Sunday, May 31, 2009

The role of radical Islamic groups in Israel: implications for Israeli-Arab coexistence.

by Lt.-Col. (res.) Dr. Mordechai Kedar

  

  • Many in the Arab world felt deep humiliation due to George W. Bush. The Islamic view is that Islam came to the world to replace Judaism and Christianity, and all of the sudden comes a religious Christian president and occupies Iraq,[1] the capital of the Islamic Abbasid Caliphate and the beating heart of Arab history. So when Bush left office, this was viewed as a victory for Allah over the modern Crusaders.
  • The core question is to whom does this country belong? According to the Arab narrative, this has been an Arab Islamic state since the days of Omar, the caliph who conquered the country in the seventh century. According to Islamic tradition, he declared that the country between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River is waqf land, meaning it belongs forever to Muslims all over the world, and no one else could ever have it.
  • According to Islam, land can only go one way, to become Islamic, and it can never go the other way, just like Spain, Sicily, and parts of the Balkans, which at different stages of history were lands of Islam. This is why Hamas and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood cannot even begin to consider recognizing the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state on the land of Palestine.
  • At the same time, Jews feel that this country belongs to them. From the Jewish perspective, this country was populated by Jews and two Jewish kingdoms were here until 1900 years ago. We Jews were expelled with no justification and we came back to our country. This is what gives justification to the Jews having our state here and not in Uganda, Argentina or Birobijan. It even appears in the Koran that this country had been given to the Jews.
  • In 2006 a document approved by the Committee of Arab Local Authorities in Israel - entitled: "The Future Vision of the Palestinian Arabs in Israel and their Relations with the State" - opened with the statement: "Israel is the outcome of a colonialist action which was initiated by the Jewish-Zionist elites in Europe and in the West."
  • To call Israel a colonialist state means a total denial of Jewish history, and echoes the Islamic approach to Jewish history. According to this approach, since Islam came to the world in the year 622 CE with the hijra of Mohammed from Mecca to Medina, all of history before that time lost any meaning or significance.

 

The End of the Bush Administration - A Victory for Allah

Some in the Arab world were very satisfied with the American election because to them it meant the end of the Bush administration. Many in the Arab world felt deep humiliation due to George W. Bush, above all else. The Islamic view of the world is that Islam came to the world to replace Judaism and Christianity, not to live side-by-side with them. Then, all of a sudden, comes a religious Christian president and occupies Iraq, the beating heart of Arab history, the capital of the Abbasid dynasty, which for 500 years ruled the Islamic empire. After a few days of fighting in Baghdad, this city came under American infidel rule.

Bush said right after September 11, 2001, that the Americans were on a "crusade." Immediately, his advisors told him not to use that word because it reminds Muslims of the Crusader Kingdom of 800 years ago, which the hero Saladin wiped out. But his statement was recorded and Al-Jazeera kept showing it. Muslims look at this from a religious point of view and many see what is going on in the region as some kind of test of whose god is more powerful: Allah or the Christian God. This is how too many people in the Middle East are viewing this now. So when Bush left office, this was viewed as some kind of victory for Allah.

One of the major differences between the Middle East and Western societies is the role of religion. We were brought up on the notion of a division between church and state, that the state is for everybody and religion is within your heart. This may be correct in the West, but it is not correct in the Arab world. In the Middle East, almost everything is connected to religion.

 

The Arab Minorities in Israel

Inside Israel, there are a number of different Arab minorities. There are Muslims, Druze, and Christians, from the religious point of view. There are Bedouins who live in the desert, which is one culture; rural peasants, which is another culture; and those who dwell in cities, either in Arab cities or in mixed cities, which is yet another kind of culture. So you cannot look at the Arab minorities in Israel as one package. You have to relate to them in different ways because they are different and they don't consider themselves as one group of people.

You can see this in the percentage of those who vote. The percentage of Arabs who vote for Arab parties in the Knesset is only 50 percent. The Arab sector in Israel altogether is about 20 percent of the population, which means in theory that Arab parties could have 24 members, or a fifth of the 120 Knesset members. However, the actual number of Arab Knesset members is around 10, and has been like this for years. Many Arabs do not even vote; they do not see the Knesset as a body that can represent them. In addition, the radical part of the Islamic movement is constantly calling on their people not to vote for the Knesset because that gives some kind of seal of approval to the Israeli state, which has no legitimacy to exist in their eyes.

 

The Acre Riots of October 2008: Why Didn't They Spread?

In the mixed city of Acre in October 2008, a car driven by an Arab went into a Jewish neighborhood on the night of Yom Kippur. This triggered five days of violence, demonstrations, breaking into shops, and burning apartments and houses.

At the time of the riots, Islamic Jihad[3] and Hamas called on the Arabs in Israel to do the same thing in all the other mixed cities like Jaffa, Ramla and Lod. They tried to inflame the whole situation, but it didn't work. The calls to spread the riots to other places in Israel were not answered. Why didn't the riots spread to other cities? Because at the end of the day, both Jews and Arabs realize that coexistence is better than fighting.

 

To Whom Does the Country Belong?

In Jaffa, right next to Tel Aviv, there are processes that the Arabs don't like. Property is being taken by the state and given to contractors who are building new luxury housing near the sea, mainly for Jews, and this creates much resentment among the Arabs living there. This illustrates the key, bottom line question: To whom does this country belong? Every other question is derived from this.

