Posting: October 25, 2007
“Time for Action”
As these are serious times, action in the US is called for. And so I ask each of you who is a US citizen to help.
Below you will find a short list of the aides to key influential members of Congress with contact information. It is always most productive to contact the aides; a fax or phone call is most effective; e-mail if that is what is possible for you.
The message is simple:
“Mahmoud Abbas is not a partner for peace ; he has terrorist associations. Pushing negotiations is counterproductive to US interests and goals.
“Please, work to stop all pressure on Israel to negotiate and make concessions; the US needs a strong Israel in the Middle East.
“Please also work to block further appropriations to the PA, as some of this money will inevitably fund terrorism, which is what the US is supposed to be fighting.”
Change the wording a bit to personalize the message. In each instance ask that the message be conveyed to the appropriate Congressperson (or Congresspersons).
Please! Try to do several of these names, and if possible all of them. They all need to hear from us. This is democracy in action and the power is in your hands.
Also, please distribute this information as widely as you can — on your lists, to family and friends. Numbers count and we need large numbers now.
Alan is the senior professional Majority staff member for the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. He doesn’t work with one Congressperson, but rather with the committee. Ask that he convey your message to all Democrats on the Committee.
phone 202-225-6735 fax 202-226-3581 firstname.lastname@example.org
Deputy Chief of Staff for CONGRESSMAN GARY ACKERMAN, Chair of the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and Asia, of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
phone 202-225-2601 fax 202-225-1589 email@example.com
Professional Staff Member, Minority Staff, for House Committee on Foreign Affairs,
Works with CONGRESSWOMAN ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, ranking member of the committee (was chair before the elections) and a good friend to Israel. Ask that he convey the message to all Republican members of the Committee and especially to Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen.
phone 202-226-8467 fax 202-226-7269 firstname.lastname@example.org
ELISE KENDARIAN ARONSON
Chief of Staff for CONGRESSMAN JIM SAXTON, who has opposed Oslo on Capitol Hill and been a staunch friend.
phone 202-225-4765 fax (202) 225-0778 email@example.com
Chief of Staff for CONGRESSMAN ELIOT ENGEL, who is on the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and Asia and a good friend to Israel.
phone 202-225-2464 fax (202) 225-5513 firstname.lastname@example.org
Chief of Staff to CONGRESSMAN TRENT FRANKS, a Congressman with growing influence, who is a solid friend and has taken on the issue of the inciteful PA school books.
phone 202-225-4567 fax 202-225-6328 email@example.com
Legislative Assistant to CONGRESSMAN HENRY WAXMAN, who has powerful influence on matters of foreign policy and speaks out for integrity in government.
phone 202-225-3976 fax 202-225-4099 firstname.lastname@example.org
Chief of Staff for CONGRESSMAN MARK KIRK, who is a member of the House Appropriations Committee, which has considerable power, and co-chairs a Republican caucus group, thus having contact with others.
phone 202-225-4835 fax 202-225-0837 email@example.com
Staff director for CONGRESSMAN BRAD SHERMAN, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade.
phone 202-225-5911 fax 202-225-5879 firstname.lastname@example.org
If you want to check for your own Congressperson, see:
Posting: October 24, 2007
“Do They Mean It Yet?”
We know the Palestinian routine: histrionics and threats as a means of negotiating. But we also know that Abbas and company really really would rather not go to Annapolis.
So, now Saeb Erekat, a member of the PA negotiating team, has said:
“The Palestinian position is very clear. We won’t go to the conference unless we reach an agreement with Israel on the final status issues and a clear timetable for the implementation of any agreement between the two parties.”
Do they mean it yet?
Erekat says the PA has also prevailed on Arab nations not to attend unless the PA gets what it is demanding.
