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April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Middle East’

Indyk Returns to Raise the Dead (Israel-PA Talks)

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

U.S. Special Envoy to the Middle East Martin Indyk is on his way back to the region today (Thursday) to officially revive the talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

State Department spokesperson Marty Harf told reporters at a briefing that both sides have told Secretary of State John Kerry they want to continue negotiations beyond the current April 29 deadline.

Neither side was willing to meet after the terrorist attack in Judea on Monday that killed senior police officer Baruch Mizrahi, a father of five, and wounded his wife and 9-year-old son. The attacker or attackers were standing on the side of the road on Highway 35 near Hevron, shooting at vehicles with Israeli license plates, a witness said. One arrest has allegedly been made but no details were released. Mizrahi was on his way with his family to a seder in Kiryat Arba to celebrate the Passover holiday when he was murdered.

Talks that were scheduled for Wednesday night were cancelled. Both sides were unwilling to negotiate in the face of another Arab terror attack on Jews using an AK-47 – a weapon supplied to PA police by the U.S. military, among others – ostensibly to strengthen its forces so they could ‘fight terror.’

On Thursday, those talks are set to resume with Indyk, Israel’s Justice Minister and chief negotiator Tzipi Livni and negotiator Yitzhak Molcho, and the PA’s chief negotiator Saeb Erekat.

PA spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudaineh told a media briefing in Ramallah that an agreement is already in place to extend the talks.

“The Palestinian commitment is clear to the Israelis and the Americans, and this commitment is that the talks will continue until April 29, and that Israel should release the fourth group of prisoners,” Rudaineh told reporters. “This is the basic Palestinian demand. This is not a Palestinian condition, but it is a Palestinian demand, which was agreed upon with the U.S. secretary of state according to which 104 pre-Oslo prisoners would be released, and in return we would not go to the United Nations organizations for nine months… Now the talks with the Israelis and the Americans are continuing to the end of this month to discuss the basis that could lead to an extension of the negotiations,” he said.

Various proposals are being advanced by Israel in order to wrestle with the issue of the Israeli Arab prisoners among the fourth and final group that was held back due to lack of progress in the talks.

The Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) party has threatened to leave the government if those prisoners – Israeli citizens who are all Arab terrorists – are freed.

One option would be to revoke their citizenship and deport them. Another would be to simply send the entire group to Gaza or abroad. In either case, resistance from the PA is expected – as usual.

Will Kerry Be On Hot Seat at Obama Meeting?

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Oy. He’s logged thousands of hours flying back and forth, meeting with leaders from Israel, the Palestinian Authority and surrounding Arab nations. Sleepless nights, endless days, Middle Eastern food and where has it all led?

Back to Square One by anyone’s estimation – and very likely in the eyes of President Barack Obama at the White House.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry reports today (Tuesday) to the president so both can decide what to do next about the persnickety tangle that just won’t untangle in the Holy Land.

The problem is, after the better part of a year, John Kerry may have almost nothing to show for all of his efforts and a massive bill to boot. It’s a credibility problem for him – did he read the situation wrong? Or was it simply a matter of the Western mind not understanding the typical Middle Eastern Arab mentality again? And again. And again. Ad nauseum.

Because we who live here have already seen this before in our neighborhood. There have been so many train wrecks down this gorge, we’ve lost count of the number of peace plans we’ve complied with here in the Land of Israel. Most were American.

And Mr. Kerry is another one lacking the basic understanding of Middle Eastern mentality, the Arab mind and how it works, and the way it goes in this region. Briefings on “Arab culture” don’t cut it when it comes to shuttle diplomacy here. It is just not enough when it gets to the nitty gritty.

The Europeans already know better. They make dry observations, back the Arabs (who they know they can rely on to pull out rather than comply) and then fade out before the sun sets in the West. Of course, ‘intel’ ties always continue with Israel; it would be silly to ignore the needs of national security, right?

But the U.S. has yet to learn that Arab leadership is not reliable. The Palestinian Authority talks one way in English and the other way in Arabic and its word is never its word. Peace is not a concept this entity can understand. The definition of ‘honor’ in this culture is not the same as that of the West – it is defined differently in the Middle East.

Think ASIA when you think of PA government “honor.” That is the closest analogy one can summon. It does not involve life, but death – truly. And age doesn’t count. Babies do qualify. Everyone is expendable.

John Kerry is a well-meaning guy. He really thought he could pull this off. And he did have a peace partner. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu braved his entire coalition to make this last attempt – and almost lost his government over it. In fact, he still might. Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and Labor leader Isaac Herzog are both taking a shot at widening the fractures so they can climb all over it when new elections come around – and they both hope it’s sooner rather than later.

