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December 22, 2014 / 30 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Arab League’

An Open Letter to the Arab League: Thanks, but no Thanks

Monday, May 13th, 2013

To the Honorable Leaders of the Arab States,

We in Israel received with great pleasure your agreement to normalize relations with Israel  on condition that we agree to the establishment of a Palestinian state and exchanges of territories between that state and Israel. The Palestinian state that you propose to establish in Judea and Samaria would be the second Palestinian state, since the first Palestinian state was established six years ago in the Gaza Strip, and you clearly recognize it as such in practice. How else can the state visits of the Emir of Qatar and the secretary of the Arab League in Gaza  be understood?  Now you propose the establishment of a second Palestinian state? Perhaps a third!! Because Jordan is also a state with a Palestinian majority. And all of these states were established – as you know – on land that the League of Nations had designated for a Jewish state at the San Remo Conference, in April  of 1920. So why should we agree to exchange territories with any state or states that have been established or will be established on our land?

And if indeed a second Palestinian state will arise in Judea and Samaria (that which you call “the West Bank”) can you promise us that this state will not at some time in the future become another Hamas state? Do you not recall that Hamas won a clear majority of the seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council in January 2006? Did you not see how Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip with bombs, fire and kalashnikovs in June of 2007? Will you send a military force to get rid of Hamas after this terror organization also takes over – by means of elections or revolution – the new Palestinian state as well? Or perhaps you will leave us bleeding as a result of the problem that you have created?

We in Israel are very touched by the fact that you, as an Arab collective, not as individual states that have made a peace agreement with us, finally agree to accept us as an existing state in the Middle East. Indeed, it has taken you 65 years to understand that we are here, on the land of our fathers, that we have come back to stay in our land forever and ever until eternity. But why do you call to displant Jerusalem,  the historical capital of the Jewish people, from the Jewish state? Was Jerusalem ever a capital of something connected to the Arab world or Islam? Throughout all of history, did an Emir, Sultan Caliph or Arab or Islamic King rule in it even for one day? Do you not remember that since the Islamic conquest in 637, the capital of “Jund Filastin” (the region of Palestine) was called Ramle? Then why has Jerusalem suddenly emerged as a candidate for capital of the second Palestinian state? Just because it is our capital?

Just to remind you: Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria were under Jordanian occupation for 7000 days, from May of 1948 until June of 1967. You had 7000 golden opportunities to establish a Palestinian state on this territory with Jerusalem as its capital. Why didn’t you do it? Why did you think of it only after the Jewish people liberated the territory from the Jordanian occupation whose legality even you, the Arab League, never recognized? What did you know all those years about “the rights of the Palestinian people” that you don’t know today? And why is Israeli “occupation” worse than Jordanian occupation?

Just imagine that we had made a peace agreement with Assad’s Syria. Would the Saudi Arabian jihadists, followers of al Qaeda who want to eliminate Assad, honor the peace agreement that he signed with the Zionists? And what about the Palestinians in Jordan -  if they will also rise up and overthrow the royal house that the British imported from Saudi Arabia, are you sure that they would honor the agreement that that royal house signed with us over the Palestinians’ objections? Are you willing to assure us that the Muslim Brotherhood, which has taken over Egypt, will always honor the peace agreement with Israel after all the years that they said that they would cancel it when they could? Just to remind you, Israel has had agreements of mutual recognition on different levels with Qatar, the United Emirates and Tunisia. Why did they cancel these agreements and close the Israeli diplomatic missions? Is this what your signature is worth?

Kerry’s Frolic

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent embrace of the Arab Peace Initiative is, to say the least, unnerving. Certainly the response of Arab leaders to his action reflects the dangers for Israel inherent in the plan. President Obama seems to be preoccupied these days with Syria and Iran as well as serious domestic issues and is largely leaving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to Mr. Kerry. But the secretary of state seems poised to roil things up without any prospect of real progress.

The Arab Plan, launched in 2002, was approved by the 22-member Arab League at a summit in Beirut. It essentially called for a comprehensive peace between Israel and the Arab world and normal relations – in return for Israel’s full withdrawal from all the land captured by Israel in 1967, including the Golan Heights. For obvious reasons, Israel rejected the notion of full withdrawal.

