Posted tagged ‘Peace Process’

The UNRWA book battle

April 20, 2017

The UNRWA book battle, Israel Hayom, Jonathan S. Tobin, April 20, 2017

(More on the UN Rocket Warehousing Agency and the Palestinian authority. Please see also, UNRWA Won’t Be Changing School Textbooks and Curriculum. — DM)

It is an article of faith for the international community and the Jewish Left that the ‎Palestinian Authority is a moderate force that wants to make peace with Israel. ‎That belief has been undermined by many of the PA’s actions and statements since ‎its creation after the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, yet somehow it survives and forms the basis for many of the assumptions critics make ‎about Israel’s government.

The latest proof that the PA is a principle obstacle to ‎peace rather than its best hope has not received any attention in the Western press. ‎But a discussion of the conflict that has arisen between it and the United Nations ‎Relief and Works Agency speaks volumes about everything that is wrong ‎with the PA.‎

UNRWA is the world body that is devoted solely to aiding Palestinian refugees. ‎Unlike the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, which is tasked with helping all other refugees around the world, UNRWA doesn’t try ‎to resettle refugees or resolve their problems. On the contrary, since its creation ‎after the Arab failure to destroy Israel in its War of Independence, UNRWA has ‎helped to perpetuate the clash between Israel and the Muslim and Arab worlds and ‎championed the “right of return” that would spell Israel’s end. Its schools and aid ‎projects have been hotbeds of radicalism aimed at erasing the existence of the ‎Jewish state and have even been used by Hamas. In particular, critics have noted ‎the way UNRWA schools in the West Bank and Gaza have curricula and textbooks ‎that teach up to 600,000 Palestinian youngsters to reject Israel’s legitimacy and ‎glorify the struggle to destroy it. ‎

But, like the rest of the U.N., UNRWA has been feeling some pressure to ‎reform. The Trump administration has shown a willingness to throw its weight ‎around that directly contrasts with former President Barack Obama’s support for the U.N. Under ‎new Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who previously headed the U.N.’s other ‎refugee agency, efforts to promote the libel that Israel is an apartheid state were ‎rejected. So when the Arab press reported leaks about a shift in UNRWA’s ‎education policy, this seemed to indicate that even that agency was feeling some ‎pressure to change its ways.‎

According to those reports, UNRWA was planning to alter the textbooks it uses ‎in its schools. Among the planned changes, cities inside Israel would stop being labeled as Palestinian, a practice that instills a sense in readers that the Jewish state is ‎merely a colonialist intrusion built entirely on “stolen” Arab land. Other changes ‎included an effort to tone down praise of Palestinians who commit terrorism ‎against Jews and Israelis. Its teaching about Jerusalem would treat it as a city that ‎is as holy to all three monotheistic religions, rather than just Islam. That’s significant because Palestinian efforts to claim that shrines such ‎as the Temple Mount and even the Western Wall are ‎exclusively Muslim were part of a campaign of incitement that led to the recent ‎‎”stabbing intifada.” Perhaps just as significant is that the new texts would also seek ‎to correct gender bias that was part of the old books.‎

But rather than welcome reform, the Palestinian Authority has reacted with fury. ‎Last week, the PA announced that it was suspending ties with UNRWA over the ‎proposed changes, which have yet to be formally announced. It said the revisions ‎to the curriculum were an “affront to the Palestinian people, its history and ‎struggles” and that the suspension would continue until the agency’s “positions are ‎corrected.”‎

The PA Education Ministry issued the following statement:‎ “Any distortion of the Palestinian curriculum is a flagrant violation of the laws of the ‎host country, and any change to any letter to appease any party is a betrayal of the ‎Palestinian narrative and the right of the Palestinian people under occupation to ‎preserve its identity and struggle.‎”

The implications of the PA position for the prospects for peace in this or future ‎generations cannot be overestimated.‎

