Archive for the ‘Israel and Middle East’ category

Will Trump make a peace breakthrough in 2018?

June 15, 2017

Will Trump make a peace breakthrough in 2018? DEBKAfile, June 15, 2017

(Lots of speculation about future events, but an interesting piece nevertheless. — DM)

US President Donald Trump’s goal of generating a rapid improvement of Israel’s ties with the Arab world, including the Palestinians in 2018, is not just up to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, but depends largely on how the Trump administration handles the continuing conflict between Qatar and its powerful Arab opponents, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Up until the end of this week, Trump had turned down the efforts of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis to resolve the Gulf conflict by diplomacy. Instead of heeding them, the president took the advice of the Saudi defense minister, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir, who visited Washington this week. Tillerson and Mattis tried to arrange a conference between Saudi Arabia and Qatar so as to gradually ease the tensions, but Trump torpedoed the initiative by adopting Riyadh’s tough line.

A complex situation has arisen in the last few days regarding the US diplomacy for bringing Israel and the Palestinians aboard a peace process. The signs of movement on this score fluctuate between crises and some progress:

1. The Gaza electricity row falls under the first heading. Some circles contend that the crisis is artificial, since the Palestinian enclave is receiving as much power now as before. What is different is the new, intensified pressure by Egypt on the one hand and the Palestinian Authority on the other in the hope of toppling Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip or squeezing its leaders into toeing their lines. Neither Egyptian President Abel Fatteh El-Sisi nor the Palestinian Authority chairman has made headway. Hamas stubbornly refuses Cairo’s demand to sever ties with Qatar, while launching a counteroffensive to draw Israel into the dispute by making an empty threat of an “explosion.”

Israel responded with a counter-threat on Thursday, June 15: a proposal to transfer one hour’s worth of power from West Bank Palestinian towns to boost the supply to Gaza.

This maneuver kept the entire electricity issue in the court from it was tossed, Ramallah.

2. A shower of Israeli concessions is landing on the Palestinians judging by almost daily reports. Some are true and others false. But in sum, they are designed to impress President Trump with the Netanyahu government’s good will towards his peace initiative and readiness to take steps in its support. In fact, the prime minister is preparing the ground for the forthcoming arrival of Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s envoy on the Israel-Palestinian issue.

3. US Secretary of State Tillerson this week informed the Senate that the Palestinian Authority had agreed to  halt its payments to the families of Palestinian terrorists who were killed while carrying out attacks against Israelis. Palestinian officials no doubt let this be understood to demonstrate their willingness to go along with Trump’s peace initiative, without, however, have any real intention of following through.

4. Media reports and the findings of Arab research institutes add up to the following predictions on the fate of the negotiations generated by the Trump administration between Israel and the Arab world:

A. Some time during 2018, a showcase summit will be staged for Trump, Netanyahu and leading Arab rulers like Saudi King Salman, Egyptian President El-Sisi and the UAE’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan.

They will publish a joint declaration signaling the phased normalization of relations with Israel by such preliminary steps as the exchange of economic and business delegations, the opening of trade offices and of Arab skies to Israeli commecial flights. None of these researchers is clear about the Palestinian role in this event.

B. Meanwhile, Israel will make concessions towards improving the lives of ordinary Palestinians, such as removing checkpoints, issuing building permits for Palestinian towns and more jobs in Israel.

C. Israel and the Palestinian Authority will expand their security cooperation. The Palestinians will be persuaded to cease their incitement against the Jewish State and stop payouts to the families of convicted Palestinian terrorists and other security offenders.

D. Direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations will ensue, without preconditions on either side, and expand. with Arab governments sitting in.

E. At the end of a period of some years, this process will mature into a discussion of the core issues of the dispute, Palestinian statehood, future borders, settlements, Jerusalem and refugees.

In other words, the year 2018 will see the building of normal relations between Israel and Arab countries to be followed at a later date by the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. President Trump has clearly seized on relations with Riyadh, Cairo and Abu Dhabi as a lever for pushing Israel and the Palestinians into peace talks.

The idea is simple. Israel’s improved ties with the Arab world will resonate positively on Israeli-Palestinian relations. That appears to be Trump’s formula for peace. But there is a catch. It depends heavily on the US President maintaining good relations with the Arab world in the long term.

