Friday, November 11, 2011

Searching (in vain) for one Palestinian Moderate

From the Jerusalem Post, November 10, 2011, (and Word from Jerusalem) by Isi Leibler

The Bible tells us that God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah despite Abraham’s intercession, after he was unable to identify even ten righteous people in these cities.

Alas, I believe that if one were to review the entire spectrum of Palestinian political, religious and intellectual leadership, one would be unable to identify even a single righteous or moderate Palestinian leader, committed towards achieving a genuine peace.

We are repeatedly being told that President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority are our genuine peace partners and that we are unlikely to find more moderate Palestinians with whom to negotiate.
Yet Abbas, who obtained his “PhD” justifying holocaust denial:
  • refuses to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, insists that the “occupation” dates back to 1948 and even denies any Jewish link with the Holy Land.
  • sanctifies mass murderers of Israeli women and children by bestowing honor on the killers and granting state pensions to their families.
  • rules over an authority in which the controlled media, mosques and state educational system incite hatred against Jews and deny Israel’s right to exist.
  • endorses the execution of any Palestinian who sold land to a Jew.
  • assures his people that any future Palestinian state will be entirely cleansed of Jews.
  • is committed to reuniting with the genocidal Islamic Hamas whose charter calls for the murder of all Jews and the elimination of Israel.
Besides refusing to negotiate with Israel, Abbas effectively rejected offers made by former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to cede 95% of the territories conquered in response to Jordan’s offensive against Israel.

Indeed, the more Israelis concede, the more Abbas demands. Today he has escalated the issue of so-called Arab right of return of refugees to Palestine as a non-negotiable demand, despite realizing that this would bring an end to Jewish sovereignty which no Israeli government could contemplate.

On the surface, the PA appears moderate compared to Hamas. But their objectives are identical. Abbas speaks with a forked tongue and is vague about his long-term goals when he addresses non-Arab audiences, whereas Hamas is completely honest and boasts that it will never negotiate and will continue to fight until the Jewish state is destroyed.

Some PA leaders are now becoming less inhibited. Only a few weeks ago, a prominent Fatah leader explicitly proclaimed that a Palestinian State would merely represent the first stepping stone towards the ultimate objective of eliminating the Jewish state. Unfortunately, all opinion polls demonstrate that the Palestinian masses have been brainwashed and endorse these views.

Professor Sari Nusseibeh, the president of Bir Zeit University, was hailed by many naive Israelis as a Palestinian model of moderation. Dr. Yossi Beilin referred to him as a living testimony to the fact that Oslo was not a failure.

Nearly 10 years ago I challenged the bona fides of Nusseibeh, pointing out that he was appointed by, reported to, and accepted instructions from Arafat. I observed that political dissidents under Arafat’s authority had extraordinarily limited lifespans and suggested that Nusseibeh’s role was to provide the PA with a moderate face to the Western world. His amiable and soothing approach was obviously designed to revive Israel's fond memories of the "irreversible peace process" and Arafat’s cynical "peace of the brave".

Whereas Nusseibeh did in fact call for an end to violence and condemned boycotts, he was also recorded in a Palestinian television program expressing sympathy and praising a militant mother of a suicide bomber whom he referred to as "a soldier dying in battle". He always took care not to pass judgment on suicide bombers, merely questioning the benefits of the strategy rather than its morality.

He was often bracketed with Arafat’s Jerusalem representative, the late Faisal Husseini, who was also considered a “moderate" throughout most of his life. Yet following his death, Husseini was quoted in an Egyptian newspaper interview, stating 
"we must distinguish our strategies and long-term goals from the political phased goals which we are compelled to accept due to international pressures". The "ultimate goal is the liberation of all historic Palestine… Oslo has to be viewed as a Trojan horse".

In a lengthy article recently published on the Al Jazeera website, Nusseibeh set aside his cloak of moderation and, like Faisal Hussein, demonstrated that despite the sophisticated chatter, he was no more moderate than any of his Palestinian counterparts.

His article is a passionate opposition towards recognizing Israel as a Jewish state. The arguments he employs, arguing that Jews should be the only people denied the right to statehood, testify to the fact that his moderation is a sham.

He warns that were Israel to be recognized as a Jewish state, it would become an “apartheid” entity. Not only would Israel's Arabs be stripped of their citizenship and other rights, but they would also be killed like the ancient Canaanites and Jebusites were by the Israelites according to the Bible.

