Archive for the ‘Israeli settlements’ category

Palestinians: The Threats Trump Needs to Hear

May 16, 2017

Palestinians: The Threats Trump Needs to Hear, Gatestone Institute, Bassam Tawil, May 16, 2016

(With all due respect to the author, in the unlikely event that President Trump is not already aware of most of the matters about which he “needs to hear,” Ambassador Friedman, PM Netanyahu et al, are and will enlighten him. Abbas’ Palestinian Authority is hardly a “partner for peace” and Hamas — which is very likely to displace the PA, is even less so. Surely, President Trump knows that; he is many things, but retarded is not among them. — DM)

The warning by Hamas and Islamic Jihad is directed not only against Trump and his new administration, but also against Abbas and any Arab leader who dares to “collude” with the U.S.

A new policy document recently published by Hamas says that the Islamic terror movement accepts a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, but without recognizing Israel’s right to exist. Translation: Hamas seeks a Palestinian state that would be used as a launching pad to destroy Israel.

The electoral showing demonstrates with excruciating clarity that Hamas could easily take over any Palestinian state that the U.S. and the Europeans help create in the West Bank.

Abbas is a weak leader with precious little legitimacy among Palestinians. He would never survive any kind of real peace deal with Israel — a reality that, ironically, he has done his very best to create.

As U.S. President Donald Trump prepares to hold his second meeting with Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem next week, two Palestinian terror groups have announced that the new U.S. administration is planning to “liquidate the Palestinian cause.” The warning by Hamas and Islamic Jihad is directed not only against Trump and his new administration, but also against Abbas and any Arab leader who dares to “collude” with the U.S.

The two Palestinian terror groups, which control the Gaza Strip and its two million residents, also renewed their pledge to pursue the armed fight against Israel; they said they would not give up one inch of Palestine, from the (Mediterranean) sea to the (Jordan) river.

Trump and his administration would do well to heed the warning issued by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, especially in the wake of Abbas’s recent statements concerning a two-state solution and peace with Israel. Abbas controls only parts of the West Bank, and how he intends to establish a Palestinian state when he cannot even set foot in the Gaza Strip is anyone’s guess. Recently, Hamas announced that if and when the 82-year-old Abbas shows up in the Gaza Strip, he will be hanged in a public square on charges of “high treason.”

The warning by the Palestinian terror groups was made during a joint rally in the Gaza Strip on May 14. Leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad vowed to “preserve the Palestinian rifle and Palestinian rights in the face of any schemes and attempts to liquidate the Palestinian cause.”

Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar stated that Palestinian “principles are part of our [Islamic] religion, and we cannot make any concessions on them. We will not give up one inch of our land and holy sites. We will continue to work until the liberation of each inch of Palestine.”

Zahar also warned Abbas against signing any agreement with Israel that includes relinquishing Palestinian rights. “Anyone who gives up our rights and holy sites will betray Allah and his Prophet Mohammed,” Zahar cautioned.

Notably, Zahar’s statement to “liberate every inch of Palestine” comes amid false claims in the Western media to the effect that Hamas has abandoned its dream of eliminating Israel.

The claims are based on a new policy document recently published by Hamas; it says that the Islamic terror movement accepts a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, but without recognizing Israel’s right to exist. Translation: Hamas seeks a Palestinian state that would be used as a launching pad to destroy Israel.

Zahar and other Hamas leaders have taken advantage of every available platform to clarify that their acceptance of a Palestinian state on the pre-1967 lines does not mean abandoning their plan to eliminate Israel.

They have also explained, at length, that the new policy document does not replace Hamas’s original charter, which explicitly calls for the destruction of Israel.

Hamas’s honesty with respect to its true intentions stands in utter contrast to the deceit with which the policy document is being treated by others.

For instance, some Western media outlets and Palestinian affairs “experts” and “analysts” deceptively describe the document as a sign of moderation and pragmatism on the part of Hamas.

While Hamas leaders proudly proclaim that there is no real change in their ideology and charter, some Westerners seem to have a sort of hearing disability when it comes to the truth of the terror movement.

Another Hamas leader, Ahmed Bahr, said at the rally that his movement remains strongly opposed to security coordination between Abbas’s Palestinian Authority and Israel in the West Bank.

Bahr described the security coordination and the crackdown on Hamas supporters in the West Bank as a new Palestinian “Nakba” (Catastrophe) — the term used by Palestinians and Arabs to describe the establishment of Israel in 1948.

Referring to Trump’s upcoming visit to Jerusalem and Bethlehem, and reports that the U.S. administration was seeking to revive stalled peace talks between the PA and Israel, the top Hamas official said that Palestinians remain committed to the “resistance to liberate Palestine despite the conspiracies that are being concocted against them.”

For Hamas and its allies, Trump’s peace efforts are nothing less than a plot designed to force Palestinians to make unacceptable concessions to Israel. They will accept nothing but the elimination of Israel and its replacement with an Islamic state governed by Islamic sharia law.

Islamic Jihad leaders, for their part, said that Trump’s upcoming visit to the Middle East was aimed at “forming a new alliance to preserve” Israel’s interests. They believe that the purported alliance will consist of Israel, Abbas’s PA and some Arab countries.