But Erekat has his answer from Olmert. At a press conference in the UK yesterday, he said:
“As I said before, this [what Israel and the PA will agree upon] is a short joint statement that will not provide solutions but will refer to the core issues. I think what we need to do is to set the direction. No-one seriously can expect that within this short span of time between now and the end of November we can achieve what we haven’t been doing in the last 40 years, which is to agree on a comprehensive solution of all the core issues outstanding between us and the Palestinians and to define it, to praise it, to present it and to have the support of our peoples for it. This is somewhat presumptuous.”
This doesn’t give Erekat what he’s demanding, but far better there be no conference and no “short joint statement” either, for such a statement signals a willingness by Israel to put on the table the issues of Jerusalem, refugees, etc. And this sets a precedent that is best avoided.
Meanwhile, Rice today, at a House hearing, said that the two-state solution is in jeopardy. She is nothing, if not persistent. The Annapolis conference, she told those gathered, “will give hope” to moderate Palestinians, for there is only a small window of opportunity left. And round and round she goes. Now she says the conference should happen by the end of the year.
At the same time, YNet is reporting that the US intends to transfer an unprecedented $410 million to the Palestinians in a last ditch effort to bolster Abbas. Half of this will go to infrastructure, $35 million will go to the Food and Employment Bureau of UNRWA, and the rest will support the PA budget directly, which is a deviation from how things have been handled in recent years.
When Olmert announced recently that even though members of Fatah who were with the PA security forces had plotted to assassinate him he intended to continue negotiations, a member of the Knesset told Olmert that he needed the best professional help he could find (i.e., such a decision indicated that he was mentally unbalanced). Well, I think this goes double now for the American decision makers who have come up with this incredible approach to solving the problem of Abbas’s weakness.
This is not about money! It is about politics and ideology and power. Before Gaza fell to Hamas, the US had pumped large sums of money into strengthening Fatah, so that Fatah had more men, better training and better weapons (not to mention more sophisticated surveillance equipment) in Gaza than Hamas had. And the Fatah people turned on their heels and fled.
Abbas is afraid to leave Ramallah, he’s that weak. He won’t go into places like Jenin for fear of being killed. More and more his own Fatah is against him. He is totally ineffective. He stands charged, and properly, with incredible corruption. Many of his people see him as a tool of the US, and are afraid that at Annapolis he’ll make concessions that are bad for their goals. Hamas is breathing down his neck in Judea and Samaria — and would take him out quickly if the IDF were (G-d forbid) to go away.
On top of all of this is the simple fact that Abbas doesn’t really want a two state solution anyway. His first concern is good relations with Hamas.
So, great, pump money into the PA bank accounts. What it will do, first, is make Abbas vulnerable to a charge by Hamas that he is bought by the US. Then, guaranteed, some of that money will disappear into private pockets. And another part of it will go to support terrorism, since the PA is in bed with terrorist groups such as Al Aksa Brigades and has paid salaries of people affiliated with Hamas.
That’s really going to set everything right.
In Gaza, Hamas bragged about all the American equipment they confiscated from Fatah. I wonder (this is purely my speculation) if Hamas will be further motivated to take out Fatah in Judea and Samaria if the PA is more solvent.
It must be noted that the PA has released “scores” of Hamas people being held in Judea and Samaria, including some charged with planning attacks on Israel. The old revolving door again. Looks good to arrest them, but don’t keep them. What does this tell us about Abbas’s priorities and intentions?
Israel is increasingly concerned about the relationship being forged between Egypt (with whom we have a ‘peace’ treaty) and Hamas. Egypt continues to turn a willful blind eye to Hamas smuggling of terrorists and equipment from the Sinai into Gaza. Recently Egypt let 85 Hamas people — including some who were experts in manufacturing bombs and had had training in Syria — enter Gaza in return for turning over an Al Qaeda terrorist that Hamas had apprehended in Sinai.
Recent reports indicate that at least 1,650 RPG rockets and 6,000 bombs have been smuggled into Gaza since the beginning of the year.
According to Shin Bet head, approximately 73 tons of explosives have been smuggled into Gaza through tunnels since June, as well as millions of bullets for light weapons and tons of potassium, used to manufacture bombs.
