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Posts Tagged ‘Prime Minister’

Palestinians’ New Enemy: Tzipi Livni

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

Originally published at Gatestone Institute.

The Palestinians have now turned against Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who also heads the Israeli team to the peace talks with the Palestinian Authority [PA].

Livni is probably the most dovish member of the Israeli cabinet. Yet her moderate views and support for the two-state solution have not made her immune to a new campaign against her by the Palestinians.

The Palestinian Authority leadership is now saying that Livni is no longer fit to negotiate with the Palestinians and must be replaced. In other words, any Israeli negotiator who does not accept all Palestinian demands should be excluded from the US-sponsored peace talks.

The reason why the Palestinians are furious with Livni is a statement she made during an interview last Saturday, where she announced that PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s positions are “not only unacceptable to us, but to the whole world, and if he continues to stick to them, then the Palestinians will be the ones to pay the price.”

Livni’s statement has been misinterpreted by Palestinians as a personal “threat” against Abbas. Of course, Livni never made such a threat in her statement and was merely warning against the repercussions of Abbas’s positions on the peace process and his people.

But the PA leadership often interprets Israeli criticism of Abbas as a threat to eliminate him. This is a way of telling the Palestinians that Abbas, like his predecessor Yasser Arafat, is facing threats from Israel for refusing to make concessions on Palestinian rights.

The Palestinian Authority is preparing Palestinians for the possibility that the talks with Israel could end in failure, and that Abbas may be face the same fate as Arafat — isolated and boycotted by Israel and the international community. The goal is to make Abbas appear in the eyes of his people as a “martyr” who paid a heavy price for standing up to Israel and the US.

Less than 24 hours after Livni made her statement, several PA officials and organizations responded by accusing her of “incitement.”

Mahmoud al-Aloul, member of the Fatah Central Committee, said in response to Livni’s remark: “If the Israelis think that threats and pressure on President Mahmoud Abbas would drive him to make concessions on Palestinian rights they are deluding themselves. The threats made by the officials of the occupation government are directed against Abbas’s life, but they won’t affect his positions.”

PA Foreign Minister Riad Malki condemned Livni’s “threat” against Abbas and said he would bring them to the attention of the international community. “We are studying the threats and their implication,” Malki told reporters. “We will distribute Livni’s statements to all foreign ministers and the international community. We can’t remain silent towards these threats. This is a clear threat to Abbas in person and it must be taken seriously.”

Abbas Zaki, another senior Fatah official, claimed that Livni’s “threats” are designed to distract attention from Israel’s refusal to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians. “The threats show that the Israelis are not mature for peace,” he added.

The radical Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, one of the PLO groups, accused Livni of “political audacity.” The group said that Livni’s demand that Abbas recognize Israel as a Jewish state was completely unacceptable and reflected “despicable arrogance.”

Abbas’s spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudaineh, announced that “Livni’s statements make her unacceptable for negotiations…. She has joined those voices in the Israeli government that are trying to destroy prospects for peace. This is a very dangerous statement.”

The attacks on Livni correspond with a campaign that is already being waged by Palestinians against U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Over the past few weeks, many Palestinians representing various Palestinian groups have been waging protests against Kerry’s ongoing efforts to reach a deal between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. Kerry is being accused of endorsing the Israeli point of view, especially on security, settlements, Jerusalem and the “right of return” for Palestinian refugees to their former homes inside Israel.

This Palestinian escalation of rhetoric does not bode well for the future of the peace talks. The Palestinians were first unhappy with Kerry, whom they accused of being biased in favor of Israel. Now they are angry with Livni for daring to criticize Abbas. In the end, Israel and the U.S. will be blamed for the failure of the peace process. This is exactly what happened after the botched Camp David summit in 2000, when Arafat held Israel and the U.S. fully responsible for the failure of the peace process. A few weeks later, the Second Intifada erupted. The same scenario is likely to repeat itself unless the Palestinian Authority leadership stops putting all the blame on others.

