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October 20, 2014 / 26 Tishri, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘borders’

Israel and Palestinian Authority Resume Secret Talks

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

Israeli and Palestinian Authority negotiators met for a second round of hush-hush peace talks on Tuesday, reportedly in Jericho. The first round of talks was held last week in Jerusalem, and so far, both sides have more or less kept to a pledge of secrecy requested by  U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

The Israeli negotiators are Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and the prime minister’s representative, attorney Isaac Molcho. The Palestinian negotiators are Saeb Erekat and Dr. Mohammed Shtayyeh, a senior Fatah official.

While staying mum on the talks, Erekat has been trying his best to create the impression that the negotiations are only a ploy until the United States forces Israel to accept all of the Palestinian Authority conditions.

He told an Israeli Arab radio station Tuesday that the United States committed in writing that the Temporary Armistice Lines of 1949, which existed until the Six-Day War in 1967, will be the basis for a future Palestinian Authority country.

The Collapsing Crescent

Sunday, May 5th, 2013

In contrast to the desert that covers most of the Middle East, the Fertile Crescent has been an area that kingdoms thrived in since the dawn of history. The reason is simple: it was possible to maintain a reasonable and stable community life in this area because communities could establish an economy based on agriculture and raising herds of animals. The children of Israel in the Land of Israel, the Phoenicians in Lebanon, the Assyrians in Syria, the Sumerians, the Babylonians, and the Chaldeans in Iraq, all established kingdoms with a strong and effective central government, based on an agricultural society dwelling in permanent communities from which it was possible to collect taxes and enlist its sons into the ruler’s army. The desert, on the other hand, was not a place of kingdoms and regimes because its nomadic residents do not represent a civil and economic basis upon which it is possible to establish a permanent, central framework.

The modern era is a continuation, to a large extent, of the classic picture of the Fertile Crescent: Lebanon, Syria and Iraq were established as states that should have been frameworks for legitimate states with governmental systems based on a egalitarian and shared civil society, that would include the tribes and the many ethnic, religious, and sectarian groups that populate the area. The objective data of the area -plentiful precipitation, comfortable weather, flowing rivers and fertile ground – could have provided a comfortable life for the people of these states, if only they could have lived with each other in peace. The borders of the states were drawn by the colonial forces that ruled in the area, and these borders define their territories, the area of their sovereignty and the identity of their citizens. Protection of the borders is a prerequisite for the existence of every state in the world.

But in the past decade – and especially in the past two years – the borders of Lebanon, Syria and Iraq are continually being penetrated, undermined, dissolved, eroded and annulled. Those who are undermining the states are its neighboring states, organizations and individuals, who relate to borders of states as if there is no need to respect them. It is important to note that great sections of borders exist only on maps, while in reality, there is no fence, wall or any real barrier that would enable the state to protect its borders from invasion of evildoers and prevent their entry.

The efficacy of border protection is an effective indicator of a state’s overall condition: a state that protects its borders and prevents the entry of hostile elements is a state with the power to live and survive even if it is situated in an unfriendly environment. On the other hand, a state that does not succeed in protecting its borders from foreign and hostile elements  penetrating into its territory is a state in the process of deterioration that might end in its demise. The recent events in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon fully confirm this assumption.

Iraq

For the whole of the twentieth century there were factors that undermined Iraq’s borders, mainly Iran of the Shah: He supported the Kurds in the North of Iraq until 1975 and channeled weapons, equipment, fighters and money to them via the border. This undermined the integrity of Iraq, and ever since the Kurdish area was declared as a no-fly zone for the Iraqi air force in 1991, the Kurds of Iraq have lived almost totally independently. They have a parliament, government, political parties, an army, police, communications media, mass media and independent economic viability. From a practical point of view, the borders of Iraq do not include today the Kurdish area that was once the northern part of the state.

