Friday, January 30, 2009
Want to know why the latest polls show Kadima running a solid second behind Likud? ... Middle Israel no longer trusts it to oversee negotiations with Mahmoud Abbas's Palestinian Authority.
...Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni negotiated energetically with Abbas and Qurei. ...we pretty much know what Kadima has offered the Palestinians: Just about total withdrawal to the 1949 Armistice Lines, the boundaries from which the 1967 war broke out; including east Jerusalem. A settlement freeze has become a moot issue now that Olmert has offered the Palestinians much, much more.
Kadima is reportedly planning to uproot 70,000 Israelis (out of roughly 250,000) living beyond the Green Line. Large settlement blocs like Ma'aleh Adumim, which abuts the capital on the east, would be annexed to Israel. In return, the Palestinians would take possession of an equal amount of land in southern Israel.
Kadima plans to transfer to Palestinian sovereignty Arab neighborhoods which encircle Jerusalem on the east, north and south. Holy places, presumably including the Western Wall and Temple Mount, would be placed in the custody of an international body. A tunnel or bridge would connect the Gaza Strip and the West Bank to provide "Palestine" with territorial contiguity.
Except for refusing to absorb millions of Palestinian Arab refugees and their descendents within the Green Line - thereby having Israel commit national suicide - Olmert has given Abbas just about everything he could hope for.
Livni has criticized Olmert only for breaking his Annapolis oath to negotiate in secrecy.
WHAT fascinates is that Olmert, without addressing in tandem security, has publicized the most far-reaching concessions of any Israeli leader since the territories came into Israeli hands.
This revelation, unaccompanied by explicit assurances that Olmert and Livni have answers to the security dilemmas posed by their momentous territorial withdrawals, will cause many middle-of-the-road Israelis to lose sleep. Those who live or study in areas of Jerusalem slated to become frontline outposts abutting "Palestine" - places such as East Talpiot, Gilo and Mount Scopus - will want to know what this means for them. Those living in Kfar Saba, Hadera, Afula and Arad will also become frontline communities. Similarly, and equally worryingly, Israel's main airport will fall within range of rudimentary, shoulder-held anti-aircraft missiles.
It gives us no comfort to hear Livni say "the Palestinians' military capability is not a threat." Perhaps, but it has made life in southern Israel wretched and can make life along the coastal plain and Jerusalem equally miserable.
Given that Israel has found no effective answer to Hamas's aggression from Gaza, does Kadima have a contingency plan, should all of "Palestine" fall to Hamas?
Meanwhile, we find it mind-boggling that Abbas, rather than taking Olmert's concessions to his people, has rejected them out of hand, telling US officials that he is uncompromising on his demand for a total Israeli pullback to the 1949 lines. He also refuses to renounce the "right of return."
Kadima's leaders have reacted to Abbas's intransigence and historic shortsightedness with more blather about the need for Israeli concessions; but not a word of criticism of Abbas.
The 700,000 voters who supported Kadima in the last election still think a deal with the Palestinians is an Israeli interest. They're just not sure Kadima is sufficiently responsible to bring it to fruition.
The Central Council of Jews in Germany was the latest in a march of national and international Jewish umbrella organizations to announce it would sever ties with the Church over the matter on Thursday.
Tensions have continued to mount between Jewish communities around the world and the Catholic Church over the Holy See's rehabilitation of a bishop who denied the wholesale slaughter of Jews during the Holocaust.
Last Saturday Pope Benedict XVI lifted an excommunication ban against Bishop Richard Williamson, who has repeatedly insisted that the Nazi gas chambers did not exist and that no more than 300,000 Jews were killed during World War II, and those mostly due to starvation.
Charlotte Knobloch, president of the Council of Jews, told Germany's Rheinische Post newspaper in an interview published Thursday, "Under these conditions, there will certainly be no talks between myself and the Church for the time being – I stress the words 'for the time being.' "
...Israel's Chief Rabbinate broke its ties with the Vatican on Tuesday to protest the decision to reinstate the bishop. Rabbinate Director-General Oded Weiner wrote a letter to the Holy See Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews explaining the decision. "Without an official apology and recanting, it will be difficult to continue the dialogue," he said.
...Pope Benedict XVI responded to the letter Wednesday by saying he feels "full and indisputable solidarity" with Jews and said it was forbidden to deny the horror of the Nazi genocide. A Vatican spokesman had said earlier that Williamson's views "which are open to criticism" were irrelevant to the lifting of the ban.
Israel's Ambassador to the Vatican, Mordechai Lewy, warned in an interview with the Reuters news agency, however, that the Vatican's "eagerness to bring a Holocaust denier back into the Church will cast a shadow on relations between Jews and the Catholic Church."
Williamson has claimed in the past that the Jews are plotting to take over the world, and that the U.S. and Israel both planned the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the attempt on the White House.