Yesterday at least 10 Kassam rockets were lobbed into Israel from Gaza. In one case a house in Sderot took a direct hit. Tonight there were five more Kassams shot, one of which landed near a day care center. After tonight’s attack, the air force fired a missile from a plane at the launching site, killing two Palestinians and wounding others.
Today there was a drive-by shooting at Ariel Junction in Samaria; a 20-year old soldier waiting at a hitch-hiking location was badly wounded when he was hit several times in the stomach and lower body. A second person was wounded in the leg. The car had PA license plates.
Ceremonies were held today to mark the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin 12 years ago, according to the Hebrew calendar.
Unfortunately, as I’ve noted in previous years, this is not simply a time to mourn what happened and honor Rabin’s memory — it has become politicized, with the left demonizing the entire right for what happened and making claims as to what Rabin would have done vis-a-vis the “peace process” had he lived.
During ceremonies in the Knesset today, opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu (Likud) said that Rabin never intended to divide Jerusalem and that this must not happen now.
Aaron Lerner of IMRA has posted Rabin’s statement to the Knesset in 1995 regarding ratification of the (Oslo) Interim Agreement. Among the principles he outlined: No Palestinian state, no return to ’67 lines, and blocs of settlements modeled after Gush Katif.
Posting: October 23, 2007
“The Battle is on”
The battle is over Jerusalem, and — do not delude yourself — it has been going on for some time already. But now it’s intensifying.
The genesis of the mess we find ourselves in is the “goodwill” gesture of Moshe Dayan in 1967. For 19 years we Jews were not able to come near the Kotel (then referred to as the Wailing Wall) or the Temple Mount (Har Habayit), our most sacred site, because Jordan controlled the area and made it Judenrein. During the Six Day War we took the Old City of Jerusalem, along with all of eastern Jerusalem. We could have REALLY taken it, as the Jordanians did when it was in their hands — we could have banished all Arabs from Jerusalem and taken complete control of everything. I’m told the Arabs expected us to do this, for they have an all-or-nothing, winner-take-all approach.
But this was not our approach. And so we allowed Arabs to live in eastern Jerusalem. And, more significantly, Dayan called in the officials of the Muslim Wakf, the Muslim Trust, and told them that we would share: The Kotel was ours, and, as they have structures holy to Islam — Dome of the Rock and Al Aksa Mosque — on the Temple Mount (which contains the remains of our Temples beneath), the day to day management of the Mount would be theirs, while we retained control of security.
Dayan didn’t perceive precisely whom he was dealing with. What happened is that Israel gave the Arabs a foothold on our most sacred site, and they’ve grabbed more and more over time in terms of presuming they can do what they wish — that is, in terms of demonstrating their “rights” and their absolute control.
The riots that set off the second Intifada in 2000 were not spontaneous, they were choreographed. But the trigger that was used, the excuse for the rioting, was the visit to the Mount of Ariel Sharon. It was “offensive” to them. But… excuse me!
What has happened, along with the outrageous demands made by the Arabs, and the attempts to control everything, has been a craven failure on the part of the Israeli government to respond immediately and consistently to these actions. There’s enough trouble as it is — who needs more riots? It’s easier to look the other way and let things happen, rather than to protest, intervene, protect our rights and our heritage and make clear who is in charge. A grievous mistake that weakens our position.
It should be noted that the Israeli Antiquities Association, which is an official body, often acquiesces to what the Wakf does or fails to sufficiently monitor what is going on with regard to the Mount, although such monitoring falls within its mandate. Much of the necessary work is attempted by private groups such as the Committee for the Prevention of the Destruction of Antiquities on the Temple Mount (CPDATM); archeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar is a key activist in this group.
Beyond the essential issue of who is in charge, there are two concerns: One is damage to archeological treasures; the other is an attempt by the Wakf to destroy or remove pieces of Jewish history so as it eradicate the evidence of our ancient presence there.
