Thursday, December 06, 2012

"Palestinian state": out of control, terrorist, undemocratic and bankrupt

From The Australian, December 03, 2012, by Ron Prosor:
FOR more than a year, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has attempted to bypass peace negotiations with Israel by unilaterally seeking state recognition at the UN.
Instead of pulling him back from this cliff, the UN's General Assembly this week may push him over the edge.
Many nations in the assembly are taking a far more Pavlovian than Washingtonian approach to Palestinian statehood. Perhaps this should not come as a surprise. For decades the body has rubber-stamped any Palestinian whim, no matter how ill-advised, ill-conceived or illogical.
The time is right to break this habit. It doesn't take an architect to recognise how poorly Palestinians have laid the foundations for statehood in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. UN members considering Palestinian statehood have a duty to inspect these foundations and ask: Exactly what kind of state are we voting for?
• A state with no control over its territory: the Palestinian Authority has zero authority in Gaza today. Out of concern for his personal safety, Mr Abbas has not even seen this area with binoculars since 2007, when the Hamas terrorist organisation seized control of it in a bloody coup.
Demonstrating their affection for Mr Abbas, Hamas threw members of his political party off 12-storey rooftops. While members of the US congress visit their constituents on a weekly basis, Mr Abbas hasn't laid eyes on almost half of the Palestinian population for six years.
• A terrorist state: states recognised by the UN must pledge to be "peace-loving". This month, Hamas showed its commitment to peace and love in Gaza by firing more than 1200 rockets into Israeli cities.
The terrorist group has used every resource at its disposal to repress its own population or attack Israel's. It has transformed Gaza into a haven for global jihadist organisations such as al-Qa'ida. The family of nations does not need another member whose primary import is deadly weapons and whose chief exports are extremism, hatred and terror.
• An undemocratic state: Hamas has imposed brutal tyranny in Gaza, and Palestinian democracy in the West Bank is also far from Jeffersonian.
Mr Abbas's mandate to rule expired three years ago. He continues to personally extend it without elections or consultation from his people. He may have a flexible view of his own term limits, but his ideas about freedom of speech are more rigid. Journalists, bloggers and activists continue to be jailed and tortured in the West Bank for crimes such as "extending their tongues against the Palestinian President".
• A bankrupt state: Palestinian Authority institutions remain completely dependent on foreign aid, limping from crisis to crisis.
Yet this year, as the PA threatened to delay payroll for many employees, it tripled payments to convicted terrorists. Today the PA devotes 6 per cent of its yearly budget to payments for imprisoned terrorists and the families of suicide bombers, and less than 1 per cent to higher education.
In mosques, schools and official media, the PA glorifies terror and promotes incitement against Israelis. Instead of using budgets for nation-building, it uses them for nation-sinking.
Before placing its seal of approval on a Palestinian non-state, the UN should consider the consequences. Virtual statehood might earn Mr Abbas a better seat in the General Assembly, but it will not change anything on the ground. It will only raise expectations for the Palestinian people that cannot be met.
In our very volatile region, the results could be tragic.
Israel is urging the Palestinian leadership to give up its destructive march of folly at the UN and work with us to forge constructive solutions at the negotiating table, which the PA leadership has avoided for years. The foundations for real Palestinian statehood and peace can only be laid through hard work on the ground and direct talks with Israel.
Then, Israel will be the first to welcome Palestinians to the UN.
*Ron Prosor is Israel's ambassador to the UN

