Archive for the ‘Palestinian state’ category

Kaf Tet beNovember: 70 years since UN Resolution 181

November 29, 2017

Kaf Tet beNovember: 70 years since UN Resolution 181 | Anne’s Opinions, 29th November 2017

Today 29th November, or as it is quirkily called in Hebrew “kaf tet beNovember”, is the 70th anniversary of the fateful UN Resolution 181 which aimed to partition Palestine and created a Jewish area and an Arab area. As we all know, the resolution was rejected by the Arabs who never fulfilled any of its provisions or conditions, while it was accepted in full by the Jews. No sooner had the vote passed in the UN than 5 Arab armies invaded the newborn Jewish state with the overt intent of destroying it before it was born. They lost the war and the rest is history.

It would serve us well to recall the events of that historic day. The Israel-advocacy organization Legal Grounds, which promotes Israel’s legal rights to all the Land of Israel, sent out this important backgrounder with vital facts that are either unknown, misunderstood or ignored:

INFORMATION ALERT: 70 YEARS SINCE RESOLUTION 181

In June, Attorney Karen Stahl-Don made a presentation in The Hague, on behalf of the Legal Grounds Campaign, on the subject of UNGA Resolution 181 of 1947:

The Resolution, which is often misunderstood, was merely a recommendation and carried no weight in international law.

Palestinian Arabs refer to it as “The Partition Plan,” claiming, after all this time, that it gives them rights to a state. This is blatantly false, as they rejected this plan 70 years ago. According to international law, a party that rejects an agreement does not retain any rights based on that agreement.

What is more, the recommendation was not simply that two states, one Jewish and one Arab, be established. It proposed that two states be joined by an economic union, with a myriad of requirements. The states were to share currency, transportation, postal systems, and a great deal more; both were to be democratic, provide civil rights and prohibit discrimination.

Israel accepted this partition. However, acceptance was premised on what was described in the Resolution: economic cooperation and peaceful coexistence. Israel never agreed to disregard the nature of the Arab state recommended for creation at its border.

In the end, Resolution 181 was abandoned and never came to fruition. The UN Palestine Commission charged with facilitating the Resolution never even met, and the Security Council would not lend support. The Commission was officially relieved of its duties.

Israel, the sole party to accept Resolution 181, is not responsible for its failure, and is certainly not in violation of international law by not complying with it now.

Keep this last paragraph in mind as we now read of the UN’s efforts to delegitimize Israel on a daily basis.

In order to “celebrate” this auspicious day, the UN – as it has done every year for 70 years – makes it its business hold an International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. Not the International Day of Solidarity with Israelis and Palestinians mind you. Just those most pampered self-made “refugees” in the world, the Palestinians, who only arrived at this glorified status because of their constant rejection of any Jewish State, of any size, anywhere in the Middle East at all.

Isn’t it pathetic that the UN (Useless Nations) cannot find it within themselves to celebrate a National Day for the Inalienable Rights of the Jewish People to their own Homeland in the State of Israel.

Surely after 70 years it is about time that the UN gave up this charade? Gerald Steinberg of NGO Monitor demanded of the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that the UN repudiate its ingrained anti-Israel hatred:

The seventieth anniversary of the passage of UN Resolution 181 partitioning Palestine into Jewish and Arab states on November 29 will be marked by UN offices around the world as the “International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.” The global organization first designated the date as a day of Palestinian solidarity in 1977, with a General Assembly resolution authorizing the practice as an “annual observance.”

In a letter to Guterres, Prof. Gerald Steinberg – president of the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor – argued that the Day of Solidarity, along with the numerous UN bodies that promote an anti-Israel agenda through various pro-Palestinian committees and agencies, undermine the UN’s stated desire for peace based on a “two-state” solution.

“Too often, UN officials are willing and active players in this dynamic, applying double standards and singling out Israel for attack,” Steinberg wrote. “Next week, as occurs every year, the UN will hold a special meeting in Geneva on the occasion of ‘International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People,’ featuring anti-Israel demagogues and highlighting agendas that undermine the spirit of UNGA 181.” Among the events planned is a photographic exhibition at UN Headquarters in New York entitled “The Palestinian People: Everlasting Roots, Infinite Horizons.” The exhibition, according to the UN’s web page devoted to the “Question of Palestine,” “…celebrates the lives and careers of Palestinians who have contributed to humanity in different walks of life, in the face of extraordinary challenges. The UN General Assembly will also hold its annual debate on the question of Palestine on this day.”

Steinberg highlighted a number of UN bodies – such as its dedicated Division for Palestinian Rights and its annual condemnation of Israel through the UN Human Rights Council’s Agenda Item 7 – as contributing decisively to the anti-Israel environment at the UN. The Division for Palestinian Rights in turn services the “Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People” (CEIRPP), created on November 10, 1975 – in the same session of the General Assembly that passed the infamous Resolution 3379 denouncing Zionism as a “form of racism.”

In his letter to Guterres, Steinberg pointed out that the UN spends millions of dollars on pro-Palestinian activities every year. “In October 2017, 24 separate UN agencies contracted with the Palestinian Authority to spend more than $18 million on campaigns aimed at isolating Israel through coordinated political, economic, and legal attacks,” he noted, emphasizing the need for the UN as a whole to “accept the obligation to end the rampant and systematic discrimination against Israel that currently plagues the UN.

“A good place to start will be in your remarks to be read on November 29 in Geneva at the forthcoming ‘Special Meeting on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People,’” Steinberg told Guterres. “Your repudiation of anti-Israel hate and rejectionism on this occasion would send a strong message that the vision and principles expressed in the 1947 Partition Plan remain guiding principles in the UN.”

The amount of money spent pampering the Palestinians is mind-boggling. Imagine how many genuine refugees and other minorities could be assisted with this money.

Gutteres is actually relatively sympathetic to Israel, but whether he will have the intestinal fortitude to stand up and condemn his own institution’s racism is another matter. And if he does, will his words be heeded? I doubt it somehow.

Meanwhile, over in Geneva at the UN Human Rights Wrongs Council, the 29th November – in fact any day at all – is a day to be marked by condemning Israel for .. well…. anything it can think of. The most popular crime du jour is the settlements of course, and the HRC last year put together a list of companies “profiting” from the settlements – and that includes neighbourhoods of Jerusalem and other major cities – so that their products should be boycotted. Doesn’t this have echoes of a much darker time in our history? 1933 anyone? And then in September the UN began sending out warning letters to these companies that they will be added to this blacklist:

The UN’s Human Rights Commissioner began sending letters two weeks ago to 150 companies in Israel and around the world, warning them that they are about to be added to a database of companies doing business in Israeli settlements in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem, senior Israeli officials and Western diplomats involved in the matter told Haaretz.

The Israeli official, who requested to stay anonymous due to the sensitivity of the issue, noted that the letters, sent by Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, said these firms were doing business in the “occupied Palestinian territories” and could thus find themselves on the UN blacklist for companies acting in violation of “internal law and UN decisions.” The letters, copies of which also reached the Israeli government, request that these firms send the commission clarifications about their business activities in settlements.