He conveniently ignores that Israel as a Jewish state was the rationale for its creation by the United Nations in 1947. He also overlooks the inconsistency that the new Palestinian entity would be governed by sharia law and cleansed of any Jews and that there is no Arab country which remotely extends similar rights to minorities comparable to Israel.

Furthermore he has the gall to condemn Jewish intolerance towards other faiths in Jerusalem, disregarding the fact that it was only when Jerusalem came under Jewish sovereignty in 1967, that freedom of religious association and worship were extended for the first time to all religions – in dramatic contrast to the manner in which the Jordanians ruled the city.

Adopting the Abbas UN approach, Nusseibeh also reneged on his previous call to Palestinians to cease promoting the right of return for Palestinian refugees to Israel. He actually insisted – hold your breath – that 7 million diaspora Palestinians are entitled to repatriation or compensation.

Nusseibeh’s turnaround reaffirms that there is not a single Palestinian leader of political, religious, or intellectual distinction who could be described as a moderate and would be willing to support a negotiated settlement to achieve genuine peace deal with the Jewish state.

And in this insane Alice in Wonderland global environment, we are being told to deal with these bigots as though they were genuine peace partners.

The reality is that appeasing these hypocrites, far from bringing us closer to peace, merely embolden the radicals who confront us with ever escalating demands which few of the original architects of Oslo – certainly not Yitzhak Rabin – would ever have conceded.

To the world and those calling on us to continue providing unilateral concessions - which without exception weakened our position and encouraged our adversaries - I make one challenge: Please identify one single Palestinian leader or intellectual who genuinely advocated moderation and was not assassinated.

It's Time to Hit Iran

From BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 154, November 10, 2011, by Prof. Efraim Inbar*:

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The recent IAEA report reaffirms suspicions that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons. While this might generate an additional round of sanctions on Iran, these are unlikely to bring about change in Iran's nuclear policy. 

Israel will soon face a difficult decision on whether to deal a military blow to Iran's nuclear installations – unless the US lives up to its superpower responsibilities. 

A US strike on Iranian nuclear infrastructure is not only necessary, it is also the only course of action that can prevent the impending American retreat from Iraq and Afghanistan from signaling the denouement of US clout in the Middle East.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) this week finally submitted a report expressing “serious concerns” about activities within Iran’s nuclear program that indicate a clear military dimension, though this continues to be denied by Tehran. The report confirms what Israel has claimed for years – that Iran is in pursuit of a nuclear bomb. There is nothing in this report that has not been known to Western intelligence agencies for some time.

The report reveals the Iranian strategy of creating an impenetrable fog around its nuclear program and procrastinating in its negotiations with the West in order to buy time while building a nuclear weapon. Yet, the radical Islamist regime in Tehran has continued to deny the truth, contending that the IAEA allegations are based on fake documents. Moreover, the Russians and the Chinese also doubt the report's validity, questioning whether there could be a different, more benign interpretation to the facts gathered therein.

Will the report make any difference? Probably not.

The IAEA under the leadership of Yukiya Amano deserves credit for calling a spade a spade and not giving in to Russian, Chinese and Iranian pressures. Amano has restored some credibility to the IAEA, which under former Director General Mohamed Baradei had largely become an accomplice of Iran. But following the report's publication, the access of the IAEA to sensitive installations in Iran will probably be greatly curtailed.

Nevertheless, the IAEA report puts the Iranian nuclear issue back onto the international agenda, at least for a while, after a period when the so-called “Arab Spring” deflected much attention away from it. The recent publication of leaked information about a possible and/or impending Israeli military action against Iranian nuclear installations also serves to focus international attentions in an effective manner.

The West, particularly the US, may now find it more difficult to ignore Iran's progress on the nuclear path or to dismiss the additional evidence disclosed about duplicitous Iranian behavior. Indeed, senior officials in Western capitals have indicated the need to consider more stringent sanctions on Iran in order to convince Iranian decision-makers to stop uranium enrichment and weaponization. Yet, truly “crippling” sanctions against Iran may never be implemented since Russia and China are unlikely to support such steps. Actually, there is no certainty that most of Europe will agree to this move since, despite the lip service to anti-Iran policies, German firms, among others, continue to trade freely with the Mullahs. This is reminiscent of the days when Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, who was developing long-range missiles and chemical weapons, was courted by European merchants.

