Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Kidnapping, the Settlement and History

From Commentary Magazine, 27 June 2014, by Jonathan S. Tobin:

... the indifference of much of the world to the abduction [of the three Israeli teens kidnapped by Hamas terrorists] stems from the fact that the yeshiva to which trio was hitchhiking is located in the "West Bank settlement" of Kfar Etzion. ...the notion that a resident of this community is an “illegal settler” contradicts history.

... the Gush Etzion bloc of settlements south of Jerusalem on the road between Bethlehem and Hebron predates Israel’s War of Independence.

When war broke out in 1947 after the Arabs rejected the United Nations partition of the country into Jewish and Arab states, the Etzion bloc came under siege from Arab gangs and eventually the Arab Legion, the Transjordan army commanded by British officers.

Though the leaders of the Jewish state sought to reinforce the bloc, the settlements succumbed to Arab attack in the days before Israel declared independence. The battle cost the lives of 151 Jewish fighters (27 of them women), most of which, as Morris writes, were killed while surrendering or after they had surrendered. Both local Arab fighters and British-led Legionnaires carried out the massacre of the Jews.

While Palestinian Arabs have burnished the memory of the towns and villages they abandoned when their war of aggression against the Jews failed, they and their foreign cheerleaders have conveniently forgotten the fact that in some cases, it was the Jews who lost their homes. As with the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, which was similarly besieged and eventually fell, the survivors of Kfar Etzion were driven from their homes. But in the aftermath of the 1967 Six Day War, when Israel came into possession of all of the Jewish heartland, the first request of many Israelis was to see the Etzion bloc rebuilt.

... the notion that the people who live there on Jewish-owned land and in homes that were built on the ashes of those torched by the vandals who destroyed the place and killed its inhabitants in an orgy of anti-Semitic blood lust are “illegal settlers” is a hard sell even among left-leaning Israelis. 

... the majority of Palestinians has not only condoned terrorism against Israelis, but has cheered the abduction of the three boys. To them, the mere fact that they were studying in the Etzion bloc is a crime that renders violence against them an act that can be rationalized if not treated as a heroic endeavor...

If the Palestinians wish to live in peace with Israelis, they must come to terms with the permanent nature of the Jewish return to the country and give up fantasies of Israel’s elimination ...the abduction of the Etzion yeshiva students is a good occasion for them to stop ignoring or denying Jewish history.

The Two-State Religion of Appeasement and Retreat

From JPost, 26 June 2014, by MARTIN SHERMAN:

Continued adherence to a quasi-religious belief in the "two-state-solution" threatens the survival of the nation. 

Left-wing activists rally in favor of Oslo Accords
Left-wing activists rally in favor of Oslo Accords Photo: REUTERS

The fixation of Israeli governments on “land for peace”, a policy that has resulted in the murder and maiming of more than 10,000 Jews, puzzles the pundits. They puzzle over the fact that regardless of which party or coalition of parties controls the government, the policy of land-for-peace continues, despite its obvious futility and fatal consequences.
They wonder what animates Israel’s ruling elites? Why do they continue to negotiate with terrorists, with Arabs or Muslims steeped in a fourteen- century religion driven by hatred of “infidels”… 
[They] also wonder why the people of Israel, who exercise the franchise, tolerate their ruling elites? ...why don’t the voters elect statesmen possessing enough courage, wisdom, and integrity to face the truth about the implacable nature of the enemy – statesmen who can pursue a strategy whose goal is to defeat the enemy? Why do the voters repeatedly elect governments that appease the enemy via the futile and fatal policy of land for peace?  
         – Prof. Paul Eidelberg, The Fixation of Israel’s Elites on “Land for Peace”, 2007.

If the proponents of the discredited land-for- peace principle and the two-state prescription for resolving the Israel-Arab conflict had any intellectual integrity, they would hang their heads in shame.

If the political discourse in Israel were conducted with decency and honesty; if substantive truth determined public stature in the country, these merchants of fraudulent, foolhardy fantasies would have been marginalized, consigned long ago to the enduring irrelevance, ignominy and commensurate ridicule they richly deserve.

Dramatic discontinuity in Zionist endeavor 
We are now approaching almost a quarter- century since the fatal concoction of the noxious, Oslowian brew in the early 1990s, that culminated in the so-called “Declaration of Principles” (Oslo I) on the White House lawns in September 1993.

In effect, these events marked a dramatic discontinuity in the evolution of Zionism, fostering the previously spurned notion of Palestinian statehood as an acceptable – even preferred – policy option for the mainstream.

Not only did the event grossly distort the founding ethos of Zionism, it inverted its essence and the thrust of Zionism’s fundamental principles. What was once vaunted as virtue became vilified as vice.

Indeed, the agreement spawned an approach that put surrender of homeland and abandonment of kin at the apex of enlightened values. It denigrated any assertion of Jewish identity and solidarity as ethnocentric “racism”.

In a surreal twist of irony, the Oslo Accords, signed by soon-to-be Nobel Peace Laureates, proved to be a harbinger of unprecedented violence, sowing trauma and tragedy across the country.

Unchastened by failure
This was both predictable and predicted.

After all, at the outset of this pernicious and perverse historical process, there were advocates who promised that Oslo would provide great benefits, and apprehensive opponents, who warned it would wreak great havoc.

Today, after over two decades, the results are in. Prevailing realities reflect almost precisely the ominous prognoses of the opponents, and the exact negation of the rosy predictions of proponents. Indeed, the Oslo-initiative precipitated virtually all the dangers that were foretold, but none of the benefits pledged.

It is hard to imagine any greater professional failure than that of the pro-Oslo/two-state advocates.

Oblivious virtually to every principle of political science, international relations, and other relevant disciplines, desperate to conform to the dictates of trendy political correctness, they brought those grim realities into existence that their “extremist” opponents warned were coming.

As Prof. Efraim Karsh acerbically points out: 
Had such professional misconduct occurred in the natural or physical sciences there would have been serious consequences: e.g. the collapse of a bridge following specious engineering calculations, dangerous side effects hidden from oversight during the development of a new medicine…It would seem that when it comes to the social sciences or the humanities, researchers can escape punishment for every kind of malpractice.
Indeed, unchastened by the scope of the debacle, the endorsers of this eminently foreseeable tragedy still identify themselves as voices of clarity and reason.

Article of religious faith
Disdainful and dismissive of dissent, they doggedly deny error and steadfastly adhere to dysfunctional dogmas and doctrines.

Instead of bowing their heads in shame and slinking off in disgrace quietly and inconspicuously, these intellectuals strut around like morally superior peacocks despite their record of unmitigated failure....

Articulate but asinine 
“Two-staters” have always been eager to shut down substantive debate on their political credo, for they know it cannot survive scrutiny.

