Saturday, December 31, 2016

“Between the River and the Sea…”

From Algemeiner, 30 December 2016, by Martin Sherman:

...For all the opprobrium and outrage one might feel for the egregious malevolence of the actions – and inaction — of the Obama regime in the final throes of its incumbency, hard truths as to what part Israel itself played in facilitating these appalling and infuriating outbursts of vindictive pique cannot — and should not — be overlooked. Especially if there is to be any hope of avoiding such future fiascos… or of repairing the damage of past ones.

...[about 2 months ago] I urged that Israel adopt a preemptive deterrent stance to forestall any vindictive initiative from the Obama administration in the eight-week interregnum — the period before his successor is inaugurated — by credibly conveying that support for such action “will not be a cost-free decision for whoever acts to effect it… or fails to foil it.” To this end, I prescribed that “should Israel be confronted with [the prospect of] an un-vetoed resolution to promote Palestinian statehood, it must convey in unequivocally clear terms to the Palestinians – and to their supporters, Israel will cease, forthwith, to provide all services and merchandise that it provides them… and vividly expose the farcical futility of the Palestinians’ endeavor for statehood [as] unsustainable without the largesse of its alleged ‘oppressor.’”

Unsurprisingly, little effort was taken to implement any such a-priori deterrent action, and subsequent angry Israeli responses — understandable and well-justified as they may be — are unlikely to have much more impact than slamming the stable doors after the horses have long bolted.

...I am not one of Benjamin Netanyahu’s fiercest or most relentless detractors. Indeed, in the past I have written several articles stoutly defending him ...

However, at times, I have been dismayed at some of his policy decisions and have criticized them with commensurate severity. These include:

  • the freeze on construction in Jewish communities in Judea-Samaria; 
  • the unilateral release of droves of convicted homicidal terrorists as a forlorn “goodwill” gesture to the Palestinians; 
  • the shameful payment of compensation to the families of the Turkish thugs, killed trying to lynch IDF naval commandoes on the Mavi Marmara; 
  • the granting of special status to the Erdogan-regime in Gaza 
— to name a few.

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking at Bar-Ilan University. Photo: GPO.
But of all his injudicious decisions, undoubtedly the one that has had the gravest and most far-reaching consequences was his acceptance, in violation of his electoral pledge, of Palestinian statehood during his regrettable 2009 Bar-Ilan speech. 

For, in a stroke, he dramatically transformed the strategic structure of the discourse from whether or not there should be a Palestinian state to what the characteristics of that state should be. Although he tried to “hedge” his acceptance with unrealistic reservations and unenforceable constraints, the two-state “genie” was already out of the bottle.

...once Israel formally committed to the two-state paradigm, it doomed itself to being perceived as disingenuous and deceptive. After all, given the prevailing geo-political conditions — and those likely to prevail in any foreseeable future scenarios — the establishment of a Palestinian state, in any configuration even remotely acceptable to even the most moderate Palestinian interlocutor, requires territorial concessions so perilous that no responsible Israeli government could undertake them.

Accordingly, any such government — especially one voted into power by a skeptical, hawkish constituency — would find itself trapped in an irresolvable contradiction between its declared intentions and its inability to implement measures necessary to fulfill them.

As an aside, it is worth noting that Netanyahu’s volte-face on Palestinian statehood could hardly have come at a more inopportune time, made precisely as the “Green Revolution” against the tyrannical regime in Tehran erupted. So, rather than allow world attention be focused on unfolding events in Iran and Obama’s callous refusal to support the protesters in face of brutal government repression, Netanyahu provided him with a welcome diplomatic victory and sorely needed media distraction.

...The real question is not how Netanyahu could have dealt with any particular situation (including Friday’s US Security Council abstention) more effectively once it had arisen, but what he could and should have done to prevent such situations from arising, or at least, make them less likely and less widely supported.

Indeed, for the past eight years, during which Netanyahu has had an unbroken hold on power, he has led the country into what is looking increasingly like a diplomatic impasse.

Even with full recognition of the innate anti-Israel predilections of the Obama administration, and sympathy for the Israeli governments that have had to contend with it, there is still significant blame that Netanyahu must bear for the accumulating US and international pressure on Israel.

After all, ever since he assumed office in January 2009 (and arguably well-before that), the inherent antipathy Obama harbored towards Israel — together with his undisguised Islamophilic proclivities — have been painfully clear to anyone with the intellectual integrity to read the abundantly unequivocal signs.

Yet despite the fact that Netanyahu has been in power continuously for well over a half-decade, he and his government have done virtually nothing to put in place effective mechanisms to contend with the pernicious effects of the White House’s predilections.

Indeed, it is difficult to view this as anything short of a grave dereliction of diplomatic duty on the part of the Netanyahu government.

What if Hillary had won…?
True, the inauguration of Donald Trump may well bring a welcome respite to this pernicious trend — but that can hardly be credited to the sagacity or foresight of Netanyahu’s policy. Indeed, one can only shudder at the thought of what dire straits Israel would have been in, had the designated Obama surrogate, Hillary Clinton, won the November elections, as was widely expected.

...With the pitiful budget allotted for the fight over the hearts of the international community, Israel has all but abandoned what British journalist Melanie Phillips termed “the battlefield of the mind” to its adversaries — be them the Palestinians and their well-oiled propaganda machine, or the inimical, politically-correct mainstream media.

Astonishingly, until recently, the total budget allocated for Israel’s global public diplomacy effort was less than the advertising budget of a single Israeli food manufacturer for promoting its fast-foods and snacks!

So much for Israel’s strategic diplomacy.

...Sadly... a strategic diplomatic offensive was never undertaken, providing Israel’s detractors with unfettered freedom to undermine Israel’s legitimacy and to pave the way for the diplomatic assault we saw this week.

The bitter fruits of Bibi’s Bar Ilan blunder
Regrettably, by his imprudent acceptance of the idea of Palestinian statehood in his 2009 Bar Ilan speech, Netanyahu has gravely hamstrung much of the freedom of action needed for any official diplomatic effort to rebuff adversarial diplomatic initiatives against Israel.

For having committed himself to the perilously impractical idea of two-states, he cannot articulate arguments that show it to be a totally unfeasible and counterproductive objective that will precipitate outcomes, both moral and practical, diametrically opposed to those which the two-state solution’s proponents claim it will achieve.

Thus, for example, he cannot publicly tear the mask off the demand to preserve the option of a two-state formula and demonstrate it to be a perversely immoral demand, which will result in realities that are the utter negation of those invoked for creating them.

He cannot publicly denounce the call for Palestinian statehood as a grotesquely irrational call that will culminate in the very bloodshed and violence it was designed to prevent.

He cannot work to publicly expose the pressure for Palestinian self-determination as nothing more than pressure to set up yet another homophobic, misogynistic, Muslim-majority tyranny, whose hallmarks would be religious intolerance, gender discrimination, persecution of homosexuals and suppression of political dissidents.

This was the clarion-clear message that Israel should have been conveying robustly and pervasively in international forums, in the mainstream media and across campuses throughout the Western world.

Sadly, tethered to his Bar Ilan commitment to Palestinian statehood, it was not one that Netanyahu could adopt, articulate or promote.

“Between the River and the Sea…”
But Netanyahu’s approach is afflicted by an even more profound defect.

For if one eschews any wildly optimistic and naïve “best case” scenarios, it is relatively easy to show that the Palestinian and the Zionist narratives are mutually exclusive — at least in practice, if not in theory. Accordingly, any attempt to re-legitimize the Zionist narrative must, ipso facto, entail the de-legitimization of the Palestinian narrative.

However, since the Netanyahu government is wedded to the two-state formula — which presupposes the legitimacy of the Palestinian narrative – it cannot work to undermine that legitimacy.

It is difficult to understate the gravity of this predicament.

For any clear-eyed view of prevailing political realities will quickly lead to the stark conclusion that between the River and the Sea there can, and eventually will, prevail either total Jewish sovereignty or total Arab sovereignty. By blurring the stark clarity of the choice that confronts it, Netanyahu has done the nation a grave disservice — and, for all the distaste one might have for the outgoing Obama regime, that is the blame Bibi must bear.

