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The Oslo Accords just turned 30. Here’s how they’ll shape a Saudi-Israeli peace deal.

(JTA) — Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United States seem intent on striking a trilateral deal that includes normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia, Saudi civil nuclear power monitored by the international community, and an American-Saudi defense treaty. So why is it taking so long? Well, a fourth party — the Palestinians — are not part of the negotiations, yet their well-being seems to loom over the negotiations.

I’ve been in the room when Israel negotiated high-stakes questions about its relationships and its future, as the secretary for the Israeli delegation of the Camp David negotiations from 1999 to 2001. So I understand the diplomatic legacies shaping the positions at play today — and the broad implications and deep freight of the issues reportedly on the table.

September can be celebrated as the “Middle East Peace Month,” marking 45 years since the 1978 Camp David Accords (on Sept. 17); 30 years since the first Oslo Accord (on Sept. 13); and three years since the Abraham Accords (on Sept. 15, 2020). These events — and others — create a legacy that is now shaping the coming major milestone: an Israeli-Saudi normalization agreement.

The Israeli-Arab peace and normalization process formally began in 1978 with the Israel-Egypt Camp David Accords that included a Framework for Peace in the Middle East. The next major contractual milestone was the Declaration of Principles (also known as “Oslo A”) which was signed between Israel and the PLO in 1993. The declaration provided for the establishment of the Palestinian Authority as an interim self-government, as well as for further negotiations on the “outstanding issues” toward “final status.” Thereafter, dozens of agreements were signed among Israel, Jordan and the PLO, mostly until 1999, as well as with Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Morocco since 2020. 

In spite of episodes of conflict and bloodshed and long intermissions, these milestones add up to a 45-year continuum of Israeli-Arab peacemaking, which has been bound by an overarching logic and diplomatic principles that have been reiterated for decades. One example is U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 that establishes that Israel will withdraw from the whole (French version) or parts (English version) of the West Bank. It appears in all major agreements signed since 1978.  

For Israel and the United States — and particularly for Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Joe Biden — there is another unlikely benchmark. It is the so-called Trump Plan, which was negotiated between Israel and the U.S. and presented in January 2020 without Palestinians contribution or participation. The Trump Plan clearly favors long-standing Israeli positions such as that all Jewish settlements will remain under Israeli sovereignty, which is why Netanyahu called it “the deal of the century.” Nonetheless, the plan is premised on the principle of two states for two peoples, namely envisioning a Palestinian state alongside Israel, and acknowledging that the West Bank is “disputed territory” whose future must be agreed upon between Israel and the PLO. Furthermore, while the Palestinian state is envisioned to be of “limited sovereignty,” its area will be equivalent to 86% of the West Bank and all of Gaza and its capital, al-Quds, will be in the “area of Jerusalem” immediately adjacent to the current municipal borders.  

The unspoken challenge of the current negotiations over the Saudi deal is that Netanyahu is no longer willing to give Biden as much as he gave Trump. Meanwhile, Biden is bound by the legacies of Clinton, Bush, Obama and Trump — all of whom were explicit about having a Palestinian state in permanent status in the vast majority of Gaza and the West Bank. These legacies put pressure on Biden to do more for the two-state solution than his predecessors, Trump included. 

The Saudis, eager to secure their status in the Arab world, must be “triangulating” three other reference points: The first is the 1978 Israel-Egypt Framework for Peace in the Middle East, where President Anwar Sadat established U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 as the founding principle for future territorial arrangements and provided the framework for the Oslo Process that led to the creation of the Palestinian Authority. The second is the Saudi peace plan, which shaped the peace initiative of the Arab League in Beirut in 2002 and then in Riyadh in 2007, which upheld the June 1967 Lines as reference point for future territorial arrangements. And the third is the success of the UAE in thwarting Netanyahu’s plans to annex parts of the West Bank in 2020 in exchange for the Abraham Accords.

In other words, how can Saudi Arabia walk back from its own plan or do less for the Palestinians than Egypt and the UAE?

