Saturday, May 30, 2009

Hamas says disappointed with Abbas-Obama meeting

Spokesman for Islamist group says implementation of Road Map for peace plan will turn PA into Israeli armed wing, result in annihilation of resistance groups'; Washington Post says Palestinians will 'wait for Netanyahu coalition to collapse amid US pressure to freeze settlement construction'

Israel News

Hamas on Friday expressed its disappointment with the results of the recent meeting between US President Barack Obama and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Washington, saying "nothing new came of it."
Spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said the Islamist group was particularly discouraged by the fact that during the meeting Abbas gave his consent to the implementation of the US-backed Road Map for peace, which according to the spokesman was "rejected by the Palestinian factions."

Barhoum said Abbas is working against the interests of the Palestinians and is "committed to the Road Map, which will turn the Palestinian Authority into an armed wing of Israel that will eventually annihilate the resistance groups and perpetuate the internal Palestinian rift."

The Hamas spokesman added that Obama's commitment to Mideast peace was "futile and insufficient in light of the continuation of Israel's targeted killings, arrests, land appropriation and siege on Gaza."

Barhoum continued to say that Abbas' actions, including "political arrests and the establishment of an illegitimate government in the West Bank" have stifled the reconciliation talks with Hamas, adding that the Palestinian president "cannot be trusted when it comes to the interests of the Palestinians."

Chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat, for his part, said earlier that the Palestinians are encouraged by Obama's vision.

"The Americans and Palestinians have a shared interest…the same vision of peace based on the two-state solution," Erekat said in the wake of Thursday's meeting between Obama and Abbas.

Meanwhile, a Washington Post editorial said Abbas "will wait for the Obama administration to force a recalcitrant (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu to freeze Israeli settlement construction and publicly accept the two-state formula," before he agrees to resume negotiations.

"Abbas and his team fully expect that Netanyahu will never agree to the full settlement freeze - if he did, his center-right coalition would almost certainly collapse. So they plan to sit back and watch while US pressure slowly squeezes the Israeli prime minister from office," claimed Jackson Diehl, the Post's deputy editorial page editor, who then quoted an American official as saying, "It will take a couple of years."

Diehl said that while interviewing Abbas, the PA leader acknowledged that former Israeli PM Ehud Olmert had shown him a map proposing a Palestinian state on 97 percent of the West Bank – "though he complained that the Israeli leader refused to give him a copy of the plan."

Diehl said Abbas confirmed that Olmert accepted the principle of the "right of return" of Palestinian refugees – "something no previous Israeli prime minister had done - and offered to resettle thousands in Israel." .

Friday, May 29, 2009

Obama in Cairo: Another Step toward Rapprochement?

David Schenker
May 29, 2009

PolicyWatch #1523 is the second in a two-part series on President Obama's trip to Egypt on June 4 and examines the likely impact of the visit on U.S.-Egyptian relations. Part one focused on the president's much-anticipated speech to the "Muslim world."

On June 4, President Barack Obama will deliver his much-anticipated address to the "Muslim world" from Cairo. The administration's choice of Egypt as the venue for this important speech -- and the fact that Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak had, until a family tragedy, planned to visit Washington on May 26 for the first time in six years -- highlights the change in trajectory of the U.S.-Egyptian relationship
During the Bush administration, U.S.-Egyptian relations reached their nadir; today, Washington and Cairo are on the verge of rapprochement. Improved ties come as Washington is seeking better coordination with its Arab allies in countering Iranian nuclear and regional ambitions, and as Cairo nears its first political transition since 1981.

During the Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Clinton administrations, President Mubarak was a regular fixture in Washington, typically visiting once if not twice a year. This pattern continued in the first years of the Bush administration, but after the September 11 attacks and the onset of Bush's Freedom Agenda, bilateral relations deteriorated.

Differences emerged early over the 2000 arrest, conviction, and incarceration of Saad Eddin Ibrahim, a dual U.S.-Egyptian citizen and democracy advocate, for "defaming Egypt." In 2003, the Bush administration conditioned $130 million in U.S. assistance on Ibrahim's release. Under pressure, Mubarak released Ibrahim from jail but has not visited Washington since. In August 2008, Ibrahim was again convicted of damaging Egypt's reputation, this time in absentia. Another point of contention was the January 2005 arrest of presidential candidate and Mubarak critic, Ayman Nour. Following his arrest, then secretary of state Condoleezza Rice postponed a planned visit to Egypt. When she did eventually visit Cairo in June 2005, she gave a "major policy speech" on democracy.

The end of the Bush administration changed the atmosphere. In an apparent goodwill gesture toward the Obama administration, in February 2009 Egypt released Nour from prison two years early. The White House reciprocated this gesture by inviting Mubarak to Washington and announcing on May 8 that Obama would deliver his address in Cairo. Then, last week, an Egyptian court overturned Ibrahim's 2008 conviction, clearing the way for his return to Egypt.

Growing Coincidence of Interest
The timing of the rapprochement reflects the convergence of interest on several issues of importance to both Cairo and Washington.

Iran. Tehran's progress toward a nuclear weapon and its provision of materiel and ideological support for moqawama, or resistance, across the region is of grave concern to Washington and its moderate Arab allies, specifically Egypt. Cairo has had problems with Tehran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, but tensions have spiked of late. During the Israeli military campaign in Gaza in January 2009 -- when Egypt refused to open its border with Gaza to relieve pressure on Hamas -- an organization associated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps put a $1.5 million bounty on Mubarak's head, a threat posted on the Iranian government's Fars news agency website.

More recently, in April, Egypt announced the arrest in November 2008 of dozens of Iranian-backed Hizballah operatives in the Sinai. Cairo accused the operatives of channeling weapons to Hamas, targeting Israeli tourists, and planning operations against Suez Canal shipping.

While Washington and Cairo share an assessment of the Iranian threat, they differ on strategy. The administration has been silent on Egypt and Morocco's bold responses to Iranian subversion, heightening Arab concerns about the U.S. approach. Washington's Arab allies likely see this as a missed opportunity to rally support in Europe, China, and Russia for a tougher policy.

Hamas. Washington and Cairo share a common concern about the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas. The Obama administration has stated that it wants to revitalize Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, a goal undermined by Hamas's control of Gaza. Although a Palestinian national unity government might jump-start these negotiations, it could also set the stage for Hamas's electoral victory over the more-moderate Fatah next January.

For its part, Cairo views the Iranian-backed Hamas on its border as a significant threat, not only to the peace process but also to Egyptian stability. Cairo's concern is similar to Jordan's in that the violent ideology espoused by Hamas -- a Palestinian wing of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) -- might spread to the Egyptian branch of the organization, which years ago foreswore violence. In the aftermath of the Hizballah arrests, Egyptian MB statements of sympathy for and identification with the Shiite terrorist organization have proven especially troubling to Cairo.

Egyptian succession. Mubarak is eighty-one and said to be in good health, but uncertainty about succession is a preoccupation in Egypt. Indeed, in March 2008, a Cairo court sentenced the editor of al-Dustour newspaper to six months in prison for "publishing false information and rumors" about Mubarak's health. Should the Egyptian president anoint his son, National Democratic Party (NDP) deputy secretary general Gamal Mubarak, as his successor, it could be problematic. Given current regional challenges, both the United States and Egypt have an interest in seeing a smooth and, if possible, transparent transition of power in Cairo.

Ongoing Governance Issues
While prospects for the bilateral relationship appear promising, the governance problems in Egypt that underpinned the Bush-era deterioration remain. Recently, much of the condemnation has been focused on the controversial government decision to destroy some 400,000 pigs as a preventative measure against swine flu. The step was criticized by the UN World Health Organization as unproductive and condemned by Egypt's long-suffering Coptic community, which derives its livelihood from the hogs, as yet another act of government-sponsored persecution.

Despite the release of Ayman Nour, and issues of government competence and religious freedom aside, Egypt continues to be a rather repressive environment. Government harassment and interference with registration procedures for the April 2008 municipal elections were so severe that the MB, which had intended to field 10,000 candidates for 53,000 seats, boycotted the contest. At the same time, the government took further steps in parliament in 2008 to limit press freedom and enhance the government's ability to sanction media outlets by withdrawing licenses.

Meanwhile, and perhaps predictably, during his three-year incarceration, Nour's pro-reform al-Ghad party fell into disarray; as a result of his conviction, he himself was disbarred and is no longer eligible to hold public office. By discrediting and marginalizing Nour, the Mubarak regime effectively removed its only secular democratic political rival.

One bright spot in this otherwise bleak landscape was the unexpected conviction on May 21 of Hesham Talaat Moustafa in a Cairo criminal court. Moustafa, one of the richest men in Egypt, was accused of murdering his Lebanese paramour, Suzane Tamim. His trial was watched closely in Egypt and throughout the Arab world, not only because of its salacious, tabloidlike quality, but as a result of its political and legal implications. Moustafa was a member of Egypt's Shura Council -- the upper house of Parliament appointed by Mubarak -- and is a leading member of the NDP, serving on its policies secretariat.

Governance issues have been assigned a lower profile -- if not priority -- in the Obama administration's dealings with Cairo. No doubt, the administration has taken a less confrontational approach. When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Egypt in March -- less than a month after her department's annual Human Rights Report characterized Egypt's respect for human rights as "poor" -- she avoided public mention of the issue. At the same time, however, the administration has taken the very real and substantive decision to reduce funding for democracy promotion in Egypt by 70 percent.