The new Middle East's new problems

From The Australian, December 04, 2012, by Joschka Fischer*:
WHEN hostilities flared in Gaza last month, it seemed like the same old story was repeating itself. The world again witnessed a bloody and senseless surge of violence between Israel and Hamas, in which the main victims were innocent civilians maimed and killed on both sides.
This time, however, things were not what they seemed, because the Middle East has undergone a significant change in the past two years. The political epicentre of this troubled region has shifted from the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians toward the Persian Gulf and the struggle for regional mastery between Iran on one side and Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and now Egypt on the other. In the emerging struggle between the region's Shia and Sunni powers, the old Middle East conflict has become a sideshow.
Today, the key confrontation in this power struggle is Syria's civil war, where all of the region's major players are represented either directly or indirectly, because that is where the battle for regional hegemony will largely be decided. This much is clear: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his Alawite/Shia power base will not be able to maintain control against the Sunni majority in the country and the region as a whole. The only question is when the regime will fall.
When it does, it will be a major defeat for Iran, not only entailing the loss of its main Arab ally, but also jeopardising the position of its client, Hezbollah, in Lebanon. At the same time, a variant of the Muslim Brotherhood will come to power in Syria, as has been or will be the case almost everywhere in the Middle East as a result of the "Arab Awakening".
From Israel's viewpoint, the rise to power of Sunni political Islam throughout the region over the past two years will lead to an ambivalent outcome. While the weakening and roll-back of Iran serves Israeli strategic interests, Israel will have to reckon with Sunni Islamist power everywhere in its vicinity, leading directly to a strengthening of Hamas.
The rise of the Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoots has come at the expense of secular Arab nationalism and the military dictatorships that supported it. Thus, the Brothers' rise has de facto also decided the internal Palestinian power struggle. With the recent war in Gaza, the Palestinian national movement will align itself, under Hamas's leadership, with this regional development. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah party will be unable to offer much opposition all the more so in view of Hamas's break with Iran (despite ongoing arms deliveries) a year ago.
This development most likely means the end of prospects for a two-state solution, because neither Israel nor Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood has any interest in it. Hamas and the Brothers reject territorial compromise, because, for them, a Palestinian state means a Palestine that incorporates all of Israel.
This is by no means a tactical position or an expression of political naivete. On the contrary, the territorial question has morphed into a religious one, and has thus fundamentally redefined the conflict.
Hamas is playing a long game. As long as it lacks the strength to achieve its more ambitious objectives, its intransigence in no way precludes negotiations with Israel or even peace treaties, as long as such agreements advance its long-term goals. But such agreements will produce only truces of shorter or longer duration, not a comprehensive settlement that ends the conflict.
The recent success of Abbas in the UN General Assembly securing observer-state status for Palestine will not alter the basic aspects of this trend. Palestine's promotion is an alarming diplomatic defeat for Israel and a demonstration of its growing international isolation, but it does not imply a return to a two-state solution.
Paradoxically, the position of Hamas fits the political right in Israel, because it, too, puts little stock in a two-state solution. And neither the Israeli left (of which little remains) nor Fatah is strong enough to maintain the two-state option. For Israel, a future as a bi-national state entails a high long-term risk, unless the option of a West Bank-Jordan confederation, lost in the 1980's, is rediscovered. This is again a possibility.
Indeed, after the Assad regime falls, Jordan could prove to be the next crisis hotspot, which might revive the debate over Jordan as the "real" Palestinian state. Israel's settlement policy in the West Bank would then have a different foundation and take on new political significance. While I do not believe that a West Bank-Jordan confederation could ever be a viable option, it might be the last nail in the coffin of a two-state solution.
Along with Syria, two issues will determine this new Middle East's future: Egypt's path under the Muslim Brotherhood, and the outcome of confrontation with Iran over its nuclear program and regional role.
The Egyptian question is already high on the agenda; indeed, it spilt into the streets after President Mohamed Morsi's non-violent coup attempt. Morsi's timing was remarkable: the day after winning international acclaim for his successful efforts to broker a truce in Gaza, he staged a frontal assault on Egypt's nascent democracy.
The question now is whether the Brothers will prevail, both in the streets and by means of Egypt's new constitution (which they largely wrote). If they do, will the West withdraw its support for Egyptian democracy in the name of "stability"? It would be a bad mistake.
The question of what to do about Iran's nuclear program will also return with a vengeance in January, after US President Barack Obama's second inauguration and Israel's general election, and will demand an answer within a few months.
The new Middle East bodes poorly for the coming year. But one thing has not changed: it is still the Middle East, where it is nearly impossible to know what might be waiting around the corner.