The Holocaust denier was one of four bishops who were banned in 1988 for taking on the clerical office against the wishes of then-Pope John Paul II.
Williamson said in a 1989 sermon in Sherbrooke, Canada, "The Jews created the Holocaust so we would prostrate ourselves on our knees before them and approve of their new State of Israel… As Catholics have grown over the centuries weaker and weaker in the faith, especially since Vatican II, so the Jews have come closer and closer to fulfilling their substitute-Messianic drive towards world dominion," he declared.
The case [recently announced] in Spain against Israeli officials, which stems from the 2002 air force attack that destroyed the home of a senior Hamas terrorist and killed several of his children, is based on the universal jurisdiction provisions in the legal systems of a number of democratic countries.
While designed to bring heinous dictators to justice, "lawfare" - as this tactic has been dubbed - is exploited by non-governmental organizations that use the façade of universal human rights to promote their political goals.
The pattern emerged in 2001 when Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Badil (which focuses on refugee claims) and other NGOs used Belgium as the venue for allegations of war crimes against then-prime minister Ariel Sharon. The case was eventually dismissed and the law changed after Belgian officials linked to African dictators realized that they, too, were vulnerable to prosecution.
...The Spanish example of "lawfare" was initiated by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR). With a large budget provided by the European Commission, Norway, Ireland, Sweden, Switzerland and other European governments, PCHR is among the leaders of the anti-Israel demonization strategy.
The strategy was developed in the NGO Forum of the 2001 Durban Conference, the goal being to use boycotts and legal processes to brand Israel an "apartheid" state, while legitimizing terrorism. During the recent Gaza operation, PCHR issued over 50 statements, most of which included allegations of "war crimes." ...
...After the surprise attack delivered by the Spanish court, the Israeli government will have to give much higher priority to preventing "lawfare" cases before ministers and IDF officers are met by police in the arrivals hall and taken for interrogation.
*Prof. Gerald M. Steinberg is executive director of NGO Monitor and chairs the Political Science Department at Bar-Ilan University
...In ..."youth bulge" countries [where at least 30% of the male population is in the 15-to-29 age bracket], young men tend to eliminate each other or get killed in aggressive wars until a balance is reached between their ambitions and the number of acceptable positions available in their society.
In Arab nations such as Lebanon (150,000 dead in the civil war between 1975 and 1990) or Algeria (200,000 dead in the Islamists' war against their own people between 1999 and 2006), the slaughter abated only when the fertility rates in these countries fell from seven children per woman to fewer than two. The warring stopped because no more warriors were being born.
In Gaza, however, there has been no demographic disarmament. The average woman still bears six babies. For every 1,000 men aged 40-44, there are 4,300 boys aged 0-4 years. In the U.S. the latter figure is 1,000, and in the U.K. it's only 670.
And so the killing continues. In 2005, when Israel was still an occupying force, Gaza lost more young men to gang fights and crime than in its war against the "Zionist enemy." Despite the media's obsession with the Mideast conflict, it has cost many fewer lives than the youth bulges in West Africa, Lebanon or Algeria. In the six decades since Israel's founding, "only" some 62,000 people (40,000 Arabs, 22,000 Jews) have been killed in all the Israeli-Arab wars and Palestinian terror attacks. During that same time, some 11 million Muslims have been killed in wars and terror attacks -- mostly at the hands of other Muslims.
What accounts for the Mideast conflict's relatively low body count? Hamas and their ilk certainly aim to kill as many Israelis as possible. To their indignation, the Israelis are quite good at protecting themselves. On the other hand, Israel, despite all the talk about its "disproportionate" use of force, is doing its utmost to spare civilian deaths. Even Hamas acknowledges that most of the Palestinians killed by Israeli air raids are from their own ranks. But about 10%-15% of Gaza's casualties are women and minors -- a tragedy impossible to prevent in a densely settled area in which nearly half the people are under 15 and the terrorists hide among them.
The reason for Gaza's endless youth bulge is that a large majority of its population does not have to provide for its offspring. Most babies are fed, clothed, vaccinated and educated by UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. Unlike the U.N. High Commission for Refugees, which deals with the rest of the world's refugees and aims to settle them in their respective host countries, UNRWA perpetuates the Palestinian problem by classifying as refugees not only those who originally fled their homes, but all of their descendents as well.
UNRWA is benevolently funded by the U.S. (31%) and the European Union (nearly 50%) -- only 7% of the funds come from Muslim sources. Thanks to the West's largesse, nearly the entire population of Gaza lives in a kind of lowly but regularly paid dependence. One result of this unlimited welfare is an endless population boom. Between 1950 and 2008, Gaza's population has grown from 240,000 to 1.5 million. The West basically created a new Near Eastern people in Gaza that at current trends will reach three million in 2040. Within that period, Gazans may alter the justifications and directions of their aggression but are unlikely to stop the aggression itself.