The last thing Israel needed was to free dozens more terrorists, let alone open the roadblocks to create a new free entrance on to Highway 60 from the Arab side of Hevron. But that’s what Israel did at America’s insistence for the U.S. attempt at new talks with the PA, knowing it was likely to come to naught.

It would be a pity if President Obama were now to rake John Kerry over the coals for following his orders and extending his own personal good faith in the process.

Mr. Kerry is not a young man either, and the constant flights could not have been easy. The stress of struggling to deal with Arab leaders fighting your every effort to reach a compromise could not have been fun. And having to second-guess everyone’s thoughts, words, actions and decisions following each session – although that is the job for which he was trained – must have been the stuff of nightmares.

Abbas, Kerry to Hold Second Paris Meeting

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas have agreed to meet for a second day to discuss core issues in the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.

Kerry and Abbas met for two hours on Wednesday evening  in Paris, where they “had an in-depth discussion about the core issues” surrounding a peace deal and agreed to continue the discussion on Thursday, according to news reports citing an unnamed senior State Department official.

Kerry reportedly will present in the coming weeks a framework agreement for continuing the nine-month, U.S.-brokered peace negotiations, which currently are scheduled to end on April 29.

Deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf, told reporters Wednesday night in Vienna that recent remarks by chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, including suggesting that Israel is planning an incursion into Gaza to take the focus off of the peace negotiations, and that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is hoping for Abbas’ assassination, are “unhelpful.”

“The secretary will make clear that these kinds of comments are disappointing, that they are unhelpful, especially coming from someone involved in the negotiations, indeed the lead negotiator,” Harf told reporters.

She would not address Israeli news reports that Kerry’s proposal will include a request that the Israeli government freeze all construction in settlements outside of the large blocks of communities that Israel intends to keep in a final status deal.

When asked to clarify whether the official U.S. position recognizes Israel as a Jewish state, Harf replied that it does. She cited President Obama’s Sept. 24, 2013 speech to the United Nations General Assembly, when Obama said: “I’ve made it clear that the United States will never compromise our commitment to Israel’s security, nor our support for its existence as a Jewish state.”

Obama to Make Diplomatic Rescue Visit to Saudi Arabia

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

President Barack Obama will fly to Saudi Arabia next month in an effort to repair a deteriorating relationship following his failure to significantly improve ties in his 2011 trip to Riyadh and in the wake of differences over relations with Egypt, Iran and Syria.

Obama will visit the Vatican on the same junket, as well as the Netherlands, Belgium and Italy.

The White House did not specifically include the Palestinian Authority as being on the agenda of issues the president will discuss with King Abdullah.

White House press secretary Jay Carney tried to make the scheduled visit seem like a routine trip, a “part of regular consultations.” He added, “The president looks forward to discussing with King Abdullah the enduring and strategic ties between the United States and Saudi Arabia as well as ongoing cooperation to advance a range of common interests related to Gulf and regional security, peace in the Middle East, countering violent extremism, and other issues of prosperity and security.”

“Peace in the Middle East” probably refers to much more violent situations than the Palestinian Authority-Israel argument, The Wall Street Journal reported. For starters, there is the Muslim civil war in Syria, with the Sunni sect, backed by Saudi Arabia, against the Iranian-backed Shi’ites.

There is not lack of work for the Obama administration if it wants to get along better with Saudi Arabia, which was extremely unhappy with President Barack Obama’s backing the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, who was replaced by a violent military regime that was succeeded by a violent Muslim Brotherhood regime, which was in turn succeeded by another violent military regime.

Saudi Arabia was upset at Obama’s appeasement of Iran and his about-face on the idea of using military force to help Syrian rebels.

The Obama administration also has lost some influence in Egypt, where Saudi Arabia has stepped in to help the current military regime deal with the crippled economy.

Obama’s visit to Saudi Arabia in 2011 did little to calm the monarchy anger over the American support to get rid of Mubarak, implicitly backing Arab Spring unrest.

Obama called for changes in attitudes in the Middle East, and that is the last thing Saudi officials want to see in its own country.

Israel Website Offers ‘John Kerry Solutions, Ltd.’

Monday, January 6th, 2014

A spoof website now offers the world “John Kerry Solutions, Ltd,” an offer for anyone wanting to solve problems as he has done the past year in the Middle East.

The My Israel organization, in coordination with the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea and Samaria, created the website with its promotional material below:

 

John Kerry is an American politician who is an expert in international crisis management and creative solutions.

In light of  his  great diplomatic experience, in recent years he has been acting in the Middle East with great success and brought creative solutions that transformed the region.

Syria, Egypt , Libya , Iran and other countries thank him for the creative quiet that he brought to the region.

