Saturday, January 16, 2010

Turkish Fiction

From "TODAY’S ZAMAN" ─░STANBUL, 14 January 2010:

A scriptwriter for the Turkish television series “Valley of the Wolves” has said that they have started work on a new spinoff, “Valley of the Wolves: Palestine...”

....Israel has complained that Turkey should be more careful about how it depicts Israel in the television series.

“We were trying to show that Israel and the United States are behind acts of terrorism....” he said, referring to the plot of the series.

...“Israel should remove its hands from bloody activities...” he said...

Iraq Desecrating Ezekiel's memory


For centuries Jews, Christians and Muslims came to Al-Kifl, a small town south of Baghdad, to visit the tomb of the Prophet Ezekiel and pray.

The distinctive Jewish character of the Al-Kifl shrine, namely the Hebrew inscriptions and the Torah Ark, never bothered the gentile worshipers. In the 14th century a minaret was built next to the shrine, but the interior design remained Jewish. The vast majority of Iraq's Jewish community left some 60 years ago, but Shi'ites took good care of the holy site.

Until now.

Recently "Ur," a local Iraqi news agency, reported that a huge mosque will be built on top of the grave by Iraq's Antiquities and Heritage Authority, while Hebrew inscriptions and ornaments are being removed from the site, all as part of renovations.

..."I first heard the news of tomb desecration from a friend of mine who is a German scholar. After visiting the site he called me and said that some Hebrew inscriptions on the grave were covered by plaster and that a mosque is planned to be built on top of the tomb. He told me that he found the changes at the tomb disturbing and warned me that I'd better act quickly, before any irreversible damage will be inflicted...Then I saw the report from the Ur news agency, mentioning the decision of the Antiquities and Heritage Authority to build a mosque and to erase the Hebrew inscriptions and ornaments..." [Prof. Shmuel Moreh of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem] said.

...[Mr. Shelomo Alfassa, US director of Justice for Jews from Arab Countries] believes that Iraq's Antiquities and Heritage Authority "has been pressured by Islamists to historically cleanse all evidence of a Jewish connection to Iraq - a land where Jews had lived for over a thousand years before the advent of Islam."

According to the Baghdad-born Moreh, many of the Muslims who visit the tomb today are unaware Ezekiel was a Jew.

Iraq, the biblical Aram Naharaim, is rich in Jewish religious sites. Not only Ezekiel is buried there, but also Ezra, Daniel, Nehemiah, Nahum and Jonah. (Another tomb attributed to Ezekiel is located in Dezful, in southwestern Iran.)

...the future of Jewish sacred sites looks grim in the intolerant current climate of post-Saddam Iraq, where only eight Jews are left, the Christian minority is severely persecuted by the fundamentalists and ancient Shi'ite mosques are blown up.

"Let's hope that the Jewish sites will be spared, but someone must intervene before it's too late," Moreh warned.

Jordan claims Dead Sea scrolls: another pathetic attempt to poke Israel in the eye

From The Toronto Sun, 11/1/10, by Mindelle Jacobs, QMI AGENCY:

The Muslim world does not have a particularly good track record of treating other faiths and religious sites and relics with respect.

After Israel was established in 1948, five Arab countries attacked the tiny new state and Jordan ended up with control of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. The armistice agreement stipulated that there be free access for all to the religious holy places.

But Jordan destroyed the Jewish sector of the Old City, including demolishing synagogues, and refused to let Jews visit Judaism’s most sacred site — the Western Wall. In a further gesture of degradation, the Jordanians used the wall as a garbage dump.

This is the same country that wants ownership of the Dead Sea scrolls, arguably Israel’s most treasured antiquities.

The 2,000-year-old Dead Sea scrolls have just finished a six-month exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum and the Jordanians have complained to UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) that the scrolls belong to them.

This follows claims by Palestinian authorities to Stephen Harper and the ROM last year that the scrolls belong to the Palestinians.

The Palestinian Authority, of course, has turned a blind eye for years to the vile anti-Semitism and incitement to hatred and violence spewing forth from its mosques.

What would the Palestinians do if they actually got their hands on the Dead Sea scrolls? Respectfully put them on display so people could see them?

How long would it be before a nutbar swayed by anti-Jewish propaganda destroyed them?

After all, the Dead Sea scrolls have nothing to do with Islam. The manuscripts — the Old Testament, several books of Apocrypha and assorted writings about an ancient Jewish sect’s beliefs and practices — date back hundreds of years before Islam emerged.

What significance could this precious Hebrew collection, written by Jews from the third century BCE to the first century CE, have for the Muslim world other than as a figurative battering ram with which to foment more intolerance?

The Palestinians have astonishingly claimed the scrolls as part of their heritage even though they never thought of themselves as a people until several decades ago and the scrolls are obviously culturally and historically Jewish.

Legally, the Palestinians have no claim to the manuscripts anyway since there is no entity called Palestine, notes Patty Gerstenblith, a professor of law at Chicago’s DePaul University.

Jordan at least has the capacity to make a complaint but UNESCO has no power to do anything, she says.

“There is no court at UNESCO and they have no authority,” explains Gerstenblith. “Going to UNESCO is, at most, a gesture.”

Theoretically, Jordan might have a claim to the scrolls under the 1954 Hague Convention which governs the protection of cultural property during armed conflict, says Gerstenblith.

But Jordan gave up any claim to the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, many years ago, the Ottoman Empire no longer exists and Palestine never has been a country.

The reality, says Gerstenblith, is that the Israelis aren’t going to give up control of the scrolls.

And why should they? Since Israel’s birth, the Muslim world has largely been either openly hostile or coldly indifferent to its existence.

The Dead Sea scrolls are safe in Israeli hands. This brouhaha is just another pathetic attempt to poke Israel in the eye.

Shared US-Israel Interests

From The Jewish Week, 12/1/10, by The Editors:

... “U.S. to double weapons stockpile in Israel,” JTA reported, adding that “Israel would be allowed to use the equipment in a military emergency.”

... In an increasingly perilous world, the United States and Israel have more shared interests than ever before. Israel has long been on the front lines in the battle between lawless terrorists and the civilized world. In the post-9/11 era, America, too, has become a target, and cooperation between the two allies grows stronger by the day.

The United States has vast and complex interests across the Middle East.  ...Israel remains our most reliable and important friend in the region...

For all its problems, Israel remains a vibrant democracy in a part of the world where democracy is an alien concept. U.S. policymakers at every level, in both major parties, understand the myriad ways in which that fact boosts our nation’s interests around the world...

Decreasing interest in the two-state solution. US still trying to sort out the basics.

From The Jewish Week, 12/1/10, by James D. Besser, Washington Correspondent [my emphasis added - SL]:

The Obama administration is set to open a new chapter in Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy ...Despite some press reports, Washington is unlikely to ratchet up pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or spell out detailed U.S. positions on critical issues like borders and the status of Jewish settlement blocks.

...there is a growing sense in Washington that the Obama administration — chastened by its early misstep on settlements and its premature promises of quick progress in restarting stalled negotiations, and with new concerns about terrorism dominating the agenda — is crafting a low-key, pragmatic plan that limits expectations, rejects dramatic public events and takes into account the political dilemmas...

...Barry Rubin, director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center in Israel [said] “They are all trying to pretend that the problem isn’t the PA’s intransigence, which of course dooms them to failure. As I have repeatedly stated: the administration has no way to get the PA to the negotiating table, especially since it won’t dream of pressuring it. The administration has only itself to blame for its failures.”

While some press reports suggest the flurry of activity in recent days points to a dramatic new peace move, many analysts say the administration has something different in mind.

...Edward Walker, a former state department official and onetime U.S. ambassador in Tel Aviv, said that what’s shaping up may be more a diplomatic holding action than a serious ratcheting up of U.S. involvement....“There’s nothing new that would warrant a new U.S. peace push at this time,” Walker said. “The Palestinians are still conflicted and unable to operate together; the Israeli government is incapable of moving on the settlement issue, given its composition, without falling. And generally, there is decreasing interest around the world in the two-state solution.”...

...Walker also argued that claims the administration’s Mideast policy shop is getting its act in order may be premature. “The story I’m getting out of the State Department is that there is enormous disorganization in the administration on this; they just don’t seem to have as coherent, unified policy. They’re still trying to sort out the basics.”