By not adopting Bush's Freedom Agenda, the Obama administration has paved the way to a return to Washington's traditional relationship with Cairo. Given the need for an Egyptian leadership role in the Arab opposition to Iranian nuclear ambitions, at least in the short term, Washington's decision would seem to make sense. As a long-term policy, however, the downgrading of governance issues on the U.S.-Egyptian bilateral agenda has some potentially serious consequences, not least of which would be a crisis of confidence among Arab democrats in Washington's commitment to promoting democratic values. More ominously, should the trend of bad governance continue in Egypt, it would likely be accompanied by a corresponding increase in the popularity of Islamists.

When Obama gives his June 4 address in Cairo, it will be difficult to avoid the topic of democracy. But Washington will approach the topic cautiously. The administration neither wants to risk derailing the nascent improvement of bilateral relations nor to pressure Egypt as it approaches it first period of political transition in nearly three decades. The challenge for Washington will be how to balance the critical need for robust U.S.-Egyptian coordination on Iran and Hamas with the longstanding U.S. support for democratic development.

David Schenker is the Aufzien fellow and director of the Program on Arab Politics at the Washington Institute.

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`The Emperor Has No Clothes`

Jan Willem van der Hoeven, Director - May 28, 2009
International Christian Zionist Center

They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious.
"Peace, peace," they say, when there is no peace.
(Jeremiah 8:11)

Apart from all the other horrendous costs involved, the forceful evacuation of the nearly 300,000 Israelis living today in their own, God-given Judea and Samaria, will cost enormous amounts of money - even if just $250,000 in compensation is paid for each house evacuated. Who will pay this enormous sum? The US with all her own financial upheavals? The Arabs? Who? But even if a financial solution was to be found, which seems very unlikely indeed, the evacuation will not lead to peace. It will result in the destruction of Israel as Palestinian spokesmen from all factions - from Hamas to the Fatah - have made abundantly clear:

"[Hamas says] that Fatah has asked them to recognize Israel`s right to exist and this is a big deception. For the one thousandth time, I want to reaffirm that we are not asking Hamas to recognize Israel`s right to exist. Rather, we are asking Hamas not to do so because Fatah never recognized Israel`s right to exist."

"We acknowledge that the PLO did recognize Israel`s right to exist, but we are not bound by it as a resistance faction," (Mohammed Dahlan, PLO representative, The Jerusalem Post, 18/3/2009)

On May 14, 2009, under the headline "Palestinian Ambassador to Lebanon Abbas Zaki: Two-State Solution Will Lead to the Collapse of Israel," MEMRI ( quoted PLO Ambassador Abbas Zaki as saying:

"They talk about a two-state solution, and when that is achieved... Even Ahmadinejad, leader of the rejectionists throughout the region, said he supports a two-state solution. Nobody fools anybody.

"With the two-state solution, in my opinion, Israel will collapse, because if they get out of Jerusalem, what will become of all the talk about the Promised Land and the Chosen People? What will become of all the sacrifices they made - just to be told to leave? They consider Jerusalem to have a spiritual status. The Jews consider Judea and Samaria to be their historic dream. If the Jews leave those places, the Zionist idea will begin to collapse. It will regress of its own accord. Then we will move forward."

"The PLO proceeds through phases, without changing its strategy. Let me tell you, when the ideology of Israel collapses, and we take, at least, Jerusalem, the Israeli ideology will collapse in its entirety, and we will begin to progress with our own ideology, Allah willing, and drive them out of all of Palestine." (Excerpts from an interview with PLO Ambassador to Lebanon Abbas Zaki, which aired on ANB TV on May 7, 2009.)

PLO and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmud Abbas recently said:

"A Jewish State, what is that supposed to mean? You call yourselves as you like, but I don`t accept it, and I say so publicly."

Hamas covenant, Article Eight:

Allah is its target, the Prophet is its model, the Koran its constitution: Jihad is its path and death for the sake of Allah is the loftiest of its wishes.

The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Moslem generations until Judgment Day. It, or any part of it, should not be squandered: it, or any part of it, should not be given up. Neither a single Arab country nor all Arab countries, neither any king or president, nor all the kings and presidents, neither any organization nor all of them, be they Palestinian or Arab, possess the right to do that. Palestine is an Islamic Waqf land consecrated for Moslem generations until Judgment Day. This being so, who could claim to have the right to represent Moslem generations till Judgment Day?

This is the law governing the land of Palestine in the Islamic Sharia (law) and the same goes for any land the Moslems have conquered by force, because during the times of (Islamic) conquests, the Moslems consecrated these lands to Moslem generations till the Day of Judgment.

Furthermore Yuval Diskin, head of Israel`s General Security, the Shabak, has recently stated before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee as reported by The Jerusalem Post, 20 May 2009:

"Hamas control over the Gaza Strip will prevent any effective peace process from coming into fruition"

Diskin warned that there was a good chance that the situation could become more dire if Hamas emerges victorious in a West Bank election.

"If ballots were cast in the West Bank today, there is a chance that Hamas would win," he warned.

He warned that a victory for Hamas would "be seen as a second victory for Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood in this area, and thus would have a dangerous impact on the whole region, including in neighboring countries."

Therefore, because `the other side,` both so-called moderates and extremists, will only use the full withdrawal of Israel from all "occupied territories" - including Jerusalem - as a phase en route to destroying the hated Zionist State, Israel is not engaged in peace negotiations but in negotiating piece by piece her own imminent destruction.

Why, then, do Israeli politicians and commentators who must know these things still spout such self-destructive nonsense? Rather than speak the truth that is so obvious to all who still have the courage to think for themselves, they prefer to be politically correct in this sick and distorted world. They are afraid to stand apart from the PC crowd and to shout, like the courageous child of old about an emperor praised by all: "But the Emperor has no clothes, he is NAKED!"

So is this peace process! Not just naked and void of content, but mortally dangerous for little Israel.

By refusing to deal forcefully with Iran, the United States and Europe have, themselves, cut off any hope for true peace in the Middle East. Yet they simultaneously hold Israel back, forbidding her from taking care of the Iranian threat herself- though it would benefit all: the moderate Arab regimes, Europe and United States.

The argument put forward by both US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama that the eight years the Bush administration refused to talk to Iran produced no result, is utterly false and misleading.

The fact is that whatever Europe and the United States have done so far - and European leaders did engage Iran in dialogue, and even employed veiled threats - all has produced nothing. It was all too weak and halfhearted, proving not that we need more of these futile engagements, but that we need a firm and definite response before it is too late!

For too late it soon will be!

Politics: Two-state alternatives

Standing only 1.64 meters in her trademark long skirt, 31-year-old freshman Likud MK Tzipi Hotovely does not look like a rebel, and she doesn't intend to become one either.

That's why she emphasized at the start of Tuesday's diplomatic conference she organized at the Knesset that it was intended to boost Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and not undermine him. She hopes Netanyahu will toe the party line and resist pressure from Washington to take steps toward creating a Palestinian state.
"This is not a conference of mordim or hishukaim [rebels] but of strengtheners," Hotovely said in her introductory remarks, recalling the groups of right-wing Likud MKs who pressured Ariel Sharon and Yitzhak Shamir in the past. "This is intended to strengthen the prime minister, who stood up for his principles in Washington."

Entitled "Alternatives to the Two-State Outlook," the three-hour conference gave a forum to several politicians and thinkers who believe that the Right must have its own diplomatic plan to enable a Likud prime minister to defy world leaders who are insistent on creating a Palestinian state.

The event was purposely timed to coincide with the aftermath of the Netanyahu-Obama meeting, and the speculation ahead of US President Barack Obama's key speeches to the Muslim world and the Quartet next month. But the timing proved to be even more significant, when Netanyahu showed his first signs of giving in to US pressure the day before.

AT a meeting of the Likud faction, Netanyahu appeared to accept Obama's linkage of West Bank-building to the Iranian threat, when he said that removing unauthorized outposts was necessary to persuade America to stop Iran. While Netanyahu has not given in to Obama's requests to stop the construction in settlements needed for natural growth, he did surrender the outposts in hopes of appeasing Obama.

"We are not in regular times," Netanyahu said. "The danger is approaching, and the most dangerous thing for a live organism is to not recognize the danger on the way. My job is to ensure Israel's future, and that comes before anything else. Our relations with the US are important. We need to put our real national needs atop our priorities."

Netanyahu's statement surprised Likud MKs who said they felt déjà vu, especially when he used Sharon's line about leaders having to make difficult decisions. They expressed concern that the prime minister was advancing on the slippery slope of concessions to the US - a process that history has proven hard to stop.

HAD NETANYAHU or Obama attended the conference, they would have heard about four possible alternatives to the creation of a Palestinian state, which all the speakers at the event agreed would guarantee Israel's destruction. The options discussed included a Palestinian confederation with Jordan, maintaining the current situation in the West Bank, annexing all of Judea and Samaria and delaying dealing with the problem until better circumstances arise.

Vice Premier Moshe Ya'alon gave practical reasons why a Palestinian state could not sustain itself, and could not be prevented from attacking Israel. He suggested that, rather than attempting to solve the conflict via Israeli concessions and throwing money at Palestinian leaders, the world instead should try to manage the conflict.

He outlined educational, economic, political, police and military reforms for the Palestinian Authority, and lamented that the only reforms taking place were the military ones under the auspices of American Gen. Keith Dayton. Ya'alon said that all five reforms had to take place first for the PA to become a partner.

