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August 28, 2014 / 2 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘solution’

What Will Happen Now with US Middle East Policy?

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

Turkish Reader: Haven’t you understood yet that the US does not care about whether a Muslim country is ruled by Sharia [dictatorship] or by secular [democracy] law as long as that regime is pro-American? Isn’t this U.S. interests “über alles”?

Me: Yes I do care. First, no Islamist government is really going to be pro-American or pro-Western. Second, it won’t be good for that country’s people. Why should I feel differently to handing over Czechoslovakia to Nazi rule or Hungary to Communist rule than Turkey to Islamist rule?

Already there are starting to appear evaluations of what President Barack Obama’s second term will be like. I think that even though the Obama Administration doesn’t know or have a blueprint it is clear and consistent what the Middle East policy would be. It is a coherent program though as I say it is not necessarily fully or consciously thought out. The plan would be for a comprehensive solution which will leave the Middle East situation as a successful legacy of the Obama Administration.

There are three main themes of this plan, though as I say I’m not sure it has really taken shape. By 2016 they will all fail, and leave the West weaker.

The first is with Iran policy. The goal would be to “solve” the nuclear weapons’ issue by making a deal with Iran. One thing that is possible is that the Iranians just deceitfully build nuclear arms. The other that the will go up to the point when they can get nuclear weapons very quickly and then stop for a while. Probably either result will be hailed as a brilliant diplomatic victory for Obama.

This is how the nuclear deal is interpreted by Iran, in a dispatch from Fars new agency: “It seems that the Americans have understood this fact that Iran is a powerful and stable country in the region which uses logical and wise methods in confrontation with its enemies.” In other words America is an enemy of Iran that has backed down.

One thing Iran might get in a deal for “giving up””its nuclear ambitions would be something in Syria perhaps. It would probably look like this. It is possible that this deal would be in the shape of an unofficial partition of Syria, with the Bashar Assad regime surviving in 40 percent of the country including Aleppo and Damascus; another 40 percent would be controlled by a U.S.-backed rebels, mainly Muslim Brotherhood; and 20 percent would be a Kurdish autonomous area. I want to stress that I don’t believe that this would work and would in fact be the object of another Iranian stalling technique.and effort to gain total victory..

Iran wants primacy at least in the Shia world – meaning Iraq, Lebanon and Syria. It would just require Iranian patience if Iran is willing to devote extensive resources to this enterprise until it could seize the whole country. The U.S. probably won’t provide ground troops, which is understandable. And would the U.S. provide military and economic aid to an al-Qaida-Salafi-Muslim Brotherhood regime? At any rate the Iranians would either develop nuclear weapons or simply get to the point where they could if they wanted to and then stop, knowing that they could so at any time. Of course, this would relatively ignore Israel’s security needs.

And if a nuclear deal with Iran doesn’t materialize you can tell who will be blamed by an article named, “A Nuclear Deal With Iran Is Within Reach, If Congress Plays Its Part,”” in the prestigious magazine, Roll Call.

The second theme would be an illusion that it would be possible to resolve the Israel-Palestinian conflict as a two-state solution but actually moving toward the Palestinian real goal which is an Arab Palestine. Period. Regarding this issue it is probably that both sides would stall. Only Secretary of State John Kerry believes otherwise.

The Israeli side would mount a strategic retreat by gradual concessions hoping that the Obama Administration would end before too much damage was done. It is clear, for example, that prisoner releases, the granting of economic benefits and the entry of more laborers would be among the concessions given.Of course, this would also relatively ignore Israel’s security needs.

Nothing ‘Reasonable’ about Mideast Divide

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

Thanks to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s decision to swallow a painful and embarrassing concession to please the Palestinians, Secretary of State John Kerry had his moment of triumph.

In announcing the start of a new round of Middle East peace talks, Kerry has seemingly justified the way he has concentrated his efforts on an issue that was not in crisis mode and with little chance of resolution while treating other more urgent problems such as Egypt, Syria, and the Iranian nuclear threat as lower priorities.

But now that he has had his victory, the focus turns to the talks where few, if any, observers think there is a ghost of a chance of that the negotiations can succeed despite Kerry’s call for “reasonable compromises.”

The reason for that is that despite the traditional American belief that the two sides can split the difference on their disagreements, as Kerry seems to want, the problem is much deeper than drawing a new line on a map.

