Archive for the ‘Israeli settlements’ category

Israel, Trump admin reach understanding on construction

October 9, 2017

Israel, Trump admin reach understanding on construction, Israel National News, David Rosenberg, October 9, 2017

Netanyahu and Trump meet Avi Ohayon/GPO

The official added that Israel has established an unofficial understanding with the Trump administration regarding construction in Judea and Samaria, whereby Israel will build outside of the larger “settlement blocs”, but will limit announcements of large housing projects to once every few months. For its part, the Trump administration has pledged not to issue condemnations of Israeli housing projects in Judea and Samaria.

“After Trump came into office, Israel and the new American administration set clear criteria for construction that the Americans were not opposed to, such as canceling the distinction between settlement blocs and isolated settlements. In addition, it was made clear that the Americans no longer consider the settlements an obstacle to peace.”

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The Civil Administration Higher Planning Committee is slated to meet next week and give final approval to nearly 4,000 new housing units across Judea and Samaria, including the first new construction in the Jewish community in Hevron in some four decades.

On Sunday night, Channel 2 reported that the Netanyahu government has okayed the move, following delays by the Higher Planning Committee, which had originally been scheduled to approve the projects in September.

The new wave of construction, totaling 3,829 homes, includes building in communities outside of the so-called “major settlement blocs”, a significant shift from the limits imposed on projects approved during the Obama administration. Along with larger ‘consensus’ towns such as Ariel and Givat Zeev, the new construction wave includes units in Beit El, Tzofim, Rehalim, Nogohot, Hevron, Tekoa, Kfar Etzion, Avnei Hefetz, Nofim, Kochav Yaakov, Har Bracha, and Maaleh Michmash [Michmas].

According to a government official who spoke with Yediot Ahronot on Sunday, next week’s planned approval for the projects signals the end of the Obama-era condemnations of Israeli housing projects.

The official added that Israel has established an unofficial understanding with the Trump administration regarding construction in Judea and Samaria, whereby Israel will build outside of the larger “settlement blocs”, but will limit announcements of large housing projects to once every few months. For its part, the Trump administration has pledged not to issue condemnations of Israeli housing projects in Judea and Samaria.

“There was a long dry period during the Obama era, and we were hit with condemnations for every construction in the settlement,” the official said.

“After Trump came into office, Israel and the new American administration set clear criteria for construction that the Americans were not opposed to, such as canceling the distinction between settlement blocs and isolated settlements. In addition, it was made clear that the Americans no longer consider the settlements an obstacle to peace.”

A whole new ballgame

July 7, 2017

A whole new ballgame, Israel Hayom, Ruthie Blum, July 7, 2017

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman delivered a speech this week that made the ‎unbearably hot and humid weather feel like a breath of fresh air. At the annual Fourth of July ‎celebration, held Monday evening at his official residence in Herzliya, Friedman not only ‎reiterated his personal faith in Judaism and the Jewish people, but stressed America’s ‎‎”unbreakable bond” with the Jewish state.‎

The bond Friedman was referring to had become so fragile during former U.S. President Barack ‎Obama’s two terms in office that it became the punchline of a joke made in 2014 by comedian ‎Jay Leno. Obama, Leno quipped, knows just how unbreakable the U.S.-Israel bond is, “since ‎he’s been trying to break it for years.”‎

It was not only Friedman’s address that was crafted to convey the loud and clear message that ‎the new administration in Washington is going to behave differently — that it is and will continue ‎to be unequivocally and unflinchingly on Israel’s side. The fact that he was the first U.S. ‎ambassador to invite settler leaders to the event, and proudly pose for photographs with them, ‎already spoke volumes.‎

Friedman began by recounting that the first time he hosted a party in Israel was at the Western ‎Wall in Jerusalem, when he was 13. “As the son of a rabbi of modest means, I can assure you that ‎my bar mitzvah party bore absolutely no resemblance to the party that we are attending here ‎tonight,” he said. “But the spirit … is exactly the same. It is the spirit of patriotic Americans ‎committed to increasing the ties and enhancing the relationship between the United States and ‎the State of Israel. That’s what my family stood for 45 years ago, and that’s still who we are ‎today.” ‎

That right off the bat he boasted of his Jewish connection to the Western Wall in the context of ‎U.S.-Israel relations was highly significant. It signaled to those supporters of President Donald ‎Trump who became disillusioned by what appeared to be a backtracking of his vow to move the ‎U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem that this is not a case of yet another administration ‎reneging on its promises in an attempt to appease the Palestinians and impose a peace deal on ‎Israel. It also indicated to Israel’s enemies that America recognizes Israeli sovereignty over its ‎capital city. ‎

