Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Storm after the Calm

by Yoav Limor
IDF intelligence officials have warned for some time that the northern front -- long Israel's quietest -- was about to change • Events of recent weeks show that these predictions are now coming to fruition.
Israeli military vehicles on the border with Syria [Archive]
Photo credit: Reuters

Yoav Limor


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

Abbas: I Am a Hero. I Said No to Obama

by Khaled Abu Toameh

If in the past Abbas was afraid of Hamas's response to the signing of a peace deal with Israel, it is now clear that he also has good reason to fear the reaction of top Fatah officials to any movement he makes concerning the peace process.
These rallies [Abbas asks for] are intended not only to send a message to Obama and Kerry, but also to Abbas's rivals in Fatah.

Even before Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas left Washington on his way back to Ramallah, Palestinian Authority [PA] officials rushed to announce that their president's talks with President Barack Obama over the future of the peace process were "unsuccessful."

The officials said that Abbas rejected most of the proposals made by Obama during their meeting at the White House, including the idea of recognizing Israel as a Jewish state and maintaining an Israeli military presence in the Jordan Valley. Abbas, according to the officials, also dismissed as "immature" Obama's proposal concerning the status of Jerusalem because it did not call for a full Israeli withdrawal from the eastern part of the city.

US President Barack Obama and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at a White House press conference on March 17, 2014. (Image source: White House video).

Abbas's rejection of the U.S. proposals for a "framework agreement" with Israel did not come as surprise.

Over the past few months, Abbas and his top aides and negotiators have repeatedly voiced their strong opposition to these proposals, with some accusing the US Administration of endorsing the Israeli stance and failing to serve as a honest broker in the conflict.

Before heading to Washington, Abbas instructed the PA to organize public rallies in the West Bank in his support.

PA employees and schoolchildren were sent into the streets to chant slogans in support of Abbas, urging him not to succumb to U.S. pressure. The rallies were intended to send a message to President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry that the Palestinian public is strongly opposed to any concessions to Israel.

Upon Abbas' return to Ramalllah, the Palestinian Authority once again organized rallies in support of him. On March 20 hundreds of PA employees and schoolchildren were sent to welcome Abbas at his presidential office and thank him for resisting U.S. pressure.

Bassam Zakarneh, chairman of the Palestinian Public Employees' Union, said that the rallies were aimed at thanking Abbas for resisting "pressure and conspiracies and upholding Palestinian rights."

The pro-Abbas rallies have drawn criticism from some Palestinians, who said they seemed reminiscent of demonstrations organized by dictators and their security agencies throughout the Arab world.

"These rallies are not real," complained West Bank university professor Abdel Sattar Qassem. "They are similar to what Arab intelligence agencies have been doing -- using blackmail and intimidation to force their public servants to show loyalty for the ruler."

Abbas is now hoping to turn himself into a hero by telling his people that he had the guts to say no to Obama and Kerry during his visit to Washington.

Abbas is badly in need of public support, especially in light of increased tensions inside his ruling Fatah faction. In the past few days, these tensions have erupted into an all-out confrontation between Abbas and ousted Fatah Central Committee member Mohamed Dahlan.

Backed by some Gulf countries, Dahlan, a former commander of the PA security forces in the Gaza Strip, is now waging a public campaign to overthrow Abbas on charges of corruption and abuse of power. Abbas has retorted by accusing Dahlan of involvement in the death of Yasser Arafat and six Fatah leaders in the Gaza Strip.

"This is a disgraceful war between Abbas and Dahlan," wrote Palestinian editor Abdel Bari Atwan. "We feel ashamed as we follow the exchange of allegations between the two men, who are accusing each other of theft, murder and collaboration with Israel. The Palestinians have become a joke in the eyes of many Arab brothers."

Abbas's rejection of the U.S. proposals is also attributed to the severe crisis within Fatah.

If in the past Abbas was afraid of Hamas's response to the signing of a peace agreement with Israel, it is now clear that he also has good reason to fear the reaction of top Fatah officials to any move he makes concerning the peace process.

All Abbas can do for now is continue to ask his public servants and schoolchildren to take to the streets and chant slogans in his support. These rallies are intended to send a message not only to Obama and Kerry, but also to Abbas's rivals in Fatah.

