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December 4, 2016 / 4 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Experts’

Will Trump Defy ‘Experts’ on Israel?

Sunday, November 13th, 2016

{Originally posted to the Commentary Magazine website}

Nothing about Donald Trump’s campaign leads one to believe that he pays much attention to his advisors, and his stunning electoral victory–achieved largely by ignoring “expert” advice–will doubtless reinforce this tendency. Nevertheless, I hope he’ll end up adopting the policy proposed one of his advisors on Israel four months ago. Like Trump’s campaign, it’s a policy that flies in the face of the “expert” consensus on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. And for that very reason, it may well work better than this consensus, which has an unbroken track record of failure over the last 20 years.

In an interview with the Jerusalem Post in July, Trump advisor David Friedman began by stating an obvious but widely ignored fact: West Bank settlements are neither illegal nor the real obstacle to Israeli-Palestinian peace. “The impediment to peace is very clear in both of our minds and that is the failure of the Palestinians to renounce hatred and renounce violence,” Friedman said. “Everything else is barely important.” Then he started dropping bombshells. First, he said, if Palestinian intransigence continues, Israeli annexation of some of the settlements “is certainly a legitimate possibility.” Second, given that the two-state solution has repeatedly “failed in the past,” there’s no reason to remain wedded to it: “I think it’s reasonable to consider any other alternatives people of good faith may propose.”

Both those proposals go straight to the heart of the reason why the two-state solution has repeatedly failed: Not only have the Palestinians never suffered any consequences for intransigence, but they have actually been rewarded for it. Every time they’ve rejected an Israeli or American peace proposal–in 2000, 2001, 2008 and 2013–they’ve been rewarded by international pressure on Israel to sweeten the deal. Every time they’ve indulged in a new outbreak of violence, they’ve been rewarded by international pressure on Israel to make concessions to “calm the situation” and “bring the Palestinians back to the table.” And as long as saying “no” keeps producing diplomatic gains, why would any sane negotiator ever say “yes”?

Moreover, the international community’s behavior has merely fed the Palestinians’ fantasy that if they keep saying “no” long enough, Israel will eventually disappear. I’ve written before about last year’s Fikra Forum poll, which found that only a quarter of Palestinian respondents expected Israel to “continue to exist as a Jewish state” in 30 to 40 years, while a plurality believed that even their short-term goal should be “reclaiming all of historic Palestine from the river to the sea.” That option beat out both the two-state and the one-state solutions. In reality, no matter how much pressure the international community puts on it, Israel remains an independent actor that’s unlikely to acquiesce in its own demise. But if you ignore that fact for a moment and look only at the actions of said international community, the Palestinians’ belief in Israel’s eventual disappearance actually isn’t so illogical.

After all, by any standard, two decades of consistently saying “no” interspersed with periodic bouts of violence have produced Palestinian gains. Two decades ago, for instance, almost nobody expected Israel to withdraw to the 1949 armistice lines. Today, that demand is accepted by the entire world. Two decades ago, nobody was talking about sanctioning settlement products. Today, that’s the default position in Europe. Two decades ago, Israel enjoyed solid bipartisan support in America. Today, that support is fraying in a non-negligible section of the Democratic Party.

Two decades ago, nobody was talking about boycotting Israel. Today, the BDS movement is gaining popularity on college campuses worldwide–and those college students will be leading their countries in another two decades. So if you look at all that, while ignoring some recent developments in the opposite direction, it’s not unreasonable for Palestinians to conclude that continuing the same tactics for another 30 or 40 years will eventually produce so much international pressure on Israel that it will either collapse or be forced to agree to suicidal concessions. And in that case, why on earth should they agree to a deal now?

What Friedman’s proposal would do, for the first time, is put a real price on Palestinian intransigence. You want to keep saying no? Then the U.S. will support settlement annexation, reducing the amount of territory left to negotiate over. You still want to keep saying no? Then the U.S. will consider withdrawing support for the two-state solution entirely, in favor of some alternative you might like less.

To be clear, that still wouldn’t produce a two-state solution anytime soon. After decades of educating their children to believe that Israelis are thieves who stole their land and have no rights to any part of it, that murdering Israelis is the highest good conceivable, and that death is preferable to compromising on, say, the “right of return” (aka flooding Israel with millions of Palestinian refugees), Palestinians simply aren’t ready for an agreement right now.

But by persuading Palestinians that time actually isn’t on their side, Friedman’s policy might finally force them to do some rethinking about the benefits of accepting half a loaf rather than holding out for the whole thing and risking being left with none. And until that long, painful process of rethinking begins, any talk of a two-state solution will assuredly be a pipe dream.

Evelyn Gordon

205 Experts Polled: Hamas, PLO Likely to Split October Municipal Elections

Sunday, August 28th, 2016

The Arab World Institute for Research and Development (AWRAD) last week released an online experts poll on the October 8 municipal elections, with results that reflect a balance between Hamas and the PLO, with additional play for clan candidates and leftwing groups.