Shas chairman Eli Yishai outlined a plan for reporters outside the conference, calling for five years of cooperation with the PA on a municipal and economic level as a prerequisite for diplomatic talks on a Palestinian entity.

Israel Beiteinu MK Robert Ilatov explained his party's plan for exchanging territory and populations with the PA.

Many speakers pushed the idea of a Palestinian-Jordanian confederation, on a day in which Jordan protested the advancement of National Union MK Arye Eldad's bill that calls for the solution to the Palestinian problem to take place in Jordan and not Israel.

Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland, who headed the National Security Council under Sharon, said the idea had started to be raised seriously among the Jordanians and Palestinians since Hamas took over Gaza. He said he believed both the Jordanians and Palestinians would eventually agree to it, if it became clear that the only other alternative was a Hamas state in the West Bank.

Eiland also called for expanding the Gaza Strip into the Egyptian-controlled Sinai, to allow cities and a port to be built for the Palestinian people. He said that Israel could compensate Egypt for the loss of territory with land in the Negev.

Adi Mintz, a former chairman of the Council of Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, outlined his "Shalom Ba'aretz" [peace in Israel] plan, which takes Eiland's ideas further. Mintz's plan calls for first defeating terror, and establishing a separate system of streets and bridges, so Palestinians can go from one town to another without checkpoints.

Mintz would annex some 62 percent of the West Bank, including expanded settlement blocs, the Jordan Valley and the Judean Desert. He said this would only add some 300,000 Arabs to the Israeli population. In the plan's final stage, some 1 million people living in the remaining 38% of the West Bank would become Jordanian citizens and Israeli residents, and would administer themselves.

By contrast, former National Union leader Benny Elon's Israel Initiative, which was also outlined at the conference, would not divide the West Bank at all. But the Arabs living there would come under Jordanian civil control, while remaining under Israeli military control.

Former defense minister Moshe Arens criticized all the plans involving Jordan, calling them unrealistic.

THE MOST surprising speaker at the conference was Netanyahu's former bureau chief, Uri Elitzur, who said that the best possible option was the annexation of the entire West Bank, making all the Palestinians living there Israeli citizens. He said he recognized the danger of Israel's eventually becoming a binational state, but it was preferable to withdrawing from Judea and Samaria, or continuing the current situation.

But after the conference ended, the participants agreed that the most likely scenario still remained that Obama would pursue the creation of a Palestinian state with full force, while adding the prospect of Arab countries recognizing the Jewish state in an attempt to make it easier to swallow. Netanyahu will try to improve the plan via his talks with the Obama administration, rather than give a firm no and attempt to stop it completely.

They predicted that, as has happened every time a president decided he could solve the Middle East conflict, the Arabs would prevent the plan from being implemented by refusing to compromise. They noted that the election of Hamas at the beginning of next year could also derail Obama's efforts.

Faced with that prospect, the conference's organizers said the ideas raised there would be waiting for Netanyahu and Obama after yet another Middle East peace process proved unsuccessful.

This article can also be read at /servlet/Satellite?cid=1243346491959&pagename=JPArticle%2FShowFull

Obama says Israel must stop settlement construction

Associated Press , THE JERUSALEM POST
Gingerly trying to advance Mideast peace, US President Barack Obama on Thursday challenged Israel to stop settlement construction in the West Bank on the same day the Israelis rejected that demand. Obama pushed Palestinians for progress, too, deepening his personal involvement.
"I am confident that we can move this process forward," Obama said after meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the White House. The president said that means both sides must "meet the obligations that they've already committed to" - an element of the peace effort that has proved elusive for years.

Abbas told The Associated Press after the session with Obama that no meetings with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu are on the horizon. He said there are no preconditions for such a meeting but "obligations" on Israel through the so-called road map for ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Abbas said he is meeting his commitments under the road map and that Israel should do the same. He cited continued settlement construction as a commitment Israel is not meeting.

Earlier in the day, Israel rejected blunt US requests to freeze Jewish settlement construction in the West Bank, a territory that would make up the Palestinian state, along with the Gaza Strip, as part of a broader peace deal.

In strong language, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had said Wednesday that Obama wants a halt to all settlement construction, including "natural growth." Israel uses that term for new housing and other construction that it says will accommodate the growth of families living in existing settlements.

Government spokesman Mark Regev responded Thursday by saying some construction would go on.

"Normal life in those communities must be allowed to continue," he said, noting Israel has already agreed not to build new settlements and to remove some tiny, unauthorized settler outposts. Regev said the fate of the settlements would be determined in peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

With that as a backdrop, Obama said part of Israel's obligations include "stopping settlements." But he also struck a hopeful tone.

He said he had pressed Netanyahu on the settlement matter just last week at the White House, and that the prime minister needs to work through the issue with his own government.

"I think it's important not to assume the worst, but to assume the best," Obama said.

The president also pushed Palestinians to hold up their end, including increased security in the West Bank to give Israelis confidence in their safety.

Obama said he told Abbas the Palestinians must find a way to halt the incitement of anti-Israeli sentiments that are sometimes expressed in schools, mosques and public arenas. "All those things are impediments to peace," Obama said.

The Palestinian leader said "we are fully committed to all of our obligations" under the road map. Doing so, Abbas said, is "the only way to achieve the durable, comprehensive and just peace that we need and desire in the Middle East."

Obama, like predecessor George W. Bush, embraces a multifaceted Mideast peace plan that calls for a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

The president refused to set a timetable for such a nation but also noted he has not been slow to get involved in meeting with both sides and pushing the international community for help.

"We can't continue with the drift, with the increased fear and resentment on both sides, the sense of hopelessness around the situation that we've seen for many years now," Obama said. "We need to get this thing back on track."

Abbas is working to repackage a 2002 Saudi Arabian plan that called for Israel to give up land it has occupied since the 1967 war in exchange for normalized relations with Arab countries. Abbas gave Obama a document that would keep intact that requirement and also offer a way to monitor a required Israeli freeze on all settlement activity, a timetable for Israeli withdrawal and a realization of a two-state solution.

"The main purpose of presenting this document to President Obama is to help him in finding a mechanism to implement the Arab peace initiative," Abbas told the AP.

Asked about his impression of the meeting with Obama, Abbas said: "It was a serious and open meeting and President Obama seems determined on what he has said to us and to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu about the necessity of implementing the road map, and we have agreed to continue our communications."

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said Obama affirmed to Abbas that Israel has an obligation to freeze settlement expansions, including natural growth.

Now more than 120 settlements dot the West Bank, and Palestinian officials say their growth makes it increasingly impossible to realize their dream of independence. More than 280,000 Israelis live in the settlements, in addition to more than 2 million Palestinians in the West Bank. An additional 180,000 Israelis live in east Jerusalem, where the Palestinians hope to establish their capital.

Israelis will be anxiously watching Obama's June 4 speech in Cairo, where he will deliver a message to the Muslim world to try to repair relations that frayed badly under the Bush administration. Obama will also visit Saudi Arabia before he goes to Egypt.

"I want to use the occasion to deliver a broader message about how the United States can change for the better its relationship with the Muslim world," Obama said of his Egypt speech. "That will require, I think, a recognition on both the part of the United States as well as many majority Muslim countries about each other, a better sense of understanding, and I think possibilities to achieve common ground."

This article can also be read at /servlet/Satellite?cid=1243346500378&pagename=JPArticle%2FShowFull
Comment: Allow me to indicate that Abbas' statement they are honoring the Road Map is not true-at all. I suggest individuals read and study the Road Map and then examine his culture and society today. Hold up their behavior to the standards identified in the Road Map. Good thing Abbas is not made out of wood, his nose would be longer the the Golden Gate Bridge he has fabricated so many lies. Unless you know the facts you might believe him-the media knows better but never challenges any lie he tells-you see, they want access to him and cannot afford to upset him. This is the state of the world today.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


Diana West

Moaz Esther, an Israeli outpost was demolished by Israeli security forces at the behest, media say, of Barack Obama.

This, apparently, is only the first of many. As Haaretz (of May 22) reports: Ministers, including those from Likud, said Wednesday that Netanyahu probably promised United States President Barack Obama in their meeting that Israel would dismantle outposts soon. Evacuating illegal outposts in the West Bank is expected to be the Netanyahu government's first gesture toward Obama and the Palestinian Authority.
What next? Self-immolation?

This is part of the "price" Netanyahu paid Obama in exchange for the latter's statements about Iran's nuclearization, the sources said. Outposts for statements? Netanyahu was suckered.

Sources close to Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Wednesday that the first outposts are expected to be evacuated within a few weeks—-either with the settlers' agreement or by force. Gaza all over again—one of the stunning strategic and moral blunders of all time.

Before going to Washington, Netanyahu and chief of policy planning Ron Dermer drafted the new government's policy principles. The document, which Netanyahu issued for distribution only after meeting Obama, says Israel is ready to evacuate the illegal outposts. As for stopping construction in the settlements the document was more cagey, saying the settlements were not an obstacle to peace and that the evacuation of settlements in Gaza only led to the establishment of a Hamas terror base in the Gaza Strip. Confusion and weakness. Why evacuate more if recent history—as in day before yesterday—shows evacuation leads to massively more violence not less?

During the meeting, held at the minister's bureau in Tel Aviv, Barak went on to say, "We can't compromise on law enforcement. A sovereign country that seeks life must enforce its laws and implement the state's authority over its citizens."

