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Posts Tagged ‘Olmert’

Obama’s Flawed Advice To Israel (First of Two Parts)

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

It’s farewell to the drawing-room’s civilized cry, the professor’s sensible whereto and why, The frock-coated diplomat’s social aplomb, Now matters are settled with gas and with bomb.

W.H. Auden, Danse Macabre One must presume that President Obama’s most recent calls for Israeli cooperation in the Middle East peace process are balanced, fair, and well-intentioned. Why not? At the same time, unsurprisingly, these all-too-familiar calls are manifestly thin, in the sense that they lack any genuine intellectual content.

At best reminiscent of former president Bill Clinton’s inept and unforgivable orchestrations of Oslo, they are merely the latest unimaginative representation of “old wine in new bottles.” At worst, and once again evocative of Clinton’s long reach of incapacity, they exhibit a conspicuously shallow compilation of empty witticisms. For Obama, as for Clinton before him, advising Israel always entails inevitable diplomatic default: a visceral capitulation to comforting banalities, and convenient half-truths.

In any event, one analytic conclusion is abundantly clear and incontestable. Mr. Obama’s core argument is founded upon thoroughly incorrect strategic and jurisprudential assumptions. Intellectually, this argument is an unwitting self-parody.

The key problem is not, as the president still seems to think, Israel’s unwillingness to compromise more fully. It’s not that Israel is unwilling to make more “painful sacrifices for peace.” It is, rather, the plainly asymmetrical commitment to peace that continues to exist between the Palestinian side(s) and the Israeli side.

It makes no real sense to ask that Israel undertake increasing and incremental surrenders to a bifurcated enemy (Fatah and Hamas) that can still gleefully share at least one overriding commitment – that is, a relentless and generally unhidden dedication to Israel’s “liquidation.”

Let Obama finally take note. From the beginning, the only Israeli compromise that could have satisfied both Fatah and Hamas would have been a perversely codified Israeli commitment to self-destruction and national disappearance. Should Israel now be expected to be complicit in its own genocide?

International law is not a suicide pact. Why hasn’t Obama even looked at the unambiguous historical record? Even before formal conferral statehood in 1948, Israel had sought, courageously and reasonably, to negotiate with its many unheroic and unreasonable enemies. Always, in these efforts, Jerusalem had preferred peace to war.

Nonetheless, challenged by insistent and interminable Arab aggressions, diplomacy has insistently failed Israel. Even the most visible example of any alleged diplomatic “success,” the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty of 1979, is apt to fail calamitously sometime in the post-Mubarak/Muslim Brotherhood era. It’s only a matter of time.

Whatever the neatly fashioned expectations demanded from Washington, Prime Minister Netanyahu is first obligated to inquire: What real chance exists that, somehow, this time and also for the future, diplomacy might actually be purposeful?

From Oslo to the present “Road Map,” diplomacy over Israel’s rights and obligations has always been a blatantly one-sided process.

Ironically, Israel’s principal enemies remain thoroughly candid. On some things they do not lie. When it comes to their unceasing intention to annihilate the “Zionist entity” they are seemingly sworn to truth.

The principal disputing Palestinian factions (Fatah or Hamas, it makes little difference) will never accept anything less than Israel’s complete removal. This is already obvious to anyone who cares to pay attention to what is actually said. Moreover, in a clearly corroborating bit of explicit cartography, every PA and Hamas map already incorporates all of Israel within “Palestine.”

Toward the end of his tenure, former prime minister Ehud Olmert released several hundred Palestinian terrorists as a “goodwill gesture.” Together with then-president George W. Bush, he had decided to aid Fatah against Hamas with outright transfers of weapons and information. Soon after, the American and Israeli guns were turned (predictably) against Israel.

As for Olmert’s graciously extended “goodwill,” it only served to elicit the next multiple rounds of murderous rocket fire. Matters were not helped at all by the Bush administration’s corollary support for a Palestinian state, a thoroughly misconceived support now being more or less viscerally extended by Barack Obama.