UN Secretary-General Launches Slanderous Attack on Israel

June 7, 2017

UN Secretary-General Launches Slanderous Attack on Israel, PJ MediaP. David Hornik, June 7, 2017

(If Mr. Guterres gets kicked out as the UN Secretary General, which won’t happen, a job may well await him at the Washington Post. Please see also
Washington Post Peddles Palestinian Propaganda, Part Two. — DM)

06/01/2017 Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, at a meeting with Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov on the sidelines of 2017 St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. Evgeny Biyatov/Sputnik via AP

“This occupation,” Guterres writes:

… has imposed a heavy humanitarian and development burden on the Palestinian people. Among them are generation after generation of Palestinians who have been compelled to grow up and live in ever more crowded refugee camps, many in abject poverty, and with little or no prospect of a better life for their children.

Further, he writes:

Resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will remove a driver of violent extremism and terrorism in the Middle East and open the doors to cooperation, security, prosperity and human rights for all.

**********************

At this time 50 years ago, Israel was fighting the Six Day War and conquering territories. Since then it has returned the Sinai to Egypt, withdrawn from Gaza, retained control of the Golan Heights, and created a self-governing Palestinian entity in part of the West Bank while retaining overall security control there.

This 50-year anniversary has seen a flood of statements lauding or lamenting the Six Day War and its outcomes for Israel. Statements of the former kind emphasize that the war gave Israel defensible borders, a close alliance with the United States (by showing that Israel was a regional power), and, eventually, peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan.

Among the best in this vein were op-eds by Michael Oren and Bret Stephens.

Statements of the latter kind bemoan Israel’s “occupation” of the Palestinians and describe it as a disaster that has to end — fast. And UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres offers some of the most egregious remarks in this vein.

“This occupation,” Guterres writes:

… has imposed a heavy humanitarian and development burden on the Palestinian people. Among them are generation after generation of Palestinians who have been compelled to grow up and live in ever more crowded refugee camps, many in abject poverty, and with little or no prospect of a better life for their children.

Further, he writes:

Resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will remove a driver of violent extremism and terrorism in the Middle East and open the doors to cooperation, security, prosperity and human rights for all.

Let’s start with Guterres’ first claim about the alleged misery of Palestinian life since Israel took over the territory.

A few days before Guterres posted his statement, popular Israeli columnist Ben-Dror Yemini published a piece called “The truth about the occupation.” Yemini is not a right-winger; he wants Israel to eventually withdraw from most of the West Bank and separate from the Palestinians. But he also wants the discourse to be based on truth and not propaganda.

Yemini looks at some key elements of Palestinian life and compares the situations before and after the “Israeli occupation” (I use the scare quotes because Israel has withdrawn from Gaza and — except for anti-terror operations — Area A of the West Bank):

Education: Before the Six Day War in 1967, there was not a single university in the West Bank (under Jordanian rule) and Gaza (under Egyptian rule). “Today, there are more than 50 higher education institutions in the territories.”

Infant mortality: According to a Palestinian study and World Bank figures, the rate has gone from 152-162 per 1,000 live births in 1967 to: 132 in 1974, 53-56 in 1985, less than 30 in 1993, 25 in 2002, and 18 at present.

Yemini notes:

“The sharp drop, from 1976 to 1993, took place under direct Israeli rule. The drop continued under the Palestinian Authority, but at a more moderate pace.”

” … [The] infant mortality rate among the Palestinians is much lower than the global average of 31.7, and is significantly lower than the average in the Arab world — 28.”

Life expectancy: “[F]rom 48.6 in 1967 to about 73 (or 75, according to different sources) today.”

Writes Yemini:

“I can touch on more and more areas in which an objective examination will reveal an amazing improvement in the past 50 years. For example, in the area of water. In 1967, only four of 708 Palestinian towns and villages were connected to running water. Today, 643 communities are connected to running water (97% of the population).”

From the UN secretary-general’s description — “a heavy humanitarian and development burden on the Palestinian people … with little or no prospect of a better life for their children” — one would think Israel is mercilessly grinding the Palestinians down. The truth is very different.

Guterres’ description of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — “a driver of violent extremism and terrorism in the Middle East” whose resolution would “open the door” to some sort of utopia — is even more shockingly at variance with the truth.

Before the “Arab Spring” erupted in 2011, such claims about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict being the cause of Middle East strife were par for the course.

Since then, the region has seen six years of apparently endless warfare — among Sunnis, Shiites, Alawites, and Kurds, among Islamists and non-Islamists, and among armies, militias, and terror organizations of every conceivable stripe — from Yemen to Iraq to Syria to Egypt to Libya, accompanied by the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people.

To say that all these disparate groups are bombing, shooting, besieging, and even gassing each other because of the Israelis and the Palestinians is to make a mockery of reality.

None of Yemini’s work implies that most Palestinians favor the current situation on the West Bank. They’ve been taught from the cradle that Jews are demons, that Tel Aviv and Haifa are “settlements,” and that the only just fate for the Israeli endeavor is to be annihilated.

