The Middle East Institute in Washington presents the list of candidates in Iran’s presidential election. Now we know that Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani will not be running. Or rather that - as earlier signs indicated - he will not be allowed to run by the Guardians Council. Some well known figures as well as some less prominent individuals are on the list. The speculations on who’s better positioned and how the various loyalties align are just beginning.
I find this quote (from The Atlantic’s senior editor) rather appropriate for the Roma in Europe and my own country Romania. We systematically fail them (and condemn young Roma to failure) by the way we define the issues and our expectations towards Roma individuals and communities. And yes, this is partly due to structural racism, partly to culture and partly to policy. It is about time we reconsider both the policy framework and the national strategy involving more actively the private sector, local administrations and the communities. Also, it is time we give young Roma a set of models that is not restricted to their own perceived circle of relevance (and our prejudices): music, sport etc. AT
“Perhaps there is some corner of the world where white kids desire to be Timothy Geithner instead of Tom Brady. But I doubt it. What is specific to black kids is that their dreams often don’t extend past entertainment and athletics. That is a direct result of the kind of limited cultural exposure you find in impoverished, segregated neighborhoods. Those neighborhoods are the direct result of American policy.” Ta-Nehisi Coates
And so the UK and its Royal Navy is without a carrier and hence unable to fly fixed wing aircraft from a ship for the next decade. This is a potent argument for a more coordinated and truly common defense and capabilities policy for NATO and the EU. “Smart defense”, “pulling and sharing” call them what you like but Europe needs to think and act now if it is to remain a global power, and not just militarily but politically, and economically. Also, the transatlantic partnership’s future rests on our ability to step up our common game. As for the UK a powerful reminder that Europe has your back and regardless of petty politicking a strong UK needs a strong Europe and the other way around. See the linked BBC commentary. AT
The Good Society Debate, that was launched five years ago by the SPD Secretary General Andrea Nahles and the Head of the Labour Party Policy Review, Jon Cruddas MP, has certainly made a splash in Europe. According to a study by the Institute of Democracy Research of Göttingen University the debate, which has been driven by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Compass and Social Europe Journal, is one of the most striking attempts to redefine social democracy for the 21st century and has triggered a wide international debate.
The most recent phase of the Good Society Debate took place in the German context. Following the well-received English book ‘The Future of European Social Democracy: Building the Good Society’ edited by Jonathan Rutherford and myself, Christian Kellermann and I have recently launched a German Good Society book. Published as part of a leading German intellectual book series (Edition Suhrkamp) the book sets the Good Society Debate into a German context and – linking up with this year’s 150-year anniversary activities of the SPD – seeks to make a new contribution to the German debate about the future of social democracy.
Such an adaption to national contexts works very well because from the beginning the Good Society Debate has been designed not as a proclamation of a new social democratic narrative but, moreover, as a value and analysis driven social democratic agenda that can and needs to be adapted to different national circumstances. Based on a modern understanding of social democratic values and an examination of today’s defining social, economic and political problems, the Good Society Debate provides an intellectual framework and a political toolbox that offers, but not dictates, solutions.
Over the last five years all contributors to the debate have laid important foundations for the future of social democracy. But the Good Society Debate is not over. Far from it. As Andrea Nahles said at the launch event in Berlin: over the last five years many more problems have emerged that have not been worked into the Good Society approach to the extent necessary. The fundamental erosion of trust in the European Union is certainly one of the most pressing issues, but also the development of a global understanding of social democracy. In view of supranational issues like economic regulation, tax avoidance and evasion, global warming, international security and global inequality there is a lot more work to be done. There is now also global interest, particularly from Asia, in the Good Society Debate.
So what are the next steps? Going forward, in my view, we need to do three things: first, we need to continue to sharpen and develop our approach for social democratic parties in Europe, second we need to develop a European Good Society that could help stop the hollowing out of European integration, and third we need to enter into global discussions about the Good Society to find out where our intellectual debates can connect with what is discussed in other regions of the planet.
To date we have only laid the foundations and much more work remains to be done, so let’s get started!
