Saturday, June 13, 2009


Jerold Auerbach

Spring 2009 Feature

Jerold S. Auerbach, professor of history at Wellesley College, is a frequent contributor to Midstream. He is the author of Hebron Jews, to be published by Rowman & Littlefield in July, from which this essay is excerpted.

With the recent election of a liberal American president and a conservative Israeli prime minister, pressure on Israel to reach a final agreement with the Palestinian Authority is likely to intensify. According to the conventional political wisdom, peace will require substantial Israeli concessions to the Palestinian Authority regarding the status of Jerusalem, the return of refugees, and the future of Jewish settlements. But the problem that has eluded resolution for sixty years remains: demarcating the permanent, recognized borders of the Jewish state. Settlements have been a deeply polarizing issue, in Israel and elsewhere, ever since the Israel Defense Forces swept triumphantly through the West Bank of the Kingdom of Jordan in June 1967. Before long, clusters of religious Zionists returned to the once inhabited, then tragically decimated, sites of Gush Etzion and Hebron, south of Jerusalem. They were the vanguard of a growing movement to restore a Jewish presence throughout Judea and Samaria, the Biblical homeland of the Jewish people.

Settlement of the Land of Israel, after all, had defined Zionism ever since the founding of Rishon l'Tzion, the first settlement, in 1882. The "tower and stockade" settlements built overnight by kibbutzniks under British Mandatory rule remained legendary achievements in Zionist annals. With its stunning victory in the Six-Day War, Israel unexpectedly confronted new possibilities to fulfill ancient dreams-and, it is seldom recognized-long-deferred international commitments.

Now, four decades after the first settlers blazed the trail of return, nearly 300,000 Israelis live in more than one hundred settlement communities amid 1.5 million Palestinian Arabs. No Jews anywhere in the world have been as persistently maligned-indeed, as maliciously vilified-as these Jewish settlers. Everyone from Yasir Arafat to Jimmy Carter (who has made a new career of hectoring Israel) has condemned them for occupying Palestinian land and violating fundamental principles of international law, to say nothing of impeding peace efforts.

This allegation has been incessantly propagated by Israeli critics of settlement and by enraged Palestinians who claim that Jewish settlers have stolen "their" land. In Lords of the Land (2007), the first comprehensive survey of the Jewish settlement movement, Israeli historian Idith Zertal and Ha'aretz journalist Akiva Eldar lacerated settlers for their illegal occupation, plunder, destruction, and lawlessness. The "malignancy of occupation," they wrote, "in contravention of international law," has "brought Israel's democracy . . . to the brink of an abyss." By now, The New York Times has reported, "Much of the world" regards "all Israeli settlements in land occupied in the 1967 war to be illegal under international law."

At the core of the settlement critique is the incessant allegation, rarely scrutinized or challenged, that Israeli settlements established in "occupied" territory since 1967 are illegal under international law. It surfaced within Israeli government circles three months after the Six-Day War when Theodor Meron, legal counsel for the Foreign Ministry, sent a memo to Foreign Minister Abba Eban, a copy of which he forwarded to Prime Minister Levi Eshkol. "My conclusion," Meron wrote, "is that civilian settlement in the administered territories contravenes the explicit provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention."

The Geneva Convention, adopted in 1949 in the shadow of World War II atrocities, declared that an "occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies." According to Meron, this provision (Article 49) was intended to forever prevent repetition of the notorious Nazi forced transfers of civilian populations-for "political and racial reasons"-from conquered territory to slave labor and extermination camps. As a youthful prisoner in a Nazi labor camp, Meron had painful personal memories of such population transfers, when hundreds of thousands of Jews were deported from their homes and replaced by foreign nationals. He insisted that the Geneva prohibition was "categorical and is not conditioned on the motives or purposes of the transfer."

Meron's legal opinion, recently rediscovered by journalist Gershom Gorenberg during his research for a critical study of the early years of Jewish settlement, was filed and forgotten-for good reason. It was neither persuasive to his superiors nor an accurate appraisal of the applicability of the Geneva Convention to new Israeli settlements in the former West Bank of the Kingdom of Jordan. Military Advocate General Meir Shamgar, who subsequently became attorney general and then chief judge of the Supreme Court, asserted, "The legal applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention to these territories is in doubt." For legitimate legal reasons, no government of Israel has ever accepted the validity of Meron's argument.

To the contrary: Israeli settlement throughout the West Bank is explicitly protected by international agreements dating from the World War I era, subsequently reaffirmed after World War II, and never revoked since. The Balfour Declaration of 1917, calling for "the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people," was endorsed by the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine, drafted at the San Remo Conference in 1920, and adopted unanimously two years later. The mandate recognized "the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine" and "the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country." Jews were guaranteed the right of "close settlement" throughout "Palestine," geographically defined by the mandate as comprising land both east and west of the Jordan River (which ultimately became Jordan, the West Bank, and Israel). This was not framed as a gift to the Jewish people; rather, based on recognition of historical rights reaching back into antiquity, it was their entitlement.

Jewish settlement throughout Palestine was limited by the mandate in only one respect: Great Britain, the Mandatory Trustee, acting in conjunction with the League of Nations Council, retained the discretion to "postpone" or "withhold" the right of Jews to settle east - but not west-of the Jordan River. Consistent with that solitary exception, and to placate the ambitions of the Hashemite Sheikh Abdullah for his own territory to rule, Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill removed the land east of the river from the borders of Palestine.

Churchill anticipated that the newly demarcated territory, comprising three-quarters of Mandatory Palestine, would become a future Arab state. With the establishment of Transjordan in 1922, the British prohibited Jewish settlement there. But the status of Jewish settlement west of the Jordan River remained unchanged. Under the terms of the mandate, the internationally guaranteed legal right of Jews to settle anywhere in this truncated quarter of Palestine and build their national home there remained in force.

Never further modified, abridged, or terminated, the Mandate for Palestine outlived the League of Nations. In the Charter of the United Nations, drafted in 1945, Article 80 explicitly protected the rights of "any peoples" and "the terms of existing international instruments to which members of the United Nations may respectively be parties." Drafted at the founding conference of the United Nations by Jewish legal representatives-including liberal American Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, Peter Bergson from the right-wing Irgun, and Ben-Zion Netanyahu (father of the future prime minister)-Article 80 became known as "the Palestine clause."

It preserved the rights of the Jewish people to "close settlement" throughout the remaining portion of their Palestinian homeland west of the Jordan River, precisely as the mandate had affirmed. But those settlement rights were flagrantly violated when Jordan invaded Israel in 1948. The military aggression of the Hashemite kingdom effectively obliterated U.N. Resolution 181, adopted the preceding year, which had called for the partition of (western) Palestine into Arab and Jewish states. Jordan's claim to the West Bank, recognized only by Great Britain and Pakistan, had no international legal standing.

Contrary to Theodor Meron's citation of Article 49, the Geneva Convention did not restrict Jewish settlement in the West Bank, acquired by Israel during the Six-Day War. As Eugene V. Rostow, formerly dean of Yale Law School and undersecretary of state for political affairs between 1966 and 1969, noted, the government of Israel neither "deported" Palestinians nor "transferred" Israelis during or after 1967. (Indeed, beginning with the return of Jews to Hebron the following year, settlers invariably acted on their own volition without government authorization.) Furthermore, Rostow noted, the Geneva Convention applied only to acts by one signatory "carried out on the territory of another." The West Bank, however, did not belong to any signatory power, for Jordan had no sovereign rights or legal claims there. Its legal status was defined as "an unallocated part of the British Mandate."

With Jordan's defeat in 1967, a "vacuum in sovereignty" existed on the West Bank. Under international law, the Israeli military administration became the custodian of territories until their return to the original sovereign-according to the League of Nations mandate, reinforced by Article 80 of the U.N. Charter-the Jewish people for their "national home in Palestine." Israeli settlement was not prohibited; indeed, under the terms of the mandate, it was explicitly protected. Jews retained the same legal right to settle in the West Bank that they enjoyed in Tel Aviv, Haifa, or the Galilee.

After the Six-Day War, a new UN resolution-which Rostow was instrumental in drafting-specifically applied to the territory acquired by Israel. According to Security Council Resolution 242 (superseding Resolution 181 from 1947), Israel was permitted to administer the land until "a just and lasting peace in the Middle East" was achieved. Even then, Israel would be required to withdraw its armed forces only "from territories"-not from "the territories" or "all the territories"-that it administered.

The absence of "the," the famous missing definite article, was neither an accident nor an afterthought; it resulted from what Rostow described as more than five months of "vehement public diplomacy" to clarify the meaning of Resolution 242. Israel would not be required to withdraw from all the territory that it had acquired during the Six-Day War; indeed, precisely such proposals were defeated in both the Security Council and the General Assembly. No prohibition on Jewish settlement, wherever it had been guaranteed by the Mandate for Palestine forty-five years earlier, was adopted.

"The Jewish right of settlement in the area," Rostow concluded, "is equivalent in every way to the right of the existing [Palestinian] population to live there." Furthermore, as Stephen Schwebel, a judge on the International Court of Justice between 1981 and 2000, explicitly noted, territory acquired in a war of self-defense (waged by Israel in 1967) must be distinguished from territory acquired through "aggressive conquest" (waged by Germany during World War II). Consequently, the provisions of the Mandate for Palestine, allocating all the land west of the Jordan River to the Jewish people for their national home, remained in force until sovereignty was finally determined by a peace treaty between the contending parties-now Israel and the Palestinians. Until then, the disputed West Bank, claimed by two peoples, remained open to Jewish settlement.

