Friday, September 30, 2011

The UN Wizards of fantasy

At the United Nations last week, amid great fanfare and to thunderous applause, Mahmoud Abbas declared that the Palestinian people want a state of their own. The obvious question: What’s stopping them?

Conventional wisdom notwithstanding, the U.N. has no power to award statehood, except perhaps in the sense that the Wizard of Oz awarded courage to the Lion, a heart to the Tin Man, and a brain to the Scarecrow.

By definition, in both custom and international law, a state has specific attributes. Among them: It controls territory. Abbas and his Palestinian Authority (PA) do not control Gaza, one of the two principal territories comprising what could become a Palestinian state.

Since the brutal (if underreported) Palestinian civil war of 2007, in which Hamas gunmen slaughtered PA gunmen and, in the end, seized control of Gaza, Abbas has not set foot on that stretch of Mediterranean coast and, apparently, he dares not do so now. This is despite his performance at the U.N. and despite the fact that the PA recently concluded a pact with Hamas, a terrorist/jihadi organization funded by Iran and openly committed to exterminating Israel.

As for the West Bank, Israel can exercise superior power there if it chooses. When Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu followed Abbas on the U.N. podium, he made clear, not for the first time, that Israel is willing to give up its claims to most of the West Bank —  also known as Judea and Samaria — but only as a component of a durable peace achieved through negotiations.

Abbas, however, says he will resume negotiations only if concessions are made in advance and for nothing in return — not even recognition of the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in their ancient homeland.
In his speech to the Wizards of Turtle Bay, Abbas complained that the Palestinians have been denied statehood for over six decades. That is simply untrue. The area we call “Palestine” was for centuries a possession of the Ottoman Empire. Following World War I, the British Empire assumed authority. The British gave 75 percent of Palestine to an Arabian monarch who had been deprived of his throne when Ibn Saud conquered Mecca in 1925. That’s how the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan — named for the clan and the river — was born.

In 1947, the U.N. General Assembly voted to partition what was left of Palestine into two additional states: one for Jews, one for Arabs — not “Palestinians” because, in those days, the term actually referred to the Jews who had long been working to re-establish a national home in Palestine.

The Jews accepted the U.N.’s two-state solution. The Arabs rejected it. Both local Arab militias and armies from five neighboring Arab states immediately launched a war to drive the Jews into the sea.
That effort failed. Within the lines — not borders — where Arab forces were stopped, Israelis proceeded to build cities, farms, and factories as well as a vibrant democracy in which more than a million Arabs — those who decided neither to fight nor flee, as well as their descendants — today enjoy freedoms and rights unavailable in other countries of the Middle East.

In 1967, Israel’s Arab neighbors, led by Egypt and joined by Jordan, planned another war, again with the intention of killing off the Jewish state. Over six bloody days, the Israelis defended themselves and, this time, they pushed back the lines — taking Gaza from Egypt and the West Bank from Jordan.

On many occasions, nations have annexed territory taken in defensive wars. The Israelis, however, thought it might be possible to trade land for peace. Over the past 34 years, that formula has failed — despite Israeli peace proposals in 2000 and 2008 that would have led to the creation of a Palestinian state in all of Gaza, in more than 95 percent of the West Bank, and in East Jerusalem as well.

And in 2005, Israel exited unilaterally from Gaza with the hope — if not the expectation — that doing so might lead to more productive negotiations. Instead, as noted above, Gaza was quickly taken over by Hamas, which has rained thousands of missiles on Israelis ever since.

At the U.N., Abbas characterized Israel’s presence in the West Bank as “the only occupation in the world.” That is another lie — a lie which the U.N., accurately described by Netanyahu as a “house of lies,” helps facilitate. Can you imagine a Tibetan, a Uyghur, or a Chechen being permitted to stand up at the U.N. and demand statehood for his people? A Georgian insisting the international community end the Russian military presence in his country? Would Greeks, Armenians, and Kurds be applauded for decrying the Turkish annexation of lands in which their ancestors lived? Or if Hindus and Sikhs told how they were forced to abandon their homes and temples in what became Pakistan? What if the Jews expelled from Egypt, Libya, and Iraq demanded a right of return? Has Abbas heard of the Basques and the Tamils?

Back in 2002, Pres. George W. Bush announced that the United States would “support the creation of a provisional state of Palestine” if Palestinians will only “embrace democracy, confront corruption and firmly reject terror.” President Obama, it is only fair to say, also would undoubtedly like to see the birth of such a Palestinian state.

Abbas has responded to this offer of support by saying, in effect, that he agrees — except about rejecting terror (Abbas selected the mother of four terrorists to launch the Palestinian statehood campaign), confronting corruption (questions finally are being raised about how Abbas and his sons have become so wealthy), and embracing democracy (Abbas’s term as PA president expired almost three years ago).

Someone might say to Abbas: “If you want a state, don’t ask the U.N. to give it to you: Build it. Establish an honest and functioning government. Come up with an economic plan that gets your population off the international dole. Let Salam Fayyad, the PA prime minister, help you — or do it for you, since he is capable and, to be candid, you are not.

Stop expecting Israelis to protect you from Hamas in private while you castigate them in public. And understand that if a Palestinian state won’t make peace with Israel, if you won’t negotiate, and if your citizens continue to fire missiles into their communities, Israelis will have a right and, indeed, a responsibility to respond with force sufficient to deter future attacks — a course of action they have not taken in the past.”

Yes, I know: People may talk like that in Kansas but not in the Land of Oz on the Hudson.

Fatah (also) wants to "wipe Israel out"

Following are excerpts from an interview with Abbas Zaki, member of the Fatah Central Committee, which aired on the Al-Jazeera network on September 23, 2011.
The settlement should be based upon the borders of June 4, 1967. When we say that the settlement should be based upon these borders, President [Abbas] understands, we understand, and everybody knows that the greater goal cannot be accomplished in one go.
If Israel withdraws from Jerusalem, evacuates the 650,000 settlers, and dismantles the wall – what will become of Israel? It will come to an end.
...If we say that we want to wipe Israel out... C'mon, it's too difficult. It's not [acceptable] policy to say so. Don't say these things to the world. Keep it to yourself....

How the Palestinian Leadership Is rejecting peace

From The New Republic, September 28, 2011, by Alan Dershowitz*:

The Palestinians are in the process of seeking sovereignty from the United Nations, but in doing so, they are asking for more than what was offered them in any prior negotiation with Israel—including during the talks involving President Clinton and Ehud Barak in 2000 and 2001. Rather than more, it is imperative that the Palestinians get less.

It is imperative to world peace that the Palestinians pay a price—even if it’s only a symbolic price—for rejecting the generous Clinton/Barak offer and responding to it with a second intifada in which 4,000 people were killed. It is also important that Israel not return to the precise armistice lines that existed prior to the 1967 war.

If the Palestinians were to achieve a return to the status quo prior to Jordan’s attack on Israel in June of 1967, then military aggression will not have been punished, it will have been rewarded. That’s why Security Council Resolution 242—which was essentially the peace treaty that resulted from the end of the Six Day War—intended for Israel to retain territory necessary to give it secure boundaries.

(Indeed, in the formal application submitted by Abbas, he sought membership based on UN General Assembly Resolution 1810-11 of November 29, 1947, which would put the borders where they were before the Arab armies invaded the new Jewish state in 1948. This would reward multiple aggressions.)

Yet, however important it is that aggressive and unjustified violence not be rewarded, the international community seems bent on doing just that. If the end result of Jordan’s 1967 attack on Israel—an attack supported by the Palestinian leadership and participated in by Palestinian soldiers—is that the Palestinians get back everything Jordan lost, there will be no disincentive to comparable military attacks around the world. If the Palestinians get more than, or even as much as, they rejected in 2000 and 2001 (and did not accept in 2007), then further intifadas with mass casualties will be encouraged. 

A price must be paid for violence. That’s how the laws of war are supposed to work and there is no reason to make an exception in the case of the Palestinians.