According to the Arab narrative, this has been an Arab Islamic state since the days of Omar, the caliph who conquered the country in the second quarter of the seventh century. According to Islamic oral tradition, he declared that the country between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River was waqf land, meaning it belonged to Muslims all over the world, and no one else could ever have it. So how could the Jews come in the nineteenth or twentieth centuries and buy land there and establish an independent Jewish state, one that has no legitimacy to exist on Islamic soil? It was just like Spain, Sicily, and parts of the Balkans, which at different stages of history were lands of Islam. According to Islam, land can only go one way, to become Islamic, and it can never go the other way.

The wings of the Muslim Brotherhood believe that the Israeli state or the Jewish state has no right to exist to begin with. This is why Hamas and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood cannot even begin to consider recognizing the right of Israel to exist. A temporary peace of ten or twenty years can be given to infidels when Muslims are not powerful enough to conquer their lands, until Allah gives the Muslims the ability to do so.

The Muslim Brotherhood looks at the Jewish state in Israel as if the Jews occupied the country and removed it from the bosom of Islam in which it existed until 1948. When you ask to whom the country belongs, this is the basis of the Islamic perspective.

At the same time, Jews feel that this country belongs to them. From the Jewish perspective, this country was populated by Jews and two Jewish kingdoms were here until 1900 years ago. We Jews were expelled with no justification and we came back to our country. This is what gives justification to the Jews having our state here and not in Uganda or Argentina or Birobijan. It even appears in the Koran that this country had been given to the Jews.

We say today that the two narratives are fighting. The Islamic narrative says that this country is Islamic, and the Jewish narrative states that this country in its entirety belongs to the Jews. However, while we want to keep the Jewish nature of our state, most of us are not willing to kick out the Arabs who live here.

The struggle of narratives is a problem that we all have to live with. There are problems in life which cannot be solved, and the contradiction between those two narratives cannot be solved.

 

The Future Vision of Palestinian Arabs in Israel

In 2006 a group of forty modern Arab intellectuals, politicians, and university lecturers published a very interesting document in both Hebrew and Arabic. The document, which was approved by the Committee of Arab Local Authorities in Israel - the most significant organ of Arabs in Israel - was entitled: "The Future Vision of the Palestinian Arabs in Israel and their Relations with the State."

Its opening statement reads: "Israel is the outcome of a colonialist action which was initiated by the Jewish-Zionist elites in Europe and in the West, was established with the help of colonialist states, Britain and France, and was strengthened by the influx of Jews into Palestine, especially in the aftermath of the Second World War and the Holocaust." At least they recognize the fact that there was a Holocaust. In many other places Arab deny even that.

In addition, Sheikh Ibrahim Sarsour, chairman of the United Arab List, the largest Arab party in the Feb. 10, 2009, elections for the Israeli Knesset, said in a speech: "Participating in the elections to the Knesset does not abolish our ideology according to which the rule on earth, or at least on Arab and Islamic land, should be Islamic and headed by the Caliph."[A] The party won 113,954 votes and 4 seats.

 

In the Muslim Narrative, History Only Begins in 622 CE

To call Israel a colonialist state is to undermine Israel's legitimacy as the state of the Jewish people who see themselves as the owners of this country. It means a total denial of Jewish history, and echoes the Islamic approach to Jewish history. According to this approach, since Islam came to the world in the year 622 CE with the hijra of Mohammed from Mecca to Medina, all of history before that time lost any meaning or significance. Even the prophets - Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Solomon, Jesus - all became Muslims, according to the Islamic narrative. So since Islam denies what happened before Islam, they can say that Israel is an outcome of a colonialist action because the fact that Jews were here 1900 years ago, before Islam, has no meaning anymore since that was before Islam came into the world.

This leads us back to the way Islam as a religion looks at the State of Israel and its existence in this waqf land. The document of the Arabs in Israel, which we mentioned before, is replete with expressions of how Israel is an illegitimate entity and how the Arabs are the natives. This is the way they look at the state where they live.

What other states have to contend with the fact that a significant minority is challenging the very legitimacy of the state? Even Arabs and Muslims in Britain or France are not yet challenging the legitimacy of those states, but here, in Israel, they feel free to do it.

 

Are the Palestinians Really the Natives?

But are the Palestinians really the natives? Many Palestinians, even in Israel, bear names like al-Masri (referring to Egypt) or al-Iraqi or al-Tarabulsi (referring to Tripoli in northern Lebanon).[4] The minister of refugees in the Palestinian Authority[5] was Abdallah al-Horani, meaning that either he or his parents came from al-Horan in southern Syria.[6] They are not originally from this place. They immigrated here and their family names reflect the name of the place they came from. Since when are they Palestinians?

What about the Palestinians who live today in Lebanon and the West Bank and are still in refugees camps sixty years after 1948? Where else in the world do you see refugee camps for sixty years? But where do they have the right to return to, those who came from Iraq, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria? To Haifa, where they worked for a few years for the British who brought them from Syria to work in the harbor, or to Syria and the other Arab countries where they originally came from? The world has bought this slogan of Palestinian refugees without checking where they came from originally.

