Saturday, April 18, 2009

Netanyahu (1996)

Obama has the "only" solution

From THE JERUSALEM POST, Apr. 17, 2009, by Associated Press:

US President Barack Obama's Mideast envoy George Mitchell said Friday that a "two-state solution is the only solution" to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, highlighting stark policy differences between the US and Israel over the idea of Palestinian statehood.

...The envoy spoke after meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at his West Bank headquarters. Mitchell is here on his third trip since being named by Obama, and on Thursday met for the first time with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

An official in Netanyahu's office said that in a meeting with Mitchell on Thursday, the prime minister expressed concern that if a Palestinian state is set up, Hamas could take over the West Bank, as it overran Gaza in 2007. The experience of Israel withdrawing from territory, only to have it controlled by Palestinian extremists "is not going to be repeated," said the official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks were not public.

However, Mitchell struck a firm tone on Friday, after his meeting with Abbas. He said establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel is a national interest of the US ...He said the Arab peace initiative, which offers Israel full recognition by the Arab world in exchange for full withdrawal from occupied territories, should be part of future peace efforts...

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Durban II Snow Job: One giant leap backwards for humankind

From a UN Watch Press Release, April 15, 2009, by Anne Bayefsky (A version of this article appears in The New York Daily News, Thursday, April 16, 2009):

The UN’s idea of an anti-racism conference entered the final stretch today with the planning committee deciding Iran ought to preside as a Vice-Chair, Libya will serve as the Chair of the “Main Committee” running the conference and Cuba will be the Rapporteur. All three human rights paragons will assume their new duties on the first day of “Durban II” set for Monday, April 20th.

Although the flowers are blooming by Lake Geneva, these Durban II preparations are best described as a massive snow job. The UN had set aside three days this week to hammer out a final document to be adopted formally at the conference itself. But Libyan Chair Najat Al-Hajjaji adjourned the meeting half an hour after it began – despite the fact that half of the 142-paragraph draft manifesto has not yet been agreed.

Al-Hajjaji is serving as the front for the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) . Her not-so-hidden agenda is shared by the Secretary-General of Durban II, UN High Commissioner Navi Pillay. For Pillay, a native of Durban, South Africa, the Durban Declaration’s stature is of biblical proportion. Sitting at the podium side-by-side, Al-Hajjaji and Pillay’s strategy became painfully obvious to the hundreds of assembled diplomats and NGO representatives who thought they had came to talk about combating racism.

Their maneuver had two main elements. First, run out the clock. By adjourning rapidly, and probably for most of the next two days, the conference will be bound to start on Monday with the European Union at the table and the threat of a democratic pull-out gone. All UN diplomats are well aware of the fact that the EU will agree to just about anything when faced with the spectacle of a “failed” UN conference. EU members don’t have the numbers to prevail at the UN if a vote is called and therefore feign consensus instead of appearing to be “losers” to the folks back home. They are also fond of the UN as a means to outweigh the United States 27-1. And EU states wilt at the prospect of being labeled former colonial racists (by racists from the developing world.)

The second Al-Hajjaji-Pillay/OIC-UN move is to keep all disagreements behind closed doors as long as possible. This way, the damage done to combating racism in the backroom negotiations will be in the form of indecipherable ambiguous UN-eze by the time it is a done deal.

When Al-Hajjaji clocked out 30 minutes after showing up for work, she asked delegates to pick up a new draft of the “Durban II Outcome Document” on their way out the door. Little wonder she wanted no opportunity for public discussion. Here is what can be found in the latest draft of the UN’s new “anti-racism” bible:

  • Condemnation of “foreign occupation” – aka Israel-bashing. Foreign occupation is said to be “closely associated with racism, racial discrimination…and contribute to the persistence of racist attitudes and practices…” In other words, labeling the Jewish nation as the world’s racist state is back.
  • "Defamation of religions" returns under a new guise. The document professes “deep concern” about “the negative stereotyping of religions.”
    More of the Islamic assault on free speech. The draft “reaffirms that all dissemination of ideas based on…incitement to racial discrimination…shall be declared offences punishable by law…”
  • More Iranian-driven references to “cultural diversity” – the diplomatic cover for the murder of homosexuals, judicially-sanctioned amputation of hands and feet, and the stoning of woman for alleged adultery.
  • Renewed emphasis on the “transatlantic slave trade” and total rejection of a proposed mention of the trans-Saharan slave trade perpetrated by Arabs and other Africans.
    Additional emphasis on the adoption of “complementary standards” on racism and xenophobia – an Islamic idea designed to subvert the universal principles in existing treaties.

And lest anyone be under the impression that Durban II will go away come April 25th, the draft demands that the Durban Declaration be implemented or “mainstreamed” “in the whole UN system” forevermore.

Silencing public commentary on the abomination was not the only thing the OIC-UN nexus accomplished in the space of thirty minutes. Also quickly gaveled without comment was approval of 81 NGOs to participate in Durban II. Included among these illustrious “human rights” partners:

  • The Independent Jewish Voices – a network composed largely of anti-Zionists preoccupied with driving a wedge between Jews and Israel.
  • The Palestine Return Center which objects to the creation of a Jewish state with the tale of “ethnic cleansing of Palestine that began more than sixty years ago”.
  • The Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation, headed by the son of Muammar al-Gaddafi. This fellow still insists that the Libyans convicted of the bombing of PanAm flight 103 were innocent.

The Obama administration has delayed a decision whether to come or go to this fiasco UNTIL the final hour. The opening sentence of this new draft still “reaffirms” the 2001 Durban Declaration which the US rejected the first time around for its overt discrimination and demonization of Israel. The administration has said it wouldn’t go to Durban II if this Declaration was “reaffirmed in toto.” Combined with the new allegations of racism against Israel, the President and UN Ambassador Rice have nowhere left to hide.

