|Israel Resource Review
||6th December, 2007
Senior Research Policy Analyst, Center for Near East Policy Research
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 http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1159193413129&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FPrinter)
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 have been clearer just a little over two weeks ago, when he said that unless the Palestinians recognize Israel as "a Jewish state" there would be no talks at Annapolis: "I do not intend to compromise in any way over the issue of the Jewish state. This will be a condition for our recognition of a Palestinian state."
Just one day later he referred to "recognition of Israel as a state for the Jewish people" as the "launching point for all negotiations. We won't have an argument with anyone in the world over the fact that Israel is a state of the Jewish people."
And now, such recognition has not been forthcoming and he has proceeded anyway.
He must be called on this.
Obviously there will be a great deal more to say, but this suffices for today. As I often comment, this is a situation that has to be watched. Who knows? Olmert might actually be indicted for corruption, causing him to leave office. Abbas might be taken down in Judea and Samaria by Hamas. The PA might stonewall so totally, insisting they want it all, that negotiations muddle on with nothing happening. The US might get honest enough to admit it when the PA does not meet its obligation to dismantle terror infrastructure.
Maybe it will fizzle before too much damage is done . . .
Posting: November 27, 2007
For the uninitiated: vaudeville is an old-time stage show in the US, which featured songs and dances, juggling, and slapstick (a physical comedy with collisions, chases and such).
This, my friends, is what Annapolis is , if you consider it closely and don't take it too seriously.
Last night, a dinner was held for participants at the State Department. Bush told those assembled that in order to reach their goal "tough compromises" would be necessary. And I ask myself, exactly what compromises have the Palestinians made and what compromises are they likely to make.
The answer on both scores, of course, is 'none.' They're much better at making demands than making compromises.
In fact, I'm now reading that some in Bush's administration doubt that the Palestinians are ready to make the necessary concessions. Good morning! Where were you guys when Annapolis was planned? This has been apparent from the get-go. How could you have been foolish enough to proceed in light of what has been obvious?
Olmert is quoted as having said, "We and the Palestinians will sit together in Jerusalem [after the conference ends] and work out something that will be very good. We definitely will have to sit down very soon."
"We will definitely have to sit down very soon." Did he say that? It sounds exactly like the way an acquaintance speaks when she says, "We'll have to do lunch sometime soon," and means not a word of it.
And would you believe they're still working on that joint document? The main obstacles are Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state (which refusal should the sound a death knell with regard to future negotiations!), Palestinian insistence on a timetable for establishing a Palestinian state, and Palestinian efforts to include the phrase "ending the occupation that started in 1967" (which would obligate us to return to the '49 armistice lines).
And then there's this, which is the real vaudeville part of the situation:
PA negotiator Saeb Erekat has told The Jerusalem Post, "Gaza is a big problem for us. We know that a Palestinian state cannot be created [with] Gaza being separate from the West Bank, east Jerusalem. A single territorial agreement, that's the way that a Palestinian state will be established."
A White House spokeswoman, Dana Periono, agreed: "There will only be one Palestinian state, and it's going to be difficult work. It's going to take some time for the Palestinians to work through the situation with Hamas right now. They're under obligation to do that."
Just how they are going to accomplish this , with Hamas entrenched in Gaza, was not made clear. Erekat talks vaguely about a referendum, but keep in mind that Hamas has said clearly that they will not accept any agreements made as a result of Annapolis. And if there should be a unity government re-established, it would play by Hamas's rules.
And so the question has to be asked: What fools imagined that this is the right time for negotiations, when a divided Palestinian situation exists? Does not even a modicum of logic dictate that it would have been wise to wait until the Palestinians had their act together as a nationalist unit (which I predict will never happen) before trying to establish a Palestinian state? (Hint: without that nationalist unit there is no basis for a state.)
The answer, with regard to the fools, is this: Proper timing for optimum results on behalf of the Palestinians is not the first order of concern for the Bush administration. This is transparent. So transparent they should be ashamed of themselves. Their first concerns are the ones listed here the other day (take your choice): putting together the "moderate" Arab coalition against Iran, securing their own legacies, gaining public approval.
Then we have the analysis of Khaled Abu Toameh. Says he:
"Headed by Palestinian Authority Presi dent Mahmoud Abbas, the delegation consists of several senior officials who, for the past 14 years, have been conducting failed negotiations with Israel."
This makes the Palestinian people very dubious about any achievement now. Abbas and Qurei were key in Oslo negotiations, which the Palestinians see as a huge failure.
Abu Toameh reminds me here of something I know about but have not alluded to recently: During the Camp David negotiations Abbas dissuaded Arafat from making compromises. In fact, I have a lovely quote, that I've used from time to time, from that old leftist Yossi Beilin, who said that Abbas's positions were more extreme than Arafat's, since he "was among Arafat's 'restrictors' during the Camp David Summit."
So . . . picture this: Bush is addressing the very Palestinians who have failed at negotiations in the past and have a history of being rigid and refusing to compromise, and he tells them that "tough compromises" will be necessary. What is more, because Hamas is now breathing down their necks (more on this below), they actually have far less latitude for compromising than they did during Camp David.
Definitely vaudeville. If Bush weren't playing with the rights and security of Israel, it would be very very funny indeed.
PA officials are actually very much afraid of a Hamas takeover in Judea and Samaria. Makes a nice backdrop to "peace negotiations," does it not? Hamas has been threatening this for some weeks and there is concern that they will use anti-Annapolis rallies as focal points for garnering support and provoking riots. Thus PA security violently broke up a rally yesterday.
Additional news is that the IDF has arrested some Fatah operatives who are suspected of serving as secret Hamas agents and helping to build a military infrastructure for Hamas in the area of Ramallah.
As there is a seven hour time lag regarding happenings in Annapolis, I will not attempt to cover or analyze the day's events here. The postmortem will have to wait until tomorrow and following.
What can be said at present is that in principle , as announced by Bush, Israel and the PA are to start bi-weekly negotiations in December (presumably to be completed before he leaves office), and Abbas said that a Palestinian state must have east Jerusalem as its capital. We'll see how far this goes, but we know we will have our work cut out for us. Olmert is on very shaky ground domestically and his government must be brought down.
There is a conference, intended to counter the mind frame engendered by Annapolis, being held today by a group called the New Jewish Congress. It is examining issues such as the national and international legal status of the Temple Mount and seeking to strengthen Jewish rights at every juncture; Adin Steinzaltz is probably its most well known participant.