In sum, the right of the Jewish people to "close settlement" throughout Mandatory Palestine, except for the land siphoned off as Transjordan in 1922, has never been abrogated. Nor has the legal right of Jews to settle in Judea and Samaria, indisputably part of western "Palestine," ever been relinquished. The persistent effort to undermine the legitimacy of Israeli settlements, according to international law expert Julius Stone, has been nothing less than a "subversion . . . of basic international law principles," in which the government of Israel, at best ambivalent about the settlements, has often been a willing accomplice. In the continuing absence of a "just and lasting peace," with an accompanying determination of the scope of Israeli withdrawal from "territories," Israel is under no legal obligation to limit settlement.

World opinion, of course, is another matter. (In his uncritical embrace of Meron's flawed conclusion, Gorenberg cited "the court of world diplomacy" as "the court that mattered.") Ever since the Six-Day war, settlements have provoked unrelenting international hostility toward Israel. A triumphant Jewish state could hardly be expected to win approval from intractable Arab neighbors who had not recognized Israel even before settlements. An international community that in 1975 perceived Zionism as "racism" continues to see Palestinians only as "victims" of Jewish "conquest" and "occupation." Secular Zionists on the political left-long the ruling elite in Israeli intellectual, academic and media circles-are hardly receptive to challenges to their own cultural hegemony from religious nationalist settlers.

So, ever since 1967, Jewish settlements have been widely and loudly-and erroneously-trumpeted as the major obstacle to Middle Eastern peace. They are convenient surrogates for the deep and enduring hostility to the very existence of a Jewish state. That hostility long antedated 1967 and, as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, and President Ahmadinajad of Iran endlessly reiterate, it is likely to endure for as long as Israel exists within any boundaries. But neither in the court of world opinion, nor in the State of Israel, are settlement critics entitled to ignore the firm protection for Jewish settlements afforded by international legal guarantees extending back nearly a century, frequently affirmed ever since, and never rescinded. .

Comment: The terms "settlement" and s"settlers" are used only for political reasons. Towns, townships, villages inhabited by Israeli citizens exist in the territories of Judea and Samaria. do use terms or descriptors other than these demonstrate a person's political agenda or his/her ignorance.

Special secret preview of Netanyahu's Sunday speech

David Wilder
June 12, 2009

My fellow countrymen,

Yesterday, on the holy day of Shabbat, worshipping at a synagogue close to my Jerusalem home, I listened intently to the weekly Torah portion. It tells the story of 12 spies, sent by Moses, to study Eretz Yisrael and its residents, prior to the Israelites entering into the Land. The end is quite well known; Ten of the spies opposed any attempt to conquer the land, saying that it was filled with giants and well-fortified cities and walls. Only two men, Joshua and Kalev had the courage to reject the spy's slander, and called on all the Israelites to push forward, saying that of course they could conquer Israel.

As a result of the people's rejection of the land G-d decreed that they should spend forty years in the desert. Almost all those alive at that time, died before entering the land and were not privileged to see the Promised Land. The ten spies died horribly tragic deaths. Joshua and Kalev were rewarded for their faith and were later leaders in Eretz Yisrael. And of course, the same day when the Israelites rejected Eretz Yisrael, Jews have suffered through the centuries. That day is Tisha b'Av, the date when the first and second Temples were destroyed.

I have also witnessed, in our generation, the results of forfeiting Eretz Yisrael.

Following Menachem Begin's relinquishment of Sinai and the destruction of Yamit and other communities in the south, Israel immediately faced a deadly war in the north. Begin later resigned and lived for almost a decade in isolation.

When Ariel Sharon abandoned Gush Katif to our enemies, and destroyed those communities, uprooting loyal citizens from their homes, we were forced to deal with two wars, from the north and from the south. Former Prime Minister Sharon has been in a coma for years. Most of the leaders directly involved with the Gush Katif fiasco have been disgraced, such as former army chief of staff Dan Halutz and former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and many others.

And of course, I cannot forget to mention the fate of Yitzhak Rabin, following initiating and signing of the Oslo Accords.

Ehud Barak agreed to a Palestinian state throughout almost all of Judea and Samaria. As did Ehud Olmert. Events speak for themselves.

In truth, I myself had to deal with the same fate. Following my erroneous and fatal decision to divide Hebron, abandoning most of the city to Arafat, and my subsequent signing of the Wye accords, I was defeated at the polls by a very wide margin. I also had to deal with personal challenges, having been investigated several times by the police for crimes that never occurred.

I have come to a realization that, whatever the price, Eretz Yisrael, the land of Israel, including Judea and Samaria, is an intrinsic element of our people. Our Land is a
G-d -given gift to our people, and it is not ours to give away, to anyone, at any time, for any price.

Of course, peace is a Divinely defined ideal; but only when peace is real, not phony. Since the Olso Accords were signed, almost 2,000 Jews have been killed in terror attacks, murdered in cold blood, by the very people who were supposed to be at peace with the State of Israel.

We have witnessed to formation of a new terror-entity on our southern border, which continues to fire rockets into our country. We still have no assurances that Hamas will not eventually control the Arab populations in Judea and Samaria, as they have taken over Gaza. Israel will not lend a hand to formation of another terror state on our eastern border.

I am very aware of demands to find a national home for the Palestinians.
First, it should be reiterated: the State of Jordan, which was created by the British after World War Two, has a population which is 80% Palestinian; that is 80% of the population is identical to the 'palestinians' living in Judea and Samaria. It should be recalled that Jordan ruled the west bank of the Jordan River from 1950 until 1988.

Very clearly, Jordan is a Palestinian state and can and should be recognized as such. Any Arabs living in Judea and Samaria who do desire, should be able to receive Jordanian citizenship.

As for the Arabs in Gaza: it would only be natural for Gaza to be absorbed by the State of Egypt. I believe that the issues facing us are international, and should be addressed by all nations of the world, including the Egyptians. Egypt, having received the Sinai from Israel, should be an active participate in the continuing peace process. Therefore, Israel is volunteering any and all assistance to green the Sinai desert, thereby provided both food and employment for tens and hundreds of thousands of Gazans.

Peace is not, and cannot be dependent on any one country or culture. All must play a role in bringing real peace to the world. Therefore, we expect the Arab world, the European Union, the Russians, and the United States, as well as member countries of the United Nations, to partake in funding and implementing this plan, which will allow the Palestinians to live as free citizens of their countries, without continuing to endanger the State of Israel, and without forcing Israel to divide its holy land.

Finally, concerning Jerusalem, there should not be any illusions about Israeli policy. Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people for over 3,000 years, beginning with the Davidic Kingdom. After Jews were exiled from this holy city and from our holy land, Jerusalem was left desolate and abandoned.

Temple Mount is the holiest place in the world, site of the sacred Beit HaMikdash, the Temple. The Jewish people lost this holiest of sites because of our rejection of Eretz Yisrael during the days of Moses. I am sure that only when we, as a country, as a people, officially recognize our allegiance to this site, and via this, to our G-d in heaven, that eventually we will achieve an authentic, eternal peace. Israel will never, ever divide Jerusalem.

My fellow countrymen: We must be aware that there are many who will reject my proposals. In 1948 Israeli independence was rejected by the Arab world. Despite this, despite being surrounded by massive enemy forces, despite attacks on all fronts, we were victorious, because we believed in what we had to do: 100% of the Jews here in Israel believed 100% in our goals.

If we believe in ourselves, in our rights to our land, if we believe in our past and look to our future, if we believe in our G-d - given right to our land, then there is no doubt that we will be victorious again, today.

G-d bless you all.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Israeli settlements

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr.


It seems that as the years pass, the books and films on World War II remain enormously popular. Indeed, I would not be surprised if they are more popular today than they were immediately after the war After the war, this nation was tired of conflict. Probably many knowledgeable Americans recognized that victory had been no sure thing. Yet now, 65 years after D-Day, the story is reassuring. We are comfortable recalling how America roused itself from isolationism, created a huge army of young soldiers, and off President Franklin D. Roosevelt sent them to vanquish the Japanese militarists and the Nazi barbarians.

"The sheer improbability of this victory [on D-Day] is part of what makes D-Day so memorable," President Obama sermonized the other day at Omaha Beach. I am not completely sure I know what the president was talking about. American commanders wanted a cross-channel invasion of the Nazi positions as early as 1942. They did not expect to fail on D-Day. Perhaps the president meant to stress that victory in war is never a sure thing. There is always enormous risk. If that is his fundamental understanding of war, why is he now so breezy in lecturing the one nation on Earth that faces war daily, Israel?

In his Cairo speech, Mr. Obama emphasized his government's sudden opposition to Jewish settlements on the West Bank, although some of those settlements are crucial to Israeli security. Heretofore, our government understood that in any peace treaty with the Palestinians, Israel was expected to keep some of these settlements after compensating the Palestinians with land from other parts of Israel. It was a matter of national security for a nation that faces war daily.

The idea of accepting some Israeli settlements and compensating the Palestinians for land lost in pursuit of improved Israeli security was agreed to by the last two American administrations, one Democratic, the other Republican. There are signed agreements to that effect. Now, all of a sudden, the Obama administration is tearing up those agreements. In Cairo the president said, "The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements." I wonder what Bill Clinton thought about that, and George W. Bush, too.

Mr. Obama has had no experience in foreign policy in his life. He demands humility in our nation's foreign policy. He ought to demonstrate some humility in his bold demands on Israel. He is demanding of that nation with its six decades of grim foreign policy experience behind it to trust his sudden volte-face, no matter how unlikely it will be to bring peace to the Middle East. I think that is asking a lot.