Indeed, they have been conspicuously cavalier with the facts in a desperate effort to mask the fading relevance of their futile fetish.

A recent article (June, 19) by the usually articulate Ari Shavit in Haaretz provides an instructive example of just how asinine — read “disingenuous and irrational” — “twostater” arguments have become. Apparently apprehensive that the abduction of the three youths two weeks ago could result in a setback for the popularity of the “two-state” approach, Shavit, unsurprisingly, condemns Israel for not taking advantage of “seven good years” of relative calm to reach agreement with the Palestinians. In a breathtaking misrepresentation of facts, he writes: “Until the abduction of the three youths in Alon Shvut a week ago, no strategic attack had been launched. The bloody attacks on Israeli cities and even the attacks on the settlements and settlers dramatically diminished. The economic prosperity, cultural boom and good life…since 2007 were possible only because the violent reality we had lived in was replaced with a reality of quiet borders, a quiet West Bank and astonishing stability.”

‘Two-state uber alles’? 
Shavit laments: “We misused the calm that descended on the West Bank’s roads and towns and settlements. We wasted the laid-back prosperity that visited Israel’s cities and shopping malls. We let the seven good years slip through our fingers.”

A recent Post editorial (June 19) takes him to task for his gross distortion of the truth, aptly pointing out that: “Shavit conveniently ignored the hundreds of Kassam rockets and mortar shells shot over these years...He also ignored several incidents of murder, dozens of foiled kidnapping attempts, and hundreds of incidents of rock-throwing and firebombings…throughout the West Bank.”

So the argument that Shavit appears to advance is that just because Israel has been able to foil a myriad of attempted terror attacks, the Palestinians’ failure should be taken as a sign of their goodwill, and therefore Israel should make perilous concessions that would give such attacks greater chance of success. Really, Ari.

Indeed, one might be excused for concluding that it is not the “hedonistic and apathetic” Israeli public or its “callous uncaring” government that the extended period of relative calm lulled into a false sense of security, but rather the “two-state-uber alles” zealots, like Shavit.

ISIS and the Irrelevance of Abbas’s bona fide
For “two-staters” the speech given last week in Jeddah by Mahmoud Abbas, in which he firmly condemned the abduction of the three Israeli youths, was a veritable “shot-in-the-arm” — particularly as it was given in Arabic and clearly intended for an Arabic-speaking audience.

I do not know if Abbas is sincere in his occasional declarations of goodwill and his desire to conclude a lasting peace agreement with Israel. And neither does any avid “two-stater”! However, as I have been at pains to underscore, whether he is or he is not should be entirely irrelevant for the formulation of Israel’s long-term strategic policy.

The main concern about the viability of the two-state paradigm has been that its durability cannot be assured, no matter what deal may be struck, no matter with whom it may be struck.

In the past this concern was centered on 
(a) whether the party contracting on behalf of the Palestinians has the requisite authority and sincerity to “deliver the goods”; (b) even if he did, what is to prevent him from reneging on his commitments; and (c) even if he does not renege on his commitments, nothing prevents his replacement by a successor who would renege.
In recent months, however, a new element has entered the equation, which, even if none of those scenarios materialized, is likely to make an agreement with any Palestinian worthless.

With much of the Arab world in bloody turmoil and the rapid erasure of previous international borders, the increasing pressure on the stability of the Hashemite dynasty in Jordan makes the prospect of regime change an essential working assumption of any responsible Israeli government.

Even if an otherwise durable pact could be concluded with some trustworthy Palestinian, how would his mini-micro-demilitarized state cope with the kind of Islamist forces now routing the Iraqi army? The specter of an ISIS-affiliated regime taking control in Amman, or seriously destabilizing the country and undermining the rule of law must be considered a plausible outcome that Israel should plan how to deal with.

Strategic peril 
Who would defend the nascent Palestinian state, so that radical Islamists do not deploy on the ridges overlooking Greater Tel Aviv and Ben Gurion airport? With the fall of the monarchy in Jordan increasingly on the horizon, can anyone seriously advocate relinquishing the Jordan Valley or the highlands of Judea-Samaria, the only barriers between urban Israel and the kind of horrors we now witness in Syria and Iraq? 

These, and many other related questions, must be urgently inserted into the public discourse. Unchastened “twostaters” must be pressed to give persuasive responses to these concerns.

Until they do, their adherence to what can only be understood as irrational, quasi- religious belief in the efficacy of retreat, must be considered a tangible strategic threat to the survival of the nation.

**Now we know the names of the victims**

From JPost, Column one, 26 June 2014, by CAROLINE B. GLICK:

Schalit’s media flacks were right. He is a son of all of Israel. 

And so are Naftali, Gil-Ad and Eyal who are now captive because of the deal we signed for Gilad.

Missing teens
Families of missing teens Photo: TOVAH LAZAROFF 

Three families in Israel are in agony. On June 12, when their sons Naftali Fraenkel, Eyal Yifrah and Gil-Ad Shaer were kidnapped by Islamic savages, the Fraenkels, Yifrahs and Shaers entered a new world where every breath they take is filled with devastating guilt – that they breathe free while their sons suffer unknown miseries.

Every moment that passes is filled with crushed hope that they will get word that their sons are free, and then the word doesn’t come. And it doesn’t come the next moment, or the next.

And so they will live, in agony, until this ordeal has ended.

Our hearts go out to these families. Our prayers are continuously directed towards them. And in a profound sense that is uniquely Israeli, the people of Israel share their pain. And with this pain comes a sincere and overpowering desire to do something to bring the captive teenagers home.

What can be done? There are only two ways for Israel to free hostages.

The government can devote all necessary resources to gathering actionable intelligence that will lead IDF troops to the boys.

Or the government can surrender to the terrorists by freeing thousands of Palestinian terrorist murderers from Israeli prisons.

So far, the government is concentrating on Option 1.

But Option 2 is lurking around the corner. And we need to confront it now – head on – before it takes center stage.

Over the past 30 years, Israel has released thousands of terrorists from its prisons in exchange for hostages. Thousands more have been freed as so-called “confidence building measures,” to appease our supposedly moderate Palestinian negotiating partners into sharing a table with their Israeli counterparts.

In every instance, these terrorist releases have led to the murder and abduction of other Israelis.

The clock started ticking down to Naftali, Gil-Ad and Eyal’s abduction on October 19, 2011 when Israel released 1,027 Palestinian terrorists in exchange for IDF Sgt. Gilad Schalit who had been held hostage by Hamas for more than five years.

The countdown also began that day for the murder of Baruch Mizrahi, the police officer who was killed in a roadside shooting in April as he drove to a Passover Seder with his wife and children. Mizrahi’s killer was one of the terrorists released for Schalit.