Henneing Meyer is Editor of the Social Europe Journal
“Children are like bombs that will one day go off.” That’s a line that Gail Godwin says also served as inspiration for her novel, Flora. Godwin wrote the line in one of her journals, which she started keeping at the age of 12. Godwin is still writing in her journals and drawing upon them to explore the more out-of-the-way reaches of women’s interior lives.
When I read that line about children as unexploded bombs, this iconic Sally Mann (my favorite photographer) popped immediately to mind, so I couldn’t not post it with
By Mason Currey, Slate, April 25, 2013
In 1885, Pyotr Ilich Tchaikovsky rented a cottage in a small village some 50 miles northwest of Moscow. After years of restless wandering through Europe, the 45-year-old composer found his new living arrangement a wonderful relief. “What a joy to be in my own home!” he wrote to his patroness. “What a bliss to know that no one will come to interfere with my work, my reading, my walks.”
Those walks were especially important. Before sitting down to work in the morning, Tchaikovsky took a short stroll, lasting no more than 45 minutes. Then, after lunch, regardless of the weather, he went out again. Tchaikovsky’s brother later wrote, “Somewhere at sometime he had discovered that a man needs a two-hour walk for his health, and his observance of this rule was pedantic and superstitious, as though if he returned five minutes early he would fall ill, and unbelievable misfortunes of some sort would ensue.”
Tchaikovsky’s superstition may have been justified—his walks were essential to his creativity, and he often stopped to jot down ideas that he would develop later at the piano. But then this is true of the majority of the composers in my Daily Rituals book—most of them required a long (and sometimes very long) daily walk to keep the ideas flowing.
Beethoven went for a vigorous walk after lunch, and he always carried a pencil and a couple of sheets of paper in his pocket, to record chance musical thoughts. Gustav Mahler followed much the same routine—he would take a three- or four-hour walk after lunch, stopping to jot down ideas in his notebook. Benjamin Britten said that his afternoon walks were “where I plan out what I’m going to write in the next period at my desk.” Working outside of Paris in 1971, Morton Feldman described his routine: “I get up at six in the morning. I compose until eleven, then my day is over. I go out, I walk, tirelessly, for hours.”
But the most extreme example is the French composer Erik Satie, who each morning would walk from his home in a Paris suburb to the city’s Montmartre district, a distance of about 6 miles. There he would visit friends, work on his compositions in cafés, eat dinner, and go out drinking—often missing the last train home, in which case he would walk back again, slipping into bed just before sunrise (and then getting up and walking back a few hours later).
Of course, it is not just composers who take long walks. Søren Kierkegaard had his best ideas during his daily walks, and sometimes he would be in such a hurry to get them down that, returning home, he would write standing up before his desk, still wearing his hat and gripping his walking stick or umbrella. Immanuel Kant took a walk every afternoon at precisely 3:30. Milton walked up and down his garden most afternoons, for three or four hours. And, according to one biographer, “If it rained, he would swing himself to and fro in a seat suspended from the ceiling, pulling on a rope.”
Most artists prefer a solitary walk, but I ran across some figures who enjoyed company. Mahler liked to drag his wife along on his afternoon hikes. Ludwig Wittgenstein would ask a close associate to accompany him on his walks. “A walk with Wittgenstein was very exhausting,” wrote Norman Malcolm, in a memoir of his friendship with the philosopher:
“Whatever we talked about, he turned his mind to it with great seriousness and intensity, and it was a formidable strain on me to keep up with his thoughts. He would walk in spurts, sometimes coming to a stop while he made some emphatic remark and looking into my eyes with his piercing gaze. Then he would walk rapidly for a few yards, then slow down, then speed up or come to a halt, and so on. And this uncertain ambulation was conjoined with the most exacting conversation!”
Whew! I could go on, but you get the idea: If you’re trying to generate creative work, you should really consider taking a daily walk—and maybe look into rigging up an indoor rope swing, too.