Other countries that might stay out, together with Canada and Israel, include Australia, Italy and the Netherlands. Australia has had a wet-finger in the wind for months. Italy is not participating at the moment and doesn’t have any reason to go back with this latest travesty. And Dutch efforts to improve the outcome document have been treated with disdain. Still the Germans and French are pressing hard for a show of EU solidarity – the merits of Durban II and all those faux-“red-lines” they once espoused be damned.

On Monday, April 20th, the anniversary of Hitler’s birth, an Iranian will be elected as a Vice-chair of a global “anti-racism” conference. In the afternoon of opening day, a genocidal Holocaust denier – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – will address a UN conference “against” racism. The European Union will sit and listen to an antisemite give a lecture about combating intolerance. And in the end most UN states will adopt a document incompatible with the UN’s foundational principle of the equality of all men and women and nations large and small.

A good day for UN-based antisemites. A bad day for those who care about human rights.

Even a demilitarised Palestinian state would be dangerous

From an opinion piece in THE JERUSALEM POST, Apr. 15, 2009, by LOUIS RENÉ BERES, professor of international law in the Department of Political Science at Purdue University [my emphasis added - SL]:

When I first wrote about problems of Palestinian demilitarization in February 1998, Binyamin Netanyahu was prime minister. Today, he is again and - once again - he is on record against full sovereignty for "Palestine." Instead, he continues to speak either of a Palestinian "autonomy" or of various "attributes of restricted sovereignty."

...The most likely scenario in this matter will confront Prime Minister Netanyahu with a seemingly stark decision: to agree completely to creating a Palestinian state, or to reject it outright. But as neither polar prospect could work easily - one option would create intolerable strategic threats while the other would elicit intolerable global condemnation - a "compromise" position is apt to emerge. This position would involve Israel's formal acceptance of Palestinian statehood, yet only contingent upon the new Arab state's "demilitarization." Assuming that the Palestinian side would even agree to such an arrangement, could Palestinian demilitarization be acceptable to Israel? Or would a demilitarized Palestinian state in Judea/Samaria (West Bank) and Gaza still represent an unbearable peril?

...There are hidden and significant dangers to the demilitarization route.

The existential threat to Israel of any Palestinian state would lie not only in the presence or absence of a particular national armed force, but also in the many other enemy armies and insurgents that would inevitably compete for power in the new Arab country.

There is another, less obvious, reason why a demilitarized Palestine would present a substantial security threat: International law would not necessarily expect Palestinian compliance with pre-state agreements concerning armed force.

As a new state, Palestine might not be bound by any pre-independence compacts, even if these agreements had included certain US guarantees to Israel. Also, because authentic treaties can be binding only upon states, a non-treaty agreement between the Palestinians and Israel could be of no real authority and little real effectiveness.

What if the government of a new Palestinian state were willing to consider itself bound by the pre-state, non-treaty agreement? Even in these relatively favorable circumstances, the new Arab government would have ample pretext to identify various strong grounds for lawful treaty termination. It could, for example, withdraw from the "treaty" because of what it regarded as a "material breach" (a violation by Israel that had allegedly undermined the object or purpose of the agreement). Or it could point toward what international law calls a "fundamental change of circumstances" (rebus sic stantibus). In this connection, should Palestine declare itself vulnerable to previously unforeseen dangers - perhaps even from the forces of other Arab armies - it could lawfully end its codified commitment to remain demilitarized.

THERE is another factor that explains why a treaty-like arrangement obligating Palestine to accept demilitarization could quickly and legally be invalidated after independence. The usual grounds that may be invoked under domestic law to invalidate contracts also apply under international law to treaties and treaty-like agreements. This means that a Palestinian state could point to errors of fact or to duress as perfectly appropriate grounds for termination.

Any treaty is void if, at the time it was entered into, it was in conflict with a "peremptory" rule of general international law (jus cogens) - a rule accepted and recognized by the international community of states as one from which "no derogation is permitted." Because the right of sovereign states to maintain military forces essential to self-defense is certainly such a rule, "Palestine" could be entirely within its lawful right to abrogate any agreement that had previously compelled its demilitarization.

Netanyahu should thus take little comfort from the legal promise of Palestinian demilitarization. Should the government of any future Palestinian state choose to invite foreign armies or terrorists onto its territory (possibly after the original national government had been displaced or overthrown by more militantly Islamic anti-Israel forces), it could do so not only without practical difficulties, but also without necessarily violating international law.

The overriding danger to Israel of Palestinian demilitarization is more practical than legal. In the final analysis, this Oslo/road map-driven pattern of intermittent territorial surrender, and also the freeing of terrorists, stems from a very deep misunderstanding of Palestinian goals.

While Israeli supporters of Oslo or the road map continue to believe in a "two-state solution" (now also a mantra in Obama's Washington), the Palestinian Authority has other ideas.

For the PA, as for most of the rest of the Arab/Iranian world, Palestine includes the entire State of Israel. For them, there can only be a "one-state solution." This annihilatory remedy is effectively the same as a final solution.

Mr. Netanyahu, Palestinian demilitarization wouldn't make a Palestinian state any less dangerous. If you plan to oppose Palestinian statehood, as indeed you should, "Palestine" should be rejected in any and all of its potential forms.

Palestinians must accept Israel as a Jewish state

From THE JERUSALEM POST Apr. 16, 2009, by HERB KEINON and TOVAH LAZAROFF [my emphasis added - SL]:

Palestinian recognition that Israel is a Jewish state is a fundamental element for any talks between the two parties, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told visiting US envoy George Mitchell on Thursday evening.

The two-hour meeting in Jerusalem was Netanyahu's first long face-to-face conversation as prime minister with a top-level Obama administration official.... a very positive one in which both Israel and the US promised to cooperate fully on regional matters.

...Netanyahu assured Mitchell that Israel wanted to move forward to create a sustainable peace with the Palestinians, but that this peace had to take into account Israel's vital security interests.
Netanyahu stressed that it was important to learn from past mistakes and that no one wanted to see a situation where Israel ceded more territory only to have it taken over by extremist elements, the source said. "No one wants to see a Hamastan in the West Bank..." ....

