Can the Orient House be Closed Down?
Last week it was reported that the Netanyahu government believes it cannot legally close down Orient House because it is a "private home". A review of the applicable law indicates that the ownership of Orient House is not relevant.
The closing the offices of the PLO in Jerusalem was made possible by the Law Implementing the Agreement on the Gaza Strip and the Jericho Area (Restriction on Activity) 1994 which was passed by the Knesset on December 26, 1994. The Law is popularly known as "The Orient House Law".
During the course of debate of the Law, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin asserted that without such legislation he did not have the legal authority to close offices of the PLO in Jerusalem.
The law prohibits activity by the Palestinian Authority and gives the government the ability to ban PLO activity as well.
The following is a translation of selected portions of the Law:
"4. (a) The Government may, by means of an order, prohibit the opening or the operation of a representative mission of the PLO, order its closure, or prevent the holding of a meeting on behalf of the PLO or under its auspices within the area of the State of Israel.
"6. For the purpose of executing orders pursuant to paragraphs 3 or 4, the Israel Police shall have all the authorities given to it by any law, including the authority to enter into any place, to remove from there any person, to close the place, to disperse any meeting, and to take any action necessary to ensure the execution of the order and to use reasonable force for this purpose.
"7. Where an order has been issued pursuant to paragraph 3 or 4, prohibiting the opening of or operation of a representative mission, the license required for such activity shall not be granted under any law."
There is absolutely no reference in the law to the ownership of the "place" being closed down.
Dr. Aaron Lerner,
Arafat, the Palestine Authority and the Hamas:
Almost four years ago, when Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin shook hands with Yassir Arafat, the head of the Palestine Liberation Organization, on the White House lawn most people in Israel and abroad expected that Arafat would form a new Arab entity that could restrain violent Moslem movements known as the Hamas and the Islamic Jihad.
That was the rationale behind what later became known as the Oslo peace process, where Israel was expected to cede land, while Arafat's PLO was expected to form a new Palestine Authority that would fight Hamas/Islamic Jihad and other Arab terror groups that continued to threaten the lives of people in Israel.
Yet from day one, the opposite has occurred. Instead of cracking down on Hamas, Arafat openly woos the Hamas. When I asked Arafat about Hamas at his press conference in Oslo where he was about to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in December, 1994, he answered by saying that "Hamas are my brothers. I will handle them in my own way".
And when the PLO celebrated its thirtieth anniversary in January 1995, Arafat delivered a series of lectures in Gaza and in Jericho to his own people, praising suicide bombers and refusing to condemn the Hamas attacks which took place at the time. Arafat's speeches of praise for the Hamas were televised by the new Palestinian TV network that was controlled and operated by Arafat himself. Video cassettes of Arafat's harangues became popular in the Palestinian Arab open market
Arafat's strategy was best summed up by US ambassador to Israel and presidential confidante Martin Indyk, who told the Los Angeles Times in March 1996 that Arafat had decided to coopt rather than to fight the Hamas.
Arafat's co optation of the Hamas was not only in words, but in deed.
On May 9, 1995, I covered a Gaza press conference held by Arafat's local Palestine Liberation Army police chief Ghazzi Jabali, in which the representatives of Arafat's Palestine Authority officially announced that they would license weapons for the Hamas. only one month after the Hamas carried out an attack on an Israeli civilian bus near Gaza, killing six young Israelis and one American student, Aliza Flatow.
At Jabali's packed press conference, carried live on PBC radio, Jabali announced that Hamas leaders such as Mohammed Zahar would be allowed and even "encouraged" to own weapons under the protection of the Palestine Authority. On the same day, our Palestinian TV crew filmed an armed Zahar, standing in front of a skull and cross bones imposed on a map of Israel, as he addressed an angry mob in Gaza and called for bloody overthrow of the state of Israel. Jabali would later assure the Associated Press on May 14, 1995 that he was expecting the Hamas and Islamic to keep their licensed weapons "at home".
Yet for the last two years both the Hamas and the Islamic Jihad have openly operated with weapons licensed by the PA. Meanwhile, all levels of Arafat's military forces acknowledge that they have recruited radical Islamics to join forces with them.
And on each occasion when Arafat was asked to "crack down" on these Islamic groups that took credit for fatal terror bombs against Israel, Arafat ordered the mass roundups that resulted in confessions, and then the mass release of prisoners.