How deeply twisted. In Barak's eyes, sovereignty here is the legal right to destroy his country.

He said the new Israeli government would take action against the outposts, not because it was told to do so by the United States, but because Israel "is a state of law."

How do you say "denial" in Hebrew?

Barak added that the illegal outposts cause extensive damage to Israel in the international arena, and even weaken the settler movement. Therefore, he said, the problem of the unauthorized outposts should be addressed first and foremost.

"Damage in the international arena"—sounds like Gitmo. Israelis living lives on historic homelands they reclaimed in Arab-jihadist wars of attempted extinguishment does "damage in the international arena" just as Americans attempting to thwart jihadists from attacking does "damage in the international arena."
Hmmm. Sounds like we should both forget about the "international arena" if we want to survive. Big, alas, if. Meanwhile, notice how rocketing civilians—as opposed to living on a mountain in a tin can—causes no damage in the same international arena to the Palestinians.

The meeting, called by the Yesha Council, included several settler demands. The council asked that the construction in the West Bank settlements be unfrozen, that Jewish communities in the West Bank be afforded conditions for a normal lifestyle and that certain security concerns be addressed.

Maoz Esther resident Avraham Sandak said 40 people had been living at the hilltop site northeast of Ramallah and they would start work immediately to replace the demolished buildings.

"We hope to sleep here tonight and we hope, with God's help, to rebuild it, not like before but bigger," he said.

Diana West is a nationally syndicated columnist and author of the book The Death Of The Grown-Up.

Is Obama looking for a fight over 'natural growth'?

May. 28, 2009
"A 'settlement freeze' would not help Palestinians face today's problems or prepare for tomorrow's challenges," Elliott Abrams, the deputy national security adviser under former US president George Bush, wrote in April in The Washington Post.

"The demand for a freeze would have only one quick effect: to create immediate tension between the United States and Israel's new government," he wrote. "That may be precisely why some propose it, but it is also why the Obama administration should reject it."
The demand for a freeze would have only one quick effect: to create immediate tension between the United States and Israel's new government," he wrote. "That may be precisely why some propose it, but it is also why the Obama administration should reject it."

Abrams proved prophetic: the issue has indeed created immediate tension with the US, not over illegal outposts - Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has made it clear he will remove them - but over "natural growth" in the settlements.

The question is why the US is looking for this fight, and why Obama has not heeded Abrams's advice and rejected those pushing him in a confrontation over the matter.

Truth be told, comments by Obama himself on the subject have not pointed to a looming battle. After his meeting with Netanyahu in the White House last week, Obama spoke - much as Bush spoke before him - in rather general terms about a need for Israel to stop settlement construction.

"There is a clear understanding that we have to make progress on settlements, that settlements have to be stopped in order for us to move forward," he said, using language heard often in the past.

The indication that a fight was brewing came when US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in an Al-Jazeera interview - an interview whose transcript was circulated last Wednesday by the State Department - that a freeze is just that: a complete and total freeze, even for "natural growth."

That position, as was made abundantly clear at Sunday's cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, is not acceptable to the current Netanyahu government. Even Defense Minister Ehud Barak, representing the left flank of the government, said it was illogical to accept a principle whereby a family could not add on to their 45-meter house to accommodate more children, or whereby veterans of IDF units couldn't return - with their wives - to the settlements of their birth to live near their parents.

So a clash is in the making, though coming to some kind of agreement on this issue was one of the main objectives that Intelligence Services Minister Dan Meridor, National Security Advisor Uzi Arad and Yitzhak Molcho, Netanyahu's envoy on the Palestinian issue, took with them to London this week for their meeting with US Middle East envoy George Mitchell.

Israel's position, or its hope, is that this issue can be finessed, just as it was finessed under the previous government. Or, as Netanyahu told a visiting Congressional delegation on Wednesday, there is a need to find a way with the US administration to enable "normal life" in the settlements to continue. If Obama says no settlements, but doesn't mention natural growth, leaving Clinton to do that, does that mean there is wiggle room? Nobody knows yet.

Not too long ago, Clinton's predecessor Condoleezza Rice caused consternation in Jerusalem when she began referring to Israeli neighborhoods in east Jerusalem as settlements.

But then Jerusalem was able to say, "Hey, that's only Rice. Bush doesn't feel that way." The problem is that no one quite knows the dynamics yet on these issues inside the Obama administration.

Israeli officials are confident - perhaps overly confident - that if they "line up" with the US administration on the "right side of the fence" on most settlement issues, they could find a formula to work regarding natural growth.

This means that if, as the Olmert government declared, the Netanyahu government says it will uproot illegal outposts, not set up new settlements, not give incentives to move to the settlements, and not expropriate any additional Palestinian lands, then the conventional wisdom in the current government is that the US would permit - as it has in the past - natural growth construction as long as it does not go beyond the existing construction lines.

But what if Obama, as some maintain, is actually looking for a public fight with Israel on this issue in order to win credit with the Arab world, and legitimacy among the Europeans as a leader who is willing to take Israel on when necessary?

That could be a tricky tactic, because if the US president picks a fight with Israel over the natural growth issue at a time when Israel has declared it won't build new settlements, expropriate land or give incentives to move there, then it could be perceived among some Obama supporters in Congress as being unfairly tough on Israel, especially since various verbal understandings were made over the years that Israel interpreted as a green light for natural growth.

Indeed, what is lacking is clarity, not about where Israel stands on the issue at this point, but where Obama stands, and how far he will push. Clinton's position is clear - but is she also speaking for the president?

As Abrams wrote in April, "for the past five years, Israel's government has largely adhered to guidelines that were discussed with the United States but never formally adopted: that there would be no new settlements, no financial incentives for Israelis to move to settlements and no new construction except in already built-up areas. The clear purpose of the guidelines? To allow for settlement growth in ways that minimized the impact on Palestinians."

The new Netanyahu government has made clear it will abide by those guidelines, and even go further, by taking down illegal outposts. What remains to be seen, what has to be clarified, is whether the Obama administration feels bound by these same guidelines.

If it doesn't, then a clash over the issue is all but inevitable.•

This article can also be read at /servlet/Satellite?cid=1243346492983&pagename=JPArticle%2FShowFull

"First Things First"

Arlene Kushner

And the first order of business is Shavuot, which begins tomorrow night. This holiday, the culmination of our counting of the Omer for seven weeks, marks Matan Torah -- our receiving of the Torah. The counting from Pesach until now -- which has significance in many ways -- tells us that there is a spiritual progression from the Exodus to Sinai. We traditionally celebrate this Festival by studying through the night.

It is unlikely that there will be another posting after this one until after Shabbat.

Chag Shavuot Sameach!


Well, the delegation headed by Minister of Intelligence Dan Meridor has gone to London to discuss matters with US officials there, prior to Barak's visit in Washington, and it's being reported that both Iran and settlements are on the agenda.

As to Iran, it truly is wait and see how Obama will respond to what Barak brings him.

But we cannot escape the link with the enormously threatening and worrisome way in which North Korea is currently behaving. US response will be watched carefully by the world, and one must hope (and pray!) that the American president will be jarred into waking up before it is too late.

Guess what? Being nice guys with a renegade regime simply does not work. Not in North Korea and not in Iran. What is more, it's a lot easier (safer for the world) to deal with stopping such a regime from going nuclear than to confront one that already is nuclear.

Barack Hussein Obama -- do you get the picture yet?


Here in Israel there is concern about nuclear proliferation and nuclear material getting into the hands of ME terrorists. But there is also the hope that alarm over Korea internationally may spur a stronger stance with regard to Iran. There is, for example, Russia, which has cut Iran a great deal of slack, but is now alarmed about North Korea.


As to settlements: Two other illegal -- or more properly, unauthorized -- outposts outside of Kiryat Arba were taken down last night. One is at the Federman farm, which was demolished last year. There had been some activity reported regarding re-establishment of the property, but when police went there last night all they actually found was a tent filled with equipment. The other is at Hill 18, otherwise called Givat Avichai, which had been founded by yeshiva students from Kiryat Arba. There authorities found two shacks and some electrical equipment. The handful of yeshiva students present put up no resistance.

On the one hand, it seems altogether ludicrous, that authorities are taking the time to dismantle tents and shacks. But there is another way of looking at this. While they may end up doing bigger things, we must remember that as of now it's been mostly a show. Wow! Two unauthorized outposts taken down. They're tough. You think Barak will report to Obama on what he's done so far?


A reader (thanks, Don S.) has asked me to elaborate on the different statuses that outposts or settlements can have. And I'd like to devote space to that here, as this is an important issue.

The whole business of legal vs. illegal settlements is both complicated and political. Most settlements have had some interaction with some government departments or agencies. They've hooked up water lines, or electric lines, or paved a road, or whatever. There is sanction somewhere along the way. And sometimes that sanction is considerable. But if final papers are not in place, then the settlement can be called "illegal" or "unauthorized."

The region comprised of Judea and Samaria is not governed by Israeli civil law -- civil law was never extended to this area as it was to the Golan and to eastern Jerusalem. (Note: this is not a case of annexing it, but extending the law of Israel to apply.) The region is administered separately under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Defense, and it is the office of the Defense Minister that must sign off on a settlement. Thus Barak's involvement here.

There are instances in which "illegal" settlements have been later declared legal, and there is hope that this might happen now in a handful of instances at least. That can particularly be the case when so-called outposts are really outlying neighborhoods of recognized settlements.

