Tuesday, March 29, 2011

"Fighting Back"

Arlene Kushner

For those in N. America, tomorrow, March 30, has been designated as BIG day: Buy Israeli Goods.

Why this date: The anti-Israel forces that promote boycotts of Israeli products have selected tomorrow for a boycott of Israeli products. This is designed to counter that effort.

Go into stores, seek out Israeli brands that suit your needs, and let store managers know why you are there.

For a list of Israeli brands in stores in your geographical area: http://www.buyisraelgoods.org/
Then, continue that effort. Make sure that BIG is not a one-day event. People who wish to support Israel should be looking for Israeli products all of the time. It's an excellent way to show support for Israel and enjoy quality products at the same time.


The leaders of the PA are up to their necks in game-playing. Their two big ploys of the moment are the plans to secure recognition of a Palestinian state via the UN, and the courting of Hamas in order to establish a unity government.

The two are said to be connected, as the likelihood of securing a UN nod for a Palestinian state might depend at least in part on the existence of one governing body for all of the Palestinian Arab people. If the PA represents the Palestinian Arabs only in Judea and Samaria, it's not quite a "state."


The problem here -- or one of many problems, actually -- is that Hamas has the upper hand.

This was true already in early 2007, when there was a Fatah-Hamas unity agreement (which fell apart with the Hamas coup in Gaza). During the negotiations it was Fatah that was conciliatory and acceded to Hamas demands: Hamas sent the tone of radical discourse.

And now it's even more the case. For it is Fatah (i.e., the PA) that wants this agreement. Hamas, after all, is not seeking UN approval for a state.

What is more, there is an increased sense of empowerment for Hamas in the prospect of Muslim Brotherhood involvement in an Egyptian government (see Stephen's article below on this). For, just as Mubarak was involved previously in negotiations for a Fatah-Hamas unity agreement, so the Egyptians are expected to be involved again now.

We see signs of the Hamas position of strength in its demands for "gestures" from the PA before there are discussions on unity: release of hundreds of Hamas prisoners, re-opening of closed Hamas charities, and the removal of a ban on Hamas activities in the West Bank.

The last demand ought ring bells for Abbas, for if he removes the ban on Hamas activities, he is inviting the possibility of a Hamas takeover.

In addition to demanding these "gestures," Hamas has made it clear that it wants parity in controlling security forces and would retain control of Gaza.


Yet Abbas seems to want this quite badly. According to his aide, Azzam Ahmed -- as cited by Mohammed Daraghmeh, writing for AP -- Abbas would even be willing to forgo American aid, to the tune of over $470 million annually, if it is used as a means of pressuring the PA on the issue of unity. There is a great deal of posturing hidden within these words, you can be sure.


Khaled Abu Toameh, writing for Hudson NY, sees Abbas's efforts in this regard as futile. In the end, Hamas, which does not trust Abbas, is not going to go along, he says. In fact, "Hamas's armed wing, Izaddin al-Kassam, has even gone as far as threatening to assassinate Abbas if he dares to set foot in the Gaza Strip."

Abu Toameh sees a number of factors possibly motivating Abbas to pursue the unity agreement. Perhaps most significant is the thought that this may be a means of threatening the US: lean harder on Israel to make concessions or we will go with Hamas.


According to Hanna Amerah, a member of the PLO executive committee, Abbas has the support of the UN, the EU and the Arab League in his efforts to forge a unity government.

The UN and the Arab League, indeed. But if the EU is on board for this -- and it well may be -- then it is the final indication of the moral collapse of the Europeans.

At least in theory, Hamas is identified by the EU as a terrorist group, and is not supposed to receive recognition unless it complies with specific Quartet criteria -- that it renounce violence, recognize Israel and abide by past Israeli-Palestinian accords. These are criteria which it has no intention of accepting.

But there a dozen ways around this, for those willing to shut their eyes. Some of those ways are so convoluted and dishonest as to make your head spin, e.g., a willingness by Hamas to acknowledge that, de facto, Israel does exist, which is then said to be "almost a recognition" of Israel.


And so we are in watch-and-see mode. Abbas is making a bid to come to Gaza to discuss matters, and Hamas is not ready to receive him until they have certain evidence of his sincerity.