For more than a century, Palestinian national identity has been inextricably tied to the war on Zionism. Throughout two decades of failed peace negotiations, the ‎supposedly moderate Palestinian Authority has consistently rejected Israeli offers ‎of independence that would obligate it to recognize the legitimacy of the Jewish ‎state within any borders. Any chance that this will change rests not so much on ‎more Israeli concessions but on a sea change in Palestinian political culture. ‎Leaving aside the role of Hamas, unless the PA’s future leaders are able to embrace ‎peace without fear that doing so will be seen as a betrayal, the failure of more talks ‎is foreordained. UNRWA’s proposed changes are a step in the right direction. The ‎PA’s opposition is more proof that it is an obstacle to any hope for a better life for ‎both Israeli and Palestinian children.‎

UNRWA Won’t Be Changing School Textbooks and Curriculum

April 18, 2017

UNRWA Won’t Be Changing School Textbooks and Curriculum, The Jewish Press, April 18, 2017

(The UN Rockets Warehousing Agency will continue to teach young Palestinians to hate Jews. — DM) 

Photo Credit: The Center for Near East Policy Research

The announcement came after threats by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority who said the planned changes were “unacceptable”.

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Following all the exposure of incitement and anti-Semitism in the UNRWA schools, there was pressure on UNWRA to clean up the books and the curriculum they’re teaching from all the anti-Semitism.

Khaled Abu Toameh reports that it won’t be happening, “UNRWA says it has no intention to change textbooks and will continue to teach according to Palestinian Authority curriculum.”

UNRWA says it has no intention to change textbooks and will continue to teach according to Palestinian Authority curriculum.

INTO THE FRAY: Middle East meltdown

April 14, 2017

INTO THE FRAY: Middle East meltdown, Israel National News, Dr. Martin Sherman, April 14, 2017

But of course the most troubling of questions regarding the regional integration question is this: If the allegedly moderate regimes really desire Israel’s help in confronting formidable common threats (the menace of Jihadi cohorts and the specter of nuclear Iran), why would they predicate that help on precisely the same concessions from Israel that they demanded prior to those threats arising?  And were Israel to refuse those concessions would these “moderates” deny themselves the aid Israel could provide them—for the sake of the Palestinian-Arabs, for whom they have shown consistent disdain and contempt over decades?

Furthermore, if the “moderate” states see Israel’s strength as a determining factor in making it an attractive ally in combatting the common threat of radical Islamism, why would they insist on concessions that weaken it, and expose it to greater perils as a precondition to accepting its aid? Why would they press for concessions that are likely to fall—as they did in Gaza—to the very Jihadi elements that both they, and Israel, see as a common enemy?

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Worst Chemical Attack in Years; US blames Assad  – New York  Times, April 4, 2017.

Death toll climbs in clashes at Palestinian camp in Lebanon – Reuters, April 9, 2017.

Deadly blasts hit Coptic churches in Tanta, Alexandria – Al Jazeera, April 10, 2017.

Five Sudanese soldiers killed in Yemen conflict – Reuters, April 12, 2017.

These four recent headlines, spanning barely a week, bear chilling testimony to the grim and grisly realities of the Arab world.

Barbaric business as usual   

After all, had the several score killed in the April 4th chemical attack in Northern Syria been beheaded, or lynched, or burnt alive or slaughtered by any one of the other gruesome methods by which hundreds of thousands of civilians have lost their lives in the Syrian Civil War over the last five years, it is more than likely that their deaths would have gone largely unnoticed and unreported.Indeed, it would have been nothing more than brutal, barbaric business as usual for the region.

Across virtually the entire Arab world , from the Atlantic Ocean in the West to the Persian Gulf in the East; from the Sahara desert in the South to the upper reaches  of the Euphrates in the North, naked violence engulfs entire countries – Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya.  Others – like Lebanon and Egypt—are perennially on the cusp of its eruption; and in others (like Bahrain and Saudi Arabia), it lurks, simmering just below the surface, constrained only by the iron grip of police-state tyranny.

With painfully few—and dubious—exceptions (such as Iraq, teetering on the brink of failed state status and Tunisia, once the poster-child of the “Arab Spring”, now   increasingly threatened by Jihadi Salafi insurgents—see here and here), the Arab regimes are a noxious brew of theocratic tyrannies, military dictatorships and/or nepotistic monarchies. The violent exchanges that rage throughout the region occur between a wide range of protagonists and across a myriad of schisms: Sunni vs Shia, radicals vs. monarchs, rebel insurgents vs incumbent rulers, Islamist extremists vs traditional regimes.

