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China & Iran
By Micah Halpern

Saturday October 2, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

China is always looking to expand their business deals - especially with Iran.

Despite all the condemnation and all the sanctions, China wants to expand its business trade with Iran. It seems counter intuitive. But it is easily explained.

China has very good trade relations with Iran.
The People's Daily quoted Li Changchun, the Communist Party's chief propaganda official as saying:. "China is willing to continue maintaining high-level contacts and exchanges at all levels with Iran and deepen mutual political trust."

There is little that the West can do about the relationship between Iran and China. Iran exports most of its oil to China. And China will take all the oil it can get from Iran.

Iran sees China as the only truly independent power not in the pocket of the United States. That is why the Iranians go to great lengths to appease the Chinese.

In the future we will read many more statements and see many more deals between these two countries cum allies.

Senators Tell Obama about PA
By Micah Halpern

Friday October 1, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

87 US Senators have signed and sent a letter to President Barak Obama.

The text of the letter is a subtle yet unmistakable attack on the Palestinians and on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The text expresses astonishment that a party would walk away from negotiations at the very beginning of serious talks, astonishment that the parties have barely started stalking and yet the Palestinians are threatening to stop talking.

The letter notes that on the first day of the negotiations a terror attack murdered four innocent Israelis and, despite the attack, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu declared that Abbas is his peace partner. Netanyahu could have easily walked away from the talks - but he did not.

The real purpose of the letter is to tell the president that the Senate wants pressure brought on the Palestinians. That they do not want pressure brought on the Israelis. That in their eyes it seems that the Israelis have already compromised enough.

In other words, get something - even a gesture from the Palestinians. Coming to the table while there is settlement activity on the West Bank would be just such a gesture.

PA Plan on Settlements
By Micah Halpern

Thursday September 30, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

The Palestinians are continuing to shout about Israeli settlements. They have threatened to walk out on the talks and have no interest in pursuing an agreement if there is continued Israeli settlement activity.

The Palestinians have begun to harness international leaders and world opinion to exert pressure on Israel to stop building.

One senior PLO official, Hanna Amireh, articulated the Palestinian plan very clearly. He said: "The consensus is that since the entire world is in favor of a Palestinian state and against settlements, then let us throw this problem in the face of the world and see what they can do about it."

The idea of unleashing the world's anti settlement/ anti Israel venom could be very nasty. But one thing is certain: world opinion will not force Israel to bend on this question.

The only hope for success with the anti-Israel campaign is if the United States joins forces against Israel. The simple reality is that the only power capable of exerting serious influence on Israel is the United States.

Muslim Leaders Travel Plans
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday September 29, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

I have mentioned before that I watch the travel schedules of Middle East leaders.
Who meets with whom is a very useful instrument in understanding what is happening in the region.

For instance: Ahmadinejad stopped in Damascus, Syria on his way to New York last week. He had an important sit down with Syrian President Assad. And now President Assad is scheduled to visit Iran in October. The press announcement from the Iranian embassy in Syria said that the leaders will be "discussing how bi-lateral relations can be strengthened."

There's more: Ahmadinejad is scheduled to visit Lebanon on October 13. The trip is supposed to last for 2 or 3 days. The leader of Iran will spend significant time in Southern Lebanon with the Shiite populations there. According to reports there are three Iranian advance security teams in Lebanon already. They are there coordinating with Hezbollah security. Exact details of the trip are not clear, but symbolically, Ahmadinejad will be throwing a stone at Israel while in Southern Lebanon.

Interestingly: Syrian Foreign Minister Moualem met with US Secretary of State Clinton in NY during the GA. That was the highest level US/Syrian dialogue in a very long time.

US Wants Compromise
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday September 28, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

The United States has expressed disappointment over Israel's decision to restart building in the West Bank. It looks like the Israeli/Palestinian talks are on the ropes. So US Presidential Special Envoy George Mitchell will return to Israel on Tuesday with the express purpose of getting the talks back on track.

The United States wants Israel to stop building in exchange for several "guarantees." The "guarantees" include promises about Palestinian refugees, about security, about Israel's right to exist as a Jewish State.

The Israeli prime minister isn't interested. But Mitchell and Clinton have their own agenda. They want to convince Israel to accept the guarantees and move ahead. The problem with the guarantees is that they are coming from the US - not from the Palestinians.