In the view of Islamic Jihad leader Mohammed al-Hindi, the Trump-engineered alliance would “create a new Nakba” for the Palestinians. “Palestine is the land of all Palestinians and part of our history,” he declared. He too warned Abbas against any agreement that includes concessions to Israel.

Ignoring such threats issued by Palestinian terror groups is done only at one’s extreme peril. These are not marginal factions with a limited following among Palestinians. Rather, the ideology of Hamas and Islamic Jihad is widespread among the Palestinians and lives in the hearts and minds of many of them. These terror groups are popular not only in the Gaza Strip, but also among large sectors of Palestinians in the West Bank.

Just last week we received yet another reminder of Hamas’s increased popularity in the West Bank when its supporters won — for the third straight year — the student council elections at Bir Zeit University near Ramallah. Hamas’s victory in the university election has once again left Abbas and his loyalists bewildered.

The electoral showing is anything but confusing: it demonstrates with excruciating clarity that Hamas could easily take over any Palestinian state that the U.S. and the Europeans help create in the West Bank.

No one is more aware of this than Abbas — in a situation that accounts for why he has spent the past decade blocking parliamentary and presidential elections. Above all, Abbas wishes to avoid his mistake of 2006, when Hamas won the parliamentary election.

For a start, Trump might ask Abbas precisely how he plans to cope with the threats by Hamas and Islamic Jihad and other Palestinian groups to destroy Israel and thwart any “treacherous” peace agreement with Israel. Under the current circumstances, when Palestinians are radicalized against Israel on a daily basis and Hamas’s popularity is skyrocketing, the talk about a two-state solution and peace sounds downright delusional.

Abbas is a weak leader with precious little legitimacy among Palestinians. He would never survive any kind of real peace deal with Israel — a reality that, ironically, he has done his very best to create.

Trump and his advisors might put aside the sweet talk of Abbas and his spokesmen, and listen instead for the unsettling truths voiced by other Palestinians such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Alternatively, the West can continue to fantasize about a new Middle East in which Arabs and Muslims accept Israel’s right to exist — while in reality many of them are totally consumed by their attempts to raze it to the ground.

At his scheduled meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem next week, U.S. President Donald Trump might put aside the sweet talk of Abbas, and listen instead for the unsettling truths voiced by other Palestinians such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Pictured: Trump and Abbas give a joint statement on May 3, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Image source: Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)

 

Palestinian Daily ‘Al-Ayyam’ Reports On ‘Abbas’s White House Visit

May 8, 2017

Palestinian Daily ‘Al-Ayyam’ Reports On ‘Abbas’s White House Visit, MEMRI, May 8, 2017

(Consider the source. Abbas will get what he seeks when he teaches pigs to fly. Whoops. Pigs are haram. Please note the absence of any reference to Palestinian incitement of children and others to commit acts of terror and payment of Palestinian “heroes” in Israeli jails — both of which President Trump has insisted cease. Perhaps more important, were the Palestinian Authority to have elections, Hamas would likely win. The excerpts from the article do not mention Hamas– DM)

On May 7, 2017, the Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam published a detailed article on Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud ‘Abbas’s May 3 visit in Washington, titled “The Secrets and Details of President [‘Abbas’s] Visit and Talks in the U.S. Capital.” The article, by the daily’s U.S. correspondent ‘Abd Al-Rauf Arnaut, described ‘Abbas’s meetings with American officials as relaxed, and the hosts’ reception of ‘Abbas and his delegation as warm and respectful.

The article presented lengthy quotes from ‘Abbas himself about his meeting with Trump. According to ‘Abbas, he clarified to Trump that the Arabs oppose terrorism, no matter its type or its source, and that the Palestinians support a two-state solution rather than a two-state solution. He presented the Arab peace initiative as a basis for peace between Israel and the entire Arab world following an Israeli withdrawal from the Palestinian territories, and focused on the need to find a creative solution for the refugee problem based on UN Resolution 194,[1] stressing that otherwise it would not be possible to end the conflict. ‘Abbas also presented Trump with maps showing the history of Palestine from 1937, in order to demonstrate the steady contraction of the territories intended for the Palestinians and the vital need to halt construction in the settlements.

The following are excerpts from the article:[2]

“This wasn’t President ‘Abbas’s first visit to the White House, but it was different in its details from all the previous visits. After Donald Trump won the U.S. presidential election, Arab officials and analysts hurried to say that the Palestinians had become “irrelevant”, but within 100 days [of the election], the relations and the chemistry between the Palestinian and U.S. presidents developed to a point that [proved them to be] shamefully wrong.

“President Trump and his team were unfamiliar to the Palestinians, since, unlike previous [U.S.] presidents, such as George Bush Jr. and Barack Obama, they did not emerge from the American [political] establishment. In contrast to some leaders of Palestinian factions who criticized the new U.S. president based on Israeli statements, President ‘Abbas opted for a quiet diplomacy whose results became evident later, during his visit to the White House, which he has characterized as successful.

“After talking a great deal about the cold shoulder turned to ‘Abbas by the new inhabitant of the White House, and the implications [of this attitude], analysts found themselves faced with a sight that even many Palestinian officials had not imagined they would see. [Thanks to preparatory] measures and arrangements that preceded the meeting at the White House, a new bond was formed that is bound to become [even] clearer during Trump’s visit to Bethlehem on May 23, 2017.