Khaled Abu Toameh


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

Greedy Liberals Prefer Cheap Oil over Peoples' Lives

by Ethel Fenig

Liberals gleefully support the reduction of sanctions on Iran despite its nuclear weapons program which the country's elected president, Hassan Rouhani, proudly promises will be used, along with other weapons, to wipe out  Little Satan, Israel and its population and--even better--Big Satan, the US. Europe, much closer to Iran's missile range, is not exempt. Nevertheless, now that President Barack Obama (D) relaxed sanctions against Iran if it promised to be good, Iran's oil exports are increasing as western European nations, socialist to their core, come calling, eager to do business with their would be executors.  President Barack Obama's (D) buddies are sure to follow.

Unconcerned with doing business with people who blithely show their contempt for them, these self righteous liberal supplicants of Iranian oil are indifferent to the horror of everyday life for Iranian citizens as Adam Kredo of The Washington Free Beacon reports.
Iran is executing people in record-breaking numbers not seen for more than 15 years in the Islamic nation, with nearly 200 individuals having been executed in the first few months of this year alone, according to human rights activists.
More than 600 of these executions, many of them carried up publicly, have taken place under the tenure of current Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who promised the world that he would act as a force for moderation.
At least 895 political prisoners are currently incarcerated in Iran for exercising free speech and other basic rights, according to the U.N.’s Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran.
Another 687 Iranians were executed in 2013, many without fair trials, according to a revised counting of the number of executions last year. Thirty of those killed were woman, while at least three were juveniles, according to the group Iran Human Rights (IHR), which recently released in annual report on the death penalty in Iran.
The rate of executions now stands at its highest mark in the last 15 years, with current executions rates showing that the upward trend is set to continue in 2014, the report concludes.
As the human rights situation in Iran grows grimmer, the Western world has been hesitant to address these problems in multilateral talks aimed at ending Iran’s clandestine nuclear weapons program.
“It is a paradox that the relations between Iran and the international community are improving while the number of the executions in Iran increases,” Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, IHR’s spokesman, said in a statement on the report.
No, that's not a paradox, here's is how it is smoothed over to be a liberal plus.  With their smug sense of moral superiority, the liberals cover their naked greed with sincere justifications how contact with them will certainly charm and convince their simple Iranian business partners of the errors of Iran's way.
Iranian officials' response to their simple European and American leaders?
Iranian officials have dismissed concerns over its execution rate, claiming that the world should be appreciative of its efforts, which constitute a “great service to humanity.”
Ah, executing people while making a profit is a " great service to humanity."  Liberals appreciate that.

It is just those narrow minded conservative Americans and Israelis who don't. 

Ethel Fenig


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

Senior Minister says Israel can’t Rely on US

by Gil Hoffman

Weekly cabinet meeting, October 20, 2013.
Weekly cabinet meeting, October 20, 2013. 
Photo: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post

Another senior minister in Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s cabinet sharply criticized American foreign policy Tuesday, anonymously joining the open attack by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon.

Speaking to journalists in the Knesset, the minister said the Americans’ handling of the crisis in Ukraine proved that Israel could no longer rely on the United States. He said it was clear to everyone that the US had never intended to take military action against the Russians.

“The lesson of this crisis screams to the sky,” the minister said. “US foreign policy is collapsing all over the world. America showing weakness in Russia has implications on the Palestinian front. Israel cannot be Ukraine. It is ridiculous to hear about American guarantees for Israeli security, which would at best last a few weeks. When we’re in danger, they won’t be there to defend us. We must be the sole guarantors of Israeli security.”

The source also accused the Americans of naively believing they could get Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to declare that Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people. He said American officials had wrongly promised the Palestinians that Israel would accept the release of Israeli-Arab terrorists.

Home Front Defense Minister Gilad Erdan, who has criticized the policies of US president Barack Obama in the past turned down an opportunity to do so in an Army Radio interview Wednesday.

“I cannot give grades to American policy,” he said. “But the Likud’s policy is to rely only on ourselves. If we get help from others, that is good, and we must try to strengthen it.”

