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September 18, 2014 / 23 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘palestinian’

Why These Negotiations Will Always Fail

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

Peace in the Middle East between Israel and its neighbors—including the Palestinians—is generally described as “elusive.” Why have forty years of active efforts not led to permanent peace in the region? Why 20 years after Oslo is there no great sign that peace stands ready to break out between the Palestinians and Israelis? The simple answer is that parties are negotiating on different planes that can never intersect.

Let’s analyze the ostensible goals of the parties to the current round of talks. The Israelis want peace and one can see why: lower regional threats, less military spending, greater regional cooperation, increased tourism revenue, export of Israeli technology, increased trade with Europe and more. What do the Palestinians get in the peace deal? They get less than half of the land they believe they deserve. They can look forward to a million or more Arab “refugees” showing up, expecting housing, food, work, and schools. They will be saddled with building an economy without natural resources or a strong technical ethos, while international donations will dry up (especially from Muslim countries, for the sin of recognizing a Jewish state). In short, the Israelis have much to gain from peace, while the Palestinian leaders who are running their side of the talks have much to lose.

Additionally, Israelis negotiate like Americans and Europeans: they try to cut a deal, but if it does not work, then they fall back to the present conditions. The Palestinians work in a different way: either they get what they want, or they pull out the terror card. Lawyers who reviewed signed confessions of Marwan Barghouti’s lieutenants found a singular pattern: if negotiations in the Arafat period were going well, then Tanzim and the like were told to lay low. If the Israelis were intransigent—on borders, refugees, or the like—then the order was given to attack. Negotiations cannot proceed when one side is willing to take a much greater liberty than the other side is willing to entertain. Picture if one football team had to respect the out-of-bound lines, while the other did not. The Israelis might walk away from talks, but they would not order the murder of Palestinian citizens, leftist propaganda aside. The Palestinians, on the other hand, are more than comfortable using attacks on Israeli citizens as a means to get what they want at the negotiating table—and this is a point that Americans and Europeans diplomats have never understood. They are convinced that everyone thinks like they do: peace is always good, and the rules of negotiations exclude violence between sides.

The reason for this failed understanding is cultural. Let’s look back at the Nazis, some of the greatest murderers ever. One notes that no German soldier was ever commanded to either kill or injure himself in order to gas, shoot, blow up, torch or otherwise kill a Jew. The Nazis were sadists and invented horrific ways to kill Jewish men, women and children; still, they would not have considered personal bodily harm or worse as being required to kill a Jew. The Palestinians, on the other hand, not only are active practitioners of suicide bombings, but polls still show that their citizenry supports such activities. We of a Western mind-frame find it impossible to consider such an act—whom do we hate so much that we would be willing to undertake such horrific activity? Are there any children or aged citizens of any country that we would hope to obliterate with flying shrapnel so as to somehow exact revenge on somebody else who has some tenuous relationship to the ones blown up? I have asked these questions to student groups visiting from the US; no one can answer in the affirmative.
This week marked another gratuitous prisoner release by Israel in the ersatz peace process.

These releases have generally been categorized as “confidence building measures.” Is there anyone who could define or identify any confidence built by releasing 26 murderers? The Palestinians partied with the released convicts and demanded the release of all Palestinian prisoners; Israelis felt anguish at the release and saw protests and complaints against the release of more murderers. What confidence was built by this act? None. The prisoner release is a bribe to the Palestinian leaders to continue with the worthless process of peace-making, so that they can show their base that they are getting something from the talks. The terrorists are free, the Palestinians only want more, and the Israeli leadership is put in the uncomfortable position of explaining why murderers walk free, with nothing to show for it. The Palestinians get their terrorists back, but the act has no tangible effect on the direction, good will or pace of the negotiations.

The current peace talks will enjoy the same fate as their predecessors; and ditto for any future talks. The talks will break down because even the most left-wing Israeli politician is not yet ready to commit national suicide to accommodate the minimal Palestinian demands on dividing Jerusalem, accepting indefensible borders, and welcoming anything more than some token refugees. The Palestinians will blame the Israelis, as will most of the international community. Israel will point the finger at an intransigent Palestinian Authority, and we’ll wait for the whole process to start again sometime in the future.

