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Palestine II (Hamasstan):

 

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 16th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Brazen Hamas Billboard Links Hamas to Turkey, Qatar.

April 3, 2014    1 comment
Hamas's publicity billboard that reads, 'Jerusalem is Waiting for Men.' Photo: Screenshot.

Hamas’s publicity billboard that reads, ‘Jerusalem is Waiting for Men.’ Photo: Screenshot.

In a rather conspicuous propaganda stunt, Hamas, the terror group ruling Gaza, foisted a new billboard showing the heads of its Islamist leadership, along with the leaders of Turkey and Qatar, with a caption that implies their help has been recruited to wrest Jerusalem from Israeli control.

The billboard shows Hamas political chief  Khaled Meshal and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, alongside previous and current Qatari leaders Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The billboard reads ”Jerusalem is Waiting for Men,” along with a photo of the Dome of the Rock.

The massive banner was photographed in Gaza by the Palestinian News Agency, and flagged on Thursday by blogger Elder of Ziyon.

The blogger wrote that the sign also implies two other messages.

First, the belittling of leaders of other Arab countries, especially Egypt, where Hamas gained under the Muslim Brotherhood leadership, and is now being shunned after that group, its political “big brother,” was expelled last year.

And, second, that Hamas, which played second fiddle to Islamic Jihad in last month’s shelling of Israel, is the stronger of the two groups and will be on the winning team to, one day, take Jerusalem.

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Egyptian Entrepreneur Laments Lack of Open Business With Israel.

April 3, 2014   3 comments
Cairo International Airport, where sources spied Israeli and Egyptian security officials meeting to discuss cooperation to fight terrorists in the Sinai. Photo: Cairo International Airport.

Cairo International Airport, where sources spied Israeli and Egyptian security officials meeting to discuss cooperation to fight terrorists in the Sinai. Photo: Cairo International Airport.

An Egyptian entrepreneur said he resents his country’s hostility to Israel which prevents him from openly conducting any business with the Jewish state, Egyptian daily Al-Ahram reported late last week.

“It is very unfortunate that we cannot be pragmatic and say this particular country has good quality and inexpensive commodities and we are going to import from it because it is in our interest,” said the unnamed Egyptian, who still does business with Israel on the down low. “After all these years an Israeli commodity on, say, the shelf of a supermarket would not be picked up except by a few people — if we assume that any supermarket would at all dare to carry, say, Israeli fruit juice.”

Like most Egyptian businessmen who work with Israelis, he insisted on remaining anonymous for fear of being “stigmatized as dealing with the enemy,” he told Al-Ahram.

“I really don’t understand; we have a peace deal and we cannot do business, it has been 35 years since this peace treaty was signed and still it is a big issue if someone said let us do business with Israel or let us benefit of their agricultural expertise,” he said.

Trade between Israel and Egypt dropped after President Hosni Mubarak was ousted in 2011, but government officials in Cairo say the fall was possibly a result of the subsequent political turmoil, according to the report.

Despite any current animosity Egypt may harbor toward Israel, an independent economic source told Al-Ahram that Egyptian authorities are considering all options in dealing with the country’s current severe energy shortages, not excluding the import of natural gas from Israel.

“Cooperation in natural gas has been very stable for many years despite the suspension and trade dispute that occurred after the 25 January Revolution removed Mubarak — but this is the case with trade cooperation in general, limited and stable,” said a government official.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 29th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Palestinian students visit Auschwitz in first organized visit.

Visit is part of program that aims to teach Israeli and Palestinian students
about the other side’s suffering in effort to study how empathy could
facilitate reconciliation.

By Matthew Kalman | Mar. 28, 2014

A group of 30 Palestinian students arrived at Auschwitz-Birkenau on
Thursday (yesterday), in what is believed to be the first organized visit by Palestinian
students to a Nazi death camp.

The students are spending several days in Kraków and O?wi?cim guided by two
Jewish Holocaust survivors.

A news blackout on the trip was requested by the organizers. The presence of
the Palestinian group at Auschwitz-Birkenau is being reported here for the
first time.

The students from Al-Quds University and Birzeit University, near Ramallah,
are participating in a joint program on Reconciliation and Conflict
Resolution with the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena, Germany, and
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

The program’s aim is for Israeli and Palestinian students to learn about the
suffering that has helped shape the historical consciousness of the other
side.

