Friday, December 21, 2007

Fund the Palestinians? Bad Idea

From Jerusalem Post by Daniel Pipes, December 19, 2007:

Lavishing funds on Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority to achieve peace has been a mainstay of Western, including Israeli, policy since Hamas seized Gaza in June. But this open spigot has counterproductive results and urgently must be stopped.

Some background: Paul Morro of the Congressional Research Service reports that, in 2006, the European Union and its member states gave US$815 million to the Palestinian Authority, while the United States sent it $468 million. When other donors are included, the total receipts come to about $1.5 billion....

....One report suggests the European Union has funneled nearly $2.5 billion to the Palestinians this year.

Looking ahead, Abbas ...won pledges for an astonishing $7.4 billion (or over $1,800 per capita per year) at the donors' conference. [$1,400 per year is about what an Egyptian earns annually.]

Well, it's a bargain if it works, right? A few billion to end a dangerous, century-old conflict – it's actually a steal.

But innovative research by Steven Stotsky, a research analyst for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) finds that an influx of money to the Palestinians has had the opposite effect historically. Relying on World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and other official statistics, Stotsky compares two figures since 1999: budgetary support aid provided annually to the Palestinian Authority and the number of Palestinian homicides annually (including both criminal and terrorist activities, and both Israeli and Palestinian victims). ....In brief, each $1.25 million or so of budgetary support aid translates into a death within the year. ....

....The Palestinian record fits a broader pattern, as noted by Jean-Paul Azam and Alexandra Delacroix in a 2005 article, "Aid and the Delegated Fight Against Terrorism." They found.... the more foreign aid, the more terrorism.

If these studies run exactly counter to the conventional supposition that poverty, unemployment, repression, "occupation," and malaise drive Palestinians to lethal violence, they do confirm my long-standing argument about Palestinian exhilaration being the problem. The better funded Palestinians are, the stronger they become, and the more inspired to take up arms.
....Rather than further funding Palestinian bellicosity, Western states, starting with Israel, should cut off all funds to the Palestinian Authority.

Dec. 20, 2007 update: Using the Stotsky materials and extrapolating to include the $7.4 billion committed earlier this week, Hal M. Switkay comes up with an estimate of 4,600 Palestinian-caused deaths .... in the three years ahead:

Extrapolation of Stotsky's analysis for $7.4 billion over three years.

[Homicides by Palestinian Terrorists (1,000s) vs Foreign Aid (US$b)]

....One must be cautious, as the authors are, and explain that correlation – even perfect correlation – does not imply causation. One must present a plausible explanation that could justify the claim of causation, and I have one.

Most of the ignoramuses who opine or make policy regarding the Middle East and jihadists worldwide, believe that poverty causes war, just as poverty causes crime at home, and that terrorists must be given hope to stop their deadly rampage.

However, we know that quite the opposite is true: poor people can choose to study hard, work hard, and lift themselves and their communities gradually out of poverty; crime causes poverty; terrorism causes poverty; and terrorists are given hope by the craven appeasement of the empty-headed Western intellectuals and politicians who come to bargain for their lives – at others' expense, of course. My theory is justified, I believe, by the strong relationship between foreign aid and homicides that occur one year later.

Based on the strong linear correlation between foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority and the number of homicides committed by Palestinian Arabs one year later, I have used extrapolation to predict the consequences of a promised $7.4 billion in aid to the Palestinian Arabs. Please understand that extrapolation is far less reliable than interpolation. Nevertheless, my model predicts approximately 4600 homicides can be expected within a year after the infusion of the pledged foreign aid. This is equivalent to the murder of some 215,000 Americans.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Hit ‘em where it hurts

From Ynet News, by Zvi Hauser, 18/12/07:

Forget economic sanctions; Qassams should prompt Palestinian territorial losses

The failure of disengagement, Hamas’ Gaza takeover, and the ongoing Qassam rocket attacks require us to adopt “out-of-the-box” thinking regarding the way to regain Israeli’s deterrence capabilities, which have been lost.

The Israeli obsession with making do with a search for a passive, defensive solution merely encourages the belligerent Palestinian approach and boosts Hamas. Israel must change the rules of the game and actively exact a Hamas territorial price for Palestinian belligerence. Israel’s diplomatic thinking must be brought up to date in the face of the regional interpretation of our compromise policy, which labels any withdrawal as a sign of weakness.