Looking beyond the Palestinians, Netanyahu said that countries such as Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia should be part of the peace process. He said he thought it was possible because today, these regional actors understood the dangers posed by Iran and its extremist proxies... The two men also discussed Iran and Syria, but the source did not elaborate on those conversations.

Mitchell's first meeting with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, which took place earlier in the day ...the gist of what Lieberman and Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon told Mitchell was that the diplomatic efforts that had been tried since 1993 had failed, and it was now time to try something new.

...The sources pointed out the implied criticism of US Middle East policy in Lieberman's saying that the diplomatic efforts had failed, because the US had been very much involved in those efforts.

Mitchell, according to the sources, spoke in generalities about a two-state solution, but did not go into details.

Lieberman's office issued a statement after the meeting saying that he had reviewed the diplomatic process since the 1993 Oslo Accords, stressing that the "traditional approach" had so far brought neither results nor solutions. Lieberman said that six former prime ministers had been prepared to make far-reaching concessions, but that the policies of the Olmert-Livni government in this regard had resulted in the Second Lebanon War and Operation Cast Lead.

Furthermore, he said, Qatar and Mauritania had cut off ties with Israel, IDF soldier Gilad Schalit continued to sit in captivity, and the diplomatic process had reached a dead end.

The foreign minister said the Israeli government would have to formulate new ideas and a new approach. "We anticipate close cooperation and coordination with the US administration," he said. Lieberman stressed that Israel expected absolute support from the international community on the issue of security, as well as its unequivocal commitment to the concept of Israel as a Jewish state.

Lieberman also raised the issue of the Iranian threat as a central problem for Israel and the entire region, as demonstrated by the arrest of terrorists in Egypt last week. "Iran with nuclear weapons and long-range missiles; Hamas and the Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip; and Hizbullah in Lebanon - those are the real problems. If we're looking for a stable solution to the Palestinian problem, we must first stop the intensification and expansion of the Iranian threat," Lieberman said.

Following the meeting, Mitchell said the conversation was "good, full and candid."

"I reiterated to the foreign minister that US policy favors - with respect to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - a two-state solution, which would have a Palestinian state living in peace alongside the Jewish State of Israel, and that we would look forward also to efforts to achieve a comprehensive peace throughout the region," he said.

Israeli diplomatic officials said Mitchell's emphasis on Israel as a Jewish state was significant, saying it was code for the US backing Israel's position that in any future two-state solution, Palestinian refugees from 1948 would be allowed to return to the new Palestinian state, but not to Israel...

BBC report finds inaccuracy and impartiality in Israel coverage

From Ynet News, 16/4/09:

News agency's editorial standards committee finds Middle East Editor in breach of guidelines of accuracy and impartiality.

BBC's Middle East Editor, Jeremy Bowen, reported inaccurate information, an internal BBC committee found this week, suggesting an anti-Israel bias in the national new agency's reporting.

[no surpises there! - SL]

The BBC's Trust Editorial Standards Committee responded in a Wednesday report to complaints dealing with two articles: A radio show called "From Our Own Correspondent" aired on BBC Radio 4 in 2008 and a written piece entitled "How 1967 defined the Middle East" from 2007.

The panel reviewed the items following complaints by a member of the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland, regarding Bowen's inaccuracy and lack of impartiality.

In the episode of, "From Our Own Correspondent" on Israeli settlement of Har Homa, near Jerusalem, the internal committee found that Bowen had used imprecise wording to assert that the settlement was considered illegal by the United States. As such, they wrote, he had breached the guidelines of accuracy, but not impartiality.

They also found a number of phrases in his 2007 articles inappropriate, such as his reference to "Zionism's innate instinct to push out the frontier," his claim that Israeli generals felt that they were dealing with "unfinished business", left over from the 1948 War of Independence, and his assertion of Israel's "defiance of everyone's interpretation of international law except its own." In this article, the committee found Bowen had breached guidelines of both accuracy and impartiality.

The BBC said it had no intention of taking any disciplinary action against Bowen and rejected claims that Bowen's actions reflected any anti-Israel bias by the BBC, stating that the inaccuracies were found in a few sections of a few articles.

Nonetheless, according to British daily The Independent, the censure will cause great concern within the BBC newsroom. It reported that many sources within the BBC had expressed anger at the committee, claiming it was undermining the credibility of its news reporting.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Islamofascists Unite (or Compete?)

From an article emailed 16/4/09, by Barry Rubin, director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal [my emphasis added - SL]:

...Mahdi Akef, supreme guide of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, has defied his own country’s government to ally himself with Hizballah.

What makes this such a remarkable and high-risk step?

--The Muslim Brotherhood is Sunni Muslim; the Lebanese Hizballah group is Shia. Brotherhood leaders do not view Shia Islamists as brothers and in the past have been alarmed at the rising power of Shia forces in Lebanon and Iraq.

--Hizballah is a client of Iran’s regime. As a Shia and non-Arab power, Iran is not on the Brotherhood’s Ramadan greeting card list.

--Egypt’s government has just announced a major Hizballah effort to destabilize the country by staging terrorist attacks there. Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah has openly called for the overthrow of Egypt’s regime. He has now acknowledged connections with the arrested terrorists, though he claims their mission was to help Hamas and attack Israel. The Egyptian government has rejected this justification. As a result, siding with Hizballah risks a government-sponsored wave of suppression against the Brotherhood.

--This step also makes the Brotherhood look unpatriotic in Arab and Sunni terms to millions of Egyptians by siding with Persian Iranians and Shia Muslims.

--Akef’s statement tears the chador off the pretension that the Brotherhood has become moderate. Of course, while not engaging in political violence within Egypt, it has long supported terrorism against Israel and the United States (in Iraq). Now, to this is added backing an Iran-Syria takeover of Lebanon and at least the image of accepting armed struggle against the Egyptian government by others.

--And most importantly of all, Akef has endorsed the strategic line of the Iran-Syria-Hizballah-Hamas axis in open defiance of not only Egypt’s government but of the country’s national interests as well.