I would argue that the above analysis is pragmatic and not in the least pessimistic. The Palestinians have too much to lose by making peace and also play by rules not understood or appreciated by the likes of John Kerry or Catherine Ashton. The simple fact is that the Palestinian Authority today enjoys large contributions from international donors and avoids all responsibility for building a functional society designed to absorb four generations of self-made Palestinian “refugees” living in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and the like. Israel looks forward to a rosier future, one that would include peace; the Palestinian cannot see getting a better deal than they have in the present. And for that, negotiations will—again—go nowhere, however much John Kerry and his Israeli partners try to tell us otherwise.

Bat Yam Bus Bombers Captured

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

The Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) has lifted a gag order and revealed that security forces arrested 14 suspects, including four senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad members, in the bombing of a Bat Yam bus near Tel Aviv last month. Bat Yam Terorrist 1

The four Islamic Jihad terrorists are from Bethlehem, between Jerusalem and Gush Etzion, and Bedouin from the Negev, with Israeli citizenship, were among others who were arrested.
Bat Yam Terorrist 2

Two brothers belonging to the Islamic Jihad, Shahada Tamari (previously jailed in Israel), 24, and Hamadi Tamari, a Palestinian police officer (also previously jailed in Israel), 21, and Yousef Salamah, 22, made the remote-control bomb with four pounds of explosives and nails and screws to inflict maximum injuries.
Bat Yam Terorrist 3

The bomb was in a black bag that they gave to the fourth Islamic Jihad terrorist, Sami Harimi, 20, who took it with him to the southern Hevron Hills, where the security fence is relatively ineffective, with hundreds of Arabs bypassing it every day to enter Be’er Sheva and the coastal regions.

Screws, nails, ball bearings and other metal pieces that were inside the bomb to maximize the number of people killed.

Screws, nails ball bearings and other metal pieces that were inside the bomb to maximize the number of people injured and killed.

A Negev Bedouin, who carries Israeli citizenship, drove him to Jaffa. Harimi knew the Jaffa-Tel Aviv area well because he worked in a restaurant in Jaffa, without a permit.

The terrorists prayed in a mosque before Harimi boarded a public bus with the bag and then left it there when he got off at another stop.

He then called the mobile phone number that was attached to the bomb, setting it off.

The attack would have caused massive casualties if it had not been for three people who together saved many lives. A child told a passenger that someone had left a bag on the bus, and the passenger in turn was curious and noticed wires sticking out of the bag. He told the bus driver, who immediately cleared everyone off the bus.

Moments later, the bus blew up.

Security personnel arrested Harimi in Bethlehem several days after the attack, and he revealed that the Islamic Jihad terrorists were planning to stage a large-scale terrorist attack in Tel Aviv after the buys bombing.

The investigation by the Shin Bet and the subsequent arrests foiled a second attack, which could have caused a disaster because security personnel found an additional 45 pounds of explosive near the home of one of the Tamari brothers.

More arrests are expected.

Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas said last week that he will demand that Israel release all terrorists,including those who might be arrested during John Kerry’s peace talk festival.

Kerry landed in Israel Thursday evening, less than six hours before the Shin Bet lifted the gag order on the arrests.

The Two-State Solution Is Obsolete

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

The Americans, the Europeans and the international community in general are constantly demanding the implementation of a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders. For example, when French President Francois Hollande spoke at the Knesset recently, he stated, “We need a compromise through a two-state solution.” He emphasized that Jerusalem should be a shared capital city of both the Jewish and Palestinian peoples and stressed that settlement construction should come to an end. Statements by US President Barack Obama, US Secretary of State John Kerry, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, and Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron are very similar to Hollande’s.

However, any political analysis of the current situation on the ground in the Holy Land would suggest that such models are an obsolete way of thinking. For starters, the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian Authority are not controlled by the same political entity. The Gaza Strip is controlled by the Hamas terrorist organization, who to date refuses to reconcile with the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority. By refusing to sign a reconciliation agreement with Fatah, Hamas has essentially ensured that there can be no united Palestinian leadership. If there is no united Palestinian leadership, there can’t be a unified Palestinian state.