AWRAD presents itself as a pioneering research, consulting and development firm based in the Palestinian Authority. Its website claims AWRAD is one of the Arab region’s leading firms providing a full range of consulting and technical services for sustainable development and state building.

Below are the results of an online study conducted August 12-18 2016, among 205 experts in local government, each knowledgeable of political and social circumstances as they pertain to the upcoming local elections, October 8, 2016. The poll was completed through a representative sample of experts across all 16 districts of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip. Participants included journalists, community activists, businesspeople, university professors, political activists, local governance experts, as well as lawyers, medical doctors and engineers.

Less than a majority of respondents believe that the scheduled local elections are important; the rest believe that they are somewhat important or not important. Only 47% are confident the elections will be held as scheduled. Only 20% of respondents believing the elections will improve the prospects for national reconciliation. 59% believes that the decision of Hamas to participate is a positive development for overall local Arab interests, while 38% believe it is either negative or of no consequence.

A majority expects that the elections will be open and transparent, with only 20% expressing doubt.

The largest plurality of experts believes that the most important issue at stake in the October election is the regular practice of democratic processes. The second most important issue is delivery of services.

Party affiliation and familial allegiance are the two factors that experts believe will exert the greatest influence on voters. The experts think the “moral reputation” and “professional competence” of the candidate do not play as significant a role in their chances as to which family they belong.

Survey respondents predict an overall turnout rate of about 60 percent. They also anticipate a tight race between Fatah and Hamas in Judea and Samaria and in the Gaza Strip. The two parties will likely share about two-thirds of the seats with, the remainder split among independents and leftwing parties.

Following are the questions and responses as reported by AWRAD:

1. In your opinion, how important are local elections scheduled for October 8, 2016?

Important 48.4%
Somewhat Important 26.3%
Somewhat unimportant 14.2%
Not important 11.1%

2. Do you believe the elections will actually occur as scheduled?

Yes 47.4%
No 31.6%
Don’t know 21.1%

3. Do you believe that the planned local elections will improve the prospects to achieve reconciliation?

Yes 21.1%
No 46.3%
will not make a difference 30.5%
Don’t know 2.1%

4. On a local level, what is the most important issue at stake in the October elections?

Communal relations 4.2%
Delivery of services (water. sanitation, electricity, education, healthcare) 37.4%
Local policing and security 1.6%
Regular practice of democratic processes 46.3%
Don’t know 10.5%

5. In your opinion, is the decision by Hamas to participate in the elections a positive or negative development for overall Palestinian interests?

Positive 58.9%
Negative 8.4%
Of no consequence 30.0%
Don’t know, no opinion 2.6%

6. Which of the following factors will have the largest influence on voters in the local elections?

Family/tribal affiliation of candidates 36.8%
Party affiliation of candidates 37.4%
Moral reputation/ethics of candidates 11.6%
Professional competence of candidates 12.6%
Don’t know/NO answer 1.6%

7. Do you expect the elections to occur in an open and transparent manner?

Yes 64.7%
No 20.0%
Don’t know 15.3%

8. So far, what is your evaluation of the Central Election Commission in managing the local election?

Positive 69.5%
Negative 2.6%
Fair 19.5%
Don’t know 8.4%

9. As of today, what is your estimation of the voter turnout rate?

Average opinion: 60.0%

10. Based on your expert opinion, if you were to predict the distribution of seats among the following political parties in the October elections, what percentage of seats would you give to each in Judea and Samaria?

Independents/non-aligned with parties 19.4%
Fatah 34.4%
Hamas 32.7%
Other nationalists/leftists groups 9.1%
Other Islamist groups 4.4%

JNi.Media

Experts: Putin Sent Israel the Wrong Missing Tank

Friday, June 17th, 2016

Last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepted in a heartfelt ceremony from Russian President Vladimir Putin a Magach-3 Israeli tank that had been captured by the Syrians in the 1982 Battle of Sultan Yacoub in the First Lebanon War, and had been on display in a museum in the Moscow area. Netanyahu posted in his Facebook page: “My wife Sara and I have participated today in an emotional ceremony of returning the tank that had fallen in Syrian captivity during the Battle of Sultan Yacoub in the First Lebanon War.” But now, according to Yedioth Aharonoth, one week after Israel received the tank in which the still missing in action Israeli fighters had met their demise, it appears, to the chagrin of the mourning families, that it may not be the same tank.

On June 10, 1982, IDF 90th Armored Division was rushed forward with orders to gain as much ground as possible before a cease-fire would come into effect. Late that night the force fought its way through Syrian infantry in the Lebanese village of Sultan Yacoub, in the eastern Beqaa Valley, only four miles from the Syrian border. Apparently, in its rush to gain ground, coupled with intelligence failures, the force was cut off and surrounded by Syrian army units. At dawn, the force broke out and escaped to the south, supported by Israeli artillery. The battle lasted six hours resulting in the force losing eight tanks and 30 men. The force was unable to destroy the disabled Magach-3 tanks they left behind and those were recovered by the Syrians, and were put on display in Russia and in the Tishreen Panorama Military Museum in Damascus. Three IDF soldiers remain missing in action: Zachary Baumel, an Israeli-US citizen, Yehuda Katz and Zvi Feldman. These soldiers were captured and paraded through Damascus on top of their captured tank.

