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The European Union and Its Court: Stacked Against Israel

Monday, January 14th, 2013

The partiality and exaggerated rhetoric of the European Union (EU) against Israel has, in recent weeks, become ever more familiar. The EU condemned Israel’s plans to construct housing units in the four-mile area known as E1 between Jerusalem and Ma’ale Adumim, a settlement of more than 40,000 residents; its High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Catherine Ashton, said she regarded construction plans in the neighborhoods of Givat Hamatos and Ramat Shlomo as “extremely troubling.”

Yet neither the settlements nor the proposed construction have ever prevented negotiations to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is noticeable that the EU has not articulated any serious criticism of the terrorist attacks from Gaza against Israeli civilians — actions that do make a peaceful solution less probable. Further, as Israel’s former ambassador to the UN points out, the EU has never criticized the Turkish “settlers” for their “occupation” of Northern Cyprus, or “their own citizens who build beach-front villas in territory under Turkish occupation.” [Israel Hayom, January 7, 2013]. There is no mention of “Chinese occupied Tibet,” or “Pakistan occupied Kashmir.”

The continuing criticism of Israel comes at a moment when 14 of the 27 countries in the EU voted in the UN General Assembly on November 29, 2012 for the resolution that “Palestine” become a nonmember observer state at the UN. Only the Czech Republic voted against the resolution. The EU disregarded the fact that this resolution, a unilateral action, was illegal, a violation by the Palestinians of binding obligations in the Oslo Accords and other agreements with both Israel and the U.N., including Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, which guaranteed that the final status arrangements should be reached only through direct negotiations. In addition the EU has refused to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. These decisions do not exactly evidence a record for any kind of EU objectivity; Ireland, arguably the harshest European critic of Israel, just assumed the presidency of the EU on January 1, 2013.

It had been hoped, however, that the European Court of Justice, established in 1952 to interpret EU law, and now composed of 27 judges who meet in Luxembourg, would be more impartial than the EU in its decisions on issues regarding Israel. Unfortunately, the record of the Court so far has been disappointing, and its partiality has been shown on a number of occasions.

In its judgment on February 20, 2010, the Court ruled that goods produced by Israeli companies based in the disputed territories of Judea and Samaria (the “West Bank”)  did not qualify for duty-free import into the EU. The Euro-Mediterranean agreement between the European Community and Israel, signed on November 20, 1995 allows Israeli industrial products to be imported into the EU countries without customs duties. The decision in the 2010 case arose from the application by the German drinks manufacturer Brita to import soda-water makers and drink syrups manufactured by an Israeli firm, Soda Club, based in the settlement of Mishor Adumim. The European Court upheld the refusal of German customs officials to grant exemption from customs duties in this matter.

The Court explained its decision by what may be considered specious reasoning. The European Community (the predecessor of the EU) had signed an agreement on trade and cooperation with the PLO for “the benefit of the Palestinian Authority of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip” on February 24, 1997. The Court held that each of the two association trade agreements had its own “territorial scope;” one scope was the State of Israel, and the other the territory of Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip. Therefore, for the Court, products made by Israel which originated in Judea and Samaria did not fall within the “territorial scope” of the European-Israel agreement, and thus did not qualify for preferential customs treatment. The Court also presumed to considered the presence of Israel in Judea and Samaria “illegal.”

The most recent decision by the European Court is pure judicial burlesque. On January 20, 2010 the president of the Israeli think tank, NGO Monitor, who is a British citizen and thus has standing, filed a lawsuit, under the EU’s Freedom of Information Law, against the European Commission (EC), the executive arm of the EU, to obtain information found in 200 documents about EC funding of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). These bodies often pose as “peace” and “human rights” organizations, ” but in reality are highly politicized advocacy groups, attempting to manipulate Israel through boycotts, divestments, sanction, frivolous and malicious lawsuits, and accusations of alleged “war crimes” — all of which would render them ineligible for EU funding.

The Right Brought Oslo: What Does Dayan Mean?