“President ‘Abbas said: “The visit was preceded by several [preparatory measures]. About six weeks ago, after Trump entered the White House, the head of the Palestinian intelligence service, Maj. Gen. Majid Faraj, was invited to Washington for a meeting with his American counterpart, and he indeed came there and met with many U.S. political and military officials. [Gen. Faraj] returned with a lot of information, indicating that a new era had dawned in Washington and that we could expect new developments because there was a new [president] in that country who might present fresh ideas regarding the Palestinian issue. We were very pleased with this [preliminary] meeting.

“In a closed meeting with Arab ambassadors to Washington, [‘Abbas] said: “Immediately after that, shortly after the appointment of Mike Pompeo as Director of the CIA [on January 23, 2017], we were told he would come for a visit [in the PA] and he indeed came to Ramallah and we held lengthy meetings with him. He is an experienced man, for he was a member of Congress, so our cause was not unfamiliar to him, although we may have had to fill him in on some of the details. At the end of the meeting, he said: ‘I will now go [straight] to the airport and [fly to] Washington, for I want to present the minutes of this meeting to President Trump, who has a meeting scheduled tonight with Binyamin Netanyahu.’

“The CIA director was the first [U.S. official] to meet with the [Palestinian] president… and even though certain elements tried to claim that the contacts between the Palestinians and Americans were [confined to] the security level, these contacts continued on the diplomatic level [as well].

“President [‘Abbas] said: ‘The second step came one week later, when President Trump called me. This was the first time he called [me. He] greeted me and then invited me to the White House, saying, ‘I’ve heard all sorts of things about you, but I want to hear more from you, because I want to find a solution to the [Palestinian-Israeli] conflict. He repeated his invitation several times, and then told me that he had a great deal of confidence in several of his aides, including Jason Greenblatt,[3] and that he would soon send [Greenblatt] to us so we could talk with him.’

“The [next] step was [indeed] a meeting between United States Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt and President ‘Abbas in Ramallah. President ‘Abbas said: ‘Greenblatt arrived and I had a lengthy and comprehensive meeting with him, because I assumed he needed to learn the details. I [recounted all the developments] from Oslo until today, step by step, and described the entire Palestinian issue in full. Then I tried to answer all the questions I figured he might have, and when I was done he indeed said, “I have nothing left to ask, this was a useful meeting.”‘

“The [next] step was a meeting between Greenblatt and President [‘Abbas] on the Jordanian shore of the Dead Sea, at the periphery of the Arab League summit. President ‘Abbas said: ‘Greenblatt returned to Washington and then came back to [visit] us during the Arab League summit in Jordan, where he met with many Arab foreign ministers.’

“Concurrently, preparations for the [Trump-‘Abbas] summit were also made during the visit to Washington of a [Palestinian] delegation that included Dr. Saeb Erekat, the head of the Palestinian intelligence service and PLO Executive Committee secretary-general Maj. Gen. Majid Faraj, and Dr. Muhammad Mustafa, President [‘Abbas’s] economic advisor. Preparations were also made at the level of the leaders of Palestine, Jordan and Egypt, all three of whom had been invited to the White House. President ‘Abbas said: “We had been invited [to Washington] and we prepared for the visit, but [even] before this, at the Arab [League] summit which was [dedicated to the issue of] Palestine, Jordan’s King ‘Abdallah II initiated a three-way meeting with Egyptian President ‘Abd Al-Fattah Al-Sisi and myself so we would go to Washington with a single unified message. King [‘Abdallah] and President [Al-Sisi] had been invited [to Washington], but the date of my own visit had not yet been set. So the three of us met and discussed in detail the message we would present to Washington.’ He added: ‘King ‘Abdallah and President Al-Sisi [later] informed us about what had transpired [during their meetings] in Washington. They conveyed the same message, and that helped us a lot. Then it was decided that I would come here, to Washington, and I arrived, held some side meetings and then we went to the White House.'”

The Meeting With Jared Kushner

“Upon President ‘Abbas’s arrival in Washington, more meetings were held between the Palestinians and Americans. Far from the media, a first meeting took place between President ‘Abbas and Trump’s senior advisor and son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Kushner left a very positive impression on ‘Abbas, [who called him] ‘a polite man who wanted to gain a good understanding of the situation [and who] asked very polite questions about all the topics he wished to understand.’ This meeting was held on the eve of the president’s arrival at the White House.

“Up until the meeting at the White House, Palestinian officials differed in their assessments. Some expected a smooth and easy meeting while others were afraid of last-minute surprises.”

The Meeting With Trump

“The meeting went as Palestinian officials hoped it would, and was very positive, as was clearly evident from President [‘Abbas’s] reception at the White House.

“President [‘Abbas] naturally slept that night, after the long flight and because of the time-difference. The next morning he was cheerful as he prepared for his first visit to the White House during the Trump presidency. When he arrived, Trump met him at the door and accompanied him as he went to sign the guestbook. Then the two went into the Oval Office, and there, in the presence of the media, Trump greeted President ‘Abbas and shook his hand multiple times. Then they visited President Roosevelt’s historic office at the White House, where each delivered a statement, before shaking hands once again and turning to the Cabinet Room, where the U.S. cabinet holds its meetings.

