Saturday, February 21, 2009

Palestinian policy mistakes, fuel settlement growth


The claim is often made that "settlements are an obstacle to peace." If, at almost any juncture in the last 42 years, the Palestinians had said yes to peace and no to terror they could have stopped the growth of Israeli communities in the territories. The Arabs in general, and Palestinians in particular, were unwilling, however, to make peace before a single settlement existed and have repeatedly missed opportunities to establish a state. The implication of this lack of courage and vision can be seen in the following table:

Historical Date/Event

Population in Settlements

Palestinian Policy

1947 UN Partition


UN votes to establish a Jewish and an Arab state. Palestinians and other Arabs reject resolution and decide instead to go to war to destroy the Jewish state.

1949-1967 Egypt/Jordan Occupation of Gaza/West Bank


Opportunity to demand an end to occupation by Egypt of Gaza and the West Bank by Jordan. Instead of trying to create an independent state in these occupied territories, Palestinians begin campaign of terror. Egypt and Jordan oppose Palestinian independence and international community is indifferent.



Israel offers to withdraw from lands captured in Six-Day War; Arabs adopt "three noes" - no peace with Israel, no negotiations with Israel, no recognition of Israel.


approx. 6,000

Terror campaign to force Israeli concessions fails.

1979 Camp David

approx. 12,000

Israel-Egypt peace treaty; Israel removes Sinai settlements in exchange for peace with Egypt. Israel offers autonomy to Palestinians, an option short of statehood but one that almost certainly would have led to independence.


1979 Camp David

approx. 12,000

Israel-Egypt peace treaty; Israel removes Sinai settlements in exchange for peace with Egypt. Israel offers autonomy to Palestinians, an option short of statehood but one that almost certainly would have led to independence.

1993 Oslo Agreement


Israel begins withdrawal from Gaza and West Bank with the expectation Palestinians will fulfill promise to end terror and a Palestinian state will be created within five years. Instead, Palestinian terror continues.

1995 Oslo II Agreement-1999


Israel continues to fulfill commitment to withdraw even though terror never ceases. When violence continues to escalate, Israelis lose faith in peace process and end process of withdrawal before Palestinians achieve statehood.

2000 Camp David II


Israel agrees to the establishment of a Palestinian state in all of Gaza, and most of the West Bank, commits to dismantle most West Bank and to compromise on Jerusalem. Yasser Arafat rejects deal.

2002 Road Map to Peace


Palestinian statehood is to come after Palestinians fulfill a number of commitments starting with ending violence. Israel agrees to settlement freeze and other measures if Palestinians satisfy their promises, but terror escalates and road map fails.

2005 Disengagement from Gaza


Israel evacuates all citizens and soldiers from the Gaza Strip. Palestinians have opportunity to build infrastructure of state in Gaza and prove to Israelis they are interested in living as peaceful neighbors to stimulate additional withdrawals from the West Bank. Instead, Hamas takes over Gaza and leads a terror onslaught that includes firing 10,000 rockets and missiles into southern Israel. Israelis see that instead of peace, they traded land for terror and are reluctant to discuss new territorial concessions.


Had the Arabs responded to Israeli overtures immediately after the 1967 War, only a handful of Jews would have lived in the territories. In the next dozen years, it was still possible to turn away from violence and make peace and no more than 6,000 Jews would have been in the territories. That population doubled after Menachem Begin came to power in 1977, but the Palestinians had still another chance to move toward independence, but rejected the offer of autonomy that would inevitably have led to statehood. Meanwhile, the settlements in Sinai were removed when the area was exchanged for peace with Egypt.

The Palestinians showed no interest in reaching an agreement with Israel for the next 14 years. During that time the number of Jews living in the territories increased more than ten-fold. It was this population explosion that prompted PLO leaders to enter into the Oslo agreements. Israel agreed to the creation of a Palestinian state within five years, but the Palestinians had to fulfill certain promises, the most important of which was the cessation of terror. Violence never stopped, however, even as Israel withdrew from 80 percent of the Gaza Strip and more than 40 percent of the West Bank.