These legacies create a four-point agenda for the currently unfolding negotiations: 

First, regarding the P.A.: The United States and Saudi Arabia are likely to want to reaffirm the existing Oslo Accords, to which Israel is a signatory. These agreements establish the P.A. as the interim self-government in the West Bank and Gaza ahead of permanent status. In this context, negotiators are probably discussing how to prevent the expansion of settlements across the West Bank, particularly in areas that will circumvent the contiguity of a future Palestinian state, as well as how to bolster the P.A.’s economic wellbeing and capacities of governance and security capabilities.  

Second, regarding future negotiations: The United States and Saudi Arabia are probably striving to reinstate the principle of “two states for two peoples,” which means that the future of the West Bank will be negotiated between Israel and the PLO and that the P.A. will eventually become a state albeit with limited powers. As mentioned, all U.S. presidents since Clinton and all Israeli prime ministers since Barak, including Netanyahu in his past tenures. reaffirmed that principle. 

The likely third point is territory. Americans and Saudis must be pressing for reiterating 242 as the baseline for future territorial arrangements. How can they demand anything less? Furthermore, it has been leaked that the parties are discussing some concrete territorial steps in the West Bank such as recategorizing lands under full Israeli control (“Area C”) as lands under Palestinian civil control (“Area B”), or placing Area B under full control of the P.A. (“Area A”). Any such change implies an Israeli recognition that the current sovereign arrangements the West Bank will be negotiated with the PLO. 

A veiw of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, showing the Al Aqsa mosque, center, and Dome of the Rock, top.. (Andrew Shiva/Wikimedia Commons)

Finally, there is Jerusalem, and particularly the Temple Mount and the location of Saudi’s embassy to Israel. The Temple Mount — where the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa Mosque stand on a platform that covers the historic site of Judaism’s holy temples — is the most contentious issue between Israel and the Palestinians. All past agreements established that its fate will be determined in negotiations. Even the Trump Plan, with Netanyahu’s endorsement, suggests that the Temple Mount will be subject to a special arrangement where the Waqf of Jordan (a Muslim religious society) will play a significant role.

When Sadat visited Israel in 1977, he insisted on praying at Al Aqsa, as did the ambassador of the UAE. This week, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey expressed a similar expectation ahead of his visit to Israel. While Israel maintains that “a unified and undivided Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Israel,” the Israeli-Arab peace process has been founded on the principle that Jerusalem’s final status will be determined in negotiations. As Saudi Arabia sees itself as a guardian of Muslim holy sites, Al Aqsa must be on its mind. 

Ahead of their normalization agreement, Israel and Saudi Arabia are likely also discussing the location of their future embassies. On this point, the Saudi side can have its embassy to Israel in Tel Aviv, like all other embassies of Arab and Muslim countries, and its diplomatic mission to the P.A. in Ramallah, thereby signaling that the final status of Jerusalem is yet to be determined. But they may be considering a much bolder, more-for-more deal of establishing the Saudi embassy to Israel in Israeli west Jerusalem, thereby recognizing it as Israel’s capital, in exchange for having the Saudi embassy to the P.A. in Arab east Jerusalem. After all, seven European countries including the United Kingdom and France, in addition to the Vatican and Turkey, have their diplomatic missions to the P.A. within the municipal borders of Jerusalem. 

Clearly, any such Saudi deal would shake the current Israeli coalition, whose founding agreements call for applying Israel’s sovereignty over the West Bank “when circumstances are right.” Such aspiration means canceling the Oslo Accords and dismantling the P.A. In other words, the Saudi-Israel-U.S. deal is as much about their relations as it is about the future of the two-state solution and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.


The post The Oslo Accords just turned 30. Here’s how they’ll shape a Saudi-Israeli peace deal. appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Alleged Neo-Nazi Indicted for Plot to Carry Out New Year’s Eve Mass Casualty Attack Against Jews, Other Minorities

An American flag waves outside the US Department of Justice Building in Washington, US, Dec. 2, 2020. Photo: REUTERS/Tom Brenner

US federal authorities have charged, and a grand jury has indicted, a foreign national with planning a mass casualty attack against Jews and other minorities in New York on New Year’s Eve.

