Israel Resource Review 22nd December, 1998

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Cabinet Decision Leaves Options Open
by Aaron Lerner

While Prime Minister Netanyahu has publicly declared that there would be no additional Israeli withdrawals before the Palestinians satisfactorily address a series of issues - including the seizure and removal of illegal weapons - today's Cabinet decision leaves Netanyahu with considerable leeway.

The Cabinet decided that "Israel will complete implementation of its commitments in the process when the Palestinian Authority fulfills its commitments."

By using the word "complete" [in Hebrew tashlim] rather than "continue", Netanyahu leaves open the possibility of carrying out the second withdrawal set in Wye since this would not constitute "completion".

In contrast to this wording, 13th January, 1998 Cabinet decision was the considerably more explicit "additional redeployment is conditional on the Palestinians' implementation of their commitments."

Relevant portions of the two communiques follow:

I. CABINET COMMUNIQUE - 20th December, 1998
(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 20th December, 1998:

. . . .

4. The Cabinet held a political discussion on the Wye River Memorandum and passed the following resolution:

  1. Israel seeks peace with the Palestinians and the advancement of final status agreements with them. Israel is committed to the continuation of the peace process, subject to the principle of reciprocity. Israel will complete implementation of its commitments in the process when the Palestinian Authority fulfills its commitments.

  2. The Palestinian Authority must abandon its intention to unilaterally declare the establishment of a Palestinian state, as well as its intention to unilaterally declare Jerusalem the capital of the Palestinian state.

  3. The Palestinian Authority must halt the violence and the incitement to violence.

  4. Israel will not release murderers and prisoners with blood on their hands.

  5. The Palestinian Authority must collect and remove the illegal weapons held by the PA and by civilians, arrest the murderers in the area under its responsibility, maintain full cooperation with Israel in combating terrorism and honor the rest of its commitments according to the agreement.

II. CABINET COMMUNIQUE - 13th January, 1998
(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the Cabinet meeting today (Tuesday), 13th January, 1998:

  1. A document detailing the Palestinians' commitments under the 15.1.97 Note for the Record was presented to the Cabinet.

  2. The Cabinet decided to adopt the document, in which it is pointed out that according to the principle of reciprocity, as determined in the aforementioned Note for the Record, the additional redeployment is conditional on the Palestinians' implementation of their commitments.

Dr. Aaron Lerner,
Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
P.O.BOX 982 Kfar Sava
Tel: (+972-9) 760-4719
Fax: (+972-9) 741-1645

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PLO Saddam Support and Clinton's Middle East Credibility
by David Bedein
Media Research Analyst

Barely 72 hours after the high point of US President Bill Clinton's recent Middle East mission, when he participated in the Palestine National Council in Gaza, where he witnessed the PNC annulling the PLO Covenant that calls for Israel's destruction.

The official TV and radio of the PLO are expressing enthusiastic support for Iraq's Saddam Hussein, and endorsing Saddam Hussein's proposed war of extermination against the state and people of Israel. All of this is not new. This is what Israel experienced during the Gulf War in 1991, when massses of Palestinians demonstrated for Saddam in the west bank and in Gaza. What has changed is that 95% of the Arabs in the west bank and Gaza now live under the de facto sovereignty of the Palestine Authority, which maintains a Palestine Liberation Army of more than 50,000 in the west bank and Gaza, capable of organizing systematic guerrilla actions against Israel, in support and in coordination with Iraq, at any given moment. Meanwhile, The PLO also maintains at least three paramilitary bases in and around Bagdad, the capital of Iraq.

Many people in Israel have come to see Clinton's role in presiding over the symbolic voice vote of the Palestine National Council to cancel the traditional Palestinian covenant as no more than a futile Clinton attempt to put the toothpaste back in the tube.

After all, a PLO that for its 34 years of existance has seen its "raison d'etre" in terms of Israel's destruction can be expected to do almost anything possible to reinforce rather than to deny its own covenant and constitution. That is what self-determination is all about.