The Israelis began giving up real estate to the Palestinians 16 years ago in the Oslo Accords. The gesture has gotten them no thanks and no closer to peace. As a consequence of Oslo, the Israelis turned over portions of the West Bank and Gaza. The West Bank shows no development and remains incompetently governed and a source of poverty and radicalism. Gaza is a nightmare, abounding with tunnels for smuggling weaponry and launching guerrilla attacks, including rocket attacks into Israel.

Israel has already given up real estate to the Palestinians. It is now time for the Palestinians to govern their real estate peacefully. If they need developmental funds to build infrastructure, surely the money will be forthcoming from the international community. As for political gestures, it is time for the Palestinians to eschew violent assaults on Israel and acknowledge Israel's right to exist.

That is the point that the president should have zeroed in on in Cairo. The Egyptians live in peace with Israel. The Palestinians can, too. All they need to do is put down their arms and accept Israel as a neighbor. That will also mean living up to earlier understandings on Israeli settlements and the recognition of Israeli security requirements.

Instead of changing the rules of the game, Mr. Obama would be wise to build on the positions carefully crafted by positions of his predecessors. He seemed in his Omaha Beach speech to understand how dangerous war is. Israel understands, too, and has every reason to want peace with the Palestinians.

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is the founder and editor-in-chief of the American Spectator, a contributing editor of the New York Sun, and an adjunct scholar at the Hudson Institute.

Poll: 56% of Israelis back settlement construction

Nearly six of every 10 Israelis think Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should resist U.S. demands to completely freeze construction in Jewish West Bank settlements, according to a new poll released Friday. The poll by the Maagar Mohot Polling Institute comes just ahead of Netanyahu's major policy speech on Sunday that is expected to address a growing divide with Washington.

U.S. President Barack Obama has said he wants to aggressively pursue Mideast peacemaking, and the halt of all building on land the Palestinians claim for their future state has been a key U.S. demand.
Fifty-six percent of those surveyed said Netanyahu should not consent to the American demand to halt all settlement construction, as opposed to 37 percent who said he should. Fifty percent said failure to comply would not provoke a crisis with the U.S., while 32 percent said they thought the settlement freeze was a make or break issue for Washington.

Maagar Mohot also found in a separate poll that two-thirds of Israelis have little appetite for dismantling West Bank settlements. Thirty-six percent oppose any evacuation as part of a final peace deal and 30 percent said only a small number should be dismantled.

Both surveys polled 503 people and had a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points.

Nearly 300,000 Israelis live in 121 West Bank settlements and more than 100 wildcat settler enclaves.

The Palestinians want the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip for a future state, and see settlement building as a major obstacle to that aspiration. The U.S. has opposed settlement construction for decades, but Obama has been especially forceful in the early months of his presidency in demanding a settlement freeze.

He also has been pressing Netanyahu to endorse the creation of a Palestinian state, something the Israeli leader has refused to do.

Netanyahu is expected to try to placate Washington in his policy address on Sunday. He will have to execute a delicate balancing act because he doesn't want any overtures to the U.S. to splinter his hawkish coalition.

Obama's High Commissioner

Caroline B. Glick

Ahead of his current trip to the Middle East US President Barack Obama's Middle East envoy George Mitchell made what might have been construed as a positive step in Israel's direction. Speaking to reporters on Monday, Mitchell said that he and Obama wish to restart peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians immediately. The reason Mitchell's pronouncement might have been interpreted as a move in Israel's direction is because until he made his call for negotiations, recent pronouncements on Israel and the Palestinians by the president and his senior advisors have given the uniform impression that the US no longer favors a negotiated settlement of the Palestinian conflict with Israel. Through their obsessive focus on Israeli building activities in Judea and Samaria, Obama and his advisors have sent regional leaders the message that they define their role here not as mediators, but as agents for the Palestinians against Israel. Consequently, far from giving the sense that they seek a peace deal that will be acceptable to Israelis and Palestinians alike, they have convinced the Israelis and the Palestinians - as well as much of the Arab world - that the US intends to coerce Israel into accepting a settlement that sacrifices Israeli security and national needs on the altar of maximalist Palestinian ambitions.

This is the view that Fatah leader and putative PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas expressed in his interview with the Washington Post last month ahead of his visit with Obama. As Abbas put it, the Americans "can use their weight with anyone around the world. Two years ago they used their weight on us. Now they should tell the Israelis, 'You have to comply with the conditions.'" Abbas added that he will "wait for Israel to freeze settlements," and that until he receives this and other Israeli concessions, "we can't talk to anyone."

In other words, in light of the administration's apparent hostility and uncompromising stance towards Israel, Abbas sees no reason to negotiate anything with the Israelis. So too, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal made clear on Tuesday that he sees the Obama administration as a potential ally for his Iranian-controlled genocidal jihadist movement. Mashaal has four good reasons for viewing things this way. First, in his speech in Cairo, Obama accepted the Arab view that Israel is an alien entity to the Middle East which owes its legitimacy to the genocide of European Jewry by Europeans in Europe, and which has the moral standing of white slaveholders in the antebellum American south.

Second, Obama has pledged $900 million in US taxpayer funds to Hamas-controlled Gaza and is pressuring Israel to support Gaza economically in spite of the fact that Hamas continues to attack southern Israel with rockets and to expand and diversify its arsenals.

Third, the Obama administration is abandoning its predecessor's bid to isolate Hamas by pressuring Fatah and Egypt to offer Hamas full partnership in a Fatah-Hamas unity government which would work to cement Hamas's international legitimacy.

Finally, in light of the White House's silence after Sunday's attempted attack on the IDF by a Hamas-affiliated terror group in Gaza, Mashaal is operating under the impression that nothing Hamas does will divert Washington from its collision course with Israel. With Obama in charge, Hamas believes it can attack Israel with impunity.

So with Israelis and Palestinians now joined in their belief that Obama is looking for a fight with Israel rather than a negotiated settlement, it was encouraging to hear that Mitchell is planning on forcing the Palestinians to the negotiating table with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's government.

Unfortunately, within hours of his arrival in Israel on Tuesday, it became clear that Mitchell's statements about negotiations were nothing more than spin. Mitchell reiterated that the US has no intention whatsoever of budging on its uncompromising positions that no Jewish construction anywhere past the 1949 armistice lines is legitimate; that Israel must begin moving towards a mass expulsion of Jews from Judea and Samaria; and that the IDF must drastically curtail its counter-terror operations in Judea and Samaria. That is, Mitchell demonstrated that like the Palestinians and the Saudis, the Obama administration's idea of a resolution of the Palestinian conflict with Israel involves a complete Israeli surrender to all Arab (and now American) demands while trusting our security to the tender mercies of Palestinian terrorists.

More disturbing than Mitchell's positions are his marching orders from Obama. Unlike previous presidential envoys who have come to Israel every few weeks and then disappeared when reality proved stronger than their peace fantasies, Obama has ordered Mitchell to cast reality to the seven winds and set up a permanent forward command post in Jerusalem directly subordinate to the White House.

To fulfill his writ, Mitchell has appointed four deputies - all known for their open sympathy for the Palestinians and their hostility to the Netanyahu government. They are Mara Rudman, of the George Soros-financed Center for American Progress; Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton who is now building a Fatah army in Jordan which he recently acknowledged will turn its American-financed guns on Israel within a few short years if Israel refuses to establish a Jew-free Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria; Fred Hoff, one of the greatest champions of a US-Syrian rapprochement and of an Israeli surrender of the Golan Heights; and David Hale, the architect of the current US policy of rebuilding the Hizbullah-infested Lebanese army. Hale will be permanently stationed in Jerusalem in a large office suite that will house Mitchell's operation.

Aside from overseeing his deputies, Mitchell has also been charged with leading a new administration program aimed at undermining Israel's ability to make independent military and intelligence decisions. Back in 2008, when Obama's National Security Advisor Gen. Jim Jones served as then secretary of state Condoleezza Rice's special advisor on Israeli-Palestinian security issues, he authored a report calling for the US to assess what Israel's "real" security interests in Judea and Samaria are and to limit US support to Israel to filling those necessarily minimal interests. Jones's report, which rejected all Israeli claims in Judea and Samaria and underplayed the strategic significance of Palestinian rejection of Israel's right to exist, was viewed as deeply hostile towards Israel and the Olmert government prevailed on the Bush administration to set it aside.

This is not the case today however. Obama shares Jones's view that Israel's perception of its security needs is exaggerated. As he made clear in his speeches last week at Cairo and Buchenwald, Obama thinks that Israel suffers from a Holocaust-induced paranoia that causes it to wrongly believe that Arabs and Iranians wish to wipe it off the map. In Obama's view, Israel's fears can be dealt with, and a Middle East peace can be wrought through a US takeover of both Israel's security assessments and its military and intelligence operations and policies. To t

his end, and in line with Jones's 2008 report, according to last Friday's Yediot Ahronot, the administration is building an apparatus designed to prevent Israel from exercising independent judgments about its tactical and strategic challenges and deny it the ability to secure its interests without US involvement and consent.

The apparatus reportedly includes members of every US security, foreign policy and intelligence body. These officers will be stationed in Israel and will report to Mitchell who in turn will report to Jones and Obama. Each officer will be assigned to coordinate with Israeli counterparts in mirror organizations including the IDF, the Shin Beit, the Mossad, the police and every other relevant Israeli body.

Since there is no polite way for Israel to reject this effective US bid to subvert its capacity to make independent decisions, the most urgent dilemma the Netanyahu government must solve is how to handle Mitchell's new supreme headquarters in Jerusalem. To address this issue, the government must be clear about what it wishes to accomplish in its relations with Mitchell specifically and the Obama administration generally.