PLO rejects Kerry's anti-Israel plan - wants more

From Hamodia, 28 December 2016:

Mustafa Barghouti (AP Photo/Thierry Charlier, File)

Israel was not alone in criticizing Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech on Wednesday.
PLO Executive Committee member Mustafa Barghouti issued a three-point rejection of Kerry’s six-point peace plan, indicating how far from compromise the Palestinian leadership remains on the core issues.

First, you cannot make the issue of Palestinian refugees only an issue of compensation.” He ...insisted on the claimed “right of return,” something which Israeli leaders have agreed to only in token numbers at most.

Second, recognition of Israel as a Jewish state totally unacceptable. Israel cannot be Jewish and democratic at the same time,” Barghouti said.

...“Third, his formula about Jerusalem is absolutely something that the Palestinians cannot accept. It must be clear that Jerusalem is east Jerusalem according to 1967 lines. East Jerusalem should be the capital of Palestine. How can it be a capital of two states,” Barghouti concluded, saying that 

[fourth] compromises to the 1967 borders cannot be tolerated...

Kerry's ramble lacks context, reality

From The Australian, 30 Dec 2016, by Greg Sheridan:

Image result for john kerry + fidel castro
Kerry                                                                                                                                           Castro

John Kerry’s imitation of Fidel Castro, with a speech as long and as mournful and as useless as those the Cuban dictator frequently delivered, helps explain why he was such a dismal failure as US Secretary of State.

Kerry’s meandering speech blamed Israel for the failure so far to achieve a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

The problem is, it read like the speech of an earnest undergraduate who has just come to the issue through the reporting of al-Jazeera and CNN and has no background in historic reality.

The Kerry speech lacked all context, proportion, balance, history and any sense of reality.

Australians have long understood that Kerry was an extremely mediocre choice for secretary of state. In the published diaries of former foreign minister Bob Carr there is a long cable from then ambassador Kim Beazley concerning Kerry’s appointment.

Kerry, Beazley said, had very little interest in Asia and almost none at all in Australia.

Beazley predicted, correctly, that Kerry would devote his tenure to trying to get a big historic prize for himself, namely an Israeli Palestinian peace deal.

For his entire tenure, Kerry has seemed disconnected from the real world crises of the Middle East, focusing instead on his undergraduate obsessions with Israel. Hundreds of thousands of people are slaughtered in Syria in part because of the strategic vacuum Kerry and his boss and their feckless sermonising created; Iran and Russia become dominant strategic players; Yemen and Libya collapse, but Kerry knows what his priorities are: to beat up on Israel.

Barack Obama has taken a characteristic personal revenge on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whom he detests, with a profoundly destructive and irresponsible UN Security Council resolution, which declares every Israeli living anywhere beyond the 1967 borders, even in the Jewish quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, to be an illegal settler.

This means the Palestinians have no incentive to compromise and the Israelis are encouraged not to compromise either, because they cannot even rely on their best friend.

There Has Never Been a Sovereign Arab State in Palestine

See the following extract from "Mandate for Palestine", by Eli E. Hertz

While it proves that: 

  • Palestine is a geographic area, not an ethnic or national identity; and 
  • there has never been Palestinian nation;
I would not deny the right of any group of people (including the group of Arabs who now describe themselves as Palestinian Arabs) to self determination. 

However the group that aspires to such self determination must establish its credentials as a viable national entity. These Arabs have failed to do that. 

An economy based on terrorism and international aid is not sustainable; and aspirations to destroy Jewish self determination are not persuasive in winning friends, except for antisemites....

Until this group of people begin to behave like a civilised nation, they don't deserve to be recognised as such. 

Here is the extract from "Mandate for Palestine", by Eli E. Hertz

Palestine is a Geographical Area, Not a Nationality
Delineating the final geographical area of Palestine designated for the Jewish National Home on September 16, 1922, as described by the Mandatory:

Palestine lies on the western edge of the continent of Asia between Latitude 30º N. and 33º N., Longitude 34º 30’ E. and 35º 30’ E.

On the North it is bounded by the French Mandated Territories of Syria and Lebanon, on the East by Syria and Trans-Jordan, on the South-west by the Egyptian province of Sinai, on the South-east by the Gulf of Aqaba and on the West by the Mediterranean. The frontier with Syria was laid down by the Anglo-French Convention of the 23rd December, 1920, and its delimitation was ratified in 1923. Briefly stated, the boundaries are as follows: -

North. – From Ras en Naqura on the Mediterranean eastwards to a point west of Qadas, thence in a northerly direction to Metulla, thence east to a point west of Banias.

East. – From Banias in a southerly direction east of Lake Hula to Jisr Banat Ya’pub, thence along a line east of the Jordan and the Lake of Tiberias and on to El Hamme station on the Samakh-Deraa railway line, thence along the centre of the river Yarmuq to its confluence with the Jordan, thence along the centres of the Jordan, the Dead Sea and the Wadi Araba to a point on the Gulf of Aqaba two miles west of the town of Aqaba, thence along the shore of the Gulf of Aqaba to Ras Jaba.

South. – From Ras Jaba in a generally north-westerly direction to the junction of the Neki-Aqaba and Gaza-Aqaba Roads, thence to a point west-north-west of Ain Maghara and thence to a point on the Mediterranean coast north-west of Rafa.

West. – The Mediterranean Sea.

Arabs, the UN and its organs, and lately the International Court of Justice (ICJ) as well, have repeatedly claimed that the Palestinians are a native people – so much so that almost everyone takes it for granted. The problem is that a stateless Palestinian people is a fabrication. The word Palestine is not even Arabic.

In a report by His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to the Council of the League of Nations on the administration of Palestine and Trans-Jordan for the year 1938, the British made it clear: 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 Latin name Philistia was further bastardized into Palistina or Palestine.14 During the next 2,000 years Palestine was never an independent 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. During that rule, local Arabs were actually considered part of, and subject to, the authority of Greater Syria ( Suriyya al-Kubra).15

Historically, before the Arabs fabricated the concept of Palestinian peoplehood 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.16

This 1939 Larousse French dictionary depicts flags of the world at that time in alphabetical order.
Note that the Palestine flag features a Jewish Star of David.

In fact, before local Jews began calling themselves Israelis in 1948 (when the name “Israel” was chosen for the newly-established Jewish State), the term “Palestine” applied almost exclusively to Jews and the institutions founded by new Jewish immigrants in the first half of the 20th century, before the state’s independence.

Some examples include:

  • The Jerusalem Post, founded in 1932, was called The Palestine Post until 1948.
  • Bank Leumi L’Israel, incorporated in 1902, was called the “Anglo-Palestine Company” until 1948.
  • The Jewish Agency – an arm of the Zionist movement engaged in Jewish settlement since 1929 – was initially called the Jewish Agency for Palestine.
  • Today’s Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, founded in 1936 by German Jewish refugees who fled Nazi Germany, was originally called the “Palestine Symphony Orchestra,” composed of some 70 Palestinian Jews.
  • The United Jewish Appeal (UJA) was established in 1939 as a merger of the United Palestine Appeal and the fund-raising arm of the Joint Distribution Committee.
Encouraged by their success at historical revisionism and brainwashing the world with the “Big Lie” of a Palestinian people, Palestinian Arabs have more recently begun to claim they are the descendants of the Philistines and even the Stone Age Canaanites. Based on that myth, they can claim to have been “victimized” twice by the Jews: in the conquest of Canaan by the Israelites and again by the Israelis in modern times – a total fabrication.19 Archeologists explain that the Philistines were a Mediterranean people who settled along the coast of Canaan in 1100 BCE. They have no connection to the Arab nation, a desert people who emerged from the Arabian Peninsula.

As if that myth were not enough, former PLO Chairman Yasir Arafat also claimed, “Palestinian Arabs are descendants of the Jebusites,” who were displaced when King David conquered Jerusalem.

Arafat also argued that “Abraham was an Iraqi.” One Christmas Eve, Arafat declared that “Jesus was a Palestinian,” a preposterous claim that echoes the words of Hanan Ashrawi, a Christian Arab who, in an interview during the 1991 Madrid Conference, said: “Jesus Christ was born in my country, in my land,” and claimed that she was “the descendant of the first Christians,” disciples who spread the gospel around Bethlehem some 600 years before the Arab conquest. If her claims were true, it would be tantamount to confessing that she is a Jew!