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Tel Aviv Innovation Cluster

From a New York Times Op-Ed, January 12, 2010, by DAVID BROOKS:

Jews are a famously accomplished group. They make up 0.2 percent of the world population, but 54 percent of the world chess champions, 27 percent of the Nobel physics laureates and 31 percent of the medicine laureates.

Jews make up 2 percent of the U.S. population, but 21 percent of the Ivy League student bodies, 26 percent of the Kennedy Center honorees, 37 percent of the Academy Award-winning directors, 38 percent of those on a recent Business Week list of leading philanthropists, 51 percent of the Pulitzer Prize winners for nonfiction.

In his book, “The Golden Age of Jewish Achievement,” Steven L. Pease lists some of the explanations people have given for this record of achievement. The Jewish faith encourages a belief in progress and personal accountability. It is learning-based, not rite-based.

Most Jews gave up or were forced to give up farming in the Middle Ages; their descendants have been living off of their wits ever since. They have often migrated, with a migrant’s ambition and drive. They have congregated around global crossroads and have benefited from the creative tension endemic in such places.

...Tel Aviv has become one of the world’s foremost entrepreneurial hot spots. Israel has more high-tech start-ups per capita than any other nation on earth, by far. It leads the world in civilian research-and-development spending per capita. It ranks second behind the U.S. in the number of companies listed on the Nasdaq. Israel, with seven million people, attracts as much venture capital as France and Germany combined.

As Dan Senor and Saul Singer write in “Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle,” Israel now has a classic innovation cluster, a place where tech obsessives work in close proximity and feed off each other’s ideas.

...All the countries in the region talk about encouraging innovation. Some oil-rich states spend billions trying to build science centers. But places like Silicon Valley and Tel Aviv are created by a confluence of cultural forces, not money. The surrounding nations do not have the tradition of free intellectual exchange and technical creativity.

For example, between 1980 and 2000, Egyptians registered 77 patents in the U.S. Saudis registered 171. Israelis registered 7,652.

...During a decade of grim foreboding, Israel has become an astonishing success story....

The Palestinians' "Kosovo Strategy"

From JCPA, Jerusalem Viewpoints No. 575 January-February 2010, by Dan Diker:
  • Mahmoud Abbas' new precondition that the international community recognize the 1967 lines in the West Bank as the new Palestinian border bolsters the assessment that the Palestinians have largely abandoned a negotiated settlement and instead are actively pursuing a unilateral approach to statehood.
  • Senior Palestinian officials note that Palestinian unilateralism is modeled after Kosovo's February 2008 unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia. European and U.S. support for Kosovo's unilateral declaration has led the Palestinian leadership to determine that geopolitical conditions are ripe to seek international endorsement of its unilateral statehood bid, despite that fact that leading international jurists have suggested that the cases of Kosovo and the Palestinian Authority are historically and legally different.
  • The Palestinians are legally bound to negotiate a bilateral solution with Israel. Unilateral Palestinian threats to declare statehood have been rebuffed thus far by the European powers and the United States.
  • The Palestinian "Kosovo strategy" includes a campaign of delegitimization of Israel, seeking to isolate Israel as a pariah state, while driving a wedge between Israel and the United States. The unilateral Palestinian bid for sovereignty will also likely turn the Palestinians into the leading petitioner against the State of Israel at the International Criminal Court. Although the PA is not a state and therefore should have no legal standing before the court, the petition it submitted to the court after the Gaza war was not rejected by the ICC.
  • Finally, a unilateral Palestinian quest for the 1947 lines may well continue even if the 1967 lines are endorsed by the United Nations. The PLO's 1988 declaration of independence was based on UN General Assembly Resolution 181, which recognizes the 1947 partition plan for Palestine, not the 1967 lines, as the basis for the borders of Israel and a Palestinian state.  
Click here to read the full article.

*Dan Diker is Director of the Institute for Contemporary Affairs at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, where he is also a senior foreign policy analyst. He is also an Adjunct Fellow of the Hudson Institute in Washington.

Regional Alternatives to the Two-State Solution

From THE BEGIN-SADAT CENTER FOR STRATEGIC STUDIES, BAR-ILAN UNIVERSITY Memorandum No. 4, January 2010, by Giora Eiland* (excerpts only - follow the link to download a pdf of the full 46-page paper):

As of the beginning of 2010, it does not appear that an Israeli- Palestinian peace agreement will be signed in the foreseeable future.  ... the objective reality offers no more promise than the previous instances where the “peace process” was set in motion; the signing of the Oslo agreement in 1993, the Camp David peace conference in summer 2000, the Clinton plan for ending the conflict in December 2000, and the Annapolis peace conference in 2007....

...It is hard to believe that the diplomatic effort that failed in 2000 can succeed in 2010, when most of the elements in the equation have changed for the worse.

Currently, there are four possible approaches:

Approach 1 assumes that there is no way to reach a political solution in the foreseeable future, and hence conflict management is preferable to conflict resolution.

Approach 2 tries to achieve a “partial settlement.” According to this approach, an agreement can be reached on establishing a Palestinian state with temporary borders. This will require transferring additional territories to the Palestinians, but will prevent confronting insoluble problems such as permanent borders, Jerusalem, refugees, full mutual recognition, and an end to the conflict.

Approach 3 tries to reach a permanent agreement. Despite past difficulties and failures, the goal is to achieve a permanent settlement based on the two-states-for-two-peoples principle. Proponents of this approach feel this is the only solution and to defer its realization will only increase the difficulties of its implementation and the risks entailed by the lack of peace.

Approach 4 tries to reach a permanent solution, but not based solely on the two-states-for-two-peoples formula (that has failed in the past), but rather by searching for other solutions. This approach will be presented in detail in Part II of this study....


Part I of this document summarized the discussion over the past 70 years, with a focus on the past 16 years (since the beginning of the Oslo process). The discussion has moved between two extremes; euphoria and confidence that the two-state solution is at hand, and total pessimism that sees no political solution to the conflict. Between those two extremes, ideas for interim agreements have arisen. The permanent solution and the interim solutions, however, have three basic claims in common:

1. A solution to the problem is restricted (geographically) to the territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

2. The solution lies in the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

3. The West Bank and Gaza will form a single political entity in any solution.

These three assertions have confined the discussion to a narrow space and prevented a real discussion that starts afresh and examines all possibilities for a solution to the conflict without preconceived notions.

The two proposals for a solution presented in Chapters 4 and 5 are not based on the previous three claims, but on a regional perspective that involves additional Arab actors in an attempt to solve the Palestinian issue. At the same time, the two proposals satisfy what constitutes a threshold criterion from an international perspective, namely, that Israeli rule over most of Judea and Samaria will end and “occupation” will draw to a close.

...The first solution proposed is the establishment of a Jordanian kingdom that includes three “states”: the East Bank, the West Bank, and Gaza. These will be states in the American sense, like Pennsylvania or New Jersey. They will have full independence on domestic issues as well as a budget, governmental institutions, laws, a police force, and symbols of independence, but similar to Pennsylvania or New Jersey they will not have responsibility for two issues: foreign policy and military forces. Those two areas, exactly as in the United States, will remain the responsibility of the “federal” government in Amman...

...This solution is preferable for the Palestinians, for Jordan, and of course for Israel compared to the two-state solution.

1. Advantages for the Palestinians
For the Palestinians who live in the West Bank and are not Hamas supporters, this solution has four clear advantages over the two-state solution.

First, it is more feasible, since this is a solution that Israel will be capable of implementing. Many Palestinians, who want to see an end to the Israeli occupation, will prefer this solution (which achieves that goal) to waiting for an Israeli-Palestinian peace that is not likely to materialize.

Second, those same people understand that if a completely independent Palestinian state is established (in line with the two-state formula), it will likely be ruled by Hamas. Many of them would prefer to live under Jordanian rule than to suffer the religious tyranny of Hamas, as now exercised in Gaza.

Third, a solely Israeli-Palestinian solution requires impossible concessions of the Palestinians, such as giving up the right of return and finding an agreement to end the conflict. It is easier to share this emotional burden with an Arab political actor (Jordan).

