, another is that the Palestinian state must be a demilitarized state,” Harper told a small news conference after the final working session of the G8 meetings on Thursday.
    “So I think these and other messages are important messages to deliver and I say I think if you look at the statement in its totality it was very balanced and it is certainly something that Canada can support.” The Canadian Press, 5-27-11
  • 1967 Lines Reference Pulled from G8 Statement: A reference to the 1967 lines as the basis for a future border was reportedly removed at Canada’s request from a G8 summit statement calling for renewed Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.g8 summit
    Reuters cited unnamed diplomatic sources who said that the language was stricken at Canada’s insistence. The G8 summit, which is taking place this year in Deauville, France, brings together leaders of eight of the world’s leading economic powers.
    “The Canadians were really very adamant, even though Obama expressly referred to 1967 borders in his speech last week,” a European diplomat told Reuters.
    Obama’s call has been praised by some of the leaders of G8 member states, including British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
    Canada’s leader, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, is known for his strongly pro-Israel views. Reuters obtained a copy of the final G8 statement, which expresses “strong support for the vision of Israeli-Palestinian peace outlined by President Obama.” – Virtual Jerusalem, 5-27-11
  • 1967 lines reference pulled from G8 statement at Canada’s request: A reference to the 1967 lines as the basis for a future border was reportedly removed at Canada’s request from a G8 summit statement calling for renewed Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
    Reuters cited unnamed diplomatic sources who said that the language was stricken at Canada’s insistence. The G8 summit, which is taking place this year in Deauville, France, brings together leaders of eight of the world’s leading economic powers.
    “The Canadians were really very adamant, even though Obama expressly referred to 1967 borders in his speech last week,” a European diplomat told Reuters.
    In his May 19 Middle East policy speech, President Obama called for the 1967 lines with mutually agreed land swaps to be the basis for a future border between Israel and a Palestinian state. This formulation drew objections from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who called the 1967 lines “indefensible” for Israel.
    Obama’s call has been praised by some of the leaders of G8 member states, including British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
    Canada’s leader, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, is known for his strongly pro-Israel views.
    Reuters obtained a copy of the final G8 statement, which expresses “strong support for the vision of Israeli-Palestinian peace outlined by President Obama.” JTA, 5-27-11
  • Canada takes pro-Israeli stand at G8 summit: G8 Summit gives in to Canada’s stand against mentioning a specific stand of the 1967 borders at which called for re-commencement of Israel-Palestinian peace talks on Friday.
    Group of eight leaders (G8) had to change the statement which urged Israelis and the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table.
    Canada’s right wing Conservative government adopted a pro-Israel position in the international negotiations since coming to power in 2006.
    Diplomats who were involved in Middle East discussions at the G8 summit said, Canada was insistent that there should not be a mention of Israel’s pre-1967 borders in the communication even though most of the other country leaders wanted to talk about the subject.
    “The Canadians were really very adamant, even though Obama expressly referred to 1967 borders in his speech last week,” a European diplomat said, reported Reuters.
    A spokesperson for Prime Minister Stephen Harper said there would be no comment on the line Canada had taken, saying only that the final communication will only make the positions clear.
    In the final communication, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters, the leaders called for the immediate resumption of peace talks without mentioning the 1967 borders issue.
    “Negotiations are the only way toward a comprehensive and lasting resolution to the conflict,” the spokesperson said.
    “The framework for these negotiations is well known. We urge both parties to return to substantive talks with a view to concluding a framework agreement on all final status issues. “To that effect, we express our strong support for the vision of Israeli-Palestinian peace outlined by President Obama on May 19, 2011.”
    “When Israel, the only country in the world whose very existence is under attack, is consistently and conspicuously singled out for condemnation, I believe we are morally obligated to take a stand,” Harper had said earlier. – IBTimes, 5-27-11
  • Avigdor Lieberman thanks Canada PM for objection to 1967 borders at G8: The foreign minister tells Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper ‘Canada is a true friend of Israel,’ after Harper insisted that no mention of Israel’s pre-1967 borders be made in the leaders’ final communiqué.
    Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman called Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Friday to thank him for objecting to a specific mention of 1967 borders in a statement on the Middle East released by leaders of the Group of Eight.
    Diplomats involved in Middle East discussions at the G8 summit on Friday said Canada had insisted that no mention of Israel’s pre-1967 borders be made in the leaders’ final communiqué, even though most of the other leaders wanted a mention.
    “Canada is true friend of Israel,” Lieberman said, adding that they “understand that the 1967 lines are inconsistent with Israel’s security needs.”
    Lieberman and Harper also spoke about taking a stand against Hamas integration into a newly unified Palestinian government. The foreign minister also invited Harper to visit Israel…. – Haaretz, 5-27-11

QUOTES

  • Excerpts: G8 Statement on Israel: In the final communiqué of the G8, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters, the leaders call for the immediate resumption of peace talks but do not mention 1967, the year Israel seized the West Bank and Gaza from Jordan and Egypt during the Six-Day War.
    “Negotiations are the only way toward a comprehensive and lasting resolution to the conflict,” the communiqué said.
    “The framework for these negotiations is well known. We urge both parties to return to substantive talks with a view to concluding a framework agreement on all final status issues.
    “To that effect, we express our strong support for the vision of Israeli-Palestinian peace outlined by President Obama on May 19, 2011.”
  • Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper Remarks at G8 Summit on Israel: “You can’t cherry pick elements of that speech. In terms of being balanced and even-handed and tying to resolve the Middle East peace conference, all of the elements of that speech have to be looked at as a totality, and I think that’s the basis on which we have to approach the situation.”
    “I think if you’re going to get into other elements, obviously I would like to see reference to elements that were also in President Obama’s speech. Such as, for instance, the fact that one of the states must be a Jewish state. The fact that the Palestinian state must be de-militarized. I think it’s important that any statement on this be balanced, as was President Obama’s.”
  • B’nai Brith Canada: Prime Minster Harper’s strong G8 stance on Mideast welcomed: B’nai Brith Canada has welcomed the efforts of Prime Minister Stephen Harper to ensure that the call of the G8 leaders for renewed peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians is not tied to any precondition relating to the 1967 borders.
    “We welcome the fact that the G8 communiqué will reportedly not impose preconditions that could a priori prejudice the negotiating framework and thereby undermine at the outset crucial Israeli security needs,” stated Frank Dimant, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada. “Preconditions of this nature can only hamper negotiations and cannot ensure lasting peace between the parties.”
    “We are proud not just that our Prime Minster has taken such a principled position on the world stage, but that he evidently commands the respect of the G8 leaders who have accepted his recommendations on this issue.” – Canada Free Press, 5-27-11

Derek Penslar: Oxford University appoints Israel studies professor with £3m donation

Source: Guardian UK, 5-26-11

Derek Penslar will take up post as a fellow of St Anne’s college next year to study the country’s history ‘within a global context’

Students outside an Oxford University building

Students pass an Oxford University library. A new professor has been appointed by the institution to research Israel’s history. Photograph: Graham Turner for the Guardian

Oxford University has appointed its first chair of Israel studies to research the economics, society and politics of the Jewish state, following a £3m benefaction by a charitable foundation.