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

In explaining his decision to resign as Yesha Council Chairman and campaign for Netanyahu, Danny Dayan said that, “We brought Oslo on ourselves” and, “We’re likely to make the same mistakes today.”

“In 1992 I was the secretary of Tehiya,” Dayan explained,” and together with Geula Cohen and Elyakim Haetzni we brought down Shamir over some nonsense.”

But wasn’t it Yitzchak Rubin’s Labor government that initiated Oslo? So what is Dayan talking about?

Tehiya was a faction of Knesset Members, including Lehi veteran Geula Cohen, that broke away from the Likud in 1979 protest of the Camp David Accords.

In 1988, the Likud and Labor was roughly evenly sized. Shamir was forced to form a national-unity government with Shimon Peres and the Alignment, for a second time. In 1990, Peres broke the agreement and the Alignment withdrew from the government, leaving Shamir without the minimum 61 seats for a coalition. Tehiya, at that time numbering three MKs, was brought in to form the new coalition of a mere 62 seats.

Then, after sustained pressure from the Bush administration, in October 1991, Shamir agreed to Israel’s participation in negotiations with Israel’s neighbors in Madrid, Spain, in what became known as the Madrid Conference. The conference included the participation of Palestinian representatives from Judea and Samaria and Gaza. In protest, the Tehiya party, for which Dayan served as its secretary, pulled out of the coalition to bring down Shamir’s government, which it did.

In the subsequent elections, Labor won and ultimately led Israel to sign the Oslo Accords and set Israel on the path towards establishing a Palestinian state.

Another unintended consequence was that Shamir resigned as Likud chairman in March 1993. That created a power vacuum which Benjamin Netanyahu, whom Tehiya’s ideological progeny – the National Union and now Power to Israel – disdain because of his lack of ideological purity.

How Tehiya’s lack of cooperation with the Likud compares with the current situation in which the Likud is losing mandates to the Jewish Home party is another discussion, but it is a clear lesson on the unintended consequences of taking extreme action – bringing down a right-wing government – over protest of a mere participation in a conference, in fear that it would set a precedent. Of course principle and precedents for the future matter, but consequences matter too and in promoting the good of the nation common sense must be used in the service of the principles we seek to uphold.

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.

Visit My Right Word.

Shas Gonna Shas

Monday, January 7th, 2013

“Haters gonna hate,” the saying goes. Ditto for political parties.

On January 3, Ynet reported about a Shas event held in the Arab Galileevillage of Abu Sanan. Aryeh Deri mentioned feeling at home and told his audience, “You will have someone to turn to and our respect.” Eli Yishai likewise stated, “Inshallah, God willing, we will have our victory party right here.”

This should be as surprising as reading that Meretz members advocate public transportation on Shabbat. Does Shas greasing the rails for Oslo I by abstention ring a bell? How about the coalition Shas formed with Meretz and Labor in 1992 to enable Rabin’s government?

It wasn’t out of the blue that Rabbi Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff said in 2010, “Any commitment of Shas to Torat HaShem Temima is purely coincidental at best… A vote for Shas is a vote to give back the Kotel” (See 28:45 here.)

Rabbi David Bar-Hayim has commented on Shas and Oslo I: “They allowed it to take place because they did nothing…They did nothing because they were paid off. This is a clear-cut, simple, straightforward case of shochad…” (See 1:19:50 here.)

But the problem isn’t just Shas. Before the establishment of this party, the Lubavitcher Rebbe zt”l likewise stated regarding the Camp David Accords:

What’s most distressing is that the voices that should have been raised in opposition have been   silenced by bribes. Those who have accepted the bribes may protest the money has gone to Yeshivos, etc. However, no money that is stained with Jewish blood can help in the education of    a Jewish child.

These words remain all too timely, as do those of Rabbi Meir Kahane hy”d in 1981:

Years of a National Religious Party holding the balance of power in the government and doing    nothing as it supped happily at the tables of money and power. Almost four years of an Agudat Yisrael party, which is quite happy to support Begin in return for money for its institutions and yeshivot.