Yet Westerners, including the UN secretary-general, are not required to adopt the viewpoint of a brainwashed Middle Eastern people.

The Palestinians not only hate Jews but — in classic Middle Eastern style — are riven by violent internal animosities between the Islamists of Hamas and the nationalists of Fatah, and between different Fatah factions.

Awareness of facts, as opposed to anti-Israeli canards, suggests that Israeli security control of the West Bank is — for now — better than the alternatives, and is in fact preventing another Middle Eastern hellhole from erupting.

US-Israel security interests converge

April 28, 2017

US-Israel security interests converge, Israel Hayom, Yoram Ettinger, April 28, 2017

In 2017, the national security interests of the U.S. and Israel have converged in ‎an unprecedented manner in response to anti-U.S. ‎Islamic terrorism; declining European posture of deterrence; drastic cuts in ‎the U.S. defense budget; an increasingly unpredictable, dangerous globe; ‎Israel’s surge of military and commercial capabilities and U.S.-Israel shared ‎values. ‎

Contrary to conventional wisdom — and traditional State Department policy — ‎U.S.-Israel and U.S.-Arab relations are not a zero-sum game. This is ‎currently demonstrated by enhanced U.S.-Israel strategic cooperation, ‎concurrently with expanded security cooperation between Israel and Egypt, ‎Jordan, Saudi Arabia and other pro-U.S. Arab countries, as well as stronger ‎cooperation between the U.S. and those same Arab countries. Unlike the ‎simplistic view of the Middle East, Arab policymakers are well aware of their ‎priorities, especially when the radical Islamic machete is at their throats. They ‎are consumed by internal and external intra-Muslim, intra-Arab violence, which ‎have dominated the Arab agenda, prior to — and irrespective of — the ‎Palestinian issue, which has never been a core cause of regional turbulence, a ‎crown-jewel of Arab policymaking or the crux of the Arab-Israeli conflict. ‎

Israel’s posture as a unique ally of the U.S. — in the Middle East and beyond — ‎has surged since the demise of the USSR, which transformed the bipolar ‎globe into a multipolar arena of conflicts, replete with highly unpredictable, ‎less controllable and more dangerous tactical threats. Israel possesses proven ‎tactical capabilities in face of such threats. Thus, Israel provides a tailwind to the ‎U.S. in the pursuit of three critical challenges that impact U.S. national security, significantly transcending the scope of the Arab-‎Israeli conflict and the Palestinian issue: ‎

‎1. To constrain/neutralize the ayatollahs of Iran, who relentlessly aspire to ‎achieve nuclear capability in order to remove the ‎U.S. from the Persian Gulf, dominate the Muslim world, and subordinate the American “modern-day Crusaders.”‎

‎2. To defeat global Islamic terrorism, which aims to topple all pro-U.S. Arab ‎regimes, expand the abode of Muslim believers and crash the abode of non-Muslim “‎infidels” in the Middle East and beyond.‎

‎3. To bolster the stability of pro-U.S. Arab regimes, which are lethally ‎threatened by the ayatollahs and other sources of Islamic terrorism.

Moreover, Israel has been the only effective regional power to check the North ‎Korean incursion into the Middle East. For instance, on Sept. 6, 2007, the ‎Israeli Air Force destroyed Syria’s nuclear site, built mostly with the support of ‎Iran and North Korea, sparing the U.S. and the globe the wrath of a ruthless, ‎nuclear Assad regime. ‎

While Israel is generally portrayed as a supplicant expecting the U.S. to extend a ‎helping hand, Adm. (ret.) James G. Stavridis, a former NATO supreme commander, ‎currently the dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts ‎University, says otherwise. He maintains that Israel is not a supplicant but ‎rather a unique geostrategic partner, extending the strategic hand of the U.S. ‎through a mutually beneficial, highly productive ‎relationship with the U.S.

On Jan. 5, 2017, Stavridis wrote: “Our ‎best military partner in the region, by far, is Israel … as we stand together ‎facing the challenges of the Middle East. … Israeli intelligence gathering is ‎superb. … A second zone of potentially enhanced cooperation is in technology ‎and innovation. … In addition to missile defense, doing more together in ‎advanced avionics (as we did with the F-15), miniaturization (like Israel’s small ‎airborne-warning aircraft) and the production of low-cost battlefield unmanned ‎vehicles (both air and surface) would yield strong results. … We should up our ‎game in terms of intelligence cooperation. [The Israeli intelligence ‎services] of our more segregated sectors on a wide range of trends, including the disintegration of Syria, the events in Egypt and the military and nuclear ‎capability of Iran. … Setting up a joint special-forces training and innovation ‎center for special operations in Israel would be powerful. … It truly is a case ‎of two nations that are inarguably stronger together.” ‎

Unlike other major U.S. allies in Europe, the Far East, Africa and the Middle East, ‎Israel does not require U.S. military personnel and bases in order to produce an ‎exceptionally high added value to the annual U.S. investment in — and not ‎‎”foreign aid” to — Israel’s military posture.