 

The Only Arabs Who Live in a Democracy Live in Israel

Most Arabs today live either in Arab dictatorships or in democracies but in exile. No Arab state is a real democracy. The only significant group of Arabs who live in a democracy are the Arabs in Israel. Yet I would say the vast majority do not want to turn this state into an Arab state. Very few of them want to live in an Arab state. Everyone in Israel is free to emigrate, but there are no Arabs lining up to emigrate to other countries. They know exactly what the situation is because they see what goes on everywhere in the Arab world on Al-Jazeera, day and night: In Egypt, half of the population lives in unplanned neighborhoods with no running water, electricity, sewage, infrastructure, paved roads, or health care. Hardly anyone in the Arab sector in Israel lives in such conditions, except for some of the Bedouin in the Negev who willingly choose the culture of the desert.

The Arab sector in Israel does not want to change where they live into an Arab state. Maybe some in the Islamic movement would like to have an Islamic state here just like they want to have an Islamic state everywhere, to kick out the Arab regimes and establish a caliphate instead. But the majority of Arabs in Israel still prefer the current situation since, despite whatever discrimination they may experience, living in Israel is still far better than living in any Arab country in the Middle East.

The Arabs in Israel are much more clever than their brothers in the Palestinian Authority. The Muslims in Israel look at what happens in Gaza[7] and do not envy those who live there. They don't envy the people of Iran[7] under the regime of the ayatollahs either, where 95 percent of the Iranians are secular. And they don't want to live like the Shi'ites in Lebanon. Arab Israeli citizens are much wiser than that. They know exactly what the alternative is.

 

Note

[A.] See http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-3216531,00.html and http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/ 0,7340,L-3217055,00.html. The issue of a caliphate is not mentioned in the party's formal platform.

Footnotes

[1]  http://www.jcpa.org/JCPA/Templates/ShowPage.asp?DBID=1&LNGID= 1&TMID=112&FID=568&PID=0&IID=2108

[2] http://www.jcpa.org/JCPA/Templates/ShowPage.asp?DBID=1&LNGID= 1&TMID=112&FID=568&PID=0&IID=2106

[3] http://www.jcpa.org/JCPA/Templates/ShowPage.asp?DBID=1&LNGID= 1&TMID=112&FID=568&PID=0&IID=2111

[4] http://www.jcpa.org/JCPA/Templates/ShowPage.asp?DBID=1&LNGID= 1&TMID=112&FID=568&PID=0&IID=2109

[5] http://www.jcpa.org/JCPA/Templates/ShowPage.asp?DBID=1&LNGID= 1&TMID=112&FID=568&PID=0&IID=2105

[6] http://www.jcpa.org/JCPA/Templates/ShowPage.asp?DBID=1&LNGID= 1&TMID=112&FID=568&PID=0&IID=2103

[7] http://www.jcpa.org/JCPA/Templates/ShowPage.asp?DBID=1&LNGID= 1&TMID=112&FID=568&PID=0&IID=2117

[8] http://www.jcpa.org/JCPA/Templates/ShowPage.asp?DBID=1&LNGID= 1&TMID=112&FID=568&PID=0&IID=2102
 

 

Lt.-Col. (res.) Dr. Mordechai Kedar served in IDF Military Intelligence for 25 years, specializing in Arab political discourse, Arab mass media, Islamic groups, and the Syrian domestic arena. Dr. Kedar teaches in the Department of Arabic at Bar-Ilan University

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

Friday, May 29, 2009

On twisted highways to "Palestine" why "occupation" is still a lie.

 

by Louis Rene Beres

  

President Barack Obama has already placed the Middle East at the very top of his foreign policy agenda. There is nothing inherently wrong with this ordering; quite the contrary. The problem, however, is that the new administration's ambitious negotiations remain structured upon altogether erroneous assumptions. In this connection, the gravest continuing misrepresentation of all is that there are Arab lands under an Israeli "occupation."

Today, as always, words matter. Over the years, a notably durable Arab patience in building "Palestine" upon whole mountains of Jewish corpses has drawn directly upon a prior linguistic victory. Yet, the still generally unchallenged language referring provocatively to an Israeli "occupation" always overlooks the pertinent and logically incontestable history of West Bank (Judea/Samaria) and Gaza.

Perhaps the most evident omission still concerns the precise and unwitting manner in which these "Territories" fell into Israel's hands in the first place. Here it is — simply and widely disregarded — that "occupation" followed the multistate Arab state aggression of 1967. This aggression, of course, was never disguised by Egypt,

A sovereign state of Palestine did not exist before 1967 or 1948. Nor was a state of Palestine ever promised by UN Security Council Resolution 242. Contrary to popular understanding, a state of Palestine has never existed. Never.

Even as a nonstate legal entity, "Palestine" ceased to exist in 1948, when Great Britain relinquished its League of Nations mandate. During the 1948-49 Israeli War of Independence (a war of survival fought because the entire Arab world had rejected the authoritative United Nations resolution creating a Jewish State), West Bank and Gaza came under flagrantly illegal control of Jordan and Egypt respectively. These Arab conquests did not put an end to an already-existing state or to an ongoing trust territory. What these aggressions did accomplish was the effective prevention, sui generis, of a state of "Palestine."

Let us return to an earlier history. From the Biblical Period (ca. 1350 BCE to 586 BCE) to the British Mandate (1918-1948), the land — named by the Romans after the ancient Philistines — was controlled only by non-Palestinian elements. Significantly, however, a continuous chain of Jewish possession of the land was legally recognized after World War I, at the San Remo Peace Conference of April 1920. There, a binding treaty was signed in which Great Britain was given mandatory authority over "Palestine" (the area had been ruled by the Ottoman Turks since 1516) to prepare it to become the "national home for the Jewish People." Palestine, according to the Treaty, comprised territories encompassing what are now the states of Jordan and Israel, including West Bank and Gaza. Present day Israel comprises only twenty-two percent of Palestine as defined and ratified at the San Remo Peace Conference.