Mentch vs. World: PM Harper’s Support for Israel, Democracy and Values

Monday, January 27th, 2014

As a Canadian, pro-Israel blogger and Social Media person, to say that I was proud of Stephen Harper’s visit to Israel would be an understatement. After watching Secretary of State Kerry insist on a peace deal while defying all logic to do so, and even while the country was grieving during Ariel Sharon’s funeral, Vice President Biden didn’t let up on us unwavering badgering of the tiny state to give up land to those who intend to annihilate her citizenry, as stated in the PLO Charter, that has never been amended. While the push for “peace” was going on, the Shin Bet has since discovered an Al Qaeda linked plot to actually blow up the US Embassy in Tel Aviv. The links for the terror cell ironically originate in Judea and Samaria, or the territory otherwise known as the West Bank.

On the heels of all this comes our Prime Minister. A man who from first blush, almost embodies a typical boring Canadian persona with his reserved and humble delivery. He came to tell Israel that he supported them and their right to exist and defend their homeland. He came to show them the goodwill of all Canadians who agree with his stance. He came to bring the healing balm of friendship. He also came to unequivocally stand up against the rising tide of antisemitism in the world that is disguised in other ways within the ruling intelligentsia.

In his historic speech at the Knesset Prime Minister Harper highlighted these very important points that go against the moral relativism that seeks to delegitimize the State of Israel.

Harper stated:

“First, Canada finds it deplorable that some in the international community still question the legitimacy of the existence of the state of Israel.

Our view on Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state is absolute and non-negotiable.

Second, Canada believes that Israel should be able to exercise its full rights as a UN member-state and to enjoy the full measure of its sovereignty.

For this reason, Canada has spoken on numerous occasions in support of Israel’s engagement and equal treatment in multilateral fora.

And, in this regard, I should mention that we welcome Israel’s induction this month into the western, democratic group of states at the United Nations.

Third, we refuse to single out Israel for criticism on the international stage.”

Mr. Harper believes that by not supporting the only democracy in the Middle East, we diminish our own ability to maintain our freedom and democracy in the West.

Stephen Harper also spoke out against Israel as an apartheid state and in that instant, to prove his point, two Arab Members of Knesset heckled him and walked out of his speech. Showing the world that indeed Israel has Arabs in their Government and they have the right to free speech just as any other citizen does.

When Harper was asked later on why he did not criticize Israel publicly as most all other visiting dignitaries do he explained that when he is in the Palestinian Territory holding meetings with leaders there, he is never asked to criticize the governance or practises of the Government there.

The trip also included a visit to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum; a trip to Northern Israel where Mr. & Mrs. Harper visited the bird sanctuary in the Hula Valley named after him; he received an Honorary Doctorate from Tel Aviv University and he also prayed at The Western Wall in The Old City of Jerusalem. His popularity followed him there where his presence brought on a round of applause from the people on The Kotel Plaza.

Weather Forecast: Chance of Rockets Raining on Sharon’s Funeral

Monday, January 13th, 2014

The Israel Air Force (IAF) and General Security Services (Shabak) are on high state of alert ahead of former Prime Minister Sharon’s funeral, according to a report in Maariv.

Ariel Sharon is to be buried Monday in his Negev “Sycamore Ranch” (“Havat Shikmim”), which is within range of Gaza’s rockets.

There is concern within the security forces that the Gazans might decide to shoot rockets at the funeral, and so, have launched “Operation Kalaniot” to try to prevent any rockets from being launched and hitting the ranch during the funeral.

An Iron Dome anti-rocket system will also be deployed to protect the funeral.

In 2007, a rocket from Gaza hit and exploded on the ranch.

After Sharon pulled Israel out of the Gaza Strip, Gaza became a terror base that has put millions of Israelis within rocket range of Gaza’s terrorists, and semi-regularly requires that residents of Israel’s south go into bomb shelters and reinforced sewer pipes so as to not get injured or killed from falling rockets.

Israel’s security has significantly diminished since the 2005 expulsion of Jews from their homes in Gush Katif and Gaza.

US Secretary of State John Kerry is pushing current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to make even deeper expulsions and pullouts from additional Israeli territories.