Derek Penslar, professor of Jewish history at Toronto university, will take up the post next year as a fellow of St Anne’s College. He said he regarded himself as under an obligation to “strive for political neutrality” and would study Israel “within a global context”. “One cannot understand Zionism without studying the history of nationalism, both within Europe and as a reaction against European colonialism.

“One cannot understand Israeli politics, or the relationship between the Israeli state and its military, outside of the framework of Arab-Israeli relations and the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Penslar told the Guardian in an email. “Israel’s economy is, particularly in recent years, very much a product of trends towards globalization.”

Commenting on the question of neutrality, he said: “I do believe that when people study a part of the world closely, and as they develop a more nuanced and sophisticated understanding of its history, politics and culture, they develop empathy for even mutually-opposed parties, which tends to moderate extreme, rigid political orthodoxies. But it does not overthrow long-held political convictions, nor should it.”

Penslar will be the first Stanley Lewis professor of Israel studies, a chair created with a £3m benefaction from the Stanley and Zea Lewis family foundation.

He is jointly appointed by the school of interdisciplinary area studies, and the department of politics and international relations.

Professor Roger Goodman, head of the social sciences division at Oxford, said: “Israel plays a key part in the debate about the Middle East, and Professor Derek Penslar is a foremost scholar of its history and politics. This chair and his appointment give Oxford a fantastic opportunity to expand its research into this important area of the world and to become a major global centre for the study of contemporary Israel.”…READ MORE

Rebecca Kobrin, Nils Roemer: Reviews — Bialystock, Worms Cities of Jewish Success, Crushed

Cities of Jewish Success, Crushed

Source: The Forward, 5-25-11 — Published May 25, 2011, issue of June 03, 2011.

Books

Unemployed Workers: Alter Kacyzne,
the Forward’s renowned photographer,
captioned this image from Bialystok
circa 1920, ‘Standing on the corner, looking
for a little work.’

Forward association / Yivo
Unemployed Workers: Alter Kacyzne, the Forward’s renowned photographer, captioned this image from Bialystok circa 1920, ‘Standing on the corner, looking for a little work.’

JEWISH BIALYSTOK AND ITS DIASPORA
By Rebecca Kobrin
Indiana University Press, 380 pages, $24.95
GERMAN CITY, JEWISH MEMORY: THE STORY OF WORMS
By Nils Roemer
Brandeis University Press, 328 pages, $35

A vast, heartbreaking and, to English readers, inaccessible Yiddish and Hebrew library — of some 1,000 volumes, studded with unique memoirs and rare photographs — known as yizker-bikher, or memorial books, is devoted to eternalizing the legacies of the myriad cities and towns of Jewish Eastern Europe destroyed by the Holocaust. These books were collaboratively produced, mostly in the late 1950s through the early ’70s, by the survivors of those Jewish communities. But with the exception of a half-dozen or so, they are not the product of critical historical scholarship, and only three have been fully translated into English.

Thankfully, new scholarly English books that focus on particular European Jewish communities have recently been appearing at a steady pace. Still, not entirely unlike the memorial books, the varied approaches taken by today’s historians have produced uneven results, as exemplified by two new studies — of the cities of Bialystok, Poland, and Worms, Germany.

“The Jews of Bialystok and Its Diaspora” by Rebecca Kobrin is the more problematic of the two, as it fails to provide anything approaching an adequate history of one of the most remarkable Jewish communities to emerge in the modern era in Eastern Europe. A cursory — largely demographic and economic — overview, documenting the rapid expansion and productivity of Bialystok Jewry, provides little more than bare-bones statistical information.

To be sure, these raw statistics are most impressive, testifying to a Jewish population that burgeoned to almost 50,000 by 1900 from 4,000 in 1808, at which point Bialystok was more than three-quarters Jewish. The astonishing economic successes of these newly arrived Jews are evidenced by their rapid domination of Bialystok’s main industry: textile manufacturing. By 1898, more than 80% of the city’s weaving mills were owned by Jewish industrialists. As for the inner, religious and intellectual life of this Jewish boomtown, however, Kobrin imparts no information, beyond simplistically dividing Jews into two political camps: Zionists and socialists.

Kobrin situates her study within the emerging discipline of Diaspora studies, and after this short introduction about Jews in Bialystok proper, she focuses almost entirely on the ways in which those who had left Bialystok labored to preserve the memory and legacy of their beloved hometown, even to establish a “Bialystok empire” in the New World. In doing so, Kobrin repeatedly contrasts their “real” homeland — Bialystok, where, despite their majority and prosperity, or perhaps on account of them, Jews were victims of particularly brutal violence during the wave of 1905 pogroms that spread across Russia — with their “imagined” religious one. This deep identification with the Land of Israel is something that Kobrin discounts too readily and too completely. One of the reasons for this, as I note below, is her disregard for the enduring religious elements of modern Eastern European Jewish societies….

Worms’s long and exceedingly complex historical legacy is deftly recovered and expertly analyzed by Niels Roemer in his erudite new book, “German City, Jewish Memory: The Story of Worms.” The oldest of the three great medieval communities (Speier, Worms and Mainz are fondly referred to by the acronym “SHU’M” — literally meaning “garlic”) is the repository of the richest history, literature and geographical artifacts. After wonderfully summarizing the medieval days of devotion to Torah, pietism and unprecedented acts of martyrdom during the First Crusade of 1096, Roemer turns his attention to the long and shifting history of how the community of Worms became a central, if largely symbolic, element in German-Jewish collective memory.

Roemer’s book is the most original work I have yet to read on German-Jewish intellectual history. It is especially enlightening in exploring how the memory of Worms and its physical remnants waned and then were revived. Holy relics, such as the ancient cemetery, the synagogue, the legendary chair of Rashi (who studied in Worms) and the tombs of her many scholars, such as Eleazar ben Judah — a founder of the medieval pietistic movement known as Hasidut Ashkenaz — regained currency first with the advent of printing, which produced popular accounts of Worms’s heroic martyrs, then with the advent of Reform Judaism and finally by the modern era of tourism, during which Worms became a major pilgrimage site for both Christians and Jews.

A wonderfully sensitive thinker and gracious writer, Roemer has produced an utterly original study in the uses, and misuses, less of history than of memory; for beyond his thorough assessment of earlier historians’ treatments of Jewish Worms, he examines a wide array of less conventional sources….READ MORE

Canada’s PM Stephen Harper Lone Israel Supporter at G8 Summit

On Israel, Harper stands alone at G8 summit

Source: Globe & Mail, 5-25-11

Prime Minister Stephen Harper arrives in Deauville, France on Wednesday, May 25, 2011 to attend the G8 Summit. - Prime Minister Stephen Harper arrives in Deauville, France on Wednesday, May 25, 2011 to attend the G8 Summit. | Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

Gil Troy: Dueling diplomacy: Bibi’s boo-boo triggered Barack’s backlash

By Gil Troy, Jerusalem Post, 5-24-11

In the latest diplomatic slap down pitting the President of the United States against the Prime Minister of Israel, Israel lost – as did both leaders. Barack Obama looked like an amateurish bungler, roiling a region which needs calm while once again pouring cement onto three Palestinian positions which need softening– the 1967 borders, the “right” of return and the continuing refusal to negotiate. Binyamin Netanyahu may have looked less foolish – and looked less petulant in their dueling White House soliloquies – but he did more harm. This debacle was avoidable, but Bibi’s boo-boo triggered Barack’s backlash.

