Posted tagged ‘Two state solution’

Countering contemptuous Palestinians

July 28, 2017

Countering contemptuous Palestinians, Israel Hayom, David M. Weinberg, July 28, 2017

(In the present environment, “two state solution” would a precursor to the death of Israel. — DM)

Israel should unsheathe its sovereign power and put the extremists down; decisive action that one day might allow for Palestinian moderates to emerge.

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The Palestinian Authority and its fiendish intra-Palestinian Islamic rivals seem hellbent on brinkmanship; on being belligerent adversaries with escalating, maximalist demands of Israel.

They really think they can roll Israel back by recourse to street brawls and international courts; by browbeating Israel through aggression, isolation and criminalization; by demonizing Israel with outrageous lies like “Al-Aqsa is in danger.” They think they can conduct guerilla and diplomatic warfare against Israel with impunity.

It’s time to disabuse Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and these gangs of such delusion, through resolute Israeli action.

The holy war over the Temple Mount that Abbas is promoting tells Israelis that Palestinian society has gone crazy-radical-rogue Islamic — just like much of the Arab Middle East. This spells the end of the two-state solution as Israelis (and most Western policymakers) understood it. Because the one thing that Israel absolutely cannot countenance is the emergence of a madcap Islamic caliphate in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria.

Sinai-stan, Hamas-stan, Hezbollah-stan, and Syria-stan already have emerged on Israel’s southern and northern borders. This is more than enough for Israel to handle. A Pales-stan on Israel’s eastern border would be unbearable. Israel can’t and won’t let it rise.

The only Palestinian state in the West Bank that Israelis ever contemplated was a mature entity willing to reconcile ideologically with Israel, leading to the reasonable sharing of land, airspace, natural resources, and historical and religious sites.

The sharing includes the Temple Mount. Indeed, for there to be peace, Jewish prayer would have to be facilitated on the Temple Mount, alongside the prayers of other faith-traditions.

Alas, Abbas has made it clear that the Palestinian national movement is far from understanding this.

The only Palestinian state that Israelis ever envisioned would not threaten Israel’s security, obviously. This means that it would be truly demilitarized with Israeli supervision on all borders and at all holy places. It would not form hostile foreign alliances or allow radical Islamic groups to dictate the internal agenda. It would not rev up violent insurrection when it has a difference of opinion about management of a city or holy site.

Alas, Abbas has made it clear that the Palestinian national movement is far from accepting this.

The only Palestinian state that Israelis ever thought of tolerating in Judea, Samaria and Gaza would declare a permanent end to the conflict and all claims against Israel. This means recognizing Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people and recognizing ancient Jerusalem as its capital. It means renouncing the so-called right of refugee return, and inculcating respect, not anti-Semitism, on Palestinians airwaves and in Palestinian schools.

Alas, Abbas has made it clear that the Palestinian national movement is far from internalizing this.

On the contrary, Abbas has made it clear that the Palestinian liberation movement will never recognize Israel as a Jewish state nor forgo refugee return. In other words, he wants his state, but without an end to the conflict. He seems to want a Palestinian state to continue the conflict.

Professor Ahmad Khalidi, a Palestinian ideologue close to Abbas, scorns the two-state solution as a “sovereign cage.” “The concept of Palestinian statehood is nothing but a punitive construct devised by our worst enemies — the United States and Israel — to constrain Palestinian aspirations and territorial ambitions,” he has written.

Until now, Israeli governments have sought to co-opt Palestinian leaders into peace and to mollify Palestinian masses through compromise and concession, including the provision of Israeli money, guns, water, electricity and many aspects of national sovereignty.

This could have been a path to enhanced Palestinian national power in cooperation with Israel. But the kleptocratic Palestinian Authority has pocketed these goodies without showing any true willingness to meet Israeli needs and expectations.

As a result, tactical Israeli restraint, like the decision to retreat from justified security measures at the Temple Mount, comes off as capitulation to Palestinian terrorism. It reinforces the rejectionist and triumphalist Palestinian narrative. It looks and smells like appeasement.

Winston Churchill warned that “an appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.” So it’s time for a different strategy. Palestinian overreach and superciliousness should be countered by strong Israeli and international countermeasures.

Palestinian leadership must be disabused of the notion that it can drive Israel off the Temple Mount and out of east Jerusalem by violence, or coerce Israel into withdrawals by appealing to international tribunals.

This will require perseverance and the flexing of muscle.

