Archive for December, 2007

An international force for Gaza?

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

Another idea that misses the point:

The mechanism for an international security presence in the Gaza Strip “could be devised quickly” if Israel and the Palestinians reach an agreement on the matter, EU Middle East envoy Marc Otte told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.

Otte said there is “definitely more interest than in the past” for the idea from both the Israeli and Palestinian sides…

Hamas spokesmen, however, have said consistently they would oppose any international force and view it as an occupier no different than Israel. — Jerusalem Post

A UN or NATO force in Gaza would be a decidedly mixed blessing — or worse. For one thing, Israel would be severely limited in her ability to strike at terrorists who launch rockets into Israel. And even if the force were highly motivated to do so, stopping the terrorists from launching would be very, very difficult.

It would certainly put an end to the possibility of a massive Israeli invasion. It might reduce the tunneling and explosive-planting activities of Hamas near the border fence with Israel, but on the other hand would give Hamas a respite from Israeli attacks in which they could continue to build up their forces, manufacture rockets, smuggle supplies, etc.

Since the force would have to communicate with Hamas, this would provide Hamas some degree of legitimacy.

Hamas is an outlaw organization, using terrorism as policy and making war on a legitimate UN member state, Israel. I suppose that in an ideal world with a real UN, the international policemen would simply step in and arrest the leaders of a criminal, murderous, genocidal gang like Hamas. But that isn’t the world we live in.

Meanwhile, Gaza terrorists are hurting from recent Israeli air strikes that have killed 13 Islamic Jihad and Hamas guerrillas in the past few days. Gaza Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh has suggested that Hamas and Israel should negotiate a hudna, a temporary truce, in which Hamas would stop the rocket fire and Israel the air attacks.

Israeli President Shimon Peres, not usually my favorite guy, made eminent sense when he pointed out in response that all Hamas has to do is stop the rockets and Israel will stop the air attacks — no negotiation required or desired.

Since the IAF is so much more accurate than Palestinian rockets, perhaps the best outcome would be for the present situation to continue unchanged for a while, until the terrorist factions in Gaza are decimated.

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Palestinian Murder, Inc.

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

Foreign donors have just pledged $7.4 billion in aid to the Palestinian Authority. This is intended to ameliorate poverty, build infrastructure, and ultimately reduce violence.

How has this strategy worked in the past? Steven Stotsky, writing for CAMERA, presents a picture that is not terribly encouraging. It seems that homicides by Palestinians, both in terrorism against Israelis and in factional fighting are closely correlated to aid given to the Palestinian Authority.

The following graph plots the number of Israelis and Palestinians killed by Palestinian terrorists and the amount of aid received by the PA from 2000 – 2007. The murder data is shown for the year after the aid was received, in which the correlation is almost perfect.

Palestinian terrorist murders and aid to the PA

The going rate seems to be about one murder for every $1.2 million. At this rate, we can expect nearly 6200 murders for our $7.4 billion.

Does this prove anything? Of course not. There are lots of reasons for the ups and downs in Palestinian productivity, and foreign aid is only one of them.

As is often said, “Past performance is no guarantee of future results”, but it certainly helps to evaluate an investment.

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US policy appears absurd

Monday, December 17th, 2007

As stated, the US plan to ‘solve’ the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by forcing the creation of a Palestinian state run by Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction is absurd.

It’s not possible for Israel to make peace with the Palestinians by making peace with Fatah, since about 36% of the ‘Palestinians’ live under Hamas in Gaza.

The ‘two-state solution’ envisions a peaceful Palestinian state alongside Israel; a state with an economy that can ultimately provide for its citizens. It is for this that international donors just pledged $7.4 billion.

It is hard enough to imagine a Palestinian leadership which will break with the tradition of using aid to enrich itself and to finance war against Israel, and actually try to develop a functioning nation. But it is impossible to imagine that this nation can be made of just the West Bank.

If there is going to be a Palestinian state, it has to include both the West Bank and Gaza. And that means that something has to change with regard to Hamas, which has the allegiance of a large number of Palestinians and indeed won a democratic election.

Either Hamas has to disappear, which is impossible, or it must join with other factions in creating some kind of unified Palestinian entity. And in fact, this is what Egypt and Saudi Arabia are trying to make happen.

This week, Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshaal met with top Saudi officials and updated them on the latest efforts to end the rift between the two largest Palestinian political movements.

According to Hamas officials in Gaza, Meshaal presented to the Saudi leadership “a comprehensive package of proposals” that would rectify the current state of division. The proposals include a willingness on Hamas’s part to hand over “security headquarters” and “a number of civilian ministries” in the Gaza Strip to Fatah, which would be followed by the creation of a national unity government based on the Saudi-mediated Mecca Accord as well as the National Reconciliation Document.

Meshaal reportedly asked the Saudi leadership to exert pressure on Fatah’s leadership, especially Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Mahmoud Abbas, who visited Riyadh last week and briefed Saudi King Abdullah on developments pertaining to the Annapolis conference.

Similarly, Egypt has asked both Hamas and Fatah to dispatch delegations to Cairo after the Eid Al-Adha holiday — which comes 18 December — in an effort to end the inter- Palestinian schism. It is not certain if Egyptian and Saudi efforts are being coordinated. — Al-Ahrahm [Cairo]

Meanwhile, the US is rapidly pushing Israel into giving up security, land and sovereignty to the Fatah faction, while arming them (to “fight terrorism”, of course). But the Fatah leadership has as yet shown no desire or ability to control their own al-Aqsa Brigade terrorists; what will they do joined with Hamas (or as a junior partner)?