Last week, a group of Israeli students visited the Dheisheh refugee camp,
located south of Bethlehem,  to learn about the Palestinian experience of
suffering during the founding of Israel in 1948 ­­– known to Palestinians as
the Nakba (“the catastrophe”).

The reactions of each group will be studied by a group of PhD psychology
students to see whether exposure to the conflicting historical narrative
helps the students to understand their enemy, and facilitates efforts toward
reconciliation and coexistence.

The Palestinian side of the program is directed by Mohammed S. Dajani,
professor of American Studies at Al-Quds. Because of the Palestinian freeze
on joint projects with Israeli universities, the Palestinian students are
participating under the banner of Prof. Dajani’s Wasatia movement of
moderate Islam.

Israeli groups regularly visit refugee camps in the West Bank searching for
cross-border understanding, but the Palestinian visit to Auschwitz is
unprecedented. It grew out of a visit by Prof. Dajani as part of a large
Jewish-Muslim-Christian delegation in 2011, after which he coauthored a New
York Times op-ed entitled “Why Palestinians Should Learn About the
Holocaust.”

Since then, Prof. Dajani has written what he believes to be the first
objective introduction to the Holocaust for Palestinian students in Arabic,
which he hopes will become a textbook used in Palestinian schools and
universities.

“Basically, we want to study how empathy with the Other could help in the
process of reconciliation,” Prof. Dajani says. “I feel I would like
Palestinians to explore the unexplored, and to meet these challenges where
you might find that within their community there will be a lot of pressure
on them not to do it or questioning why they are doing it, or that this is
propaganda. I feel that’s nonsense.”

Prof. Dajani says more than 70 students applied for the 30 places on the
Poland trip, but five later dropped out because of peer pressure.
He says the choice of Dheisheh for the Israeli students was not meant to
suggest there was an equivalence or even a direct link between the Holocaust
and the Nakba. They were chosen as the symbolic events that have deeply
affected the psyche on both sides of the conflict.

“We are seeking knowledge,” he says. “We are seeking to know what has
happened; why did it happen; how can it be prevented from happening again? I
believe it is very important to break this wall of bigotry, ignorance and
racism that has separated us from crossing over to this new realm.”

“One of my students asked me why we should learn about the Holocaust when
the Israelis want to ban even the use of the word ‘Nakba,’” he adds. “My
response was: ‘Because in doing so, you will be doing the right thing. If
they are not doing the right thing, that’s their problem.’”

Prof. Dajani, who was banned from Israel for 25 years for his activities for
Fatah in Lebanon in the 1970s and ’80s, says the student program is a
practical expression of his belief that Israelis and Palestinians can settle
their differences through compromise, moderation and human contact. He says
his own visit to the Nazi death camp had a profound effect that he wishes to
share with his students.

“I was also raised in the culture of denial, so for me, to go and see and
look and be on the ground – it was a very sad experience for me.
It had a lot of impact,” he admits. “I was shocked about the inhumanity of
man to man. How can this happen? Why did it happen? Why would man be this
cruel?

“It was shocking for me, because it showed me the deep, deep, dark side of
human evil,” he adds.

Prof. Dajani has a track record of espousing views that are unpopular with
the Palestinian academic mainstream. He is one of the few Palestinian
professors to openly oppose the call for Palestinians and others to boycott
Israeli universities.

Hanna Siniora, a veteran campaigner for Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation,
says Prof. Dajani’s initiative should be welcomed.

“It’s very important for people to see the viciousness of such acts,”
he says. “It should touch them in their humanity, in their sense of
understanding that human beings don’t do evil things like that. This has
caused a major problem in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, because the
psyche of the Israelis is so tormented by what happened to the Jewish people
that they cannot trust anybody.

“This is an educational trip. It opens the eyes and minds,” he adds.
“If there is an empty place, I’d like to come along,” he says.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 4th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

03/04/2014 05:57 AM EST

 

Remarks at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee Conference.

Remarks

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington Convention Center
Washington, DC
March 3, 2014

 


 

 

Norm, thank you. Thank you very, very much. Thank you all, 14,000 strong or more. (Applause.) Howard, Howard Friedman and Executive Director Howard Kohr, incoming president Bob Cohen, incoming chairman Michael Kassen, outgoing chairman Lee Rosenberg, and Ambassador Ron Dermer and Ambassador Dan Shapiro. I don’t know where our ambassadors are. Would they – somebody ought to applaud both of them here. (Applause.) There they are. Thanks for your own, Norman.