The Washington Post reported in August that among the American companies that received letters were Caterpillar, Priceline.com, TripAdvisor and Airbnb. According to the same report, the Trump administration is trying to work with the UN Commission on Human Rights to prevent the list’s publication. Israel’s Channel 2 reported two weeks ago that the list includes some of the biggest companies in Israel, such as Teva, Bank Hapoalim, Bank Leumi, Bezeq, Elbit, Coca-Cola Israel, Africa-Israel, IDB, Egged, Mekorot and Netafim.

Senior Israeli officials said the Israeli fear of divestment or scaled-down business due to the blacklist is already becoming a reality. They said that the Economy Ministry’s Office of Strategic Affairs has already received information that a number of companies who received the letters have responded to the human rights commissioner by saying they do not intend to renew contracts or sign new ones in Israel.

“These companies just can’t make the distinction between Israel and the settlements and are ending their operations all together,” the senior Israeli official said. “Foreign companies will not invest in something that reeks of political problems – this could snowball.”

Countering this vicious boycott attempt, fighting fire with fire, a pro-Israel law group, The Lawfare Project, has announced that companies targeted by the UN HRC for working in the settlements will have legal recourse:

International firms targeted by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) for doing business with Israeli settlements will have legal recourse, a US-based pro-Israel nonprofit law group noted this week.

It is expected that a “blacklist” of such companies will be published by the UNHRC by the end of this year — a move which both the US and Israel oppose and are lobbying against.

According to the Washington Post, the list could include Caterpillar, TripAdvisor, Priceline.com and Airbnb.

On Monday, the Lawfare Project issued a statement saying the purpose of the UNHRC’s potential action was “clear” — “to coerce the blacklisted companies into reducing or ceasing their Israeli operations, and/or to prompt other business entities (and consumers) to boycott or refuse to deal with the named companies.”

However, the Lawfare Project continued, “what the UNHRC seems to ignore, perhaps purposefully, is that compliance by business enterprises with the boycott of Israel can violate a slew of US federal and state laws.”

“It comes as no surprise that the proponents of the Israeli boycott — the Human Rights Council, NGOs, Arab League member states, and others — do not acknowledge the serious legal implications of actually carrying out the discriminatory conduct for which they advocate,” Benjamin Ryberg — the Lawfare Project’s chief operating officer and director of research — said.

… “When corporations are faced with such proposals or consider implementing boycotts based on the HRC’s database, it is imperative that they are well-versed in the relevant laws so that they can act in their own self-interest, which is to firmly reject the boycott,” he went on to say. “To this end, the Lawfare Project drafted a comprehensive analysis of US and foreign law relating to the boycott of Israel, which we have disseminated to a number of Fortune 500 companies that have been or may be targeted. Our aim is not to threaten legal action, but to prepare these entities to protect themselves from liability that could ensue should they succumb to pressure from the boycott campaign.”

Good for them! Kol hakavod to the activists in the Lawfare Project for throwing the boycott back in the UN’s face, and equally as important, for involving Congress in this anti-boycott legislation:

Lawfare Project Director Brooke Goldstein stated, “For years, the Human Rights Council has focused obsessively and disproportionately on Israel, while turning a blind eye to the most egregious and rampant human rights violators in the Middle East and around the world. With this blacklist, the HRC continues to unabashedly devote disproportionate resources to foment discrimination based on national origin. It continues to make a mockery of its mission to the detriment of human rights worldwide.”

Lawrence Hill — the chairman of the Lawfare Project’s board — said the UNHRC’s “farcical conduct” demonstrated the necessity of the Israel Anti-Boycott Act — which is currently making its way through Congress.

The six Nos of the Arabs besides the 3 Nos of Khartoum

As a reminder of the complete irrelevance of the settlements to the Palestinian’s self-made predicament, it is worthwhile looking back at the article written by John B McCormick, (chairman of Hawke’s Bay Friends of Israel Association and a member of Hawke’s Bay Branch of NZ Institute of International Affairs) which was published in Hawke’s Bay Today newspaper back in January 2017, which I quoted from in this blog at the time. Here is a relevant excerpt:

The focal point for peace efforts was (and many say should still be) UNSC Resolution 242 of November 1967 – the way the UN dealt with the outcome of the 1967 Six Day War. This requires an understanding of its wording. It calls for:
Clause 1 (I) Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict;

It is very precise wording. The words “all” or “all the” are not used. The UK’s UN Ambassador Lord Caradon who helped write 242 said in 1978: “We didn’t say there should be a withdrawal to the 67 line, we did not put the ‘THE’ in, we did not say ‘all the’ territories deliberately… we all knew – that the boundaries of 67 were not drawn as permanent frontiers, they were a ceasefire line of a couple of decades earlier…. We did not say that the 67 boundaries must be forever.”

President Johnson said in 1968 relating to UNSC242 that “We are not the ones to say where other nations should draw lines between them that will assure each the greatest security. It is clear however that a return to the situation of June 4 1967 will not bring peace.”

In 2005 Israel withdrew completely from the Gaza Strip without any kind of peace agreement. At the same time they also withdrew from the West bank city of Jenin and four nearby settlements, again without any agreement. The Palestinian response was indiscriminate firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel.

The British were granted the mandate for Palestine at the San Remo Conference in 1920.
In 1921 Britain separated what we now know as Jordan from the rest of the mandate, making Transjordan the Arab Palestinian State on 78 per cent of the mandate area, and banned Jewish settlement east of the River Jordan. In 1923 Britain ceded the Golan Heights to the French mandate of Syria. The remaining mandate area, 22 per cent of the original total, was to be the Jewish homeland. Read it for yourself! Do the UN and the Arabs want to go there?

So where to now? On January 3 on Palestinian TV Palestine Liberation Organisation executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi, said: “We have refused and still refuse to say that Israel is a Jewish state.” The PLO was formed in 1964 when there was no Israeli occupied territory.

So until there is a Palestinian leadership that accepts Israel as the Jewish State nothing much will happen.

And I will leave it to the redoubtable Melanie Phillips who succinctly sums up the entire argument about the irrelevance of settlements to the Arab-Israeli conflict in her article: The signature cause of Western progressives is purging every Jew from Israel:

MEMRI has translated a report in the the Urdu daily Roznama Urdu Times in wihich al Habbash said: “Every Palestinian will continue the struggle till the complete freedom of Palestine. Those who started the movement for the freedom of Palestine took a pledge, while leaving this world, from the next generation that it will continue this struggle until the land of the first qibla [direction of prayer, i.e. Palestine] is purified of the impious existence of Jews.”

As is clear from the rest of his remarks, he was not talking merely about the “West Bank” and Gaza. He meant the whole of Israel would be “purified” of Jews. This man does not speak for Hamas. He is part of the Palestinian Authority, regarded by the west as “moderate”, and religious adviser to Abbas, regarded by the west as a statesman-in-waiting.

Western “progressives” support the Palestinian Authority and support the Palestinan cause. What do they imagine Mahmoud al Habbash means by the world “purified”? How do they think he intends to put that word into practice in Israel? I’ll give them a clue. It will involve, at the very least, a war of annihilation, racist ethnic cleansing and mass murder.

