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November 26, 2015 / 14 Kislev, 5776
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Camp David’

Yet Another Enemy of Israel Poised to Join US Foreign Policy Team

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

For people who pay close attention to what is happening in the world of U.S. government diplomacy and the players not just on the field, but those on deck, Robert Malley is a name that rings a bell.  For those who care deeply about the security of Israel, the bell that is rung has an ominous, if familiar, tone.

Rumors have been circulating for about a week that Robert Malley will soon be named by Secretary of State John Kerry for a senior advisory role with a portfolio that focuses either on Syria or on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

According to various sources Malley is “under serious consideration” or the decision to appoint him is already “a done deal,” according to the Washington Free Beacon.

So what’s wrong with Malley?  He couldn’t possibly be as bad as Samantha Power, or John Kerry or Chuck Hagel, could he?

Well, that depends who you ask.

Robert Malley is so offensive, he was actually kicked off (despite the lipstick smear called “resignation”) the Obama election committee in 2008 for meeting with the terrorist organization Hamas, although he had been one of Obama’s closest advisors for Middle East issues until his affinity for Hamas became public.

Malley is a Harvard-trained lawyer who currently works at the George Soros-affiliated International Crisis Group.  There are those Israel supporters who see Malley as an international crisis all on his own – his father, Simon Malley, was a virulently anti-Israel member of the Egyptian Communist Party and a close confidante of Yassir Arafat.  (Malley’s mother, who raised him, is named Barbara Silverstein – we’re not going there.)

Robert Malley blamed Israel for the failure of the Camp David Peace Talks in an op-ed in the New York Times.  As Ed Lasky pointed out in an on-point article  in 2008, Malley’s recollections of what went wrong at Camp David was in direct contrast to every other major player present, including President Bill Clinton and Clinton’s Middle East Envoy, Dennis Ross.

In another op-ed from the same era, Malley revealed his strong support for the Syrian regime, and scoffed at the idea that Assad should be treated as a pariah.

This past fall Malley explained why he believes it is not only likely, but essential for Hamas and Fatah to unite.

 I think at this point it’s inconceivable that Fatah will eliminate Hamas, and I can’t see that Hamas is going to eliminate Fatah, so the only solution if what you want — if what people want — is to see a meaningful negotiation between an empowered Israeli government, a representative Israeli government, and an empowered and representative Palestinian national movement, the only way to do that is for Palestinian ranks to unify.

And as Adam Kredo at the Washington Free Beacon pointed out, Malley even criticized U.S. President Barack Obama for taking off the table the concept of containing a nuclear Iran – in other words, allowing Iran to obtain nuclear weapons, and then asking the Islamic regime to pretty please not use them was a reasonable position Malley resented Obama’s failure to consider.

So, will Malley be the worst person in the U.S. administration with a foreign policy portfolio that could have a significant impact on Israel?  Maybe not the worst, but as an addition to a group which already have raised serious concerns, if Malley is selected by Kerry it is certain to make things even worse.



Cairo Court Dismisses Case To Annul Camp David

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

The Cairo Administrative Court on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit filed against Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, calling for the annulment of the 1978 Camp David peace accords between Egypt and Israel.

The petitioners argued that limitations on the amount of Egyptian forces which can be present in the Sinai set by the treaty are a threat to Egyptian national sovereignty because of increasing numbers of terror groups in the area.

The court rejected the case as outside its jurisdiction, leaving issues of national sovereignty to the president and his executive branch.

Since the overthrow of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and the election of Morsi, calls have increased within Egypt to cancel the peace treaty with Israel.  One of the most vocal of these advocates is Morsi’s advisor, political analyst Mohammed Esmet Seif Dawla.

Dawla argued that not only is the threat to Egypt from the terror groups great, but that Israel may one day attempt to retake Sinai itself.

New Egyptian President: ‘We Will Revise the Camp David Treaty’

Monday, June 25th, 2012

In an interview with the semi-official Iranian news outlet Fars, Egypt’s new President Mohammed Morsi spoke of his intention to “revise the Camp David treaty” and “restore normal relations with Iran.”