The United States thinks that certain items are a given and easily and mutually acceptable. Nothing is further from the truth. There is not one single issue that the United States can raise that will be easily accepted by both parties. Only when the United States realizes this truth will they have reached a serious level of sophistication in their understanding of the region.

Only then will the United States have a chance at bringing peace to the region. But that time is still far, far away.

The US is Pushing for Talks
By Micah Halpern

Monday September 27, 2010

I'm Predicting:

It does not surprise me. Israel has resumed building in the West Bank. The United States has continued to push the direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians. And the PA is saying that talks will not continue while there is settlement activity.

The US is pushing the Israelis and the Palestinians very hard. The US is lobbying members of the Arab League to support Abbas in continued talks. The Arab League will meet next week to discuss how to handle the direct talks and whether or not to advise Abbas to go ahead and continue talking.

The United States is telling the Arab League and Palestinians that they must compromise and accept realistic Israeli building. The United States is also begging Israel to control the building.

While this compromise would work well for all sides, it is very unlikely that the parties will accept any compromise - especially a compromise that involves settlements.

West Bank Deadline Ended Today
By Micah Halpern

Sunday September 26, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

The deadline ended today.

Israel had set a 10 month moratorium for building in the West Bank and now it is over. The Israeli government said that, for now, it will only build essential buildings .

Indeed, this morning, in a West Bank settlement a foundation was poured for a new kindergarten. In response, PA leader Abbas called for a meeting of Arab League foreign ministers.

Abbas cannot act on his own. He must have the support and backing of the Arab League. It was the Arab League that gave Abbas cover and insisted on his participation in direct talks with Israel. Having the Arab League make decisions provides Abbas with the security and power he lacks on his own.

Now the Arab League will decide on whether to continue talking under Israel's post-moratorium policy of limited West Bank building or to call the whole thing off.

The debate will focus on principle versus practical issues.

Defections from Iran
By Micah Halpern

Saturday September 25, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

Iran's diplomatic service has been stricken with a series of defections. For the first time the Iranian foreign ministry has commented on this situation.

The three most recent defections include the # 2 man in the diplomatic service named Helzinki Hossein Alizadah, the press attache in Brussels named Farzad Farhangin and a consular official in Oslo. A member of Iran's diplomatic team in LA has also asked the United States for asylum because he is gay.

The Iranians do not call these men defectors or asylum seekers, instead, they refer to each one as a person "refusing to return."
The official stance is that these diplomats reuse to return for personal reasons not political reasons. Iranian diplomats are sent abroad for three years and sometimes it is extended.

In total, twenty Iranians from the diplomatic corps have recently sought asylum. Let's put it in perspective: since 2008 three hundred Iranians have been granted political asylum in the West.

This new wave is interesting to note, but it is not all that unusual.

Protests in Egypt
By Micah Halpern

Friday September 24, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

The other day there was a protest in Egypt. Protests in Egypt make news because no protest is held in Egypt without permission from the government.

This protest had several hundred people in attendance. It was a protest against Mubarak. No, not a protest against President Hosni Mubarak, it was a protest against Gamal, his son and would be successor.

The protesters gathered to raise the question of lineage versus democratic elections. Egyptian elections are slated for next year and as of now, Mubarak's successor will be whomever the President taps.

Egypt permitted the protest as a gesture toward democracy. It is not often that Egypt either gives voice to activists or redress of grievance.

Libya to Join Flotilla
By Micah Halpern

Thursday September 23, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

Libya has announced that they will send a vessel to join a flotilla embarking on a mission to break the Gaza blockade.

The Freedom Flotilla as it is called, scheduled to set sail on October 1st, will depart from London heading for al Arish, Egypt. According to their website, the British ship will carry 300 passengers ages 30-85.

According to the Libyan announcement aboard their vessel will be humanitarian aid as well as members of parliament. The Libyan ship is called the al Quds which translates to mean Jerusalem in Arabic.

At the same time the Israeli Chief of Staff Gabi Aschkenazi is saying that there may be future casualties resulting from future flotillas. During a briefing he made it clear that he expects more flotillas and more violence.