Watching Obama’s State Department speech was like reading a bad undergraduate paper. The first part, regarding the Arab spring, was too vague. The second part, on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, was too specific. Obama seemed unprepared. He did not sound ready to articulate an Obama Doctrine that can guide American action as the Arab world changes. Beyond endorsing democracy and peace, Obama neither explained his previous reactions nor offered clear guidelines for future actions. Meanwhile Obama’s Dictate for Israeli-Palestinian progress felt rushed, not properly previewed to prevent squabbles, struggles, then backpedals. The brouhaha over his endorsing 1967 borders with swaps, and the fear he fed the Palestinian delusion that the “right” of return is achievable, were both avoidable. But, like a harried undergraduate producing a pointless paper just to be on time, Obama had his own deadline. He hurried to pre-empt Netanyahu’s Address to a Joint Session of Congress.

The Republican Speaker of the House must be delighted with the trap he sprang on the Democratic president – using Bibi as bait. John Boehner drew the President into this mess, which probably alienated more Democratic donors, forced Obama to massage his Thursday remarks on Sunday, and sparked a distracting firestorm which can only damage the President.

When Republican leaders invited him to address Congress, Netanyahu probably considered this a great coup. Bibi would have one of the world’s greatest stage sets to show off his oratorical talents, while outmaneuvering Obama and fellow Israel-skeptics before pro-Israel Republicans.

But Netanyahu overlooked the defining rule of gravity in Israel-America relations – in any confrontation between the President and the Prime Minister, Israel loses. With the United States the superpower and Israel the lonely little guy, Israel’s dependence on American friendship is too great. An Israeli Prime Minster may succeed in tweaking a particular policy, but only by draining the reservoir of presidential goodwill. So when, as happened Thursday, an Israeli Prime Minister yells at the American Secretary of State, just before a major presidential address, Israel loses. When the Prime Minister denounces presidential proposals before visiting the President, Israel loses. When the President stews as the Prime Minister lectures him, albeit eloquently and indirectly, Israel loses. And when the President sits at a joint press appearance, with his hand placed protectively over his body and under his chin, telegraphing mistrust of the Prime Minister, Israel loses.

Once Obama said what he said, Bibi had to say what he said. But Obama said what he said because Bibi was going to say what he wanted to say to Congress. With a president like Obama, who instinctively blames Israel as the obstacle to peace, the less attention he pays to the region, the better. Netanyahu made his ritualistic visit to AIPAC a big deal by accepting the Congressional invitation. Predictably, the New York Times headline “OBAMA PRESSES ISRAEL TO MAKE ‘HARD CHOICES’,” resulted.

Not all exchanges hurt Israel. Obama disapproved of delegitimizing Israel and said the Palestinians must explain how to work for peace while working with Hamas, whose charter advocates Israel’s destruction. And there is value in the vigorous debate that erupted about what peace can look like, and how to use history as a helpful guideline, not an incendiary device.

Barack Obama believes that to support Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, he must free Israelis from today’s status quo prison, reinforced by comfortable complacency and existential fears. That goal explains why he focuses on the millions of Palestinians living under Israeli control, yearning for real statehood and full civil liberties. But as America’s most pro-Palestinian president since Jimmy Carter, Obama also must free the Palestinians from their nostalgic prison reinforced by lingering longings and deadly hatreds. He must tell them that time does not stand still, that they must dream more about their future state rather than deliriously demanding or violently planning a return to 1967 or 1947. Yet, somehow, Obama’s finger points more easily and wags more vigorously at Israeli caution than Palestinian obstructionism, rejectionism, and violence.

The logical starting point in advocating a two-state solution comes by acknowledging that borders shifted and populations moved, particularly in historic Palestine. Only fools or fanatics claim that borders were ever perma-marked. We cannot undo history. We must move forward, from 2011, trying to minimize disruptions to populations while maximizing satisfaction on both sides. Rather than trying to freeze one random moment in historical time, demography and the current status quo should be our guides, tempered by sensitivity, creativity, and some history, but not too much. And being realistic entails dealing with the current president effectively. In assessing this week’s errors, hopefully Bibi Netanyahu will learn that not to provoke the President, and that scoring debating points only goes so far.

When Israelis and Americans squabble, Palestinian rejectionists rejoice. This spring’s great outrages are not Obama’s proposals or Netanyahu’s hesitations, but Fatah’s new friend in Hamas, Egypt’s new unreliability as a peace partner, Iran’s continuing rush to nuclear power, and the Arab world’s continuing war against Israel’s existence, aided by the left’s useful idiots. These common enemies, along with enduring common values, should keep America’s President and Israel’s Prime Minister cooperating, whatever tactical quibbles may arise.

Gil Troy is Professor of History at McGill University and a Shalom Hartman Research Fellow in Jerusalem. The author of “Why I Am a Zionist: Israel, Jewish Identity and the Challenges of Today,” his latest book is “The Reagan Revolution: A Very Short Introduction.”

giltroy@gmail.com

RJC’s Matthew Brooks to DNC Chair: Support for Israel is a Legitimate Topic for Debate

Source: Republican Jewish Coalition, www.RJCHQ.org, 5-24-11

DNC Seeks to Create “Gag Order” to Protect Vulnerable Candidates
Brooks Cites Gaza 54 Letter and Obama “1967 Lines” Speech

Washington, D.C. (May 24, 2011) — In response to press reports about a joint meeting of Republican and Democratic leaders with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in which DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz asked the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) and other Republican groups to pledge to refrain from using Israel as an issue in the upcoming campaign season, Republican Jewish Coalition Executive Director Matthew Brooks sent the following letter today to Wasserman Schultz.

In his letter, Brooks reaffirmed that the RJC would not take the vital issue of Israel’s security off the table in the U.S. public policy debate, and made clear that, “…it is important for both of us to continue to speak out freely when individuals in our parties break from a position of support for Israel.”

Brooks also wrote, “I hope you agree with me that no one – in either party – whether it is the President of the United States, a candidate for President or a rank and file member – should be shielded from criticism if their positions are harmful to Israel’s well being. Covering up anti-Israel positions by gagging debate about them doesn’t help anyone; instead it only protects those who hope to get away with their anti-Israel positions. The Jewish community has a right to be informed about people’s records and people should be answerable for the positions they take. That is the essence of democracy.”

The full text of the letter is below.

Brooks – Wasserman letter

May 24, 2011

The Honorable Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Chairman

Democratic National Committee

430 S. Capitol St. SE

Washington, D.C. 20003

By facsimile: 202-863-8174

Dear Chairwoman Wasserman Shultz:

It was a pleasure to be with you at yesterday’s bipartisan meeting involving the Republican Jewish Coalition and representatives from the National Jewish Democratic Council. It is always an honor to be with an Israeli Prime Minister and I know you are as grateful as I am for the time he gave us so we could discuss matters that involve Israel’s security.

I also commend you personally for your pro-Israel record as a Congresswoman. There is no question that when it comes to how you vote, you have always been strong for Israel. Not everyone in Congress is like you and that’s why it is important for both of us to continue to speak out freely when individuals in our parties break from a position of support for Israel. I did so just two weeks ago when Congressman Ron Paul announced his candidacy for President.

In order to maintain bipartisan support for Israel, the RJC will continue to publicly point out the records and statements of public officials who stray from this bipartisan position. I hope you will do the same and not feel pressure to sweep under the rug or whitewash the positions of anyone in your party whose positions represent a threat to Israel’s security.

