Sample quotes by Gilead Sher in leading foreign media


 

Gilead Sher, a fellow at both Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy in Houston and at INSS in Tel Aviv, and a former chief of staff and peace negotiator under prime minister Ehud Barak, told The Media Line:

“The two agreements to be signed [at the White House on Tuesday] are important normalization deals which formalize – more so in the UAE case – a business-military deal in the guise of peace agreements. Peace treaties are made between enemies. Neither a state of war nor a dispute or violence of any kind, exist between either the United Arab Emirates or Bahrain and Israel.

“To put it mildly, the caption ‘historic peace’ wraps in overplayed diplomatic terms economic, military and financial deals. It serves domestic political objectives in Washington and Jerusalem, respectively,” Sher said.

“The agreements express a maturation of a quarter of a century during which the Gulf states moved forward, promoting their own national interests at the expense of collective ‘Arab’ interests, including the Palestinian cause,” he said.

“On the prudently optimistic side, Israeli-Arab normalization is a key component of any roadmap to regional peace. Therefore, it might well be that recent developments will not be detrimental to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, which in any event has been stalled for many years, though not only due to Palestinian intransigence.

“A process of regional normalization could, paradoxically, help the chances of reaching a long-term settlement between Israel and the Palestinians. But only if all three parties – Israel, the Arab states and the Palestinians – relate to the processes between them as intertwined. The way forward should be conditioned by mutual benefits and tangible achievements to each one of the parties involved, in every phase, in exchange for agreed concessions,” Sher said.

The Medialine, 9.12.2020

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Gilead Sher, a Senior Research Fellow and head of the Center of Applied Negotiations at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies, is less convinced that the prevailing environment is favorable to achieving an end-of-claims pact and thus foresees President Trump promoting a step-wise process. “Based on my understanding, the [White House] plan focuses on the rehabilitation of Gaza and ending the security crisis more than on resolving the broader Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” he conveyed to The Media Line. “The focus might be on ensuring that the conditions for a future [comprehensive] accord be maintained without necessarily venturing into this territory.”...

...“If I were to advise President Donald Trump,” Sher concluded, “the 2014 cease-fire agreement devised by the Egyptians [that ended the war between Israel and Hamas] is a very good place to start. Add to that the 2011 reconciliation deal between [Abbas’ ruling] Fatah [faction] and Hamas and you might not have to re-invent the wheel.”

The Medialine, 22.8.2018

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“Please note, that Israel did not face a peaceful resistance, it was not a popular peaceful protest, but a cynical abuse of an incited frustrated population led by Hamas fighters, terrorists, and activists. These were not demonstrators, these were attackers, controlled by Hamas, paid for by Hamas, organized by Hamas, Iran’s proxy.”

“I think this is the time for de-escalation for self-examination on all sides, we have two million Gazans who live in unacceptable humanitarian conditions. They need to be provided with medical assistance and treatment alleviations of all restrictions possible without making risks in security. We have to provide humanitarian aid and we have to get a ceasefire and here I believe that Egypt is a key.”

“There’s no other way but a two-state solution. We have to divide the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, the conflict can be resolved.”

Wilson Center, 18.5.2018

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According to Gilead Sher, former chief of staff to then-Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak and a senior negotiator at the Camp David Summit in 2000, Abbas is unlikely to sponsor another Palestinian uprising but will instead reengage in some form of diplomacy, whether bilaterally with Israel or within a broader regional framework. "[Even though] I do not believe that Abbas is capable of making the concessions necessary for a final deal, I expect him to be a partner in a long-term, transitional, interim process that eventually leads the parties to a two-state reality, as he knows this is the only option to achieving tangible statehood," he told The Media Line.

"In 2008," Sher continued, "after 30-odd meetings with then-Israeli premier Ehud Olmert, Abbas' response to a peace proposal was 'I'll get back to you,' but he never did. This was the most advanced offer ever by an Israeli leader. Then, in 2013-14 he ended the Kerry process by reconciling with Hamas and leaving the negotiations. Thereafter, Abbas started a very public global campaign to demonize Israel in international forums."

"Personally, I sympathize with Abbas," Sher concluded, "as I give him a lot of credit for his contribution to creating a more moderate approach towards reaching an eventual historic understanding with Israel. However, this does not change my analytical perspective: namely, that he was not capable of carrying the torch of Palestinian self-determination towards a better future.

"Regrettably, his legacy will not be one of a strong and important leader."