Only when the West finally admit to themselves that what they are working for is ethnic cleansing of the worst sort against the Jews, and when they apply the force of law and morals to the Palestinians, to all the Arab states and their international supporters, only then will we have a chance for peace.

Palestinians vs. Trump: The Battle Begins

November 25, 2017

Palestinians vs. Trump: The Battle Begins, Gatestone InstituteBassam Tawil, November 25, 2017

Although the full details of the proposed plan have yet to be made public, the Palestinians have already made up their mind: Whatever comes from Trump and his Jewish team is against the interests of the Palestinians.

The Palestinians’ rhetorical attacks on the Trump administration are designed to prepare the ground for their rejection of the proposed “ultimate solution.”

Take careful note: these warning shots may well be translated into yet another intifada against Israel under the fabricated pretext that the Americans and Israelis, with the help of some Arab countries, seek to strip the Palestinians of their rights. One wonders when the world will wake up to the fact that those rights have already been stripped from the Palestinians — by none other than their own brainwashing, inciting and corrupt leaders.

Over the past year, the Palestinians have managed to keep under wraps their true feelings about US President Donald Trump and his Middle East envoys and advisors. In all likelihood, they were hoping that the new US administration would endorse their vision for “peace” with Israel.

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas ensured that his spokesmen and senior officials spoke with circumspection about Trump and his Middle East advisors and envoys. The top brass of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah felt it was worth giving Trump time to see if he was indeed gullible enough to be persuaded to throw Israel under the bus and fork over their demands.

Well, that bus has long passed.

The Palestinians are now denouncing Trump and his people for their “bias” in favor of Israel. Even more, the Palestinians are openly accusing the Trump administration of “blackmail” and of seeking to “liquidate the Palestinian cause.” To top off the tone, the Palestinians are insinuating that Trump’s top Jewish advisors and envoys — Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt and David Friedman — are more loyal to Israel than to the US.

The Palestinians’ unprecedented rhetorical attacks on the Trump administration should be seen as a sign of how they plan to respond to the US president’s plan for peace in the Middle East, which has been described as the “ultimate solution.” Although the full details of the proposed plan have yet to be made public, the Palestinians have already made up their mind: Whatever comes from Trump and his Jewish team is against the interests of the Palestinians.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (right) meets with Jared Kushner, Senior Advisor to U.S. President Donald Trump, on June 21, 2017 in Ramallah. (Photo by Thaer Ghanaim/PPO via Getty Images)

The Palestinian tone makes it clear that the Palestinian leadership and people have already relegated Trump’s peace plan to the trash-bin as nothing more than Israeli-American conspiracy, in collusion with some Arab countries, to impose a solution on the Palestinians and “liquidate” their cause.

To them, the “real” Trump is now apparent. This is how one Palestinian political analyst, Dr. Mazen Safi, reacted to Trump’s proposed peace plan and what he perceives as continued US support for Israel. “The US president and his administration have removed the mask from their face,” he stated. “They are paving the way for a new Israeli aggression on our people and moving the region toward an explosion.”

So what is really behind the Palestinian outrage with the Trump administration?

First, the Palestinians reject the idea of “regional peace” between Israel and Arab countries. The Palestinians maintain that peace between Israel and the Arab countries should come only after, and not before, the Palestinian issue is resolved. The Palestinians fear that any peace agreements between Israel and the Arab countries would come at their expense.

Echoing this fear, the Palestinian daily Al-Quds, which often reflects the views of the Palestinian Authority leadership, pointed out that the recent Arab League foreign minsters’ meeting in Cairo chose to focus on the Iranian and Hezbollah “threat,” breaking from the long-standing traditional obsession of the Arabs with the Palestinian issue. The Palestinians, according to the paper, feel abandoned by their Arab brothers.

“The Arab League meeting in Cairo came out with strong positions against the Iranian threat and didn’t hesitate to classify Hezbollah as a terrorist group,” Al-Quds complained in an editorial. “The meeting ignored the Palestinian cause. We are facing new Arab alliances against Iran, all under American pressure. This will have a negative impact on our cause.”

The Palestinian daily went on to lambast the floating Trump peace plan. It stated that the proposed plan, as published in various media outlets, “Doesn’t serve our interests and aspirations.”

Second, the Palestinians are furious with US threats to shut down the PLO’s diplomatic mission in Washington. They see the threat as an attempt to blackmail them not file charges of war crimes against Israel with the International Criminal Court. The Palestinians also see the threat as an attempt to force them to resume peace talks with Israel unconditionally.

“The US threat to close the PLO’s diplomatic mission in Washington shows disrespect for the Palestinian rights and blind bias in favor of Israel,” Al-Quds said in the same editorial. “It also coincides with growing hollow talk about a US peace plan that has been endorsed by President Trump.”

Third, the Palestinians are now openly talking about Trump’s Jewish advisors and envoys and their “influence” on him and his administration’s policies. This is something that Palestinian Authority officials had refrained from mentioning in the past year because it rings of out-and-out anti-Semitism. Now, however, Palestinian officials and political analysts do not seem to have a problem talking about the influence of the “Jewish lobby” on Trump’s decision-making process and policies.

Hassan Al-Batal, a political analyst closely associated with the Palestinian Authority, referred in a recent article to what he called “the three Jewish pillars of the Trump peace plan – Trump’s son-in law (Kushner), Middle East envoy (Greenblatt) and the US Ambassador to Israel (Friedman).”

Al-Batal expressed “regret” that the recent meeting of the Arab League foreign ministers chose to condemn Hezbollah and Iran. “Palestine is currently witnessing a crisis with Washington,” he said.

Bassam Abu Sharif, a former advisor to Yasser Arafat, went as far as referring to Trump’s Jewish advisors as a “dangerous clique.”

Abu Sharif said that he had no doubt that “what Kushner and his dangerous clique are planning is destructive and inhumane.” The US, he charged, has one major goal: to take full control of the Middle East and steal its resources for once and for all. This requires — according to their scheme — the liquidation of the Palestinian cause.”

Another political analyst, Talal Okal, who is also linked to the Palestinian Authority and its leadership, accused the Trump administration of “misinformation” and attempting to “blackmail” the Palestinians. Referring to the US demand that the Palestinians refrain from filing charges against Israel with the International Criminal Court and threatening to shut down the PLO’s diplomatic mission in Washington, Okal wrote:

“The US administration is practicing blackmail against the Palestinian leadership by demanding that the Palestinians engage in unconditional negotiations with Israel and that the Palestinians refrain from pursuing war crimes against Israel with the International Criminal Court. It’s obvious that the Trump administration is practicing a policy of misinformation.”

Palestinian political analyst Hani Habib claimed that the Trump administration was preparing to blame the Palestinians for the failure of the next peace process. The Palestinians, Habib said, “must be united in facing all forms of American-Israeli blackmail. The US administration’s threat to shut down the PLO’s diplomatic mission in Washington calls into question its ability to play the role of a fair and honest mediator.”

