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April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Oslo Accords’

A Messianic Vision: An Interview with Likud MK Moshe Feiglin

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

For over a decade, Moshe Feiglin, a Jewish Press weekly columnist, has been working toward becoming prime minister of Israel with the aim of “turning the state of the Jews into the Jewish state.” He still has ways to go, but on February 5, he advanced one step closer when he was sworn in as a Knesset member for the first time.

Ahead of a dinner celebrating his victory in the Chateau Steakhouse in Queens, NY on February 25, MK Feiglin spoke to The Jewish Press.

The Jewish Press: You’ve been trying to get into the Knesset for a long time. Now that you’re in, what do you hope to accomplish?

Feiglin: I hope to advance the concept of Jewish leadership to the state of Israel – a state that is based on its Jewish identity and not just the concept of survival.

What does that mean?

One example is the two-state solution. If you understand that we came back to Israel after 2,000 years of exile to achieve a goal and not just to survive, then you understand we need the whole country. We long for Jerusalem, the Temple Mount, Schechem, Chevron – all these places that connect us to our identity.

When the goal is survival, Tel Aviv is enough. When the goal is to create a special society that carries a message to the entire universe, then questions like [surrendering land to the Arabs] are not even considered.

You often write that you want to create a Jewish state. For some people, this means a halachic state.

No, I’m talking about something much, much wider. I’m talking about making the Torah part of our culture.

Some people argue that a Jewish state means a state where Torah law reigns supreme – with police enforcing the laws of tzniyut, for example, as they do in Iran.

No, nothing can be forced. The whole concept of force is against Judaism because Hashem tells us, “U’bacharta ba’chaim” – you should choose, and if you’re being forced, you cannot choose…. The difference between Judaism and Islam is exactly that. God wants us to choose between life and death. Therefore, the whole concept of force is totally irrelevant.

Are you saying there was no force in the times of the Bayit Rishon or Bayit Sheini?

I’m saying that this is what we need today – a state that carries a message of freedom.

A number of years ago, you wrote that Israel should make Sunday a day off like it is in America. You argued that Israelis who love soccer, for example, would gladly move all professional soccer games from Saturday to Sunday and possibly observe Shabbat if Sunday wasn’t a workday.

That is a good example of how to build a modern Jewish state that gives its citizens the capability to have a real Shabbat even though they’re not religious right now. What we need to do is to be more open and give Israelis the ability to be who they [truly] are. If you give them the opportunity to choose, most of them will choose the right thing.

Some people would claim this argument is silly since Israelis are, by and large, secular.

I think they’re totally wrong. When you ask Israelis what they are first – Jewish or Israeli – more than 80 percent say first of all, and above all, they’re Jewish. When you ask Israelis to describe themselves, only 19 percent say they’re secular, 50 percent say they’re traditional and the rest say they’re dati or haredi. So those who say that [Israelis are secular] don’t really understand where Israeli society is holding.

In your articles, you often write about the importance of building the Beit HaMikdash, calling it “the direct link between the Almighty and His world” – a place that allows us “to synthesize between the physical and spiritual…to create a life of harmony between the two.” Your average Orthodox Jew, though, believes we must wait for Mashiach to build the Beit HaMikdash. You evidently don’t agree.

We just read in last week’s parshah,V’asu li mikdash” [“You should make a Sanctuary for Me”]. It doesn’t say “V’asu li haMashiach mikdash”[“Mashiach should make a Sanctuary for Me”]. “V’asu” means the people of Israel. So what can I tell you? It’s written clear and simple right there.

Excerpts From My First Knesset Speech

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

I have listened to all of [this new Knesset’s] debut speeches: excellent speeches, some of them virtuoso speeches. But when I listened to your speech, [Yesh Atid] MK Mickey Levy, a former police major general, a person who I was used to seeing on the other side of a great divide – you as a police officer; myself as a protester – when you spoke about how you lost your brother in the Jordan Valley, my heart skipped a beat.

I was a young platoon commander on duty in a reserve unit. A new regiment commander had been assigned to our regiment and the commander came to visit our position in the Jordan Valley. He asked me, in front of my soldiers, if all was well.

“No,” I answered.