“Our policy towards Israel will be a policy based on equality since we are not weaker than them in any field and we will discuss the issue of the Palestinians’ rights with the related sides since this is highly important,” Morsi said.

“We will revise the Camp David treaty,” he continued, and insisted that such matters would be implemented with the consensus of the various government organs. This statement seems to contrasts with comments he made only hours later in his televised victory speech, where he offered  a vague assurance that he would “preserve international accords and obligations.”

The interview, which took place a few hours before the official announcement of his victory, was published on Monday.

Turning to the region, Morsi said he sought to establish relations “with all countries of the region to revive Egypt’s identity in the region through economic cooperation among the Arab countries…and beside that, supporting the Palestinian nation in its legitimate campaign for materializing its rights.”

Morsi added that “[w]e must restore normal relations with Iran based on shared interests, and expand areas of political coordination and economic cooperation because this will create a balance of pressure in the region.” He also quashed rumors that he planned on visiting Saudi Arabia – Iran’s nemesis in the Gulf region – for his inaugural foreign trip.

Morsi’s comments will likely stoke Western fears that an Islamist-led Egypt may further destabilize a region already in turmoil, and impede continuing attempts to isolate Iran over its nuclear program.

UPDATE: Secretary-General of Muslim Brotherhood Party Appointed Speaker of Parliament

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

In the aftermath of the resounding Islamist victory in Egypt’s parliamentary election, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Saad el-Katatni was voted as the new parliament’s speaker.

Katatni was quoted recently saying: “A long time has passed since the Camp David accord was signed and like the other agreements it needs reevaluation and this is in the hands of the Parliament.”

The Freedom and Justice Party, the Brotherhood’s political party, won close to 50% of the seats in the recent parliamentary elections.

Malley’s Disciples

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

Recent news reports identifying Robert Malley as one of Barack Obama’s foreign policy advisers took the Monitor back a few years, to the summer of 2001 when the previously obscure Malley was suddenly popping up all over the place, castigating Israel for the collapse of the Camp David talks in 2000.

In early July of that year, The New York Times ran an op-ed piece by Malley, who had served as a special assistant for Arab-Israeli affairs to President Clinton, that took issue with those who presumed to blame Yasir Arafat for the failure of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations at Camp David and, later, Taba. (One of those blaming Arafat happened to be Malley’s own former boss, Bill Clinton.)

The following month, the liberal-left New York Review of Books featured a lengthy essay on the same theme by Malley and Palestinian academic/activist Hussein Agha.

(In a prime example of left-wing networking, London’s virulently anti-Israel Guardian carried a brief adaptation of the Malley-Agha essay, and Americans for Peace Now immediately gave it prominent placement on its website.)

Jumping aboard the Malley Express that summer was Deborah Sontag, who’d already demonstrated time and again throughout her regrettable stint as New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief that she was nothing if not an absolute sieve through which flowed any pro-Palestinian argument or viewpoint.

In an extraordinarily long July 26 article (which began on the Times’s front page and sprawled across two inside pages) Sontag, basing much of her account on Malley’s assertions, attempted to refute the (in her words) “simplistic narrative” that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s generous offers at Camp David had been rewarded with Palestinian intransigence and hostility.

(That the Times chose to devote the sheer amount of space it did to Sontag’s seemingly endless editorializing disguised as reportage should have been enough to silence the few who still harbored doubts about the newspaper’s political agenda.)

Reaction to the Sontag piece was quick in coming, starting with the obligatory letters to the editor from pro-Palestinian Arabs, pro-Israel Jews, and self-hating Israelis and Jews (an over-used term to be sure, but how else to describe individuals who argue their enemies’ case better and with more passion than the enemies themselves?).

Detailed criticism of Sontag’s article also appeared on the Web and in various magazines and newspapers. One of the best was a withering analysis in The New Republic by Robert Satloff who opened on a sardonic note:

“Imagine The New York Times covering the sinking of the Titanic with only a passing reference to the iceberg. Absurd? Not really. On July 26 the nation’s newspaper of record devoted 5,681 words to a retrospective by Jerusalem bureau chief Deborah Sontag titled ‘Quest for Mideast Peace: How and Why It Failed’ and mentioned the word ‘intifada’ just once.”