... the negotiations must not begin where previous offers, which were not accepted, left off. They must take into account how we got to the present situation: 
  • The Arab rejection of the UN partition plan and the attack on the new Jewish state that resulted in the death of one percent of Israel’s population; 
  • the attack by Jordan and its Palestinian soldiers against Israel in 1967, which resulted in Israel’s capture of the West Bank; 
  • Israel’s offer to trade captured land for peace that was rejected at Khartoum with the three infamous “no’s”—no peace, no recognition, no negotiation; 
  • Israel’s generous offer of statehood in 2000-2001 that was answered by violence; and 
  • Olmert’s subsequent, even more generous, offer that was not accepted by President Abbas.
Efforts to achieve peace must look forward but they must not forget the past. A balance must be struck between not rewarding past violence and not creating unreasonable barriers to a future peace. But the Palestinians made it clear last week that they reject such balance.

I was at the United Nations on Friday when President Abbas made his speech demanding full recognition of Palestine as a state with the borders as they existed just before the Jordanians and Palestinians attacked Israel.

In other words he wants a “do over.” He wants the nations that attacked Israel to suffer no consequences for their attempt to destroy the Jewish State. He wants to get back The Western Wall, The Jewish Quarter, and the access road to Hebrew University. Only then will he begin negotiations from this position of strength. 

But why then negotiate if the UN gives him more than he can possibly get through negotiation? Will he be in a position to seek less from Israel than what the UN gave him? Will he survive if he is seen as less Palestinian than the UN? 

Abbas blamed Israel for the self-inflicted wound the Palestinians cynically call the Nakba (the catastrophe). He denied the Jewish history of the land of Israel and he quoted with approval his terrorist predecessor Arafat. He refused to acknowledge Israel’s legitimate security needs. Abbas’s message, in sum, left little or no room for further compromise.

I also sat in the General Assembly as Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered to begin negotiations with Abbas, with absolutely no preconditions, in New York, at the United Nations, that very day. He said he would come to Ramallah to negotiate with him or keep the door of his Jerusalem office open. He did not even require as a precondition to negotiations that the Palestinians acknowledge what the UN recognized in 1947—namely, that Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people.

... the truth was on full and open display at the General Assembly on Friday: Netanyahu wants to negotiate a peace now, whereas Abbas wants to win recognition from the United Nations before any negotiations begin...

....If... UN were to reward nearly a century of Palestinian rejectionism and violence by simply turning the clock back to 1967 (or 1947), it will be encouraging more cost-free rejectionism and violence.....
*Alan Dershowitz is a professor at Harvard Law School.

Holocaust denier, Abbas also denies the existence of the Jewish people

From FrontPage Magazine, 27 Sept 2011, by Dennis Prager:

Earlier this month in Ramallah, the de facto capital of the Palestinian Authority, I interviewed Ghassan Khatib, director of government media for the Palestinian Authority and the spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. I asked him ...Do the Palestinians recognize Israel as the Jewish state?...

His long answer amounted to: “No.”

There is no Jewish people, he told me, so how could there be a Jewish country? The Palestinian position is that there is a religion called Judaism, but there is no such thing as a Jewish people...

In other words, Palestinians — people in a national group that never existed by the name “Palestine” until well into the 20th century — deny the existence of the oldest continuous nation in the world, dating back over 3,000 years.

Now, that’s real chutzpah.

Indeed, the Palestinians deny that the Jews ever lived in Israel. That is why Yasser Arafat could not even admit that Jesus was a Jew; rather, according to Arafat, “Jesus was a Palestinian.” To acknowledge that Jesus was a Jew would mean that Jews lived in Israel thousands of years ago, in a Jewish state, moreover — long before Muslims existed, long before Arabs moved there, and millennia before anyone called himself a Palestinian.

In the Palestinian president’s speech to the United Nations last week, this denial of Jewish history was reaffirmed. Thus, in a speech about Israel and the Palestinians, he never once uttered the word “Jew” or “Jewish.”

Here is an example of Abbas’s Jew-free view of the history of Israel/Palestine:
“I come before you today from the Holy Land, the land of Palestine, the land of divine messages, ascension of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the birthplace of Jesus Christ (peace be upon him) …”

No mention of Jews. Apparently, only Christians (Does Abbas know that Jesus was a Jew?) and Muslims have lived in “the Holy Land.” And for Abbas, the Holy Land is not Israel, it is Palestine. That it was the Jews who made that land Holy is a fact of history denied by the Palestinians...

Obama should stop making an issue of building in Gilo

From Commentary, 27 Sept 2011, by Jonathan Tobin:

Those who believed the Obama administration’s attitude toward Israel has changed for the better got a rude wakeup call today when Washington condemned the start of a housing project in Jerusalem. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland expressed “disappointment” about the planned building of 1,100 homes in the Gilo section of the city. The Palestinian Authority also attacked the project as yet another “illegal settlement” built on Arab land....

... Gilo ...Built on the southern border of [Jerusalem] .... was established more than 40 years ago and is the home of approximately 40,000 residents of Israel’s capital.

Up until Barack Obama took office, it was not the subject of much, if any comment, by any previous administration. By seeking to force Israel to cease building houses in existing Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem, Obama has legitimized Palestinian demands for not only a re-division of the city but also their desire to evict the more than 200,000 Jews who live in those parts that were illegally occupied by Jordan between 1948 and 1967.

But Gilo has a special importance that ought to have been remembered by the administration before they sought to make an issue of it. Gilo is more than just another place where the Palestinians wish to push the Jews out.

Only a few short years ago during the second intifada, Gilo was the one section of the city that was under constant murderous sniper fire from the nearby Arab village of Beit Jala. Gilo was the laboratory where Palestinian terrorists sought to discover whether they could force Jews into abandoning their homes. They failed. Despite being subjected to murderous attacks for many months, the Jews of Gilo stood their ground and refused to be intimidated. Gilo became one of many symbols of the courage of the Israeli people and their determination to hold onto Jerusalem.

It should also be pointed out that far from being an obstacle to a putative peace deal, building in Gilo — or any other part of Jerusalem — would have no effect on the creation of a Palestinian state if a peace deal should ever be signed. It is generally understood that even according to President Obama’s idea of a border being created along the 1967 lines with land swaps that Jewish Jerusalem would remain under Israeli sovereignty. The only way homes in Gilo could be construed as an obstacle to peace is if the vision of peace being pursued is one in which every Jew is thrown out of much of the city.

Even worse, by branding Gilo as a place where Jews ought not to live and build, the State Department is doing more than just trying to appease the Palestinians. It is also illustrating that as far as the U.S. is concerned, this place where terror was decisively defeated is up for grabs. That’s a signal Palestinians may wrongly interpret as American indifference to a resumption of violence.

This latest episode is a reminder that no American leader has done more to chip away at Israel’s position on Jerusalem than Obama. Despite the hopeful signs about a rapprochement between the administration and Israel during the debate in the United Nations, the president is still holding on to dangerous misconceptions about Jerusalem and the goal of the Palestinians.

Building new housing units in Jerusalem - so what?

From an interview with PM Benjamin Netanyahu, published in JPost, 28 Sept 2011, by Herb Keinon:

[regarding] a project to build 800 new units in Gilo...

... I think people now understand that in a metropolitan area like Jerusalem, with three-quarters of a million people, there is planning that takes place for new projects.

People have families, families have children, and communities grow: they grow in the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem and they grow in the Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem.

I have to say that this is one of the areas where Israel’s massive planning bureaucracy gets full international attention. We have so many planning stages, so many phases of approval that every time a plan moves through one of these stages, it gets world headlines. It shouldn’t in the first place, and I want to tell you that I am streamlining the planning so there will be fewer stages.

...I don’t think there is anything new. We plan in Jerusalem. We build in Jerusalem. Period. The same way Israeli governments have been doing for 44 years, since the end of the 1967 war. 

We build in Jewish neighborhoods, the Arabs build in Arab neighborhoods, that is the way the life of this city goes on and develops for its Jewish and non-Jewish residents alike....

Jerusalem, between the Green Line and the Blue Line

From City Journal, Summer 2011, Vol. @1, No. 3, by Michael J. Totten:

Can a Jerusalem divided stand?