What did Akef and his colleagues say that was so significant? The story is told in the London-based Arabic newspaper Al-Sharq al-Awsat, April 15. Put into a seemingly innocuous framework of supporting the Palestinians, the Brotherhood’s new line ends up in some shocking conclusions.

Akef said that Hamas should be supported, “By any means necessary.” The implication is, since the Brotherhood has always favored abrogation of the Egypt-Israel peace treaty that Egypt should go to war with Israel on behalf of the Palestinians. A Brotherhood government would probably do just that.

Hussein Ibrahim, deputy leader of the Brotherhood’s parliamentary bloc, which includes about 20 percent of the legislators, in calling for full Egyptian support of Hamas, stated, "Our enemy and Hizballah's enemy are the same." That enemy would seem to be Israel. But is Israel the only such enemy?

Akef took Hizballah’s side against Egypt’s rulers. Since Hizballah leader Nasrallah had denied he was doing anything against Egypt, everyone should take his word for it rather than that of Egyptian President Husni Mubarak.

In a statement to Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, Akef said there were two competing camps in the region, respectively waving the banners of “cooperative resistance” and of the “protection of the state's sovereignty." ... “resistance” is the basic slogan of the Iranian-led coalition.

...Akef said ..."There are two agendas [in the region]…an agenda working to protect and support the resistance against the Zionist enemy, and an agenda that only cares about satisfying the Americans and the Zionists." Any Arab listener must take this to mean that there are the properly struggling forces—Iran, Syria, Hamas, Hizballah—and the vile traitors—Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the Iraqi government.

Ibrahim made another telling statement in saying that the Muslim Brotherhood "do not see any contradiction in supporting the resistance and protecting the state's sovereignty. We are in support of the resistance, in Gaza, and Palestine, and Lebanon….”

Why, however, did he include Lebanon? ...The apparent answer is that Hizballah is fighting Israel and that the Palestinian issue overrides every other consideration.

Yet the Brotherhood is making choices. It certainly doesn’t support the Palestinian Authority, controlled by nationalist forces, but only the Islamist Hamas. And it opposes having an independent Palestinian state created through a peace process with Israel. what if both Hizballah and the Brotherhood support Hamas? ... Could Brotherhood leaders not have noticed that in Lebanon there is no Hamas among Palestinians there because Iran and Hizballah seek to control them directly?

Under cover of supporting “the Palestinians,” then, the Brotherhood’s priority is on backing Islamist revolution in Iraq, Lebanon, among the Palestinians, Egypt, and elsewhere. it gains in power, the extremism of its program will be more openly exposed....

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Australia still only threatens withdrawal from Durban 2

From an email from Robert Goot, presdent of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, 15/4/09:

Australian Foreign Minister’s statement made on 13 April in Perth

Has the Government made a decision on whether it will attend the UN racism conference?

Foreign Minister STEPHEN SMITH
As I said to the Parliament, when the Parliament was in session: if Australia believes that the proposed 2nd Durban Review Conference, to be held in Geneva from the 24th of April, looks like being a re-run of Duban I, the first Duban Review Conference, then Australia wont be there.

We have been giving the Conference processes every opportunity to make a judgement about that. Over the last week, the chair of the so-called ‘working group’, the Russian Chair, Mr Boychenko, was meeting with the working group seeking to resolve issues about the text. I continue to have very grave concerns about the text, and continue to have very grave concerns about the prospect of Australia attending.

The working group moves in the course of this week into what is called a Preparatory Review Conference, and I will see how developments unfold in the course of the Preparatory Review Conference before making a judgement. But as things stand, I remain very gravely concerned about the state of the text, I remain very gravely concerned about prospects of the Durban Review Conference being a repeat of the earlier conference, and I expect in the next week or so to be able to make a final judgement on Australia’s attendance or not

Frankly, unless something qualitatively changes, or something qualitatively different occurs, it is most unlikely that Australia will attend the Durban Review Conference in Geneva starting on the 24th of April.

RESPONSE from Executive Council of Australian Jewry
Responding to the statement made by the Minister for Foreign Affairs on 13 April 2009, The President of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry said:

“It is very disappointing that the Foreign Minister has once again delayed the decision on Australia’s attendance at Durban 11, which commences in Geneva on 20 April 2009 and not 24 April as the Foreign Minister stated.. The ECAJ was given to believe that the Government would make a decision no later than the conclusion of the Intersessional Group’s meeting which took place in Geneva from 6- 9 April 2009.. The Foreign Minister also gave us to believe that the decision would not be made at the last minute nor on the eve of the conference, but his latest statement suggesting that he “expects in the next week or so to be able to make a final judgement on Australia’s attendance or not “, means that the Government’s decision will indeed be made at the last minute and on the eve of the conference.

The Foreign Minister stated that he was interested in seeing the Boychenko draft outcomes document before making a decision. The Boychenko draft was produced in late March, and by reaffirming the Durban 1 Action Plan which singled out Israel for criticism alone amongst the world’s nations, clearly did not satisfy the Government’s own test for attendance.

Nor did the Intersessional meeting last week advance the position at all, on the contrary seasoned observers regard its deliberations as going from bad to worse. Having regard to the Government’s own standards, we expected Australia to announce last week that it would withdraw from Durban 11.

The fact that the Iranian President who presides over a regime renowned for its abuse of human rights, has announced that he will attend the Durban 11 conference which is focused on anti racism and promoting the rights of minorities including women, speaks loudly for the sham and travesty that Durban 11 will doubtless become.

The ECAJ wrote to the Foreign Minister on 13 April 2009 reminding him of the Government’s previously expressed position on the timing for announcing a decision and once again on behalf of the Australian Jewish community, strongly urging him to announce without any further delay, Australia’s decision to not attend Durban 11”

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Terror victim dies 7 years after attack

From Ynet News, 11/4/09, by Ahiya Raved:

Shimon Shiran, who was gravely wounded in Haifa bombing, dies after long battle with injuries

Shimon Shiran

Shimon Shiran, 57, who was gravely wounded in a suicide bombing at a Haifa restaurant in 2002, has died. The seventh anniversary of the terror attack at the Matza eatery will be marked Sunday.