…Continued Next Week

NYT: Fans Mirror Israel’s Racism—Ignores Europe’s Hate Stadiums

Friday, February 1st, 2013

Like Europeans, Israelis are mad for their soccer.  For some, soccer is the true religion of the Middle East,  one shared by Muslims and Jews alike.

But just as in Europe, not all soccer fans follow the normal rules of civility, and the behavior of some fans of one Israeli soccer team in particular, Jerusalem Beitar, has been reprehensible.  Beitar was the last of the 30 Israeli soccer teams without any Muslim players. The anti-Muslim racism of its fans has led to Beitar being banned from some soccer matches and being fined, as well as having demonstrations by Israelis denouncing their behavior.

When Beitar management last week brought in two Muslims from Chechnya to join the team, the response by the haters was ugly, if not unexpected.  Despite official efforts to celebrate the inclusion of Muslims into the Beitar family as an important Israeli value, some fans responded at a game over the weekend with shameful calls for “Beitar purity,” and unfurled a vicious banner: “Beitar, pure forever.”

But today’s New York Times story about the incident is shocking in its narrow focus and excessive reliance on Israel haters to suggest that the racism of the worst Beitar fans accurately reflects Israeli society.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center told The Jewish Press by telephone from Berlin, “You want to know what “mirrors” Israeli society?  Walk in the Mamilla Mall on a Saturday night,  Arabs and Israelis, Muslims and Jews, all strolling, eating and shopping together – that’s the mirror of Israeli society.”

The official response to the boorishness was swift and unequivocal: the team was fined 50,000 NIS ($ 13,400) and 50 of the worst offenders were banned from an upcoming match.

Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon slammed the ugly behavior, saying “I was shocked by the racism displayed in the Beitar Jerusalem stands yesterday against having Muslim or Arab players on the team.”

“We cannot ignore these displays of racism which not long ago were directed – and are still being directed – towards the Jewish people,” he wrote on Twitter.

And in a show of solidarity, Jerusalem’s Mayor Nir Barkat attended the Tuesday press conference welcoming the Muslim Chechen players, Zaur Sadayev and Gabriel Kadiev, who had previously played on the premier Russian team Terek Grozny.

Barkat said, “I want to tell viewers around the world that we will not put up with racism or violence.  This is an ethical statement that goes out from Jerusalem to the world.”

And Beitar’s team captain Amit Ben-Shushan said at the press conference welcoming the new players, “We do not engage in politics.  As far as we’re concerned, we will do our best to welcome the players in the best possible fashion.”

The Russian-born billionaire owner of Beitar, Arkady Gaydamak, rejected the nasty response to the new players, telling Israeli Army Radio last week that the “small group of so-called supporters of the team do not represent the general opinion of the Israeli public, and they should not be allowed to win.”

No one suggests there is no racism in Israel or amongst Israeli sports fans – far from it.  A horrible incident received a lot of attention last spring when Beitar fans, chanting “death to the Arabs” after a game in Jerusalem’s Teddy Stadium poured into the nearby Malha Mall, where Arab workers were allegedly assaulted by some participants.

But the only “experts” quoted in the NYT article are ones whose professional livelihood is built and dependent upon denouncing Israel as a racist society.

For example, Professor Moshe Zimmerman, chair of Hebrew University’s German Studies Department, is quoted as expressing strong support for the article’s headline, that the racist Beitar fans reflect Israeli society.

It might have been useful for readers of the NYT article to know that Zimmerman was chastised by the relatively restrained Anti-Defamation League as far back as 2005, for repeatedly comparing the Israeli Defense Forces and authorities to Nazis.

Yet the NYT writer places Zimmerman as the first expert in the article.  “People in Israel usually try to locate Beitar Jerusalem as some kind of the more extreme fringe; this is a way to overcome the embarrassment,” and Zimmerman continues, “the fact is that the Israeli society on the whole is getting more racist, or at least more ethnocentric, and this is an expression.”

Which Prime Minister Built the Most Homes in the Settlements?

Friday, January 18th, 2013

A Channel 10 report on Thursday ranked the various Israeli Prime Ministers, since 1991, based on the amount of actual housing construction that began during their respective terms, inside the Israel’s Settlements.