In an article entitled “Cheap American Blackmail,” columnist Omar Hilmi Al-Ghul complained: “The US administration is once again ignoring Palestinian rights and interests. It’s shamelessly and flagrantly seeking to confiscate the Palestinians’ independent decision-making process.”

Al-Ghul, too, made a reference to Trump’s Jewish team:

“The team surrounding Trump, which is in collusion with Israel, is acting in a way that contradicts what the Palestinian leadership wants — to maintain bridges with the US. The American blackmail of the Palestinian leadership is cheap and miscalculated.”

This conspiracy theory, which claims that Trump’s team cares more about Israel than US interests, is repeated in a statement by Fatah: “The US political blackmail contravenes international laws and resolutions pertaining to the Palestinian issue in particular and the peace process in general. This US position endorses the Israeli policy to end the two-state solution.”

The Palestinians’ rhetorical attacks on the Trump administration are designed to prepare the ground for their rejection of the proposed “ultimate solution.”

The Palestinians want it to be seen as a plan concocted by a few Jewish officials in the Trump administration who are more loyal to Israel than their own country, the US.

These officials, the Palestinians argue, have endorsed the position of the Israeli government and serve as its mouthpiece. That is why, they argue, the Palestinians are unable to accept a plan that is in effect a “Jewish-American conspiracy to eliminate the Palestinian cause.”

The Palestinians are also preparing the stage to accuse some Arab countries of “collusion” with this “conspiracy” — putting them on a collision course with Saudi Arabia.

The Palestinian message to the Arab countries, especially Saudi Arabia, should be seen as a warning shot: Collaborate with the Trump administration in the alleged scheme at your peril.

The anti-Trump Palestinian stance is sounding the death-knell for US administration’s effort to achieve comprehensive peace in the Middle East. Take careful note: these warning shots may well be translated into yet another intifada against Israel under the fabricated pretext that the Americans and Israelis, with the help of some Arab countries, seek to strip the Palestinians of their rights. One wonders when the world will wake up to the fact that those rights have already been stripped from the Palestinians — by none other than their own brainwashing, inciting and corrupt leaders.

Bassam Tawil, a Muslim, is based in the Middle East.

Hypocrisy: A state for the Palestinians but not for the Kurds or Catalonia

October 2, 2017

Hypocrisy: A state for the Palestinians but not for the Kurds or Catalonia |Anne’s Opinions, 2nd October 2017

 

The Kurds are a nation scattered across the Middle East while their national territory was divided up by the ruling powers of a century ago and split amongst several nations, all in a manner similar to the fate of the Jews and Israel:

For decades, Kurdish politics have hinged on dreams of an independent Kurdish state. When colonial powers drew the map of the Middle East after World War I, the Kurds, who now number around 30 million, were divided among Turkey, Iran, Syria and Iraq.

Kurdish inhabited areas of the Middle East, crossing international borders

Since the Arab “spring” with its multiple civil wars broke out, the Kurds are the one nation that have managed to remain united and hold on tot their territory, retaking control and a semblance of independence after decades of repression by the Arab countries who previously controlled their territory. They have been amongst the prime fighters against ISIS and have stayed out of the Israeli-Arab conflict altogether.In fact Israel is very popular with the Kurds and as I have previously written, the Israeli flag is a common sight at Kurdish rallies.

The Israeli flag is flown at a rally for Kurdish independence held in Geneva, Switzerland

Last week the Kurds held a referendum amongst its people asking if they wanted independence. The answer of course was a resounding yes. However the answer from almost the entire world (the UN, the US, Iran, Iraq, Turkey) was a resounding “no”, or a hostile neutral silence. The only country that lent its solid support to the Kurdish nation was Israel.

Iraq threatened the Kurds with a flight ban if they do not hand over their airports to the Iraqi authorities:

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi issued his ultimatum a day after the landmark vote, which he said was a “historic and strategic mistake by the Kurdish leadership.”

“I will not give up on the unity of Iraq, that is my national and constitutional duty,” he said, adding that any ban would still allow for humanitarian and other “urgent” flights.

That’s rich coming from the leader of a country which is so fractured that it barely exists any more.

Masoud Barzani, the Kurdish regional president who spearheaded the referendum, called for “dialogue” with Baghdad. “Negotiations are the right path to solve the problems, not threats or the language of force,” he said in a televised address.

The US remained cool to downright cold, refusing to recognize “illegitimate referendum“:

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson referred to the recent referendum on the independence of Kurdistan as “unilateral,” saying the vote held on September 25 lacks legitimacy.

US Secretary of State Reg Tillerson

“The United States does not recognize the Kurdistan Regional Government’s unilateral referendum held on Monday,” Tillerson said in a written statement on Friday (September 29).

Tillerson said his country supports a united, federal, democratic and prosperous Iraq.

He expressed concern over the possible “negative consequences” of the Kurdish referendum, adding the vote may hinder efforts to promote stability and prosperity for the people of the Kurdistan Region.

Tillerson said the U.S. asks all parties, including Iraq’s neighbors, to reject unilateral actions and the use of force.

“We urge calm and an end to vocal recriminations and threats of reciprocal actions. We urge Iraqi Kurdish authorities to respect the constitutionally-mandated role of the central government and we call upon the central government to reject threats or even allusion to possible use of force.”

But an interesting article in the New York Times of all places praised Israel’s endorsement of the Kurds’ bid for independence:

JERUSALEM — With a two-sentence statement supporting the Iraqi Kurds’ plan to hold a referendum on independence this Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put Israel at odds with nearly every other major player in the Middle East.

Mr. Netanyahu, who endorsed not only the referendum but also the establishment of a Kurdish state, had ample strategic reason: A breakaway Kurdistan could prove valuable to Israel against Iran, which has oppressed its own Kurdish population.

But given the interwoven history and shared emotion underlying his statement, present-day geopolitics can seem almost beside the point.

The Kurds and the Jews, it turns out, go way back.

Back past the Babylonian Captivity, in fact: The first Jews in Kurdistan, tradition holds, were among the last tribes of Israel, taken from their land in the eighth century B.C. They liked it there so much that when Cyrus the Great of Persia conquered the Babylonians and let the Jews go back home, many chose instead to stick around.

Sixteen centuries later, Saladin, a Kurd, treated the Jews humanely after he conquered Jerusalem, and notably hired a Jewish doctor, Maimonides, as his physician.

In the modern era, Kurdish Jews departed en masse for Israel when the Jewish state was created in 1948, leaving Kurdish civil society so bereft that some recall its leaders still lamenting the Jewish exodus decades later.

Ties between the two have only grown warmer and more vital since the 1960s, as Israel and the Kurds — both minorities in an inhospitable region and ever in need of international allies — have repeatedly come to each other’s aid. The Kurds have long patterned their lobbying efforts in Washington on those of Israel’s supporters.

Israeli flags often appear at Kurdish rallies, like this one in Erbil, Iraq

And while Kurdish leaders have not publicly embraced Israel in the run-up to the referendum, for fear of antagonizing the Arab world, the Israeli flag can routinely be seen at Kurdish rallies in Erbil and across Europe.