Let me tell you, it really is an enormous pleasure for me to be able to be here. It’s a privilege. And good to see so many friends, all 14,000 of you – a little frightening to see myself on about eight, nine, ten screens up here – (laughter). The last time I spoke to AIPAC, I joined your national summit in Napa Valley. I did it via satellite. And you were in the vineyards, I was overseas – a different kind of vineyard. So today, I think I’m getting the better end of the deal because I am here with you in person, and your wine selection is a lot more limited this time.

I have to tell you, I had the pleasure of speaking to AIPAC back in the 1990s, it was a great honor, and every time I come here, whether I get a chance to talk to a smaller group during the daytime sessions or otherwise, this is a remarkably inspiring gathering – people from every corner of the country coming together to demonstrate our deep support as Americans for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship. (Applause.)

And it is no exaggeration. It’s not just words to say that every single one of you brings here such a special passion to a cause that you so fiercely believe in. And let me tell you something unequivocally: After almost 30 years in the United States Senate, I can tell you that is precisely why AIPAC’s work is in the best traditions of American democracy, and I thank you for practicing it. (Applause.)

I want you to know that in my judgment, these democratic values are stamped in the DNA of both the United States and Israel. But we also share something much deeper than that. Like no other two countries on the planet, against the deepest odds, both America and Israel confidently, purposefully set out to be examples to the world. Think about it. From its earliest days, Israel has always said it’s not enough just to be one of many in a community of nations; Israel has strived since Isaiah’s time to serve as a light unto the nations. (Applause.) And that responsibility to be a light unto the nations sounds actually unbelievably similar to something that we as Americans know is part of who we are, too.

My grandfather ten times over – too hard to count in other terms – was a man by the name of John Winthrop. And he came to what was then the New World, and he came in search of freedom, freedom to worship as he wished. He was a minister. He and his congregants were outcasts, persecuted, heading into a rough and unforgiving land with no guarantee even of survival. And on his way here, he delivered a now fairly famous sermon at sea in which he called on his community to create a city upon a hill in their new home, America.

So whether you call it a city upon a hill or a light unto the nations, it actually means the same thing: being a model to the world. It means having a home that sets a standard, a standard of dignity and a standard of freedom. So the foundation of the friendship between the American people and the people of Israel was actually laid centuries before a single stone was set under the U.S. Capitol or under the Knesset. And looking around this room tonight, it is clear that our friendship has never been stronger. (Applause.)

And I’ll tell you why. Because today, as Israel faces serious challenges to her future, it is America that will stand firmly by her side. (Applause.) I will tell you that with the leadership of President Obama – and you can look it up, you can measure it; this is not an exaggeration, it’s a matter of fact – there has been a complete, unmatched commitment to Israel’s security. The record of this Administration in providing aid and assistance, consultation, weapons, help, standing up in various international fora, fighting, I am proud to tell you, is unrivaled. And the bottom line, pure and simple, has been making sure that Israel has the means to defend itself by itself and defending Israel’s right to be able to do so. That is what we’ve done. (Applause.)

Security. Security is fundamentally what President Obama is committed to. And so too is he committed to using the full force of our diplomacy to resolve the two great questions that most matter when it comes to ensuring the security of Israel: preventing a nuclear Iran and ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (Applause.)

Now let me start with Iran because I know there are many questions. I know many people – there’s been a healthy debate about the approach. We welcome that. But let me sum up President Obama’s policy in 10 simple, clear words, unequivocal: We will not permit Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon, period. (Applause.) Now, I added an eleventh word just for punctuation. (Laughter.)

But I want you to understand there are no if, ands, or buts. This is not a political policy. This is a real foreign policy. And we mean every word of what we say. You have the word of the President of the United States that Iran will not get a nuclear weapon. Now, as we said at the outset, and I say it again today, our diplomacy is guided by a simple bottom line: No deal is better than a bad deal. (Applause.) And we absolutely will not accept a bad deal. We are committed to a deal that gets the job done. (Applause.)

Why? Because we get it, we understand it. As President Obama said in Jerusalem, no one can question why Israel looks at the Iranian program and sees an existential threat. We understand it. We understand it in our gut. And we also know something else. This is not some favor that we do for Israel. This is something that is also in the interest of the United States of America, and it’s in the interest of countries surrounding Israel. (Applause.) A nuclear bomb for Iran would also threaten the stability of the region, indeed the entire world. It would produce an arms race among the surrounding countries. There is no way the world is safer anywhere in the world with a nuclear weapon in Iran, and we are not going to let it happen, period, end of story. (Applause.)