In 1922, Great Britain unilaterally — and without any lawful authority — split off 78 percent of the lands promised to the Jews — all of Palestine east of the Jordan River — and gave it to Abdullah, the non-Palestinian son of the Sharif of Mecca. Eastern Palestine now took the name "Transjordan,' which it retained until April 1949, when it was renamed as Jordan. From the moment of its creation, Transjordan was closed to all Jewish migration and settlement — a clear betrayal of the British promise in the Balfour Declaration of 1917, and a patent contravention of its Mandatory obligations under international law. On July 20, 1951, a "Palestinian" Arab assassinated King Abdullah for the latter's hostility to Palestinian aspirations and concerns. Regarding these aspirations, Jordan's "moderate" King Hussein — 19 years later, during September 1970 — brutally murdered thousands of defenseless Palestinians under his jurisdiction.

In 1947, several years prior to Abdullah's killing, the newly formed United Nations, rather than designate the entire land west of the Jordan River as the long-promised Jewish national homeland, enacted a second partition. Curiously, because this second fission again gave complete advantage to Arab interests, Jewish leaders accepted the painful judgment. As readers of The Jewish Press already know all too well, the Arab states did not accept it. On May 15, 1948, exactly 24 hours after the State of Israel came into existence, Azzam Pasha, Secretary General of the Arab League, declared to a tiny new country founded upon the ashes of the Holocaust: "This will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre."

This unambiguous declaration of genocide has been at the core of all subsequent Arab orientations toward Israel, including those of "moderate" Fatah. Even by the strict legal standards of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, Arab actions and attitudes toward the microscopic Jewish state in their midst has remained patently annihilatory. For some reason, this persistence has repeatedly been made to appear benign. But President Obama and Senator Mitchell now have a clear obligation to look behind these propagandistic appearances.

In 1967, almost 20 years after Israel's entry into the community of states, the Jewish state, as a result of its unexpected military victory over Arab aggressor states, gained unintended control over West Bank and Gaza. Although the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war is properly codified in the UN Charter, there existed no authoritative sovereign to whom the Territories could be "returned." Israel could hardly have been expected to transfer them back to Jordan and Egypt, which had exercised unauthorized and terribly cruel control since the Arab-initiated war of "extermination" in 1948-49. Moreover, the idea of Palestinian "self-determination" had only just begun to emerge after the Six Day War, and — significantly — had not even been included in UN Security Council Resolution 242, which was adopted on November 22, 1967.

For their part, the Arab states convened a summit in Khartoum in August 1967, concluding: "No peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it...." The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was formed three years earlier, in 1964, before there were any "Israeli Occupied Territories." Exactly what was it, therefore, that the PLO sought to "liberate" between 1964 and 1967? This critical question should now be considered by Barack Obama's special envoy to the region, Senator George Mitchell.

This has been a very brief account of essential historic reasons why the so-called "Palestinian Territories" are not occupied by Israel. Several other equally valid reasons stem from Israel's intrinsic legal right to security and self-defense. As I have said so often in this column, international law is not a suicide pact. Because a Palestinian state would severely threaten the very existence of Israel — a fact that remains altogether unhidden even in Arab media and governments — the Jewish State is under no binding obligation to end a falsely alleged "occupation." No state, not even a Jewish one, can ever be required to accept complicity in its own dismemberment.

No doubt, both President Obama and Senator Mitchell want to be fair and evenhanded in their developing plans for the Middle East. To meet this obligation, however, it is essential that they first build all pertinent negotiations upon a firm foundation of historical accuracy and ethical truth. This means, at a minimum, that the aspiring U.S. peacemakers familiarize themselves with correct history, and not simply allow themselves to be swallowed up with their many predecessors in ritualistic dogma and empty platitudes.
 

SCHOLARLY REFERENCES DEALING WITH THE "OCCUPATION" ISSUE


Date 10:02, 02-27, 09

1. The Question of the Applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention on Occupation to Judea, Samaria and Gaza (Part One) by Howard Grief

2. Toss the Travaux? Application of the Fourth Geneva Convention to the Middle East Conflict by David John Ball

3. The Legal Foundation and Borders of Israel under International Law by Howard Grief [Preview is available on the MAZO Publishers website; purchase the book on Amazon]

4. Which Came First — Terrorism or "Occupation"? by the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

5. The Origin of the Occupation Myth by Howard Grief (Israel's Borders and Legal Right to Eretz Israel) Date 03:03, 03-16, 09
 

 

Louis René Beres (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) is the author of many books and articles dealing with military affairs and international law.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

Israel and the Axis of Evil.

 

by Caroline B. Glick

North Korea is half a world away from Israel. Yet the nuclear test it conducted on Monday has the Israeli defense establishment up in arms and it its Iranian nemesis smiling like the Cheshire Cat. Understanding why this is the case is key to understanding the danger posed by what someone once impolitely referred to as the Axis of Evil.

Less than two years ago, on September 6, 2007, the IAF destroyed a North Korean-built plutonium production facility at Kibar, Syria. The destroyed installation was a virtual clone of North Korea's Yongbyon plutonium production facility.

