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Peace in Paris, Water Cooperation, Israel 10th in Innovation


World Leaders Push Israel and Trump to Forge a 2-State Deal

Alissa J. Rubin, Benoit Morenne and Isabel Kershner, New York Times, January 15th 2017

Recap:

Representatives from 70 countries gathered in Paris to endorse a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians. World leaders blame Palestinian incitement and Israeli settlement activity for the impasse.

The Context:

  • Drawing inspiration from United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution 2334, which deemed all Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem illegal, world powers issued a joint communiqué reaffirming support for a two-state solution, the dismantlement of all Israeli settlements and a return to 1967 borders. Participants offered Israel closer economic cooperation vis-a-vis “a European special privileged partnership” and Palestinians “continued financial support [1]” once a deal is achieved.

  • Israel dismissed the meeting as “rigged” and refused to send a representative. Israel’s longstanding position maintains that peace can only be forged through direct negotiations [2]. Palestinian Authority (PA) official Saeb Erekat said the conference sent a message to Israel “to abide by international law and to end its military occupation of Palestine [3].” The PA views negotiations as futile and instead seeks recognition through international institutions like the United Nations (UN). President-Elect Donald Trump, who has promised to strengthen US-Israeli ties, dismissed the conference as a bad idea.

  • The final statement adopted positions from Resolution 2334 [4] while also referring to points within the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative – a Saudi plan that also calls for the right of return for Palestinian “refugees” at the “earliest practicable date [5].” The United States lobbied for language in the document that condemned Palestinian acts of “violence and terror and incitement.” A truck attack earlier this month by a Palestinian terrorist killed four Israelis in Jerusalem [6].

  • Despite voting in favor of Resolution 2334, the UK criticized the Paris conference and refused to sign the joint statement arguing that it would harden Palestinian negotiating positions [7].

  • This week, representatives from the PA, Hamas and Islamic Jihad agreed to form a Palestinian unity government.

Conversation Points:

  • Why does France believe that a summit on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is more important than addressing the ongoing civil war in Syria, the migrant crisis threatening Europe or the rampant anti-Semitism plaguing its own country?

  • Does the EU draw moral equivalency between Palestinian violence and Israeli settlement activity?

  • What could have really been accomplished at the Paris conference without Israeli or Palestinian representation, not to mention representation from the incoming American administration?

  • Did John Kerry lobby for pro-Israel language in the communiqué as a mea culpa for the US abstention on UNSC resolution 2334?

  • If Israel agrees to a two-state solution tomorrow, will the EU normalize its relations with the Jewish state and will Palestinian violence cease?

  • What does a Palestinian unity government mean for future peace prospects?

Israel, PA agree to cooperate on water

Kobi Finkler, Israel National News, January 16th 2017

Recap:

A breakthrough between the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) and PA revived the Joint Water Committee, a team established to oversee West Bank water supplies and infrastructure.

The Context:

  • Created in 1995 as part of the Oslo II interim peace deal [8], the JWC is tasked with overhauling the West Bank’s water infrastructure, supplying additional water to the West Bank & Gaza and expanding new water drilling [9]. The JWC will install new water, sewage, and wastewater pipelines that will be fully operational by summer when water demand is at its peak [10].

  • During the past 18 months, COGAT and the PA signed electricity, water, mail and 3G cellular coverage agreements intended to improve the standard of living for Jews and Palestinians living in the area.

  • Palestinians have charged Israel with implementing discriminatory water-sharing agreements that prevented Palestinians from maintaining or developing their water infrastructure [11], however, West Bank Palestinians fare considerably better under Israeli governance than pre-1967 Jordanian governance. Prior to 1967, Palestinians received 65 million cubic meters of water per year. By 1972, Palestinian water supply grew to 97 million cubic meters [12].

Conversation Points:

  • What issues should always remain outside the political playing field?

  • Why does blame for decaying infrastructure in the West Bank usually fall exclusively on Israel if the PA is tasked with its upkeep?

  • Today, much of Israel’s water supply comes from desalination technology it created. Should the PA be entitled to these resources?

These Are the World's Most Innovative Economies

Michelle Jamrisko and Wei Lu, Bloomberg, January 17th 2017

Recap:

Israel ranks 10th on Bloomberg’s list of most innovative countries.

The Context:

  • The Bloomberg Innovation Index scores countries using factors including research and development spending and the concentration of high-tech public companies.

  • South Korea, Sweden and Germany ranked highest of the 200 countries surveyed.

  • In 2016, Israel’s high-tech sector raised $4.8 billion, an all-time high, compared to $4.3 billion in 2015 [13].

  • This week, Oracle announced the opening of an Israeli start-up accelerator focused on cloud innovation. Oracle already has eight development centers in Israel, including two startups it bought last year [14].

Conversation Points:

  • What drives a country to innovate?

  • What happens to a country that fails to innovate?

Notes:

  1. Paris peace conference declares: No ‘acceptable’ solution except two states, Times of Israel, January 15th 2017

  2. Powers at Paris Meeting Send Signal to Trump on Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process, Matthew Dalton and Rory Jones, Wall Street Journal, January 15th 2017

  3. Powers at Paris Meeting Send Signal to Trump on Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process, Matthew Dalton and Rory Jones, Wall Street Journal, January 15th 2017

  4. PARIS CONFERENCE ENDS WITH ENDORSEMENT OF TWO-STATE SOLUTION, Herb Keinon & Rina Bassist, Jerusalem Post, January 15th 2017

  5. Five Anti-Israel Offenses In Paris ‘Peace’ Summit Final Declaration, Aaron Klein, Breitbart, January 15th 2017

  6. Powers at Paris Meeting Send Signal to Trump on Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process, Matthew Dalton and Rory Jones, Wall Street Journal, January 15th 2017

  7. UK refuses to sign Paris declaration, warns summit may harden Palestinian positions, Raphael Ahren, Times of Israel, January 15th 2017

  8. Israelis, Palestinians sign deal to jointly improve West Bank water supply, Times of Israel, January 15th 2017

  9. It Took 6 Years: Israel, PA, Sign Politics-Free Water Deal, David Israel, Jewish Press, January 16th 2017

  10. Israelis, Palestinians sign deal to jointly improve West Bank water supply, Times of Israel, January 15th 2017

  11. Israel: Water as a tool to dominate Palestinians, Camilla Corradin, Al Jazeera, June 23rd 2016

  12. Anti-Israel Water Libel That Went Viral, Tower Magazine, June 21st 2016

  13. Israel’s Globalized Economy Sets New Records, Yoram Ettinger, The Jewish Press, January 16th 2017

  14. Oracle Opens Israeli Tech Accelerator to Boost Cloud Innovation, Gwen Ackerman, Bloomberg, January 16th 2017


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