Is seems as though the US wants to see Israel reduced to pre-1967 borders and surrounded by aggressive terrorist enclaves or hostile powers to the North, East, and Southwest.

If the goal were long-term stability in the region, one would think that the way to attain this would involve weakening the elements that plan war and support terrorism. Yet we are rewarding them, and even encouraging the tactic of terrorism by preventing Israel from responding severely (e.g., in Gaza) while demanding security concessions. And we are weakening Israel which does have an interest in coexistence.

I’m afraid that all the talk from the US about the peaceful Palestinian state alongside Israel is just an attempt to defuse opposition from Israel supporters. So what are we trying to do?

My assessment is that US policymakers believe that they can appease the anti-Israel ‘activists’ (Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia) among the Arabs for as long as it takes to escape from Iraq without going quite far enough to allow Israel to be destroyed. Once this is accomplished, the Palestinians will be left to their street-gang politics.

Note that nobody — particularly not Iran or the Arab nations and not the US — gives a fig about the Palestinians as anything other than a tool to accomplish their own ends. I can pretty much guarantee that no matter how this turns out for Israel, things will continue to be bad for most Palestinians.

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Reality inversion alert!

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

Donatella Rovera, chief researcher for Amnesty International on Israel and the Palestinians, said that human rights issues — meaning closures, roadblocks, the security fence, etc. were not on the table at Annapolis.

And it’s clear to her that these ‘violations of Palestinian rights’ are due to the presence of Israeli settlements in the territories:

“Now these are consequences of the settlements. If you put a grid of where the closures, the forbidden roads, and the separation barrier are located over a map of the area, [you will see that] the location of all of them is determined by the location of the settlements. Clearly, as long as the settlements are there, the restrictions will not be lifted.” — Jerusalem Post [my emphasis]

Simple cause and effect: the settlements cause the problem; take them away, and the problem will go away.


The ‘rights violations’ are there because Palestinians are trying to attack the settlements and kill their residents. Take away the al-Aqsa brigades, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, ad inf., and there will be no need for closures, checkpoints, or a security fence. It would have been more correct to say “as long as the terrorists are there, the restrictions will not be lifted”.

But Ms. Rovera doesn’t see that she has it backwards, because she is convinced that the settlements themselves are a violation of the Palestinians’ rightsthe ‘right’ that they claim to be free of Jews in ‘their’ land — and so their terrorism is entirely justified. Anything the Jews do to prevent it is a further violation.

She also obviously does not see that removing the settlements would not end the problem, because if the settlements were removed, the terrorism would move up to the Green Line — just as it did when Israel withdrew from Gaza. And there would be more ‘rights violations’ when Israel tried to defend herself from there.

So the settlements are in fact not the cause of the problem — the Palestinians’ use of terrorism to drive the Jews out of the land is. But it should already be clear that this is not a problem for her.

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Har Homa, again a flashpoint

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

Suppose all you had to go on was Reuters news:

Palestinians warn settlement plan will cloud talks

PARIS (Reuters) – Israel’s plan to build houses on occupied land near Jerusalem will cloud renewed peace talks, the Palestinian Authority said on Sunday, the day before an international aid conference opens in Paris…

“The Paris meeting tomorrow is an important step forward. We hope the Israelis will not put any obstacles in front of the understandings of Annapolis,” Palestinian spokesman Nabil Abu Rdainah told reporters on Sunday…

“We need a clear cut Israeli decision concerning this (settlement) issue, which is very sensitive and important to the Palestinians. This issue is going to reflect itself, whether positively or negatively, in the coming negotiations,” he said. [my emphasis]

The place in question is a Jewish neighborhood called Har Homa, which is on the southeastern part of Jerusalem, between it and the Palestinian controlled town of Bethlehem. The area is within Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries, on land that was captured from the Jordanians in 1967 (pre-1948, most of the land was owned by Jews). The area was taken from Jewish and Arab owners by the municipality in 1991; the owners were compensated and no residents, Jewish or Arab, were displaced. The neighborhood was built in 1997.

Har Homa

Har Homa

Presently it has 6000 residents. The so-called “settlement plan” is to build housing for an additional 300 residents within the existing neighborhood.

In addition to the Palestinians, both UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon (‘illegal’) and Condoleezza Rice (‘unhelpful’) have criticized the Israeli action.

But even if you think that Israel will ultimately turn over some areas within Jerusalem’s boundaries to Palestinian control, the Palestinian argument that all the territory held by Jordan in 1948-1967 belongs to them — regardless of whether it is populated by Jews or Arabs — is not supportable.

Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem is no more illegal than Jordan’s conquest of it in 1948. And keep in mind that Israel allowed all faiths access to thir holy sites, while Jordan expelled or murdered the Jews that lived in East Jerusalem, turned synagogues into stables, and for 19 years refused Jewish access to the holy places.

Given that an agreement with the Palestinians that will include an end to terrorism is highly unlikely in the near future, Israel’s action to strengthen Jewish neighborhoods in strategic areas — Har Homa serves as a buffer between Bethlehem and its suburbs and Jerusalem — is quite reasonable. Reuters’ description of this as a “settlement plan” is misleading at best.

And Condoleezza Rice’s support of Palestinian objections to Israel building homes inside a Jewish neighborhood within the boundaries of Israel’s capital is not what one expects of an ally (it is of course precisely what we expect from the UN). But then the US is not behaving like much of an ally lately.

Nevertheless, as Lenny Ben-David (‘The strategic significance of Har Homa’) points out, the remarks of Moon and Rice are likely to be taken by the Palestinians as tacit approval for a campaign of terrorism against Har Homa, and we can expect to see this soon.

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