Fourth, the Palestinians also understand that under a two-state alternative, they will become citizens of a tiny state. Such a small state is not viable and will have security limitations (for example, conceding sovereignty over its airspace). It is preferable to be equal citizens in a large, respected country where the Palestinians will form the demographic majority.

2. Advantages for Jordan
It is well understood in Jordan that if an independent Palestinian state is established in the West Bank, it will likely fall into Hamas’ hands, as occurred in Gaza. A situation where a neighboring state (Palestine) is ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood, taking into account the long border between the states and the threat that already exists from the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan, spells danger for the Hashemite kingdom. The only way to ensure a regime’s survival in the Middle East is through effective control of security. Therefore, the way to prevent instability in Jordan, which would be fueled by the future West Bank Hamas regime, would be through Jordanian military control of this territory.

3. Advantages for Israel
From Israel’s standpoint this solution has four clear advantages over the two-state solution.

First, there is a difference in the “story.” No longer is it a matter of the Palestinian people under occupation but rather of a (territorial) conflict between two states, Israel and Jordan. The current international pressure on Israel to concede on every issue would change.

Second, Jordan would be able to compromise on more issues, such as territory. The Palestinians cannot concede on the territory of the “1967” borders. A small Israel needs more territory, but that would make the Palestinian state even smaller. It is “unfair” to ask the weaker and smaller side to concede. This becomes easier when the partner is the sizable kingdom of Jordan. This point also applies to security arrangements. In any settlement, Israel will demand a demilitarized West Bank. In the case of a Palestinian state, that would mean prohibiting heavy weaponry. Such a demand is difficult for a people receiving independence to accept. In the context of an Israeli-Jordanian agreement, the demand sounds more reasonable. All that is required is for Jordan to forswear deploying forces in a certain territory (the West Bank). This will appear acceptable to the Jordanians, just as Egypt accepted the Israeli demand not to deploy substantial military forces on the Sinai Peninsula.

Third – and this is the greatest advantage – is the issue of trust. In the case of the two-state solution, Israel has to give up tangible assets in return for a Palestinian “promise” that the security quiet will be maintained. Israel has good reasons to fear a situation of double risk where it concedes the whole territory and does not receive security. The risk that the Palestinian government will be unable or unwilling to “deliver the goods” appears great and very real. It is different in the case of a Jordanian-Israeli peace agreement. Although here, too, Israel is required to take risks, they are risks similar to those it took in 1979 when it signed the peace treaty with Egypt and gave up the entire Sinai.

The fourth advantage concerns relations between the states. Israel has good reason to fear that if an independent Palestinian state is established, its inherent weakness will create an additional burden on Israel. It is not clear that the territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea is sufficient for two viable states. The problems of the future state (lack of infrastructure, shortage of employment, division between the West Bank and Gaza, etc.) will fall on Israel’s shoulders. Moreover, the international community will say it is Israel’s “moral obligation” to help the new state after so many years of occupation. Indeed, doing so will also be an Israeli interest since it is to Israel's advantage that the Palestinian state is not beset by despair, poverty, and frustration. That will not be the case if the West Bank is part of the “greater” Jordanian kingdom.

4. Advantages for the International Community
The establishment of a Palestinian state according to the two-state concept will leave many of the problems in the international community’s hands. The new state will have difficulty attaining economic independence, will be divided between two areas (Gaza and the West Bank), and will endure the refugee problem. Above all, the problems between Israel and Palestine will not disappear once the agreement is signed. The international community, and particularly the United States, will be forced to invest further efforts in successfully implementing the agreement.

It is different if the problem becomes one that two existing and stable states, Israel and Jordan, are responsible for solving. Once the agreement is reached, its implementation becomes a challenge for Israel and Jordan while dramatically less will be required of the world, similar to what happened after the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty was signed in 1979.

...It is hard not to see, objectively, the distortion involved in the two-state proposal. On the one hand, Israel and Palestine must fit into a narrow and crowded strip of land; on the other, these two states are surrounded by states with huge land masses and scant population (Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia). The one thing the Arab states have in abundance is exactly the thing that both Israel and Palestine desperately need – more land.

Yet a negligible territorial concession on these states’ part would enable substantially improving the lot of both Israel and the Palestinian state. Surprisingly, the ones who would benefit even more than Israel and Palestine from such an arrangement are Egypt and Jordan. This chapter, which deals with a “regional solution,” explains how to “enlarge the pie” so that all actors emerge with gains.
B. Main Points of the Proposal
1. Egypt will transfer a territory of 720 sq km to Gaza. This territory is a rectangle built from a rib of 24 km along the Mediterranean coast from Rafiah westward toward el-Arish (but not including el-Arish), and a rib of 30 km from the Kerem Shalom crossing southward along the Israeli-Egyptian border. This addition of 720 sq km triples the size of the Gaza Strip, whose current size is 365 sq km.

2. This area of 720 sq km is equal in size to about 12 percent of the West Bank. In return for this addition to Gaza, the Palestinians will relinquish 12 percent of the West Bank, which will be annexed to Israel.

3. In return for the territory that Egypt will give Palestine, Egypt will receive from Israel a territory in the southwestern Negev (the Paran region). The territory that Israel will transfer to Egypt could reach up to 720 sq km, but given all the other compensations for Egypt (see section d), it could be smaller.

C. Benefits to Palestine
Gaza in its current size is not viable. It does not have the minimal territory to maintain a stable economy. Today 1.5 million residents live in Gaza, and in 2020, there will be an estimated 2.5 million residents. Does anyone really believe that the residents of Gaza in its original size will be able to live in happiness and prosperity in a territory that makes development impossible? Not even a port of reasonable size could be built in Gaza, both because there is not enough space and because its proximity to Israel would cause huge damage to the Israeli shoreline. Comparing Gaza to Singapore is a mistake. Singapore’s economy is based on international trade, advanced banking, and hi-tech industry while Gaza’s economy is based on agriculture and low-tech. In Singapore, the size of the territory is not an important variable; however, the size of Gaza is critical for its viability.

The enlargement of Gaza according to the presented outline gives it another 24 km of shoreline. That entails territorial waters of nine miles (14.4 km) and reasonable chances to find natural gas in this domain. A territorial supplement for Gaza of 720 sq km would enable the building of a large international port (on the western side of the territory), an international airport at a range of 20-25 km from the Israeli border, and, most importantly, a new city that could host a million residents. It could also absorb Palestinian refugees from other countries and provide a natural development area not only for Gaza.

The economic significance of this expansion is enormous (explained below). In return for the transformation of Gaza into an interactive locale with real chances to become an international trade center in the region, the Palestinians should be prepared to concede territory in the West Bank where Israeli settlements and military facilities have existed for decades. This is a painful concession but it cannot be compared to what stands to be gained in Gaza.

D. Benefits to Egypt
In return for its willingness to give (to the Palestinians, not to Israel!) 720 sq km of the “holy” soil of Egypt, Egypt will receive seven compensations:

1. Land for land. Egypt will receive from Israel a territory in the southern Negev. Its maximum size will be 720 sq km, but taking the additional gains into account, this can certainly be bargained over.

2. Egypt is geographically cut off from the main (eastern) part of the Middle East. From east to south is the Red Sea, and to the north is the Mediterranean. To make a land link possible, Israel will allow a tunnel that will connect Egypt and Jordan. The proposed 10 km tunnel will run from east to west (about 5 km north of Eilat) and will be under full Egyptian sovereignty, so that the traffic from Egypt to Jordan (and subsequently eastward and southward to Saudi Arabia and Iraq) will not require permission from Israel. [The proposal for a land link between Egypt and Jordan is an idea suggested by Prof. Yehoshua Ben-Arieh of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.]
 3. In addition to the new airport of “greater Gaza” and the new maritime port on the Mediterranean coast, and the “Jordan-Egypt tunnel” in the south, a railroad, a highway, and an oil pipeline will be built (the route of these will at the same time become the Egyptian-Israeli border on the Egyptian side). These three will pass through the tunnel to Jordan and from there will branch to Jordan and Iraq in the northeast and to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states in the south.This linkage (explained below) has tremendous economic advantages. The gain for Egypt is clear: Egyptian levies will be imposed on all traffic from Jordan, Iraq, and the Gulf to the Gaza port. The route, as noted, passes over Egyptian soil.