Contradictions abound; Palestinian leaders claim to be descended from the Canaanites, the Philistines, the Jebusites and the first Christians. They also “hijacked” Jesus and ignored his Jewishness, at the same time claiming the Jews never were a people and never built the Holy Temples in Jerusalem.

There Has Never Been a Sovereign Arab State in Palestine
The artificiality of a Palestinian identity is reflected in the attitudes and actions of neighboring Arab nations who never established a Palestinian state themselves.

The rhetoric by Arab leaders on behalf of the Palestinians rings hollow. Arabs in neighboring states, who control 99.9 percent of the Middle East land, have never recognized a Palestinian entity. They have always considered Palestine and its inhabitants part of the great “Arab nation,” historically and politically as an integral part of Greater Syria – Suriyya al-Kubra – a designation that extended to both sides of the Jordan River.20 In the 1950s, Jordan simply annexed the West Bank since the population there was viewed as the brethren of the Jordanians. Jordan’s official narrative of “Jordanian state-building” attests to this fact:

“Jordanian identity underlies the signific ant and fundamental common denominator that makes it inclusive of Palestinian identity, particularly in view of the shared historic social and political development of the people on both sides of the Jordan. ... The Jordan government, in view of the historical and political relationship with the West Bank ... granted all Palestinian refugees on its territory full citizenship rights while protecting and upholding their political rights as Palestinians (Right of Return or compensation).”

The Arabs never established a Palestinian state when the UN in 1947 recommended to partition Palestine, and to establish “an Arab and a Jewish state” (not a Palestinian state, it should be noted). Nor did the Arabs recognize or establish a Palestinian state during the two decades prior to the Six-Day War when the West Bank was under Jordanian control and the Gaza Strip was under Egyptian control; nor did the Palestinian Arabs clamor for autonomy or independence during those years under Jordanian and Egyptian rule.

Only twice in Jerusalem’s history has the city served as a national capital. First as the capital of the two Jewish Commonwealths during the First and Second Temple periods, as described in the Bible, reinforced by archaeological evidence and numerous ancient documents. And again in modern times as the capital of the State of Israel. It has never served as an Arab capital for the simple reason that there has never been a Palestinian Arab state.

Well before the 1967 decision to create a new Arab people called “Palestinians,” when the word “Palestinian” was associated with Jewish endeavors, Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi, a local Arab leader, testified in 1937 before the Peel Commission, a British investigative body:

“There is no such country [as Palestine]! Palestine is a term the Zionists invented! There is no Palestine in the Bible. Our country was for centuries, part of Syria.”

In a 1946 appearance before the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry, also acting as an investigative body, the Arab-American historian Philip Hitti stated:

“There is no such thing as Palestine in [Arab] history, absolutely not.” According to investigative journalist Joan Peters, who spent seven years researching the origins of the Arab-Jewish conflict over Palestine (From Time Immemorial, 2001), the one identity that was never considered by local inhabitants prior to the 1967 war was “Arab Palestinian.”

The “Mandate” Defined Where Jews Are and Are Not Permitted to Settle

The “Mandate for Palestine” document did not set final borders. It left this for the Mandatory to stipulate in a binding appendix to the final document in the form of a memorandum. However, Article 6 of the “Mandate” clearly states:

“The Administration of Palestine, while ensuring that the rights and position of other sections of the population are not prejudiced, shall facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions and shall encourage, in co-operation with the Jewish agency referred to in Article 4, close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes.”

Article 25 of the “Mandate for Palestine” entitled the Mandatory to change the terms of the Mandate in the territory east of the Jordan River:

“In the territories lying between the Jordan and the eastern boundary of Palestine as ultimately determined, the Mandatory shall be entitled, with the consent of the Council of the League of Nations, to postpone or withhold application of such provision of this Mandate as he may consider inapplicable to the existing local conditions ...”

Great Britain activated this option in the above-mentioned memorandum of September 16, 1922, which the Mandatory sent to the League of Nations and which the League subsequently approved – making it a legally binding integral part of the “Mandate.”

Thus the “Mandate for Palestine” brought to fruition a fourth Arab state east of the Jordan River, realized in 1946 when the Hashemite Kingdom of Trans-Jordan was granted independence from Great Britain.

All the clauses concerning a Jewish National Home would not apply to this territory [Trans-Jordan] of the original Mandate, as is clearly stated:

“The following provisions of the Mandate for Palestine are not applicable to the territory known as Trans-Jordan, which comprises all territory lying to the east of a line drawn from ... up the centre of the Wady Araba, Dead Sea and River Jordan. ... His Majesty’s Government accept[s] full responsibility as Mandatory for Trans-Jordan.”

The creation of an Arab state in eastern Palestine (today Jordan) on 77 percent of the landmass of the original Mandate intended for a Jewish National Home in no way changed the status of Jews west of the Jordan River, nor did it inhibit their right to settle anywhere in western Palestine, the area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

These documents are the last legally binding documents regarding the status of what is commonly called “the West Bank and Gaza.”

The September 16, 1922 memorandum is also the last modification of the official terms of the Mandate on record by the League of Nations or by its legal successor – the United Nations – in accordance with Article 27 of the Mandate that states unequivocally:

“The consent of the Council of the League of Nations is required for any modification of the terms of this mandate.”

United Nations Charter recognizes the UN’s obligation to uphold the commitments of its predecessor – the League of Nations.

Friday, December 30, 2016


This video, published on 4 Nov 2013, dispels certain myths concerning the origin of the name 'Palestine' and of the 'Arab Palestinians.' It documents that the 'Arab Palestinians' are in fact mostly from other places, and migrated to what is now Israel at the same time as the Zionist Jews, many of them because of the economic boom that the Zionist Jews produced in what was then British Mandate Palestine.

The Zionist Jews did not steal the "best" land from Arab landowners but in fact purchased abandoned desert and swamp land from absentee Arab landlords who were quite eager to sell. This was explained by Hajj Amin al Husseini himself. Husseini, father of the Palestinian movement, launched his fourth terrorist attack against the Jews of the Mandate in 1936-39. The violence was so great that the British sent a team to investigate. When questioned, Husseini admitted that the Zionist Jews had not stolen anybody's land but in fact had bought it. In fact, Husseini had been among the major consolidators and sellers of land, and growing tremendously rich by it.

The Case Against the jackals who passed U.N. Resolution 2334

From an open letterDecember 29, 2016, from UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer to U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power:

Dear Ambassador Power,

I write in response to your abstention on Friday which allowed a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israel, and in response to the substantial explanation of vote that you delivered. With even further U.N. measures still possible before President Obama leaves office on January 20th, I urge you and the Administration—where you play an influential role as a member of the President’s Cabinet, and as one of President Obama’s most trusted advisors—to reconsider your approach.

Your speech on Friday had much to applaud. As you have vigorously done for three years, your remarks exposed in compelling detail the U.N. double standard applied to the Jewish state, which, you rightly said, “not only hurts Israel, it undermines the legitimacy of the United Nations itself.”

As you noted last year on the 40th anniversary of the infamous Zionism is Racism resolution, at the U.N. “rarely a day goes by without some effort to delegitimize Israel.” On that occasion, you called for everyone to “relentlessly fight back” against this “ignorance and hatred.”

Your vote on Friday, however, makes a dramatic break with all of this. While it is perfectly legitimate to disagree with Israel about settlements, allowing Resolution 2334 to pass was morally wrong and strategically damaging. As set forth below, we believe the U.S. decision to acquiesce in the adoption of this lopsided resolution reverses decades of past practice, sets back the cause of peace, and harms the interests of Israelis, Palestinians, and Americans.

Leader’s of Israel’s Left-Wing Opposition Reject U.N. Resolution

Immediate and compelling evidence demonstrates that the Administration has failed to achieve its objective, which you articulated as promoting the two-state solution.

Secretary Kerry’s speech yesterday failed to acknowledge the telling fact that Israel’s mainstream society, including leading supporters of the two-state solution, have sharply rejected the U.N. resolution, and criticized the U.S. role in its advancement and adoption.


