December 6, 2007
Here we have, as if they were needed, more reasons why negotiating with the PA is impossible:
The Hamas-dominated Palestinian Legislative Council has passed a law (first reading) saying that any concession in negotiations on Jerusalem is illegal. It states that Jerusalem is a Palestinian, Arab and Islamic city and that it is totally forbidden to give up or conduct negotiations about any part of the city.
As they don’t have Jerusalem and never did, I am particularly fascinated by the phrase about “giving up” any part of the city. Anyone who violates this prohibition would be prosecuted as a traitor. Some Fatah legislators boycotted this meeting, but others expressed agreement. Our “negotiating partners.”
Ironically, tonight there was a Jerusalem Chanukah concert sponsored by One Jerusalem and the Knesset Coalition for Jerusalem. The theme, of course, was keeping Jerusalem united. There were speakers from across the political spectrum, from National Union to Labor, all in favor of keeping Jerusalem united. Keynote speaker Binyamin Netanyahu (Likud) said: “… the people of Israel have already spilt an ocean of tears and blood, and it did not sacrifice its sons in biblical times or in modern times so that this government could surrender Jerusalem. We will not let that happen.”
See Rabbi Berel Wein’s commentary on Jerusalem.
Says Rabbi Wein: “There has never been a Jewish power in our history that contemplated willingly ceding Jerusalem or any part of it to others, especially to sworn enemies who denigrate our faith and question our right to exist.”
“The Talmud asks: ‘Why are the hot spring baths of Tiberias not located in Jerusalem? Why are the great and tasty fruits of the Ginossar area not grown in Jerusalem?’
“The Talmud responds: ‘So that no one should ascend to Jerusalem for the sweet fruits or for the hot baths. Rather, one ascends to Jerusalem for the sake of Jerusalem itself.'”
As one also honored to live in Jerusalem, I will vouch for that.
Olmert has now announced that the first negotiation meetings will deal only with procedural and logistic issues and that core issues will probably not be discussed until January.
The PA, responding to that hint about a possible major operation into Gaza that I reported on last night, has now said that if there is such an action, there will be no peace talks. This, of course, explains the delay. In a sense the PA has its back to the wall; they would be labelled traitors by Hamas if they supported an Israeli action. But their inability to support it does not mean we cannot and should not proceed. We have been backed into a situation that is more than ridiculous: to pursue “peace” we’re supposed to allow a terrorist army to be strengthened and our people to be bombarded with rockets.
I’ve predicted privately, and I’m hardly alone, that there would be something akin to a civil war if Olmert sent the army to move out the 120,000 residents of Judea & Samaria. They will not go quietly as the people of Gush Katif did.
We have some evidence of the spirit that is being aroused now by the doings of Annapolis with the establishment of SOS Israel, which is planning to erect a new, autonomous Jewish state in Judea & Samaria if Israel pulls out. Towards that end, the group hopes to set up a state-to-be, complete with a legal organization that unites the settlements, a flag and an anthem. This initiative, which is just being announced, would only be activated in the worst case scenario of an Israeli pullout. But, as Rabbi Shalom Dov Wolpe wrote, “Are we just going to stand aside like lambs to the slaughter while the malicious government destroys the lives of tens of thousands of Israeli families, as we did to our brothers in Gush Katif? Are we going to surrender to the ‘axis of evil’ in Jerusalem and help it turn 120 thousand Jews into refugees in their own land, hundreds of thriving communities into mere rubble?”
This stands as warning and begins to put the lie to notions of Israeli passivity in the face of impending disaster.
Posting: December 5, 2007
I begin by sharing the link to my latest article, which went up on Front Page Magazine yesterday. It provides documentation of ways in which the PA is demonstrating — via words and actions — that it is not moderate.
In fact, the PA is so much not a partner for peace that the whole very dangerous Annapolis process does seem other-worldly. Maariv has done an article — translated and summarized by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs — that provides some of that surreal evidence.
“Israel’s security services believe that if they were not making arrests in the West Bank every night, it is quite probable that Hamas would overcome Fatah there as it did so easily in Gaza. In practical terms, this means that, to a great extent, Fatah control in the West Bank is an optical illusion. Israel’s security services are concerned at clear signs of Hamas strengthening in the West Bank….
“[Hamas] forces are training and building bunkers in cities like Nablus and Kalkilya, while its activists plan attacks on Israeli civilian targets. Given this reality, is there any point in conducting negotiations with the heads of Fatah when the issue being discussed is the transfer of land that Fatah is unable to control without the continued presence of the IDF and the Israel Security Agency (Shabak). Of additional concern are the thousands of rifles and millions of bullets that were brought in from Jordan for the Palestinian police. In recent years, due to intensive IDF activity against weapons smuggling, the price of a bullet had risen to tens of shekels. It has now fallen drastically as ammunition from PA police warehouses finds its way into the hands of terrorists.”
Please note: “… ammunition from PA police warehouses finds its way into the hands of terrorists.”
This is the stuff of nightmares. And we have our so-called leaders to blame. What’s the point in conducting negotiations? There’s the rub, because we shouldn’t be conducting negotiations. THIS is the dangerous part. For the plan, as it’s shaping up, has at least two separate tracks. There is the “bilateral negotiation track” that “will keep the process alive and active.” With blinders on, the Israeli team will negotiate core issues and the presumed eventual parameters of a Palestinian state. This is what the parties are saying they hope to wind up by the end of 2008: on paper and signed, an agreement as to what the Palestinian state will look like.
At the same time, as a second track, there will be road map implementation — which means the PA dismantling terrorist infrastructure and Israel removing illegal settlements and stopping expansion. The US will decide when implementation has been done satisfactorily. That is, the US will decide if the PA has eliminated terrorism — and the person responsible for this, Gen. James Jones, is said to tilt to the Palestinians.