I hope you agree with me that no one – in either party – whether it’s the President of the United States, a candidate for President or a rank and file member – should be shielded from criticism if their positions are harmful to Israel’s well being. Covering up anti-Israel positions by gagging debate about them doesn’t help anyone; instead it only protects those who hope to get away with their anti-Israel positions. The Jewish community has a right to be informed about people’s records and people should be answerable for the positions they take. That is the essence of democracy.

Indeed, several leading Democrats have exercised their right to free speech when they criticized President Obama’s controversial statement that, “The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps.”

Former New York City Mayor and lifelong Democrat Ed Koch responded, “If President Obama does not change his position, I cannot vote for his reelection.”

According to a story in today’s Politico, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, in his remarks to AIPAC, rebuked President Obama for his remarks.

However, in our meeting with the Prime Minister, you appealed to us, in front of the leader of a foreign nation, to pledge to refrain from any debate about these matters. I do not think that the timing or the venue you chose for raising this issue was appropriate.

I recognize that now, as the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, you are in a position where you must support candidates whose positions on Israel are different from yours.

To that end, I understand why you would like to shield and provide political amnesty to those Democrats whose positions undermine Israel’s security.

For example, in Wisconsin, your party is likely to nominate a signer of the Gaza 54 letter, Rep. Tammy Baldwin, to replace Senator Herb Kohl.

In New Mexico, the Democrats are likely to nominate Congressman Martin Heinrich, who refused to join 344 colleagues in condemning the Goldstone report.

And in Connecticut, your party is likely to nominate Congressman Chris Murphy, who accepted major financial support from J Street in two different election cycles.

I understand that you would like to stifle debate in the Jewish community on these issues, but the RJC believes they are legitimate issues and part of a healthy and vigorous debate. Indeed, the best way to avoid debating them is for Democratic candidates not to hold positions that weaken Israel’s security, in which case both parties would be fully joined together in strong support of Israel.

Sincerely

Matthew Brooks

Executive Director

Israel Political Brief May 24, 2011: Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu Gives Speech to Joint Meeting of US Congress

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings and JBuzz. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in Jewish Studies at Concordia University.

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Stephen Crowley/The New York Times — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel spoke to a joint meeting of Congress in Washington on Tuesday.

IN FOCUS

  • FACT CHECK: Netanyahu speech brushes over conflicting views of Mideast realityWaPo, 5-24-11

THE HEADLINES….