Two State Solution?
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday September 22, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

There was a major snag at the United Nations yesterday, a snag in the direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

PA Prime Minister Salam Fayed and Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon were in a meeting with US special envoy George Mitchell and Quartet special envoy Tony Blair. Ayalon asked that the minutes of meeting include the idea of "two states for two peoples." The Palestinian prime minister walked out in a rage.

All Ayalon said was that he wanted to make certain that there would be two states - one Palestinians and one Israeli. Shocking? Blair was taken by surprise by the Palestinian reaction.

It seems obvious. Two states for two peoples should be the goal of these direct talks, not a deal breaker. Unless you're Palestinian. The PA wants one Palestinian state and one bi-national state. The bi-national state would eventually become a state with a majority of Palestinians .

And that would mean the end of Israel.

Iran is Oil Indepenent
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday September 21, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

Iran made an outstanding pronouncement yesterday. Iran issued a public claim that last month they did not import any gasoline.

Iranian Oil Minister Masoud Mir Kazemi announced that Iran is now refining 17.5 million gallons per day. That's right, per day.

If this is true then the Iranians have outsmarted everyone.

If this is true it means that all international sanctions are irrelevant.

If this is true it means the Iranians have insulated themselves and are now totally import independent.

Iran has accomplished exactly what I have been warning of for months, exactly what world leaders said was impossible. Of course, it is possible that Iran is exaggerating, but even if it is an exaggeration, there is no doubt that becoming totally oil independent is the Iranian objective.

When Iran does achieve oil independence there will no longer be any real vehicle with which to influence this extremist country. That time might be now, it might be in a few months from now. It will happen.

Olmert Spills The Beans
By Micah Halpern

Monday September 20, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

At a conference in Geneva former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert revealed several remarkable confessions. The confessions will appear in his upcoming autobiography.

He said that Israel and the Palestinian Authority were nearly at the point of signing an agreement but the Palestinians could not bring themselves to sign.

He said that under the agreement the United States, under George Bush, would receive 100,000 Palestinian refugees and Israel would receive no more than 20,000.

He said that the Palestinians could not sign off on that plan and neither could they acknowledgment that the conflict is over.

He said "The numbers discussed were below 20,000, but this would require an end to the conflict and a Palestinian announcement that they would not make any more demands..."
"If we had reached an agreement, it would have changed the map of the world and the entire Middle East. We are not to blame. If there is no agreement, it's because the Palestinian side was not prepared to take the extra step that we made..."

Olmert's autobiography will certainly be an interesting read.

Egyptian Search for Terrorists
By Micah Halpern

Sunday September 19, 2010

I'm Predicting:

Egypt is combing through the northern Sinai Desert in search of Palestinian terrorists dispatched to launch rocket from into Israel.

That is the news report from MAAN news service, an official Palestinian news company. What is not clear from the report is whether the terrorists have already snuck themselves and the rockets into Sinai, or if they are trying to get in.

That explains the warning issued by the US Embassy/ State Department to stay clear of Eilat in Israel and Aqaba in Jordan

The Red Sea area is so small that a rocket shot from the Sinai and intended for Israel can easily miss and hit Aqaba, Jordan. That is exactly what happened last month when two of four rockets launched from Sinai into Eilat instead landed in Aqaba killing a Jordanian guard.

Egypt knows the danger of permitting rocket launches. Not just that it is an act of war and Israel may retaliate, but if Palestinians launch rockets without Egyptian permission from within Egypt it is also a message of Egyptian weakness and impotence - a message that is transmitted throughout the Arab world.

This public humiliation will not be tolerated by Egypt. Egypt will strike back hard.

Russia Sells Missiles To Syria
By Micah Halpern

Saturday September 18, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

A very disturbing meeting took place in the Pentagon yesterday involving Russian Defense Minister Anatoli Serdyukov.

Pentagon officials raised serious questions about a 2007 deal that Russia had signed with Syria. Included in the agreement is the delivery of P-800 missiles to Syria. In Russia the P-800 is called the Yakhont which means ruby. Actually, that is the slang or street name for the missile, officially, it is called the Onyx OHNKC.

P-800 missiles are extremely useful and efficient and are a staple of the Russian weapons trade arsenal. Selling them to Syria is a serious issue because this missile will significantly improve the Syrian defense system.