...[some] proponents of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict ...would drive an international border through the Old City [of Jerusalem], dividing it—and the rest of Jerusalem—between the two sides. As divided cities around the world have shown, such a plan would be unlikely to work. could wreak lasting damage on a city beloved by both peoples.

Before 1948, Jerusalem had a Jewish majority. But in May of that year, the British Mandate in Palestine expired, Israel declared its independence, and the new country was promptly invaded by Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Iraq. The war lasted until the following year, when Israel signed separate armistice agreements with each of the aggressors. The Jordanian-Israeli armistice line, drawn where each army happened to be standing at the time of the cease-fire, slashed right through the center of Jerusalem, with the Jordanians controlling the eastern, northern, and southern sectors (what today is generally called “East Jerusalem”) and the Israelis controlling western Jerusalem and an enclave in the east on Mount Scopus. The line became known as the Green Line. Neither Israel nor Jordan ever declared it a border; each side hoped that it was temporary and that Jerusalem’s final status would be decided later, either by negotiation or by conquest.

Israel’s toehold in western Jerusalem was surrounded on three sides and connected to the rest of the country by a narrow strip of land just a few miles wide. Jordanian soldiers held the high ground overlooking that corridor and the rest of the city, and despite the armistice, they frequently fired artillery shells, mortars, and sniper rounds at Jewish civilians on the Israeli side of the Green Line.

Jews caught on the Jordanian side were even less fortunate; those who weren’t expelled were killed or taken to prison camps, and their property was confiscated or destroyed. The Jordanians ravaged Jewish cultural and holy sites in East Jerusalem—bulldozing an enormous 2,000-year-old cemetery on the Mount of Olives, razing the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, and reducing synagogues to rubble. Abdullah el Tell, a Jordanian commander and later the military governor of the Old City, even boasted about it. “For the first time in 1,000 years, not a single Jew remains in the Jewish Quarter,” he said. “Not a single building remains intact. This makes the Jews’ return here impossible.”

Jordan, Egypt, and Syria launched their second war of annihilation in 1967. This time, the Israelis defeated all three armies in six days and pushed the 1949 armistice lines outward, taking the Golan Heights from Syria; the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza Strip from Egypt; and the West Bank, as well as East Jerusalem, from Jordan. Egypt and Jordan later relinquished their claims to Gaza and the West Bank, and Israel returned the Sinai to Egypt. Israel never formally annexed those territories because adding millions of Palestinian Arabs to its population would threaten its Jewish majority over the long term.

But East Jerusalem was another story. Israel did annex that—partly because Israelis yearned to reunite their capital but also because they had vowed never again to let a hostile army surround them on high ground. And one of the first things the government did was to build Jewish neighborhoods in empty areas formerly used by the Jordanian army. (Some of the new neighborhoods, in fact, were in places that had been Jewish before the Jordanians destroyed them after 1948.)

Today, about 200,000 Israeli Jews live in East Jerusalem, in neighborhoods like French Hill, Ramat Shlomo, and Gilo, on what was once the Jordanian side of the Green Line. Residents can look down the dizzying heights into the heart of the city from hilltops once occupied by snipers and artillery crews.

“Annexing East Jerusalem was a dramatic event,” says Orly Noy of the Ir Amim organization, an Israeli center-left, human rights nonprofit. “That meant that, at least according to Israel, all of Jerusalem became a part of the sovereign state of Israel.” She unfolds a map of Jerusalem that her organization has produced. It shows the Green Line and another line, this one blue, which marks the edge of Jerusalem since annexation. The blue line, dividing Jerusalem from the West Bank, is what Israel now considers its national border.

The Green Line is invisible in Jerusalem. You’d have no idea where it was just by looking. “After annexation, it became a national task to erase the Green Line,” Noy says. “We didn’t want anything to remind us that the city was ever divided.” The blue line on Ir Amim’s map, though, can’t be missed. During the Second Intifada, in the 2000s, the Israeli government built an imposing concrete wall along the border to keep Palestinian suicide bombers from the West Bank out of Israel. “Most of us don’t expect a real peace any time soon,” says Israeli historian Yaacov Lozowick, author of the books Hitler’s Bureaucrats and Right to Exist. “So we suspect that the reality of that barrier after several decades will become the border.”

That, of course, is where Jerusalem’s history becomes relevant to Israelis’ and Palestinians’ future. Palestinian negotiators say that they will refuse to sign a treaty unless East Jerusalem is ceded to them for their capital. That is, they want the border between Israel and a Palestinian state to be the old Green Line. (I’m referring to those Palestinians who say that they’re willing to recognize Israel’s right to exist. The terrorist organization Hamas insists that Israel must cease to exist inside any borders; and even Fatah, the more moderate organization that currently controls the West Bank, only in 2010 changed its charter to avoid mentioning the elimination of Israel.)

The Israelis, meanwhile, regard the blue line, which is near where the concrete barrier stands, as the de facto border already and the starting point for a negotiated border in the future. “Around 200,000 Jews live in neighborhoods built on the other side of the 1967 [Green] line,” Deputy Mayor Yakir Segev tells me. “These neighborhoods have always been considered parts of Israel that will remain under Israeli sovereignty in any agreement. No one will dream of evacuating these big Jewish neighborhoods in the name of anything. All Israelis, and even the Palestinian Authority, understand that we’re going to keep these neighborhoods ...

... the “Holy Basin,” [is] an area surrounded on all sides by hills that includes the Old City of Jerusalem and its holy sites—above all, the Western Wall of the ancient Jewish temple, al-Aqsa Mosque, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Most proposals for dividing the Basin would give the Old City’s Muslim, Christian, and Armenian Quarters to a Palestinian state, along with holy and historic sites outside the walls of the Old City, such as the Mount of Olives and the City of David. “Most Israelis,” [Israeli historian Yaacov ] Lozowick says, “are very uneager to have that area go to the Palestinians.”

Opposition to such a division isn’t limited to Israeli Jews. An increasing number of Jerusalem’s Arabs are also uneager to be shoved over to a Palestinian state. Back in 1967, after Israel annexed East Jerusalem, it offered the Arab locals citizenship. Few accepted it at the time, so Israel declared the locals residents of Jerusalem, issued them the same identification cards that Israeli citizens used, and gave them all the legal rights of citizenship except for eligibility to vote for members of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament. (They can vote in local elections, though most choose not to.) Since then, they’ve enjoyed the substantial benefits of living in Israel, and they’ve developed a unique political culture. Hardly any participated in the Second Intifada, for instance. Hillel Cohen, author of The Rise and Fall of Arab Jerusalem, tells me that in Jerusalem’s Palestinian neighborhoods, “the mainstream is against armed struggle.”

And over the last few years, thousands have finally accepted the offer of citizenship. “They feel threatened by the fact that they might be forced to become citizens of Palestine,” Lozowick says, “so 12,000 to 15,000 of them have recently filed citizenship papers. And about 20,000 of them were already Israeli citizens. The number is growing all the time. There is tremendous social and political pressure on them from the Palestinians in the West Bank not to do that, because everybody recognizes that if the number of Arabs in East Jerusalem reaches a critical mass of Israeli citizens, then Israel will not be able to divide Jerusalem. The entire city will be made up of Israeli citizens.”...

...I become still more dubious about partition as Lozowick and I take a walking tour of the Old City and the Holy Basin, following the Green Line with the help of the Geneva Initiative’s map. It looks a lot less plausible on the ground than it does in satellite photographs, and it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that dividing the Holy Basin might be impossible. Take the neighborhood of Abu Tor, on a hill just south of the Old City. The eastern side is Arab, and the western side is Jewish. The Green Line runs through its center. It would be easy enough, theoretically, to make the Green Line the border between Israel and a Palestinian state.
But that border would go right down the middle of a street where Jews live on one side and Arabs live on the other. If a wall or a fence were erected on that border, residents wouldn’t be able to drive down their own street. And if there were no wall or a fence, anyone could cross the border without passing through customs or security: tourists, spies, job-seekers, and suicide bombers. A Palestinian could throw a hand grenade into Israel from inside his living room, and vice versa. What would happen if Hamas took over the West Bank, as it already has the Gaza Strip, and placed terrorist nests mere feet from houses in the center of Israel’s capital? For that matter, how would the Palestinians feel if their neighbors across the street lived in a democracy with social security, health care, and high wages, while they lived in a corrupt authoritarian system without any rights? “No one here is a settler,” Lozowick reminds me. “This is the pre-1967 border. No one can say, ‘The Israelis shouldn’t be here so close to the Arabs.’ This is where the original line was. There are a lot of places like this in Jerusalem.”