*Joschka Fischer, Germany's foreign minister and vice-chancellor from 1998 to 2005, was a leader in the German Green Party for almost 20 years.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

US Tests EMP Bomb

From Arutz Sheva, 5 Dec 2012:
...Boeing has successful tested an electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) missile ...
The U.S. Air Force and Boeing demonstrated the device more than two months ago over a military site in the Utah desert, reported the VR-Zone technology website.
Boeing did not keep the test a secret, but most mainstream media and technology sites overlooked the report.
The test was codenamed CHAMP -- Counter-Electronics High Power Advanced Missile Project and was the first time a real EMP missile has been tested with positive real world results.
One of the most startling developments in the research and test is that the missile system does not use any explosives, thereby limiting damage to its intended goal of directing microwave energy that can cause instant blackouts.
Keith Coleman, who serves as Boeing"s CHAMP program manager in their Phantom Works division, stated that video camera showed "images of numerous desktop computers running, and then suddenly all of them go out quickly followed by the camera going to black," VR-Zone reported.
"We hit every target we wanted to..." said Coleman.
...EMP causes non-lethal gamma energy to react with the magnetic field and produces a powerful electromagnetic shock wave that can destroy electronic devices...
The shock wave would knock out ...power grid and communications systems for transport and financial services, leading to economic collapse.

Palestine is Not a State; it is the Name of a Geographical Area

From "Palestine is Jewish" in The Algemeiner, December 4, 2012, by Eli Hertz:
Jewish pilgrims dancing in Palestine.

51 member countries – the entire League of Nations [Today’s UN] – unanimously declared on July 24, 1922:
“Whereas recognition has been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.”

The 51 member countries of the League of Nations as of July 24, 1922 were:
Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, British India, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Italy, Japan, Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Persia, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Republic of China, Romania, Siam, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Union of South Africa, United Kingdom, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

Palestine is Not a State; it is the Name of a Geographical Area.
Palestine is a name coined by the Romans around 135 CE from the name of a seagoing Aegean people who settled on the coast of Canaan in antiquity – the Philistines. The name was chosen to replace Judea, as a sign that Jewish sovereignty had been eradicated following the Jewish Revolts against Rome .
In the course of time, the original Latin name used, Philistia, was further bastardized into Palistina or Palestine.
Palestine was never a sovereign independent Arab state belonging to any people, nor did a Palestinian people distinct from other Arabs appear during 1,300 years of Muslim hegemony in Palestine under Arab and Ottoman rule.
Historically, before the Arabs fabricated the concept of Palestinian people-hood as an exclusively Arab phenomenon, no such group existed. This is substantiated in countless official British Mandate-vintage documents that speak of the Jews and the Arabs of Palestine – not Jews and Palestinians.

Kuwait Expels 400,000 "Palestinians"

From the Middle East Quarterly, Fall 2012, pp. 75-83, by Steven J. Rosen (very brief excerpt only - follow the link to read the full article or view PDF)