“There are fears that the sectarian clashes in Tripoli could spread throughout Lebanon
But it may already be too late. Out on the streets of Bab al-Tabbana we film other young boys playing war games. They take aim and shoot their toy rifles uphill towards Jabal Muhsin. Up on the Jabal, it is a mirror image. The kids point their plastic Kalashnikovs down the slope, as their fathers do in real life. And yet nobody really wants this war - or so they say. The young men who make up the militia on both sides look identical in their skinny jeans, knock-off Adidas weightlifter vests, baseball caps and Maori-style tattoos. They want jobs and investment in their slums. They want politicians who pay attention to their troubles after election time is over. They want to get married and raise families in normal conditions. Up on Jabal Muhsin, a mournful Abu Rami, who has contributed more than his fair share to this mess, watches terrified as the grasping fingers of war threaten to reach out and snatch his beloved daughter Maya. “I wish I could open my arms and bare my chest to them,” he says. “Let them kill me, I’m ready… But I don’t want my kids and their kids to pay the price. I’m ready to pay the price. And if this would make them happy, so be it.” If only things were that simple. Two weeks after we finished filming, Maya was out on the balcony collecting the washing when a sniper took a shot at her. The bullet missed her head by five centimetres. This time she was lucky. But this is Tripoli, and in the war of neighbours and enemies, there will always be a next time.” The BBC
As President Obama’s Inaugural Address made plain and rulings of the Roberts Supreme Court shows, the two have very different visions of America.
Pentru Institutul Aspen România, instituţie dedicată activităţilor care aduc o contribuţie pentru buna guvernare şi o bună societate, domeniul sănătăţii s-a impus de la sine ca una dintre axele principale ale activităţilor sale de politici publice.
Dincolo de un domeniu de politici publice, reglementare şi activităţi aducătoare de profit, sănătatea este un factor fundamental de calitate a vieţii şi implicit un indicator al dezvoltării unei societăţi. Din această perspectivă niciun alt domeniu nu expune mai clar vulnerabilităţile societăţii româneşti. Nu există aspect care să rămână necriticabil la o analiză atentă şi acest lucru este valabil atât pentru sectorul public, cât şi pentru cel privat.
Există explicaţii istorice şi un context actual care creează această stare de criză permanentă. România are cel mai mic nivel al contribuţiilor pentru fondul public al asigurării sociale de sănătate, un număr redus de contributori şi un venit mediu mic al acestora. În aceste condiţii situaţia financiară a sistemului public de sănătate nu poate să fie strălucită. Dar există şi alte probleme legate de eficienţa acestuia. În pofida creşterii sumelor alocate sănătăţii odată cu creşterea PIB sectorul nu a înregistrat salturi calitative nici la nivelul unor indicatori cheie şi nici la nivelul opiniei publice.
În condiţiile unei populaţii cu venituri mici, nici contribuţia sectorului privat nu este de natură să schimbe radical situaţia. Mai puţin de 20% din public accesează serviciile medicale private, majoritatea în ambulatoriu. Numărul celor care au utilizat spitale private este sensibil mai mic decât acest procent. De exemplu, doar circa 4% din naşterile din România au loc în instituţii private de sănătate. Dezbaterea despre rolul şi cea mai bună modalitate de utilizare a fondurilor asigurărilor publice sociale de sănătate este importantă. Dincolo de analize adesea inconsistente şi tributare unei proaste înţelegeri a mecanicii unui sistem public de asigurări de sănătate, dezbaterea este condiţia necesară a evoluţiei reglementării şi funcţionării sănătăţii în România.
Este evident că numărul investiţiilor private în sănătate a înregistrat o curbă ascendentă. Iniţial acestea au părut să fie imune la criză. Cu toate acestea, în urma reducerii numărului de abonaţi şi de asigurări în reţele private de sănătate, precum şi presiunea reducerii veniturilor, pe fondul crizei, şi măsurile de austeritate au făcut ca ritmul investiţiilor să scadă. Reducerea finanţărilor şi ieşirea de pe piaţă a unor finanţatori instituţionali, dar şi măsurile luate de bănci pentru reducerea riscului au afectat proiectele de dezvoltare în domeniu. Este de presupus că neclaritatea perspectivei de reglementare a relaţiei dintre serviciile publice şi private de sănătate nu este nici ea de natură să favorizeze investiţiile. În acest context chestiunea deductibilităţii unor servicii acordate persoanelor care contribuie la fondul public social de sănătate este esenţială.
Aspectul redistributiv al sistemului este minor având în vedere structura piramidei veniturilor în România. În fapt, independent de conversaţia actuală legată de decontări din fondul public pentru servicii oferite în sistemul privat, riscul discriminării de sistem rămâne sensibil mai mare pentru persoanele cu venituri mici decât pentru cei cu venituri medii şi mari.