4. Egypt has a water problem that is getting worse. The population is growing while clean water sources are
 shrinking. A state approximately 50 percent of whose population lives from agriculture cannot exist for another generation or two without a clear-cut solution to the water shortage. This requires, among other things, huge investments in desalination and purification. These, in turn, require advanced technology and, particularly, large outlays of capital. Egypt has neither, and hence, in return for the Egyptian “generosity,” the world will invest in Egypt (through the World Bank, etc.) in the form of a large-scale water project.

5. The 1979, the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty greatly benefited Egypt, but also forced it to accept limitations on the deployment of military forces in the Sinai. As part of the compensation for Egypt, Israel will agree to make certain changes in the military addendum of the treaty. This is vital so that the Egyptian leadership can proclaim domestically: we are indeed giving up 1 percent of the Sinai, but this concession will enable us, after 30 years, to more fully impose our sovereignty over 99 percent of the territory.

6. Egypt, like many states in the region, is interested in nuclear capabilities (for peaceful purposes). As part of the compensation for Egypt, European states (particularly France) will agree to build nuclear reactors for generating electricity in Egypt.

7. The peace agreement that is described here will put an end to the 100-year-old conflict between Israel and the Arabs.

No one will have any doubt that this agreement was concluded first and foremost thanks to the Egyptian president. From there the way is short to a Nobel Peace Prize, an international peace conference in Cairo, and, in general, to Egypt’s return to the international status it enjoyed until 1967.

E. Benefits to Jordan
Jordan reaps the greatest benefits of this settlement without having to pay a price (it is, admittedly, possible that removing the wedge that Israel currently constitutes between Jordan and Egypt is less than desirable for Jordan).

The plan offers Jordan two major advantages:

1. A network of roads, a railroad track, and an oil pipeline that will connect the international port of greater Gaza, via the Jordan-Egypt tunnel to the Persian Gulf. Jordan receives a convenient "free" egress to the Mediterranean (the new port in Gaza) and, through the Mediterranean, to Europe. Moreover, the eastern side of the tunnel is the “bottleneck” through which goods will pass from Europe to Iraq and the Gulf, entailing economic advantages for Jordan.

2. Jordan is concerned about demographic problems; it has a clear and growing majority of Palestinian citizens. This phenomenon will only intensify as long as life in Jordan is more comfortable than life in Gaza and Egypt. The moment “greater Gaza” is established, the new city, port, and airport will create numerous employment opportunities and the trend will reverse. Palestinians of Gazan extraction (there are 70,000 iin Jordan) will prefer to “return home,” as will some of the refugees who now live in the West Bank and Jordan.

F. Benefits to Israel

When one compares this arrangement to the “usual” two-state solution, four clear advantages emerge:

1. The territory in Judea and Samaria that will remain in Israel’s hands (about 12 percent) is substantially larger than what could be obtained in the “usual” solution. This number is the percentage of the territory that Ehud Barak defined as vital to safeguarding Israel’s interests when he went to Camp David in 2000. When the original fence was demarcated, it left about 12.5 percent on the Israeli side. The logic was similar (since then, under pressure from the High Court of Justice, the fence has moved westward and today only 8 percent of the West Bank lies to the west of it). This territory enables Israel to dramatically reduce the number of Israelis who will be forced to leave their homes – from 100,000 to about 30,000 to retain places of religious and historical importance such as Ofra and Kiryat Arba. It will also enable keeping Ariel in Israeli territory and under comfortable conditions.

2. A more balanced allocation of territory between Gaza and the West Bank gives the Palestinian state a better chance for viability and thus increases the chances of reaching a stable settlement.

3. The involvement of the Arab states, and particularly Jordan and Egypt, in the solution is significant and binding. This involvement creates stronger “guarantees” for the upholding of the agreement.

4. This regional settlement does not eliminate the need for a “safe passage” between Gaza and the West Bank but lessens its importance (and the extent of the traffic on it). The “safe passage” will remain a route for Gaza-West Bank traffic, but the rest of the traffic in goods and people between Gaza and the Arab world will move along the new route.

G. Economic Advantages (for Everyone)
Most of Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf states’ trade with Europe is carried out via ships that pass through the Suez Canal or, because of their size, must go around Africa. Although these two routes are not efficient, in the absence of a modern port on the Mediterranean coast and of an efficient transportation network, there is no choice but to use them.

If a modern port with technology similar to that of Singapore is built on the Mediterranean coast, an efficient network of roads and a railroad lead southward and eastward, and an oil pipeline is laid, then commerce will be significantly more efficient and costs will be reduced.

The funding for this project will come not only from the states in which the infrastructure will be laid but also from Western states. At present the world pays billions of dollars every year to sustain the Palestinians; according to this plan, the money will serve for investment rather than consumption, investment that will economically pay off within a number of years. The economic momentum will be enjoyed by Egypt and Jordan directly and by other states indirectly.

Unlike in the past, when solutions to international problems were achieved bilaterally on a political-strategic basis, today the international community prefers to seek multilateral solutions with an economic basis. The establishment of the European Union is the most notable example. The proposed regional solution achieves precisely with this approach.

This solution will give the Palestinians a real opportunity to become the “Singapore of the Middle East.” No such achievement is possible within the current narrow confines of Gaza.


...The path to progress for each of these solutions depends on three main variables:

The first is awareness by the US administration that the conventional solution is neither sufficient nor attractive to the sides. Even if an agreement of this kind is signed thanks to international pressure, it is doubtful that it can be implemented and even more doubtful that its implementation would lead to stability.

The second variable is that it is important to find an actor – definitely not Israel – who is prepared to propose this solution to the relevant sides. ...The initiative must come from a side that is both “neutral” and perceived as important and influential.

The third variable is that an opportunity be created.  ...An important actor in the US administration to whom the regional plan was presented said, “Wait for Mubarak’s successor.”

The two plans – the Jordanian-Palestinian federation and the territorial exchange  ...are presented separately  ...however, can become part of a single solution that combines the advantages of both. In this combination of the two solutions, a Jordanian-Palestinian federation will be established as described in Chapter 4, but the territorial arrangement will be based on Chapter 5, with Gaza tripling its size and Israel retaining a more substantial part of Judea and Samaria.

An additional possibility within the regional approach is based on this combined plan but takes a further “step forward.” In this improved plan, the Jordanian federation is only between Jordan and the West Bank. Gaza, whether in its current size or as described in Chapter 5, will become a patron state of Egypt.

This linking of the West Bank with Jordan and of Gaza with Egypt is natural and appropriate. This is not just an Israeli view; Arab states also viewed them as such until 1967. The connection between the population of Nablus and the original residents of Gaza is no greater than the Nablus population’s connection with the residents of Damascus. The Palestinian ethos of a single people living in the West Bank and Gaza is a product of Yasser Arafat's skillful cultivation over the last 40 years. Until recently one could not speak freely about the possibility of a political division between the West Bank and Gaza. Any foreign or Israeli actor who raised the idea was immediately accused of creating a linkage that entailed driving a wedge into the Palestinian nation. Over the past two years, it has been clear that such a wedge actually exists, not because of the acts of others but because of the Palestinians' actions. Since Hamas’ violent takeover of Gaza in June 2007, Gaza and the West Bank are detached not only geographically but also politically.

Today it is difficult to imagine mending this rift. The situation leads to two conclusions. First, the conditions for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations on a final settlement do not exist because the Palestinian Authority does not rule Gaza and is not authorized to speak in the name of its population. Second, it is appropriate to seek solutions in which the West Bank and Gaza are not necessarily a single political entity. Under these circumstances, a third solution such as connecting the West Bank with Jordan in some sort of federal arrangement, or similarly connecting Gaza with Egypt, must also be seriously examined.

...Whoever is prepared to consider the situation without being beholden to the two-state concept will likely arrive at two conclusions. One is that the Palestinian government will probably lead the Palestinian entity into becoming a “failed state.” The establishment of an additional “failed state” in the region (Lebanon, Yemen, and Somalia) will only aid instability in the Middle East. The second conclusion is that there are alternatives to the two-state idea. Two of them have been presented in detail here; the third, which involves a linkage between Gaza and Egypt and between the West Bank and Jordan, was presented in brief. Possibly there is also a fourth or fifth way whose advantages, in turn, surpass those of the proposals set forth here.