Cabinet Appoints Panel to Decide on ‘Air Force One’ for Israel

Sunday, December 15th, 2013

The Cabinet on Sunday appointed a committee to evaluate the possibility of purchasing a plane for the flights of the Prime Minister and President instead of the current procedure of using chartered planes.

The panel will also come up a recommendation on whether a new office-residence should be built for the Prime Minister, whose official residence near downtown Jerusalem is more than a mile away from his office in the Knesset quarter.

Finance Minister Yair Lapid said he opposes a both ideas.

“This is a national security need that will serve the State of Israel at least for several decades,” said Cabinet Secretary Avichai Mandelbli. “Moreover, today the Prime Minister’s plane lacks proper communications equipment, which the head of state for almost every advanced country has.”

Turkey: A House Divided

Monday, October 21st, 2013

Originally published at Gatestone Institute

There is no doubt that the Gezi Park demonstrations in May and June, which spread to most of Turkey, represent a seismic change in Turkish society and have opened up fault lines which earlier may not have been apparent. What began as a demonstration against the “development” of a small park in the center of Istanbul ended as a widespread protest against the AKP government — and particularly Prime Minister Erdoğan’s authoritarian rule.

The European Commission in its latest progress report on Turkey has recognized this change when it writes of “the emergence of vibrant, active citizenry;” and according to Turkey’s President Abdullah Gül, who in the report is praised for his conciliatory role, this development is “a new manifestation of our democratic maturity.” The Turkish government, however, has chosen to see these demonstrations as a challenge to its authority and has reacted accordingly.

The report mentions various repressive measures taken by the government, including the excessive use of force by the police, columnists and journalists being fired or forced to resign after criticizing the government, television stations being fined for transmitting live coverage of the protests and the round-up by the police of those suspected of taking part in the demonstrations.

However, there is, in the EU report, no mention of the campaign of vilification led by the Prime Minister against the protesters, or reprisals against public employees who supported or took part in the protests; also, measures taken to prevent the recurrence of mass protests, such as tightened security on university campuses, no education loans for students who take part in demonstrations and a ban on chanting political slogans at football matches.

Not only the demonstrators themselves have been targeted but also the international media, which Prime Minister Erdoğan has accused of being part of an international conspiracy to destabilize Turkey. The “interest rate lobby” and “the Jewish diaspora” have also been blamed. As the Commission notes, the Turkish Capital Markets Board has launched an investigation into foreign transactions to account for the 20% drop on the Istanbul Stock Exchange between May 20 and June 19, which had more to do with the U.S. Federal Reserve’s tapering than the Gezi Park protests.

In August, however, a report on the Gezi Park protests by the Eurasia Global Research Center (AGAM), and chaired by an AKP deputy, called the government’s handling of the situation “a strategic mistake” and pointed out that democracy-valuing societies require polls and dialogue between people and the local authorities.

Polarization

The Commission is correct, therefore, when it concludes that a divisive political climate prevails, including a polarizing tone towards citizens, civil society organizations and businesses. This conclusion is reinforced by the observation that work on political reform is hampered by a persistent lack of dialogue and spirit of compromise among political parties. Furthermore, the report emphasizes the need for systematic consultation in law-making with civil society and other stakeholders.

This division was underlined by Turkish Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek in June, when, at a conference, he deplored the lack of a spirit of compromise in intellectual or political circles. This lack is not only illustrated by the occasional fistfight between parliamentary deputies, but also when the AKP government in July voted against its own proposal in the mistaken belief that it had been submitted by the opposition. Or when the opposition two days later passed its own bill while the government majority had gone off to prayers.

President Gül, in a message of unity to mark the start of Eid al-Fitr (in August, at the end of Ramadan), had called on Turkey to leave polarization behind and unite for the European Union membership bid. But to create a united Turkey will be difficult, given the attitude of the present government. Even the democratization package presented by Prime Minister Erdoğan at the end of September does not indicate any substantive change in the government’s majoritarian approach to democracy.