For example, the plant manager of Lockheed Martin, the manufacturer of the ‎F-16 and F-35 fighter planes, told me during a visit to the plant in Fort Worth, Texas: “The ‎value of the flow of lessons derived from Israel’s operation, maintenance and ‎repairs of the F-16 has yielded hundreds of upgrades, producing a mega-‎billion-dollar bonanza for Lockheed-Martin, improving research and ‎development, increasing exports and expanding employment.”

A similar ‎added value has benefitted McDonnell Douglas, the manufacturer of the F-15 fighter plane ‎in Berkeley, Missouri, as well as hundreds of U.S. defense manufacturers, ‎whose products are operated by Israel. The Jewish state — the most ‎predictable, stable, effective, reliable and unconditional ally of the U.S. — has ‎become the most cost-effective, battle-tested laboratory of the U.S. defense ‎industry. ‎

According to a former U.S. Air Force intelligence chief, Gen. George Keegan: ‎‎”I could not have procured the intelligence [provided by Israel on Soviet Air ‎Force capabilities, new Soviet weapons, electronics and jamming devices] with ‎five CIAs. … The ability of the U.S. Air Force in particular, and the Army in ‎general, to defend NATO owes more to the Israeli intelligence input than it ‎does to any other single source of intelligence.” The former chairman of the ‎Senate Appropriations Committee, Sen. Daniel Inouye, revealed that “Israel ‎provided the U.S. [operational lessons and intelligence on advanced Soviet ‎ground-to-air missiles] that would have cost the U.S. billions of dollars to find ‎out.”

On Oct. 28, 1991, in the aftermath of the First Gulf War, then-Defense ‎Secretary Dick Cheney stated: “There were many times during the course of ‎the buildup in the Gulf, and subsequent conflict, that I gave thanks for the ‎bold and dramatic action that had been taken some 10 years before [when ‎Israel destroyed Iraq’s nuclear reactor at Osirak].” The destruction of Iraq’s ‎nuclear capabilities in 1981 spared the U.S. a nuclear confrontation in 1991.

An Israel-like ally in the Persian Gulf would have dramatically minimized U.S. ‎military involvement in Persian Gulf conflicts, and drastically reduced the ‎monthly, mega-billion dollar cost of U.S. military units and bases in the ‎Gulf and Indian Ocean, as is the current Israel-effect in the eastern flank of ‎the Mediterranean.‎

Yoram Ettinger is a former ambassador and head of Second Thought: A U.S.-Israel Initiative.

Do Not Reward Bad Behaviour

February 8, 2017

Do Not Reward Bad Behaviour, Gatestone InstituteJagdish N. Singh, February 8, 2017

The Trump Administration needs to see to it that UN Security Council Resolution 2334 is rendered null and void.

UNSC Resolution 2334 also implies that Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter, Western Wall and Temple Mount are all occupied territory, when in fact, it was Israel that liberated them from the illegal Jordanian conquest of them in the war of 1948.

Given the history of violence which the Palestinians indulge in against the Jews, it would seem a counter-productive precedent to reward decades of terrorism and uncivilised behaviour with a state. It would also leave the Palestinians, who deserve a responsible and accountable leadership, under the domination of two corrupt and brutal governments, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.

A study of the various proposals Israel has made to Palestine from time to time shows the key obstacle to peace is not the Palestinians’ demand for any piece of land but their refusal to recognize the existence of the Jewish state, or presumably any state but an Islamic one.

The U.S. could also move its embassy to Jerusalem. This would send the Palestinian leadership and others in the region a strong message that Washington will support both historical facts and countries that comport themselves with civilised behaviour.

In the long-continuing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, conventional wisdom has it that peace can be achieved through realistic negotiations between the parties to the conflict.

The previous Obama administration displayed a clear tilt towards one party to the conflict, the Palestinians, at the cost of the other, Israel.