“Why not?” he asked.

“Look over there,” I said to him. “Anybody can cross over that bridge and continue up that path there, hidden from view, come around the back of our position, enter without anybody even noticing, and shoot.”

Much to my surprise, the regiment commander became furious. He admonished me in front of my astounded soldiers and angrily left our position. I was confused. “He probably knows something that I don’t know,” I said to myself, putting the incident out of my head.

Our tour of duty finished. I came home. Approximately one year later, I heard that an IDF soldier was killed at that position in the Jordan Valley, precisely as I had warned. And here, Mickey, in our opening speeches in the 19th Knesset, this story has come full circle. (Editor’s note: At this point, Mickey Levy wiped tears from his face).

My heart ached. I was terribly angry at myself. I should have protested, left my position against the rules, and demanded the attention of the brigade commander. I should never have believed that my commanding officer knew something that I didn’t know.

Remember, members of the 19th Knesset, that when we adopt somebody else’s worldview, we betray our duty. The agenda in which we believe is our responsibility and our authority, and we must do all we can to bring it to fruition.

A few years later, the Oslo Accords came into our world. Once again, I clearly saw the catastrophe about to happen. I saw the thousands of victims and, even worse, the loss of legitimacy for our very right to exist as a state. For if you recognize the “Organization for the Liberation of the Land of Israel from its Jews” – the PLO – what can you possibly claim?

This time, I did not remain silent. The entire country stood and cheered the emperor’s new clothes and I insisted on telling the truth.

The civil disobedience we adopted in the Zo Artzeinu protests was the greatest display of liberty and democracy that the state of Israel has ever known. Unfortunately, those protests did not stop the Oslo Accords or the destruction of Gush Katif. Even though Tel Aviv is now targeted from the ruins of Gush Katif, the Oslo worm continues to destroy us from inside. Today, as we speak, Israeli forces are destroying Ma’ale Rehavam.

When, against all odds, we managed to restore the Likud and the national camp to power in 1996, it turned out that the Right really didn’t have an alternative to Oslo. Then I understood that the debate is not really between Right and Left. It is not a debate over territory. It is a debate of identity. It is a debate between the Jew and the Israeli. The fact that the Right ascends to power is not enough to stop the deterioration. It is imperative to infuse our national conversation with Jewish meaning and content.

Two thousand years ago, we went into exile and it was not at all clear how we would survive without the Holy Temple – bereft of the authentic Jewish culture of a nation in its homeland. Then the Jewish nation invented the most successful start-up in history. It is called the Jewish religion. Judaism, which is much more than just a religion, discarded its territorial dimension and became something adaptable to the individual, the family and the community, something that can be packed into a knapsack and moved to a new place every time the Jews had to flee violence and pogroms. Religion became the lifeline of the Jews in exile.

Uprooting that which Was Planted

Monday, February 11th, 2013

An ancient road crosses the length of the Land of Israel , running from South to North. It starts at Be’er Sheva in the northern Negev, climbs up to the Hebron Hills and continues north, via Halhul and Bethlehem, to Jerusalem. The road continues to Ramallah, Nablus and Jenin, and reaches its end in the vicinity of Afula. The “Cross Israel Highway” of those days served Second Temple era pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem from Be’er Sheva and Hebron and is also known as “The Patriarchs’ Route,” named after the forefathers of the nation who traveled it.

Silent witnesses stand by the sides of the segment that passes through Gush Etzion, reminders of the bustling life in this area, over 2000 years ago.

Among these are two ritual baths, mikvahs, which were used by pilgrims on their way to the Temple, that were filled with water as in ancient times, following the heavy rains recently. Another example is the Roman milestone that lies to the side of the path, the kind of stone the Romans used to deploy along the roads in order to mark the distance from the destination.

“The Patriarchs’ Route” in Gush Etzion also passes through an area known as Netzer, located between the Elazar and Alon Shvut communities. The Netzer area is built on terraces that assemble a spectacularly beautiful, green mosaic; green grapes twining alongside old olive trees in plots of varying shapes and sizes, and in the pre-Spring season the Νetzer space looks like a Claude Monet masterpiece: the green background is spotted with the pink and white of the almond trees at the peak of their bloom. But this pastoral bubble bursts the moment we ‘zoom-in’ on the photo, then we discover a real battle for this land and the future of the country, with the innocent plants often standing in as soldiers on the frontline.

