by Ruthie Blum
To put it simplistically, the key divide that separates the two main parliamentary blocs concerns the issue of whether the onus for a peaceful two-state solution rests on Israel.
On Tuesday evening, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro delivered the keynote address at a conference on "America's Standing in the World" held at Bar-Ilan University's Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. In his speech, Shapiro warned Israelis not to assume that the results of last month's midterm elections have made his bosses in Washington powerless in pressing for Palestinian statehood.
"Here is a caution, lest anyone jump to conclusions," he said. "Divided government, in which one party controls Congress and the other the Executive Branch, does not necessarily mean foreign policy gridlock."
On the contrary, he added, "Presidents often surge and engage even more intensively in national security affairs in their final years in office."
Don't worry, Mr. Ambassador. Israel is under no illusions on that score. Obsessions die hard, after all. And an American administration that is enabling Iran to laugh its way to nuclear armament (among other international catastrophes) has but one piece of low-hanging fruit to pick -- and pick on -- before going down in history as the disaster it has been all along.
Nothing new there.
Nor was it a surprise that the State Department rushed to dispel rumors, based on a Haaretz report earlier this month, that the U.S. was about to threaten Israel with sanctions over settlement construction. Though neither the Obama administration nor the extreme left-wing Israeli newspaper is trustworthy, in this case, the latter sounded plausible -- which goes to show how much faith Israel has lost in its strongest ally.
It is in this context that two recent events must be taken. One is the fall of the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on December 2, paving the way for new elections in March. The other is the death of senior Palestinian Authority official Ziad Abu Ein on Wednesday.
Netanyahu's coalition collapsed as a result of internal battles regarding the so-called "peace process" -- a euphemism for an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 borders. To put it simplistically, the key divide that separates the two main parliamentary blocs concerns the issue of whether the onus for a peaceful two-state solution rests on Israel. Those who believe it does understand American pressure. Those who pay attention to Palestinian words and deeds -- which jibe with global jihad -- view the Jewish state as under assault.
The story of Abu Ein illustrates all of the above.
During an altercation between Palestinian protesters and Israeli border police near at a closed military zone in Samaria, Abu Ein -- who heads the Palestinian Liberation Organization's "Commission against the Separation Wall and Settlements" -- collapsed and subsequently died.
A video of the incident shows Abu Ein screaming hysterically at Israeli forces attempting to put a stop to the protest. One border policeman is seen shoving Abu Ein and grabbing him by the neck. An Israeli officer intervenes, ordering his men not to lay a hand on anyone, particularly not Abu Ein, whom he refers to as a "minister."
Gasping, Abu Ein faints and a female Israeli paramedic begins to treat him. However, as was reported from the scene by Sky News Middle East correspondent Tom Rayner, she was prevented from delivering first aid by Palestinians, who whisked him into a car to take him to the hospital.
Israel's response was swift. The border policeman who grabbed Abu Ein was suspended pending further investigation. Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon expressed "sorrow over [Abu Ein's] death," and a wish for continued "coordination with the PA."
Netanyahu sent a message to the PA about the need to "calm the situation and act responsibly."
In addition, Israel asked Palestinian and Jordanian forensic specialists to be present at Abu Ein's autopsy.
This is despite the fact that the 55-year-old Abu Ein was a terrorist who took part in the 1979 bombing of a bunch of teenagers on Lag Ba'omer in Tiberias, which left two 16-year-old boys dead and 36 other kids wounded.
Following the attack, Abu Ein absconded to the U.S. He was extradited to Israel in 1981, where he was later sentenced to life imprisonment. But in 1985, he was released in the Jibril agreement -- a deal made by then-Prime Minister Shimon Peres with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, according to which 1,150 terrorists were exchanged for three Israeli soldiers taken prisoner during the 1982 Lebanon War.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas reacted to Abu Ein's death as the enemy of Israel he is. He promptly accused Israel of "barbaric" murder, while hailing Abu Ein, who was buried on Thursday amid mass anti-Israel vitriol, as a "martyr." Palestinian Prime Minister Rami al-Hamdallah piped in, asserting that the Israeli army had "assassinated" Abu Ein. And then the PA announced that it was halting all forms of cooperation with Israel.
As for the autopsy: The Israeli findings were that Abu Ein's death "was caused by a blockage of the coronary artery due to hemorrhaging underneath a layer of atherosclerotic plaque. The bleeding could have been caused by stress."
The Palestinian doctor disagreed, claiming that Abu Ein died from a blow to his body, not of natural causes.
Sounds like a postmortem of the "two-state solution," which never existed from the Palestinian side.
Indeed, it is this overall pathology -- characterized by an endless cycle of Israeli capitulation for a negotiated settlement, alongside Palestinian aspirations for Western-sanctioned jihad -- that needs to be eradicated and then given a forensic exam.
Ruthie Blum is the author of "To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the 'Arab Spring.'"
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