  • To Friendly Crowd, Netanyahu Repeats Criteria for Peace: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu capped off a turbulent visit to Washington on Tuesday with a speech to a more sympathetic audience in Congress than he found at the White House, promising peace negotiations aimed at “a far-reaching compromise” with the Palestinians but setting several significant limits on what Israel would accept.
    He said that to reach a deal, Palestinians must agree to live with a Jewish state that would include areas in the suburbs of Jerusalem and around Tel Aviv.
    Jerusalem, he said, “will never be divided,” and Israel’s army would remain along the Jordan River.
    While some land where Israelis have settled would lie outside its final borders, he said, the borders would not be identical to those of 1967 and before, which he once again called indefensible. Palestinian refugees and their descendants, he said, would have to find their homes outside these borders, limiting their right of return to old homelands — long a sticking point.
    “I am willing to make painful compromises to achieve this historic peace,” he said, adding that it would not be easy, because “in a genuine peace, we will be required to give up parts of the ancestral Jewish homeland.”… – NYT, 5-24-11
  • Netanyahu Gives No Ground in Congress Speech: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, broadly laying out the Israeli response to President Obama’s peace proposals, called on the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, on Tuesday to accept what Mr. Netanyahu framed as a tenet: that Palestinians will not get a right of return to Israel. In so doing, he made clear that he was giving no ground on the major stumbling blocks to a peace agreement.
    “I stood before my people and said that I will accept a Palestinian state; it’s time for President Abbas to stand up before his people and say, ‘I will accept a Jewish state,’ ” Mr. Netanyahu said to cheers from a hugely friendly crowd of Democratic and Republican lawmakers gathered in the House chamber of the Capitol.
    “Those six words will change history,” Mr. Netanyahu said. “With those six words, the Israeli people will be prepared to make a far-reaching compromise. I will be prepared to make a far-reaching compromise.”… – NYT, 5-25-11
  • Netanyahu’s speech sets high bar for resumption of peace talks: Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu invited Palestinians back to the bargaining table Tuesday with a speech before Congress that promised “painful” Israeli concessions in exchange for peace but also outlined a tough negotiating stance that was immediately rejected by key Palestinian officials.
    One aide to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called Netanyahu’s proposals a “declaration of war against the Palestinians.”
    Netanyahu’s vision for Middle East peace drew thunderous ovations from U.S. lawmakers who cheered his prescription for a two-state solution that he said would lead to a “viable, independent and prosperous” Palestinian state. The speech culminated a dramatic several days in U.S.-Israeli relations, including a major speech on the Mideast by President Obama on Thursday, a charged visit between the two presidents on Friday and numerous quieter contacts between officials of the two nations.
    Netanyahu, one of a handful of foreign leaders to appear twice before joint sessions of Congress, laid out a vision for a peace agreement with the Palestinians that he said would include a “far-reaching compromise” and generous land concessions by Israel… – WaPo, 5-25-11
  • Netanyahu addresses Congress in historic speech: PM willing to give up parts of Israel but ‘Jerusalem must never be divided. Jerusalem must remain the united capital of Israel.’
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the United States Congress Tuesday in a much-anticipated speech following a turbulent visit to Washington.
    While the PM spoke about various issues, the focus of his address was clearly on the Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, especially the security.
    “We must find a way to forge a lasting peace with the Palestinian people,” said Netanyahu who lauded Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) as a viable partner in peace, but not under the current conditions of their pact with Hamas.
    “Hamas is not a partner for peace. Hamas remains committed to Israel’s destruction,” Netanyahu stated. “Israel will not negotiate with a Palestinian government backed by the Palestinian version of al-Qaeda.”
    Should the opportunity to negotiate peace with the PA arise, Netanyahu made it clear that “Israel will be generous with the size of the Palestinian state” but will not sacrifice security. “Israel will not return to the indefensible boundaries of 1967,” he said adamantly before adding, that it needs “unique security arrangements because of its unique size.”
    Netanyahu repeated what he told the AIPAC conference earlier in the day, that the State of Israel is not the root of the Middle East’s problem.
    “Israel’s not what’s wrong with the Middle East. Israel is what’s right about the Middle East,” he said to a cheering audience.
    “Israel has no better friend than America and America has no better friend than Israel,” he said while also thanking Obama for his great commitment to the security of Israel.
    “The Jewish people are not foreign occupiers. We’re not the British in India, or the Belgians in the Congo. This is the land of our forefathers… no distortion of history will deny the 4,000 year-old bond between the Jewish people and the Jewish land.”
    Netanyahu did not waste this opportunity to take a jab at the United Nations during this public address, saying that, should a peace agreement be reached “Israel will be the first country to welcome a Palestinian state as a member of the United Nation.” Shalom Life, 5-24-11
  • Netanyahu at Congress: Jerusalem Must Remain Undivided: Israel is the only country that has guaranteed freedom of all faiths in Jerusalem, which must remain undivided, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told Congress Tuesday.
    Interrupted by repeated by standing ovations, he also thanked the United States for helping Israel reach its defense capabilities despite the “tough” economy.
    There is no need for the United States to send troops to Israel because “we defend ourselves,” Prime Minister Netanyahu said.
    Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu noted in his opening remarks that the “ground is still shifting” in the Middle East and that the uprisings in the Muslim countries represent people’s demands for liberty. He said that of 300 million Arabs, the only ones who are “truly free” are citizens of Israel.
    He continued, “Israel is not what is wrong about the Middle East. Israel is what is right about the Middle East.”
    After one person interrupted his speech briefly, the Prime Minister said that the United States is a “real democracy” unlike “farcical” regimes of Iran and elsewhere.
    He was welcomed with a standing ovation and three minutes of applause…. – Virtual Jerusalem, 5-24-11
  • PM Netanyahu Calls Congressional Leaders “Steadfast Friends” of Israel: Following his address to the joint meeting of Congress today, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked the Congressional leadership for the invitation to come to the Capitol, and called the bipartisan quartet of leaders “steadfast friends” of Israel.
    “I’ve known these friends of Israel a long time. They’re true, steadfast friends,” Netanyahu told reporters of Sens. Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell and Reps. John Boehner, Nancy Pelosi and Eric Cantor. “I think you got that impression, I got that impression in the [House Chamber] where we’ve just come from, and I was delighted to see these anchors of the Israel-American alliance and the new faces that have been added. It’s heartwarming.”
    “We have a different feeling about the world, about our potential, about our defenses, when we have this solid American support from all parts of the American people. America supports us in our quest for peace; America helps our security; America wants a genuine peace; America opposes Hamas,” he added. “America joins us in demanding that Hamas’s criminal organization release Gilad Shalit. Imagine, they’re keeping our captive soldier in a dungeon for five years, and they’re not letting the Red Cross visit him even once. America stands with us in our just demands to release our soldier; to stop terrorism; to have a real, durable and defensible peace. This is a great day for us.”… – ABC News, 5-24-11
  • Netanyahu to Congress: Ready to make painful compromises, but Jerusalem will not be divided: The prime minister was welcomed to the U.S. Congress by a long standing ovation, after which he praised the U.S. for their strong ties and shared values with Israel…. – Haaretz, 5-24-11
  • Netanyahu: Militant Islam threatening the world: Israel’s prime minister, in an address to Congress on Tuesday, held out the threat of a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities, saying the only time Iran halted its nuclear program was when it feared such an attack.
    Benjamin Netanyahu did not go so far as to say Israel would carry out such an assault. But he told Congress that militant Islam was threatening the world and urged the U.S. never to allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons.
    “The more Iran believes that all options are on the table, the less the chance of confrontation,” Netanyahu said.
    Netanyahu has said before that Iran won’t curb its nuclear ambitions unless it thinks it is threatened with military action…. – AP, 5-24-11
  • Netanyahu receives warm reception in Congress: Lawmakers from both sides of the American political divide are giving Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a rapturous congressional reception, with frequent and sustained standing ovations.
    In his speech to a joint session of Congress, Netanyahu congratulated the United States for killing Osama bin Laden, wishing the al-Qaida leader “good riddance” and making the case that America and Israel are paragons of democracy. He dismissed early shouts from a female protester as evidence that freedom of speech is alive and well and respected in both countries, while it is punished in Arab states now going through upheaval…. – AP, 5-24-11
  • Why such a warm reception for Benjamin Netanyahu at US Congress?: Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu drew a line in the sand Tuesday during his speech to the US Congress, regarding future borders with any new Palestinian state. The applause was enthusiastic.
    The moment many US lawmakers were waiting for came toward the end of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech Tuesday to a joint session of Congress. “Israel will not return to the indefensible boundaries of 1967,” he said, to a vigorous burst of cheers and applause.
    With that, Mr. Netanyahu may have demonstrated that the American Congress stands with Israel, and not with President Obama, on the matter of a starting point for resuming peace talks with the Palestinians – if and when such negotiations ever do resume.
    That, perhaps, does not come as a huge surprise, given the shared Judeo-Christian tradition and shared democratic values. But there’s also the pro-Israel lobby, long one of the most effective on Capitol Hill. Since 1990, pro-Israel groups have contributed more than $97 million to congressional candidates – 67 percent to Democrats and 33 percent to Republicans, according to the Center for Responsive Politics in Washington. Some 38 lobbyists are registered on pro-Israel campaigns, spending more than $8.6 million to lobby Congress and the White House since Mr. Obama took office…. – CS Monitor, 5-24-11
  • U.S. Jewish groups united in support of Netanyahu’s speech to Congress: In speech before a joint meeting of Congress, Netanyahu stresses strong U.S.-Israel ties and their joint interests of protecting democracy and peace.
    Jewish American groups were overwhelmingly united in their praise for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech before the joint meeting of Congress on Tuesday, stressing their support for his clear call for Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish State and commitment to peace…. – Haaretz, 5-24-11
  • Congress gives Netanyahu enthusiastic support down the line: Addressing an enthusiastic joint session of Congress, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that he was willing to make “painful compromises” to reach a comprehensive peace with Palestinian Arabs, but only if they agreed to live with a Jewish state whose territory included the suburbs of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
    In a 45-minute speech punctuated by 29 standing ovations — an unusually high number for a foreign leader before Congress — Netanyahu repeated his assertion that “Israel will not return to the indefensible boundaries of 1967,” which President Barack Obama said in a major speech last week should be the starting point of peace negotiations.
    The spirit of Obama’s remarks reflected the positions of former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. But Obama’s overt call for using the 1967 lines — adjusted by mutually agreed land swaps — was controversial, especially when Netanyahu publicly upbraided Obama in the White House Oval Office the next day. On Tuesday, Netanyahu repeated his stand, but this time in front of a warm, appreciative bipartisan audience of American lawmakers.
    After the speech, congressional leaders of both parties made it clear that they were firmly allied with Israel’s prime minister…. – McClatchy Newspapers 5-24-11
  • Netanyahu’s make-or-break speech to Congress: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, long criticized for being passive and reactionary, is under pressure to exhibit the Zionist legacy of risk-taking and initiative in his address to Congress today….
    Four days after publicly spurning President Obama’s vision for ending the Israeli-Arab conflict, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is under pressure from supporters and critics alike to present an alternative plan for peace as he addresses a joint session of US Congress.
    In the shadow of regional change, Mr. Netanyahu has been attacked for taking a passive, reactive stance that favors his own political survival over meaningful progress with the Palestinians. Now, with Palestinians gaining momentum on a United Nations vote to establish a Palestinian state without Israel’s approval, his country faces a growing threat of isolation and attacks on its legitimacy.
    Many see Netanyahu’s speech today as an opportunity to take the diplomatic initiative, tapping into an Israeli legacy of risk-taking, initiative, and creativity that stretches from the country’s founding fathers to today’s technology entrepreneurs. That spirit – summed up in Zionist leader Theodore Herzl’s phrase, “If you will it, it is no dream” – has been seen in everything from preemptive military attacks to a unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip…. – CS Monitor, 5-24-11
  • Conn. rabbi to give opening prayer at US House session; was invited by Conn. Rep. Himes: A Connecticut rabbi will be visiting Capitol Hill to give the opening prayer before a U.S. House of Representatives session.
    Jeremy Wierderhorn is scheduled to deliver the invocation Tuesday at the invitation of U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, a Democrat from Greenwich. Wierderhorn is rabbi of The Conservative Synagogue of Westport, Weston and Wilton.
    His prayer to open the House session takes place on the same day that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to address a joint session of Congress.
    Wierderhorn has been rabbi at The Conservative Synagogue since 2008, and previously was rabbi of a temple in Henderson, Nevada…. – AP, 5-24-11