This past March the Swiss daily *Neue Zuercher Zeitung* reported that Iranian defector Ali Reza Asghari, who before his March 2007 defection to the US served as a general in Iran's Revolutionary Guards and as deputy defense minister, divulged that Iran paid for the North Korean facility. Teheran viewed the installation in Syria as an extension of its own nuclear program. According to Israeli estimates, Teheran spent between a billion and two billion dollars for the project.

It can be assumed that Iranian personnel were present in North Korea during Monday's test. Over the past several years, Iranian nuclear officials have been on hand for all of North Korea's major tests including its first nuclear test and its intercontinental ballistic missile test in 2006.

Moreover, it wouldn't be far-fetched to think that North Korea conducted some level of coordination with Iran regarding the timing of its nuclear bomb and ballistic missile tests this week. It is hard to imagine that it is mere coincidence that North Korea's actions came just a week after Iran tested its solid fuel Sejil-2 missile with a range of two thousand kilometers.

Aside from their chronological proximity, the main reason it makes sense to assume that Iran and North Korea coordinated their separate tests is because North Korea has played a central role in Iran's missile program. Although Western observers claim that Iran's Sejil-2 is based on Chinese technology transferred to Iran through Pakistan, the fact is that Iran owes much of its ballistic missile capacity to North Korea. The Shihab-3 missile for instance, which forms the backbone of Iran's strategic arm threatening to Israel and its Arab neighbors is simply an Iranian adaptation of North Korea's Nodong missile technology. Since at least the early 1990s, North Korea has been only too happy to proliferate that technology to whoever wants it. Like Iran, Syria owes much of its own massive missile arsenal to North Korean proliferation.

Responding Monday to North Korea's nuclear test, US President Barack Obama said, "North Korea's behavior increases tensions and undermines stability in Northeast Asia."

While true, North Korea's intimate ties with Iran and Syria show that North Korea's nuclear program, with its warhead, missile and technological components, is not a distant threat, limited in scope to faraway East Asia. It is a multilateral program shared on various levels with Iran and Syria. Consequently, it endangers not just the likes of Japan and South Korea, but all nations whose territory and interests are within range of Iranian and Syrian missiles.

Beyond its impact on Iran's technological and hardware capabilities, North Korea's nuclear program has had a singular influence on Iran's political strategy for advancing its nuclear program diplomatically. North Korea has been a trailblazer in its utilization of a mix of diplomatic aggression and seeming accommodation to alternately intimidate and persuade its enemies to take no action against its nuclear program. Iran has followed Pyongyang's model assiduously. Moreover, Iran has used the international - and particularly the American response - to various North Korean provocations over the years to determine how to position itself at any given moment in order to advance its nuclear program.

For instance, when the US reacted to North Korea's 2006 nuclear and ICBM tests by reinstating the six-party talks in the hopes of appeasing Pyongyang, Iran learned that by exhibiting an interest in engaging the US on its uranium enrichment program it could gain valuable time. Just as North Korea was able to dissipate Washington's resolve to take action against it while buying time to advance its program still further through the six-party talks, so Iran, by seemingly agreeing to a framework for discussing its uranium enrichment program, has been able to keep the US and Europe at bay for the past several years.

The Obama administration's impotent response to Pyongyang's ICBM test last month and its similarly stuttering reaction to North Korea's nuclear test on Monday have shown Teheran that it no longer needs to even pretend to have an interest in negotiating aspects of its nuclear program with Washington or its European counterparts. Whereas appearing interested in reaching an accommodation with Washington made sense during the Bush presidency when hawks and doves were competing for the president's ear, today, with the Obama administration populated solely by doves, Iran, like North Korea believes it has nothing to gain by pretending to care about accommodating Washington.

This point was brought home clearly by both Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's immediate verbal response to the North Korean nuclear test on Monday and by Iran's provocative launch of warships in the Gulf of Aden the same day. As Ahmadinejad said, as far the Iranian regime is concerned, "Iran's nuclear issue is over." There is no reason to talk anymore. Just as Obama made clear that he intends to do nothing in response to North Korea's nuclear test, so Iran believes that the President will do nothing to impede its nuclear program.

Of course it is not simply the administration's policy towards North Korea that is signaling to Iran that it has no reason to be concerned that the US will challenge its nuclear aspirations. The US's general Middle East policy, which conditions US action against Iran's nuclear weapons program on the prior implementation of an impossible-to-achieve Israel-Palestinian peace agreement makes it obvious to Teheran that the US will take no action whatsoever to prevent it from following in North Korea's footsteps and becoming a nuclear power.

During his press briefing with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu last Monday, Obama said the US would reassess its commitment to appeasing Iran at year's end. And early this week it was reported that Obama has instructed the Defense Department to prepare plans for attacking Iran. Moreover, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen has made several recent statement warning of the danger a nuclear-armed Iran will pose to global security - and by extension, to US national security.

On the surface, all of this seems to indicate that the Obama administration may be willing to actually do something to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power. Unfortunately though, due to the timeline Obama has set, it is clear that before he will be ready to lift a finger against Iran, the mullocracy will have already become a nuclear power.

Israel assesses that Iran will have a sufficient quantity of enriched uranium to make a nuclear bomb by the end of the year. The US believes that it could take until mid-2010. At his press briefing last week Obama said that if the negotiations are deemed a failure, the next step for the US will be to expand international sanctions against Iran. It can be assumed that here too, Obama will allow this policy to continue for at least six months before he will be willing to reconsider it. By that point, in all likelihood, Iran will already be in possession of a nuclear arsenal.

