Saturday, October 10, 2009
US President Barack Obama sensationally won the Nobel Peace Prize last night ...It shocked Nobel observers because the 48-year-old president took office less than two weeks before the February 1 nomination deadline.
...Sydney Peace Foundation director Stuart Rees said Mr Obama had been given the prize prematurely. Professor Rees said Mr Obama's win came as a massive shock and he had much work to do if he was to live up to the award. .... "I think the guy is full of promise but I don't think the promise has been realised yet particularly in regards the Middle East."
...many Nobel watchers believed it was too early to honour the US President. Observers had also suggested there was no obvious candidate for the prize as no major conflicts had been resolved by peaceful means in the past year.
...The Nobel committee praised Mr Obama's creation of "a new climate in international politics" and said he had returned multilateral diplomacy and institutions such as the UN to the centre of the world stage.
..."The exciting and important thing about this prize is that it's given to someone ... who has the power to contribute to peace," Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said....
Friday, October 09, 2009
...Cleric Mojtaba Zolnour, who is the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's representative in [Iran's Revolutionary Guard], said [Friday] that ..."Should a single American or Zionist missile land in our country, before the dust settles, Iranian missiles will blow up the heart of Israel..."
In March, Iran's deputy army chief [Gen. Muhammad Reza Ashtiani] said ..."Should Israel take any action against Iran, we will eliminate Israel from the scene of the universe..."
Thursday, October 08, 2009
...Back in October 2007, ABC News reported that the Pentagon had asked Congress for $88 million in the emergency Iraq/Afghanistan war funding request to develop a gargantuan bunker-busting bomb called the Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP). It's a 30,000-pound bomb designed to hit targets buried 200 feet below ground...
Now the Pentagon is shifting spending from other programs to fast forward the development and procurement of the Massive Ordnance Penetrator. The Pentagon comptroller sent a request to shift the funds to the House and Senate Appropriations and Armed Services Committees over the summer.
Click here to see a copy of the Pentagon's request, provided to ABC News.
The comptroller said the Pentagon planned to spend $19.1 million to procure four of the bombs, $28.3 million to accelerate the bomb's "development and testing", and $21 million to accelerate the integration of the bomb onto B-2 stealth bombers.
...the request is endorsed by Pacific Command (which has responsibility over North Korea) and Central Command (which has responsibility over Iran).
...The request was quietly approved. On Friday, McDonnell Douglas was awarded a $51.9 million contract to provide "Massive Penetrator Ordnance Integration" on B-2 aircraft.
This is not the kind of weapon that would be particularly useful in Iraq or Afghanistan, but it is ideally suited to hit deeply buried nuclear facilities such as Natanz or Qom in Iran.
ALLEGED Nazi war criminal Charles Zentai has lost another appeal against his extradition to Hungary but has avoided being placed in custody after a stay on his surrender was granted.
Today, the full bench of the Federal Court in Perth ruled Mr Zentai eligible to be extradited to Hungary to face allegations he participated in the murder of Jewish teenager Peter Balazs on November 8, 1944. At the time Mr Zentai was a 23-year-old warrant officer in the Hitler-aligned Hungarian army.
The ruling backs earlier decisions made by the Federal Court and WA Magistrates Court.
After submissions from Mr Zentai's lawyer, Peter Johnston, Justice Michael Barker granted a 14-day stay of execution on the surrender. This will allow Mr Zentai's legal team time to consider whether to seek leave to appeal to the High Court.
If no appeal is made, Mr Zentai will be placed in custody, awaiting the final determination of Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor.
...Mr Zentai's family have already made lengthy submissions to Mr O'Connor, arguing he is innocent.
A spokesman for Mr O'Connor said today that if and when a determination was required by the minister, he would make a decision as soon as possible.
Chief Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff from the Jerusalem-based Simon Wiesenthal Centre said he believed Mr Zentai would attempt to lodge an appeal in the High Court because he was afraid to face justice.
"He's obviously afraid of facing justice which only strengthens my case," he said.