If an outside actor concludes that an alternative path to political progress is possible, then there is a chance for a new international initiative.......The moment a more attractive solution is presented, overcoming the fundamental conflict is possible. Finding a solution for another side’s narrative is easier once a practical solution has been found. The practical solution must be worth the price and the risk. The two-state solution in its conventional form is not.

*Gen. Giora Eiland was the former director of the National Security Council and former head of the Planning Department of the Israel Defense Forces. Today he is a senior researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS).

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Illegal-Settlements Myth

From Commentary, December 2009, by David M. Phillips, a professor at Northeastern University School of Law:

The conviction that Jewish settlements in the West Bank are illegal is now so commonly accepted, it hardly seems as though the matter is even open for discussion. But it is. Decades of argument about the issue have obscured the complex nature of the specific legal question about which a supposedly overwhelming verdict of guilty has been rendered against settlement policy. There can be no doubt that this avalanche of negative opinion has been deeply influenced by the settlements’ unpopularity around the world and even within Israel itself. Yet, while one may debate the wisdom of Israeli settlements, the idea that they are imprudent is quite different from branding them as illegal. Indeed, the analysis underlying the conclusion that the settlements violate international law depends entirely on an acceptance of the Palestinian narrative that the West Bank is “Arab” land. Followed to its logical conclusion—as some have done—this narrative precludes the legitimacy of Israel itself.

These arguments date back to the aftermath of the Six-Day War. When Israel went into battle in June 1967, its objective was clear: to remove the Arab military threat to its existence. Following its victory, the Jewish state faced a new challenge: what to do with the territorial fruits of that triumph. While many Israelis assumed that the overwhelming nature of their victory would shock the Arab world into coming to terms with their legitimacy and making peace, they would soon be disabused of this belief. At the end of August 1967, the heads of eight countries, including Egypt, Syria, and Jordan (all of which lost land as the result of their failed policy of confrontation with Israel), met at a summit in Khartoum, Sudan, and agreed to the three principles that were to guide the Arab world’s postwar stands:
  • no peace with Israel,
  • no recognition of Israel, and
  • no negotiations with Israel.
Though many Israelis hoped to trade most if not all the conquered lands for peace, they would have no takers. This set the stage for decades of their nation’s control of these territories.

...Over the course of the years to come, there was little dispute about Egypt’s sovereign right to the Sinai, and it was eventually returned after Nasser’s successor Anwar Sadat broke the Arab consensus and made peace with Israel.

...The question of the legal status of the West Bank, as well as Jerusalem, is not so easily resolved. To understand why this is the case, we must first revisit the history of the region in the 20th century.

Though routinely referred to nowadays as “Palestinian” land, at no point in history has Jerusalem or the West Bank been under Palestinian Arab sovereignty in any sense of the term. For several hundred years leading up to World War I, all of Israel, the Kingdom of Jordan, and the putative state of Palestine were merely provinces of the Ottoman Empire.

After British-led Allied troops routed the Turks from the country in 1917-18, the League of Nations blessed Britain’s occupation with a document that gave the British conditional control granted under a mandate. It empowered Britain to facilitate the creation of a “Jewish National Home” while respecting the rights of the native Arab population. British Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill later partitioned the mandate in 1922 and gave the East Bank of the Jordan to his country’s Hashemite Arab allies, who created the Kingdom of Jordan there under British tutelage.

Following World War II, the League of Nations’ successor, the United Nations, voted in November 1947 to partition the remaining portion of the land into Arab and Jewish states. While the Jews accepted partition, the Arabs did not, and after the British decamped in May 1948, Jordan joined with four other Arab countries to invade the fledgling Jewish state on the first day of its existence.

Though Israel survived the onslaught, the fighting left the Jordanians in control of what would come to be known as the West Bank as well as approximately half of Jerusalem, including the Old City. Those Jewish communities in the West Bank that had existed prior to the Arab invasion were demolished, as was the Jewish quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem.

After the cease-fire that ended Israel’s War of Independence in 1948, Jordan annexed both the West Bank and East Jerusalem. But, as was the case when Israel annexed those same parts of the ancient city that it would win back 19 years later, the world largely ignored this attempt to legitimize Jordan’s presence. Only Jordan’s allies Britain and Pakistan recognized its claims of sovereignty. After King Hussein’s disastrous decision to ally himself with Egypt’s Nasser during the prelude to June 1967, Jordan was evicted from the lands it had won in 1948.

This left open the question of the sovereign authority over the West Bank. The legal vacuum in which Israel operated in the West Bank after 1967 was exacerbated by Jordan’s subsequent stubborn refusal to engage in talks about the future of these territories. King Hussein was initially deterred from dealing with the issue by the three “no’s” of Khartoum. Soon enough, he was taught a real-world lesson by the Palestine Liberation Organization, which fomented a bloody civil war against him and his regime in 1970. With the open support of Israel, Hussein survived that threat to his throne, but his desire to reduce rather than enlarge the Palestinian population in his kingdom ultimately led him to disavow any further claim to the lands he had lost in 1967. Eventually, this stance was formalized on July 31, 1988.

Thus, if the charge that Israel’s hold on the territories is illegal is based on the charge of theft from its previous owners, Jordan’s own illegitimacy on matters of legal title and its subsequent withdrawal from the fray makes that legal case a losing one. Well before Jordan’s renunciation, Eugene Rostow, former dean of Yale Law School and undersecretary of state for political affairs in 1967 during the Six-Day War, argued that the West Bank should be considered “unallocated territory,” once part of the Ottoman Empire. From this perspective, Israel, rather than simply “a belligerent occupant,” had the status of a “claimant to the territory.”

To Rostow, “Jews have a right to settle in it under the Mandate,” a right he declared to be “unchallengeable as a matter of law.” In accord with these views, Israel has historically characterized the West Bank as “disputed territory” (although some senior government officials have more recently begun to use the term “occupied territory”).

Because neither Great Britain, as the former trustee under the League of Nations mandate, nor the since deceased Ottoman Empire—the former sovereigns prior to the Jordanians—is desirous or capable of standing up as the injured party to put Israel in the dock, we must therefore ask: On what points of law does the case against Israel stand?


International-law arguments against the settlements have rested primarily upon two sources. First are the 1907 Hague Regulations, whose provisions are primarily designed to protect the interests of a temporarily ousted sovereign in the context of a short-term occupation. Second is the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention, the first international agreement designed specifically to protect civilians during wartime.

While Israel was not and is not a party to the Hague Regulations, the Israeli Supreme Court has generally regarded its provisions as part of customary international law (that is, law generally observed by nations even if they have not signed an international agreement to that effect) and hence applicable to Israel. The regulations are transparently geared toward short-term occupations during which a peace treaty is negotiated between the victorious and defeated nations. The “no’s” of Khartoum signaled that there would be no quick negotiations.

Nonetheless, Israel established and maintains a military administration overseeing the West Bank in accordance with the Hague Regulations, probably the only military power since World War II other than the United States (in Iraq) that has done so. For example, consistent with Article 43 of the Regulations, which calls on the occupant to “respect, . . . unless absolutely prevented, the laws in force in the country,” Israel has for the most part continued to follow Jordanian law in the West Bank, despite its position that Jordan itself had illegally occupied it. Israel’s stance has been criticized as contradictory, but general continuance of Jordanian law can be justified on grounds of legal stability and long-term reliance reflected in most legal systems, including international law.

Article 46 of the Hague Regulations bars an occupying power from confiscating private property. And it is on this point that the loudest cries against the settlements have been based. Israel did requisition land from private Arab owners to establish some early settlements, but requisitioning differs from confiscation (compensation is paid for use of the land), and the establishment of these settlements was based on military necessity. In a 1979 case, Ayyub v. Minister of Defense, the Israeli Supreme Court considered whether military authorities could requisition private property for a civilian settlement, Beth El, on proof of military necessity. The theoretical and, in that specific case, actual answers were affirmative. But in another seminal decision the same year, Dwaikat v. Israel, known as the Elon Moreh case, the court more deeply explored the definition of military necessity and rejected the tendered evidence in that case because the military had only later acquiesced in the establishment of the Elon Moreh settlement by its inhabitants. The court’s decision effectively precluded further requisitioning of Palestinian privately held land for civilian settlements.