Last month, Washington’s abstention from voting on United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 2334 led to its passage. This resolution condemns Israeli settlements in “Palestinian Occupied Territories.” Resolution 2334 also implies that Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter, Western Wall and Temple Mount are all occupied territory, when in fact, it was Israel that liberated them from the illegal Jordanian conquest of them in the war of 1948. The resolution effectively states that any Jewish presence beyond the 1949 armistice lines, or Israeli construction in Judea, Samaria or Jerusalem, is illegal.

Objectively speaking, this resolution amounts to anti-Semitism: it is simply counterfactual to the Jews’ history in the region. Both the Bible and archeology reveal that Jews have had a historical connection with this land for more than 3000 years.

Given the history of violence that the Palestinians indulge in against the Jews, it would seem a counter-productive precedent to reward decades of terrorism and uncivilised behaviour with a state. It would also leave the Palestinians, who deserve a responsible and accountable leadership, under the domination of two corrupt and brutal governments, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.

One hopes President Donald J. Trump, as the leader of the democratic world, would waste no time to bury this counter-factual, anti-Semitic resolution. Nikki Haley, Trump’s appointment to the United Nations, has already condemned the controversial resolution as an “outrageous bias” against Israel, and criticized the Administration of former President Barack H. Obama for the abstention that let the resolution pass.

2287Nikki Haley (pictured above from 2014), President Trump’s appointment to the United Nations, has already condemned UN Security Council Resolution 2334 as an “outrageous bias” against Israel. (Image source: defenseimagery.mil)

The Trump Administration needs to see to it that UNSC Resolution 2334 is rendered null and void. Significantly, it has the moral and political support of the American Congress. The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly condemned the resolution. The Senate has introduced a similar bipartisan bill to cut funding from the United Nations.

Ironically, it is Washington’s “no” to this resolution that will help the peace process, not this resolution, as the Obama Administration disingenuously tried to claim.

A study of the various proposals Israel has made to the Palestinians from time to time shows the key obstacle to peace is not the Palestinian demand for any piece of land but its refusal to recognize the very existence of the Jewish state, or, presumably any state but an Islamic one, preferably its own. That there is any dispositive linkage of land for peace is a myth.

Sometimes, the Palestinians do recognize the state of Israel. At a news conference, then Palestine Liberation Organization chairman Yasser Arafat once said, “We accept two states, the Palestine state and the Jewish state of Israel.”

The Palestinian leadership said they did so in the Oslo Accords, too, but they never practised it. In all the proposals for peace Israel has set forth, the Palestinians have never even made a counter-offer, and seem especially averse to signing an “end of conflict” document.

The current Palestinian leadership is divided into two factions — the West Bank-based Fatah party of the Palestinian Authority (PA), and the Gaza Strip-based Hamas. Both openly incite violence against the Jews, and aspire to the eventual creation of an Islamic state replacing all of Israel.

According to a recent House of Representatives resolution, there have been more than 300 terrorist attacks targeting Israelis since September 2015. PA President Mahmoud Abbas, too, incites violence against Jews.

Washington’s “no” to the resolution would give the right message to the Palestinian Authority to join the Israeli leadership in direct negotiations, recognize the Jewish state and appreciate its security concerns.

The United States could also move its embassy to Jerusalem. This would send the Palestinian leadership and others in the region a strong message that Washington will support both historical facts and countries that comport themselves with civilised behaviour.

A necessary, natural move

January 11, 2017

A necessary, natural move, Israel Hayom, Prof. Eyal Zisser, January 10, 2017

(Please see also, Palestinians: Glorifying Mass Murderers. — DM)

The Palestinian terrorist, who perpetrated the deadly ramming at the Armon Hanatziv promenade Sunday afternoon in Jerusalem, did not any need any excuse to murder his victims. It’s possible he was influenced by previous ramming attacks carried out by Islamic State supporters in France and Berlin. It is also possible, however, that he was influenced by recent threats from people close to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who warned that moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem — as promised by U.S. President-elect Donald Trump — would lead to an ungodly eruption of violence.

Either way, we must recognize that in Palestinian society — inundated with incitement on social media but also from its institutions — there exists a fundamental motivation to harm Israel and Israelis, and it only takes a little for this desire to bubble to the surface. The appearance of ISIS on the scene as a radicalizing element has enraptured a large portion of the younger generation in the Arab and Muslim world, only making this reality worse.

The terrorist attack in Jerusalem came a few days after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry chose to warn Trump against relocating the American embassy to Jerusalem, as doing so would send the region up in flames.

Perhaps Kerry has failed to notice that the Middle East is already burning, for quite some time now. The flames have consumed Libya, Syria, Yemen and Iraq. But of all these places, which represent living proof of his failed policies, the outgoing secretary of state chose to focus specifically on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and repeat the same tired mantra that the region’s problems are rooted in the fight between Israel and the Palestinians.