History is full of examples of entities that broke up because they were separated by geographic distance and cultural differences. Bangladesh used to be East Pakistan. However, the culture in Bangladesh is very different from the Pakistani mentality. In Pakistan, they primarily speak Urdu, while the language in Bangladesh is Bangla. The Bangladeshi people felt oppressed by Pakistan. Some Bangladeshis accuse them of committing genocide against them. Furthermore, Pakistan was geographically disconnected from them and so they decided to break off to become a separate country.

The situation is quite similar in regards to the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority and the Hamas-dominated Gaza Strip. Fatah supporters in the Gaza Strip feel oppressed by Hamas and Hamas supporters within the Palestinian Authority view the Fatah leadership with disdain. Furthermore, the populations in Gaza and Judea and Samaria are very different from each other culturally speaking. The Arabs living in Judea and Samaria are more liberal and cosmopolitan than the ones living in the Gaza Strip. To add insult to injury, the two territories are geographically disconnected from each other and the two populations rarely intermarry with each other.

The Fatah-Hamas divide in itself should have killed the idea of a two-state for two peoples’ paradigm. This should be the case especially given the fact that Hamas refuses to recognize the existence of the Jewish state as well and states specifically in their charter that they are opposed to all peace negotiations. They support waging a violent jihad until Israel ceases to exist. For them, it is war until either Israel vanishes or they cease to exist.

Even if Fatah recognizes Israel’s right to exist, in the absence of a military defeat of Hamas, two-states for two peoples living in peace is a fairy tale for children. Yet interestingly enough, even Fatah remains committed to destroying Israel in phases, refuses to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, and views the two-states for two-people’s paradigm merely as the first phase towards liberating all of Palestine. Given this reality, it is time for the international community to consider other models for resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in the absence of paradigms that have been proven to be unworkable.

How Jerusalem’s Arabs Act Against Their Own Interests

Friday, October 18th, 2013

Originally published at Gatestone Institute.

As Israelis prepare to cast their ballots in the municipal elections next week, tens of thousands of eligible Arab voters in Jerusalem will once again boycott the democratic process.

In the past few days, the Palestinian Liberation Organization [PLO], Hamas and several other Palestinian organizations have called on the Arab residents of Jerusalem to stay away from the ballot boxes.

These organizations maintain that Arab participation in the municipal election would be interpreted as recognition of Israel’s decision to annex the eastern part of the city in the aftermath of the 1967 Israeli-Arab war.

As such, the vast majority of the Arab residents have since been boycotting the local election, mainly out of fear of being dubbed “traitors” by various Palestinian organizations.

But if anyone stands to lose from the boycott it is the Arabs themselves.

First, the boycott has done nothing to undermine Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem. Some would even argue that Israeli dominion over the city has never been as strong as it is these days, especially in wake of the Arab residents’ failure to take part in crucial decisions concerning their neighborhoods and villages.

Second, the boycott has severely harmed the interests of the Arab residents, who have been denied the chance to have representatives in the municipal council who would fight for better services and the improvement of their living conditions. The Arabs make up 25-30% of the city’s eligible voters, which means that they could have 7-8 representatives in the 31-seat municipal council. The boycott has denied the Arabs the opportunity to be directly involved in the planning of their neighborhoods.

While it is true that some Arabs boycott the municipal elections for ideological reasons, there is no denying the fact that many are also afraid of being targeted by extremists if they present their candidacy or go to the ballot boxes.

A few Arabs who in the past dared to challenge the boycott have faced death threats. One of them was newspaper publisher Hanna Siniora, who back in 1987 announced his intention to run in the municipal election. Siniora’s car was torched by members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a move that forced him to retract his candidacy.

Eleven years later, another Arab, Mussa Alayan, defied the boycott by running at the head of an independent list. He received fewer than 3,000 votes and did not make it to the city council. Alayan could have probably become the first Arab council member had he and his supporters not faced a brutal and violent campaign by Palestinian activists.