Friedman went on to say, “It was just two months ago that I had the honor … to be the master of ‎ceremonies at the very first party ever hosted by the White House to commemorate Israel’s ‎Independence Day, [where] I had the privilege to proclaim, ‘yom haatzmaut sameach l’medinat ‎yisrael’ — ‘Happy Independence Day to the State of Israel.’ Today, it is my great pleasure to return ‎the favor from 6,000 miles away. And so let me proclaim, ‘yom haatzmaut sameach l’artzot ‎habrit,’ ‘Happy Independence Day to the United States.'” ‎

And then he quoted, in Hebrew, a line from Psalm 118 — “This is a day that the Lord has made; ‎let us [be glad and] rejoice in it” — to make a point about Israel’s being “the source of many of the ‎Judeo-Christian values that spawned the American enterprise.” He invoked the famous Puritan Pilgrim John Winthrop, who in 1630 “implored his followers to be faithful to the teachings of ‎the Jewish prophet, Micah, to ‘do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with thy God,'” and told ‎new immigrants to America that if they did so, they would “find that the God of Israel is among ‎us.” ‎

He said that when Winthrop “referred to New England as a ‘city upon a hill with the eyes of all ‎people upon us,” he was also referring to Jerusalem. Indeed, Friedman added, “So much of who ‎we are derives from the teachings of ancient Israel. And, perhaps for that reason, it is no surprise ‎that the United States and Israel have the most special of special relationships.”‎

Here, again, Friedman purposely spoke of Jerusalem, emphasizing that the success and mutual ‎admiration that America and the Jewish state enjoy emanate from “ancient Israel.”‎

‎”We have, of course, common enemies that unite us,” he said — as well as military, trade, culture ‎and cybersecurity cooperation. “But our collective core, what fundamentally unites us, is that we ‎are the two shining cities on a hill, drawn together by a shared history, shared values and … a ‎shared destiny of continued greatness.”‎

This declaration was nothing short of momentous, particularly as it came on the heels of senior ‎Trump adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner’s June 21 meeting in Ramallah with PA President ‎Mahmoud Abbas, whose henchmen described the encounter as “tense.” Apparently, being told ‎by a prominent member of the White House staff that the paying of terrorists’ salaries has got to ‎stop is not what Abbas had expected to hear — despite being yelled at by Trump himself in May ‎for having lied about the rampant incitement in the PA against Jews and Israelis.‎

Friedman’s next allusion to Jerusalem involved noting that he is the “first [U.S.] ambassador to ‎accompany [Trump] in visiting the kotel hamaaravi, the Western Wall.” From here, he segued ‎into his conclusion by talking about how, earlier in the day, he and Israeli Prime Minister ‎Benjamin Netanyahu had toured the aircraft carrier the USS George H.W. Bush off the coast of ‎Haifa. ‎

Peace through strength, he announced (quoting King David’s words in Psalm 29, which he said ‎his father used to recite every Shabbat morning) is “a foundational cornerstone of the Trump ‎administration” and a “guiding principle of the State of Israel.” ‎

Finally, Friedman said that American men and women in uniform, like their Israeli counterparts ‎in the IDF, “hope never to fire a shot,” preferring to keep the world safe through a demonstration ‎of strength and courage. However — he implied — they willingly sacrifice their lives in this ‎mission if left no other choice.‎

While the new U.S. ambassador to Israel wound down his remarks by wishing the United State a ‎happy 241st birthday, the audience revved up its cheering for the start of what Americans call “a ‎whole new ballgame.”‎

The PLO’s IDF Lobbyists

June 27, 2017

The PLO’s IDF Lobbyists, Front Page MagazineCaroline Glick, June 27, 2017

(The Israeli deep state? — DM)

CIS is a consortium of 260 left-wing retired security brass. It formed just before the 2015 elections. CIS refuses to reveal its funding sources. Several of its most visible members worked with the Obama administration through the George Soros-funded Center for a New American Security.

Since its inception, CIS has effectively served as a PLO lobby. It supports Israeli land giveaways and insists that Israel can do without a defensible eastern border.

Last Wednesday CIS released a common-sense defying statement opposing the Taylor Force Act.

The generals mind-numbingly insisted the US must continue paying the terrorism-financing PA because Israel needs the help of the terrorism-incentivizing PA to fight the terrorists the PA incentivizes. If the US cuts off funding to the PA because it incentivizes terrorism, then the PA will refuse to cooperate with Israel in fighting the terrorism it incentivizes.

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How radicalized Israeli generals are furthering the cause of Palestinian terrorists.

Originally published by the Jerusalem Post

Should the United States pay Palestinian terrorists? For the overwhelming majority of Americans and Israelis this is a rhetorical question.