In Sontag’s view, wrote Satloff, “the failure of the peace process was due to bad chemistry (Barak chatting up Chelsea Clinton instead of Arafat at Camp David) and bad timing (Bill Clinton waiting too long to offer his own peace plan). In her telling, the Palestinian uprising is just part of the background landscape. But it is not just part of the background landscape. The uprising so transformed the Israeli-Palestinian political context that by the time the two sides were, in Sontag’s telling, agonizingly close, it no longer mattered …. But to discuss the intifada, its roots, and its impact would complicate Sontag’s tale of imminent peace gone awry, so she sets it aside…”

Satloff characterized Sontag’s article as the product of “lazy reporting, errors of omission, questionable shading, and an indifference to the basic fact that the Palestinian decision to wed diplomacy with violence, not American and Israeli miscues, damned the search for peace.”

This was hardly a surprise to regular readers of Sontag’s tendentious dispatches, just as it was no shock when the Israel-based journalist Judy Lash Balint reported earlier that year that at a special taping of Ted Koppel’s “Nightline” in Jerusalem, “several smartly dressed, attractive, young English-speaking Arabs made sure they saved a chair for New York Times bureau chief Deborah Sontag. When Sontag arrived, she was greeted with kisses by one of the young women in the group.”

Sontag’s massive piece of Malley-fueled revisionism was essentially her swan song as the Times’s Jerusalem bureau chief. She’s been writing for The New York Times Magazine since her return to the U.S. For his part, Malley has continued writing opinion pieces from a decidedly pro-Palestinian perspective and now, apparently, has the ear of the Democratic Party’s front-running presidential hopeful.

Flashback: Blaming Israel For The Intifada

Wednesday, September 26th, 2007

There are times, admittedly few and far between, when the Monitor is rendered speechless. Such a time came seven years ago this week, with the outbreak of the second Palestinian intifada.

Though the violence initially was blamed on the September 28, 2000, visit to the Temple Mount by then-Likud leader Ariel Sharon and a large security entourage, Palestinian leaders would later admit that planning for the outbreak had in fact begun in July, after Yasir Arafat stormed out of Bill Clinton’s Camp David confab.

The sight of Palestinian mobs pillaging and killing, in a bloodthirsty frenzy reminiscent of the Arab riots of the 1920’s and 30’s, was still not enough to cure certain Jews of their chronic need to interpret events through the eyes of their enemies.

On the occasion of the seventh anniversary of the death of the Oslo peace sham, this week’s soapbox is yielded to those whose stomach-turning bleating in the weeks immediately following the launch of Intifada II should have been a death blow to the illusion of Jewish intellectual superiority. The Palestinians should only be this stunningly stupid – not to mention breathtakingly craven:

● Obviously, the fuse [for the Palestinian uprising] was lit by the notorious Ariel Sharon … a man whose entire military and political career consisted of fighting Palestinians and killing them…. It is a tragic feature of what is going on now that at Camp David, Barak in principle agreed to give up many of the positions which are at present being ferociously fought over…. He agreed to give them up – but only at a stiff price of Palestinian [concessions], some of them very unpalatable and others completely unacceptable to the Palestinian side. Will he now soften those positions, at least to some degree? Having gone so far already at Camp David, can he not simply get out of the occupied territories? – Israeli “peace activists” Adam Keller and Beate Zilversmidt.● It is not the acceptable thing to say, but this truth must be stated: Only through force have the Arabs achieved what they have achieved, throughout the Arab-Israeli conflict, and certainly in the last 30 years. From Yom Kippur of 5734 (1973) to Rosh Hashana of 5761 (2000), not only has violence paid off for the Arabs, but we have also shown them that violence is the only way open to them…. It certainly cannot be said that [Israeli Arabs] did not first try nonviolent means. Twenty-five years of exemplary, almost exaggerated loyalty … to the state whose wars are not their wars, whose national anthem is not their anthem, whose language is not their language, whose holidays are not their holidays – and for all this [Israel] treats them the way it does. – Gideon Levy, columnist, Haaretz.