Yet while Arab residents are boycotting the election, most of them continue to deal with the same municipality which they are not supposed to recognize. They even continue to pay taxes and fees to the municipality.

The Jerusalem Municipality has more than 1,500 Arab employees, and its various departments continue to provide many services to the Arab neighborhoods and villages in the city. These activities are taking place despite the Arab boycott that has been in effect since 1967.

Arabs who complain about lack of municipal services often seek the help of representatives of left-wing parties in the municipal council, such as Meretz.

Today, many Arabs in Jerusalem are not afraid to declare openly that they prefer to live under Israeli rule, and not under that of the Palestinian Authority or Hamas. The problem remains, however, that the overwhelming majority is still afraid of the radicals.

What is needed is a strong Arab leadership that would not hesitate to stand up to the radicals and question their goals. Such a leadership would have to make it clear that there should be a complete separation between the political issues and the day-to-day affairs of Jerusalem’s Arab population.

Until such leaders emerge, the Arabs in Jerusalem will, by boycotting the municipal elections, unfortunately continue to act against their own interests.

After the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Is Hamas in Gaza Next in Line?

Friday, October 4th, 2013

Originally published at Israel and Terrorism.

Egypt has finally decided to tackle the security threat from the Sinai Peninsula, a region that was nearly under the control of jihadist organizations with links to al-Qaeda and Hamas.

The Egyptian army’s ultimate goal is clear: to recover Egypt’s sovereignty in Sinai. In order to succeed in its mission, the Egyptian supreme command understands that it must neutralize Hamas, which it sees as partly responsible for the security situation in Sinai during the last few years.

For the first time since it was founded, Hamas is showing signs of panic. Egyptian newspapers quoted Palestinian sources as saying that 90 percent of the smuggling tunnels along the border with Gaza have stopped functioning as a result of Egyptian measures, leading to the potential loss of nearly 40 percent of Hamas’ revenues.

With the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt counting its dead by the hundreds and the campaign being waged by the Egyptian army against them far from over, and with its relations with Turkey and Qatar faltering, Hamas has instructed its spokesmen to avoid making any comments about the crisis in Egypt so as not to evoke the wrath of Egyptian army Commander in Chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Since the Egyptian military ousted President Mohamed Morsi in early July 2013, it has embarked on a punitive campaign against Hamas, the self-declared offspring of the Muslim Brotherhood.

During this time, the Egyptian army has destroyed more than 300 tunnels (out of as many as 800), the arteries of the Gaza economy; created a 500-meter-wide buffer zone along the 11 km. Gaza-Egypt border, from the Mediterranean Sea until the Israel-Egypt border south of Rafah, while razing scores of inhabited buildings that stood in the way;1 implemented a de-facto siege on Gaza by closing intermittently the official Israel-Egypt border crossing; chased Gaza fisherman at sea; and engaged in an unprecedented and coordinated media smear campaign against Hamas, accusing the terrorist group of trying to destabilize Egypt and ultimately replace the government with its parent organization, the Muslim Brotherhood.

Indeed, Egypt has finally decided to tackle the security threat from the Sinai Peninsula, a region that was nearly under the control of jihadist organizations with links to al-Qaeda and Hamas. The Egyptian army has massed troops, deployed combat helicopters, dispatched navy patrol boats, and is carrying out coordinated attacks against concentrations of terrorists in Sinai.

The Egyptian army’s ultimate goal is clear: to recover Egypt’s sovereignty in Sinai. In order to succeed in its mission, the Egyptian supreme command understands that it must neutralize Hamas, which it sees as partly responsible for the security situation in Sinai during the last few years.

Hamas’ Strong Ties to the Muslim Brotherhood

There is no doubt that the origin of the Egyptian military’s actions against Hamas lay in the basic fact that during the brief rule of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt under the Morsi presidency, Hamas enjoyed a privileged position and almost an official adoption by the regime, to such a point that Hamas behaved as if it was part of the ruling Muslim Brotherhood. For example, Hamas enjoyed complete freedom for its illegal commerce through the 650-800 tunnels that linked the Gaza Strip to Egypt; for its assistance to jihadi groups in Sinai; for its unaccountability for the six Egyptian police officers kidnapped and held in Gaza for more than five years; and, ultimately, for ignoring the Egyptian armed forces’ warnings since Hamas was (according to some sources) led by government officials who issued instructions to ignore the Egyptian army since it was irrelevant.