The Arab League reaffirmed its offer in 2007 with the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation endorsing it as well. Israel again stuck to its position that, among other things, full withdrawal would compromise its security and was a prescription for more war and thus a non-starter.

Mr. Kerry recently met with the prime minister of Qatar, the secretary-general of the Arab League and representatives of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority to, according to one participant, raise the possibility of modifications. Specifically the secretary of state reportedly proposed, in order to make the plan more palatable to Israel, that the 1967 lines “be modified” through mutual agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

But the word from the Arab camp was that it could agree only that “minor” and “comparable” land exchanges based on the 1967 lines would be acceptable. The idea that Israel would retain the settlement blocs it has established – which recent U.S. presidents, including Mr. Obama, have endorsed to a greater or lesser extent – was rejected out of hand.

What is particularly disturbing about the Kerry approach is that it is wholly inconsistent with President Obama’s insistence that Israel and the Palestinians negotiate a deal between themselves. Indeed, the Palestinians can now claim that Mr. Kerry effectively backs their seeking recognition from the UN as an alternative to negotiating Palestinian statehood with Israel. Why is he backtracking from Mr. Obama’s call, in line with Israel’s position, for negotiations with no preconditions?

At any rate, it is hardly reasonable to expect Israel to place any confidence in the commitments of Arab leaders. Not only has the Arab Spring underscored what an ephemeral thing “Arab leadership” really is, it has also revealed the strong undercurrent of popular opposition in Arab countries to any rapprochement with Israel. So no matter the extent of Israeli concessions in any future peace deal, the promise of normal relations is, in the end, unenforceable.

In sum, all Mr. Kerry has accomplished is to publicly draw U.S. policy away from support for Israel’s approach to negotiations as articulated by President Obama. For all his vaunted experience in foreign policy and international relations, he seems clueless. When former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice did much the same thing during the previous administration, President Bush did little if anything to rein her in. It is to be hoped that President Obama won’t make the same mistake with Mr. Kerry.

Kerry Betting on the Wrong Horses

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

Originally published at the Gatestone Institute.

The Arab League foreign ministers who met with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington last week were convinced that they had a mandate from the Palestinians to talk about possible land swaps between Israel and a future Palestinian state.

Ahead of their departure to the U.S., the ministers had met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Doha, Qatar, and discussed with him the land swap idea.

At the meeting, the Arab League decided to dispatch a high-level delegation to Washington to brief the U.S. Administration on the Arab position regarding the resumption of peace talks with Israel. Headed by Qatar’s Hamad bin Jasim al-Thani, the delegation which met with Kerry also consisted of Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad Malki.

Yet the Palestinians seemed to be surprised, following the meeting with Kerry, to hear the Qatari representative talk about possible land swaps between Israel and the Palestinians.

The Palestinian Authority’s initial response was to issue a statement in English — not Arabic — voicing support for the land trade proposal. The statement said that this was an old idea that had been discussed in the past between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators.

But following strong condemnations from many Palestinians, the Palestinian Authority leadership took a step backwards.

First, the Palestinian Authority said that it was only prepared to discuss “minor” adjustments to the border between Israel and a future Palestinian state.

Later, as the denunciations grew, the Palestinian Authority took yet another step backwards, saying it was opposed to making any “down payments” to Israel before the peace talks resumed.

In other words, the Palestinian Authority is not prepared to talk about any territorial concessions to Israel before the Israeli government accepts the pre-1967 lines as the basis for a two-state solution.

Palestinian reactions to the land swap proposal seem to have angered Qatar and other Arab countries.

With the exception of a few Palestinian Authority officials, all Palestinian factions have come out strongly against the proposal. The anger has been directed especially against Qatar.

“Who gave the Qatari leaders the right to offer concessions to Israel on behalf of the Palestinians?” was the main charge leveled against the rulers in Doha.

Other Palestinians, including top members of Abbas’s Fatah faction, have also lashed out at the Arab ministers for “offering free concessions” to Israel on behalf of the Palestinians.

Although the Palestinian Authority leadership had in the past hinted that it would be willing to accept the land swap idea, it is now obvious that it would never be able to win the Palestinians’ support for such a proposal.