After the Elon Moreh case, all Israeli settlements legally authorized by the Israeli Military Administration (a category that, by definition, excludes “illegal outposts” constructed without prior authorization or subsequent acceptance) have been constructed either on lands that Israel characterizes as state-owned or “public” or, in a small minority of cases, on land purchased by Jews from Arabs after 1967. The term “public land” includes uncultivated rural land not registered in anyone’s name and land owned by absentee owners, both categories of public land under Jordanian and Ottoman law....

Settlement opponents more frequently cite the Fourth Geneva Convention these days for their legal arguments. They specifically charge that the settlements violate Article 49(6), which states: “The occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into territories it occupies.”

Frequently, this sentence is cited as if its meaning is transparent and its application to the establishment of Israeli settlements beyond dispute. Neither is the case.

To settlement opponents, the word “transfer” in Article 49(6) connotes that any transfer of the occupying power’s civilian population, voluntary or involuntary, is prohibited. However, the first paragraph of Article 49 complicates that case. It reads: “Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive.” Unquestionably, any forcible transfer of populations is illegal. But what about voluntary movements with the antecedent permission or subsequent acquiescence by the occupant?

Even settlement opponents concede that many settlements closest to Palestinian population areas, on the central mountain range of the West Bank, were built without government permission and often contrary to governmental policy; their continued existence forced the government to recognize the settlement as an existing fact. Given this history, it is questionable to claim that Israel “transferred” those settlers....

....At the Geneva Conference itself, both the Final Report of the Committee charged with drafting the text of the 4th Convention for consideration by the delegates as well as comments by delegates generally differentiated between transfers that were voluntary and therefore permitted and those that were involuntary and therefore prohibited. As the Final Report to the delegates stated while explaining the differences between various articles dealing with the right of an occupying power to evacuate an area, primarily in the interest of the security of the civilian population’s security: “Although there was general unanimity in condemning such deportations as took place during the recent war, the phrase at the beginning of Article 45 caused some trouble. . . . In the end the Committee had decided on a wording that prohibits individual or mass forcible removals as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to any other country, but which permits voluntary transfers.”

That is a key reason why Julius Stone termed the anti-settlement interpretation “an irony bordering on the absurd” and commented: “Ignoring the overall purpose of Article 49, which would inter alia protect the population of the State of Israel from being removed against their will into the occupied territory, it is now sought to be interpreted so as to impose on the Israel government a duty to prevent any Jewish individual from voluntarily taking up residence in that area.”

There is simply no comparison between the establishment and population of Israeli settlements and the Nazi atrocities that led to the Geneva Convention. The settlements are also a far cry from policies implemented by the Soviet Union in the late 1940s and early 1950s to alter the ethnic makeup of the Baltic states by initially deporting hundreds of thousands of people and encouraging Russian immigration.

Nor can they be compared to the efforts by China to alter the ethnic makeup of Tibet by forcibly scattering its native population and moving Chinese into Tibetan territory. Israel’s settlement policies are also not comparable to the campaign by Morocco to alter the ethnic makeup of the Western Sahara by transferring Moroccan Arabs to displace the native Saharans, who now huddle in refugee camps in Algeria, or to the variety of population displacements that occurred in the various parts of the former Yugoslavia.

All these would seem to fit the offense described in Article 49(6) precisely. Yet finding references to the application of Article 49(6) to nations other than Israel is like looking for a needle in a haystack. What distinguishes a system of “law” from arbitrary systems of control is that similar situations are handled alike. A system where legal principles are applied only when it suits the political tastes of anti-Israel elites is one that has lost all credibility. The loose use of international law, disproportionately applied to Israel, undermines the notion that this is “law” entitled to authoritative weight in the first place.

Julius Stone referred to the absurdity of considering the establishment of Israeli settlements as violating Article 49(6):

We would have to say that the effect of Article 49(6) is to impose an obligation on the State of Israel to ensure (by force if necessary) that these areas, despite their millennial association with Jewish life, shall be forever judenrein. Irony would thus be pushed to the absurdity of claiming that Article 49(6), designed to prevent repetition of Nazi-type genocidal policies of rendering Nazi metropolitan territories judenrein, has now come to mean that . . . the West Bank . . . must be made judenrein and must be so maintained, if necessary by the use of force by the government of Israel against its own inhabitants. Common sense as well as correct historical and functional context exclude so tyrannical a reading of Article 49(6).

Stone’s pointed critique of what has since become “accepted” wisdom invites a hypothetical: Suppose a group of Palestinian Arabs who are citizens of Israel requested permission to establish a community on the West Bank. Further, assume that Israel facilitated the community’s establishment, without the loss of their citizenship, on land purchased from other Palestinian Arabs (not citizens of Israel) or on state land. Would establishment of this settlement violate Article 49(6)? If not, how can one distinguish the hypothetical Arab settlements from Jewish settlements?

Concluding that Israeli settlements violate Article 49(6) also overlooks the Jewish communities that existed before the creation of the state in areas occupied by today’s Israeli settlements, for example, in Hebron and the Etzion bloc outside Jerusalem. These Jewish communities were destroyed by Arab armies, militias, and rioters, and, as in the case of Hebron, the community’s population was slaughtered. Is it sensible to interpret Article 49 to bar the reconstitution of Jewish communities that were destroyed through aggression and slaughter? If so, the international law of occupation runs the risk of freezing one occupier’s conduct in place, no matter how unlawful.

The idea that the creation of new settlements or that the expansion of ones already in place is an act of bad faith on the part of various Israeli governments may seem without question to those who believe those settlements constitute an obstacle to the ever elusive solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Whether this argument is well-founded or not, the willingness of Israel’s critics to assert that these communities are not merely wrong-headed but a violation of international law escalates the debate over their existence from a dispute about policy into one in which the Jewish state itself can be labeled as an international outlaw.

The ultimate end of the illicit effort to use international law to delegitimize the settlements is clear—it is the same argument used by Israel’s enemies to delegitimize the Jewish state entirely. Those who consider themselves friends of Israel but opponents of the settlement policy should carefully consider whether, in advancing these illegitimate and specious arguments, they will eventually be unable to resist the logic of the argument that says—falsely and without a shred of supporting evidence from international law itself—that Israel is illegitimate.

Reality Bites Uncle Sam

From Makor Rishon, 8 January 2010, by Joel Fishman* :

Since the Six-Day War in 1967, Israel's enemies based their propaganda war on several big lies, namely
  • that Israel was the aggressor in the war,
  • that there is such a thing as a Palestinian people who are the oppressed victims of Israel,
  • that Zionism is racism,
  • that the Palestinians are not terrorists and that world peace depends on the satisfaction of their "just demands".
The political goal of the war that the Arabs have been waging for several generations has been to destroy Israel's legitimacy and transfer it to the Palestinian cause. Over the years, these lies have become accepted as truth, but a recent series of shockingly violent events have begun to reveal a different reality.

During the past decades, many countries internalized the Palestinian and Arab propaganda claims, or pretended to do so. The real fear of terror, the need to assure a steady supply of oil, financial inducements in the form of manufacturing orders and occasional bribes prevented many leaders, particularly the Europeans, from standing up to this pressure.

After 9/11, the Bush administration added another layer to the fabric of lies by failing to define the problem truthfully and naming the enemy. The administration claimed that the United States was fighting a war against terror but did not specify that Islamic jihadist terrorists and those who aid them were the enemy.

It also drew a false distinction between al-Qaeda's jihad against the United States and Palestinian terror against Israel. ...
Despite the fact that the Obama administration proclaimed that the war against terror was over, the terrorist war against America has persisted. The threat of a nuclear Iran has become more credible, and despite efforts to engage the Islamic world in a peaceful dialogue, there has been an upsurge of jihadist terror events in the United States, the most dramatic of which have been the Fort Hood massacre by a Muslim officer in a U.S. Army base on 7 November 2009 and the Christmas day attempt to blow up Northwest Airline's Flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit.