Rabbi Shlomo Wolpe, at this gathering , has called for a "declaration of Jewish independence" if Olmert tries to cede Judea and Samaria.
That this is a right wing group is unquestionably the case. But its positions reflect the strong inner sense of outrage felt by many today because of what Olmert is seeking to do, and what it proposes is not so much "far out" as simply necessary in these dangerous times. I do not know if there would be a declaration of Jewish independence if Olmert tried to move out 80,000 residents of Judea and Samaria, but I believe there would be something akin to a civil war. They would not go quietly, nor would others stand passively by and let this happen. There has been a declaration circulating widely by e-mail here in Israel stating that Olmert has no mandate from the people for what he is attempting to do and that the people will not consider themselves bound by what he commits to.
Return to the issue of Beit Hashalom in Hevron . I have just spoken with David Wilder, spokesman for the Hevron community, who tells me the following:
A letter was received about 10 days ago from the State Prosecutor's office saying that it was supporting eviction of the residents of Beit Hashalom. The basis for the eviction was a law that says if residents are in a place for less than 30 days and questions of the legality of their being in that place arise (in this case the ownership of the building), they can be evicted while the issue is investigated. (After 30 days, investigation proceeds while they remain in residence.)
There are two major problems with this . One is that it is not less than 30 days since the residents moved into Beit Hashalom, it is about seven months. The official argument is that the Arab who claims it is still his building registered his complaint less than 30 days after they moved in, and that the clock stopped then. This is being legally challenged.
The second problem is that the Prosecutor's letter states no reason why the legality of the purchase needs to be further investigated. If it said that, for example, clause 3 of such and such a document that the Jewish residents submitted as evidence of their ownership is questionable, then there would be something for the Hevron community to respond to. It's more difficult to respond when no focus for the investigation is cited. The community legally has 15 days to appeal the eviction and a lawyer letter has been sent demanding clarification of the basis for the proposed eviction so that there is something specific to appeal.
It is worth mentioning that the Arab who says it is still his building was filmed receiving the purchase money from representatives of the Jewish community. He claims he later returned the money (likely a life-saving statement so that fellow Arabs would not kill him) but there is no documentation for this.
The truly painful and sad part of this is that David and the community don't have confidence in the process of law -- they are not certain that if they can prove the legality of the Jewish purchase of this building that it will insure that the residents can remain, or return. There is, rather, the sense that the government will find a way to advance its political agenda.
David tells me that he has it on good authority (and I had heard this elsewhere as well) that Olmert orally promised the Palestinians within the framework of Annapolis that the removal of the residents of Beit Shalom would be taken care of. This position is strengthened by the way the government has acted: If the Arab made his complaint less than 30 days after Jews moved into the building, why was the eviction notice just sent out now?
This then is what I wish every single reader to understand : There are issues here that transcend the right of these particular residents to live in a building that was legally purchased. There is, first, the right of Jews to live in Hevron, the holiest of Jewish cities after Jerusalem, within an area that was specified by Oslo as Israeli controlled area. And there is the issue of fair treatment under the law. As it is, settlers (voting, tax-paying citizens) repeatedly find the cards stacked against them -- and for the Palestinians -- in dealings with the government. A nominally Jewish government with a particular political agenda.
I want every reader to understand why talk of a "declaration of Jewish independence" makes some sense in the face of this. To be undone by one's own government is in this and similar instances unbearable beyond words. Despicable. Shameful.
Contemplate 2,000 years of exile of the Jewish people, who have returned and now find themselves threatened and diminished by fellow Jews who presume to govern them. It is beyond words.
Let's end on a good note. Congressman Eric Cantor (R-VA) came to Jerusalem on Sunday to participate in a rally on behalf of Jerusalem. He's one of the best friends we have in Congress. See his talk at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mbySC4heMSo
And while you're at it, contact him. It doesn't pay to only complain. Our friends need to know we appreciate them. Couldn't locate an e-mail for him, but you can phone at 202-225-2815 or fax at 202-225-0011.
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Bush To Make Visit To Israel
David Bedein, correspondent, Philadelphia Bulletin, www.thebulletin.us
Printed: December 5th, 2007 in the Philadelphia Bulletn
Accessible at: http://tinyurl.com/297u32
Jerusalem - It was announced last night that United States President George W. Bush will make his first official visit - while in office - to Israel and the Palestinian Authority in January.
This visit will be Mr. Bush's first visit to Israel since he took office seven years ago. Mr. Bush visited Israel in 1998 when he was governor of Texas, when he was accompanied by then Israeli Foreign Minister Ariel Sharon.
Mr. Bush's visit will come a little more than a month after the Annapolis Middle East Summit, where Mr. Bush declared that that he wanted to see the creation of a Palestinian state by the end of 2008 - the last year of his presidency.
Sources close to the president indicate Mr. Bush will want to gain a first hand impression of the immediate developments in this nascent Palestinian state, since the creation of the 23rd Arab state in the Arab world, would represent the legacy of President Bush.
When a president convenes international conferences near Washington, he can only review the pomp and circumstances of the public relations professionals the Palestinians parade in front of him.
Now that Bush has invested the prestige and policy of the White House behind the sponsorship of
Machmud Abbas and the Fatah as the leaders of the emerging Palestinian state, a hands-on visit may present Mr. Bush with a hands-on view of what Palestinian sovereignty means.
Some surprises may be in store for Mr. Bush: The question will be how he reacts to each of them.
1. . Abbas continues to reject the notion of a 'Jewish state'
[ At the Annapolis Middle East Summit, Bush asked that Arab states - especially the Palestinian Authority - recognize Israel as a Jewish state]
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday reiterated his rejection of Israel's demand to recognize it 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," Abbas told reporters before leaving for Saudi
Arabia where he met Saudi King Abdullah for talks on the results of the Annapolis conference.
Will Bush insist that Abbas recognize Israel as a Jewish State?
2. Abbas' West Bank Rule an Optical Illusion
Mr. Bush has made it a matter of policy to hand over control of Judea and Samaria, described in the media as the "west Bank" of the Jordan River to Machmud Abbas, AKA Abu Mazen together with the Fatah organization that operates under his leadership ]
However, the respected Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, a think tank run by the American born former Israeli ambassador to the US, Dr. Dore Gold, has just issued a research study which documents that " 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", and that "Israel has been unable to block the large flow of Hamas money to its welfare institutions, which function much better than the failed PA institutions". The study also says "Hamas is building up its military capabilities in the West Bank. Its forces are training and building bunkers in cities like Nablus and Kalkilya, while its activists plan attacks on Israeli civilian targets . . . . Of additional concern are the thousands of rifles and millions of bullets that were brought in from Jordan for the Palestinian police . . . . It has now fallen drastically as ammunition from PA police warehouses finds its way into the hands of terrorists"
Will Mr. Bush to reconsider his policy of handing over this area to the control of Abbas and the Fatah?