Beyond Obama's timeline, over the past week, two other developments made it apparent that regardless of what Iran does, the Obama administration will not revise its policy of placing its Middle East emphasis on weakening Israel rather than on stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. First, last Friday *Yediot Ahronot* reported that at a recent lecture in Washington, US Lt. General Keith Dayton, who is responsible for training Palestinian military forces in Jordan stated outright that if Israel does not surrender Judea and Samaria within two years, the Palestinian forces he and his fellow American officers are now training at a cost of more than $300 million will begin killing Israelis.

Even more unsettling than Dayton's certainty that within a short period of time these US-trained forces will commence murdering Israelis, is his seeming equanimity in the face of the known consequences of his actions. The prospect of US-trained Palestinian military forces slaughtering Jews does not cause Dayton have a second thought about the wisdom of the US's commitment to building and training a Palestinian army.

Dayton's statement laid bare the disturbing fact even though the administration is fully aware of the costs of its approach to the Palestinian conflict with Israel, it is still unwilling to reconsider it. Defense Secretary Robert Gates just extended Dayton's tour of duty for an additional two years and gave him the added responsibility of serving as Obama's Middle East mediator George Mitchell's deputy.

Four days after Dayton's remarks were published, senior American and Israeli officials met in London. The reported purpose of the high-level meeting was to discuss how Israel will abide by the administration's demand that it prohibit all construction inside of Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria.

What was most notable about the meeting was its timing. By holding the meeting the day after North Korea tested its bomb and after Iran's announcement that it rejects the US's offer to negotiate about its nuclear program, the administration demonstrated that regardless of what Iran does, Washington's commitment to putting the screws on Israel is not subject to change.

All of this of course is music to the mullahs' ears. Between America's impotence against their North Korean allies and its unshakable commitment to keeping Israel on the hot seat, the Iranians know that they have no reason to worry about Uncle Sam.

As for Israel, it is a good thing that the IDF has scheduled largest civil defense drill in the country's history for next week. Between North Korea's nuclear test, Iran's brazen bellicosity and America's betrayal, it is clear that the government can do nothing to impact Washington's policies towards Iran. No destruction of Jewish communities will convince Obama to take action against Iran.

Today Israel stands alone against the mullahs and their bomb. And this, like the US's decision to stand down against the Axis of Evil is not subject to change.

 

Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East Fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, DC and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Israel's forgotten rights in Jerusalem.

by Dore Gold

 

Israel has not yet declared its detailed positions in future talks with the Palestinians, and for understandable reasons. At this point, the government is justly focusing on the Iranian issue, which constitutes an existential threat. This is the context in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu conducted his visit in Washington D.C.

 

However, when the actual talks with the Palestinians are launched, Israel will have to avoid making the basic diplomatic mistake that previous governments have made in defining Israel's primary interests

 

- especially when it comes to Jerusalem. For most of the past two decades, an asymmetry could be observed in how the two parties handled their struggle in the diplomatic sphere. While the Palestinians maintained that their goal was to achieve a Palestinians state whose capital is Jerusalem, most Israeli declarations sufficed with general statements that the goal is peace, or peace and security.  In other words, whereas Israel presented an abstract goal, the Palestinians spoke about a clear and well-defined purpose. As a rule, the side that presents clear objectives is the triumphant one in any political conflict. Little wonder, then, that the contemporary diplomatic discourse is focusing on the Palestinian narrative, and Israel's arguments have been swept aside. Thus the asymmetry between how the Israelis and the Arabs presented their arguments to the world became one of the central factors responsible for the ongoing erosion in Israel's diplomatic status.

 

This process comes despite the fact that Israel's claims rest on a broad base, and have in the past received solid international recognition, especially when in comes to Jerusalem. In 1967, for example, when the Israel Defense Forces entered East Jerusalem, the Soviet Union's attempt to label Israel as the aggressor failed. The world's leading jurists recognized its superior right to possess Jerusalem in light of the fact that Israel had entered the city in a defensive war. U.S. State Department Legal Advisor Stephen Schwebel, who also headed the International Court of Justice at The Hague, wrote in 1970 that "Israel has better title in the territory that was Palestine, including the whole of Jerusalem, than Jordan and Egypt."

 

The esteemed British jurist Elihu Lauterpacht expressed a similar view. Such views are significant in international law, as implied in the constitution of the International Court of Justice at The Hague.

 

Because of the historical circumstances of the Six-Day War, the United Nations Security Council did not insist on a full withdrawal to the 1967 borders, as clearly stated in Resolution 242. Morover, former U.S. ambassador to the UN, Arthur Goldberg, mentioned at one occasion that Resolution 242 did not include Jerusalem, making it of a different status than the West Bank.

 

In 1994, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, Madeleine Albright, announced at the Security Council that she rejects the assertion that Jerusalem is "occupied Palestinian territory."

 

The late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin stressed that there was no contradiction between the willingness to hold talks with the Palestinians and the insistence on Israel's legal right to Jerusalem.

 

Two years after his government signed the Oslo Accords, Rabin reiterated in a speech to the Knesset his belief regarding the need to keep Jerusalem united. This position received further backing by a decisive majority in both houses of Congress in 1995.

 

Two Israeli governments that proposed to divide Jerusalem have come and gone since then, though they never reached a final agreement.

 

Israel need not be bound to the protocols of a failed negotiation.

 

To protect Jerusalem, Israeli diplomacy must reestablish the unification of the city as a clear national goal, and not abandon the subject of Jerusalem exclusively to Palestinian spokespeople.