The Hamas-Fatah truce of June 2007 allowed the Islamists again to direct all their energy on attacking Israel. The West pays for food, schools, medicine and housing, while Muslim nations help out with the military hardware. Unrestrained by such necessities as having to earn a living, the young have plenty of time on their hands for digging tunnels, smuggling, assembling missiles and firing 4,500 of them at Israel since 2006. While this gruesome activity has slowed the Palestinian internecine slaughter, it forced some 250,000 Israelis into bomb shelters.
The current situation can only get worse. Israel is being pushed into a corner. Gazan teenagers have no future other than war. One rocket master killed is immediately replaced by three young men for whom a martyr's death is no less honorable than victory. Some 230,000 Gazan males, aged 15 to 29, who are available for the battlefield now, will be succeeded by 360,000 boys under 15 (45% of all Gazan males) who could be taking up arms within the coming 15 years.
As long as we continue to subsidize Gaza's extreme demographic armament, young Palestinians will likely continue killing their brothers or neighbors. And yet, despite claiming that it wants to bring peace to the region, the West continues to make the population explosion in Gaza worse every year. By generously supporting UNRWA's budget, the West assists a rate of population increase that is 10 times higher than in their own countries. Much is being said about Iran waging a proxy war against Israel by supporting Hezbollah and Hamas. One may argue that by fueling Gaza's untenable population explosion, the West unintentionally finances a war by proxy against the Jews of Israel.
If we seriously want to avoid another generation of war in Gaza, we must have the courage to tell the Gazans that they will have to start looking after their children themselves, without UNRWA's help. This would force Palestinians to focus on building an economy instead of freeing them up to wage war. Of course, every baby lured into the world by our money up to now would still have our assistance.
If we make this urgently needed reform, then by at least 2025 many boys in Gaza -- like in Algeria -- would enter puberty as only sons. They would be able to look forward to a more secure future in a less violent society.
If the West prefers calm around Gaza even before 2025, it may consider offering immigration to those young Palestinians only born because of the West's well-meant but cruelly misguided aid. In the decades to come, North America and Europe will have to take in tens of millions of immigrants anyway to slow the aging of their populations. If, say, 200,000 of them are taken from the 360,000 boys coming of age in Gaza in the next 15 years, that would be a negligible move for the big democracies but a quantum leap for peace in the Near East.
Many of Gaza's young -- like in much of the Muslim world -- dream of leaving anyway. Who would not want to get out of that strip of land but the international NGOs and social workers whose careers depend on perpetuating Gaza's misery?
*Mr. Heinsohn heads the Raphael Lemkin Institute at the University of Bremen, Europe's first institute devoted to comparative genocide research.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
...The Israeli Air Force struck a vehicle carrying two Hamas operatives near the town of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip Thursday morning, local sources reported.
...An IDF spokesman said that the strike targeted Muhammad Auda Khamdan Samiri, 25, a member of Hamas' military infrastructure that perpetrated the attack against an army patrol on Tuesday in which a soldier was killed ...Samiri is also a member of the Global Jihad organization in the Gaza Strip and was involved in an attack that left two soldiers dead in March of last year.
...Earlier Thursday a Qassam rocket landed near the town of Sderot, but no injuries or damage were reported. The attack took place several hours after Israeli fighter jets targeted a weapons production site in the Rafah area in response to the rocket fire on Israel Wednesday.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak will convene Thursday afternoon to discuss the Israeli response to the renewal of rocket fire from Gaza, and to the attack on an IDF patrol Tuesday that left one soldier dead.
Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that "It's clear that Hamas continues to cling to its fanatic mission to destroy Israel and to smuggle weapons through the tunnels."
In a speech at the Davos Economic Forum in Switzerland, Netanyahu added: "Sooner or later Israel would be forced to deal with this. We cannot allow our citizens to remain defenseless against the rocket fire
A day after Gaza operatives breached the cease-fire with a deadly bomb attack along the border, terrorists in the Strip fired a Kassam rocket at southern Israel on Wednesday night.
The rocket hit an open area in the Eshkol region, causing no casualties or damage.
Haim Yalin, head of the Eshkol Regional Council, told The Jerusalem Post that the rocket represented a moment of truth for the government, and called for a firm response to avert the next war.
"During Operation Cast Lead, I and other local authority heads sat with Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and told them: 'It does not matter at what stage the military operation ends, what matters is what Israel does after the first rocket is fired,'" Yalin said.
"We have now reached that stage. If the government fails to respond, and says the rocket was fired by a marginal group, we will be faced with another war soon. If we respond as we should, then we can hopefully spare ourselves another war," he added.