Some politicians are trying to take steps to prevent these swaps in the future. Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman told the media he will prohibit all members of his Yisrael Beytenu party from voting in favor of a hostages-for-terrorists swap if one is on offer in the future.

The day before Fraenkel, Shaer and Yifrah were kidnapped, the Knesset passed a preliminary reading of a bill sponsored by MK Ayelet Shaked from Bayit Yehudi to constrain the president’s power to commute the sentences of some convicted murderers. The idea is that by passing the law, the Knesset will make it impossible for the government to agree to swap murderers for hostages. But then, to avoid the law, all governments will have to do is release prisoners who weren’t sentenced to life without possibility of parole.

The problem with statements like Liberman’s and bills like Shaked’s is that they miss the point. The problem isn’t the law. The problem isn’t that in past swaps MKs were given the freedom to vote as they pleased.

The problem is our media-compliant leadership refuses to act responsibly.

The only way to prevent more Israelis from being abducted in the future is to deter the Palestinians from abducting them.

Deterrence cannot be achieved by cheap political pronouncements or insufficient legislation.

Deterrence can only be built up over time, by behaving consistently in a manner that convinces the other side that it is not in its interest to do something that you don’t want it to do.

Since May 1985, when then-prime minister Shimon Peres freed 1,150 terrorists for three IDF soldiers held hostage by Palestinian terror master Ahmed Jibril, Israel’s behavior has consistently encouraged our enemies to take hostages.

Through their willingness to release murderers for hostages – and even for hostage bodies – our leaders have told our enemies that they should feel free to steal our children. Their payoff is guaranteed.

Through their willingness to free murderers, our leaders have shown our enemies that they should feel free to murder as many Israelis as they can. They know that once their comrades take another Israeli hostage, (or three), they will go free.

And of course, our politicians are not the only ones at fault. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his colleagues and predecessors swim in an acrid stream, where this sort of behavior is required.

To their disgrace, our media consistently behave as advocates and lobbyists for hostage-takers and imprisoned murderers against Israeli society.

For instance, in the case of Schalit, the media worked hand-in-glove with the Schalit family and its public relations firm to convince the public that we should think of a soldier as a child, and not as any child, but as our child.

In more than a thousand media reports, profiles, tear-jerker interviews with Schalit’s kindergarten teachers and siblings, we were told that if we are good and moral people, we must prefer Schalit’s freedom to the continued imprisonment of terrorists who constitute a mortal threat to every other child – and parent – in the country.

Public relations agent Tami Shenkman led the campaign for the terrorists’ release. She was the one who put together the sales strategy for convincing us that capitulating to Palestinian extortion is an act of moral courage.

For her efforts the media lavished her with fawning, heroic profiles.

And for the media’s efforts, three teenagers are now hostages.

True, while our cowardly, irresponsible leaders and demented media encouraged the Palestinians to abduct the three youths, it was the Palestinians that did it.

And this also ought to teach us a thing or two about deterrence.

Our media and our politicians have effusively praised Palestinian Authority President and Fatah chief Mahmoud Abbas for saying a few lines in favor of releasing Eyal, Gil-Ad and Naftali. But with all due respect, Abbas is responsible for their abduction.

Abbas’s statement calling for the boys to be released was the rhetorical equivalent of trying to put an already exploded bomb back in its shell. Indeed, it is even worse than that. It was Abbas pretending to put a detonated bomb back in its casing after Abbas built the bomb, prepared the fuse and gave the bombers a matchbook.

For 20 years, Abbas and his colleagues in the PA have indoctrinated the Palestinians to view Jews as human scum and seek our annihilation. This message is communicated in all venues. From nursery through the universities, in the mosques, in summer camps, on television, radio and the Internet, Palestinians of all ages are taught that Jews have no right to live. They are encouraged to murder us and view contributing to our destruction as their highest goal in life.

Hostage taking – a war crime – is presented as one of the highest achievements possible. This is why the overwhelming majority of Palestinians applauds and celebrates the kidnap of the three teens.

For 20 years, the PA has indoctrinated its society in a culture of hatred and violence against Israel and the Jewish People. And the results were as predictable as the tides. Nearly 2,000 Israelis have been murdered in Palestinian terror attacks since the PA was established.

Israel can take action to punish the Palestinians for their unlawful behavior. 

  • We can arrest their imams for soliciting murder. 
  • We can close their schools and shutter their television stations for the same reason.

But we have done none of these things.

All Israel has done in the face of this poison is complain to the Americans.

Even worse than doing nothing, we actively facilitate the PA’s wholesale indoctrination of the Palestinians in genocidal Jew hatred.

Israel funds the PA.

We support the US policy of training and organizing a Palestinian army manned by people who have been subjected to this indoctrination for two decades.

Our leaders proclaim Abbas is a moderate. And still today we say he’s a good guy. The problem, Netanyahu says, is Abbas has formed a unity government with Hamas. But if he quits that, then we will have no beef with him.

The people of Israel want the families’ agony to end.

We want the boys’ terror to end. But the only body that can responsibly accomplish that mission is the IDF and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency). We cannot find them ourselves.

What we can and must do, however, is protect society as a whole from the next kidnapping. To this end, we need to shame – name by name – the media personalities from Avi Tzvi, the CEO of Reshet, Israel’s largest television franchise, to radio hosts and pop stars like Keren Neubach and Aviv Gefen who demanded the government free 1,027 terrorists from prison.

As for our government ministers, and our prime minister, you need to fix the damage you caused.

You knew when you signed the Schalit deal that the ink was the blood of the victims to come. We didn’t know their identities then. But now we do: Baruch Mizrahi, Naftali Fraenkel, Eyal Yifrah and Gilad Shaer.

It’s time you understand that after what you did, the only way to change the enemies’ cost-benefit analysis of abductions and other atrocities is for you to change your way of doing business.

This means you have to stop appeasing terrorists and start punishing them. And the punishment needs to be consistent, and painful. Among other things, this means no more money, no more guns and no more legitimacy, not only to Hamas, but to the PA. If you want to do it gradually, you can do it gradually.

It means that every time the Palestinian media broadcasts anti-Jewish bile, they lose something of value.

True, taking such action will likely make it more difficult for elected leaders and military commanders to vacation in Europe. But no one forced you to take your jobs. You asked for the responsibility of providing for the collective defense. And you can’t fulfill your duty by being nice to terrorists or to outsiders who side with them.

Schalit’s media flacks were right. He is a son of all of Israel.

And so are Naftali, Gil-Ad and Eyal who are now captive because of the deal we signed for Gilad.

As we pray for their speedy and safe return home, we must take action remove the targets from the backs of every citizen of Israel. Those targets were placed there by our treacherous media, and by successive governments who preferred the cheap perfume scent of appeasement over the blood, sweat and tears required to secure our freedom and security.