Simultaneously, the Palestinian Authority has made it clear that it is not interested in reaching a solution which would end their war against Israel. They would prefer a temporary truce for which Israel would pay dearly and which would enable them to reorganize before launching a new round of violence and presenting fresh claims.

The fact is that Israel cannot satisfy Palestinian claims and survive.

The Bush administration escaped the full impact of a collision with reality, but reality caught up with the Obama team and bit them hard. George Orwell explained: "…Sooner or later a false belief bumps up against a solid reality, usually on a battlefield."

Despite the earnest efforts of the Obama administration to bring about radical domestic change, security has again become the top priority of the American agenda. The threat of terror has now become an American problem which cannot be denied, wished away, postponed, or disguised with smooth words. The American news media have quickly discovered that the same threat endangers both Americans and Israelis and that in security matters, the Israelis can teach the Americans a few things.

This changed perception could represent a new and potentially favorable development, because the Americans may finally understand that they are at war with an enemy that hates them and wants to rule them, and that peace cannot be purchased by forcing Israel to make concessions to its enemies. [That may be wishful thinking, but good to read nevertheless - SL]

*Dr. Joel Fishman is a Fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and of the Centre for Strategic and Military Studies at the University of Calgary.


From an excellent analysis in Think-Israel, by Alex Grobman (brief excerpts only - follow the link to the full paper with references):

Even if the Obama administration were to succeed in compelling Israel to accept a two-state solution and stop building settlements in Judea and Samaria, this would not placate the Arabs or ensure peace in the region. Before embracing the idea of a Palestinian state, we should ask why the Arabs have consistently opposed partition, and examine the origin of the "Two-State Solution."

When the Peel Commission recommended partition in July 1937, the Arabs immediately repudiated the British plan....
After almost 30 years of futile attempts to bring peace between the Jews and Arabs...A Joint Memorandum of January 6, 1947 submitted to the British Cabinet by the British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and the Secretary of State for the Colonies found the Arabs "implacably opposed to the creation of a Jewish State in any part of Palestine, and they will go to any lengths to prevent it."

....Undeterred by Arab opposition, two-thirds of the members of the U.N.'s General Assembly recommended on November 29, 1947 to partition Palestine into two independent states — one Arab and one Jewish. The Arab U.N. delegates did not accept the "validity" of the resolution...The next day, seven Jews were killed by an Arab ambush in response. Dr. Hussein Khalidi, acting chairman of the Palestine Arab Higher Committee (AHC), called for an Arab boycott of all Jews, warned that any attempt to enforce partition would "lead to a 'crusade' against the Jews," and "may even be a spark that will lead to another world disaster." Arabs were "prepared to meet their challenge," Khalidi acknowledged and "fight for every inch of our country."

...On February 6, 1948 [Haj Amin al-]Husseini, representing the AHC, wrote to U.N. Secretary-General Trygve Lie that, "The Arabs of Palestine...will never submit or yield to any Power going to Palestine to enforce partition. The only way to establish partition is first to wipe them out — man, woman and child," which is precisely what the Arabs had planned for the Jews...

Why Can't the Arabs Accept a Jewish state?
Throughout the intervening years, the Arabs have not stopped trying to eliminate Israel. Though they live in a number of different sovereign states, the Arabs view themselves as part of a single Arab Nation ...
...The "de-Arabization of Arab territory" in Palestine is viewed as a breach of the unity of the Arab people ...and "an affront to the "dignity of the [Arab] Nation."

... the Arabs regard themselves as the only "legitimate repository of national self-determination" in the Middle East. ...Arab repudiation of Israel's legitimate right to exist is part of this deep-seated belief that only Arabs are entitled to have a nation-state in the Middle East.

A People's War
Arab failure to destroy Israel by force has led the Arabs to adopt the Marxist-Leninist "people's war" strategy employing political and military methods used so effectively in China and Vietnam, according to historian Joel Fishman. Since the late 1960s, the political campaign has sought to divide Israeli society and delegitimize the country through incitement in Arab textbooks and media, and demonize her at the U.N. by branding Israel a racist and pariah state.

Part of this political strategy was to sign the Oslo Accords in order to secure land from which to launch a guerilla war to demolish the Jewish state and replace it with an Arab one. The late Faisal Husseini, Palestinian Authority Minister for Jerusalem Affairs, called this ruse a "Trojan Horse. "

Husseini urged the Arabs "to look at the Oslo Agreement and at other agreements as 'temporary procedures, or phased goals,' this means we are ambushing the Israelis and cheating them. Our ultimate goal is [still] the liberation of all historical Palestine from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea, even if this means that the conflict will last for another thousand years or for many generations." The negotiations were a means toward "an extension of continuing conflict and not an opportunity for two peoples to reach a new rapprochement."

....At the Fatah's Sixth General Congress in August [2009] in Bethlehem, the first since 1989, the debate over strategy continued. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas declared that "although peace is our choice, we reserve the right to resistance, legitimate under international law."

Tawfiq Tirawi, security advisor to Abbas, disagreed that peace would be achieved through negotiation: "Words are ineffective. Action is effective." Fruitless discussions "go on for decades." The only way the Arab refugees will be returned and Jerusalem restored will be through the efforts of "thousands of martyrs."

In an interview in pan-Arab daily Al-Quds al-Arabi, Rafik Natseh, a member of Fatah's Central Committee and considered a "moderate," concurred. Fatah, he said, had never relinquished the armed struggle. Muhammad Dahlan, senior Palestine Authority official, made a similar pronouncement.

Use of Terror
In an obvious attempt to defuse criticism of Arab homicide bombings and indiscriminate missile attacks against Israeli civilians, Abbas renounced "all forms of terrorism," but rejected "stigmatizing" their "legitimate struggle as terrorism."

In an interview with Jordanian newspaper Al-Dustur in 2008, however, Abbas explained the reason the PA did not engage in terror was not because they opposed violence, but because they were "unable" to mount attacks at that time: "Now we are against armed conflict because we are unable. In the future stages, things may be different. ...
In an interview on PA TV on July 7, 2009, Fatah activist Kifah Radaydeh made the same point. Violence would be renewed, she said, when Fatah was "capable," and "according to what seems right...It has been said that we are negotiating for peace, but our goal has never been peace. Peace is a means; and the goal is Palestine. I do not negotiate in order to achieve peace. I negotiate for Palestine, in order to achieve a state."

This goal is shared by members at the Congress. When Abu Alaa (Ahmed Qurei), former Palestine Authority prime minister and current Chairman of Fatah Department for Recruitment and Organization, announced the presence of two terrorists in the audience of the conference they were roundly applauded.

....The Arabs believe they have a "legal right" to use terror if orchestrated by PA leadership at an appropriate time and location. Should they exercise their "legal right" to attack Israel, troops trained by US Lt. General Keith Dayton would be employed.

Refusal to Recognize Israel
With regard to acknowledging Israel, Rafik Natseh declared unequivocally that Fatah "does not recognize Israel's right to exist." ...Muhammad Dahlan adamantly underscored this point when he said, "I want to say for the thousandth time, in my own name and in the name of all my fellow members of the Fatah movement... the Fatah movement does not recognize Israel..."...

When Will It Ever End
Despite the myriad of government commissions and official emissaries that have sought a solution to the Arab/Israeli conflict, the dispute remains intractable. Nothing will change so long as the West fails to treat the Arab world as they would any other European nation. Making excuses for Arab intransigence, blaming Israel and trying to force her to give up land that is legally and morally hers will not end the conflict.

If any nations in Central Europe had proclaimed that they were the only rightful nation-state in the region as the Arabs have, the country would be vilified as racist, elitist, hegemonic, and seen as potentially dangerous. For the last two centuries, the claim of having the exclusive right to statehood and autonomy has been the source for the many wars, carnage and mass destruction in Europe. This discredited concept, which is at the core of the problem of Arab nationalism, has been abandoned in Europe.

The Arabs have not yet accepted the national rights of the Jews and the other minorities in their midst.

Hamas fears siege

From Ynet News, 11/1/10, by Ali Waked:

Egypt continues to push forward with underground barrier along Gaza border, aimed at shutting down smuggling tunnels. ...Hamas fears that via this channel, Egypt is joining the Palestinian Authority and Israel in creating a three-way siege on the Strip that would severely hurt the movement.

