Saturday, August 26, 2017

Maybe NOT "two states"?

An article in WSJ, 25 August 2017, by Rory Jones, suggests that the realization may be dawning that the "two state solution" may not be the way to resolve the century-old Arab rejection of the Jewish state.

From that article:

Jared Kushner Wraps Up ‘Productive’ Middle East Talks
The president’s son-in-law met with regional leaders in moves to revive peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians

Jared Kushner in a meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday. PHOTO: OSAMA FALAH/PPO HANDOUT/GETTY IMAGES

.... Mr. Trump has shifted from a long-held U.S. policy of supporting a two-state solution, saying he would instead support a plan on which both Israelis and Palestinians agreed.

But Palestinian officials have said they won’t join peace talks that don’t hold the possibility of an independent state. And Mr. Netanyahu’s coalition government is reluctant to enter negotiations for a Palestinian state that critics say would pose a risk to Israel’s security.

Arab states back a Saudi Arabia-led initiative that advocates the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in return offering Israel diplomatic ties with its neighbors. Mr. Kushner met this week with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who issued a statement in support of peace talks but didn’t reaffirm his country’s commitment to the proposal.

The White House said it encourages the support and engagement of Arab states in the effort to unite Israelis and Palestinians.

...The Trump administration has said supporting Palestinian statehood would bias negotiations.

Mr. Abbas again threatened to consider dissolving the Palestinian Authority—the administration that governs millions of Palestinians in the West Bank—if the U.S. is unwilling to support a two-state solution to the conflict, Palestinian media reported this week.

Palestinian officials have said maintaining the Palestinian Authority without the potential for statehood prolongs what they believe is a system of discrimination of rights between Palestinians and Israelis.

The Original Nakba: The Division of “TransJordan”

From FirstOneThrough, 15 August 2017:

This year marks 100 years since the Balfour Declaration on November 2, 1917 which endorsed “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish People.” The declaration became the basis for the League of Nations (precursor to the United Nations) to endorse the Palestine Mandate which clearly articulated the history and rights of Jews to a reconstituted national homeland in the area now commonly thought of as Gaza, Israel, the West Bank and Jordan.
Article 25 of the Mandate allowed the administrator (Britain) to change the contours of the reestablished Jewish homeland.
“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 provisions of this mandate as he may consider inapplicable to the existing local conditions, and to make such provision for the administration of the territories as he may consider suitable to those conditions, provided that no action shall be taken which is inconsistent with the provisions of Articles 1516 and 18.”
On September 23, 1922, the League of Nations adopted the suggestion of the British to divide the territory in two, in a document called the “Transjordan Memorandum.” That memorandum stripped away any mention of Jewish history in the land, facilitating the emigration of Jews to Palestine or the creation of a Jewish homeland in the area east of the Jordan River.
The memorandum also facilitated a complete abrogation of key components of Article 25 of the Palestine Mandate that allowed such separation: that “no action shall be taken which is inconsistent with the provisions of Articles 1516 and 18.” Those provisions specifically enumerated non-discrimination clauses that were to be kept in place in the new TransJordan:
Article 15:
The Mandatory shall see that complete freedom of conscience and the free exercise of all forms of worship, subject only to the maintenance of public order and morals, are ensured to all. No discrimination of any kind shall be made between the inhabitants of Palestine on the ground of race, religion or language. No person shall be excluded from Palestine on the sole ground of his religious belief.
The right of each community to maintain its own schools for the education of its own members in its own language, while conforming to such educational requirements of a general nature as the Administration may impose, shall not be denied or impaired.
Article 16:
The Mandatory shall be responsible for exercising such supervision over religious or eleemosynary bodies of all faiths in Palestine as may be required for the maintenance of public order and good government. Subject to such supervision, no measures shall be taken in Palestine to obstruct or interfere with the enterprise of such bodies or to discriminate against any representative or member of them on the ground of his religion or nationality.
Article 18:
The Mandatory shall see that there is no discrimination in Palestine against the nationals of any State Member of the League of Nations (including companies incorporated under its laws) as compared with those of the Mandatory or of any foreign State in matters concerning taxation, commerce or navigation, the exercise of industries or professions, or in the treatment of merchant vessels or civil aircraft. Similarly, there shall be no discrimination in Palestine against goods originating in or destined for any of the said States, and there shall be freedom of transit under equitable conditions across the mandated area.
Subject as aforesaid and to the other provisions of this mandate, the Administration of Palestine may, on the advice of the Mandatory, impose such taxes and customs duties as it may consider necessary, and take such steps as it may think best to promote the development of the natural resources of the country and to safeguard the interests of the population. It may also, on the advice of the Mandatory, conclude a special customs agreement with any State the territory of which in 1914 was wholly included in Asiatic Turkey or Arabia.”
International law was clear that any division of the territory would ensure that no discrimination of any kind be allowed on the basis of religion.
But that is exactly what Transjordan/Jordan became: an anti-Semitic country established by the United Nations which prohibits Jews in a variety of areas.
No Citizenship
Consider Jordan’s Nationality Law of 1954:
“Article 3:
The following shall be deemed to be Jordanian nationals:
Any person who, not being Jewish, possessed Palestinian nationality before 15 May 1948 and was a regular resident in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan between 20 December 1949 and 16 February 1954;”
Can you think of anything more explicitly anti-Semitic than a law that specifically separates Jews from others and bans them from becoming citizens?
No Land Purchases
Jordan prohibited Jews from buying any land in the area that had been part of the Palestine Mandate in an edict, Law No. (40) of 1953 Concerning the Leasing and Selling of Immovable Properties from Foreigners, as amended by Law No. (12) of 1960; and  Law No. (2) of 1962.
Jordan has continued along this path even post its 1994 peace treaty with Israel.
In March 2016, the Jordanian government singled out Israelis as being banned from buying or renting property around the city of Petra. No other country is subject to such provision.