3. Perscution of Christians in the Palestinian Authority may lead to their ouster
Almost unnoticed, the Palestinian Authority has fostered a new constitution, funded in part by US AID, which the former Vatican Ambassador to Israel, Archbishop Pietro Sambi, described to this reporter as "denying juridical status to Judaism and to Christianity in a Palestinian entity." The current situation of the Christians in the Palestinian Authority reflects that reality.
"The systematic persecution of Christian Arabs living in Palestinian areas is being met with nearly total silence by the international community, human rights activists, the media and NGOs," notes Justus Reid Weiner, an international human rights lawyer in an address at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, citing Muslim harassment and persecution as the main cause of the "acute human rights crisis" facing Christian Arabs, and predicted that unless governments or institutions step in to remedy the situation - such as with job opportunities - there will be no more Christian communities living in
the Palestinians territories within 15 years, with only a few Western Christians and top clergymen left in the area . . . . "In a society where Arab Christians have no voice and no protection it is no surprise that they are leaving . . . ," he said.
The Palestinian Christian population has dipped to 1.5 percent of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, down from at least 15% a half century ago.
No one city in the Holy Land is more indicative of the great exodus of Christians than Bethlehem, which fell under full Palestinian control in the last decade as part of the Oslo Accords. The town of 30,000 is now less than 20% Christian, after decades when Christians were the majority.
Will President Bush plead the case of Palestinian persecution of Christians with Abbas?
4. Report: Palestinians released in previous gestures killed 177 Israelis
[The US has placed ample pressure to release Palestinians convicted as accomplices in capital offenses.
Palestinian convicts, freed in past releases by Israel, were responsible for at least 30 terror attacks which claimed the lives of 177 Israelis, according to a study published yesterday by the Almagor, an organization representing the victims of Palestinian terrorism.
The report's publication coincided with this week's release of 429 Palestinian convicts jailed in Israeli prisons.
According to the report, 6,912 convicts were released between the years 1993 and 1999, and nearly 80 percent of them returned to terrorist activity
In light of this report, will Bush reverse pressures on Israel to release more Palestinian convicts? .
5. PA holds cop who murdered Israeli in protective custody
A fundamental policy of the Bush Administration is that the US and Israel must arm Palestinian security forces in Northern Samaria.
However, Israeli Defense Forces have confirmed the three terrorists who murdered Ido Zoldan, father of two little children, in a drive by shooting on November 19th, were Palestinian Police who used the attack weapons that had been transferred to the Authority by the US government.
Abdullah Baram and his brother Dafar, residents of the Palestinian village of Kfar Kadum in the Nablus area were detained the night after the murder near their village. They admitted planning the
attack on Zoldan
They identified their commander, who is also a Palestinian policeman, Fadi
Jama. The two said they hid the weapons that
they had used in the attack. Jama is now held by PA police.
Will Bush insist that Fadi Jama be handed over to Israel to stand trial for murder?
6. 'Fatah, Hamas may join ranks'
[The Bush premise is that the US must arm Fatah to fight Hamas]
Khaled Abu Toameh writing on November 29th in the Jerusalem Post, confirmed Fatah has made a policy declaration it will fight alongside Hamas if and when the IDF launches a military operation in the Gaza Strip, a senior Fatah official in Gaza City said last Thursday.
"Fatah won't remain idle in the face of an Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip," the official said. "We will definitely fight together with Hamas against the Israeli army. It's our duty to defend our people against the
The Fatah official said his faction would place political differences aside and form a joint front against Israel if the IDF enters the Gaza Strip. "The homeland is more important than all our differences," he said.
Will Bush insist that Fatah cease any and all cooperation with the Hamas?
7. Al Aksa helps increased rocket and mortar fire from Gaza into Israel over past month
During the month of November, the Al Aksa Brigades of the Fatah again joined forces with the Islamic Jihad to Palestinians and fired over 300 shells at Israeli communities in the Western Negev
Will Bush issue a clear directive to Fatah to cease and desist from shelling the Western Negev.?
8. Al-Aksa Brigades leader refuses to meet Dayton to discuss Palestinian
According to Ma'an, a reliable and independent on a Palestinian news agency, -a prominent leader from the Al-Aqsa Brigades, the military wing of Fatah, told Ma'an's reporter on Thursday that he refused to
meet with the US Security Advisor General Keith Dayton to discuss the issue of Palestinians in Nablus, who are 'wanted' by Israel.
Dayton paid a surprise visit to Nablus earlier in November to monitor the implementation of a security plan that included a deployment of 300 Palestinian Authority security service members to the volatile city. The Palestinian Authority recently announced that the plan was progressing
successfully and they said that Palestinian police will take control of security operations in other West Bank districts.
Since the Al Aksa Brigades of the Fatah is defined by US law as an illegal terrorist group, will President Bush insist that American government personnel relate to the Al Aksa Brigades as such?
9. Bush: Help civilian infrastructure
The most emphatic statement made by Bush and other world leaders in attendance at Annapolis was that all nations would provide aid to the civilian infrastructure of the Palestinian Authority.
A civilian agency that clamors for aid in the PA is the Palestinian school system
However, the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education, warn that the new Palestinian curriculum, posted at www.edume.org released the results of its recent study of the new Palestinian texts for the 11th and 12th grades. The publication of these school books was financed by charitable donations of fourteen donor nations.
The institute's disturbing findings were that new Palestinian school books include the following themes:
* Jews are represented as foreigners without rights in the land. There are no Jewish holy places. For example, Rachel's tomb is alluded to as "Bilal bin Rabbah Mosque."
* Palestinians are seen as the only legitimate inhabitants of the land, descended from the Canaanites and Jebusites, who are said (without genuine historical justification) to be Arabs.
* When information is given about the inhabitants of the land, the Jews are excluded.
* Israel is not recognized as a legitimate state. Israel is instead portrayed as a Zionist, imperialist, western, racist usurper.