*Caroline B. Glick is the author of The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East. 

Iraq’s Lessons for the Jordan Valley

If Israeli-Palestinian peace talks weren’t already dead, the Iraqi army’s collapse in the face of the radical Sunni group ISIS might well have killed them. After all, one of the key disagreements that emerged during the nine months of talks was over Israel’s military presence in the Jordan Valley, which Israel insisted on retaining and the Palestinians adamantly opposed.
The Obama administration’s proposed solution was to let Israeli troops remain for a few years and then replace them with U.S.-trained Palestinian forces, perhaps bolstered by international troops. 
But as Israeli officials bluntly told officials in Washington earlier this week, if U.S.-trained Iraqi soldiers weren’t willing to fight ISIS to protect their own country, why should anyone think U.S.-trained Palestinian soldiers in the Jordan Valley would be willing to fight fellow Arabs to protect Israel? 

And with a well-armed, well-funded jihadist army having taken over large swathes of Syria and Iraq and now even threatening Jordan (ISIS seized the main Iraq-Jordan border crossing just this week), how can anyone confidently assert such fighting won’t be necessary?

U.S. officials responded by setting up a straw man: They passionately defended General John Allen, the man responsible for both security training in Iraq and drafting U.S. security proposals for Israeli-Palestinian talks, as if Israel’s main concern were Allen’s competence. But Allen’s competence is irrelevant. The real issue is that no matter how competent the trainer is, no amount of training can produce a functional army if soldiers lack the will to fight. U.S.-trained Iraqi Sunnis aren’t willing to fight ISIS to protect their Shi’ite-dominated government. U.S.-trained Palestinian Authority forces weren’t willing to fight Hamas to retain control of Gaza in 2007. And international troops have repeatedly proven unwilling to fight to protect anyone else’s country.

This isn’t exactly news. Prior to the 1967 Six-Day War, when Egypt demanded that UN peacekeepers leave Sinai so Egyptian troops could mass on Israel’s border unimpeded, the UN tamely complied. 

UN peacekeepers stationed in south Lebanon since 1978 have never lifted a finger to stop Hezbollah’s cross-border attacks. 

Nor is this problem unique to Israel. As theWashington Post reported in January, the UN has sent record numbers of peacekeepers to Africa in recent years, and African regional groups have contributed additional thousands, yet these troops “have failed to prevent fresh spasms of violence.” Indeed, they are frequently ordered explicitly not to fight unless they themselves are attacked–rendering them useless at protecting the people they’re ostensibly there to protect.

But even without such orders, how many soldiers really want to die in a far-off country in a quarrel that isn’t theirs? I can’t blame a Fijian for being unwilling to die to prevent rocket fire from Lebanon on Kiryat Shmona; why should he consider that worth his life? 

And for the same reason, it’s hard to imagine any non-Israeli force in the Jordan Valley thinking it’s worth their lives to stop, say, ISIS from marching on Tel Aviv. Only Israeli troops would consider that worth fighting and dying for. And that’s without even considering the fact that ISIS already has a Palestinian contingent, so any attempt to attack Israel through the territory of a Palestinian state could count on enthusiastic local support.

As even left-wing Haaretz columnist [appeaser and two-state-solution-fanatic] Ari Shavit admitted this week, it was one thing to propose leaving the Jordan Valley back when the eastern front appeared to pose no threat. But it’s quite another now, when ISIS poses a serious threat.

In a region as volatile as the Middle East is today, the idea that Israel should abandon defensible borders in exchange for “peace” with a state that could collapse as suddenly as Syria and Iraq both have is folly. And anyone who thinks U.S.-trained or international forces can replace defensible borders should take a long, hard look at the Iraqi army’s collapse.

EU envoy "losing patience" with Israel over building beyond the Green Line

From JPOST, 27 June 2014:

European Union ambassador's threatens more adverse business advisories after Spain, Italy issue such "warnings". 

EU Ambassador Lars Faaborg-Andersen.
EU Ambassador Lars Faaborg-Andersen. Photo: Courtesy

The EU's ambassador to Israel said on Friday that many European nations were "losing patience" with Jerusalem due to the continued expansion of settlements beyond the Green Line.

Lars Faaborg-Andersen warned at a seminar that more European countries would issue warnings to their citizens against conducting business with companies in Israeli settlements, Israel Radio reported.

The EU envoy's remarks followed the business warnings issued by European powers Spain and Italy, following suit of France earlier in the week.

Spain and Italy brought to five the number of major European Union countries warning citizens against investment in Israeli settlements in the West Bank, eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

These settlements “constitute an obstacle to peace” and the two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, read a statement published on the Spanish Foreign Ministry's website.

“The potential buyers and investors should know that a future peace accord between Israel and the Palestinians, or between Israel and Syria could have consequences both for properties acquired and for economic activities promoted in said settlements,” the Spanish statement said. “In case of litigation, it could be very difficult for member states to guarantee the protection of their interests.”

EU entities considering commercial activities in what the EU considers settlements “should be aware of the potential implications for their reputation”, it added.

Stopping short of calling for such entities to refrain from investing in these areas, the statement advised them to “seek adequate legal counsel before moving ahead” with such plans.

“The statement is not intended as a call for a boycott in any way, or to limit economic cooperation between Spain and Israel within its internationally-recognized borders,” Carlos Entrena Moratiel, a ministry spokesman, told JTA.

...The French guidelines used very similar wording to that used by Britain when it issued a warning of its own against economic activity in the settlements last December.

The Germans and the Dutch, too, have issued similar warnings.

Israeli, US terror victims could ‘own’ Iran’s Internet

From Times of Israel, June 25, 2014, BY DAVID SHAMAH:

A decision by an American court would allow for the Islamic Republic to be kicked off the web altogether

A United States court on Tuesday effectively awarded a group of American and Israeli victims of Iranian terror the rights to the .ir domain, the suffix used to identify Iranian websites, along with all of Iran’s IP addresses.

As a result, said the group’s attorney, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner of the Shurat Hadin Law Center, Iran could find itself kicked off the Internet by ICANN, a Los Angeles-based organization that manages the web.

The United State District Court decided that the .ir domain name, along with Iran’s IP addresses — without which Iranian websites cannot be included in the World Wide Web — were assets that could be seized to satisfy judgments against the Islamic state of more than a billion dollars, owed by Iran to Israeli and US victims of terror perpetrated by the Hamas and Hezbollah organizations, among others.

As a result, Shurat Hadin, representing those victims, could collect the fees Iran pays to keep its Internet going — or force an auction of Iran’s Internet assets to satisfy the judgment.