To begin with, Israel can stop doing favors for the Palestinian Authority like absorbing its mushrooming debt for electricity and fuel, or selling it water at discount prices. Then Israel should stop facilitating the business interests of Abbas’ cronies, whose cartels control the Palestinian economy. The international donor community, too, might usefully rethink the huge sums of cash it pours into Abbas’ coffers every year.

Then Israel can and should revoke the VIP permits that allow Abbas and his ministers to fly in and out of Ben-Gurion International Airport on their luxury private jets. Let them beg King Abdullah in Amman for travel privileges.

Simultaneously, Israel should arrest the activities in east Jerusalem of rabble rousers like Sheikh Ekrima Sa’id Sabri, the former the grand mufti of Jerusalem and the lead agent in the city for Erdogan’s Turkey and the Moslem Brotherhood; Sheikh Issam Amira, the lead agent in the city for the Islamic Liberation Party (Hizb ut-Tahrir); and Abbas’ handpicked henchmen, the intemperate Grand Mufti Muhammad Ahmad Hussein and the fanatic former chief justice of the PA’s religious court, Sheikh Tayseer Al-Tamimi.

Their sermons, “charitable” enterprises and educational programs glorify terrorists and explicitly call for violent resistance to Israel. Their networks (along with Fatah social media) also are the source for the libel that Al-Aqsa mosque is at risk.

It’s also not too hard to arrest 2,000 of their key street activists — those leading the riots in the city.

Israel should unsheathe its sovereign power and put the extremists down; decisive action that one day might allow for Palestinian moderates to emerge.

David M. Weinberg (www.davidmweinberg.com) is director of public affairs at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.

Will Trump make a peace breakthrough in 2018?

June 15, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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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.

Palestinian Authority’s Fatah Faction Appoints Israeli Arab Terrorist to Central Committee Upon Recommendation of Mahmoud Abbas

May 29, 2017

Palestinian Authority’s Fatah Faction Appoints Israeli Arab Terrorist to Central Committee Upon Recommendation of Mahmoud Abbas, The Jewish PressHana Levi Julian, May 29, 2017

(Please see also, Palestinians: Abbas Immediately Breaks Promises to Trump. — DM)

Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas sits with US President Donald Trump at the White House, May 3 2017

Fatah has appointed terrorist murderer Karim Younes to its Central Committee upon the personal recommendation of Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Media Watch reported this week.

Karim Younes and his cousin Maher Younis are two Israeli Arabs who together kidnapped and murdered Israeli soldier Avraham Bromberg in 1980.

The two killers have been presented by the Palestinian Authority government as role models for PA children. Public squares were recently named after each, to further glorify them, by the Palestinian Authority government.

The PLO Director of Prisoner’s Affairs said in a statement that he sees the appointment of Younes as proof that “our prisoners are not terrorists.”

“It is also noteworthy that Abbas has chosen an Israeli citizen to be among Fatah’s decision-makers,” Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacquest Zilberdik said in an article on the PMW website. “This is consistent with the Palestinian Authority message to Israeli Arabs to see themselves as part of the Palestinian national movement, and to view all of the land of the State of Israel as part of a future Palestinian state that will replace Israel.

“This new appointment of a terrorist was announced right after Abbas sent a message to Israelis demonstrating on Saturday for “Two states – One hope” at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, in which he stated, ‘The opportunity [for peace] still exists, and it cannot be missed when our hand is extended in peace that is created between those who are brave.’” [Ha’aretz, May 27, 2017]

Significantly, “[PA] Minister of Justice Ali Abu Diyak emphasized that the decision of the Fatah Movement leadership – led by President Mahmoud Abbas – to appoint the veteran prisoner Karim Younes to the Fatah Central Committee is the clearest and severest response to the campaign being led by Israel to accuse the prisoners, Martyrs (Shahids), and the Palestinian struggle of terror.” [Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, May 28, 2017]

PLO’s Director of Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Karake welcomed the appointment, claiming it proof that the Palestinian prisoners are not criminals:
“I want to note an additional achievement, which was a political response by the Palestinian leadership when the Fatah Revolutionary Council made a decision to appoint prisoner Karim Younes, the most veteran of the prisoners, as a member of the Fatah Movement Central Committee.

“I think that this is a very great and significant political response, [which says] that our prisoners are not terrorists and are not criminals. They are freedom prisoners and fighters who enjoy an important national, human, and legal status among their leadership and among their Palestinian people.”
[Official PA TV, Palestine This Morning, May 28, 2017]

As part of the PA’s campaign to present terrorists as heroes and role models, the PA recently named two town squares after Karim and Maher Younes.