Kerry’s advice to Trump not to move the embassy, therefore, is misleading and should be ignored.

Why is transferring the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem not inherently hazardous, and why is it possible to “sell” such a move to the Arab world? Because any reasonable person understands that doing so would not change the status of the city or the existing reality there in any significant way, nor would it cause a shift in Washington’s fundamental positions on the conflict.

After all, Jerusalem is home to Israel’s state institutions, from the President’s Residence to the Knesset, and all foreign dignitaries visiting Israel, including U.S. President Barack Obama and Kerry, comes to the city to meet their Israeli counterparts. Can anyone seriously argue for forbidding a meeting between a visiting president and his Israeli counterpart in Jerusalem, because it could set the Middle East aflame?

Trump, therefore, can relocate the embassy to Jerusalem unperturbed and also make it clear that such a move, while necessary and natural, will not decide any of the fundamental questions pertaining to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, not even regarding Jerusalem. With that, it would be best for Trump to notify Washington’s allies in the region and explain to them, politely but firmly, that moving the embassy is recognition of the reality on the ground, which Jordan and Egypt also accept. Doing so would help prevent any unnecessary emotional outbursts.

What Trump can learn from Kerry is that hesitation and trepidation are perceived as weakness in the region and invite pressure, belligerence and even a rejectionist approach. Russian President Vladimir Putin, on the other hand, who never sought favor from anyone, is respected and feared; certainly no one threatens to burn the region down in response to his policies.

Netanyahu, Congress, AIPAC and the PLO

January 10, 2017

Netanyahu, Congress, AIPAC and the PLO, Front Page MagazineCaroline Glick, January 10, 2017

abbasanass

Originally published by the Jerusalem Post

The whitewashing of the PLO must end.

It is not in the least surprising that the PLO-controlled Palestinian Authority did not condemn the terrorist attack on Sunday. It is not surprising because the PLO-controlled PA encouraged the attack.

As Khaled Abu Toameh wrote for the Gatestone Institute, in the aftermath of last month’s US-enabled passage of UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which criminalizes Israel, the PA went on the warpath.

Among other things, Muhammad Abu Shtayyeh, who serves as a close adviser to PLO chief and PA leader Mahmoud Abbas called for an intensification of terrorist attacks against Israelis. Shtayyeh said that now is the time to “bolster the popular resistance” against Israel.

As Abu Toameh noted, “‘Popular resistance’ is code for throwing stones and petrol bombs and carrying out stabbing and car-ramming attacks against Israelis.”

Sunday’s terrorist murderer probably was inspired by Islamic State, and its adherents’ recent truck ramming murder sprees in Nice and Berlin, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

But Sunday’s 28-year-old cold blooded killer hailed from Jerusalem, not Nice.

His brain was washed since he was five years old by the PLO-controlled PA’s steady cycle of jihadist incitement.

From the time he was in preschool, the killer was indoctrinated to aspire to commit the mass murder of Jews he carried out on Sunday.

For 23 years, Israel and the US have empowered the PLO.

During this period, the terrorist group never took any concrete steps to promote peace. At no point in the past generation has a PLO leader ever told the Palestinians or supporters abroad that the time has come to bury the hatchet and accept Israel.

Instead, for 23 years, the PLO has openly supported Israel’s annihilation. Often that support has been stated in code words like “popular resistance” which everyone understands means murder.

To make it easy for Americans and Israelis to continue funding, arming, training and of course, recognizing the PLO as a “moderate” organization despite its continued sponsorship of terrorism, PLO members are always happy to talk about a “two-state solution” with Westerners that wish to be lied to.

But they do not hesitate to threaten anyone who rejects their lies about Jews and Israel. For instance, Abbas reacted to US President-elect Donald Trump’s plan to abide by the US law requiring the State Department to move the US embassy to Jerusalem by threatening him.

Trump’s plan will have “serious implications” for the US, Abbas told a group of visiting Israeli leftists.

PLO Executive Committee chairman Saeb Erekat said that if Trump moves the US embassy to Israel’s capital, the PLO will lobby Arab states to expel the US ambassadors from their capitals.

Jebl Mukaber, the Jerusalem neighborhood where Sunday’s terrorist lived, used to be just an Arab neighborhood in Jerusalem. It wasn’t particularly friendly.

But it also wasn’t particularly hostile.

But then for about five minutes in 1993, the PLO pretended it wasn’t a terrorist group. To the delight of the US, Israel responded by giving it operational bases in Gaza, Judea and Samaria. The PLO then went about indoctrinating residents of the areas under its control as well as throughout Israel that they must reject all forms of coexistence with Israel and work toward its destruction.