One day, Srulec was singled out of a column of inmates, and accused of smuggling. The Nazi guard was about to shoot him in the head before a superior officer intervened. In fact he survived another 60 years, and died ten years ago, in Perth, of a heart attack. His life is an inspiration to us all.
Srulec was enslaved to the Nazis in construction at Jasionka Airport, tree felling at Huta Komorowska (where he was separated from the only remaining family survivor), at Plaszow labour camp and then the Mathausen Concentration Camp complex in North Austria, where, at the horrific “death-by-work” camp, Gusen 2, he laboured in the subterranean aircraft assembly works code-named Bergkristall. He suffered inhumane conditions, vicious physical abuse and psychological torture. More than half of the prisoners at that camp died of exhaustion, of epidemics due to the disastrous hygienic conditions, were tortured to death, shot by SS guards, or were gassed. The typical life expectancy was 3-4 months. Srulec miraculously survived there for nine months.
Towards the end of the war, he was in a group of prisoners that the Gestapo attempted to bury alive with explosives in the Bergkristall tunnels, before being marched to the hidden forest camp at Gunzkirchen to be starved to death.
Major Cameron Coffman was the commanding officer of the US troops that liberated Gunzkirchen Lager on 4th May 1945. That day he wrote:
“… Nazism at its worst was unfolded in stark reality before Doughboys of the 71st Infantry Division today when they stumbled upon a carefully concealed concentration camp six kilometers north of Lambach, Austria, which held 18,000 persons ... The living and dead evidence of horror and brutality beyond one's imagination was there, lying and crawling and shuffling, in stinking, ankle-deep mud and human excrement. …Row upon row of living skeletons, jammed so closely together that it was impossible for some to turn over, even if they could have generated enough strength to do so, met our eyes. Those too weak to move defecated where they lay. The place was crawling with lice. …A little girl, doubled with the gnawing pains of starvation, cried pitifully for help. A dead man rotted beside her…”
After liberation, Srulec resolved to make Aliya. He arrived in Israel in 1947, where he served in the Haganah for seven years. He made his home in an abandoned single-room apartment in the old, stone port of Jaffa, and drove giant Brockway trucks transporting supplies in defiance of the siege of Jerusalem, in the Negev, and in the Galil.
In 1949 Srulec married and started a family. In 1955, with his young, pregnant wife and 5-year-old son, he immigrated to Perth to join his brother, who had also miraculously survived.
Immediately after arriving in Perth, Srulec’s daughter was born. He found work as a mechanic, but resigned within months, as soon as he had saved enough to put a deposit on an old Bedford truck which he used to start his one-man business collecting bottles, scrap metal, and batteries, and eventually buying wool. His burning ambition now was to give his children the life and particularly the education he had never enjoyed himself.
For 35 years Srulec travelled to Southern Cross and other rural districts buying and selling wool in ever increasing quantities. His wool-buying business was a modest, but solid success. It underpinned the material security of his new family, which grew as the children married and had children. He acquired real estate assets including farming and rental properties. For the whole of his life, until his sudden death on 30th September 1999, he carefully guarded these achievements so that he could live independently and provide support, if needed, to his two children and six grandchildren. In retirement, his life was totally dedicated to them.
Srulec’s lifelong motivation, which he pursued with a fierce and relentless determination forged in fire, was to rebuild and strengthen his family and Yiddishkeit, which the Nazis had tried to destroy.
We commemorate the tenth yahrzeit of Srulec (Yisrael be Zvy) on Hoshana Raba (9th October 2009).
May his memory be a blessing, and an inspiration to us all.
Since the deadly 1929 riots, the struggle over Jerusalem has been at the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and, as recent events show, nothing has changed. For the Palestinians and their supporters, any Jewish presence in Jerusalem that is not under Arab control is not only unacceptable, but seen as threatening. And every ancient text, archeological find or property claim that validates the 3,000-year Jewish historical and religious heritage in this most sacred of cities, is angrily rejected as "Judaization." These allegations are used to promote and justify violent attacks, from rock-throwing to mass terror.