QUOTES

  • Full Text: Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Address to a Joint Meeting of the United States CongressTranscript, 5-24-11
  • Bibi to Congress: No compromise on Jerusalem, refugees or Jordan River presence: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that any peace deal with the Palestinians must grant Israel a military presence along the Jordan River, exclude repatriation of Palestinian refugees to Israel and leave Jerusalem as Israel’s united capital.
    However, the Israeli leader said in his address to a joint meeting of Congress on Tuesday, some Jewish settlements in the West Bank would fall outside Israel’s borders in a final peace deal.
    Netanyahu did not appear to offer anything new by way of substance for his vision of peace with the Palestinians, saying Israel “would be very generous” about the size of the Palestinian state but providing few details.
    “Israel needs unique security arrangements, because of its unique size,” Netanyahu said.
    On the dispute over Jerusalem, which he vowed would remain Israel’s undivided capital city, he said, “With creativity and with good will, a solution can be found.”
    “Palestinians from around the world should have the right to immigrate, if they so choose, to the Palestinian state,” he said. “The Palestinian refugee problem will be resolved outside the borders of Israel.”
    “It’s absolutely vital that a Palestinian state be demilitarized,” Netanyahu said, “and it’s absolutely vital that Israel maintain a long-term military presence along the Jordan River.”
    The Israeli prime minister had an informal delivery, cracking several jokes and twice turning around to address Vice President Joe Biden. When a heckler interrupted Netanyahu at one point, Congress tried to drown her out with a standing ovation, much as the pro-Israel crowd at the annual banquet of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee did for the prime minister the previous evening.
    “This is real democracy,” Netanyahu said after the heckler had been removed from the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives.
    Netanyahu repeated some lines from the night before, when most of Congress joined the crowd at the AIPAC gala. “Israel is not what is wrong about the Middle East,” Netanyahu said both days. “Israel is what is right about the Middle East.”
    On the Palestinian issue, Netanyahu said, “I’m willing to make painful compromises to achieve this historic peace.” He called the West Bank the Palestinians’ homeland, but rejected the notion that it belongs to them alone.
    “In Judea and Samaria, the Jewish people are not foreign occupiers,” Netanyahu said, referring to the West Bank. “This is the land of our forefathers, the land of Israel to which Abraham brought the idea of one God.”
    “Our conflict has never been about the establishment of a Palestinian state,” Netanyahu said. “It’s always been about the existence of a Jewish state. That’s what this conflict is about.”
    “I stood before my people and said I will accept a Palestinian state,” Netanyahu said. “It’s time for President Abbas to stand before his people and say: I will accept a Jewish state.”
    As for the contours of a future Palestinian state, Netanyahu indicated that large settlement blocs would become part of Israel, along with “other areas of critical strategic and national importance,” but that, “in any real peace agreement, in any peace agreement that ends the conflict, some settlements will end up beyond Israel’s borders.”
    He said, “We recognize that a Palestinian state must be big enough to be viable, to be independent, to be prosperous.”
    “Israel will not return to the indefensible boundaries of 1967,” Netanyahu said…. – JTA, 5-24-11
  • Netanyahu to Congress: Ready to make painful compromises, but Jerusalem will not be divided: The prime minister was welcomed to the U.S. Congress by a long standing ovation, after which he praised the U.S. for their strong ties and shared values with Israel.
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opened his speech at the United States Congress on Tuesday by reiterating Israel’s strong ties with the U.S., saying “Israel has no better friend than the U.S. and the U.S. has no better friend than Israel.”
    The prime minister’s speech was briefly disrupted by a heckler, who was quickly escorted out by security. Netanyahu said about the heckler, “I appreciate that protesting is allowed” adding “this is the real democracy.”
    Netanyahu rejected those that call Israel a “foreign occupier”, saying that no one could deny the “4,000 year old bond between the Jewish people and the Jewish land.”
    “Why has peace eluded us?” the prime minister posed as he began to discuss the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. “Because so far, the Palestinians have been unwilling to accept a Palestinian state if it meant accepting a Jewish state alongside it.”
    “I am willing to make painful compromises to achieve this historical peace. As the leader of Israel, it is my responsibility,” he said.
    “Now, this is not easy for me. It’s not easy, because I recognize that in a genuine peace we will be required to give up parts of the ancestral Jewish homeland,” he said.
    Netanyahu said that Israel “will not return to the indefensible borders of 1967.” “Israel will be generous on the size of a Palestinian state, but will be very firm on where we put the border with it,” Netanyahu said.
    “It’s time for President Abbas to stand before his people and say, ‘I will accept a Jewish state’,” Netanyahu said to applause.
    “Those six words will change history. They will make it clear to the Palestinians that this conflict will come to an end,” he said. “And those six words will convince the people of Israel that they have a true partner for peace.”
    “Tear up your pact with Hamas and sit down and negotiate, make peace with the Jewish state,” he said. “The Palestinian attempt to impose a settlement through the United Nations will not bring peace, it should be forcefully opposed by all those who want to see this conflict end,” he said. “Peace cannot be imposed, it must be negotiated.”… – Haaretz, 5-24-11
  • House Speaker John Boehner: “We live in a time of instability in the Middle East and around the world, but the United States has no stronger ally than Israel. Our long-standing alliance is built on trust, and it’s based on shared values of freedom and democracy. America has a critical leadership role to play in the Middle East, to advance freedom and democracy in the entire region. That is our historic and moral responsibility as a great and free nation, and we should never retreat from that role, and today we stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel and once again renew our historic partnership. The work of achieving a safe and secure Israel has never been easy, but the cause is right.”
  • House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi: It was “an honor…to join my colleagues in the leadership of the Congress to welcome you once again to the Capitol of the United States” and said that judging by the response to the prime minister’s speech, that Members on “both sides of the aisle, both sides of the Capitol believe that you advance the cause of peace.”
  • House Majority Leader Eric Cantor: Netanyahu singled out House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the lone Jewish House Republican. “May I say that I was remiss in not mentioning an extraordinary friend of Israel and an extraordinary public servant, Eric Cantor,” Netanyahu said. “It’s good to see you here, too, Eric, and thank you for that invitation.”
    Cantor, R-Va., said the U.S. lawmakers all “heard today the tremendous challenges that the people of Israel face, the existential threat that they face, as do we, in the Middle East,” but noted that the speech amplified “the resounding bipartisan support for the U.S.-Israel relationship remains strong and will continue.”
  • Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.): Participated in a meeting featuring Netanyahu and Jewish lawmakers after the Israeli’s speech to Congress, said that making Israel a partisan issue would only damage the Jewish state in the end. He credited Netanyahu for “dialing back” the tension in his speeches, noting his praise in his speech to Congress for bipartisan support of Israel.
    “He tried to bring it back and get this thing off the table as a football,” Ackerman told JTA. “This should not be a wedge issue; there are huge consequences.”
  • Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee: Obama had created an opportunity by staking out Middle East policy that so clearly differentiated from Netanyahu’s.
    “It’s in our strategic interest as Americans to support Israel, and deviations from that position do not square with voters in our country. That’s what we’re going to be singing from the mountaintops for the next 17 months. We’re going to be making a strong play for Jewish voters in 2012, I can tell you that. We just did an eight-city tour in Florida, and we’re going to go back to Florida — we’re not going to let any stone unturned.” –
  • Bibi in Congress: The “wave” and the critical extemporization: There were more than two dozen standing ovations, but not all standing ovations are the same. Most of the ovations brought the entire House to its feet, immediately.
    A few, though, operated like waves: One party would rise and applaud and hoot and holler, and the other party would have a “might as well” reaction and –a little more slowly — also rise and applaud.
    (Republicans, from Netanyahu’s perspective, were on the left side of the chamber, and Democrats were on the right.)
    Here’s an example of a line that prompted GOP-to-Democrat wave (i.e., the Republicans were more enthusiastic)… – JTA, 5-24-11
  • Text of Rabbi Wiederhorn’s Prayer:
    Following is the text of the prayer delivered today by Rabbi Jeremy Wiederhorn of The Conservative Synagogue of Westport, Weston, and Wilton, before the U.S. House of Representatives:
    Dear God, source of all strength, compassion and peace.
    We know that our time on this earth is preciously short, so please, open our eyes to the beauty of the world around us.
    Remind us that each person we encounter is created in your image. Provide us with the integrity, wisdom, and patience to listen to those with whom we do not agree and learn from those who we might otherwise not hear.
    Protect the courageous men and women who put their lives in danger each day so that our children can live safely and without fear.
    Comfort us today as we mourn with the people of Missouri following the tragic loss of life brought upon by the devastating forces of nature.
    And, finally, bless our leaders and advisers, including the dedicated men and women of this United States Congress, who assiduously seek to protect our sacred democratic values at home and abroad.
    May you grant them the vision to look ahead to our future without forgetting the lessons of our past.
    Amen. –
    Westport Now, 5-24-11