However, beyond these facts, the actual ruling team in Egypt knows that Hamas was involved in the earliest days of the revolution against President Mubarak, when protesters stormed Egyptian prisons and freed hundreds of detainees, who were mostly Muslim Brothers, as well as Hizbullah and Palestinian operatives held in Egypt for terrorist activities. Hamas took part alongside the Egyptian Muslim Brothers in the violence against the Mubarak regime and, according to some press releases, Hamas operatives were involved in firing metal darts against anti-Morsi protesters loyal to the regime.2

In addition, the Egyptian armed forces accuse Hamas of harboring the jihadists that killed almost 30 Egyptian officers and soldiers in Sinai in the summer of 2012. The Egyptian army also claims that at least five Hamas operatives were involved in the execution of 25 unarmed Egyptian policemen near el-Arish on August 19, 2013.3 The Egyptian army has also accused Hamas of trying to smuggle hundreds of deadly weapons, including 19 Grad rockets, and fake Egyptian army uniforms, in order to create havoc inside Egypt.4

Currently, 15 major terrorist groups operate in Sinai. Each of these groups, without exception, is closely linked to terrorist activities in the Gaza Strip. Egyptian and Israeli authorities are aware that several of the most dominant jihadists in Sinai, including those who were involved in the attack against the Egyptian army in 2012, are now hiding in Gaza with Hamas’ knowledge and consent.5 Finally, Hamas is accused of harboring the new Muslim Brothers’ Supreme Guide, Mahmoud Ezzat, in Gaza and of conducting joint training between Muslim Brothers who found refuge in Gaza and elements of the Al-Qassam Brigades in the area of Khan Younes before sending them to Sinai and inside Egypt.6

Economic Pressure in Gaza

Given what is happening in Egypt now, Hamas is alarmed. For the first time since it was founded, Hamas is showing signs of panic.7 The cost to Hamas is tremendous: Egyptian newspapers quoted Palestinian sources as saying that 90 percent of the smuggling tunnels along the border with the Gaza Strip have stopped functioning as a result of the Egyptian measures. According to the Gaza economic ministry, the recent tunnel destruction has cost Gaza around $230 million.8 Hamas spokesmen appealed to the Egyptian authorities asking them not to shut down the tunnels until Hamas could find other channels for bringing goods into Gaza. The extent to which Hamas relies on the smuggling tunnels is evident in an internal report made public by the Al-Monitor news site. It shows that Gaza gets most of its goods through the tunnels, and not through the official border crossings from Israel or Egypt. In the first quarter of 2013, for example, the tunnels provided 65 percent of flour, 98 percent of sugar and 100 percent of steel and cement deliveries.9

If the delivery of goods via the tunnels is discontinued, a lack of supplies will not be the only problem. It will create financial disaster for Hamas, since taxes on goods delivered via Israel are transferred to the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. Only taxes on smuggled goods end up in the Hamas treasury. It has been estimated that these taxes account for 40 percent of the government’s entire revenue and are used by Hamas to pay the salaries of over 45,000 civil servants. In recent months, Hamas has been earning some $8 million in taxes on smuggled fuel alone, and also levies a tax of about $5.40 on every ton of cement. An average of 70,000 tons of cement is smuggled into Gaza every month.10

Hamas’ leaders are consulting over how, and even if, they can help their brothers in Cairo, but at the same time they are talking about how to stay alive. So while the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is counting its dead by the hundreds, and the campaign being waged by the Egyptian army against them is far from over, the Hamas movement has withdrawn into itself and instructed its spokesmen to avoid making any comments about the crisis in Egypt, so that it does not upset those very people it really does not want to upset right now. Hamas spokesmen totally deny Hamas involvement in terrorist attacks conducted against Egyptian troops in Sinai. Hamas did not dare organize even a single rally in support of them. It seems that fear causes Hamas to take extra precautions – both in word and deed – so as not to evoke the wrath of Egyptian army Commander in Chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.11