Ironically, proof of this comes from a new poll that some are touting as evidence that both Israelis and Palestinians support a two-state solution. The poll was a joint project of the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah. It shows, among other often-contradictory results, that a majority of Israelis (62 percent) supports a two-state solution while 33 percent oppose it. Among Palestinians, 53 percent support and 46 percent oppose the two-state solution.

But the question to ask about this poll and the conflict is what the two sides mean by a two-state solution. The answer comes in a subsequent query:

We asked Israelis and Palestinians about their readiness for a mutual recognition as part of a permanent status agreement and after all issues in the conflict are resolved and a Palestinian State is established. Our current poll shows that 57% of the Israeli public supports such a mutual recognition and 37% opposes it. Among Palestinians, 42% support and 56% oppose this step.

In other words, Israelis see a two-state solution as a way to permanently end the conflict and achieve peace. But since a majority of Palestinians cannot envision mutual recognition even after all issues are resolved and they get a state, they obviously see it as merely a pause before the conflict would begin anew on terms decidedly less advantageous to Israel.

There are many reasons why the peace negotiations are likely to fail. The Palestinians are deeply split, with Gaza being ruled by the Islamists of Hamas who still won’t even contemplate talks with Israel, let alone peace. Kerry has praised Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas, but he is weak and hasn’t the ability to make a peace deal stick even in the unlikely event he signs one.

Though Netanyahu went out on a political limb to enable the talks to begin by releasing scores of Palestinian terrorists, Abbas has shown in the past that he will say no, even when offered virtually everything he has asked for. Netanyahu will rightly drive a harder bargain and refuse to contemplate a deal that involves a complete retreat to the 1967 lines or a Palestinian state that isn’t demilitarized. But it’s hard to imagine Abbas ever recognizing the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders are drawn.

The real problem, however, isn’t about where negotiators would draw those lines. As the poll indicates, even after Israel withdraws from almost all of the West Bank (reports indicate Netanyahu is ready to give up 86 percent of it), a substantial majority of Palestinians still can’t fathom the possibility of mutual recognition and normal relations.

How can that be?

The reason is very simple and is not something Kerry or his lead negotiator Martin Indyk (a veteran of numerous diplomatic failures who hasn’t seemed to learn a thing from any of them) can fix. Palestinian nationalism was born in the 20th century as a reaction to Zionism, not by focusing on fostering a separate identity and culture from that of other Arab populations. That doesn’t mean Palestinians aren’t now a separate people with their own identity, but it does explain why they see that identity as indistinguishable from the effort to make Israel disappear.

US Media and the E1 Controversy

Sunday, December 9th, 2012

On Monday, the NY Times published an editorial which included this:

[Netanyahu's actions] could doom the chances for a two-state solution because building in the E1 area would split the northern and southern parts of the West Bank.

Yesterday, NPR’s Philip Reeves, probably the single journalist most responsible for promulgating the 2002 “Jenin Massacre” blood libel against Israel, announced in a “news” broadcast that:

There’s particular concern over plans, still at a preliminary stage, for an area called E1. If built, this would cut the West Bank in two. Diplomats say this would make a two-state solution to the Middle East conflict almost impossible.

And today, I was greeted by the following in an editorial in the McClatchy-owned Fresno Bee newspaper:

Yet Israel has decided to … prepare construction of a 4.6 square-mile project near Jerusalem known as E-1. That would effectively cut the occupied West Bank in two and make establishment of a contiguous Palestinian state alongside Israel with Jerusalem as a shared capital, impossible.

Folks, look at a map. If you didn’t see it in my previous post, here it is again:

 

Do you see the “West Bank” cut in two? I don’t either. As I pointed out yesterday, if Israel annexes Ma’ale Adumim, the proposed Palestinian state will be wider at is narrowest point than Israel would be with pre-1967 borders!

If the problem is supposed to be that it will be harder for Palestinians to drive from Bethlehem to Ramallah, Israel plans a bypass road around Ma’ale Adumim for Palestinian traffic that would actually be faster, and would not require passage through the security barrier’s checkpoints. There are also plans for a 4-lane underpass to some Arab neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem, while others would not be affected at all by the planned construction.

Actually, the shoe is entirely on the other foot. If the E1 plan is notcompleted, then Palestinian construction in the area will cut off Ma’ale Adumim — a town of 46,000 that has been expected to remain part of Israel in all proposed peace agreements with the Palestinians — from the rest of Israel. It will make it harder for Israel to keep control of the strategic Jerusalem-Jericho road, which would be necessary to transport troops and tanks to the Jordan Valley in the event of an attack from the east.