“In the Cabinet Room, U.S. State Secretary Rex Tillerson sat to the left of the U.S. President and Vice President Mike Pence sat to his right. Also present at the meeting were U.S. National Security Advisor Gen. McMaster as well as Kushner, Greenblatt, the White House Chief of Staff, and U.S. Consul General [in Jerusalem] Donald Blome. Apart from ‘Abbas, the Palestinians present included Dr. Saeb Erekat, Gen. Majid Faraj, Dr. [Muhammad] Mustafa, Deputy Prime Minister Ziad Abu ‘Amr, ‘Abbas’s advisors Nabil Abu Rudeineh and Majdi Al-Khalidi, and Palestinian ambassador to Washington Husam Zomlot.”

‘Abbas: This Is What Happened At The White House

“As for the details of the visit, ‘Abbas said: ‘After signing the guestbook and delivering our statements to the press, [Trump and I] sat down together and I made every effort to present our wishes and our ideas [to him]. I told him explicitly: We, the united Arab nation, all oppose terror and combat terror, of every type and from every source. [Terror] is alien to us as a nation, alien to our culture, and that is why we stand up against it. Secondly, as for the political situation, we Palestinians believe in the solution of two states, namely Israel, which already exists, and a Palestinian state that we want to establish in the 1967 borders, whose capital is East Jerusalem. I told [Trump], if someone gets it into his head to speak about a one-state [solution, you should know that] we opt for the two-state [solution]. But if someone [nevertheless] mentions the one-state [solution, you should know that] there are two options. [The first option] is a racist discriminatory state, in which there are two regimes, [one for Palestinians and another for Jews], as is the case today in the Palestinian territories. Obviously, we will never agree to this and nobody in the world will agree to it. [The second option] is a binational state. I believe that they [the Israelis] reject this [option] out of hand, and I have [in fact] heard this from [them] on more than one occasion. So we are left with the solution of two states: a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders, and Israel. We want a state in those borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital’…

“‘Abbas then turned to explain the Arab peace initiative, using a one-page document prepared by the Palestinian president’s office, which included the details of the plan and the flags of the Arab countries that had approved it. President [‘Abbas] said: ‘I told Trump: We have the Arab initiative that was adopted at the 2002 Arab [League] summit in Beirut, which, in my opinion, is the most valuable initiative ever achieved for resolving the Palestinian problem. [The plan] is neither long nor complicated. It includes two main clauses.’ President [‘Abbas] explained to President [Trump] that the first clause says that if Israel withdraws from the Palestinian and Arab territories, all the Arab countries will be willing to form [diplomatic] ties with it, and that this initiative has been approved by more than one Arab capital and at many Arab and Muslim summits, for example in Istanbul, Iran and Pakistan…’ President ‘Abbas explained to the U.S. President that the flags on the document represented the countries that have approved the Arab peace initiative and have expressed willingness to recognize Israel if the latter withdraws from the occupied Arab and Palestinian territories.

“[‘Abbas also] explained to Trump that the [Arab] initiative proposed a just and agreed-upon solution to the refugee problem based on [UN Resolution] 194. The problem needs to be solved in a creative way based on the UN resolutions, [he said]. It must be resolved in order to resolve the conflict… We insist on this solution [to the refugee problem] because do not want only a peace treaty between ourselves and Israel, we want to end the conflict between ourselves and the Israelis. If the refugee problem remains unresolved, the conflict will remain as well.’

Historical Map Of Palestine

“President ‘Abbas then presented the U.S. President with a map showing Palestine from 1937 until today, to demonstrate how the Israeli occupation is eating away at the Palestinian territories. He said: ‘The maps explain the Palestinian problem… starting with the map of historical Palestine, through the first partition plan of 1937, the second [partition plan] of 1947, and then 1948. What [territory] is left to us? In the end [we have only] what the Israelis have left the Palestinians [after] building their settlements in the Palestinian territories.’ ‘Abbas said, ‘If construction in the settlements continues… how will we be able to establish a Palestinian state? That is why we oppose the settlements and regard them as illegitimate. This should be the basis for handling them at the [negotiation] table.’

“This explanation took up about 15-20 minutes of the face-to-face meeting between the two presidents. Then the two went to the Cabinet Room, where the American and Palestinian teams joined them. In the Cabinet Room, the Palestinian officials spoke, each about his area [of expertise], and explained the Palestinian position on each issue.

“President ‘Abbas said: ‘To sum up, we felt that the man [Trump] was serious and is eager to find a solution soon. Indeed, we hope that this is the case. I told him that we are prepared to send a delegation to the U.S. immediately in order to start negotiations, as they see fit.’ He added: These are our basic [principles], these are our positions, and we are demanding no more than the [implementation of the] U.N. resolutions. I felt that President Trump is very willing to proceed, and I am very pleased about that. I am not saying that he agreed with me, but at least he listened to me with great interest and in a positive manner. I hope he was convinced [by me], but this takes time, and I think that he should know further details.’

Outstanding Reception

“The observers were unanimous that President ‘Abbas received an unusually [warm] welcome in the White House. The Palestinian flag was prominently displayed in many places, especially in the historic Roosevelt Room, where it was stood behind the U.S. President as he gave his address. Several hours after the meeting, dozens of top U.S. officials and intellectuals in Washington, including the President’s harshest critics and representatives of organizations such as AIPAC, hurried to a large hall in the Mandarin Hotel in order to congratulate President ‘Abbas on the successful meeting. Many made sure to have their photo taken with him. The next day, there was another American surprise, when the White House announced that President Trump had accepted the invitation to visit the Palestinian territories. President ‘Abbas said that he was pleased about this visit and hoped that it would lead to something new.”