Takeover wars

The Oslo Accords divided the Judea, Samaria and Gaza Strip areas into three types of area: Area  ‘A,’ where the major Palestinian cities are located, under full Palestinian Authority civilian and security control; Area ‘B,’ under P.A. civilian control and Israeli security control; and Area ‘C,’ under full Israeli civilian and security control.

A strategic change occurred in the P.A.’s attitude towards this division in 2010: Salam Fayyad’s government decided to ignore it and focus its efforts on Area ‘C.’ The logic behind this move is clear – Areas ‘A’ and ‘B’  are already “in their pockets,” and Area ‘C’  territories are known to be of significant value. Not only do they present 60% of Judea and Samaria, they also serve as buffers between the Palestinian population concentrations. Palestinian presence in ‘C’ Territories could advance an Arab territorial continuity and drive a wedge between the Jewish community blocs.

Fayyad began making statements in the spirit of the new plan, saying that he “does not know how to read the letter ‘C,’” and that all of Judea and Samaria belong to the Palestinian State. Fayyad declared that “the greatest challenge against the occupation and the settlements is to increase the investment and agriculture on the land of area ‘C.’”

The P.A. Prime Minister does not just talk the talk: the Palestinians began diverting economic support to agricultural endeavors in area ‘C’ Territories, and their representatives pressured foreign countries and organizations, who were initially reluctant to support projects in the ‘C’ Territories, into aligning themselves with the new policy. The story of the new strategy from the Salam Fayyad “school of thought” was investigated by Makor Rishon’s Legal Magazine, B’Tze’dek and explained at great length in the past in by Gil Bringer in Makor Rishon (in an article from 13/3/2012).

The ongoing battle for the lands of Netzer, Gush Etzion, is the entire story in miniature. The choice of the location is no less than perfect for the realization of Fayyad’s vision: the land is in ‘C’ Territories, in the very center of Gush Etzion, in the buffer zone between the Elazar and Alon Shvut communities. An Arab takeover of the land will “suffocate” the nearby Jewish communities and prevent them from future growth and expansion. More importantly, it will disrupt the Jewish territorial continuity in Gush Etzion – which is known as “the heart of the consensus,” regarding the land which Israel will retain in any future agreement. The foreign funding for the Arabs’ efforts in Netzer is known, and is even recorded by a sign placed in one of the plots, depicting the “redemption” of 123 acres, courtesy of Holland.

Murdered Diplomacy

Sunday, January 20th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

If the Israel-Palestinian situation were to be considered to be like a hand grenade, the “international community” has just pulled the pin and thrown it away. Or, to put it another way, it has just taken a sledgehammer to two decades of fragile diplomacy and smashed all the diplomatic options to bits.

Even though almost nobody in the West recognizes it yet absolutely everything about the Israel-Palestinian conflict has changed. Or at least everything from the material realities which leaves Israel still stronger, in possession of part of Judea and Samaria and with the ability to act as needed to defend its security.

But any talk of Israel-Palestinian negotiations, peace process activity, compromise diplomacy, and all that stuff is meaningless now and here’s why:

The U.N. General Assembly made the Palestinian Authority (PA)-ruled entity a non-member state. Many in the West rationalized providing supporting votes or abstentions by saying this would do no harm and make Palestinians feel good.

While the United States voted against the resolution, the Obama Administration wasted the better part of two years not battling it, certainly not fighting against it effectively, and absolutely failing to convince European allies who supposedly love Obama to vote against it.

Those of us who opposed this change explained that it means destruction of the 1993 Oslo agreement and the “peace process,” as moribund as it was, by handing the Palestinian Authority (at least on paper) everything it wanted without a single compromise on its part, not even living up to previous commitments.

Ironically, the more the P.A. gets in theory the less it gains in practice. Only by making a deal with Israel can the P.A. get full possession of territory on the West Bank and define such a state’s borders and security arrangements. By refusing to negotiate with Israel or compromise, the P.A. guarantees failure.