Irrespective of the Prime Minister’s reference to international human rights and the EU acquis [legislation], both lifting the headscarf ban for most public employees and a number of concessions to the Kurdish minority can be seen as a move to boost Erdoğan’s popularity ahead of the local elections in March.

Bibi and Obama Growing Apart on Iran while Rouhani Is All Smiles

Monday, October 21st, 2013

The Associated Press reported that Israel and the U.S. have been growing apart on the Iran nuclear threat, so much so that there appears to be a rift between them these days. Essentially, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to sound the alarm tirelessly and at a high pitch, while the West sees genuine Iranian compromises in the Geneva talks.

The different views are only growing more so, threatening to leave Israel in isolation, as the talks between six global powers and Iran appear to be gaining steam, the AP surmises. western negotiators were upbeat after last week’s talks, going into the next round of negotiations, Nov. 7.

If you wanted a Munich moment – this is it, with the Czech ambassador sitting nervously in the waiting room while the British and French prime ministers and the Axis brutes decided his country’s fate.

Most references to the Munich moment usually show PM Neville Chamberlain waving a piece of paper and announcing "peace in our time." But the really scary Munich moment took place hours earlier, when these dubious characters signed on to the deal. It was about the West's willingness to knowingly embrace the lies of the thugs it was dealing with, leaving Czechoslovakia to pick up the tab. From left to right, Chamberlain, French PM Daladier, Hitler, Mussolini and Italian Foreign Minister Count.

Most references to the Munich moment usually show PM Neville Chamberlain waving a piece of paper and announcing “peace in our time.” But the really scary Munich moment took place hours earlier, when these dubious characters signed on to the deal. It was about the West’s willingness to knowingly embrace the lies of the thugs it was dealing with, leaving Czechoslovakia to pick up the tab. From left to right, Chamberlain, French PM Daladier, Hitler, Mussolini and Italian Foreign Minister Count.

In fact, the louder Netanyahu cries out, the more shrill he is bound to sound in the face of the smiling Iranian president Hassan Rouhani.

“I think that in this situation as long as we do not see actions instead of words, the international pressure must continue to be applied and even increased,” Netanyahu told his Cabinet on Sunday. “The greater the pressure, the greater the chance that there will be a genuine dismantling of the Iranian military nuclear program.”

The statement may reflect more how out of touch Bibi is with the winds blowing in Washington DC right now, than a practical strategy. Over the weekend, U.S. officials said the White House was going to offer Iran a chance to recoup billions of dollars in frozen assets—sitting there since the 1979 Islamic revolution—if it scales back its nuclear program. The sanctions will stay in place for now, but Iran would suddenly receive a windfall.

In other words, Iran will receive between $50 and $75 billion, tax free, not for eliminating its nuclear weapons program, but for merely slowing it down.

This is vintage Rouhani, incidentally – the man was the architect of Iran’s winning strategy of fooling the world while flashing many winning smiles. One gets the feeling the Rouhanis wanted their boy to go into modeling for toothpaste ads, instead of running one of the three most evil regimes on the planet, but one thing led to another.

Speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said it was “premature” to talk about easing sanctions, but he did not endorse Netanyahu’s tough line, saying the U.S. is planning a more “incremental” approach in response to concrete Iranian gestures.

It’s 2005 revisited, and Rouhani knows he’s already won this round. He managed to separate Netanyahu from his American benefactors, and isolate Israel which now looks like it’s frothing at the mouth while Iran is all pleasantries and pragmatism. All he has to do from this point on is keep talking, host a couple UN inspectors, mess with their inspections a little, nothing serious, make it impossible to get a real read of what goes on in those plants – but keep on smiling, denying, and never say anything hostile or aggressive against israel or the West.

Bibi cannot win this one, any more than Czechoslovakia could win the diplomatic war against Hitler. Few people know today that on paper the Czechs were superior militarily to the Germans. If they had decided to strike against the Germans, they could have altered world history. They didn’t need British or French protection, they were completely self sufficient in manufacturing their military arsenal. Indeed, it was his bloodless conquest of Czechoslovakia that turned Hitler unstoppable.