The border between Iraq and Iran has been wide open ever since the beginning of 2004, less than a year from the day when Iraq was occupied by the Western coalition led by President Bush. After the Iranians understood that the Americans did not want an additional front in Iran, they began to transfer weapons, ammunition, explosives, money and fighters into Iraq by way of the border in order to strengthen the Shi’ite militias to the detriment of the badly defeated Sunni militias, and so that the Shi’ites could successfully resist with the occupation armies and act against the influence of al Qaeda, which had established an organization called “The Islamic State of Iraq.”

Thousands of fighters from the United States and its allies were killed in Iraq with weapons and explosives that Iran smuggled into the Land of the Two Rivers. The border between Iraq and Saudi Arabia as well, served as a conduit for weapons, ammunition, money and jihadists for the Sunni organizations, chiefly al Qaeda. Only in recent years did Saudi Arabia set up  a fence on the length of its border with Iraq in order to prevent the Iraqi chaos from seeping into its territory, but the fence did not prevent Saudi Arabia from transferring anything that the Sunni Jihadists could think of, into Iraq.

Turkey never respected its border with Iraq, and its forces would often cross the border into Iraqi Kurdistan to attack the bases of the “Kurdish Workers Party” (PKK), which would send its fighters into Turkey.

Syria

The border of Iraq with Syria has served for more than ten years as a two-way membrane. Between the years 2004 and 2011 the porous border served as a passage for Hizballah fighters who crossed from Lebanon into Iraq by way of Syrian territory in order to support the Shi’ites. Since March of 2011 the border has served as a passage for Shi’ites from Iraq to support the regime in Syria, but Iraqi Sunnis also cross it freely with their weapons and explosive material in order to help their Syrian brothers in their struggle against the Assad regime and indirectly against Iran, which controls Iraq.

Since 2011, fighters, weapons and equipment have also been freely transferred by the tribes of northern Jordan to their brothers in the area of Hauran in southern Syria.  And until today almost a half million Syrian refugees have fled the Syrian inferno to Jordan.

The border between Syria and Lebanon has never been taken seriously on either side: smuggling of goods from Lebanon to Syria has provided livelihood for many thousands of Lebanese ever since the two states were established in the forties, and many Syrians have crossed the border illegally into Lebanon, fleeing the oppression of the regime, mainly since Hafez al Asad rose to power towards the end of 1970. Many Syrian workers have moved to Lebanon illegally via the porous borders, and in peak years the number has been estimated at a million.

Syria’s border with Turkey is not sealed either and many have crossed it unofficially over the years: Syrian and Turkish Kurds have always crossed it almost without restriction, just as the border between Iraq and Turkey has served as a passage for the Kurds on both sides. In the past two years Turkey has been sending to the Syrian rebels support and jihadists  who come from Saudi Arabia, from Qatar, from North Africa and from other areas, even from Europe.

Not in vain have the rebels against Assad captured the border crossings in the early phase of the rebellion, because having control of the border crossings makes it possible for them to bring into Syria people who support them in the fighting against the regime.

Lebanon

Hizballah has turned smuggling into an art form: in broad daylight as well as in darkness, in the paved streets as well as the dirt roads, at official as well as unofficial  border crossings from Syria to Lebanon, large amounts of missiles, light and heavy weapons and ammunition have been transferred from Iran, China and Russia, through Syria into Lebanon, and fighters from Hizballah have crossed by way of the Lebanese-Syrian border into Syria and Iran in order to train for their jihad against their Lebanese brothers as well as against Israel.

In the past two years Hizballah fighters have crossed with their weapons  and equipment into Syria via the breached border, in order to help Assad. In the beginning, Hizballah snipers shot demonstrators in the streets of Dara’a from the roofs, and afterwards the Hizballah people joined in the street fighting, primarily in the streets of Homs, Hama and Damascus. The “shaheeds” of Hizballah who were killed in Syria were usually smuggled into Lebanon via the open border and were buried temporarily and secretly in the Buqa’a valley, near the border, primarily to avoid media exposure. Lately, since Hizballah’s involvement in Syria has become common knowledge, the shaheeds are brought to their families for burial.