În ansamblu, sectorul sănătăţii a fost suspus unui şir de scandaluri medicale, administrative, politice şi unor presiuni din interior sau din partea opiniei publice. În schimb dinamica sa influenţează perspective de evoluţie politică, economică şi socială. E de asemenea semnificativ că sectorul nu este indiferent nici la tendinţe şi evoluţii mai ample la nivel european şi mondial.
Pe acest fundal, începând cu 2011, Institutul Aspen România a iniţiat o serie de consultări cu principalii actori ai sectorului: minister, Casa şi alte autorităţi publice, reprezentanţi ai mediului medical, directori de instituţii medicale şi spitale, reprezentanţi ai pacienţilor, reprezentanţi ai industriei producătoare şi distribuitoare de farmaceutice şi dispozitive medicale, sindicate, administraţie locală, instituţii plătitoare ca asigurările publice şi private, instituţii finanţatoare şi organizaţii internaţionale etc. Pornind de la discuţiile preliminare şi de la documente de politici publice şi analize existente treptat s-a conturat un program independent, neutru, non-partizan şi inlcusiv pentru reforma sănătăţii. Metodologia, utilizată în grupurile de lucru ale programului, a beneficiat de experienţa similară a celor trei programe similare în domeniul sănătăţii, asigurărilor de sănătate, tehnologiilor şi cercetării medicale dezvoltate de mai bine de zece ani de Aspen Institute în SUA.
Decizia Institutului Aspen România de a lansa un program funcţional de politici dedicat sistemului de sănătate publică a fost influenţată de doi factori determinanţi. Primul dintre aceştia este impactul pe care constrângerile fiscale îl au, atât în termeni de investiţii cât şi în ceea ce priveşte dezvoltarea de servicii. Constrângerile bugetare afectează toţi actorii, atât la nivel de furnizori de servicii medicale (private sau publice), cât şi la nivel de industrii critice precum cea farmaceutică, de echipament medical, servicii medicale şi paramedicale, asigurări de sănătate, educaţia sănătăţii sau training profesionist. Celălalt motiv este legat de schimbările demografice europene pe termen lung. Acestea vor creşte presiunile pe bugetele de sănătate în Uniunea Europeană, iar România nu face excepţie. Bugetul de sănătate va avea, în mod predictibil nevoie de creşteri semnificative pentru a putea reacţiona unei cereri de servicii în creştere şi a unor costuri din ce în ce mai mari. Austeritatea bugetară intră în contradicţie cu o creştere a alocărilor bugetare cel puţin pe termen scurt şi mediu. Gestiunea acestei tensiuni trebuie să ia forma unor opţiuni de politici publice clare în măsură să creeze un echilibru între soluţiile oferite de investiţiile private şi creşterea eficienţei bugetului public.
Această situaţie dificilă oferă însă o clară oportunitate de reformă. Sistemul de sănătate este un sector în creştere, aducând contribuţii semnificative la creşterea PIB-ului. Acest lucru este în mod particular vizibil în regiunea Europei Centrale şi de Sud Est. Astfel, dezbaterea nu ar trebui construită numai din perspectiva costurilor şi a obligaţiilor financiare, ci şi din punctul de vedere al rentabilităţii investiţiilor. Având în vedere natura specifică a domeniului, este necesar ca orice tip de investiţie sau reformă să fie pe termen lung. Trebuie avut însă în vedere că succesul pe termen lung este condiţionat atât de o implementare eficientă a reformelor, cât şi de deciziile de politici cu impact imediat ce creează un cadru pentru o reformă de succes. Transparenţa cadrului de formulare şi implementare a politicilor publice devine o condiţie a succesului investiţiilor în domeniu. În schimb, într-o logică integrată a sistemului de sănătate la nivel naţional şi de ce nu, regional, relaţia public privat devine o parte semnificativă a analizei viitorului sectorului.