Moreover, the P.A. has shown itself unable to get a deal with Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, without which a single Palestinian entity, much less a state, does not exist. Historically, international law has required that a state must have a single government in control of a clearly defined territory. That situation does not exist regarding any Palestinian state.

Even more serious, however, was the fact that the U.N. General Assembly action took the extraordinary step of blowing up an internationally recognized and sponsored series of agreements that only an Israel-Palestinian peace accord would determine the outcome.

In addition, we pointed out that the management of this whole enterprise was feeding the P.A.’s notion that the “international community” was recognizing its claim to every inch of Judea and Samaria, the Gaza Strip, and east Jerusalem. And since they were entitled to all of this land, they didn’t have to compromise on anything and didn’t need to reach any agreement with Israel. This assumption, of course, guarantees there won’t be any negotiated peace agreement at all.

In a May 2011 New York Times op-ed piece, P.A. leader Mahmoud Abbas laid out precisely what he has now done: “Palestine’s admission to the United Nations would pave the way for the internationalization of the conflict as a legal matter, not only a political one. It would also pave the way for us to pursue claims against Israel at the United Nations, human rights treaty bodies and the International Court of Justice.” Palestine was not admitted as a member but the recognition of it as a state was the important part.

In other words, the U.N. General Assembly’s action was the single most effective sabotage to a two-state solution since the Palestine Arab leadership’s rejection of a two-state solution based on partition in 1947. Much of the media, “experts,” and Western politicians will no doubt blame Israel and especially the Netanyahu government for the absence of a diplomatic miracle. In fact, though, Israel’s stances have now been rendered irrelevant in this regard.

During the next four years there will not be any serious Israel-Palestinian peace negotiations and it won’t be Israel’f fault. In real terms, whatever they say publicly, the U.S. and European governments seem to have recognized this fact; President Barack Obama clearly understands it, too. What they fail to understand is their own responsibility for this outcome.

Who Said, ‘I Oppose the Creation of a Palestinian State’?

Monday, January 7th, 2013

Quiz: Who is the “I” in this headline in Time Magazine?

“I Oppose the Creation of a Palestinian State”

Answer: Yitzchak Rabin in an interview in Time Magazine:

I Oppose the Creation of a Palestinian State
By Lisa Beyer/Tel Aviv and Yitzhak Rabin
Monday, Sept. 27, 1993

Q. Now that you’ve signed this agreement with the Palestinians, what next?
A. For me, the main test is the implementation, especially in Gaza. Jericho is symbolic. In Gaza there are three-quarters of a million Palestinians, poverty, economic and social problems. The real problem is to what extent the P.L.O. will have the means to take over. They have never been responsible for running a large community — to maintain law and order, to prevent terror, to run an economy, to build houses, to run schools, to develop industries. The whole future depends on how it works in Gaza-Jericho.
Q. How do you think the Palestinians will manage self-rule?
A. I believe there is a good chance they will succeed. But without a tremendous amount of money from the outside, I don’t see great hope that they will manage even in Gaza.
Q. How do you assess the security risks to Israel?
A. The Palestinians don’t present militarily a threat to the existence of Israel. There are certain risks to the personal security of a limited number of Israelis.
Q. What if the personal-security risks to Israelis increase?
A. If terror will continue, it means the Palestinians cannot keep their commitments, so what is the meaning of the agreement?
Q. In that case the accord would be rolled back?
A. I didn’t say so. You said it.
Q. How will your government respond if the right wing in Israel rebels against the accord?
A. I don’t believe that there will be rebellion. Israel is a democracy. There might be expressions of opposition, but I believe that whatever the government and Knesset approve will be carried out.
Q. What about rebellion against the Palestinian authorities?
A. No doubt they’ll have problems, mainly with Hamas. They will focus on increased terror activities against Israelis. They believe that the best way to foil the deal is to create antagonism to the agreement among the Israelis. We had lately suicide terror acts. It creates problems.
Q. The Labor Party seems to be softening its opposition to a Palestinian state.
A. No. I am against this. I oppose the creation of an independent Palestinian state between Israel and Jordan, and I don’t believe that at this stage it would be a good idea if I brought out the options.
Q. How will the accord affect your negotiations with Syria, Lebanon and Jordan?
A. We expect the other partners in the peace negotiations to assist in the implementation of what has been agreed upon with the Palestinians. Idon’t see a problem signing a peace treaty with Jordan tomorrow if they limit the issues to Jordanian-Israeli problems. It will facilitate negotiations with Syria, but maybe on a longer timetable.
Q. When you shook Arafat’s hand in Washington, you managed a smile. Or was it a grimace?
A. I can’t remember. I stood there for about one hour. Do you expect me to remember every expression that I had?
Q. It must have been a memorable moment. How did you feel?
A. It was not easy.
Q. What made you decide finally to deal directly with the P.L.O.?
A. It took me and others a long time to overcome the mental and practical block to this. For 30 years the P.L.O. carried out terror activities, among them many cases I can call atrocities. But mutual recognition, in my humble opinion — to the extent that they will keep their commitment, and I assume they will — made the P.L.O. entirely different from what it was before.
Q. You are 71 years old, late in your political career. Did this motivate you to reach a solution now?
A. It is not a question of my age but a question of my purpose in being in politics. When I decided to run for Prime Minister, I believed that the coincidence of events on the international scene, in the Middle East, in Israel were ripe to achieve two goals: peace and security, and changing the order of national priorities for the people of Israel — not to look at the territories as the main issue. At least 96% of Israeli Jews live on sovereign Israeli soil, within the green lines, including united Jerusalem. The future of Israel depends much more on what that 96% of Jews and about 1 million non-Jewish Israeli citizens will achieve in their economy, social progress, cultural and scientific achievements.