And this is where we now find ourselves.
In 1999, the Wakf did a very major and illegal excavation into the Mount at an area called Solomon’s Stables, where they wanted to construct a huge mosque. In the course of their construction, using heavy equipment, they excavated many tons of soil that contained Jewish archeological remains. This — 100 trucks’ worth — was dumped in the Kidron Valley where the Arabs assumed it would be abandoned. It was a private — not government — archeological venture that raised the money to begin sifting through the debris. Archeologist Dr. Gabriel Barkay, under the auspices of Bar Ilan University, moved the debris to a new, safe and protected site. The sifting, which is still on-going, has yielded some excellent archeological finds that would otherwise have been lost; the Ir David Foundation is now involved as well.
Recently, the Arabs began digging a north-south trench on the Temple Mount. This trench, dug with heavy equipment, is between one meter (1.1 yards) and half a meter deep at different points and runs some 400 meters across the Mount. It is apparently being done with Israel Antiquities sanction but the private watchdog group says this is insufficient and precious remains are being damaged and destroyed. They say, at a minimum, that a salvage excavation was necessary to make sure nothing underneath would be damaged.
In the last several days, there have been a number of things that have taken place with regard to this trench.
— Israel Antiquities archeologists at the site say that the trench has exposed traces — artifacts — of the First Temple period.
— The Director of Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem says these claims regarding the First Temple are baseless, and just being made to try to establish a Jewish link to the area.
— Most significantly, the Knesset State Control Committee, under the chairmanship of MK Zevulun Orlev (NRP), convened to discuss the issue of destruction of artifacts on the Mount.
But the director-general of the Wakf, Adnan al-Husseini, decided to ignore an invitation to attend the meeting, saying, “The Wakf does not acknowledge Israel’s authority in Jerusalem or the Temple Mount…the Wakf boycotts Israeli politicians all the time…. This is an Islamic issue that the Muslims should decide upon.” He let it be known that he would not attend any formal meeting on the digging on the Mount.
Seems to me the gauntlet has been thrown down and must be picked up quickly.
The Committee has now asked the state controller to compile a report on the archeological excavations being done on the Mount by the Wakf. Said Orlev: “We cannot ignore the fact that the Wakf does not recognize the Knesset and its committees. Its members are carrying out excavations at the Temple Mount, which is a very sensitive, special site.”
And one last challenge regarding Jerusalem to be mentioned here:
The Jerusalem municipality is in the course of constructing a light rail for the city. Arutz Sheva reports that the PA is about to launch a lawsuit in French courts against a French company involved in the construction. The PA claims that the rail is being built in part on “Palestinian” land, i.e., beyond the Green Line. “The light rail system is a means for expanding the Israeli settlement on Jerusalem.”
It’s only going to get worse, and we had best be strong.
Return to other issues tomorrow. In the meantime, let me ask that you visit the site below and sign the petition to keep Jerusalem united.
Posting: October 22, 2007
Patently ridiculous. Ludicrous. That’s the situation with the PA, and this is whom we are supposed to be dealing with.
I wrote yesterday about the plot to assassinate Olmert when he went into Jericho in August, about the arrests made by the PA of those planning the attack and their subsequent release and then re-arrest. It was PA prime minister Salaam Fayyad who addressed this publicly, saying they had been re-arrested. In fact, Fayyad told Knesset Speak Dalia Itzik that, “we are studying the incident and plan to do our best in order to restore the order in the region. We will draw all our lessons from the incident.”
I indicated in my original report that those arrested were members of the PA security forces — Fatah, I should add, to clarify. I have subsequently learned that they were not only in the PA security forces, they were supposed to have been helping to guard Olmert’s convoy. Makes sense. Who do you recruit for such a mission? The men who will be close to the convoy.