Toate acestea se regăsesc în parteneriatul realizat cu ”Adevărul” şi ”Link Resource” pentru o ediţie sectorială a Bucharest Forum în domeniul Sănătăţii. Este de sperat că panelurile simpozionului şi nivelul de expertiză al participanţilor să permită o conversaţie care să ducă mai departe concluziile progarmului de sănătate AIR şi să convertească efortul într-un set de recomandări practice şi o comunitate de susţinere pentru reforma în domeniu. În fapt este vorba de oportunitatea de a transforma o criză într-un cerc virtuos pentru reforma durabilă în sănătate.
O versiune a acestui articol a aparut in pagina de bloguri a ziarului Adevarul in 21 ianuarie 2013
What an austerity experiment can teach the United States and the rest of the world. The British economy,… is profoundly stuck. Between fall 2007 and summer 2009, its unemployment rate jumped to 7.9 percent, from 5.2 percent. Yet in the three and a half years since — even despite the stimulus provided by this summer’s Olympic Games — the number has hovered around 7.9. The overall level of economic activity, real G.D.P., is still below where it was five years ago, too. Historically, it’s almost unimaginable for a major economy to be poorer than it was half a decade ago. (By comparison, the United States has a real G.D.P. that is around a half-trillion dollars more than it was in 2007.) Yet austerity’s advocates continue to argue, as Cameron has, that Britain’s economic stagnation shows that the government is still crowding out private-sector investment. This, they say, is proof that austerity is even more essential than was first realized. Once the debts have been paid off and the euro zone solves its political problems, the thinking goes, the British economy will bounce back quickly.
When I visited Posen this summer, he refused to publicly criticize a sitting administration’s policies, but every time the topic of austerity came up, he was unable to hide his frustration. Posen’s term ended in August, and his subsequent nondisclosure agreement expired last month. Now he wants to persuade everyone he can that Britain should abandon its austerity program. He says that he has a solution that would quickly return healthy economic growth. His critics say that his prescription would bring about another financial panic. But whether you think he’s right or wrong depends on what you make of the data.
Economics often appears to be an exercise in number-crunching, but it actually resembles storytelling more than mathematics. Before the members of the Monetary Policy Committee gather for their monthly meeting, they sit through a presentation from the Bank of England’s economic staff. The staff members take the most recent economic data — G.D.P. growth, the unemployment rate and more subtle details gathered from interviews with businesspeople throughout the country — and try to fashion it into a narrative. Does a sudden spike in new factory orders represent a fundamental shift, or is it just a preholiday blip? Do anecdotal reports of rising food prices herald a period of inflation, or is it the result of a cold snap? Which story feels truer? … by Adam Davidson in the NYT
UNITED NATIONS — More than 130 countries voted on Thursday to grant Palestine the upgraded status of nonmember observer state in the United Nations, a stinging defeat for Israel and the United States and a boost for President Mahmoud Abbas of thePalestinian Authority, who was weakened by the recent eight days of fighting in Gaza.
The new ranking could make it easier for the Palestinians to pursue Israel in international legal forums, but it remained unclear what effect it would have on attaining what both sides say they want — a two-state solution.
Still, the vote offered a showcase for an extraordinary international lineup of support for the Palestinians and constituted a deeply symbolic achievement for their cause, made even weightier by arriving on the 65th anniversary of the General Assembly vote that divided the former British Mandate of Palestine into two states, one Jewish and the other Arab — a vote that Israel considers the international seal of approval for its birth.
In the West Bank city of Ramallah, about 2,000 Palestinians gathered to celebrate in a central square named after the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Security forces fired into the air and people applauded, danced in the streets and honked car horns when the results were broadcast to the crowd.
“We are witnessing exceptional moments after 65 years of injustice, suffering and pain,” said Jibril Rajoub, the member of Fatah Central Committee. “We are going to witness an Israeli American efforts to keep this resolution ink on paper.”
The tally, in which 138 members voted yes, 9 voted no and 41 abstained, took place after a speech by Mr. Abbas to the General Assembly, in which he called the moment a “last chance” to save the two-state solution amid a narrowing window of opportunity.
“The General Assembly is called upon today to issue a birth certificate of the reality of the state of Palestine,” he said before the vote.
But in the run-up to the vote, he and Ron Prosor, the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, blamed the other side for not doing enough to pursue peace.
”We have not heard one word from any Israeli official expressing any sincere concern to save the peace process,” Mr. Abbas said.