* Israel is omitted from all the Palestinian political maps. When Israel must be alluded to, alternative terms are used, such as "pre-194 lands." For example, Modern History of Palestine, Grade 11, 2006, says "The green line is an imaginary line separating land occupied before 1967 and land occupied after."
* Palestine is presented as an existing sovereign state, established in 1988.
* Jews are demonized, seen as a hostile enemy, and the source of all evils in Palestinian society, e.g., cause of drug addiction. Twenty-five alleged crimes against the Palestinians are enumerated.
* Individual Jews are never mentioned, so the humanity of the Jews is lost.
* The fabricated, anti-Semitic "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" was represented in a text as factual. When representatives of Belgium, which underwrote production of this book, were informed, they protested and a new version of the book, omitting the "Protocols" was published. However, the old version is still available in PA book stores and there is no evidence that the new version is actually in use in the schools.
* The textbooks contain praise of jihad and martyrdom. Terrorism is not openly advocated but its acceptance is implicit. Armed groups are celebrated.
The question remains: Will President Bush insist that Abbas scrap this curriculum as a gesture to peace?
©The Evening Bulletin 2007
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DAVID BEDEIN: ON ASSIGNMENT IN ANNAPOLIS FOR THE PHILADELPHIA BULLETIN:
"The Annapolis Summit Has Begun"
Jerusalem - Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert arrived in the U.S. yesterday and said that Israel would take a positive view of Syrian participation in the Annapolis conference and negotiations with Syria after the conference if the conditions were ripe. Speaking to reporters on his plane before takeoff for the United States, Mr. Olmert said that the meeting in Annapolis would make it possible to begin comprehensive and in-depth negotiations with the Palestinians in order to realize the principle of two national states for two peoples.
sraeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who heads Israel's team for negotiations with the Palestinians, rejected an American request that she hold another round of talks with the Palestinians before the Annapolis conference in order to reach agreement on a joint statement, the Palestinian newspaper Al Ayyam reports. The paper reported that the Palestinians hoped that Washington would support their demand for a freeze on Jewish communities in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and for a timetable for the completion of negotiations.
In Washington, delegations from across the world continue to arrive for the Annapolis conference. The French News Agency reports from Riyadh that Washington proposed to the Arab countries that they come to the conference to set up a committee to monitor progress on the Palestinian issue and that another conference be held in January in Moscow. According to the report, issues related to Syria and Lebanon will also be raised at the conference. However, it is not yet clear whether Syria will send representatives to Annapolis. Lebanon will send a delegation in spite of opposition from Hezbollah. This was announced by the Lebanese minister for culture, Taek Methi.
The Israeli police have raised their level of alert to one degree below the highest, and this will remain in force until the end of the Annapolis conference.
The Syrian Factor
Syria had delayed its decision to participate in the Annapolis conference until the last moment, but that isn't going to change the diplomatic import of this conference. Peace between Israel and Syria will not come from there, and it is very doubtful whether a breakthrough will be achieved through this channel. Over the past several days, the Syrians have been fighting to get the subject of the Golan Heights on the conference table despite the United States' intention to leave it on the sidelines. From Damascus's perspective, this is not a war over the Golan Heights but rather a war over its honor in which stronger powers - the United States and Israel - prefer to play in the Palestinian arena at the moment. Even if the Americans decide to give the Golan Heights a higher priority than they did, the Syrians will not go back home happy. At least not this week.
Mr. Olmert has hinted in closed talks that the negotiations with Syria could be renewed "in the very near future."
High-ranking political sources predict that the negotiations with Syria will be renewed after the conference in Annapolis. They will be held with the blessing of the United States and perhaps even under the auspices of the U.S. administration.
The talks between Mr. Olmert and Syrian President Bashar Assad are being held through Turkish mediation. They have recently been renewed and were defined in closed talks by Mr. Olmert as a "serious matter."
Israel's former IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Moshe Yaalon said the release of hundreds of Fatah terrorists was a gesture toward the commencement of the Annapolis summit this week and also in the hope that Israel's three kidnapped soldiers would be released.
Lt. Gen. Yaalon said, however, the gesture would prove to be an error, both in moral and in practical terms.
Lt. Gen. Yaalon said in an interview with Israeli Army Radio: "If this debate is conducted in a rational manner, we must not capitulate. Look, in the past we announced that we wouldn't negotiate with kidnappers. That's what stopped the kidnappings. The fact that we have been capitulating to kidnapping again and again and again has brought us more kidnappings."
Lt. Gen. Yaalon said he suspected that Mr. Olmert was promoting diplomatic initiatives in order to divert attention from police investigations of his activities.
Senior security establishment officials warned on Saturday that the aftermath of the Annapolis conference could lead to a violent takeover by Hamas of Judea and Samaria and to a deterioration of the situation to the point of chaos. Assessments by security officials were given to members of the security cabinet during a meeting that dealt with the Annapolis conference's ramifications for Israeli security.
Israeli intelligence official Yuval Diskin warned that the failure of the process could lead the international community to support the creation of a bi-national state in the territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, which would change the demographic balance of the region. The security cabinet ministers also heard surveys from the chief of staff and from the director of the IDF intelligence branch that presented a fairly gloomy prediction regarding the chance of a breakthrough with Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas either at Annapolis or later. All the officials who offered their assessments cast Mr. Abbas as a leader whose operational ability was next to nil. Security officials shared the opinion that if Israel preserves the status quo, Mr. Abbas' moderate regime will end.
Security officials said that while reaching an agreement with the Palestinians during Mr. Bush's term is of paramount strategic significance for the state of Israel, a series of security principles must be preserved. Even if an agreement is reached, they said, it must not be implemented too quickly, since the Palestinians are not ready for that.
Although the Annapolis conference has not yet begun, that has not kept Hamas from threatening an escalation in the armed struggle against the "Zionist occupation" after its conclusion. Khaled Mashal, deputy director of Hamas' political bureau, and his deputy, Moussa Abu Marzuk, said on Saturday that their organization would intensify the terror attacks against Israel immediately after the conference. "The stage that will come after the Annapolis conference will be an escalation in operations of armed resistance of all kinds and methods in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip, against the Zionist occupation," he said.
Mr. Abu Marzuk had harsh criticism for the Annapolis conference and also for Mr. Abbas, who is running to an arrangement with Israel that continues its "crimes" against the Palestinians. "While Abu Mazen meets with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and smiles for the reporters' cameras, the occupation forces continue their aggression in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and continue padding the settlements and expropriating new land around Jerusalem, continue digging beneath the blessed al-Aqsa Mosque and continue building the separation fence," Mr. Abu Marzuk said, voicing his opposition to going to Annapolis.