Shiran sustained head wounds and remained hospitalized in serious condition ever since the attack. His 17-year-old daughter, Adi, was killed in the bombing, while his wife, Hili, was also hurt but recovered since.

On the day of the attack, Shiran – an engineer and owner of a plastics company – went to lunch with his family at the Haifa restaurant. A suicide bomber detonated himself in the eatery while it was packed with visitors, killing 14 people on the spot. Another person died several days later and more than 40 people were wounded in the attack.

Shiran was hospitalized at Haifa's Rambam hospital for a long period, and later was transferred to a rehabilitation facility. His family members were alongside him throughout this period, while also taking care of their wounded mother.

"During the rehabilitation period there was a peak – a period where he was able to walk, eat on his own, and reply to questions – yet ever since then, the situation deteriorated," Shiran's son, Eyal, told Ynet.

The bereaved son added that when it comes to terror attacks, Israeli society tends to focus on the dead, while forgetting the wounded.

"The dead no longer feel anything; the wounded are the ones who bear the scars and pain, and they're forgotten," he said. "There are many such people, and we saw them over the years in the wing where our father was hospitalized."

Shimon Shiran will be laid to rest Sunday at 2:30 pm at the Haifa cemetery. He is survived by his mother, Sylvia, his wife, and two children.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Doha Summit – A Defeat for the Saudi-Egyptian Camp

From MEMRI, Inquiry and Analysis - No. 510, April 8, 2009, by Y. Yehoshua, Director of Research [This important analysis, which refers to the emerging intra-Muslim cold war that was identified by Dr Jonathan Spyer, is posted here in full, with my own emphasis added. - SL]:

In advance of the Doha summit in late March, 2009, Egypt and Saudi Arabia made their participation conditional on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's not being invited. Saudi Arabia and Syria held several high-level meetings in an attempt to alleviate the tensions between the two countries; from Saudi Arabia's vantage point, this was an attempt to bring Syria over from the Iranian axis to the Arab axis. At these meetings, the two sides reached a consensus on the language of the statement to be issued at the conclusion of the Doha summit, and this text was even published by the press on the eve of the summit. Despite these understandings, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak decided against attending the summit (reportedly because of disagreements with Qatar), and sent instead a junior minister to represent Egypt - this in contrast to Saudi Arabia, which was represented at the summit by King 'Abdallah himself.

The Saudi-Egyptian pressure did prevent an invitation from being extended to Iran's president and to Hamas representatives, who had been invited to the previous Doha summit in January 2009. Nonetheless, the summit's proceedings and its closing statement, as well as statements by Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and other Syrian speakers after the summit, point to a defeat for the position of Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, as host of the previous Arab League summit in Damascus, and Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Aal Thani, host of the current summit, delivered speeches that gave full expression to the Iranian-Syrian-Qatari position. In contrast, King 'Abdallah of Saudi Arabia did not speak at all. Libyan Leader Mu'ammar Al-Qaddafi even hurled insults at 'Abdallah. Despite this, the latter subsequently met with him, at the insistence of the Emir of Qatar.

Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jasim bin Jaber Aal Thani made light of the fact that the Iranian president and the Hamas leaders had not been invited to the summit, saying that what was important was not their presence or absence, but that the causes that they represent be heard at the summit. [1] And indeed, the summit's proceedings and the resolutions carried at it proved that the Iranian president was in fact present in spirit. [2]

After the summit, the Syrian president called it "the most successful summit of the last 20 years." [3] Indeed, the Iranian-Syrian camp had a number of achievements at the summit:

1) They prevented any discussion of the "Iranian threat," a concept that is at the heart of the Saudi-Egyptian alliance and over which a cold war is being waged between the two camps. [4]

2) Stipulations were added to the Saudi peace initiative such that it would be conditional not just on Israel's acceptance of it as it stands, but also on Israel's beginning to undertake its obligations stemming from the peace initiative's authoritative documents - namely, U.N. Resolutions 242 and 338 (which, in contrast with the peace initiative itself, do not commit all the Arab states to normalization). [5]

3) Emphasis was placed on the option of resistance in Bashar Al-Assad's speech.

Following the summit, a number of Syrian officials interpreted the Arab position adopted at the summit in accordance with the approach taken by the Iranian-Syrian axis, without receiving any response from the Saudis. Thus, President Al-Assad stated: "[In Doha] we said that [the Arab peace initiative] has been suspended, that it is dead. The truth is that it is suspended, and it is dead." [6] Assad also claimed that, by making the initiative conditional on Israel's agreement, the Arabs had in essence suspended it; he added that Syria had already advocated this move at the January 16, 2009 Doha summit. Assad's political and media advisor, Syrian Minister Buthaina Sha'ban, told the Saudi daily Al-Watan that "the current situation requires a return to Resolutions 242 and 338." [7]

In its review of the Doha summit, the Iranian daily Kayhan stated that Saudi Arabia had been forced to take a conciliatory stance towards Syria and Qatar and to accept these two countries as a rising Arab axis, and that Saudi Arabia's retreat from its former anti-Iranian positions revealed the weakness of its regime. [8]

Prominent Saudi pundits, such as Al-Arabiya TV Director-General 'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed and Al-Sharq Al-Awsat editor-in-chief Tareq Al-Homayed, expressed disappointment at the results of the summit and urged the cancellation of future Arab summits (the next of which is slated to convene in Libya). Al-Rashed even claimed that Egyptian President Mubarak had done well to not attend, and opined: "The Arabs are not in need of summits. They need bread, work, and peace." [9]

Following are excerpts from statements by Arab and Iranian leaders and from articles in the Arab and Iranian media on the Doha summit.