These acts of war on the ground have always been complemented by PLO efforts to destroy Israel in the court of world opinion through its unrelenting and ever escalating worldwide political war against the Jewish state.

In keeping with this state of affairs, following 2334’s passage, at the same time its members called for intensifying terrorist attacks against Israel, the PLO Executive Committee decided to escalate its international economic boycott campaign against Israel and ratchet up its campaign to convince the International Criminal Court to convict Israelis of imaginary war crimes.

Like Sunday’s terrorist attack in Jerusalem, it ought to go without saying that these actions are all acts of war against Israel.

The reason it is necessary to state what ought to be the self-evident fact that the PLO is a terrorist organization engaged in a total war against Israel and the Jewish People is because the people that are supposed to act on this reality insist on denying it. The Netanyahu government, the US Congress and US Jewish organizations led by AIPAC still refuse admit the truth about the PLO and draw the necessary conclusions.

Those necessary conclusions are similarly self-evident.

Israel and the US should cut all ties to the PLO.

The PLO should be re-designated as the terrorist group it never stopped being and treated accordingly.

Last week, the US House of Representatives passed non-binding Resolution 11, which condemned resolution 2334. Resolution 11 was shepherded through the House by AIPAC, with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s support.

The House resolution, which is set to be followed by a nearly identical Senate resolution in the coming days, is based on the proposition that 2334 is bad not because, as the Simon Wiesenthal Center rightly said, it was the worst antisemitic act of 2016. Rather, the congressional resolution rejects 2334 because it harms the chance of Israel and the PLO reaching a negotiated peace that will lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Resolution 11 is marginally helpful because it rejects economic and political warfare against Israel. But substantively, in regard to the PLO and its legitimacy, the greatest difference between Resolution 11 and 2334 is that while 2334 embraces the PLO’s anti-Jewish rejection of all Jewish ties to Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, Resolution 11 recognizes Israel’s right to the Western Wall and the Jewish Quarter.

Beyond Jerusalem’s Old City, Congress’s resolution accepts the pro-PLO position that it is a good idea to work toward the forcible expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Jews from their homes in Judea and Samaria to make room for a Jew-free Palestinian state led by PLO terrorists.

To credit its position, the House resolution states that 2334’s refusal to distinguish between Jerusalem’s Old City and Judea and Samaria means it equates “these sites with outposts in the West Bank that the Israeli government has deemed illegal.”

The problem with this wording is that it ignores the fact that the Knesset is about to pass a law that would effectively cancel that delineation. Similarly, it ignores that the delineation of Israeli communities built since 2000 in Judea and Samaria as illegal was done by a radical Justice Ministry attorney who now heads the post-Zionist New Israel Fund.

In other words, Congress’s resolution reflects the view of the far-left fringes of the Israeli political spectrum.

Supported by Netanyahu, AIPAC shepherded this resolution through the House, despite harsh opposition from the House Freedom Caucus whose members wish to end US support for the PLO and for a PLO state.

Although AIPAC condemned the Obama administration’s refusal to veto 2334, it continues to fervently support the PLO and Palestinian statehood. Indeed, just days after 2334 passed, AIPAC officials and missions were meeting with Erekat and other PLO operatives in Ramallah, as if there is anything pro-Israel about meeting with people who just got the Security Council to resolve that Israel is a criminal state.

AIPAC’s continued support for the PLO no doubt stems in part from its desire to keep the Democratic Party inside the pro-Israel tent. Unfortunately, that ship seems to have sailed.

Nearly 40% of House Democrats including minority leader Nancy Pelosi and assistant leader Jim Clyburn voted against the PLO state supporting resolution.

Rep. Keith Ellison, who is the front-runner to be elected Democratic National Committee chairman later this month, also voted no. Two thirds of the 95 Democrats supported by J Street opposed the resolution.

Most of the Democrats that supported Resolution 11 may well have supported it even if it had left out the goal of giving the PLO a state. It cannot be credibly argued that Reps. Elliot Engel and Steny Hoyer would have opposed Resolution 11 if it had simply stated that 2334 was antisemitic.

Certainly it is hard to argue they would have opposed it if the vote was delayed until January 21. Indeed, it is hard to understand why it was necessary to pass the resolution while President Barack Obama – who partnered with the PLO to pass 2334 – is still in office.

Resolution 2334’s passage must be viewed as an inflection point. It is no longer possible to credibly argue that the PLO is remotely interested in peace with Israel. Sunday’s murderous terrorist attack Jerusalem was further testament of this truth.