...Sources in the Strip told Ynet they fear the fence may be just one part of the puzzle, which includes the renewal of the diplomatic process between Israel and the PA, as well as Israeli threats of military action in the Strip. ...Hamas believes the IDF is preparing the ground for military activity. order to topple Hamas, joint Palestinian-Israel-Egyptian activity is required. For the first time, such cooperation seems to be underway. Israel and Egypt are pushing via the blockade, and the Palestinian Authority may be part of a political process through which the international community may turn a blind eye to Israel's forceful defeat of Hamas, in order to restore PA leadership in the Strip.

...Egypt continues to boost activity in Egyptian Rafah in hopes of limiting the smugglers' step before they even make it to the Gaza border. The Egyptian military demonstrates much presence in the area, in hopes of keeping elements that may harm efforts to deal with the smuggling away.

...Prices in Gaza continue to rise by the day following steps taken against the smugglers and tunnel operators, as well as IDF threats to strike the tunnels. "We are in a period similar to that before war, we are gathering and storing, and at much higher prices," Palestinians in the Strip told Ynet.

IDF preparing to suffocate Hamas

From THE JERUSALEM POST Jan. 11, 2010, by Yaakov Katz:

The IDF is prepared take over the Philadelphi Corridor in the southern Gaza Strip, which is lined with hundreds of weapons smuggling tunnels, defense officials said on Sunday.

Plans for such an operation have been drawn up and would likely include the deployment of several units in the southern Gaza town of Rafah and along the 14-kilometer strip of land called the Philadelphi Corridor under which Hamas has dug several hundred tunnels that are used to smuggle weapons and explosives into the Strip.

...Such an operation would be designed to prevent Hamas from rearming following [a] larger conflict. It would require troops to go house-to-house in Rafah to search for tunnels and to destroy them. There is also the possibility that following such an operation, the IDF would retain a presence in southern Rafah to prevent the re-digging of the tunnels.

The IDF believes that since Cast Lead ended in mid-January 2009, Hamas has significantly boosted its military capabilities and has obtained long-range rockets, mostly from Iran. One of these rockets was recently tested by Hamas and has a range of more than 60 km., which means it could hit Tel Aviv.

In addition, Hamas is believed to have obtained advanced, mostly Russian-made anti-tank missiles and shoulder-to-air missiles and is reportedly trying to get its hands on an anti-ship missile that would enable it to prevent the navy from attacking Gaza from the Mediterranean.

On Sunday...In an interview with Army Radio, [IDF Maj.-Gen. Yom-Tov] Samia said that in a future conflict, Israel would take over "specific territory" in Gaza that would help reduce Hamas's "oxygen supply." Contacted later in the day, Samia refused to specify which territory he had referred to.

"We are facing another round in Gaza," said Samia, who during Cast Lead functioned as the deputy to OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant. "I am very skeptical about the chance that Hamas will suddenly surrender or change its way without first suffering a far more serious blow than it did during Cast Lead."

The blow, he said, would be "more focused with long-range results including the conquering of territory that Hamas will understand it lost as a result of its provocations. We need to create a situation which reduces its oxygen supply."

The escalation on the Gaza front started last Thursday with the firing of 10 mortar shell into the western Negev and a Katyusha rocket into Ashkelon, the first since Cast Lead. In response, the IDF bombed a number of targets in Gaza, including a smuggling tunnel, killing three Palestinians.

On Sunday, again, a number of mortar shells were fired toward Israel but struck in Palestinian territory. Since the recent escalation, the IDF has counted close to 20 rockets and mortar shells fired by Palestinians at Israel.

In response to the mortar fire, the IDF struck a Palestinian terrorist cell that was preparing to fire a rocket into Israel. The operation was conducted in coordination with the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency). Three Palestinians were killed and four were wounded.

The dead Palestinians were identified as senior Islamic Jihad operatives. One of them, the IDF said, was Abed Abu Nizal, a senior field commander in the terrorist group.

"We will not tolerate rocket attacks from terrorist groups against the State of Israel," the IDF said in a statement. "We will continue to operate decisively against anyone who uses terror against Israel."

Earlier, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu opened Sunday's weekly cabinet meeting with a warning for terrorists and those who incite to violence against Israel, vowing to respond decisively and strongly to any attack...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Oldest Hebrew writing found

From Channel Nine News, Fri, 08 Jan 2010:

A 3,000-year-old inscription discovered at a site where the Bible says David slew Goliath has been deciphered, showing it to be the earliest known Hebrew writing, Israeli archaeologists said on Thursday.

The pottery shard with five lines of text in the proto-Canaanite script that was used by Hebrews, Philistines and others in the region was discovered 18 months ago.

The writing was decrypted by Gershon Galil of the University of Haifa who "has shown this is a Hebrew inscription", said a statement from the university. "The discovery makes it the earliest known Hebrew writing," the statement said.

Carbon-dating has shown the inscription dates back to the 10th century BC, making it about 1,000 years older than the Dead Sea scrolls.

"This text is a social statement, relating to slaves, widows and orphans," said Galil, adding that both the words and the concepts used were specific to the Hebrew language and society.

The shard was found near the gate of a site known as Elah Fortress, about 30km west of Jerusalem, in the valley where the battle between David and Goliath is said to have taken place. Finding such an early example of Hebrew makes it possible the Bible could have been written several centuries before the current estimates, the statement said. "The inscription is similar in its content to biblical scriptures, but it is clear that it is not copied from any biblical text, the statement said.

Traitors and responsible citizens

From THE JERUSALEM POST, Jan. 6, 2010, by Danny Ayalon:

... while Arab MKs [Members of the Knesset] are becoming more extreme and less allied with the state that pays their wages, many of their constituents are seeking greater integration with the Jewish state.

A recent report published by Shlomit, the National Service Placement Organization, indicated that the past year has seen an almost 100-percent increase in the number of Arab-Israelis volunteering for National Service. While the total numbers are not staggering, they do represent a sizable portion of the Israeli Arab sector that is moving toward greater civic responsibility.

During a recent rally at the Erez crossing, Balad MK Jamal Zahalka hurled disgraceful abuse at Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who he said enjoys "classical music and killing children in Gaza." He then reiterated these remarks in an interview with Dan Margalit on theNew Evening TV show until Margalit became so incensed with this blood libel that he ordered Zahalka to leave.

Earlier at the same rally, MK Taleb a-Sanaa (UAL-Ta'al) allowed Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh to use his cellphone as a speaker to direct his torrent of abuse against Israel to the assembled crowd. Sanaa is an employee of the state and thus receives certain benefits like a cellphone, which means that our taxes were being used by a member of an organization sworn to destroy our state. This is unacceptable and should be a matter of concern for all.

Can one imagine a scenario where an American congressman relayed the rants of Osama bin Laden or Ayman al-Zawahiri to a crowd in the US using a state-funded communications device? No nation on earth would accept this situation, and this is why Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch has rightly demanded that Sanaa be charged with supporting a terrorist organization.

IT HAS long been clear to us that the public declarations of many Arab MKs are primarily for foreign consumption, where they seek the approval of extreme elements in the wider Arab world. These elected officials do not serve their constituents' interests properly and continually propel outside agendas at the cost of providing adequate representation to the Arab Israeli population.

It is clear, not only from Shlomit's statistics, but also from our frequent visits to Arab towns and villages, that many in these communities are interested in greater partnership with the state and its institutions. However, actions and comments like those by Zahalka, Sanaa and, most notoriously, former MK Azmi Bishara, have tarnished the image of the Arab Israeli leadership.

...It is time to create a legal bar of acceptable behavior for an elected official who receives his stipend and benefits from the taxpayers' purse.

...We must make it clear that when one is elected to Knesset, representation is for the people of Israel only and not foreign elements, especially those involved in murderous terrorism. MKs are elected by the people, to serve the people, and are funded by taxpayers' money; it is to the Jewish and democratic State of Israel and its laws that they remain accountable.

Israel Beiteinu applauds those Arab Israelis who volunteer for the army or National Service and continually seek greater integration with our state. To those in the Arab Israeli leadership who continually pander to foreign elements and ignore their constituency, we will continue to remind them that Israel is a Jewish and democratic state. No other nation can accept less.