Death, depravity and despotism

It is against this doleful and daunting backdrop that the fatal follies of the past and of the emerging prescriptions for the future course of what has been perversely dubbed “the peace process”, must be assessed.

For as growing numbers of erstwhile advocates of the two-state paradigm are becoming increasingly skeptical—indeed, even despairing—of its viability within any foreseeable future, rather than admit the enormity of their error, they are now turning to a new false deity, no less ppreposterous or perilous than the tarnished chimera of two-statism.

This is the new cult of “regionalism”, which attempts to invert the twisted logic of two- statism—but leaves it just as twisted.

At the core, regionalism is the idea that, rather than strive for an agreement with the Palestinians as a necessary precursor to its acceptance by the states of the region, Israel can, and should, establish a pan-regional alliance with allegedly “moderate” states, driven by a recognition of common threats (the menace of Jihadi cohorts and the specter of nuclear Iran)—thereby paving its way to a resolution of the Palestinian issue.

Central to this new cult is the bizarre belief that Israel’s “integration” into region—which, as we have seen, is little more than a cesspool of death, depravity and despotism –is a goal both necessary and worthy—and one that the nation ought to strive to achieve.

Risible regionalism

Significantly, there are several glaring logical inconsistencies, non sequiturs and factual inaccuracies that plague the regional-integration doctrine.

First of all, as commonly presented, it almost inevitably entails circular reasoning – i.e. Israel should pursue relations with the moderate Arab states as a means of arriving at a resolution of the Palestinian problem; but the only way to arrive at such relations with the Arab world is to reach an agreement with the Palestinians.  So, resolving the Palestinian issue becomes both the objective of the regional-integration and the means to achieve it!

Thus, for instance in an article, Regional integration only way for Israel to achieve security, Atlantic Council senior fellow H.A. Hellyer writes: “…the only realistic way for Israelis to thrive in the long term is for them to be integrated into the wider region, beginning with a comprehensive and just peace settlement…”

This statement is not only of dubious veracity—since Israel seems to be thriving rather well without (thankfully) being “integrated into the wider region—but seems to collide with a later contention by Hellyer, who writes elsewhere: “A sustainable peace for Israelis is predicated on their eventual integration into the wider region.”

So there you have it: “Integration into the wider region” must be preceded by “peace”; but “peace” must be predicated on (i.e. preceded by) “integration into the region”.  Thus, resolving the Palestinian issue (a.k.a. “peace”) is presented both as the cause and effect of integration –having to precede it on the one hand, while being predicated on it, on the other.

Confusing, isn’t it??

Puzzling Pardo

But perhaps one of the most puzzling and perturbing endorsements of the regional-integration paradigm came in a speech delivered by Tamir Pardo the former Head of Israel’s Secret Intelligence Service, Mossad.

In it, Pardo identified the emergence of “a rare confluence of interests between Israel and the moderate Arab states.”

Pointing to the drawbacks of relations that are entirely covert, he remarked: “Secret relations that take place “under the radar” are by their nature transitory.” Accordingly, he advocated Israel’s overt integration into the region: “The key to regional integration is to build economic and social bridges between countries, facilitating trade and tourism…. The deeper, the more open and above board relations are, the better suited they will be to survive the inevitable shocks and disruptions that take place from time to time…. Israel’s regional integration is a key to its very survival.”

But he warned “None of this will happen without a resolution of the Palestinian problem.”

There are several disturbing defects—both conceptual and empirical–in this portrayal by Pardo, which seem to indicate that his undoubted ability in covert operations is not matched by a commensurate acumen for political analysis.

So, while Pardo may well be correct in his doubts as to the durability of secret relations, his faith in more overt one seems wildly at odds with Israel’s experience in past decades, causing one to puzzle over what could possibly be the basis  for his unfounded contention, and his reasons for making it.