The road map was not supposed to take place this way. There was supposed to be compliance with the stipulated commitments in stage one before the parameters of a state were even discussed.
I am not speaking metaphorically when I say this gives me pains in my stomach. For, as I’ve explained numerous times, it’s clear as clear can be that if we were to agree on paper, sign on, to certain parameters for a Palestinian state, it would ultimately be shoved down our throat by the US and the world whether the PA had complied or not.
The PA — even if it had the will, which it does not — is not CAPABLE of eradicating terrorism. You see the evidence above. What Bush and Rice are saying to us is that it would have been nice if the PA could have eliminated terrorism, but it suits their distorted vision, their convoluted needs, to produce a Palestinian state, and they will do their best to see that there is one, everything else be damned.
Now, I hasten to qualify this dire perspective. We don’t know how the next few months will play out. Hamas could take Judea & Samaria, or, more likely, could strike agreement again for a unity government with Fatah (see below), in which case — as before — Hamas would call the shots. Then not only Olmert but also Bush and Rice would be hard put to maintain that we must support a “moderate” Fatah as a foil against Hamas. Negotiations could fail because at the end of the day Abbas — who has compromised on nothing and is not capable of compromise because Hamas is breathing down his neck — will demand more than Olmert is capable of giving if he is to retain his coalition.
But we don’t know what has been agreed behind closed doors; we have already agreed to negotiations that shouldn’t be happening and have ceded power to the US that should have been retained by us. And so, we must fight the good fight to the very best of our ability, without letting up.
Good friends, I receive so many messages that are comforting and let me know that there is support for us in the US. I know I’ve asked repeatedly that you communicate with elected officials. But I must ask, and do so again now. This time I ask that the president and your senators and congresspersons receive the paragraphs above in quotes about Fatah control of the West Bank being an optical illusion. Copy and paste it, and send via fax (which is better) or e-mail. Say that Rice’s plan is a threat to the existence of Israel, and that there should be absolutely NO negotiations on a Palestinian state until the PA is strong enough and has eliminated terrorism. Demand that Bush stop this horrendous plan. Ask your elected representatives to help.
Making noise this way works only if there are numbers. So, please, take the time to do this. And send this to everyone else you can think of who also might do this.
Use this material, as well, to write letters to the editor of your newspapers and talkbacks on blogs, and to do call-ins for talk shows. Broadcast the message.
President George Bush
The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Washington, DC 20500
You can find your Senators contact info. here: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
And your Congresspersons here: http://www.house.gov/house/MemberWWW.shtml
It has been announced that Bush will be visiting here the second week of January; Olmert arranged this when he was in the US for Annapolis. I’m picking up conflicting reports regarding whether Bush will also see Abbas, but I’d be surprised if he didn’t.
This is not good news, as it can only increase the pressure.
Almagor, an Israel organization that represents victims of terror, has released a study indicating that Palestinian terrorists released previously by Israel have been responsible for at least 30 terror attacks that have taken 177 Israeli lives. Eighty percent of prisoners released return to terror.
A sign of “peace and moderation”: The UN has apparently proposed a Middle East environmental training center. This seems to be the case, although I hadn’t read about it, because a Saudi official has said the Arabs reject it since it would include Israel.
Nothing, but nothing has changed.
“Arabs don’t need training from Israel,” he said. The joke is that the Arab world is beset by problems of desertification and Israel is the world leader on making the desert green. They could learn a great deal from us.
PA chief negotiator Ahmed Qurei has said that negotiations will be coordinated with Syria.
Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi recently said that the IDF was ready for a major operation in Gaza and what remained was the political decision. There had been the feeling that the operation was to occur after Annapolis, but so far it has not happened.
Defense Minister Barak paid a visit to the Gaza Division of the IDF this evening, accompanied by Ashkenazi, and there are hints that the operation, considered by the IDF to be inevitable, may be moving closer.
Continual delays suggest a caving of resolve at the political level that is not acceptable.
Hamas is making overtures to Fatah. Haniyeh is calling for “an unconditional dialogue to heal the Palestinian wounds.” Reportedly Saudi Arabia, which brokered the Mecca agreement, carried a message to Abbas, who is said to be holding out for Hamas to relinquish control of Gaza. Note, please, that he is NOT holding out for Hamas to recognize Israel and acknowledge previous agreements, so that negotiations can proceed on behalf of all Palestinians.
The IDF spokesman has announced that today armed gunmen in Bethlehem opened fire on members of the IDF during an operation. Some of the gunmen were later identified as Palestinian security personnel.
This is getting to be a habit, isn’t it?
Once again, let me close with lovely news. A dig in a parking lot right outside the Dung Gate (the gate that leads to the Kotel), done before the enlargement of the parking lot, has now revealed a major structure from Second Temple times; it has been dated by associated pottery and coins. Archeologist Doron Ben-Ami, who is heading the dig, says there is a high probability that it is the palace of Queen Helena, whose family built lavish buildings in the City of David (outside the present Old City walls), and who was known for generosity to the poor of Jerusalem. This finding indicates that the City of David was larger than had been thought.
What perspective this provides.
Posting: December 4, 2007
Tonight begins our Festival of Lights, Chanukah. And it occurs to me that this holiday has particular relevance for us this year.
Chanukah has several aspects:
There is the historical aspect, which sees the Maccabees fighting against forced assimilation. Thus are we reminded to stand proud as Jews, without seeking after what the world would have us be.
There is the miracle of the oil, which was sufficient for one day and yet burned for eight. The modern state of Israel is a miracle so much with us that sometimes we forget. We must not.
