By Lamin Andoni
Barack Obama, the US president, is pushing for direct negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians. A resumption of direct talks would be his first "peace-making achievement" in the Middle East since he took office more than a-year-and-half ago. But, barring a surprise halt to Israeli settlement building in occupied East Jerusalem, the Palestinians will not hold direct talks with Israel. And even if the US were to succeed in bringing the two sides together, there will be no breakthrough as long as Israel remains unwilling to end its 43-year occupation.
The current stalemate in the "peace process" cannot be solved by a freeze - partial or total - on Jewish settlement building, and reflects the flaw at the core of the process, which focuses on Israeli security and demographic requirements rather than on ending the 43-year old Israeli occupation.
By Heidi-Jane Esakov
During the forced removals of the South African suburb of Sophiatown in 1955, around 65,000 residents were moved and "dumped in matchbox houses" in black townships. Only a few years before that, in 1948, Bedouins of Israel's Naqab/Negev region, who Israel had not expelled, were also forcibly moved "from their ancestral lands into a restricted zone called the Siyag (literally, 'fenced in')". And, just as Sophiatown was completely bulldozed, the Negev village of Al-Arakib was recently razed to make way for a Jewish National Fund forest.
As a South African it is particularly difficult not to see the stark parallels between the experiences of black South Africans under apartheid and of Palestinians today.