Every Israeli Prime Minister since Rabin has supported the plan, but it has never been carried out because of pressure from the US and Europe. Meanwhile, illegal Palestinian construction in the area — illegal under the Oslo agreements, not that the Palestinians have ever paid attention — continues. It has already narrowed the corridor for the E1 plan, and at some point will make it impossible.

In other words, the true situation is exactly the opposite of what Palestinians and their supporters claim!

It’s time to face reality, which is that there will not be a two-state solution that will meet Palestinian requirements, because these requirements are incompatible with the survival of a Jewish state. Much as I would like to see Israel retain all of Judea and Samaria, and much as the Palestinians would like to see a ‘Palestine’ from the river to the sea, these outcomes are unlikely.

What could happen is a realignment in which Israel retains places with large Jewish populations (like Ma’ale Adumim) and areas that are strategically vital (like E1), and withdraws from others. This would have to be implemented unilaterally, but then the Palestinians have already officially renounced a bilateral solution by turning to the UN.

What I find remarkable is the way the US media have swallowed the Palestinian story hook, line and sinker, when a simple glance at a map would show that it is wrong. Are they following the lead of the administration?

Amir Peretz, Formerly of Labor, Embraces Tzipi

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

Amir Peretz, former Histadrut union chief and former Defense Minister, is now a former member of the Avoda (Labor) party. He is moving over to the Movement (HaTnuah) party of Tzipi Livni (former head of Kadima, and former Foreign Minister).

Also moving over to Livni’s party is former general Elazar Stern. Stern announced on the radio that he fully supports the two-state solution. Although formerly considered center, his embrace of the two-state solution puts him squarely on the left.

Meanwhile, there are now plenty of new former Kadima members. Dalia Itzik announced her retirement from politics, and Roni Bar-On has resigned.

Dalia Itzik also implied that former PM Ehud Olmert would not be running this time around, after all the speculation that he might. For herself, Itzik has said, “Presidential hope is not dead.”

Exciting stuff.

US State Dept. Rejects Recent Israeli Announcements on Settlements

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

Mark C. Toner, DOS Deputy Spokesperson, on Monday night released this statement: The United States opposes all unilateral actions, including West Bank settlement activity and housing construction in East Jerusalem, as they complicate efforts to resume direct, bilateral negotiations, and risk prejudging the outcome of those negotiations. This includes building in the E-1 area as this area is particularly sensitive and construction there would be especially damaging to efforts to achieve a two-state solution.

We have made clear to the Israeli Government that such action is contrary to U.S. policy. The United States and the international community expect all parties to play a constructive role in efforts to achieve peace. We urge the parties to cease unilateral actions and take concrete steps to return to direct negotiations so all the issues can be discussed and the goal of two states living side by side in peace and security can be realized.

Amid International Condemnation, Israel Selling New Apartments East of Jerusalem

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

Housing and Construction Minister Ariel Atias commented Saturday night on the cabinet decision to approve the construction of 3,000 housing units in Judea and Samaria, saying in the coming days his office will start selling hundreds of new housing units in Pisgat Ze’ev.

Pisgat Ze’ev, named after Revisionist Zionist leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky, the ideological forefather of the Likud movement, is the largest residential neighborhood in Jerusalem, with a population of more than 50,000. The neighborhood was established by Israel as one of the city’s five ring neighborhoods on land that was annexed after the 1967 Six Day War.

Most of the international community considers Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem illegal under international law, but the Israeli government disputes this as per the Edmond Levey report which determined that Judea and Samaria rightfully belong to Israel. This report, while not yet officially state policy, is turning into a guiding document for Israeli policy.

The U.S. opposes construction in the area because it effectively sabotages a contiguous Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Pisgat Ze’ev is situated east of Shuafat and Beit Hanina, west of Hizma, south of Neve Yaakov, and north of ‘Anata and the Shuafat refugee camp.

A source in the housing and construction ministry told Kikar HaShabbat that since, after the Israeli government decided on an unprecedented, ten-month freeze on construction, Abbas refused political negotiations, “There is no benefit in maintaining a de facto construction freeze while Abbas is delegitimizing Israel. Abbas’s move at the UN will not bring the Palestinians any closer to having their own state.”

“At the same time,” the same source maintained, “we are committed to increasing the supply of residential land throughout the country. Our policy of increasing the supply of land has culminated in the marketing of more than 130,000 housing units in recent years, generating a 13-year record of the volume of active construction. We have to persist with this policy to further lower demand and prices.”