The position of the American people was made clear – yet again – last week when US President Donald Trump’s senior envoys Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt met with Palestinian Authority chairman and PLO chief Mahmoud Abbas and repeated Trump’s demand that the PA cut off the payments.

Not only did Abbas reject their demand, he reportedly accused the presidential envoys of working as Israeli agents.

Abbas’s treatment of Kushner and Greenblatt was in line with his refusal to even meet with US Ambassador David Friedman, reportedly because he doesn’t like Friedman’s views.

The most amazing aspect of Abbas’s contemptuous treatment of the Trump administration is that he abuses Trump and his senior advisers while demanding that Trump continue funding him in excess of half a billion dollars a year, and do so in contravention of the will of the Republican-controlled Congress.

Abbas’s meeting last week took place as the Taylor Force Act makes its way through Congress.

Named for Taylor Force, the West Point graduate and US army veteran who was murdered in March 2016 in Tel Aviv by a Palestinian terrorist, the Taylor Force Act will end US funding of the PA until it ends its payments to terrorists and their families – including the family of Force’s murderer Bashar Masalha.

The Taylor Force Act enjoys bipartisan majority support in both the House and the Senate. It is also supported by the Israeli government.

Given the stakes, what could possibly have possessed Abbas to believe he can get away with mistreating Trump and his envoys? Who does he think will save him from Congress and the White House? Enter Commanders for Israel’s Security (CIS), stage left.

CIS is a consortium of 260 left-wing retired security brass. It formed just before the 2015 elections. CIS refuses to reveal its funding sources. Several of its most visible members worked with the Obama administration through the George Soros-funded Center for a New American Security.

Since its inception, CIS has effectively served as a PLO lobby. It supports Israeli land giveaways and insists that Israel can do without a defensible eastern border.

Last Wednesday CIS released a common-sense defying statement opposing the Taylor Force Act.

The generals mind-numbingly insisted the US must continue paying the terrorism-financing PA because Israel needs the help of the terrorism-incentivizing PA to fight the terrorists the PA incentivizes. If the US cuts off funding to the PA because it incentivizes terrorism, then the PA will refuse to cooperate with Israel in fighting the terrorism it incentivizes.

If you fail to follow this logic, well, you don’t have what it takes to be an Israeli general.

Moreover, if you fail to follow this logic, and you defy the position of Israel’s retired generals, then you may well endanger Israel.

After all, they know what’s best even better than the Israeli government because they are retired Israeli generals.

The CIS group would be bad enough for Israel on its own. But unfortunately, the radical politics of its members – and their anonymous funders – are all too resonant inside of the IDF itself.

And just as CIS members use the ranks they received in the past to undermine the powers of the government today, so the current crop of serving generals use their positions to advance policies that are contrary to the expressed position of the government.

This is nowhere more evident than in the behavior of the Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria.

Until Israel formed the PLO-controlled PA in 1994, the Civil Administration was responsible for governing Judea and Samaria as the governing arm of the military government that Israel set up in the area after the Six Day War.

In 1996, Israel transferred all Palestinian population centers in Judea and Samaria to the PA. Since then, the Civil Administration has been responsible only for Area C where all Israeli communities are located and where between 100,000 and 200,000 Palestinians also live.

The question of what the ultimate disposition of Area C will be is the top issue on the national agenda today. The majority of government ministers and the majority of the public support applying Israeli law to all or parts of the area.

Yet while the government debates the issue and formulates policies to advance whatever policies it adopts on this issue, the Civil Administration has for the past several years been acting independently to undermine and constrain the government’s ability to make strategic decisions relating to Area C.

Among other things, the Civil Administration has been independently initiating Palestinian settlement projects in Area C that undermine Israel’s ability to govern the areas. By the same token, the Civil Administration has used its powers to scupper, delay and prevent Israeli construction projects in the area.

The story of the Civil Administration’s rogue policymaking was catapulted to the headlines last week when Channel 2 reported that it was advancing a plan to massively expand the Palestinian city of Kalkilya into Area C. Among other things, the plan endangers Israeli communities whose territory abuts the expanded boundaries of Kalkilya advanced by the plan.

Channel 2 reported that the Netanyahu government’s security cabinet had given the Civil Administration a green light to begin construction.

The story caused a political outcry not only from Likud voters but from the security cabinet members themselves. Led by Minister Ze’ev Elkin, the Likud ministers insisted that they had been misled by the Civil Administration which deliberately hid the nature of the plan from them when it brought it to the cabinet for approval.

The ministers’ protests ring true because the Civil Administration has a history of acting in this manner.

In 2008 for instance, the Civil Administration initiated a building scheme in the Jordan Valley that would have taken land from Moshav Tomer to build Palestinian settlements.