There is the re-dedication, as the Temple, cleaned from pagan impurities, was re-dedicated to service to G-d. So should we re-dedicate ourselves to keeping Israel strong and Jewish.
The current world situation demands of us the very best that we can give. It demands strength, commitment to our values and identity, and faith.
To all my Jewish friends I wish a very happy and bright Chanukah.
The news, such as it is, will wait until tomorrow.
Posting: December 3, 2007
“How Blatant Does It Have to Be?”
On November 19, Ido Zoldan, an Israeli father of two from the village of Shavei Shomron, was killed in a drive-by shooting. Quickly, Al Aksa Brigades, which is part of Abbas’s Fatah, took credit, saying it was an act of protest against Annapolis. Bad enough, as Abbas has declined to disarm the Brigades.
But it’s worse: It’s now been announced that everyone in the cell responsible for this murder has been arrested, and that they are members of the PA Security Forces. These are the forces that we’re supposed to be strengthening. (It was supposed to be some sort of comfort that they didn’t use official Security Force weapons.)
How can one respond to this? How do the members of the government hold their heads up, when they have dealings with such people? Have they no shame and no sense?
According to the Post, “[defense] officials said… the IDF expected the political echelon to rethink its policy of strengthening Abbas.”
Rethink its policy of strengthening Abbas? How about calling off negotiations because there is no one on the other side to be trusted? (Abbas is responsible for placing Al Aksa gunmen in the security forces.)
But that’s not going to happen. According to Arutz Sheva, when two of the three terrorists were first arrested by the IDF, the very day after the killing, their identities were determined. But it was not publicly revealed until after Annapolis so as not to upset matters.
This echoes a story I heard just today. I was at a lecture on Muslim Arab persecution of Christian Arabs. An American who works with the Christian Arabs got up and told a story about going to the US Consulate here in Jerusalem some years ago to provide information about this persecution. The woman he met with told him that they were aware of the persecution, “but President Clinton has invested so much effort in the peace process.” In other words, justice be damned, don’t rock the diplomatic boat.
It happened then, and it happens now. It happens with the US government, and with the Israeli government. Once there is a serious investment in a diplomatic process, it takes precedence over other matters and every effort is made to keep matters looking smooth. Obscene. But part of the reality we must contend with.
Meanwhile, on Friday the IDF caught youths at the Hawara checkpoint near Nablus (Shechem) with three bombs.
So, shall we proceed with removing checkpoints?
A “good faith” measure intended to bolster Abbas that took place today was the release of 429 prisoners — 408 to Judea and Samaria and 21 to Gaza. (Chief of Staff Ashkenazi had specifically objected to releasing prisoners from Gaza when Shalit is still held there.) All had committed security offenses and had been serving sentences of at least 10 years.
Apparently Abbas thinks he’s doing very well and is very confident of international support for his efforts towards “peace.” Never mind that I can’t name a single thing he’s done towards that goal. Later this month, nations and agencies that support the PA will be meeting in Paris. Abbas intends to ask them to double their current levels of giving. He wants $5.5 billion from 2008 – 2010.
Now get this: according to credible reports, PA Planning Minister Samir Abdullah says that this money will be spent not only in Judea and Samaria, but also in Gaza, controlled by Hamas.
Meanwhile, as had been predicted, there is talk now of reconciliation meetings being planned between Fatah and Hamas. I’m really fascinated to know what will transpire with regard to “the process” if Abbas signs on with Hamas again. Will this, too, be excused away?
A word on what has been a running theme here regarding Annapolis: The fact that negotiations are supposed to be structured so that we will be negotiating core issues before there has been compliance on dismantling terror represents a serious threat to us. David Bedein, who was at Annapolis, writes that Olmert essentially misrepresented this matter to the Cabinet yesterday when he said that Israel wouldn’t have to take steps towards the creation of a state until the terrorism is dismantled. In theory that may be so. But what Olmert failed to say is that we might be required to agree via negotiations to the parameters of that state while the terrorism is still extant. And once we’ve agreed in principle to the parameters, as they say, oi v’voi.
I was unsettled, as well, by a talk I heard last night from which I learned that diplomats in the US and Europe consider it a foregone conclusion that we will in the end be pulling back to pre-’67 lines.
We’ve got our work cut out for us.
Once again, good people in the US, I want to ask you to contact President Bush. This is with regard to the fact that the US — host to the Annapolis conference — tolerated apartheid on American soil in order to appease Saudi Arabia. When the Saudis demanded that the Israelis enter the main hall by an alternate door, the Americans should have told them that this is not the American way and that if they didn’t like it, they could stay outside. Instead, the American subverted American values and humiliated a key ally. This is what the US has fallen to?
A succinct and focused message is all that is required. Fax or phone call is most effective. Deluge him with outraged protest, for this IS an outrage.
President George Bush
The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Washington, DC 20500
White House Comment line: 202-456-1111 Fax: 202-456-2461
Please, also register protest with your own Senator and Congressperson.
You can find your Senator and contact info. here: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
And your Congressperson here: http://www.house.gov/house/MemberWWW.shtml
In 2001, Daniel Pipes wrote a piece on “The Muslim Claim to Jerusalem.” It is exceedingly relevant today. Pipes demonstrates powerfully the political rather than truly religious connection that Muslims have with Jerusalem:
“No foreign Arab leader came to Jerusalem during the nineteen years when Jordan controlled East Jerusalem… Perhaps most remarkable is that the PLO’s founding document, the Palestinian National Covenant of 1964, does not once mention Jerusalem…
“This neglect came to an abrupt end after June 1967, when the Old City came under Israeli control. Palestinians again made Jerusalem the centerpiece of their political program. The Dome of the Rock turned up in pictures everywhere, from Yasir Arafat’s office to the corner grocery. Slogans about Jerusalem proliferated and the city quickly became the single most emotional issue of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The PLO made up for its 1964 oversight by specifically mentioning Jerusalem in its 1968 constitution as ‘the seat of the Palestine Liberation Organization.’