The Leadup to the Summit: Syrian-Qatari Pressure to Revise the Language of the Initiative
Even before the summit was convened, there were reports in the Saudi press on a retreat in Saudi Arabia's position on the Arab peace initiative. The Saudi daily Al-Madina reported on a difference of opinion between Egypt and Saudi Arabia, on the one hand, and Syria and Qatar, on the other, regarding the relevance of the initiative. According to this report, Qatar and Syria demanded that the summit adopt a more hard-line stance on the initiative and that it signal that it would be taken off the table, whereas Egypt and Saudi Arabia wanted the summit to express continued support for the initiative because it served as a means of pressuring Israel, while stressing that it would not remain on the table forever (as the Saudi king had already said at the January 2009 summit in Kuwait). [10] At the meeting of Arab foreign ministers in advance of the summit, it was agreed that the peace initiative being offered today "would not stay on the table for long," and that the Arabs' continued offering of the initiative "would depend on its acceptance by Israel." [11]

In the spirit of this consensus, the concluding statement of the Doha summit read: "The Arab leaders have decided to reaffirm their commitment to the Arab initiative as [an embodiment of] the Arabs' strategic choice to achieve a just and comprehensive peace in the region; this, in accordance with a diplomatic framework based on the understanding that the peace initiative being offered today will not remain [on the table] for long, and that the Arab side will continue to offer it on the condition that Israel accepts it. Likewise, its activation will be conditioned on Israel beginning to carry out its obligations in accordance with the fundamental and authoritative documents for achieving a just and comprehensive peace [i.e. U.N. Resolutions 242 and 338]." [12]

Assad Declares Arab Peace Initiative "Suspended"; Saudi Arabia Remains Silent
Another factor that contributed to the decline in the regional status of Saudi Arabia and Egypt, in addition to the change in Saudi Arabia's stance on the Arab peace initiative, was this country's silence in the face of Assad's speech. In this speech, Assad presented his interpretation of the Arab position on the peace initiative. He declared that Israel had "killed the initiative," and pronounced the initiative "ineffective." Furthermore, he stated that by making the initiative conditional on Israel's acceptance of it, the Arabs were effectively "suspending" the initiative, and pointed out that Syria and Qatar had already proposed this move at the January 2009 Doha summit, which the Saudi and Egyptian leaders had boycotted. The suspension of the initiative, Assad added, meant returning to U.N. Resolutions 242 and 338.

Assad said: "This initiative is ineffective, even if we activate it, because the preconditions for activating it have not been fulfilled - for Israel will never accept an initiative based on the authoritative documents that restore the rights to those who are legitimately entitled [to these rights]. In other words, it was Israel who killed the initiative, not the [January 2009] Doha summit, as some people have tried to market.

"This initiative is not a new frame of reference, but a formula that encompasses the authoritative documents to which the Arabs must adhere in achieving peace. It also presents an incentive to Israel in the form of a collective Arab preparedness to sign a peace agreement, providing that Israel is committed to peace.

"We, the Arab side, have never abandoned, and will never abandon, these terms that guarantee our rights. That was the basis for the proposal, made at the Doha summit, to suspend the Arab initiative as a natural reaction to Israel's indifference to peace, which culminated in its aggression on Gaza.

"The fact that we have not withdrawn the initiative means that we adhere to its terms… which Israel [is trying to] evade. The suspension of [the initiative] means that the conditions for activating it - primarily the presence of an Israeli side willing to accept it - have not been met.

"It also means that [the initiative] is still there, but [only on certain] conditions. When these conditions are met, it can be activated and [all] its components can be put into practice. Those who want to work with us within this framework should convince us that there is a partner seriously interested in peace.

"As for the view that we should let the countries that want to support the peace process [pursue this] initiative as a bargaining chip [to be used vis-à-vis Israel] - we respect this view, but we say that their bargaining chip consist of the authoritative documents referred to in the initiative [itself]. They can proceed based on these documents, for they are the substance and the [fundamental] principle [of the initiative]. When they persuade the Israelis [to accept] these documents, the initiative will be there, and the work can then proceed on this basis.

"All this means that knocking on doors in order to market the initiative… is useless. We tried to activate it after every [Arab League] summit held since the [initial] launching of the initiative, in the hope of seeing a serious change on the Israeli [side] - which we consider an unlikely prospect in the foreseeable future - or an international change that would push Israel towards the peace process, though that too has not happened so far." [13]

The Syrian position on the peace process was reinforced in the statements of Assad's political and media advisor, Buthaina Sha'ban, who told the Saudi daily Al-Watan that the Arab peace process was "now suspended" and that "the current situation requires a return to Resolutions 242 and 338." [14]

Assad to Qatari Daily: The Arab Initiative Is Dead
In an interview with the Qatari daily Al-Sharq following the recent Doha summit, Assad reiterated his position: "What did we do in Doha? We said [that the initiative] is 'suspended' and that it is dead. The truth is that it has been suspended and it is dead, because from the moment of its declaration, it has had no partner, and if it has no partner, it does not exist. It exists in our minds and on paper, but not on the ground. At the [January 2009] Doha summit we declared it suspended, [but in fact] it has been suspended and dead since 2002. That is, it has not been put into action… Whoever wants to put it into action must find a partner. So [the task of] putting it into action is not in our hands… it is up to Israel. When [Israel] accepts the peace process, the initiative will be activated…

"What is this initiative? It consists of the existing authoritative documents [i.e. U.N. Resolutions 242 and 338], plus a 'reward' meant as an enticement [to Israel] - [namely] that, if Israel accepts the Madrid initiative, all the Arab countries will sign [a peace agreement with it]. Basically, the content of the initiative is the content of the authoritative documents to which it refers." [15]

Assad: "Syria and Qatar Adhere to the Option of Resistance"
In his Doha speech, Assad emphasized the importance of the resistance option: "…Peace will not be achieved with an enemy that does not believe in it, unless peace is imposed on it by the resistance. Our desire for peace is our motivation for supporting the resistance. Supporting it is a national, pan-Arab and moral duty. It is the only option we have. So let us place [the resistance] above our temporary differences, as a cause that unites us and as a principle in which we will [continue to] believe as long as the occupation persists and our rights, which have been usurped, [are not restored to us]. Resistance is an honor, not an accusation to be hurled against us. We should be proud of it…" [16]