Gil Hoffman


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After Fatal Jenin Face-off, There could be much Worse to Come

by Avi Issacharoff

There are dozens of Hamza Abu al-Hijas in the refugee camps of the West Bank, ready to fight the PA and Israel, to kill and be killed
Mideast Israel PalestPersonal belongings are removed from inside the home of Hamza Abu el-Hija, where he was killed by Israeli troops, in the West Bank refugee camp of Jenin, Saturday, March 22, 2014. (photo credit: AP Photo/Mohammed Ballas)_Horo (1)
Personal belongings are removed from inside the home of Hamza Abu el-Hija, where he was killed by Israeli troops, in the West Bank refugee camp of Jenin, Saturday, March 22, 2014. (photo credit: AP Photo/Mohammed Ballas)
But unfortunately for the Palestinians, in the twilight of the Arab Spring, the incident was pushed to the margins of the news — if it was reported on at all.
Al Jazeera on Saturday morning reported in depth on pro-Muslim Brotherhood protests in Egypt. It covered the battles near Homs, in central Syria, in which 20 soldiers were killed. And it dealt with the ongoing Ukrainian crisis. But the Palestinian issue, and specifically this latest violent incident, apparently don’t really exist.
The nature of the fatal confrontation Saturday morning between elite Israeli police personnel and the wanted 22-year-old Hamas operative, Hamza Abu al-Hija, underlined a central aspect of the new reality in the refugee camps of the West Bank: Palestinian Authority security forces generally stay out of the camps, and especially those in Jenin and Nablus. PA forces did try to arrest Abu al-Hija a few months ago, an incident that prompted intense Palestinian public criticism of the PA. Lesson learned, PA security personnel have since stayed away. Israel, as Saturday’s events showed, however, has not.
Hamza Abu al-Hija is from his family’s second generation of wanted Hamas operatives, the son of one of the icons of the Islamist group in the West Bank, Jamal Abu al-Hija, who’s been in prison in Israel since 2002. The father, who lost an eye and a hand in an explosion at the beginning of the Second Intifada, is serving nine life terms for involvement in at least six bombings, including the Meron Junction attack that killed nine Israelis in 2002 and the Jerusalem Sbarro pizzeria bombing that killed 15 in 2001.
Israel had tried in December to arrest Abu al-Hija the younger, but he escaped, and fierce clashes ensued between IDF troops and hundreds of Palestinians at the time.
On Friday night, Israel Police and army forces succeeded in surrounding the building in which Abu al-Hija was holed up. They called on him to surrender, but he opened fired on them. Two members of the police’s elite Yamam unit were injured in the gunfight that killed him. In the clashes with the Palestinian mob that followed, two more Palestinians were killed — one a member of Islamic Jihad.
The fact that the Arab media isn’t too interested, that the PA security forces are staying away, and that Israeli troops are entering the camps — all these factors are likely to exacerbate the anger in the camps. Economic conditions are bad, too, and residents feel neglected by the PA. This is creating an entire generation ready to fight against both the PA and Israel — ready, that is, to embark on a third intifada. To kill and be killed, like Hamza Abu al-Hija.
There are dozens more “Hamzas” in Jenin, in the Balata and Askar refugee camps (near Nablus), even in Kalandiya outside Jerusalem. The first intifada began in these places, and it began among youths of this age group.

Avi Issacharoff


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Silencing the Critics of Islam

by Paul Austin Murphy

There is a British organization and website called "Tell Mama" which is run by a man named Fiyaz Mughal. This organization is a bit like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in America; though without -- at least up until now -- as much power and political influence. Indeed Fiyaz Mughal has shared a platform with CAIR and provides Internet links to CAIR on his website. He also re-Tweets CAIR's material on his Twitter page.

And just like CAIR, Tell Mama uses accusations of “Islamophobia” and “racism” as tools to both protect and advance Islam.

(Actually, the Muslim Council of Britain, or MCB, is the closest British equivalent of CAIR, to which it is also linked. And just like CAIR and Hamas, the MCB is associated with the Muslim Brotherhood.)

Fiyaz Mughal's Tell Mama is, in legalistic terms, very proficient. Indeed Islamists and Islamic terrorists of all types quickly realized that many lawyers and activists in the American/British “rights” and “race” industry are not only very keen to defend Muslims no matter who they are and no matter what they've done: they also sympathize and agree with much of their destructive intent.

Tell Mama: We aren't against the criticism of Islam!

As is often the case with Tell Mama and other supposedly moderate Muslim websites: if you read between the lines you can often find rare glimpses of honesty (or tactlessness). Actually, it's not even a case of reading between the lines because such accidental confessions are actually there in the text.