The head of the local council complained to the government only to discover that the ministers had no idea what he was talking about. The Civil Administration had undertaken the plan, which undermined Israel’s control over a strategically vital area, without government knowledge or approval.

In contrast, and again against the wishes of the government, the Civil Administration has repeatedly acted to block Israeli construction in Area C. For instance, the IDF insists that no land deal between Israel and Palestinians is final until the IDF approves it. The policy harms Israeli construction in two ways.

First, it gives the Civil Administration the power – which it uses – to delay Israeli construction indefinitely.

Second, by forcing parties to land deals to come forward publicly, the Civil Administration intimidates Palestinian land sellers. They know that if their land deals with Israelis become public they will face execution by the PA.

Returning to Abbas for a moment, the PLO chief may have overplayed his hand by insulting Trump and his senior envoys. All the politicized retired and currently serving Israeli generals together cannot convince Trump to send US tax dollars to a terrorism supporting leader who trashes him and his senior officials. Consequently, there is every reason to believe that the Taylor Force Act will soon be signed into law and the US will end its financing of Palestinian terrorism.

But even if Washington cuts off funding to the PA, Israel is still left to deal with its radicalized generals who exploit their rank to undermine the government.

The best way to end this situation is for the government to shut down the Civil Administration and get the IDF out of the governing business in Judea and Samaria. So long as the government continues to empower unaccountable generals to administer civilian areas instead of its accountable, civilian bureaucracy, we will continue to be confronted with the surreal spectacle of Israeli generals lobbying for Palestinian terrorists.

If the government applies Israeli law to Area C, it can still negotiate with the PLO, just as it has negotiated about the Golan Heights and Jerusalem. But in the meantime, it will remove one of the most corrupting and corrosive forces preying on our generals and our democracy for the benefit of the Israeli and Palestinian residents of Area C alike and indeed for Israel as a whole.

Washington Post Peddles Palestinian Propaganda, Part Two

June 7, 2017

Washington Post Peddles Palestinian Propaganda, Part Two, Power LinePaul Mirengoff, June 7, 2017

He then moans that “some [centrists] even admire the settlers — for their can-do spirit and their ability to withstand attacks by Palestinian militants.” Admiring pioneers who withstand attacks by Israel’s sworn enemies? We can’t have that. What kind of Jews are we dealing with here, anyway?

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Last week, the Washington Post dedicated an entire section of the paper to airing Palestinian grievances and talking points. The section was called “Occupied: Year 50.”

This week, the Post was back with more, turning the first five pages of its Sunday “Outlook” over to Dan Ephron so he could whine about Israeli settlements. I don’t recall anyone ever getting five pages in “Outlook” to write, or in this case rant, about anything.

Ephron’s piece is akin to last week’s rant by William Booth and Sufian Taha. Those two went on and on about the difficulties Palestinians face when traveling from the West Bank to Jerusalem, but never mentioned the reason why checkpoints exist — to protect Israel from the chronic acts of terrorism committed by Palestinians.

This week, Ephron goes on and on about how West Bank settlements have been “normalized” in the thinking of Israelis during the past 50 years, with scarcely a mention of the main reason why. In his telling, the expansion and “normalization” of settlements stems from the ability of settlers to influence public opinion and “bend[] the will of Israeli institutions.” But they could never have done so if the Palestinians had displayed a serious desire to trade land for peace. (Ephron doesn’t mention Palestinian intransigence until the last page and the 51st paragraph of his tome, and then does so only in passing).

Abba Eban, the Israeli diplomat who hoped — as many of us did — to see a trade of land for peace, perfectly captured the reason why the trade never occurred. After years of trying to make this deal, he said that the Palestinians “never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”

Ephron professes surprise that, after 50 years, the opportunity may well irrevocably have been missed. As he traveled around the West Bank, Ephron was shocked that life in the settlements seems normal. Why, the town of Ariel has a thriving university, a soccer team that competes with clubs from “inside Israel,” a shopping mall, and (soon) a state-of-the-art hospital. And in Kiryat Arba, Israel’s national theater company staged a play.

It’s as if Ephron expected Israelis to demand that their settlers to leave no footprint — to live in tents and herd sheep for 50 years — while waiting for the Palestinians to give up their designs on conquering Israel.

In real life, time waits for no one — and certainly not for a people bent on destroying their neighbors.

Ephron also expresses amazement that most Israelis have no reverence for, or even clear concept of, the Green Line — the border Israelis abided by until the Arabs tried to conquer them in 1967. But why should they? The border was ridiculous — at its narrowest point from the Mediterranean coast to the demarcation line, Israel is only about nine miles wide — and it has not corresponded to reality on the ground for 50 years.