After a series of heinous attacks in the mid-1990s, Israelis had enough and the Oslo process effectively came to an end. The terror may have been intended to drive Israel out of the territories, but the population instead grew by another 50,000 Jews.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak decided to jettison the incrementalism of Oslo and try to conclude a final agreement all at once. He offered to withdraw from 97 percent of the West Bank, 100 percent of Gaza, dismantle most settlements and establish a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. The Palestinians not only rejected that offer, they did not bother to counter it. Today, many Palestinians regret turning down that deal.

Instead of building a state, the Palestinians instigated a five-year war that cost more than 1,000 Israeli lives. During that period, the Palestinians again committed to ending terror as part of the road map aimed at creating a Palestinian state. Their failure to live up to the promise to stop terror essentially let Israel evade its road map commitment to freeze settlements and the population increased by another 50,000.

In 2005, Israel boldly decided to unilaterally withdraw from Gaza, evacuating all its soldiers and dismantling 21 settlements with approximately 9,000 citizens, many of whom had lived in their homes peacefully for decades. Israel also removed four settlements in the West Bank. The hope was that "ending the occupation" and evacuating settlements would satisfy the Palestinians' demands and provide an opportunity for them to begin to build the infrastructure of an independent state. Instead, they launched a three-year rocket and mortar bombardment against southern Israel that kept the innocent civilians there in a state of constant anxiety. Once again, instead of land for peace, Israel traded land for terror.

Today, while most Israelis still believe in a two-state solution, there is little enthusiasm for additional territorial concessions that could put Jerusalem, Ben-Gurion International Airport and Israel's heartland within the range of the type of deadly rockets that Hamas unleashed over the last three years from the Gaza Strip. The unremitting terror campaign has again made the prospect for Palestinian statehood more remote and allowed the population of settlers to grow in the last three years from approximately 250,000 to 276,000.

The historical record clearly documents the relationship between Palestinian irredentism and the number of Jewish settlers. It is not settlements that are the obstacle to peace, but Palestinian terror and obstinance. The Jewish population in the territories will continue to grow exponentially as long as the Palestinians pursue this failed policy. Israel proved it would dismantle settlements in exchange for peace after signing a treaty with Egypt. If the Palestinians want to achieve independence and reduce the number of settlers, they would be wise to adopt the successful model of negotiation pursued by Anwar Sadat.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Obama's Durban gambit .


by Caroline B. Glick

Some might argue that no Israeli interest is served by openly condemning the White House. But when the White House is participating in a process that legitimizes and so advances the war against the Jewish state, such condemnation is not only richly deserved but required

While most Americans were busy celebrating Valentine's Day, last Saturday the Obama administration announced that it would be sending a delegation to Geneva to participate in planning the UN's so-called Durban II conference, scheduled to take place in late April. Although largely overlooked in the US, the announcement sent shock-waves through Jerusalem.

The Durban II conference was announced in the summer of 2007. Its stated purpose is to review the implementation of the declaration adopted at the UN's anti-Israel hate fest that took place in Durban, South Africa the week before the September 11, 2001 attacks against America.

At Durban, both the UN-sponsored NGO conclave and the UN's governmental conference passed declarations denouncing Israel as a racist state. The NGO conference called for a coordinated international campaign aimed at delegitimizing Israel and the right of the Jewish people to self-determination, and belittling the Holocaust. The NGO conference also called for curbs on freedom of expression throughout the world in order to prevent critical discussion of Islam. As far as the world's leading NGOs — including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch — were concerned, critical discussions of Islam are inherently racist.

In defending US participation in the Durban II planning sessions, Gordon Duguid, the State Department's spokesman argued, "If you are not engaged, you don't have a voice."

He continued, "We wanted to put forward our view and see if there is some way we can make the document [which sets the agenda and dictates the outcome of the Durban II conference] a better document than it appears it is going to be."