Hypocrisy at the UN: Tyrannies oppose “country-specific” resolutions --

From a UN Watch Briefing,  Vol. 396 | Dec. 3, 2012:
In an astonishing display of hypocrisy, numerous U.N. country delegates gave impassioned speeches last Tuesday objecting to resolutions criticizing the murderous regimes of Iran, North Korea and Syria, saying they rejected the very notion of singling out countries; and then they proceeded, mere moments later, to adopt a resolution — which many of them also co-sponsored — singling out democratic Israel.
According to a UN Watch report, featured on Canadian TV and now going viral on Facebook, there will be a total of 21 one-sided resolutions targeting the Jewish state in this session of the U.N. General Assembly -- and only 4 on the rest of the world combined.
Here were the objections supposedly made in the name of high principle, from the U.N.'s Nov. 27 debate:
  • Kazakhstan on behalf of the 57-strong Organization of the Islamic Conference opposed “the practice of submitting country-specific resolutions” on human rights “targeting developing countries.” This, said the dictatorship, “politicized human rights.”
  • Syria asserted a “principled position” that rejected “intervening in the internal affairs of any other State under the pretext of human rights.”
  • China “regretted” the resolution on North Korea,” as it “has always opposed imposing pressure through country-specific texts” and “interference in States’ internal affairs.”
  • Cuba opposed “all country-specific resolutions aimed at countries of the global South.” This, it said, was precisely the “politicization” that led to the disappearance of the old Commission on Human Rights.
  • Russia was “against one-sided and biased resolutions” which “did not promote resolution of human rights issues.”
  • Iran objected that “the proliferation of country-specific texts” breached “the principles of impartiality and non-selectivity” in addressing human rights issues. “Selective country-specific resolutions” would reduce noble human rights concerns to “manipulative devices of political rivalry.”
  • Venezuela opposed “individual and selective condemnation of single States.” Sponsors of the resolution on Iran had actually “violated human rights themselves,” showing “selectivity” and “double standards.” Rather, “dialogue, mutual respect and cooperation” should be the essential instrument for promotion and protection of human rights.
  • Nicaragua joined with Cuba in objecting to the resolutions on Iran, Syria and North Korea, and it rejected once again “the practice of selectivity on human rights.”
  • Ecuador rejected “the continued chorus of finger pointing at specific countries.”
  • Belarus said the draft resolution on Iran failed to “promote dialogue on support for human rights.” The draft resolution was “not objective,” and “ignored official sources of information” and “specific actions.”
  • Bolivia firmly supported the principles of “non-interference” and “sovereignty,” and therefore would vote against the resolution on Iran.
Yet right after they opposed action on Iran, Syria, and North Korea, all of their principled objections to “country-specific” measures, “politicization,” and “selectivity” quickly went out the door.
Instead, each of the countries listed above went on to vote and adopt a U.N. resolution slamming Israel for alleged actions that “severely impede the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.”
Suddenly, Belarus and Venezuela declined to ask the U.N. to engage in any "dialogue" with the country concerned.
Needless to say, there will be no U.N. resolutions this session supporting the Jewish right to self-determination, nor that of the Kurds, Tibetans, Basques or Baluchis.
Those who truly care for the noble principles of the U.N. Charter -- namely, its guarantee of equal treatment to all nations large and small -- should be decrying this perversion of justice.
That is exactly what the government of Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper has done, time and again, while no foreign minister in the world has been more outspoken this year against U.N. wrongdoing than Canada's John Baird. When it comes to moral clarity at the U.N., follow the North Star.
Tragically at the U.N., however, too many delegates follow the herd, the largest vote-trading blocs, and the largest oil-producers, no matter how many tyrants and mass murderers among them. They choose to go along to get along.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Some elements of the Australian government join Sudan in supporting misery and war in the Middle East

From the ABC, 4 Dec 2012, by Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz:
"Mr President: independence, freedom, the right to self-determination; these are principles that have been enshrined in the United Nations Charter." Those words were spoken by Daffa Alla Elhag Ali Osman, the Sudanese Ambassador to the UN as he introduced the draft resolution at the General Assembly to recognise the non-member state of Palestine.
Nothing could better signify the absolute farce taking place before the representatives of the international community than the government of Sudan pontificating about justice and human rights. As Osman spoke, the government that he represents was busy waging a brutal campaign to deny the Nuba people the rights to independence, freedom and self-determination.
For 18 months now, the Sudanese regime has been driving out the local population of the South Kordofan and Blue Nile regions, using the same methods as in their infamous campaign in Darfur last decade. In the growing humanitarian crisis, around 200,000 people have fled across the border to South Sudan and hundreds of thousands more are taking shelter in the caves and crevasses of the Nuba Mountains to avoid indiscriminate airstrikes and the brutality of the Sudanese militias. Behind them, their villages are burnt to the ground and their farmland is destroyed.
The Sudanese goal is to starve the Nuban people into obliteration. In the words of President Omar Bashir, "we don't want any vermin left in the Blue Nile Province. We don't want any insects left in the Nuba Mountains." Yet it was an official of this regime that stood before the creme de la creme of the diplomatic world, purporting to support "independence, freedom and self-determination."
The irony does not end there. The Palestinian Authority has given strong indications that it intends to use its newfound status as a means to bring cases against Israeli officials at the International Criminal Court. As PLO official Abbas Zaki put it, "Once we become a recognized state, we will go to all UN agencies to force the international community to take legal action against Israel."
Again, this change in status to allow Israel to be brought before the ICC was proposed by the government of Omar Bashir - the same Omar Bashir who has been charged by the ICC in the aftermath of Darfur with ten counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. The same Omar Bashir who has been flaunting these indictments since 2009 with the protection of most of the countries that voted in favour of upgrading Palestine's status. Surely that is an indication of the extent to which this bid truly was concerned with human rights.
The irony does not end there either. Sudan has a historical significance that overshadows this entire affair. Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, was the site of the September 1967 Summit of the League of Arab Nations in the aftermath of the Six Day War, in which Israel captured the Palestinian territories from Jordan and Egypt. Israel had offered to return all of the land that it had captured in return for recognition from and peace with its Arab neighbours. The Arab League responded to the Israeli proposal by issuing the Khartoum Resolution, expressing that:
"The conference has agreed on the need to consolidate all efforts to eliminate the effects of the aggression on the basis that the occupied lands are Arab lands and that the burden of regaining these lands falls on all the Arab States ... This will be done within the framework of the main principles by which the Arab States abide, namely, NO peace with Israel, NO recognition of Israel, NO negotiations with it, and insistence on the rights of the Palestinian people in their own country."