As leaders of Hamas and other Palestinian groups emphasized over the past few days, no Palestinian leader has a mandate to make any concessions to Israel.

Even worse, the Arab League proposal is being viewed by many Arabs and Palestinians as part of an “American-Zionist conspiracy” to force the Palestinians to accept Israeli “dictates.”

Abbas and the Palestinian Authority leadership in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria -ed.] seem to have absorbed the message and are now back to demanding a full Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines, which were never official borders.

For Kerry, who has taken it upon himself to try to resume the peace process, this is all bad news.

It is bad news that the Palestinian Authority still does not have the courage to tell the Palestinians that without some form of compromise there will never be real peace with Israel.

It is bad news because it has once again become clear that the Arab countries, including the wealthiest and most influential, have no influence on the Palestinians.

Judging from their reactions to the land swap idea, many Palestinians continue to despise the Arab regimes, accusing them of serving as pawns in the hands of the U.S. and Israel.

The U.S. Administration needs to understand that the Arab League is an incompetent and ineffectual body that has long been ridiculed by most Arabs. This is a body that has never played an instrumental role in solving Arab crises such as the Lebanese Civil War, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait or the ongoing bloodshed in Syria.

It now remains to be seen whether Kerry and President Barack Obama will ever notice that they are betting on the wrong horses. Neither the Arab League nor the Palestinian Authority leadership has a mandate to offer any concessions to Israel or recognize its right to exist.

Kerry Hosts ‘Peace Process Partner’ Livni to Advance PA Demands

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who is Prime Minister Netanyahu’s de facto “peace process minister,” is in Washington for talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is fresh from winning a supposed “concession” from the Arab League for the American-sponsored peace process.

Kerry has come up with a proposal to adopt most of the Saudi 2002 Peace Initiative, which is virtually everything that Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has demanded.

Kerry’s mission is to make a deal. Getting Israel and the Palestinian Authority to agree on the final status of an independent Arab country under the aegis of the Palestinian Authority would be a glorious triumph for Kerry, possibly the stepping stone to the White House in  2016.

To get there, he is taking the course of least resistance, meaning the Israeli government.

Enter his real peace partner, Tzipi Livni.

Prime Minister Netanyahu holds the portfolio of Foreign Minister until there is a court decision on whether Avigdor Lieberman is guilty of fraud or can return to his former post. In the meantime, Netanyahu hurriedly bought Livni’s tiny party of six Knesset Members into the government by granting her the responsibility for handling the American effort for Palestinian Authority peace talks, one of Livni’s pet hobbies.

She and Kerry have the same goal, a deal at any cost with the prize of international admiration.

He came away from a meeting with the Arab League last week and tried to sell Israel a bill of goods of the Great Concession: The Arab supposedly are prepared to amend the Saudi 2002 Peace Initiative and back “land swaps,” meaning Israel would have their approval for sovereignty over a small amount of the land that was restored to the country in the Six-Day War in 1967.

In return, Israel would fork over an equal amount of land that has been part of the country since 1948.

Qatari Prime Minister Sheik al-Thani, whose kingdom has been unusually aggressive in handing out fat checks to Hamas and is pouring money into Arab areas of Jerusalem as well as the Palestinian Authority, led the Arab League delegation.

He agreed that perhaps – maybe if this and maybe if that, and if Israel behaves – the League could agree to “minor” land swaps.

For Kerry, this was a big concession. He “broke” the back of the Arabs and all that is left for him to do is tell Israel it is the best thing for the country since felafel.

“The Arab League delegation affirmed … the two-state solution on the basis of the 4th of June 1967 line, with the (possibility) of comparable and mutual agreed minor swap of the land,” he declared.

Of course, no one has any idea of what “minor” land swaps could mean, but you can rest your bottom dinar it does not mean that Israel would retain Gush Etzion. Maaleh Adumim? Maybe. Maybe not.

Perhaps the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Ramot, French Hill, Pisgat Ze’ev and Talpiot, among others? Could be.

And Gilo? Probably not.

