Archive for January, 2008

Now is not the time for a Palestinian state

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

Lt. Gen. (res.) Moshe YaalonIt’s become conventional wisdom that the path to peace between Israel and the Palestinians is a new partition agreement. Israel will leave some or all of the territory conquered in 1967, with or without land swaps; Jerusalem will in some way be divided so that part of it can be the capital of Israel and part of Palestine; the refugees will go somewhere; and a peaceful state of Palestine will be created with or without territorial contiguity. It’s just a matter of working out the details and preventing the ‘extremists’ from wrecking it.

Virtually every ‘moderate’ voice in the world, starting with the Bush Administration — even some Arab states — officially supports some kind of Oslo-like solution along these lines. Only outlaws like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hamas, and Hezbollah oppose it. Public opinion in the West is massively in favor.

Yet it can’t possibly be implemented, at least not for a generation, and anybody who has paid attention to the actions and words of the Palestinian leadership, particularly since the signing of the Oslo accord and its failure, should be able to see this.

Former Israeli Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. (res.) Moshe Ya’alon spoke this week at the Herzliya Conference in Israel, and his words should be required reading for everyone concerned, particularly the diplomats in the US State Department and Foreign Offices around the world.

Some of Ya’alon’s points:

In the [Oslo] accord Israel recognized the right of the Palestinian people to have self determination and recognized the PLO as the sole representative of the Palestinian people. The Palestinians, on the other side, did not recognize Zionism as a national Jewish movement and did not recognize the rights of the Jews to a national Jewish country, an independent Jewish state. The Palestinians delayed Israel’s efforts to insist on the Palestinian recognizing Israel as a Jewish state.

Indeed, in spite of massive pressure from President Clinton, the PLO covenant which defined Israel as illegitimate and called for its ‘liberation by armed struggle’ was never changed. And today’s ‘moderate’ Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayed refuse to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

This lack of recognition shows that the Palestinians are striving for the disappearance of Israel as an independent Jewish state, or in other words: the Palestinians’ goal is not an Israeli state within the 1967 borders (Gaza, Judea and Samaria) but a Palestinian state on Israel’s ruins. It is important to remember that the Palestinian unification did not come after the six day war, but with the foundation of Zionism. In my opinion, Arafat started a war in September 2000 to escape from the “two state solution” and the de-facto recognition of Israel as an independent Jewish state.

In addition we can see a pattern in Arafat’s war of terror that is very similar to the reaction of Palestinians in previous attempts to divide the land: in 1937 the [Peel] Committee and the “Arab Rebellion”; in 1947 the UN partition plan and the War of Independence afterwards…

…since the beginning of Zionism there was no Palestinian leadership that was willing to acknowledge the right of the Jewish people to an independent Jewish state. In addition, since the beginning of Zionism there was no Palestinian leadership that was willing to accept a Jewish state within the 1967 borders as a final agreement. Under these circumstances there is no way to establish a secure situation with a “two state solution”.

But is it possible that Abbas and Fayed are different? In a word, no. Barry Rubin discusses this in detail in the previous post, “The shadow falling on Israel-Palestinian peace“, but some of the symptoms are 1) their inability to compromise on recognition of Israel as a Jewish state or on a right of return, 2) their inability to confront Hamas or even the terrorists in their own Fatah organization, and 3) their continued tolerance of the campaign of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incitement coming from every media and educational outlet in the Palestinian Authority.


The shadow falling on Israel-Palestinian peace

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008

I’ve written on several occasions that Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah can’t be expected to make a peace agreement acceptable to Israel or to deliver on one if it were signed. Today Barry Rubin explains exactly why this is true.

Fatah’s Politics Make Peace Impolitic

By Barry Rubin

T.S. Elliot wrote memorably in “The Hollow Men”: Between the idea/And the reality/Between the motion/And the act/Falls the Shadow

In the case of the peace process and all the great ideas for fixing everything in Arab-Israel relations, the Shadow has been Palestinian leaders’ unwillingness–and now also inability–to make a compromise agreement ending the conflict.

Close examination of the movement’s ideology, organization, and structure shows why this is true. Exactly forty years ago, in 1968, Yasir Arafat and Fatah took over. That same year he laid down two principles dominating the movement ever since.

First, in July 1968, he changed the PLO Charter from emphasizing the group was no longer a follower of Arab states but both independent and the struggle’s leader. But at the same time he stated, “We are an extension of the hundred million Arabs.”