How right he was – and how wrong.

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Are You Poll Fooled?

Monday, December 31st, 2012

Fooled by this poll?

Poll: Most right-wing Israelis would support Palestinian state, division of Jerusalem The principles of the agreement as presented to respondents were for two states – Israel for the Jewish people and Palestine for the Palestinians, with Palestinian refugees having the right to return only to their new country.

(Molad, the group behind this latest left-wing progressive poll, is a regurgitation other Israel-bashing bullies such as Breaking the Silence, Sheikh Jarah Solidarity, et al. with Avrum Burg which ‘merits’ the worship of Haaretz providing their headline status.)

But didn’t we just read that 67% of Israelis won’t divide Jerusalem? And didn’t we read this:

The May (five months ago!) data is from Tel Aviv University’s Walter Lebach Institute for Jewish-Arab Coexistence…  Some findings:
80 percent of Israelis don’t believe it’s possible to make peace with the Palestinians. Half of them don’t believe it’s ever possible to make peace, while half don’t believe it’s possible in the foreseeable future. About two-thirds support a diplomatic solution, but many more still eagerly buy the convenient argument that there’s no partner.
-Only about 20 percent of secular Jews see the demographic threat as an existential problem and only one-third believe the occupation and the settlements are creating a security threat to Israel.
- Nearly half the respondents consider Palestinian terror a major security problem;
Within the Green Line, the number who consider themselves rightists or right-leaning has increased from 41 percent to 48 percent

Previously in 2008, there was this:

Two-thirds of Israelis support a total or partial resumption of building communities in Judea and Samaria, according to a poll broadcast on Wednesday, as peace talks are due to restart in Washington.

Israpundit reminds us of this poll this past June:

A new poll shows a solid majority of Israelis – 64% – supports the continuation of the settlement enterprise in Judea and Samaria. The remaining 36% support a temporary freeze on Jewish construction there or a complete freeze of construction. While these numbers are unchanged from last year, this year’s poll shows a small increase compared to last year in the percentages of Israelis who think Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria is a “truly Zionist deed” (64%) and that Judea and Samaria are the country’s security belt (57%)

You should be interested in this late 2010 survey in which respondents were asked (among many others) the following two questions:

“If during peace talks, Israel succeeds in reaching a permanent peace with the Palestinians that is backed by the United States and includes the evacuation of all of the settlements in the West Bank/Judea and Samaria, in your opinion, should Israel sign or not sign such an agreement?”