Puzzling (cont) 

Indeed, the examples of Iran and Turkey clearly indicate that robust overt “economic and social bridges” as well as “trade and tourism” are of little value if the regime should change. After all, the relations with pre-revolutionary Iran and pre-Islamist Turkey could hardly have been closer or more cordial.

Yet, with the ascent to power of Khomeini in Iran and Erdogan in Turkey these ties proved, indeed, “transitory”.  Of course, the metamorphosis was particularly dramatic and rapid in Iran, where Israel was transformed from being a trusted ally to a hated enemy almost immediately. In Turkey, the process was more gradual and less drastic, but there can be little comparison between the tight strategic ties of yesteryear and the hostile attitude that prevails today.

This volatility in relations between nations is one of the most profound flaws in the regional-integration proposal—especially when it is predicated on a resolution of the Palestinian issue. For while it is true that countries like Jordan, under the Hashemite dynasty,  Egypt under Sisi, and the incumbent regimes in the Gulf may face common threats, it would be more than a stretch to characterize this as sharing long-term mutual interests with Israel.

Indeed, a yawning gulf separates between the seminal values that define the differing societies – with regard to individual liberties, gender equality, social diversity, religious pluralism—which clearly portends ample room for renewed adversarial relations once the common threat has been eliminated.

Palmerston…on perpetual allies

Israel would do well to heed the words of British Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston (1784-1865) on the fickleness of nations and their international ties “We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow”.This caveat is particularly pertinent in the case of the regional-integration paradigm. For in essence the deal to be struck is as follows: Israel is called upon to make perilous permanent concessions (to resolve the Palestinian issue) in exchange for a temporary alliance, based on the (ephemeral) word of rulers, who head not only some of the most decadent and despotic regimes on the planet, but also some of the most threatened.

Accordingly, there is little guarantee that the Arab entity that makes commitments toward Israel will be the entity called upon to honor them when need be. After all, what would be the value of any understanding on integration entered into in 2010 with say Syria, or Iraq or Libya…
Moreover, Israel was unable to prevent an Islamist takeover of Gaza.  It is, therefore, highly unlikely that it could prevent an Islamist takeover by a resurgent Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, or an Islamist coup in Jordan.

Thus, given the fact that the concessions Israel is called upon to make to resolve the Palestinian issue, are largely irrevocable, while the pledges given it are largely retractable, any regime change in Cairo and even more so in Amman would have potentially disastrous ramifications.

With an Islamist state abutting the envisaged Palestinian state from the East, dispatching irredentist insurgents to destabilize any purportedly peaceable Palestinian regime in the territory evacuated by Israel; with a regime in Cairo no longer interested in, or capable of, countering the Jihadi warlords in Sinai, pressing against Israel’s 200 km frontier and the land route to Eilat, Israel is likely to rue any credence it placed in regional integration.

The most troubling of questions 

But of course the most troubling of questions regarding the regional integration question is this: If the allegedly moderate regimes really desire Israel’s help in confronting formidable common threats (the menace of Jihadi cohorts and the specter of nuclear Iran), why would they predicate that help on precisely the same concessions from Israel that they demanded prior to those threats arising?  And were Israel to refuse those concessions would these “moderates” deny themselves the aid Israel could provide them—for the sake of the Palestinian-Arabs, for whom they have shown consistent disdain and contempt over decades?

Furthermore, if the “moderate” states see Israel’s strength as a determining factor in making it an attractive ally in combatting the common threat of radical Islamism, why would they insist on concessions that weaken it, and expose it to greater perils as a precondition to accepting its aid? Why would they press for concessions that are likely to fall—as they did in Gaza—to the very Jihadi elements that both they, and Israel, see as a common enemy?

Indeed one might ask: Why should Israel have to make any concessions so that the Arab states would deign to accept its aid in their battle against a grave common menace?

As Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland once sighed “It would be so nice if something made sense for a change.”   It sure would! Regional integration: What Isaiah would say?

Of course one can only puzzle over what merit proponents of regional integration see in its implementation. Do they really want Israel to be absorbed into the morass of cruelty, corruption and cronyism that is the Middle East?  What values that pervade their Arab neighbors, would they urge it to adopt in order to “integrate”?Misogynistic gender bias? Homophobic persecution of gays? Intolerance of social diversity? Repression of minority religious faiths?  Suppression political dissidence? For were Israel to resist adopting these and other regional values, how on earth could it integrate into the region?