  • Isaac Herzog, leader of the opposition and chairman of the Labor Party—whom you recently recognized for being “so principled on behalf of peace”—called for Resolution 2334 to be annulled, saying it caused “severe damage.”
  • Similarly, his colleague, former foreign minister Tzipi Livni, who led efforts to achieve a two-state solution at the Annapolis Conference, and who welcomed the 2008 Security Council resolution endorsing that summit, said by contrast that Friday’s U.S.-backed resolution “harms the interests of Israel,” “harms Jerusalem,” and threatens to haul Israeli officers to the International Criminal Court.
  • Yair Lapid, chair of the Yesh Atid opposition party, who has endorsed the Saudi-Arab Peace Initiative as a basis for peace talks, and who opposes the proposed Knesset bill to legalize outposts which you cited on Friday, called the U.N. resolution “dangerous”, “unfair, and “an act of hypocrisy.”
  • Ehud Barak, who as prime minister went to Camp David in 2000 and extended an unprecedented and far-reaching peace offer to the Palestinians, called this resolution a “humiliating blow to Israel.”
  • Amos Yadlin, head of Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies, the country’s most influential think tank, and another prominent supporter of the two-state solution, said that the resolution was “extremely problematic for Israel and the peace process alike,” and he accused President Obama of committing “a severe anti-Israeli move” which “harmed the United States’ staunchest ally in the Middle East.”
  • To be sure, all of these left-leaning figures faulted or admonished Prime Minister Netanyahu for failing to head off the blow. Yet neither President Obama, Secretary Kerry or anyone else in your Administration has yet addressed the astonishing fact that their closest Israeli political allies and interlocutors in promoting the peace process have uniformly denounced an action which you claim will advance their position.

Hamas & Islamic Jihad Terrorists Cheer Resolution: “Now Israel Can Be Isolated, Boycotted, Prosecuted”

By contrast, are you not troubled that among the first to endorse the resolution were the terrorist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad? “Hamas commends the countries that voiced their opposition to the Israeli occupation’s aggressive settlement policy aimed against the Palestinian people,” said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum. Hamas praised “the important about-face in the international position in favor of the Palestinian people.” Iran-backed Islamic Jihad welcomed the U.S.-backed resolution, saying, “It’s plain to see the world opinion is against Israel and its policies,” and “now Israel can be isolated and boycotted, as well as prosecuted in the international arena for all its crimes.”

12 Reasons Why the U.S. Should Have Vetoed U.N. Resolution 2334

To understand why, by contrast, so many supporters of Israeli-Palestinian peace oppose what you did on Friday, I urge you and the Administration to consider the following 12 points:

1. Resolution 2334 Encourages Palestinian Rejectionism, Undermines Negotiations
The resolution dangerously disincentivizes Palestinians to come to the negotiating table. Instead, Resolution 2334 will for the foreseeable future encourage them to await being handed the same or more by international fiat. This will feed into the Palestinian strategy of preferring to deal with international institutions over bilateral talks with Israel. Contrary to its stated objective, therefore, the resolution will only push negotiations further away.

In this regard, we recall that in 2011, your predecessor Susan Rice vetoed a similar resolution on the grounds that it risked “hardening the positions of both sides,” and “could encourage the parties to stay out of negotiations.” She said it was “unwise for this Council to attempt to resolve the core issues that divide Israelis and Palestinians.”

Though your speech claims that circumstances have now changed, many will see the only meaningful difference as the fact that the current transition period allows a president to make unpopular decisions at no political cost.

2. Resolution Fuels Palestinian Targeting of Israelis with BDS & International Prosecutions
Secretary of State John Kerry pledged this month to oppose any “biased, unfair resolution calculated to delegitimize Israel.” And though he likewise said on Friday after the vote that he is proud of “defending Israel against any efforts to undermine its security or legitimacy in international fora,” and “steadfastly opposing boycotts, divestment campaigns and sanctions targeting the State of Israel,” the fact is that these are precisely the efforts empowered by Resolution 2334.

Friday’s text not only provides the first Security Council endorsement of the scandalous 2004 ICJ advisory opinion, which denied Israel’s right to defend itself from Gaza rockets, but it implicitly encourages the International Criminal Court (ICC) to move forward in its preliminary examination of whether Israeli officials have engaged in the “war crime” of settlement building, and provides the same impetus to prosecutions in national courts that claim universal jurisdiction. If Tzipi Livni was already being served with UK arrest warrants before, Resolution 2334 will only aggravate anti-Israel lawfare. The U.S. should never have lent its hand to a campaign designed to delegitimize Israeli civil and military leaders as criminals.

Moreover, the resolution’s appeal to all states to take action, in paragraph 5, is a clear call to escalate campaigns seeking to boycott Israeli products, companies and citizens. Certainly the UN Human Rights Council will feel empowered to continue preparing its blacklist of Israeli companies that do business over the green line, due in March. Meanwhile, the resolution’s mandated reports by the Secretary-General every three months will ensure constant activity.

3. Contrary to U.S. Claims, Resolution Fails to Condemn Palestinian Incitement
You said after the vote that the U.S. “would not have let this resolution pass had it not also addressed counterproductive actions by the Palestinians such as terrorism and incitement to violence.” Yet that is exactly what happened: the resolution that was adopted mentions terrorism and incitement only in the abstract; nowhere are these crimes attributed to Palestinians. Whereas Israel is named and shamed throughout the text, the Palestinians get a free pass. The U.S. reversed decades of past practice by allowing the adoption of such an unbalanced text.

The failure of this resolution to truly confront Palestinian incitement is not inconsistent with your failure to speak out against the routine incitement to antisemitism and terrorism by Palestinian school principals and teachers at UNRWA, to which your Administration gave $380 million last year. We sent you petition after petition, supported by thousands worldwide, yet your only statements on UNRWA have been to defend or promote the organization, not to hold it accountable. I hope you will change your approach when we soon reveal the latest trove of UNRWA’s online incitement.

4. Blames Israel as “Major Obstacle” to Peace, Yet Palestinians Evade Responsibility
Despite the fact that the Palestinians refuse to negotiate without preconditions, refused to negotiate even during Israel’s 2009-2010 settlement freeze, rejected the Kerry framework principles, and are inciting to terrorism at the highest levels, they are spared in the resolution from any blame. Instead, the resolution accuses Israel alone of creating, with the settlements, “a major obstacle” to just, lasting and comprehensive peace.

5. Failure to Distinguish Settlements Loses Israeli Mainstream
By ignoring the 2000 Clinton Parameters, the Obama Administration unwisely managed to alienate itself from the vast majority of the Israeli population and political parties, who regard the Jewish Quarter, the Western Wall, and Jewish neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem such as Ramot and Gilo as an integral part of Israel—all of which are defined in the resolution as “occupied Palestinian territory”—and likewise, the Israeli Jewish communities in the large settlement blocs such as Gush Etzion have for years been considered part of the Israeli consensus. The U.S. failure to distinguish between these and isolated, remote settlements is what doomed the U.N. resolution to complete rejection by Israeli society as a whole.

6. Offensive to Call Jerusalem’s Jewish Holy Sites “Occupied Palestinian Territory”
The resolution is offensive to Jews worldwide by absurdly defining the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem, and the holiest Jewish sites of the Temple Mount and Western Wall, as “occupied Palestinian territory.” In describing your commitment to Israel as both personal and profound, you have on several occasions noted before Jewish and Israeli audiences that your son is a descendant, from his father’s side, of Rabbi Elijah, the 18th-century Lithuanian Jewish sage known as the Vilna Gaon, considered the greatest Talmudic scholar of his time.

Given that the Gaon’s vision of return to the Land of Israel was a decisive factor in the rebuilding of the Jewish Quarter, by inspiring hundreds of his disciples to immigrate to Jerusalem in the early 19th century, and given that we are about to mark the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, which recognized the ancient, indigenous Jewish rights to the Holy Land—formalized internationally in the League of Nations Mandate on Palestine, which stated that the British Administration “shall encourage… close settlement by Jews, on the land”—I hope you will reconsider the logic of now criminalizing Jewish residents of the Jewish Quarter.