Here’s what would genuinely be shocking: for anyone to regard conditions that prevailed 50 years ago to be normal today.

Think of the territorial transformation of the United States between, say, 1800 and 1850. Expecting Israelis to remain confined within the Green Line is like expecting early Americans to remain in the 13 states, but with these differences: (1) none of the 13 original states was nine miles wide and (2) by the time of the American Founding, American Indians, to my knowledge, weren’t bent on driving the former colonists into the sea.

Many passages in Ephron’s article suggest that he is either clueless or, more likely, the captive of anti-Israel ideology. He complains that the settlements “with their swimming pools and other amenities are off limits” to Palestinians.

What is it about the self-preservation instinct that Ephron does not understand? And why, if he expects the settlements to be integrated, does he write at length about the need to forcibly relocate settlers — a minimum of 150,000 of them, he says — under any “peace” plan. In his view, large portions of the West Bank must be judenrein (free of Jews), but until then, Jews should swim with people who insist that they be relocated, and who might want to kill them.

Ephron seems concerned that many Israeli “centrists” have bought into the settlers’ “talking point” that the settlements bolster Israel’s security. However, he offers no evidence or argument that this view is incorrect.

He then moans that “some [centrists] even admire the settlers — for their can-do spirit and their ability to withstand attacks by Palestinian militants.” Admiring pioneers who withstand attacks by Israel’s sworn enemies? We can’t have that. What kind of Jews are we dealing with here, anyway?

I’ll conclude my rant on a personal note. I know a young Israeli woman who is not a centrist, but rather a leftist. She fell in love with a young man from a settler family. His family farms outside of the Green Line.

The young woman is among the Israelis who take the Green Line seriously. She has always been anti-settler. Her potential husband’s desire to live and work on the farm was a serious problem for her.

In the end, though, love prevailed. She currently resides on the West Bank. She is what Ephron would call a settler.

What was this woman supposed to do? Was she supposed to reject the love of her life and his family on the theory that they are obstacles to peace? Was she supposed to put off marriage and wait for the Palestinians to give up their aggressive designs and enter into a peace agreement that has been a chimera for 50 years?

The Palestinians have never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Fortunately, the young woman, like so many other Israelis, did not miss hers.

Palestinians: Israel’s Goodwill Gestures Send Wrong Messages

June 2, 2017

Palestinians: Israel’s Goodwill Gestures Send Wrong Messages, Gatestone InstituteBassam Tawil, June 2, 2017

Here is what is being said on the Palestinian street: Today Israel runs away from the West Bank or the Gaza Strip; tomorrow Israel will run away from Ashkelon, then from Tel Aviv and from there to the sea, and we have achieved our goal of destroying Israel. Therefore, we need to continue attacking Israel.

As with the Gaza Strip, the withdrawal from Lebanon taught the Palestinians that terrorism could drive Israelis out of their country.

Never have the Palestinians given Israel credit for its goodwill steps. On the contrary, they scoff at these moves and describe them as “cosmetic changes”. The Palestinian line is that Israel’s steps are “insufficient” and “unhelpful.” Its concessions are regarded as gestures of a terrified people and as the rightful reward for terrorism. Far from satiating the appetite of the terrorists, such steps prompt them to step up their attacks against Israelis.

The West suffers under a major misconception concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: that “goodwill gestures” and territorial concessions on the part of Israel boost the prospects of peace in the Middle East. The facts, however, suggest that precisely the opposite is true.

Last week, Israel’s Channel 10 television station reported that the U.S. administration was pushing Israel to transfer parts of Area C — areas under full Israeli security and civilian control in the West Bank — to the control of Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority (PA). According to the report, the U.S. believes that the transfer of the territory to the PA would be a “goodwill step” towards the Palestinians, paving the way for the revival of the stalled peace process with Israel.

This assumption, of course, has already proven wrong. The experiences of the past few decades have shown clearly that Israeli concessions have always sent the wrong message to the Palestinians.

In fact, Palestinians read Israeli goodwill steps as signs of weakness and retreat. This misinterpretation on the part of the Palestinians then leads to more violence against Israel. It would be hard for anyone not to conclude that if pressure works, keep on pressuring.

The past 24 years are littered with examples of how the Palestinians react to Israeli concessions.

The Oslo Accords that were signed between Israel and the PLO in 1993 were seen by Palestinians as a first step by Israel towards total capitulation.

The accords, which brought the PLO from several Arab countries to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, came after five years of the first Palestinian Intifada. By allowing the PLO to assume control over large parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Israel sent a message that it was caving in to the violence and terrorism of the First Intifada.

Barely a breath after Oslo, Israel was again asked to conciliate the Palestinians: this time, hundreds of prisoners, many with Jewish (and Arab) blood on their hands, were released from Israeli prison in order to create an atmosphere “conducive” to the peace process.