The court decision comes as part of Shurat Hadin’s efforts to collect judgments against Iran awarded over the past 10 years by various US courts. Darshan-Leitner’s team has successfully proved in American courts that Iran funded terror groups that killed and injured Israeli and US citizens — and that, as the responsible party, it was obligated to compensate victims and their families for losses.

Faced with Iranian refusal to provide such compensation, Darshan-Leitner has been pursuing these judgments in the courts. “We’ve been able to seize numerous Iranian assets to satisfy these judgments,” Darshan-Leitner told The Times of Israel. “Last year, for example, we were awarded a building on New York’s Fifth Avenue, and we have a case pending for seizure of an Iranian government-owned art collection at the University of Chicago.”

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner (Photo credit: Courtesy)
Nitsana Darshan-Leitner (Photo credit: Courtesy)

But Tuesday’s decision could turn out to have the most impact. Internet domain names are licensed to countries around the world by ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), an agency related to the US Department of Commerce which administers the World Wide Web. Each country gets its own suffix, enabling web users to identify the location of a site – for example, Israeli sites get the suffix .il — and allowing local administrators in each country to more easily manage the Internet in their own country.

Like other countries, Iran pays fees to ICANN to license its Internet assets. The US District Court ruled that those fees, along with the assets themselves, could be used to satisfy the Iranian debt to the terror victims plaintiffs. Included in the judgment are all the “top-level domain” (TLD) names provided by ICANN to Iran, including the .IR TLD, the Persian-language ایران TLD, and all Internet Protocol (IP) addresses being utilized by the Iranian government and its agencies.

The award is based on an exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act that US courts have repeatedly ruled does not apply to Iran.

The only question is, said Darshan-Leitner, how ICANN plans to satisfy the judgment. “They have ten days to respond, and unless the court changes its mind, they will have to forward us fees Iran is supposed to pay to renew its licenses, with the renewal done annually. They may decide to do that, in which case that money will go towards satisfying the judgment.”

But there are other possibilities, Darshan-Leitner said. “ICANN may decide that it just isn’t worth their while to do business with Iran anymore, because all the money coming in will go to the terror victims.” In that case, Darshan-Leitner said, ICANN could “pull the plug” on Iran’s Internet, suspending use of the .ir domain and disconnecting Iranian IP addresses from the web.

Even if ICANN decided not to do that, Shurat Hadin could demand an auction of the Iranian Internet assets, arguing that it could realize more compensation money that way – meaning that Iran would no longer be in control of its own websites.

“The payments are just one aspect of the judgment,” Darshan-Leitner said. “It’s the assets themselves that we were awarded. This is the first time that terror victims have moved to seize the domain names, IPs and Internet licenses of terror-sponsoring states like Iran in an attempt to satisfy their court judgments. The Iranians must be shown that there is a steep price to be paid for their sponsorship of terrorism. In business and legal terms it is quite simple — we are owed money, and these assets are currency worth money. We remain committed to helping these American families satisfy their judgments.”

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Palestinian Leaders Don't Want an Independent State

The Palestinian leadership's serial rejection of the numerous opportunities for statehood since the Peel Commission report of 1937 casts a serious doubt on its interest in the creation of an independent state. 

Instead of engaging in the daunting tasks of nation-building and state creation, all Palestinian leaders without any exception—from the Jerusalem mufti Hajj Amin Husseini, who led the Palestinian Arabs from the early 1920s to the late 1940s; to Yasser Arafat, who dominated Palestinian politics from the mid-1960s to his death in November 2004; to Mahmoud Abbas—have preferred to immerse their hapless constituents in disastrous conflicts that culminated in their collective undoing and continued statelessness. 
At the same time, of course, these leaders have lined their pockets from the proceeds of this ongoing tragedy.

It can be shown that the main sources of this self-destructive conduct are pan-Arab delusions, Islamist ideals, and the vast financial and political gains attending the perpetuation of Palestinian misery.

Pan-Arab Delusions

Jerusalem mufti Hajj Amin Husseini (left), in one of his letters to Hitler (right), did not speak of Palestinian aspirations, but rather, pan-Arab goals: "[T]he Arab people … confidently expects that the result of your final victory will be their independence and complete liberation, as well as the creation of their unity, when they will be linked to your country by a treaty of friendship and cooperation."
In discussions of the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict, it is rarely acknowledged that, as products of the Ottoman imperial system where religion constituted the linchpin of the sociopolitical order of things,
Palestinian Arab leaders during the British mandate era (1920-48) had no real grasp of the phenomenon of nationalism, hence, had no interest in the evolution of a distinct Palestinian nation. Instead they were wedded to the pan-Arab dream of a unified "Arab nation" (of which "Palestine" was but a tiny fragment) or the associated ideology of Greater Syria (Suriya al-Kubra), stressing the territorial and historical indivisibility of most of the Fertile Crescent.

As early as October 1919, Musa Kazim Husseini, a former Ottoman official, elected Jerusalem mayor under the British, told a Zionist acquaintance that "we demand no separation from Syria." Six months later, in April 1920, his peers instigated the first anti-Jewish pogrom in Jerusalem—not in the name of Palestine's independence but under the demand for its incorporation into the (short-lived) Syrian kingdom headed by Faisal ibn Hussein of Mecca, the celebrated hero of the "Great Arab Revolt" against the Ottoman Empire and the effective leader of the nascent pan-Arab movement. Four years later, in a special report to the League of Nations, the Arab Executive Committee (AEC), the umbrella organization of the Palestinian Arabs, still referred to Palestine as the unlawfully severed southern part of "the one country of Syria, with its one population of the same language, origin, customs, and religious beliefs, and its natural boundaries." And in June 1926, the league's permanent mandates commission was informed of an Arab complaint that "it was not in conformity with Article 22 of the Mandate to print the initials and even the words 'Eretz Israel' after the name 'Palestine' while refusing the Arabs the title 'Surial Janonbiah' ['Southern Syria']."

In July 1937, the Arab Higher Committee (AHC), the AEC's successor, justified its rejection of the Peel Commission's recommendation for the partition of Palestine on the grounds that "this country does not belong only to [the] Palestine Arabs but to the whole Arab and Muslim Worlds." As late as August 1947, three months before the passing of the U.N. resolution partitioning Mandate Palestine into Arab and Jewish states, the AHC's mouthpiece al-Wahdaadvocated the incorporation of Palestine (and Transjordan) into "Greater Syria."
Hajj Amin Husseini himself never acted as a local patriot seeking national self-determination but rather as an aspiring pan-Arab regional advocate. An early admirer of the "Greater Syrian" ideal, he co-edited the Jerusalem-based newspaper Suria al-Janubiyya and presided over the city'sArab Club, which advocated Palestine's annexation to Syria. He cast his sights much higher after fleeing the country in 1937 to avoid arrest by the British for the instigation of nationwide violence: Presenting himself to Hitler and Mussolini as a spokesman for the entire "Arab nation," Husseini argued that the Palestine problem necessitated an immediate solution not because of the national aspirations of the Palestinian Arabs but because it constituted "an obstacle to the unity and independence of the Arab countries by pitting them directly against the Jews of the entire world, dangerous enemies, whose secret arms are money, corruption, and intrigue." His proposed solution, therefore, was not Palestinian statehood but "the independence of [unified] Palestine, Syria, and Iraq" under his leadership. As he put it in one of his letters to Hitler, "[T]he Arab people, slandered, maltreated, and deceived by our common enemies, confidently expects that the result of your final victory will be their independence and complete liberation, as well as the creation of their unity, when they will be linked
to your country by a treaty of friendship and cooperation."