Specific to Rabbi Kahane’s points, Rabbi Rakeffets remarked on various occasions from 2005 and 2012 about the destruction of Gush Katif, the empowerment of Hamas, and the complicity of Agudat Yisrael:

* “You open up The Jewish Press, Menachem Porush is crying and yelling and shouting…against the disengagement. You phony. You falsifier. You liar. Your own party is sitting in the government and giving them a majority and enabling them to do what they want, and you’re crying in The Jewish Press. And people are so stupid. They read it and follow it and think Torah Mi Sinai. (See 28:55 here.)

* “Every rocket falling in on Israel today—Agudat Yisrael, the Gerrer Rebbe, has a share in it.” (See 8:50 here.)

* “…a Moetzet Gedolei HaTorah that enabled the Israeli government to give back Gush Katif and bring endless tragedy upon the Jewish People…Agudat Yisrael made it possible. I lived it. I saw it. It was tangible. Everyone knows about it…The price we are paying, the price we have paid, and the price we will yet pay for the stupidity of Agudat Yisrael that enabled the Israeli government to go along with Sharon and Olmert. It’s overwhelming.” (See 1:05:35 here.)

Israel Threatens to Cancel Oslo, Oust Abbas if He Guns for State at UN

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

If the UN accepts Palestine as a nonmember state, effectively recognizing its bid to become a state, Israel may cancel all or part of the Oslo accords according to reports, and may even go as far as working to oust Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas from his position.

The Foreign Ministry has instructed embassies to alert foreign leaders that an attempt to unilaterally declare a Palestinian state is a violation of Oslo, and to work with them to thwart a Palestinian statehood bid.  Nonetheless, Abbas has said he will attempt to get UN recognition for a Palestinian state, urging the UN General Assembly on November 29  - the anniversary of the UN Partition Plan and the UN’s International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People – to accept it as a nonmember state.

An overwhelming majority of the 193 member states are expected to agree.

A Palestinian nonmember state would not have a General Assembly vote, but would fall under the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice, where it could bring cases against Israeli authority in Judea, Samaria, and Jerusalem.

Rumors are also circulating that a statehood bid would cause Israel to stop transferring tax money Israel collects for the PA to the organization, and to cancel permits which enable Palestinians to work inside “mainland” Israel.  According to a report by Channel 2, the Foreign Ministry is also weighing the possibility of assisting opposition to Abbas in investigating corruption allegations which would delegitimize him and cause him to lose popular support.

“The Palestinian resolution is a clear violation of the fundamental principle of negotiations,” Roni Leshno-Yaar, head of Israel’s foreign ministry division for international organizations, told Ha’aretz.

“The adoption of the resolution will give Israel the right to re-evaluate previous agreements with the PLO and consider canceling them partially or completely, and would make progress in the peace process more difficult in the future,” he added.

Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan called for the immediate annexation of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria as a response to the Palestinian statehood bid.

A report in Ha’aretz this morning suggests Foreign Minister Liberman is considering a draft document that would offer the Palestinians immediate recognition of statehood along temporary borders, as a type of “carrot” incentive for the Palestinians to drop their campaign at the United Nations.

Islamist Held for Offering to ‘Guard’ Norwegian Jews With AK-47

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

Norwegian police have increased security around Oslo’s main synagogue after an Islamist extremist threatened to “protect” the Jewish community with an “AK-47 assault rifle and a hunting permit.”

Police on Oct. 27 recommended indicting Ubaydullah Hussain, the 27-year-old leader of the radical Islamic organization Profetens Ummah. He was arrested last week after Norwegian media reported on a comment that appeared on his Facebook account:  “I will give them protection … as soon as I have received a hunting license and get hold of an AK47.”

Hussain, a former soccer referee who was born and raised in Norway, also lamented the absence of fatalities in a 2006 shooting outside the synagogue. Hussain, who participated in recent protests outside the U.S. embassy in Norway in connection with the film “The Innocence of Muslims,” later told Norwegian television he “could not confirm or deny” that his statements were a threat.