Mr. Abu Marzuk predicted that Mr. Olmert would not give anything in principle to Mr. Abbas during the negotiations and that he "cannot carry out any measure connected with a final status arrangement such as a Palestinian state, Jerusalem, settlements and refugees." Therefore, Mr. Abu Marzuk called upon all the Palestinians wherever they live to hold marches and rallies against the Annapolis conference and in favor of "adhering to the permanent national rights."
While Mr. Abu Marzuk threatens terror attacks, his boss, Mr. Mashal, prefers to work in other channels in order to sabotage the Annapolis conference two days before it begins. The London-based Al-Hayat newspaper reported this morning that Mr. Mashal sent a letter to the leaders of Arab countries and to the secretary-general of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, calling for them to boycott the conference, which, in his opinion, constitutes "a free concession in exchange for nothing."
The newspaper reports that some of the content of the letter that Mr. Mashal sent to the Arab leaders and to Mr. Moussa has to do with meetings that he held last week with a high-ranking Iranian official. In accordance with that, Mr. Mashal wrote in the letter that the conference comes within the framework of damage to Iran and preparations for military escalation against it.
Like his deputy, Mr. Mashal wrote in the letter that the Israeli government's position regarding the final status topics and the interim status of the Palestinians has not changed. Mr. Mashal said that there is a "real danger" that threatens the final status topics connected with Jerusalem, the settlements, and the refugees' right of return. Mr. Mashal added that the conference is taking place in the shadow of a "Palestinian split and unequal circumstances between the Israeli and Palestinian sides." This is in addition to the absence of a Palestinian consensus.
The assertive message is directed at Mr. Abbas, even though he is not mentioned by name. Mr. Mashal wrote in the letter that no one has a national mandate to begin profound negotiations with Israel in light of the fact that objective data show no fundamental change in the positions of Israel or the United States, and because there is complete disregard of the Arab peace initiative.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said on Saturday: "The Annapolis conference is a step toward normalization with the Israeli enemy at the expense of the Palestinian people. At this conference only the Israeli and American plans will be discussed, and the Palestinians will have no solution. [Abbas] will return from the conference with no achievements."
Today and tomorrow, Hamas will host a conference of terrorist organizations to protest against the Annapolis conference. The Hamas conference will be attended by representatives of the rejectionist organizations and heads of the big families in Gaza. "Nobody has the right to concede the Palestinians' rights," Mr. Barhoum said.
Has Bush Reneged On Firm Commitments To Israel?
In April 2004, then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon informed the Israeli government that "there is American recognition that in any permanent status arrangement, there will be no return to the '67 borders. This recognition is to be expressed in two ways: understanding that the facts that have been established in the large settlement blocs are such that they do not permit a withdrawal to the '67 borders and implementation of the term 'defensible borders.'"
Now there is a serious question about the exact standing of that Bush commitment to "defensible borders," ever since Mr. Bush's secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice stated on November 13: "I believe that most Israelis are ready to leave most of the - nearly all of the West Bank, just as they were ready to leave Gaza for the sake of peace." She said this even though public opinion polls actually show strong Israeli support for retaining strategic areas of the West Bank, like the Jordan Valley.
In that light, Dore Gold, former Israeli ambassador to the U.N., has noted that "it's critical for Israeli diplomacy to protect the Bush letter against those who seek to undercut and replace it with a new set of Israeli-Palestinian documents. Israelis have learned from their experience with Gaza what can happen to their most vital security interests if they are not safeguarded at the same time that far-reaching territorial concessions are made."
Indeed, the speech that President Bush is expected to give in the basketball stadium at Annapolis will call for the establishment of a Palestinian state, an end to the occupation and an Israeli return to the 1967 lines, with a narrow opening for a land swap.
Expectations rose a little over the weekend, when the schedule for the conference was announced, and when it was learned that the country that everyone is trying to please, Saudi Arabia, was going to honor the conference with the high-level presence of its foreign minister.
However, whether Saudi Arabia will cancel its active state of war with Israel remains to be seen. The same goes for the Arab League, which has announced that it will attend the summit in Annapolis.
The Bulletin called the Arab League office in Cairo and asked if the Arab League was still maintaining its long standing state of war with Israel, which was declared on the day that Israel declared independence in 1948. The answer was affirmative.
©The Evening Bulletin 2007
"Saudi Initiative Expected To Influence Summit"
Annapolis, Md. - Israeli government sources said yesterday that a pair of high-level figures are warning the political echelon that the timetable Americans wish to dictate to the Israelis and the Palestinians - reaching a final status arrangement within a year - is dangerous to Israel.
At the Israeli security cabinet meeting that was held prior to the departure of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to Annapolis, Israel General Security Services Director Yuval Diskin and Director of Military Intelligence Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin warned that Mahmoud Abbas (AKA Abu Mazen) is weak and not yet ready to implement a peace agreement with Israel, and that his ability to act is close to zero. They recommended to the political echelon to negotiate over the final status arrangement, but to see this as no more than a "shelf agreement," the implementation of which would be postponed by several years until the Palestinian Authority proves that it is a partner.
Mr. Diskin and Maj. Gen. Yadlin recommended further to the political echelon to "buy as much time as possible" in the implementation of the first stage of the road map, meaning the war on terror, thereby enabling Abu Mazen and his supporters to establish themselves and gain strength. In addition, it was recommended that the government be sparing in making gestures, and refrain from transferring security responsibility to the Palestinians, since this will only serve as an obstacle for them.
May Be Recognized
Philadelphia journalist, Aaron Klein, the Israel bureau chief of WorldNetDaily.com (WND), says that his agency has obtained the document which will provide the basis for the Annapolis conference. Mr. Klein reported that, according to the document in his possession, "in exchange for Saudi Arabia attending this week's U.S.-sponsored Israeli-Palestinian conference in Annapolis, the Israeli government agreed to recognize the importance of a Saudi-sponsored "peace initiative" in which the Jewish state is called upon to evacuate the strategic Golan Heights, the entire West Bank and eastern sections of Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount.
According to Mr. Klein, this document will presented at the Annapolis conference and to serve as an official outline of a final settlement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority
The wording is still being negotiated by both sides.
However, according to Israeli diplomatic sources, Israel agreed to a Saudi request that the declaration document include reference to a Saudi-backed Arab Peace Initiative, first presented in 2002 and reissued earlier this year at a meeting of the Arab League, an umbrella association of Mideast Arab states.