Drawing a new border would be even harder inside the walls of the Old City. On a street near the Armenian Quarter, a house that the Geneva Initiative has slated for Israel is wedged between two houses that would go to a Palestinian state. Houses in the Old City are ancient. They lean on one another. It is physically impossible to weave a border between them. Only a European Union–style non-border without a fence, wall, customs booth, or security checkpoint could exist inside the Old City. Things are even stranger where the Muslim Quarter abuts the Jewish Quarter. Arabs own shops at street level, while Jews own apartments upstairs. According to the Geneva Initiative, the ground floor on that street would be Palestinian and the second floor Israeli.

I ask Lozowick if the people who drew this theoretical border have walked around the Old City and actually looked at their proposal. “I asked them that,” he says, “and they wouldn’t answer. They wave their hands.”

...Many people still say, ‘We all know what the final settlement is going to look like, so we just need to get the two sides together and work it out...’  Israeli political analyst Jonathan Spyer tells me. “To that I say: ‘No, you don’t know what the final status is going to look like. The final status you have in mind is what you came up with by negotiating with yourself.’ ”

It has been years since I’ve managed to find an optimist who lives in the region and believes that the conflict will end soon. Hillel Cohen sums up this grim realism when I ask him what he expects for Jerusalem 50 years from now. “Some war,” he says, shrugging. “Some peace. Some negotiations. The usual stuff.”

*Michael J. Totten is a new City Journal contributing editor and the author of The Road to Fatima Gate.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The end of Ahmadinejad. His cronies barred from election

From a DEBKAfile Exclusive Report September 27, 2011:

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the driving force behind Iran's nuclear program and the most vocal of Israel's enemies, is on his last legs as president. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has stripped him of most of his powers and shut the door against his having any political future.

... his loyalists have been deserting him in droves since he went to New York to deliver an address to the UN General Assembly on Sept. 23. The Supreme Leader used his absence for the coup de grace: The removal of the president's loyalists from the list of 4,000 contenders running for seats in parliament (the Majlis) next March.

That was easily arranged: Khameini handed his orders to Ayatollah Mohammad Kani, head of the Assembly of Experts, which In the Islamic Republic of Iran is responsible for screening all contenders for office. He was told to disqualify all the president's associates. So, in the next Majlis, Ahmadinejad will be shorn of a loyal faction and any buddies sticking to him when his second presidential term runs out in May 2013 will be out of a job.

The Supreme Ruler degraded the president very publicly with one humiliation after another.

He waited for Ahmadinejad to go on the air in a US NBC interview on Sept. 13 to promise the release of Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, the two American hikers convicted of spying, before cutting him down by suspending their release until the Iranian president was being booed by protesters in New York for reneging on his promise.

Tehran's political, religious and military insiders were not surprised by his downfall, our Iranian sources report. For some time he had been getting too big for his boots, accumulating more powers than any president before him and only getting away with it so long as he was Khamenei's fair-haired boy.

But then, the favorite, whose election in 2005 and reelection in 2009, Khamenei engineered at the cost of violent anti-government protests in Tehran, rewarded him with ingratitude. He increasingly flouted the master and in some cases began chipping away at his authority - until Khamenei had had enough and decided to reel him in.

At the last minute, he cancelled a live Ahmadinejad interview on Iran's second television network wide publicized for the eve of his departure to the United Nations.

The affronts followed him home to Tehran, where waiting for him were serious criminal charges linking his name to the disappearance of three billion dollars from Iranian banks. The name of the embezzler has not been released but our sources in Tehran reveal him as Amir Mansour Arya, an entrepreneur who started a business five years ago with Ahmadinejad’s encouragement and whose fortune grew a thousand fold within a suspiciously short time.

Arya is accused of using his presidential connections to secure multi-billion dollar loans from Iranian banks and then spiriting large sums out of the country.

Ahmadinejad denies any complicity in the crime. He tried fighting back by threatening to publish within 15 days "dozens of names" of rivals he claims are guilty of financial crimes. The deadline came and went without publication.

The betting in Tehran is that the Supreme Leader will not actually sack Ahmadinejad but let him last out his term as yesterday's man, lame duck in political isolation.

...Two frontrunners for future president most mentioned recently are two hardliners, Majils (legislature) Speaker Ali Larijani, a former senior nuclear negotiator with the West, and ex-foreign minister Ali Akhbar Veliyati, who is a member of Khamenei's kitchen cabinet as senior adviser on international relations.

Canada slams PA unilateralism and the UN

From CTV News, 27 September 2011:

OTTAWA — Canada used its United Nations speaking slot Monday to lambaste opponents of Israel as no better than the appeasers who allowed fascism and communism to flourish before the Second World War. 

 John Baird, Foreign Minister of Canada, addresses the General Assembly during the 66th UN General Assembly at UN Headquarters Monday, Sept. 26, 2011. 
(AP Photo/David Karp)

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird delivered Canada's views to the General Assembly in a speech that put meat on the bones of the Harper government's unflinching support of Israel.
"Just as fascism and communism were the great struggles of previous generations, terrorism is the great struggle of ours. And far too often, the Jewish state is on the front line of our struggle and its people the victims of terror..." .... 
"Canada will not accept or stay silent while the Jewish state is attacked for defending its territory and its citizens. The Second World War taught us all the tragic price of 'going along' just to 'get along."'
Baird made no direct mention of the Holocaust in which six million Jews died at the hands of Nazi Germany. But he evoked the era when he quoted Winston Churchill as saying "an appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last." 
Baird reiterated Canada's opposition to the recent Palestinian bid to secure UN recognition as a state.
The UN Security Council became seized with the matter on Monday for the first time after Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas delivered his own forceful speech advocating the move.
"We supported the aspirations of those peoples who sought for themselves and their countries brighter futures during the Arab Spring that just passed," said Baird. "But we will not go along with the unilateral actions of the Palestinian Authority." 

Baird repeated Canada's call for a negotiated settlement between the Israelis and Palestinians.

The no-holds-barred address also took aim at the UN itself, for allowing despotic regimes to hold memberships on, or occupy the chair of, major committees.

"The greatest enemies of the United Nations are not those who publicly repudiate its actions," said Baird.
"The greatest enemies of the United Nations are those who quietly undermine its principles and, even worse, by those who sit idly, watching its slow decline."

Baird backed that argument by citing North Korea's recent rotating presidency of the UN conference on disarmament, which Canada boycotted, along with Iran's vice-presidency of the General Assembly and its seat on the commission on population and development.

Baird's unflinching defence of Israel was another reminder to the Jewish state that it has a friend in Canada.
Last week in New York, Prime Minister Stephen Harper affirmed his support for Israel in a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

And Immigration Minister Jason Kenney told another UN gathering that Israel is being targeted by a "new anti-Semitism" that is "now disguised as anti-American, anti-Western and anti-Israel, but it ultimately espouses the same old hatred and intent." 

Baird said Canada would not "go along with appeasement of the former (Moammar) Gadhafi regime" in Libya. And it has imposed tough new sanctions on Syria because it cannot "go along" with the Assad regimes killing of its own civilians.

Baird also took aim at the UN for past resolutions that have criticized Israel, votes that Canada has boycotted in the Harper era.

"Canada will not go along with a double standard that castigates some UN members for alleged failings while ignoring the notorious abuses of others," said Baird....

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Abbas Strikes OUT with "a nasty piece of work ... from which any real commitment to telling truths ...was absent"

From The National Review, September 26, 2011, by Elliott Abrams*:

The rapturous applause that greeted Mahmoud Abbas, appearing before the U.N. General Assembly in his role as chairman of the PLO, was deceiving. The collection of states that swooned when he mentioned Yasser Arafat’s 1974 appearance in the same hall will never give him a state — nor even the foreign-aid money to pay his delegation’s hotel bills.