7.  Seeks to Relitigate & Rewrite Cornerstone Resolution 242
By injecting new language enshrining “the 4 June 1967 lines,” the resolution seeks to relitigate and rewrite U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 of November 1967, the cornerstone of Arab-Israeli peace negotiations over the past half-century—endorsed by the Palestinians at Oslo—which calls for the right of every state to live in peace within “secure and recognized boundaries” and for Israel to withdraw “from territories occupied.”

Your predecessor Arthur Goldberg, former Supreme Court Justice and U.S. ambassador to the U.N. when 242 was enacted, made clear that the text’s “notable omissions in language” on withdrawal are the words “the,” “all,” and the “June 5, 1967, lines.” The choice of language was clear, he explained: “there is lacking a declaration requiring Israel to withdraw from the (or all the) territories occupied by it on and after June 5, 1967.”

Instead, the resolution “stipulates withdrawal from occupied territories without defining the extent of withdrawal.” And it “can be inferred from the incorporation of the words secure and recognized boundaries that the territorial adjustments to be made by the parties in their peace settlements could encompass less than a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from occupied territories.” Goldberg likewise told King Hussein in the lead-up to 242 that there was a “need for some territorial adjustment.”

8. Explanation of Vote Misstates Longstanding U.S. Policy
Your speech on Friday opened with a 1982 quote from President Ronald Reagan opposing settlements, and you argued that “our vote today is fully in line with the bipartisan history” of how American presidents have approached the issue. In fact, your speech was selective, excluding material statements by U.S. leaders rejecting the notion of return to the 1949 armistice lines, what Israeli statesman Abba Eban once called “Auschwitz borders.”

  • For example, you failed to quote the rest of President Reagan’s statement, in which he said: “I have personally followed and supported Israel’s heroic struggle for survival, ever since the founding of the State of Israel 34 years ago. In the pre-1967 borders Israel was barely 10 miles wide at its narrowest point. The bulk of Israel’s population lived within artillery range of hostile Arab armies. I am not about to ask Israel to live that way again.”
  • Nor did you quote President Lyndon Johnson who said: “We are not the ones to say where other nations should draw lines between them that will assure each the greatest security. It is clear, however, that a return to the situation of June 4, 1967, will not bring peace. There must be secure, and there must be recognized, borders.”
  • Likewise, you omitted Secretary of State Schultz’s 1988 statement: “The territorial issue needs to be addressed realistically. Israel will never negotiate from or return to the lines of partition or to the 1967 borders.”
  • The Clinton parameters of December 2000, which contemplates Israeli annexation of large settlement blocs, are also ignored by the resolution.

9. U.S. Position Reneges on Commitments in 2004 Bush-Sharon Letters
By allowing the resolution’s new language enshrining “the 4 June 1967 lines,” which are the 1949 armistice lines, the U.S. position reneges on the 2004 exchange of letters negotiated between Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and President George W. Bush. The Bush letter stated: “In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion.”

Prime Minister Sharon relied on the Bush commitments as part of negotiated package deal, being the consideration Israel received and relied upon in exchange for its total withdrawal from Gaza. When the U.S. ignores written commitments to allies, its international credibility is dangerously diminished. Moreover, the Bush letter severely undermines your claim that the U.S. vote on Friday was “fully in line” with prior history.

10. Resolution Lacks Legitimacy in U.S. Opinion
The resolution has been firmly rejected by the broad mainstream of American society, including by congressional leaders of President Obama’s own party:

  • Incoming Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) called the U.S. vote “frustrating, disappointing and confounding” and said it will move the Middle East farther from peace.\
  • Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) was “deeply disappointed” that the administration “set aside longstanding U.S. policy to allow such a one-sided resolution to pass.”
  • The U.S. abstention on “such a flagrantly one-sided resolution,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Vt.), “is unconscionable.”
  • Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said he was “dismayed that the Administration departed from decades of U.S. policy by not vetoing the U.N. resolution.”
  • Even President Obama’s former Special Envoy for Middle East Peace opposed the decision. “President Obama would have been wise to veto this resolution,” said George Mitchell, a former Senate majority leader, “because of the timing and the circumstance that it leads to with respect to trying to get the parties together.”
  • The Washington Post called the U.S. decision a “dangerous parting shot at Israel,” likely to do more harm than good.

11. Reverses Decades of U.S. Practice
There has not been a resolution like this in a generation, not since the Carter years in 1979 and 1980, and even those resolutions did not take place during a time of extreme anti-Israeli BDS campaigns and in the context of global anti-Israeli lawfare prosecutions sought in the ICC and elsewhere. This reverses decades of practice by both Democratic and Republican presidents. Moreover, unlike with the few other U.S-backed resolutions in history that criticized Israel from time to time, the nature of the coordination and the careful timing of this maneuver against a close ally make it seem particularly deliberate and hostile.

12. Joining with Venezuela & Malaysia to Condemn Israel
Whom you align with at the U.N. matters. I cannot think of another time in modern history when the U.S. endorsed a U.N. Security Council resolution co-sponsored by countries such as Venezuela, whose Maduro regime has thrown its opposition leaders in jail while causing mass starvation, and Malaysia, a hotbed of antisemitism.

Speaking of Venezuela, whose political prisoners we have championed, I have to note that while Secretary Kerry said repeatedly yesterday that the U.S. “cannot, in good conscience, do nothing, and say nothing” in regard to Israeli settlements, your Administration has said nothing every year when we have appealed to you to oppose the election of tyrannies such as Venezuela to the U.N. Human Rights Council. You said nothing to stop the Maduro regime being elected last year; you said nothing to stop Saudi Arabia, China, and Cuba from getting elected this year; and you said nothing to stop Russia getting elected in 2013. Your Administration’s policy of speaking out when good conscience requires it ought to be less selective.

Conclusion: The Obama Administration Joined the Jackals
In conclusion, I ask you to consider what one of your predecessors and role models, the late great Daniel Patrick Moynihan, might have thought about what the U.S. did on Friday.

You cited Moynihan during your confirmation hearing as an iconic American who “stood up for what was right.” And as an example of how to bring the U.N. to live up to its ideals, you have invoked the moral clarity that Moynihan eloquently expressed in his formidable speeches as U.S. ambassador to the U.N. in 1975.

We certainly know what Moynihan thought about the Carter Administration’s similar votes against Israel in 1979 and 1980. In his iconic 1981 Commentary essay, “Joining the Jackals,” Moynihan diagnosed the confused ideas which led U.S. delegates and officials to abandon Israel to what the Washington Post editorial board had identified as the pack at the U.N. which hounds Israel shamelessly. Carter, the Post had said, had decided to “join the jackals.”

I believe Moynihan’s observations of 36 years ago are no less apt to the resolution which you just allowed last week:

  • “[F]or the United States to abstain on a Security Council resolution concerning Israel is the equivalent of acquiescing.”
  • “As a direct result of American policy, the Security Council was allowed to degenerate to the condition of the General Assembly.”
  • On a 1979 resolution which used the language “Arab territories… including Jerusalem,” Moynihan said, “Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. How could its capital be in the territory of others?”
  • Invoking against Israel the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention on the Protection of Civilians in Time of War, one of a series of treaties designed to codify the behavior of Nazi Germany and make such behavior criminal under international law, “played perfectly into the Soviet propaganda position that ‘Zionism is present-day fascism.” Needless to say, Friday’s Resolution 2334 invokes the same convention and uses language meant to describe Israel’s building of homes in the West Bank, or Judea and Samaria as the U.N. 1947 partition plan called the areas, as war crimes.
Were Moynihan alive today, do you have any doubt that he would have said that on Friday the U.S.—after 36 years—once again joined the jackals?

What we don’t know yet is the degree to which the U.S., directly or indirectly, may have actually orchestrated the maneuver. If that proves to be the case—and based on my knowledge and experience of U.N. diplomacy, your Mission had to have played a key role in influencing the language, as well as the timing, of this infamous resolution—would not Moynihan say that the U.S. this time didn’t just join the jackals, but became leader of the pack?

Thank you for your consideration.


