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Clinton: neither peace nor withdrawal

Barak and ClintonHillary rejected the latest suggestion by the dovish Israeli defense minister that we can unilaterally disengage from the West Bank. Barak is well-known for his brave political ideas, which he voiced during his negotiations with Arafat.

Clinton had no problem with our unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, but surprisingly does not favor withdrawal from the West Bank.

Unilateral withdrawal might not be a bad idea after all. Abandon the most dangerous settlements, build a wall to keep out individual terrorists, close the border to Palestinian migrants and laborers, and let them become a new Gaza.

Leading presidential candidate ignores Camp David treaty

Amr Moussa has declared the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty dead. While he would not (indeed, cannot) denounce the treaty, Moussa promised to abide first by the terms of the Arab League peace initiative, which requires Israel to withdraw to the 1948 armistice line, surrender Jerusalem, and allow Palestinian ‘refugees’ to return.

Moussa lied when he said that the treaty was conditioned on the creation of a Palestinian state; there are many memoirs that show how irrelevant that issue was for Sadat.

Amr Moussa

03 May 2012 Posted in Egypt

EU shows less cooperation on ‘flytilla’ protests

Pro-Palestinian activistsThe last time a group of anti-Israeli organizations announced plans to dispatch hundreds of activists by air, the EU countries mostly prevented them from boarding their flights based on information provided by Israel. This time, however, most of the activists are expected to arrive in Ben Gurion airport without hindrance. Hundreds of police are on duty to prevent them from entering our country.

This is unreasonable. We expend massive resources spying on those peaceful organizations. Instead, let them come and protest here—who cares? We have “Peace Now,” “There is a Limit,” and many similarly subversive organizations that stage routine protests. So let foreign activists join them and go back home.

What has to be done, however, is law enforcement. If foreign activists break our laws, join or instigate riots, or demand that our land be given away—which is a crime here—they should be arrested, tried, and sentenced to significant jail terms. That would show the others that rioting in Israel is no game, and discourage further flotillas.

Instead, our government makes bravery attractive to the activists: they demonstrate solidarity with the Palestinian cause by flying here, and then they are safely deported.

Israel does not care for peace talks

Our country sabotaged the new round of peace talks with Palestinian Arabs in Amman by refusing even to present them with a map outlining Israeli border demands. And what can Netanyahu do? He cannot agree to the same border adjustments as were offered by Olmert—or any border adjustments, for that matter, because of his coalition partners. At the same time, the Palestinians cannot agree to anything less than the borders they refused to accept with Olmert.

And so we conduct peace talks for the eyes of Americans.

Palestinian UN membership bid: stop or go?

Mahmoud Abbas in UNNow that their bid is stalled in the UNSC, we can ponder whether it was wise. And yes, it was.

Regardless of whether he has won UNSC approval, Abbas has won the UNGA to his side. This is something that Jewish state has never accomplished even once. In effect, Abbas has achieved a moral victory.

He did not harm his relations with the White House. Obama probably hates him just as he hated Netanyahu before, but that does not change the fact that Washington has no other party to support in the PA. To underscore that fact, the White House released $200 million in aid that it had threatened to withhold if Abbas applied to the UNGA for statehood recognition.

Nor will Israel be able to withhold tax transfers for long. Nor can it abandon Fatah militarily, unless we are willing to allow Hamas to take over the West Bank.

The Israeli arguments against the Palestinian bid were proved silly. Thus, to claim that mutually agreed-upon borders are a prerequisite for Palestine’s UN application is preposterous because the Jewish state itself came into being without a border agreement with its neighbors.

Arab diplomats revolted against Abbas for forcing their hand with his UNGA application. Indeed, they as well as their US and EU counterparts felt starkly irrelevant as Abbas dumped diplomatic intrigues in favor of appealing directly to people of the world. But they, too, will be forced back to the table by the US.

Perhaps Abbas miscalculated, imagining that he could push Obama into supporting his bid. Well, the US president is far more cynical than the Fatah leader had thought. Perhaps the peace process is now more dead than ever because the UNGA proved powerless against Jewish influence in Washington. But in the end Abbas was going down, anyway. And at least he is going down as a courageous leader who used his last chance to gain independence for his people—who happen to be our enemies.

Israel misses a historic opportunity

Egypt CoptsMuslim hatred of Israel is based on their perception of her as a foreign entity in their land. Israel once lost a great chance to establish such an entity in South Lebanon, a Christian buffer state. Now blind Jewish leaders are ignoring a new opportunity—to divide Egypt to create a state for Coptic Christians.

After long period of problematic coexistence, conflicts burst into the open when Muslim Brotherhood gangs openly attacked the Christians; the Egyptian army joined the Muslims. Some ten million hardworking, relatively educated and prosperous Christians are heavily oppressed and regularly killed. They would love our support to form a state of their own, and American Christians would come to their financial and political aid.