... Jerusalem ...has been and remains a zero-sum situation. ...any concessions from one side are necessarily victories for the other, making compromise not only difficult but inconceivable. ...compromise based on acceptance of different perspectives is impossible.
Thus, for the Arabs, recognition of the history and legitimacy of Jewish claims is a threat to their own narrative and legitimacy, particularly for the Muslims. Trapped in this social rubric, shared control based on mutual acceptance and recognition, as imagined in many peace programs, is impossible.... For most Palestinians, and indeed, much of the surrounding Arab and Islamic world, there is absolutely no readiness to acknowledge even the most basic historical facts that would require compromise on Jerusalem.
...For Jews, the total failure to implement the terms of the 1949 armistice agreement guaranteeing, on paper, free access to sacred sites, remains a traumatic memory. Between 1948 and 1967, when the Old City was under Arab occupation, the Jewish Quarter, including synagogues and cemeteries, was systematically desecrated, and the "international community" did nothing to enforce the agreement.
Since then, the periodic waves of Arab violence in Jerusalem revive the concerns that agreements based on shared sovereignty or "international control" would lead to the same unacceptable situation. With no sign of movement towards a realistic compromise, Jewish Israelis worry that unless their presence in the city is strengthened, they will eventually be pushed out, yet again.
In the zero-sum cycle, the Jewish responses to this history and ongoing threats are denounced by the Palestinians and their supporters as more "occupation" and "Judaization" of Jerusalem. This feeds the escalating violence and reinforces the sense that there is no sense in talking, as no one is listening or willing to compromise.
...the first goal must be to open Palestinian and Arab society to hearing the Jewish version. This would allow for the transition from the zero-sum black-and-white conflict framework to what is known as a "win-win" framework, which allows for coexistence and equality, despite basic differences in narrative and ideology.
This is where the various would-be peacemakers and NGO funders, particularly from European governments, should put their money and focus their activities. As long as the Arab and Muslim position slams the door to block Jewish history, Jerusalem will remain a battleground in which the Jewish nation will have no choice but to use force when necessary to defends these rights.
Tehran has rejected reports of a deal with world powers to ship its low enriched uranium (LEU) abroad for further processing, says an official.
Iran's Supreme National Security Council said the assumption that such an agreement had been reached with the P5+1 group consisting of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council - Russia, China, USA, France and the UK- plus Germany during the Geneva talks was untrue.
The Council's Media Secretary Peyman... Jebelli's comments came after a number of media outlets reported that Iran had agreed to ship LEU of under 5 percent to Russia where it would be additionally enriched to about 20 percent, before being further processed in France and finally being returned to Iran.
...Iranian officials say, however, that the offer to "purchase" 20 percent enriched uranium is what would be discussed during a meeting with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) scheduled for October 18, stressing that the session would have nothing to do with the Geneva talks.
Iran says that it will take the best offer from any of the legitimate bidders, which include Russia, France and the United States. ...
...and from GLORIA, Tuesday, October 6, 2009, by Barry Rubin:
It's Official! Iran Publicly Says it Fooled U.S. and Europeans in Geneva, Offered Nothing
... Iran's Supreme National Security Council has announced that the main "concession" it supposedly made in the Geneva meeting with the United States never happened. It has no intention of sending off its enriched uranium to Russia to be turned into someting fit only for medical research at all. This supposed pledge made by Iran was the alleged big development that set off so much optimism after Iran met with the United States along with China, France, Germany, Russia, and England).
No, says the Iranian government. This is merely an old idea--Tehran offered the same plan back in 2007 and then, after using it to stall for months, rejected it--which it has been planning to discuss on October 18 in yet another meeting with the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Not only did it not offer anything new in Geneva, the Iranian government maintains it offered nothing at all.
Of course, the Iranian regime will never actually give up the enriched uranium it plans to use for making nuclear weapons. But now they have not only fooled the U.S. and European governments, Tehran openly says so!