Hillel C.  Neuer
Executive Director
UN Watch
Geneva, Switzerland

Kerry’s Rage Against Israel

From a WSJ editorial, 29 Dec 2016:

The Secretary doesn’t understand why his peace talks failed.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry defends the Obama administrations decision on Israeli settlements during an address at the State Department in Washington, DC., Dec. 28.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry defends the Obama administrations decision on Israeli settlements during an address at the State Department in Washington, DC., Dec. 28. PHOTO: STATE DEPARTMENT/PLANET PIX VIA ZUMA PRESS

John Kerry delivered a marathon speech Wednesday excoriating Israel for its settlements policy, and we hear Israeli TV stations dropped the live broadcast after the first half-hour. Who can blame them? If Israelis don’t feel the need to sit through another verbal assault from the soon to be former Secretary of State, it’s because they live in a reality he shows no evidence of comprehending.

Mr. Kerry has made the pursuit of Israeli-Palestinian peace a major goal of his tenure, conducting intensive negotiations for nearly a year until they collapsed in spring 2014. That collapse came after the Palestinian Authority announced the creation of a unity government with Hamas, the terrorist group sworn to Israel’s destruction. Shortly thereafter, Hamas started a war with Israel from its Gaza stronghold, the third such war since Israel vacated Gaza of all settlements in 2005.

We recite this history to show that it’s not for lack of U.S. diplomacy that there is no peace—and that mishandled diplomacy has a way of encouraging Palestinian violence. 

In 2000 then-President Bill Clinton brought Israeli and Palestinian leaders to Camp David to negotiate a final peace agreement, only to watch Palestinians walk away from an offer that would have granted them a state on nearly all of Gaza and the West Bank. That failure was followed by another Palestinian terror campaign.

Israelis remember this. They remember that they elected leaders—Yitzhak Rabin in 1992, Ehud Barak in 1999, Ehud Olmert in 2006—who made repeated peace overtures to the Palestinians only to be met with violence and rejection.

In his speech, Mr. Kerry went out of his way to personalize his differences with current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, claiming he leads the “most right-wing” coalition in Israeli history. But Israelis also remember that Mr. Netanyahu ordered a settlement freeze, and that also brought peace no closer.

The lesson is that Jewish settlements are not the main obstacle to peace. If they were, Gaza would be on its way to becoming the Costa Rica of the Mediterranean. The obstacle is Palestinian rejection of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state in any borders. A Secretary of State who wishes to resolve the conflict could have started from that premise, while admonishing the Palestinians that they will never get a state so long as its primary purpose is the destruction of its neighbor.

But that Secretary isn’t Mr. Kerry. Though he made passing references to Palestinian terror and incitement, the most he would say against it was that it “must stop.” If the Administration has last-minute plans to back this hollow exhortation with a diplomatic effort at the U.N., we haven’t heard about it.

Contrast this with last week’s Security Council resolution, which the Obama Administration refused to veto and which substantively changes diplomatic understandings stretching to 1967. Mr. Kerry claimed Wednesday that Resolution 2334 “does not break new ground.”

The reality is that the resolution denies Israel legal claims to the land—including Jewish holy sites such as the Western Wall—while reversing the traditional land-for-peace formula that has been a cornerstone of U.S. diplomacy for almost 50 years. In the world of Resolution 2334, the land is no longer Israel’s to trade for peace. Mr. Kerry also called East Jerusalem “occupied” territory, which contradicts Administration claims in the 2015 Supreme Court case, Zivotofsky v. Kerry, that the U.S. does not recognize any sovereignty over Jerusalem.

The larger question is what all this means for the prospects of an eventual settlement. Mr. Kerry made a passionate plea in his speech for preserving the possibility of a two-state solution for Jews and Palestinians. That’s a worthy goal in theory, assuming a Palestinian state doesn’t become another Yemen or South Sudan.

But the effect of Mr. Kerry’s efforts will be to put it further out of reach. Palestinians will now be emboldened to believe they can get what they want at the U.N. and through public campaigns to boycott Israel without making concessions. Israelis will be convinced that Western assurances of support are insincere and reversible.

Mr. Kerry’s speech was preceded by a tweet from Donald Trump telling Israel to “stay strong” until he becomes President in 23 days. That’s an encouraging sign that Mr. Trump understands that the first rule of diplomacy is to do right by your friends, especially when they are embattled and bullied democracies. We hope Rex Tillerson is taking notes.

Jewish reaction to Obama's resolution is overwhelmingly negative

From Algemeiner, 28 December 2016, by Barney Breen-Portnoy:

Outgoing US Secretary of State John Kerry. Photo: State Department.
Outgoing US Secretary of State John Kerry. Photo: State Department.

Secretary of State John Kerry’s Wednesday speech on the Israel-Palestinian peace process was “a failed attempt to defend the indefensible,” a leading US pro-Israel group said.

Contrary to Kerry’s claims, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) said, the anti-settlement UN Security Council resolution that 
“the administration unconscionably failed to block [last week] was unfair, unbalanced and represented a profound departure from the policies of previous Democratic and Republican administrations for nearly the past forty years.”
Furthemore, AIPAC noted, 
“Secretary Kerry placed overwhelming, disproportionate blame for the failure to advance peace on our ally, Israel, while neglecting numerous Israeli peace offers and Palestinian refusal to resume direct talks.”
AIPAC went on to urge Congress and the incoming Trump administration to “renounce the recent action taken by this administration and to begin the work of repairing the damage done to the cause of peace and the US-Israel relationship.”

Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper — the dean and associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center – stated, 
“It is unprecedented for an outgoing administration to make such a draconian foreign policy shift — while simultaneously packing their boxes to leave Washington. Secretary Kerry makes it sound like it’s the apartments and kindergartens built in Jewish communities on the West Bank that are the main impediment to a two-state solution, when he and those diplomats who voted for UNSC 2334 know that it is Palestinian terrorism, and the continued control of Gaza and the largest portion of the Palestinian population by terrorist Hamas that is the main roadblock to a true peace.”
“Get rid of Hamas, its terror tunnels, tens of thousands of rockets aimed at the Israeli heartland, get rid of the genocidal hate brainwashing Palestinian children and the world will see a two state solution rapidly become a reality,” Hier and Cooper continued.

Morton A. Klein — national president of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) — said in a statement that Kerry’s address was 
“filled with anti-Israel vitriol and falsehoods” and “essentially was a proposal for a Hamas-Fatah-Iranian-Palestinian-Arab terrorist state, which divides Jerusalem in two, forcibly evicts Jews from their homeland, and requires Israel’s retreat to indefensible borders.”
Republican Jewish Coalition Executive Director Matt Brooks stated, 
“By claiming this speech is a framework for peace in the Middle East, President [Barack] Obama and John Kerry are playing the Jewish community for fools. Their recent actions at the United Nations did nothing more than allow President Obama to take a parting shot at Israel and Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu, while at the same time creating new roadblocks to peace. True peace in the region cannot be achieved by isolating Israel in the international community, but rather can only be achieved through direct negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians.”
In a statement, B’nai B’rith International said, 
“Kerry’s speech, at times suggesting equivalence between the Israelis and Palestinians, neglected to describe all the ways in which the US-Israel alliance is deeply in America’s national interest. We regret that the final weeks of the current administration have been overshadowed by unnecessary strain in this relationship, and urge that no further action be taken to weaken it, whether at an upcoming political conference in Paris or at the UN in New York.”

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt said in a statement, 
“While we appreciate Secretary Kerry’s concern about policies and dynamics that may jeopardize the path to a two-state solution, we are deeply disappointed by elements of his speech and cannot separate it from the US abstention at the UN Security Council. Despite Secretary Kerry’s explanation, the US abstention has the potential to set in motion many initiatives that delegitimize and demonize Israel, rather than advancing the peace process.”
J Street, on the other hand, said in a statement it 
“applauds Secretary of State Kerry’s speech today, which powerfully made the case that the two-state solution is not only in Israeli and Palestinian interests, but in the American national interest as well…We thank the secretary for delivering that message so powerfully and calling urgent attention to the deteriorating reality on the ground that is challenging the viability of the two-state solution.”

John Kerry is dead wrong about Israeli settlements

From the LA Times, 29 December 2016, by Gregg Roman, director of the Middle East Forum, a research center headquartered in Philadelphia:

 Kerry speaks at the State Department in Washington on Wednesday. 
(Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)

United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which describes Israel’s settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as illegal, should never have passed last week. 