The League of Nations considered at the outset of its endorsement of a Jewish national home in 1920 and 1922 that perhaps the contours of such homeland should exclude the land east of the Jordan River. But international law has – and continues to fail – in two major respects:
  • In JORDAN: The provision (Article 25) to cut the eastern part of the Mandate (and ONLY the eastern part) from the Jewish homeland specifically did not allow the discrimination against Jews from buying land or obtaining citizenship there;
  • In the WEST BANK: All of the land west of the Jordan River was allocated for a Jewish homeland, and obviously with full legal authorization for Jews to purchase homes and obtain citizenship, despite calls by the current Palestinian Authority leadership to have a Jew-free country
The division of the Palestine Mandate in September 1922 to create Jordan was a disgraceful tragedy which denied Jewish history and rights east of the Jordan River. Despite this, people have attempted to expand upon Article 25 almost a century later to divide the land WEST of the Jordan River in an identical course of anti-Semitic charges that the West Bank should not have a single Jew.
The Palestinian Arabs coined the term “Nakba” (catastrophe) for the founding of the Jewish State on just a part of the Palestine Mandate on May 15, 1948. However, the original Nakba happened 26 years earlier, when the British gutted the essence of international law set out in the Palestine Mandate: for all of the land west of the Jordan River to be the Jewish homeland, and the land east of the river to have full legal rights for Jewish worship, land ownership and citizenship.
Remarkably, the Jewish Nakba of September 23, 1922 is seeking a second coming.

Israel's Potential Perils in Pictures

From Newsmax, 24 Aug 2017By Martin Sherman:

The view of Tel Aviv from inside a potential Palestine state.