The time has come for Israelis and Israel’s supporters in the US to demand that our leaders – from Prime Minister Netanyahu to AIPAC to members of Congress – finally recognize and act of this truth. The whitewashing of the PLO must end.

The Resilience of Israel

December 29, 2016

The Resilience of Israel, Town HallVictor Davis Hanson, December 29, 2016

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The Obama administration’s estrangement from Israel has had the odd effect of empowering Israel.

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Israel would seem to be in a disastrous position, given the inevitable nuclear capabilities of Iran and the recent deterioration of its relationship with the United States, its former patron and continued financial benefactor.

Immediately upon entering office, President Obama hectored Israel on so-called settlements. Obama promised to put “daylight” between the U.S. and Israel — and delivered on that promise.

Last week, the U.S. declined to veto, and therefore allowed to pass, a United Nations resolution that, among other things, isolates Israel internationally and condemns the construction of housing in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Obama has long been at odds with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Over objections from the Obama administration, Netanyahu addressed a joint session of Congress last year about the existential dangers of the Obama-brokered Iran deal and the likelihood of a new Middle East nuclear proliferation race.

Obama then doubled down on his irritation with Netanyahu through petty slights, such as making him wait during White House visits. In 2014, an official in the Obama administration anonymously said Netanyahu, a combat veteran, was a “coward” on Iran.

At a G-20 summit in Cannes, France, in 2011, Obama, in a hot-mic slip, trashed Netanyahu. He whined to French President Nicolas Sarkozy: “You’re tired of him? What about me? I have to deal with him every day.”

In contrast, Obama bragged about his “special” relationship with autocratic Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Never mind that Erdogan seems to want to reconstruct Turkey as a modern Islamist version of the Ottoman Empire, or that he is anti-democratic while Israel is a consensual society of laws.

The Middle East surrounding democratic Israel is a nightmare. Half a million have died amid the moonscape ruins of Syria. A once-stable Iraq was overrun by the Islamic State.

The Arab Spring, U.S. support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the coup of General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to regain control of Egypt, and the bombing of Libya all have left North Africa in turmoil.

Iran has been empowered by the U.S.-brokered deal and will still become nuclear.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s bombers blast civilians not far from Israel’s borders.

Democrats are considering Rep. Keith Ellison as the next chairman of the Democratic National Committee despite his past ties to the Nation of Islam and his history of anti-Israel remarks.

Yet in all this mess, somehow Israel is in its best geostrategic position in decades. How?

The answer is a combination of unintended consequences, deft diplomacy, political upheavals in Europe and the United States, and Israel’s own democratic traditions.

Huge natural gas and oil finds off Israel’s Mediterranean coast and in the Golan Heights have radically changed Israel’s energy and financial positions. Israel no longer needs to import costly fossil fuels and may soon be an exporter of gas and oil to needy customers in Europe and the Middle East. (America recently became the world’s greatest producer of carbon energy and also no longer is dependent on Middle Eastern oil imports, resulting in less political influence by Arab nations.) Israel is creating its own version of Silicon Valley at Beersheba, which is now a global hub of cybersecurity research.

The Obama administration’s estrangement from Israel has had the odd effect of empowering Israel.

Rich Persian Gulf states see Obama as hostile both to Israel and to themselves, while he appeases the common enemy of majority-Shiite Iran.

After a “leading from behind” U.S withdrawal from the Middle East, many Arab nations now see Israel more as a powerful ally against Iran than as an old existential enemy. They also see Israel as a country that has likewise been snubbed by America.

The idea of an Arab-Israeli understanding is surreal, but it is developing from shared fears of being targets of Iranian bombing and American indifference.

Many of Israel’s neighbors are threatened by either ISIS or al-Qaida nihilists. Those deadly dangers remind the world that democratic, free-market Israel is the sole safe port amid a rising Middle East tsunami.

Changing Western politics are empowering Israel as well.

More than 2 million migrants — for the most part, young males from the war-torn Middle East — have terrified Europe, especially after a series of radical Islamic terrorist killings. Suddenly, Europe is far more worried about Israel’s neighbors than about lecturing Israel itself.

Pushback against the Obama administration extends to its foreign policy. President-elect Donald Trump may be more pro-Israel than any recent U.S. president. And he may be the first U.S. leader to move the American embassy to Israel’s capital in West Jerusalem.For all the chaos and dangers abroad, the map of global energy, Western politics and Middle Eastern alliances has been radically redrawn.At the center is a far stronger Israel that has more opportunities than at any other time in its history. It will have an even brighter future after Obama has left office.