As the Obama administration's treatment of Israel to date shows clearly, the President and his advisors have no intention of compromising their hardline positions on Israel. The administration is building its supreme headquarters in Jerusalem to enable Mitchell to act like a colonial governor and confront the unruly Jewish natives — not to cut a deal with us.

For its part, Israel has nothing to gain, and much to lose from an open and prolonged confrontation with Washington. And so Netanyahu's goal in contending with Mitchell must be twofold: He must seek to avoid an ugly fight with the White House, and he must do so while yielding nothing of substance to the Mitchell command post.

Today, Netanyahu clearly hopes to achieve this goal by showing great respect for Mitchell. On Tuesday he reportedly devoted a full four hours of his schedule to talks with Mitchell and his aides.

While understandable, Netanyahu's willingness to humor Mitchell is a recipe for disaster. Netanyahu cannot allow Mitchell to tie him or his senior ministers down for hours at a time in fruitless discussions about Obama's peace fantasies, or which set of suicidal Israeli "gestures" might assuage the Obama administration's hunger for a confrontation. Bluntly stated, Israel's Prime Minister has better things to do with his time. Moreover, Netanyahu cannot debase his office by subordinating his schedule to the whims of a mere presidential envoy.

And so, as former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton first suggested in January during his visit to Israel, Netanyahu must elegantly remove himself from Mitchell's orbit.

To this end, in his policy speech at Bar Ilan University's Begin-Sadat Center on Sunday, Netanyahu should announce that in the interests of fostering cooperation with the US and advancing prospects for peace, he is appointing a Special Prime Ministerial Envoy to Obama's Special Presidential Envoy Mitchell. This envoy — and his purposely inflated staff — should be charged with handling all contacts with Mitchell and his staff and reporting all of their suggestions to Netanyahu for his consideration.

Netanyahu's special envoy should be a senior persona whom he trusts implicitly. Prime candidates for the position would be ambassador Dore Gold - who served as UN ambassador during Netanyahu's first term as prime minister — and former minister Natan Sharansky - who Netanyahu has nominated to head the Jewish Agency. Either man would be more than capable of respectfully deflecting US pressure on the Palestinian issue away from Netanyahu and so freeing the Prime Minister to attend to the Iranian threat.

And that's the thing of it. At the end of the day, Netanyahu has three main challenges that he must meet if he is to successfully protect Israel in the coming years. He must prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. He must secure Israel's national and strategic interests in Judea and Samaria and sole Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem. And he must do what he can to avoid an open breach with Washington.

By deploying Mitchell to Jerusalem, Obama is trying to prevent Netanyahu from achieving any of these aims. Only by neutralizing Mitchell will Netanyahu free his schedule to contend with them.

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JWR contributor Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East Fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, DC and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post.


arlene Kushner

Unease, a restive sense -- within the nation and within the hearts of many of us. For we are on the edge and very few, if any, are certain which way we are about to go.

It is possible that Prime Minister Netanyahu feels the greatest disquietude most of all, as he balances many factors in preparing his major speech, scheduled for Sunday. Today it was reported that he hasn't completed it yet. We see the vast pressure on him of the Likud right wing, not to go with a "two state solution."

There is Benny Begin, who, delivering a speech at Likud headquarters, said:

"There won't be a Palestinian state. The realities of the past 15 years gravely harmed the concept of two states for two peoples. The state they want is only intended to destroy Israel. The Palestinians are not interested in the two-state solution. They want the two-stage solution, after which there would be only one state: Palestine.

"...if the only solution is two states for two peoples, then there is no solution.

"...these communities [the settlements] are implementing the Israeli nation's right to Israel, not only in the Sharon [coastal plain] but in Judea and Samaria. Our pioneers are living there in complicated conditions. But this melody cannot be stopped."

Other MKs echoed these sentiments in their own words.


Then, Heaven help us, we have President Shimon Peres, who met earlier today with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and told him it's time to move to Phase 2 of the Road Map and establish temporary borders for a Palestinian state. Is this man out of his gourd? This sort of politicking is beyond his ceremonial mandate as president. Tonight several MKs informed him of this and the need to cool it.


Knesset Speaker Ruby Rivlin (Likud), today said that Netanyahu doesn't believe in a "two state solution":

"...the prime minister needs to say only what he believes in and tell the Americans - as they asked - the truth. I think that when the prime minister speaks of an arrangement, he really wants to reach an arrangement. But I am not sure that the prime minister believes in two states for two peoples."

Rivlin, bless him, also said:

"We have a right to build here. I think the term 'natural growth' is apologetic and does not embody a principled stance. We live in these places out of a faith in the justice of our cause and also because we see these areas as Israel's belt of security.

"...we are here to stay in Samaria (which is where he visited today to plant trees) and despite some discordant voices we are not considering any other possibility."


At the meeting at Likud headquarters, Netanyahu himself refuted a recent prediction by Mubarak that he had decided to embrace a "two state solution." But then he added:

"I will be considering a lot of challenges that come from different directions, that will impact generations. There are strategic threats facing Israel that require us to balance them out."

This echoes statements he has made several times recently. It suggests in vague terms that because of the threat of Iran and positions we have to take with regard to our self-defense, he may have to make concessions that he wouldn't otherwise make.

Because I've covered this ground before, to the very best of my ability, I will be brief now. Can I be certain that this is not simply a cover for concessions to Obama he has decided to make? I cannot. But neither can I be certain that he's not on to something, and that there's not a trade-off or a genuine need he sees to secure a certain modicum of international good will because of our broader situation. Not a one of us is in his shoes, or privy to all the factors that will weigh into his decision.


Perhaps most comforting at this point is a Reuters report that American diplomats are quietly saying that Obama is not going to be satisfied with Netanyahu's speech.

One top diplomat quoted said:

"The Americans are not satisfied with what they have been told."

The prediction of another diplomat is that Netanyahu will stop short of coming out for a state, and will talk in more general terms about Palestinian governance.

This is what we've been hearing from him. If he goes no further than this, we're OK.


It is also encouraging, and of no little significance, that the people of this country are behind Bibi and do not want him to comply with Obama's demands.

For the full Maagar Machot poll, see:


There's one other approach that Bibi may utilize and which I want to mention here: That the issue is not resolution of an Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but rather the readiness of the broader Arab world to accept Israel in its midst. There are statements he has made of late that suggest he might touch upon this, even if obliquely. He is looking for broader Arab involvement.

There is no question -- whether or not this would be verbalized -- that the so-called Palestinian issue would dissipate were the Arab states to accept us. For the entire Palestinian issue, with regard to refugee "return" and all the rest, was promoted by the Arabs as a weapon against us.

And there is a great deal the Arab world might do, from accepting refugees to pressuring Abbas to moderate more genuinely. Might do...but won't.

The Arab idea of assisting with the problem goes as far as the Saudi "peace plan," and no further. That plan is just one more weapon: Withdraw to the pre-'67 lines, take in the refugees and allow the formation of a Palestinian state, and then we'll talk about normalizing relationships with you. Very recently the Arab League determined that this plan was fine as it was and that no modifications were called for.


US envoy Mitchell, in meetings just completed with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit in Cairo, raised this same issue of Arab involvement:

"Proposing the initiative was just the beginning; it brings with it responsibilities to join in taking meaningful steps and important actions that will help us move towards our objective."

Aboul Gheit's response:

"There must be a substantial Israeli act which consists of a complete end to settlement activity and the withdrawal of the Israeli army from all [West Bank] towns and the end of the [Gaza] blockade.

"If we see serious and real Israeli steps we think that Arab parties will also be prepared to return to the situation existing before 2000."

The situation before 2000? That will put us way ahead.

Let's face it: Obama's speech, his blatant kissing-up to the Muslim/Arab world, will not have had the effect of making the Arabs more conciliatory in seeking peace.

Then too, Mitchell's vision of a more regional peace includes our withdrawal from the Golan.


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Thursday, June 11, 2009

MKs to Peres: Keep quiet on peace talks

The Knesset's right-wing parties on Thursday demanded that President Shimon Peres tone down his comments regarding the peace process and refrain from holding meetings on the matter, saying that such meetings were "outside the president's job description." Earlier Thursday, Peres met with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and said that Israel and the US should move on to the second stage of the Road Map peace plan and establish a Palestinian state with provisional borders, which would become permanent "in a short span of time."

"Recently, rumors have been circulated that along with pressure on Israel to agree to the establishment of a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria - an act which is not in the government's platform and contradicts the policy of most of its component parties - the president has been holding diplomatic meetings such as the one he held today with Solana in an effort to increase the pressure on Israel to this end," read the letter, signed by the National Union, which is not part of the coalition.

The signatories said that they "greatly respect the president and the presidency, but we cannot accept a situation where the president deviates from his job and butts into diplomatic issues."

The letter concluded with a request that Peres cancel such meetings that have already been scheduled and explain the "limitations" of his post to those he intended to meet.

Habayit Hayehudi, which is a member of the coalition, sent a similar letter to the president, in which MK Zevulun Orlev wrote that the party does not want to face a situation where they would be "forced to struggle politically and diplomatically against the opinions and stances of the president. Please look positively on our request and respect it."

The Israeli NRG news site reported that a senior member of Kadima had said that the president's involvement in diplomatic issues was "out of proportion."

An Innocent Abroad

Jonathan Spyer*

May 21, 2009

The London-based Arabic newspaper Al-Quds al-Arabi has published what it claims are key details of the new Middle East peace plan to be presented by President Obama in his speech in Cairo on June 4. Details of the plan made the front page of two leading Israeli newspapers.