Israel is losing its peace treaty with Egypt anyway. Sinai has become a no-man’s land closed to Israeli commercial traffic and nearly closed to tourists, though it remains open for Palestinian arms smuggling. We need not pretend to maintain good relations with Egypt. Israel must establish a rapport with the Copts and incite them to demand independence.

Netanyahu’s Israel clarified

As Netanyahu was speaking in the US about the need to leave some Jewish villages to the Palestinians, the Jewish Agency dropped Maaleh Adumim and Ariel from its aliyah advertising. That means the number of Jewish evictees will be closer to 100,000.

The Israeli government welcomes a worthless peace treaty with Palestinian Arabs at the cost of a war with its own Jewish citizens.

Maaleh Adumim

A word of truth from the Palestinians

Saeb ErekatPalestinian negotiator Erekat remarked that peace negotiations in Israel are over. It testifies to Jewish madness that he spoke at a conference in Tel Aviv. Indeed, on that same day Israel sent the PA $100 million in tax transfers.

Erekat is definitely right. Everyone knows the conditions for peace for each side, and they are irreconcilable: The Palestinians cannot forfeit their ‘right of return,’ and we Israelis cannot accept it. Everything else is settled: the Israeli government has agreed to abandon the Temple Mount and outlying settlements, and the PA agreed to leave three settlement blocs to the Jews.

Given the situation, a Palestinian declaration of statehood is the most logical course of action. It simply avoids the problem. The Palestinian government is fine with de facto abandonment of the right of return. The one problem the PA faces with statehood is that refugees would be able to move from Lebanon and Syria into the West Bank, breaking the fledgling state. The Palestinians would love for Israel to continue guarding their borders.

A de jure Palestinian state is not bad at all for Israel, the only better alternative being to expel the Arabs from Judea and Samaria.

Guts to fight Hamas, anyone?

As we expected, the Israeli government suspended tax transfers to the PA in response to the Hamas-Fatah unity agreement. Subservient Jews collected some $1.4 billion annually on behalf of their Palestinian enemies, which comprises some 70% of the PA budget.

Israel thus possesses enormous power over the Palestinian government. The question is whether Israel’s rulers are willing to exercise that leverage.

We expect that the tax sanctions won’t last long. As the Palestinian economy nears collapse, the US will pressure Netanyahu and his ilk into releasing the funds under some face-saving scheme which theoretically does not benefit Hamas.

Why Rafah will be opened

Livni blamed the Hamas-Fatah unity deal on Netanyahu’s procrastination in the peace negotiations. Wrong. If a peace deal had been signed, Israel would have had to release thousands of Palestinian terrorists. Also, in a state of their own without IDF incursions Hamas would have beaten Fatah.

If anyone is to blame, it is Livni’s own government, which withdrew IDF from Gaza and did not finish off Hamas in the subsequent war.

In truth, no one expected Abbas to renounce US political support and Israeli tax transfers; moreover, no one thought the Egyptian FM would be capable of forging the Fatah-Hamas unity deal on which Mubarak had broken his tooth several times. It seems that he promised Hamas that he would reopen the Rafah Crossing with Gaza if Hamas signed the unity deal.

01 May 2011 Posted in Egypt

Fatah defeated, peace process stopped

Ismail Haniyeh and Mahmud AbbasIn the two months since Mubarak’s departure, Fatah and Hamas have achieved the reconciliation which had eluded them for the last five years. The agreement came as a surprise to the Israeli government.

Fatah lost everything: imminent EU recognition of its statehood, Western support for its statehood declaration at UNGA, and its own political power. In the next elections, Hamas will defeat Fatah in Gaza whether the elections are rigged or not, and with substantial support in the West Bank will gain a majority in the Palestinian parliament. Hamas can oust Fatah even sooner by staging riots in the West Bank, which it can do freely now that its local organizations are legal.

The obscene Israeli government will continue tax transfers to Fatah-Hamas government because that is what is was doing before: Israeli tax transfers went to Fatah government to be passed to Hamas employees and militias in Gaza. The White House, no more a Jew-lover than our own government, will continue massive aid to Fatah-Hamas government.

Fatah accepted Hamas demand to stop peace negotiations with Israel. The Hamas position is that of its pro-Iranian leadership in Syria rather than more pragmatic wing in Gaza. Faced with unrestricted weapons supply to Hamas from Egypt and eyeing popular protests in the West Bank, Fatah saw its chance for survival, however temporary, in submitting to Hamas. That changes Israeli situation completely: now we face Iran in Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank, and Gaza, plus a Muslim Brotherhood state in Egypt. Add pro-Iranian Turkey in the Mediterranean to get the picture.