But it can happen in other instances as well. And actually it was explained to me by a lawyer some time ago that many settlements considered authorized today moved through a process this way.


There are some charges being made -- by far left groups such as Peace Now and Yesh G'vul -- that some of the settlements are on private Palestinian land. While these charges are not necessarily accurate, where this might be a problem, shifting of the settlement to other land, rather than demolishing it, is a possible resolution.


Several political issues complicate this whole matter. The Obama administration is saying that we have certain obligations with regard to settlements stemming from the Road Map for Peace. Introduced by the US, with Quartet sponsorship, in the spring of 2003, it presented a phased plan, with a timeline, for achieving a two-state solution.

You can see the full text here;

In the proposed first phase, it says the Government of Israel must "immediately dismantle settlement outposts erected since March 2001" and "freeze all settlement activity (including natural growth of settlements)."

We may not like it. We may hate it. But it says it.


But -- wait! -- it's not nearly as simple as Obama would have it.

First there is the question of whether it still applies, as it was envisioned as resulting in a Palestinian state by 2005. Has a post-2005 situation superseded this document?

Unfortunately, our new foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, has made it more difficult to make this case, as he declared early on that we should scrap Annapolis and go back to the Road Map. It was clear why he did this: Annapolis was trying to jump past the phased program and get to the end result of a Palestinian state at the beginning. Lieberman was undoubtedly reasoning that under the Road Map the PA had obligations it would not honor and thus we'd not get to that end result.


Then there is the very important issue of reciprocity (which Netanyahu has made much of) and the need for the Palestinian Authority to simultaneously fulfill its obligations. We cannot be the only party that "walks the walk."

According to this same Road Map, the Palestinians must "declare an unequivocal end to violence and terrorism and undertake visible efforts on the ground to arrest, disrupt, and restrain individuals and groups conducting and planning violent attacks on Israelis anywhere."

Never mind that Fatah is not exactly clean itself, what about Hamas terrorism, with rockets and mortars still launched (170 since the end of our war in Gaza)? What action will the PA take with regard to this? This is a joke. The PA, which has this obligation, cannot do it.

And there's more: "All official Palestinian institutions [must] end incitement against Israel." This is an even bigger joke than the terrorism issue. Anyone who has seen an analysis of the textbooks produced and utilized by the PA understands what a huge joke it really is.

See my article, "Texts of Hate," for some mind-blowing examples of what PA school kids are taught.

To comply with this requirement, the PA would have to publish a whole set of adjusted texts. And there's no thought of doing so. Not a glimmer of a suggestion that they must do so.

But WE have to stop building in the settlements? The Road Map calls for "reciprocal steps by the two parties."

It seems to me a very public campaign has to be launched focusing on the inequities of what is demanded of us and of the PA. Most of the world knows about the settlements as an "impediment to peace." Time they knew that there can't be peace when the Palestinian kids are taught to hate us, but that the PA, which is bound to do so under the Road Map, is taking no action in this regard. The PA is always yapping about how we don't want peace because we keep building. Where is the voice of our government saying that clearly the PA doesn't want peace if its youngsters are taught Jihad and Palestine from the river to the sea?


And this is not the end to the problems surrounding the demands made of us.

The Sharon government of 2003 did not simply accept the Road Map as is. A set of "14 reservations" was attached and given to the Bush government. It was only after the US government committed to "fully and seriously address[ing]" the issues raised by Israel that the Israeli Cabinet voted to accept the Road Map. Unfortunately, this was naive, for a commitment to address the issues is not a promise that they will ultimately be incorporated into arrangements.

But the government of Israel is on record as having reservations. Some of those reservations:

"...during the process, and as a condition to its continuance. calm will be maintained. The Palestinians will dismantle the existing security organizations and implement security reforms during the course of which new organizations will be formed and act to combat terror, violence and incitement (incitement must cease immediately and the Palestinian Authority must educate for peace). (emphasis added)

"In the first phase of the plan and as a condition for progress to the second phase, the Palestinians will complete the dismantling of terrorist organizations (Hamas. Islamic Jihad. the Popular Front, the Democratic Front Al-Aqsa Brigades and other apparatuses) and their infrastructure... (emphasis added)

"...declared references must be made to Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state and to the waiver of any right of return for Palestinian refugees to the State of Israel."

Additionally, PM Sharon is on record as having objected to the call for a freeze on settlements. It was "impossible," he said to Secretary of State Colin Powell.

"Our finest youth live there. They are already the third generation, contributing to the state and serving in elite army units. They return home and get married, so then they can't build a house and have children?

"What do you want, for a pregnant woman to have an abortion just because she is a settler?"

(You can find this quote here:

Unfortunately, bewilderingly, this objection, this perception that a freeze is impossible, was not written into the reservations.


And one last factor in helping you understand the complexities of this situation:

In April of 2004, PM Sharon met with President Bush and they exchanged letters in the context of the Road Map and the forthcoming "Disengagement." President Bush's letter contained the phrase:

"In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949..."

This was broadly understood as an acknowledgement by the US that in any final agreement with the Palestinians we would retain major settlement blocs. Dore Gold, head of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, called it a "significant shift in US policy."

Netanyahu is currently using this to make the case that it had become informal US policy to acknowledge that we will be retaining settlement blocs in any event, and that there is thus no reason for the US to demand that we be restricted in building within those settlements. (Gold, by the way, is a Netanyahu advisor.)

From what I've read, this letter of Bush's is a stumbling block to Obama's demands, a frustration to him as he seeks to move on pressuring us.


The good news for today: I've received some off-the-record information coming ultimately from an impeccable source, regarding Netanyahu's sincere resistance to a "two-state solution." We'll keep watching...


see my website

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Ya'alon: No discernible solution to Palestinian conflict

Minister for strategic affairs upholds uncompromising stance at meeting of MKs who oppose two-state doctrine. Israel's approach should be one of 'long term crisis management,' he says

Attila Somfalvi
Israel News

As he tries to balance the demands of the international community and those posed by his coalition regarding the Palestinian track, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu might have hoped to at least enjoy the support of his own party. This was not the case on Tuesday. Under the banner of 'Alternatives to the Two-State Approach,' MKs from the Likud and other factions gathered in the early afternoon to discuss the current situation and express their objection to what they see as Netanyahu's decision to veer from the right-wing political line. The Likud MKs in particular were keen to warn Netanyahu that this may lead to the establishment of a new group of 'rebels' within the party.

Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya'alon: "Progress in the negotiations with the Palestinians must hinge on their recognition of our right to a national Jewish home and on the Palestinian Authority's ability to control the territory. It is not this government's policy or this country's interest to rule over the Palestinians, but just as you start building a house from the foundations and not the roof, they must enact reforms 'from the ground up.'"

Ya'alon made clear that he does not see the establishment of a Palestinian state as a feasible option. "I don't see a chance for the existence of a viable entity in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) or the Gaza Strip that would be economically independent. The economic gap between Israel as a first world country and a third world Palestinian entity is a recipe for disaster. The probability of the entity becoming hostile is very high."

"We have to free ourselves from this failed approach and its erroneous premise in order to allow for new patterns of thought," the former chief of staff added.

'Crisis management'

"In handling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict we should not apply terms like 'solution' in the foreseeable future, rather the terms should be 'crisis management' or coping in the long-term. This strategy should maintain and strengthen (our) interests while managing the conflict, and working towards stabilization in the distant future."

Ya'alon stressed that those attending the conference were not trying to rebel against the prime minister. However even prior to Netanyahu's trip to the United States earlier this month there were voices within Likud warning the prime minister that party unity was not guaranteed.

Interior Minister Eli Yishai, who also attended the conference, praised Netanyahu for withstanding the American pressure. "There was no round of applause," he said, referring to the tepid response Netanyahu received from US lawmakers, "that means that the prime minister didn't yield.

"After every visit by an Israeli prime minister that they applauded – we ceded assets. I am willing to give up the embraces and keep the assets. We keep trying to get the Americans to like us when we should be sticking to what we know to be true.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Obama's Two-State Fantasy

Mark Silverberg

According to the Israeli daily Haaretz, National Security Advisor General Jim Jones was quoted in a classified foreign ministry cable as having told a European foreign minister that unlike the Bush administration, Obama will be “forceful” with Israel. Jones is quoted as saying: "The new administration will convince Israel to compromise on the Palestinian question" – meaning Israel will be forced into an expedited agreement on a Palestinian state. This was not a simple off-the-cuff remark. At the recent AIPAC Policy Conference on May 5th, Vice President Joe Biden also advised Israel to commit to a two-state solution in order to broker a "peace" with the Palestinians, and in Britain, Foreign Secretary David Miliband declared that "Palestinian statelessness is the biggest recruiting sergeant for Islamic extremism around the world" while Tony Blair announced that by mid-June, the U.S., EU, UN and Russia would unveil a new framework for establishing a Palestinian state.

The problem with all this insistence on a "two-state solution" is that a Palestinian peace partner doesn't exist and has never existed and no amount of rhetoric, Israeli concessions or pandering to Arab demands can make it so. The Palestinians have consistently rejected the concept of a Jewish state in the Middle East and until that changes, all talk of a two-state solution is not only irrelevant but dangerous. When will this Administration recognize that Palestinian statehood isn't the true obstacle to peace between Arabs and Israel? Peace requires confronting Islamic culture to publicly reform its dogma that Jews (and, by definition, Israel) are a religiously inferior culture, only meant to be subjugated. For that reason, the charters of Hamas and Fatah, the two main Palestinian factions, both call for the liquidation of Israel and, by implication, the subjugation of its Jewish inhabitants to d'himmi status.