It does not matter now. The most important thing for Kerry and Livni, his one-woman Israeli government fan club, is to talk it up. It does not matter to them that Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal already has rejected the idea. But they can take of him later and drop Hamas from the list of outlawed terrorist organizations, make it a legal terrorist group, and everything will be just fine.

Livni said the Qatari prime minister’s grand concession of possibly, just maybe, agreeing to a  minor land swap was “very positive news.”

And what would land would Israel give up in this “minor” swap. Most likely, enough land to link Gaza with Judea and Samaria.

Of course there is one not so minor point that Kerry has forgotten. Actually, he has not forgotten because the State Dept. does not know any better.

What Israeli Arab in his right mind would give up all the benefits and security he gets from the Israeli government and become subjects of the Palestinian Authority in order to help Kerry’s political career?

Why the ‘Arab Peace Initiative’ is a Scam

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

There’s something very strange about this alleged new Arab League peace initiative and I find no serious addressing of these issues in the media coverage. A step toward efforts by Arab states to move toward proposing a possible peace with Israel is a good thing. Especially touted is an idea, mentioned by Qatar’s representative at the Washington meeting, to accept an agreement that small border modifications could be made to the pre-1967 lines.

Here’s how the Associated Press reported on this, with the headline, “Arab League sweetens Israel-Palestinian peace plan“:

The Arab League’s decision to sweeten its decade-old proposal offering comprehensive peace with Israel has placed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a bind and swiftly exposed fissures in his new government.

In other words, you’d have to be a fool or a knave to reject this deal and the issue has divided Israel’s government. Yet chief negotiator Tzipi Livni was right to have reacted positively to the proposal and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be right to ultimately reject it.

After all, there are a lot of unaddressed points in the coverage that make me strongly suspect that this is a public relations’ stunt to convince America and Western opinion that the Arab states want peace with Israel when not all of them do so.

And that’s one of the key questions. At the meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry there were representatives of the Arab League, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the Palestinian Authority.

But Arab League bureaucrats can’t agree on anything. Only a vote of the Arab League’s almost two dozen members can establish an official position. So this was not an Arab League plan at all. To represent it as an official Arab position is, then, untrue.

Indeed, we already know that the Palestinian Authority (P.A.) opposes this formula. At any rate, the United States cannot even get the P.A. to negotiate with Israel and yet fantasies of comprehensive peace are spread around by it. The mass media is cooperating in this theme, seeking to make Kerry look good at least.

Then there is the list of countries involved. I have no difficulty in believing that the governments of Bahrain, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia are ready for a deal. Jordan has already made peace; Saudi Arabia proposed a reasonable offer a decade ago a decade ago (before it was sharply revised by hardliners before becoming an official Arab League position), and Bahrain’s regime is desperately afraid of Iran and has become a semi-satellite of the Saudis.

But what about the other three countries? Are we to believe that the Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt, the Hizballah-dominated regime in Lebanon, and the quirky but pro-Hamas and pro-Muslim Brotherhood regime in Qatar have suddenly reversed everything that they have been saying in order to seek a compromise peace with Israel? Highly doubtful to say the least.

In other words, the reportage ignored the interesting detail about the three most radical regimes (Qatar’s regional policy is radical; not its domestic policies) suddenly making a concession to Israel that had been previously unthinkable? It’s sort of like taking for granted, say, Joseph Stalin’s supposed embrace of capitalism or France’s rulers proclaiming that American culture is far superior to their own.

And let’s also remember the radical forces not present. The Syrian rebels will be holding the Arab League seat are dominated by Islamists. Hamas itself, which governs the Gaza Strip, will refuse to abide by any such agreement. Remember that this group represents at least one-third of Palestinians and perhaps a plurality over Fatah, which governs the P.A. Tunisia’s Muslim Brotherhood-dominated leadership have even written into the country’s new constitution that it can never make peace with Israel!.

Finally, there is a curious lack of mention over the demand, enshrined in the previous “Arab Peace Initiative” about what is called the “right of return.” Namely, to satisfy P.A. demands Israel would have to accept the immigration of hundreds of thousands of passionately anti-Israel Palestinians who had lived in the country 60 years ago (or their descendants) and who have been fighting all that time to wipe Israel off the map.