The first thing Israel must do now is abandon minor checkpoints in the West Bank, which will be the targets of continuous attacks, and concentrate on sealing her borders against Palestinians. And if Israel wants to finish off the Palestinian unity government, she can do so in a moment by ending the tax transfers.

Terror attacks exposes Shabak deficiencies

Attack siteA terrorist bombing in Jerusalem, which left one dead and fifty wounded, belied claims by Israeli security services that they are intercepting all terrorist attempts.

In truth, almost every terrorist caught is either an Arab civilian found in the possession of a knife, an Arab criminal, or an aspiring terrorist betrayed to Israel by Fatah officials. The security cooperation of the PLO has largely replaced Israel’s own network of agents in Palestinian towns. We receive relatively little information from Hamas, and almost none about grassroots terrorist cells.

For several years, Hamas has refrained from staging terror attacks because it was busy building its state in Gaza. Pushed by Iran and by events in Egypt, Hamas took off the gloves and allowed PIJ and PRC to launch attacks on Israel.

Israel cannot build spy networks inside Hamas quickly enough. Shabak is weaker now than it used to be, and Hamas’ counterintelligence is stronger than Fatah’s. Our only deterrent is the threat of reprisals against Gazan civilian targets. But in order to do that, Israel has to declare open war on Gaza, which would formally end the peace process—something that the ruling clique is unwilling to accept.

Israeli capitulation: the government is forthcoming

Netanyahu reportedly is formulating an interim plan for Palestinian statehood, the details of which are to be announced soon. Such a plan would necessarily include withdrawals from some settlements, which explains the police violence at Gilad Farm.

Netanyahu’s plan is a blatant attempt to deflect the world’s criticism over Israel’s procrastination in withdrawing from what Israeli leaders agree is  Palestinian land.

There is a fundamental fallacy in such an approach. The Palestinians should be pleading for peace instead of Israel going an extra mile to come up with a peace treaty which would be acceptable to them. Israeli endless stream of peace offers reinforces in the international community the belief that the Jews are the guilty party. The Palestinian Arabs won’t accept Netanyahu’s new plan, but it will set new benchmarks for the concessions which Israel is ready to accept.

Will we hold settlement blocs?

Fourteen members of the UNSC voted to condemn Israeli settlements as illegal. Though the United States vetoed the resolution, the Arabs have promised to bring the motion to the General Assembly, which will probably approve it.

In conjunction with the recognition of Palestine in its 1967 borders, that would mean international pressure on Israel to abandon even the major West Bank towns. Which would not be a big deal strategically: a country which has abandoned Sinai and is ready to give away the Golan Heights can let go of her West Bank bridgeheads. Economically, relocating 5% of the population is a tolerable burden. In terms of public relations, the government can abandon the settlements to Palestinian jurisdiction and let the settlers relocate on their own.

The PA pushed ahead with the UNSC resolution despite Obama’s demands to withdraw it, even though Fatahland critically depends on US aid. There is only so much that money can buy.

The delusional US administration, even while vetoing the resolution, declared the settlements a threat to regional security. In a Middle East boiling with public unrest and government nuclear programs, Jewish villages are a threat to peace.

Wedding disrupted by rocket fire

Grad rocketOur peace partners from Gaza fired a barrage of Grad rockets at Israel. One rocket struck a wedding ceremony. The Israeli response was as usual, hitting low-value targets instead of Muslim weddings.

More important is that smaller Palestinian terrorist groups, which Hamas has failed to control, now possess Grads. They have not yet learned to properly aim the very capable rockets, but apparently have enough of them to launch for mere PR effect. This development radically changes the balance of power in Gaza: Israel can deter Hamas from firing Grads, but cannot deter PRC, PLFP, Salafites, and similar groups. Absent deterrence, nothing prevents escalation.

PaliGate: end of peace process?

Mahmud AbbasWikiLeaked Palestinian documents confirm that Fatah agreed to let Jewish settlers settle Palestine. That is, they would remain in their villages under Palestinian jurisdiction. As we expected, the Israeli government discussed this matter seriously because it is unable to evict so many Jews. So the government in Israel lacks the power to make peace.

And its counterpart in the West Bank lacks the will to make peace. According to the leaked cables, the Palestinians refused to let Israel keep Maaleh Adumim and Ariel, two relatively large towns in the West Bank. No Israeli party, even Meretz, is willing to accept losing them.

The documents show that the Fatah government collaborated with Israel mainly in assassinating its own terrorists, but did not go against Hamas. Israel acknowledged that situation and did not press Fatah to fight Hamas.

In publishing the PaliGate papers, Al Jazeera bet correctly that Palestinian Arabs would despise their government for cooperating with Israel on security matters and relinquishing the most radical Palestinian demands, including the right of return and the right to the Temple Mount. It follows that the vast majority of Palestinians do not support the peace process on terms acceptable to Jews.

