Monday, April 28, 2014

Amidst Palestinian Rejectionism, Kerry Drops the "A" Bomb On Israel

Kerry: If Israel Doesn't Make Peace Soon, It Could Become "an Apartheid State" - Josh Rogin

If there's no two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict soon, Israel risks becoming "an apartheid state," Secretary of State John Kerry told a room of influential world leaders in a closed-door meeting.

Jewish leaders are fuming over the comparison.
(Daily Beast)

AIPAC Statement on Kerry's Remarks

The reported remarks on apartheid by Secretary of State John Kerry are deeply troubling.

Any suggestion that Israel is, or is at risk of becoming, an apartheid state is offensive and inappropriate. The Jewish state is a shining light for freedom and opportunity in a region plagued by terror, hate and oppression.
[AIPAC Press Release]

Collapse of the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks - Jodi Rudoren

When Israel suspended the stalemated negotiations, it did so with Washington's tacit blessing.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas has recently played a variety of cards in hopes of improving his position. He took steps to join 15 international conventions, threatened to dissolve his government, and made a deal with Hamas, the militant Islamic group that is widely reviled in the West. The gambles drew repeated rebukes from Washington. 

Giora Eiland, a former Israeli national security adviser, said Abbas, "by his own behavior, has pushed himself to be perceived as a very extreme person who will never be able to reach an agreement with us." 
(New York Times)

What Is Abbas Trying to Achieve? - Khaled Abu Toameh

Abbas is convinced that it is only a matter of time before Secretary of State Kerry or top U.S. diplomats rush to Ramallah to try to persuade him not to make peace with Hamas. Abbas seems to be enjoying that each time he does something dramatic, the U.S. Administration launches another big diplomatic offensive to convince him to backtrack.

Abbas wants his people and the Arabs to see him as a hero who can stand up to the Americans. He is now waiting to see what the U.S. will offer him in return for rescinding his plan to join forces with Hamas.
(Gatestone Institute)


Hamas Plans Bid for Greater Power - Avi Issacharoff

Hamas [is] ready to give up the[ir] government in the short term for the sake of ruling the West Bank and Gaza in the long run.

In the last few days, Hamas' motives have become clearer. It is a sophisticated strategic move designed to win over Palestinian public opinion in order to eventually win the parliamentary and presidential elections and gain overall Palestinian primacy. In the background, the harsh reality in Gaza, and especially Hamas' faltering relations with Egypt, have raised grave fears that if it does not give in willingly now, it might collapse financially or be ousted by its public.
(Times of Israel)

Apartheid? To Arabs, It's a Model Democracy - Evelyn Gordon

If Israel really practiced apartheid against Arabs, why do Arabs throughout the Middle East persistently cite Israeli democracy as the model they'd like their own countries to adopt? In 2011, when the Arab Spring revolutions were at their height, Ha'aretz correspondent Anshel Pfeffer reported hearing from demonstrators in both Tunis and Cairo that they wanted "a democracy like in Israel."

From 1996 to 2002, Palestinian pollster Khalil Shikaki asked what governments Palestinians admired. "Every year Israel has been the top performer, at times receiving more than 80% approval," the New York Times reported. 

What's truly astonishing is that the Arab media routinely reports the wildest anti-Israel fabrications as fact. Hence most Arabs believe Israeli treatment of both Palestinians and Israeli Arabs to be much worse than the reality - and even so, they admire Israeli democracy. 

Israel Will Never Be an Apartheid State - Michael Oren

  • [T]he situation in Israel does not even remotely resemble apartheid.
  • The vast majority of Jews and Palestinians in the West Bank choose to live apart because of cultural and historical differences, not segregation, though thousands of them do work side by side.
  • Separate roads were created in response to terrorist attacks - not to segregate Palestinians but to save Jewish lives. And Israeli roads are used by Israeli Jews and Arabs alike.
  • The separation of schools is, again, a cultural choice similar to that made by secular and Orthodox Jews and Muslim and Christian Palestinians. Many Palestinians, however, study in Israeli institutions such as Ariel University, located in a settlement. Thousands of Palestinians, many from Hamas-controlled Gaza, are treated at Israeli hospitals.
  • The security barrier is no more an apartheid wall than the fence between the United States and Mexico. Palestinian leaders aspire to create a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza from which all Jews have been expelled. That is truly apartheid.
  • In Jerusalem and elsewhere in Israel, Jews and Arabs mix freely and increasingly live in the same neighborhoods. There is no imposed segregation. Go to any Israeli mall, any restaurant or hospital, and you will see Arabs and Jews interacting.
    The writer was Israel's ambassador to the U.S. from 2009 to 2013.
(Los Angeles Times)