"Israel must not show restraint. We have known this situation for too many years. It is like a child in a kindergarten testing his limits," Yalin said.
"The children have gone to sleep with raised pulses. What we will we tell them tomorrow at school?" he asked.
Earlier Wednesday, ahead of an additional Israeli response to Tuesday's bomb attack, Defense Minister Ehud Barak canceled a planned visit to Washington DC on Wednesday where he was scheduled to meet Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
Barak said that he canceled his trip so he could oversee the developments in Gaza. The IDF, he said, was prepared for every possible development.
GENEVA (AP) — The international Red Cross said Tuesday that Israel has fired white phosphorus shells in its offensive in the Gaza Strip, but has no evidence to suggest the incendiary agent is being used improperly or illegally.
..."In some of the strikes in Gaza it's pretty clear that phosphorus was used," Herby [head of the ICRC's mines-arms unit] told The Associated Press. "But it's not very unusual to use phosphorus to create smoke or illuminate a target. We have no evidence to suggest it's being used in any other way."
In response, the Israeli military said Tuesday that it "wishes to reiterate that it uses weapons in compliance with international law, while strictly observing that they be used in accordance with the type of combat and its characteristics."
Herby said that using phosphorus to illuminate a target or create smoke is legitimate under international law, and that there was no evidence the Jewish state was intentionally using phosphorus in a questionable way, such as burning down buildings or consciously putting civilians at risk.
However, Herby said evidence is still limited because of the difficulties of gaining access to Gaza, where Palestinian health officials say more than 900 people have been killed and 4,250 wounded since Israel launched its offensive late last month. Israel says the operation aims to halt years of Palestinian rocket attacks over the border.
...White phosphorus is not considered a chemical weapon.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The Middle East is gripped by a Muslim cold war, fiercer than anything since the 1950s. This deep political divide could stymie US President Barack Obama's well-intentioned efforts towards creation of a Palestinian state, engagement of the Iranian and Syrian regimes, and a quick withdrawal from Iraq.
The mainstream Arab countries, like Israel, seek US resolve in confronting the Iranian-led axis, not an "outstretched American hand" to the radical part of the Muslim world. An America that engages this radical axis could turn the Muslim cold war into something far more ominous.
Relations between the Muslim states of the Middle East have never been worse. The infighting has not been this fierce since the days that Egyptian President Nasser sent his agents to assassinate political figures in Jordan and to conduct a war in Yemen against the Saudi-backed royalists. An icy cold war rages between the moderate Arab Sunni states (including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and most of the Gulf states) and an Iranian-led axis (including Syria, Hizballah, Hamas, and less importantly, Qatar).
The issues over which these two camps contest are clear. Meeting the Iranian threat is the most important concern. For the Gulf states, Iran's success might threaten their survival. For Egypt, Iranian ascendancy would end its perennial claim to regional preeminence. Moreover, Iranian nuclear capabilities would saddle the Egyptian state with the colossal costs of embarking on its own nuclear weapons program at a time that Egypt desperately needs to continue to allocate resources for social development. This ordering of priorities was the main reason Egypt opted out of its confrontation with Israel and signed a peace treaty with the Jewish state thirty years ago.
Iran's support for Hamas in Gaza probably ranks second on the list of concerns for the moderate Arab Sunni states. "Hamastan" is anathema to this camp – for it sets a number of bad precedents. Gaza is the first area in the Arab world to be ruled by an organization that rose from the ground up, a fundamentalist movement that can claim a certain democratic legitimacy. Hamas is creating a revolutionary theocracy in the area under its control. It is the deepest Iranian bridgehead in the Arab world.
Moderate Arab states also contest another Iranian bridgehead in Lebanon. Just as these states clearly support Mahmoud Abbas as Palestinian leader, they also support the Siniora government – a coalition of Christians, and Sunnis under Saad al-Hariri (whose father was probably assassinated by the opposing axis) – against Hizballah and its Iranian and Syrian allies. Thus, in both the Palestinian and Lebanese arenas, deadly local enmity is fed by the larger Muslim state cold war.
Less well known but palpable nevertheless, is the contest between the two camps over Iraq's future. The moderate Sunni states are worried about a Shiite-led Iraq. Such an Iraq would play a major role in cementing the Iranian-led Shiite-heterodox arc from the Iranian border to a Hizballah-controlled Lebanon. Saudi Arabian support for Sunni parties in Iraq is well-known, but Saudi Arabia probably supports armed Iraqi Sunni groups as well.
Obama will be most surprised to discover that objection to any substantial movement on the Palestinian state will come less from Israel, and more so from Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. These countries fear that under the present circumstances Hamas would probably take over Judea and Samaria under an expanded Palestinian state. As far as they are concerned, Israel did not batter Hamas sufficiently to allay their suspicions. These states prefer "process" over meaningful movement regarding the Palestinian problem.