New US plan: why so good?

Netanyahu and ObamaPalestinian officials decried the new American peace initiative floated after the Israeli government refused to continue the settlement freeze. The new plan is worse for the Palestinians than the original Oslo Accords because it sends all issues back to the negotiation table and ignores Barak’s and Olmert’s offers to the Palestinians.

Obama is being so generous towards Israel probably to soothe her wounds from his other Middle East initiatives. He allowed Hariri to surrender Lebanon to Iran, accepted Iran’s nuclear program, and elevated Turkey to the status of the lynchpin of America’s Middle East diplomacy.

Government damage-controls Carmel fires

Soon after two Arabs were arrested for arson, the government realized that it would be inconvenient to blame the largest disaster in Israeli history on our peace partners.

And so it was announced that the fire started with a water pipe (hookah, shisha, nargileh) which some tourists smoked in the forest.

It is impossible to determine a forest fire’s origin so quickly. If such a huge fire had been started by tourists, police should have found their remains, which is not the case. Starting a forest fire with nargile coal is not that easy, and tourists would have been able to put down such a fire immediately.

Israel in provisional boundaries

Unable to sell their citizens the concessions necessary for a peace treaty with the Palestinians, Israeli leaders are trying to push Abu Mazen into accepting an interim agreement. According to the terms of this agreement, a Palestinian state will be established in temporary borders, with Jerusalem and the settlements not to be discussed for some time. The Palestinians rightly refuse to accept this plan: once their state is created, international pressure on Israel will wane, and they will never get Jerusalem (unless they take it over demographically).

In the meantime, Israel is falling into the same trap. Jews tread the very path of incremental concessions which Palestinians refuse. Under the 1972 Egyptian peace offer, we could have had a peace treaty with all Muslim states by abandoning the West Bank. Today, we would only have an agreement with the Palestinians. One by one, Israel surrenders her bargaining chips: we evacuated Gaza, withdrew from most of Judea and Samaria, and have unofficially agreed to abandon the Temple Mount. Israeli bargaining power diminishes while international pressure on us increases to stop squabbling over minute details.

It is not Palestine, but Israel that is being pushed into provisional borders by the settlement construction freeze. Just as the Palestinians would have sat in their provisional borders dreaming of Jerusalem, Israel holds the settlements dreaming of their expansion. Palestine’s actual borders are now firm and won’t become less so, while Israel’s borders shrink with every new initiative.

We play on ourselves exactly the trick we intended to play on the Palestinians.

Settlement freeze: the details

Just as his cabinet is expected to vote to approve an extension of the construction freeze, Netanyahu has revealed that the exact details of the American incentives package are still being discussed. Huh? Then why are we voting for the freeze in return for we know not what?

Netanyahu implies that the American incentives are connected to halting Iran’s nuclear program. Oh sure, we’ll have yet another round of useless sanctions. Meanwhile, Bushehr goes hot in a few days, despite Mossad’s sabotage.

So far, the White House has promised us a veto on the unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood—but only for one year. And should we not expect the United States to veto such a declaration as a matter of friendship and alliance, regardless of the freeze? Obama also promised not to pressure Israel for a settlement freeze. But are we to believe the same Hussein who has already broken his electoral promises to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and help Israel to defend herself?

Barak claimed that the American gift of 20 F-35’s justifies the freeze. But why do we need those advanced jets if we cannot even bomb Bushehr?

Shas’ ministers can defeat the freeze vote, but needless to say, Shas will vote with the prime minister who bought them with stipends to religious students. Or, as a face-saving measure, they will abstain from voting. Nominally, Shas demands that construction in Jerusalem be encouraged, which would never happen on a meaningful scale even if it were approved. And what is the point of building there if R. Ovadia Yosef has already approved giving the place to Arabs, ostensibly to save Jewish lives?

Peaceniks laud the American pressure as a way to avoid a binational state. As if a state where Arabs constitute 34% of the youth is not already binational.

During the three-month freeze, Netanyahu is expected to abandon the Jordan Valley to the Arabs, leaving only a minimal IDF presence. This is the issue over which Rabin was killed: in his last Knesset speech, he refused to cede the valley. Is it not bizarre that instead of attacking Iran, as he promised to do during the elections, Netanyahu negotiates away the Jordan Valley, Israel’s major security barrier?

Worse, the freeze is entirely futile. It will cover East Jerusalem only nominally, but Abbas demands a formal freeze there. The upcoming talks assume IDF’s presence in the Jordan Valley after the Palestinian declaration of statehood, something that Abbas categorically opposes. And Netanyahu cannot sell to his government any agreement with the Palestinians which includes a division of Jerusalem.

Both Netanyahu and Abbas know the price of a peace treaty, but neither is strong enough to gain public approval for it.