While the young generation of diaspora Palestinian activists who began organizing in the 1950s witha view to avenging the 1948 "catastrophe"of the creation of Israel did not share the mufti's grandiose ambitions, they were no less committed to the pan-Arab ideal as evidenced by the name of the first "resistance" group—the Arab Nationalist Movement (ANM). The pan-Arab ideal was also evident in the diverse composition of the movement comprising Palestinian (e.g., George Habash, Wadi Haddad) and Arab activists (notably Hani Hindi, scion of a respected Damascene family).

Ahmad Shuqeiri, a Lebanon-born politician of mixed Egyptian, Hijazi, and Turkish descent, became the founding chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization. But in May 1956, he told the U.N. Security Council, "Palestine is part and parcel in the Arab homeland," adding that Palestine "is nothing but southern Syria."
Another prominent adherent to the pan-Arab ideal was Ahmad Shuqeiri, a Lebanon-born politician of mixed Egyptian, Hijazi, and Turkish descent, who served as the Arab League's deputy secretary-general and as the Syrian and Saudi delegate to the U.N. before becoming, on May 28, 1964, the founding chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), established that day by the Arab states at the initiative of Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser.
"Palestine is part and parcel in the Arab home-land," Shuqeiri told the U.N. Security Council on May 31, 1956: "The Arab world is not prepared to surrender one single atom of their right to this sacred territory." Clarifying to which part of the "Arab homeland" this specific territory belonged, he added that Palestine "is nothing but southern Syria." In his account, "the Palestine area was linked to Syria from time immemorial" and "there was no question of separation" until the great powers brought this about by creating mandates under the League of Nations, with Britain controlling Palestine and France administering Syria.

Against this backdrop, it is hardly surprising that the PLO's hallowed founding document, the Palestinian Charter, adopted upon its formation and revised four years later to reflect the organization's growing militancy, has little to say about the Palestinians themselves. Devoting about two-thirds of its thirty-three articles to the need to destroy Israel, it defines the Palestinians as "an integral part of the Arab nation" rather than a distinct nationality and vows allegiance to the ideal of pan-Arab unity—that is to Palestine's eventual assimilation into "the greater Arab homeland"—while seeking to harness this ideal to its short-term ends:
The destiny of the Arab Nation and, indeed, Arab existence itself depend upon the destiny of the Palestinian cause. From this inter-dependence springs the Arab nation's pursuit of, and striving for, the liberation of Palestine. … Arab unity and the liberation of Palestine are two complementary objectives, the attainment of either of which facilitates the attainment of the other. Thus, Arab unity leads to the liberation of Palestine, the liberation of Palestine leads to Arab unity; and work toward the realization of one objective proceeds side by side with work toward the realization of the other.
Jewish rabbis purchasing land from an Arab landowner (left), 1920s. In Mandate Palestine, ordinary Arabs were persecuted and murdered by their alleged betters for the crime of "selling Palestine" to the Jews. Meanwhile, these same betters were enriching themselves with impunity. Many prominent leaders made a handsome profit by selling land to Jews.
Even the November 1988 "declaration of independence" by the Palestine National Council, the PLO's "parliament," while obviously endorsing the idea of Palestinian statehood (in language that massively plagiarized Israel's proclamation of independence), vows allegiance to the pan-Arab ideal by describing the "State of Palestine" as "an integral part of the Arab nation, of its heritage and civilization and of its present endeavor for the achievement of the goals of liberation, development, democracy and unity."

As late as 2002, eight years after the establishment of a PLO-dominated Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to lay the groundwork for Palestinian statehood in these territories, the prominent Israeli Arab politician Azmi Bishara, founding leader of the nationalist Balad Party (with seats in the Israeli parliament since 1999), asserted that "my Palestinian identity never precedes my Arab identity.… I don't think there is a Palestinian nation, there is [only] an Arab nation.… Palestine until the end of the nineteenth century was the southern part of Greater Syria," and the idea of a distinct Palestinian nation is a "colonialist invention" that happens to coincide with the consistent Israeli attempt, by both left- and rightwing parties, to ignore the reality of pan-Arab nationalism.
While such plain speaking is hardly commonplace in PLO/PA current rhetoric, these words help explain the group's continued subscription to the pan-Arab ideal as evidenced by its deliberate failure to revise the Palestinian Charter so as to acknowledge the distinctness of Palestinian nationalism; the frequent articulation of pan-Arab themes by its tightly controlled media; its constitutional definition of the prospective state of Palestine as "part of the Arab homeland" committed to the "goal of Arab unity"; and the steady reiteration of the claim that the Palestinians are not fighting for their own corner but are rather the Arab nation's "front line of defense." No less important, the PLO continues to subordinate its policies, and by extension Palestinian self-interest, to pan-Arab approval—and veto—as illustrated most recently by Abbas's successful rallying of the Arab League behind his "absolute and decisive rejection to recognizing Israel as a Jewish state."

Upholding this position—sixty-six years after the creation of a Jewish state by an internationally recognized act of self-determination—effectively amounts to the rejection of Palestinian statehood for the simple reason that Israel would not self-destruct while the Palestinians and the Arab states are in no position to bring this about.