While Israel doesn't commit itself to the Arab Initiative's requirements, a clause in the current draft of the Israeli-Palestinian declaration slated for the Annapolis conference and obtained by WND reads: "We recognize the critical supporting role of Arab and Muslim states and the importance of the Arab Peace Initiative."
Palestinian Curriculum Reviewed At Pre-Annapolis Briefing
A pre-Annapolis briefing was conducted by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education, dedicated to the research of school curricula and textbooks throughout the Middle East. Since its creation in 1998 it has researched school textbooks, teachers' guides and syllabi used by the Palestinian Authority (PA), Israel, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Iran.
The briefing was conducted by the Institute's director, Dr. Yohanan Manor and by the Arabic language expert who translates the school books, Dr. Arnon Groiss.
The context of the briefing was that the PA has now completed its seven-year project of replacing textbooks that had been in use from Jordan and Egypt, in Judea & Samaria and Gaza respectively, with ones they have produced, with funding received from 14 nations, including the US.
This briefing constituted an overview of the material, with special emphasis on the new 11th and 12th grade books.
All of the PA texts have now been studied and translated by the Institute, under the supervision of Dr. Groiss. In all cases, assessment of material is based on 10 criteria established by UNESCO as well as two other factors: How is the `other' perceived? And, does the education foster peace?
The conclusions, which are posted in great detail on the Institute's Web site www.edume.org, are that:
* Jews are represented as foreigners without rights in the land. There are no Jewish holy places. For example, Rachel's tomb is alluded to as "Bilal bin Rabbah Mosque."
* Palestinian Arabs are seen as the only legitimate inhabitants of the land, descended from the Canaanites and Jebusites, who are said to be Arabs.
* When information is taught to Palestinian Arab children about the inhabitants of the land, Jews are excluded.
* Israel is not taught as a legitimate state. Israel is presented to a new generation of Palestinian Arab school children as a Zionist, imperialist, western, racist usurper.
* "Israel" is omitted from all Palestinian political maps. One book did reproduce two Israeli maps. When Israel must be alluded to in the Palestinian Arab classroom, alternative terms are used, such as "pre-1948 lands."
From Modern History of Palestine, Grade 11, 2006:
"The green line is an imaginary line separating land occupied before 1967 and land occupied after."
* Palestine is presented as an existing sovereign state, established in 1988.
* Jews are demonized, seen as a hostile enemy, and as the source of all evils in the Palestinian society, e.g., cause of drug addiction. Twenty-five crimes against the Palestinians are enumerated in the Palestinian classroom.
* Individual Jews are never mentioned, and the humanity of the Jews is lost.
* The fabricated, anti-Semitic "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" was represented in a text as factual. When representatives of Belgium, which underwrote production of this book, were informed they protested and a new version of the book, omitting the "Protocols" was published. However, the old version is the only version available in Palestinian Authority bookstores and there is no evidence that the new version is actually in use in the schools.
* Praise of jihad and martyrdom remains another aspect of the Palestinian curriculum.
* As an integral part of the Palestinian curriculum, armed groups are celebrated.
©The Evening Bulletin 2007
"Power Shift To Palestinians?"
Annapolis, MD. - Hundreds of reporters arrived at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis from around the U.S., and, indeed, from around the world yesterday, in order to cover a one-day Middle East summit, which kicked off a new negotiation process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Fifty nations were invited to witness the process. After exhaustive security checks, reporters were ushered into the U.S. Naval Academy basketball stadium, where they waited two hours to cast their eyes on a large scale screen to watch and observe U.S. President George W. Bush, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas give speeches, launching negotiations that will continue on a bi-weekly basis throughout the year 2008, as they exchanged platitudes of peace.
Mr. Bush set the tone and framework for negotiations, saying that Mssrs. Abbas and Olmert would conduct biweekly negotiations beginning on December 12th.
Where there are disputes, Mr. Bush declared, the U.S. would be the "judge" to correct the conflicts.
The president invoked the "road map" of April 30th, 2003, specifically mentioning the precise date and guiding spirit of the negotiations. Bush's mention of April 30th conveyed a subtle message to the Israeli government, which had added 14 reservations on May 25th, 2003., almost all of which demanded that the Palestinian Authority(PA) take full responsibility to disarm all terror groups before proceeding with negotiations.In other words, Mr. Bush was asking Israel to negotiate with the PA, come what may, by invoking the road map of April 30 rather than the road map that Israel had ratified on May 25, with strings attached.
In order to do some reality testing, The Bulletin asked U.S. State Department officials present at the basketball stadium if Mr. Abbas would indeed be required to disarm and disband the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades, the terrorist organization which remains an integral part of the Fatah, which continues terror actions unabated. U.S. State Department officials would not answer the question, even though the Al Aksa Brigades remains on the U.S. State Department list of terrorist organizations.
Concerning another major issue where the U.S. would be "the judge" of matters in dispute, The Bulletin asked U.S. State Department officials what their position was concerning the Palestinian school curriculum, which the Israel Ministry of Defense had concluded were rife with anti-Semitic incitement and which erased Israel from the map and denied any connection of Jews or Judaism to the land of Israel.
U.S. State Department officials looked into the matter and said that they had taken no stand on the issue.
However, USAID, a powerful arm of U.S. foreign policy which renders financial assistance to the PA and to other foreign entities, has recently distributed a report on Capitol Hill which asserted that the PA had deleted such incitement from their curriculum.
Hence, U.S. "judgment" on such crucial policy differences between Israel and the Palestinians show that the U.S. can easily ignore facts on the ground and simply expedite the Palestinian position.
At the stadium, reporters were not allowed to publicly air any questions of Messrs. Abbas, Olmert or Bush. After the screen rolled up, reporters busied themselves with details of what they had seen and heard. Not one reporter raised a question as to why no public questions were permitted.
Majority Of Palestinians Against Israeli Sovereignty Over Western Wall
On the morning of the Middle East Summit in Annapolis, 72.5 percent of Palestinian are opposed to Israeli sovereignty over the Western Wall in any peace agreement. Only 18.7 percent would support such an arrangement.
This is shown by a new public opinion poll conducted by Dr. Elias Kukali among Arabs from Judea, Samaria and Gaza between October 27 and November 6.
The poll found that 52.7 percent of Palestinians in Judea, Samaria and Gaza are opposed to having Israeli sovereignty over the Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. To the proposal that there be Palestinian sovereignty over the Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem while there is Israeli sovereignty over the Jewish neighborhoods, 40.6 percent responded favorably.