In the face of all of this, is Israel fighting back?

While I would like to see a great deal more, there are some modest signs of stiffer positions being taken.

I mentioned recently the statement by Netanyahu that for the PA it's either Israel or Hamas but it cannot have both. If the PA reaches a unity agreement with Hamas, he said, that's the end of negotiations.

Well, there are no negotiations, and Netanyahu is not really expecting any to begin imminently. I would imagine (hope) that this statement was truly meant for the Quartet: Israel will not deal with a Fatah-Hamas government. Do not expect this.


A diplomatic message was sent out by Israel to the 15 members of the UN Security Council, as well as to 15 other EU nations last week, indicating that if the PA persists in its efforts to pursue statehood via the UN, Israel will take unilateral actions of its own.

Good that 30 Israeli embassies were told to protest the PA plans at the highest diplomatic levels. But not enough, because, according to reports, the threats were vague. What unilateral actions?

Originally there was talk about applying Israeli civil law to all Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. Would that this might happen without delay! But as far as I can tell, the protests at the highest diplomatic levels didn't mention this or anything else specific. Vague threats carry considerably less weight.


There are plans in the works for the Quartet to meet in mid-April, with senior officials in attendance --US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Special Envoy Tony Blair.

It is anticipated that in the course of this meeting the Quartet may issue a proposal for final parameters for an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. Reportedly, Britain, France and Germany have been urging that this proposal say that an agreement would be based upon the 1967 lines “with agreed upon land swaps,” and would reach a “just, fair and agreed solution to the refugee question.”

Maddening is what it is. Worse than maddening: this one-sided meddling.

Herb Keinon, in an article about this in the JPost at the beginning of the week, wrote that Israeli "government sources" said that if the Quartet feels the need to propose final-settlement outlines, it needs to take into account Israeli demands and not just Palestinian ones.

Fine. True. But to whom did government sources say this? Just to Herb Keinon? Keinon's piece in no way suggests that this was also said to the representatives of the Quartet or the relevant EU nations.

But why not? This is no time for tip-toeing. The Israeli position must be stated unequivocally.


And so, my friends, it's time to contact your representatives in Congress.

Tell them that there are reports of a Quartet meeting to be held in mid-April, at which time a proposal for the final settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict might be issued, suggesting that an agreement would be based upon the 1967 lines "with agreed upon land swaps," and would reach a "just, fair and agreed solution to the refugee question."

Advise them that this is a one-sided approach attending only to Palestinian concerns.

Let them know that:

--The 1967 line was only a temporary armistice line arranged between Jordan and Israel and is not sacrosanct.

--The 1967 line would not provide a secure and defensible border for Israel, something that was acknowledged in UN Security Council Resolution 242. Israel requires strategic depth and high places for security.

--It was Jordan on the other side of the armistice line. The implication is that the Palestinians "had" everything beyond that line, but it simply is not so. There was no Palestinian entity involved.

In addition, suggest that if specifics are going to be mentioned, they should include the Israeli demands that a Palestinian state be demilitarized and that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state.


For your Congresspersons:


For your Senators:



Quarter Envoy Tony Blair wrote a major piece in US press ten days ago, emphasizing the importance of moving on with the negotiations:

"...we ignore the importance of the peace process...at our own peril. This absolutely must be revitalized and relaunched. I know it is said (it is said ??) that this wasn't the issue behind the uprisings.

"That is true. But we delude ourselves if we don't think that its outcome matters profoundly to the region and the direction in which it develops..."

Methinks that Tony Blair is profoundly deluded. Either that or he's repackaging the same pap for a new situation. The Middle East is on fire, and the issue of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations probably doesn't even show up on the radar screen of most of the nations in turmoil right now.


Keinon writes, finally, that there are those suggesting that the Quartet might be considering proposing an "end game" so that the PA will be enticed to return to the table.


This simply gives the PA the sense that it can get what it wants from the international community.


Please see Bret Stephens piece, "Egypt--The Hangover."

"'The West seems to be convinced that the revolution was led by secular democratic forces,' says Mahmoud. 'Now that myth is shattered. Which means that either the old order'—by which he means the military regime—'stays in power, or we're headed for Islamist dominance.'"



© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.

see my website www.ArlenefromIsrael.info

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