... Having stopped the sanctions’ train dead in its tracks, Obama will have trouble restarting it. ...Officials are now reduced to the kind of talking points just made by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: After the “worthwhile meeting” in Geneva, “There is much more to be done. We expect much more..."
Well, you’re not going to get it because when it comes to Iran you still don’t “get it.”...
...Meanwhile, the British government—unlike its U.S. counterpart—is complaining that by delaying international inspections for three weeks, Iran is giving itself plenty of time to hide all the evidence of nuclear weapons’ work at its newly revealed enrichment plant. Iran has also announced it is installing new, more effective centrifuges there.
And also meanwhile, not content to have a wanted terrorist as its minister of defense—an issue on which I have yet to see a single complaint from the U.S. government—the Iranian regime has now appointed Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naqdi as head of the Basij militia. This group, now part of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC, the group which would control the nuclear weapons once they are built) has been the frontline force in beating up and in some case killing peaceful demonstrators.
Naqbi was also involved in previous repression and has been accused of involvement in torture. But most significantly for Western policy he is on the list of those involved in organizing the nuclear program’s cheating on treaty commitments and violating UN sanctions.
So there you have it: It is not a problem for U.S. policy that Iran’s regime has
- stolen an election,
- repressed peaceful demonstrators with violence,
- put on trial non-violent political opponents,
- appointed a wanted terrorist as minister of defense,
- broken its commitments repeatedly,
- been caught lying about constructing a massive enrichment facility,
- sponsored international terrorism,
- been proven to be killing U.S. soldiers in Iraq by sending bombs and terrorism advisors there,
- calling for genocide against Israel, etc.
After all, they are willing to talk to America.
Or in the words of Bronwen Maddox in the London Times:
“Iran has again proved world-class at spinning the West’s red lines and deadlines into more months in which to move its [nuclear weapons] work forward....If you look at the gains on either side in the past fortnight, the West has a promise without numbers. Tehran has a few solid more months to spin its uranium centrifuges.”
Iran, unlike the Obama Administration, cannot only walk and chew gum at the same time, it can chew up and spit out American policymakers as well.
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
Arab-Nazi collaboration is a taboo topic in the West...
One widespread myth about the Mideast conflict is that the Arabs are paying the price for Germany's sins. The notion that the Palestinians are the "second victims" of the Holocaust contains two falsehoods: It suggests that without Auschwitz, there would be no justification for Israel, ignoring 3,000 years of Jewish history in the land. It also suggests Arab innocence in German crimes, ignoring especially the fascist past of Palestinian leader Haj Amin al Husseini, who was not only Grand Mufti of Jerusalem but also Waffen SS recruiter and Nazi propagandist in Berlin.
When a German journalist recently tried to shed some light on this history, he encountered the wrath of the Arab collaborators' German apologists. Karl Rössel's exhibition "The Third World in the Second World War" was supposed to premier on Sept. 1 in the "Werkstatt der Kulturen," a publicly funded multicultural center in Berlin's heavily Turkish and Arab neighborhood of Neukölln.
Outraged by the exhibition's small section on Arab complicity in Nazi crimes, Philippa Ebéné, who runs the center, cancelled the event. Among the facts Ms. Ebéné didn't want the visitors of her center to learn is that the Palestinian wartime leader "was one of the worst and fanatical fascists and anti-Semites," as Mr. Rössel put it to me.
The mufti orchestrated the 1920/1921 anti-Jewish riots in Palestine and the 1929 Arab pogroms that destroyed the ancient Jewish community of Hebron. An early admirer of Hitler, Husseini received Nazi funding—as did Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood—for his 1936-1939 Palestinian revolt, during which his thugs killed hundreds of British soldiers, Jews and also Arabs who rejected his Islamo-Nazi agenda.
After participating in a failed fascist coup in Iraq, he fled to Berlin in 1941 as Hitler's personal guest. In the service of the Third Reich, the mufti recruited thousands of Muslims to the Waffen SS. He intervened with the Nazis to prevent the escape to Palestine of thousands of European Jews, who were sent instead to the death camps. He also conspired with the Nazis to bring the Holocaust to Palestine. Rommel's defeat in El Alamein spoiled these plans.