Now, to do that, to achieve this all-important goal, important for America’s security and for Israel’s security, it is crucial that we seizes what might be the last best chance to be able to have diplomacy work, and maybe the last chance for quite some time. Because the reality is only strong diplomacy can fully and permanently achieve the goal. Those who say strike and hit need to go look at exactly what happens after you’ve done that, whether that permanently eliminates the program or opens up all kinds of other possibilities, including Iran leaving the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty, not even allowing IAEA inspectors in, not living under any international regimen. That’s a possibility. Only strong diplomacy can guarantee that a nuclear weapons program actually goes away for good instead of just going underground and becoming more dangerous. Only the exhaustion of diplomacy can justify more forceful options if you have to take them in the end.

So we say – President Obama and myself and others – we say let’s seize the diplomatic moment. And that’s what we are trying to do. And the truth is it is strong diplomacy that has actually made this moment possible. And we need to give it the space to work. We need to make sure that if this opportunity were to elude us, it is not because we are the ones that close the window.

Now, I understand the skepticism. I’ve been around this city for 29-plus years as a senator, became chairman of the foreign relations committee, worked with most of the members of your board and with AIPAC and others around the country, and proud to tell you that during that time I had a 100 percent voting record for Israel. (Applause.)

And I’m not coming here to stand up in front of you and tell you that I know that Iran is going to reach an agreement. I don’t know. I don’t know what they’ll do. I don’t know if they are able to make some of the tough decisions they’re going to have to make in the months ahead. But I know that if the United States is going to be able to look the world in the eye and say we have to do something, we have to have exhausted the possibilities available to us for that diplomatic peaceful resolution. Let me make it clear our approach is not Ronald Reagan’s and the Soviets –We’re not looking at this and saying trust, but verify. Our approach is a much more complex and dangerous world – it’s verify and verify. And that’s what we intend to do. (Applause.)

Now, there is very good reason for these sanctions to exist in the first place, and good reason that we have kept the architecture of these sanctions in place. And we continue to enforce it even as we negotiate a comprehensive agreement. In the last weeks, we have announced additional sanctions with respect to individuals who have been tempted to go around it or violate it. We have not changed one piece of the sanctions architecture. And yet we are able to negotiate. Our eyes, my friends, are wide open. This is not a process that is open-ended. This is not a process that is about trusting Tehran. This is about testing Tehran. And you can be sure that if Iran fails this test, America will not fail Israel. That, I promise. (Applause.)

Now, we have taken no options off the table, but so far there is no question but that tough sanctions and strong diplomacy are already making Israel and America safer. The first step agreement, the first step agreement – it’s not an interim agreement, it’s a first step agreement – and the agreement that’s in force today didn’t just halt the advance of the Iranian nuclear program for the first time in a decade; it’s actually rolled it back. And we all remember how Prime Minister Netanyahu highlighted Iran’s 20 percent enriched uranium in the 2012 speech at the United Nations. Well, today Iran is reducing its stockpile of 20 percent uranium. And without the agreement in force today, the opposite would have been in effect. The stockpile would have grown even more dangerous, and the amount of breakout time that they have would have grown smaller. Because of the agreement, Iran will soon have to take its entire stock of 20 percent enriched uranium down to zero. Zero. Zero. (Applause.) You don’t have to be a math major to know that Israel is safer when Iran has zero uranium enriched to 20 percent, and that’s what we’ve achieved.

The same independent inspectors who also tell us that Iran has halted its advances on the heavy water reactor known as the Arak reactor, without the agreement in force today, we could not have stopped them making progress on the Arak heavy water reactor, plutonium reactor. Iran has also stopped enriching all uranium above 5 percent, and it has given inspectors daily access to the facilities at Natanz and at Fordow. You know Fordow, you’ve heard about it, that underground facility that was a secret for so long. We’ve never had people in it. But because of this first step agreement, we now have people inside Fordow every single day telling us what is happening. (Applause.)

None of these things would have happened without forceful diplomacy by the United States and our international partners. But now, my friends, we have to finish the job. Like I tell my staff, there aren’t any exit polls in foreign policy. It’s results that count, final results. And that means we have to let forceful diplomacy keep working in order to put this test to Iran.