The Kurds in turn have friends and supporters all across Israel, including some 200,000 Kurdish Jews. But 83-year-old Tzuri Sagi, a retired brigadier general, has more reason than most Israelis to root for Kurdish independence.

Read the rest of that fascinating article about the ties between Israel and the Kurds.

A Jerusalem Post article also agrees with the Israeli position of supporting the Kurds bid for independence:

In the wake of Iranian aggression across the Middle East, the most effective strategy Israel can adopt is to recognize an independent Kurdistan and fully support it.

Across the Middle East Israel faces a variety of security threats, from Hezbollah in Lebanon and Assad’s regime in Syria to Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Islamic State (ISIS) in the Sinai Peninsula. These already existing threats are exasperated by Iran seeking to establish a Shi’ite Crescent from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea.

To prop up Assad’s regime and Hezbollah, Iran needs territorial contiguity from Iran to Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. This way, it can import supplies with ease to its proxies via land routes, for Israel has already demonstrated that it can infiltrate and stop Iranian sea or air shipments more easily. However, an independent Kurdistan in Syria and Iraq would territorially break up the Shi’ite Crescent, thus making it more difficult for Iran to carry out its terrorist activities across the Middle East. The Kurdistan region of Iraq led by President Masoud Barzani’s government will not permit Iranian shipments to terrorist groups to pass through its territory.

If Kurdistan becomes a full-fledged independent state in Northern Iraq and parts of Syria, the logistical obstacles for Iran will greatly increase.

It is not only for the purely practical geopolitical advantages that Israel should support the Kurds, but because it is morally right:

It is critical to note that Israel should support an independent Kurdistan because it is the moral thing to do. The Kurds were promised a country in the Treaty of Sevres but this promise was reneged on in the Treaty of Lausanne, leaving the Kurds as the largest nation on earth without a country, a reality that affects 40 million people. The Kurds have their own unique culture, history and language, which are distinct from those of their Turkish, Persian and Arab neighbors. Furthermore, in the past the Kurds had strong leaders who befriended the Jewish People, such as Saladin.

In addition, the Kurds ruled themselves in the past, under the Ayyubid dynasty and the Bohtan Emirate, to name a few. In fact, they were only absorbed by the Ottoman Empire in 1908. For this reason, the Kurds have a strong sense of nationalism.

The Kurds passionately believe that their culture, language and historic destiny can be best realized by granting them the same rights that other nations possess.

Israel’s former Ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor also praises the Kurds’ readiness for statehood (unlike, say, the Palestinians):

An independent Kurdish state would be a victory for democratic values, national self-determination and the rights of women and minorities. Is there a more iconic image of the fight against the Islamic State than that of female Kurdish peshmerga fighters doing battle on the front lines against jihadists who demand the subjugation of women? An independent Kurdish state would empower these warriors in a part of the world where women and girls are typically second-class citizens.

Kurdish Peshmerga women fighters

In addition to its commitment to gender equality, Kurdistan has also shown its commitment to minority rights. Over the past three years, Kurdistan, which is about the size of Maryland, has taken in nearly two million refugees, including Assyrians, Yazidis, Turkmen, Shabaks and Christians fleeing the Islamic State and sectarian violence in other parts of Iraq and in Syria.

Even without a formal state, the Kurds have built a society that meets many of the criteria of statehood. They are economically viable, with a well-developed energy industry. They have functioning institutions, including elections for Parliament and a relatively free media. And they’ve proved capable of defending themselves against the Islamic State without attacking others.

Kurdistan is already, in values and governance, a democratic nation in waiting. Is it a perfect Jeffersonian democracy? No. Does it have a long way to go? Yes. But in a region where tyranny is the norm, it’s on the right track.

We should all pray that Kurds are successful in their bid for independence and that there will be a peaceful solution to this brewing crisis. Israel should certainly give it as much support as it can. And shame on the world for denying this brave, big-hearted people their rightful claim to their own territory and self-determination.

Meanwhile over in Spain, Catalonians held a referendum today asking their people if they wanted independence. The answer was not clear. Nevertheless the Spanish rejected the referendum, calling it illegal, and sent in the riot police which violently repressed the independence rallies, injuring almost 500 people:

Nearly 500 people were injured Sunday as Spanish security forces attempted to shut down a referendum vote on the future of the northeastern Spanish province of Spain.

Spanish police break into a Catalonian voting booth

Catalonia, a semi-autonomous province with its own official language, held the controversial vote Sunday on whether to remain a part of the Kingdom of Spain, or to seek independence.

Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, who supports a Catalan separation from Spain, said earlier that if the referendum saw a majority of “yes” votes, he would declare an independent Catalonia within 48 hours.

While polls show some 60% of locals oppose independence from Spain, a wide majority back the plebiscite.

Girls stroll through the center of Figueras with the Spanish and a pro-independence ‘Estelada’ Catalan flag

The Spanish government, however, has declared the referendum illegal and ordered security forces to bar voters from entering polling stations.

“There has not been a referendum or anything remotely similar,” Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría said.

In polling places across Catalonia, including the local capital, Barcelona, police clashed with crowds of voters as they attempted to enter voting stations.

During the clashes, officers opened fire with rubber bullets, hitting dozens of protesters.

According to The Independent, local firefighters formed human shields around voters to protect voters from police.

Catalan officials say police managed to shut down 319 voting stations across Catalonia.

“What the police are doing is a real scandal, a savagery,” said Catalan spokesperson Jordi Turull.

“The Spanish state is in a very difficult situation before the world… What the police is doing is truly an international embarrassment.”

Yet it seems that what is sauce for the goose is not sauce for the gander. Or maybe that statement should be reversed. The very independence that is rejected by the world for their own minorities is enthusiastically advanced for the Palestinians. The Kurds do not seek to replace anyone or to kill them. They simply want their own indigenous territory back in their hands and under their control. But the world rejects their bid.

The Catalonians want to run their own affairs outside of Spanish jurisdiction. Here too their bid for self-determination is rejected by the world.

But somehow, the Palestinians, who already have independence from Israel, and who run their own affairs, are considered perfectly legitimate when they demand not only independence, but an end to the State of Israel. They demand this loudly and clearly and can be heard in demonstrations across the world: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”. This is no less than an Arabic “final solution” for the Jews. In case you haven’t looked at a map lately, the space between the river (Jordan) to the (Mediterranean) Sea is occupied, for want of a better word, by Israel with over 6 million Jews as well as another 2 million Muslims, Christians and other minorities.

“From the river to the sea Palestine will be free” – of Jews and of Israel. This is an Arab Final Solution

The inherent hypocrisy in this stance was called out today by Eli Dahan, Israel’s Deputy Defence Minister:

Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan (Jewish Home) blasted the Spanish government’s crackdown against a regional referendum in the province of Catalonia Sunday, which left nearly 500 people injured, most of them pro-independence demonstrators.

Deputy Minister Ben-Dahan slammed Madrid’s crackdown on the referendum, noting Spain’s decades-long support for Palestinian statehood.