Islamist Imperial Dreams

If subscription to the pan-Arab dream has made the Palestinian cause captive to inter-Arab machinations, stirring unrealistic hopes and expectations in Palestinian political circles and, at key junctures, inciting widespread and horrifically destructive violence that has made the likelihood of Palestinian statehood ever more remote, adherence to Islamist ideals has subordinated Palestinian identity to the far wider ambition of Islamic world domination.
Consider the Islamic Resistance Movement, better known by its Arabic acronym Hamas. Since making its debut in the 1987-92 intifada, Hamas has established itself as the foremost political and military Palestinian force, winning a landslide victory in the 2006 general elections and evicting the PLO from Gaza the following year. Far from being an ordinary liberation movement in search of national self-determination, Hamas has subordinated its aim of bringing about the destruction of Israel and the creation of a Palestinian state on its ruins to the wider goal of establishing Allah's universal empire. In doing so, it has followed in the footsteps of its Egyptian parent organization, the Muslim Brotherhood, which viewed its violent opposition to Zionism from the 1930s and 1940s as an integral part of the Manichean struggle for the creation of a worldwide caliphate rather than as a defense of the Palestinian Arabs' national rights. In the words of the senior Hamas leader Mahmud Zahar, "Islamic and traditional views reject the notion of establishing an independent Palestinian state … In the past, there was no independent Palestinian state. … [Hence] our main goal is to establish a great Islamic state, be it pan-Arabic or pan-Islamic." He further explained: "Our position stems from our religious convictions … This is a holy land. It is not the property of the Palestinians or the Arabs. This land is the property of all Muslims in all parts of the world."

Echoing standard Muslim Brotherhood precepts, Hamas's covenant adopted in 1988 presents the organization as designed not merely to "liberate Palestine from Zionist occupation" but to pursue the far loftier goals of spreading Islam's holy message and defending the weak and oppressed throughout the world: "As the Islamic Resistance Movement paves its way, it will back the oppressed and support the wronged [throughout the world] in all its might. It will spare no effort to bring about justice and defeat injustice, in word and deed, in this place and everywhere it can reach and have influence therein." As the movement's slogan puts it: "Allah is [Hamas's] target, the Prophet is its model, the Koran its constitution: Jihad is its path, and death for the sake of Allah is the loftiest of its wishes."
Palestinian Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar walks on an Israeli flag during a rally to mark the anniversary of the group's founding, Gaza City, December 9, 2010. Despite its anti-Israel rhetoric, Hamas has subordinated its aim of destroying the Jewish state and creating a Palestinian state to the wider goal of establishing a universal Islamic empire. Zahar explained: "Islamic and traditional views reject the notion of establishing an independent Palestinian state … [Hence] our main goal is to establish a great Islamic state."
In other words, the "question of Palestine" is neither an ordinary territorial dispute between two national movements nor a struggle by an indigenous population against a foreign occupier. It is an integral part of Islam's millenarian jihad to expand its domain and prevent the fall of any of its parts to the infidels: "[T]he land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf [Islamic religious endowment] consecrated for future Moslem generations until Judgment Day. … The day that enemies usurp part of Moslem land, Jihad becomes the individual duty of every Moslem."
In this respect, there is no difference between Palestine and other parts of the world conquered by the forces of Islam throughout history. To this very day, for example, Arabs and many Muslims unabashedly pine for the restoration of Muslim Spain and look upon their expulsion from that country in 1492 as a grave historical injustice. Indeed, even countries that have never been under Islamic imperial rule have become legitimate targets of Islamist fervor. Since the late 1980s, various Islamist movements have looked upon the growing number of French Muslims as a sign that France, too, has become a potential part of the House of Islam. Their British counterparts have followed suit. "We will remodel this country in an Islamic image," the London-based preacher Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammad told an attentive audience less than two months after 9/11. "We will replace the Bible with the Qur'an."

Khaled Mash'al, head of Hamas's political bureau and the organization's effective leader, echoed this sentiment as a tidal wave of Muslim violence swept across the world in response to satirical depictions of the prophet Muhammad in a Danish newspaper in February 2006:
By Allah, you will be defeated ... Hurry up and apologize to our nation, because if you do not, you will regret it. This is because our nation is progressing and is victorious ... Tomorrow, our nation will sit on the throne of the world. This is not a figment of the imagination but a fact. Tomorrow we will lead the world, Allah willing. Apologize today, before remorse will do you no good.
Nor is this supremacist worldview limited to Hamas. Since its rise in the early seventh century, Islam has constituted the linchpin of Middle Eastern politics, and its hold on Palestinian society is far stronger than is commonly recognized. Contrary to the received wisdom in the West, the PLO is hardly a secular organization. Arafat was a devout Muslim, associated in his early days with the Muslim Brotherhood, as were other founding fathers of Fatah, the PLO's foremost constituent organization. And while the new generation of Fatah leaders in the territories may be less religious, they, nevertheless, have a draft constitution for a prospective Palestinian state stipulating that "Islam is the official religion in Palestine" and Shari'a is "a main source for legislation."

They have, moreover, utilized the immense inflammatory potential of Islam to discredit the two-state solution—and by implication, the prospect of Palestinian statehood—and to express their grandiose supremacist delusions. In the words of the official PA television, "Where did Great Britain disappear? By Allah's will, He will get rid of the US like he got rid of them. We [Muslims] have ruled the world; a day will come by Allah, and we shall rule the world [again]. The day will come, and we shall rule America; the day will come, and we shall rule Britain. We shall rule the entire world."

Within these grand overlapping schemes of pan-Arab regional unity and Islamic world domination, the notion of Palestinian statehood is but a single transient element whose supposed centrality looms far greater in Western than in Islamic and Arab eyes.

Profits of Misery

But whatever their ideological and political convictions, Palestinian leaders have never had a real stake in statehood both because the hopes and wishes of their constituents did not figure in their calculations and because they have vastly profited from having their hapless constituents run around in circles for nearly a century while milking world sympathy for the plight they have brought about in the first place.

In Mandate Palestine, ordinary Arabs were persecuted and murdered by their alleged betters for the crime of "selling Palestine" to the Jews. Meanwhile, these same betters were enriching themselves with impunity. The staunch pan-Arabist Awni Abdel Hadi, who vowed to fight "until Palestine is either placed under a free Arab government or becomes a graveyard for all the Jews in the country," facilitated the transfer of 7,500 acres to the Zionist movement, and some of his relatives, all respected political and religious figures, went a step further by selling actual plots of land. Many prominent leaders including Muin Madi, Alfred Rock, and As'ad Shuqeiri (father of Ahmad, PLO founder) also sold land. Musa Alami, who bragged to David Ben-Gurion that "he would prefer the land to remain poor and desolate even for another hundred years" if the alternative was its rapid development in collaboration with the Zionists, made a handsome profit by selling 225 acres to the Jews. So, too, did numerous members of the Husseini family, the foremost Palestinian Arab clan during the mandate period, including Musa Kazim (father of Abdel Qader Husseini, the famous guerrilla leader) and Muhammad Tahir, Hajj Amin's father.
Hajj Amin himself had few qualms about profiting from the Jewish national revival, which he sought to eradicate whenever this suited his needs. Prior to his appointment as the Jerusalem mufti, he pleaded with Jewish leaders to lobby on his behalf with (the Jewish) Herbert Samuel, the first British high commissioner for Palestine, and in 1927, he asked Gad Frumkin, the only Jewish Supreme Court justice during the mandatory era, to influence Jerusalem's Jewish community to back the Husseini candidate in the mayoral elections. He likewise employed a Jewish architect to build a luxury hotel for the Supreme Muslim Council, which he headed, while ordering his constituents to boycott Jewish labor and products. Needless to say, the mufti never sought to apply to his own father his religious authorization (fatwa) on the killing of those who sold land to Jews.