So, with the Mid-East on the cusp of melt-down, one can only imagine what Isaiah (5:20) would say of the proponents of regional integration:  Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter.  

Martin Sherman is the founder and executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies.

President Trump and King Abdullah II Hold a Joint Press Conference

April 5, 2017

President Trump and King Abdullah II Hold a Joint Press Conference, White House via YouTube, April 5, 2017

Mainstream Media Distorts Reality on Israeli Settlements

April 4, 2017

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

Reprinted from en.mida.org.il.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Palestinians: The Diploma for Terror

April 3, 2017

Palestinians: The Diploma for Terror, Gatestone InstituteBassam Tawil, April 3, 2017

The unashamed glorification of murderers; terrorists paraded as role models and paragons of virtue to yet another generation of Palestinians. Under these conditions of unremitting incitement, no Palestinian can talk about peace with Israel.

When President Abbas visits the White House, it will be interesting to see if his “peace” stance includes a discussion of the Diploma for Terror.

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A glance at their leaders and senior officials tells them that Palestinian Authority jobs go to “graduates” of Israeli prisons.

Besides sending a message to Palestinians about who is valued in Palestinian society, the Fatah leader is also making it clear that the path to leadership and employment passes through Israeli prisons. Abbas’s senior representative is telling Palestinians that there is no need for them to pursue actual education: Israeli prisons are the best “universities.”

The longer the time spent in prison, the higher the military rank. Ten years will earn them the rank of Colonel. More than that will earn them General. The path to winning a job with a PA ministry also passes through Israeli prisons. These are the leaders touted as role models to young Palestinians.

Palestinians who are being held in Israeli prisons are “a model for sensibility and national culture and constitute a pillar for the establishment of a Palestinian state.” This glorification of Palestinian prisoners, many of whom are behind bars for murdering Jews, was issued last week by Fayez Abu Aitah, a senior representative of President Mahmoud Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction.

Abu Aitah’s words of appreciation for murderers of Jews came during a visit he paid to Hatem al-Maghari, a Palestinian Authority (PA) policeman who was released last week after serving 17 years in prison for his role in the lynching of two Israeli reserve soldiers who mistakenly entered Ramallah. Upon his arrival at his home in the town of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, Al-Maghari received a hero’s welcome. Hundreds of Palestinians have since converged on his home to congratulate him on his release from prison and heap praise him on for his “contribution” to the Palestinian cause.

Abbas’s Fatah was quick to embrace al-Maghari as “one of our sons” in order to send a message to Palestinians that the Fatah faction is also involved in terror attacks against Israel. For years, Fatah’s opponents have been accusing it of abandoning the “armed struggle” in favor of a peace process with Israel. Groups such as Hamas, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Palestinian Islamic Jihad continue to criticize Fatah for not being sufficiently active in the terror campaign against Israel.

The release of al-Maghari provided an opportunity for Fatah to remind its Palestinian enemies of its “contribution” to the war against Israel. The lynching of the two soldiers inside a Palestinian Authority police station in Ramallah was one of the most brutal crimes perpetrated by Palestinians. The PA leadership has never accepted responsibility for the lynching of the two soldiers, who were being held by PA policemen inside the station after taking a wrong turn into the city as they were on their way to their base.

The hero’s welcome that al-Maghari received and the words of praise from Fatah leaders serve as a reminder of how murderers of Jews continue to be hailed as role models for Palestinians. President Abbas and his PA and Fatah representatives have long lauded Palestinian prisoners held by Israel as “heroes” and future leaders of a Palestinian state.

As Abu Aitah explained during his well-wishing visit to the released terrorist:

“The prisoners are the pillar of our national movement. They have sacrificed the best of our committed and responsible national cadres that are leading the struggle of our people. Our prisoners have turned (Israeli) prisons into universities from where the future leaders graduate.”