If the revelations prove accurate, they reveal a US administration as yet unacquainted with several basic facts of life concerning politics and strategy in the Middle East.

There were those in Israel who suspected Obama of being a kind of wolf in sheep's clothing, preparing with a friendly smile to offer up Israel as a sacrifice to its regional enemies. The picture emerging from the alleged details of his plan suggest a different, though not necessarily more comforting characterization: When it comes to the Middle East, Obama is an innocent abroad.

Observe: We are told that the new plan represents a revised version of the 2002 Arab peace plan and is to offer the following: a demilitarized Palestinian state approximating the armistice lines of June 5, 1967. Territorial exchanges may take place on the West Bank. This state will be established within four years of the commencement of negotiations.

On Palestinian refugees: The refugees and their descendants will be naturalized in their countries of current residence, or will have the right to move to the new Palestinian state. In parallel to the negotiations with the Palestinians, separate negotiating tracks with the Syrians and Lebanese will be established.

If the Obama plan does indeed include these elements, its failure is a certainty, because it has been formulated without reference to regional realities.

Currently, west of the Jordan River there are three political entities: Israel, the West Bank Palestinian Authority, and a Hamas-run, quasi-sovereign body in the Gaza Strip.

Entities 1 and 3 are in a state of war with each other.
Entity 2's existence is underwritten by entity 1, without which it would be devoured by entity 3.
The Obama plan, it would appear, simply fails to take into account the fact of Hamas-run Gaza's existence.

Yet the decision this week by West Bank PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to form a narrow government is testimony to the Hamas-led statelet's durability. There is no Palestinian force able, or other force willing, to destroy it. It has made clear that it does not intend to negotiate itself out of existence. For as long as it is there, armed by Iran and opposed to all moves toward reconciliation, all plans based on authoritative peace negotiations between Israel and the PA are divorced from reality.

The refugee question is to be addressed by naturalization or a "return" to the borders of the new Palestinian state. There is no significant Palestinian faction which will agree to this. The Islamist factions, obviously, will reject it out of hand.

It will also be opposed by Fatah. This movement is in any case in a state of disarray and disunity. But the trends at rank and file level in it are toward greater religiosity and greater radicalism. The issue of the "return," far more than the issue of the "Palestinian state," is the foundation stone of Palestinian nationalism as imagined by Fatah. There is no way that the movement could abandon it. If it did, it would be almost certain to cede the leadership of the Palestinian national movement.

Regarding the issue of the "naturalization" of refugees and their descendants, it is not quite clear how Lebanon and Syria, home to large Palestinian populations, are to be persuaded to grant full citizenship to their residents of Palestinian origin. Opposition to the tawteen (naturalization) of Palestinian residents is one of the very few issues on which all Lebanese political factions are united.

A government dominated by Hizbullah is likely to emerge following the Lebanese elections on June 7. Its default position will be support for the Iranian-led regional bloc, and opposition to all attempts at a negotiated peace between Palestinians and Israelis. Certainly, such a government will feel no inclination toward helping out the US administration by abandoning a key, consensual Lebanese political stance.

Syria will also not abandon a core pro-Palestinian position in order to accommodate Washington. As for the view of even Washington's allies among the Palestinians for this option - naturalization was overtly rejected by Mahmoud Abbas on a visit to Lebanon last year.

Above and beyond the details, the plan revealed in Al-Quds al-Arabi fails to acknowledge the salient fact of current Middle East strategy: namely, the division of the region into an Islamist "resistance" bloc led by Iran, and a loose coalition of all those states opposed to this bloc.

There is a conspiracy theory according to which Obama, with Machiavellian cunning, knows that his plan is unworkable, and intends to use its failure to cast blame and accusation on Israel. Who knows? Perhaps evidence will yet emerge in support for this thesis.

It seems more likely, however, that the president remains enthralled by the sunny illusions of the peace process of the 1990s, and is about to give them another run around the block. He has four years to follow the well-trodden path from innocence to experience. The problem is that further afield, there are other, more urgent clocks ticking.

This article appeared in the Jerusalem Post on the 21/5/2009.

*Jonathan Spyer is a senior research fellow at the (GLORIA) Global Research in International Affairs Center at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya

Supreme Court President Demands Outpost Destruction

Hillel Fendel
A7 News

Supreme Court Chief Justice Dorit Beinisch issued sharp criticism of the government Wednesday for not uprooting and destroying civilian outposts in Judea and Samaria (Yesha).
During a court session on the matter on Wednesday, Beinisch said, “We’ve been hearing for years about municipal demolition orders, but [they are not implemented a the answers we hear every time are general and not specific.”

The issue at hand is a court petition by the 'Peace Now' organization demanding that the State destroy allegedly illegal structures in two Yesha neighborhoods -- Hayovel and Harsha.

A threat to world peace? Life at Harsha neighborhood in Eli. (Israel news photos: Flash 90)

A month ago, the State Prosecution said it had renewed for another year a restraining order against the destruction of six Yesha civilian outposts. However, the Supreme Court said it wants to be updated within 90 days – i.e., by August – on the status of the attempts to create a dialogue with the residents, and to hear an explanation as to why the neighborhoods were not razed.

The six outposts in question include: Givat Assaf near Beit El – 20 families, eight years old; Maaleh Rechavam, in eastern Gush Etzion – 5 families, 10 singles, eight years old; and Ramat Gilad near Karnei Shomron – 11 years old. The other three are Givat HaRoeh near Shilo, Mitzpeh Yitzhar and Mitzpeh Lachish.

Ketzaleh Responds Sharply

MK Yaakov Katz (Ketzaleh), head of the National Union party, responded unusually sharply to what he sees as Beinisch’s “hatred” for the Jewish sector in Judea and Samaria.

“I am shocked at her inability to hide her hatred for 350,000 Jews living in Judea and Samaria,” Ketzaleh said, “including tens of thousands of their children whom she would like to throw out into the street. If Beinisch would talk that way about the children of the Darfur refugees or the Bedouin in the Negev, the world would be up in arms.”

“Even though she’s Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, I would expect her, as a Jewish mother, to take interest during the court case about what will happen, physically and psychologically, to the children of these communities after she uproots them and brings upon them the destruction that she wishes for.”

“We can now hope that with the entry of healthy-thinking Knesset members to the Committee for the Appointment of Judges, judges will be chosen who have love and compassion even for the children of settlers.”

Livni Supports Settlement Blocs

Hillel Fendel Livni Expects US Settler Support

Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni told visiting U.S. envoy George Mitchell, President Barack Obama’s personal representative in the Middle East, that the United States has to support Israel’s positions on certain controversial issues, such as Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and the issue of immigration of foreign Arabs to Israel . “I am convinced that we can reach agreement with the United States on these matters,” Livni told reporters after her meeting with Mitchell, “which are critical to the State of Israel.”

Among the issues that Livni discussed with Mitchell are: ensuring that Arabs who left Israel since 1948 and their millions of descendants not be allowed to enter Israel; implementing security arrangements that will prevent the establishment of a terrorist state or an extreme Islamic state alongside Israel; and “American consideration” of the situation that has developed in Yesha (Judea and Samaria) over the years, including the preservation of large Jewish population centers and sites of religious, national and strategic importance for Israel.

Rivlin to Visit

On Thursday, Knesset Speaker Ruby Rivlin (Likud) will visit two large Yesha towns: Eli in the the Binyamin region of Samaria and Elon Moreh in northern Samaria. MK Rivlin will be accompanied by MK Uri Ariel (National Union), who had a hand in building many of the towns in Yesha as a leading member of the Yesha Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria for many years.

Lindenstrauss Visited

Last week, State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss visited several locations in the Binyamin region, including Psagot, Ofra, Tel Tzion and the Hizme checkpoint. Binyamin Regional Council chief Avi Roeh told him of the discriminatory attitude suffered by the Jewish residents at the hands of the Civil Administration regarding construction permits. He also noted other ongoing problems, such as lack of sufficient funding for security elements, emergency teams, firefighters, protection for buses and private vehicles, public servants, and more. Lindenstrauss said he was very “impressed” during his visit, and said he would investigate the issues that were raised.

Outgoing Police Commander About Settlers: "I Love Them"

Outgoing Judea and Samaria Police District Commander, Shlomi Kaatbi, had his share of disagreements with the Jewish population in Yesha – but upon leaving the post and retiring from the police force last week, had nothing but praise for them:

“I am full of admiration for this population, including those in Yitzhar and those in Hevron. I love them… They are the salt of the earth, and the intolerable ease with which people malign them, calling them settler-terrorists and the like, is simply repulsive. Those who criticize them are those whose willingness to contribute to the country is zero - people who sit around doing nothing in Tel Aviv, parking their 4x4 jeeps on Sheinkin St. [a leftwing yuppie neighbor, drinking their morning Espresso at Café Joe and allowing themselves to criticize…”

It is unworthy of the United States to aspire to be even-handed between those who would destroy and those who would preserve the only democracy in tha

George Will

We’ve seen this in his treatment of Israel in that remarkable speech, the atmospherics of which were fine, the specifics appalling.
I mean, in the 61 years since Israel was founded on one-sixth of one percent of land in that area described as land of the Arab world, there has not been a moment of peace for Israel, not as peace is properly understood. George F. Will was the featured speaker at the dinner Monday evening at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica, in celebration of the Claremont Review of Books. Will received the Salvatori Prize in the American Founding, and gave a masterful speech that included a mixture of political insight, conservative philosophy, humor and baseball stories.
After the speech, he took a few questions, including one that led him to reflect on President Obama’s apparent belief that disharmony among nations results from misunderstandings that can be cured by dialogue and communication (and the force of his own personality) -- a view that Will characterized as reflecting a 1930s approach to foreign policy:

We’ve seen this in his treatment of Israel in that remarkable speech, the atmospherics of which were fine, the specifics appalling.
I mean, in the 61 years since Israel was founded on one-sixth of one percent of land in that area described as land of the Arab world, there has not been a moment of peace for Israel, not as peace is properly understood.