What’s been going on in Gaza in the wake of Israel’s withdrawal proves once again that Palestinian society’s supreme value is not human life or economic welfare, but rather, land. Therefore, we should take the “land for peace” formula and link it to yet another formula, “land for war,” and present this choice to our neighbors.

The ongoing Qassam fire justifies and requires us to take over the Gaza Strip’s “northern edge” where most missiles are fired from. ....

.... The Palestinian exploitation of Israel’s unilateral pullout requires us to reassess the “withdrawal to the last centimeter” approach. The ongoing harm to human rights in Israeli Gaza-region communities justifies a renewed takeover of unpopulated territory, while making it clear to the Palestinians and to the international community that instead of killing civilians, destroying infrastructure, or cutting off the water and electricity supply to a helpless population, Israel chose the most humane move – taking over dominating positions and preventing rocket attacks on civilians.

‘Land is gained through peace, lost in war’ The loss of territory is the most painful stick that can be waived in the face of the Hamas ethos. This is the genuine price tag in Gaza. Not human life, and certainly not economic welfare and all the services that depend on electricity supply, unlike what we would expect in Western civilizations. A future withdrawal from these areas after they are retaken would only be examined as part of a comprehensive peace agreement that would guarantee the security of Israel’s citizens.

... not only those who seek normal life in Sderot must back the shunning of the failed disengagement principles, but also the eternal optimists who believe that somewhere on the horizon there is a formula for making peace with the Palestinians.

The writer is an attorney and former Communication Ministry official

There'll be no peace in our time

From, by Greg Sheridan, December 16, 2007 [my emphasis added - SL]:

THIS past week in Israel, where I have been staying for a couple of weeks, there began what should be a historic process: negotiation of a final settlement between Israel and the Palestinians. This is the outcome of the recent Annapolis conference in the US. Three leaders - US President George W. Bush, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmood Abbas - have committed to finding a final settlement within a year. They have not committed to full implementation of this final settlement in that time, merely to the conclusion of an agreement on what the terms of the final settlement will be.

This covers areas such as the amount of territory an independent Palestinian state will get; the so-called right of return of Palestinian refugees and their descendants (which Israel interprets as a right of return to a new Palestinian state and the Palestinians interpret as a right of return to Israel itself), and the arrangements that will cover Jerusalem.

The obstacles to any settlement are enormous. For a start, the Palestinian Authority has no jurisdiction over one-third of its population, which lives in the Gaza Strip under the control of the Islamist terrorist organisation Hamas - an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood.

But even in the West Bank, the real power of the Palestinian Authority is very limited. Several West Bank cities are ruled by warlords, not the Authority. Indeed, Palestinian leaders cannot travel safely in all their own cities and are not ready to take over security in most of their cities from Israeli security forces.

In truth, the Palestinian Authority does not have functioning state institutions. Outside donors, including Australia, are set to pump an enormous amount of money into the West Bank to try to improve the quality of life there. This is designed, in part, to strengthen Mahmood Abbas and to show the Palestinians that life on the moderate path, in the West Bank, is much better than life under the extremist path, as in Gaza under Hamas. The Palestinian Authority, however, shows no signs of re-establishing control of the Gaza Strip, and it is inconceivable that Israel would allow the creation of a Palestinian state that did not control both the West Bank and Gaza.

Many people around the world tell Israel to withdraw to its 1967 borders. Two years ago, Israel did pull out of Gaza - and the result was that Hamas took over. Every day now, Hamas terrorists fire rockets - aimed at civilians - from Gaza into Israel. Eventually, one of these rockets will kill a large number of Israeli civilians and there will be a huge Israeli military response inside Gaza. Whatever Mahmood Abbas thinks of this, or Hamas (some of whom have pledged to kill him), he would be forced to make an ultra-nationalist response - and that, in itself, could kill the peace process.

Further, the Annapolis process requires the fulfilment of the conditions of the so-called Road Map, the very first of which is that the Palestinians stamp out terrorism and stop attacks on Israeli civilians. There is no sign the Palestinian Authority can do this, or even that it really wants to do this. Its educational materials are full of hatred against Israel and incitement to terrorism. And that is the fundamental problem.

Neither the Palestinian leadership, nor most of the surrounding Arab states, has really come to grips with Israel's right to exist at peace behind secure borders. Until that happens, no agreement is likely to work on the ground. So, what should have been an epic week may prove only to have been just another footnote of failure in the long saga of failure in the Middle East.