The poll also shows that a majority of Palestinians - 68.2 percent - are opposed to any concession on the right of the Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland and to limit their return to Judea, Samaria and Gaza.
Only 23.5 percent agreed to the proposal to establish a compensation fund and to absorb the refugees in the future Palestinian state; 72.2 percent of Judea and Samaria residents and 77.3 percent of Gaza Strip residents are opposed to the idea of a land swap in which settlements would be annexed to Israel in return for alternative territory.
The poll was conducted by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion.
It questioned 1,200 Palestinians from Judea and Samaria, Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.
Israeli Army Reservists: 'Don't Give The Palestinians Weapons'
Also on the morning of the Middle East Summit in Annapolis, 50 combatants from the elite Israeli Defense Forces Alexandroni Brigade, many of them former Golani Brigade soldiers, on Monday sent a letter to the government asking that Israel not give armored vehicles and ammunition to the Palestinians.
These combat soldiers had gone through a week of training before going on duty.
The reservists, who lost some of their comrades in the Second Lebanon War and in Operation Defensive Shield, were furious when they heard that they would be given orders to transfer armored vehicle and millions of bullets to the Palestinian Authority.
They gathered in a tent, and with the light of a dim lamp, wrote a letter, demanding Mr. Olmert halt the planned weapons shipment: "We, soldiers in a reserve battalion, are at this time training in southern Israel before going on duty in Samaria," the letter states. "We ask you, at the last minute, and call on you to halt the convoy of APCs and ammunition to the Palestinians. We have no doubt that the ammunition and the APCs will be aimed against us, against our friends and against the citizens of the state, just as were the weapons given to the Palestinians in the Oslo Accords. It is not enough that the government approved recently releasing hundreds of terrorists, now it is also arming them."
The letter is signed by 50 combatants, including the battalion commander and the deputy battalion commander, and was sent by fax to the Prime Minister's Bureau.
Israel TV: U.S. Ambassador Pressures Chief Justice Of Israel Supreme Court
Israel Commercial TV Channel Two broke the story last night that the Chief Justice of the Israel Supreme Court President Judge Dorit Beinish was approached for a sensitive and unusual meeting with U.S. Ambassador to Israel Richard Jones.
According to the report, the two discussed political issues, mainly the route of the 1949-1967 armistice line and the construction in Judea and Samaria, which has been suspended for a long time already.
The meeting was held against the sensitive backdrop of the preparations for the Annapolis conference.
Attorney Yossi Fuchs from the Israel Legal Forum watchdog group said that "If it becomes evident that President Beinish discussed issues of the 'settlements' and the separation fence with the American ambassador, that constitutes crossing of a red line, an egregious blow to the principle of the separation of power and creates the fear that she will now preside over those issues after having heard one side, while donning a semblance of impartiality."
©The Evening Bulletin 2007
"Annapolis Analysis: Trap For Israeli Defense Forces"
Annapolis, Md. - Israeli military sources confirm that the declaration at Annapolis on beginning to work for a permanent status arrangement - with target dates, puts the Israeli security establishment in a nearly intolerable situation.
Israel will have to maneuver between momentum in the peace process, which means taking measured military steps, and a serious security crisis, including expecting a series of terror attacks and attempts to sabotage the peace process, the sources said.
In the first stage, the "big" military operation in the Gaza Strip, meant to undermine Hamas' regime, is being pushed off, apparently to an unknown date.
December 12 is the date to begin talks on the permanent status arrangement, meaning there would be no operation. People in Israel who were sure after Annapolis they would be free of constraint and could act in the Gaza Strip, were proven wrong. The people in Sderot and the Western Negev who had believed the IDF would put an end to the daily terror of mortar fire will, apparently, be disappointed.
In addition, winter is coming. And if the IDF we don't absolutely have to, they do not go to battle in stormy weather.
On one thing all the security officials agree: In Annapolis, the State of Israel closed a deal with someone who cannot deliver.
The Palestinian Authority (PA), headed by Mahmoud Abbas (AKA Abu Mazen), is linked to two life-support machines: international legitimacy that it receives for its existence, and an Israeli monopoly on security in the West Bank.
Remove Israeli force and the PA dies. It was no coincidence that Abu Mazen did not mention in his Annapolis speech that he asked for expanded authority. He knows that he can't. Also in the course of the talks that preceded Annapolis, the Palestinians did not have excessive demands regarding security, except for removing roadblocks, enlarging the circle of Fatah wanted men that Israel should stop pursuing, and a bit of weapons and armored vehicles.
To help build the Palestinian power base, the Americans plan to establish a steering committee headed by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, General Dayton and a political envoy of President Bush, to supervise the establishment of the security, governmental and economic institutions of the PA and to monitor the implementation of the first stage of the road map. The stage that includes PA action against terror. The Americans will have to invest a great deal of money and time until they are able to see a loyal and effective military force.
The Israel security establishment believes that intensive work will be necessary, of at least one to two years to breathe life into this plan and bring it to a situation in which it can handle opposition on the ground. Any attempt to speed up the process and to give the PA security responsibility too early, say high-ranking security sources,will bring to the West Bank what is in Gaza: the build-up of a Hamas military force and high trajectory fire from the West Bank at Israel.
Did Israel's Principles Of Negotiation Collapse In Annapolis?
The joint Annapolis statement between Mr. Abbas and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert signalled a total deterioration of Israel's stated negotiation positions a withdrawal from all the principles that had guided the government to the summit.
Mr. Olmert backed off from his opposition to any timetable for the negotiations. Now there is a date for the start of negotiations - December 12 - and there is a date for their completion: The end of 2008. In the current situation, Mr.Olmert will find it difficult to say that "there are no sacred dates." Mr. Olmert has, instead, endorsed the time schedule.
Mr. Olmert backed off from the demand based on the road map, according to which the next stage of the agreement will only be implemented after the Palestinians fight terror. Now there is consent to a dialogue with a target date for establishing a Palestinian state, while terror continues. The Annapolis conference has buried what was nearly Ariel Sharon's only achievement since the road map, of making Israeli steps contingent upon Palestinian action against terrorist organizations.
Mr. Olmert backed off from his opposition to international supervision of the agreement's implementation. Nothing remains of the principle established by Yitzhak Rabin, which was maintained by all Israeli prime ministers, that only Israel would decide whether the Palestinian side had met its commitments. In the joint statement, it was stated explicitly that the U.S. would supervise the implementation of the road map clauses, and would judge and supervise the implementation of the clauses on the part of Israel and the Palestinians.