Ironically, and predictably, Fiyaz Mughal tells us that Tell Mama “is not a project based on protecting any religion from scrutiny and debate.” This line is no doubt a response to the many criticisms Fiyaz Mughal has received for doing precisely that: attempting to protect Islam from all “scrutiny and debate”.

However, despite Mughal saying that Tell Mama isn't attempting to bring about sharia blasphemy law in the UK (or “protecting [Islam] from scrutiny and debate”), that statement isn't followed up or even so much as defended.

Despite these half-hearted denials, Tell Mama goes straight ahead and explicitly tells us that “anti-Muslim prejudice” will “sometimes include opinions on Islam.” Or to put that another way: “anti-Muslim prejudice” is often simply prejudice against Islam.

In the Muslim world, anti-Islamic prejudice is called blasphemy. Fiyaz Mughal is therefore simply agitating for sharia blasphemy law in the UK.

Mughal cites some examples of blasphemy against Islam. These include:

“opinions on Islam such as that it has no common values with other cultures, is inferior to the ‘West,’ and is a violent political ideology rather than a religion”.

Firstly, if people believe all or some of the above, then should they be convicted for racism or for “hate crimes”? The problem is that literally millions of people do believe some or all of the above. Therefore, according to Fiyaz Mughal's Tell Mama, thousands of non-Muslims could -- at least potentially -- be prosecuted for racism or for hate crimes.

Fiyaz Mughal is even more honest (or stupid) when he talks about “indiscriminate negative attitudes or emotions directed at... Islam.” Mughal also talks about the “hate and prejudice [which] is targeted at... Islam.”

It's also ironic that Fiyaz Mughal talks about the “conflation of religion with the rights of the individual” when that's precisely what he does. The rights of individuals are already largely protected by British law; as well as there already being laws against discrimination against someone simply because of his or her religion. And that's exactly why Fiyaz Mughal is relying on the “conflation” of the “rights of the individual [Muslim]” with the criticism of Islam. In fact it is Fiyaz Mughal who's the consummate conflater (or taqiyya-artist).

The Runnymede Trust & Islamophobia

Tell Mama relies very heavily on one source for his legalistic pontifications. That source is The Runnymede Trust and its 1997 report: 'Islamophobia, a challenge for us all'. (This is a very early use of the word “Islamophobia” and it's clear that The Runnymede Trust noted its strategic and political value.)

Tell Mama tells us that it “focus[es] on and use[s] the term 'anti-Muslim prejudice'” primarily because of “the work of the Runnymede Trust on Islamophobia” (which it also deems to be “ground-breaking”).

The Commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia was set up in 1996 by the Runnymede Trust; though this actual report is from 2004.

In terms of the Runnymede Trust and its fight against “Islamophobia”; it's worth noting that it is self-described as a “left-wing think tank”. So why “left-wing”?

Take this reason for the Runnymede Trust's Leftism: it doesn't believe that there is such a thing as racism towards whites – full stop! For example, in 2009 it published a collection of essays which argued that whites “are not discriminated against because they are white.” Well, for a start, there is one organization which discriminates against whites: the Runnymede Trust itself! There are of course many others: such as Unite Against Fascism (UAF), The Guardian, Hope Not Hate, various councils, the BBC, various universities, and virtually all Leftist individuals and groups.

So why this Leftist anti-white racism? Basically it's all down to (Marxist) theory. It has become an article of faith (which most Leftists neither question nor even think about) that only whites can be racists, never the victims of racism.

The semantics of “anti-Muslim abuse” & “threat”

Firstly we need to know what “abuse” and “anti-Muslim” mean.

It's clear that most of the time that Fiyaz Mughal's Tell Mama writes “anti-Muslim” it really means anti-Islam. However, there is no law against blasphemy in the UK and hasn't been seen 2008. So what does Fiyaz Mughal think is the best way to deal with that problem? Simple. When a person criticizes Islam, he thinks it's best to pretend that he is really criticizing a particular Muslim or Muslims as a whole. Or, alternatively, pretend that the criticism of Islam is racial in nature because, of course, laws against racism already exist.

Perversely, if the criticism of Islam has been turned into “anti-Muslim abuse” by Tell Mama, it has also gone one step further by turning that “anti-Muslim abuse” into racial abuse. So we have moved all the way from the criticism of Islam, to “anti-Muslim abuse”, and then to racism towards Muslims.