“… Politics, not religious sensibility, has fueled the Muslim attachment to Jerusalem for nearly fourteen centuries… This pattern has three main implications. First, Jerusalem will never be more than a secondary city for Muslims… Second, the Muslim interest lies not so much in controlling Jerusalem as it does in denying control over the city to anyone else. Third, the Islamic connection to the city is weaker than the Jewish one because it arises as much from transitory and mundane considerations as from the immutable claims of faith.”
Posting: December 2, 2007
November 29, 1947 was the day that the UN General Assembly voted for Resolution 181, in favor of the petition of Palestine into two states — one for the Jews and one for the Arabs. The Jews accepted this proposal, the Arabs did not and declared war against Israel the day independence was declared in 1948.
Many myths and misconceptions surround these historical facts, and so today I would like to diverge from my normal format and take the opportunity to set the record straight.
First, it is imperative to note that resolutions of the General Assembly are only RECOMMENDATIONS and carry no weight in international law. This renders totally moot any notion that Israel’s founding depended on this resolution or that Israel is required to stay within the boundaries proposed by the resolution. And yet the day is marked by the Arabs as one of catastrophe, as it is presumed to have set in place the existence of Israel. It is actually something of a joke that Hamas now wants to petition the UN to repeal this resolution, which they imagine would remove Israel from the map. Poof!
What is NOT a joke is that the date is celebrated at the UN as a Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. (Needless to say, there is no day of solidarity with the Kurdish people or the people of Tibet, or any other people.)
There is a basis in international law for the existence of Israel AS A JEWISH STATE, and that is the Mandate for Palestine conferred upon Great Britain by the League of Nations in 1922.
That Mandate says in part:
“the Mandatory should be responsible for putting into effect the declaration [The Balfour Declaration] originally made on November 2nd, 1917, by the Government of His Britannic Majesty, and adopted by the said Powers, in favor of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people…
“… recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.
“… The Mandatory shall be responsible for placing the country under such political, administrative and economic conditions as will secure the establishment of the Jewish national home.
“… The Administration of Palestine [Great Britain]… shall facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions and shall encourage, in cooperation with the Jewish agency referred to in Article 4, close settlement by Jews on the land.”
This is historical reality. The intention of the Mandate was to prepare the Jewish homeland for ultimate independence. Nothing Hamas nor Mahmoud Abbas nor anyone else says changes this reality.
The Mandate included all of what is referred to as Palestine between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, as well as the Golan Heights for a short period before Britain traded it to France. The original territory also included what is today Jordan, which was then given by Britain to the Hashemite Prince Abdullah I. (The Hashemites were a Bedouin family that came out of the region of Saudi Arabia — the current king, Abdullah II, is from that line.)
Great Britain, however, never fulfilled the charge of its Mandate, and — contrary to its terms calling for immigration of Jews and their close settlement on the land –actually blocked Jewish entry into Palestine at the time of WWII.
Even prior to this, Britain had deferred heavily in its policies to the Arabs of the region, who were protesting Jewish presence. Bartley Crum, a member of the Anglo-American Commission of Inquiry on Palestine in 1945, wrote in 1947 in his book, Behind the Silken Curtain, that “I trust I will not shock the reader if I say that fully seventy percent of the British colonial officials whom I met in Palestine either were, at worst, openly anti-Semitic or, at best, completely unsympathetic and even resentful towards Jewish hopes in Palestine.”
After WWII, Britain let it be known that it was surrendering the Mandate and withdrawing from the area. The partition proposal of 1947 was an attempt to resolve the issue of Arab objections to a Jewish state in Palestine, and in fact was not the first such proposal. (The British Peel Commission made a similar proposal in 1937.)
In March 1948, David Ben Gurion, head of the Jewish Agency (established via the Mandate) declared that a provisional Jewish state had been established. When Britain pulled out on May 14, 1948, Israel declared independence and the League of Nations declared war on the new state. When the war was over in 1949, Armistice lines were established that extended somewhat beyond what was envisioned by the proposed Jewish state according to the Partition plan. But those Armistice lines were NOT final borders and it was even understood in the Armistice agreement with Jordan that the Armistice lines would not prejudice final borders.
And the area between the river and the sea that was not included within the Armistice lines? It was and still is legally Mandate land, as this has never been superseded in international law.
It’s ours, guys!
This is why the charge that we are occupiers is essentially fallacious. Gaza and Judea & Samaria are simply unclaimed Mandate land. We cannot “occupy” what was meant to be ours in the first place. “Occupation” takes place only when one sovereign state moves into the territory of another sovereign state. This is flatly not the case here.
When we acquired eastern Jerusalem in 1967, and were able to reunite Jerusalem as our capital, we subsequently applied Israeli civil law to this area. We did not “annex” it. Why? Because it was already legally ours and there was no need to annex it.
No Israeli government has yet had the courage to apply Israeli civil law to all of Judea & Samaria — although it has been applied to the Golan — but the same principle applies in these areas.
Just as we are not “occupiers” neither are the settlements illegal under international law.
If we decide to give this unclaimed Mandate land for other purposes, we can do so. But we have no obligation to do so. All this talk about our being “required” to return to the pre-’67 lines is essentially nonsense that has become an Arab litany repeated so consistently that it is believed widely.