But after all of this, what do we have? Fatah spokesman Ahmed Abdul Rahman declaring that “This is a false story meant to undermine the efforts of the Fatah movement and President Mahmoud Abbas to reach a just peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
“I call on all media outlets to disregard the false Israeli version, because there are clear political Israeli interests behind this falsification.”
Come on, guys. This is transparent and you’re making yourselves look ridiculous.
I will add here that the Shin Bet is now blocking any trips of Israeli officials into areas in which the PA has (or is supposed to have) security control. Our inability to rely on the PA forces is about as clear as it could be. While I tell the above light-heartedly, there are very serious implications.
Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter said that this incident was a “classic example of the Palestinian Authority’s ‘so-called’ policy of fighting terror.”
It has been observed by analysts that there is reason why this information — which is weeks old — was released now. It serves to put the PA on the defense in negotiations.
And there’s yet more on the PA.
According to Khaled Abu Toameh today in the Post, the Bush administration is exerting heavy pressure on Abbas to appoint Muhammad Dahlan as his deputy.
Well… if the matter of how the PA officials responded to the planned assassination is ridiculous, this is patently more so. But there’s nothing remotely funny here.
Dahlan is broadly viewed as a “reformer” and someone who has the potential strength to pull things together, where Abbas is slipping.
But Dahlan is a terrorist. He was arrested by Israel for terrorist activities 11 times in the 1980s. The CIA has a recording of him giving the orders to bomb an Israeli school bus in Kfar Darom, on November 18, 2000 — an attack in which two adults were killed and several children wounded, including three siblings who each lost part of a leg. Israeli Intelligence is in possession of documents proving his direct involvement in all stages of the foiled Karine-A gunboat operation of 2002. And his name is associated with a bomb factory.
The US cannot do better than this in its attempts to strengthen Abbas? It’s both pathetic and shameful, in my opinion.
Abbas is resisting, according to the report; the Egyptian newspaper Al-Masriyoon says that Dahlan has been inciting Fatah in Judea and Samaria against Abbas.
And to make matters even more complicated, relates Abu Toameh, Abbas and Fayyad are in the midst of a crisis. It’s so bad that when Rice was here, she had to meet separately with each.
Former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon has written an analytic piece for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs about a little discussed but potentially significant subject — the purchase by Israel of natural gas from off shore reserves in Gaza’s coastal waters, discovered in 2000.
It was the British corporate giant British Gas that found the reserves and has since gone into partnership both with the PA and private Palestinian owned contracting companies. The goal is to develop the reserves and sell Israel, which has need of additional energy sources, massive quantities of gas. The thought was that the revenues (up to a billion dollars) for the Palestinians would jump start their economy. This was Tony Blair’s idea.
However, says Yaalon, the problems are considerable and actually constitute a security risk for Israel in several respects:
Money secured by the PA, rather than jump starting their economy, would likely go at least in part to further fund terrorism. Thus Israel would in effect be funding terrorists intent on acting against her.
Military actions begin to be judged in commercial terms. Yaalon suggests that the reluctance of the Olmert government to do a major operation in Gaza may be in part because of concern about not upsetting this transaction.
Ultimately, because Hamas controls Gaza, it would become involved. The British, in particular, invested as they are in this venture, are likely to go easier on Hamas and talk about the possibility of negotiating with them. Hamas would be less isolated.
Israeli dependency for energy on a corporate group that involves the PA is likely a poor move. There is a risk of terrorists using the gas line as leverage against Israel, threatening to cut off gas or doing so.
Other groups such as al-Qaeda may be motivated to attack the drilling installations, even though they are planned to be submerged well under sea level.
As soon as the reserves were found in 2000, British Gas and its Palestinian partners approached Israel about buying the gas — then British Prime Minister Tony Blair urged this on Israel. However, both Prime Minister Sharon and Mossad head Meir Dagan were opposed because of security issues.
It is Olmert who has revived interest in a deal with British Gas and pushed for a final understanding. Yet one more reason to question Olmert’s judgment and his intentions.