Instead of viewing the prisoner release for what it was, namely a generous gesture, many Palestinians considered it a “victory” for terrorism and violence. Worse, it was not long before many of the released prisoners were rearrested for their role in further terrorism against Israel. The release of prisoners also sent a message of recidivism to Palestinians: terror does indeed pay! A short stint in an Israeli prison is sure to lead to release in some Israeli “confidence-building measure” or other.

According to statistics, at least half of released Palestinian prisoners have returned to terrorism.

Despite the grim statistics, the international community regularly demands that Israel release more convicted terrorists as a “gesture” towards Mahmoud Abbas and other Palestinians.

RAMALLAH, WEST BANK – OCTOBER 30: Released Palestinian prisoners stand on a sage as they arrive to the Mukata Presidential Compound in the early morning hours on October 30, 2013 in Ramallah, West Bank. The 26 Palestinian prisoners were released by Israel as part of the terms of renewed U.S.-brokered peace talks. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Getty Images)

Since 1993, Israel has complied again and again with such international pressure, only to reinforce the message to Palestinians: terrorism is indeed worth the trouble.

Let us consider, for a moment, Gaza. In 2005, Israel unilaterally withdrew from the Gaza Strip, after destroying 21 Jewish settlements and expelling more than 8,000 Jews from their homes there.

In Palestinian eyes, however, the Israeli “disengagement” from the Gaza Strip was anything but an olive branch of peace. The withdrawal came after five years of the bloody Second Intifada, when Palestinians waged a massive campaign of suicide bombings and rocket attacks against Israelis.

Thus, for Palestinians, Israel was once again retreating in the face of unremitting bloodshed.

Here is what is being said on the Palestinian street: Today Israel runs away from the West Bank or the Gaza Strip, tomorrow Israel will run away from Ashkelon, then from Ashdod and Tel Aviv and from there to the sea, and we have achieved our goal of destroying Israel. Therefore, we need to continue attacking Israel.

Moreover, it was also precisely the Israeli pullout from Gaza that launched Hamas to its current pinnacle of popularity among Palestinians. Hamas took credit for expelling the Jews from the Gaza Strip through terrorism. A few months later, Hamas even won the Palestinian parliamentary election because Palestinians gave Hamas total credit for driving Israel out of the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli pullout told Palestinians in no uncertain terms: Why bother negotiating when terror will do the trick?

Five years earlier, the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon also had the same effect: it emboldened the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terror group. As with the Gaza Strip, the withdrawal from Lebanon taught the Palestinians that terrorism could drive Israelis out of their country.

In the past few years, additional Israeli goodwill gestures, such as removing security checkpoints and the easing travel restrictions in the West Bank, led to yet more violence, claiming the lives of yet more Israelis.

Abbas and his top officials have always responded to Israeli gestures with cynicism. Never have they given Israel credit for its goodwill steps. On the contrary, they scoff at these moves, and describe them as “cosmetic changes aimed at beautifying Israel’s ugly face” or as public-relations stunts.

For the sake of clarity, let us say it clearly: handing over areas in the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority, and the release of convicted murderers, does not contribute to any sort of “peace process;” it only contributes to the death of more Israelis.

The Palestinian line is that Israel’s steps are “insufficient” and “unhelpful.” Its concessions are regarded as gestures of a terrified people and as the rightful reward for terrorism. Far from satiating the appetite of the terrorists, such steps prompt them to step up their attacks against Israelis. The next time Americans and Europeans think of asking Israel to cede yet more to the Palestinians, let them consider what Israel might be receiving in return, other than the spilling of more Jewish blood.

Bassam Tawil is a Muslim based in the Middle East.

State to approve wave of construction in Judea and Samaria

June 2, 2017

State to approve wave of construction in Judea and Samaria, Israel National News, David Rosenberg, June 2, 2017

Construction in Gush Etzion Flash90

The Civil Administration’s Higher Planning Committee is scheduled to meet next week to approve a series of building projects in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. Combined, the projects include plans for more than 2,600 housing units.

If passed as expected, this would mark the first time the committee has approved housing projects in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria since President Trump took office in January.

The hearings will take place Tuesday and Wednesday, and will cover a number of projects which had been blocked out of political considerations, Channel 2 reported.

The projects include housing outside of the major settlement blocs, in towns such as Kfar Tapuah in central Samaria.

Officials in Jerusalem say the housing projects are not likely to elicit criticism from the White House, noting the open lines of communication between the Prime Minister’s Office and the Trump administration regarding Israeli policy in Judea and Samaria.