On March 31, 1977, PLO executive committee member Zahir Muhsein told the Dutch newspaper Trouw: "The Palestinian people do not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel. In reality, there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak about the existence of a Palestinian people since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct 'Palestinian people' to oppose Zionism." This fiction has served them well over the decades by justifying their continuous rejection of an independent Jewish state on Arab lands – from the Arab rejection of the 1936-1937 Peel Commission Report on partition, to the Arab rejection of the 1947 partition into an Arab and Jewish state; to the 1967 Six-Day War when Israel offered to exchange land in return for a permanent peace with its neighbors leading to the Arab response of three No's in the 1967 Khartoum Declaration – no negotiation, no recognition, no peace; to the Israeli withdrawals from southern Lebanon (2000) and Gaza (2005) that left genocidal terrorists on Israel's northern and southern borders; to former Prime Minister Ehud Barak's offer in 2000 of virtually everything the Arabs claimed they sought – a sovereign state with its capital in East Jerusalem, 97 percent of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and tens of billions of dollars in "compensation" for the plight of Palestinian refugees – all of which was rejected by Arafat who then brought on the Second Intifada and the murder of over a thousand Israelis; to the covenant of Hamas declaring endless war not only against "the Zionist entity" but against Jews everywhere; to polls conducted recently by a reputable Norwegian polling institute showing conclusively that a majority of Palestinians are not only against a two-state solution but desire a single Arab state from the Jordan to the Mediterranean; to the Palestinian media and Palestinian textbooks that continue to promote a culture of martyrdom and hatred of Israel and Jews; to Palestinian "moderates" like Mahmoud Abbas who recently rejected any possibility that the Jews could or should be considered one of the "two peoples" in any proposed two-state solution………all of which leads to the question of how, in the face of such hatred, anyone could possibly believe that peace can be attained through the creation of another failed Arab state in the Middle East?

One would think after all this, that the European Union and the U.S. would have concluded that the concept of a two-state solution is, was and always has been an Arab ploy designed to destroy Israel incrementally rather than a panacea for an over-all Middle East "peace." Yet, pressure for a two-state “solution” is precisely what Prime Minister Netanyahu encountered in his May 18th meeting with the President and precisely what Pope Benedict XVI called for during his recent visit to the Middle East.

Palestinian sovereignty has never been the Arab objective. Time and again, a two-state solution has been proposed and time and again, the Arabs have rejected it. It is not simply that the Arabs have never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity (which, by the way, they have) but that they remain more intent on annihilating the Jewish presence in Israel than on fulfilling the responsibilities of statehood for their people. Even if Israel removed its security fence, opened its West Bank checkpoints and roads, agreed to return to the pre-1967 borders, and acceded to Palestinian demands that sections of Jerusalem be internationalized, does any sentient person actually believe that this would signal the end the conflict? Of course not. Then why pressure Israel into what can only be described as a suicide pact with its enemies?

Joseph Puder said as much in a recent article in FrontPageMagazine: "A widening majority of Israelis have come to realize that a paper agreement with the Palestinians is worthless, and that once Israel has withdrawn from the West Bank and the attacks against Israel renew, the world – including the US – will find excuses for Palestinian bad behavior. The Palestinians are certain to renege on key provisions of any agreement as they did under the Oslo Accords, and the Obama administration, intent on keeping the Arab and Muslim world happy, is unlikely to give Israel a green light to reoccupy the West Bank. One has to be a fool to believe that Mahmoud Abbas or any other Palestinian-Arab chieftain would settle for a demilitarized West Bank, or would seriously consider uprooting the terrorist infrastructure."

More to the point, the European Union's 1993 Copenhagen Criteria for new members states: "Membership criteria require that the candidate country must have achieved stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, rule of law, human rights, and respect for and protection of minorities"? Clearly a Palestinian state will not even remotely meet such criteria.

Furthermore, the linkage between the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza and “progress” on the Iranian nuclear threat as suggested by Obama's Chief of Staff Rahm Emanual and re-affirmed by both Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry at the recent AIPAC Policy Conference is preposterous. In a recent article in the UK Spectator, Melanie Phillips, tongue-in-cheek, wrote: “Palestinian statelessness was obviously uppermost in the minds of the Islamists who blew up Mumbai; it was obviously the reason they bombed Spain to help the restoration of the caliphate. It's obviously the driving passion of the Chechen Islamist separatists; it's obviously the rallying cry of the Islamists in Indonesia who intend to Islamize southern Asia. It's obviously the reason Islamists are persecuting, murdering and driving out Christians across the Third World from Sudan and Nigeria to Bethlehem.”

Does the Obama administration actually believe that the moment a Palestinian state is created in Gaza and the West Bank, Syria will cease transferring terrorists to Iraq, cease its concealed chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs, reduce its ties with Iran and cease meddling in Lebanese affairs?

Does the Obama administration actually believe that after years of deception and billions spent on developing a covert nuclear weapons program, the Iranian mullahs will suddenly become less apocalyptic, less messianic, less inclined to establish their caliphate throughout the Middle East, and more prepared to turn their swords into plowshares once a Palestinian state has been established?

Truth is, Iran will not react to the establishment of a Palestinian state by recognizing Israel any more than will Hamas or Hezbollah. Quite the opposite will occur. The creation of a new Palestinian state will embolden Iran, undermine U.S. interests in the Middle East, diminish American influence in the Persian Gulf, and endanger Israel and the entire Sunni Arab world. The Arabs know it, the Israelis know it, and, I suspect, many realists in the Obama administration know it as well. Unfortunately, Obama's Middle East foreign policy appears to be based more on ideology than reality. Consequently, it is immune to rational argument and appears unmoved by objective facts that expose as folly its single-minded devotion to the idea that Israel is responsible for the absence of peace in the Middle East.

By forcing Israel to accept another terrorist state on its borders, President Obama will not only fail to build his Arab coalition against Iran, but he will be fulfilling Iran's mission in the Middle East. History has already told us that making nice with genocidal fanatics will not convert them into apostles of peace. The unfortunate reality he refuses to accept is that peace has never been up to the Israelis. It has always been up to its enemies. The 2007 Pew Global Attitudes Project found that 77 percent of Palestinians do not believe they can live side-by-side with Israel. That being the case, so long as fewer than two in ten Palestinians believe in Israel's right to exist as a nation with a Jewish majority, there can be no successful peace based on a two-state solution. That is reality…which raises an even more disturbing question. How can those who direct U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East be so incredibly stupid?

Time for a reality check. Contributing Editor Mark Silverberg is a foreign policy analyst for the Ariel Center for Policy Research (Israel), a Contributing Editor for Family Security Matters, Arutz Sheva (Israel National News) and the New Media Journal and is a member of Hadassah’s National Academic Advisory Board. His book The Quartermasters of Terror: Saudi Arabia and the Global Islamic Jihad and his articles have been archived under and

Lament in Oslo


In his invitation to this conference, the president of the forum, Thor Halvorssen, asked me to talk about my life, the suffering I have endured and how I was able to bear it all. But today all that seems to me quite unnecessary.

So I will say only a few words about myself. At the age of 14, I was left without my parents. My father was executed, my mother spent 18 years in prison and exile. My grandmother raised me and my younger brother. The poet Vladimir Kornilov, who suffered the same fate, wrote: "And it felt that in those years we had no mothers. We had grandmothers." There were hundreds of thousands of such children. Ilya Ehrenburg called us "the strange orphans of 1937."

Then came the war. My generation was cut off nearly at the roots by the war, but I was lucky. I came back from the war. I came back to an empty house. My grandmother had died of starvation in the siege of Leningrad. Then came a communal apartment, six half-hungry years of medical school, falling in love, two children and the poverty of a Soviet doctor. But I was not alone in this. Everyone lived this way. Then there was my dissident period followed by exile. But Andrei [Sakharov] and I were together! And that was true happiness.

Today, summing up my life (at age 86, I try to sum up my life every day I am still alive), I can do so in three words. My life was typical, tragic and beautiful. Whoever needs the details - read my two books, Alone Together and Mothers and Daughters. They have been translated into many languages. Read Sakharov's Memoirs. It's a pity his diaries haven't been translated; they were published in Russia in 2006. Apparently, the West isn't interested now in Sakharov.

THE WEST isn't very interested in Russia either, a country that no longer has real elections, independent courts or freedom of the press. Russia is a country where journalists, human rights activists and migrants are killed regularly, almost daily. And extreme corruption flourishes of a kind and extent that never existed earlier in Russia or anywhere else. So what do the Western mass media discuss mainly? Gas and oil - of which Russia has a lot. Energy is its only political trump card, and Russia uses it as an instrument of pressure and blackmail. And there's another topic that never disappears from the newspapers - who rules Russia? [Vladimir] Putin or [Dimitry] Medvedev? But what difference does it make, if Russia has completely lost the impulse for democratic development that we thought we saw in the early 1990s. Russia will remain the way it is now for decades, unless there is some violent upheaval.