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • GOP wooing Jewish voters, donors in wake of Obama’s Israel border: GOP activists are confident that they’ll gain additional votes and donations from the Jewish community following President Barack Obama’s call for Israel to retreat to territory along its pre-1967 border, with “mutually agreed swaps,” in any final peace settlement with Palestinian Arabs.
    “My friends in the Republican Jewish Coalition are ecstatic at the crossover they’re having from independent-minded Jews,” GOP consultant Karl Rove told The Daily Caller.
    “Most Jews are Democrats because they vote on the basis of domestic policies,” said Ari Fleischer, a former press secretary for George W. Bush. But, he added, “those who are more inclined to vote on international affairs are more likely to be independent and they tend to vote Republican,” he said. They’re also the people who are more likely to be alarmed by Obama’s new stance, he said. “That’s where the damage was done,” he said.
    The GOP’s share of the Jewish community’s vote in presidential elections rose steadily from the 1990s until 2008, when Obama pushed the GOP’s share back down to 21 percent. The GOP pulled only 9 percent of the community’s vote in 1992, 16 percent in 1996, and 25 percent in 2004.
    These shares of the national vote are important in swing-state Florida, which has an unusually large Jewish community, Fleischer said. In 2012, “if Republicans get only 20 percent [of the vote], it is harder to win Florida, but if Republicans get 25 percent of the Jewish vote, it is likely they’ll win Florida,” he said…. – Daily Caller, 5-25-11
  • Democrats join Republicans in questioning Obama’s policy on Israel: Top Democrats have joined a number of Republicans in challenging President Obama’s policy toward Israel, further exposing rifts that the White House and its allies will seek to mend before next year’s election.
    The differences, on display as senior lawmakers addressed a pro-Israel group late Monday and Tuesday, stem from Obama’s calls in recent days for any peace deal between Israel and Palestinians to be based on boundaries that existed before the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, combined with “mutually agreed swaps” of territory.
    Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.), House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (Md.) and other Democrats appeared to reject the president’s reference to the 1967 lines in his latest attempt to nudge along peace talks, thinking that he was giving away too much, too soon.
    White House officials say Obama’s assertion did not reflect a shift in U.S. policy. But the president’s comments touched a nerve among pro-Israel activists, drew a rare Oval Office rebuke from Is­raeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and instantly became a litmus test in domestic American politics.
    Now Obama — whom critics often accuse of employing a play-it-safe governing style in which he waits for others to take the lead — is largely isolated politically in raising the issue of boundaries…. – WaPo, 5-24-11
  • Ed Koch: The Difference Between Obama’s and Bush’s Positions on Israel: The issues in all of the discussions on peace between the Israelis and Palestinians have revolved around three major controversial matters: Jerusalem, with the Palestinians demanding their capital be in that city; demanding a return of all Palestinian refugees and their descendants now numbering 4.5 million to the state of Israel; and the lines of the new state.
    The two pre-Netanyahu prime ministers offered to share the capital of Jerusalem, giving to the Palestinian state that part of East Jerusalem in which Muslims now live, retaining for Israel that part of East Jerusalem in which 250,000 Jews now live and retaining about three percent of the West Bank in which about 300,000 Jews live. And most critical, requiring all Palestinian refugees seeking to return to be resettled in the new state of Palestine. The Palestinian leaders, Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas, turned down the offers on every occasion. Also, neither Arab leader has been willing to state that they would recognize Israel as a Jewish state — they having a Muslim state — if and when an agreement creating two states was entered into.
    And that is the nub of the disagreement in my opinion. In my opinion, Palestinians and their Arab allies have no intention of ever accepting a Jewish state in their midst. Many in the Muslim world believe that every square inch of Israel belongs to Islam and will someday be theirs; they have no intention of accepting the existence of a Jewish state. At best, they will accept a temporary truce with an entity called Israel which they will whittle away at, later overwhelm and absorb in the future.
    There are those who will say, how does President Obama’s reference to boundaries in his statement of May 19, 2011 differ from that proposed by President Bush. Both referred to the 1967 lines. President Bush added language referring to the facts on the ground, a reference to the 250,000 Jews living in East Jerusalem and 300,000 living on the West Bank. As the Times of January 11, 2008 reported, “By endorsing compensation for refugees, Mr. Bush sided, at least indirectly, with an Israeli view that the return of Palestinians to Israel was unacceptable since it would change the identity of Israel as a Jewish state. Similarly, he endorsed the notion of Israel as ‘a homeland for the Jewish people,’ and ‘Palestine as a homeland for the Palestinian people.'”… – Huff Post, 5-24-11
  • For Obama, Bibi tensions subside, political problems begin: That Israel problem President Obama had with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu? Old news. That Israel problem Obama has with Congress? And with his party? That’s just beginning.
    In two successive speeches — one to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on Monday and another to a joint meeting of Congress the following day, Netanyahu had nothing but praise for the U.S. president.
    The friendly notes struck by the prime minister were all the more remarkable in light of how Republicans — and even some Democrats — were rushing to emphasize their differences with Obama on Israel policy…. – JTA, 5-24-11
  • Obama’s undue pressure on Israel?: Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is scheduled to speak to Congress at a time when his policies are more popular there than at the White House, POLITICO reports this morning.
    Members of both parties of Senate and the House, have criticized President Obama’s call for the borders of Israel return to that from before the Six-Day War of 1967, with mutually agreed upon land swaps with the Palestinians. Last night, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid rebuked Obama’s use of his Middle East speech to address possible aspects of a deal, saying “the place where negotiating will happen must be at the negotiating table – and nowhere else.”
    Is the Obama administration putting too much undue pressure on Israel? – Politico Arena, 5-24-11
  • Tevi Troy Senior Fellow, the Hudson Institute; Former Deputy HHS secretary: Majority Leader Reid’s pro-Israel speech at AIPAC, followed immediately by Speaker John Boehner’s equally supportive statement, shows that Obama’s position on Israel is unpopular in both parties and on both sides of the Capitol. The joint rebukes should encourage Obama to rethink how to approach the pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians. – Politico Arena, 5-24-11
  • Tevi Troy: Bibi 4, Obama 1: Cliff May is right about the Netanyahu speech. It was a strong speech, and Congress warmly, even rapturously received Netanyahu, with 30 standing ovations by my count sitting in the House Gallery. The recent disagreement with the White House over President Obama’s Thursday speech if anything made the congressional welcome even friendlier than it would have been otherwise.
    Netanyahu’s speech was the capstone on the complex five-act play that took place in Washington this past week, one in which Netanyahu scored a decisive 4–1 victory. Act One took place last Thursday, in the form of Obama’s speech at the State Department. If Obama was expecting huzzahs from the Arab world for his speech, he certainly didn’t get them, and the president himself seemed to have been caught by surprise by the strong negative reaction from the pro-Israel side. Still, the Obama speech hit Netanyahu & Co. hard, and has to be seen as a loss for Netanyahu.
    But Obama inexplicably chose to give the speech on the eve of Netanyahu’s visit to Washington, which gave Netanyahu an opportunity to reply at their joint press appearance on Friday. In the tense, on-camera exchange of views, Netanyahu seemed to take Obama on a visit to Hebrew school, telling him the basic realities of existence in the tough neighborhood of the Middle East…. – National Review, 5-24-11
  • Alex Joffe: Say no to right of return Op-ed: Bibi challenges Obama to tell Palestinians forthrightly that right of return won’t happen: In the escalating crisis between the US and Israel, the issues of borders has gotten the most attention. By adopting the 1967 borders with territorial swaps as the starting point for negotiations, US President Barack Obama has explicitly shifted US policy. Previous presidents have recognized that the 1967 borders were untenable for Israel and that adjustments would be made, especially the incorporation of settlement blocs.
    Now, by specifying both the starting point for border adjustments and the precise size of Israel that will result from negotiations, Obama has adopted part of the Palestinian position.
    But while the borders issue has rightly outraged most Israeli commentators, in his public statement to the press after his meeting with Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lobbed a grenade directly at the American role in the Middle East “peace process.” He made it clear that Palestinian “refugees” will never exercise their mythical “right of return” to previous places of residence in Israel, but added, “I think it’s time to tell the Palestinians forthrightly it’s not going to happen.”
    This was a challenge issued directly to President Obama who in his own remarks explicitly stated that the refugee issue would come, along with Jerusalem, at the end of the negotiations. Instead, Netanyahu demanded that Obama tell Palestinians that one of their most cherished myths will never come to pass. The statement must have struck fear into the hearts of Palestinian leaders but appears to have passed over the heads of Obama and his Middle Eastern advisors, as well as most pundits. But now that Netanyahu has put the issue front and center, in Obama’s presence, sooner or later someone will ask him or his administration about Palestinian ‘refugees.” What will he tell them?
    If Israelis are enraged about the issues of borders on purely pragmatic terms, namely the indefensibility of the 1949 armistice lines that left Israel a mere nine miles wide, the “right of return” is part of the central ethos of Palestinian society. A week does not go by when a Palestinian leader, from Fatah or Hamas, does not loudly promise Palestinians that they will be able to undo 63 years of history and return to what is now Israel…. – YNet News, 5-24-11