“On the contrary, our people have witnessed, and continue to witness, an unprecedented intensification of military assaults, the blockade, settlement activities and ethnic cleansing, particularly in occupied East Jerusalem, and mass arrests, attacks by settlers and other practices by which this Israeli occupation is becoming synonymous with an apartheid system of colonial occupation, which institutionalizes the plague of racism and entrenches hatred and incitement.”
“The moment has arrived for the world to say clearly: enough of aggression, settlements and occupation,” he said.
Mr. Prosor, speaking after Mr. Abbas but before the vote was taken, said the United Nations resolution would do nothing to advance the process.
“Today the Palestinians are turning their back on peace,” he said. “Don’t let history record that today the U.N. helped them along on their march of folly.”
As expected, the vote won backing from a number of European countries, and was a rebuff to intense American and Israeli diplomacy. In an indication of the bitterness of the blow to the Israelis, the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement calling Mr. Abbas’s speech “defamatory and venomous” that was “full of mendacious propaganda against the IDF and the citizens of Israel.”
“Someone who wants peace does not talk in such a manner,” the statement continued.
Among the countries that had forecast their yes votes were France, Spain and Switzerland. Germany and the United Kingdom were among the countries that abstained, and a few countries joined Israel and the United States in voting no.
After the vote, Susan E. Rice, the American ambassador to the United Nations, explained the American vote as a reaction to an “unfortunate and counterproductive” resolution that placed “further obstacles in the path to peace.”
“Today’s grand pronouncements will soon fade,” she said. “And the Palestinian people will wake up tomorrow and find that little about their lives has changed, save that the prospects of a durable peace have only receded.” Her comments dovetailed with those of Mr. Prosor ahead of the vote. He reiterated that Israel favors a two-state resolution reached through negotiations, with some parts of the occupied territories remaining in Israeli hands, a strong focus on Israel’s security concerns and formal recognition by the Palestinians of Israel’s legitimacy as a Jewish state.
“That’s right. Two states for two peoples,” Mr. Prosor said. “In fact, President Abbas, I did not hear you use the phrase ‘two states for two peoples’ this afternoon. In fact, I have never heard you say the phrase ‘two states for two peoples.’ Because the Palestinian leadership has never recognized that Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people.”
The Israelis also say that the fact that Mr. Abbas is not welcome in the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian coastal enclave run by Hamas, from which he was ejected five years ago, shows that there is no viable Palestinian leadership living up to its obligations now.
“This resolution will not change the situation on the ground,” Mr. Prosor said. “It will not change the fact that the Palestinian Authority has no control over Gaza. That is 40 percent of the territory he claims to represent.”
The vote came shortly after an eight-day Israeli military assault on Gaza that Israel described as a response to stepped-up rocket fire into Israel. The operation killed scores of Palestinians and was aimed at reducing the arsenal of Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, part of the territory that the United Nations resolution expects to make up a future state of Palestine.
The Palestinian Authority, based in the West Bank city of Ramallah, was politically weakened by the Gaza fighting, with its rivals in Hamas seen by many Palestinians as more willing to stand up to Israel and fight back. That shift in sentiment is one reason that some Western countries gave for backing the United Nations resolution, to strengthen Mr. Abbas and his more moderate colleagues in their contest with Hamas.
Mr. Abbas directed harsh criticism toward Israel, saying that the “aggression against our people in the Gaza Strip has confirmed once again the urgent and pressing need to end the Israeli occupation and for our people to gain their freedom and independence.”
“This aggression also confirms the Israeli government’s adherence to the policy of occupation, brute force and war, which in turn obliges the international community to shoulder its responsibilities toward the Palestinian people and toward peace,” Mr. Abbas said early in his speech.
When the General Assembly voted to divide Palestine into two states in 1947, Arabs rejected the division of the land and the creation of Israel. But since the late 1980s, the Palestine Liberation Organization has officially endorsed two states, with the state of Palestine defined as comprising the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza — areas beyond Israel’s pre-1967 borders that it captured in the 1967 Middle East war.
Mr. Prosor also mentioned that day 65 years ago and what it meant to the Israelis, saying: “The Palestinians could have chosen to live side by side with the Jewish state of Israel. Sixty-five years ago they could have chosen to accept the solution of two states for two peoples. They rejected it then, and they are rejecting it again today.”
