Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Shimon Peres’

Israel: Get Back to the Table!

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 26th April, 2014

JF speaking at LI CongressKerry NetanyahuThis afternoon, at the Liberal International Congress in Rotterdam, I successfully moved an amendment on behalf of the UK Liberal Democrats to the Middle East section of the traditional World Today resolution, reviewing topical issues of global concern. Since the text had first been drafted, news came through that Israel was pulling out of talks with the Palestinians because of the new deal between Fatah (the Palestinian Authority) and Gaza’s Hamas, which have agreed to form a joint platform. The British amendment praised John Kerry for working tirelessly to get the peace negotations back on track, but criticised Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for pulling the plug on talks. Moreover, negotiating with a united front of Palestinians is more likely to mean that Hamas will clmp down on Islamic Jihad and other extremist groups, I believe. I argued from the position of a Brit who lived through IRA bombings in Manchester and London and therefore understands that one makes peace not with friends but with enemies. I got quite emotional when recalling the state dinner given earlier this month by Queen Elizabeth to the Irish President, at which former Sinn Fein bogey-man Martin McGuinness was welcomed by the monarch, despite the fact that the IRA blew up her cousin, Lord Louis Mountbatten, in 1979. I said that I looked forward to the day when Shimon Peres, or whoever succeeeds him as Israeli President, welcomes Palestinian leaders, including current Hamas figures to his residence, because that will mean that peace and security have become a reality. It saddened — but didn”t suprise — me that the Israelis present protested that we cannot expect them to talk to “terrorists”, and a few prominent pro-Israelis — including outgoing Liberal Internatinal President Hans Van Baalen also oppossed the amendment and the idea that talks should resume. Fortunately, the amendment was carried — albeit by not a very large margin. and with many abstentions — which I thought was a very positive result. One thing that particularly saddens me, however, is that so many Israelis — even many Liberals — don”t realise that their narrative of the conflict doesn’t hold water and that not just Europe but increasingly many Americans (including American  Jews) are no longer prepared to stand up for Israel, right or wrong.

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What Next for Israel?

Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 10th February, 2009

Votes are being counted from Israel’s general election, with exit polls suggesting that the centrist Kadima party led by Tzipi Livni may just have edged ahead of Likud and Binyamin Netanyahu, though only by a whisker — and falling well short of a majority in the Knesset, which means that there could be weeks of coalition building by whichever of the two is invited by President Shimon Peres to try to put together a government. What does seem clear is that the centre-left Labour Party of Ehud Barak has almost certainly fallen to fourth place behind the brash new Yisrael Beiteinu party and its demagogic leader, Avigdor Lieberman. Lieberman — a Moldovan immigrant who has rallied considerable support among fellow immigrants from the former Soviet Union — has been championing the idea of an Israeli loyalty oath, which would in practice require the country’s Arab population to swear alleigance to Israel as a Jewish state or else forfeit their citizenship — a singularly explosive issue at this time. Lieberman has been referred to as a ‘kingmaker’ by several media commentators, suggesting that a new coalition would have to include his party. But if Israel has any sense, it will avoid that option like the plague, or else it will certainly suffer the consequences, both at home and abroad.

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Davos and anti-Davos

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 31st January, 2009

Every year in late January, a significant proportion of the world’s movers and shakers in the fields of politics, business and banking (plus a sprinkling of Hollywood and pop celebrities) go up to the Swiss Alpine resort of Davos to swap notes at the World Economic Forum, but this year there is less of an air of self-congratulation amongst them. The financiers in particular are  looking chastened, as well they might and Gordon Brown’s now permanent hangdog expression  suddenly seems quite apt. There has been some mountain-top drama, notably when the Turkish Prime Minister, Receb Tayyip Erdogan, stormed out of a panel session with Israeli President Shimon Peres and received a hero’s welcome back home.

Particularly interesting is who is not there this year, not least the Brazilian President, Luiz Inacio ‘Lula’ Da Silva who, as the leader of one of the world’s top ten economies, has a standing invitation to Davos. He decided that this year he would instead attend the  anti-globalisation shindig, the World  Social Forum, in the Amazonian port city of Belem. This has won him plenty of brownie points among Brazilians and other Latin Americans. And he has been able to make the valid political point that this is maybe a time to be listening to NGOs and alternative voices as well, rather than just to bewildered heads of government and failed bankers. It’s depressingly true that the European media, particularly in Britain, pays very little attention to what happens at the World Social Forum; in  contrast to the acres of text churned out about Davos. But maybe that is one of the things that will change in the post-recession world.

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