Now, right now we are carefully – and I mean carefully – negotiating a comprehensive agreement. We are consulting with our friends in Israel constantly. The minute Under Secretary Wendy Sherman finished her last set of meetings in Vienna the other day, she went immediately to Israel, briefed thoroughly on the talks, then went to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and continued to brief and briefed our European partners.

You might be asking: If no deal is better than a bad deal, what does the United States consider a good deal? Well, you have my word – and the President’s – that the United States will only sign an agreement that answers three critical questions the right way. First, will it make certain that Iran cannot obtain a nuclear weapon? Second, can it continuously assure the world that Iran’s program remains entirely peaceful as it claims? And third, will the agreement increase our visibility on the nuclear program and expand the breakout time so that if they were to try to go for a bomb, we know we will have time to act?

Those are the tests. Those are our standards for any comprehensive agreement. It’s that simple. And those objectives, if they’re not met, then there won’t be an agreement. (Applause.) Now make no mistake, make no mistake; we can’t resolve the answer to those questions. It’s up to Iran. It’s up to Iran to prove to the world that its program is peaceful, and the world will hold Iran accountable.

Now, if it turns out that Iran cannot address the world’s concerns, I guarantee you it will face more pressure, Iran will face more pressure, more and more isolation. And Congress will introduce more tough sanctions. And let me assure you – I know Eric Cantor is here, sitting here – I assure you it’ll take about two hours to get it through the House and the Senate and it won’t be delayed and the Congress will have to do nothing more than schedule the vote, because President Obama and I fully support those sanctions under those circumstances. (Applause.)

In the meantime, as I said earlier, we are enforcing every letter of the existing sanctions. I have personally instructed every State Department bureau and mission around the world to watch vigilantly for any signs of the sanctions being skirted. And to any country that wants to trade with Iran with these sanctions firmly in place, the United States will tell them exactly what I have told foreign leaders in no uncertain terms: Iran is not open for business until Iran is closed for nuclear bombs. (Applause.)

Now, strong diplomacy is also essential to another threat to Israel’s security: ending the conflict with the Palestinians, and in doing so, preserving the Jewish and democratic nature of the state of Israel. (Applause.) I’ve had some folks ask me why I’m so committed to these negotiations and why I’m so convinced that peace is actually possible. And they ask, “Why does John Kerry go to Israel so often?” I think I heard Steny Hoyer say he’d been there 13 times, Eric Cantor who’s been there 12 times. I’ve been there more times than that just in the last nine months. (Laughter.) And I’ve been in the Middle East more times than even that in the last months because I don’t always wind up going to Israel.

But apart from the question, I’m surprised because people ask, because apart from my affection for Israel which dates back to my first visit back in 1986, and it just strikes me that it’s the wrong question to ask, why do I go. This isn’t about me. This is about the dreams of Israelis and the dignity of Palestinians. It’s about reconciling two peoples who want at long last to live normal secure lives in the land that they have fought over for so long. It’s about answering King David’s timeless call that we seek peace and pursue it. It’s about fulfilling the fervent prayer for peace that Jews around the world recite to welcome Shabbat. It’s about parents from Tsefat to Eilat who want to raise their families in a region that accepts the nation-state of the Jewish people is here to stay. (Applause.)

Now, it’s not news to any Israeli to hear me say that they live in a difficult neighborhood. Israelis know that better than anyone. No one needs to explain the importance of peace and security to a mother who has just sent her daughter to the army or a son who is waiting for his father to come home from another mission. No one knows the stakes of success or failure better than those who will inherit them for generations to come. And I have seen all of these realities in so many different ways in my travels in Israel, from the rocket casings in Sderot to the shelter in Kiryat Shmona that I visited years ago where children had to hide from Katyusha rockets. I’ve seen it.

My friends, I also believe that we are at a point in history that requires the United States as Israel’s closest friend and the world’s preeminent power to do everything we can to help end this conflict once and for all. Now, that is why America – (applause) – that is why America helped bring the parties back to the table, where, let’s be honest, Israelis and Palestinians have difficult choices to make. And no one understands just how complex those choices are or how emotional they are better than the leaders who have to summon the courage in order to actually make them.

I have sat with Bibi Netanyahu for hours and hours and days and days. We have become good friends. (Applause.) I believe – in fact, he ought to be charging me rent. (Laughter.) I’ve seen up close and personally the grit and the guts of this man and his love of country. And I can tell you with absolute certainty and without question, Prime Minister Netanyahu has demonstrated his courage and his commitment in pursuit of peace with security. (Applause.) He knows that it is the only way for Israel to be a Jewish and democratic state; not a bi-national state. (Applause.)