Palestinian officials said it was Israel that had violated its agreements and international law by building settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. They say 20 years of failed negotiations with Israel pushed them to seek this kind of international recognition in the hopes that it would press Israel and its allies in Washington to step up peace talks.
Realizing that they could not head off the vote on Thursday, Israel and the United States worked to contain the fallout from it.
A major concern for the Americans is that the Palestinians might use their new status to try to join the International Criminal Court. That prospect particularly worries the Israelis, who fear that the Palestinians might press for an investigation of their practices in the occupied territories.
Another worry is that the Palestinians might use the vote to seek membership in specialized agencies of the United Nations, a move that could have consequences for the financing of the international organizations as well as the Palestinian Authority itself. Congress cut off financing to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, also known as Unesco, in 2011 after it accepted Palestine as a member. The United States is a major contributor to many of these agencies and plays an active role on their governing boards.
Western diplomats anticipated approval of the resolution, which upgraded Palestine’s observer status at the United Nations from that of an “entity,” and pushed for a Palestinian commitment not to seek membership in the International Criminal Court and United Nations specialized agencies, a privilege that has been open to other nonmember observer states.
Another step would be an affirmation by the Palestinians that the road to statehood was through the peace process. And a third could be a Palestinian commitment to open negotiations with the Israelis.
Such assurances do not appear to have been provided.
One way to see the vote later today in the UNGA is that while Israel has gained significant ground on the terrain diminishing the rocket stockpiles and hitting key operatives in Gaza, Hamas has won the media and image war, and now it is time for Fatah and Abbas to get some of the limelight in winning the (almost) historical bid for UN observer non-member status. Both the nature of the Palestinian application and the context changed since last year. Many Europeans hope this will signal to Palestinians the success of the diplomatic approach as opposed to the military one. Other commentators have not failed to see it as it is: win or loose on the ground, you can always count on the international community to reward the use of force one way or another if to balance the sides! History did not depart from the Middle East and the US Asia Pacific pivot not withstanding we will see a rather dynamic 2013. It is for exactly these reasons that a domestic repositioning that would also take place in Israeli politics would be a game changer. But for now there are very limited signs the massive protest of last year will have such an impact.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian people are enjoying sweeping support in the lead up to Thursday night’s vote at the UN General Assembly over whether to upgrade the Palestinians’ standing to non-member observer status. By Thursday morning Israel time, that support had turned into a full-on landslide, as more European nations decided to alter their positions, essentially leaving Israel to fend for itself.
“Early Thursday morning, just hours before the vote — scheduled to take place around 11:00 P.M. (Israel time) — Germany changed its mind, deciding to abstain from voting rather than opposing the Palestinian initiative, as Israel had assumed it would.
“The decision wasn’t taken lightly,” Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said. “Germany shares the goal for a Palestinian state. We have campaigned for this in many ways, but the recent decisive steps towards real statehood can only be the result of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians,” the German official said.
The UN General Assembly is expected to pass a historic resolution recognizing Palestine within the 1967 borders as a non-member observer state.
At least 150 countries are expected to vote in favor of the resolution. In opposing the resolution, Israel is likely to find itself isolated with the United States, Canada, Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and possibly the Czech Republic – although sources at the Foreign Ministry said Germany’s decision would likely affect the Czech vote as well.
This, in effect, leaves Israel without any European country supporting it at the international forum. Officials in Israel said that Germany’s decision was influenced by Britain. “Britain’s dramatic reversal prompted the Germans to change their mind,” a Foreign Ministry official said. “We lost Europe. More than half of its countries will vote with the Palestinians, and the rest will abstain.” Haaretz
President Obama appears to have gained ground in the closing days of the race: among 12 national polls published on Monday, he led Mitt Romney by an average of 1.6 percentage points. …
Iata si versiunea franceza a Pactului ptr Economie. A fost lansata astazi (5 Nov) de Louis Gallois ex presedinte si CEO al EADS si raportor independent pentru guvernul francez. Gallois s-a consultat cu mediul de afaceri dar raportul reprezinta opinia sa independenta prezentata astazi intr-un material de 75 de pagini primului ministru francez Jean-Marc Ayrault. …