The United States Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of New York reported that a grand jury indicted Georgian national Michail Chkhikvishvili with soliciting hate crimes and acts of mass violence.

Chkhikvishvili is reportedly the leader of a group called the “Maniac Murder Cult,” a white supremacist, neo-Nazi group.

Specifically, he was recruiting people to carry out arson and bombing attacks — as well as attacks aimed at Jewish and other minority children, according to US officials.

The US Attorney’s Office explained that the “planned New Year’s Eve attack involved Santa Claus handing out poisoned candy to racial minorities as well as distributing poisoned candy to Jewish children in Brooklyn.”

There were more than 450,000 Jews who lived in Brooklyn as of May 2024. Many neighborhoods are known to be predominantly Hasidic.

Authorities found out about the plot when Chkhikvishvili solicited an undercover law enforcement official to be involved in the attack.

He “sought to recruit others to commit violent attacks and killings in furtherance of his Neo-Nazi ideologies,” US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Breon Peace said in a statement. “We will not hesitate to find and prosecute those who threaten the safety and freedoms of all members of our community, including members of minority communities, no matter where in the world these criminals might be hiding.”

FBI New York Acting Assistant Director Christie Curtis lauded law enforcement for stopping the attack before it could ever take place.

“The swift disruption of this individual, accused of allegedly plotting violent attacks in New York, sends a clear message: we will use every resource in our power to ensure the safety of the American people,” she said. “The men and women who work on this task force day in and day out exemplify true service to our community, demonstrating unwavering commitment in thwarting those who seek to harm our citizens and our way of life.”

The plot comes amid a wave of antisemitic attacks that ramped up in America and around the world after Hamas’ Oct. 7 terrorist attack on Israel, amid the ensuing war in Gaza.

Earlier this month, an observant Jew was sucker punched and beaten in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood of Washington, DC. The alleged attacker subsequently expressed his motive, saying “They’re [the Jews] the cause of all our wars,” and “We know who you are! We know the lies that you’ve told, that you have stolen the place of the true children of Israel.”

He was charged with assault and a hate crime.

In December, the FBI said there had been a 60 percent spike in antisemitic hate crime investigations since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war. Then, in April, FBI Director Christopher Wray said the probes into antisemitic crimes tripled in the months following Oct. 7.

“Between Oct. 7 and Jan. 30 of this year, we opened over three times more anti-Jewish hate crime investigations than in the four months before Oct. 7,” he explained.

Last year, the FBI found that 63 percent of all religiously motivated hate crimes in the US were directed against Jews.

The post Alleged Neo-Nazi Indicted for Plot to Carry Out New Year’s Eve Mass Casualty Attack Against Jews, Other Minorities first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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RNC Spotlights Campus Antisemitism as Elise Stefanik Teases ‘Bombshell’ Findings From US Congressional Probe

US Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) speaks during a House Education and The Workforce Committee hearing titled ‘Holding Campus Leaders Accountable and Confronting Antisemitism’ on Capitol Hill in Washington, US, Dec. 5, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Ken Cedeno

US lawmakers are preparing to release later this year a trove of new “bombshell” information revealing the extent to which antisemitism has been allowed to flourish on university campuses across the country, according to a high-ranking Republican.

US Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) spoke with political pundit and podcast host Megyn Kelly about the efforts of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce to investigate surging antisemitism, including anti-Jewish bias, on college campuses. While reminiscing over last December’s congressional hearing with the presidents of Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology — in which each campus leader proclaimed that calls for a genocide of Jews may not violate school rules depending on “the context” — Stefanik revealed that the committee has obtained new documents shedding light on anti-Jewish hate at elite universities.

“This is pervasive in higher-ed. We have worked on this investigation, and if you think the hearing was bad, Megyn, we’re going to have to talk about all the documents that have been turned over because of our subpoena,” Stefanik said. “We’ll put out a report later this year. That’s even more bombshell material in there. It’s a disgrace what’s happening at these universities.”