And “if it includes only the evacuation of the settlements and territories […] that are outside the large settlement blocs, since the large blocs would remain in Israeli hands, in your opinion should Israel sign or not sign the agreement?”

The answers:

A large majority (72%) favors such negotiations, but only 33% think they are likely to bear fruit.   Is there a price for extending the construction freeze? A clear majority (74%) supports Netanyahu’s demand that the Palestinian leadership recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people as a condition for extending the building freeze in the settlements…

Is there a price for peace? In return for a permanent peace with the Palestinians backed by the United States, half of the Jewish public are willing to evacuate settlements that lie beyond the large settlement blocs (a minority of 43% oppose this). However, only a minority (28%) thinks Israel should sign such an agreement and pay for it by evacuating all of the settlements in the territories (a majority of 65% oppose such an evacuation).

This past April,  in response to a question about the urgency of achieving Israeli-Palestinian peace,

58% of the Jewish respondents and 51% of the Arab respondents defined the issue as urgent or very urgent. At the same time, 58% of the Jewish interviewees and 61% of the Arab ones saw no chance of ending the conflict in accordance with the “two states for two peoples” formula at the present time.

And earlier in January, it was found that

a large majority (76%) preferring that Israel remain a country with a Jewish majority, with one-quarter preferring that Israel continue to rule all of the Land of Israel west of the Jordan. Asked how they would respond if they knew that “continued Israeli rule over the West Bank would lead to one state for Jews and Arabs in the entire Land of Israel that would not have a Jewish majority,” the majority (63%) answered that in this case they would oppose continued rule in the territories. However, the majority (54%) did not agree with the claim that continued rule in the territories will result in a country without a Jewish majority. Some 54% believe that continued rule in the territories will not prevent Israel from remaining a Jewish and democratic state. In other words, the public indeed prefers that Israel be a Jewish state over continued rule over the whole Land of Israel, but most of it does not believe there is a contradiction between the two objectives.

What Abbas’s Latest Threats Really Mean

Monday, December 31st, 2012

Mahmoud Abbas has once again threatened to dismantle the Palestinian Authority which he heads in Judea and Samaria.

This time he chose to make his new old threat in an interview with the daily Haaretz.

“If there is no progress [in the peace process] even after the election I will take the phone and call [Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu,” Abbas said. “I’ll tell him…Sit in the chair here instead of me, take the keys, and you will be responsible for the Palestinian Authority.”

Abbas’s threat was made shortly after he met in his Ramallah office with Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On ahead of the January 22 election in Israel.

The threat to disband the Palestinian Authority should be seen as yet another attempt attempt on the part of Abbas to influence Israeli voters.

Abbas is trying to scare Israeli voters by warning them that the re-election of Netanyahu would be a disaster for the “peace process” and would result in anarchy and chaos in Judea and Samaria after the Palestinian Authority is dismantled.

In private, Abbas and his top aides have been talking about the need to strengthen the left-wing in Israel. They were hoping that former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert would run in the election at the head of a left-wing block that would remove Netanyahu from power.

But since Olmert has decided not to run in the upcoming election, Palestinian leaders in Judea and Samaria have resorted to a new tactic to convince voters not to vote for Netanyahu and other right-wing parties.

This tactic is based on sowing fear and panic among Israelis of what could happen if they voted for Netanyahu once again.

By threatening to disband the Palestinian Authority, Abbas is hinting at the possibility that Israel may again find itself responsible for the day-to-day affairs of the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria.

He is telling Israelis that a vote for Netanyahu would mean a return to the pre-Oslo era, when the Israel Defense Forces were fully responsible for the Palestinian education and health systems.

At the same time, Abbas is trying to persuade the Israeli public that he remains committed to the “peace process” and that he is the only Palestinian leader who is willing to make concessions for the sake of peace.

But this is the same Abbas who for the past four years had set pre-conditions for resuming the peace talks with Israel and violated the Oslo Accords by unilaterally asking the UN General Assembly to upgrade the Palestinians’ status, which it did, to a non-member observer state.

In yet another (unsuccessful) attempt to impact Israeli voters, Abbas recently gave an interview to Israel’s Channel 2 TV station, where he signaled his readiness to relinquish the “right of return” of Palestinians to their former homes inside Israel.