While this seems like a noble goal, both the State Department and the Obama White House ought to know that there is absolutely no chance that they can accomplish it. This is the case for two reasons.

First, since the stated purpose of the Durban II conference is to oversee the implementation of the first Durban conference's decisions, and since those decisions include the anti-Israel assertion that Israel is a racist state, it is clear that the Durban II conference is inherently, and necessarily anti-Israel.

The second reason that both the State Department and the White House must realize that they are powerless to affect the conference's agenda is because that agenda was already set in previous planning sessions chaired by the likes of Libya, Cuba, Iran and Pakistan. And that agenda includes multiple assertions of the basic illegitimacy of the Jewish people's right to self-determination. The conference agenda also largely adopted the language of the 2001 NGO conference that called for the criminalization of critical discussion of Islam as a form of hate speech and racism. That is, the 2009 conference's agenda is not only openly anti-Israel, it is also openly pro-tyranny and so, seemingly antithetical to US interests.

Beyond all that, assuming that the Obama administration truly wishes to change the agenda, the fact is that the US is powerless to do so. As was the case in 2001, so too, today, the Islamic bloc, supported by the Third World bloc, has an automatic voting majority. Beyond chipping away at the margins, the US has no ability whatsoever to change the conference's agenda or expected outcome.

Since it came into office a month ago, every single Middle East policy the Obama administration has announced has been antithetical to Israel's national security interests. From President Barack Obama's intense desire to appease Iran's mullahs in open discussions; to his stated commitment to establishing a Palestinian state as quickly as possible despite the Palestinians' open rejection of Israel's right to exist and support for terrorism; to his expressed support for the so-called Saudi peace plan which would require Israel to commit national suicide by contracting to within indefensible borders and accepting millions of hostile, foreign born Arabs as citizens and residents of the rump Jewish state; to his decision to end US sanctions against Syria and return the US ambassador to Damascus; to his plan to withdraw US forces from Iraq and so give Iran an arc of uninterrupted control extending from Iran to Lebanon, every single concrete policy Obama has enunciated harms Israel.

At the same time, none of the policies that Obama has adopted can be construed as directed against Israel. In and of themselves, none can be viewed as expressing specific hostility towards Israel. Rather they are expressions of naivet, or ignorance, or — at worst — deliberate denial of the nature of the problems of the Arab and Islamic world on the part of Obama and his advisors.

The same cannot be said of the administration's decision to send its delegation to the Durban II planning session this past week in Geneva. Unlike every other Obama policy, this policy is a hostile act against Israel. This is true first of all because the decision was announced in the face of repeated Israeli requests that the US join Israel and Canada in boycotting the Durban II conference.

Some could chalk up the US's rejection of Israel's urgent entreaties as an honest difference of opinion. But what lies behind Israel's requests for a US boycott is not a partisan agenda, but a clearheaded acknowledgement that the Durban II conference is inherently devoted to the delegitimization and destruction of the Jewish state. And by joining in the planning sessions, the US has become a full participant in legitimizing and so advancing this overtly anti-Jewish agenda.

On Thursday, Professor Anne Bayefsky, the senior editor of the EyeontheUN website demonstrated that by participating in the planning sessions the US is accepting the conference's anti-Israel agenda. Bayefsky reported that at the planning session in Geneva on Thursday, the Palestinian delegation proposed that a paragraph be added to the conference's agenda. Their draft, "calls for implementation of the advisory opinion of the ICJ [International Court of Justice] on the wall, [i.e., Israel's security fence], and the international protection of Palestinian people throughout the occupied Palestinian territory."

The American delegation raised no objection to the Palestinian draft.

Issued in 2004, the ICJ's advisory opinion on Israel's security fence claimed that Israel has no right to self-defense against Palestinian terrorism. At the time, both the US and Israel rejected the ICJ's authority to issue an opinion on the subject.

On Thursday, by not objecting to this Palestinian draft, not only did the US effectively accept the ICJ's authority, for practical purposes it granted the anti-Israel claim that Jews may be murdered with impunity.