Now John brings his skills also to ordinary citizens!

Problems with your boyfriend?

Need original idea for a disguise?

Your neighbor’s lawn glows more?

John has a solution!

John Kerry Solutions Inc.

We have no good solutions, but we must do something. Right?

Our company thanks the good people who helped us in Israel besides Minister – Tzipi Livni and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Kerry Exposes Saudi Arabia as Abbas’ Senior Negotiator

Monday, January 6th, 2014

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry left the Middle East Monday after trying to shore up support from oil-rich Saudi Arabia, the real power broker in the Saudi Arabia and whose monarch, “Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah,” is the one man who can order the Palestinian Authority when to jump, where to jump and how to jump.

He also made sure to hold a last-minute conversation with Israeli Opposition leader Yitzchak Herzog, chairman of the Labor party that is ready to jump into the coalition and save Prime Minister Netanyahu from new elections if and when the Jewish Home party finally has had enough of his song and dance while erasing all the red lines in talks with the Palestinian Authority.

Kerry left with his ballyhooed “framework” still stuck in his suitcase. It actually simply was another version of “guidelines,” “roadmaps” and other Foggy Bottom innovations, all of which are the same thing except for their names.

It was Saudi Arabia that came up with the 2002 “Peace Initiative” by which Israel would agree to everything that Mahmoud Abbas now is demanding in return for “normalization” of diplomatic ties with the Arab League countries.

“Normalize” does not mean diplomatic recognition. It means whatever any country wants it to mean, but the bottom line is money, meaning trade relations. It does not mean that the Israeli flag will fly in Riyadh.

Before Kerry left Saudi Arabia, Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal told reporters, “His Majesty again reiterated the principles of the Arab Peace Plan and agreement (inaudible) come to respond to Palestinian national wishes to receive (inaudible) ultimately.”

In other words, he told Kerry to jump in the lake.

Kerry said, “I’m always grateful to the incredible hospitality of my friend Saud al-Faisal, whose friendship and counsel I value enormously.

“I want to thank His Majesty for not just the length of the meeting, but for the quality of the meeting, for the fullness of the exchange of ideas, and particularly for his enthusiastic support for the efforts that are being made with respect to the peace process and the effort to try to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.”

In other words, Kerry jumped in the lake head first.

Before doing so, he may have laid the groundwork for a brilliant diplomatic coup to grind Israel’s nose into the dirt or, more likely, to prepare the United States for an even worse debacle in the Middle East, a feat once thought as impossible.

The Saudi-based Arab World reported Monday, “Looking to ease the concerns of Saudi Arabia and Jordan, Kerry said that America’s allies could count on US support. Kerry is in Saudi Arabia on the second leg of a tour through the Middle East.”

Kerry has promised he will never sacrifice Israel’s security.

He has promised the Palestinian Authority it will have a country based on the borders that would leave Israel without security.

He has promised that Saudi Arabia, which is unhappy over President Barack Obama’s appeasement of Syria and Iran, it has its full support.

Kerry is now on his way back to Washington to look for snake oil.

Pro IDF Priest’s Son Suffered Brutal Beating

Monday, December 9th, 2013

The teenage son of Father Gabriel Nadaf of Nazareth, who was soon to be drafted into the Israel Defense Forces, suffered a brutal beating on Friday evening. He is being treated at the English Hospital in Nazareth.

A 21-year-old affiliated with the anti-Israel Hadash party was arrested in connection with the attack, Israel’s Channel 2 television reported.

Nadaf, a Greek Orthodox priest known for encouraging participation in military and national service among local Christians, said in the TV interview that his wife and other son fear leaving their home.

“As I call for integration in Israeli society, extremists are trying to divide and tear and incite against me,” Nadaf said. “The incitement of verbal threats has passed yesterday into physical violence as their goal is to intimidate me and my family.”

His family has been threatened not only physically; Israeli politicians have interfered to prevent the Jerusalem Patriarchate from firing Nadaf and destroying his livelihood.

Matan Peleg, director of operations for Im Tirtzu (“If you will it”), an Israeli organization promoting Zionist values, told United with Israel that last year, when a number of Christians in Nazareth had decided to promote enlistment in the IDF and join the Israeli mainstream, “we helped them immediately. They were placing their destiny with the State of Israel.”

Nadaf is “a good friend,” Peleg said, adding that only last week his group had warned that “something like this would happen.”

The past several months have seen a growing patriotism among Christian Israeli Arabs, which has alarmed enemies of the Jewish state.

In July, a new Christian party, Brit HaHadasha (meaning “Sons of the New Testament”), was created, calling for service in the IDF among other forms of integration

By mid-summer, the number of IDF recruits from Israel’s Arab-Christian community more than tripled since last year – from 35 to 100 – and 500 had volunteered for national service. They identify themselves as “Arab-speaking Israeli Christians.”