"Arab nationalist feelings were never allowed to harm the interests of the Husseini family," wrote the prominent Jerusalem lawyer and Zionist activist Bernard (Dov) Joseph, a future minister of justice in the Israeli government:
One of [the mufti's] kinsmen, Jamil Husseini, had once engaged my services in land litigation which went as high as the Privy Council in London … For years, one of the Mufti's close relations prospered mightily by forcing Arab small-holders to sell land, at niggardly prices, which he then resold to Jews at a handsome profit.
This institutionalized racketeering skyrocketed to new heights under the PLO. Just as the Palestinian leadership during the mandate had no qualms about inciting its constituents against Zionism and Jews while lining its own pockets from the fruits of Jewish development and land purchases, so the cynical and self-seeking PLO "revolutionaries" used the billions of dollars donated by the Arab oil states and the international community to lead a luxurious lifestyle in sumptuous hotels and villas, globe-trotting in grand style, acquiring properties, and making financial investments worldwide—while millions of ordinary Palestinians scrambled for a livelihood.

This process reached its peak following the September 1993 signing of the Israel-PLO Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-government Arrangements (DOP, or Oslo I) and the establishment of the Palestinian Authority. For all his rhetoric about Palestinian independence, Arafat had never been as interested in the attainment of statehood as in the violence attending its pursuit. In the late 1970s, he told his close friend and collaborator, the Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, that the Palestinians lacked the tradition, unity, and discipline to become a formal state, and that a Palestinian state would be a failure from the first day. Once given control of the Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza as part of the Oslo process, he made this bleak prognosis a self-fulfilling prophecy, establishing a repressive and corrupt regime in the worst tradition of Arab dictatorships where the rule of the gun prevailed over the rule of law and where large sums of money donated by the international community for the benefit of the civilian Palestinian population were diverted to funding racist incitement, buying weaponry, and filling secret bank accounts. Extensive protection and racketeering networks run by PA officials proliferated while the national budget was plundered at will by PLO veterans and Arafat cronies (in May 1997, for example, the first-ever report by the PA's comptroller stated that $325 million, out of the 1996 budget of $800 million had been "wasted" by Palestinian ministers and agencies or embezzled by officials).

Arafat himself held a secret Tel Aviv bank account accessible only to him and his personal advisor Muhammad Rashid, in which he insisted that Israel deposit the tax receipts collected on imports to the Palestinian territories (rather than transfer them directly to the PA). In 1994-2000, nearly eleven billion shekels (about US$2.5 billion) were reportedly paid into this account, of which only a small, unspecified part reached its designated audience. Small wonder that, in 2004, the French authorities opened a money-laundering inquiry into suspect regular transfers into the Paris bank accounts held by Arafat's wife Suha, who resided there with their daughter. After Arafat's death, Suha was reportedly promised an annual pension of $22 million to cover her sumptuous lifestyle, paid from an alleged $4 billion "secret fortune" managed personally by the PA president and kept in a number of bank accounts in Tel Aviv, London, and Zurich.

Though this breathtaking corruption played an important role in Hamas's landslide electoral victory of January 2006, the PLO/PA leadership seems to have learned nothing and to have forgotten nothing. 

Not only did Abbas, who succeeded Arafat as PLO chairman and PA president, blatantly ignore the results of the only (semi) democratic elections in Palestinian history—establishing an alternative government to the legally appointed Hamas government and refusing to hold new elections upon the expiry of his presidency in January 2009—but he seems to have followed in his predecessor's kleptocratic footsteps, reportedly siphoning at least $100 million to private accounts abroad and enriching his sons at the PA's expense. 
In the words of Fahmi Shabaneh, former head of the Anti-Corruption Department in the PA's General Intelligence Service:
In his pre-election platform, President Abbas promised to end financial corruption and implement major reforms, but he hasn't done much since then. Unfortunately, Abbas has surrounded himself with many of the thieves and officials who were involved in theft of public funds and who became icons of financial corruption. … Some of the most senior Palestinian officials didn't have even $3,000 in their pocket when they arrived [after the signing of the Oslo accords]. Yet we discovered that some of them had tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars in their bank accounts. … Had it not been for the presence of the Israeli authorities in the West Bank, Hamas would have done [there] what they did in the Gaza Strip. It's hard to find people in the West Bank who support the Palestinian Authority. People are fed up with the financial corruption and mismanagement of the Palestinian Authority.


For nearly a century, Palestinian leaders have missed no opportunity to impede the development of Palestinian civil society and the attainment of Palestinian statehood. 

Had Hajj Amin Husseini chosen to lead his constituents to peace and reconciliation with their Jewish neighbors, the Palestinians would have had their independent state over a substantial part of mandate Palestine by 1948, if not a decade earlier, and would have been spared the traumatic experience of dispersal and exile. 

Had Arafat set the PLO from the start on the path to peace and reconciliation instead of turning it into one of the most murderous and corrupt terrorist organizations in modern times, a Palestinian state could have been established in the late 1960s or the early 1970s; in 1979, as a corollary to the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty; by May 1999, as part of the Oslo process; or at the very latest, with the Camp David summit of July 2000. 

Had Abbas abandoned his predecessors' rejectionist path, a Palestinian state could have been established after the Annapolis summit of November 2007, or during President Obama's first term after Benjamin Netanyahu broke with the longstanding Likud precept by publicly accepting in June 2009 the two-state solution and agreeing to the establishment of a Palestinian state.

But then, the attainment of statehood would have shattered Palestinian leaders' pan-Arab and Islamist delusions, not to mention the kleptocratic paradise established on the backs of their long suffering subjects. It would have transformed the Palestinians in one fell swoop from the world's ultimate victim into an ordinary (and most likely failing) nation-state thus terminating decades of unprecedented international indulgence. It would have also driven the final nail in the PLO's false pretense to be "the sole representative of the Palestinian people" (already dealt a devastating blow by Hamas's 2006 electoral rout) and would have forced any governing authority to abide, for the first time in Palestinian history, by the principles of accountability and transparency. 

Small wonder, therefore, that whenever confronted with an international or Israeli offer of statehood, Palestinian leaders would never take "yes" for an answer.
*Efraim Karsh, editor of the Middle East Quarterly, is professor of Middle East and Mediterranean studies at King's College London and professor of political studies at Bar-Ilan University where he is also a senior research associate at the BESA Center for Strategic Studies...