In his Al-Sharq interview, Assad stressed that Qatar also favors the option of resistance. Asked whether other Arab leaders share his view regarding the resistance, he replied: "Qatar does [share it]. I do not [presume to] present the Qatari policy [on this country's] behalf, I am only interpreting [its position as expressed] at the Doha summit. Qatar believes in realistic [policy]. The enemy does not want peace. What is the alternative or the course [that can be taken] in parallel to the peace process? [The course of] resistance… A generation that wants to talk peace may not come. At the moment, the idea of resistance is thriving. Obviously, the resistance actions of 20 or 30 years ago were different from the actions being carried out [today]… Ultimately, everyone turns to the option of resistance, first of all out of a biological [inclination] and also out of practical considerations. There is no other option." [17]

Saudi Arabia's Official Response: Silence
To date, Saudi Arabia has issued no official response to Assad's interpretation of the Arab position on the peace initiative. Since 'Abdullah did not speak at the Doha summit, he had no opportunity to present his country's official position on the initiative. Nor has Saudi Foreign Minister Saud Al-Faisal or any other senior Saudi official issued a statement on this issue. An editorial in the government Saudi daily Al-Watan characterized the Arab peace initiative as "the ideal framework for resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict and restoring stability to the region," without mentioning the constraints added at the Doha summit regarding the limited timeframe and the condition of Israel's acceptance.

Saudi Government Press Expresses Disappointment over Failure of Doha Summit
Al-Arabiya Director: "It's Time to Discontinue These Summits"; "Mubarak Did Well to Avoid the Doha Summit"

In response to the outcomes of the Doha summit, and to Saudi Arabia's diplomatic defeat during this convention, the Saudi government press called to discontinue the Arab League summits on the grounds that they do the Arabs more harm than good. This attitude may also be due to a concern that the Saudi defeat may repeat itself at the next summit, slated to take place in Libya.
Al-Arabiya director and former editor of Al-Sharq Al-Awsat 'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed wrote under the title "It's Time to Discontinue the Arab Summits": "Nearly all the Arab summits end up intensifying the disagreement [in the Arab world], which proves that they harm the Arabs' health more than they help it… Do we really need an Arab summit? Obviously not! [The last] 60 years of summits [have provided ample] proof of this…

"Discontinuing the summits does not mean dismantling the Arab League, [namely] the body in charge of collective Arab action. In my opinion, the Arab summits weaken the Arab League more than they strengthen it… The Arabs are not in need of summits. They need work, bread and peace - issues that none of the summits ever addressed."

Al-Rashed implicitly criticized King 'Abdallah for attending the summit by stating: "Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak did well to refrain from attending [the Doha summit], for there is no benefit in summits that leave behind them a bitter taste and a negative public impression." [18]

Al-Sharq Al-Awsat Chief Editor: The Summits Should Be Convened Only in Cairo
Al-Sharq Al-Awsat editor-in-chief Tareq Al-Homayed likewise expressed dissatisfaction with the summits, and stated that they should only be convened at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo, presumably in order to limit the influence of the host country. He wrote:

"The problem of the Arab world is not that its leaders do not meet. The problem is [the way in which] they meet. This is clear from all the summits that have taken place until now, for what is agreed upon is never implemented, and the suggestions always repeat themselves. We saw [Libyan leader] Colonel Qaddafi at the [recent] summit, and [heard] what he said against Saudi King 'Abdallah bin 'Abd Al-'Aziz. If that was an apology, what counts as hostility? We heard how, before the [recent] summit, [Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister] Sheikh Hamad bin Jasim sarcastically expressed his 'repentance,' [promising not to] invite Iranian President Ahmadinejad and the Hamas [representatives] to the summit. We [also] heard the Syrian president say that it was impossible to make peace with an enemy that does not believe in peace. So what about the recent Syrian statements about its desire for peace and the necessity of U.S. [involvement]? Which of these directions should we heed?...

"Some Arabs [meaning Syria] make independent decisions, yet want all Arabs to be held accountable. Others attend the summits to make their presence felt, and yet others [meaning Qatar] are doing what they can, using their money, in order to secure a role [for themselves], even if the basic requirements [for their playing such a role] have not been met.

"In light of what we have heretofore seen, I think that the Arab summits should [always] be held at the Cairo headquarters, each of them chaired by a different Arab country, on a rotating basis. This, in order to avoid ineffective competition and unwanted invitations... The trustworthy and faithful [leaders] find themselves facing leaders that say [things] but do not act on them, and who lead our region from one disaster to the next." [19]

Al-Arabiya Deputy Director: Assad's Call for Resistance Is Aimed at Defending Iran
In an article in the London daily Al-Hayat, Al-Arabiya deputy director Daoud Al-Shirian attacked certain Arab countries (meaning Syria and Qatar) that promoted Iran's interests at the summit:

"The problem is not Iran, which has been careful to hide behind slogans of defending the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people in order to camouflage its problems with the international community and promote its expansionist aspirations in the region. The problem lies in the Arab countries, organizations and parties that pretend to [promote] resistance and steadfastness, while they actually subordinate the Palestinian cause to Iran's aspirations through fabricated wars and slogans…

"The Gaza war revealed the extent of the support that Iran receives [from these forces] at the expense of the Palestinian and Arab rights, and it became clear that Iran's agents in the region had turned the Palestinian cause into a tool for defending Iran…

"The new term coined by Assad - 'conflict management' - is meant as a cover for the Iranian enterprise, which is no less dangerous than the Zionist enterprise." [20]

Egyptian Government Daily Al-Ahram: For Some Incomprehensible Reason, the Iranian Threat Was Not Even on the Summit's Agenda
Disappointment at the results of the summit was also expressed in an editorial in the Egyptian government daily Al-Ahram: "Previous Arab summits have accustomed us to [the fact that] the decisions made at them are seldom carried out. For many, the summits themselves have become a [mere] formality. The Arab citizen no longer takes any interest in these annual summits and does not wait to [hear] their outcomes, because the outcomes are always the same and are known in advance…