His statehood project depends on Israel and the United States, and to a lesser extent on the Europeans (and a bit of Gulf Arab financing). His U.N. gambit has annoyed or offended all of those parties. The Saudi gift of $200 million last week to support the Palestinian Authority was handed, precisely, to the PA and to its prime minister, Salam Fayyad, as a show of confidence in him and his institution-building work, bypassing Abbas and his PLO cronies.

The Israeli reaction to the Abbas speech is predictably negative, for it was a nasty piece of work filled with harshly worded denunciations — and from which any real commitment to telling truths to the Palestinian people was absent. Instead, Abbas repeatedly referred to the nakba or “catastrophe” of 1948 as the source of the Palestinians’ plight, thereby telegraphing to Israelis that his main complaint was the existence of the State of Israel rather than its “1967 borders.” His reference to the “Holy Land” as the home of Jesus Christ and the place from which Mohammed ascended to heaven excluded all references to Jews and Jewish history, and delivered the same awful message. The Abbas speech will end up strengthening Netanyahu’s tough approach to Israeli security.

But the most striking evidence of Abbas’s error came in the Quartet statement (from the U.S., the U.N., the EU, and Russia) released Friday night, after Abbas and Netanyahu had spoken. reflected both Obama’s own U.N. speech... and EU annoyance with Abbas. This Quartet statement did not even mention settlements, not once, and instead simply laid out a long timetable for negotiations. The Quartet statement “reiterated its urgent appeal to the parties to overcome the current obstacles and resume direct bilateral Israeli-Palestinian negotiations without delay or preconditions,” thereby rejecting the Palestinian demand that a construction freeze come first.

.... Palestinians would be mistaken to attribute the entirety of their defeat to American politics; they should note that Abbas did not get the Security Council vote he wanted. For the moment, at least, the Palestinians could not attain the nine votes they needed to win and thus force an American veto. This is another measure of their failure in New York.

It is true that Abbas’s U.N. ploy may work for him in terms of his own domestic politics — for a while, anyway. Instead of being the man who lost Gaza, he may briefly be the man who “bravely” took the statehood issue to the U.N. But he did not take the Palestinians one step closer to peace, nor did he speak to them seriously about what peace will require from them. In this he is a faithful follower of his mentor Yasser Arafat. If there is ever to be peace, the Palestinians will someday need a leadership that tells them the truth: Hard work and difficult compromises will be needed, not applause in the General Assembly.

* Elliott Abrams, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, was the deputy national security adviser handling the Middle East in the George W. Bush administration.

Abbas is "trying to get a state to continue the conflict with Israel rather than to end it"

From the MSNBC "Meet the Press" transcript for September 25, 2011 (an interview with PM Netanyahu - follow the link to see a video of the full interview):

MR. DAVID GREGORY (MSNBC): ... is the Middle East about to take another violent turn? After a combative speech to the U.N. General Assembly demanding recognition of Palestinian statehood, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas returns Saturday to the West Bank and is rejecting a blueprint for peace put forward by international mediators. Moments ago, I sat down with the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Prime Minister, welcome back to MEET THE PRESS. ...A lot of drama this week in this city. Here is the scene in Ramallah in the West Bank on Friday when President Abbas made his push for Palestinian statehood in the United Nations. As those scenes played out, euphoria, pride for Abbas. This was described as a milestone moment for the Palestinians. It almost certainly will fail. And my question to you is, will there be violent consequences for that?

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: I hope that. It doesn't necessarily have to fail. It can succeed, but there's one--there's two pieces to--two sides to the equation. The Palestinians want a state, but they have to give peace in return. What they're trying to do in the United Nations is to get a state without giving Israel peace or giving Israel peace and security. And I think that's, that's wrong. That should not succeed. That should, that should fail. But what should succeed is for them to actually sit down and negotiate with us to get two states for two peoples, a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes a Jewish state.
MR. GREGORY: ... the Palestinians say, they're not going to go with this international framework. There is no peace process right now, is there?

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: It's because of them. You know, I said in the U.N., I said to President Abbas, "Look, we're in the same city, we're in the same building, for God's sake, the U.N. Let's just sit down and begin to talk peace."

...MR. GREGORY: ...but that's not going to happen.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: Yeah, but, but you have to ask yourself why is it not going to happen?
... I think the Palestinians are trying to get away without negotiating. They're trying to get a state to continue the conflict with Israel rather than to end it. They're trying to basically detour around peace negotiations by going to the U.N. and have the automatic majority in the U.N. General Assembly give them, give them a state. That's unfortunate. Because the only way we're going to get peace is to negotiate it between the parties. ... All he has to do, Abbas, is to realize what I've just said and sit down and just do it.

....PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: ...We--I, I want them to simply sit down and negotiate a peace with us. I, I want them--I don't want them as--the Palestinians to be incorporated into Israel either as citizens or as subjects, I mean, it doesn't work. I say that to my colleagues, by the way, in the internal Cabinet meetings, I say, "Look, I want to be very clear about what I want." I just--I don't want a peace process, I want a peace result.

MR. GREGORY: But I know what you want. But what if this happens, what if the P.A. gets dissolved?

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: Well, it's not our choice. I think, I think the choice is that they have their own independent state which recognizes our ancestral connections to this land, but also recognize the fact that we have unique security requirements because we're a country that could conceivably be the width of Manhattan, which is kind of hard to defend in a tough neighborhood. If we have their recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and the security requirements, there's no reason that we won't have peace.

...President Abbas has to turn to his people and do what I did--and it's tough facing your constituency, it's tough addressing your base--and say, "You know, it's over. I recognize a Jewish state, Israel is here to stay. It's not just a fact that it's here today, gone tomorrow. It's going to be here forever."

....MR. GREGORY: Isn't it quite clear that the Palestinians will never accept Israel as a Jewish homeland? Isn't--do you fear that the two-state solution is no longer viable?

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: You know, I was so disappointed to hear him say that because he was, he was going back, I was trying to move forward. I said, "Listen, let's, let's talk." You know, I have deep, deep connections to this land, the land of Israel, the land of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Jacob was the father of Benjamin. That's my namesake. Four thousand years we've been connected to this land. But I recognize there's another people living there. You know, let's sit down and work out a solution. Then comes President...

...MR. GREGORY: the two-state solution alive?

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: Well, you tell me. Now, then President Abbas comes in, he says, "This land has been, you know, sacred for, for Muslims and Christians for 2,000 years." Hello! You know, "We've been around there. Two thousand years. I mean, Jesus came from a certain place, you know, from--there's this Bible thing which precedes it. What is this? Why can't you recognize our history? Why can't you recognize the Jewish connection to the Jewish land? And why can't we work out--recognize the past, seize the future?" And I'm willing to do that. And I gave a speech--and you heard my speech, it was--look, I wouldn't say it was a softy speech, it was a tough speech, but it was conciliatory. It said to him, "Listen, here's my hand." Right hand. "Here's my hand. Reach out to it, grasp it. Let's make peace." And that remains....

Why does Abbas try to convince Nigerians, not Israelis

From JPost, 25 September, b:

Instead of trying to persuade Israelis that Palestinians are ready for statehood, PA President Abbas tries to convince UNSC members.

The problem with the Palestinian bid at the UN, former Kadima lawmaker Tzahi Hanegbi said Friday in a Channel 2 discussion, is that instead of trying to persuade the Israeli public that the Palestinians are ready for statehood, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is trying to convince Gabon, Nigeria and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Those three countries are among the 15 current members of the UN Security Council, nine of whom must vote “yes” to a resolution calling for Palestine to be admitted as a full member of the UN, before the matter can be kicked over to the General Assembly for its certain approval.

But even if Gabon, Nigeria and Bosnia-Herzegovina vote with the Palestinians, along with six other states, the move won’t fly, since the US has pledged to veto it. But, never mind, the Palestinians are going full speed ahead, ignoring the pleas of the most sympathetic US administration in recent memory to their cause, thereby alienating that administration. Abbas’s tactics baffle, as did his speech to the UN on Friday.

Israelis yearn to be understood, and accepted. Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, an implacable foe who launched a surprise attack on the country on its holiest day in 1973, turned the tables completely with the simple gesture of flying to Jerusalem in 1977.