In his statement regarding the appointment of Younes, the Minister of Justice further glorified all terrorist prisoners:

“The prisoners and Martyrs are the spearhead of the freedom fighters, symbols of our legitimate national struggle, and conscience of the Palestinian people…”
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, May 28, 2017]

 

The onus is on us

May 25, 2017

The onus is on us, Israel Hayom, Isi Leibler, May 25, 2017

(Iran is the greatest threat to Israel; it has or will have nukes and the means of delivering them to obliterate the “little Satan.” The Palestinians don’t and, at least in the foreseeable future, are unlikely to. By working with the Saudis, et al, to defang Iran, President Trump rejected Obama’s policy of yielding to Iran and thereby benefitted both the Saudis, et al, and Israel. — DM)

Trump did not try to force unreasonable concessions. A Palestinian state is not ‎even on the horizon. Neither is there any indication of a return to former President Barack ‎Obama’s policy of freezing all settlement construction.‎

In King Salman’s ‎statement outlining the Saudi position, rather than condemning Israel, he merely expressed the ‎hope that peace will be achieved. This was a clear message, as was the fact that Trump flew to ‎Israel on the first openly direct flight from Riyadh to Tel Aviv.‎

According to The Wall Street Journal, the Saudis no longer demand a complete ‎settlement freeze. Instead, they propose that Israel restrict construction outside the ‎settlement blocs and provide additional humanitarian aid in Gaza. ‎

In return, the Saudis would inch toward normalization by allowing ‎Israeli aircraft to fly over their territory, set up direct telephone connection and even provide ‎tourist visas for Israelis. While this was not officially confirmed, there were no denials, which ‎tends to confirm the veracity of the report. ‎

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U.S. President Donald Trump has delivered. He will not have satisfied the delusional ‎aspirations of Israel’s radical right but, despite some missteps before he arrived, the Trump visit was favorable for Israel and outlined ‎parameters of what can be achieved with the Palestinians.‎

It was disappointing that he postponed transferring the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, but we appreciate that he is the first sitting ‎American president to visit the Western Wall. ‎

He should have been more explicit about the extent of terrorism in Israel in his ‎address to the Muslim world. But he more than compensated in his extraordinarily warm ‎address at the Israel Museum.‎

There is also some concern that the substantial commercial and defense relationship with the ‎Saudis ($380 billion in deals, including $110 billion in arms purchases) might impact Israel and ‎will require steps to ensure that we maintain our qualitative military edge.‎

Trump did not try to force unreasonable concessions. A Palestinian state is not ‎even on the horizon. Neither is there any indication of a return to former President Barack ‎Obama’s policy of freezing all settlement construction.‎

Indeed, the president expressed support for Israel in a far more open and ‎positive manner than his predecessors. In his address to the leaders of 55 Muslim-‎majority countries, he reversed Obama’s moral equivalence approach and described the ‎conflict as being between the forces of decency on the one hand, and an evil death cult on the ‎other. He urged the Arab and Muslim states to actively eradicate terrorism and extremism ‎from within their ranks. He specifically condemned Hamas and ‎Hezbollah together with ISIS and al-Qaida. And he explicitly called on Arab and Muslim ‎leaders to combat anti-Semitism. ‎

For the first time, the Saudis, backed by the Egyptians and Gulf states, appear to be promoting ‎peace or at least easing the tension between the Palestinians and the Israelis. In King Salman’s ‎statement outlining the Saudi position, rather than condemning Israel, he merely expressed the ‎hope that peace will be achieved. This was a clear message, as was the fact that Trump flew to ‎Israel on the first openly direct flight from Riyadh to Tel Aviv.‎

According to The Wall Street Journal, the Saudis no longer demand a complete ‎settlement freeze. Instead, they propose that Israel restrict construction outside the ‎settlement blocs and provide additional humanitarian aid in Gaza. ‎

In return, the Saudis would inch toward normalization by allowing ‎Israeli aircraft to fly over their territory, set up direct telephone connection and even provide ‎tourist visas for Israelis. While this was not officially confirmed, there were no denials, which ‎tends to confirm the veracity of the report. ‎

Whether this was the outcome of discussions with Trump’s representatives, or ‎because the Saudis recognize the value of Israel’s support against Iran’s efforts to achieve ‎regional hegemony, is irrelevant. There have already been widespread rumors attesting to ‎covert Saudi cooperation with Israel against Iran and similarly with Egypt against ISIS.‎