For decades the “two-state” paradigm — which calls for the establishment for an independent Palestinian state to be established in Judea-Samaria (a.k.a the “West Bank”) which fell to Israeli forces in the 1967 Six Day War — has dominated the discourse of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Opponents of this idea have often warned of the dire dangers that that such an outcome would herald for Israel, however many in the general public have little notion of how potentially perilous a Palestinian state would be for Israel.
(Photo Credit: Mycolors/Dreamstime)
These dire dangers that are graphically illustrated in the following series of photographs taken from sites inside the territory designated for any future Palestinian state.
They demonstrate, dramatically, how vulnerable and exposed Israel would appear through the binoculars of a Palestinian “intelligence officer” (a.k.a. a terrorist).
Greater Tel Aviv Skyline as Seen From a Potential Palestinian State
(Photo Credit: Hagai Nativ)
The clearly visible Azrieli Towers complex is an iconic feature of the central Tel Aviv skyline. They house a three-story shopping mall and recreation area, a thirteen-floor luxury hotel, and numerous prestigious commercial companies, including many of the country’s leading law firms. And, oh yes, it is adjacent to the compound (known as “Camp Rabin,” named after the late Yitzhak Rabin) that comprises Israel’s Defense Ministry and the headquarters of the IDF General Staff.
(Aviv Tower from a potential Palestine state - Photo Credit: Hagai Nativ)
The Aviv Tower, located in the bustling vicinity of the Ramat Gan Diamond Exchange (adjacent to Tel Aviv) is the tallest building in Israel. It's surrounded by popular restaurants, cafes, commercial enterprises and recreational facilities. The Akirov Towers, in North Tel Aviv, houses the former apartment of Ehud Barak, underscoring the stunning fact that there is a line of sight between the residence of the former Defense Minister and a potential Palestinian state!
Ben Gurion Airport — Through Binoculars of a Palestinian “Intelligence Officer”
(Photo Credit: Hagai Nativ)
Main Terminal and Runway at Ben Gurion Airport as seen from a potential Palestinian state: This shot underscores just how utterly exposed Israel’s only international airport would be to any hostile elements (renegade or otherwise), deployed on the hills overlooking the main terminal and runway.
(Terminal - Photo Credit: Hagai Nativ)
For those familiar with Ben Gurion airport, the long inclined corridor connecting the passport control stations with the large duty free area is clearly visible from well within a potential Palestinian state.
A tempting target: The unnerving sight of a plane clearly visible taking off on the main runway — hopelessly exposed to any nefarious forces in the nearby hills inside a potential Palestinian state.
(Ben Gurion runway - Photo Credit: Hagai Nativ)
Israel’s Vulnerable Power Generating Facilities as Seen From a Potential Palestinian State
(Hadera - Photo Credit Yohar Gal)
The Orot-Rabin power station, near Hadera (named after the late Yitzhak Rabin): The plant is currently Israel's largest power station with almost 20 percent of the Israel Electric Corporation's total generating capacity. It is adjacent to Caesarea, a very upmarket locality, home to many of Israel’s rich and famous, including current PM Benjamin Netanyahu.
(The Orot-Rabin Power Station at sunset - Photo Credit: Hagai Nativ)
(Reading power station - Photo Credit: Hagai Nativ)
The Reading power station supplies electricity to the Greater Tel Aviv district. The plant is located close to Tel Aviv port, Sde Dov airport and the upmarket neighborhoods of North Tel Aviv and Ramat Aviv, where Tel Aviv University is located. Taken from the vicinity of the Palestinian village of Rantis, visible in the foreground.
Terror Tunnels and Transportation
(Route 6, The Trans Israel Highway - Photo Credit: Israel Institute for Strategic Studies)
Taken near the Palestinian-Arab city of Qalquilaya, a hot bed of terror in the past, this drone shot underscores the grave danger to traffic on the Trans-Israel highway (Route 6), connecting the North of the country with the South. In light of the threat of terror tunnels, mortar fire, and rocket attacks emanating from Gaza, little imagination is required to visualize the consequences of evacuating areas abutting one of Israel’s major transportation arteries. For a more detailed explanation click here.
Pictures Worth Thousands of Words
These photos convey the stark, clear and present dangers a Palestinian state would pose to Israel, its urban centers, its vulnerable airport, its major traffic routes as well as its vital infrastructure installations — all of which will be in range of weapons, now being used against it from other territories transferred to Arab control.
Indeed, given the abysmal consequences of past Israeli withdrawals, whenever Israel has relinquished land, it has — sooner or later — become a platform from which to launch attacks against it, who can fault the opponents of the two-state prescription for their grave concern?

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Hamas Is Restoring Its Alliance with Iran

From JCPA, 17 August 2017, by Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi:

The renewed alliance with Hamas will enable Iran to strengthen its zones of influence along Israel’s borders, including within the West Bank where Hamas and Islamic Jihad give it a foothold.

During the first week of August 2017, a delegation from the Hamas Political Bureau visited Iran. The Islamic movement said the visit meant that the sides were opening a “new page” in their relations.

The delegation was led by Izzat al-Rishk, a senior Hamas official, and included Salah al-Aruri, senior Hamas leader and founding commander of Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades; Zaher Jabarin, Hamas military commander; Osama Hamdan, top representative of Hamas in Lebanon; and Hamas’ representative in Tehran, Khaled al-Kadoummi.

The delegation met with senior Iranian officials including: Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif; Chairman of the Parliament Ali Larijani; Senior Adviser to the Supreme Leader in International Affairs Ali Akbar Velayati; Chairman of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations Kamal Kharazi; and Special Assistant of the Chairman of the Parliament for International Affairs Hossein Amir Abdollahian.

Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif with Hamas’ delegation to Tehran.
Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif confirms the importance of the relationship with Hamas’ delegation to Tehran.

Iranian-Hamas relations suffered a setback during the civil war in Syria. At first, the Hamas leaders tried to tread carefully between the Shiite-Alawite axis led by Syria, Iran, and Hizbullah and the Sunni mujahideen organizations. However, as the bloody war dragged on and the Shiite-Alawite axis racked up failures, tensions grew between Iran and Hamas as the former demanded that the Palestinian organization clearly take its side. Hamas was forced to move its offices from Damascus and make use of the infrastructure it had built in Turkey.  