The situation in Egypt has paralyzed Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and even the leader of the Hamas political bureau, Khaled Meshaal, who seems to have disappeared ever since Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was deposed.12

There was little surprise that the Hamas leaders who have spoken out against Egypt are those based abroad and not those living in Gaza.13 As a political scientist at Cairo’s Al-Azhar University put it, “Those who live abroad don’t care as much about Gaza’s isolation, but Gaza’s rulers will pay the price for any Egyptian escalation. I think those in Gaza will be more prudent and nuanced when they speak about the new Egyptian government.”14

Hamas Losing Allies

The most important question of all remains: What future does Hamas have? For the first time in more than two decades, Hamas has no regional political allies in positions of power – a huge problem for a movement that is heavily dependent on alliances that provide financial, military, and political support. Sunni Hamas severed ties with former ally Syria last year over its crackdown on the predominantly Sunni Syrian opposition. As a result, Iran has stopped its financial aid that consisted of almost $20 million per month.15 Syria and Hamas, along with Iran and Hizbullah, formed the so-called “axis of resistance” that opposed Israel and the West. For decades, Syria embraced Hamas’ leadership and provided the Islamic movement with funds, weapons, and political support, which were used to wage war against Israel and, later, the more moderate Palestinian faction, Fatah.

Now, Hamas has turned to Turkey and Qatar to fill the void.16 However, since Egypt’s Islamist government was toppled, and following the deterioration in Turkish-Egyptian as well as Qatari-Egyptian relations, Hamas’ relationship with Turkey and Qatar has seemed to be faltering. Egypt was the critical link between Gaza and its benefactors because of its shared border.

An article in Hamas’ official daily Al-Rissalah claimed: “Indications on the ground show that Cairo…will not allow the Islamic model in Gaza to remain standing due to its ideological ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, which is being marginalized from the Egyptian political scene at gunpoint….Those who follow Egyptian affairs know full well that Gaza is prone to return to its political isolation. This is the biggest fear of Palestinians living in the Strip, following a year of regional and international acceptance.”17

It would be fair to assess that Gaza’s isolation is Egypt’s ultimate goal, since such an objective would meet Egypt’s interests: to consign Gaza to oblivion and reduce Hamas to its real size.

*     *     *

Notes

1. Assaf Gibor, Maariv-nrg, 2 September 2013.
2. Elhanan Miller, “Hamas used metal darts to kill protesters during Egypt’s revolution,” Times of Israel, 30 April 2013.
3. i24news, 25 August 2013.
4. “Egyptian General: Hamas terrorizing Egyptians,” Times of Israel, 18 July 2013.
5. Avi Issacharoff, “No summer break in the violent Middle East,” Times of Israel, 23 August 2013.
6. Al-Yawm el-Sabei, Egypt, 24 August 2013.
7. Shlomi Eldar, “Has Hamas abandoned Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood?” Al-Monitor, 19 August 2013.
8. Ahmad Aldabba, “With Brotherhood’s fall in Egypt, Hamas faces harsh reality again,” Christian Science Monitor, 27 July 2013.
9. Theresa Breuer, “Closed tunnels could ruin Hamas,” Der Spiegel, 30 July 2013.
10. Ibid.
11. Shlomi Eldar, op.cit.
12. Ibid.
13. Elhanan Miller, “Cautiously Hamas speaks out against Egyptian bloodshed,” Times of Israel, 19 August 2013.
14. Ibid.
15. Theresa Breuer, op.cit.
16. Ahmad Aldabba, op.cit.
17. Elhanan Miller, op.cit.

http://israelagainstterror.blogspot.co.il/2013/10/after-muslim-brotherhood-in-egypt-is.html

Leading Israeli Analysts Can’t Agree on PA Strategy

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

 Although most of the analysts warned against the U.S. campaign to establish a Palestinian state in the West Bank in 2014, they could not agree on an Israeli alternative. Some of the analysts urged Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to formulate an interim solution to the West Bank while others said relations with the PA would continue to mark a conflict that must be managed.