Tevi Troy: Bibi 4, Obama 1

Cliff May is right about the Netanyahu speech. It was a strong speech, and Congress warmly, even rapturously received Netanyahu, with 30 standing ovations by my count sitting in the House Gallery. The recent disagreement with the White House over President Obama’s Thursday speech if anything made the congressional welcome even friendlier than it would have been otherwise.

Netanyahu’s speech was the capstone on the complex five-act play that took place in Washington this past week, one in which Netanyahu scored a decisive 4–1 victory. Act One took place last Thursday, in the form of Obama’s speech at the State Department. If Obama was expecting huzzahs from the Arab world for his speech, he certainly didn’t get them, and the president himself seemed to have been caught by surprise by the strong negative reaction from the pro-Israel side. Still, the Obama speech hit Netanyahu & Co. hard, and has to be seen as a loss for Netanyahu.

But Obama inexplicably chose to give the speech on the eve of Netanyahu’s visit to Washington, which gave Netanyahu an opportunity to reply at their joint press appearance on Friday. In the tense, on-camera exchange of views, Netanyahu seemed to take Obama on a visit to Hebrew school, telling him the basic realities of existence in the tough neighborhood of the Middle East.

On Sunday, Obama spoke to the pro-Israel group AIPAC, and while he did not quite walk back his remarks, he clearly tailored them to avoid restating his most controversial points in order to forestall the very real possibility that he would be booed. He was not, but the cheers were not quite at the level that a president who won almost 80 percent of the Jewish vote would expect. Furthermore, the fact that he appeared to have softened things for the AIPAC audience was a sign of weakness in his apparent effort to stage a confrontation with Israel.

Monday night, both Senate Majority Leader Reid and House Speaker John Boehner gave forceful pro-Israel remarks to 12,000 people at AIPAC, and Politico characterized Reid’s speech as an intraparty “rebuke” to the president. The two speeches constituted a bipartisan statement that Obama is out of step with both parties and with both houses of Congress on this issue.

And then this morning came Netanyahu’s impressive speech to a joint assembly of Congress. Unlike Obama, he did not wiggle or waver, but instead gave a powerful defense of Israel as a vibrant democracy and steadfast ally of the U.S. Even an interruption from a Jewish, pro-Palestinian protester gave Netanyahu a chance to shine, as he noted that such protests are allowed in free countries like Israel or the U.S., in contrast to what he called the “farcical parliaments in Tehran or Tripoli.” The ad-lib earned him another one of his many standing ovations.

All of this should have been fairly predictable to the Obama administration when they started this process last week. They knew Netanyahu was coming; that Obama would have to speak to a potentially skeptical if not hostile crowd at AIPAC; and that Netanyahu would likely hit it out of the park in front of the friendly audience in Congress. The only potentially unpredictable element was the Reid speech, as the Senate majority leader might have had some hesitation about rebuking his party’s leader. But even without Reid’s reproach, the events were not aligned in President Obama’s favor as he embarked upon this course of action with last Thursday’s speech. There was no action-forcing event dictating that he give that kind of speech right before Netanyahu’s arrival. Presumably his own State Department would have invited him whenever he wanted to appear.

The policy Obama laid out last Thursday remains worrisome. But the lack of strategic sense that led him to give the speech when he did is truly baffling