P-800 missiles can also be used offensively which means it can easily attack US and Israeli targets from land, air, sea and sub. The missile is 30 feet long, has a war head of 660 pounds and a 22 miles range. It can fly as low as18 ft above the ground and has a radar seeking war head.

Serdyukov was quoted in ITAR-TASS news agency Friday saying:
"We will supply Yakhont to Syria, we will fulfill the contract."

Turkey is in with Iran
By Micah Halpern

Friday September 17, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

Turkey has expanded its trade with Iran. The hope is that within 5, years their trade will triple.

This year Turkish/Iranian trade hit a whopping 10 billion dollars. That's up 86% from last year in only the first seven months for the year.

Iranian Vice President Reza Rahimi was quoted as saying: "We have been laying the foundations of a very strong building with Turkey." And "today, we have no better friend than Turkey in today's world." And "For Iran, for political security and economy, Turkey is a very important country."

Turkey is playing with fire - and they know it. Turkey is deliberately snubbing their nose at the West and the especially at the United States.

We will know just how sweet the Iranian pot really is over time. Iran will exploit this connection to the max. Iran will do its best to entice others to follow Turkey's lead.

Rockets Launched Again from Gaza
By Micah Halpern

Thursday September 16, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

It seems like deja vous.

Yesterday, nine rockets were launched from Gaza into Israel. All nine rockets landed in an open field in Ashkelon. There were no injuries and there was very little damage to property.

The IDF has confirmed that two of the nine rockets were phosphorus. Irony of ironies is that the Palestinians condemned Israel for firing phosphorus rockets during Operation Cast Lead in December 2008.

Israel responded to yesterday's attack by bombing a section of Gaza. One tunnel worker was killed and two were injured.

This is a real rerun - Gaza launches rockets and Israel bombs back. The problem is that this is a very dangerous cycle. Analysts claim that this cycle of violence is due to the direct peace talks.

My thinking is that this could be the beginning of a new status quo, a status quo where Gaza indiscriminately drops bombs on Israel.

Israel is Already Building for A Reason
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday September 15, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

The Israeli moratorium on building in Jerusalem and the West Bank ends on September 26th.

Netanyahu has said that he will not extend the moratorium. Neither will he begin unbridled building. The Israeli prime minister said that Israel will build - but in measured and very specific ways.

Contractors have already begun building. Neot Hapisga real estate developers announced that they have already resumed their building in the city of Modiin-Illit.
They have been building for some time. Building is not the problem.

The problem is that the Palestinians will walk away from the table if there is building. Or will they?

Building has been a test run to make certain that Palestinians threats were bluster, not true actions. If Israel continues to build and the talks continue, it is a great success. If the Palestinians walk away, they look petty.

Iran Has Another Secret Nuke Site
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday September 14, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

Most of the best intel out of Iran comes from anti-government sources.

Anti-government sources have contacts everywhere. They are the best connected people in Iran. The only problem we have with these well informed sources is whether or not the information they deliver is reliable.

Recently, two Iranian groups, the National Council for Resistance for Iran (NCRI) and the People's Mujahadeen Organization of Iran, (PMOI), have informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) - the world's nuclear watchdog, that there is another secret nuclear facility in Iran. Two different groups delivering the same message.

The IAEA has not yet determined that the information is real. But most analysts believe that the intel can be backed up with previous experience with Iran. Most analysts believe that Iran has more than just one secret and undeclared site.

Oil Spill in Egypt
By Micah Halpern

Monday September 13, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

The other day an oil barge filled with diesel tilted and dumped 110 tons of oil into the Nile River near Aswan.

The oil slick is about 60 yards wide and 1.2 miles long.

Most of Egypt's fresh water and drinking water come out of the Nile. The Egyptians are convinced that they have protected their water sources. Better yet, the Egyptian government is proclaiming that they have secured their fresh water.

The Egyptian claim is not obvious to most analysts. We won't know what is really happening, we won't know whether the slick will endanger most of Egypt, for a few days.

It is in Egypt's best interests to lower the intensity level and minimize the potential danger.

Rockets Again Land in Israel
By Micah Halpern

Sunday September 12, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

In Israel the Jewish New Year was ushered in with an unfortunate "bang" in areas that border the Palestinian Hamas controlled Gaza Strip.