Besides sending a message to Palestinians about who is valued in Palestinian society, the Fatah leader is also making it clear that the path to leadership and employment passes through Israeli prisons. In no uncertain terms, he is saying to young Palestinians: “If you want to become a leader, you need to prove your qualifications by following the example of those Palestinians who carried out terror attacks against Israel and spent time in Israeli prison.” Again: Abbas’s senior representative is telling Palestinians that there is no need for them to pursue actual education: Israeli prisons are the best “universities.”

Palestinians have every reason to believe Abu Aitah; he is the top Fatah official. Just a glance at their leaders and senior officials tells them that Palestinian Authority jobs go to “graduates” of Israeli prisons. There is no shortage of such leaders who rose to power thanks to their involvement in terror attacks against Israel.

In the world of the Palestinians, terror is indeed the diploma of currency. Serving time in Israeli prison can even earn one a military rank without having to go to any military or security academy.

The PA, according to Palestinian sources, has one of the largest numbers of Generals and Colonels in the Arab world. Most of these high-ranking officers earned their titles thanks to the time they served in Israeli prison, not because they studied at any military academy.

Take, for example, Jibril Rajoub, the former commander of the Palestinian Authority’s notorious Preventive Security Force, who holds the rank of Major-General. Rajoub’s rank is largely the result of the 17 years he spent in Israeli prison for his role in terrorism. Rajoub is only one of dozens, if not hundreds, of former prisoners who hold such high-ranking titles but do not have any real military background.

Many high-ranking PA security officials, such as Major-General Adnan Damiri, spokesman for the PA security forces, wear medals and decorations on their military uniforms even though they have not participated in any war. Damiri spent 10 years in Israeli prison for security-related offenses.

Many high-ranking Palestinian Authority (PA) security officials, such as Major-General Adnan Damiri, spokesman for the PA security forces, wear medals and decorations on their military uniforms even though they have not participated in any war. (Image source: PA video screenshot)

These are the leaders touted as role models to young Palestinians. No small number of Palestinian senior “officers” failed even to complete their high school education. But that should not bother any Palestinian who is dreaming of assuming a senior job in a Palestinian state.

On April 17, the Palestinians will again mark “Palestinian Prisoners’ Day” by holding as series of rallies in solidarity with prisoners who carried out terror attacks against Israel. This event is marked every year by Palestinians to honor the “heroes” who made “huge sacrifices” on behalf of the Palestinians.

These “sacrifices” include the maiming and murder of Jews. The annual event in the West Bank is sponsored and funded by Abbas’s Fatah, in turn funded by Europe and the West, in the context of glorifying terrorists and encouraging Palestinian youths to follow their presumably heroic example.

A Palestinian teenager who wishes to become a “general” under Abbas need not apply to any sort of academy. The shortest route to achieve rank is by carrying out a terror attack against Israel and doing time in Israeli prison. The longer the time spent in prison, the higher the military rank. Ten years will earn them the rank of Colonel. More than that will earn them General. The path to winning a job with a Palestinian Authority ministry also passes through Israeli prisons. Former prisoners are treated as the “good boys of the revolution” and granted the plum jobs. Meanwhile, those Palestinians who actually choose to become educated once again lose out.

It would be no surprise, then, if al-Maghari finds himself awarded the rank of General in Abbas’s Fatah-controlled security forces.

And so it continues: the unashamed glorification of murderers; terrorists paraded as role models and paragons of virtue to yet another generation of Palestinians. Under these conditions of unremitting incitement, no Palestinian can talk about peace with Israel.

When President Abbas visits the White House, it will be interesting to see if his “peace” stance includes a discussion of the Diploma for Terror.

Sisi as key to Arab anti-ISIS pact with Israel

April 3, 2017

Sisi as key to Arab anti-ISIS pact with Israel, DEBKAfile, April 3, 2017

(Please see also, Restore the U.S.-Egyptian Strategic Alliance, Designate the Muslim Brothers as Terrorists. — DM)

Our Washington sources report that President Trump aims to complete his plan for bringing together Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel on a new footing by September.

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US President Donald Trump’s first face to face with Egyptian President Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi at the White House Monday, April 3, focuses on four main topics, DEBKAfile reports: The fight against Islamist State terror rampant in Egyptian Sinai and neighboring Libya; topping up US military assistance to Cairo, aid for easing Egypt’s dire economic straits and, finally, the effort to bolster normal relations between the Arab world (including the Palestinians) and Israel.