The Jerusalem Post, 30.12.2017

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Another person involved in prior peace talks, Gilead Sher, who served as chief Israeli negotiator at the Camp David Summit in July 2000 with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and President Bill Clinton, said he too does not believe a full-fledged agreement is currently possible. But he, too, believes success could come with an incremental approach.

“I also don’t believe we have to reinvent the wheel,” he said. “Any long-term arrangement would be similar to the Clinton parameters or the [Ehud] Olmert proposals to Abbas in 2008 and other initiatives that were laid out throughout the years. However, if the president succeeds in establishing a three-pronged process that combines a regional dialogue with the Arab quartet — Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the [United Arab] Emirates — with bilateral talks complemented by a series of independent constructive steps and a reality that preserves at least the conditions for eventually [creating] two states for two peoples … . I’m not talking of a plan that delineates borders and final-status arrangements. I’m talking of something more modest and humble. We need to gradually walk towards a two-state reality that step-by-step would eventually provide the conditions for a two-state solution.”

Sher, a co-founder of Blue White Future, which developed alternative approaches to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, said that “without America and the other international players, such a process is not possible.” He noted that one of the “deficiencies” of the Camp David Summit is that there was no “substantial dialogue with relatively moderate Arab states on these issues, and this contributed to the rejection [of peace proposals] by [Palestinian President] Yasir Arafat.”

Jewish Week, Times of Israel, 15.11.17

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Critics however say that the current diplomatic ambiguity may lead to failure. “You have to say publicly where you want to go,” said Gilead Sher, a senior fellow at Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies. Kushner, he says, is undermining progress by not stating what the American goal is. “When no one knows which way America is sailing, it’s impossible for all to steer their boats," he added.

Sher, who headed Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s team of negotiators with the Palestinians in President Clinton’s days, continued, "if there's a clear goal, progress can be made after each round of talks. If you tread in place, you get nowhere."

Despite public pronouncements, he said, the Netanyahu government never really believed in the two state solution.

Daily Beast, 28.8.17

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Gilead Sher, a Senior Fellow at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies, believes that a “more moderate setting of the bar is required that encourages a process towards a two-state reality, which, in turn, would lead to a two-state solution.” To this end, the former chief of staff to Ehud Barak and lead Israeli peace negotiator laid out for The Media Line a multi-dimensional approach in which bilateral Israeli-Palestinian negotiations are revisited “in order to replace the formula of ‘nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to’ with ‘whatever is agreed to should be implemented.'”

This, Sher contended, “would entail a mutual understanding of the necessity for a gradual and transitional process rather than a one-off, stand-alone comprehensive deal.” Moreover, he elaborated, “independent, constructive steps could also be taken by either party in order to reverse the trend towards the materialization of one state, which would be a disaster for Israel and the Palestinians.”

To this end, Sher does not rule out the possibility of “Israel unilaterally delineating a border- even a provisional one- as such will ultimately ensure the country remains both Jewish and democratic.”

While acknowledging that the Palestinians might not approve of such measures, Sher stressed that “their all-or-nothing approach, combined with an international campaign [to delegitimize] Israel has not yielded any results.” As such, in his view, “the international community should encourage this type of gradual process,” which can prevent “extremists on both sides from forging a reality that is unsustainable.”

The Media Line, 13.8.17

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“The US is very well-positioned right now to explore, with the involvement of Mr. Greenblatt, the commonalities between the moderate Sunni regimes and Israel, and to see where that can lead, not just in resolving crises but in achieving regional peace,” says Gilead Sher, director of the Center for Applied Negotiations at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.

The argument that Trump should have sent in bigger guns to address the Temple Mount crisis holds little sway with Mr. Sher, who says that Greenblatt “has enough credibility and respect at this point to help restore order and get the parties back to talking.”

“The old approach on the basis of the formula that ‘nothing is agreed until everything is agreed’ has to give way to a continuous hands-on approach, with America leading a gradual process of interim agreements,” says Sher, who is co-chair of Blue White Future, a nonpartisan group that favors a two-state solution allowing survival of a “Jewish and democratic” Israel. “The new formula should be that whatever is agreed should be implemented.”

The Christian Science Monitor, 25.7.17

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“President Trump said several times he’s going to put a lot of effort into this track of trying to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but he didn’t say how,” said Gilead Sher, a Tel Aviv lawyer who was Israel’s chief peace negotiator in the late 1990s. “Once the ceremonies and the photo ops and the speeches are gone, we’ll have to see whether this visit has really marked the start of a new process of some kind.”