● The massacre of Palestinians in recent days will be with us for many years…. The IDF did not defend Israel. Israel was not in danger…. It is permissible to kill a child in the arms of his father and to afterward deny that killing “because he had no reason to be there.” It is permissible to shoot rockets at demonstrators…. It is permissible to use violence to make others surrender. And as usual, in summing up the entire event, human life is important only when the human is not Arab. – Yitzhak Laor, columnist, Haaretz.

● Those [in Israel] who declare that there is no partner for peace are in effect proclaiming that they are in the middle of a war…. And that is how a few hundred Palestinians armed with MK-17 assault rifles have led a strong nation – one with a nuclear option and a powerful army – to adopt the mood that it is now waging a “war of survival.” In the meantime, the leaders of this strong nation are fueling the paranoia… – Meron Benvinisti, columnist, Haaretz.

● Israelis should atone for their inability to see themselves as the major military power of the region and for their constant use of disproportionate force to repress an essentially unarmed population. Israelis should atone for not being able to recognize as the superior force with the greater responsibility to compromise and respect the needs of the less powerful. – Michael Lerner, Tikkun magazine.

● The horrible deaths of the two Israeli soldiers in Ramallah should serve as a lesson to Israel that the violence it has shown to the Palestinians and Arab Israelis in the past only serves to further the Middle East conflict…. In the wake of the recent clashes, Israel needs to re-evaluate its policy toward the Arabs. Prime Minister Ehud Barak should not react with further violence….
– Goldie Fleischman, Baltimore (letter to The New York Times, Oct. 14, 2000).

Second Thoughts? An Interview With Shlomo Ben Ami

Friday, December 12th, 2003

Shlomo Ben Ami was Israel’s foreign minister under Ehud Barak and served as the lead Israeli negotiator at the Camp David summit in 2000.

Klein: At Camp David, you presented the Palestinians with most of what they said they wanted. Instead of responding with a counter proposal, Arafat turned you down and started the intifada. How have your views about Arafat changed since negotiating with him at Camp David?

Ben Ami: At Camp David, I thought Arafat was capable of leading his people in a compromise with Israel. It was the essence of the Oslo accords. I mean, he was brought into the territories because Israel believed it could make peace with Arafat.

After Camp David, I came to the conclusion that the man is incapable of making a decision because he simply doesn’t recognize the right of the Jewish state to live in peace in the Middle East. I think he is a major tragedy for the Palestinian people. He is incapable of producing the transition from a revolutionary leader with a keffiyah and a gun to a statesman. That’s the problem.

Initially, you told reporters the aim of the intifada was to internationalize the conflict so Arafat could be offered a better deal brokered in the international arena instead of by the U.S., which Arafat viewed as biased toward Israel. Is this still what you think his strategy is?

Yes, yes absolutely, that is the strategy. You see, Arafat believes there is hardly any room for negotiations because a peace agreement needs to be predicated on what he calls international legitimacy, which according to Arafat is all the resolutions that were passed by the UN Security Council while Israel was internationally isolated. He says they need to be implemented. That is it. And he would not even discard Resolution 181, [the 1947 Partition resolution which called for the split of British-ruled Palestine into Jewish and Arab states]. Israel cannot go into this trap, it is beyond any reasonable possibility.

And Arafat continues not to trust that America is an honest broker. This past American president did more for the Palestinian cause than any other statesman in the world. I mean, [French President Jacques] Chirac can speak until eternity, but he will not compare to what Clinton did for the Palestinians.

If you knew then what you know now, that Arafat is not a peace partner, how would you have handled things differently?

Well, you know the benefit of hindsight is that you see things in perspective. You see there were people in the military intelligence that said then what we know now about Arafat. So the papers about the personality of Arafat are more or less what is my position today. We are not surprised that this is the profile of Arafat.