The only border of Lebanon that looks like one is the coastline, but by any effective test this border does not exist: On the breached shores of Lebanon are tens of unofficial mooring places that have served for many years in the smuggling of goods – primarily automobiles – that are stolen in Europe to Lebanon, and are transferred by agents to the Lebanese market and other Arab states. Since 2011 these moorings, along with the port of Triploli, have served the Sunnis, as a transfer point for the smuggling of weapons and ammunition to the rebels in Syria. These weapons come mainly from Libya, from two sources: Qadhaffi’s military storehouses and surplus European and American weapons that Qatar sent to the anti-Qadhaffi rebels in 2011. On the other hand, Alawites who live in Lebanon – chiefly in the  Jabal Mohsen quarter of Tripoli – cross the border between Lebanon and Syria illegally in order to support Assad.

The conclusions that can be drawn from all of the above is that the borders of the Arab states in the Fertile Crescent – Iraq, Syria and Lebanon – are increasingly losing their effectiveness, and that this phenomenon has been increasing in the past two years, since some of the Arab regimes have been under attack, but this time from within. When the borders of a state are breached, its existence as a state is undermined, and the more violated its borders become, the more its existence and its meaning are threatened.

The architecture of the fertile crescent that was bequeathed by colonialism is changing before our eyes: Iraq is breaking up, Syria is crumbling and Lebanon for some time has lost the pluralistic character that its constitution was supposed to ensure.

On the ruins of these countries new bodies arise with many and varied agendas. Some have an Islamist slant, and see the modern states as illegitimate creations that were born in the basements of colonialism, and therefore must be totally done away with. Some have a local slant – ethnic or tribal – and they are interested in establishing new frameworks based on the demographic data that colonialism tended to ignore completely.

In recent months, the battles in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon have taken on an old-new hue that these states – as long as they were effective states – had relegated or marginalized, which is the religious hue, and the historical conflict between the Sunni and the Shi’a floats on the surface and becomes the name of the game, or – preferably – the name of the conflict. In Iraq, the Shi’ite government bombs the Sunni citizens using fighter jets. In Syria, the regime of Alawites, a sect that broke off from the Shi’ites and are supported by Shi’ites, bombs its Sunni citizens with jets and even uses chemical weapons against them. In Lebanon the Shi’ite group threatens to take over the whole state, and because of this threat, the state conducts itself in such a way that no one is willing to gamble on its democratic future.

The struggles along the fertile crescent have become dirty, filthy and bloody, while all of the traditional limitations increasingly collapse and man becomes an unbridled predator. The forces of the governments are not righteous, and the forces of the rebels are not pious. Both of them murder, maim, rape and cruelly violate the rights of many victims, most of whom are not involved in active fighting.

In comparison: Israel’s borders serve as an almost absolute seal against foreign invaders, with various and sundry intentions. The border with Egypt has been closed off and the number of infiltrators has become negligible. The border with Jordan is well protected by right of the joint interest of the two states. The border with Syria in the Golan Heights survives, despite the chaos in Syria, the border with Lebanon holds firm by right of Israel’s deterrence versus Hizballah, and if it weren’t for the drug smugglers, this border would be hermetically sealed. The coastal border also is protected effectively by the Israeli Navy, and only the border with the Gaza Strip serves as a point of tension because of the jihadists that have taken over the Strip.

In comparison with her neighbors, the State of Israel is an island of stability and normal life, and the borders of the state testify to this clearly and accurately. The situation in our days gives an interesting meaning to the passage from the poem in the weekly Torah portion “ha’azinu” (“listen”): “When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when He separated the sons of Adam, He set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel.” (Deuteronomy 32:8).

Originally published at Israel and Terrorism. Translated from Hebrew by Sally Zahav.