Who Built the Most and When?**
Rank  Prime Minister            Party    Years      Construction  
1 Ehud Barak Labor   1999-2001 4,292
2 Benjamin Netanyahu Likud   1996-1999 3,194
3 Shimon Peres Labor   1995-1996 2,443
4 Ariel Sharon* Likud   2001-2006 1,826
5 Ehud Olmert Kadima   2006-2009 1,741
6 Benjamin Netanyahu Likud   2009-2012 1,168

*Also destroyed thousands of buildings and homes.
** This chart doesn’t include infrastructure construction, only homes.

Based on information collected by Peace Now, below are the number of government tenders for new settlement housing that were issued, by year for the past decase. We then correlated that information according to who was Prime Minister at the time.

Who issued the most Housing Construction Tenders? 
Year   Prime Minister   Party   Tenders   Subtotal  
2002 Ariel Sharon Likud 689
2003 Ariel Sharon Likud 2508
2004 Ariel Sharon Likud 912
2005 Ariel Sharon Likud 1184  Ariel Sharon
5293
2006 Ehud Olmert Kadima 919
2007 Ehud Olmert Kadima 65
2008 Ehud Olmert Kadima 539  Ehud Olmert
1523
2009 Benjamin Netanyahu Likud 0
2010 Benjamin Netanyahu Likud 0
2011 Benjamin Netanyahu Likud 1009
2012 Benjamin Netanyahu Likud 660  Benjamin Netanyahu 
1669

Again, the information above is for new homes only. It does not include the infrastructure development in the settlements, which Netanyahu, for instance, did a lot of (exact data unavailable at the moment) during this last term as Prime Minister.

Updated:

According to Peace Now, the Netanyahu government also approved dozens of “outposts”, though what Peace Now calls “outposts” are actually neighborhoods of existing Settlements.

Olmert Flip Flops on E-1 Construction

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

Olmert said, according to Maariv, quoting the Jerusalem Post:

“It is clear that at some point in the future there will be a contiguity between Maaleh Adumin and Jerusalem and the area will be built up.”
And from the New York Times:

Olmert Outlines Plans for Israel’s Borders By GREG MYREPublished: March 10, 2006

JERUSALEM, March 9 — In the most detailed description yet of his plans if elected prime minister this month, Ehud Olmert, Israel’s acting prime minister and the front-runner, said that he intended to set the country’s permanent borders by 2010 and that they were likely to run near the West Bank separation barrier.

Mr. Olmert also said he planned further development in Israel’s largest settlement, Maale Adumim, which would eventually link up with nearby East Jerusalem. Palestinians vehemently oppose such a move, because it would further isolate the Arab parts of East Jerusalem. The United States has also objected.

…But Mr. Olmert seems to believe that Israeli voters see the Hamas victory as an opportunity to set their own future borders without needing to negotiate with a Palestinian government, since Hamas refuses to recognize Israel.

…Mr. Olmert said he would wait a “reasonable time” to see if Hamas was willing to recognize Israel, disavow violence and accept previous agreements. But if Hamas “is not willing to accept these principles, we will need to begin to act,” he told The Jerusalem Post. He has also said he does not plan to meet with Mr. Abbas, regarding the Palestinian Authority as one entity that is now effectively controlled by Hamas.

Mr. Olmert said recently that Israel would not undertake any major infrastructure projects in West Bank settlements, though he appeared to be referring only to those that are beyond the separation barrier.

In his latest comments, he said he planned to go ahead with the so-called E-1 development plan, which calls for building some 3,500 homes in the land between East Jerusalem and the large Maale Adumim settlement. Maale Adumim, which has more than 30,000 residents, is a couple of miles from East Jerusalem.

“It’s entirely clear that the continuity between Jerusalem and Maale Adumim will be a built-up continuity,” Mr. Olmert was quoted by Haaretz as saying. “In my view there is an absolute consensus in Israel on this issue.”

There was this earlier:-

In early 2005, the Ma’ale Adumim city council announced plans for the residential neighborhood and the police station, and in August of that year, there were submitted for public review, a bureaucratic formality preceding final authorization. The same months, Netanyahu kicked off his campaign to regain leadership of the Likud in E1 and a day later, vice premier Ehud Olmert declared that Israel would build homes to connect Ma’ale Adumim to Jerusalem “at the appropriate time.”