Israel may find satisfaction in being proven right – again. But the bitter truth is that most of the world does not want to hear the troubling news about Iran, particularly if military action might be needed to correct the situation. That is why much of the world has done very little so far to avert the emergence of a nuclear Iran. It prefers to assume an ostrich posture, ignoring the dangers to the Middle East and beyond that are likely to result from Iranian nuclear proliferation.

Moreover, Western elites have fooled themselves into thinking that the Iranians can be dissuaded from building an atomic weapon by economic sanctions. These Westerners have difficulty comprehending that the rulers in Tehran are ready to allow their people to suffer in order to attain a nuclear weapon, which is a political objective of great importance. The bomb is needed to gain influence in the Middle East and in the world. But above all, it is critical for the survival of the Iranian regime because it is useful in deterring foreign intervention.

Unfortunately, US President Obama and various European leaders recently reinforced a lesson that the Iranians have likely already internalized: that giving up weapons of mass destruction and cooperating with the West does not guarantee regime survival; rather, it makes you vulnerable to Western military attacks. This of course was the moral of the Western military intervention in Libya to topple Qadaffi.

No matter what diplomatic activity emanates from the IAEA report, the Iranians will be rewarded with more time. Thus far, their strategy of gaining time has worked remarkably well. As the clock keeps ticking, Iran is moving closer to obtaining nuclear weapons.

Not surprisingly, this means that Israel may be left alone to deal with a problem that threatens more than just the Jewish state. Israel has done the world's "dirty work" in the past by attacking the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981 and the Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007. It may soon face another difficult decision.

The big question now is whether the US will live up to its superpower responsibilities. Obama does not seem fit for this type of job. Yet, a recent visit of mine to Washington gave me a glimmer of hope. The “arms control crusaders” in America understand that if Iran goes nuclear the whole international arms control architecture would collapse. Their pressure, together with the presidential promise not to allow Iran to become a nuclear power, in addition to electoral difficulties, might yet bring about a muscular American response.

A strong American action would be highly favorable since America is currently in retreat from Iraq and Afghanistan. The only way to withdraw respectably from the Middle East is with a big bang in Iran. In fact, this is what most of America’s friends in the region, who fear a nuclear Iran and a declining US, desperately pray for.

*Efraim Inbar is Professor of Political Studies and Director of the Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University.

Much good news and some worrying results in new study of Muslim public opinion in Canada

November 1, 2011, Ottawa, ON – At a time when Muslims constitute one of Canada’s fastest growing immigrant communities and Islam the fastest-growing religion, Canadians will find much to reassure them, but also much to ponder, in a new study of Muslim public opinion in Canada published today by the Macdonald-Laurier Institute (MLI). Entitled What Do Muslim Canadians Want?, the study examines the values and opinions of a sample of Canadian Muslims in order to understand their varied and extremely diverse attitudes on Canada and its institutions, terrorism, foreign policy, and Sharia law.

According to the authors, Christian Leuprecht (Associate Professor, Royal Military College of Canada) and Conrad Winn (President of COMPAS Research and Professor of Political Science, Carleton University), the most encouraging finding is the general tendency to see Canada as welcoming and pluralistic, not racist. The Canadian Muslims surveyed admire immensely Canada’s freedoms and lawfulness despite belief that social acceptance, the media’s treatment of Muslims, and hiring practices are not always everything that they could be.

The positive views of Canadian society and political system among Canadian Muslims surveyed are good news. So too is the large majority opposition to Al Qaeda among respondents. Almost two-thirds (65%)  “repudiate absolutely” this Islamist terrorist organisation.

On the other hand, a significant minority of respondents do not. As Winn and Leuprecht note

“From a security perspective, it is difficult to know if a 65% rate of repudiation [of Al Qaeda] is re-assuring or a 35% failure to repudiate troubling.”

Also troubling is the news that only a small minority of Muslim newcomers surveyed unequivocally reject Hamas, Hezbollah, or the Iranian regime. Support for the Muslim Brotherhood was stronger than expected, and not limited to Muslims who emigrated from the Middle East.

Support for extremism was found to be just as high among Muslims born in Canada or other industrialized countries as among those coming from oppressive dictatorships, and
“the most radical political views tended to be expressed by relatively secular people, often equipped with higher education in the social sciences, while devout Muslims were sometimes the most articulate advocates for Canada and democracy.”