Since Wednesday, the eve of Rosh Hashanah, four rockets have landed inside Jewish communities. One landed in a kindergarten - no one was hurt because of the Holiday. People who live in the agricultural communities called kibbutzim had their Holiday destroyed by rocket fire.

The residents of these communities had their silence shattered just as direct talks between Palestinians and Israelis, under United States sponsorship, are to commence. On Tuesday Israelis and Palestinians are scheduled to meet in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el Sheik.

The Jewish High Holidays are a time for contemplation and family. The High Holidays are a period of valuable introspection and evaluation.

Even the most optimistic family that had hopes for a sustained peace now has serious reservations. Rocket attacks do not bode well for peace.

Castro Condemns Ahmadinejad
By Micah Halpern

Saturday September 11, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

The other day Fidel Castro gave an interview to an American journalist.

This is not an everyday occurrence, when it does happen, we need to pay careful attention.

What interested me more than anything else in this interview was that Fidel Castor took on Ahmadinejad. Castro made it very clear that Ahmadinejad was way out of line. Castro called Ahmadinejad an anti-Semite.

Castro knows full well that Ahmadinejad is playing the anti-Semitism card in order to garner support in the Muslim world. And in the eyes of the Cuban dictator, that behavior is unconscionable.

Castro is not a lovey dovey kinda guy and he does not mind peddling propaganda. But Castro will not countenance or sponsor racism or anti Semitism. Even thugs have a line in the sand.

Kenya Convicts Pirates
By Micah Halpern

Friday September 10, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

A court in Kenya convicted seven Somalians for piracy.

They were sentenced to 5 months in prison.

The pirates were convicted of attacking a German Naval supply ship last March. Lawyers for the pirates will appeal the conviction.

This is the first attempt by an individual country to clamp down on the pirates who are wreaking havoc all over the waters of the Middle East.

Five months is not a significant amount of time. But it is a beginning. At least the court in Kenya heard the case, at least they handed down a sentence. I hope they have set a precedent that will be followed by other countries.

Piracy must be stopped - or at least, pirates must be deterred from pursuing what has until now, been a very lucrative operation.

Terrorist Arrested in South FL
By Micah Halpern

Thursday September 9, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

On Tuesday the police in South Florida arrested a Palestinian named Abdel Aziz Hamayel. He was buying and stocking weapons that authorities believe were destined to outfit Palestinian terrorists

The report, which was first made public on WSVN, said that 300 weapons were confiscated. The weapons included M-16s, ammo, and grenades.

This is the first time that a significant arms cache destined for Palestinian terrorist cells has been discovered in the United States.

The capture of Hamayel is just the tip of the iceberg. The weapons were almost all stolen. Investigators need to follow their leads. Investigators need to put all the pieces together.

Tracking down, shutting down and arresting Middle East terrorists on US soil needs to be a law enforcement priority.

China Clamps Iran
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday September 8, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

On Tuesday China asked or, more correctly, pleaded with Iran to conform to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) requests. China asked Iran to please cooperate.

If Iran were to cooperate, China reasons, the enormous tensions that emerge and grow day by day would be dramatically reduced.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry posted a very clear message to Iran on their Foreign Ministry website. They even went public in an interview by saying, "We hope that Iran and the Agency can fully cooperate and establish the trust of the international community in the peaceful nature of their nuclear plants."

China is the only country in the world that Iran actually trusts. The feeling is mutual. In Iran's eyes, China cannot be bought or corrupted by the United States. When China makes a request it will be considered very seriously by Iran - especially because China is Iran's biggest buyer. China is the largest consumer of oil in the world.

China wants Iran to back down. Will it happen? We’ll watch and see how Iran responds to China.

Bahrain: Internal Conflict
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday September 7, 2010

I'm Predicting:

Bahrain has been cracking down on their Shiite population.

The tiny archipelago country of 32 islands may be ruled by Sunnis, but Bahrain has a Shiite majority. The ruling leadership has even made it illegal for any media to cover Bahrain's Shiite power play.

The Shiites are doing their best to try to slowly gain momentum and possibly, oust the current leadership. But if they push too hard -the Sunni leadership will crush the Shiite opposition.

Sunni leadership in Bahrain has very close relations with the US and the West. The Shiites want to expand relations with Iran.

