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from The Great Debate:

Can Obama inspire youth vote in Israel?

President Barack Obama's message to Israel last week was both powerful and urgent: You can't go on like this. The status quo is not a viable option.

That is a direct challenge to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who acts like Israel can go on like this for the foreseeable future. Many Israelis are strongly tempted to believe, with Netanyahu, that the threat of terrorism and the occupation of the West Bank are manageable problems.

“It can be tempting,” Obama said when addressing an audience of Israeli students in Jerusalem, “to put aside the frustrations and sacrifices that come with the pursuit of peace, particularly when Iron Dome repels rockets, barriers keep out suicide bombers [and] there are so many other pressing issues that demand your attention.”

The president's warning: Don't be tempted. “Peace is the only path to true security,” he said. “The only way for Israel to endure and thrive as a Jewish and democratic state is through the realization of an independent and viable Palestine.”

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

India-Pakistan – cricket, spooks and peace

cricket  refugee"Cricket diplomacy" has always been one of the great staples of the relationship between India and Pakistan. The two countries have tried and failed before to use their shared enthusiasm for cricket to build bridges, right back to the days of Pakistan President Zia ul-Haq, if not earlier.

So when Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced last week that he was inviting Prime Minister Yusuf  Raza Gilani and President Asif Ali Zardari to watch the semi-finals of the Cricket World Cup in Mohali, India, the temptation was to dismiss it as an old idea.

from The Great Debate:

Why the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks will go nowhere

PALESTINIANS-ISRAEL/

The following are excerpts from STRATFOR's geopolitical weekly column by George Friedman, chief executive officer of STRATFOR, a global intelligence company. He is the author of numerous books and articles on international affairs, warfare and intelligence. His most recent book is "The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century." The opinions expressed are the author's own.

The Israeli government and the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) have agreed to engage in direct peace talks September 2 in Washington. Neither side has expressed any enthusiasm about the talks. In part, this comes from the fact that entering any negotiations with enthusiasm weakens your bargaining position. But the deeper reason is simply that there have been so many peace talks between the two sides and so many failures that it is difficult for a rational person to see much hope in them. Moreover, the failures have not occurred for trivial reasons. They have occurred because of profound divergences in the interests and outlooks of each side.

from India Insight:

Afghan endgame and fears of rise in Kashmir violence

The Indian army says rebel violence will escalate in Kashmir in summer as hundreds of militants are waiting in the Pakistani part of Kashmir to infiltrate into the Indian side and step up attacks.

Seized bullets are displayed by the Indian army during a news conference after a gun battle with militants, in Srinagar March 28, 2010. REUTERS/Fayaz KabliEven an internal assessment of the Home Ministry says the summer of 2010 will be as bloodier as or even worse than the mid-nineties.

from India Insight:

Kashmir marks 20 years of conflict, peace still distant

A policeman walks behind a razor wire fence near the venue of India's Republic Day celebrations in Srinagar January 25, 2010. REUTERS/Fayaz KabliOne of the world's longest-running separatist insurgencies, one that has killed tens of thousands of people in Kashmir, completed two decades last month.

The strife-torn region witnessed a period of relative calm, but a recent spate of rebel attacks is a grim reminder of the tensions in Kashmir at the heart of enmity between nuclear-armed neighbours India and Pakistan.

from AxisMundi Jerusalem:

O Hamas where art thou?

PALESTINIANS/Hamas has kept a pretty low profile in the West Bank recently--when will that change?

According to recent polls in both Israel and the West Bank, both Israeli and Palestinian populations are looking to see Hamas step up to the plate in negotiations. But that might not be enough to make Hamas willing to resurface in the West Bank just yet.

from AxisMundi Jerusalem:

Remembering Rabin: Commemorating or Politicking?

ISRAEL/Today marks the 14th anniversary, according to the Hebrew calendar, of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's assassination on Nov. 4, 1995, a day that many Israelis consider a stark reminder of political and religious fissures that have yet to be healed.

Rabin was shot in Tel Aviv at a rally to garner support for the Oslo Accords. His assassin, Yigal Amir, had a religious and right-wing background and rejected Rabin's peace initiatives.

from AxisMundi Jerusalem:

Gridlock in the Mideast

JamWant to know how it feels to be George Mitchell, President Obama's special envoy to the Middle East? Try getting from Jerusalem to Ramallah on a typical weekday at the rush hour. And experience stalemate, frustration, competitive selfishness, blind fury and an absence of movement that even the most stubborn and blinkered of West Bank bus drivers might see as a metaphor for the peace process that is going nowhere fast right now.

It took me 2 full hours to drive the 100 metres (yards) or so from the Israeli military checkpoint in the West Bank barrier around Jerusalem to reach the relatively open main street through Qalandiya refugee camp, the gateway to Ramallah. The reason? Well, at its simplest it's traffic chaos caused by anarchy, a vacuum of law and order. Look further, as with much else in the Middle East, and you get a conflicting and contrasting range of explanations.

from Sangwon Yoon:

The Iranian Guessing Game

After failing to reach an agreement on a settlement freeze, U.S. envoy George Mitchell extended his trip to the Middle East with hopes of arranging a tri-lateral meeting involving Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and U.S. President Barack Obama at the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York next week. (Read more here.)

Netanyahu refused to a complete halt in building settlements in the West Bank stating the need for "inhabitants of Judea and Samaria to continue to lead normal lives" as the reason. He said the Israeli government would consider a "reduction" in scope of construction. (Read more here.)

from India Insight:

Manmohan Singh’s shrinking room for manoeuvre on Pakistan

It is more than two weeks since Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh signed a declaration with his Pakistani counterpart Yusuf Raza Gilani aimed at rebuilding ties, but the attacks on Singh haven't abated at home.

By agreeing to delink terrorism from the broader peace process and including a reference to the threats inside Pakistan's troubled Baluchistan province - which Pakistan says is stoked by India - Singh is seen to have gone too far to accommodate the neighbour without getting anything in return.

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