“Netanyahu is going through the same syndrome as did Begin, Rabin, Sharon, and Olmert,” Shmuel Sandler, the deputy director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Affairs, said. “He wants to stake a place for himself in the chronicles of the Jewish state as a contributor to a peace process.”

The center conducted a recent roundtable discussion on the Israeli-Palestinian process, which the United States wants completed by early 2014. One of the analysts said the negotiations have been complicated by the insistence of President Barack Obama to link this with Iran’s nuclear program.

“Obama, with absolutely no reasonable basis, combines the Israeli-Palestinian issue with the American-Iranian file,” Mordechai Kedar, who also consults with Israel’s government and military, said. “This way Obama can show his face in public as someone who had at least one success in the Mideast, after his failures in Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt, Syria and more.”

Kedar, a specialist on the Arab world, warned Netanyahu against establishing a Palestinian state. Instead, Kedar, who dismissed the prospect of an agreement with the PA, said Israel should offer what he termed an “eight-state solution.”

“This involves the establishment of a council of Palestinian emirates or mini-states based on the sociology of the different clans and tribes in Gaza, Judea and Samaria [West Bank],” Kedar said. “This will give Arab leadership a firm local base with a traditional and homogeneous sociological foundation.”

The analysts also disagreed over Israel’s strategic position. Several of the analysts, including center director Efraim Inbar, said Israel, despite threats of Western sanctions, was becoming stronger economically and militarily.

But others said Netanyahu was driven by his fear of a crisis with Obama. They said time was working against Israel. “Israel’s legitimacy is a strategic asset,” Joshua Teitelbaum said. “It is getting harder and harder to convince even Israel’s supporters of the legitimacy of expanded Jewish settlement in areas that are still under negotiation for the establishment of a possible Palestinian state.”

Palestinians Rebuff Jewish Refugees’ Outreach

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

An offer to advocate for Palestinian refugee rights to cooperate with advocates for the rights of Jewish refugees was rejected at the Zochrot conference. 

The conference went ahead on the supposed site of an Arab village on the Tel Aviv university campus on 29 and 30 September, despite attempts to have it cancelled.  Levana Zamir, the president of the Association of Jews from Egypt in Israel, who made the offer to cooperate,  watched the conference develop into a nightmare – a sick and calculated blueprint for the annihilation of Israel. (One can only marvel at the irony that the bastion of anti-Zionism that is Tel Aviv university, whose staff and students so enthusiastically participated in the conference, should cooperate in their own destruction. )

The Zochrot conference website banner.

The Zochrot conference website banner.

Here is Levana’s report:

Levana Zamir

Levana Zamir

This international conference initiated by the Israeli NGO Zokhrot (meaning ‘we remember’),  titled “Realizing the Return of Palestinian Refugees” took place over two days in the Eretz Israel Museum in Ramat Aviv – located on the site of the former Arab village of  Sheikh Mouniss.

It was  a nightmare to me.  Janet Dallal, an Israeli friend from Iraq, was there with me. The other heads of organisations of Jews from Arab countries decided not to come and speak out – saying it would give the conference too much  publicity. Now I can say they were wrong.

The aim of this conference was not to argue whether the Palestinian refugees have a right of return, but the realization of it,  termed ‘decolonization’ by the conference including in parts of north Tel Aviv where small Arab villages were located before 1948.

The conference got off to a slow start, talking about doing justice to the dispossessed and stateless Palestinian refugees, and with a few good words from Leila Hilal, Director of the Middle East Task force of the New America Foundation – the main organisation financing this conference, beside other European organisations.

Leila Hilal said she was embarrassed to open the conference knowing that ‘the right of return’ issue was very delicate for most of Israelis: I liked her opening very much. But she continued saying it was about time to do justice to those politically-displaced refugees and put an end to their suffering. From time to time she talked of “compensation”.

Professor  Dan Rabinovitz of Tel Aviv University (where else?) gave his presentation, saying that the ‘right of return’ would be granted to refugees born in Palestine and are still alive – not to their descendants – i.e. 200, 000 refugees.  A  ‘right of return’ given by Israel to Jews only is discrimination, he said. He asked for recognition and for an apology. The Return would not always be to the original locations, but to alternatives.