Syria (Today) and ‘Palestine’ (Tomorrow) II

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

As I noted last week, what is currently taking place in Syria closely resembles what we can ultimately expect in a future “Palestine.”

In principle, and contrary to his beleaguered country’s overriding legal rights and security interests, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to a Palestinian state back in June 2009. Yet Mr. Netanyahu, more or less prudently, conditioned this concessionary agreement on prior Palestinian “demilitarization.” More specifically, said the prime minister: “In any peace agreement, the territory under Palestinian control must be disarmed, with solid security guarantees for Israel.”

In fact and in law, this published expectation offers no effective obstacle to Palestinian statehood, or to any subsequent Palestinian war against Israel.

Neither Hamas, now subtly closing ranks with its once more powerful Muslim Brotherhood mentors in post-Morsi Egypt, nor Fatah, whose “security forces” were recently trained by American General Keith Dayton in nearby Jordan at very great American taxpayer expense, will ever negotiate for anything less than full sovereignty. Why should they? Supporters of Palestinian statehood can readily discover authoritative legal support for their stance in binding international treaties.

Easily misrepresented or abused, international law can generally be manipulated to serve virtually any preferred geo-political strategy, a jurisprudential twisting sometimes referred to as “lawfare.” For example, pro-Palestinian international lawyers, seeking to identify self-serving sources of legal confirmation, could conveniently cherry-pick pertinent provisions of the (1) Convention on the Rights and Duties of States (the 1933 treaty on statehood, sometimes called the Montevideo Convention), and/or (2) the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.

Israel, as an existing sovereign state, has a basic or “peremptory” right to survive. From the standpoint of the government’s responsibility to assure citizen protection, a responsibility that goes back in modern political thought to the 16th century French philosopher, Jean Bodin, and also to the seventeenth-century English theorist, Thomas Hobbes, this right is also a fixed obligation. It was, therefore, entirely proper for Netanyahu to have originally opposed a Palestinian state in any form, an opposition, incidentally, once shared by Shimon Peres, himself the proudest Israeli champion of a “two-state solution.”

To wit, in his otherwise incoherent book, Tomorrow is Now (1978), Peres had said the following about Palestinian statehood:

The establishment of such a state means the inflow of combat-ready Palestinian forces into [Judea and Samaria]: This force, together with the local youth, will double itself in a short time. It will not be short of weapons or other military equipment, and in a short space of time, an infrastructure for waging war will be set up in [Judea, Samaria] and the Gaza Strip…. In time of war, the frontiers of the Palestinian state will constitute an excellent staging point for mobile forces to mount attacks on infrastructure installations vital for Israel’s existence.

In writing about “time of war,” this former prime minister had neglected to mention that Israel is already locked in a permanent condition of war. The war, not “tomorrow” (whatever that was intended to signify) is now. Pertinent target “infrastructure installations” could include Dimona, and also a number of other presumably vulnerable Israel nuclear reactor facilities.

Any Israeli arguments for Palestinian demilitarization, however vehement and well intentioned, are certain to fail. International law would not even expect Palestinian compliance with any pre-state agreements concerning the right to use armed force. This is true even if these compacts were to include certain explicit U.S. guarantees. Moreover, per the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, because authentic treaties can only be binding upon states, a non-treaty agreement between the Palestinians and Israel could prove to be of little or no real authority.

What if the government of a new Palestinian state were somehow willing to consider itself bound by the pre-state, non-treaty agreement? Even in these very improbable circumstances, the new Arab regime could have ample pretext to identify relevant grounds for lawful treaty termination.

A new Palestinian government could withdraw from the treaty-like agreement because of what it regarded as a “material breach,” a reputed violation by Israel that allegedly undermined the object or purpose of the agreement. Or it could point toward what Latinized international law calls Rebus sic stantibus. In English, this doctrine is known as a “fundamental change of circumstances.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/louis-bene-beres/syria-today-and-palestine-tomorrow-ii/2013/09/18/

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