This assertion aligns naturally with the language already in the Durban II agenda which calls Israel's Law of Return a racist law. This law, which grants automatic Israeli citizenship to any Jew who wishes to live here, is the embodiment of Jewish peoplehood and the vehicle through which the Jewish people have built our nation-state. In alleging that the Law of Return is racist, the Durban II conference asserts that the Jews are not a people and we have no right to self-determination in our homeland. And Thursday, by participating in the process of demonizing Israel and its people, the US lent its own credibility to this bigoted campaign.

Obama's spokesmen and defenders claim that by participating in the planning sessions in Geneva, the administration is doing nothing more than attempting to prevent the conference from being the anti-Jewish diplomatic pogrom it was in 2001. If they are unsuccessful, they will boycott the conference. No harm done.

But this claim rings hollow.

As Bayefsky and others argued this week, by entering into the Durban preparatory process, the US has done two things. First, it has made it all but impossible for European states like France, England, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands, which were all considering boycotting the conference from doing so. They cannot afford to be seen as more opposed to its anti-Israel and anti-freedom agenda than Israel's closest ally and the world's greatest democracy. So just by participating in the planning sessions the US has legitimized a clearly bigoted, morally illegitimate process, making it impossible for Europe to disengage.

Second, through its behavior at the Geneva planning sessions this week, the US has demonstrated that State Department protestations aside, the administration has no interest in changing the agenda in any serious way. The US delegation's decision to accept the Palestinian draft, as well its silence in the face of Iran's rejection of a clause in the conference declaration that mentioned the Holocaust, show the US did not join the planning session to change the tenor of the conference. The US is participating in the planning sessions because it wishes to participate in the conference.

The Durban II conference, like its predecessor is part and parcel of a campaign to coordinate the diplomatic and legal war against the Jewish state. By walking out of the 2001 Durban conference, and refusing to participate, support or finance any aspect of this UN-sponsored campaign until last Saturday, for seven years the US made clear that it opposed this war and believed its aim of destroying Israel is unacceptable.

By embracing the Durban campaign now, it is possible that the Obama administration will water down some of the most noxious language in conference's draft declaration. But this doesn't balance out the harm US participation will cause to Israel, or to the Jewish people. By participating in the conference, the US today is effectively giving American support to the war against the Jewish state.

The open hostility towards Israel expressed by the Obama administration's decision to participate in the Durban process should be a red flag for both the Israeli government and for Israel's supporters in the US. Both Israel and its Jewish and non-Jewish supporters must openly condemn the administration's move and demand that it reverse its decision immediately.

For the past two years, the American Jewish Committee has been instrumental in convincing the American Jewish community to reject repeated Israeli requests that they call for a US boycott of Durban II. To secure US participation over Israel's objections, the AJC even went so far as to sign a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asking her not to boycott the conference.

In return for the AJC's labors, its senior operative Felice Gaer is now a member of the US delegation in Geneva. Happily ensconced in the Swiss conference room where the Holocaust is denied, the Jewish people's right to self-determination is reviled, and Israel's right to defend itself is rejected, Gaer now sits silently all the while using the fact of her membership in the US delegation as proof that the Obama administration is serious about protecting Israel at Durban II.

Whatever the AJC may have gained for its support for Durban II, Israel and its supporters have clearly been harmed.

Some might argue that no Israeli interest is served by openly condemning the White House. But when the White House is participating in a process that legitimizes and so advances the war against the Jewish state, such condemnation is not only richly deserved but required. It is the administration, not Israel that threw down the gauntlet. If Israel and its supporters refrain from vigorously criticizing this move, we guarantee its repetition.


JWR contributor 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.


Sooner or later, Barack Obama must confront an implacable reality.


by Jeff Jacoby

Obama's charm offensive and the global jihad

EARLY IN HIS PRESIDENCY, Jimmy Carter set about to alter US policy toward the Soviet Union. Six days after his inauguration he sent a letter to Soviet ruler Leonid Brezhnev, hailing the two countries' "common efforts towards formation of a more peaceful, just, and humane world" and saluting Brezhnev's supposed "aspiration for strengthening and preserving . . . peace."