It was thus in Sudan that, for the second time, the Palestinian people were denied a state of their own by the combined Arab nations (the first being the original rejection of the UN partition plan in 1947). Yet here Sudan was, 45 years later, declaring the existence of a Palestinian state, while continuing to adhere to those "three no's" codified by the Khartoum Resolution: no peace, no recognition, no negotiation.
Ultimately, that is what the statehood resolution was about. It is a continuation of a decades-long policy of attempting to establish a Palestinian state without making peace with, recognising, or negotiating with Israel. The fact that this policy has been an abysmal failure does not seem to have gotten through to the Palestinian leadership or the Arab nations.
It has also not gotten through to the self-proclaimed "pro-Palestine" movement. Australians like Randa Abdel-Fattah promote a re-badged version of the Arab boycott of Israel, which is actually older than Israel itself. After all, why try a new tactic when the old one is working so well? In the end, it will amount to nothing. As United States Ambassador Susan Rice eloquently put it:
"Long after the votes have been cast, long after the speeches have been forgotten, it is the Palestinians and the Israelis who must still talk to each other - and listen to each other - and find a way to live side by side in the land they share."
Yet talking to Israelis seems to be the last thing that any Palestinian leader wants to do - in the West Bank, in Gaza, and in the Palestinian diaspora. Belligerence, boycotts and "resistance" failed to prevent the establishment of Israel and have failed to undo the establishment of Israel, and yet they remain the tools of choice for the Palestinian leadership. Hamas chooses belligerence and violent "resistance," while the diaspora and the Palestinian Authority choose boycotts and diplomatic "resistance." The handful of Palestinians choosing dialogue are denounced as "collaborators" and sidelined.
The real tragedy is that the international community continues to encourage this mindset by overwhelmingly supporting every anti-Israel resolution placed in front of the General Assembly. As signified by our changed voting pattern, it seems that some elements of the Australian government [like Bob Carr, Stephen Smith, Chris Bowen, Craig Emerson, Greg Combet, Simon Crean, Peter Garrett et al] have been caught-up in this farcical charade.
The Australian government has chosen to shift its vote away from the United States and towards Sudan. It has given tacit encouragement for a tactic that for 65 years has brought nothing but misery and war. For a country that claims to be a moral leader, that is poor form indeed.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