After three more presentations about “reconciliation”, the Serbian refugee model, and the research findings of an Arab doctoral student from the UK on displaced Palestinians, it was easy for me at the Q&A to say my few words over the microphone and to ask my question.  I said:
“I came here to give you a hand, to ask you to continue your fight to get back your properties and compensation because I am myself a refugee, a Jewish refugee from Egypt. We were dispossessed of all our family properties, of our identity, then expelled. There are a million Jewish refugees like me from Arab lands – Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Lebanon, etc.  So I propose to pool our efforts – Palestinian and Jewish refugees – to recover our properties, secure compensation, and not to accept the kizuz (cancelling out) proposed by Israel.

“My question to Leila Hilal was this: “as you represent the New America Foundation, dealing with refugees in the Middle East, would you agree to give us a hand, and deal with Jewish refugees too. Let’s do it together, hand in hand.”

Leila did not answer my question but asked the others to do so.  Prof. Dan Rabinovitz said that my request was absolutely right, but he was an expert on Palestinian refugees and dealt only with them. The doctoral student from the UK, Munir Nuseibah, said he would be ready to develop his research for both sides. But during the coffee break, when I asked him how he would like us to cooperate on his research, he said he could not cooperate. People around us heard his answer very clearly.

When Leila asked the Serbian expert to answer to another question about the success of the ‘right of return’ imposed on Serbia, she said that it was a very bad experience involving killing people, and it had to be stopped.

During the coffe break, the president and founder of Zokhrot, Eitan Bronstein (an Israeli), came to me and said he was ready to see how Zokhrot could cooperate with us to include the Jewish refugees in their themes and activities. At that moment I was really glad to be there, but Leila avoided me and disappeared. I will send her a short message.

Janet Dallal intervened during the afternoon sessions, reminding the audience (all of them leftists) of the existence of the second group of refugees, the Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries, and the role of the Arab League in all this.

The second and last part of the conference became a nightmare.

During the whole next day, the lecturers demonstrated what the Return would be like, geographically – through animated short clips – and practically.

For example, in North Tel Aviv, on Ibn-Gvirol Street and the corner of Arlozorof – a sophisticated Tel-Avivian neighbourhood where an Arab village called Soumayel was located – the ‘Israeli occupiers’ would have the right to decide to leave their homes or stay and pay the ‘Palestinian refugee owner’ the ‘market value’ of their house. Then the ‘Palestinian Refugee owner’ would decide between recovering ‘his’ house or taking the money, with all that entailed. The Israeli ‘occupiers’ could not pass their homes on as inheritance to their descendants, etc. etc.

The Palestinian refugee who did not wish to Return, would get all their rights as Israeli citizens (Bituah Leumi national insurance rights, etc). in the paradise of One state for Two Peoples.  There was never any talk of “two separate nation-states”.

Everything is already settled for the Return to Arab villages too. The speakers planned, for example, how the ‘new’ Arab village of Ladjoun, on the edge of the flourishing kibbutz Meggido in the North,  will look, and under which conditions two Arab buildings still located inside the kibbutz would be incorporated into the village.

All this seemed to me sick and destructive, so the second day I did  not attend the conference but watched via the On-line conference link on the Zokhrot Facebook page.

The conference continued in this vein. Some lecturers even said, “Zionism is a crime” and nobody objected, except one lady who said: ” please respect others’ beliefs”. That was the only moment when I wished I had been there to say that today the word “Zionism” has no meaning any more – because the State of Israel belongs to the people of Israel. We are Am Israel, living in Medinat Israel.

To sum up, I cannot believe this is happening to us, that Israelis could side with our enemies so as to annihilate the State of Israel. This conference came one step closer towards this annihilation. I would like to say to all those who were there, that the creation of the State of Israel after 2,000 years was a miracle, and that the people of Israel on its own land is neither invincible, nor should it be taken for granted.

Visit Point of No Return.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/point-of-no-return/palestinians-rebuff-jewish-refugees-outreach/2013/10/02/

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