_______________________

[1] It should be noted that the Palestinians and the Arab states, unlike Israel, hold that this resolution recognizes the refugees’ right to return to their homes and also to receive compensation. It should be noted that the issue of the refugees’ return or compensation was not mentioned in the original Saudi peace initiative, but was added later under pressure from Syria and Lebanon in what became the “Arab peace initiative.” See “The Warped Saudi Initiative” by Itamar Rabinovich, Haaretz (Israel), April 4, 2002. For the article in English, see Haaretz.com, April 7, 2002.

[2] Al-Ayyam (PA), May 7, 2017.

[3] A Jewish-American lawyer who served as executive vice president and chief legal officer to Donald Trump and the Trump Organization, and as advisor on Israel during his presidential campaign. In January 2017 Trump appointed him United States Special Representative for International Negotiations.

Mainstream Media Distorts Reality on Israeli Settlements

April 4, 2017

Mainstream Media Distorts Reality on Israeli Settlements, Front Page MagazineGideon Israel, April 4, 2017

Reprinted from en.mida.org.il.

Yesterday, Israel’s government approved construction of a new settlement in Judea and Samaria (aka West Bank).  Media outlets CNN, BBC and the NY Times wasted no time publishing stories that distort the truth, if not outright lie.  These mistakes range from offering a false impression of reality to actually getting facts wrong. Such elementary mistakes expose the disconnect between mainstream media outlets and basic truths of the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

For example, CNN wrote that this is Israel’s ‘first new settlement in Palestinian territory in more than 20 years’. The first part of the sentence is misleading and the second part is false.  Israel has not built new communities in Judea and Samaria because it has given numerous chances for the Palestinian leadership to come to the table and reach an agreement. However, the Palestinians continually refused.  Instead, the article leads the reader to believe that this is a new policy meant to stifle any chance for a peace agreement.

The second part of the statement asserts that Israel is building in Palestinian territory. This is because CNN incorrectly believes that Israel has no legal rights to the West Bank. Israel’s legal rights to controlling the West Bank and building communities there under international law have been affirmed  time and again by respected authorities on the subject, including: Professor Eugene Rostow, Professor Julius Stone , Professor Eugene Kontorovich, Professor Avi Bell and more.

BBC wrote that this new settlement is being built after ‘the largest settlement, Amona, was evacuated by police last month.’  Amona, far from being the largest settlement, was probably one of the smallest settlements existing in the West Bank, approximately 40 families. Yet, this gives the impression that even the largest settlement in the West Bank was evacuated, and thus why not evacuate the entire West Bank.

And the New York Times topped it off by cherry picking statements to make it look as if Israel was disrespecting the Trump Administration.  Author of the article, Isabel Kershner, who has been accused of anti-Israel bias in the past, writes that Israel is building settlements despite President Trump’s request ‘to hold off on settlement activity’. Then she writes that ‘the United States has long considered the settlements an obstacle to peace.’ Those two statements are mixing apples with oranges.

The Trump Administration, while suggesting that Israel hold off on settlements for a little bit, explicitly said in a press release that they ‘don’t believe the existence of settlements is an impediment to peace’. This was a clear departure from past US policy, especially under the Obama Administration, yet Kershner ignores that, and prefers to think that Barack Obama is still president.

Kershner also ponders whether Netanyahu’s announcement was potentially a ‘provocative move to scuttle any prospect of a revival of peace talks’. She blatantly disregards the past eight years where Mahmoud Abbas refused to negotiate with the Israelis, and the past 25 years where Palestinian leaders have continually refused all peace deals offered to them. Even more, Kershner ignores the fact that building a new settlement was promised to the residents of Amona before the settlement was evacuated. She should know this, she lives in Israel.

Since the mainstream media continues its anti-Israel bias, here are some important facts to know about the settlements.