Among other conclusions in the study one finds:
  • On the introduction of Sharia law, responses were varied. The Canadian Muslims surveyed were not strongly opposed to a Caliphate or even moderately opposed to at least some role for Sharia law.
  • Canadian Muslim respondents had differing opinions about Israel and the United States. They reject the foreign policies of both countries while strongly embracing the United States as a relatively non-racist society.
  • Opposition to all forms of extremism seems to be highest among immigrants from Iran, a leader among extremist regimes, while lower among those arriving from the Middle East.
  • Support for extremism seems stronger than average among those who participate in meetings of small religious study groups. The apparent socialization effect of study groups and the effects of national origin warrant further research because the patterns are not entirely clear-cut.
Leuprecht and Winn conclude,
“The sheer complexity of Muslim opinion, including its apparent variation by national origin, cries out for more and better research on its character, causes and extent. That a thoughtful minority of Muslim newcomers come to Canada to escape extremism and embrace pluralism is a cause for much celebration. So too is the fact that many Muslim newcomers to Ottawa and Canada are so admiring of Canada’s freedoms and lawfulness. That only a small minority of Muslim newcomers unequivocally reject terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah or the Iranian regime gives pause for thought.

In an effort to shed further light on these complex and diverse findings, MLI commissioned commentaries on the study’s results by three well-known analysts with recognized expertise in the field of Muslim public opinion, integration with Western society, terrorism and other themes raised in the main study: 
  • Salim Mansur, Professor of Political Science at the University of Western Ontario and author of Delectable Lie: A liberal repudiation of multiculturalism; 
  • Alex Wilner, Senior Fellow in Terrorism and Security at MLI and Senior Fellow at the Center for Security Studies at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology; a
  • Daniel Pipes, President of the Middle East Forum in Washington, DC and Taube Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University.
These commentaries are included with the main paper.

In his piece, Alex Wilner focuses chiefly on the issues of terrorism and counter-terrorism: “In the coming years Canada will have to decide how best to tackle homegrown Islamist radicalization. Empirical studies, like this MLI report, will have to lead the way in both identifying patterns of radicalization more broadly while simultaneously distinguishing the markers and characteristics of violent radicalization in particular. Canadians are also going to have to openly debate the goals and priorities of their counter-radicalization strategy.”

Salim Mansur underlines what Leuprecht and Winn have to tell us, but also the work that remains to be done: “If the purpose of such surveys is to assess the opinion of Canada’s Muslim population, then the findings are mostly reassuring and confirm…that ‘Canadian Muslims appear to be the most contented, moderate and, well, Canadian in the developed world.’ But in the post-9/11 world and in the context of the “war on terror”…we need studies whose purpose is to identify that segment of the Canadian Muslim population where the most likely source of Islamist threat to security is embedded.”

In what might be a fitting conclusion to the entire publication, in his commentary Daniel Pipes cautiously strikes a positive note about how Canada and its Muslim minority’s moderate mainstream can offer a model to the world:
“The Leuprecht-Winn study reveals a number of problematic attitudes, from desire for Sharia to support for Al-Qaeda, but it also establishes that Canada has the most moderate, diverse, and open Muslim population in the West. Not only is this an advantage to build on but it suggests a potential role for moderate Canadian Muslims to take their message and perhaps their institutions to other Western countries.”

*The paper, What Do Muslim Canadians Want?, is MLI’s latest True North publication.

What took them so long?

National Post · Nov. 10, 2011, by *:

IAEA director-general Mohamed ElBaradei speaks during a media conference in Tehran in 2009.
Caren Firouz, Reuters
IAEA director-general Mohamed ElBaradei speaks during a media conference in Tehran in 2009.

A new report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) offers a detailed list of evidence in regard to Iran's clandestine efforts to build a nuclear device and fit it onto longrange missiles.

This is a remarkable turnaround for a UN body that, for years, couched its conclusions in vague technical language. For example, on June 3, 2008, then-IAEA director-general Mohamed ElBaradei told his board of governors that 
"It should be noted that the agency currently has no information - apart from the uranium metal document - on the actual design or manufacture by Iran of nuclear material components, of a nuclear weapon or of certain other key components, such as initiators, or on related nuclear physics studies."
In light of the latest report, the sentence above seems to be an astonishingly misleading remark. 