Now, again, the Iranian regime is telling the Hamas leadership in no uncertain terms that the Islamic movement must make a “correct” strategic decision, consistent with the changing balance of power in the Middle East, and align with Iran, which has become a regional superpower. Its hegemonic status now grounded in the Shiite crescent, which includes Iraq, Yemen, Syria, and Lebanon, Iran is leading the ongoing struggle against Israel.3 In his meeting with Izzat al-Rishk, Parliament Chairman Larijani said that Hamas must draw conclusions from the Middle Eastern developments in recent years, particularly those in Iraq and Syria.4

What Hamas Seeks
During the visit, the Hamas officials presented the following positions:

  • Hamas has an interest in fortifying its relations with Iran, Syria, Hizbullah, and Islamic Jihad based on the common denominator of fighting Israel.
  • Iran provides its support for the anti-Israeli struggle both to Shiite organizations like Hizbullah and to Sunni organizations like Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The fact that Iran is waging a campaign against Sunni Muslim forces in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and other Middle Eastern countries does not – Hamas implied – preclude aligning with it.
  • The basis for Iran’s relations with the Islamic umma [community] in general is the struggle against Israel, the “common enemy.” The threat posed by Israel does not stop at the geographic borders of Palestine; its hatred for humanity and the chaos it sows affect all of the “Arab and Islamic homeland.”
  • Hamas does not interfere in others’ affairs and does not want Palestine to fall prey to disagreements between the countries of the region; instead its goal is to enlist all elements to support the Palestinian issue. 
  • By joining the Iranian axis, Hamas reveals its leadership’s order of priority now that Ismail Haniyeh is at the helm. Liberating Palestine takes precedence over the blood-drenched Middle Eastern battles between the Shiite and Sunni axis. Hamas is distancing itself from Saudi Arabia, which regards Iran as a tangible military threat to the Sunni states. Hamas estimates that allying with Tehran can help it fulfill its strategic objectives of taking control of the Palestinian national movement and “liberating Palestine.”

The Hamas leadership views Iran as a rising regional power that is making gains in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, as well as Yemen, with a growing military force based on a local arms industry, purchases of advanced weaponry from Russia, and the nuclear project.

The entrenchment of the Shiite crescent under direct Iranian hegemony could threaten the stability of the Hashemite regime in Jordan, where the demographic majority is decidedly Palestinian. The Hamas leadership assesses that, in a scenario where Iran makes an effort to undermine Abdullah’s regime, being aligned with Iran will give Hamas an advantage.

From Iran’s standpoint, the renewed alliance with Hamas will enable it to strengthen its zones of influence along Israel’s borders, including within the West Bank where Hamas and Islamic Jihad give it a foothold.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Game of Camps: Ideological Fault Lines in the Wreckage of the Arab State System

From a study by Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman, BESA, September 21, 2016:
The following is the Executive Summary. Follow the link for the full report.

In recent years, Arab politics has been marked by national disintegration, violent conflict and bitter rivalries, as well as new patterns of cooperation and efforts to counter extremist forces. Some states have ceased to exist, torn apart by ideological imperatives that are often intertwined with local power politics and sectarian affiliations. Sharp rifts have emerged, such as the rupture between Egypt and Turkey: a relationship that shifted from friendship to public hostility overnight after the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt. New alliances have been forged as well.

Essentially, the most important shifts have occurred along ideological fault lines, and need to be understood in these terms. This study maps four Arab ideological camps and their interactions:
  1.          the Iranian camp,
  2.          the Islamic State camp,
  3.          the Muslim Brotherhood camp, and
  4.         the “counter camp.” This camp consists of the forces of stability, ranging from Saudi Arabia and most of the Gulf states to Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco, as well as the Kurds and other non-Arab players.

These camps have been fighting each other to the death across a range of regional fronts, from Libya to Syria to Iraq to Yemen, and in subversive political and terrorist actions elsewhere. Events over the first half of 2016 confirm that the balance is tilting. Islamic State and its affiliates are still vicious, but they are under siege and losing ground, while Muslim Brotherhood forces are in political decline.

The main battle for the future of the region pits the Iranian camp against the forces of stability. Israel shares the fears and goals of the counter camp, and is joined with it in countering Iran. The US administration’s courtship of Iran, as well as the hope held broadly in the West that the Muslim Brotherhood could play a constructive role, has done little to  restore stability or restrain the rise of radicalism.