During the years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the world has experienced incredible changes in an exceptionally short period. But has the world become better, or more prosperous for the 6 billion 800 million people who live on our small planet? No one can answer that question unambiguously, despite all the achievements of science and technology and that process which we customarily call "progress." It seems to me that the world has become more alarming, more unpredictable and more fragile. This alarm, unpredictability and fragility are felt to some extent by all countries and all individuals. And civic and political life becomes more and more virtual, like a picture on a computer screen.

Even so, the picture of life, formed by television, newspaper or radio remains the same - there is no end to the conferences, summits, forums and competitions from beauty contests to sandwich-eating ones. They say people are coming together - but in reality, they are growing apart.

And that isn't because an economic depression suddenly burst forth, and swine flu to boot. This began on September 11, 2001. At first, anger and horror was provoked by the terrorists who knocked down the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center and by their accomplices in London, Madrid and other cities, and by the shahids, suicide bombers who blew themselves up at public spaces like discotheques and wedding parties whose families were rewarded $25,000 each by Saddam Hussein. Later, [George W.] Bush was blamed for everything, and as always, the Jews - that is, Israel. An example was the first Durban Conference, and the growth of anti-Semitism in Europe, noted several years ago in a speech by Romano Prodi. Then there was Durban-2; the main speaker was [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad proposing to annihilate Israel.

SO IT IS about Israel and the Jews that I will speak. And not only because I am Jewish, but above all because the Middle Eastern conflict since the end of World War II has been a platform for political games and gambling by the great powers, the Arab countries and individual politicians, striving, through the so-called "peace process," to make a name for themselves, and perhaps win a Nobel Peace Prize. At one time, the Nobel Peace Prize was the highest moral award of our civilization. But after December 1994, when Yasser Arafat became one of the three new laureates, its ethical value was undermined. I haven't always greeted each selection of the Nobel Committee of the Storting [Norwegian parliament] with joy, but that one shocked me. And to this day, I cannot understand and accept the fact that Andrei Sakharov and Yasser Arafat, now posthumously, share membership in the club of Nobel laureates.

In many of Sakharov's publications (in his books Progress, Coexistence and Intellectual Freedom and My Country and the World, in his articles and in his interviews), Andrei Dmitrievich wrote and spoke about Israel. I have a collection of citations of his writing on this topic. If it were published in Norway, then many Norwegians would be surprised at how sharply their contemporary view of Israel differs from the view of Sakharov.

Here are several citations from Sakharov: "Israel has an indisputable right to exist"; "Israel has a right to existence within safe borders"; "All wars that Israel has waged have been just, forced upon it by the irresponsibility of Arab leaders"; "With all the money that has been invested in the problem of Palestinians, it would have been possible long ago to resettle them and provide them with good lives in Arab countries."

THROUGHOUT THE YEARS of Israel's existence there has been war. Victorious wars, and also wars which Israel was not allowed to win. Each and every day - literally every day - there is the expectation of a terrorist act or a new war. We have seen the Oslo peace initiatives and the Camp David handshake and the road map and land for peace (there is not much land - from one side of Israel on a clear day you can see the other side with your naked eye).

Now, a new motif is fashionable (in fact it's an old one): "Two states for two peoples." It sounds good. And there is no controversy in the peacemaking Quartet, made up of the US, the UN, the EU and Russia (some great peacemaker, with its Chechen war and its Abkhazian-Ossetian provocation). The Quartet, and the Arab countries, and the Palestinian leaders (both Hamas and Fatah) put additional demands to Israel. I will speak only of one demand: that Israel accept back the Palestinian refugees. And here a little history and demography are needed.

According to the UN's official definition, refugees are considered those who fled from violence and wars, but not their descendants who are born in another land. At one time the Palestinian refugees and the Jewish refugees from Arab countries were about equal in number - about 700,000-800,000. The newly-created state Israel took in Jews (about 600,000). They were officially recognized as refugees by UN Resolution 242, but not provided with any UN assistance. Palestinians, however, are considered refugees not only in the first generation, but in the second, third and now even in the fourth generation. According to the UN Works and Relief Agency's report, the number of registered Palestinian refugees has grown from 914,000 in 1950 to more than 4.6 million in 2008, and continues to rise due to natural population growth. All these people have the rights of Palestinian refugees and are eligible to receive humanitarian aid.

The entire population of Israel is about 7.5 million, of which there are about 2.5 million ethnic Arabs who call themselves Palestinians. Imagine Israel then, if another 5 million Arabs flood into it; Arabs would substantially outnumber the Jewish population. Thus created next to Israel will be a Palestinian state cleansed of Jews, because in addition to the demand that Palestinian refugees return to Israel, there is also the demand that Judea and Samaria are cleansed of Jews and turned over to Palestinians - while in Gaza today there is not a single Jew already.

The result is both strange and terrifying, because Israel will essentially be destroyed. It is terrifying to see the short memory of the august peacemaking Quartet, their leaders and their citizens if they let this happen. Because the plan "two states for two peoples" is the creation of one state, ethnically cleansed of Jews, and a second one with the potential to do the same. A Judenfrei Holy Land - the dream of Adolph Hitler come true at last. So think again, those who are still able, who has a fascist inside him today?

AND ANOTHER question that has been a thorn for me for a long time. It's a question for my human rights colleagues. Why doesn't the fate of the Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit trouble you in the same way as does the fate of the Guantanamo prisoners?

You fought for and won the opportunity for the International Committee of the Red Cross, journalists and lawyers to visit Guantanamo. You know prison conditions, the prisoners' everyday routine, their food. You have met with prisoners subjected to torture. The result of your efforts has been a ban on torture and a law to close this prison. President Obama signed it in the first days of his coming to the White House. And although he, just like president Bush before him, does not know what to do with the Guantanamo prisoners, there is hope that the new administration will think up something.

But during the two years Schalit has been held by terrorists, the world human rights community has done nothing for his release. Why? He is a wounded soldier, and fully falls under the protection of the Geneva Conventions. The conventions say clearly that hostage-taking is prohibited, that representatives of the Red Cross must be allowed to see prisoners of war, especially wounded prisoners, and there is much else written in the Geneva Conventions about Schalit's rights. The fact that representatives of the Quartet conduct negotiations with the people who are holding Schalit in an unknown location, in unknown conditions, vividly demonstrates their scorn of international rights documents and their total legal nihilism. Do human rights activists also fail to recall the fundamental international rights documents?

And yet I still think (and some will find this naïve) that the first tiny, but real step toward peace must become the release of Schalit. Release, and not his exchange for 1,000 or 1,500 prisoners who are in Israeli prisons serving court sentences for real crimes.

Returning to my question of why human rights activists are silent, I can find no answer except that Schalit is an Israeli soldier, Schalit is a Jew. So again, it is conscious or unconscious anti-Semitism. Again, it is fascism.

THIRTY-FOUR YEARS have passed since the day when I came to this city to represent my husband, Andrei Sakharov, at the 1975 Nobel Prize ceremony. I was in love with Norway then. The reception I received filled me with joy. Today, I feel Alarm and Hope (the title Sakharov used for his 1977 essay written at the request of the Nobel Committee).

Alarm because of the anti-Semitism and anti-Israeli sentiment growing throughout Europe and even further afield. And yet, I hope that countries, their leaders and people everywhere will recall and adopt Sakharov's ethical credo: "In the end, the moral choice turns out to be also the most pragmatic choice."

From a speech to the Freedom Forum in Oslo on May 19.
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"Outposts and Settlements"

Arlene Kushner

The picture is unsettling -- indeed, infuriating, but it's also complex and, I believe, not grim.

There are some indications of government intentions to get tough with regard to some 20-plus "illegal outposts," with Defense Minister Barak declaring that he will take them down, one way or another. For the record, an "illegal outpost" is usually a small collection of modest buildings or caravans -- often on a hilltop -- that has been constructed without permission. The line is not all together clear, however, as to what "without permission" means, as sometimes there has been some legitimacy conferred by some department or other -- as, for example, if some electric lines have been put in. Sometimes an "outpost" is no more than a neighborhood of an existing community, and sometimes what was illegal is declared legal -- for the political aspects of this are considerable.

Many of the "illegal outposts" have had that status for some years. This is not a new development. Yet it is now that action is being taken, or threatened, more vociferously.


The news today was that nine outposts have been served with "zoning notices," informing them that they are "illegal." While there was no announcement that they will be taken down, such zoning notices often precede demolition orders. And this follows the very recent demolition of Maoz Esther.

One example serves to demonstrate how ridiculous the whole thing can become: Of the nine outposts listed, one is "Hazon David, Kiryat Arba-Hebron." This, it turns out, is not a cluster of buildings and is not an "outpost" in the general sense of that word. It is one structure -- a very temporary, tent-like structure --outside of Kiryat Arba, on the road to Hevron. A structure used as a synagogue. That's it. "Hazon David" means David's vision and is named in memory of David Cohen and Hezi Mualem who were murdered by terrorists seven years ago outside of Kiryat Arba.

Taking down this modest place of prayer and study, where no one actually lives, really advances peace, right?

This is what Barak and company need to be concerned with? They should hang their heads in shame. This makes Obama happy? What?


When we ask why this is happening now, there are general answers in terms of Netanyahu having somehow caved to Obama. But I'd like to look a bit closer at the issues (including more below).

Nahum Barnea, writing on YNet, makes the observation that the mere fact that Netanyahu refuses to even say "two state solution," never mind to agree now to negotiate such a "solution," puts the heat on the outposts and settlements. Were negotiations advancing, then Obama would be able to boast of "progress," and the issue of outposts would be minimal. But as it is, Obama has nothing to point to, unless there is "progress" on this score.