 

 

Dore Gold heads the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and was the Israeli ambassador to the UN.

 

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Whither the "Peace Process"? Part I

 

by Ted Belman

 1st part of 2 

The peace process has not brought us one step closer to peace. Just the opposite, it has brought us closer to war. In fact the closest we have been since Israel's dramatic victory in '67.

 

The Annapolis Summit promoted the last iteration of it, without any success. If anything, it proved that the parties can't agree on the terms. When pundits or diplomats argue that we know what the deal is, they ignore the fact that the parties can't agree on it.

Avigdor Lieberman has rejected Annapolis and wants to return to the Roadmap notwithstanding that it went way beyond Resolution 242 of the UNSC and the Oslo Accords. It incorporates the settlement freeze as prescribed in the Mitchell Report, the security arrangements as set out in the Tenet Plan and the destination of a Palestinian state as set out in President Bush's vision speech of 2002. In that speech, President Bush set out many preconditions to the creation of Palestine. But when the Quartet joined the Roadmap, they watered them down. The Roadmap reduced Israel's rights to Judea and Samaria and to Jerusalem. It also recited the Saudi Plan against the strenuous objections of Sharon.

 

The reason that this bitter pill was swallowed by Israel then, and by Minister Lieberman now, is that the Roadmap demanded an end to violence and incitement and thus afforded a good defensive shield for Israel. Israel would not have to perform her obligations unless and until, the Arabs ended violence and incitement. Lieberman spelled it out in his maiden speech, [1]

I will never agree to our waiving all the clauses — I believe there are 48 of them — and going directly to the last clause, negotiations on a permanent settlement. No. These concessions do not achieve anything. We will adhere to it to the letter, exactly as written. Clauses one, two, three, four — dismantling terrorist organizations, establishing an effective government, making a profound constitutional change in the Palestinian Authority. We will proceed exactly according to the clauses. We are also obligated to implement what is required of us in each clause, but so is the other side. They must implement the document in full.

 

Netanyahu was silent on Lieberman's remarks and announced that his government would immediately review all elements of the peace process before announcing its position.

Meanwhile, Obama simply affirmed the two-state solution.

"In the Middle East, we share the goal of a lasting peace between Israel and its neighbors. Let me be clear: the United States strongly supports the goal of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security."

"That is a goal shared by Palestinians, Israelis, and people of good will around the world. That is a goal that the parties agreed to in the road map and at Annapolis. And that is a goal that I will actively pursue as president."

While he committed to this goal, he did not commit to any part of the process including Annapolis. The mainstream media have misrepresented this point with few exceptions. Obama has a different process in mind, namely one where the US forces Israel to comply.

Meanwhile, the Arabs set out their position on the peace process at the Doha Summit in late March. MEMRI reported that The Doha Summit was a defeat for the Saudi-Egyptian Camp [2]

 

After the summit, the Syrian president called it "the most successful summit of the last 20 years." [3] Indeed, the Iranian-Syrian camp had a number of achievements at the summit:

  1. They prevented any discussion of the "Iranian threat," a concept that is at the heart of the Saudi-Egyptian alliance and over which a cold war is being waged between the two camps. [4]
  2. Stipulations were added to the Saudi peace initiative such that it would be conditional not just on Israel's acceptance of it as it stands, but also on Israel's beginning to undertake its obligations stemming from the peace initiative's authoritative documents — namely, U.N. Resolutions 242 and 338 (which, in contrast with the peace initiative itself, do not commit all the Arab states to normalization). [5]
  3. Emphasis was placed on the option of resistance in Bashar Al-Assad's speech.

This is hugely instructive. The Arabs did not support Annapolis. Nor did they support the Roadmap. Nor did they support the Oslo Accords. They went right back to Resolution 242 passed in '67 which they had utterly rejected at the Khartoum Conference in the same year. There, they insisted on "no peace, no recognition, no negotiations" with Israel. Their position has not changed though they accepted the Resolution a few years later. Such acceptance was tactical only. They had gone to war in '67 to destroy Israel just as they did in '48 and again in '73.

 

By supporting the resistance they are rejecting the Roadmap. By rejecting the Roadmap, they are rejecting a Palestinian state. They don't care about the Palestinians. They care about destroying Israel.

After forty years, their policy is still "no peace, no recognition, no negotiations".

So where has the U.S. been in all this. Originally she supported the true meaning of Resolution 242 which called for partial withdrawal to "secure and recognized borders." A year later, she accepted the Arab interpretation requiring full withdrawal. But by law a resolution is interpreted according to what was intended at the time and not one year later. The policy of the U.S. has been, for almost forty years, to force Israel to return to the pre '67 borders.

On December 17, 1975, Henry Kissinger met with Sadun Hammadi, Iraqi Minister of Foreign Affairs. A transcript of this meeting [6] was published a couple of years ago. It discloses Kissinger's attempts to assuage the concerns of Hammadi.

 

"Kissinger: I think, when we look at history, that when Israel was created in 1948, I don't think anyone understood it. It originated in American domestic politics. It was far away and little understood. So it was not an American design to get a bastion of imperialism in the area. It was much less complicated: And I would say that until 1973 the Jewish community had enormous influence. It is only in the last two years, as a result of the policy we are pursuing, that it has changed,

 

We don't need Israel for influence in the Arab world. On the contrary, Israel does us more harm than good in the Arab world [..]

We can't negotiate about the existence of Israel but we can reduce its size to historical proportions.