I am consistently irked by the suggestion that the Palestinians have a “right” to a state in our land. There is no such right. What is more (and this can be dealt with in greater detail at another time), in the early years of Israel’s founding there was no talk at all of an independent state for Palestinian Arabs in Judea & Samaria and Gaza. Jordan controlled one and Egypt the other from 1949-1967. Neither Arab state made the slightest move to give the local Palestinian Arabs a state in these territories, nor did the local Arabs ever petition them to do so. The war between Arabs and Israel in 1948 involved states of the Arab League (many of which are still technically at war with Israel to this day). The Armistice agreements were between surrounding states and Israel, not Israel and local Palestinian Arabs. After the war in 1967, UN Resolution 242 referenced only surrounding states and their relationship with Israel. As late as that resolution in 1967, there was NO mention either of “Palestinians” or a “Palestinian state.”
These are fundamental facts. It is in the nature of a tragedy that this history, which provides context to our current situation, is not broadly spoken of by Jews. It is time for us to stop apologizing and to set the record straight. It is time to stand up proud and speak about our rights to the land.
The Palestinians have no entitlement to this land of ours. If they wish to share it, at a bare minimum, let them petition for it, showing good faith in their acts.
Please see this link for a series of maps:
And these links to articles by the late Eugene Rostow on the legality of settlements:
Eugene W. Rostow, US Undersecretary of State for political affairs between 1966 and 1969, played a leading role in producing Resolution 242.
Posting: December 1, 2007
Motzei Shabbat (after Shabbat)
“The Shame of It”
Bad enough that enemy of Israel Jimmy Carter libels us with charges of apartheid. Does our own prime minister have to join the chorus, even by implication?
Coming home from Annapolis, he gave an interview to Haaretz; it is being widely cited as saying that we run the risk of becoming an apartheid state. What he actually said was:
“If the day comes when the two-state solution collapses, and we face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights (i.e., for the Palestinians in the territories), then, as soon as that happens, the State of Israel is finished. ” The Jewish organizations, which were our power base in America, will be the first to come out against us because they will say they cannot support a state that does not support democracy and equal voting rights for all its residents.”
This is not quite a charge of apartheid (which involves full social separation and a great deal more than voting rights), but is too close for comfort with the reference to South Africa and the inference that is being drawn.
This is a sort of moral blackmail that Olmert is attempting, and it is outrageous: You have no choice, he is telling Israelis, except to support my “peace” efforts or we’re going to be vilified by the world for our policies.
My response here is two-fold. First, even if you believe that a two-state solution is ultimately the answer, it is possible to recognize that this is not the time to pursue that path because the PA doesn’t have its act together. There would be scant vilification from the Western world (and Jewish organizations!) if we handled ourselves properly and said, “we want fairness for all, but look… look at the evidence that the PA is supporting terrorism still, and that there is no civic society. We cannot in good conscience bring the Palestinian state into being under such circumstances — it will do the world no good if we assist in establishing a terrorist state.”
What kind of craziness is it, that we have to worry about Palestinian voting rights when they are seeking to destroy us still?
But instead, this is what Olmert said in that interview:
“… we now have a partner in Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. He is a weak partner, who is not capable, and, as Tony Blair says, has yet to formulate the tools and may not manage to do so.”
And yet, says Olmert, he has to try and will help Abbas. This creates incredible risk for Israel. Especially with the horrendous arrangements that have been made: establish a state in principle for the Palestinians and then wait for them to dismantle terror. And keep in mind that Israeli officials are already uneasy that the new US envoy, Gen. James Jones, has a reputation for being cold to Israel and is expected to lean on us to cut the PA slack.
Then it must be noted here for about the hundredth time, that there are other means of giving rights to the Palestinians without creating a Palestinian state. Models that are serious exist today, most notably Benny Elon’s Israel Initiative. More and more it is recognized that Jordan — which has a majority Palestinian population and was originally carved from the Mandate territory on which Britain was to establish a Jewish homeland — has a responsibility here. In 1949 when Jordan occupied Judea and Samaria, the Arabs living there were given Jordanian citizenship. In 1988, with the Intifada, Jordan revoked their citizenship and renounced any responsibility for the Arabs in Judea and Samaria. This was so they could do battle with Israel and make their claim to have their own independent state. (Hard to claim when they are Jordanian citizens.)
Well, the “Palestinian state” business didn’t pan out. The Palestinians have not established the civic infrastructure that is necessary for a state, have not developed their economy (in spite of mind-blowing handouts from the international community), and have not educated for peace. Time to rethink the situation. Whether we speak about federation of certain areas with Jordan, or autonomous Arab enclaves in Judea and Samaria, where there would be local elections and then national enfranchisement via Jordan, it becomes more and more obvious that Jordan must be involved.
Also most infuriating is the implication in Olmert’s stance that we need the Palestinians to have a state — that it’s in our best interest. This, too, is a horrendous negotiating stance. Abbas doesn’t have to make concessions, he’s helping us merely by agreeing to work on that state. Hey, we want them to have a state? We’d better give them what they think they need to establish it — half of Jerusalem, all of Judea and Samaria, etc. etc.
It should be the other way around, with the Palestinians petitioning us to give them something they want.
The issue of apartheid also raises its head in another context at this time. I had alluded the other day to the fact that the Saudis insisted they and the Israelis enter the main assembly room for the meeting in Annapolis via different doors. I referred to this in the context of the on-going hostility of the Saudis.
Caroline Glick, however, very properly carries this one step further: The separation of Jews from Arabs at the conference was an expression of the apartheid policies of Saudi Arabia. (Jews — and certainly people carrying Israeli passports — are not allowed into Saudi Arabia at all.) And, she says, it was the Americans who went along with this, refusing to let the Israelis enter via the same door.
Indeed the pitiful, pitiful shame of this, too. And Bush has the gall to speak about bringing democracy to the Middle East.