  • Jordan illegally occupied the West Bank in 1948, a move strongly condemned by both the Russian and US Ambassadors to the U.N at the time.  Besides for Great Britain and India, no other country recognized Jordan’s rights to the territory.  Thus, when Israel conquered the West Bank in 1967 after Jordan decided to attack Israel at the behest of other Arab leaders, Israel was merely reclaiming the territory that had been granted to them under the British Mandate prior to 1948.
  • Under the Mandate for Palestine, Article 25, it is clear that the eastern border of the future Jewish state would be the Jordan river, many years prior to the imaginary ‘green line’ which has no legal status.
  • The majority of the communities in the West Bank were built on government property, and in the few cases where a mistake was made and a settlement was established on private property, the Israeli government worked to ameliorate the situation by either offering compensation to the owner of the land, or in the extreme case of Amona, the settlement was dismantled.
  • According to statistics from January, 2017, there are approximately 421,000 Israelis living in Judea and Samaria. While many envision the makeup of the population as religious extremists, in reality, the population is made up of 1/3 religious Zionists, 1/3 secular Israelis, 1/3 ultra orthodox Jews.
  • Israel has approximately 150 ‘settlements’ in the West Bank ranging from 100 people to around 70,000 people.  The term ‘settlements’ actually distorts reality as one imagines three tents on a hilltop. In reality, similar to any other country in the world,  Israeli citizens residing in Judea and Samaria live in areas that could be defined as villages, towns, boroughs and cities. For example, Maale Adumim, called a ‘settlement’ by the media and Arab countries, has a population of approximately 42,000 people, comparable to the populations of Atlantic City and Fort Lee located in NJ, and both would not be mistaken for a settlement.  Modiin Illit, with a population exceeding 65,000, is comparable to the population of Palo Alto, California.  Givaat Zeev, with a population exceeding 25,000, is slightly less than the population of Monterey, California, which would never be mistaken for a ‘settlement’ or an ‘outpost’.
  • The reasons for living in Judea and Samaria are varied. Some live there because of ideological reasons, others live there for the countryside atmosphere it provides, and some live there because housing is inexpensive and in close proximity to major cities such as Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. For example, more than 150,000 residents living in Judea are within a 15 minute drive of Jerusalem.  Just as some people choose to live in Hoboken, NJ, so they can be close to NY without paying Manhattan prices, the same applies for Israelis to living in Judea and Samaria.
  • Judea and Samaria is home to one of Israel’s eight universities – Ariel University. There are approximately 15,000 students (Jewish and Arab) that attend the University, comparable to the size of Duke University in North Carolina.
  • There are approximately 11,000 Arabs who work in over 800 factories spanning 14 industrial parks in industry and agriculture throughout Israeli controlled parts of the West Bank.  Salaries of Arabs working in these factories are more than double the average salary of Palestinians working in the Palestinian controlled areas, and according to a ruling by Israel’s Supreme Court, they are entitled to pension benefits just like Israelis.
  • The Palestinians have benefited tremendously since Israel took over the West Bank in 1967.  From 1967 until the signing of the Oslo Accords, Palestinian life expectancy increased from 56 to 68 years and infant mortality dropped from 13 to 5 deaths for every 1000 infants. Israel’s presence in the West Bank led to a massive overhaul of the infrastructure bringing electricity, sewage and increased amounts of water to Arab towns.
  • Israeli companies with factories in the West Bank have been targeted by the BDS movement, however the Arab workers are the ones who suffer most from these boycotts.  Sodastream was targeted by the BDS because of their West Bank factory, and eventually it moved its factory outside the West Bank.  As a result, almost 600 Palestinian workers were laid off.
  • Judea and Samaria has about one million visitors each year, and more than 80% of the events in the bible happened in the area of Judea and Samaria.

On Israel, Trump Confuses only the Confused

February 17, 2017

On Israel, Trump Confuses only the Confused, Power LinePaul Mirengoff, February 17, 2017

(Or perhaps only the willfully confused, some of whom apparently prefer a “final solution” to a mere two state solution, are confused. — DM)

The Washington Post claims that President Trump’s remarks about Israel have led to confusion about how he views the dispute between Israel and the Palestinians. Reporters William Booth and Anne Gearan say that Israelis are confused, and they site conflicting interpretations of Trump’s several statements.

But Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, whom the Post also quotes, gets to the bottom of the alleged confusion. He says “everyone interprets this as they see fit.”

In reality, Trump’s comments were remarkably clear. Let’s start with the one that got most of the attention: “I’m looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like.”

Trump was saying that if the Israelis and the Palestinians like a two-state solution, he likes it too. Otherwise, he doesn’t.

This is wise. A two-state solution makes sense only if both parties want it. If that’s not the case, there is no sense in America trying to impose it, and Trump won’t waste his time pushing this option. Or so he is saying.

Trump also said to Prime Minister Netanyahu: “Both sides will have to make compromises; you know that, right?” Netanyahu responded: “Both sides.”

Again, there’s nothing puzzling here. “Both sides” means both sides.

Coupled with his statement that he likes the solution both parties like, Trump is maximizing the likelihood of a peace agreement (although, to me, the odds of reaching one remain extremely low). President Obama’s approach was to obsess over a two-state solution and demand major compromises by Israel. The Palestinians believed they could sit back and wait for America to extract such compromises.

Trump has made it clear that both sides need to make compromises and has signaled that he won’t focus on obtaining them from Israel alone. If both parties don’t make concessions on behalf of a two-state solution, he will conclude that this is not the solution both parties like. And he won’t like it either. Or so he is saying.

Trump also told Netanyahu: “I’d like you to hold off on settlements for a little bit.” On the surface, this looks like an attempt to obtain a small concession from Israel. However, I agree with Charles Krauthammer that Trump was trying to bolster Netanyahu’s position in relation to hard-line Israeli politicians who are pushing for a major expansion of settlements, including the building of new ones.

A sensible approach to settlements is permit the natural growth of existing blocs — no community can be expected not to build out as its population expands — but to forego, for “a little bit,” major territorial expansion which would escalate tension, hurt Israel’s international standing, and perhaps make a peace agreement even more difficult to achieve.

Trump’s statement is consistent with this thinking, which, I gather, is the thinking of Netanyahu.

Only the confused are genuinely puzzled by Trump’s statements. Those in the American mainstream media who suggest otherwise are probably just trying to make the American president look confused.