But the U.S. refused to use its veto power, in part because, as Secretary of State John F. Kerry explained in a speech on Wednesday, the Obama administration believes settlements are an obstacle to peace in the Middle East. In the outgoing administration’s view, extreme criticism is, conversely, necessary to advance the peace process.

This argument is dead wrong. Still, let’s examine it.

Although administration officials have been reluctant to explain the precise reasoning behind their last-minute series of attacks on a trusted ally, as near as I can tell it rests on three assumptions.

The first, as Kerry outlined in his speech, is that a freeze on Israeli settlement growth makes it easier for Palestinian leaders to make painful compromises at the negotiating table.  It supposedly does this by easing Palestinian suspicions that Israel either won’t make major territorial concessions, or won’t implement these concessions once made.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put this assumption to the test in November 2009 when he imposed a 10-month moratorium on new housing construction (East Jerusalem excepted) at the urging of the Obama administration.

What happened? Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas refused to return to talks until the very end of the moratorium and remained every bit as intransigent as before.

The main impediment to Palestinian compromise is not Palestinian suspicion; it is the fundamental unwillingness of Palestinian leaders across the spectrum to accept the existence of a Jewish state alongside their own.

What’s more, a strong case can be made that some settlement growth actually makes it easier for Palestinian moderates to build public support for compromise by underscoring that a continuation of the status quo is untenable and injurious to Palestinian national aspirations in the long run.

The Obama administration’s second assumption is that pressure from the international community or from the United States will bring about this supposedly desirable settlement freeze.

However, by collapsing the distinction between East Jerusalem and bustling Israeli towns just inside the West Bank —  which no major Israeli political party will contemplate abandoning —  and the remaining settlements, most of which Israelis are willing to give up, this policy does the opposite.
“It is a gift to Bibi Netanyahu, who can now more easily argue to Israelis that the bad relationship with America these last eight years wasn’t his fault,” notes the writer Jonah Goldberg.
Finally, let’s imagine it’s true that international pressure would increase Israel’s willingness to accept a settlement freeze and that such a freeze would make it easier for Palestinian negotiators to trust Israel. Even so — and contrary to Obama administration assumptions —  branding Israeli claims outside the 1967 boundaries illegal and invalid could have devastating consequences.

Since Palestinian leaders already have trouble justifying to their people the abandonment of territorial claims to Ma'ale Adumim, the Jewish quarter in Jerusalem, and so forth, they will have double the trouble now that the United States has endorsed these demands. What Palestinian leader can sign away territory to which Washington and the Security Council have declared Israelis have no legitimate claim?

Kerry stated plainly that Israel is to blame for the demise of the two-state process, and that — unless its leaders listen to counsel — Israel will not survive as both a Jewish and a democratic state.  Now that the administration’s views are crystal clear, pundits should spare us the back and forth on whether its eleventh-hour obsessions are good for peace – no one as smart as Obama or Kerry can possibly believe that it is.
The more interesting question, sure to be the focus of congressional hearings next year, is why the administration used its last few weeks to damage relations with Israel.

An open letter to the UK Prime Minister

From an open letter to UK Prime Minister Theresa May, 28 December 2016, by Melanie Phillips:


Dear Prime Minister,

It was sickening to see that your government last week voted for the declaration of diplomatic war against Israel embodied in resolution 2334 passed by the UN Security Council.

Bad enough that Britain didn’t use its position as a permanent SC member to vote against this vicious resolution and thereby stop it in its tracks. Worse, far worse was that your government voted for it. In doing so, Britain signed up to propositions that repudiate law, justice and truth.

Now reports have surfaced that, yet more appallingly, Britain was actually instrumental in getting 2334 passed by helping draft the resolution and then stiffening New Zealand’s resolve in proposing it.

I don’t know whether that is correct. I suspect it may well be. I think, nevertheless, that you spoke from the heart the other week when you told the Conservative Friends of Israel of your admiration for Israel as a “remarkable country” and a “beacon of tolerance” and your warm feelings towards the Jewish people.

I also think, however, that you know little about the history of the Jews in the Middle East, the part played in that history by previous British governments or the infernal strategic aims of the people known as the “Palestinians”. I believe, therefore, you might not fully grasp the implications of supporting UNSC resolution 2334.

So let me spell out exactly what your government has done by voting in this way.

It has put itself firmly behind the attempt to exterminate the State of Israel under the cowardly cover of vacuous pieties about supporting two democratic states and opposing terrorism and incitement. It has done this by endorsing the inflammatory falsehoods and legal and historic fictions deployed by those whose purpose is to destroy the State of Israel.

It has shredded the concept of diplomatic integrity by delegitimising Israel’s legal actions in defence of its survival while legitimising the manifestly false claim to the land by those who want Israel gone.

It has put rocket fuel behind the discriminatory and bigoted BDS movement whose aim is to delegitimise Israel and bring about its destruction.

By declaring that Israel’s borders should be established on terms demanded by its mortal enemies, the British government has backed coerced surrender to aggressors bent on Israel’s extermination.

Through this vote, your government has shown its contempt for international law. It has helped tear up the treaty obligation under the Oslo Accords to decide through negotiation the borders of Israel and the status of Jerusalem.

Prime Minister, your officials will not be informing you of crucial facts about the legal validity of Israel’s actions. So I will.

Despite the wilful misreading by the Foreign Office of the Geneva Conventions through flagrantly twisting and distorting the meaning of the word “transfer” in that context, Israel’s settlements are legal several times over.

Under the 1922 Mandate for Palestine, the British administration was instructed to “facilitate… close settlement by Jews on the land, including state lands and waste lands not required for public purposes”.

The land on which the international community thus gave the Jews the right to settle included what is now Israel, the disputed territories of Judea and Samaria, and Gaza. That legal right has never been abrogated.

Israel has no borders, only ceasefire lines which marked the cessation of hostilities in 1947 after it defeated the Arab attempt to destroy it at its rebirth. It continues to have no borders because the war of extermination mounted against it by the Arabs has never ended.

A country is entitled under international law to occupy land it seizes from a belligerent enemy and retain it as long as the belligerency continues. That was why Israel was entitled to retain land beyond the ceasefire lines seized in the 1967 Six-Day War.

UN resolution 242 called for Israel’s withdrawal merely from “territories” seized at that time. It deliberately eschewed the definite article, which would have required withdrawal from all “the” territories, on the understanding that they would only be yielded up if the Arabs ended their aggression. That has never happened. To this day, these territories are used as a launching pad for the mass murder of Israelis.

Worse even than ignoring these legal realities, your government has now struck at the very heart of Jewish identity.

The essence of the strategy to delegitimise and destroy Israel is the attempt to airbrush the Jewish people out of their own history in the land – a history which gives them and them alone the right to live there. In voting for this resolution, your government has now endorsed that pernicious endeavour.

The resolution refers to “occupied Palestinian territory including East Jerusalem.” There is no such thing as “Palestinian territory” and never was.

First of all, the term “Palestinian” is itself bogus. Palestinian identity was an artificial creation invented solely to destroy the Jewish entitlement to their own homeland.

“Palestine” was invented by the Romans to rename Judea, in order to eradicate Jewish entitlement to land the Romans had conquered and to expunge all trace of its Jewish identity.

Arabs who lived in pre-Israel Palestine were either nomadic or considered themselves Syria or pan-Arab. As many Arabs have acknowledged over the years, there is no such thing as a “Palestinian”.

Second, the land in dispute never belonged to the “Palestinians” nor indeed to any Arab state. Jordan illegally occupied Judea and Samaria, which it renamed the West Bank, between 1949 and 1967. That territory is in effect no-man’s land. And given the terms of the British mandate which have never been overturned, it is only Israel which has any legal, moral or historical right to settle its people there.

Prime Minister, the picture accompanying this letter is of a young girl who was one of the victims of the 1929 Hebron massacre. Hebron, one of the holiest places in Judaism, had a substantial Jewish community until in 1929 the Arabs carried out a three-day pogrom, slaughtering 67 Jews. The rest of the Jewish community was driven out, rendering Hebron empty of Jews for the first time in hundreds of years.

During the war to destroy Israel in 1948, the Jewish residents of Gush Etzion were expelled and murdered. The Arabs similarly depopulated the Jewish villages of Kalya and Atarot, drove out the Jews living in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem and blew up all of their synagogues.