Watch: Enemy Drone Shot Down Over Israel

Saturday, October 6th, 2012

On Saturday at 10 AM, the IDF control systems identified a penetration by an unmanned aircraft from the Mediterranean, entering over Gaza, into the south of Israel.

The drone was under continuous surveillance from the air and the ground upon entering Israeli airspace, including an escort from IAF fighter jets, as it traveled some 100 kilometers over Israel.

The drone was shot down by an F-16 (“Sufa”) with an anti-aircraft missile, in the area of Yatir forest in the northern Negev (the south Mount Hebron area), in order to prevent damage to populated areas.

IDF forces are collecting fragments of the aircraft to try to identify with certainty its origin and mission.

It is now believed that the drone was launched from Lebanon and traveled south until it turned into Israel. That could mean it was controlled by Hezbollah or Iran.

IDF Spokesperson Yoav Mordechai said the drone was being tracked the entire time it was over Israel.

 

 

Prime Minister Netanyahu praised the IDF’s actions and said, “We will continue to defend our borders at sea, on land and in the air to secure Israel’s citizens.”

MK Miri Regev (Likud) wrote on her Facebook page that the drone was an Iranian drone launched by Hezbollah.

MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) is saying the traversal of the drone over Israeli airspace for nearly a half hour was a significant security failure.

 

The Hypocrisy of Turkey’s Response to Syria

Friday, October 5th, 2012

Army Radio reported on the 9 pm news this evening (Thursday) that a Qassam rocket was fired by unknown parties in the Gaza Strip and crashed and exploded in open fields in southern Israel’s Hof Ashkelon region. Additional details pertaining to the location of the crash are customarily held back by Israeli news editors to avoid giving any usable feedback to the terror groups who do the firing.

As far as we know, there are no injuries and no serious damage since the Qassam appears to have landed in open fields. These weapons do not lend themselves to being carefully aimed, but that suits the terrorists. They don’t really care what gets hit. That’s why we call them terrorists.

Now changing subjects entirely

*After Syrian attack, Turkey OKs foreign troop deployment | CNN

Turkey authorises military action against Syria | AFP

Turkey retaliates after deadly shelling from Syria | Fox News

Turkey authorizes military action in Syria after mortar attack that killed civilians | Washington Post

Turkey Retaliates Against Syria: How It May Give Rebel Soldiers Cover to Expand | TIME Magazine

Pretty much everyone seems to understand why the Turkish government, faced with a mortar attack on innocent Turkish civilians living their lives on Turkish territory just across the border from the chaos of northern Syria and its endless fighting, would want to strike back. The U.S. State Department said earlier today that it “considered Turkey’s response to Syrian mortar fire this week to be appropriate, proportionate and designed to deter any future violations of its sovereignty by Syria”.

Al Arabiya quotes Turkish prime minister Tayyip Erdogan saying today that his country “is a state capable of defending its citizens and borders. Nobody should try and test our determination on this subject”.

Russia’s RT news service quotes him saying:

Our armed forces in the border region immediately retaliated against this heinous attack… by shelling the targets spotted by radar… Turkey will never leave unanswered such kinds of provocation by the Syrian regime against our national security.

Erdogan is reported to be especially irritated that the Syrians have not apologized.

Restrained, bordering almost on the noble. Sorely provoked by uncivilized behavior of violent neighbors with a low value for human life, Turkey’s leader says we need to give them some serious smacks so they will say sorry and behave themselves in the future.

Now here’s our point.

Since Israel unilaterally handed control of the Gaza Strip in 2005 to the Palestinian Arabs living there, and ultimately to Hamas who violently muscled their way to political control of Gaza in 2007, more than 8,000 rockets have been fired from Gaza at Israeli targets.

This same Mr Erdogan, who reserves to himself the right to defend his citizens and his borders and warns malefactors that they should not even dream of testing his country’s determination, has expressed himself quite differently when it was Israel that took defensive measures in the face of lethal terrorist behavior that goes on and on.