How many Americans understand that when Israel was founded in 1948, no Palestinian state was invaded, no Palestinian state was destroyed? There had not been a Palestinian geographic entity since between the departure of the Romans and the arrival of British rule.

How many know that the West Bank, referred to by the President as “occupied territory,” inferentially as occupied Palestinian territory, is under international law unallocated portion of the Palestine Mandate rightfully occupied by Israel, because it occupied it in repelling aggression that came from that territory in 1967. .

How the President believes that if we return to the 1967 borders, the antipathy to Israel, which predated the 1967 borders, will disappear, I do not know.

It would help if he . . . spent some time . George W. Bush, for all his defects, went to Israel shortly before he was elected and was squired around by another rancher named Arik Sharon. He took him up in a helicopter, to where Israel was at one point nine miles wide, and George W. Bush came home and said “My God, in Texas we have driveways longer than that.” . He sort of got the picture.

I remember -- if I could go back to an autobiographical moment -- in 1979 I was invited to talk to the B’nai Brith of Beverly Hills – not a nest of conservatives – and they said “Who should be the Republican nominee?” And I said, pick Howard Baker, George Bush, Ronald Reagan. And they said “Well, who would be best for Israel?” And I responded “Of course it would be Ronald Reagan.” They said “Why?”

I said -- “Two reasons: he believes in aircraft carriers. He believes in the projection of American power. Second, he is a romantic. He’s got the story of Israel, plucky little Israel.”
You need both. You need aircraft carriers and you need to appreciate the fact that Israel is an embattled salient of our values in a bad neighborhood. .
It is unworthy of the United States to aspire to be even-handed between those who would destroy and those who would preserve the only democracy in that region. .
Will was speaking extemporaneously, without notes, to an unanticipated question. His comments are worth listening to, and you can do so here.

A safe and secure Israel is vital to world interest.
A safe and secure Israel is a prerequisite to genuine peace in the world.
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"Briefs and Links"

Arlene Kushner

It does appear that we are going to stand strong on the issue of settlements. That is reportedly the word that Mitchell got from Bibi when he was here yesterday. Even Kadima is not on board for a settlement freeze.

This isn't just one issue of many: it's a key issue, speaking to our legitimacy and our right to maintain a presence in Judea and Samaria. Daniel Greenfield, who blogs as "Sultan Knish" has an excellent piece on the settlements, complete with photos, which I highly recommend.

Of the several important issues he addresses, let me here mention two.

First, the strong element of defense with regard to establishment and maintenance of the settlements:

"The Settlements occupy the high ground, creating defensible communities surrounding Israel's capital and moving outward...

"...a new outpost has gone up named mockingly after Obama. Like the other 'illegal' outposts, it is an attempt by patriotic Israelis to hold the high ground against the terrorists who would otherwise use it to wreak havoc even deeper inside Israel. Their message is that Obama may push for the destruction of their homes, but they intend to keep building long after he is gone.
"And the high ground they hold forms a chain, a chain of hilltops that protects the larger cities and towns, which in turn protect major cities such as Jerusalem and Tel the handful of young men and women who daringly fought the Egyptian Army to a standstill, the hilltop youth are prepared to serve that function again, living on the front line in the war against terrorism."


The second issue of significance is that some of the communities in Judea and Samaria were in existance before 1948, destroyed by the Jordanians or the Egyptians, and then rebuilt after 1967. The Sultan refers to the community of Kfar Darom, but this is true also of most of the communities in Gush Etzion and others.


What Mitchell is holding forth on, in the face of the Israeli stance on settlements, is the need for that "two state solution," which he repeatedly declares to be a major tenent of Obama policy. After leaving Jerusalem, he went to Ramallah and met with heads of the PA. And there he declared that Obama will not turn his back on the "legitimate aspiration" of the Palestinians for a state.


In his statement in Ramallah, Mitchell referred to the obligations of the parties under the Road Map. So it's time to raise the issue again with regard to Palestinian incitement. It must continue to be raised until it penetrates public consciousness and becomes a real issue.

It is written in Phase One of the Road Map: "All official Palestinian institutions end incitement against Israel." That's pretty straightforward.

Last time I looked, the PA Ministry of Education was an official Palestinian institution. But the textbooks published by the PA and utilized under Ministry auspices are rife with incitement. Maps in the textbooks have no Israel. Jihad -- martyrdom for Allah -- is praised. All Jewish history in Jerusalem is denied.

There are no plans in the PA to publish new textbooks.


And so, my American readers, please, contact the president and ask him how he imagines there can be peace under these circumstances. Demand that this be made a top priority in his search for peace. Decry his emphasis on a settlement freeze while this is going on and an entire generation of Palestinians is being taught that Israel is not legitimate.

Fax: 202-456-2461 White House Comment line: 202-456-1111

e-mail form via:

Contact each of your elected representatives in Congress with a similar message.

For your representatives in Congress:

For your senators:

And, perhaps most importantly, write letters to the editor on this subject. Brief, clear, factual, and to the point. Most people have no clue. The more newspapers across the country run such letters, the better.

I cannot emphasize enough how important widescale participation in the US is with regard to something like this. Make noise, make noise, make noise. Reach out within your own networks and seek the help of others. It's time to be on the offensive.

Below is a link to my article about the texts. You might want to refer to a few specific details when contacting senators and congresspersons, and when writing letters to the editor.


Khaled Mashaal, head of the Hamas politburo in Syria, has now called on the international community to recognize Hamas as a "positive instrument" in the search for peace. You could fall down on the floor laughing, this is so ridiculous -- except for the fact that it's a deeply serious situation we face.

Said Mashaal, "President Obama is speaking a new language, but we expect real pressure on the Israelis."


Closer to home, the biggest obstacle we must contend with, in regard to standing strong against this pressure, is Ehud Barak, our defense minister, who today said he hopes Netanyahu will come out for a "two-state solution" in his talk.

No surprise here. But frustrating, none the less.


Returning to the issue of US-Israeli agreements on what a "freeze" on settlements means...

I alluded yesterday to the fact that after the Bush letter went out to Sharon, there was a Concurrent "Sense of Congress" Resolution that endorsed the letter. What I have learned is that, as a senator, Hillary Clinton -- who now, as secretary of state, is insisting a freeze means no growth at all -- voted FOR the endorsement of this letter, which acknowledged population centers that change the picture with regard to negotiations. Hillary, a purely political animal, has never been known for consistency. (Thanks to Jeff Daube, head of the Jerusalem office of ZOA for this information.)


As the subject of Obama's Cairo speech doesn't go away, I have provided here links to some of the key analyses on the subject, with brief citations from the text of each. I hope those of you who have not already read these pieces will find them helpful:

Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.

American's First Muslim President?

"The man now happy to have his Islamic-rooted middle name featured prominently has engaged in the most consequential bait-and-switch since Adolf Hitler duped Neville Chamberlain over Czechoslovakia at Munich...

"In the final analysis, it may be beside the point whether Mr. Obama actually is a Muslim. In the Speech and elsewhere, he has aligned himself with adherents to what authoritative Islam calls Shariah — notably, the dangerous global movement known as the Muslim Brotherhood...

"Even more troubling were the commitments the president made in Cairo to promote Islam in America...He also pledged to enable Muslims to engage in zakat, their faith's requirement for tithing, even though four of the eight types of charity called for by Shariah can be associated with terrorism. Not surprisingly, a number of Islamic 'charities' in this country have been convicted of providing material support for terrorism."


Anne Bayefsky

Obama's stunning offense to Israel and the Jewish people

"President Obama's Cairo speech was nothing short of an earthquake — a distortion of history, an insult to the Jewish people, and an abandonment of very real human-rights victims in the Arab and Muslim worlds. It is not surprising that Arabs and Muslims in a position to speak were enthusiastic. It is more surprising that American commentators are praising the speech for its political craftiness, rather than decrying its treachery of historic proportions."


Caroline Glick

The End of America’s Strategic Alliance with Israel? =

"From an Israeli perspective, Pres. Barack Obama’s speech today in Cairo was deeply disturbing. Both rhetorically and programmatically, Obama’s speech was a renunciation of America’s strategic alliance with Israel.

"Rhetorically, Obama [has] sugar coated the pathologies of the Islamic world,­ from the tyranny that characterizes its regimes, to the misogyny, xenophobia, Jew hatred, and general intolerance that characterizes its societies. In so doing he made clear that his idea of pressing the restart button with the Islamic world involves erasing the moral distinctions between the Islamic world and the free world."

Gary Bauer

The Cairo Deception
"OBAMA: 'Given our interdependence, any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail.'

"REACTION: Thank you, President Obama, for that clear statement of cultural and moral relativism that infects so many of our elites and obviously shapes the way you deal with the world. So you want a world order, where no nation or group is elevated over another, where America is to be considered no better than North Korea, Syria, or Iran. All cultures and nations are not equal. Some believe in liberty and the dignity of individuals. Some believe people are cattle to be herded by government. That you don’t understand that your own nation is preferable and better than the thug states of the world is tragic and dangerous. How I long for the days when President Reagan regularly reminded us that we were to be a 'shining city upon a hill.'"