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Palestinian Water Mythology

Two Arab boys enjoying the Water Park just outside of Gaza City 

The Myth of the Thirsty Palestinian - Akiva Bigman

The President of the European Parliament caused a minor scandal when he accused Israel of denying water supplies to the Palestinian population.
However, when one examines the relevant data, it becomes clear that, under Israeli rule, the Palestinian water supply has become larger, more technologically sophisticated, of higher quality, and much easier to access, almost entirely due to Israeli efforts.
At the end of Jordanian rule in 1967, the West Bank Palestinians received 65 million cubic meters of water per year. Five years after the Israeli takeover, the water supply grew by 50%.
By the time the Oslo Accords were signed in 1995, the Palestinian water supply reached 120 million cubic meters per year. By 2010, water consumption had reached 190 million cubic meters per year.
Some 97% of the Palestinian population is now connected to the territory's water system, for the most part, directly to their own homes.
According to the Accords, Israel is required to supply 31 million cubic meters per year to the Palestinians. In 2012, Israel provided 53 million cubic meters to the Palestinian water supply. 
(The Tower)

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Video Deflects Media Criticism of Israel

Combat Cameramen Disprove Palestinian Propaganda - Yuval Azulai

Last August, IDF combat cameraman Naor Blanco joined a nighttime operation to arrest a wanted terrorist in the Jenin refugee camp.

"Shortly after we went in, they started shooting at us from different directions," Blanco recounts. "That whole time, I held the camera and documented the battle and the exchanges of fire."

"According to reports that had already been released by Palestinian sources, the IDF had purportedly perpetrated crimes in the nighttime operation."

In Blanco's video of the event, which was distributed to all the media networks, "there was clear documentation of the fact that it was the terrorists who opened fire on us. The footage left no doubt that the forces that operated in the field acted with restraint, and the soldiers only fired when a life-threatening situation arose."

"The footage included cries of 'Kill the Jews,' which could be heard constantly in the background. There is nothing better than seeing something with your own eyes, so headlines saying 'The IDF invaded Jenin' were switched within minutes and updated to say 'The IDF carried out an anti-terrorist operation in Jenin.'"

"My footage from the field changed the entire thrust of the event's coverage."

Thursday, April 03, 2014

"Peace" Process

Questions about the Peace Process - Rick Richman

Why do people have to be paid - in the form of cash, prisoners, freezes, etc. - to convince them to show up to negotiate a state for themselves?

Why do people who have signed a formal agreement, obligating themselves not to take "any step" outside bilateral negotiations to change the status of the disputed territories, have to be paid to convince them to adhere to their agreement?                


Kerry’s Folly -Charles Krauthammer

The crowning piece of diplomatic Kerry’s frantic effort to salvage the Arab-Israeli negotiations he launched, also against all odds and sentient advice.

He’s made 12 trips to the region, aiming to produce a final Middle East peace within nine months. It is month nine. The talks have gone nowhere. But this has been a fool’s errand from Day One. There never was any chance of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas concluding a final peace .

Now in the 10th year of a four-year term (there never was a reelection — he just stayed in office), Abbas doesn’t have the legitimacy. With half of Palestine (namely Gaza) controlled by his rejectionist mortal enemy Hamas, he doesn’t have the authority.

And he doesn’t have the intention. Abbas openly refuses to (a) recognize Israel as a Jewish state, (b) yield the so-called right of return (which would flood Israel with millions of Palestinians, destroying the state demographically) and (c) ever sign any agreement that ends the conflict once and for all.

Any one of these refusals makes a final peace impossible. All three make the entire process ridiculous. Kerry has given up trying to get a final agreement. He’s given up on even getting a “framework agreement.” He’s reduced to simply trying to keep the moribund talks going.

To keep stringing along the Israelis, some genius decided to dangle Jonathan Pollard. What’s he got to do with anything? Why is he being offered as an incentive for Israel to accept otherwise unacceptable conditions?