Returned tank lands in Israel / Courtesy

Returned tank lands in Israel / Courtesy

In his Facebook post, Netanyahu noted that the returned tank is “the only testimony to our missing soldiers from that battle… For 34 years we’ve been searching for our fighters and will not cease the search until we inter them in a Jewish cemetery in the State of Israel. For these 34 years the Baumel, Katz and Feldman families have not had a gravesite to visit. Now they’ll have this tank, a remnant from the Sultan Yacoub battle which they can visit and touch and remember their sons in Israel.”

Not really, says tank expert Lt. Col. (Ret) Michael Mas, who told Yedioth the returned tank is not the one inside which the three missing soldiers were fighting. “It’s very sad that the prime minister and the media follow misinformation,” Mas said. “This is not the tank that belonged to the missing. What was returned is a whole tank, and the tanks where the missing fought look different. While this is for sure one of the eight tanks captured by the Syrians in the battle, this tank bears no mark of any injuries. When Netanyahu said that the families who haven’t had a gravesite to visit will now find peace, he committed two errors: one, it’s not their tank; and two, they’re missing, not dead.”

Returned tank in Israel / Courtesy

Returned tank in Israel / Courtesy

Pirchia Heiman, Yehuda Katz’s sister, responded angrily, telling Yedioth: “All the families of the missing are enraged. What do we need all these spins for?” She asked, adding, “Since I’ve heard of the plan to return the tank I waited eagerly, I couldn’t sleep at night. Ten days ago they conducted the ceremony in Russia and there Ndetanyahu said the families would have this tank ‘to be able to touch it and the memory of their sons,” and he already knew it was the wrong tank, but we didn’t. Only the next day did we get the right shield number for the tank, not through the IDF, and I realized this wasn’t Yehuda’s tank.”

At this point it should be noted that PM Netanyahu could have avoided this embarrassment had he read up IDF reports filed 18 years ago, which determined after a thorough examination of the tank on display in Russia that it’s not the tank that belonged to the missing soldiers, and that the soldiers who fought in this tank were able to flee the scene unharmed and are alive and well.

Here’s another embarrassing point Netanyahu could have saved himself had he read the IDF reports: the three missing soldiers fought in two different tanks, one of which was burnt beyond recognition, and neither of which is the returned tank. Like cars, tanks receive identifying numbers, and this tank, 817581, is not the one.

Or, as Lt. Col. (res) Danny Krief put it, “Clearly, the Russians didn’t care which tank they handed over, and that’s what Netanyahu used for his gimmick.”

JNi.Media

Muslim Brotherhood Picks Hawk as New Leader

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) on Tuesday named Mahmoud Ezzat as its new leader after the Egyptian government arrested its former leader Mohamed Badie earlier on the same day.

Experts are suggesting that hardline MBs who managed to go underground to evade an arrest, would seek ways to avenge Badie’s arrest.

Ezzat has strong relations with the international Muslim Brotherhood and with the Hamas movement, Tharwat Kharabawy, a dissident former MB leader, told Xinhua.

Ezzat is a hawk, Kharabawy said, “the real guide of the group” and the one “managing the group from behind the curtains.”

The appointment means that the MBs are in no mood for peaceful negotiations with General al-Sisi and the new regime in Cairo.

Ezzat, former MB secretary general, has been a member of the guidance bureau and a deputy of Badie. In 1965 he was arrested and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

He was chosen as a member of the guidance bureau in 1981, and was arrested again in 2008.

According to the Egyptian authorities, Badie has been transferred to Mazraah prison in the Torah prisons’ complex, where former President Hosni Mubarak and his two sons are currently residing.

Badie is going to stand trial on Aug. 25, together with his two deputies, Khairat al-Shater and Rashad al-Bayoumi.

The new Egyptian rulers appear determined to crush the MB. In an interview with the CNN, presidential political advisor Moustafa Hegazi said that putting Badie in jail is a step toward restoring law and order.

He said “Egypt is waging a fierce war against terrorism and criminal acts.”

Hegazi suggested that the cruelest incident in all of Egypt’s history was the execution of 25 off-duty security servicemen on Monday in the northern Sinai Peninsula.

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said on Tuesday that she had offered to return to Cairo.

“I told the Egyptian prime minister at the weekend that I would be more than willing to go back to Egypt if they wish me to come back,” said Ashton, who has been to Egypt twice since the regime change by the military.

Yori Yanover

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/muslim-brotherhood-picks-hawk-as-new-leader/2013/08/21/

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