Trump demanded that the Palestinians cease incitement and stop ‎rewarding terrorists murderers and their families, and avoided suggesting that Israel cease settlement activity. But he undoubtedly pressed Prime ‎Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for confidence-building measures such as ‎improving Palestinian economic conditions.‎

At this potentially historic turning point, Netanyahu must stand firm against the radicals in his ‎coalition and impose a limited freeze beyond the settlement blocs. Most Israelis ‎would endorse this, and if it brings down the government, and forces elections, the ‎nation will support Netanyahu.‎

At this crucial time, decision-making must reflect ‎the views of the centrist majority. No minority groups should ‎be able to veto our national interest.‎

Yesh Atid and elements in Labor embrace this centrist view, and should either join the ‎government or support it on this issue. ‎

Of course, this is only the beginning. Before we engage in negotiating details, ‎Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas must make some concessions. Let him recognize ‎Israel as a Jewish state and abrogate the Palestinian right of return. Then we can ‎discuss borders and a demilitarized state. For now, we must demonstrate to the ‎world and to Trump that we are reasonable and respond positively to genuine Arab ‎gestures.‎

Despite these efforts, Abbas is probably unwilling or unable to ‎change. He is unlikely to make genuine efforts to stem incitement ‎or cease awarding lavish pensions to murderers and their families. Should that be the case, ‎most of the world, especially the Europeans, will still automatically blame Israel for failure to ‎advance the peace negotiations.‎

Trump’s determination will then be put to test. If, to appease the Saudis, he was to continue to ‎make believe that Abbas is a moderate peace partner and extend the fake “peace process ‎negotiations” we have endured under Obama, we would justly feel betrayed. ‎

However, if the Trump administration performs as an honest broker and recognizes Israel’s ‎efforts and genuine desire for peace, it will conclude that in the absence of a Palestinian ‎negotiating partner, all we can achieve is an improvement in Palestinian quality of life under ‎their own autonomy while we maintain our security. At the same time, as has been hinted by ‎Trump, he may then look more seriously at alternative solutions in cooperation with Egypt and ‎Jordan and backed by the moderate Arab States, which do not involve a two state solution. It ‎is no coincidence that Trump failed to explicitly refer to a Palestinian State while visiting the ‎region. It is this veiled threat that Trump is hoping will entice the Palestinian leadership to ‎conduct bona fide negotiations for the first time.‎

We are today in an exceedingly strong position. Israel has never been so powerful militarily, ‎economically and socially.‎

Israel has never had such widespread international recognition. Whether you adore or loathe ‎Netanyahu, nobody can deny that he has been an outstanding statesman in the international ‎arena. He has a unique relationship with the Americans and with Russian President Vladimir ‎Putin, and has built up relations with India, China, Japan, Southeast Asia, Australia, Eastern ‎Europe and now Africa. ‎

The extraordinary opportunities of today may never be replicated. We must demonstrate ‎restraint and ensure that our elected representatives neither undermine us nor project the ‎image of extremists by engaging in foolish or intemperate outbursts primarily designed for ‎personal political promotion. ‎

Today, we have in our grasp this remarkable opportunity to genuinely move toward ‎improving and stabilizing our relationship with our Arab neighbors. ‎

Jordan monarch’s comments on Palestinians raise tensions in kingdom

May 17, 2017

Jordan monarch’s comments on Palestinians raise tensions in kingdom, Al Monitor

(Does the King of Jordan want to rid Jordan of Palestinians and hope they will go to Israel? That’s a great idea; Not.– DM)

Jordan’s King Abdullah arrives the opening ceremony of the first ordinary session of 18th Parliament in Amman, Jordan November 7, 2016. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed – RTX2SB9H

While speaking with the local media, King Abdullah typically repeats national talking points on political reform. When addressing foreign audiences, he frequently adopts a different approach: bluntly assessing the country’s challenges and even violating sacred taboos. The Hashemite monarch’s recent interview with The Washington Post followed the same pattern.

In a surprising remark, Abdullah noted in the April 6 interview, “In 2016, for the first time, we captured and killed 40 [Islamic State] terrorists in two major incidents. Ninety-six percent of them were of Palestinian origin.” He added, “So if we don’t move the Israeli-Palestinian process forward, that is a major recruiting [opportunity] for disenfranchised and frustrated people.”