Yaalon suggests that focus on this deal may have deflected Israeli exploration of other potential sources for natural gas. There is the possibility that there are sufficient gas reserves off the coast of Haifa for Israel’s needs.
Writes Yaalon: “The latest indications are that the BG Group, with the full backing of the British government, intends to finalize a multi-year agreement with Israel before the end of 2007.
“The dangers inherent in Israel’s potential purchase of British Gas from the marine reserves off Gaza require an immediate, comprehensive, interagency security assessment by the IDF, Israeli Security Agency, Mossad, and other organs.”
Posting: October 21, 2007
“End in Sight?”
Khaled Abu Toameh, wrote a piece called “Between anvils and hammers” in the Post on Thursday that spells out clearly the bind that Mahmoud Abbas finds himself in and the multiple reasons he has for very much wanting the Annapolis conference delayed, perhaps for a considerable time. On the one hand, he has no mandate from his people for compromise and will be condemned (I add: assassinated perhaps) if he doesn’t bring them everything he promised. The fact that he HAS promised — having made public his specific conditions regarding all of eastern Jerusalem, refugees and borders — ties him, i.e., there has been no hint to his people that compromise might be necessary. On the other hand, he will be blamed for failure by Israel and the US if he doesn’t compromise. In other words, he’s in a no-win situation.
Less and less does Abbas even have the support of Fatah.
Just days ago, Abbas received a letter from Hussam Khader, who is serving time in Israeli prison for terrorist-related activities. Khader, who is one of the young Turks — the younger generation of Fatah “reformers” (i.e., anti-corruption, not anti-terror), wrote with the backing of hundreds of others urging Abbas to get his own house in order before negotiating.
In addition, there are Palestinians convinced (rightly so) that the IDF is all that is keeping Hamas from overtaking Fatah in Judea and Samaria, which means it would be most inopportune to ask the IDF to leave right now.
Several Arab nations, as well, are of the opinion that the conference should be delayed.
Abbas latest demand is that 2,000 prisoners be released by Israel before the conference. This is to show “good faith” and enhance his own standing among his people. But he’s dreaming if he thinks he can get this now.
As of today Abu Toameh is still reporting that Abbas demands an agreement that deals in detail with all of the core issues, and — as he is not likely to get it — this may be his out.
Meanwhile, as the PA is ostensibly preparing for a “peace” conference that would secure the pre-1967 lines as borders for a Palestinian state, it concurrently continues to promote a Palestine that goes from the river to the sea, totally replacing Israel. About 10 days ago, Media Watch picked secured a clip that had run on PA TV with a map that shows Israel painted in the colors of the Palestinian flag.
What is more significant and shocking even by the standards of the PA: Yuval Diskin the head of Shin Bet, today revealed to the Cabinet that there was a plot to assassinate Olmert when he traveled by automobile convoy to Jericho to meet with Abbas on August 6. He was to be hit as he entered the city.
Intelligence about the plans was secured by the Shin Bet in advance of the event and the attempt was foiled. When Israel informed the PA about this, their security forces arrested three of the men involved in the plot, while two others were detained by Israel.
Now, note this very carefully: The three who were arrested by PA security forces on the intelligence of Israel are Fatah-affiliated members of the PA security forces. Yes, you are reading this correctly. The men who plotted to kill Olmert when he was on his way to meet with Abbas to talk about peace were part of Abbas’s PA security forces.
But what subsequently happened is that the PA released the three men. Quelle surprise! The PA explanation is that the men were just talking about killing Olmert, they didn’t actually move to execute the plan (although they did admit that this is what they were planning and undoubtedly would have carried through if they had been left to their devices), so there was no reason to detain them. This practice of arresting terrorists and potential terrorists and then letting them go is typical of the PA’s revolving door policy.
This is causing considerable anger here in Israel; Livni called the incident “extremely severe.” Protests have been registered with the PA and with the Secretary of State (and I’d love to know what her private response to this was).