For years, IAEA had access to information about Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons. But under the leadership of ElBaradei - a career diplomat now running for president in his native Egypt - the agency fudged its language, perhaps out of fear that offering all available data would provide the United States or Israel a pretext for a military strike against Iran. As a result, the IAEA ended up providing Iran, and its Russian and Chinese enablers, plausible deniability.

The IAEA's new director general, Yukiya Amano, seems to be cut from different cloth. Since he took office, the agency's pronouncements have been more clear, and less politically motivated. Had ElBaradei taken the same approach, the truth about Iran's programs would have been known sooner. So much for his 2005 Nobel Peace Prize.

U.S. intelligence agencies also have some reckoning to do. When, in December 2007, they jointly released key findings on Iran's nuclear program - the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) - their unclassified language appeared to suggest that Iran had stopped pursuing nuclear weapons. The document undermined not only those calling for military action, but also those calling for tougher international sanctions. Even Iranian officials took to quoting the NIE as evidence of their innocence.

The IAEA has now confirmed that some of the weaponization work for Iran's nuclear programme was indeed halted in 2003, as U.S. intelligence reported. But it also makes clear that various other nuclear weapons-related activities continued - in particular, Iran's continuing quest for fissile material. Technically speaking, U.S. intelligence was correct in reporting that weaponization had been suspended. Practically speaking, though, bomb-making continued.

The IAEA report also discredits the European Union's dual-track approach to Iran. European leaders assumed that dialogue and sanctions could persuade the country's leaders to change course. Sanctions might have slowed Iran down, but failed to change its leaders' minds. By all evidence, Iran is still building a nuclear weapon and trying to fit it on a long-range missile.

The IAEA report comes late. But better late than not at all. This truthtelling exercise might finally motivate the international community to emerge from its slumber and act before it is too late.

*Emanuele Ottolenghi is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the author of Pasdaran: Inside Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards' Corps (FDD Press, September 2011).

The Enemy of America Is a "Muslims' Friend", No Matter What

From Huffington Post, 9 Nov 2011, by Tarek Fatah:

It seems we Muslims have developed an entirely new doctrine that determines who is friend or foe and have added it as a new tenet of our faith.

A country could ride roughshod over its Muslim population, jail us, ban our language and religious practices, send tanks to crush our fight for fundamental human rights. Yet, such a nation could escape any criticism from the world's one billion Muslims if it met one condition: It should be seen as anti-American. All sins seem to be forgiven and forgotten if our oppressor hates the USA.

On the other hand, no matter how Muslim-friendly a power, no matter how much it tries to accomodate its Muslim population, if it happens to be a U.S. ally, e.g., Canada, it'll be seen as an adversary, if not an enemy.

Take for instance China. It has a history of crushing the rights of its Muslim Uighur population. Hundreds have died over decades. Their country, Kashgaria, remains occupied by the Chinese with impunity, but there is nary a word of protest anywhere in the Muslim majority countries.

As long as China postures as a nation standing up to the USA, my Muslim co-religionists, especially the Islamist variety thriving in the West, couldn't care less what China does to its Muslim citizens.
In May 2010, 140 Chinese Muslims died in clashes with the Chinese security forces.

However, next door in Pakistan, Islamists as well as the government didn't utter a word of protest. Imagine if 140 Gazans or even 14 had died in an Israeli incursion. Just imagine the reaction. However, in the Arab World, Iran, Pakistan or Turkey, the hundred dead Chinese Muslims didn't create as much as a ripple. After all, China was an ally against the Great Satan, America.

It is not just Muslim Kashgaria. China has occupied Tibet for the last over 50 years, but this occupation does not bother the conscience of any American Islamic organisation when they obsessively talk about other occupations.

This year, as millions of Muslims worldwide went to Saudi Arabia for the annual pilgrimage of Hajj, guess which country placed hurdles in the way of its Muslim citizens. The hated USA? Not. It was China. Beijing barred its Uighur Muslims from Hajj by denying them passports to travel.

"We cannot get a passport," the father of Mehmet Ali, not his real name, told the Indian newspaper, The Hindu. "If we want to go on a government trip, we will have to pay 70,000 Yuan. Even we can afford it, it's difficult to get the approval."