In a commencement address at Notre Dame, he declared that Americans had shed "that inordinate fear of communism which once led us to embrace any dictator who joined us in that fear." In the months that followed, Carter slashed the defense budget, scrapped the B-1 bomber, welcomed the takeover of Nicaragua by a Marxist junta, and launched diplomatic relations with the Castro dictatorship in Cuba.

It wasn't until the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979 that Carter finally woke up to his naiveté. Moscow's brutal aggression had "made a more dramatic change in my opinion of what the Soviets' ultimate goals are," he admitted, "than anything they've done in the previous time that I've been in office." Carter's failure to understand the threat posed by the Soviet Empire had costly consequences for America and the world.

Will this pattern now be repeated with Barack Obama and the global threat from radical Islam? Ever since taking office two weeks ago, Obama has been at pains to proclaim a change in US-Muslim relations. In his inaugural address, he invited "the Muslim world" to embark on "a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect." Six days later he gave Al-Arabiya, an Arabic-language satellite channel, his first televised interview as president. This week he continued his charm offensive with a friendly letter to the Organization of the Islamic Conference, which represents 57 Muslim governments. He has promised to deliver a major address in an Islamic capital by spring.

The president cannot be faulted for using his bully pulpit to reach out to the world's Muslims, especially given his Muslim roots and family ties. But, running through Obama's words is a disconcerting theme: that US-Muslim tensions are a mostly recent phenomenon brought on largely by American provincialism, heavy-handedness and disrespect. Missing is any sense that the United States has long been the target of jihadist fanatics who enjoy widespread support in the Muslim world.

"My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy," Obama said, although "we sometimes make mistakes" and "have not been perfect," and even though "too often the United States starts by dictating" and fails to use "the language of respect." Such apologetic pandering is inexcusable.

For decades, as commentator Charles Krauthammer noted last week, "America did not just respect Muslims, it bled for them." To liberate oppressed Muslims in Bosnia, Kosovo, Kuwait, Afghanistan, and Iraq, hundreds of thousands of Americans risked -- and in many cases lost -- their lives. Not even the Islamist atrocities of 9/11 provoked American leaders to treat Islam with disdain. "We respect your faith," George W. Bush earnestly told the world's Muslims in a nationally televised speech on Sept. 20, 2001. "Its teachings are good and peaceful, and those who commit evil in the name of Allah blaspheme the name of Allah." Would that the Muslim world's leaders spoke with such courtesy about Christianity and Judaism

Even more troubling is Obama's seeming cluelessness about US-Muslim history. "The same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago -- there's no reason why we can't restore that," the president said on Al-Arabiya.

Well, let's see. Twenty years ago, in 1989, American hostages were being tortured by their Hezbollah captors in Beirut and hundreds of grief-stricken families were in mourning for their loved ones, murdered by Libyan terrorists as they flew home for Christmas on Pan Am Flight 103. Thirty years ago, in 1979, the Ayatollah Khomeini overthrew the Shah of Iran, proclaimed America "the Great Satan" and inspired his acolytes to seize the US embassy and hold scores of Americans hostage for nearly 15 months. That same year Islamist mobs destroyed the US embassies in Pakistan and Libya, and staged anti-American riots in other countries.

The golden age of American-Muslim relations that Obama harks back to did not exist. Radical Islam's hatred of the United States is not a recent phenomenon, it has nothing to do with "respect," and it isn't going to be extinguished by sweet words -- not even those of so sweet a speaker as Obama. Sooner or later, Barack Obama must confront an implacable reality: The global jihad, like the Cold War, will only end when our enemies lose their will to fight -- or when we do. Let us hope he's a quicker study than Jimmy Carter.

Jeff Jacoby - Jeff Jacoby is a columnist for the Boston Globe.

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