There are calls on the right for Olmert to withdraw from participation at Annapolis. Said Effie Eitam (NU-NRP), “While Olmert sits and talks peace with [Abbas], his messengers are working on his murder.”
Yuval Steinitz, (Likud) makes a significant point when he observes that, “Even assuming good will on the part of Abbas… we’ve just seen a red warning light. Don’t delude yourselves – [Abbas] doesn’t control his own forces. This is neither the time nor the place for agreements [with the Palestinians].”
This whole scenario becomes more and more surreal.
Olmert has already said that in spite of feeling “discomfort” with this information, he doesn’t intend to withdraw from participation in Annapolis. What is certain is that this incident is not going to exactly lighten the atmosphere between Israel and the PA or motivate Israel towards more concessions.
According to YNet, the PA — the moxie! — is angry that Israel publicized this, apparently since they saw it as no big deal (not “imminently dangerous”). Since the plot was made public, Fayyad has announced that the men have been re-arrested. Caught with their pants down, they didn’t have a choice, did they? He says they were re-arrested a week ago, but I have my doubts: it was probably today.
An important correction/addendum to my last posting: I had written that a majority of the Knesset has signed a petition opposing the division of Jerusalem, and I explained that this was non-binding. What I had in mind when I said this was the sort of situation faced by Ariel Sharon when he pulled out of Gush Katif: He was not bound by law to consult the Knesset before doing so. And in most respects, this would apply to an agreement Olmert might (G-d forbid) sign with the Palestinians; he could give away Judea and Samaria without Knesset sanction.
However, I erred in assuming this also applied in the same way to Jerusalem. What I had totally forgotten to consider is the fact that the Basic Law of Israel says “Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel.” Only a majority of the Knesset can change Basic Law. And, while things might change, we have just seen that a majority of the Knesset agrees with keeping Jerusalem united and thus is not likely to change this law.
This makes the entire legal scenario more complicated; in fact, the situation is quite complex and, I must add, untested.
The Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies is currently looking at some other difficulties inherent in turning over Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem to the PA, and will be presenting the prime minister with a document outlining some of the more prickly legal and pragmatic issues involved:
Jerusalem has been an undivided city under Israeli sovereignty for forty years now. Arab residents of the city, who have residency rights but not citizenship, legally have many of the same rights as full citizens and cannot be precipitously moved to a new jurisdiction and cut off from Israel without their consent, even if there is an agreement with the PA. Thus, they would have the option of moving to somewhere else within Israel — and believe me, many would grab this, as Jerusalem residency papers are much coveted. Israel would thus have no significant demographic gain and would still carry responsibility for services such as pensions and health care.
What is more, from an international perspective there might even be responsibility to those who would end up under Palestinian sovereignty, so that the “principle of equality” not be violated — that is, Arab residents not treated differently. To do so might be to violate principles of equal rights for minorities.
This puts a huge hole of an entirely different sort in arguments for dividing the city.
The Jerusalem Institute, it should be noted, in the past was in favor of dividing the city and actually presented different maps for doing so. Having done more detailed research now, they are not really sure this is a good idea after all. Says JIIS Director-General Ora Ahimeir, “Our role vis-a-vis the decision makers is to illuminate the difficulties and to put all the information on the table so that all the implications are clear,”
According to American ABC News, Israel had a mole inside of Syria who was able to photograph the nuclear facility that was in process of being built before the attack was ordered. ABC cites the high level American official who provided the information for the news report: Israel brought the photos to the CIA and the US then drew on its own satellite images of the site. Israel asked the Americans to bomb the location, but was refused; we finally did it ourselves in spite of American disapproval.
I find the Bush administration approach (led by Rice and Gates), that we should “confront, not attack” disturbing. As Bush should have learned with Iran by now, confronting a nation in the “Axis of Evil” does little good.