And in thirty seven documented instances since 1994, the Palestine Authority has offered asylum to Hamas and Islamic Jihad members who murdered Israelis and took refuge in the new safe havens of Palestinian Arab cities that were protected by Arafat's armed forces.
A case in point: Muhammad Deif, the admitted Hamas mastermind of the October 1994 kidnapping and killing of the nineteen year-old American-Israeli, Nachshon Wachsman, wanders Gaza freely, armed and untouched. When I asked Arafat's commander of the Palestine Liberation Army about Deif, he told me that he was under direct orders from Yassir Arafat not to touch Deif. This, despite the fact that U.S. President Bill Clinton declared at Naphthous's grave in March 1996 that Israel should not continue any negotiating process with Arafat and the Palestine Authority until and unless Arafat hands over Deif to stand trial.
Each Friday, over the past three years, Arafat-appointed Hamas Muftis in Nablus and in Jerusalem deliver weekly sermons in their respective mosques that call for JIHAD, holy war, against the state and people of Israel.
Not to be outdone, Arafat consistently addresses Palestinian crowds as if he were trying to emulate the Hamas, and not as if he was interested in restraining them.
Arafat's own Jihad harangues have continued when the Oslo peace process was going well with Israel, and when it was not.
Arafat's arming, encouragement and emulation of the Hamas occur in the open, and in public domain, at a time when more than two hundred foreign and Israeli news bureaus cover Arafat and his new Palestine Authority.
Yet an unwritten rule exists in the media, even among the Israeli press, that downplays the significance of the PA-Hamas cooperation, and Arafat's calls for armed struggle with Israel.
Many close followers of the Middle East situation wrongly assume that there are two entities - the PLO and the Hamas, and that they somehow remain in conflict.
Analysis: Reconsideration of Our Passion for PLO Statehood After Tisha B'av
The time has come to ask all those of us who had supported the concept of a Palestinian Arab state to recognize the error in our ways.
The concept of ceding a sliver of the land to another people may have been a good one. After all, why should neighbors not find a way to make peace with one another.
However, the Arabs reject the idea, and continue to demand that three million of their refugees return to where they came from in 1948 and that the return of the Jews to our land cease and desist.
Those of our fellow Jews who have advocated sovereignty for Palestinian Arabs do not do so out of malice or hatred of the Jewish people.
They advocate such an idea out a theoretical concept of justice and self-determination.
My own personal involvement of twelve years on the Israeli Left led me to meet with and dialogue with many sympathizers to the PLO on the other side.
PLO activists asked what they thought to be reasonable: We will give you peace if you ive up your obsession for Zion.
From Day One of the Oslo process, Arafat has been taking Truth Serum every day and proclaiming to his people that the purpose of the process is the conquest of the entire land.
Three million residents of the UNRWA Arab refugee camps believe him and they ready themselves to join forces with his trained and welll motivated Palestine Liberation Army of 50,000 to liberate the land of Israel.
A guerilla army against a nation with a strong army? Ask the FLN in Algeria and the NLF in Vietnam. These are the models for the PLO
The leaders of Israel, anxious in their passion for peace after one hundred years of war, moved quickly to cede territory and to provide training, arms and cooperation with Arafat's military forces, while Arafat was arming and training the Hamas.
Yet the tragic mistake was in the speed of the Oslo process.
The late General Aharon Yariv, who conceptualized the very concept of "territory for peace", put it best: "The Oslo process misinterprets our concept. We never said territory BEFORE peace. We said territory FOR peace".
The ideal peace deal was with Jordan. Israel made a deal with the Hashemite kingdom in 1970 and signed the deal with King Hussein in 1994. The Jewish state first wanted to see how Hussein would behave. And Israel tested him, during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the 1982 Lebanon invasion, the 1987-93 Intifada and the 1991 Gulf war. Only then did Israel sign a formal peace treaty with King Hussein.
That is not what happened with Arafat, the PLO and the new Palestine Authority. They see the Oslo process as a stage of war with the state of Israel, and they view the ceding of territory as a stage of surrender. Those who support this Olso process should take "Tisha B'av" and its message to take stock of reality.
When Arafat says JIHAD, he means it.
The Bridge : An ecological and bio-ethics disaster
When a group of Australian athletes attempted to cross the hastily constructed bridge erected over the Yarkon river, tragedy struck. The bridge collapsed, sending tens of young people plunging into the contaminated waters of the Yarkon River. Instead of competing at what many have called the Jewish Olympics (the international athletic competition called the HaMaccabiah Games) some of these Australians found themselves fighting for their lives in Israeli hospital intensive care centres. Apart from the expected trauma of a bridge collapse many were suffering complications suffered from inadvertently swallowing the poisonous waters of the Yarkon. Police rescue workers who waded into the sewage filled waters to rescue the athletes also were hospitalised, suffering from exposure to the high levels of poisonous substances used to coat the waters against the mosquitoes.