But what alternative did we have? You always believe when you go to negotiate, whatever it is for, that your counterpart is incapable of taking a position. But you believe that perhaps, perhaps there is a ray of hope, that at the last moment the leader will emerge. What people tell you about the interlocutor is important, but it can?t be an obstacle for going and trying to reach an agreement.

Before Menachem Begin went to Camp David, if [Egyptian President Anwar] Sadat would have opened a file about Begin in military intelligence, he would have said “I am not going to talk with this guy. He is not flexible, he is an ideologue.” And by the way, on his way to Camp David, Begin made a pompous declaration that he is planning to buy land in Sinai and build his own house! This should have discouraged Sadat from going there. But in the moment of truth, the leader in Begin emerged. So this is always the hope.

Are you comparing Begin to Arafat? Isn’t there a difference between the prime minister of Israel and a dictator involved in terrorism, who preaches murder of Israelis and violates Palestinian human rights?


You were talking about military intelligence. Do you think Camp David was an intelligence failure? That Israel, with its enormous intelligence capabilities, failed to predict that Arafat would turn down your offer and instead initiate a war? Or maybe you were presented with this data, but decided to ignore it?

Well, if it was a failure, we are in good company – we share it with the United States. Because Camp David was orchestrated by America. By Clinton. But I don’t see it that way. One day we will have some sort of agreement with the Palestinians; this cannot go on forever. And then, the journalists of the next generation, a younger guy like yourself, will see Camp David in the proper perspective. As a visible step toward maturity.

Things were perhaps not ripe at the time. And now after a series of errors – the whole course is trial and error – maybe we paid the price so that future generations of peacemakers will learn from our mistakes and problems, our incapacity to win the battle back then.

Do you, and does Barak, take responsibility for your part in the ‘mistake’?

Barak never takes responsibility for his part in anything. [Laughing.] Barak is the perfect politician, he never takes responsibility. But I really don’t think here there is a question of responsibility at all. You see, why did we go to Camp David? Because we had signed seven years earlier the Oslo Accords. According to the Oslo accords, five years after the signature in 1993, we should have [been] ready to find a deal. So we were forced by international commitments. I mean, we didn’t have much of a choice. We needed to try the possibility of having an agreement. So we said let us put on the table written proposals and see if we can develop a dynamic of give and take, and maybe we can reach an agreement.

There have been a lot of rumors lately that Arafat had a series of heart attacks. That he is dying. Do you have any inside information about this?

Well, not really. I have seen him dozens of times and he was always like that. You know, trembling and a sense of weakness. Part of it is acting, by the way. If Arafat should ever have received a prize, it should have been not a Nobel but an Oscar. He plays with his weak English intentionally. He tries to dodge his interlocutor in all kinds of ways. So some of it is pretending.

But otherwise, he is not the healthiest of people. He has a slight form of Parkinson’s, and presumably, he overcame it. Listen, he has been secluded for two years in conditions that are not easy. He is a tough guy, you should not underestimate him. So the conditions probably have contributed to his weakness.

Let’s say he dies tomorrow. How would that affect the Middle East, and how would that affect Israel?

Well, if he dies from natural reasons, that’s one thing. If it becomes clear that Israel had a hand in his death, this will make him into a martyr. These are two things. I think given that he is being held under difficult conditions by Israel, my fear is that even if he passes for natural reasons, it will be perceived as because of the conditions and he will become a sort of martyr. I am afraid this will unleash an outburst of violent demonstrations. Israel would have it very, very tough.

Would his death a leadership vacuum? Are you afraid that maybe Hamas would take over?

Absolutely, absolutely. I think you can see the possibility of a transition period of turmoil. Because there is no mechanism of succession. You have all kinds of warlords. There is a difference between Gaza and the West Bank, and of course Hamas could fill the vacuum.

Sharon seems to have ruled out killing Arafat, or sending him into exile, but do you think he should be arrested and tried? No. Of course not. I don’t think it would be productive. I really don?t understand why the idea of getting rid of Arafat crossed Sharon’s mind. It seems to me Arafat is his best card. I mean, the reason Sharon has such popularity is because he maintains the cause of Arafat.

Let’s say you were in charge of handpicking the new Palestinian leader, is there anyone you particularly trust?