Soon thereafter he received back from Israel the entire Sinai Peninsula.

Had Syria’s Bashar Assad, before his current troubles, invited Ehud Olmert or even Binyamin Netanyahu to Damascus to eat humous and talk peace, he would have won Israelis’ hearts and paved the way for sweeping concessions.

Part of peace is breaking down psychological barriers. Simple human gestures go a long way toward breaking those barriers.

Israelis, traumatized by Jewish history – both ancient and modern – need their confidence built, their fears allayed, their concerns appreciated and understood. We need gestures. Abbas’s words to the UN provided little.

While Israeli leaders, including Netanyahu during his speech at the UN, consistently articulate an understanding of Palestinian yearnings, the Palestinians rarely voice any understanding of Israel’s – not its yearning, nor its fears, nor its connection to the land.
“Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, I come before you today from the Holy Land, the land of Palestine, the land of divine messages, ascension of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the birthplace of Jesus Christ (peace be upon him), to speak on behalf of the Palestinian people in the homeland and in the diaspora, to say, after 63 years of suffering of an ongoing Nakba: Enough. It is time for the Palestinian people to gain their freedom and independence,” Abbas said toward the end of his address Friday.

With that seemingly innocuous paragraph, Abbas revealed the glaring gaps between the sides.

If Abbas cannot even acknowledge that the Holy Land is not only the birthplace of Jesus and the location of the ascension of Muhammad, but also holds a certain allure for various reasons to the Jewish people, then peace is farther off than the 12 newly allotted months spelled out in the Quartet’s recent formula for restarting negotiations.

It has been said that for the Jewish people today, “Temple denial” – or the denial of a Jewish connection to Israel – is more pernicious even than “Holocaust denial.”

In the end, it is the Jews who will carry the memory of the Holocaust through the centuries, even with the deniers, while the rest of the world will forget, just as the Jews – rather than the rest of the world – has carried other tragic episodes of our history through the ages. That is our responsibility.

But denying the existence of the Temple, or the Jewish connection to the land, is to deny the basis of Jewish identity, because connection to the land is such a fundamental part of that identity.

Genuine peace will only be reached when both sides recognize that the other side is there to stay, and has a historical right to be there. If one side believes the other is an interloper, with no rights to the land – then there can never really be peace, just an agreement until the interloper either fades, or is pushed, away.

While the Palestinians are busy trying to convince Gabon, Nigeria and Bosnia-Herzegovina, they have failed to convince Israel that they respect any Jewish historical claim to the land. And without that, the Palestinians will have a hard time convincing the Israeli public that an affirmation of their rights does not mean a denial of our own.

And, whether they like it or not, ultimately what the Israelis think about their statehood bid is more important than what Gabon, Nigeria and Bosnia- Herzegovina think, because in the end the Israelis are the ones who are going to have to agree to it.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Abbas must stop deluding himself

From The Australian, September 26, 2011:
IT is a pity Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has been so quick to dismiss a serious proposal to get peace talks with Israel restarted without any further delay. 

The blueprint was proposed by the Middle East Quartet -- the US, Russia, the European Union and the UN -- following Mr Abbas's appearance at the UN with his statehood application.
The quartet has set out a sensible, if optimistic, timetable for agreement on a negotiating agenda within a month, comprehensive proposals on territory and security within three months, substantial progress within six months, and final agreement -- an independent Palestinian state -- before the end of next year. Statehood within a year: it might have been expected that Mr Abbas would have jumped at it.

But the ink was hardly dry on the proposal before he put the kibosh on it and returned to the tired, old mantra of no new talks unless the construction of Israeli settlements is halted and negotiations are based on pre-1967 borders.
Once again Mr Abbas has displayed a lack of flexibility that ill-serves the best interests of the Palestinian people, just as he did in New York when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu argued that since they were both in the same city and the same building at the same time, they should sit down immediately to negotiate without preconditions. Mr Abbas ignored the invitation.
Such obduracy from the Palestinian leader is regrettable. Mr Netanyahu, to his credit, has responded to the quartet by indicating willingness to work towards a deal by the end of 2012. But he has rightly insisted Israel cannot be expected to make the same territorial mistakes over its security that have led to Gaza being turned into what is effectively an Iranian base run by Hamas terrorists. He has recalled that Israel withdrew from Lebanon in 2000 and Gaza in 2005, yet that did not calm the militant Islamic storm; it brought it closer and made it stronger. The representative of the Hezbollah-controlled Lebanese government is the president of the UN Security Council, the world's premier peacekeeping body.

Given the lessons of history, Mr Netanyahu can hardly be expected to exercise anything other than the utmost caution. Hamas, which only recently reconciled with Mr Abbas's Fatah movement, doesn't recognise Israel's right to exist. It's hell-bent on its destruction. It has rained down thousands of rockets on Israel. It opposes Mr Abbas's statehood bid, declaring the battle for the liberation of all Palestinian land the first priority. It is willing Mr Abbas to fail so it can capitalise on the Palestinian disillusionment to follow.

As much as these are challenging times for Mr Netanyahu, so, too, is Mr Abbas's position far from secure. It is in both leaders' interests to get peace talks going without delay. If Mr Netanyahu is willing to talk without preconditions on the basis of a two-state solution and pre-1967 borders with land swaps, the Palestinian leader should do the same. 

Mr Abbas must stop deluding himself. The only way Palestine will achieve statehood is through direct talks with the Israelis. Grandstanding at the UN is no substitute. It can't give Palestine what it wants. Mr Abbas should grasp the opportunity presented by the quartet's proposals, immediately and without preconditions.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Remarks by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the U.N. General Assembly, 23 Sept. 2011


Israel Extends its Hand in Peace:

Ladies and gentlemen, Israel has extended its hand in peace from the moment it was established 63 years ago. On behalf of Israel and the Jewish people, I extend that hand again today. I extend it to the people of Egypt and Jordan, with renewed friendship for neighbors with whom we have made peace. I extend it to the people of Turkey, with respect and good will. I extend it to the people of Libya and Tunisia, with admiration for those trying to build a democratic future. I extend it to the other peoples of North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, with whom we want to forge a new beginning. I extend it to the people of Syria, Lebanon and Iran, with awe at the courage of those fighting brutal repression.

But most especially, I extend my hand to the Palestinian people, with whom we seek a just and lasting peace.

Israel and the UN:

Ladies and gentlemen, in Israel our hope for peace never wanes. Our scientists, doctors, innovator apply their genius to improve the world of tomorrow. Our artists, our writers, enrich the heritage of humanity. Now, I know that this is not exactly the image of Israel that is often portrayed in this hall. After all, it was here in 1975 that the age-old yearning of my people to restore our national life in our ancient biblical homeland - it was then that this was branded shamefully, as racism. And it was here in 1980, right here, that the historic peace agreement between Israel and Egypt wasn't praised; it was denounced! And it's here, year after year that Israel is unjustly singled out for condemnation. It's singled out for condemnation more often than all the nations of the world combined. Twenty-one out of the 27 General Assembly resolutions condemn Israel - the one true democracy in the Middle East.

Well, this is an unfortunate part of the U.N. institution. It's the theater of the absurd. It doesn't only cast Israel as the villain; it often casts real villains in leading roles:  Gadhafi's Libya chaired the U.N. Commission on Human Rights; Saddam's Iraq headed the U.N. Committee on Disarmament.  You might say: That's the past. Well, here's what's happening now - right now, today, Hizbullah-controlled Lebanon now presides over the U.N. Security Council. This means, in effect, that a terror organization presides over the body entrusted with guaranteeing the world's security.

You couldn't make this thing up.

So here in the U.N., automatic majorities can decide anything. They can decide that the sun sets in the west or rises in the west. I think the first has already been pre-ordained. But they can also decide - they have decided - that the Western Wall in Jerusalem, Judaism's holiest place, is occupied Palestinian territory.