“For many years, Spain lectured us about how we need to give [national] rights to the Palestinian Arabs,” wrote Ben-Dahan on Twitter. “Today we see their hypocrisy, as [Spain] doesn’t even allow the Catalans to hold a referendum on independence.”

I found this Facebook post by Tsuriel Rashi, a lecturer at Bar Ilan University, to be particularly apt:

 

He writes:

Two states for two people
Spain and Catalonia
Kurdistan and Turkey
“They are there and we are here”.
Or is this a solution limited to a particular region?

Indeed Dr. Rashi has pointed out the world’s hypocrisy in one short pithy paragraph. “Do as I say, not do as I do” is what the world tells Israel.

It’s about time Israel told the world where to get off.

Fatah Official: Jared Kushner’s Mideast Peace Mission Is a ‘Delusion’

August 27, 2017

Fatah Official: Jared Kushner’s Mideast Peace Mission Is a ‘Delusion’, BreitbartAli Waked, August 27, 2017

AP/Alex Brandon

The Fatah official warned that if political stagnation continues, “The issue of a popular uprising is on the table. It is a legitimate right and we may make a decision on this issue soon.”

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TEL AVIV — Talk of any U.S.-led initiative to revive Israeli-Palestinian negotiations is a “delusion,” charged Palestinian official Mahmoud Aloul, a Fatah deputy to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Aloul, considered one of the candidates to succeed Abbas as the head of Fatah, said in an interview with Saudi news site Elaph regarding the visit of an American delegation last week in Israel that, “These visits haven’t led to any results. We aren’t deluding ourselves; there can be no advancement in the peace process with the right-wing Israeli government under the leadership of Netanyahu.”

President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner led last week’s mission, with the delegation also including Jason Greenblatt, envoy for international negotiations, and deputy national security adviser Dina Powell.

Aloul criticized Kushner’s delegation, stating, “Judging from the latest meetings, the delegates didn’t bring anything new with them and didn’t present any initiative. The American delegates come to hear the Israeli side. They hear the lies and the claims of Israel and then they come to us to discuss these claims. This is a big problem in mindset and we won’t agree to continue down this path.”

Asked if the U.S. delegation demanded an end to the payments of the families of Palestinian terrorists and their families, Aloul answered, “Not only this, President Trump has interfered in much smaller issues like what’s published on certain sites. They talked to us about incitement. We told them, let’s make peace so there won’t be any more martyrs or any more prisoners and then we won’t need to pay them a salary.”

Aloul said that the Palestinian Authority didn’t agree to the demand to end the pay-for-slay stipends to terrorists, referring to them as payments to prisoners. “We didn’t agree to this at all,” said Aloul. “This is a humanitarian issue connected to children and women and Palestinian society and we can’t end the payments.”

Aloul claimed that the Trump administration isn’t seriously discussing the creation of a Palestinian state. “They don’t talk about the principle of two countries, they come after having adopted the claims of the Israelis,” said Aloul. “They don’t talk about stopping the settlements. In reality, nothing is happening.”

When asked if the Palestinians still place hope on the efforts of the administration and the delegates’ visits to the region, Abbas’ deputy answered, “You could say that we don’t have any more delusions regarding the fact that their (the Americans’) policies will lead to some sort of result.”

The Fatah official warned that if political stagnation continues, “The issue of a popular uprising is on the table. It is a legitimate right and we may make a decision on this issue soon.”

Aloul left out that the Palestinians have refused successive offers of a state made by Israel on numerous occasions.

Crossing the Rubicon

August 27, 2017

Crossing the Rubicon, Israel Hayom, Sarah N. Stern, August 27, 2017

On Wednesday, at a U.S. State Department press briefing, the Rubicon was finally crossed. Responding to a question regarding Israeli-Palestinian ‎peace, spokeswoman Heather Nauert said, “We want to work toward a peace that both sides can agree to and both sides find ‎sustainable. … We believe that both parties should be able to find a workable solution that works for ‎both of them. We are not going to state what the outcome has to be. … It’s been many, many decades, ‎as you well know, that the parties have not been able to come to any kind of good agreement and ‎sustainable solution to this. So we leave it up to them to be able to work through that.”‎

This is the most constructive statement I have heard about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in decades. ‎For the last several years, the “experts” have been saying, “We all know what a solution to the ‎Palestinian-Israeli conflict looks like.”

If anyone ever took the time to listen to the parties themselves, and examine the cultural context in ‎which these words are spoken, they would immediately understand that the single most critical litmus ‎test for determining a negotiating partner’s real intentions is not what they say to visiting diplomats ‎and journalists in English, but what they say among themselves in their own language, and in particular, what they ‎teach their children. ‎

According to John Calvin (formerly “Jonaid Salameh,” before his conversion to Christianity), an EMET fellow who was born in Nablus, from the very earliest age, he ‎was taught there would not be two states, but one state called Palestine. An important slogan on everyone’s tongue in the disputed territories is “Lama neharherah,” meaning “When we free ‎it” — and “it” is all of Israel.

Calvin told me ‎that this belief is a certainty, that the average Palestinian feels it is destiny that eventually all of the ‎land will be free of Jews.‎

Surah 8, verse 38 of the Quran says, “Tell the unbelievers that if they desist from evil, their past shall be forgiven and if they revert to their past ways, then it is well known what happened with the people of the past.” According to Calvin, the interpretation is clear: There should ‎be conflict until all worship is only to Allah.

Part of this cultural context implies a different meaning of the word “peace.” Accepting the existence ‎of the other on their own terms is incompatible with true Islamic thought. Islam is a religion of ‎conquest.‎

Says Calvin, “The conception of peace, as we know it in the West, simply does not exist within Islam. ‎There can be a “hudna,” a temporary cessation of war, but only to regroup. Islam means total ‎submission, or surrender, and a permanent peace can only happen when the entire world surrenders ‎to Islamic rule. There is that sort of messianic concept of peace, but only after the entire world submits ‎to Islamic rule.”‎

Many individual Muslims, particularly in places like Indonesia, Pakistan and India, where Arabic is not the ‎native tongue, may not understand the Quran in a literal sense, and thus, may not hold these sort of ‎hegemonic beliefs.‎

Most Americans, including many so-called “experts” in the field, have no idea of the cultural context with which ‎they are dealing when they set out to solve the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.‎

In former U.S. President Bill Clinton’s autobiography, “My Life,” he describes how profoundly disappointed he had been with then-PLO Chairman ‎Yasser Arafat after generous offers were made to the Palestinian leader by Prime ‎Minister Ehud Barak in the Camp David negotiations. Arafat did not respond in the affirmative or the ‎negative, but simply walked away from the table. His response came several months later, in the ‎form of the Second Intifada.

In a moving chapter, Clinton describes how, just as he was about to leave office, ‎Arafat called him up and told him he was a great man.‎

“Mr. Chairman,” Clinton replied, “I am not a great man. I am a failure, and you have made me one.”