The Palestine Mirage

From The Wall Street Journal, 1 Dec 2012:
A futile U.N. gesture that violates the 1993 Oslo Accords.
It was no accident that Mahmoud Abbas chose November 29 to seek a United Nations General Assembly vote recognizing Palestine as a state, albeit as a non-member "observer" state at the U.N. November 29 is the 65th anniversary of the General Assembly's Resolution 181, which partitioned British-Mandated Palestine into Jewish and Palestinian states.
The Jews accepted the Resolution; Arabs unanimously rejected it. It passed by a vote of 33-13 with 10 abstentions. Had the Arab world voted for the plan, a Palestinian state would be as old as Israel is today, and within larger borders than the 1949 Armistice lines that the Palestinian President now claims for his new, notional, "state."
Yet if Mr. Abbas intended to acknowledge the Arab error in rejecting the creation of a Jewish homeland, it wasn't apparent Thursday. While he referred to Resolution 181 as "the birth certificate for Israel," he also spoke of the "unprecedented historical injustice inflicted on the Palestinian people since Al-Nakba [the catastrophe] of 1948." That would not have happened had the Arabs not sought to murder Israel in its crib by invading it.
Nor did Mr. Abbas help his cause by accusing Israel of "ethnic cleansing," "an apartheid system of colonial occupation," "the plague of racism," and more. That kind of talk may work with the usual suspects at Turtle Bay who gave Mr. Abbas a standing ovation. But Israelis who spent recent days in bomb shelters while Iranian-built missiles were fired at them from Gaza probably weren't cheering. Theirs is the say that matters if a Palestinian state is ever to come into being.
Those Israelis won't be reassured by the lopsided 138-9 margin of Thursday's vote, with 41 abstentions. In effect, the General Assembly voted to violate the 1993 Oslo Accords, which are the legal basis for Mr. Abbas's Palestinian Authority and require negotiations with Israel to create a state. When the world next asks Jerusalem to take "risks for peace," Israelis will know that countries such as France (which voted for the resolution) and Germany (which abstained) will not have their backs.
It will be interesting to see if the Palestinians now use their new U.N. status to harass Israelis in venues such as the International Criminal Court. Such tactics are aimed at making everyday life increasingly unbearable for Israelis, ostensibly to force their hand on accepting a Palestinian state. Our guess is that it will have the opposite effect.
As for the Obama Administration, it opposed the U.N. resolution but failed to get allies such as France and Germany to do so as well—further testimony to U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice's dubious diplomatic skills.
A brighter spot is the U.S. Senate, where Wyoming Republican John Barrasso has introduced an amendment that would cut U.S. funding for the Palestinian Authority by 50%, among other measures. Somebody needs to send Mr. Abbas the message that there's a price to be paid for flouting his agreements with Israel and ignoring the pleas of the Administration.
When the U.N. voted in 1947 for partition, the Jews of Palestine demonstrated that they were ready to create a functional state. On Thursday, the U.N. voted for a "Palestine" that has become a byword for political dysfunction, ideological extremism, and a preference for symbolism over pragmatism. The tragedy of Thursday's vote is that it will only encourage Palestinians to remain in their make-believe world.

Israel rejects UN fiction

From JPost, 1 Dec 2012, by Herb Keinon:
....The cabinet on Sunday unanimously passed a resolution completely rejecting the UN decision Thursday to upgrade the Palestinians to non-state observer status.
"The Jewish people have natural, historical and legal rights to its homeland with its eternal capital Jerusalem," the resolution stated. "The State of Israel as the state of the Jewish people has rights and claims to areas are under dispute in the land of Israel."
The cabinet decision says that the UN resolution does not change the status of disputed areas and does not detract in any way from Israel and the Jewish people's right to those areas.
Furthermore the resolution said that the UN resolution will not be a basis for future negotiations.
In another response, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said at the cabinet meeting that he will not transfer to the Palestinian Authority taxes it collects on behalf of the Palestinians.
Steinitz said he would "use the funds to offset the PA's electricity debts."
The finance minister decried the Palestinian efforts to create a state without addressing security concerns, disarmament or recognizing Israel...
Ahead of the cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu stated that Israel will increase and hasten settlement activity in response to what he labelled "an attack against Zionism."
"Israel will not allow Judea and Samaria to become a terror base from which rockets will be launched into Israeli towns," he asserted.
"There will be no Palestinian state until Israel is recognized as a Jewish state alongside a resolution to end the conflict," he added....