From the moment he assumed the Egyptian presidency in June 2014, El-Sisi has waged a never-ending war on Islamist terror against Ansar Beit-al Maqdis, which later pledged alliance to the Islamic State’s leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. The Egyptian army has so far been worsted.  The Egyptian president is not deaf to the criticism of the Second and Third Armies’ failure to overcome a few thousand armed men, even though they can at a moment’s notice raise several thousand more fighters from the Bedouin tribes of Sinai. US intelligence has rated the Egyptian forces as slow-moving and unwieldy; but for limited forays, its contingents preferring to sit safely in their barracks rather than risk going out and pursuing the enemy across the Peninsula.

Shortly before President El-Sisi’s trip to Washington, the Egyptian air force conducted intense bombardments of ISIS concentrations around the northern town of El Arish, killing at least 14 terrorists, nabbing 22 and seizing large caches of roadside bombs. But they too long delayed bearding the Islamists in their main stronghold atop Mount Jabal Hala in central Sinai. ISIS is therefore free to move around the territory and strike at will, the while expanding its operations into Egypt proper.

The weekend air strikes came after months in which ISIS overran sections of El Arish, Sinai’s biggest town (pop: 100,000). Their grip is such that Egyptian forces no longer dared venture into those lawless neighborhoods, especially at night. Earlier this year, terrible persecution including executions forced the few thousand indigenous Christians, most of them Copts, to flee their homes in El Arish. Egyptian forces proved unequal to safeguarding the US-led international observer force (MFO) monitoring the 1972 Egyptian-Israel peace treaty at a nearby station.

American military aid to Egypt stands today at $1.3bn a year. Even though the US president means to slash foreign aid programs, he may make an exception in this case and expand military assistance -, possibly in the coin of advanced military hardware, given the country’s unending frontline battle against Islamist terror.

Its presence in El Arish, 130km from the Egyptian-Israeli border, plants the peril on the doorsteps of Egypt’s neighbors as well: Northern Sinai borders on Israel, its northwestern district shares a border with the Gaza Strip, abutting in the east on Jordan and in the southwest on Libya. The cities of western Sinai sit on the banks of the Suez Canal.

The Islamic State’s Sinai affiliate is closely allied with Salafi organizations in the Gaza Strip and works hand in glove with its Palestinian Hamas rulers, especially in the lucrative arms-smuggling business.

Al-Baghdadi last year posted a group of Iraqi officers in his service to the Sinai contingent. They travelled through southern Jordan to reach the peninsula. The Islamist cells in Libya have moreover made ISIS-held turf in Sinai their safe highway for traveling undetected to their other strongholds across the Middle East.

To stamp out this sprawling, multi-branched menace, the Trump administration needs to bring Egypt, Jordan and Israel into a coalition for a sustained, common campaign.

The Obama administration, which boycotted President El-Sisi for persecuting Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, tried unsuccessfully to build Turkey, Egypt and Israel into a counterterrorism pact. The Trump administration, for which the Brotherhood is anathema, has a better chance. But first, relations between the Arab world and Israel need to be placed on a regular footing. Some groundwork already exists in the informal bilateral military ties Egypt and Jordan maintain with Israel. DEBKAfile’s military sources have revealed in past reports the limited give-and-take relations for fighting terror Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi maintain with Israel.

The US President’s advisers recognize that before a broad, effective front against ISIS and Al Qaeda can be put together from these partial, often covert ties, progress is necessary towards normalizing relations between the Arab governments and the Jewish state, including the Israeli-Palestinian track.

Trump will certainly want to hear what role his Egyptian guest is willing to take for bringing this process forward. He will ask his next Middle East visitor, Jordan’s Abdullah II, the same question, when he arrives in Washington Tuesday. As for the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, he was promised an invitation to the White House this month, but not yet been given a date. He is clearly being left to wait until the senior players in the region have had their say. Our Washington sources report that President Trump aims to complete his plan for bringing together Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel on a new footing by September.