Sunday, March 30, 2014

The permanent war

Richard Baehr

The war of words between the Palestinian Authority and Israel continues over a scheduled fourth prisoner release by Israel, the Palestinians' willingness to extend the current round of peace talks beyond April 29, and a Palestinian commitment not to seek enhanced status at the United Nations as a member state, while talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority continue.
If the discussions go the way of prior crises in the negotiations, the prisoners will be released, the PA will agree to continue the talks that are going nowhere for some as yet undermined period beyond April 29, and the Palestinians will delay what inevitably will occur at some point -- an attempt at the United Nations to seek enhanced member status.
Membership for a state in the United Nations requires a positive recommendation from the Security Council followed by a two-thirds vote supporting the motion in the General Assembly.
As the U.N.'s website explains:
"States are admitted to membership in the United Nations by decision of the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council. The procedure is briefly as follows:

"1. The State submits an application to the Secretary-General and a letter formally stating that it accepts the obligations under the Charter.
"2. The Security Council considers the application. Any recommendation for admission must receive the affirmative votes of 9 of the 15 members of the Council, provided that none of its five permanent members -- China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America -- have voted against the application.
"3. If the Council recommends admission, the recommendation is presented to the General Assembly for consideration. A two-thirds majority vote is necessary in the Assembly for admission of a new State."
If the Palestinians decide to forgo the negotiations, and instead push their case at the United Nations, they will then be able to join all the other "peace loving states" who are already members:
"Membership in the Organization, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, 'is open to all peace-loving States that accept the obligations contained in the United Nations Charter and, in the judgment of the Organization, are able to carry out these obligations.'"
In this fantasy world, the Palestinian Authority, a nonfunctioning, nonstate without borders, living off international welfare, and without any authority in areas where 40% of Palestinians live (Gaza), can apply for membership as a peace-loving state, and be approved by an overwhelming majority of member states, many of whom are also not peace-loving, particularly vis-a-vis relations with the State of Israel.
The only party that might block such an effort would be the United States vetoing the application in the Security Council. How certain is that at this point? We have more evidence this week of American State Department animus towards Israel, as increasing numbers of Israelis are denied entry, this year approximately 10% of those applying for visas to visit the United States, including many Israelis in the defense/intelligence sector. One leaked story suggested that those denied were a different bunch -- mainly younger Israelis in their "gap" year after military service, seeking to sell Dead Sea products. That seemed to be a stretch.
State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki, one of the more pathetically incompetent spokespersons in an administration full of them, explained what is likely the real reason -- that Israel's rejection of visas for visiting Americans of Arab descent was reason enough for keeping Israel out of its visa waiver program. Of course, Israelis may have legitimate national security reasons for rejecting some foreign visitors, reasons that do not apply to American rejection of Israelis seeking to visit the United States. In this case, major Arab lobbying groups called for the State Department to deny Israeli participation in the visa waiver program, and the State Department took its customary bow to their wishes.
The bigger pretense is that the Palestinians are in any way behaving as if they seek peace and a state through negotiations. The U.S. State Department, Secretary John Kerry, Secretary Hillary Clinton during her tenure, and President Barack Obama, have all decried activities by Israel that they have argued are obstacles in the delicate path to peace between the parties. These alleged obstacles always concern some Israeli bureaucrat approving one stage of a multistage approval process for Israeli housing, almost always within settlement blocs that American presidents since the start of Oslo have accepted would remain as part of Israel, were a peace deal reached between the parties. In other words, no new Palestinian land was being taken for the settlements, and no Palestinians were going to be displaced by the construction. Regardless, one would think that Israel had launched dozens of rockets at Palestinian territory or sent suicide bombers to blow up Palestinian buses, restaurants, and schools, given the bellicosity of the reaction to the settlement approval process.
Palestinians, on the other hand, are almost always given a free pass by the United States, the Europeans, the so-called international community and the United Nations for terrorism, anti-Semitic propaganda, and campaigns against Israel. Presumably, none of these are obstacles to peace. The United Nations stands out of course among the group, for its obsession with trashing Israel:
"Since then [1947], it has maintained a central role in this region, especially by providing support for Palestinian refugees via the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and by providing a platform for Palestinian political claims via the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, the United Nations Division for Palestinian Rights, the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People, the United Nations Information System on the Question of Palestine (UNISPAL) and the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
"In recent years, the Middle East was the subject of 76% of country-specific General Assembly resolutions, 100% of the Human Rights Council resolutions, 100% of the Commission on the Status of Women resolutions, 50% of reports from the World Food Programme, 6% of United Nations Security Council resolutions and 6 of the 10 Emergency sessions. These decisions, adopted with the support of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) countries, invariably criticize Israel for its treatment of Palestinians."
In fact, since the original partition of Palestine was approved by the United Nations General Assembly in 1947, and Israel was soon after admitted to the U.N., the Arab and Islamic nations, and their Third World and Communist allies, have used the U.N. as a source of a permanent campaign to isolate and delegitimize Israel, and to smear its name among the nations of the world. It is of course no surprise that in Palestinian schools and media since the Oslo process brought Yassar Arafat and the Palestine Liberation Organization back to the territories, the vicious anti-Semitic, and-Zionist rhetoric, and celebrations of Jew-killers, have been a constant theme. The Palestinians have never prepared their own people for peace and reconciliation, and have never behaved in their diplomatic relations as if Israel deserved a place among the nations.
The latest Palestinian initiative, an astroturfed initiative if there ever was one, is the international campaign of boycotts, divestment and sanctions directed at cultural visits to Israel, Israeli businesses in the territories, and Israeli universities, among other targets. This campaign now rears its ugly face in new settings every week, particularly on college campuses, replete with anti-Semitic rhetoric, death threats against students and faculty, shouting down speakers who offer contrasting views, and attempts to interfere with any activities or programs that allow Israel or Israelis to be treated like other nations or people. In an article this week on this topic, Caroline Glick decried the detestable lack of response from campus administrations in dealing with the intimidation campaign. She presents one example of the process at work at Vassar College, as described by an anti-Zionist activist and supporter of the intimidation, Philip Weiss:
"The spirit of that young progressive space was that Israel is a blot on civilization, and boycott is right and necessary.
"If a student had gotten up and said, I love Israel, he or she would have been mocked and scorned into silence."
Glick notes that Weiss is pleased with the air of intimidation.
"As he sees it, this is the whole point of the so-called boycott, sanctions, and divestment movement that calls for institutions to boycott businesses that do business with Jews in Israel.
"As Weiss explained, the real purpose of the BDS movement in all its component parts is to make it impossible to voice any sentiment in relation to the Middle East on college campuses that isn't anti-Israel."
If the Palestinians had an iota of interest in a two-state solution, they would not celebrate Jew-killers, they would not broadcast anti-Semitic propaganda, they would not push for delegitimization of Israel and Zionism at the United Nations, they would not fund and support the BDS movement abroad, and they would actually show an interest in negotiating, which of course involves compromise.
As has been true for 100 years, the Palestinian national movement has had as its primary objective first the prevention of a State of Israel being established, and later the elimination of the Jewish majority state in the region. There are many nations in the world that sympathize with this campaign, while paying lip service to the need for a two-state solution.
There is a point at which Israel needs to state openly that the emperor wears no clothes. The two-state solution is a fraud since it is completely unacceptable to one of the parties. Israel needs to cease negotiating with itself.

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