Olmert has just returned from a rush trip to Russia, where in the course of a three-hour meeting, he was supposed to have stiffened Putin’s spine with regard to Iran. He returned with glowing words about Putin but I’m not buying: this man is waffling on Iranian nuclear development because of presumed Russian self interest. Putin is reportedly factoring into his policy economic considerations, a desire to maintain good relations with Iran as a neighbor and growing tensions — and competition — with the US.
Now today Olmert is traveling to European capitals, to discuss both tough sanctions against Iran and support for the Israel’s position at the Annapolis conference.
There are analysts saying that Olmert’s actions signal that the military option in Iran is now solidly on the table — with Israel recognizing that it may indeed fall to us, as the international community is effectively doing nothing to stop Iran’s nuclearization.
Omir Oren has written in Haaretz about the fact that an Israeli military operation into Iran would be “complex, but not impossible.” Such an operation, says Oren, is, in the opinion of the majority of those at the top of the Israeli military establishment, necessary.
The Air Force yesterday hit a fishing boat in the water off of Gaza in order to take out two Islamic Jihad terrorists apparently on their way to launch an attack. As Aaron Lerner has called attention to with a bit of a chuckle, these men moonlighted as terrorists: their day job was as life guards working for Gaza City.
I’m pleased to report that Israel has rejected a recommendation that we open negotiations with Lebanon over Shaba Farms on the Golan. This recommendation represents a reversal in the UN official position. When we pulled out of southern Lebanon, the UN certified that we had left all Lebanese territory, but Hezbollah, seeking a rationale for continued hostilities against Israel, and drawing on historical disputes between Lebanon and Syria regarding the area, said we were still occupiers because we held Shaba. Now, the UN — which is re-assessing the issue of the sovereignty of the Farms — is coming around to saying the Hezbollah claim was correct.
According to an Israeli official: “There is no point in talking about this any more. We have no room to show flexibility on this matter because that only strengthens Hezbollah.”
Posting: October 18, 2007
It will be, quite frankly, a relief, if I will now be able to do these postings without having to mention Condoleezza Rice every time, now that her visit here is finished.
At present she is saying the conference may be delayed until December. And — will wonders never cease! — at the airport before leaving she actually made a statement strongly supportive of Israel:
“If, in fact, they’re going to be asked to withdraw from the West Bank at some point, what does that mean for the security of Israel? That’s a fair question. It really is. And so one of the things that I take back is that we are going to need to spend a lot of time thinking about how this [Palestinian] state, if we are fortunate enough to be able to bring it into being, how it is going to relate to the security of its neighbor and vice versa.
“They [Israel] had the withdrawal from Lebanon and it brought instability in Lebanon. They had the withdrawal from the Gaza, and look what happened in Gaza.”
How different her tone is in this statement. She may have absorbed some important messages at long last.
I’m hearing that the US recognizes (and Rice’s statement certainly seems to confirm this) that Israel is going to have to stay in Judea and Samaria for a long time.
Now that she’s leaving, National security adviser Stephen Hadley is coming to pick up where Rice left off. But it’s highly unlikely that he will accomplish anything she didn’t. She will be back by the beginning of November.
Reportedly, Israel is now prepared to mention the core issues in a joint document. Mention them, not provide the solutions.
Now the good news is this: A majority of the members of the Knesset have signed a petition saying that Jerusalem must remain undivided.
Let me clarify immediately: This is not binding. What Olmert requires to proceed is the approval of his government, i.e., his ministers, drawn from his coalition.
However Yisrael Katz (Likud) initiated this petition to demonstrate that Olmert has no mandate to negotiate Jerusalem’s future, and this can have a powerful effect. If it doesn’t slow down Olmert himself, it may unsettle the US sufficiently so that there is greater hesitation about proceeding.
It is worth noting that 30 members of the coalition, and 13 members of Kadima itself, including Tzachi Hanegbi, Chair of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, signed. This lack of support within Olmert’s own ranks is telling.
What was also significant to me is that Avigdor Lieberman, head of Yisrael Beiteinu, did not sign, although two members of his party did.