There are some good people around. Abu Mazen is a very good man, but he is no leader. I predicted his downfall from the very beginning. Abu Ala is a political animal, but with no charisma and with no personal political power base. [Former Gaza security chief Mohammed] Dahlan has both charisma and a power base, and a sort of coalition with the younger leaders, those who didn?t come from Tunis. I think those who came from Tunis were the disaster of the Palestinian cause. And the leaders from the next generation are those who can be trusted.

Let’s say one day there’s a Palestinian leadership that actually wants peace with Israel. What kind of agreement do you foresee?

Well, I think it would be based on the Clinton perimeters – it’s more or less the 1967 borders with modifications created by the parties. Those perimeters, you should know, were not the Southern wind of a lame-duck president. I mean the man did not just invent the ideas. The perimeters of Clinton were at the point of equilibrium between the positions of the parties as they stood at that particular time. So he was acting as an honest broker. And I believe the Clinton perimeters can liberate.

When you were at Camp David, was it your intention that the Israeli offers – which included East Jerusalem – were to be binding to future Israeli governments, that they should be used as the starting point for future negotiations, or was it a one-time deal?

Proposals are not meant to be binding unless they are signed. But there is a collective memory, and you cannot go back to things from scratch, there is no way to start from zero.

What are your views about the fence Israel is building?

The fence is the result, in a way, of a sense of despair. Everything else was tried to stem this avalanche of terrorism into Israel proper. Are you aware that we never had suicide terrorists coming from Gaza because we have a fence there? And that fence is elementary, not like the sophisticated one they are building in the West Bank.

So after we have tried just about everything to stop suicide terrorism, Sharon came to the idea of the fence, which by the way is not his idea, it’s an idea of the left, not the right. To the right the fence is a political defeat, because to them there is no difference between the state of Israel and the land of Israel – Judea and Samaria.

The idea to build a fence says we can’t control all of Israel….So it is as a last resort that Sharon came to this conclusion to erect the wall and protect the citizens. Another thing is that if Sharon believes this is the final border, I don’t think the Palestinians will accept it, and I don’t believe the international community will accept it.

Israel recently bombed what it says is an Islamic Jihad training camp in Syria. Will this open up a second war front?

Not for the time being, because I think the Syrians are not interested in engaging us and they are not capable of facing Israel. Syria is a country that did not move from the Eastern bloc military doctrine to a Western situation, so they just aren’t capable. So Israel’s action against Syria was an isolated incident that will have no further consequences.

America and Israel are worried about possible nuclear activity in Iran. Let’s say Israel has accurate intelligence that Iran is defying the international community and building a nuke. Should Israel bomb the Iranian reactor as it bombed Iraq’s in 1981?

Well, you see I am afraid that the nuclearization of the Middle East is a process that cannot be stopped, and the problem is not nuclearization, the problem is the regime. We are in a competition against time and space between democratization and nuclearization. And we are agreeing to the nuclearization of Pakistan and India. We?ll find it difficult to stop the nuclearization, but what needs to happen is that democratization must happen first.

In the last Israeli elections, Labor lost pretty much half its seats, and many people are saying your party will continue to decline. What is the future of the Labor party?

I think the future of the Labor party lies in the future of the Sharon government. It is connected. Whenever the [ruling] government sees its powers eroded, this favors the opposition. It’s very important that Labor is in the opposition. It was a huge mistake for Labor to have joined the Sharon government because they discredited themselves as the alternative. I really believe things are improving for Labor and we’ll have elections in June. If we have a new and dynamic leadership, things can change.

Do you plan to run?

For the time being, I don’t see it as an immediate possibility, but in the future it could happen.

Aaron Klein, former editor of the Yeshiva University undergraduate newspaper, previously conducted interviews with Yasir Arafat, Benjamin Netanyahu and leaders of the Taliban. His account of his experience interviewing members of Osama bin Laden’s organization, ‘My Weekend With the Enemy,’ appeared in The Jewish Press in 1999.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/second-thoughts-an-interview-with-shlomo-ben-ami/2003/12/12/

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