I reported recently that the US had put a resolution before the UN Security Council seeking support for the Annapolis proceedings without first running it by Israel, which was taken by surprise. Israel does not want UN involvement.
The US has now withdrawn its resolution, saying that Israel and the PA must first be consulted. Reportedly, PA officials were not happy about this, but the US began to realize what might be involved and thought better of it.
After meeting with Mubarak in Cairo today, Abbas made a statement to the press in which he reiterated his refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state: “From a historical perspective, there are two states: Israel and Palestine. In Israel, there are Jews and others living there. This we are willing to recognize, nothing else.”
Once again the apartheid issue is relevant: Pray tell, who else besides Arabs would live in the Palestinian state as projected? Please note that while Israel is expected to make room for Arabs, no one expects the Palestinian state to incorporate a minority Jewish population.
Uri Orbach, writing in YNet has it right when he says the Arabs want two states for one people. “They don’t think the Jewish people deserves its own state. They are generous enough to accept one state that would be designated for Palestinians only, and another state that would be designated for the ‘Israeli people.’
” The Israeli people will bring together Jews, Muslims, and members of various other religions; a state and a half for one people, and half a state for the other people.”
Let’s do role reversal, he suggests. We’ll keep Israel for the Jewish people only, then let’s have a second state, but it wouldn’t only be for Arabs, we’d have the right of return for Jews to places like Gush Katif. As tongue-in-cheek as this is, let me tell you that the Jewish residents of Gush Katif lived there perhaps 10 or 15 times longer than many of the so-called refugees claiming return ever lived in Israel.
And let me digress just a bit to point out that Abbas has it absolutely wrong. From a historical perspective there are NOT two states. Only Israel. For 3,000 years there has never been any autonomous nation or state in this territory except for the Jewish state. There has NEVER BEEN a Palestinian state.
This is the sort of deliberate distortion that the Palestinians routinely repeat in the expectation that the lies will be accepted at face value. Unless we vigorously challenge them, they become absorbed into public consciousness.
Posting: November 30, 2007
The early advent of Shabbat makes possible for me today only the very briefest of postings, but I wanted to touch on key matters, with follow-up later as appropriate.
Khaled Abu Toameh of the Post has reported that a key PA official has told him that if and when Israel invades Gaza, “Fatah won’t remain idle…We will definitely fight together with Hamas against the Israeli army. It’s our duty to defend our people against the occupiers…The homeland is more important than all our differences.”
For Abbas to side with Israel in this instance would render him a traitor in the current political climate. But this provides a brief snapshot of what the “peace process” really looks like.
Israeli defense officials have expressed concern that the newly appointed envoy for the US on Palestinian security matters is going to lean on Israel to go easy.
The scuttlebutt I’m picking up is that Bush does not want to micro-manage the “process.” This is good news as it cuts further pressure, although I’m not clear how much managing Rice intends to try to do.
What is unsettling is that the US has submitted to the UN Security Council a proposal supporting the agreements reached at Annapolis without first running this past Israel. Dan Gillerman, Israeli Ambassador to the UN, was left in the dark. The hope is that what will emerge is a proclamation of some sort and not a formal resolution, which would involve UN nations more closely in the process and further squeeze Israel.
A story has come out (World News Daily) saying that a Palestinian negotiator claims Olmert lied when he said that the Temple Mount is not negotiable, because he already promised it to the PA in arrangement with Jordan and Egypt. Several people have sent me this news release. My response is that it may be so, but I do not know without further confirmation. I have observed a propensity on the part of Palestinians to “leak” information that is not quite accurate, for their own purposes. Maybe Olmert discussed this with them but never promised. Maybe he did promise and is lying now (certainly a possibility). Maybe he is backtracking because he can only retain his coalition this way.
As to politics:
The police have, bewilderingly and infuriatingly, recommended that charges against Olmert in the Bank Leumi affair be dropped. There will be much more to say about this situation, which has generated considerable anger.
Barak, head of Labor, who promised to pull his party out of the coalition after the Winograd Report is released is now backtracking because of the “peace process.” Word is that Shas is moving closer to pulling out but that Lieberman is not.
Yesterday was November 29, the anniversary of the day on which the UN originally voted partition of Palestine in 1947. I didn’t want to let this pass without mention, but what I want to do is devote considerable commentary to this because of the multiple misunderstandings surrounding it.
Posting: November 29, 2007
It would be a stretch of some proportions to say I am now happy with Olmert, but I am decidedly less unhappy. Yesterday he had a meeting with Bush, after which he met with the press. And then he said a number of things that should properly have been said at the conference itself, when the whole world was listening and Abbas was recounting all the concessions they must have from Israel.
First, the Temple Mount is not negotiable. Well, mazel tov! Of course it’s not negotiable, but nice to have our prime minister on board here. The unfortunate part is that I have no confidence that what he said yesterday will apply the day after tomorrow, but it may be that he feels he must stand on this in order to keep his coalition. And the fact is that without the Temple Mount the Palestinians definitely won’t settle.
Then he said that while Israel will try to meet the goal of completing negotiations by the end of 2008, Israel was not committed to that deadline.
Olmert also emphasized that the agreement would not be implemented until all requirements under the roadmap regarding dismantling of terror infrastructure — in Judea and Samaria and Gaza alike — are fulfilled. This is both reassuring and unsettling at the same time. Good to know that he won’t proceed until terrorism is taken out, which means never if the assessment is honest. But, there is the question of whether that assessment will be honest. And yet another question leaps out at me once again. He says the agreement won’t be “implemented.” This implies that — instead of going step by step according to the road map — Israel will go ahead and negotiate that state (step 3), and then hold tight and delay implementation until terrorism is defeated (step 1). This would put us in a position of being heavily pressured to let the Palestinians prematurely have the state that had been negotiated.