Bloomberg Politics, 23.5.17

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“It was the one thing I heard [in the joint press conference] that I believe is alarming,”... One state in which you would have 4.3 million Palestinians and 1.5 million Israeli Arabs does not comply with political Zionism that refers to Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people and is also democratic, progressive and liberal.”

“This would provide for the burial of the Zionist vision altogether, along with our declaration of independence in 1948 that refers to Israel as Jewish and democratic,” added Sher, who is co-chair of Blue White Future, which advocates in behalf of a two-state solution. “You can’t have it both ways.”

The NY Jewish Week, 15.2.17

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“Bibi is not concerned at all with anyone from the center left,” Gilead Sher, a former Israeli peace negotiator and chief of staff for Prime Minister Ehud Barak, tells me in an interview, using the prime minister’s nickname. “He’s concerned about far-right politicians inside and outside his own party that are totally against any division of the land or agreement with the Palestinians. Those are the only people that he thinks could push him out of office.”

Vox, 29.12.2016

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"...But Gilead Sher, head of Israel’s negotiating team at the 2000 Camp David summit, said these efforts “to create a reality that allows people on both sides of the trench to live more comfortably” were valuable. He called Mr Blair very capable and devoted to “making life here more peaceful and creating an environment of coexistence that would be bearable”. Mr Sher also said any suggestion that the former Prime Minister’s placement suggests favouritism towards Israel or Jews is groundless."

The Independent, 4.6.2015

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"...At least in his public statements and discourse, this obviously marks a different approach. However, I think Netanyahu did very little, if anything, to pursue any kind of path that would enable the creation of a reality of two states for two people during his last two terms."

JNS, 23.3.2015

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"...A regional approach is needed, with the United States, Europe, Russia and the United Nations bringing Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the Gulf states into efforts to conjure a solution."

REUTERS, 11.3.2015

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"...Netanyahu never had the guts to secure a Jewish democratic Israel.”

The Daily Beast, 3.1.2015 

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"...I think it’s important that this option has been brought up by the prime minister as a viable subject for discussion. It’s a positive sign."

Bloomberg Buisness, 23.5.2014

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"Voluntary evacuation would unequivocally demonstrate that Israel is serious about seeking a two-state solution and increase the chance of the negotiation track succeeding . At the same time, it would yield savings, benefits and dividends accumulated as a result of much less indirect investments that the government of Israel keeps putting into the settlements”.

Bloomberg Buisness, 18.5.2014

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"Israel should enact a voluntary evacuation and compensation law for those who choose to relocate to Israel proper, and it should plan for their absorption. This would begin to create a two-state reality, and provide secure borders for a Jewish and democratic Israel — even if Secretary of State John Kerry gives up on diplomacy and “folds his tent."

The New York Times, 20.4.2014

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“There is a pressing need to strengthen ties between Netanyahu and Obama. There’s kind of a collage of interests, emotions, personal chemistry and national interests. I think they both will make genuine efforts to mend the relationship between them for the benefit of both nations.”

Bloomberg Buisness, 19.3.2014 

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"I would love to see a negotiated agreement finalized. But after more than a few futile rounds in the last two decades, Israel needs to take a different approach — one that doesn’t depend exclusively on Palestinian acceptance nor on direct negotiations only."

The New York Times, 29.11.2013

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"That chances of reaching a comprehensive agreement before the Israeli elections were very low.I think we have to strive to formulate understandings that will delineate basic lines, guidelines if you will, for continuing the negotiations as it will be renewed after the elections".

The New York Times, 22.1.2001

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''Optimum outcome would be a generalized statement by Mr. Clinton.Such a document, in the manner of a Clinton legacy, may or may not be initialed by Mr. Barak and Yasir Arafat".

The New York Times, 6.1.2001

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"..Very dear political price and a very dear personal price in order to exhaust the possibility of reaching peace.''

The New York Times, 18.12.2000

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"If it continues to be calm, and by the way, since last night there's a feeling things have calmed down on the Palestinian side. we will do our part and withdraw our forces according to the Sharm understandings".

The New York Times, 26.10.2000

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"..The president had proposed that Mr. Arafat have a presidential office in the Muslim quarter of the walled Old City of Jerusalem, a move that according to Israeli commentators would allow the Palestinians to claim that they had fulfilled their pledge to establish the capital of their new state in Jerusalem".

The New York Times, 28.7.2000

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