It obviously has been more important for Arafat, as well as his successor, Mahmoud Abbas, who turned down an ‎even more generous offer from Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, to continue the struggle then to arrive at a permanent ‎peace.‎

For decades, too many Western leaders and diplomats have tried to impose a solution that ‎looks ideal when viewed through Western lenses. ‎

These statesmen, however, do not have to be there on the ground when the maximalist offers are ‎walked away from, and the inevitable violence ensues. ‎

Thank you, Heather Nauert, for taking us a bit closer to reality.‎

Sarah N. Stern is founder and president of EMET, the Endowment for Middle East Truth, a pro-Israel think tank and policy shop in Washington, D.C.‎

The Left’s Abbas problem

June 6, 2017

The Left’s Abbas problem, Israel Hayom, Jonathan S. Tobin, June 6, 2017

Despite repeated Palestinian rejections of peace offers, advocates of a two-state solution still cling to the belief that it is Israel that is inventing conditions designed to ensure that negotiations will fail. But if their goal is to create a genuine consensus behind peace, then rather than lament Trump’s criticisms of Abbas, they ought to hope he will succeed in getting the PA leader to stop the incitement as well as the prisoner payments. If Netanyahu’s opponents continue to refuse to take this issue seriously, they will have no one but themselves — and the Palestinians — to blame if they continue to be marginalized and peace remains a remote dream.

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

For the Israeli Left, talk about Palestinian incitement is nothing more than an excuse invented by the Right to avoid peace. The same largely applies to their views about the Palestinian Authority’s payments of more than $1 billion in just the last four years in salaries to imprisoned terrorists and their families.

The PA’s ongoing efforts to inculcate new generations in the ideology of hate that has driven the century-long war on Zionism is itself a barrier to peace. It also ensures that any effort to end the conflict will run counter to notions of Palestinian identity that are inextricably linked to that war.

But if you believe that Israel’s chief objective must be to achieve a separation from the Palestinians and an end to its presence in the West Bank and east Jerusalem regardless of what happens or who governs a Palestinian state, you view the issue differently. If you think separation is the only way to preserve a Jewish majority in the Jewish state and to protect both Israelis and Palestinians from the burden of the occupation, statements of support or even subsidies for those who commit violence are side issues or distractions that obscure the big picture.

Yet opponents of the Netanyahu government are making a big mistake when they downplay these issues. Though they doubt the motives of those who point out what the Palestinian Authority have been doing and even agree with PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ assertion that both sides incite, they are missing the point. A failure to address these questions has been the Achilles’ heel of the Left ever since the Oslo Accords were signed. Doing so is not only political poison, it also sends the wrong message to Palestinians who they insist are, against all evidence, viable partners for peace.

The issue of incitement is at the center of the discussion now because U.S. President Donald Trump has decided it is important. Trump was sufficiently ignorant of the history of the conflict and how the PA operates that he actually seems to have believed Abbas’ assurances about not supporting incitement or payments to prisoners that the PA leader made during their initial White House meeting.

But when the Israelis pointed out to him that Abbas was seeking to pull the wool over his eyes, and backed it up with video evidence, he didn’t like it. More than that, he rightly understood that this lie was an obstacle to achieving the unlikely diplomatic triumph he craved.

That led to Trump reportedly pounding the table and accusing Abbas of being liar when they met in Bethlehem. Since it would be difficult for Abbas to suddenly alter the nature of what is published in PA newspapers or viewed on PA television to mollify Israeli or Western sensibilities, let alone cease payments to the very same terrorist prisoners who are lauded by Palestinians as heroes, Trump’s insistence on these points was no small controversy.

The Left deplores Trump’s embrace of this issue and puts it down to a clever strategy implemented by Netanyahu. But if that’s all they think there is to it, they’re repeating the same mistakes that ensured the failure of peace talks in the past. In the 1990s, both the Clinton administration and Labor-led governments saw PLO leader Yasser Arafat’s words and actions as merely fodder for domestic Palestinian political consumption. But the result of that policy was not only to convey to the PA that it could transgress with impunity; this spirit of complacency also materially contributed to the collapse of faith in the peace process once Palestinian actions moved from words to bombs in the Second Intifada.

The Left’s problem is not just that serious observers understand the implications of incitement and material support for terror and that not enough people share their belief that Israeli actions are as bad or worse than those of the Palestinians. Nor are most Israelis likely to be persuaded to view actions of self-defense undertaken by their government as morally equivalent to the PA’s support for terror. Just as important is that a Palestinian leader who felt constrained to engage in behavior that engendered such deep mistrust among Israelis would be unlikely to muster support for an end to the conflict among his own people, even if he wanted to make peace.

Despite repeated Palestinian rejections of peace offers, advocates of a two-state solution still cling to the belief that it is Israel that is inventing conditions designed to ensure that negotiations will fail. But if their goal is to create a genuine consensus behind peace, then rather than lament Trump’s criticisms of Abbas, they ought to hope he will succeed in getting the PA leader to stop the incitement as well as the prisoner payments. If Netanyahu’s opponents continue to refuse to take this issue seriously, they will have no one but themselves — and the Palestinians — to blame if they continue to be marginalized and peace remains a remote dream.

Jonathan S. Tobin is the opinion editor of JNS.org and a contributing writer for ‎National Review.

PLO Ambassador To Iran: We Will Liberate Palestine ‘From The River To The Sea’ – With Everything From Stabbing And Vehicular Attacks To Launching Rockets

March 2, 2017

PLO Ambassador To Iran: We Will Liberate Palestine ‘From The River To The Sea’ – With Everything From Stabbing And Vehicular Attacks To Launching Rockets, MEMRI, March 2, 2017

“Providing a political analysis of what is happening with the Palestinian cause today, Al-Zawawi said: ‘We are not facing an ordinary enemy, or a small-scale plan. Rather, we are fighting the most dangerous international plan, especially after the U.S. adopted the [idea the Palestinians must recognize Israel as] a Jewish state. The U.S. transitioned from one phase to the next, fully aware of what its next step will be, and we were deceived.’ He added: ‘The ethnic and sectarian conflicts taking place today – their purpose is to take over and dismantle the region’s resources and spark wars among the Arabs in order to distance them from Palestine – [all this] promotes the establishment of Greater Israel.’

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

A March 1, 2017 article in the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar about PLO Ambassador to Iran Salah Al-Zawawi included excerpts of an interview with him focusing on the PLO-Iran relationship. Al-Zawawi also stressed in the interview that armed struggle using all means was a legitimate path to liberating Palestine “from the river to the sea.”

It should be noted that on February 19, the Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that “the ambassador of the state of Palestine in Iran, Salah Al-Zawawi” would be part of the Palestinian delegation to the Sixth International Conference in Support of the Palestinian Intifada, held in Tehran on February 21,[1] and that the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website also lists him as Palestine’s ambassador to Iran.[2]

Following are excerpts from the article, including statements by Al-Zawawi:

alzawawiSalah Al-Zawawi at the the Sixth International Conference in Support of the Palestinian Intifada (image: Tasnim, Iran, February 21, 2017)

“In February 1981, the late [Palestinian Authority (PA)] president Yasser Arafat appointed Salah Al-Zawawi as PLO envoy to Tehran, after the late Hani Al-Hassan retired and left for Beirut. Following the signing of the Oslo Accords between the PLO and the Zionist enemy, Iran refused to recognize the PA that was born of this agreement, and also rejected the replacement of Al-Zawawi and the appointment of a new ambassador. Thus, Al-Zawawi remained in office, and has spent the past 32 years of his life in Tehran.