Dr. Eli Richter, Head of Environmental Medicine for Hebrew University, told Hebcom, "The medical problems of the victims were seriously complicated by the toxic substances in the waters of the Yarkon. Swallowing the waters and absorbtion through the skin negatively effected the victoms' vital organs and pulmonary system." Dr. Richter went on to say that toxic waste substances in the Yarkon seems to be a "never ending story."
Israeli authorities suspect that faulty bridge construction caused the collapse. The chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Israel Lau, stated that this tragedy is an indictment of Israeli indifference to human life in general. "We don't pay enough respect to the value of human life, if we can do something as idiotic as this, which cost human lives." He went on to connect what happened to the high level of traffic and industrial fatalities that occur in Israel yearly. He also implied that this disregard for the rights and safety of our fellow citizens is the real cause of the problem, " It must shock us out of our apathy in the face of growing numbers of victims of work accidents and road accidents. What they have in common is a lack of proper respect for the value of the sanctity of life."
Whatever the findings of the Israeli court of enquiry which has been appointed to determine if the bridge was safe, they will probably address themselves to the issue itself and not the cause. It is likely that the pollution levels of the Yarkon River will hardly be discussed at all. In this atmosphere of negligence in the building industry, in transportation, and in factory safety it comes as no surprise to find that the waters of the Yarkon are as deadly as the poorly constructed bridge which spaned it.
Rabbi Lau placed saw beyond the event and addressed the real cause; a lack of a basic bio-ethic awareness which could provide a safe human environment for the regions citizens as the century ends. Dr. Frank (Yeruham) Leavitt, of the Ben Gurion University Medical Ethics Center stated, "The Jewish people have lived so long in Exile, in lands not our own, that we never leared to love and respect the land. It will take years to build a culture with a bio-ethic oriented love for the environment."
The problems of pollution started long before the emergence of the state of Israel. Josephus, the ancient historian, writes about the pollution of lake Kennerit during the Jewish Wars when the waters were tainted red by Jewish blood and that floating Jewish bodies made it difficult to manoeuvre a boat. Josephus gave us what was perhaps one of the first chronicles of a major man-made ecological disaster.
Today's pollution is sewage, industrial waste, and insecticides; but, like the wages of war, the results of indifference to a safe human environment can be equally catastrophic for the area's residents. The almost total disregard shown by the Israelis for their environment is now being mirrored by the newly emerging Palestinian Authority who do not see human and environmental issues as being their number 1 priority. One of the major architects of the Oslo peace accords, M.K. Jossi Sarrid, who served under Rabin and Peres as the Minister of the Environment, apparently didn't place the Yarkon Pollution problem very high on his list of priorities. His pre-occupation with the endless Oslo peace process obviously cut drastically into his environmental work load.
The by-pass roads, which were hastily cut through vineyards and natural drainage areas, were built in great haste by the labour government. They were built without the proper commissioning of an environmental impact study which would address the issues pertaining to agronomic needs in the arid Judea and Samaria semi-desert region. The price of these roads may ultimately be higher than M.K. Sarid, the former Minister of the Environment, could have possibly envisioned.
The present Minister, Raful (Rafiel Eitan, former IDF Commanding General), evidently is continuing his predecessors' level of Environmental Activism. Reports indicate that very high levels of pesticides were pumped into the Yarkon only three days before the tragedy. There is no indication that the possibility of children or animals inadvertently drinking these poisoned waters were taken into account by any responsible environmental protection agency or citizens' group. It is probable that none were even informed that the pesticides were being used in such an un-regulated land obviously irresponsible manner.
The issues of water pollution in general, and of the problems of the Yarkon in particular, were aired many times on Israeli Television and Radio over the past twenty years.
In a country whose pre-occupation has shifted from survival to becoming a "first world" nation, the issues of the environment have had little impact on the average Israeli. It is to be hoped that this tragedy will bring the struggle for environmental and human bio-ethics to the attention of the area's lawmakers.
Unfortunately, another round of peace talks may push what happened into the limbo of "yesterday's news". This warning to both Israeli and Palestinian alike, could go unheeded ... and if so, the price of peace will be a peace without joy.
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