Israel could exchange territory to keep settlements

From the International Herald Tribune, by The Associated Press, December 18, 2007:

JERUSALEM: A confidant of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's said Tuesday that Israel was pushing forward with construction in major West Bank settlements, but proposed compensating the Palestinians with Israeli territory under a final peace deal.

The comments by Vice Premier Haim Ramon were the first time an Israeli official has openly endorsed the idea of a land swap. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also supports the concept, which could solve one of the most contentious issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Jewish settlements in the West Bank....

...Olmert has signaled he is ready for a large withdrawal from the West Bank, but that he wants to retain the large housing blocs where the vast majority of Jewish settlers live....

..."The Palestinians won't say that this is good, but there is no doubt that the Palestinians understand that in the end of the peace process, the settlement blocs will be under Israeli sovereignty in return for an exchange of territory," Ramon said....

....Abbas said any swap would require Israel to hand over "the same quality and quantity of land" that it keeps, but also said it was "premature" to discuss such a deal.....

....The U.S.-backed "road map" peace plan calls on Israel to freeze all settlement activity, including so-called natural growth in existing communities. However, Israel says the U.S. supports its position on retaining settlement blocs, pointing to a 2004 letter in which President George W. Bush said a final peace deal would have to recognize "new realities on the ground.".....Israel is expected to seek a final border along the lines of its West Bank separation barrier, which is expected to leave roughly 8 percent of the West Bank, along with the settlement blocs, in Israeli hands when it is complete.

...The road map also requires Israel to remove several dozen tiny settlement outposts scattered throughout the West Bank. ...The Palestinians, meanwhile, are required to rein in militant groups. ... Israel also says Abbas must control militants in the Gaza Strip, which was overrun by the Hamas militant group last June. Abbas wields no control in Gaza, raising questions about his ability to carry out any future peace deal....

$7.4 Billion Pledged to PA

From The New York Times, December 18, 2007, by ELAINE SCIOLINO:

PARIS — Eighty-seven countries and international organizations pledged $7.4 billion in aid to the Palestinians on Monday, in the most ambitious fund-raising effort in more than a decade to help Palestinians create a viable, peaceful and secure state of their own.

The total is set to cover the next three years. The Palestinians had hoped to secure $5.6 billion ...but the amount pledged exceeded that figure.

The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, said at the conference that a “moment of truth” had arrived, urging the world to increase its aid for Palestinians — or risk disaster.
“Without this support, without the payment of aid that will allow the Palestinian treasury to fulfill its role, we will be facing a total catastrophe in the West Bank and Gaza,” Mr. Abbas said.
In appealing for the financing, Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, an economist appointed to lead the Palestinians’ caretaker government, formally presented his new recovery plan for economic, institutional and security reform for a future Palestinian state.

...Many countries do not fulfill pledges that they make at such conferences. Egypt and other Arab countries are known for pledging funds to the Palestinian Authority that they do not deliver...

....The event on Monday was the largest Palestinian donor meeting since 1996, and the latest in a string of aid-raising events for the Palestinians over the years. The Palestinians are one of the highest aid-dependent populations in the world, according to a new World Bank report.

....“Our aim is not to perpetuate assistance to the Palestinians indefinitely,” said Mr. Sarkozy, who calls himself a close friend of Israel. To that end, he called for Israel to allow freedom of movement of people and goods and to immediately freeze all settlement construction on the West Bank. “I must insist on this point: it is in Israel’s best interest, provided its own security is not threatened, to foster a normal existence in the West Bank,” he said. “This alone will enable the Palestinians to work, to stop ruminating on their humiliation, to curb the violence and trafficking and to regain their zest for life.”

As for the Palestinians, Mr. Sarkozy told them to live up to their promises to maintain “law and order over its territory” and to overhaul their security services.

Stephen Castle reported from Brussels and Graham Bowley reported from New York. Isabel Kershner contributed reporting from Jerusalem.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Syrian Alliance With Iran Unshakable

From AP, by ALBERT AJI, 14/12/07:

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — President Bashar Assad rejected claims that Syria's alliance with Iran had been weakened by Damascus' participation in last month's U.S.-sponsored Mideast peace conference, insisting Thursday that ties between the two countries will never be shaken....