“At a time when Christian communities across the Islamic world are facing vicious persecution in the form of arrests, mob violence and bombings of churches, it’s no coincidence that this assertive form of Christian identity has manifested in democratic Israel,” noted JNS journalist Ben Cohen. “Increasingly, Christians in the Middle East understand that if their faith is to have a future in the region, the states in which they live need to be governed by the values of democracy and tolerance. A state that is Jewish in terms of its identity but which gives the same rights and demands the same duties of all of its citizens is truly a revolutionary development for the Middle East – and a key reason why so many of its neighbors dream of its destruction.”

“Our goal is to guard the Holy Land and the State of Israel,” Nadaf declared at a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the summer. “We have broken the barrier of fear – the state deserves that we do our part in defending it. Those who oppose the integration of the Christian community in the institutions of state do not walk in the path of Christianity.”

“Members of the Christian community must be allowed to enlist in the IDF,” Netanyahu asserted. “You are loyal citizens who want to defend the state and I salute you and support you. We will not tolerate threats against you and we will act to enforce the law with a heavy hand against those who persecute you. I will not tolerate attempts to crumble the state from within. The State of Israel and the Prime Minister stand alongside you.”

Following the attack, Netanyahu vowed that Israel will not tolerate continued violence against Christian supporters of Israel.

Visit United with Israel.

Great News: US Has Security Plan for the ‘West Bank’

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

One has to be sparing with exclamation points, but this one’s a lollapalooza.  A dilly!  A doozie.  A big honkin’ mess-a that Middle East Security Hotness.  You heard right folks:  the United States of America has a “West Bank security proposal” for Israel, and we’re sending a retired Army general to present it to Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, himself.  !!!!!!!!!!

Why did no one think of this before?  Finally, someone has done something pragmatic and positive about the Israeli-Palestinian standoff, and just written up a proposal for the Israelis to chew on already.  The Obama administration has at last gotten things off top dead center with Iran, and it’s time to tackle those other intractable Middle East Security Problems, while the momentum is still red-hot.

The New York Times has done yeoman work in recent years pitching verbatim the information themes of the Obama administration, but interestingly, it comes off as a tad perfunctory in the story about the West Bank security proposal.  The tale seems to lack a little of that believer’s heart to it.  You might almost get the sense that there’s some editorial skepticism about the wisdom of this fresh Brainstorming for Peace initiative.

Almost.  Letting the Obama administration off the hook, as usual, for vagueness and strange diplomatic fire, NYT notes the following:

General Allen’s presentation appears to signify a more active American role, in which the United States is doing more than coaxing the Israelis and the Palestinians to negotiate and is presenting its own ideas.

What are the ideas about, exactly?  The NYT authors again:

Officials involved in the negotiations said security had been the prime focus lately, with most of the discussion revolving around the Jordan Valley. Israel has insisted that its own military continue to patrol there, rather than rely on an international force similar to those responsible for its tense borders with Lebanon and Syria. The Palestinians have said they cannot abide the presence of any Israeli soldiers in their future state.

Keep in mind, if George W. Bush’s officials were being so elliptical about a U.S.-drafted West Bank security proposal, NYT would be right in there concluding indignantly that American troops were about to be drop-kicked into the Jordan Valley to embroil a duped and overextended United States in Another Vietnam Quagmire (Marine Barracks Beirut Variety).  It would be barely possible to figure out what the Bush administration had actually said, so thick would be the underbrush of quotes from policy “critics” through which the reader would have to hack.

No such quotes enliven the current NYT piece.  The Obama administration gets the benefit of the doubt.  Maybe putting U.S. prestige and bona fides on the line with an unsolicited, and apparently very specific, security proposal to an ally isn’t a bad idea.  Maybe it’s not undiplomatic and prejudicial to announce it publicly before our briefer has even presented it to Israel’s prime minister.  Maybe it’s just, what, enthusiastic.  Maybe there’s nothing to be concerned about in the fact that the preemptive announcement is so vague.  Hey, we’re just talking – probably – a about U.S. proposal for administering military security in the Jordan Valley.  What could go wrong?

NYT lets this priceless, preemptive characterization go without comment:

State Department officials described the security briefing as an “ongoing process” and not a finished product on which the United States was demanding a yes-or-no vote from the Israeli side.

Sure, because announcing it in advance will put no onus on Israel to respond in a yes-or-no-type manner.  This formulation is like an addict pleading that he’s not using, he’s just snorting some coke.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/great-news-us-has-security-plan-for-the-west-bank/2013/12/05/

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