It proved hard to have it both ways, though Arafat usually managed the tension adequately. Today, the Arab world’s real support for Fatah–and for the Palestinians generally–is minimal, though many in the West still don’t notice that. Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Mahmoud Abbas recently said, “Our Arab relations are at their best. We do not have any problems with any Arab country.”

Well, not exactly. The remaining backing does not include financial aid (the West pays the bills), direct military involvement, or strenuous diplomatic effort. Instead, it mostly revolves around demanding that the United States solve the problem while the regimes focus on their own real priorities.

Second, back in 1968, Arafat mandated the goal as total victory bringing Israel’s disappearance. Thus, armed struggle was the main tactic intended to “maintain an atmosphere of strain and anxiety that will force the Zionists to realize that it is impossible for them to live in Israel.” Since then, Israel has prospered, the Palestinians have suffered, and Hamas has seized that slogan. But it also remains a central plank for Fatah.

Abbas puts the main emphasis on diplomacy today. But most of his colleagues and constituents are still focused on glorifying violence and insisting on ultimate, total victory. What he can do, or even say, is quite limited.


Blame Hamas, not Israel, for Gaza problems

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008

UN Watch writes,

As Israel struggles to defend its civilians from deadly Hamas rocket attacks—200 in the past few days alone, averaging nearly one per hour—the Arab and Islamic states have called an emergency “Special Session” of the UN Human Rights Council [HRC] for this Wednesday. Their proposed resolution would invert the simple reality that Hamas and its terrorist allies are deliberately targeting civilians, whereas Israel in its defensive measures takes pains to avoid harming civilians…

The draft resolution circulated by the Palestinians is entirely one-sided. It accuses Israel of “grave breaches” of human rights, and of “incessant and repeated military attacks and incursions.”

Not a word, of course, about rockets, mortars, sniping, planting explosives at the border fence or digging under it, etc. The past few weeks have seen as many as 50 rockets a day hitting southern Israel.

The UN HRC, with a great majority of anti-Israel members, is likely to approve it. Recently, they passed a resolution commending the Sudan for its “cooperation” in solving the problem of human rights abuses in Darfur!

If you believe in the efficacy of such things, you can send an email here to the leaders of Western nations on the HRC.

Probably more effective is writing one’s own letter, as Maurice Ostroff has done, and he has sent it to the prime ministers of Canada, Britain, Germany, France and Slovenia:

January 22, 2008

Motion to be proposed on January 23, at UN Human Rights Council Special Session on Gaza blockade

May I respectfully suggest that your representative on the HRC take the following circumstances into account when participating in the above session.

If the proposers of the motion to end the blockade of Gaza are sincerely interested in the welfare of the Gazan citizens, they can achieve their goal speedily and effectively by addressing the party that really holds the key, namely Hamas. And as Hamas is well disposed to the majority of HRC member states, HRC is in a favorable position to influence that organization.

In the interests of moral integrity, the HRC dare not miss this opportunity to effectively release the Gazans from their nightmare by insisting and ensuring that Hamas put an end to the rocket attacks, whereupon electricity, fuel and other supplies will immediately start flowing into Gaza.

It is completely illogical to expect Israel to refrain from acting to counter the War Crime of rockets deliberately aimed from civilian areas in Gaza, at Israeli homes, schools and hospitals with the declared intention of killing and maiming as many as possible. More than 4,000 rockets have landed in Israel since the pullout from Gaza and it is not due to lack of intent, that none have yet landed on a crowded hospital or school.

The declared intention is to indiscriminately kill and maim as many civilians as possible. If any had had fallen on a school the number of casualties would have been disastrous. In the past few weeks alone, more than 450 rockets and mortars have been launched. If each missile fired had achieved the launcher’s intention, the results would have been a massacre of huge proportions. That this was and remains the intention cannot be ignored and it is only by the grace of the almighty that it has not happened.

Removing the cause of the blockade by ending the firing of rockets would obviously be of greater humanitarian value than cynically adding another vengeful one-sided resolution against Israel while completely ignoring the context in which events are taking place.

Maurice Ostroff

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Hamas propaganda barrage hits its target

Monday, January 21st, 2008

This morning I wrote a letter to my local newspaper in response to a biased AP item written by Ibrahim Barzak which began, “Gaza City was plunged into darkness Sunday after Israel blocked the shipment of fuel that powers its only electrical plant in retaliation for persistent rocket attacks by Hamas militants.”

The article made it sound as though Israel had shut off power to Gaza, and quoted Hamas as saying that five patients at the hospital had died as a result of the power outage (but admits that this can not be confirmed. So why include it?).