That is why, at the outset of the 1998-99 Palestinian school year, the first academic study of the new school books used by the Palestine Authority showed that the PLO Covenant calling for Israel's liquidation remains the central theme of the Palestine Authority school curriculum, while the PLO Covenant is invoked by the Palestine Authority as the prime reason for leaving three million Palestinian Arabs in the squalor of refugee camps for more than fifty years, under the PLO Covenant's premise and promise of the "inalienable right of return" for Palestinian refugees to be repatriated to the homes within Israel proper that they left in 1948, as promised by the PLO Covenant and ratfied every year by UN resolution #194.

Yet another principle of the PLO Covenant remains in force, and that is that Jews should not be able to purchase new lands in Palestine. In that spirit, the Palestine Legislative Council enacted a statute in November, 1998 that made it a capital offense for Jews to purchase land anywhere that the PLO considers to be "Palestine". The PLC was not only referring to the west bank and to Gaza.

And just to make sure that everyone understands that Arafat is a man of his word to his own people, the popular FATAH movement, under the steady leadership of Yassir Arafat since 1964, issued a new constitution this week and distributed it on the net, in which the FATAH officially announces that it absorbs all of the principles of the PLO Covenant that advocate Israel's destruction.

It was therefore not surprising that Arafat's popular Palestinian movements, under the watchful eyes of the Palestine Liberation Army police, organized new massive demonstrations for Saddam Hussein, on the morning that followed the first American airstrikes on Iraq. The of the Fatah demonstrations for Saddam Hussein: "Fire chemical weapons at Tel Aviv . . . "

Clinton, for his part, will have a tough time regaining credibility in Israel.

When Clinton compared the tears of the Arab children of killers whom he met with to the tears of the Jewish orphan children of Arab terror attacks whom he also said that he met with, that would have been insensitive enough. Except that Clinton did not even bother to meet the Israeli orphan children of PLO terror attacks.

So there you have it. Clinton tells Israel that he has facilitated an end to the PLO Covenant and the PLO goes on to support Saddam Hussein, as soon as Air Force One flies out of the friendly skies of the Middle East.

Well, Bill Clinton can fool some of the people in the Middle East, some of the time . . . .

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How the Palestinian Media Reacted to the Attack on Iraq
MEMRI's Special Dispatch, No. 17
18th December, 1998

How leading figures in the PA reacted to the attack in Iraq:

The Palestinian Minister of Public Works and Ambassador to Iraq, Azzam Al-Ahmad, said in an interview with The Jerusalem Times, "We believe the American aggression is unjustified and is strongly condemned by the Palestinian people . . . Our position is a principled one, it should not be based on interests . . . We should reject the fragmentation of Arab positions . . . I believe this aggression will undermine the rapprochement between the PNA and US. We cannot stand idle . . . I believe the Palestinians will start burning the Palestinian flags they raised yesterday."1

In an interview broadcast today on PA TV, Sheikh Mahmoud Salameh, Head of the Shar'i [Muslim religious] court of appeals, (belonging to the Ministry of Justice in the PA) called for jihad to help Iraq2. ". . . The jihad for the cause of Allah is one of the fundamentals of Islam . . . it is the duty of the Muslims to come to the aid of any Islamic land that is under attack . . . every Muslim wherever he may be . . . Islam obliges us to wage jihad. The Arab nation is a Muslim nation and Iraq is a Muslim nation that is under attack with missiles and other destructive weapons . . . even if Saddam Hussein committed some violations once, twice, three times -- these are only violations, not crimes."

Othman Abu Gharbiyya, Head of the Political and National Guidance Directorate, spoke on behalf of Yasser Arafat in memory of veteran `martyrs' in a ceremony held yesterday in Ramallah3: ". . . The advocates of peace will not deceive us because peace is one piece and the blood of Iraq and Palestine are one . . . We have carried our rifles on our shoulders and we shall carry them in our arms in determination filled with the honor of the revolution and of the martyrs . . ."