Following the Palestinians unilateral move at the UN declaring themselves a state, and in abrogation of the Oslo Accords,Israel appears to be both flexing muscle and retaliating for the Palestinians unilateral UN move, and this seems to be worrying the Palestinians and their supporters.

The NY Times on Sunday quotes anti-settlement activist, attorney Dani Seidemann, as saying: “Now approaching the point of no return,” the announced new construction drive would be “the largest settlement surge in Jerusalem since the 1970s.”

And Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee, told the Times that Israel is moving at “a mad pace” to “impose its own solution” to the conflict. “They want to predetermine the fate and status of Jerusalem,” she said, adding that Israel “does everything to create on the ground facts that would make any solution impossible.”

British Foreign Secretary William Hague on Saturday expressed his concerns over Israeli plans to establish 3,000 new settlements in East Jerusalem. “The UK strongly advises the Israeli government to reverse this decision,” Hague said in a statement reported by AFP.

Hague also cautioned that “the window for a two-state solution is closing, and we need urgent efforts by the parties and by the international community to achieve a return to negotiations, not actions which will make that harder.”

He added that the decision makes a sustainable two-state solution increasingly difficult.

We sincerely hope so.

The US condemned the Israeli project on Friday, saying it was “counterproductive.”

“Direct negotiations remain our goal and we encourage all parties to take steps to make that easier to achieve,” said National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in Washington that the Obama Administration has been clear with Israel that establishing settlements set back the peace negotiations.

Again, we sincerely hope so.

France on Saturday and called on Israel not to go through with its decision to expand settlements. “I call on Israeli authorities to refrain from any decision to that effect and to clearly show their willingness to restart [peace] negotiations,” said French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.

Finally, the AP quoted Palestinian envoy to the UN Riyad Mansour, who called the Israeli announcement “a provocation.”

“They are trying to provoke us to react — I don’t know in which way,” Mansour told the General Assembly.

Figure it out.

Baffled In Sderot

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

What is the solution to the constant missile attacks in southern Israel?

Those with a solution are the people who warned against signing the Oslo Accords in the first place. These people continue to be sidelined. Clearly, the Oslo advocates have no intention of giving up the profits and perks of the “peace industry” that they have created.

Those profits are not necessarily monetary. Our current president, Shimon Peres, enjoys his position due to the peace industry. He has also become a wealthy man, thanks to “peace.” But that is only a small part of the problem. The peace industry advocates are senior media personalities, well-connected industrialists and politicians who climbed the political ladder with alacrity once they realized on which side their bread was buttered.

Most seriously, the peace industry also includes a thick swath of senior IDF officers who understood that their path to progress was paved with Oslo and who erased the concept of victory from their lexicon. In Oslo we surrendered the belief in the justice of our cause, exchanging it for pragmatism. He who surrenders the belief that he is just is incapable of winning.

On Tuesday of last week, I was at a campaign rally in Sderot. “I would like to ask what some of you may see as a strange question,” I said to the audience in the packed hall. “In the war that is raging right now [this was before the major fighting began the next day] between us and the Gazans, who is right?”

The hall fell silent. The audience looked uncomfortable and curious.

“They are right,” one woman said.

“We are right,” said another.

Most of the audience just looked baffled.

“Look at what is happening,” I continued. “Even here in Sderot, we cannot get a clear answer to the most fundamental of questions. So who is right?”

An endless stream of commentators, security experts and politicians visit Sderot. One advocates targeted assassinations, the other conquest; one says we should talk and the other says we should disengage. When all is said and done it is clear to all that not one of them has gotten to the root of the real problem, and is still incapable – after 12 years of Sderot being on the receiving end of incoming missiles – of relieving the misery of southern Israel’s residents.

Sderot’s problem is not military in nature. Clearly, we are stronger than them. The reason that we cannot deal with murderous attacks against our citizens is not military; rather it is spiritual. We have lost our belief in the justice of our cause. A mistake of this proportion cannot be rectified with shortcuts. We must return to the point at which we strayed from the path.

That point is Oslo. It is there that we declared that this land is not our land. It is there that we recognized the rights of a different sovereign in our country’s heartland. It is there that we lost the legitimacy for our existence in Sderot and, as a result, the ability to fight against an enemy who does believe in the justice of his cause.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/moshe-feiglin/baffled-in-sderot/2012/11/21/

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