Antisemitism has exploded at universities since the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel, amid the ensuing Israel-Hamas war in Gaza. Over the past several months, the committee has rigorously investigated antisemitism at America’s most prestigious universities. The panel recently unearthed and exposed text message exchanges between Columbia University deans which revealed the campus leaders mocking Jewish students as “privileged.” The lawmakers also alleged, based on their investigation, that Harvard University has engaged in a “pattern of inaction” in response to campus antisemitism.

Stefanik spoke to Kelly at the Republican National Convention (RNC) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where Republicans are gathering this week to nominate their 2024 presidential candidate. The issue of campus antisemitism has been a key issue highlighted at the RNC.

On Wednesday night, Shabbos Kestenbaum, a recent Harvard graduate suing his alma mater over its alleged failure to protect Jewish students, took the RNC main stage and delivered an impassioned speech on campus antisemitism. Kestenbaum said that the surge of unchecked antisemitism on Harvard’s campus in the months following Oct. 7 left him disillusioned with progressives, prompting his move to the political right. 

“After Oct. 7, the world finally saw what I and so many Jewish students across this country experienced almost every day,” he told the RNC crowd. 

“My problem with Harvard is not its liberalism, but its illiberalism. Too often, students at Harvard are taught not how to think, but what to think. I found myself immersed in a culture that is anti-Western, that is anti American, and that is antisemitic,” Kestenbaum said. 

Kestenbaum implored the crowd to support the presidential campaign of Republican nominee Donald Trump. 

“Sadly the far-left wing tide of antisemitism is rising,” Kestenbaum said. “But tonight, tonight we fight back. I am proud to support President Trump’s policies to expel foreign students who violate our laws, harass our Jewish classmates, and desecrate our freedoms … let’s elect a president who recognizes that although Harvard and the Ivy Leagues have long abandoned the United States of America, the Jewish people never will.”

Anti-Israel protests have ravaged college campuses across the United States in the months following Oct. 7. Students at prominent universities such as Harvard, Columbia, and MIT have participated in demonstrations chanting slogans such as “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!” and “Burn Tel Aviv to the ground!” Progressive student organizations have also openly banned “Zionists,” forcing Jewish students to choose between supporting Israel and maintaining their social network. Campus demonstrators have also openly cheered Hamas and in some cases threatened or committed violence against Jewish students.

Jewish donors and alumni have condemned university administrators over their unwillingness to shut down demonstrations. As a result, many of them have pulled funding and vowed not to allow their children to enroll at their alma maters.

Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots NFL team, has ceased donating to Columbia University, citing “virulent hate” against Jews on campus.  Ross Stevens, founder and CEO of Stone Ridge Asset Management, pulled a $100 million donation from the University of Pennsylvania. The MIT Jewish Alumni Alliance urged Jewish graduates and allies to protest campus antisemitism by lowering their annual donation amount to $1.

The post RNC Spotlights Campus Antisemitism as Elise Stefanik Teases ‘Bombshell’ Findings From US Congressional Probe first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Pro-Israel Group Calls on US Justice Department to Apply ‘KKK Laws’ to Pro-Hamas Demonstrations

Pro-Hamas demonstrators at Columbia University in New York City, US, April 29, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs

StandWithUs (SWU), a Jewish civil rights group based in California, is imploring the US Justice Department to crack down on masked protests at Columbia University by enforcing legal statues which are widely referred to as the “KKK Laws,” citing a hostile environment at the school in which pro-Hamas demonstrators who have harassed and assaulted Jewish students continuously evade justice by concealing their identities.

Dating back to the administration of former US President Ulysses S. Grant, the so-called “KKK Laws” empower the federal government to prosecute those who engage in activities which violate the civil rights of protected groups, as the Ku Klux Klan did across the US South during Reconstruction to prevent African Americans from voting and living as free citizens. StandWithUs alleges that five anti-Zionist groups — most notably Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) — currently operating on Columbia University’s campus have perpetrated similar abuses in violation of Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which guarantees all students, regardless of race or ethnic background, has the right to a safe learning environment.