Instead of trying to stave off the U.N. bid with the release of Palestinian terrorists and an American spy, perhaps the administration could simply stop fighting Congress, which developed a far more effective method. Under law, any U.N. agency that recognizes “Palestine” has its U.S. funds cut off.

The Obama administration keeps trying to restore funding for UNESCO, which in 2011 defied the U.S. by recognizing Palestine. What kind of signal is this to the rest of the world? Financial sanctions are precisely the kind of pressure that can support diplomacy. Yet this administration seems intent on removing sanctions that might thwart Palestinian moves toward unilateral statehood, the latest Palestinian strategy for getting land without offering peace.

After all, that would be diplomacy with teeth. So 19th century.
[Washington Post]

Left Wing Minister Livni: We'll Not Release Prisoners for Nothing

Israel's chief peace negotiator, [left-wing] Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, defended Israel's decision to postpone the fourth prisoner release. "I made it clear to the Americans and the Palestinians that I will not release the Israeli (Arab) prisoners unless it's in a different context. This is something they knew since day one," she said. "I need to honestly look into the victims families' eyes and tell them - 'yes, we're making that decision for something real.'"

"We had no intention to free (the prisoners) and find ourselves a month later with (the Palestinians) walking out and turning to the UN." Abbas' decision to sign 15 international conventions, mainly through the UN, "was a blunt violation and a big mistake that is going to make it very hard on us to return to normal," Livni said.
(Ynet News)


John Kerry, testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, blamed Israel for the failure of peace talks.

Kerry: Israeli Settlement Plan Derailed Peace Talks -Mark Landler

Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday that Israel’s announcement of 700 new apartments for Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem precipitated the bitter impasse in peace negotiations last week between Israel and the Palestinians.
While Mr. Kerry said both sides bore responsibility for “unhelpful” actions, he noted that the publication of tenders for housing units came four days after a deadline passed for Israel to release Palestinian prisoners and complicated Israel’s own deliberations over whether to extend the talks.

“Poof, that was sort of the moment,” Mr. Kerry said in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
[New York Times]

Construction Tenders Were Not New - Tovah Lazaroff and Lahav Harkov

An Israeli official remarked that in every past peace plan it had been understood that Gilo would remain within Israel's borders. He said that these particular tenders had already been published in the past and had been republished last week.

(Jerusalem Post)

Is Israel to Blame for Peace Talks Collapse? - Jonathan S. Tobin

It is disingenuous to say that the publication of tenders for housing units precipitated the bitter impasse in peace negotiations last week between Israel and the Palestinians. Kerry knows very well that the negotiations were doomed once the Palestinians refused to sign on to the framework for future talks he suggested. PA leader Mahmoud Abbas wouldn't say the two little words - "Jewish state" - that would make it clear he intended to end the conflict. Since the talks began last year after Abbas insisted on the release of terrorist murderers in order to get them back to the table, the Palestinians haven't budged an inch on a single issue.

Thus, to blame the collapse on the decision to build apartments in Gilo - a 40-year-old Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem that would not change hands even in the event a peace treaty were ever signed and where Israel has never promised to stop building - is, to put it mildly, a mendacious effort to shift blame away from the side that seized the first pretext to flee talks onto the one that has made concessions in order to get the Palestinians to sit at the table.    

So long as the Palestinians pay no price for their refusal to give up unrealistic demands for a Jewish retreat from Jerusalem as well as the "right of return" for the 1948 refugees and their descendants and a refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and end the conflict, peace is impossible no matter what the Netanyahu government does.

Appeasing them with lies about Israel only makes it easier for the PA to go on saying no. 


Abbas Rebuffed Mutually Acceptable Wording on "Jewish State"
- Raphael Ahren

Israeli negotiators were willing to work with PA President Mahmoud Abbas during negotiations on the wording of a formula that would have described the Jewish people's and the Palestinian people's right to self-determination in precisely equivalent terms, and would have also included phrases to guarantee the rights of Israel's Arab minority.

"The goal of the process was to receive mutual recognition for two nation states, and that both the Jewish people and the Palestinian people have national rights," a senior government official said.