There's also ambiguity involved in Fiyaz Mughal's frequent use of the word “threat” or “threats”. For example, the Tell Mama website says that Muslims “may have suffered threats and abusive behavior”. Despite that, it's clear that many Muslims will see any criticism of their religion as a “threat”. The logic here is simple. Either the very criticism of Islam will be deemed to be a threat by Muslims; or that criticism of Islam, Muslims and Leftists will argue, will lead to threats against Muslims.

Take another example. If a non-Muslim on Facebook tells a Muslim that he thinks the niqab or burka should be banned, the Muslim may take that as being a direct threat against her because it will be deemed as a threat against her “religious rights”. Thus saying that “the burka and niqab should be banned” will be deemed a threat against Muslims.

Fiyaz Mughal's Tell Mama itself freely admits that it's not always talking about threats against Muslims: it's also talking about threats against the “Muslim faith”. For example, Tell Mama says that Muslims may “perceive that this [threat] has been because of your Muslim faith (perceived or real)”.

Incidentally, there's an ominous statement at the end of this page on the Tell Mama website. Tell Mama tells its readers:

“If you struggle to classify the incident yourself, our caseworkers will be happy to assist you with this.”

This will often mean that if the Muslim concerned doesn't say what Tell Mama wants him to say, then it will make sure that he does say what it wants him to say. For example, the Muslim may explicitly say that the “threat” was against Islam, not against himself. However, considering what has already been said about creating sharia blasphemy law on the back of “hate crime” and race relations law, Tell Mama will advise this Muslim to do one of the following things:

i) Claim that the criticisms/threats were direct against the Muslim himself.

ii) Claim that the criticisms/threats were racial in nature.

iii) Claim that the threats/criticisms were examples of hate crime.

Paul Austin Murphy


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

Negotiating against Ourselves

by David M. Weinberg

The "framework" for Israeli-Palestinian peace that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry seeks to promulgate sounds an awful lot like the "shelf agreement" concept of 2008. Then, as now, conceptual agreements have proven to be a disincentive, not an incentive, to Palestinian political maturation and moderation. They create a situation where Israel ends up negotiating against itself with a phantom Palestinian partner.

Let's go back into the peace process archives, and remind ourselves: In 2008, former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice discovered that Palestinian leaders (then, as now, Mahmoud Abbas and coterie) were completely unable to deliver on any of their obligations under the celebrated "Road Map" -- which outlined a cautious and logical step-by-step approach to peace.

So instead of focusing on the messy here and now, Rice hit on the idea of turning to the future. She sought to advance a "shelf agreement" for Israeli-Palestinian peace. The newfangled "shelf agreement" idea was to give the Palestinians a clear picture of the big prize awaiting them in the future; what Rice called a "political horizon."

Israel was to negotiate an "agreement-in-principle" on an endgame solution with Palestinians, but then place this agreement out of reach -- high up on a "shelf" where the Palestinians could see it, but not yet attain it. The concept was that this transcendent trophy -- the horizon -- would come down off the shelf and be activated only when the Palestinians would mature and fulfill all their "implementation" obligations.

Moderate Palestinians, it was said, would be strengthened by the shelf agreement, and then be able to do the difficult things demanded of them in the accord -- such as confronting the terrorists in their midst and building reliable institutions of uncorrupt government.

This made for nice, but seriously flawed, diplomatic thinking.

This plan was based on an assumption -- actually, a fantasy -- that Palestinians would be encouraged to play according to the rules of the game in order to attain their prize; that the "horizon" fashioned by the agreement would provide an overwhelming incentive for Palestinians to live up to the terms of the agreement.

Unfortunately, the opposite proved to be true. The more the world talked positively and definitively about Palestinian statehood, the more the Palestinians sought to grab statehood unilaterally and force Israel to forgive the Palestinians on their implementation obligations.

And in fact, the Palestinian Authority has spent the years since 2008 defiantly "climbing up the shelf" to independently snatch their "horizon" and have their state willed into existence by the international community without having completed the promised chores on security and democratic reform.

Thus Israel has found itself in a situation where it has become well-nigh impossible to block the emergence of a runaway Palestinian state that has not delivered on many of the key commitments that constitute Israel's security safeguards.

In short, "shelf" agreements have not led to greater Palestinian moderation and cooperation with Israel. And while a "framework declaration" by Kerry is not exactly like the "shelf agreement" sought by Rice, the dynamic is the same. Each places Israel at a diplomatic disadvantage.