The Limits of Israeli Power

June 2, 2017

The Limits of Israeli Power, Front Page MagazineCaroline Glick, June 2, 2017

(As to Jerusalem, please see Turkish takeover in Jerusalem. — DM)

Originally published by the Jerusalem Post

Washington and the rest of the governments of the world know that their refusal to recognize Israel’s capital does not endanger Israel or its control of Jerusalem. They are free to bow to Arab pressure, safe in the knowledge that Israel will continue to protect the unified city.

The time has come, at the outset of the second 50 years of Israeli control over Judea and Samaria, for Israel to take matters into its own hands. Our leaders must stop beating around the bush. They need to use the powers they have to secure Israel’s military and civilian interests in Judea and Samaria for the next 50 years as best they can. And they need to stop waiting for someone else to solve our problems for us.

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On Thursday, US President Donald Trump bowed to the foreign policy establishment and betrayed his voters. He signed a presidential waiver postponing the transfer of the US Embassy to Jerusalem for yet another six months.

Ahead of Trump’s move, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a last-ditch bid to convince Trump to move the embassy to Jerusalem. But it was not to be.

Israel’s failure to convince Trump to do what he repeatedly promised US voters he would do during his presidential campaign shows the disparity in power between Israel and the US.

Israel lacks the power to convince foreign nations to recognize its capital – much less to locate their embassies there. The US, on the other hand, not only has the power to recognize Jerusalem and transfer its embassy to Israel’s capital whenever it wishes to do so, it also has the ability to convince dozens of other countries to immediately follow its lead.

The disparity between what the Americans can do and what Israel can do was on display on Monday evening in a glittering hall at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. There, Bar-Ilan University conferred its Guardian of Zion award on former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton. In his acceptance speech, Bolton presented his vision for the resolution of the Palestinian conflict with Israel.

Bolton’s views are important not merely because his past work at the State Department and the UN brought the US some of its only diplomatic victories in recent decades. His views are important as well because of his close relationship with Trump.

Bolton began his discussion Monday evening by rejecting the “two-state solution.” The two-state model, he noted, has been tried and has failed repeatedly for the past 70 years. There is no reason to believe that it will succeed now. This is particularly true, he said, given the lack of Palestinian social cohesion.

Hamas controls Gaza. The PLO, which is supposed to be Israel’s peace partner, barely controls parts of Judea and Samaria. At a time when more cohesive Arab societies are unraveling, the notion that a Palestinian state would survive and advance regional peace and stability is laughable, Bolton argued.

Bolton then turned to his preferred policy for resolving the Palestinian conflict with Israel, which he dubbed “the three-state solution.” Under his plan, Egypt and Jordan would work with Israel to solve the Palestinian conflict. Egypt would take over the Gaza Strip and Jordan would negotiate the status of Judea and Samaria with Israel.

The crowd at the King David responded enthusiastically to Bolton’s proposal. This is not surprising.

Since 1967, Israelis have hoped for Jordan and Egypt to work with them to solve the problem of the Arabs of Judea, Samaria and Gaza who lived under Jordanian and Egyptian occupation from 1949-1967.

Unfortunately, Israel’s support for Bolton’s plan is irrelevant. Israel is powerless to advance it. Israel cannot convince Arab nations to help it resolve the Palestinian conflict any more than it can convince the PLO to cut a peace deal with it.

Like PLO leaders, the leaders of the Arab world know that they cannot help Israel with the Palestinians.

Doing so would involve disowning the Palestinian narrative.

The Palestinian narrative claims that the Jews of Israel are colonialist interlopers who stole the land from the Palestinians, its rightful owners. The narrative makes no distinction between Tel Aviv and Hebron. All of Israel is a crime against the Arab world. All of Israel is illegitimate.

The overwhelming majority of the Arab world believes the Palestinian narrative. For an Arab leader to walk away from it or even to signal an attenuation of his fealty to it in the interest of regional peace would be the riskiest of moves.

Israel has nothing to offer Arab leaders that could induce them to take that risk.

Although it is far from certain, the US may very well have the ability to convince Arab leaders to do so. If Trump decided that this is the way to advance peace in the Arab world, chances are he would make some headway. In other words, Bolton’s three-state plan is a plan that only America can adopt. It cannot be an Israeli plan no matter how enthusiastically the public supports involving Jordan and Egypt in solving the conflict.

Given Israel’s inability to offer the Arabs anything valuable enough for Arab leaders to risk life and limb to accept in exchange for helping to solve the Palestinian conflict, as Israel considers its own options in relation to the Palestinians, it needs to limit its goals to things that it can achieve without them. In other words, the only steps that Israel can take in relation to the Palestinians are unilateral steps.