The other line of defense is that Arab collaboration with the Nazis supposedly wasn't ideological but pragmatic, following the old dictum that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend." This "excuse" not only fails to consider what would have happened to the Jews and British in the Mideast had the Arabs' German friends won. It also overlooks the mufti's and his followers' virulent anti-Semitism, which continues to poison the minds of many Muslims even today.
The mufti "invented a new form of Jew-hatred by recasting it in an Islamic mold," according to German scholar Matthias Küntzel. The mufti's fusion of European anti-Semtism—particularly the genocidal variety—with Koranic views of Jewish wickedness has become the hallmark of Islamists world-wide, from al Qaeda to Hamas and Hezbollah. During his time in Berlin, the mufti ran the Nazis' Arab-language propaganda radio program, which incited Muslims in the Mideast to "kill the Jews wherever you find them. This pleases God, history and religion." Among the many listeners was also the man later known as Ayatollah Khomeini, who used to tune in to Radio Berlin every evening, according to Amir Taheri's biography of the Iranian leader. Khomeini's disciple Mahmoud Ahmadinejad still spews the same venom pioneered by the mufti as do Islamic hate preachers around the world.
Muslim Judeophobia is not—as is commonly claimed—a reaction to the Mideast conflict but one of its main "root causes." It has been fueling Arab rejection of a Jewish state long before Israel's creation.
"I am not a Mideast expert," Mr. Rössel told me, but "I wonder why the people who so one-sidedly regard Israel as the region's main problem never consider how the Mideast conflict would have developed had it not been influenced by fascists, anti-Semites and people who had just returned from their Nazi exile." ...
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
The Obama administration's positive tone following its first diplomatic encounter with Iran covers a deep and growing gloom in Washington and European capitals. Seven hours of palaver in Geneva haven't altered an emerging conclusion: None of the steps the West is considering to stop the Iranian nuclear program is likely to work.
Not talks. Not sanctions, even of the "crippling" variety the Obama administration has spoken of. Not military strikes. And probably not support for regime change through the still-vibrant opposition.
For obvious reasons, senior officials won't state this broad conclusion out loud. But it's not hard to find pessimistic public statements about three of the four options. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called the prospects for diplomacy "very doubtful." Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has said military action will do no more than "buy time." Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, echoing private statements I've heard from the Obama administration, told me last week that a strategy of backing the Iranian opposition "would take too long" and might well produce a government with the same nuclear policy.
... Thursday's talks in Geneva? Iran agreed to international inspections of its new nuclear facility and to ship out of the country some of the uranium it has enriched. Yet those modest concessions may complicate the negotiations and the prospects for sanctions. The headlines about them already obscured the fact that Tehran's negotiator declined to respond to the central Western demand: that Iran freeze its uranium enrichment work. Iran has rejected that idea repeatedly, and there is no reason to believe the hard-liners in power will change their position.
In the meantime, talks about the details of inspections and the uranium shipments could easily become protracted, buying the regime valuable time. (On Friday the Associated Press quoted a member of the Iranian delegation as saying it had not, in fact, agreed to the uranium deal.) Meanwhile, Tehran's tactical retreat has provided Russia and China with an excuse to veto new sanctions -- something they would have been hard-pressed to do had Iran struck an entirely defiant tone in Geneva.
The Obama administration and its allies have said repeatedly that they will pursue diplomacy until the end of the year and then seek sanctions if diplomacy hasn't worked. That sets up a foreseeable and very unpleasant crossroads. "If by early next year we are getting nothing through diplomacy and sanctions," says scholar Kenneth Pollack of the Brookings Institution's Saban Center, "the entire policy is going to be revealed as a charade."