I do not see a serious uprising on the horizon. But I do see the Shiites of Bahrain gaining more and more popularity.

Iran & Bahrain Gas Deal
By Micah Halpern

Monday September 6, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

Iran and Bahrain are about to sign a deal to create an underwater, natural gas, pipeline linking their countries and allowing for the safe exchange of gas.

It is a two-stage deal. Stage # 1 will have Iran sending 500 cubic feet of gas per day to Bahrain. Stage # 2 will be the transfer of nearly a billion cubic feet of gas.

According to the Mehr news agency, on Saturday Iran's Deputy Oil Minister, Javad Oji, said that Iranian and Bahraini officials met in Tehran to discuss measures for the establishment of a joint commission to increase cooperation in the natural gas sector.

He said: "If [a deal is] finalized, a new natural gas pipeline will be built under the Persian Gulf waters; the pipeline is expected to transfer one billion cubic feet of Iran's gas to Bahrain."

Iran holds the second largest reserve of natural gas in the world after Russia

The purpose of the agreement is simple: it is an end around world sanctions.

PA Shoots Back at Iran
By Micah Halpern

Sunday September 5, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

The Palestinian Authority shot back at the Iranians.

On Friday the Iranians called Abbas a traitor. On Saturday the PA told the Iranians to butt out. Who, the Palestinians asked, is Iran to declare what Abbas can or cannot do.

The Iranians are way out of their element. They are playing to a wide audience trying to say to Muslims around the world that Abbas has abandoned the Muslim world. To that end Iran portrays Abbas as an irresponsible leader.

Over the next few days the Palestinian Authority will go head to head with Iran. The PA must prove to the Muslim world that they are working not only for the best interests of Palestinians but for the best interests of the entire Muslim world.

The Arab Press Response
By Micah Halpern

Saturday September 4, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

In a scan of Arabic and Parsi (Iranian) press I deciphered an overwhelming tone of frustration with Abbas regarding the direct peace talks with Israel.

The Iranians have said, in short, "who are you Abbas to negotiate?" And they described those Arab leaders who were present at the event as outright traitors.

The overall tone of the Arabic press suggests that Abbas is too weak at this time to negotiate and he will only capitulate to the US and the Israelis.

The noted and very public exception was the Egyptian press. They took offense. They have cancelled the diplomatic visit of the Iranian foreign minister who was to travel this week to Egypt. That is serious fallout.

Egypt and Iran are at one another's throats. The Arab League has given their blessing, saying give peace a chance.
There will be flack. There will be much more to come.

The Meeting Ends
By Micah Halpern

Friday September 3, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

The session is over. Netanyahu and Abbas are home already.

Many pundits are proclaiming the success of the meeting. Politicians are elated by the "frankness of the discussion."

All the hoopla is generated by an agreement to meet, again, in two weeks time at Sharm el Sheik. Hillary Clinton and George Mitchell will be there. Abbas and Netanyahu will lead their teams.

And then they will continue to meet every other week.

These next two weeks are essential to the success of this venture. The leaders must convince their masses as well as their political enemies that this is the correct route and this is the right time.

We will watch and evaluate. We will see how Netanyahu and Abbas respond to the challenges placed before them, to the stumbling blocks placed in their paths. We are not looking for a quick conclusion, we are merely hoping to be able to predict whether or not there will be further talks, whether any progress is being made.

It is All About TIming
By Micah Halpern

September 2, 2010

I've Been Thinking:

"Seize the moment." "Don't let this opportunity slip through our fingers."

President Obama has used these metaphors repeatedly in describing the talks between Israelis and Palestinians.

"This moment of opportunity may not soon come again." "They cannot afford to let it slip away."

The reality, however, is that this moment, the one taking place in Washington, DC. is totally artificial and purely man- made. The meeting was forced on both parties. It has nothing to do with timing. Actually - the timing is terrible.

The big event happens the day before the Labor Day weekend. Then comes Rosh Hashanah. After that, from September 10-13, is the three-day Muslim holiday called Id al Fitr. followed by Yom Kippur and Sukkot.

The reality is that until October, there is no actual time to sit down. Clearly, there is no burning need to sit down and talk. But the US administration wants this to happen now.

So now is when it is happening.

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