Nor will these Arab countries be pleased about the newfound American desire to engage Iran and Syria. Saudi Arabia remains committed to seeing Bashar Assad tried in an international court; it is not thrilled about letting Bashar off the hook by engaging him. All the moderate Arab states would like to see a United States that wields a big enough stick at Iran – short of war – to compel it to desist from its nuclear program. Needless to say, a rapid United States military withdrawal from Iraq is hardly the way to wield the big stick at Iran.
President George W. Bush also angered moderate Arab countries, but for a different reason. With Bush, moderate Arab states felt threatened by his focus on democratization. Obama, however, now threatens them with a policy of engaging the Muslim enemy. The mainstream Arab countries, like Israel, seek US resolve in confronting the Iranian-led axis, not an "outstretched American hand" to the radical part of the Muslim world. An America that engages this radical axis could turn the Muslim cold war into something far more ominous.
*Prof. Hillel Frisch is senior research associate and Arab affairs specialist at the Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University.
In sharply worded report...The United Nations Relief and Works Agency [UNRWA] for Palestinian refugees employs and provides benefits for terrorists and criminals, asserts a former legal adviser to UNRWA who left the organization in 2007.
James Lindsay, now a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, served as an attorney with the US Justice Department for two decades before leaving to work for UNRWA in 2000.
Titled 'Fixing UNRWA: Repairing the UN's Troubled System of Aid to Palestinian Refugees,' Lindsay's report puts forward suggestions intended to improve the agency. Established by the US and Britain after the 1948 war, UNRWA's objective was to aid displaced Palestinians.
...Lindsay's report warns that the agency has deteriorated increasingly over the years since its establishment, and that it was currently offering services to those who were not actually in need of them. "No justification exists for millions of dollars in humanitarian aid going to those who can afford to pay for UNRWA services," the report says.
He suggests UNRWA make operational changes and "halt its one-sided political statements and limit itself to comments on humanitarian issues; take additional steps to ensure the agency is not employing or providing benefits to terrorists and criminals; and allow the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), or some other neutral entity, to provide balanced and discrimination-free textbooks for UNRWA initiatives."
Lindsay concludes his report by saying that only these changes would allow the agency to complete its task in the Middle East. "For the Palestinians it serves, this means ending their refugee status and returning, after nearly sixty years, to what most of them so desperately seek: normal lives," he writes.
The report will be handed over to US President Barack Obama's administration, which is keen to help fix the ailing agency.
"The United States, despite funding nearly 75 percent of UNRWA’s initial budget and remaining its largest single country donor, has largely failed to make UNRWA reflect US foreign policy objectives. UNRWA initially served US humanitarian purposes, but in later years often clashed with US policies," the report says.
Lindsay claims the most important change that should be made in the agency is "the removal of citizens from recognized states – persons who have the oxymoronic status of “citizen refugees” – from UNRWA’s jurisdiction. This would apply to the vast majority of Palestinian “refugees” in Jordan, as well as to some in Lebanon and Syria."
... The exceedingly ugly character of the marches and rallies against Israel makes it clear that what we are witnessing is global anti-Semitism.
There is precedent for the Hamas philosophy, the Nazis referred to it as seeking to make the world judenrein.
Anti-Israel protests not only in Europe, but even in American communities like Ft. Lauderdale included chants of "Go back to the ovens" and "The ovens weren't big enough." The Europeans and their Middle Eastern friends cruelly equated the victims of Nazism with being Nazis themselves. Thus, the Europeans absolve themselves from their own historical guilt.
And the failure of the political elites to condemn such anti-Semitic behavior or even to recognize it fosters, encourages and inadvertently supports the anti-Semites. One British parliamentarian, turning the situation on its head, accused the "the Jews" of exploiting the guilt of non-Jews over the Holocaust to justify Israel's defensive operations against Hamas terrorists in Gaza.
That thugs beat a Jewish girl in Paris while telling her that it was revenge for Israeli attacks on Hamas goes well beyond the traditional bounds of protest. It was clear anti-Semitism reminiscent of similar events in European history.
And the Paris attack was not an isolated event. The Turkish government's recent rhetoric has been so caustic as to make the country's Jewish population fearful for the first time in its more than 500-year history.
In several European countries, Jewish cemeteries and synagogues were vandalized.
The question for supporters and friends of Israel are, why were there no UN resolutions condemning Hamas' unilateral rocketing of Israel?
...The lesson of the Holocaust is that Israel can and should expect neither fairness, honesty or justice from the world community. Israel can only depend on itself because anti-Semitism today remains not only tenacious, it is fashionable.
*Tom Neumann is executive director of the Washington-based non-profit Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.