The comment was made in reaction to an interview with Ervin Kohn, head of Norway’s Jewish community, which recently appeared in the daily VG newspaper. Kohn said police were not providing protection outside the synagogue on Oslo’s Hanshaugen Street during services and were not proactive enough in their approach.

“We felt like we had been neglected, and this made us uneasy in light of what happened in Toulouse and in Malmo,” Kohn told JTA

In March, Mohammed Merah, a radical Islamist, killed three children and a rabbi in a Jewish school in the French city of Toulouse. Last month, an explosive charge was detonated outside the only synagogue in the Swedish city of Malmo.

Kohn said that since last week, there has been police protection outside the main synagogue of Oslo, the capital city, which is home to most members of Norway’s Jewish community of approximately 700.

The Alternative

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

“We’ve been living under mortar fire for 18 years. We have to do something,” said the young woman from Sderot on Razi Barkai’s radio show.

“What do you want the leaders to do?” asked Barkai.

“I don’t know, but what they are doing now doesn’t help,” replied the Sderot resident.

“Sorry to say this to you, but they also don’t know what to do,” Barkai said. “[It’s] not because they are stupid, but because there is simply no solution.”

It has been about 18 years since the Oslo Accords were implemented. It is simple to understand that the continuous terror raining down on Israel’s cities is the result of those accords. Why then doesn’t Israel’s leadership annul them? Why doesn’t it restore full Israeli control over Gaza, Judea and Samaria? Isn’t it cheaper than digging Beersheba into the ground or covering Sderot with a layer of cement? Isn’t it safer than being the targets of a hail of missiles on civilian targets? What does “there is no solution” mean? After all, just as our very own current president, Shimon Peres, and his cohorts brought this problem upon us, we can free ourselves from the problem.

Why doesn’t that happen?

The answer to that question is two-dimensional. First, the technical dimension: It is impossible to free ourselves of Oslo because those who brought it upon us knew how to tie the fate of a broad spectrum of Israeli elites to the “peace process.” Too many politicians, businessmen, academicians, senior IDF officers, political pundits, journalists, writers and other opinion makers – yes, almost everybody who is anybody in our small land – are sustained in one way or another by Oslo. They are all sitting on the branch that, if we want to solve the problem, must be cut off.

So although we sent the IDF into Gaza in Operation Cast Lead, we stopped precisely at the point when Gaza would have surrendered, leaving us once again responsible over it. That would have cancelled Oslo. That is why I opposed Cast Lead at the time. I knew that the operation was destined for defeat from its very beginning – as later became crystal clear.

The second dimension is the deeper, spiritual reason. It is impossible to blame the Left for the desperate, dangerous and irresponsible Oslo experiment. Zionist normalcy had reached a dead end. Oslo was not anti-Zionist. Oslo was a final, desperate attempt to cling to Zionism, to cling to the return of the Jewish people to its land. (The Disengagement was something else, and the true leftists opposed it.) We returned to history, specifically in this land. If our neighbors cannot accept that – even after they have repeatedly been beaten by us – something is simply not working. “We must compromise,” the Left says. “If we don’t, we will have used the vehicles of secularism and Zionism to return to the exile state of non-normalcy from which we fled. The entire Zionist idea will be proven a failure.”

We cannot claim that the Left has failed because the Right, including the religious Right, never proposed an alternative. That is, until Manhigut Yehudit came along.

“What do you suggest?” Avraham Burg, Molad chairman and the former Knesset speaker, asked Hagai Segal on the Knesset channel. When the answer he got was basically, “We’ll wait and see,” Burg said, “Feiglin is the only person who challenges the political frameworks in Israel.”

That is actually the reason why I am running for Likud leader: to give Israeli society a new direction, an alternative to Oslo. We really can’t nullify Oslo, not because of the technical reason but because, first and foremost, we have no new alternative.

The alternative is already here. When it is internalized, the people of Sderot will finally be able to leave their bomb shelters.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/moshe-feiglin/the-alternative/2012/10/18/

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