 And this:

In October 1994, while in the midst of hammering out the Oslo Accords, then-prime minister Yitzhak Rabin declared that a “united Jerusalem” would include Ma’aleh Adumim as the capital of Israel under Israel sovereignty. As part of the effort to make sure Ma’aleh Adumim remained an integral part of a “united Jerusalem,” Rabin provided then-mayor Benny Kashriel with annexation documents for the E1 area –a strip of land that connects the capital with Ma’aleh Adumim. As prime minister in 1996, Shimon Peres reaffirmed the government’s position that Israel will demand applying Israeli sovereignty over Ma’aleh Adumim in the framework of a permanent peace agreement. Dovish politician and co-author of the Geneva Initiative, Yossi Beilin, supported annexing Ma’aleh Adumim. And the 2000 Clinton Parameters called for Israel to be compensated for the partitioning of Jerusalem by annexing Ma’aleh Adumim. During the 2008 Annapolis negotiations, then-prime minister Ehud Olmert and then-foreign minister Tzipi Livni demanded that Ma’aleh Adumim remain a part of Israel.

So, who is kidding who when he now said:

“there was one request by the American government — and there was no question president [George] Bush and [secretary of state] Condoleezza Rice were friends of Israel — they asked me, ‘Please don’t build in E1, because if you do, it will be beyond the capacity of the Palestinian leadership to sit with you.’”

Olmert said he told the American administration that “one day Maaleh Adumim will be part of Israel because we will not leave them as an enclave.” But, he added, his government agreed not to build in the area in order to enable negotiations with the Palestinian Authority to take place.

E1, Olmert suggested, was a point of particular concern for the American administration.

“So [for the Netanyahu government] to build in this one piece of land,” he said, “requires creativity which is beyond my comprehension.”

The Ant-Churchill Tries to Rise Again

Friday, November 9th, 2012

Could there be an Israeli politician more cynical than Ehud Olmert?

Yesterday he accused PM Netanyahu of alienating President Obama — as if Obama could dislike him more — by ‘intervening’ in the US election:

“Following what Netanyahu did in the last few months, the question arises of whether or not our prime minister has a friend in the White House,” Olmert said in a meeting with New York Jewish leaders.

Olmert said that while the Israeli head of state was allowed to have a personal preference for one candidate over another, it would be “better, obviously, if he kept it to himself.”

“What took place this time was a breaking of all the rules, when our prime minister intervened in the US elections in the name of an American billionaire with a clear interest in the vote,” Olmert continued. “The very same billionaire used Israel’s prime minister to advance a nominee of his own for president.”

Olmert’s words were a clear reference to Jewish-American casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who according to reports donated some $100 million to Romney’s failed campaign. Adelson also owns the Israeli daily newspaper Israel Hayom, which is largely perceived as a stalwart backer of Netanyahu.

Olmert didn’t explain how he knows that Adelson was acting on Netanyahu’s instructions. He seems to think that it is impossible for a Jewish billionaire to prefer one or another candidate for US president or Israeli PM without engaging in a conspiracy. His remarks, intended to damage Netanyahu with the Israeli public, can only damage his relationship with Obama as well.

Olmert, who was probably the worst Prime Minister in Israel’s history, plans to return to politics after a miraculous escape, with his skin mostly intact, from a trial on several serious corruption charges. The Israeli state prosecutor’s office has filed an appeal of his acquittals on the major charges and an especially light sentence he received for one minor offense.

Olmert said that he would run only if Obama won the US election — which makes one wonder if he expects ‘intervention’ in the opposite direction, which apparently he considers appropriate! He is expected to join with Tzipi Livni and other outspoken enemies of PM Netanyahu, take over the moribund Kadima party, and run against him in upcoming elections on an anyone-but-Bibi platform.

Livni was Olmert’s partner in the government which so badly bungled the 2006 Second Lebanon War, leading to the unnecessary deaths of dozens of soldiers and a disadvantageous cease-fire which left Hizballah in a position to rebuild and rearm (which it has done with a vengeance).