In this new BESA Center study, Prof. Efraim Inbar, Director of the Begin-Sadat Center, argues that the "two-state solution is an obsolete paradigm." He calls instead for a regional approach to Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy whereby Palestinian areas would be linked again (or "retrocede") to Egypt and Jordan, and the conflict would be managed -- not solved.
The study traces the development of the two-state concept and international diplomacy based on it since 1917; analyzes the failure of Palestinian state building since the beginnings of the Oslo process; and suggests policy options for the future.
"While the two-state paradigm has a long pedigree and current popularity in contemporary academic and diplomatic circles, it has no chance of achieving a stable and peaceful outcome in the coming decades," writes Inbar. "At present, Palestinian society is caught in the crux of a civil war between radical Islamists and nationalists, neither of which truly seeks establishment of a small Palestinian state living peacefully alongside Israel."
"After more than 100 years of conflict, it is apparent that the two national movements, the Palestinian and the Zionist, are not close to a historic compromise. It is equally clear that the Palestinians are not able to build a state; they have been given the chance but produced only a 'failed state' that is corrupt and anarchic. This is true both of the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority in the West Bank as well as the Hamas government in Gaza."
"Mistakenly, most Israeli and Western leaders still think that they can engage in building a Palestinian state that will choose coexistence with Israel. But political engineering from the outside has its limits, as has been amply demonstrated in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Palestinian society has a long way to go towards political maturity, sobriety and moderation, and this change must grow naturally from within; which will take decades, if at all."
"In the meantime, we are stuck with two rival Palestinian entities on Israel's borders which are nowhere near merging into a responsible partner for Israel. So for now, the two-state option is not relevant."
"Linkage or retrocession of the West Bank and Gaza to some form of Egyptian and Jordanian security control and civil administration has a greater chance of stabilizing the situation than the previous paradigm. While these Arab countries will initially resist this step, wise diplomacy and long-term conflict management will move in this direction."
"In the wake of the Israeli operation against Hamas in Gaza, Western leaders are blindly rushing to reconfirm their commitment to a two-state solution. Yet Palestinian independence has proven to be a bad idea. The new US President and his Mideast envoy have an opportunity to take a fresh look at the situation, to reject retrenched and stale thinking, and strike out in new directions -- particularly since they advocate a regional approach."
A senior European Union official touring war-torn Gaza has blamed the ruling militant movement Hamas for the humanitarian crisis there. Humanitarian aid chief Louis Michel called the destruction left by Israel's offensive "abominable", but said Hamas bore "overwhelming responsibility". He said there would be no dialogue with the "terrorist" movement until it gave up violence and recognised Israel.
He also announced emergency aid for Gaza worth more than US $70m (£50m).
US President Barack Obama, meanwhile, dispatched his new Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, on his debut mission to the region having briefed him to engage "vigorously" to forge "genuine progress" in peace talks.
Sick of paying
...Mr Michel described the situation as "abominable, indescribable".
"At this time we have to also recall the overwhelming responsibility of Hamas," he said.
"I intentionally say this here - Hamas is a terrorist movement and it has to be denounced as such."
...The former Belgian foreign minister insisted there would be no dialogue with Hamas, saying its use of terrorism against Israeli civilians meant it was not a legitimate resistance movement.
...Announcing the extra aid, Mr Michel said people in the EU were sick of paying for the same infrastructure being destroyed over and over again in Israeli military action. The EU is the main donor to the Palestinians, having given three billion euros since 2000, Mr Michel said. "Every year, we spend 600 to 700m euros. Today we decided on a supplementary payment of 60m euros." ...
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Well-meaning Australians should be wary of supporting local groups purportedly assisting victims of the recent conflict in Gaza. If the “aid” assists the Hamas terrorist regime there, it will have the opposite of the intended effect, because it will prolong the conflict and the suffering of innocent civilians on both sides.
Hamas is a criminal terrorist organisation whose charter openly calls for the destruction of a sovereign nation and genocide of the Jews. It is willing and eager to transform its own constituents into martyrs to promote these goals, while exploiting their death and suffering for propaganda purposes.
The Hamas tactic is to cause as many civilian casualties as possible amongst its own population, by bombarding from schools and densely populated areas to elicit global sympathy and induce outrage directed at Israel, which is the victim of this war crime. However outrage should be directed against Hamas, which is its perpetrator.
Hamas and similar terrorist groups have conducted a campaign of suicide bombings, drive-by shootings, stabbings and rocket and mortar attacks on Israeli civilians since 2000. In that period, over 1,200 Israelis have been killed, 7,000 injured and 900,000 held to ransom and traumatised by this campaign of terrorism. Hamas knew exactly what it was doing when it terrorised Israeli children from behind its own children.
Although Hamas was initially elected, it then took control of Gaza by force in a bloody coup, murdering over 100 of its political opponents. During and after the recent Israeli operation Hamas continued this brutal reign by torturing and executing Fatah members in the Gaza Strip. Nineteen Palestinians were murdered and more than 60 others were shot in the legs. Musa Abu Marzouk, a top Hamas official in Syria, confirmed that his movement had executed “collaborators” during the war.