And yet even here in the General Assembly, the truth can sometimes break through. In 1984 when I was appointed Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, I visited the great rabbi of Lubavich. He said to me - and ladies and gentlemen, I don't want any of you to be offended because from personal experience of serving here, I know there are many honorable men and women, many capable and decent people, serving their nations here. But here's what the rebbe said to me. He said to me, you'll be serving in a house of many lies. And then he said, remember that even in the darkest place, the light of a single candle can be seen far and wide.

The Truths:

Today I hope that the light of truth will shine, if only for a few minutes, in a hall that for too long has been a place of darkness for my country. So as Israel's prime minister, I didn't come here to win applause. I came here to speak the truth.  The truth is that Israel wants peace. The truth is that I want peace. The truth is that in the Middle East at all times, but especially during these turbulent days, peace must be anchored in security. The truth is that we cannot achieve peace through U.N. resolutions, but only through direct negotiations between the parties. The truth is that so far the Palestinians have refused to negotiate. The truth is that Israel wants peace with a Palestinian state, but the Palestinians want a state without peace. And the truth is you shouldn't let that happen.

Militant Islam; Iran:

Ladies and gentlemen, when I first came here 27 years ago, the world was divided between East and West. Since then the Cold War ended, great civilizations have risen from centuries of slumber, hundreds of millions have been lifted out of poverty, countless more are poised to follow, and the remarkable thing is that so far this monumental historic shift has largely occurred peacefully. Yet a malignancy is now growing between East and West that threatens the peace of all. It seeks not to liberate, but to enslave, not to build, but to destroy.

That malignancy is militant Islam. It cloaks itself in the mantle of a great faith, yet it murders Jews, Christians and Muslims alike with unforgiving impartiality. On September 11th it killed thousands of Americans, and it left the twin towers in smoldering ruins. Last night I laid a wreath on the 9/11 memorial. It was deeply moving. But as I was going there, one thing echoed in my mind: the outrageous words of the president of Iran on this podium yesterday. He implied that 9/11 was an American conspiracy. Some of you left this hall. All of you should have.

Since 9/11, militant Islamists slaughtered countless other innocents - in London and Madrid, in Baghdad and Mumbai, in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, in every part of Israel. I believe that the greatest danger facing our world is that this fanaticism will arm itself with nuclear weapons. And this is precisely what Iran is trying to do.

Can you imagine that man who ranted here yesterday - can you imagine him armed with nuclear weapons? The international community must stop Iran before it's too late. If Iran is not stopped, we will all face the specter of nuclear terrorism, and the Arab Spring could soon become an Iranian winter.

That would be a tragedy. Millions of Arabs have taken to the streets to replace tyranny with liberty, and no one would benefit more than Israel if those committed to freedom and peace would prevail.

This is my fervent hope. But as the prime minister of Israel, I cannot risk the future of the Jewish state on wishful thinking. Leaders must see reality as it is, not as it ought to be. We must do our best to shape the future, but we cannot wish away the dangers of the present.

And the world around Israelis definitely becoming more dangerous. Militant Islam has already taken over Lebanon and Gaza. It's determined to tear apart the peace treaties between Israel and Egypt and between Israel and Jordan. It's poisoned many Arab minds against Jews and Israel, against America and the West. It opposes not the policies of Israel but the existence of Israel.

The Theory of Sweeping Offers:

Now, some argue that the spread of militant Islam, especially in these turbulent times - if you want to slow it down, they argue, Israel must hurry to make concessions, to make territorial compromises. And this theory sounds simple. Basically it goes like this: Leave the territory, and peace will be advanced. The moderates will be strengthened, the radicals will be kept at bay. And don't worry about the pesky details of how Israel will actually defend itself; international troops will do the job.

These people say to me constantly: Just make a sweeping offer, and everything will work out. You know, there's only one problem with that theory. We've tried it and it hasn't worked. In 2000 Israel made a sweeping peace offer that met virtually all of the Palestinian demands. Arafat rejected it. The Palestinians then launched a terror attack that claimed a thousand Israeli lives.

Prime Minister Olmert afterwards made an even more sweeping offer, in 2008. President Abbas didn't even respond to it.

But Israel did more than just make sweeping offers. We actually left territory. We withdrew from Lebanon in 2000 and from every square inch of Gaza in 2005. That didn't calm the Islamic storm, the militant Islamic storm that threatens us. It only brought the storm closer and made it stronger.

Hizbullah and Hamas fired thousands of rockets against our cities from the very territories we vacated. See, when Israel left Lebanon and Gaza, the moderates didn't defeat the radicals, the moderates were devoured by the radicals. And I regret to say that international troops like UNIFIL in Lebanon and EUBAM in Gaza didn't stop the radicals from attacking Israel.

We left Gaza hoping for peace.

We didn't freeze the settlements in Gaza, we uprooted them. We did exactly what the theory says: Get out, go back to the 1967 borders, dismantle the settlements.

And I don't think people remember how far we went to achieve this. We uprooted thousands of people from their homes. We pulled children out of their schools and their kindergartens. We bulldozed synagogues. We even moved loved ones from their graves. And then, having done all that, we gave the keys of Gaza to President Abbas.

Now the theory says it should all work out, and President Abbas and the Palestinian Authority now could build a peaceful state in Gaza. You can remember that the entire world applauded. They applauded our withdrawal as an act of great statesmanship. It was a bold act of peace.

But ladies and gentlemen, we didn't get peace. We got war. We got Iran, which through its proxy Hamas promptly kicked out the Palestinian Authority. The Palestinian Authority collapsed in a day - in one day.

Israel’s Security Needs:

President Abbas just said on this podium that the Palestinians are armed only with their hopes and dreams. Yeah, hopes, dreams and 10,000 missiles and Grad rockets supplied by Iran, not to mention the river of lethal weapons now flowing into Gaza from the Sinai, from Libya, and from elsewhere.

Thousands of missiles have already rained down on our cities. So you might understand that, given all this, Israelis rightly ask: What's to prevent this from happening again in the West Bank? See, most of our major cities in the south of the country are within a few dozen kilometers from Gaza. But in the center of the country, opposite the West Bank, our cities are a few hundred meters or at most a few kilometers away from the edge of the West Bank.

So I want to ask you. Would any of you bring danger so close to your cities, to your families? Would you act so recklessly with the lives of your citizens? Israel is prepared to have a Palestinian state in the West Bank, but we're not prepared to have another Gaza there. And that's why we need to have real security arrangements, which the Palestinians simply refuse to negotiate with us.

Israelis remember the bitter lessons of Gaza. Many of Israel's critics ignore them. They irresponsibly advise Israel to go down this same perilous path again. You read what these people say and it's as if nothing happened - just repeating the same advice, the same formulas as though none of this happened.

And these critics continue to press Israel to make far-reaching concessions without first assuring Israel's security. They praise those who unwittingly feed the insatiable crocodile of militant Islam as bold statesmen. They cast as enemies of peace those of us who insist that we must first erect a sturdy barrier to keep the crocodile out, or at the very least jam an iron bar between its gaping jaws.

So in the face of the labels and the libels, Israel must heed better advice. Better a bad press than a good eulogy, and better still would be a fair press whose sense of history extends beyond breakfast, and which recognizes Israel's legitimate security concerns.

I believe that in serious peace negotiations, these needs and concerns can be properly addressed, but they will not be addressed without negotiations. And the needs are many, because Israel is such a tiny country. Without Judea and Samaria, the West Bank, Israel is all of 9 miles wide.

I want to put it for you in perspective, because you're all in the city. That's about two-thirds the length of Manhattan. It's the distance between Battery Park and Columbia University. And don't forget that the people who live in Brooklyn and New Jersey are considerably nicer than some of Israel's neighbors.

So how do you protect such a tiny country, surrounded by people sworn to its destruction and armed to the teeth by Iran? Obviously you can't defend it from within that narrow space alone. Israel needs greater strategic depth, and that's exactly why Security Council Resolution 242 didn't require Israel to leave all the territories it captured in the Six-Day War. It talked about withdrawal from territories, to secure and defensible boundaries. And to defend itself, Israel must therefore maintain a long-term Israeli military presence in critical strategic areas in the West Bank.

I explained this to President Abbas. He answered that if a Palestinian state was to be a sovereign country, it could never accept such arrangements. Why not? America has had troops in Japan, Germany and South Korea for more than a half a century. Britain has had an air base in Cyprus. France has forces in three independent African nations. None of these states claim that they're not sovereign countries.