Several paragraphs down it is mentioned in passing that Israel directly supplies 70% of Gaza’s electricity (another 5% comes from Egypt), and that this was not interrupted. So why was there a massive blackout?

Arye Mekel, a spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry, said, “What we are seeing now is a staged production by Hamas.”

Given the amount of electricity provided by Israel and Egypt, there was no justification for the massive blackouts, Mr. Mekel said, even with a shortage of fuel.– NY Times

I suppose that Hamas needed to divert that 70% to its really critical functions, like running the lathes that make rocket motors or lighting the weapons-smuggling tunnels under the Egyptian border.

In fact, as Honest Reporting points out, Hamas officials made a big deal about shutting down the power plant themselves and invited the media to watch them do it!

To add insult to injury, the Fresno Bee shortened the already slanted AP dispatch by leaving off the very last sentence, which mentioned the fact that 200 rockets and mortars had hit southern Israel since last Tuesday.

Of course this kind of coverage has been as constant as the Qassam barrage on Sderot in past months. Just search Yahoo News for “Gaza Barzak” to see numerous AP releases from staffer Barzak about the suffering Gazans and the sadistic Zionists.

Now it seems that the propaganda barrage has hit its target as well. Israel has announced that it will be sending a week’s supply of diesel fuel plus 50 truckloads of food and other supplies to Gaza. Supposedly this is not a result of international pressure. But given that Israeli officials do not themselves believe that that there is a “humanitarian crisis”, there’s no other explanation.

Schoolchildren in Sderot try to hide from Hamas missiles

Schoolchildren in Sderot try to hide from Hamas missiles (courtesy Sderot Media)

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Bolton talks about the NIE

Sunday, January 20th, 2008

When the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) came out in December 2007, I was struck by the emphasis placed on its first sentence — “We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003 Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program” — in all major media reports, and the almost universal conclusion drawn that the US was not going to take serious action, military or diplomatic, to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons (see “The NIE: read past the first line“).

The New York Times wrote in an editorial,

Tehran, we are now told, halted its secret nuclear weapons program in 2003, which means that President Bush has absolutely no excuse for going to war against Iran.

…and, therefore, far less leverage to get effective sanctions applied. The overwhelming reaction in the press and foreign and domestic political circles was similar: the US is backing off on stopping Iran’s nuclear program.

I argued at the time that anyone actually reading the NIE (the non-classified part that was released) would get the impression that the likelihood of Iran developing deliverable nuclear weapons in the next few years is still as great as ever.

Former UN Ambassador John BoltonToday former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton said the same thing in a Jerusalem Post interview:

…the NIE “doesn’t say what you probably think it says. Once you get past the first sentence or two, it doesn’t come out that different from the 2005 NIE. All of the attention was focused on the one finding that [Iran halted the weapons-building] aspect of the weapons program, even though later they say that they only have ‘moderate confidence’ that this suspension has continued. That’s a polite way of saying they don’t have a clue what the situation is.”

The document also defines the weapons program as “actual weaponization, that is, fabrication – only a tiny sliver of the total activity required for a country to have a nuclear weapons program. It still remains entirely within Iran’s discretion when and under what circumstances it proceeds to a nuclear weapons capability.”

Iran, it is well known, is continuing with the other parts of the job — the preparation of nuclear explosive material, and the development of delivery systems.

Bolton also expressed his opinion about who was responsible for the release of the report and its wording:

“I know the people who wrote this intelligence estimate,” Bolton continued. “They are not from our intelligence community. They’re from our State Department. It was a highly politicized document written by people who had a very clear policy objective.”

Said objective, in my opinion, being to placate Iran in return for a reduction of the level of violence by Iranian-influenced Shiite forces in Iraq. Has it worked? Maybe:Moqtada al-Sadr

Gen. David Petraeus has been deservedly praised for tamping down violence in Iraq, but an unlikely character deserves some credit— [Shiite militia leader Moqtada al-] Sadr. Five months ago the firebrand cleric ordered his followers to lay down their arms, and they’ve largely obeyed…

In early December Sadr issued another decree, urging his followers to focus on prayer and religious studies. He’s leading by example. Senior clerics close to Sadr, who did not want to be named speaking about their boss, confirm that he himself is studying to ascend to the rank of ayatollah, using books, CDs and even texts on the Internet. — Newsweek

If this is the correct analysis, then the maneuver provides a short-term gain for a lame duck administration. But it may yet create a much bigger problem for the next President, for the Mideast, and indeed for all of us.

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