For the past 50 years, hoping that the Arabs – and since 1993, the PLO – would finally make peace with it and so settle the permanent status of Judea and Samaria, Israel refused to take any unilateral actions in relation to its permanent interests in Judea and Samaria. Rather than apply its legal code to Judea and Samaria, it opted for the stop-gap measure of installing a military government to run the areas on the basis of Jordanian law.

Between 1994 and 1996, Israel canceled the military government in the Palestinian population centers in Judea and Samaria and Gaza. In 2005, when it withdrew, it canceled the residual military government in the rest of Gaza. Since then, the only area that remains under the Israeli military government is Area C in Judea and Samaria. Area C includes all of the Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria, and strategically critical areas including the Jordan Valley, the Samaria mountain range and the south Hebron Hills.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Netanyahu gave an interview with Army Radio where he set out part of his vision for the permanent status of Judea and Samaria. He limited his statement to the military status of the areas. He said that under any possible future scenario, Israel must retain full security control of the areas. This, he said, is the lesson of Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

That pullout led to the transformation of Gaza into a Hamas-controlled hub of global jihad. Moreover, under Hamas, the Palestinians turned Gaza into one big, densely populated missile-launching pad against Israel.

While justified, Netanyahu’s position obscures more than it illuminates about his long-term vision for Judea and Samaria.

What does he mean by security control? Would the IDF remain in sole control over Israel’s eastern boundaries or would it serve as an overall coordinator of foreign forces operating along the border? Would IDF forces be confined to fortified positions while the Palestinians reign free in the open areas, as was the case in southern Lebanon in the years leading up to Israel’s disastrous withdrawal in 2000? Or would the IDF have freedom of action and maintain the initiative throughout Judea and Samaria? Moreover, does Netanyahu envision the IDF remaining the only military organization operating in Judea and Samaria in the long term? Beyond the security issues that require clarification, Netanyahu’s statements make no mention of the rights of Jews to live in Judea and Samaria.

Does he believe that Jews should be permitted to live permanently in the areas that Israel controls? If so, why are they subjected to the Jordanian legal code used by the military government and which proscribes their right to purchase land and register land sales? This brings us to the issue of governance. What does Netanyahu think about the military government in Area C? Does he believe that the 50-year reign of generals should continue until the Arabs choose to resolve the Palestinian conflict with Israel? What if this means that the generals will continue to rule over hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens for another 50 or 100 or 150 years? Does he, on the other hand, prefer to transfer governance responsibility in Area C to the Palestinians and place the nearly 500,000 Israelis in the area under Palestinian control? In the course of his remarks, Bolton noted that if Jordan is responsible for the Palestinians of Judea and Samaria, the issue of Jerusalem will be removed from the equation. After all, if their capital is Amman, Israel has no reason to divide its capital city.

And this brings us back to Jerusalem, which Trump spurned on Thursday.

As is the case today, 50 years ago, Israel had no power to influence the positions of foreign governments regarding its capital city. But in contrast to its decision to establish a military government in Judea and Samaria, Israel didn’t wait for foreigners to give it permission to act where it had the power to act in order to change the status of the city and ensure its ability to govern and control its capital for generations to come.

In 1967, the government voted to expand the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem to include the eastern, northern and southern quarters that had been under Jordanian occupation since 1949.

Everyone benefited from the move – including the foreign powers that still refuse to recognize the simple fact that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.

Washington and the rest of the governments of the world know that their refusal to recognize Israel’s capital does not endanger Israel or its control of Jerusalem. They are free to bow to Arab pressure, safe in the knowledge that Israel will continue to protect the unified city.

Trump’s decision to sign the waiver delaying the embassy move is a betrayal of his campaign promise, but it doesn’t change the situation in Jerusalem. Last week, Israel celebrated 50 years of sovereignty over its united capital. Jerusalem will be neither more nor less united if and when the US moves its embassy to the capital.

Perhaps Trump will eventually keep his word and move the embassy. Perhaps he will continue to breach his promise. And as far as the Palestinians are concerned, perhaps Trump adopts Bolton’s three-state plan in relation to Judea, Samaria and Gaza. Perhaps he will maintain his predecessors’ slavish devotion to the establishment of a PLO state.

Israel can’t control what Trump will do any more than it can influence what the Arabs will do. And so it needs to take a lesson not only from its bitter experience of withdrawing from Gaza, but from its positive experience of taking matters into its own hands in Jerusalem.

The time has come, at the outset of the second 50 years of Israeli control over Judea and Samaria, for Israel to take matters into its own hands. Our leaders must stop beating around the bush. They need to use the powers they have to secure Israel’s military and civilian interests in Judea and Samaria for the next 50 years as best they can. And they need to stop waiting for someone else to solve our problems for us.