However, when the government media printed the king’s remarks, they inaccurately translated the king to avoid publicizing the potentially uncomfortable sections. The 96% statistic was removed from Petra News, and the regime-censored version did not refer to Palestinians as “terrorists” in contrast to Abdullah’s own words. Even Al-Ghad newspaper, which bills itself as Jordan’s most independent paper with the slogan “Right to Know,” deleted the embarrassing sections from the interview.

Jordanian political analyst Katrina Sammour explained that the explosive nature of the king labeling such a high percentage of IS terrorists as Palestinian forced newspapers to censor this part of the interview. She told Al-Monitor the 96% description would increase “resentment between Palestinians and Jordanians even more. Palestinians will feel that they are being attacked, and Jordanians will feel that Palestinians are a threat to society.” Due to political sensitivities, Amman does not publicize data about the percentage of Jordanians of Palestinian descent, but The New York Times estimates that the number is up to 60%.

A prominent Jordanian journalist, who insisted on anonymity due to the risks of directly critiquing Abdullah, told Al-Monitor that saying 96% of IS terrorists in Jordan were Palestinian was inappropriate since it “keeps reminding people where they came from and stigmatizes them, linking terrorism to their origin.”

Given the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict where Jordanian media consistently portrays Israel as the aggressors and the Palestinians as victims, the king’s remarks were especially surprising. Kirk Sowell, an Amman-based political analyst and principal of Utica Risk Services, a Middle East-focused political risk firm, told Al-Monitor, “In Arabic, you would never say this. You can’t refer to Palestinians as terrorists. I am not surprised they [Petra News] edited it since it’s a very sensitive issue.”

Widad Salah, an official with the Royal Court media, declined multiple Al-Monitor requests to explain the king’s remarks.

In addition to the potentially offensive nature of Abdullah’s remarks, many disputed the accuracy of his statement to The Washington Post. “The statement was wrong. I don’t believe Palestine is a main drive for people to join terrorist groups in the Jordanian scene. The youth are feeling disenfranchised, there is government corruption and it is an authoritarian regime,” explained Sammour, who has written extensively on radicalism in the Hashemite kingdom.

With over 70% of Jordan’s national population under the age of 30, Sammour emphasized that the needs of the youth are not being adequately met. “The government has not allowed any alternative speech to be introduced or platform for young people to feel that they are expressing themselves, actually being heard and participating in the decision-making process,” she said. Approximately 2,000 Jordanian fighters have joined IS in Syria and Iraq, including the son of Jordanian member of parliament Mazen Dalaeen, who carried out a suicide attack in Anbar province.

Abdullah’s Washington Post comments are noteworthy given the Hashemite kingdom’s “Raise your head, you are Jordanian” campaign ongoing across Amman since 2015. The government’s message is encouraging national pride for all of its citizens, including those of Palestinian and East Bank descent.

“There is a fiction that there actually is no distinction” between Palestinians and East Bankers, said Sowell. The king’s comments highlighting the fact that the overwhelming majority of IS terrorists captured or killed in 2016 were of Palestinian origin “contradicts the superficial unity,” he added. With the vast majority of sensitive positions in the Jordanian security services awarded to East Bankers while Jordanians of Palestinian origin maintain significant influence over the private sector, “there are real problems of identity,” Sammour stressed.

While clarifying that the king’s motive of raising awareness in the West about establishing a Palestinian state is noble, Mohammed Hussainy, the director of the Amman-based Identity Center think tank, disagreed that Jordanians join IS due to Israel. He told Al-Monitor, “It is clear that IS is not mentioning the Palestinian cause in their media or as a goal.” IS has mainly focused on fighting Shiites, Kurds and Yazidis, Sowell pointed out. Noting that IS combats other Muslims, former Jordanian lawmaker Hind al-Fayez told Al-Monitor, “I’d rather that they [Jordanian youth] join Hamas instead of joining IS because Hamas is entitled to fight the Israelis for protecting their land.”

The Jordanian media’s approach of censoring such sensitive information is naive with the spread of the internet and Facebook and no longer guarantees — as it did decades ago — that the public is shielded from controversial subjects, Bassam al-Badareen, the Amman bureau chief for Al-Quds al-Arabi, told Al-Monitor.

Frustrated by the king’s insistence on linking national origin to radicalism, the Jordanian journalist said, “We are all Jordanians regardless of where we come from. It doesn’t mean if he is originally Palestinian, he is more prone to be a terrorist.”

 

Palestinians: The Threats Trump Needs to Hear

May 16, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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