Mark Steyn

‘The Muslim World’ One-way multiculturalism

"Would Obama be comfortable mandating 'no natural growth' to Israel’s million-and-a-half Muslims? No. But the administration has embraced [the commitment of] the "Muslim world" to one-way multiculturalism, whereby Islam expands in the west but Christianity and Judaism shrivel remorselessly in the Middle East.
"A wealthy nation living on the accumulated cultural capital of a glorious past can dodge its rendezvous with fate, but only for a while. That sound you heard in Cairo is the tingy ping of a hollow superpower."


And for a different style, this, from Shaul Behr's blog (with thanks to Debbie B.):

Free Thought: Barack Obama as John Lennon

"But to call him naïve would disrespectful to naïveté.

"The leader of the free world, in front of billions of viewers, metaphorically sat down, lit up a joint and started singing 'Imagine' by John Lennon.
"The real kicker was his vision of a world free of nuclear weapons. The man sounds like an 18-year-old at a university 'Ban The Bomb' protest!

"I feel an icy chill when I consider that for the next 4 years at least, we have a guy with the maturity and subtlety of a teenager leading the greatest world power at a time of international crisis."

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Settlements are not the issue!‏

Chana Givon

One must know the history of the region in order to give opinions:
1. Palestine is only a geographical territory; there was never an Arab country here. The only legitimate nation was that of Israel before several foreign conquests.
2. Two thousand years ago, the Roman conquerors gave the name ''Palestine'' to the area in an effort to erase the Jewish tie to the land. Thus, Jews, who have had a presence in the territory continuously since that time, were called ''Palestinians'' until 1948 when they became "Israelis".
3. With the breakup of the Ottoman Empire, that large area was divided between France and Britain; the latter was mandated by the League of Nations to facilitate a Jewish homeland; the original plan was for both sides of the Jordan River. That was changed by Churchill and the section east of the river - close to 80% of the land -became Trans-Jordan -where no Jews could live. (WE WOULD CALL THAT APARTHEID!)
4. Today's "Palestine'' was to remain for the Jewish homeland; that is the whole area that is being disputed again. The British permitted immigration from surrounding Arab countries while limiting Jewish immigration at the demand of the Arabs. Even during the Holocaust, those fleeing Europe were turned back to the death camps because the Arabs sided with the Nazis.. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, a Muslim religious leader, was a cohort of Hitler's in the "final solution" - the eradication of Jewry.(ETHNIC CLEANSING!)
5. For more than 100 years - long before the State of Israel was recreated - when there was nothing called a "settlement" - the Arabs in Jewish Palestine were terrorizing and massacring Jews.
6. The Arabs in the land referred to themselves as members of the Arab people - such as "Southern Syrians" , for example, rather than use the name "Palestinians". Even in 1948 they did not do so. When it became politically expedient for them they adopted that name.
7. "Palestinian'"and "Arab" are not synonymous as one can see from the info above (Jews had been called that long before Islam became a religion in the 7th century.)
8. After WWll, the failed British Mandate was turned over to the U.N. and again Jewish Palestine was partitioned. To this day, the Arabs have not accepted the existence of Israel and are sworn to annihilate her. The British appeasement of the Arab population in the area has continued; the Brits abstained in the UN vote to create the State and the terrorism against the Jews in the region - uncurtailed- has spread to all corners of the globe.
9. Today's enemy is radical Islam (this endangers peace-loving Muslims who are fearful for their lives as well) and terrorism is the weapon whose stated goal it is to destroy Western civilization and create an Islamic caliphate worldwide with strict Islamic law - sharia - as the rule.
10. Back to the beginning: the issue is not territory but a radical ideology. The effort to force Israel to stop providing homes for its population is part of that 'land grab' - nothing more. The Arabs could long ago have had a state had that been the goal. A smaller Israel would make the country more vulnerable to enemy attacks.
11. Unfortunately, the UN has been hijacked by many nations that would like to see democracy eradicated and their votes have resulted in condemning Israel more that any other country,
12. A Middle East without Israel would bring Iran in control of Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, and Jordan - a paradise for the worldwide network of terrorism from which to attack Europe and the West - including the U.S.
13. History must be understood not only as it appears today but with its background. The free world should remember that although 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust, many millions more lost their lives as well; it only begins with the Jews but does not end there.
Those are the facts of the Middle East conflict - the history of the region. As Santayana said, "Those who do not learn from history will be doomed to repeat it". We are already in the throes of WWlll and refusing to recognize this and stand up to the forces of radical change now while we have the chance will have to deal with it later when it may be too late. Think about it ....and ACT!

Footnote: I was informed this evening that there would be a BBC program tonight about the Israel's "settlements" and a link was provided. I went into the site and, following an introductory paragraph, there was a place for comments. I submitted the above and received the response that 'moderation was needed'.
It was, no doubt, my having told the historical truth about the part that the British played in the M.E. Apparently, there is no room for anything other than saying what the BBC wants its listeners to hear. Some of the other comments were against Israel and the language and suggestion less than courteous. That was o.k. We should not be surprised - given the continued British appeasement even today.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Why is Barack Obama spending so much time focusing on Israeli settlements in the West Bank? Two thoughtful explanations of the widening dispute on the

Rick Moran
This would be the most shocking change in US policy toward an ally in quite a while.

According to a Washington Times editorial, language in a pro forma declaration of intent to move our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is missing. The Times combines that with Obama's walkback from his remarks to the AIPAC conference where, after saying he supported an undivided Jerusalem, he insisted that "Jerusalem somehow also could be the capital of a Palestinian state and have divided sovereignty:" This is a major step backward for Jerusalem and the peace process. In his speech in Cairo last week, Mr. Obama stated that "all of us have a responsibility to work for the day ... when Jerusalem is a secure and lasting home for Jews and Christians and Muslims." In case the president hasn't noticed, this goal already has been accomplished. Citizens of Jerusalem can worship as they please. Tourists can visit Christian, Muslim and Jewish religious sites. Under Israeli stewardship, the city is a beacon of tolerance and hope.

The situation was much different when East Jerusalem was under Arab control. Last July, Mr. Obama visited Israel and prayed at the Western Wall. Before Israeli control of this area, Jews and others were barred from praying at this most holy site despite a provision in the 1948 cease-fire agreement that all be given access.

The next time Mr. Obama visits the city, he should stop by the site of the Hurva Synagogue, an ancient and revered place of worship in the Jewish Quarter that was destroyed needlessly and maliciously by Arab troops in 1948. Arab Legion commander Abdallah el-Tal later bragged that "only four days after our entry into Jerusalem the Jewish Quarter had become a graveyard." Mr. Obama can then ponder the fact that Israel has sustained and protected the al-Aqsa Mosque, which stands on the Temple Mount. It is difficult to imagine a more dramatic symbol of religious tolerance.

Obama seems to be bending over backward to accomodate the claims and desires of Palestinians while throwing longstanding US policy on settlements and now perhaps the status of Jerusalem under the bus. If he believes that this is the way to peace between Arab and Jew, carving up the holy city of Jerusalem, he will no doubt be terribly disappointed in the end.

Page Printed from: at June 10, 2009 - 03:48:02 PM EDT

Netanyahu Fighting Fire with Fire

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
A7 News

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is to meet with the Likud caucus Wednesday evening to hear their views as he prepares his policy speech that he will deliver on Sunday at Bar-Ilan University. His aides said that the Prime Minister “will listen rather than talk.” Knesset Member Danny Danon said he and other MKs in favor of a strong Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria want to make their stand clear to Prime Minister Netanyahu. He said that the government must not declare acceptance of U.S. President Barack Obama’s demands for establishing a Palestinian Authority state.

Danon told Voice of Israel government radio Wednesday morning that there is a large gap between what President Obama said in his speech in Cairo last week and facts on the ground, such as the control of Gaza by the Hamas terrorist organization.

Prime Minister Netanyahu might face a rebellion by many Likud Knesset Members if he accepts President Obama’s demands. so far he has made it clear that he thinks national security would be jeopardized by a premature acceptance of PA state.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak, head of the Labor party and a key government coalition partner, continues to express support for the American position and insists that Prime Minister Netanyahu will change his policy.

However, Prime Minister Netanyahu told U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell Tuesday night, in what he called a friendly meeting, that Israel will not agree to the American demand for a total freeze on building for Jews in Judea and Samaria.

Mitchell tried to tone down the acrimony from conflicting positions by the U.S. and Israel and reassured the Prime Minister that the Obama administration is a close friend of Israel. “We come here to talk not as adversaries and in disagreement, but as friends in discussion," he stated.

The envoy added, "Let me be clear. These are not disagreements among adversaries. The United States and Israel are and will remain close allies and friends.”

Earlier in the day, Mitchell met with President Shimon Peres, who reminded the envoy that Israel is destroying hilltop communities that the U.S. considers illegal, having been built after an agreement with the Sharon government that no new communities would be built in Judea and Samaria after September 2001.

President Peres also backed Prime Minister Netanyahu’s insistence to build for “natural growth," saying that the issue “must continue to be discussed intensively in order to reach agreement."

President Obama has taken virtually all territorial issues off the negotiating table by stating his support for the Saudi Peace Plan, that calls on Israel to surrender all of the land restored to the Jewish state in the Six-Day War in 1967.

The president added, "In my experience, focusing on a single issue ill serves the wider diplomatic process which is supposed to set the agenda for Israel and its neighbors.”