What then? Pollack, a former Clinton administration official, says there is one obvious Plan B: "containment," a policy that got its name during the Cold War. The point would be to limit Iran's ability to produce nuclear weapons or exercise its influence through the region by every means possible short of war -- and to be prepared to sustain the effort over years, maybe decades. It's an option that has been lurking at the back of the debate about Iran for years. "In their heart of hearts I think the Obama administration knows that this is where this is going," Pollack says.
I suspect he's right. I also don't expect Obama and his aides to begin talking about a policy shift anytime soon. For the next few months we'll keep hearing about negotiations, sanctions and possibly Israeli military action as ways to stop an Iranian bomb. By far the best chance for a breakthrough, as I see it, lies in a victory by the Iranian opposition over the current regime. If that doesn't happen, it may soon get harder to disguise the hollowness of Western policy.
The most widely touted outcome of last week's Geneva talks with Iran was the "agreement in principle" to send approximately one nuclear-weapon's worth of Iran's low enriched uranium (LEU) to Russia for enrichment to 19.75% and fabrication into fuel rods for Tehran's research reactor. President Barack Obama says the deal represents progress, a significant confidence-building measure.
In fact, the agreement constitutes another in the long string of Iranian negotiating victories over the West. Any momentum toward stricter sanctions has been dissipated, and Iran's fraudulent, repressive regime again hobnobs with the U.N. Security Council's permanent members. Consider the following problems:
• Is there a deal or isn't there?
Diplomacy's three slipperiest words are "agreement in principle." Iran's Ambassador to Britain exclaimed after the talks in Geneva, "No, no!" when asked if his country had agreed to ship LEU to Russia; it had "not been discussed yet." An unnamed Iranian official said that the Geneva deal "is just based on principles. We have not agreed on any amount or any numbers." Bargaining over the deal's specifics could stretch out indefinitely.
Other issues include whether Iran will have "observers" at Russian enrichment facilities. If so, what new technologies might those observers glean? And, since Tehran's reactor is purportedly for medical purposes, will Mr. Obama deny what Iran pretends to need to refuel it in 2010?
• The "agreement" undercuts Security Council resolutions forbidding Iranian uranium enrichment.
No U.S. president has been more enamored of international law and the Security Council than Mr. Obama. Yet here he is undermining the foundation of the multilateral campaign against Tehran's nuclear weapons program. In Resolution 1696, adopted July 31, 2006, the Security Council required Iran to "suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development." Uranium enriched thereafter—the overwhelming bulk of Iran's admitted LEU—thus violates 1696 and later sanctions resolutions. Moreover, considering Iran's utter lack of credibility, we have no idea whether its declared LEU constitutes anything near its entire stockpile.
By endorsing Iran's use of its illegitimately enriched uranium, Mr. Obama weakens his argument that Iran must comply with its "international obligations." Indeed, the Geneva deal undercuts Mr. Obama's proposal to withhold more sanctions if Iran does not enhance its nuclear program by allowing Iran to argue that continued enrichment for all peaceful purposes should be permissible. Now Iran will oppose new sanctions and argue for repealing existing restrictions. Every other aspiring proliferator is watching how violating Security Council resolutions not only carries no penalty but provides a shortcut to international redemption.
• Raising Iran's LEU to higher enrichment levels is a step backwards.
Two-thirds of the work to get 90% enriched uranium, the most efficient weapons grade, is accomplished when U235 isotope levels in natural uranium are enriched to Iran's current level of approximately 3%-5%. Further enrichment of Iran's LEU to 19.75% is a significant step in the wrong direction. This is barely under the 20% definition of weapons-grade, highly enriched uranium (HEU). Ironically, Resolution 1887, adopted while Mr. Obama presided over the Security Council last week, calls for converting HEU-based reactors like Iran's to LEU fuel precisely to lower such proliferation risks. We should be converting the Tehran reactor, not refueling it at 19.75% enrichment.
After Geneva, the administration misleadingly stated that once fashioned into fuel rods, the uranium involved could not be enriched further. This is flatly untrue. The 19.75% enriched uranium could be reconverted into uranium hexafluoride gas and quickly enriched to 90%. Iran could also "burn" its uranium fuel (including the Russian LEU available for the Bushehr reactor) and then chemically extract plutonium from the spent fuel to produce nuclear weapons.