Think back to how the Turk spoke at the Davos Conference in Switzerland in January 2009. To the astonishment and embarrassment of the assembled heads of state and distinguished participants, he stormed off the stage at the World Economic Forum “red-faced from verbally sparring with President Shimon Peres over the recent fighting in Gaza” [source] [video]. Erdogan had “strongly criticized Israel’s Gaza offensive“, according to the NY Times.

Red-faced, and with one hand grasping the arm of the moderator, the columnist David Ignatius of The Washington Post, Mr. Erdogan turned to the Israeli president. “Mr. Peres, you are older than me,” he said. “Your voice comes out in a very loud tone. And the loudness of your voice has to do with a guilty conscience… When it comes to killing, you know well how to kill.” [New York Times report].

Amr Moussa, a former Egyptian foreign minister and at the time the secretary general of the Arab League, said [source] Erdogan’s action was understandable. “Mr. Erdogan said what he wanted to say and then he left. That’s all. He was right.” Of Israel, he said, “They don’t listen.”

Amr Mousa was wrong. We Israelis do listen and we recognize rank hypocrisy when we see and hear it.

Visit This Ongoing War.

Hizbullah Recruits Israeli-Arab Terror Cells

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

JERUSALEM – A new phase in the covert war between Israel and Iran’s proxy Hizbullah militia is taking place within the borders of the Jewish state, as Hizbullah has recruited scores of Palestinians and Israeli Arabs for missions ranging from arson to suicide bombings.

Israel Police and Fire Department officials acknowledged to the Israel Hayom newspaper that a series of serious forest fires at the entrance to Jerusalem and the Carmel/metro Haifa region during the past few weeks had been set by small teams of arsonists intent on destroying the country’s nature reserves and stretching the resources of Israel’s firefighting capabilities.

“I’m convinced that several of the fires that have broken out in our area are the result of nationalistic motives,” said the commander of the Haifa Fire Department.

Last week, Israel Police and Shin Bet agents exposed a burgeoning Israeli Arab terror network operating in Nazareth and Ghajar (a village along the Israel-Lebanon border) responsible for smuggling both drugs and sophisticated bomb devices from Lebanon into Israel at the behest of Hizbullah agents.

“These aren’t the small devices we’ve seen in the past to blow up buses,” said an Israel Police official. “These bombs have enough power to actually bring down a whole building.”

While law enforcement authorities were successful in discovering the terrorist smuggling ring, they’ve been unsuccessful in finding out where and to whom the bombs were to be delivered.

Police intelligence sources believe a number of Hizbullah “sleeper” suicide bombers will launch attacks on Israel’s civilian population in the event of an Israeli military strike on Iranian nuclear sites or Hizbullah missile bases.

Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah has boasted that his forces would capture an Israeli village as part of an overall plan to “liberate the Galilee.” Israeli security officials believe Hizbullah may be able to invade and temporarily hold a community along the Lebanese-Israeli border with the assistance of enemy agents operating inside Israel’s borders.

Ivory Coast Head Wants Illegals Back, But Challenges the Numbers

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara said he intends to bring home Ivorian citizens who are living illegally in Israel, EJP reports.

Ouattara, who is on a state visit to Israel this week, met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and with Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin, and discussed on both occasions illegal immigration from Africa.

Netanyahu’s office released a statement saying, “Ivory Coast President Ouattara expressed agreement that Israel should repatriate Ivory Coast nationals who arrived here without permits.”

But following talks with Rivlin, Ouattara was unsure about Israel’s estimate of the number of his brethren (2,000) living illegally within its borders.

“We are not sure that this number is accurate,” Ouattara reportedly said, as it was becoming clear that he had not expected the number to be this high.

“We shall examine the list and return our citizens to their country and to their homeland in full cooperation with Israel,” he said.

“We know very well about the migration problem as a state which both absorbs refugees and from which 250,000 refugees fled during the grave political crisis,” Ouattara told Rivlin.