How the Palestinians Tried to Scare Israeli Voters

Monday, January 28th, 2013

The Palestinian Authority either does not know what it wants from the Israelis or is too afraid to admit that it does not have a mandate to sign a peace treaty with Israel.

When left-wing parties and candidates were in power, the Palestinian Authority leadership missed several opportunities to reach a peace agreement with Israel.

This happened at least twice during the past 13 years — first, when then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak made a generous offer to Yasser Arafat at the Camp David summit and later when Ehud Olmert offered even more during his term in office.

So, the Palestinian Authority leadership first misses opportunities to reach agreements with left-wing and centrist parties. Then, when the right-wing comes to power, the Palestinian Authority starts complaining that there is no peace partner in Israel and calls on Israelis not to vote for Binyamin Netanyahu.

The Palestinian Authority’s constant refusal to sign a peace treaty with Israel has undermined the left-wing in Israel, driving many Israelis towards right-wing parties such as Likud Beiteinu and Bayit Yehudi.

It does not really matter who is in power in Israel: no Palestinian leader has a mandate to make any concessions to Israel, let alone sign a peace treaty.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas knows this very well and that is why he will keep coming up with excuses to avoid signing a peace treaty with Israel, regardless of who is in control of the Israeli government.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority has felt free all these years to meddle in the internal affairs of Israel.

In the past few weeks, the Palestinian Authority has, both directly and indirectly, urged Israelis not to vote for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and right-wing parties.

The Palestinian Authority’s argument has been along the lines of ‘a vote for Netanyahu is a vote against peace and the two-state solution.’

In a bid to scare the Israeli public, Palestinian officials invited journalists to Ramallah to send a warning message to Israeli voters.

“A vote for Netanyahu is a vote for war and racism,” warned Jibril Rajoub, a top Fatah official and former security commander of the Palestinian Authority.

But while Rajoub and other Palestinian officials and spokesmen were trying to scare Israelis not to vote for right-wing parties, the Palestinian Authority’s spokesmen were issuing statements emphasizing that Palestinians do not meddle in the internal affairs of Israel.

Mahmoud Abbas, who in private meetings has also expressed concern over the re-election of Netanyahu, publicly stated that the Palestinians would “honor” the choice of Israeli voters regardless of who heads the next government.

In yet another sign of Abbas’s effort to impact the outcome of the elections, he held a number of meetings in his office with representatives of various left-wing and Arab parties, including Meretz.

Even Hamas representatives have tried in the past few weeks to impact Israeli voters by talking about the “dangers” of the rise of right-wing parties to power in Israel.

But the Palestinians were not the only ones who had tried to scare Israeli voters.

On the eve of the vote, the Arab league, in an unprecedented move, issued a call to Arab citizens of Israel to “turn out in droves for the elections.”

Employing the same argument used by the Palestinians, the Arab League justified its call by claiming that there were “initial indications” that the right wing in Israel “does not want peace.”

In fact, Palestinian and Arab meddling in the internal affairs of Israel have played into the hands of Netanyahu and his political allies. When Israelis see and hear Palestinian and Arab officials calling on them not to vote for Netanyahu or a specific party, they are most likely inclined to do the exact opposite.

Finally, instead of meddling in the internal affairs of Israel, Mahmoud Abbas should be seeking ways of implementing major reforms in the Palestinian Authority and preparing his people for new elections.

But Abbas is afraid of holding new presidential and parliamentary elections because he knows very well that Hamas would easily win. Abbas has no choice but to return to the negotiating table with Israel, regardless of who heads the new government.

Originally published at the Gatestone Institute.

Rep: Arab League Will Support PA if Israel Halts Tax Payments

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

Top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat says Arab nations will pay the Palestinian Authority  $100 million a month if Israel stops monthly tax payments to the group in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza.

Erekat made the statements on Saturday in Doha, Qatar during a meeting of Arab League foreign ministers.

Despite the statement of support, the overwhelming majority of aid to the Palestinian Authority comes from the United States, the European Union, and other Western organizations and donors.  Only 22 percent of the payments received in 2010 to the PA came from Arab donors.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/rep-arab-league-will-support-pa-if-israel-halts-tax-payments/2012/06/03/

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