Within hours, however, Palestinian media outlets quoted Abbas and several of his advisors as denying that he had offered to relinquish the “sacred right of return.”

What Abbas is not telling the Israeli public is that he simply does not have a mandate from his people to make any form of concessions to Israel.

Abbas himself seems to have forgotten that his term in office expired in January 2009. He is also ignoring recent public opinion polls showing a rise in Hamas’s power and popularity among Palestinians.

This is not the first time that the Palestinian Authority leadership has tried to influence Israeli voters.

In the past, Abbas’s predecessor, Yasser Arafat, used to appear in Israeli media outlets on the eve of Israeli elections to talk about his deep commitment to peace and how he was doing his utmost to prevent Hamas and other terrorist groups from carrying out attacks against Israel. Some left-wing Israeli journalists who were close to Arafat spared no effort to help him in his effort to market himself to the Israeli public as a true peace partner.

Back to Abbas’s threats, which so far do not appear to have impressed either Israelis or Palestinians. The Israeli public has long lost faith in Abbas and the “peace process,” and is no longer taking any of his threats seriously.

As for the Palestinians, many wondered this week why Abbas was talking about handing the “keys” of the Palestinian Authority to the Israeli prime minister.

Wouldn’t it be better, these Palestinians asked, if Abbas gave the “keys” back to his people and stepped down? Isn’t there one Palestinian who could replace Abbas?

So why doesn’t Abbas consider the possibility of handing the “keys” to another Palestinian? The answer is clear: Abbas apparently believes that if he cannot lead the Palestinians, no one else should — that if he comes down, then the entire Palestinian Authority should also collapse.

Disbanding the Palestinian Authority will harm Palestinians in Judea and Samaria more than it will affect Israel. The first to pay the price of such a move will be the 150,000 employees of the Palestinian Authority and their families.

This would also prove to be a dangerous step since it would facilitate a Hamas takeover of the West Bank.

The Palestinian Authority needs to stay, but its veteran leaders need to pave the way for new faces.

A changing of the guard in the Palestinian Authority is something that the US and EU, the major funders of Abbas and his associates, could play a major role in bringing about.

Originally published at the Gatestone Institute.

American ‘Experts’: Listen to Ordinary Israelis First

Sunday, December 30th, 2012

I am not one who thinks that only Israelis have the right to comment about Israel. After all, I’m an American and I write about it all the time. But I do think that foreigners should at least pay attention to what Israelis think when forming their opinions, and even more so when proposing ‘solutions’. After all, Israelis are the ones who suffer the consequences of outside meddling.

Can there be a worse example than Thomas L. Friedman of the NY Times? Recently he wrote,

Israel’s friends need to understand that the center-left in Israel is dying. The Israeli election in January will bring to power Israeli rightists who never spoke at your local Israel Bonds dinner. These are people who want to annex the West Bank. Bibi Netanyahu is a dove in this crowd. The only thing standing between Israel and national suicide any more is America and its willingness to tell Israel the truth. [emphasis in original]

It’s hard to imagine a more arrogant attitude! For Friedman’s information, Israel is a democracy, and if right-wing politicians are elected, it is — gasp — because Israelis voted for them. And probably the single most important issue driving votes today — not the only issue, by any means, but the most important — is security.

Israelis have finally realized what a bill of goods they were sold in 1993, when they were suckered into the Oslo agreements. They experienced the Second Intifada, and the results of the ill-advised withdrawal from Gaza. Most of them now understand that security does not lie in surrendering territory near Israel’s population centers to those who want to kill them.

They also are coming to understand that they don’t have to allow antisemitic Europe and Saudi-influenced America to to define the borders of the Jewish state and its capital. Some even believe that the 19-year Jordanian occupation of Judea and Samaria, including eastern Jerusalem, did not magically render these areas forbidden to Jews. And the fact that “Palestinians want these areas for their future state,” as we constantly read in news reports, is not an argument for giving them up.

Friedman and other ‘friends’ of Israel believe that they know better, recycling the ideology of the Israeli Left that Israelis themselves have rejected out of harsh experience. They are either ignorant of reality, or their objective is not that Israel should survive and thrive — but something else.

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