The more sophisticated Iran's nuclear skills become, the more paths it has to manufacture nuclear weapons. The research-reactor bait-and-switch demonstrates convincingly why it cannot be trusted with fissile material under any peaceful guise. Proceeding otherwise would be winking at two decades of Iranian deception, which, unfortunately, Mr. Obama seems perfectly prepared to do.
The president also said last week that international access to the Qom nuclear site must occur within two weeks, but an administration spokesman retreated the next day, saying there was no "hard and fast deadline," and "we don't have like a drop-dead date." Of course, neither does Iran.
Once again, Washington has entered the morass of negotiations with Tehran, giving Iran precious time to refine and expand its nuclear program. We are now even further from eliminating Iran's threat than before Geneva.
Monday, October 05, 2009
The IDF is concerned ...[by a] plan, initiated by Hamas Housing Minister Yousef al-Mansi, under which thousands of Palestinians ...will be housed in temporary structures and caravans along the border with Israel.
The IDF believes that Mansi plans to set up the temporary villages to serve as obstacles in the event that Israel sends ground forces into Gaza. The border villages will also likely serve as cover for tunnels that Hamas will dig under the security fence and into Israel to carry out attacks.
"This is part of Hamas's overall strategy to use built-up areas to hide in and to launch attacks," a senior defense official said. "This basically means that Hamas will want to use the people it places there as human shields against Israel."...
.. the EU and Russia - issued a new policy statement in New York on September 24 about the state of Israeli-Palestinian contacts that was extremely disturbing. Surprisingly, it has received little if any notice in the mainstream media.
As usual, the Quartet meeting in New York that issued the statement was held at a very senior level - including UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, along with the US special envoy George Mitchell, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, and Tony Blair, the Quartet representative.
At the outset, the statement discarded the principle of reciprocity, which not only is closely associated with the diplomatic principles advocated by Israel's Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, but is also a fundamental axiom of international law. Astoundingly, the Quartet called on both parties to "act on their previous agreements and obligations - in particular adherence to the road map, irrespective of reciprocity (emphasis added)..."
...the original road map was "performance-based" - movement from one stage to the next was contingent upon the fulfillment by both Israelis and Palestinians of their respective responsibilities. Now this critical element appeared to have been removed. True, the erosion of the road map was helped by past Israeli governments that plunged into permanent-status negotiations before the Palestinians fulfilled their obligations. But it is the new formal position of the Quartet that provides the final blow to the road map's carefully structured conditionality.
In general, the Quartet wanted to provide its own multilateral stamp of approval on President Barack Obama's UN address from September 22. ...He specifically proposed the establishment of "a viable, independent Palestinian state with contiguous territory that ends the occupation that began in 1967."
In doing so, Obama adopted language that was not balanced out by an equal reference to UN Security Council Resolution 242, which appears in the Quartet road map and did not call for a full Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 lines.
OBAMA'S PUSH for the 1967 lines is also evident in his language during his UN address that "America does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements."
In April 2004, president George W. Bush sent a letter to prime minister Ariel Sharon stating that it was unrealistic to expect that Israel would withdraw from its large "population centers" in the West Bank. This acknowledgement of the settlement blocs granted a portion of the settlements a degree of legitimacy that Obama's formal remarks denied.
It also led Bush to accept the fact that Israel was not going to withdraw to the 1967 lines and was entitled to "defensible borders." The Bush letter, moreover, received massive support from both houses of the US Congress in June 2004, providing it with bipartisan backing (including Rep. Rahm Emanuel and Sen. Hillary Clinton). Given the language Obama used at the UN - and the Quartet now backed - it is not surprising that his administration has not openly committed itself to the 2004 letter.