FM Lieberman: Sunni-Shi'ite Nuclear Arms Race Possible

Nissan Ratzlav-Katz FM: Beware Regional Nukes Race

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has warned that Iran may precipitate a nuclear arms race with its Arab, Sunni Muslim neighbors. However, the Foreign Minister believes, the international community understands the need for cooperation in handling regional threats. Addressing a meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday morning, Lieberman said, "Events around the world have forced the international community into greater cooperation than could otherwise have been expected. The European Union and the Russians both understand that it is not possible to solve such problems without cooperation among all the international actors."

In the case of Israel, the Foreign Minister said, "We are attempting to achieve a regional network to reach a solution. Everyone understands that cooperation is necessary."

The Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting was open to the public, in line with a decision made under the previous Olmert administration to allow transparency that would occur intermittently, circumstances permitting, due to issues of State security.

Addressing the Iranian nuclear weapons program specifically, Foreign Minister Lieberman added, "The Arab Sunni [Musli world will not accept a situation in which only Iran has nuclear weapons. If Iran achieves a military nuclear capabilities, the entire region will enter an insane nuclear [arm race with consequences that I need not detail."

Regarding Iran's international activities, Lieberman cited the Islamic Republic's intensive efforts to spread its influence and undercover cells in Africa and South America. To counter this development, he said, Israel has an obligation to invest in diplomatic initiatives in those regions.

Foreign Ministry representative Hayim Vaksman told the Knesset committee that "Iran is not cooperating with the IAEA. Iran is engaged in significant development in the field of missile technology." The issue remains at the highest priority level for the Ministry, he said.

Vaksman pointed out that the international sanctions on Iran have, thus far, been ineffective. Not only that, but "in April, the Iranians received a proposal for starting a dialogue, but they refused," he said. Negotiations with Iran, under the April proposal, were to be conducted by the five members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany.

"This is a global problem. The international community must present Iran with a critical dilemma - cooperation or a heavy price it will have to pay," Vaksman said. "Action must be taken now, so that we don't wake up one morning and discover that it is too late."

"The Struggle Continues"

Arlene Kushner

There's plenty to report on/analyze with regard to Obama and his administration (including material on the settlements, below), but it's time to take a vacation from analyses of his speech.

As to his much hyped visit to Buchenwald, I will not comment here. Precisely because I think it's hype. He came down harder on Israel than on Iran in Cairo, and then went to the camp to demonstrate to the world how sensitive he was to Jewish suffering. I didn't buy it. Or, rather, I'm more interested in seeing his sensitivity to Jewish rights and heritage.
So, let's turn to other matters.


The focus now is on the issue of settlements and our right to continue to build for natural growth (a denial of such a right being equivalent to the denial of our right to thrive and endure on the land).

The Obama government, with the full complicity of Hillary Clinton, is insisting that our commitment via the Road Map is to an absolute freeze on all settlements, with "freeze" meaning no building whatsoever.

The story, as I've indicated here, is more complicated than this by a long shot. There is the exchange of letters between Sharon and Bush, which are like a memorandum of understanding, with court precedent -- I've been advised -- for recognizing such a memorandum as having implications in terms of commitment.

In June 2004, a Concurrent "Spirit of Congress" Resolution (which was not binding) passed in both houses of Congress. It "strongly endorse[d] the principles articulated by President Bush in his letter dated April 14, 2004, to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon..."


Beyond this, we have a statement from Elliot Abrams, a former national security advisor involved in negotiating the issue of settlements. He was cited in the Washington Post, on May 24, as confirming that there were discussions during the Bush administration regarding the nature of the constraints on settlements, with an understanding reached.

On June 2, Dov Weisglass, former chief of staff to PM Sharon, wrote a piece in Yediot Ahronot, with regard to this understanding. Says Weisglass:

"...on May 1, 2003 in Jerusalem. Senior administration officials Steven Hadley and Elliott Abrams met with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and me, and, over the next two days succeeded in working out an exact definition of the term 'settlement freeze' in the Road Map. According to this definition, (1) no new settlements would be built, (2) no Palestinian land would be expropriated or otherwise seized for the purpose of settlement, (3) construction within the settlements would be confined to 'the existing construction line', and (4) public funds would not be earmarked for encouraging settlements.

"On a further meeting held with Ms. [Condoleezza] Rice on May 14, 2003, the agreement on the definition of the term 'freeze' was confirmed..."


Since the height of the confrontation between our government and the US on this issue, however, there has started to be a subtle softening of tone. When Defense Minister Barak was in Washington last week, he was assured that Obama had no intention of trying to topple the Netanyahu government -- which intention has been suggested in certain quarters.

While US envoy George Mitchell, who is here now, has begun a process of de-emphasizing our differences and emphasizing our relationship as close allies.

There are even hints that our disagreement on settlements can be "worked out."


While there might be reason to be pleased by this, in point of fact it makes me uneasy. For, when I read that the matter can be "worked out," I immediately ask myself what it is expected that we will surrender in principle. (I've read unconfirmed reports, for example, about our possibly agreeing to limit where we would do construction for natural growth -- with some communities that should not be excluded indeed being left out of the agreement. Unconfirmed.)


What we are coming to in a matter of days is a major policy speech by Bibi, to be delivered at Bar Ilan University, at the BESA Center. He's been mum on what the parameters of this speech will be. But within this lies the core of what our policy is likely to be (or, better, will be, with possible adjustments).

Speculation is that he will hold out for something less than the full sovereignty of a state for the Palestinians, insisting that for our security we require that there be an autonomy for them instead -- whatever that autonomy would be called -- that requires demilitarization and keeps them out of strategic areas and high points where their presence would threaten our security.

Beyond a certain point, however, speculation is not productive.


But we may have a hint in a speech just delivered by Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya'alon, at the Institute for Near East Policy, in Washington.

The result of an American plan to resolve issues within two years, he said, might lead to a Hamastan in Judea and Samaria.

"These assumptions [that the two-state vision is the only viable solution, and that Israel's settlement activity constitutes a major obstacle to peace] stood behind the Oslo process, and its failure indicates that they deserve to be reexamined. Such examination will reveal that, whereas the Israelis were really ready for this kind of a solution, including myself, the Palestinians do not accept that ‘the two state solution’ refers to two states for two peoples.

"In their view, one state should be the Palestinian state and the national identity of the other state should remain undefined, so that in the future it can become a Palestinian state as well."

Said Ya'alon, "It is our duty to explain the facts to our American friends."

I salute him for this straight talk, which he likely would not have offered without the tacit approval of the prime minister.


I am mindful of the tightrope that Bibi walks right now. And I have discussed before the fact that he opts generally to not be confrontational, though he has, to date been tough indeed. His tendency is to work within the system to achieve what he sees as the best result.

Thus, for example, he was not receptive to the letter sent by Minister without Portfolio Yossi Peled (Likud), who suggested that we become less dependent on the US -- for example by buying planes from Airbus in France instead of Boeing in the US.

We're going to see a stance from Bibi that is, indeed, a compromise, which will not please ideologues. No, he is not going to say, "This is our land and so I reject all proposals." He will say, "Because our rights and our security are my first concerns, and because I demand reciprocity, this is as far as I will go."

That much is close to certain.


According to Gil Hoffman in the Post, the hawks of Likud are saying that they know they have to be flexible with Bibi because of the heat he's taking. Thus, if he recognizes the Road Map, but secures an agreement to build in the settlements, this will not bring down the coalition.

MK Danny Danon, who is staunchly nationalist and thoroughly opposed to a "two-state solution," said, "We would still scream but we would understand his decision."

Most significantly, according to Hoffman:

"Likud MKs said that if Netanyahu did make such a policy shift, they expected that he would tell them he was doing so with the knowledge that the Palestinians and the Arab world would not do their part to allow US President Barack Obama to advance his policies, so there would not be any real danger that a Palestinian state would actually be created."

My perception is clearly in line with this -- that is, I believe it is a given that a Palestinian state is not going to evolve from what Obama is promoting (and more about this below). The danger, however, is in agreeing to things in principle that can come back to haunt us later.


According to an (unconfirmed) report in the Arab daily in London, Asharq Al-Awsat, Obama formulated a two-year plan for achieving Israeli- Palestinian peace, which was presented to Netanyahu when he was in Washington. And, says this report, Netanyahu "was given six weeks" to respond. If this is true, it puts my back up very badly indeed. Obama giving ultimatums? Making demands rather than requests?

Reportedly, the plan was also presented to Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman and Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, when they were in Washington.

They took in seriously, but saw a stumbling block: the political fragmentation of the Palestinians. How about that!

Thus, the Egyptians are now taking it upon themselves, once again, to work on reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah.

Forgive me, but this is breathtakingly stupid. There is no way to be diplomatic about this, nor should I try to be. Aside from the fact that any coalition they might cobble together would not be stable long-term, there is the refusal of Hamas to recognize Israel, renounce terrorism, and honor previous agreements. Do they intend to try the diplomatic slight-of-hand, by which Hamas doesn't have do these things even if it's part of a unity coalition, as long as the members of the government (i.e., the ministers) they select do? And they would expect us to sign off on a significant agreement with such a government?

Quite simply, even if Fatah were sincere about making peace (it's not), Hamas is the fly in the ointment that makes it impossible -- yet Obama and company won't recognize it.


On top of Hamas intransigence, there is this: Abbas has declared that until Netanyahu freezes settlements and accepts a "two state solution," he will not sit at a negotiating table with him. He is counting on Obama to take care of matters. Obama's stance has simply hardened the inflexibility of the PA -- hey, the White House is on their side now, no need to worry. Thus are Obama's actions counterproductive to his declared goals. And thus is the likelihood of any agreement even further diminished.


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