Barnea doesn't say this explicitly, but what his analysis implies is that the very strength of our prime minister for the big issues makes our government more vulnerable on the small issues. And there is the possibility -- which hardliners don't accept -- that there will be some quid pro quo here.


And then there's the upside of what's happening:

PM Netanyahu told the Cabinet yesterday that, when he was in Washington, he informed Obama that we would not stop building in Jerusalem or accommodating natural growth in settlements.

"Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, under Israeli sovereignty, and we do not accept limits on construction or on our activity inside of Israel."

This in the face of a State Department statement that "Jerusalem is a final-status issue. Israel and the Palestinians have agreed to resolve its status during negotiations..."

Well, Jerusalem may have been a final-status issue for Olmert, but it is not now.


In addition to this, we have a new strength within the Cabinet -- so much so that it's questionable whether support could be garnered among the ministers for dismantling all of the "illegal outposts." As Gil Hoffman has written in the Post:

"...the ministers made clear that the settlers had a strong lobby in the Cabinet."

Leaders of Shas, Yisrael Beitenu and Habyit Hayehudi "each tried to take upon themselves the mantle of the settlers' top advocate, as did Likud ministers Yuli Edelstein, Yisrael Katz, and Benny Begin..."

Most vociferous in his defense of outposts was Katz, who said, "the government agenda cannot become a witch hunt against the residents of Judea and Samaria."

Edelstein and Lieberman criticized Barak for unilateral action without sanction of the Cabinet. Edelstein indicated that "an entire team of ministers would insist on keeping Barak in check and ensuring that the Cabinet would have the final say on the outposts..."

Barak, he said, "has not internalized that a nationalist government had taken over."


Additionally we see a new strength on the part of the nationalists of Israel. A meeting of several groups has been held and plans have been put in place that call for reinforcing the numbers at existing outposts, setting up new ones, and immediately rebuilding any outpost that is demolished.

I spoke today with David Wilder, spokesman for the Hevron community. His tone was cool, as he explained that Hazon David had been destroyed about 30 times already, and would be built again if the Defense Ministry took it down.

There is the feeling, with solid reason, that determined settlers can outlast government demolition efforts.


With justification, the nationalists point to the illegal outposts put up by the Bedouin in the Negev and Arabs in the Galil that the government ignores. It is their intention to make this issue more public.


It's not entirely clear to me how extensively the US media covered the plan by home-grown Muslim terrorists to target synagogues in New York City and down planes at a military air base. The plot was foiled in a sting operation, and the concern is that the lessons to be drawn from this will not be attended to with sufficient seriousness because the disaster was averted. The attitude, unfortunately, is likely to be one of "Thank goodness nothing happened!" and done.

In point of fact, however, a major alarm should go up with regard to the circumstances surrounding this planned attack: Three of the four alleged would-be terrorists were converts to Islam who were converted in prison.


Steve Emerson, founder and executive director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism, addresses the serious dimensions of this problem in a recent piece, "Radicals in Our Prisons." Every American needs to take heed.

Writes Emerson:

"Radicalism in prisons is a problem that has been festering for years...

"Some prison libraries include the Nobel Quran, an extreme interpretation of Islam's holy book that includes a call for jihad...

"These books are not reviewed by prison officials, perhaps due to language differences or because they are perceived simply as religious texts. [The Department of Justice], which has oversight over [the Bureau of Prisons], refuses to acknowledge the problem.

"Meanwhile, federal records identified by the Investigative Project on Terrorism and available on the Internet show a number of Muslim Brotherhood-tied organizations receiving government contracts, including contracts with the Bureau of Prisons, to perform work such as chaplain services and Islamic studies...

"Wahhabist literature, Muslim Brotherhood tracts calling for Jihad, Saudi produced Qurans that exude hatred for Jews and Christians - all of this continues to flow into federal and local prisons unhampered."


Charles Krauthammer has also written an interesting article, "Obama in Bush Clothing," which I call your attention to. Says Krauthammer:

"...the flip-flops on previously denounced anti-terror measures are the homage that Barack Obama pays to George Bush. Within 125 days, Obama has adopted with only minor modifications huge swaths of the entire, allegedly lawless Bush program.

"The latest flip-flop is the restoration of military tribunals. During the 2008 campaign, Obama denounced them repeatedly, calling them an 'enormous failure.' Obama suspended them upon his swearing in. Now they're back."

The pattern is an "Obama three-step: (a) excoriate the Bush policy, (b) ostentatiously unveil cosmetic changes, (c) adopt the Bush policy...

"OBSERVERS OF ALL political stripes are stunned by how much of the Bush national security agenda is being adopted by this new Democratic government." This agenda includes wire taps, e-mail intercepts, turning over terrorists seized abroad to foreign countries, and denial of habeas corpus to certain detainees.

What has happened?

"The urgencies and necessities of the actual post-9/11 world, as opposed to the fanciful world of the opposition politician, present a rather narrow range of acceptable alternatives."


Now, if only the urgencies and necessities of the actual post-9/11 world would move Obama to shift his policy with regard to Iran.

Certainly he's getting only one slap in the face after another from the Iranians in response to his reaching out with offers of dialogue.

According to a local news agency, Iranian naval commander Admiral Habibollah Sayyari has announced the dispatch of several warships: "Iran has dispatched six ... warships to international waters and the Gulf of Aden region in an historically unprecedented move by the Iranian Navy." This, he says is, "indicative of the country's high military capability in confronting any foreign threat on the country's shores."

This war-like action comes as Ahmadinejad has rejected an offer by the US, Russia, China, France, Germany and Britain to hold off on all new sanctions in exchange for a freeze on Iranian nuclear activity.

"Our talks [with major powers] will only be in the framework of cooperation for managing global issues and nothing else. We have clearly announced this," he said. "The nuclear issue is a finished issue for us."

And Obama will still try to dialogue on the nuclear issue in the face of this?


Coming full circle: PM Netanyahu injected a perspective relevant to this in his meeting with the Likud faction today. Giving in to US demands on the outposts is important to do, he says, so that there can be focus on Iran. But there are multiple way to read this.
Presumably he expects more from Obama in terms of cooperation on Iran if we give in on this. This may be the quid pro quo.

"We're not [living] in ordinary times," he declared. "The danger is gaining on us. The most dangerous threat to a living organism is not to identify danger. My role, first and foremost, is to secure the future of the State of Israel. This comes before anything else."
But he also seems to be deflating internal political dissension on the issue because he believes it weakens us:

"There must be broad national unity as much as possible, so as to stave off the danger."

A ruse simply to weaken dissent? Possible, but I do not believe so. Binyamin Netanyahu has been warning us about the dangers of Iran for years. I take him seriously here.

To attempt to severely weaken him politically over outposts -- as is being threatened by those on the far right -- just as he must make decisions involving attacking Iran would be, I concur, a mistake in judgment. Dissent should not stop but must be moderated in light of the priorities and the times within which we live. Purists see a slippery slope whereby if we surrender claim to a square meter of land we are surrendering our claim to Israel. But it will avail us naught if vociferous protection of that square meter renders us -- G-d forbid -- more likely to be blown away completely later.


Nothing is ever simple, and most certainly not where Russia is concerned.

It was very recently announced that we will be expediting the sale to Russia of UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) following the cancellation by Russia of plans to sell Syria advanced MIG-31 fighter jets.

This was good news.

However...Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with Hamas's Mashaal on Saturday and has declared that continued contact with Hamas is considered "necessary."

In fact, Lavrov hopes to see a delegation from a Palestinian unity government attend the peace conference in Moscow later this year.

Oh joy. Such a unity government would have as a major component a Hamas that embraces terrorism.


"The Good News Corner"

-- Wheat, which is a staple grain in many societies, is subject to a virulent fungus disease called rust (because its spores have a rust color) that can destroy crops, causing food shortages and economic loss.

The answer to combating this lies here in Israel. For it is in Israel that a wild wheat grows, believed to be the original wheat plant before domestication. In the course of 10,000 years of domestication, the wheat was bred for certain properties considered desirable, such as higher yield, but in the course of changes lost resistance to disease.

Professor Tzion Fahima of Haifa University's Department of Evolutionary and Environmental Biology is working with a team that has discovered a gene in the wild wheat that provides resistance to eight strains of rust disease. The next step is to reintroduce this gene to domestic wheat, either by traditional breeding practices or genetic engineering.

Additional projects are anticipated that would involve work with the genes in wild wheat that make it more drought resistant and provide it with a higher percentage of protein and minerals.

-- According to the World Health Organization, Israel is one of the healthiest nations in the world. WHO lists Israel with Europe, and it is with European nations that comparisons are made. (Israel is way way ahead of the nations of the MidEast.)

The Israeli infant and maternal mortality rates are much lower than European averages. E.g., in Israel there are three newborn deaths per 1,000 as compared with five in Europe. Israel has 37 doctors per 10,000 people as compared to 32 in Europe. Israel has low rates of infectious diseases and high rates of immunization. And the entire Israeli population has access to improved drinking water, compared to 97% in Europe.

-- Now for the really important item: Work to be wrinkle free while you sleep (I am not making this up). An Israeli company named Cupron, in Beit Shemesh, makes pillow cases that contain copper. Perspiration from your skin as you sleep releases copper ions, which stimulate the production of collagen, which reduces fine lines and wrinkles.

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