A civil war swept Ivory Coast after the presidential election in 2010.

“So far we have managed to reduce the number of (our) refugees around the world to around 60,000 and we hope that they will return to Ivory Coast in the coming months,” he said.

“To me, it’s quite humiliating to see African citizens trying to reach another country at almost any price. It’s terrible to see African youth trying to cross the sea and drowning on the way to Europe.”

While on a state visit, Ouattara is also a guest at the Presidential Conference Facing Tomorrow, which opened in Jerusalem on Tuesday. He was the keynote speaker at Wednesday’s plenary session on the world economy.

‘U.S. Should Recognize Jerusalem As Israel’s Capital’: An Interview with Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

New York State Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn) is a candidate in New York’s 8th Congressional District in the June 26 Democratic primary.

In general, should the U.S. “tilt” towards Israel in disputes with its neighbors? What is the basis for your position?

Israel’s status as our most robust ally in the world, and the important Middle

Eastern region, is grounded in over 60 years of shared struggle and mutual interest. Our presumptive and strongly supportive posture toward Israel in its disputes with its neighbors should remain an important part of American foreign policy.

Is Israel treated fairly in the UN and its affiliated agencies? Generally, Should the United States support Israel when it is attacked in the UN and other international organizations?

I agree with the current U.S. diplomatic position to support Israel in the United Nations and other international forums. Israel has been subjected to unfair attacks in the UN and I strongly support efforts by the United States to continue to come to Israel’s defense within that body. The United States should continue to exercise its veto in the UN Security Council whenever doing so would protect the safety and security of Israel.

Do you believe, as does President Obama, that the 1967 borders, with “swaps,” should be the starting point for negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians on final borders? Why?

A consistent United States position that both sides must make compromises with which they are uncomfortable in order to bring about a meaningful and lasting peace is appropriate. However, the Administration must also make sure to balance its position regarding the starting points for negotiations with realities of Israel’s security situation and the tough neighborhood in which it resides. The discussion concerning borders must be addressed in concert with other matters related to Israel’s relations with its neighbors and the Palestinians. With the turmoil in Syria being just the most recent of the unstable situations in the region, the safety of the Israeli people must be paramount in determining the starting point for any negotiations.

Hakeem Jeffries looking at rockets fired on Sderot, Israel.

For these reasons, I disagree with the use of the 1967 borders as a rigid starting point for negotiations.

Should Israel commit, in advance of negotiations, to the release of Palestinians whom it has jailed for violence committed against Israelis?

First, it is essential that Palestinian authorities recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, a fact that the United Nations formally acknowledged in 1948 and the United States has reaffirmed on many occasions. Indeed, good faith negotiations can only occur if each party recognizes the other’s legitimacy and right to exist.

The release of prisoners is a matter best reserved for negotiations rather than serving as a precondition to starting those negotiations.

Should American policy favor Israel’s retaining the major Jewish population centers in settlements in the West Bank? Why?

Yes. Any dismantling of what in many cases have essentially become small cities is neither practical nor desirable.

Do you believe American policy should be to support Israel retaining all of Jerusalem as its undivided capital? Why?

I believe that American policy should recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

However, we should also help bring about a resolution that deeply respects the ethnic, religious and geographic divisions that have existed for thousands of years within a city that is so holy to adherents of three different religions. Do you believe that parochial school students and their parents are entitled to the same assistance for the secular portion of their education as public school students and their parents?

Secular education in parochial schools can be supported through the creative use of tax code, as stated below.

What is your position on tuition vouchers generally? Tuition Tax credits?

I strongly support the use of tuition tax credits to help ease a significant financial burden on parents who choose a religious education as most appropriate for their children. As a lifetime member of the Cornerstone Baptist Church, the importance of a religious education is something that I understand based on deep, personal experience. The Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment as consistently interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court should permit use of the tax code in the area of religious education.

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