Netanyahu’s big chance

February 12, 2017

Netanyahu’s big chance, Israel National News, Jack Engelhard, February 12, 2017

(President Trump’s “disapproval” of settlement building consists of suggesting that it is not conducive to furthering the “peace process” and that announcements of more settlement building should be more muted. The “peace process” and “two state solution” are dead, at the hands of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. More settlement building certainly won’t revive the corpses, but won’t make either more dead either. It seems likely that President Trump knows that. — DM)

For eight years now we’ve been waiting for Israel to get a sympathetic hearing in the White House. That never happened with Obama.

Finally, with President Donald Trump, this is Israel’s big chance and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s big moment when the two meet this week.

Let’s not get this wrong and my guess is that there will be smiles and handshakes all around – but will anything be resolved?

Netanyahu’s job is to close the deal with Trump who is certain to be attentive but Netanyahu must remember the motto of salesmanship – “always be closing.”

Do not assume anything and do not take it for granted that Trump is fully aware of Israel’s position regarding Jerusalem and “the territories.”

Trump, with other things on his mind and other allies to consider, must be reminded that, one, he promised to move the United States Embassy to Jerusalem, and two – the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria are the heart of the Jewish State. Trump may know this already but Netanyahu’s task is to “keep closing.”

If both leaders stick to the mantra of a “two-state solution” then we’re back to square one.

Planting a hostile “Palestinian state” into the Jewish heartland is no answer and it has been no answer ever since the 1967 “three Nos at Khartoum,” and it gets downright genocidal when we go back to 1941 and find the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin al-Husseini, sitting on Hitler’s lap in order to learn how it’s done.

If Trump knew this but forgot, Netanyahu would do well to remind him.

Also what happened when Israel gave up Gaza and the torrent of Hamas rockets that followed.

Forget for a moment Israel’s loss of land and sovereignty under such a “solution.” But imagine a situation whereby the IDF would need Mahmoud Abbas’ permission to fly over “Palestinian territory?” This needs to be explained to this American President in terms of his own love of sovereignty.

Who says the Palestinian Arabs want peace? People who knife, shoot and bulldoze innocent civilians are in no shape to share anyone’s country.

Trump should be made aware of this.

Let alone the fact that the Palestinian Arabs, who were invented in 1964, have no historical claims to the Holy Land.

That, too.

So that should be off the table and it’s too bad that Netanyahu keeps bringing it up when instead he should be talking about the problem both countries face – Radical Islam. That is language Trump understands. The United States and Israel – we are both in the same boat on this and it’s up to Neyanyahu to bring that up as Item Number One that needs a solution.

Trump knows Radical Islam and that’s why he insists on “extreme vetting” against possible terrorists entering the United States.

At the same time, however, Trump has expressed some disapproval of ‘settlement building’. He has expressed himself politely on this issue because he intends to be a true friend of Israel and friends should be allowed to disagree. But there should be no disagreement if Netanyahu gets it right.

This would be Netanyahu’s reminder to Trump, on Wednesday, that the same type of people who are wrong for America are wrong for Israel — and to replace Jewish settlements with Palestinian Arab settlements is like extending a formal invitation to ISIS.

That too is language Trump would understand.

In one sitting Benjamin Netanyahu can undo the damage of the past eight years and herald the start of a beautiful friendship.

If he’s as good a salesman as he is a politician.

An empty condemnation

February 9, 2017

An empty condemnation, Israel Hayom, Dr. Ephraim Herrera, February 9, 2017

It appears that the Judea and Samaria Settlement Regulation Law is not of paramount interest to the Muslim world. But make no mistake, that has nothing to do with any great love for Israel there. The Sunni Arab world, currently embroiled in a bloody war with the Shiite world led by Iran and its proxies — Syria, under President Bashar Assad and Hezbollah — is well aware of the unofficial alliance with Israel.

Israel has been providing Jordan and Egypt with intelligence to aid their fight against the Islamic State group, and according to unofficial sources, the Israeli military is also helping Cairo battle the Islamic State’s affiliate in Sinai. Reuters recently reported that Jordan, too, was receiving Israeli help in its fight against the Islamic State and other Islamist insurgents on its borders.

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Turkey, Egypt, Jordan and the Arab League as a whole condemned the Judea and Samaria Settlement Regulation Law passed by the Knesset on Monday. Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul-Gheit described the law as cover for stealing Palestinian land. A Jordanian minister warned it would cause an escalation in violence and undermine any chance of a two-state solution. Turkey lambasted the law, claiming it gave “approval to the construction of settlements on the private property of the Palestinians.” It would appear that the law poses a threat to regional stability, but is that really the case?

Turkish Tourism Minister Nabi Avci voiced his country’s opposition to the legislation during a visit to Israel, but as expected, he was not recalled to Turkey. Nor was the Israeli ambassador to Turkey summoned for clarification nor did the Turkish denunciation make headlines in Turkish news outlets.

The same thing took place in other Arab countries. Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry slammed the law, but there was no mention of it on the home page of the website of the state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper or on the home page of the popular Egyptian website Al-Youm al-Sabia.

The London-based Asharq Al-Awsat, which is funded by the Saudi royal family, focused on the response from Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior aide to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who said that though the Palestinians were losing their lands, they would not petition international courts out of fear of reprisals from the U.S. and Israel. Even the Qatari-owned Al Jazeera, one of the largest Arabic news organizations, did not cover the new law on the home page of its website.

