Sunday, July 24, 2011

"Slow Progress"

Arlene Kushner

Before discussing news tonight, I want to share information about a group in Jerusalem called "Keep Jerusalem-Im Eshkachech" which is dedicated to sharing information about the importance of a Jerusalem united under Israeli sovereignty.

The group offers eye-opening tours of eastern Jerusalem which I strongly recommend if you're visiting here. You'll learn a great deal and very likely come away with a brand-new perspective.Four-hour tours will be offered on August 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 22, 24, 29 -- and possibly other times, as there is a demand. For more complete information write or call Russell (0)50 238 7260 (drop the first 0 outside of Israel). A 100 shekel donation will be recommended, and it is well worth it.


The progress? I am seeing it on several fronts, along with the routine quota of frustration and disgust.

First, more signs that we are not alone.

This past week, in the words of Anne Bayefsky of Eye on the UN, the UN "quietly circulated a draft of the final declaration that will be adopted at the conclusion of Durban III. Although the writing had been on the wall for a very long time, the alarm bells could no longer be ignored. The 'political declaration' focuses particularly on what it calls 'victims of racism.' And the Durban Declaration emanating from South Africa names only one state victimizer – Israel. The Palestinian people are listed as victims of racism."

You can read Bayefsky's full description of what's going on with regard to Durban III at:

But the net result, and a key point of her piece, is that, "The Czech Republic rightly decided they’d had enough." The Czechs pulled out. Only Canada, Israel and the US had done so until this point.


Now we learn from Eye on the UN that Italy and the Netherlands have also pulled out. Apparently this happened just today. The Dutch had specifically requested that Durban III include a statement that "all participating states emphatically distance themselves from the linking of subjects that have nothing to do with the fight against racism." This was ignored.

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini has stated that “The [Durban] Process has been transformed … into a tribunal for accusations against Israel.”

Let's hope this snowballs.


Another small step in the right direction, this time in terms of Israel's domestic political situation, is this:

MK Uri Ariel (National Union) has put forth a bill that would allow museums in Judea and Samaria to apply for government funding. This sounds like a small matter, but it is not.

Judea and Samaria are not part of Israel proper, never having been annexed or had Israeli civil law applied. These areas are under military jurisdiction and in all cases rules and laws that apply within the Green Line do not necessarily apply in Judea and Samaria.

This is a small and very conscious step towards making the laws the same, at least in Jewish areas, on both sides of the Green Line.

MK Ariel says he has come to believe that the best way to advance the notion of full annexation of Judea and Samaria is via these small steps. And so, to initiate the process, he began with this legislation on museums. It has received government backing and the explicit approval of Limor Livnat, Minister of Culture and Sports, and passed a preliminary reading in the Knesset by 51 to 9. It still has several hoops to jump through before becoming a law

MK Ariel says that every week a legislator will propose an amendment to existing laws that do not apply to Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria, so that in the end they would be applicable.

Right on!


A brief comment here -- this is something I will return to in greater detail several times, without a doubt.

There is now a movement towards annexation of Judea and Samaria -- something I applaud. In fact, I deeply regret that this wasn't done in 1967.

But it is my own opinion that, at this juncture, the ultimate form that this will take has yet to be fully thought through. There are differing opinions here, different ways we might move, and there is a great deal of examination and exploration that needs to go into final decision making.

Among the possibilities is the annexation of the areas where Jewish communities are located, possibly with further annexation to follow; annexation of all of Area C as specified under Oslo -- which is area fully under Israeli control; or all of Judea and Samaria. If it is everything from the river to the sea, then the question is how the Arabs living in these areas would be handled -- full citizenship, local autonomy, enfranchisement via Jordan. There are several proposals.

What matters now is that the Israeli electorate (yes, there are Israeli citizens who are oblivious) and the world at large should start to understand Israeli rights in this area and to see Israeli sovereignty -- in precisely whatever form it ultimately takes -- as not only viable, but the best possible solution. Then it becomes time to examine the various options, while doing education.


As to frustrations and disgust:

There has been flip-flopping with regard to the business of Israel doing some sort of truncated apology to Turkey for the Mavi Marmara incident. A news report indicating that the government was giving this consideration is what I wrote about the other day. It was followed by a statement to journalists by Minister of Security Affairs Moshe Ya'alon, who said he did not see the possibility of reconciliation with Turkey and did not believe that Israel should comply with Turkish demands.

Thank goodness! I thought. A bit of sanity.

But, I was premature. While Ya'alon said that Israel was not ready to apologize (i.e., no decision to do so had been made) he indicated that he had voiced his own opinion, and that debate on this might still take place in the government.



But if the above would be called frustrating, what follows here falls more in the "disgusting" category:

It wasn't so long ago that Prime Minister Netanyahu announced that the party was over and privileges for terrorist prisoners would be cut in the face of Hamas intransigence with regard to Gilad Shalit. That announcement, long over due, was most welcome.

But now a Prison Service representative has reported to the Knesset that most privileges are still being enjoyed by the terrorists. The only thing that has been taken away is the right to secure a degree while in prison. They apparently still have TV in their rooms, access to Internet and cell phones, etc. etc.

This was always an unacceptable situation, but is doubly so now.

What seems to be the case is the fear of prison riots. And if this indeed is so, it is deplorable. We have to be afraid of them? Unfortunately, fear of Arab violence influences government decisions not infrequently.


I refer above to the issue of sovereignty over Judea and Samaria. Recently I reported in some detail on a mini-conference on this subject held in Jerusalem. Now videos of the talks of three of the four speakers of that evening -- Caroline Glick, Danny Dayan and Mordecai Kedar -- have been made available by the Center for Security Policy.

(With thanks to Daled Amos for this information.)

I note here that this past week a mini-conference on the same issue was held in Hevron. I was not at that gathering; if I secure information I will be delighted to share it.


A great deal more will follow tomorrow.


© 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.

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