....The November conference in Annapolis, Md., which relaunched Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, was widely seen as also aimed at isolating Iran by bringing together Arab nations. U.S. officials have expressed hopes that Syria's attendance would mark a start to easing it out of its alliance with Tehran.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other top officials denounced the conference, and some officials expressed surprise over Syria's participation — though none directly criticized it....

.....Syria is Iran's closest Arab ally. The two countries have had warm relations since 1980 when Syria sided with Persian Iran against Iraq in the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Dichter: NIE proves that Israel failed

From JPost, Dec 15, 2007, by REBECCA ANNA STOIL
Public Security Minister Avi Dichter on Saturday blasted the recent US National Intelligence Estimate that says Teheran has halted its nuclear arms program, warning that a nuclear Iran could lead to a regional war that would threaten Israel.

Dichter also suggested that if American intelligence agencies were wrong about Iran in the NIE, released on December 3, they could also issue false information about whether the Palestinians are fulfilling their security commitments....

...."The softened intelligence report proves that Israel failed to provide the Americans with the whole picture concerning the Iranian nuclear threat," he said. "Something went wrong in the American blueprint for analyzing the severity of the Iranian nuclear threat," said Dichter, in one of the strongest criticisms of the US intelligence analysis offered by a cabinet member.

....He added that it was now the duty of Israel and other concerned countries to provide the US with intelligence information and analyses that would help to change the American assessment.
Regarding the Palestinians, Dichter warned that retired US general James Jones, who heads the mechanism to judge the implementation of road map obligations, could also receive an inaccurate assessment of the situation on the ground and that there were no guarantees he would not make a serious error of judgment regarding the Palestinians' adherence to their commitments.

The "US could make a mistake and decide that the Palestinians have fulfilled their commitments, which could entail very serious consequences from Israel's perspective," Dichter warned.

"Israel cannot allow a situation in which Hamas conducts a war of attrition from Gaza, while Israel is simultaneously holding negotiations with the Palestinians," Dichter said.
He stressed the need for the Palestinians to establish "real and operational" law enforcement, legislative and judicial systems.....

US intelligence flawed

From DEBKAfile, December 15, 2007:

Israeli minister warns “flawed” US intelligence on Iran nuke will lead to “Yom Kippur”

Internal security minister and former Shin Bet head Avi Dichter was the first government member to publicly and harshly question the US National Intelligence Estimate which says Tehran no longer develops nuclear weapons. He warned that it could spark a “regional Yom Kippur” – a reference to the 1973 Middle East War. The minister said Saturday, Dec. 15: “We know the threat to be ongoing and palpable” for Israel and a whole region within the range of Iran’s ballistic missiles, i.e. Europe and North Africa. Israel and other troubled nations must help the US in every way possible, including by their intelligence, to correct a misconception that could spark a “regional Yom Kippur.”

DEBKAfile reports: Dichter voiced concerns which other Israeli ministers have so far expressed only in private (as reported last week on this site), because they conflict with the views of prime minister Ehud Olmert. The NIE report is deemed negative on three grounds:

1. It means the Bush administration has reconciled itself to a nuclear-armed Iran.

2. While Dichter had the courage to open the eyes of the Israeli public to the danger, he too knows there is no way to correct the “misconception” governing the actions of President Bush and Secretary Rice, because the NIE did not come out of the blue; it was the product of a comprehensive strategic reassessment planned to play out up to the end of the Bush presidency. Both its two underlying objectives are detrimental to Israel:
First: America seeks integration in the unfolding Saudi-Iranian axis. This will entail turning its back on Israel.
Second: It will also entail concessions to Syria, Hizballah and the Palestinians at the expense of Israel and its security.

3. DEBKAfile’s Jerusalem sources reveal that Olmert has confided in his close aides his intention of using the White House’s about-face in the Middle East to advance on simultaneous peace tracks with the Palestinians and Syria. In other words, the Israeli prime minister is willing to make Bush a gift of broad concessions on the West Bank and Golan to aid and abet the president’s pursuit of the budding Riyadh-Tehran partnership.

This was hinted at in Dichter’s added caution Saturday that Washington’s “faulty intelligence” and “erroneous conceptions” could warp its judgment as arbiter of the Middle East roadmap between Israel and the Palestinians, by reporting their nonexistent crackdown on terrorists.
At the same time, as long as ministers like Dichter who are clearly at issue with the prime minister stay in his government, Olmert has no incentive to abandon his plans.