Both Livni and Olmert are preferred to PM Netanyahu by the Obama Administration, because of their perceived willingness to withdraw from the territories in a deal with the Palestinian Authority. Olmert claims to have come close to such a deal in 2008, which thankfully fell through when he left office under a cloud of accusations of corruption.

He has recently criticized the PM for his tough position on the Iranian nuclear project and echoed Obama’s position that sanctions and diplomacy must be given more time to work. I’m sure this has endeared him even further to the president.

Olmert is also known for making one of the most embarrassing speeches in oratorical history in 2005, prompting me to call him “the anti-Churchill:”

We are tired of fighting, we are tired of being courageous, we are tired of winning, we are tired of defeating our enemies, we want that we will be able to live in an entirely different environment of relations with our enemies. We want them to be our friends, our partners, our good neighbors, and I believe that this is not impossible… That it is within reach if we will be smart, if we will dare, if we will be prepared to take the risks, and if we will be able to convince our Palestinian partners to be able to do the same.

As I noted at the time, an unprecedented combination of defeatist rhetoric, bad politics, and fundamentally wrong analysis! But nobody ever accused Olmert of lacking arrogance or chutzpah, and he seems to think that with everyone to the left of Bibi and President Obama on his side, he can retake the Prime Minister’s chair.

Likud-Beiteinu Worrying Left

Sunday, October 28th, 2012

The merger of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud party and the Yisrael Beiteinu party of Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman on Thursday has left-wing parties scrambling for a solution to the sudden show of solidarity on the part of the pro-nationalist camp.

In an article by Israel HaYom, an anonymous Kadima MK said unity on the left is a big item of discussion now, with emphasis on securing a great leader who will draw votes.

According to the MK, Kadima chairman Shaul Mofaz, Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid, and Labor chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich are being called on to unify under the leadership of either former Foreign Minister and failed almost-Prime Minister and Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni, or the recently acquitted former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Both are expected to announce whether they will re-enter politics early next week.

Mofaz has said he will relinquish leadership of Kadima if either party needs the position in order to run for prime minister.

The strong Sephardic party, Shas, has expressed its concern over the Likud-Beiteinu merger, saying it could mean the drafting of Hareidi Jews into the army.

Liberman Poll: Near-Tie between Olmert and Netanyahu

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

A new survey commissioned by Israel Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Liberman shows a near-tie between the Likud under Benjamin Netanyahu and a party led by former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, bolstered by Tzipi Livni.

A source in Olmert’s circle told Walla that this is an “interesting survey,” and that the former PM has not yet decided whether or not to participate in the upcoming elections.

The survey, commissioned by Liberman from Arthur Finkelstein, a New York-based Republican Party consultant who has worked for conservative candidates in the United States, Canada, Israel and Eastern Europe over the past four decades, presents an encouraging picture for Liberman and his party. According to the survey, Israel Beiteinu will get 14-16 seats, landing it in third place, ahead of the Labour Party with 13 seats and behind Olmert’s party and Likud which will receive 22 and 22-24 seats respectively.

Since the Prime Minister’s announcement of early elections, Israel Beiteinu Chairman Liberman, has not rested, and has been laboring intensely to sway voters. Nine days ago, he spoke at a meeting of Israel Beiteinu, he attacked the contenders on the left: “A party like Meretz is nothing more than a lobby for the Palestinians inside the Knesset,” he suggested, while also attacking the Labor Party chairperson, Shelly Yachmovitch: “Who speaks for social-democy, but confuses it with Communism.”

Former PM Olmert is rumored to be checking the lay of the land before declaring his run for the Knesset. Eight days ago, Judge Elyakim Rubinshtein, head of the Central Elections Committee, rejected a request from the Ometz (Courage) movement to declare Olmert unfit to serve as Prime Minister as long as he is the defendant in a corruption trial. Rubinshtein said it wasn’t up to him or the Elections Committee to disqualify a candidate for the role of Prime Miniaster.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/liberman-poll-near-tie-between-olmert-and-netanyahu/2012/10/25/

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