General Khaled Musmar, Deputy Head of the Political and National Guidance Directorate, concurred stating that, ". . . the path of martyrs continues . . . there will be no peace without a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, and our path is a path of martyrs . . ." 4

The independent Jerusalem daily, Al-Quds, reported today that the Hamas movement and the Islamic Jihad might soon unite. The same source asserted that the intentions of both movements to kidnap Israeli soldiers, in order to trade them for Palestinian prisoners, are "probable" and depend now on time and place.5

1The Jerusalem Times, December 18, 1998
2PA Television, December 18, 1998
3Al-Hayyat Al-Jadida, December 18, 1998
5Al-Quds, December 18, 1998

Middle East Media and Research Institute (MEMRI)
1815 H Street, NW
Suite 404
Washington, DC 20006
Phone: (202) 955-9070
Fax: (202) 955-9077

MEMRI holds copyrights on all translations.
Materials may only be cited with proper attribution.

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Scenario One:
Commando Units in Tel Aviv
by David Bedein
Media Research Analyst

As the school year finally began this year in Israel, following the teacher's strike, Meretz MK Yossi Sarid made an appeal on the "Voice of Israel" radio newsreel.

Sarid advised principals, teachers and parents to be on the lookout for Rabbis or Yeshiva students who may lurk anywhere near schoolyards, kindergarten teachers or nursery school promoters who may want to seduce children to enter their preschool programs, and/or "anyone with a religious look" who may be "encroaching in your neighborhood".

Sarid then followed with an "assurance".

This year, Sarid said reassuredly , "we have set up commando units, yes, commando units, in every secular neighborhood. We have set up hotlines throughout the country. The job of the commando units and the hotline is to warn of encroaching religious people before they grab our children".

And in one of the leaflets distributed at secular schools and neighborhoods, pictures of little children with yarmulkes being herded into a nursery school were captioned "Let's stamp this out while they're young".

Sarid's "hotlines" worked.

Staffers now operate such hotlines, with ample budget provided by one of Israel's "pluralism" lobbies, with ample funds provided by contributors from North American non-Orthodox religious Jews who think that they have contributed to promote dialogue and pluralistic religious thought amongst Israeli Jews.

The results are real.

Many Israeli Secular schools and neighborhoods have now effectively eliminated any religious or Jewish content to their lives, reinforcing the continuing Israeli phenomenon of Jewish communities that develop almost an anti-Semitic modus operandi. Instead of welcoming, say, Reform or other forms of Jewish observance into secular schools and neighborhoods, the plethora of antireligious organizations have initiated a system that mitigates against any religious or Jewish influence whatsoever, while the various religious groups have simply abandoned their interest in making the effort to influence these communities that are now devoid of Judaism.

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Scenario Two:
When No Parent Knows How to Light the Chanukah Candles
by Professor Steve Plaut
The Technion, Haifa

When Yitzhak Rabin was murdered, his son attempted to read the Kaddish at his funeral. He was unable to say the words of the prayer, not out of grief but because he had never seen or read them before. The words of the kaddish are in Aramaic and somewhat difficult to read if you have never stepped foot inside of a synagogue service. From his performance at the funeral, it was obvious to all that Rabin's son had never stepped foot in a synagogue service, had never said or heard the kaddish - whether the mourner's version or any other. That the words meant nothing to him. It was obvious to the entire world that Rabin's own son did not have the smallest acquaintance with Jewish tradition.

This past week Bibi Netanyahu was filmed lighting a Hanukah menorah on the 4th night of Hanukah. In what was almost as big a disgrace, it was obvious to anyone watching that Netanyahu does not know how to light a menorah, arranging the candles incorrectly and lighting them in the wrong order. Netanyahu is also well-known for eating cheeseburgers at non-kosher restaurants, perhaps part of his attempt to imitate Clinton. (He is a bit more discrete than Clinton in his skirt chasing.)