The proposed phrasing was "based on total parity." The Palestinians, however, resolutely refused to accept the very concept of such recognition, he said.
(Times of Israel)

Failure Is in the Eye of the Beholder - Shmuel Rosner
  • No one in the region was terribly surprised when the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks collapsed. Yet failure is in the eye of the beholder. And in this case only those who expected a deal - the Americans - failed.
  • But for the two parties with real interests at stake, the talks proved, once again, that there are things more important for them than peace and calm - things like national pride, sacred traditions, symbols and land.
  • Both parties entered the talks without any hope of reaching an agreement, and both are now exiting having reached their unstated aim: to avoid a deal in which they were never interested, without having to bear the full blame for dropping the ball. Each side would prefer to see Mr. Obama place the blame on the other side, but sharing it is reasonably tolerable.
  • There are two false perceptions that repeatedly distort discussions of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. First is the misguided idea that everybody knows what a final deal will look like, and that the inability to reach it is basically a diplomatic technicality. And second is the unfounded belief that Israelis and Palestinians want peace more than anything else. They don't.
  • Of course, Israelis and Palestinians, like all people everywhere, want to live without violence. But they also want many other things. They continue to battle it out because they have priorities other than the ones imagined by the mediator.

    The writer is a fellow at the Jewish People Policy Institute.
[New York Times]

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

The Flame Flickers for Kerry's "Peace" Process

Arafat-Style, Abbas Playing with Fire - Avi Issacharoff

PA President Mahmoud Abbas signed on papers to join 15 international charters in a live broadcast on official television, surrounded by members of the Palestinian leadership.

(Times of Israel)

Palestinian UN Bid Throws Talks into Confusion
- William Booth and Anne Gearan

PA President Mahmoud Abbas defied American diplomats by unilaterally signing more than a dozen UN treaties, endangering the U.S.-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. 

It was clear that Abbas' move blindsided the U.S., which was trying to broker a new deal for prisoner releases sought by the Palestinians and an extension of the peace talks.
(Washington Post)

Bad Move on Jonathan Pollard - Editorial

The emergence of Jonathan Pollard as a bargaining chip in Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations is a lamentable sign of America's desperation to keep both sides talking. The proposal would do nothing to advance progress on the core issues of a peace deal. After nine months of talks, there is no sign of progress on any of these issues. 

(New York Times)

An Unseemly U.S. Prisoner Swap - Editorial

Leaving aside the unseemliness of using Pollard as a negotiating pawn, it's hard to see how the interests of peace are served by returning people with terrorist convictions to Palestinian streets. If Pollard is to be released, let it be on humanitarian grounds, not as part of some hostage-like diplomatic swap.

(Wall Street Journal)

The Jonathan Pollard Trial Balloon - Edward-Isaac Dovere

Experienced negotiators say the Pollard trial balloon itself might be the clearest sign yet that the peace process is essentially over once again.

For Pollard's release to ever be used in negotiations, time's running out: he's expected to be released in November 2015 anyway.

"It shows a certain weakness and desperation," said Aaron David Miller, a former State Department senior adviser on the region.

"If, after 30 years, we think that Pollard should be released for humanitarian reasons, then we should release him now. We should not make his release part of complicated negotiations with Palestinians and Israelis over some talks that may not last more than a few weeks anyway," said Elliott Abrams, a former deputy national security adviser. "We are asking Israel to release terrorists. We should not be doing that," Abrams said. "Terrorists that kill Americans don't get released. And we should not be asking Israel to." 


Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Keep Your Eyes on the Saudis: Part 2

A potential route for Israel to attack Iran's nuclear sites

Converging Interests: Cooperation between Israel and Gulf States
- Helene Cooper

American and Israeli officials meeting in Jerusalem held out the hope of growing security cooperation between Israel and its Arab neighbors in the Persian Gulf. That idea, basically unthinkable a few years ago, could be more plausible now because of widespread worry over Iran's nuclear program.

Emerging from meetings with his Israeli counterparts, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that discussions included "an outreach to other partners who may not have been willing to be partners in the past." He added, "What I mean is the Gulf states in particular, who heretofore may not have been as open-minded to the potential for cooperation with Israel, in any way."

Other American military officials said that possibilities include intelligence-sharing and joint counterterrorism exercises. "World jihadists are not fighting only against Israel," said Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces, adding that it would behoove neighboring states to look for ways to combat common enemies. 
(New York Times)