Claims that the Palestinian terrorism is a form of “resistance” to Israel’s blockade of Gaza and occupation of the West Bank are patently false. The blockade of Gaza, which Israel vacated entirely in 2005, was instituted only after Hamas’s bloody coup, to prevent it from threatening Israel. If Hamas were to accede to international calls to recognise Israel, renounce violence and accept prior agreements with the Palestinian Authority, there would be no blockade. Furthermore, Palestinian terrorism commenced long before the “occupation” of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, and even before the establishment of the State of Israel.
The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) took great care, as always, to act in accordance with the highest humanitarian norms and did its utmost, including holding fire on confirmed military targets, to prevent harming civilians. It distributed flyers and used the local media and telephone network to warn civilians of impending operations in their area. The IDF also acted to provide for the humanitarian needs of the civilian population in the Gaza Strip during the fighting. There have been allegations of IDF war crimes, but no substantiated cases. If any of the allegations are found to be true, they would be very rare exceptions and will be dealt with under law.
However perpetration of war crimes is Hamas’s everyday mode of operation. Hamas deliberately targets civilians and uses its own civilians as shields. Hamas kidnapped Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit from Israeli sovereign territory, and for over 2 years has refused to release information, allow humanitarian access, or treat him in accordance with accepted norms for military prisoners.
Concerned Australians should call for Hamas to renounce terrorism and join civilised society. Providing any support that may in effect assist the Hamas regime will only encourage more terrorism and violence, and thereby prolong the death and suffering on both sides of the conflict.
*Steve Lieblich is a member of the national editorial board of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, and Director of Public Affairs of the Jewish Community Council of Western Australia.
Monday, January 26, 2009
Telephone poll of a representative sample of adult Israelis including Israeli Arabs) carried out by Mano Geva for Israel Television Channel One's "Israel Votes" program apparently on 25 January 2009.
Current Knesset seats in [brackets].
- 22  Kadima headed by Livni
- 17  Labor
- 30  Likud
- 10  Shas
- 16  Yisrael Beteinu
- 03  "Jewish Home" (previously NRP)
- 05  Yahadut Hatorah
- 05  Meretz
- 00  Green Party
- 00  Retirees Party
- 09  Arab parties
- 00  Meimad
- 00  Strong Israel (Efraim Sneh)
- 03  National Union (reconstituted)
- 00  Social Justice (Gaydamak Party)
- 00  Green Leaf (legalize marijuana)
Barack Obama with George Mitchell, his Special Envoy for the Middle East.
First, how can one hold in high regard someone who came out with the wretched Sharm El-Sheikh Fact-Finding Committee Report also known as the "Mitchell Report," of April 2001? I did an analysis of it when it appeared at "Mitchell report missed it." I called it "a great disappointment."
A couple of excerpts:
- it reveals the would-be peacemaker´s typical unwillingness to judge right and wrong.… Not wanting to offend, in other words, creates an illusionary balance of blame ("Fear, hate, anger, and frustration have risen on both sides," says the report) that makes it impossible to distinguish between aggressor and victim, between right and wrong.
- the Mitchell report suggests that Israel "should freeze all settlement activity" to mollify the Palestinians. This is a step the Israelis never agreed to, even when negotiations were under way. To do so now rewards the Palestinians for engaging in violence, something objectionable in principle and ineffectual in practice.
- the report emphasizes getting the two parties back to the negotiating table, as though this were an end in itself. It seems oblivious to the important fact that negotiations over the past eight years did not bring the parties closer to a settlement but, to the contrary, exacerbated differences and had a role in the outbreak of violence.
I found that Mitchell and his committee were "myopically unaware of the real issue at hand, which is not violence, or Jewish settlements, or Jerusalem. It is, rather, the enduring Arab reluctance to accept the existence of a sovereign Jewish state." I suggested that, the real solution "lies not in getting the parties back as fast as possible to diplomacy, but in instilling in the Palestinians an awareness of the futility of their use of violence against the Jewish state."
Second, how can one take seriously yet another diplomatic initiative? Here is a partial listing of diplomatic initiatives undertaken since 2001:
- George W. Bush's June 2002 speech.
- The Geneva Accords.
- The Quartet.
- The Roadmap.
- The Mitchell Report
- The Tenet Understandings
- The Abdullah Plan.
- The "Benchmarks" for peace.
- The Zinni mission.
- The Wolfensohn mission
- The Ward mission.
- The Dayton mission.
- The Annapolis Foundation, headed by James L. Jones.
- The Fraser mission.