The most obvious parallel between their conduct and the KKK’s, StandWithUs noted, is an inveterate shrouding of their members’ faces with masks and keffiyehs, the traditional headscarf worn by Palestinians that has become known as a symbol of solidarity with the Palestinian cause and opposition to Israel. Images and footage of the practice have been widely circulated online, and it has rendered identifying the protesters — many of whom have chanted antisemitic slogans, vandalized school property, and threatened to harm Jewish students and faculty during a weeks-long demonstration between April and May — virtually impossible.

Additionally, the groups — which also include Within Our Lifetime (WOL), Columbia/Barnard Jewish Voices for Peace (JVP), Columbia University Apartheid, Columbia School of Social Work 4 Palestine (CSSW4P), and Faculty and Staff for Justice in Palestine (FJP) — have proclaimed their intention to purge Columbia’s campus of Zionists, a category which includes an overwhelming majority of Jews in the US and around the world. Their rhetoric, StandWithUs added, is unlike any uttered in the US since demonstrations against school integration in the 1950s.

“We hope the Department of Justice (DOJ) will take this opportunity to restore justice on Columbia University’s campuses and hold bad actors responsible for violating federal laws,” Yael Lerman, director of the SWU Saidoff Legal Department, said on Wednesday. “Columbia President Shafik’s concession that Columbia is a hostile environment for Jewish students in violation of Title VI reflects a critical need for the current administration to take decisive action at Columbia.”

Lerman added, “We urge the DOJ to investigate the school’s failure to prevent groups and individuals on its campus from joining forces and depriving Jewish students of their civil rights, a failure that runs afoul of the KKK laws.”

SWU’s letter — sent to US Attorney General Merrick Garland and the Justice Department on Wednesday — comes amid an ongoing lawsuit the organization’s Legal Center for Justice (SCLJ) filed against Columbia University in February over its alleged failure to prevent and respond to an explosion of anti-Jewish hate incidents which have occurred on the campus since Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel, an event the protesters cheered and defended as an act of decolonization inspired by the ideas of far-left political philosophers such as Frantz Fanon.

SWU amended its complaint against Columbia in June, adding 45 students as plaintiffs and over “230 pages of allegations.” Meanwhile, the accusations which surfaced following the group’s first filing have already stained Columbia’s reputation.

“F— the Jews,” “Death to Jews,” “Jews will not defeat us,” and “From water to water, Palestine will be Arab,” Columbia protesters chanted on campus grounds after Oct. 7, violating the school’s code of conduct but never facing consequences for doing so, the complaint alleges. Faculty engaged in similar behavior. On Oct. 8, professor Joseph Massad published in Electronic Intifada an essay cheering Hamas’ atrocities, which included slaughtering children and raping women, as “awesome” and describing men who paraglided into a music festival to kill young people as “the air force of the Palestinian resistance.”

The protesters later reinforced their rhetoric with violence, the complaint adds. They beat up five Jewish students in Columbia’s Butler Library. Another allegedly attacked a Jewish students with a stick, lacerating his head and breaking his finger, after being asked to return missing persons posters she had stolen. Following the incidents, pleas for help went unanswered and administrators told Jewish students they could not guarantee their safety while Students for Justice in Palestine held its demonstrations.

The school’s powerlessness to prevent anti-Jewish violence was cited as the reason why Students Supporting Israel (SSI), a recognized school club, was denied permission to hold an event on self-defense. Events with “buzzwords” such as “Israel” and “Palestine” were purportedly forbidden, administrators allegedly said, but SJP continued to host events while no one explained the inconsistency.

Columbia University president Minouche Shafik, who took office in July 2023, recently attempted to assuage concerns that Columbia has become a sanctuary for antisemites after it was revealed that five high-level administrators participated in a group-chat in which ideas that “disturbingly touched on ancient antisemitic tropes” were exchanged. She fired none of the administrators, however, which has led to calls for her to resign from office.

“We will launch a vigorous program of antisemitism and antidiscrimination [sic] training for faculty and staff this fall, with related training for students under the auspices of university life,” Shafik said in statement. “Columbia’s leadership team recognizes this as an important moment to implement changes that will build a stronger institution as a result. I know that you all share this commitment.”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

The post Pro-Israel Group Calls on US Justice Department to Apply ‘KKK Laws’ to Pro-Hamas Demonstrations first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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