Olmert also said, “We do not need to lose proportion here. This was not something meant to change history.” What a difference from the inflated rhetoric he used prior to the conference. This attempt to diminish expectations tells us that he is very unsure that anything good will come of this.
Rice has appointed the special US envoy who will be monitoring compliance according to the stipulations of the road map: former NATO Supreme Allied Commander in Europe Gen. James Jones to monitor. A general schooled in diplomacy, he will be judging the crackdown on terrorists by the PA and the freezing of settlement activity by Israel, and reporting to Rice.
Remember Livni’s statements regarding how the Arabs were coming to Annapolis to support the process, which involved safeguarding Israel’s security? It was ridiculous on the face of it, but look how it played out: the Saudi foreign minister not only refused to shake hands with Olmert, he also insisted that the Saudis enter by a different door from the Israelis. What is more, of the representatives of 15 members of the Arab League with whom Livni hoped to have some contact, only Jordan, which has a full treaty with us, was willing.
The Arab states attending were Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen. Additionally the Muslim states of Turkey, Indonesia, Pakistan and Malaysia were present.
Dutch European Affairs Minister Frans Timmermans made the observation that they “shun her like she is Count Dracula’s younger sister.”
Clearly, there is no warming of attitude, no willingness yet to embrace Israel as part of the Middle East. This is where the true problem lies.
Yesterday two Kassams and 20 mortars were fired at Israel from Gaza.
So lovely to be able to report good news: A wall from the time of Nehemiah, 2,500 years ago, has been discovered in the City of David, outside of the walls of the Old City. This was announced by Dr. Eilat Mazar, the archeologist who recently uncovered what is now presumed to be remnants of David’s palace, on the same site. Dating of the wall was made possible because of the wealth of pottery and artifacts found in conjunction with it. “This find opens a new chapter in the history of Jerusalem,” Mazar said. “Until now, we have never had such an archeological wealth of finds from Nehemiah’s period.”
As we are able to see our biblical history coming alive, we are provided with a perspective that is solid and reassuring. The dig is being underwritten by the Shalem Center and the City of David Foundation.
The movement of Ne’emanei Eretz Israel (perhaps best translated as the faithful to the land of Israel) announced today that it plans to establish three new outposts in Judea and Samaria during Chanukah.
“The gravest thing about the Annapolis peace conference is Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s barefaced talk of a Palestinian state. This is our answer to the prime minister’s plan…,” said Daniella Weiss, a key figure in the movement.
And I say bravo to them. I analyze and discuss security issues and diplomatic issues, but I make no secret of the fact that I believe this land is ours and that there are ways to do justice to the Palestinian Arabs without giving them a state. Our people have, perhaps, been pushed too far now, with a prime minister willing to tamper with our heritage and make outrageous statements regarding the fact that Jerusalem is not a Jewish issue. He sits gladly with the murderers of Jews who would destroy us even now, offering to give them more and more.
Hazak hazak (be strong!), may the people who care about our land give hope to all.
Posting: November 28,2007
In Annapolis yesterday, President Bush read a joint statement on behalf of Olmert and Abbas. This was a last minute statement that was made possible because it simply didn’t mention the core issues that had caused so much dissention between the parties.
It says that the parties “agree to engage in vigorous, ongoing and continuous negotiations, and shall make every effort to conclude an agreement before the end of 2008.”
The deadline of the end of 2008 — theoretically designed to bring culmination before Bush’s term ends — is not binding, but a goal to aim towards, although undoubtedly there would be pressure applied.
Olmert and Abbas will first meet on December 12, and every two weeks thereafter; a steering committee will work “continuously” to develop a work plan. The goal is “two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.” To that end, there will be a peace treaty that “will resolve all outstanding issues, including core issues without exception.”
The parties will immediately begin to implement their respective obligations under the road map and will continue to do so until the treaty is achieved. An American, Palestinian and Israeli mechanism will be set up to monitor implementation, and the United States will serve as the judge of whether commitments under the road map have been fulfilled.
How bad is this?
I understand that Abbas (as his predecessor Arafat did during Oslo) balked at the last moment and had to be coerced by Rice — the queen of the coercers — into agreeing to this joint statement. Ali Waked, reporting from Ramallah for YNet says that the Palestinians think that Israel came out ahead. They are disgruntled because there is no mention in this agreement of Israeli withdrawal to pre-’67 lines, or to eastern Jerusalem as the future capital of a Palestinian state, or to the “return” of refugees to Israel.
But the reverse is also true. There is no written acknowledgement of Israel as a Jewish state (thus the door is potentially open for refugee “return”). There is no assurance of Israel’s right to retain major settlement blocs. There is no reference to Jerusalem as the eternal undivided capital of Israel.
It’s all wide open.
It is of particular and serious concern is that the US will decide when the Palestinians have met their road map obligations regarding the elimination of terrorist infrastructure. Actually, this is terrifying. Because the PA security apparatus is NOT going to eliminate terrorist infrastructure. They have never ever made a serious effort in this regard, and with Hamas breathing down their necks and Abbas weaker than ever, they are certainly not going to do so now.
But every so often they make a show of it. They arrested some Hamas people in Judea and Samaria –and never prosecuted any and have since let most go.
So what happens if the US — as arbiter of fulfillment of commitments under the road map — decides that the show is sufficient and permits itself to be taken in by the surface appearance? What if the US — so eager to show results before Bush retires — cuts the PA slack for the millionth time? What if our security people know it’s not safe to move on to the next stage (which would involve our withdrawal), even though the US says it is?
Under this formula we have relinquished our right to protect ourselves.