My children go to a secular Israeli school. Two years ago when the teacher of my son planned a Hanukah party, she asked if I would agree to do the candle lighting. When I asked how she had chosen me, she explained that I was the only father apparently of the kids in the class who knew the blessings on the candles, and I might also be the only father who owned a kipa . . . .

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Al-Ahram Weekly
The Egyptian View of the PNC Vote
17th - 23rd December, 1998

Success Penalised
by Mohamed Sid-Ahmed

The decision of the US Congress to go forward with the impeachment proceedure threatens to overshadow Bil Clinton's spectacular Middle East trip to rescue the Wye Accord

Quote from Text:
"Clinton's decision to visit the Palestinian Authority and to touch down in the new Gaza International Airport was interpreted by Netanyahu as signalling Washington's readiness to recognise an independent Palestinian state -- an interpretation reinforced by Hillary Clinton's televised statement some months ago that she favored the creation of a Palestinian state . . . nobody believed it was a simple slip of the tongue."

Once again President Clinton has focused all his attention on the Palestinian-Israeli dispute at a time the campaign in Congress for his impeachment is reaching a climax. Once again, Clinton feels driven to achieve an outstanding success on the international front to disprove his critics' argument that the Monicagate scandal has ruined his credibility as a statesman for ever.

  . . . .

Failure to implement the Wye Accord has exacerbated the deep feelings of mistrust and suspicion between the parties to the peace process. For example, Clinton's decision to visit the Palestinian Authority and to touch down in the new Gaza International Airport was interpreted by Netanyahu as signalling Washington's readiness to recognise an independent Palestinian state -- an interpretation reinforced by Hillary Clinton's televised statement some months ago that she favoured the creation of a Palestinian state. Although Hillary's statement was later dismissed as not representing the official US stand, nobody believed it was a simple slip of the tongue. The highlight of Clinton's Middle East trip was, of course, his witnessing of the Palestinian National Council's near-unanimous vote to rescind the provisions of the Palestinian National Charter that Israelis interpret as denying Israel's right to exist. [IMRA: Can there be any other interpretation?"]

Although forced to admit that the PNC vote represented a fundamental step forward, Netanyahu did not give the Palestinians any credit for the change, attributing it rather to his own government's firmness and uncompromising stand -- an attitude that faces us with the need to further probe what criterion should be used in 'measuring' progress.

  . . . .

Peace, as perceived by Netanyhau, should be reached without ceding one inch of the territory he attributes to biblical Israel. He considers the concessions made in this connection by the previous Labour government to be tantamount to capitulation, an irresponsible policy which compromised the very essence of the Israeli state. How credible can such a stand be at a time Netanyahu not only finds himself obliged to sign the Wye Accord, which stipulates that Israel must pull out of Palestinian territories, albeit from a limited part of those territories, but is also faced with the PNC's near-unanimous vote recognising Israel's right to exist?

  . . . .

Arab supporters of the Wye Accord have argued that a bad agreement is better than no agreement at all and that, despite its shortcomings, the deal struck in Maryland serves the interests of the Palestinians better than it does those of Netanyahu. According to this line of reasoning, the fact that it has at least opened the door to a resumption of the long-stalled peace process is preferable to having to admit yet another failed attempt in that direction. However, to make the criterion of success here the avoidance of a worst-case scenario rather than the realisation of the best possible scenario can adversely affect a fundamental condition in any peace process, which is assumed to operate to the benefit of all the protagonists.

Clinton's Middle East trip was an opportunity for the Palestinians to demonstrate that they are capable of treating the Israelis as subjects, not objects, of history. The tripartite meeting that brought together the protagonists just before Clinton left for home demonstrated that the Palestinian approach has not been reciprocated by Binyamin Netanyahu. Nor is it likely to be reciprocated as long as Clinton's political future hangs in the balance.

Translations by
Dr. Joseph Lerner,
Co-Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
P.O.BOX 982 Kfar Sava
Tel: (+972-9) 760-4719
Fax: (+972-9) 741-1645

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