"The funny thing is that the Iranian threat was not even one of the items on the summit's agenda, for some unknown and incomprehensible reason. This, despite the fact that Iran constantly and repeatedly [presents us] with threats, such as [its attempts] to take over the kingdom of Bahrain, its continued occupation of the three UAE islands, and its attempts to spread the Shi'ite creed in certain Arab countries - an issue that [recently] caused Morocco to officially sever diplomatic ties with Iran..." [21]

Article in Syrian Daily: The Doha Summit Adopted the Syrian Discourse
A front-page article in the government Syrian daily Teshreen, by pro-Syrian former Lebanese MP Nasser Qandil, stated that the Doha summit had seen a turning point in the position of the Arabs, who have begun to adopt the Syrian discourse:

"The resistance has managed to trigger a strategic change that has transformed the face of the region against the will of [some] Arab leaders and outside the framework of their [regimes]. Syria has received much advice and has been subjected to many pressures by brothers and friends, as well as by half-brothers and half-friends. [They urged it to] relinquish what they described as its futile stubbornness and rejectionism, so that they would be able to help it break out of the siege and [end] the policy of isolation with which it has been threatened. But [Syria] stuck to its strategic decision to remain at the very heart of the resistance [efforts]... and now the very people who displayed hostility towards it and threatened it with trouble and disasters are sending it delegations and visitors, and [trying to] engage it in dialogue... [These people] are now knocking at its gates, recognizing its role and status, seeking to cooperate with it and perhaps even asking for its help.

"The Doha summit... was meant to put an end to the Arab political discourse and to the international diplomatic and military campaigns that are aimed at changing the geography of the Arab homeland, at shifting the Arab hostility away from Israel and towards alternative targets [i.e., Iran], and at reorganizing [the Arab world] by isolating and crushing the resistance and settling scores with those who have supported and assisted it...

"President Assad's speech at the summit was a prime example of the new [Arab] discourse - a discourse that Syria had used [even] in the midst of the crises and wars, and whose [main principles] are adherence to the resistance and a quest for partners and sources of power within the shifting world [order]. This [will be achieved] by formulating a new Arab conception capable of generating alliances with rising regional powers that are interested in partnership - especially Turkey and Iran - while suspending the [Arab] peace initiative, which has been killed by Israel more than once." [22]

Article in Iranian Daily: Saudi Arabia's Retreat from Its Former Anti-Iranian Positions Reveals the Weakness of Its Regime
Iranian columnist Abdollah Keshavarz wrote in the Iranian daily Kayhan: "The Egyptian, Saudi and Kuwaiti support of the Zionist regime's attack on Gaza prompted the emergence of an Arab-Muslim alliance consisting of Iran, Turkey, Qatar, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Sudan, Yemen, Libya, Algeria, Comoro, Malaysia and Indonesia. [This alliance stood] against the joint front consisting of the Arab troika - Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Kuwait - along with the Zionist regime and America...

"The Doha summit... was preceded by a preliminary summit attended by five countries: Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kuwait, Qatar and Syria... at which [Saudi King] 'Abdallah was forced to take a conciliatory stance towards Syria and Qatar and to accept them as a rising Arab axis, in order to alleviate the difficult situation in which Saudi Arabia found itself. Instead of focusing on the main issue, namely on the Palestinian [issue], the Arab conciliation [efforts focused on] resolving the Saudi problem and on finding ways to improve this country's image. The statements [later] made by the leaders of Qatar, Libya, Syria and other [countries] revealed that Saudi Arabia had not achieved the results it desired. This is precisely why [Saudi Foreign Minister] Saud Al-Faisal retreated from the [former] positions of his country, and said that Saudi Arabia was not opposed to Ahmadinejad's presence at the [Arab] League summit and to his giving a speech [there] - [a stance] that strengthened the position of the 'resistance camp.' [Ahmadinejad] did not participate in the summit, of course, but Saudi Arabia's retreat from its anti-Iranian positions reveals the weakness of its regime..." [23]


[1] Al-Jazeera TV, March 28, 2009.

[2] Cf. Zuhair Kseibati's article in Al-Hayat (London), April 2, 2009.

[3] Al-Sharq (Qatar), April 2, 2009.

[4] See MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 492, "An Escalating Regional Cold War - Part 1: The 2009 Gaza War," February 2, 2009,

[5] Saudi Arabia's capitulation to Syrian and Iranian pressure before and during the summit requires explanation, given that it followed long months, including the Gaza war period, during which Saudi Arabia remained committed to the peace initiative, and did not heed the calls to suspend or withdraw it. This change is perhaps attributable to one or more of the following factors: the unrest reported in Saudi Arabia in recent weeks; King 'Abdallah's weakness; a Saudi adjustment to U.S. President Barack Obama's policy of engaging Iran and Syria; and the electoral victory of the right wing in Israel.

[6] Al-Sharq (Qatar), April 2, 2009.

[7] Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), April 1, 2009.

[8] Kayhan (Iran), April 5, 2009.

[9] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), April 1,2009.

[10] Al-Madina (Saudi Arabia), March 27, 2009. On King 'Abdallah's statements at the Kuwait summit, see Al-Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), January 20, 2009.

[11] Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), March 29, 2009.

[12] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), March 31, 2009.

[13], April 2, 2009.

[14] Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), April 1, 2009.

[15] Al-Sharq (Qatar), April 2, 2009.

[16], April 2, 2009.

[17] Al-Sharq (Qatar), April 2, 2009.

[18] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), April 1, 2009.

[19] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), April 1, 2009.

[20] Al-Hayat (London), April 2, 2009.

[21] Al-Ahram (Egypt), April 1, 2009.

[22] Teshreen (Syria), April 5, 2009.

[23] Kayhan (Iran), April 5, 2009.