The Quartet statement also goes out of its way to back the Palestinian Authority's new plan for building the institutions of a Palestinian state over the next 24 months - which was drafted by Palestinian Prime Minister Salaam Fayad. ...it is a program that leads the Palestinian Authority seven-eighths of the way to an independent Palestinian state, leaving ambiguous how the Palestinians get to the finish line. What it leaves open is the possibility of a unilateral declaration of statehood by the Palestinians or by someone else.
For example, during July the EU's Javier Solana lectured in London and said that if the peace process was going nowhere, the international community should consider recognizing a Palestinian state under a UN resolution even without Israel's consent. He called for a fixed deadline for future negotiations. The Fayad Plan could prepare the groundwork for such international action by providing the Palestinians with the main legal preconditions for recognition: the exercise of effective governmental control, the capacity to engage in foreign relations, and a defined territory.
The last criteria for statehood is the most problematic. According to Solana, after the UN Security Council proclaims the adoption of a two-state solution, it will also adopt further follow-up resolutions regarding the highly contentious issues of refugees, Jerusalem and borders. In short, the Solana plan is an imposed solution, using the UN Security Council as its main instrument, which will decide the issue of Israel's future borders and those of the Palestinian state.
There is an Israeli belief that the Solana plan would not have been floated without consulting high-level US officials. ...With the principle of reciprocity jettisoned, there will be a straight path to Palestinian statehood in two years, regardless of whether the Palestinians are fulfilling their obligations under the road map or the Oslo Agreements from the 1990s.
ISRAELI DIPLOMACY is heading for unchartered waters, having to balance between negotiations with the Palestinians and the possibility of a new muscular multilateralism at the UN, led by the Quartet. What is clear is that if the Palestinians understand that they will receive a Palestinian state on a silver platter in two years time - that will additionally be based on the 1967 lines - then why should Mahmoud Abbas bother to negotiate or make a single concession?
Under such conditions, the Palestinians are likely to prefer advancing the campaign to delegitimize Israel, by increasingly turning to the International Criminal Court and other UN bodies. At the same time they will insist that the Obama administration put its own peace plan on the table that prejudges the outcome of negotiations by detailing future borders. An alternative that has been raised is an Obama side-letter to the Palestinians on borders that neutralizes Bush's past guarantees.
The only way to block this drift in diplomacy is for Israel to be very firm about its positions. It cannot accept any negotiating process with Abbas that allows the Palestinians to multilateralize Israeli-Palestinian differences while negotiators sit across from one another.
Finally, Israel should be insisting on protecting its rights that have been recognized in the past in UN Security Council Resolution 242 and in the bipartisan-backed Bush letter, rather than just letting these past guarantees slide away amidst the current rhetoric about ending "the occupation that began in 1967." Otherwise, Israel will be forced to accept a process whose terms of reference only protect the interests of the Palestinians and leave the State of Israel increasingly exposed.
Sunday, October 04, 2009
The release of a new videotape of a captive Israeli soldier has not raised expectations for a broader Israeli-Palestinian prisoner swap in the near future.
The father of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit is not optimistic about his son's release, despite a videotape published on Friday showing for the first time that he is alive and well. Speaking a day after the Islamic militant group Hamas handed over the tape in exchange for the release of 20 female Palestinian prisoners, Noam Shalit said he does not expect a breakthrough.
...he said Israel and Hamas are "not on the brink of a deal" and that he fears negotiations on a prisoner swap could take years...
JERUSALEM — Israel on Saturday expressed its condolences over the death of the last commander of the 1943 Warsaw ghetto uprising against Nazi Germany during World War II.
Mark Edelman, who died in Warsaw on Friday aged 90, "gained respect in Poland, Israel and the entire world as a most important moral voice for the memory of the Holocaust," the foreign ministry said in a statement.
"The Jewish people and the state of Israel mourn the death of Edelman, one of the commanders of the heroic uprising carried out by the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto against the Nazis, an uprising that saved human dignity during the dark days of the Holocaust," it said.
...When uprising commander Mordechaj Anielewicz died, Edelman took over command during the final days of fighting...