 

I don't agree Israel is a permanent threat. How can a nation of three million be a permanent threat? They have a technical advantage now. But it is inconceivable that peoples with wealth and skill and the tradition of the Arabs won't develop the capacity that is needed. So I think in ten to fifteen years Israel will be like Lebanon-struggling for existence, with no influence in the Arab world.

 

You mentioned new weapons. But they will not be delivered in the foreseeable future. All we agreed to is to study it, and we agreed to no deliveries out of current stocks. So many of these things won't be produced until 1980, and we have not agreed to deliver them then. [..].

If the issue is the existence of Israe1, we can't cooperate. But if the issue is more normal borders, we can cooperate.

 

Hammedi: Your Excellency, do you think a settlement would come through the Palestinians in the area? 'How do you read it? Is it in your power to create such a thing?

Kissinger: Not in 1976. I have to be perfectly frank with you. I think the Palestinian identity has to be recognized in some form. But we need the thoughtful cooperation of the Arabs. It will take a year or a year and to do it, and will be a tremendous fight. An evolution is already taking place.

Hammedi: You think it will be part of a solution?

Kissinger: It has to be. No solution is possible without it. But the domestic situation is becoming favorable. More and more questions are being asked in Congress favorable to the Palestinians. (Emphases added)

 

President Bush offered some respite from this policy in his letter to Prime Minister Sharon prior to disengagement from Gaza. [7]

 

First, the United States remains committed to my vision and to its implementation as described in the road map. The United States will do its utmost to prevent any attempt by anyone to impose any other plan. Under the road map, Palestinians must undertake an immediate cessation of armed activity and all acts of violence against Israelis anywhere, and all official Palestinian institutions must end incitement against Israel. [..]

The United States reiterates its steadfast commitment to Israel's security, including secure, defensible borders, and to preserve and strengthen Israel's capability to deter and defend itself, by itself, against any threat or possible combination of threats. [..]

 

It seems clear that an agreed, just, fair, and realistic framework for a solution to the Palestinian refugee issue as part of any final status agreement will need to be found through the establishment of a Palestinian state, and the settling of Palestinian refugees there, rather than in Israel.

 

As part of a final peace settlement, Israel must have secure and recognized borders, which should emerge from negotiations between the parties in accordance with UNSC Resolutions 242 and 338. In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion. (emphases added)

 

Israel should be able to rely on said letter. Bush committed to "secure, defensible borders", no "right of return" and no Arab Peace Initiative. Unfortunately, these commitments/assurances have been breached by the pressure to join the Annapolis process and the growing pressure to accept the Arab Peace Initiative. There is even talk of an imposed solution.

 

The EU, the PA and to some extent the U.S. are demanding Israel abide by past agreements, imaginary or real, while at the same time ignoring American commitments to Israel as set out in the Bush letter..

The Annapolis process was really a separation process, not a peace process. The central idea driving the Annapolis process from the point of view of the Government of Israel was to arrive at agreed borders endorsed by the Quartet. Israel could then have disengaged to such borders as circumstances permitted and built anywhere west of them. The issue of Jerusalem and refugees was to be dealt with later.

 

This was the goal of the US and the EU. They too want the "occupation" to end.

So what are we to make of the Arab Peace Initiative [8] which

  1. Requests Israel to reconsider its policies and declare that a just peace is its strategic option as wel.
  2. Further calls upon Israel to affirm

a. Full Israeli withdrawal from all the territories occupied since 1967, including the Syrian Golan Heights to the lines of June 4, 1967 as well as the remaining occupied Lebanese territories in the south of Lebanon.

b. Achievement of a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem to be agreed upon in accordance with U.N. General Assembly Resolution 194.

c. The acceptance of the establishment of a Sovereign Independent Palestinian State on the Palestinian territories occupied since the 4th of June 1967 in the West Bank and Gaza strip, with east Jerusalem as its capital.

  1. Consequently, the Arab countries affirm the following:

a. Consider the Arab-Israeli conflict ended, and enter into a peace agreement with Israel, and provide security for all the states of the region.

b. Establish normal relations with Israel in the context of this comprehensive peace.

  1. Assures the rejection of all forms of Palestinian patriation which conflict with the special circumstances of the Arab host countries.
  2. Calls upon the government of Israel and all Israelis to accept this initiative in order to safeguard the prospects for peace and stop the further shedding of blood, enabling the Arab Countries and Israel to live in peace and good neighborliness and provide future generations with security, stability, and prosperity.

If you are wondering what (4) means you are not alone. Essentially it means that if the solution to the refugee issue i.e., patriation leaves any refugees in Syria or Lebanon it is to be rejected.

 

At least they are offering a "peace agreement". Or are they? After the Initiative was reaffirmed in '07, AIPAC issued a Report, [9] which rejected it as an ultimatum.

 

 

The Arab League's decision last week at a summit in Riyadh to reaffirm the 2002 Arab peace initiative could serve as the basis for dialogue between the Arabs and Israel if it is used as an opening to negotiations rather than as an ultimatum. However, the current positions of the Arab League — including support for violence and the "right of return" of Palestinian refugees are not conducive to a peaceful settlement of the conflict. Israel is committed to exploring peace with the Palestinians and Arab states, but the Arabs have rejected negotiations and threatened Israel with continued violence if it does not unconditionally accept the Arab plan.

 

That's It In A Nutshell. Nothing has changed.

Ted Belman

 

(End part I)

 

Share It