It appears that the Judea and Samaria Settlement Regulation Law is not of paramount interest to the Muslim world. But make no mistake, that has nothing to do with any great love for Israel there. The Sunni Arab world, currently embroiled in a bloody war with the Shiite world led by Iran and its proxies — Syria, under President Bashar Assad and Hezbollah — is well aware of the unofficial alliance with Israel.

Israel has been providing Jordan and Egypt with intelligence to aid their fight against the Islamic State group, and according to unofficial sources, the Israeli military is also helping Cairo battle the Islamic State’s affiliate in Sinai. Reuters recently reported that Jordan, too, was receiving Israeli help in its fight against the Islamic State and other Islamist insurgents on its borders.

Furthermore, news of economic ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel have recently begun to surface. The Saudi kingdom fears the growing power of its Persian neighbor and is well aware that Israel could potentially become play an important role in its defense. So it’s no wonder that there have been no reports of protests in Muslim countries against the settlement regulation law.

Productive cooperation between Israel and Muslim nations, open or clandestine, is the best remedy for the 1,000-year-old Islamic hatred of Jews, which has depicted them as pigs, monkeys, and the lowest and most evil of creatures after the devil himself. That same radical Islam has become a threat to the Muslim countries, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon, as it views borders between Muslim countries as heresy against Islamic law.

Yes, it is radical Islam that has been raging in Syria, Iraq and Libya, inciting the death of hundreds of thousands of people and the displacement of millions more. It has brought devastation, famine, poverty, torture and the exile of millions of Muslims who are attempting to escape the Islamic inferno.

The European countries who were quick to condemn the Israeli law have turned a blind eye to the Syrian genocide and the only apartheid regime in the region — which is perpetrated by the Palestinians, who forbid Jews from living in areas under their control. These days it is no wonder that the European countries are paying the price for their ineffectuality in dealing with Islamist movements in the form of the swarms of the Muslim refugees amassing in their streets.

Build, but shut up about it, says Trump

February 5, 2017

Build, but shut up about it, says Trump, Israel National News, Jack Engelhard, February 5, 2017

(“Not helpful in promoting peace. . . .” What, beyond the evacuation of all Jews from Israel, would be “helpful?” Israel has tried just about everything short of that. With every concession the Palestinians demand more; if they get it, they demand even more. The “peace process” is dead and Israel did not kill it. — DM)

Already a rift? No. Not exactly. But Israel needs to get some gambling smarts.

Trump is Trump and he already knows what he’ll do but keeps his cards folded. That’s the art of his deal.

For Trump the winning move is the element of surprise.

Israel’s leaders sometimes take their cue from the lovable fools of Chelm. No surprises. They tell the enemy every move ahead of time which is bad poker and bad politics, so wrong that it’s got Trump and his team rattled and irked. Now we hear that Trump is unhappy about more homes being built within “the settlements.”

Earlier the settlements were okay. Why the mixed signals?

Most likely, Trump is bothered that Israel keeps announcing each and every plan weeks in advance, which allows the entire world to gear up in protest.

Rather, Trump says, shut up and build. That sounds more like Trump who is asking Israel to play smart and to move only when the table is in your favor.

“Not helpful in promoting peace,” said his White House spokesman today – and where have we heard that before?

Never from Trump. So something’s gone wrong and I don’t think it’s entirely Trump’s fault, nor do I think here we go again. He’s Obama all over again.

That won’t happen. But over the years some of us have noticed Israel’s habit of going public each time it hires an architect. As for me, it’s been an astonishment how Israel telegraphs every move, particularly when it comes to housing in Judea and Samaria. Who asked?

What other country does this? What other country stops the presses to announce — Hello World, We’re Building More Homes.

Got a problem with that? – and in unison the world says yes.

That IS the wisdom of Chelm if you expect any other outcome, and that has to be the cause of Trump’s annoyance. Immediately Israel’s High Court gets into the act along with the “peace groups” and Haaretz and The New York Times and a day later France invites 70 countries for a Paris summit to denounce the Jewish State.

That leaves Trump boxed in and he says so himself, that it cramps his style and his space to maneuver.

How many times a day can he take on the entire world, as he’s been doing, and now must carry Israel on his back – as he has it figured.

All for no good reason except that Israeli leaders do not know when to keep quiet. Instead they keep rubbing it in and keep asking for trouble.

The trouble comes when they speak loudly and then expect the United States to carry the big stick…like stopping the UN from another 2334.

Have we forgotten that personally Trump owes us nothing? The overwhelming majority of American Jews voted against him. He knows this.

The same majority protests his partial travel restrictions, which means that while he wants to keep anti-Semites out, we want them in.

Even pockets of Israelis were shown on television protesting Trump’s immigration pause. That hurt and it sure wasn’t “helpful” in terms of friendship.

Now we hear that Trump favors a two-state solution and where did he get that if not from Benjamin Netanyahu who keeps promoting that dangerous nonsense.

We can’t ask Trump to be more Jewish than the Jews or more Israeli than the Israelis.

Our only claim on Trump is that we are family. The United States and Israel share the same values.

Only Israel can be counted on through thick or thin throughout the region and he needs Israel as much as Israel needs him.

Trump knows this. But he’s asking Israel to play by new rules, which is to shut up and deal only when the time is right.