Obscenely, resolution 2334 deems all these places and more that were ethically cleansed of their ancient Jewish populations to be “Palestinian territory” and that it is against international law for any Israeli to live there. Prime Minister, in supporting this resolution the British government has made itself party to the proposed racist ethnic cleansing once again of the Jews from their own ancient land.

Worse yet, it has also struck at the very heart of Jewish religious identity.

By stating that everything beyond the 1949 ceasefire lines is “occupied Palestinian territory” the resolution denies the Jewish claim to the Old City of Jerusalem and thus to Temple Mount, the holiest place in Judaism.

Nor is this the only way the British government has now struck not just at Israel but at the Jewish people. Recently, and with great fanfare, it officially adopted the definition of antisemitism by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. Providing examples of where this definition might apply, the IHRA states that it may do so in respect of the State of Israel by “Applying double standards by requiring of it a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.”

That double standard is precisely what the British government has applied in voting for resolution 2334. For other countries have disputed borders and displaced populations: Cyprus, for example, or western Sahara. Yet it is only Israel that is singled out for condemnation in this way. By the standard the British government has itself adopted, it therefore now stands condemned for an antisemitic act in voting for resolution 2334.

Prime Minister, the Israeli settlements are not the impediment to a solution of the Arab-Israel impasse. The war against the Jewish homeland started decades before Israel took over these disputed territories. A state of Palestine cannot possibly be the solution because the “Palestinians” have been repeatedly offered it; their only answer has always been to launch yet more wars or terrorist campaigns against Israel.

As the Arabs have repeatedly made clear, the sole purpose of a state of Palestine is to bring about the extermination of the Jewish homeland. The Arab-Israel impasse continues principally because Britain, Europe and America have consistently sanitised, rewarded and incentivised Arab aggression against Israel while punishing it for trying to defend its right to the land.

Britain bears primary responsibility for this. In the thirties, it betrayed its Mandate obligations by reneging on its treaty obligation to settle the Jews in the land and instead rewarded genocidal Arab aggression by offering the Arabs part of the Jews’ own entitlement to the land. Voting for UNSC resolution 2334 merely continues that history of British infamy.

There are now well-sourced reports that President Obama intends to take even more malicious action against Israel at the UN before he leaves office. Prime Minister, is your government intending to support those moves too? If so, it will be a dreadful irony that someone who is so obviously well-disposed towards the Jewish people should go down in history as one of its most bitter enemies.

The only thing he didn’t say was ‘apartheid’

Secretary of State John Kerry delivers a speech on Middle East peace at the Department of State on December 28, 2016, in Washington, DC. (Zach Gibson/Getty Images/AFP)
Marginalizing the significance of Palestinian hostility and of terrorism, the Obama administration long ago lost much of the Israeli public. Few will have been won over by Kerry’s valedictory speech, with its predictable focus on settlements

About half an hour into John Kerry’s valedictory lecture from the State Department on Wednesday evening, Israel’s most popular television station, Channel 2, stopped broadcasting it live and switched to other programming. The country’s two other main TV stations, Channels 1 and 10, had already electronically left the building. Given that Kerry’s anti-settlement and anti-occupation address was primarily directed at the Israeli public, the ratings-conscious schedulers’ impatient transition to other material rather encapsulates the climate in which the secretary’s extensive remarks were being received here.

In 1999, Israelis threw out first-term prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, after three largely terror-free years, because many of them believed that an opportunity existed for dramatic progress toward a peace accord with the Palestinians, and that Netanyahu, far from seizing it, was standing in the way. They elected, in his stead, the ex-IDF chief of staff Ehud Barak, who quickly journeyed to Camp David. There, under president Bill Clinton’s informed aegis, a very serious effort to forge a permanent deal was doomed by PLO leader Yasser Arafat’s intransigence, as Clinton would acknowledge in his memoirs, and specifically by Arafat’s refusal to legitimate Jewish statehood.

Many in the Israel of 2016 would share some of the arguments they largely didn’t hear Kerry deliver on Wednesday evening. Many recognize the dangers of being permanently intertwined with millions of hostile Palestinians, and fear that the expansion especially of those settlements and outposts that lie to the east of the security barrier increases that risk, and thus puts a two-state solution in danger, threatening Israel’s Jewish character, or its democracy, or both. Kerry’s was a fiery critique, indeed, marked by the allegation that the settlement movement is driving the agenda of the Israeli government, and that Netanyahu has been allowing some of the most extreme voices to draw Israel closer to the Zionist nightmare of a single bi-national state between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. Just about the only charge Kerry didn’t lob, this time, was apartheid.

But the secretary and his president long ago lost much of the Israeli public, even many of the settlement critics, by underestimating the depth of Palestinian opposition to the very fact of the Jewish state’s existence. The president and his secretary have underestimated, too, the consequent scarring — physical and psychological — that the Israeli public has accumulated over decades of war, terrorism, and demonization as the Palestinians and those who championed their cause have sought Israel’s obliteration.

Kerry mouthed words on Wednesday about the Arab world in the late 1940s rejecting the revival of the Jewish state, and going to war against it. He said out loud that Israel had to fight for its survival again in 1967. He mentioned terrorism and incitement. But the Obama administration never truly internalized the impact of these endless decades fighting off attempted destruction. And Kerry has self-evidently never been willing to internalize that in the vicious Middle East of the past few years, talking up the possibility of relinquishing control over adjacent West Bank history — with its recent history of suicide bomb factories, with Hamas angling to take control, with a hostile Iran emboldened to the east by the Obama Administration’s own nuclear deal — is just that for most Israelis: talk.

We left south Lebanon. Hezbollah took over. We left Gaza. Now it’s ruled by Hamas. When the secretary expresses his “total confidence” that Israel’s security requirements in the West Bank can be met via sophisticated multi-layered border defenses and such, he quite simply loses Israel.

Benjamin Netanyahu will fall from power one day. Presumably. But, in contrast to 1999, and notwithstanding widespread concern in Israel over building beyond the security barrier, it is unlikely to be because Israelis feel he is blocking what would otherwise be an open path to peace.

Kerry spent very little of his speech dealing with Palestinian violence and terrorism against Israel, and much of it assailing the settlements — continuing the assault he had begun at the Saban Center earlier this month. He also defended that resonant American abstention at the Security Council last Friday. He appeared to have realized that the resolution the US could not “in good conscience” veto has determined all parts of Jerusalem captured in 1967 — including, that is, the Western Wall and the Temple Mount — to be “occupied Palestinian territory.” In contrast to Samantha Power’s post-vote explanation, Kerry highlighted Israel’s profound religious and historic ties to the holy city, and asserted that the resolution “in no way prejudges the outcome of negotiations on East Jerusalem.” He also appeared to indicate that the US would make no attempt to take the principles he set out at the end of his address and enshrine them in a further UN resolution designed to impose terms.

But few Israelis will take much comfort in that, after the damage latterly inflicted on Israel by the outgoing administration on the international stage. And who’s to say what use other countries and groups will make of that resolution, or of those new-old Kerry principles which, among other features, do set out terms for the future of Jerusalem?

Ultimately, as he himself acknowledged in everything but the word, Kerry’s speech on Wednesday was an admission of failure: his failure to advance peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. At the end of a term in which he tried indefatigably to strong-arm Israelis and Palestinians into an accord, he finally concluded that it cannot be done now, and may not be possible for quite some time.

He would have had more chance of success — or at least of creating a climate in which prospects of progress would be brighter — had he focused more of his attentions on the toxic climate among Palestinians. They are relentlessly educated on the illegitimacy of Israel, with that narrative hammered home over social media, by their political and spiritual leadership, sometimes in their schools. He never strategically attempted to tackle that process of indoctrination.

Easier to place overwhelming blame on the settlers rather than the Palestinians. Or, heaven forbid, on yourself.

It’s been a difficult road, these past eight years. And in these final days, the depths of frustration and anger between Washington and Jerusalem have been laid bare.

Last Friday’s vote at the UN represented the most glaring instance in eight years of the president putting “daylight” between the United States and Israel, as he reportedly warned that he would back in 2009. Kerry’s speech on Wednesday pulled back the curtains all the way.