Then there is Russia, where Russian nationalists have often marched in Nazi uniforms demanding an end to Muslim presence in Moscow. It is not uncommon for Russian Muslims to be beaten or harassed in Russia's major metropolitan areas.

On the eve of the anniversary of the Bolsehvik Revolution this year, 5,000 young men chanting "Russia for Russians" and "Migrants today, occupiers tomorrow," marched through a working-class neighbourhoods on the outskirts of the capital where Russian Muslims from the Caucasus live.

The Associated Press reports that violently xenophobic groups kill and beat non-Slavs and crudely denounce the influx of Muslims from the Caucasus and from Central Asian Muslim countries that were once part of the Soviet Union. Among the banners carried during one demonstration was, "Stop feeding the Caucasus."
None of this blatant anti-Muslim hysteria is ever condemned at the UN or by the OIC, the Organization of Islamic Countries. If governments of Muslim majority countries were silent, so are the ordinary Muslims living in the West.

So brainwashed are we Muslims about our supposed victimhood and the rise of "Islamophobia" in the USA that we overlook what is happening to our co-religionists in Russia or China. The lingering hatred of the West and its values that seek to end gender apartheid among Muslims, is so ubiquitous that both Russia and China's crimes against Muslims are set aside as long as both countries undermine American policies.

Are Muslims who live in the West blind to the democratic rights and equal citizenship we enjoy? Sure, we Muslims have faced obstacles, but they are dwarfed when when compared to the struggles of Christian African-American or the Japanese-Americans during the Second World War. Today we Muslims are part of the fabric of Western civilization, even if many of us come to these shores as tired masses from the East--Pakistan, Egypt, Iran or Indonesia. In fact, one son of a Muslim immigrant from Kenya rose to become the president of the USA.

Can we ever imagine a Fareed Zakaria or an Ali Velshi on Moscow or Beijing Television network? Could Khaled Hosseini ever be a best-selling author in Russia? Where else but in the West could a Muslim woman become a baroness and head the ruling Conservative Party in the UK. Could my friend the Danish parliamentarian Naser Khadr ever get elected in China, or French feminist Rachida Dati become an MP in Moscow? Impossible.

But it is Russia and China that are eulogized in the Muslim media while America, France, Canada and the UK are derided as the evil empire out to destroy Islam.

It used to be said that to become a Muslim one had to make a single declaration affirming the oneness of God. Today, however, it seems Islam has been reduced to a single declaration: Death to America.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Finnish delusions

From The Jerusalem Post, November 7, 2011, by Efraim Karsh*:

 Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja has done it again. No sooner did this 1960s radical ease himself back into the foreign minister's seat after four years in the opposition than he unveiled again his anti- Israel prejudice.
"No apartheid state is justified or sustainable," he told a panel discussion in Helsinki last week. "If you are occupying areas inhabited by... Palestinians who do not have the same rights as the Israelis in Israel, that is apartheid.... I think that the majority in Israel has also realized this, but they have been unable to provide a leadership that [can] move forward on the two-state solution, on the Palestinian problem."
As the longest-serving foreign minister in Finland's history (2000-2007, 2011-present) one would have expected Tuomioja to show greater familiarity with the facts. For one thing, all Israeli prime ministers over the past two decades – from Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres to Ariel Sharon and Binyamin Netanyahu – have unequivocally endorsed the two-state solution, whereas all Palestinian leaders have rejected this solution, refusing to allow a single Jew to live in a prospective Palestinian state. For another, Israel's "occupation" of the populated areas in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip ended in the mid-1990s.
The declaration of principles signed on the White House lawn in 1993 by the PLO and the Israeli government provided for Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip for a transitional period, during which Israel and the Palestinians would negotiate a permanent peace settlement. By May 1994, Israel had completed its withdrawal from Gaza (apart from a small stretch of territory containing settlements in the south of the Strip, which was vacated in 2005) and the Jericho area of the West Bank. On July 1, PLO chairman Yasser Arafat made his triumphant entry into Gaza.
On September 28, 1995, despite Arafat's abysmal failure to clamp down on terrorist activities in the territories now under his control, the two parties signed an interim agreement, and by the end of the year Israeli forces had been withdrawn from the West Bank's populated areas, with the exception of Hebron (where redeployment was completed in early 1997). On January 20, 1996, elections to the Palestinian Legislative Council were held, and shortly afterward, both the Israeli civil administration and the military government were dissolved.
The geographical scope of these withdrawals was relatively limited; the surrendered land amounted to some 30 percent of the West Bank's overall territory. But its impact on the Palestinian population was nothing short of revolutionary. In one fell swoop, Israel relinquished control over virtually all of the West Bank's 1.4 million residents. Since that time, nearly 60% of them – in the Jericho area and in the seven main cities of Jenin, Nablus, Tulkarm, Kalkilya, Ramallah, Bethlehem and Hebron – have lived entirely under Palestinian jurisdiction. Another 40% live in towns, villages, refugee camps and hamlets where the Palestinian Authority exercises civil authority but where, in line with the Oslo accords, Israel has maintained "overriding responsibility for security."
In short, since the beginning of 1996, and certainly following the completion of the Hebron redeployment in January 1997, 99% of the Palestinian residents of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have not lived under Israeli occupation; rather, they have been under the jurisdiction of the Arafat-led PA.
But a person like Tuomioja wouldn't be bothered with such facts as far as the Jewish state is concerned. Time and again, he has allowed his anti-Israel animosity to get the better of him. In an infamous 2001 interview, he compared Israel's attempts to protect its citizens from the savage terror war launched by Arafat's PA in September 2000 to the Nazi persecution of European Jewry: "It is quite shocking that some implement the same kind of policy toward the Palestinians which they themselves were victims of in the 1930s."
Ignoring criticism of this comparison, which subsequently became an integral component of the EU's working definition of anti-Semitism, he told the same Finnish magazine four years later that he "could have avoided many unnecessary reactions with a different wording, but the matter itself has not changed in any way."
Nor, for that matter, does Tuomioja seem to believe that the Jewish state has any right to self-defense. In 2003, he used the apartheid metaphor to denounce the erection of the security fence, which has done more than any other single factor to slash the tidal wave of Palestinian terrorism, though Finland has long had a similar fence along its border with the Soviet Union/Russia. When Israel responded to years of Gaza rocket attacks on its towns and villages by unleashing Operation Cast Lead in December 2008, Tuomioja, now chairman of the Parliament Grand Committee, condemned this supposed disproportionate use of force. When IDF commandos killed eight Islamist militants in violent clashes on board a Turkish ship trying to break the naval blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza in June 2009, he demanded that "trade and other ties with Israel should be linked to Israel's regard for international law and commitment to the peace process."
One could have dismissed Tuomioja's musings as a desperate ploy by an aging politician to regain his luster after the highly successful term of his predecessor – the charismatic Alexander Stubb, 22 years his junior – had Finland not been aggressively campaigning for the rotating Security Council seat for the 2013-2014 term. Next time Abbas touts his Jew-free revanchist state to the council, he is likely to find an eager collaborator.
*The writer is research professor of Middle East and Mediterranean studies at King's College London, director of the Middle East Forum (Philadelphia) and author, most recently, of Palestine Betrayed.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Palestinians' U.N. bid moves closer to rejection

From the NEW YORK TIMES, Thursday, November 3, 2011, by NEIL MacFARQUHAR:

The Palestinian bid for membership at the United Nations, which was doomed from the start by the threat of a U.S. veto, moved another notch closer to rejection Thursday at the Security Council, diplomats said.

The council's membership committee met in private, with member states laying out their individual positions on the Palestinians' request, said the diplomats, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The membership committee is trying to produce a report by Tuesday, and indications are that the group will be unable to reach a consensus.
The report is likely to be a dry document that says some committee members support the Palestinians' bid and others oppose it. A vote to forward the report to the General Assembly will probably take place Nov. 11, diplomats said.
But a vote on the membership request itself — which was intended by the Palestinians to represent international recognition of statehood — might even be skipped if none of the 15 Security Council members demands one.
It seems unlikely that the Palestinians will be able to muster the nine votes needed to approve the membership resolution, which would allow the U.S. to avoid a veto.
Admission to the U.N. as a full member state requires a recommendation from the 15-member Security Council, with a majority of nine votes and no veto from the five permanent members, including the U.S. A submission then would go to the General Assembly, where approval would require a two-thirds vote of the 193 members.
Some European nations that might have been expected to support the Palestinian bid since have said they would abstain, including France and Bosnia, diplomats said.