There is unease with regard to proceeding according to the road map for yet another reason. There has been a great deal of talk about jumping to stage 3 — formation of a permanent Palestinian state, even while stage 1 — which requires the elimination of terrorism — is not complete. There’s been some convoluted notion that the state that would be negotiated would serve as incentive and would not be actualized until stage 1 was fulfilled. I have addressed the dangers implicit in this before.
What I see here is that the stages of the road map are not addressed and it is not all together clear that the described process will require completion of stage 1, and then stage 2, before stage 3 is even reached.
What particularly irritated me was the statement in the declaration that reeked of moral equivalency: “we express our determination… to confront terrorism and incitement, whether committed by Palestinians or Israelis.”
Excuse me! Our defensive measures — including selective killing of terrorists — are NOT terrorism. We are defending against terrorism. And incitement? The incitement of the PA is outrageous and nothing of this sort exists within Israeli society. Take a look at Palestinian Media Watch which documents that just today PA TV ran a map that erases Israel. http://pmw.org.il/bulletins_nov2007.htm#b281107
Such studied even-handedness on the part of Bush does not augur well for the US role in this matter.
Actually, I look at this whole preliminary agreement and I want to say to Bush, “You’ve got to be kidding! This is a joke, right?” Although a joke that is no longer funny because it now has potential consequences. The PA simply is not in a place to see through its commitments and it’s lunacy to pretend that it can. There is no way in the world that Abbas could possibly get his act together (even assuming he wants to) in just over a year. He doesn’t even control all of Judea and Samaria, and from what I’m reading there has been anti-Annapolis unrest there that has made his standing even weaker. People are unhappy because he wasn’t victorious — with promises on all those core issues and the US squeezing Israel hard. Abbas has won nothing with his participation in this show.
As to incitement — it would take years to redo those textbooks that have no maps of Israel and praise jihad.
Bush in his statement at Annapolis, in which he introduced the joint declaration, spoke of an “historic opportunity to encourage the expansion of freedom and peace in the holy land.
“We meet to lay the foundation for the establishment of a new nation, a democratic Palestinian state that will live side by side with Israel in peace and security.”
If he really believes this he is so far out of touch with reality as to require professional help. The fact that the PA had elections does not make it a “democratic” entity; it is very very far removed from the liberal principles such as protection of human rights, freedom of speech, freedom of press and equal rights under the law that are concomitant with true democracies. The PA is a corrupt, terror-ridden, violence-worshiping, grossly ineffectual entity that sure is not about to metamorphise into something else in 13 months.
And, let us not forget, there is still the issue of Gaza, which everyone has agreed must be an integral part of a Palestinian state. How is Abbas to accomplish this? What makes anyone think it’s possible? (An interesting note: Abbas is referred to as head of the PLO, which nominally gives him authority to negotiate for all Palestinians. But there is no reference to Gaza at all, which is a serious omission.)
I read one commentary that suggested that the way to deal with Gaza is by having the IDF go in and weaken Hamas for Abbas. But Khaled Abu Toameh vociferously disagrees. He describes the thousands who marched in Gaza City on Tuesday, chanting “We will never recognize Israel.”
Said Abu Toameh, “The Annapolis conference may have improved relations between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators, but it has also deepened divisions among the Palestinians. The negotiations that are expected to take place after the Annapolis meeting will only aggravate the crisis on the Palestinian arena, making it harder for Abbas to even consider the possibility of returning to the Gaza Strip.”
As to Abbas relying on the IDF in Gaza, Abu Toameh explains:
“The last thing Abbas would want is to return to the Gaza Strip with the help of the IDF. Such a move would only damage his credibility and turn many Arabs and Muslims against him. ‘Abbas would be a fool to return to the Gaza Strip aboard an Israeli tank,’ remarked a Hamas official in the West Bank. ‘Any Palestinian who enters the Gaza Strip with Israel’s assistance will be treated as an enemy.’
“History has shown that Palestinians who were empowered by Israel did not last for long in power. The best example is the Village Leagues, a group that was established in the West Bank after Israel dismissed most of the elected pro-PLO mayors in the early 1980s.
“The heads and members of the Village Leagues were quickly condemned as traitors by their own people and some of them were assassinated.”
With all the hoopla, then, Bush has simply made it harder for the “moderate” Abbas and diminished the possibility of resolving the Gaza issue.
Yet another factor that is deeply disturbing is the difference in the stances of Abbas and Olmert.
Abbas made a statement saying that they “must” have east Jerusalem as their capital. Actually, he said, there must be an end to “occupation of all Palestinian lands since 1967, including East Jerusalem, as well as the Syrian Golan and occupied Lebanese territory.
“We need East Jerusalem to be our capital, and to establish open relations with West Jerusalem,”
As I’ve noted repeatedly, there are no concessions on the PA side.
But Olmert? He’s standing on his head to show how much he’s willing to sacrifice, and Livni is just one step behind him. Said he, “We are ready for painful concessions… I have no doubt that the reality that was formed in our region in 1967 will change in a most significant manner. I know this, and we are ready for it.”
We? Speak for yourself, Ehud. He does not have a mandate to do this.
Besides which, it is the very worst of negotiating stances. I’ve read that some Palestinians, observing Olmert’s eagerness, have concluded that it’s best to stall on finalizing negotiations. If they want to bring matters to closure, they might be expected to compromise somehow, but if they act reluctant, Olmert will keep on offering more.
How much easier we could rest if we had someone strong for our side at the head of our state. He made no demands in his speech, other than the need for peace. No talk of Jewish Jerusalem or our sacred heritage.
(See Moshe Sharon on the matter of negotiations with the Arabs at
I know that Olmert typically does not keep his word, but I am particularly incensed by his failure to do so with regard to the Palestinians recognizing Israel as a Jewish state.
He couldn’t ha