“Al-Zawawi reminisced about the opening of the [PLO] embassy [in Tehran], which was attended by Abu ‘Ammar [Arafat], [then-PLO ambassador to Tehran] Hani Al-Hassan, Ahmad Khomeini [son of the leader of the Iranian revolution, Ruhollah Khomeini], and former Iranian foreign minister Ebrahim Yazdi. During it, [he said], the Palestinian flag was raised over the former Israeli Embassy building. He expressed his pride in the fact that Arafat was the first official to visit Tehran, and added: ‘After the victory of the Imam Khomeini’s revolution, Arafat said: “Starting today, my front stretches from Tyre to Khorasan…” [Al-Zawawi added:] ‘Palestine-Iran relations run deeper than any political differences the two sides face, and even after the PLO’s recognition of Israel, ties between the two revolutions remain…’

“Underlining the [PLO-Iran] relations that have existed since time immemorial, Al-Zawawi said: ‘Our relationship with the Imam Khomeini began back when he was still in exile. The Imam’s revolution [i.e. Iran’s Islamic Revolution] was based on two main foundations: Islam, and Palestine [including Jerusalem, which is], the first direction of prayer [for Muslims, and the location of] the third-most important mosque [Al-Aqsa]. Once the Imam Khomeini’s revolution had triumphed, he said: Today Iran, and tomorrow Palestine, and added: Without restoring Palestine, Iran’s independence will remain lacking as well.’ Al-Zawawi added: ‘The Imam [Khomeini] adopted our [Palestinian] revolution when he was in the [Iraqi] city of Al-Najaf, which is holy [to Shi’ites], and it was then also that he issued his historic fatwa regarding the transfer of zakat [alms] and one-fifth [of a person’s income] to the Palestinian fighters who risk their lives.’

“Al-Zawawi speaks lovingly of Khomeini, saying: ‘The Imam would see in his mind’s eye the future of Palestine, and he declared the last Friday of Ramadan to be International Qods [Jerusalem] Day, [because] he could see what [ordinary] people do not see.’ [Al-Zawawi continues:]I look at the dark days we live in now: the Zionist enemy is attempting to swallow up the West Bank, annex Jerusalem, and see it as the capital of the Zionist entity. This is in addition to [the Zionists] stepping up settlement construction and allowing [themselves] to harm Al-Aqsa mosque.’

“The Palestinian ambassador likes repeating the history of [Palestinian-Iranian] ties even prior to the victory of the Islamic Revolution [in Iran]. He stresses that most Iranian commanders were trained at Fatah camps in Lebanon, that some of them died as martyrs fighting alongside Palestinian fighters and are still on the list of Palestinian martyr families, and that [Fatah] continues to pay allowances to their families in Iran.

“[Al-Zawawi continues:] ‘The Iranian ideological compass is linked to Palestine, so that wherever you go in Iran, you will find a street or monument named for Palestine. In the holiest site for [Shi’ite] Islam, that is, the seat of the [Eighth Shi’ite] Imam Ali Al-Ridha in Mashhad, there is a large courtyard, the Al-Quds Courtyard, that features a model of the Dome of the Rock, and after every prayer the Iranians chant anti-U.S. and anti-Israel slogans…’

“The Palestinian ambassador was careful to mention anything [that the Palestinians have] in common with Iran, saying: ‘We are facing a U.S.-run Western plan, which will not end except through combat and jihad, carried out by all means. The regime here was established on the basis of Islam and the Shi’ite sect, and we as a movement connect to it in the martyrdom aspects of Karbala and Hussein. The Imam Hussein’s rebellion is a fundamental matter in the Shi’ite conscience, and the principle of the victory of the bloody sword underlines that the few can also triumph [over the many], and that those with few weapons can defeat those with an abundance of them…’

“[Al-Zawawi], one of the most veteran Palestinian diplomats, does not deny [that there are Palestinian] disagreements with Iran, but [explains that] ‘every side has to understand the other side’s tendencies, and we must fight to liberate Palestine. For our people in the 1948 territories [meaning Israeli Arabs], a different kind of fighting is needed than the kind needed for the people of the West Bank, and the West Bank requires a different kind of fighting than Gaza. [Additionally,] there is the diplomatic struggle.’ He added: ‘Certainly, everyone should fight in their own way, from carrying out stabbing and vehicular attacks to launching rockets. That is how we will liberate Palestine from the river to the sea… Some [types of?] jihad aredictated by geography, and everyone should contribute from where they are, using the means at their disposal and in accordance with their various situations. All means of combat are legitimate in order to realize Allah’s promise for liberation: From [the traditional dance] Dabke to armed struggle.’

“Providing a political analysis of what is happening with the Palestinian cause today, Al-Zawawi said: ‘We are not facing an ordinary enemy, or a small-scale plan. Rather, we are fighting the most dangerous international plan, especially after the U.S. adopted the [idea the Palestinians must recognize Israel as] a Jewish state. The U.S. transitioned from one phase to the next, fully aware of what its next step will be, and we were deceived.’ He added: ‘The ethnic and sectarian conflicts taking place today – their purpose is to take over and dismantle the region’s resources and spark wars among the Arabs in order to distance them from Palestine – [all this] promotes the establishment of Greater Israel.’

“The Palestinian ambassador no longer believes in the Oslo Accords. Moreover, he says: ‘When the PLO signed the agreement, a Palestinian state was supposed to be established in the West Bank and Gaza in 1999, but it did not happen.’ Eighteen years have passed since then, and therefore Al-Zawawi determines that Israel and the U.S. will not allow the establishment of a Palestinian state. He said decisively: ‘Oslo is bankrupt. U.S. President Donald Trump is the Zionist face of this enterprise. Additionally, the futility of dialogue with the enemy is now becoming clear.’

“For the Palestinian ambassador, the internal [i.e. intra-Palestinian] division adds fuel to the fire: ‘Can you believe how divided we are and how we are unable to unite[?] I do not accept any excuses whatsoever [for this] from the factions.’ He added: ‘At this time, we have no choice but to unite because the enemy is taking advantage of our division to Judaize Palestine, which is slipping away before our very eyes.’

“As for the Sixth Conference to Support the Palestinian Intifada, he believes that it expresses Iran’s commitment to the Palestinians: ‘The belief of fellowship [between us and the Iranians] is known to all. [The Iranians] are the bearers of the black standard, who leave Khorasan for Jerusalem.’ He added: ‘If we see the conference as a political and media phenomenon, then it has achieved what it was expected to achieve under these harsh conditions, when everyone seeks to eliminate the Palestinian cause. The conference gave us a chance for dialogue amongst ourselves. Furthermore, it was attended by heads of parliament from Arab countries and around the world, who discussed the next phase of the Palestinian struggle.'”[3]

___________________________

[1] Wafa.ps, February 19, 2017.

[2] Mofa.gov.ps.

[3] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), March 1, 2017.