These clauses demand declarations on the part of the Palestinians, and irreversible actions on Israel's part. Israel has committed itself to carrying out tangible steps such as a freeze on expanding Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and in dismantling nearby outposts - matters that are measurable by nature,which can easily be proven whether they have been implemented or not.
Instead, Israel heard a dictate from Mr. Bush: Israel must "remove illegal settlement outposts and halt illegal construction".
While the Palestinians have committed themselves again to fight terror. They can always kill off a terrorist or two and claim to have "fought terror."
The meaning of the statement is that Israel will be under close supervision by the U.S. to carry out irreversible actions, while the Palestinians will not.
Mr. Bush, for the first time, talked about the Israeli "occupation," when he said that the Israelis must show that they are willing to put an end to the occupation that began in 1967. Mr. Bush did not mention the letter to Mr. Sharon in which he agreed to recognize settlement blocs or the reality that has changed since 1967. Mr. Bush did not mention any issue in his speech that is of significance to Israel. For instance, he did not mention the rocket fire.
Olmert's Situation: From Annapolis To
The Bank Leumi Affair
Last night, Mr. Olmert was set to fly back to Israel: The dozens of bodyguards, radio technicians and intelligence officials who accompany him on his trips abroad were to dismantle the forward command posts set up at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Washington and pack up the huge quantities of equipment brought here to take back to Israel.
From the meetings at the Oval Office and from the impressive appearance in the conference hall at Annapolis, Mr. Olmert will land today directly into the complex reality awaiting him at home: The announcement of the police's decision whether to recommend that he be prosecuted in a Bank price-fixing scandal.
And so, Mr. Olmert cannot look forward to a single moment of satisfaction: If the police decided to recommend that he be prosecuted, even if the case is later closed at the decision of the state attorney, Mr. Olmert will have to face the recommendation and later on the other investigation cases. His critics on the Right will demand that he stop dealing with promoting the negotiations with the Palestinians. Others, his rivals in Kadima and Likud members, will search for the moment to end his term of office.
The question that will accompany him from now on is whether Mr. Olmert - not the negotiations - will reach the end of 2008 in the post of prime minister.
On To Iran
On Tuesday, Mr. Olmert held a confidential meeting with President Bush concerning the Iranian threat.
In the past few years, Israel and the U.S. have disagreed over the point of no return, after which Iran will possess the technology to produce a first nuclear bomb. Messrs. Olmert and Bush talked about the Iranian issue frequently, and the Iranian nuclear threat also came up at all the meetings between the two leaders in Washington.
In the coming weeks, Israel Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman is due to put on Mr. Olmert's table a comprehensive position paper which is the first of its kind on Israeli policy on the nuclear threat, described by security officials as the only existential threat against Israel. In addition, Mr. Olmert and Mr. Bush are expected to also talk about the northern arena: Syria and Lebanon. According to an Israeli political official: "President Bush is totally in accord with the prime minister on the Syrian issue, and there is no pressure on Israel to resume negotiations on the Golan Heights."
Islamic Jihad: 'Autumn Storms' Operation
In Response To
The Salah a-Din Brigades, the military wing of Islamic Jihad, announced on Tuesday that they are beginning a series of terror actions that will be called "autumn storms," which will include rocket and mortar shell fire at Israeli residents, as a response to the conference in Annapolis.
Despite this lofty declaration, there was no significant increase on Tuesday in rocket and mortar shell fire. On Tuesday, three rockets and four mortar shells were fired at the Negev. One of the rockets landed between Kfar Gaza and Mifalsim. Mortar shells were also fired at Kerem Shalom.
In the wake of the fire, IAF helicopters attacked a position belonging to the Hamas Executive Force near Khan Yunis, hitting mortar shell launchers.
On Tuesday, IDF forces operated inside Palestinian territory in the northern Gaza Strip, in the Erez industrial zone area and in the southern Gaza Strip near Kerem Shalom. The troops entered the area to search for possible tunnels, in the wake of concern that Palestinian had dug tunnels under the border fence into Israel. In addition, forces are operating against rocket launchers. According to military sources, Golani, Armored Corps and engineering forces, with the aid of the IAF, are operating to block unending attempts at terror, and distance terrorists from the border fence.
©The Evening Bulletin 2007
"PA Official: Olmert Lying About Temple Mount"
Jerusalem -?Native Philadelphia journalist Aaron Klein, bureau chief of the World Net Daily bureau in Jerusalem, has revealed that the chief Palestinian negotiator claims that the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, has agreed to forfeit Judaism's holiest site to a coalition of Arab countries.
"What Olmert said (regarding the Mount) is absolutely false. I think he's not yet ready to tell the Israeli public and is waiting for the right time and he fears his coalition with religious extremists will fall apart if he announces it now," said a senior Palestinian negotiator on Thursday on the condition his name be withheld. The chief Palestinian negotiator said in months leading up to Annapolis the Palestinian team was "surprised" by Mr. Olmert's willingness to give up the Temple Mount. According to the Palestinian source, Mr. Olmert agreed to evacuate the Mount but not to turn it over to the Palestinians alone. The negotiator said both sides agreed the Temple Mount would be given to joint Egypt, Jordan and Palestinian Authority control.
In a briefing to reporters in Annapolis, Mr. Olmert claimed Israel's sovereignty over the Temple Mount is not up for discussion. He said negotiations started at the Annapolis summit had no bearing on the situation on the Temple Mount.
Increased Rocket, Mortar Fire From
Gaza Into Israel
During the past week, Palestinians fired over 70 mortar shells and over 25 Qassam rockets at Israeli communities in the Western Negev and at IDF forces operating in Gaza. Of these, approximately 35 mortar shells and 20 Qassam rockets landed in Israel.
Ground, armored and engineering forces, in coordination with the Air Force, operated against the terror infrastructure in the Gaza Strip in order to distance the terror organizations, in particular Hamas, from the security fence, and to prevent rocket and mortar shell fire into Israel.
The IDF carried out aerial and ground attacks during the past week and identified hitting five Palestinian terrorists involved in the firing of rocket and mortar shells at Israel from the southern Gaza. The IDF also identified hitting 15 Palestinian gunmen who were identified operating against IDF forces in the Gaza Strip and near the security fence, six of them in the past 24 hours.
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