Albert Einstein defined insanity as "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Could someone explain to me how that definition does not apply to this fifteenth effort? Does anyone wish to wager on its chances for success?
...under [Hamas'] rule, Palestinians will never have their own state...
From his safe haven in Damascus, the capital of terror organisations in our region, Mousa Abu Marzook announced yesterday in the Guardian that in the recent clash in Gaza, Israel had suffered "a decisive loss"...Hamas has presumably won "a decisive victory". ... the destruction brought upon the people of Gaza by the just, self-defensive actions of Israel, is nothing but the spoils of victory; ...the growing awareness among nations of the world that the Palestinians under Hamas may be dooming themselves to never having a state of their own – all this is, in fact, a great political achievement.
We have seen such things before. Following the six-day war – the greatest defeat the Arabs suffered for their aggression against Israel – the Egyptian President Nasser had the chutzpah to declare victory.
And recently, Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary general of Hezbollah, from the shelter he has rarely left since the 2006 war, said something of the same sort. The fact that, in spite of his threatening rhetoric to help fellow Gazans, he didn't lift a finger, is beside the point.
So much for victories in the Middle East.
It is easy to dismiss Abu Marzook's ranting as sheer hallucination, except that if the way of Hamas is really the path Palestinians have chosen to pursue their goals, then a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not on the cards. One really needs to read the charter of that movement, drafted in 1988, to understand that ...there could be no political compromise.
...When Hamas took over Gaza, exactly three years ago, I wrote that maybe this was a blessing in disguise:
Come to think of it, I am glad that Hamas won the elections. Things might now become much clearer. There will be no whitewashing, no Arafat-style double-talk, or endless Abbas impotence. It's better to deal with a pure enemy: Fight him ruthlessly while he is your enemy, and sit down and talk to him when he is genuinely willing to cut a deal.If Hamas stops harassing Israel and smuggling arms, and accepts a two-state solution, it will find in Israel a solid partner in carving out a better future for our children...
Sunday, January 25, 2009
[Video] Former British Army Colonel Richard Kemp discusses the military challenges facing the IDF as they carry out Operation Cast Lead within Gaza.
Follow this link to see the video.
George Mitchell ...the special envoy to Israel and to...well, how does one tell who can represent the Palestinians in peace talks?
Mitchell has been very clear that there is no purpose in negotiations with parties which don't want peace. So this leaves us with Fatah whose certified terrorist history outranks the Tamil Tigers, the Basque ETA and several other fraternal Muslim killer organizations altogether. And whose commitment to an arrangement continues to be -- shall we say? -- a bit suspect.
Still, Fatah, which has run the Palestinian Authority ..is clearly the more "moderate" of the Palestinian irridentist forces, and its words -- of course, not to its people, but to world diplomats and Israelis -- are civil. It's not a sound basis for trust. But if you can't trust Mahmoud Abbas you can trust no Palestinian leader.
...Oh, one other query about Fatah: Can it win an election in the West Bank? Perhaps. It is still, however, unbelievably corrupt and inefficient. It is also probably tarnished by its quotidian ties to Israel. And, after all, from the point of view of reasonable Palestinians of which there are some, Fatah was the political party that gave up a real state in the West Bank to assuage the demonic "from the river to the sea" delusions of Yassir Arafat. On the other hand, there was little turmoil in the West Bank while the I.D.F. was bombing in Gaza.
And, then, there is Hamas. It entrapped the people of Gaza in a war it provoked. Relentless rocketry and missiles, utterly relentless, many thousands of them over almost eight years. What did Hamas or the subjects of its tyranny think Israel would do? Let the torment mount day in, day out? This war was perfectly proper because it struck at the Hamas military machine. That this machine was fused with civil life is not the responsibility of Israel. But let's face stark facts: many Gaza "civilians" were also happy with this fusion. Victims, yes, but also fools.
The delirium of Palestinian politics is also a stark fact ...Many Palestinians and most in the Palestinian leadership believe they can whittle Israel down to size without they themselves having to whittle down their ambitions. This delirium also translates into the assumption that losing a military confrontation or, in fact, a war has no consequences. Hamas may launch another of their suicidal battles. This one won't last a day.
George Mitchell came into the region almost nine years ago. He's an even-handed man. I myself can't grasp how one can be even-handed between political gangsters like Hamas and Israel. Unless, that is, one is willing to be even-handed between the Taliban and its antagonists, which I don't think Mitchell is prepared to be. And certainly not Barack Obama. And if I am wrong God have mercy on our collective soul.
So one of the questions that Mitchell must address first is whether Hamas is really fooling when it says it seeks the elimination of the Jewish state and, secondly, whether Fatah is really willing to live with a Jewish state. I'm afraid that a truthful evaluation is likely to disappoint him quite a lot....
...Mitchell should understand, however, that Israel's security and peace is not a matter for barter in the Arab market.