Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Later today I am attending a press conference, which I hope to write about. And so here I want to briefly touch a variety of bases -- as there is so much that is transpiring.
Could we possibly have expected anything else? State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell offered this statement at a press conference:
"Obviously, we've seen the reports that an Israeli Government appointed panel [the Levy Committee] has recommended legalizing dozens of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, but we do not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity and we oppose any effort to legalize settlement outposts...We’re concerned about it, obviously."
Well, "obviously." The US is going to be pressuring the Israeli government not to accept the report. State Department officials are scheduled to be here.
And so my friends, it's time for making your voices heard, please! in great numbers.Do it respectfully, keep it short, but convey a sense of conviction and strength:
Write to Prime Minister Netanyahu now, before you forget.
Something like: "Mr. Prime Minister, at long last the Levy Committee has submitted recommendations regarding Jewish rights in Judea and Samaria that are just. Please, adopt these recommendations. Do what is right for Israel and the Jewish people. There is no pleasing the world in any event."
Do NOT copy this. It is a sample of the kind of thing that needs to be said in your own words.
Fax: 02-670-5369 (From the US: 011-972-2-670-5369)
(More on the "settlements" and the UN below.)
Again, you can see my post on this for context:
PM Netanyahu has praised the work of the committee but has stopped short of making commitments to adhere to its recommendations. He says the Ministerial Committee on Settlements will be discussing it, but we should not slight the importance of his influence on the Committee's conclusions.
In any event Israel must do what is good for Israel and defend Jewish rights on the land. But all the more so is this the case when there is a man in the White House who is demonstrably not a friend of Israel (his protestations to the contrary not withstanding).
This from Haaretz yesterday (emphasis added):
"U.S. President Barack Obama has invited Egypt's newly elected Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi, to visit the United States in September, an Egyptian official said on Sunday, reflecting the new ties Washington is cultivating with the region's Islamists.
"'President Obama extended an invitation to President Morsi to visit the United States [the White House] when he attends the UN General Assembly in September,' Egyptian aide, Yasser Ali, said after Morsi met U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns.
"Burns did not mention the invitation at a news conference earlier.
"Washington, long wary of Islamists and an ally of ousted President Hosni Mubarak, shifted policy last year to open formal contacts with the Muslim Brotherhood, the group behind Morsi's win."
There is still some confusion as to whether or not Morsi will be in Tehran for a summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in late August. But what is clear is that he will be traveling to Saudi Arabia -- tomorrow, actually. He is scheduled to meet with King Abdullah and visit Mecca.
This will be his first foreign visit and the Saudis, who are greatly at odds with Iran, are delighted by the prospect of this visit.
Morsi, I must add here, has now challenged the generals by calling back into session the parliament that had been dissolved by the ruling military council. See here for details:
While Morsi's attendance at the Non-Aligned summit is in doubt, it seems that PA President Abbas has decided to attend after an invitation to Tehran extended by Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hussein Amir Abdullah when both were in Amman. Abbas, in accepting, sent greetings to Ahmadinejad.
Israeli officials are irked by this and point out that he cannot play both sides at once (although of course he has been doing just that all along).
The observation of one Israeli official was particularly on the mark: The question is not why Abbas is attending this summit, but rather why "unaligned" nations chose to hold their summit in Tehran in the first place.
Not for the first time in recent months, the IDF is issuing a warning to Hezbollah in Lebanon. This from Haaretz this past week:
"Six years after the outbreak of the Second Lebanon War, the IDF is saying openly that Israel is preparing for another Lebanon war.
"The commander of the IDF's 91st Division, Brigadier-General Hertzi Halevy told journalists on Thursday, 'We understand that there is more than one factor, whether this is Lebanese, or whether it will come from somewhere else, that can ignite the border here.'
"...Northern Command intelligence says certain areas of the border between Lebanon and Syria are 'lawless zones,' which enable the transfer of more advanced weapons into the region. The IDF has stated that there are some 60 thousand missiles in Lebanon, ten times more than there were in the country during the first Lebanon war. Hezbollah has the capability to launch a large quantity of rockets in a short period time, and this could cause significant damage on the Home Front.
"In IDF simulations of what a third Lebanon war would look like, ground maneuvers in villages that are considered bastions of Shiite Hezbollah become particularly important. 'The next war will be different, and therefore we should stop it as quickly as possible, in order to make things easier for the home front. This means carrying out a very strong attack against Lebanon, and the damage will be enormous,' says a senior officer in the Northern Command.
"'The Goldstone report will pale in comparison to what will be here next time. There is no choice but to fight against the enemy where he is, and that is in the heart of a populated area.'"
I've said it before and reiterate here that I am grateful for this attitude and pray that it holds. This is not only because it may serve as a deterrent to Hezbollah, but because it is imperative that the IDF and the political echelon here act with force to protect Israelis in event of a war, without holding back for fear of international criticism. Stating up front that Hezbollah has responsibility for civilians in Lebanon because of where rockets and missiles have been placed is appropriate.
I will add here that there is currently concern on Israel's part regarding possible plans by Lebanon to divert water from the Hatzbani River, a major source of the waters of the Jordan. Such a diversion might well be considered a casus belli -- justification for war. Fight over water sources is not unusual in this part of the world.
The UN Human Rights Council has appointed the members of its "fact finding" mission with regard to the settlements.
The statement by Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor (Emphasis added):
"The fact-finding mission will find no cooperation in Israel and its members will not be allowed to enter Israel and the territories. Its existence embodies the inherent distortion that typifies the UNHRC treatment of Israel and the hijacking of the important human rights agenda by nondemocratic countries."
It's good news that the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe has rejected -- in a 28 - 21 vote --a Palestinian Authority application to join the organization as an observer.
Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon stated that this positive result was achieved in part because of Israeli diplomatic efforts.
There will be no end, however, to the ways in which the PA will seek increased legitimacy via international bodies:
The Palestinian Arabs are seeking to participate in a UN-associated arms treaty conference -- which is working towards establishment of a binding treaty to regulate the global weapons market -- as "Palestine," a full state.