In fact, there is little basis for believing that even if the PA is "strengthened" by the halo of Kerry-calibrated framework that further solidifies the contours of Palestinian statehood, Abbas will have the resolve to bite the bullet on the critical issues important to Israel.

There is no indication that the Abbas government, or any future PA governing coalition, will be willing to explain to its public that the West Bank (including the Jordan Valley and eastern Jerusalem) must be shared, that the "right" of refugee return must be set aside, and that Israel is the rightful, legitimate homeland of the Jewish People.

There is an additional problem with Kerry's framework concept. The framework assumes best case scenarios regarding the intentions and capabilities of a future Palestinian state. Aside from the fact that this may have no basis in reality, it is tactically counter-intuitive and strategically unwise. Rather, endgame talks must take into account all worst-case scenarios.

Any defense lawyer conducting a negotiation on behalf of a client will tell you that an agreement will be durable only if safeguards are built-in that ensure the agreement's ability to withstand most performance failures. For Israel specifically, this means a wide margin of error on security matters if the Palestinian state fails to staunch terrorism against Israel.

But how can Israel, for example, sign onto a sustainable endgame "framework" with workable border crossing arrangements if it does not know the character or capabilities of the future Palestinian entity, and all it can do is assume the "nice" qualities of such?

The type of Israel army-police presence needed at the border checkpoints depends on the reliability and capabilities of the Palestinian partner. Yet the framework approach throws the requirement for Palestinian reform and performance into the amorphous future, and thus Israel has no way of professionally knowing now how to calibrate its minimum security needs on the borders.

This is just one example. There are hundreds of similar matters that currently cannot be assessed, because Israel is negotiating against itself in a vacuum with a phantom Palestinian partner. Israel is seeking to will into existence a "moderate, stable, capable and democratic" Palestinian government that does not yet exist in the West Bank, not to mention in Gaza.

Contrary to the framework approach, it should be obvious that an endgame agreement can be negotiated only the other way around: With a Palestinian partner that has proven its mettle over time.

Kerry's framework approach unhappily fails a third critical test: it ignores the historical record. Alas, experience attests that with the Palestinians, negotiations are never over.

Even if Israel and the PA were to grasp the fabled horizon, and royally set a grand "final status" framework in a jeweled case high up on a shelf of honor, experience shows that the Palestinians would not really settle on that framework or work towards its implementation. Instead, they would proceed to bargain with Israel for additional concessions as the price of implementation.

For example, if Israel promises to forgo half of Jerusalem and dozens of Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria, it might still be expected to yield further concessions in order "to keep the process alive and the Palestinian moderates in power."

And thus, Washington and the world community will demand that Israel go beyond the "ultimate" sacrifices it already had made in order to secure the framework or keep the horizon glowing.

Indeed, this week Abbas issued just such a demand: that Israel release hundreds more Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Palestinian agreement to extend talks on Kerry's framework.

In sum, there is nothing "final" about any framework with the Palestinians. They always "pocket" Israel's concessions, and press for more as the price for "implementation" on their part or as the price of "buying in" other Palestinian factions. This has been the repeated pattern of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, after each of the Oslo-era accords.

Of course, there is also the Gaza conundrum. The push for an accord might have validity were it to offer the theoretical possibility of a real resolution that would rope in the vast majority of Palestinians. But that is no longer the case. With the military takeover of the Gaza Strip by the radical Islamic Hamas movement, Gaza has become a Palestinian mini-state unto its own, and it answers to no other Palestinian "Authority." Hamas-Israel relations inevitably will yet involve additional significant military confrontation, a reality that will make Israeli-Palestinian rapprochement in the West Bank tenuous at best. Thus the two-state paradigm on which the "framework" concept rests seems an anachronism, for the moment.

In sum, the impatient hunt for a "horizon" or "framework" with guaranteed outcomes is based on faulty, and for Israel, dangerous assumptions. Contrary to the hopes of its advocates, it will likely prove a disincentive to the steps required of the parties that might lead to real peace.

Unfortunately, Washington seems to have lost patience with toughing it out the old-fashioned way: building confidence between the parties by measured, verifiable and concrete steps along a long road towards stability. Such a performance-based peace process remains the only proven and sustainable model towards a durable final settlement.

David M. Weinberg


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