And there are many other vital security issues that also must be addressed. Take the issue of airspace. Again, Israel's small dimensions create huge security problems. America can be crossed by jet airplane in six hours. To fly across Israel, it takes three minutes. So is Israel's tiny airspace to be chopped in half and given to a Palestinian state not at peace with Israel?

Our major international airport is a few kilometers away from the West Bank. Without peace, will our planes become targets for antiaircraft missiles placed in the adjacent Palestinian state? And how will we stop the smuggling into the West Bank? It's not merely the West Bank, it's the West Bank mountains. It just dominates the coastal plain where most of Israel's population sits below. How could we prevent the smuggling into these mountains of those missiles that could be fired on our cities?

Peace; Palestinian Statehood:

I bring up these problems because they're not theoretical problems. They're very real. And for Israelis, they're life-and-death matters. All these potential cracks in Israel's security have to be sealed in a peace agreement before a Palestinian state is declared, not afterwards, because if you leave it afterwards, they won't be sealed. And these problems will explode in our face and explode the peace.

The Palestinians should first make peace with Israel and then get their state. But I also want to tell you this. After such a peace agreement is signed, Israel will not be the last country to welcome a Palestinian state as a new member of the United Nations. We will be the first.

Gilad Shalit:

And there's one more thing. Hamas has been violating international law by holding our soldier Gilad Shalit captive for five years.

They haven't given even one Red Cross visit. He's held in a dungeon, in darkness, against all international norms. Gilad Shalit is the son of Aviva and Noam Shalit. He is the grandson of Zvi Shalit, who escaped the Holocaust by coming in the 1930s as a boy to the land of Israel. Gilad Shalit is the son of every Israeli family. Every nation represented here should demand his immediate release. If you want to pass a resolution about the Middle East today, that's the resolution you should pass.

The Jewish State:

Ladies and gentlemen, last year in Israel in Bar-Ilan University, this year in the Knesset and in the U.S. Congress, I laid out my vision for peace in which a demilitarized Palestinian state recognizes the Jewish state. Yes, the Jewish state. After all, this is the body that recognized the Jewish state 64 years ago. Now, don't you think it's about time that Palestinians did the same?

The Jewish state of Israel will always protect the rights of all its minorities, including the more than one million Arab citizens of Israel. I wish I could say the same thing about a future Palestinian state, for as Palestinian officials made clear the other day - in fact, I think they made it right here in New York - they said the Palestinian state won't allow any Jews in it. They'll be Jew-free - Judenrein. That's ethnic cleansing. There are laws today in Ramallah that make the selling of land to Jews punishable by death. That's racism. And you know which laws this evokes.

Israel has no intention whatsoever to change the democratic character of our state. We just don't want the Palestinians to try to change the Jewish character of our state. We want to give up the fantasy of flooding Israel with millions of Palestinians.

The Core of the Conflict is Not Settlements:

President Abbas just stood here, and he said that the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the settlements. Well, that's odd. Our conflict was raging for nearly half a century before there was a single Israeli settlement in the West Bank. So if what President Abbas is saying was true, then I guess that the settlements he's talking about are Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jaffa, Be'er Sheva. Maybe that's what he meant the other day when he said that Israel has been occupying Palestinian land for 63 years. He didn't say from 1967; he said from1948. I hope somebody will bother to ask him this question because it illustrates a simple truth: The core of the conflict is not the settlements. The settlements are a result of the conflict.

The settlements have to be - it's an issue that has to be addressed and resolved in the course of negotiations. But the core of the conflict has always been and unfortunately remains the refusal of the Palestinians to recognize a Jewish state in any border.

The Need for Compromises:

I think it's time that the Palestinian leadership recognizes what every serious international leader has recognized, from Lord Balfour and Lloyd George in 1917, to President Truman in1948, to President Obama just two days ago right here: Israel is the Jewish state.

President Abbas, stop walking around this issue. Recognize the Jewish state, and make peace with us. In such a genuine peace, Israel is prepared to make painful compromises. We believe that the Palestinians should be neither the citizens of Israel nor its subjects. They should live in a free state of their own. But they should be ready, like us, for compromise. And we will know that they're ready for compromise and for peace when they start taking Israel's security requirements seriously and when they stop denying our historical connection to our ancient homeland.

The Connection of the Jewish People to Israel:

I often hear them accuse Israel of Judaizing Jerusalem. That's like accusing America of Americanizing Washington, or the British of Anglicizing London. You know why we're called "Jews"? Because we come from Judea.

In my office in Jerusalem, there's an ancient seal. It's a signet ring of a Jewish official from the time of the Bible. The seal was found right next to the Western Wall, and it dates back 2,700 years, to the time of King Hezekiah. Now, there's a name of the Jewish official inscribed on the ring in Hebrew. His name was Netanyahu. That's my last name. My first name, Benjamin, dates back a thousand years earlier to Benjamin - Binyamin - the son of Jacob, who was also known as Israel. Jacob and his 12 sons roamed these same hills of Judea and Samaria 4,000 years ago, and there's been a continuous Jewish presence in the land ever since.

And for those Jews who were exiled from our land, they never stopped dreaming of coming back: Jews in Spain, on the eve of their expulsion; Jews in the Ukraine, fleeing the pogroms; Jews fighting the Warsaw Ghetto, as the Nazis were circling around it. They never stopped praying, they never stopped yearning. They whispered: Next year in Jerusalem. Next year in the promised land.

As the prime minister of Israel, I speak for a hundred generations of Jews who were dispersed throughout the lands, who suffered every evil under the sun, but who never gave up hope of restoring their national life in the one and only Jewish state.


Ladies and gentlemen, I continue to hope that President Abbas will be my partner in peace. I've worked hard to advance that peace. The day I came into office, I called for direct negotiations without preconditions. President Abbas didn't respond. I outlined a vision of peace of two states for two peoples. He still didn't respond. I removed hundreds of roadblocks and checkpoints, to ease freedom of movement in the Palestinian areas; this facilitated a fantastic growth in the Palestinian economy. But again - no response. I took the unprecedented step of freezing new buildings in the settlements for 10 months. No prime minister did that before, ever. Once again - you applaud, but there was no response. No response.

In the last few weeks, American officials have put forward ideas to restart peace talks. There were things in those ideas about borders that I didn't like. There were things there about the Jewish state that I'm sure the Palestinians didn't like.

But with all my reservations, I was willing to move forward on these American ideas.

President Abbas, why don't you join me? We have to stop negotiating about the negotiations. Let's just get on with it. Let's negotiate peace.

I spent years defending Israel on the battlefield. I spent decades defending Israel in the court of public opinion. President Abbas, you've dedicated your life to advancing the Palestinian cause. Must this conflict continue for generations, or will we be able our children and our grandchildren to speak in years ahead of how we found a way to end it? That's what we should aim for, and that's what I believe we can achieve.

In two and a half years, we met in Jerusalem only once, even though my door has always been open to you. If you wish, I'll come to Ramallah. Actually, I have a better suggestion. We've both just flown thousands of miles to New York. Now we're in the same city. We're in the same building. So let's meet here today in the United Nations. Who's there to stop us? What is there to stop us? If we genuinely want peace, what is there to stop us from meeting today and beginning peace negotiations?

And I suggest we talk openly and honestly. Let's listen to one another. Let's do as we say in the Middle East: Let's talk "doogri". That means straightforward. I'll tell you my needs and concerns. You'll tell me yours. And with God's help, we'll find the common ground of peace.

There's an old Arab saying that you cannot applaud with one hand. Well, the same is true of peace. I cannot make peace alone. I cannot make peace without you. President Abbas, I extend my hand - the hand of Israel - in peace. I hope that you will grasp that hand. We are both the sons of Abraham. My people call him Avraham. Your people call him Ibrahim. We share the same patriarch. We dwell in the same land. Our destinies are intertwined.

Let us realize the vision of Isaiah:

"העם ההולכים בחושך ראו אור גדול"

"The people who walk in darkness will see a great light."

Let that light be the light of peace.