As President Obama said publicly in the Oval Office today, and I quote him: “Prime Minister Netanyahu has approached these negotiations with a level of seriousness and commitment that reflects his leadership and the desire of the Israeli people for peace.”

Thus far, I will tell you also that President Abbas, and I know there are many doubters here – I’ve heard the arguments for 30-plus years, 40 years – that there’s no partner for peace, that Abbas won’t be there, that – both sides, by the way, say the same thing about each other. That’s one of the difficulties we have to try get through here. A very small needle to try to thread in terms of the trust deficit. Thus far, President Abbas, I will tell you, has demonstrated he wants to be a partner for peace. He’s committed to trying to end the conflict in all of its claims, but he obviously has a point of view about what’s fair and how he can do that. Let’s be candid. I know that some of you doubt that. But as Israeli security officials will attest, President Abbas has been genuinely committed against violence, and his own security forces have worked closely with Israel in order to prevent violence against Israeli citizens.

I’ve also spent many hours with President Abbas, and I believe that he clearly understands both the tremendous benefits of peace and the great costs of failure. He understands that in terms of his own people, his own grandchildren, the country he hopes to be able to lead, and in terms of the history that beleaguers all. He knows the Palestinian people will never experience the self determination that they seek in a state of their own without ending the conflict in a solution that delivers two states for two peoples. (Applause.)

And so does Prime Minister Netanyahu. When Bibi looks me in the eye and says, “I can’t accept a deal with Palestinians that doesn’t make the people of Israel safer,” we agree 100 percent. (Applause.) But I argue that there is a distinction between a unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon or from Gaza where nothing is resolved, and a phased withdrawal that is negotiated where everything is at least in an agreement resolved.

Now, I learned about Israel’s security on many different trips over there, but one stands out. I was – I’d been a pilot since I was in college and I was on a trip over there. I was having a luncheon at Ovda Airbase with the Israel Air Force. And the colonel who was in charge was – had flown. He was an ace from the Six-Day War. And we were having lunch at the time at Ovda and I had been badgering them to maybe let me go up and fly. And they disappeared at lunch and finally he comes back and he says, “Senator, I hope you don’t eat too much. We’re going flying.” I said, “Wow, great. This is what I’ve wanted.” And we went out, the two of us, drove out to this jet, and he trusted me. We put on our helmets, got in the jet, and he says, “The moment we’re off the ground, it’s your airplane.”

So literally, we took off, I take the stick, we go up, we’re flying around. Next thing I know in my ear he says, “Senator, you better turn faster. You’re going over Egypt.” (Laughter.) So I turned very fast and then I asked him if I could do some aerobatics over the Negev. And I turned upside down and did a big loop and I was coming down, I was looking upside-down, and I said to myself, “This is perfect.” I could see all of the Sinai. I could see Aqaba. I could see Jordan. I see all of Israel below me, each side to each side. Said, “This is the perfect way to see the Middle East upside-down and backwards.” I understand it. (Applause.)

The real point of this story is just to tell you that I can’t tell you the imprint on me, being up there and tiny – almost turning. You had barely space to turn. You get the sense of a missile from here, or a rocket from there, or the threat of war. You understand it’s impossible to ignore just how narrow those borders are, how vulnerable Israel can be, and why Israel’s security is our first priority. We understand that. (Applause.)

That is why, my friends, President Obama sent a four-star general, John Allen, one of the most respected minds in United States military to do something we’ve never done in all the history of administrations negotiating for Israel’s and Palestinians’ future and that is to work with Israelis and Jordanians and Palestinians to make the Jordan River border as strong as the strongest borders on Earth. That’s what makes this effort different from anything we’ve ever done before. With the combination of the best military experience America can offer and the best ideas in the Pentagon and the best technology that we could deliver, we believe we can deliver to Israel security that Israel needs in order to make peace, and President Obama is committed to doing that.

Now we have no illusions. We saw what happened after Israel withdrew unilaterally from Gaza and Lebanon. We all learned lessons from that, I hope. That’s why a negotiated agreement is so important. That’s why the security arrangements that we are helping to design will need to be operationally proven. We’re not doing this on a whim and a prayer. We will never let the West Bank turn into another Gaza. (Applause.)

My friends, we understand that Israel has to be strong in order to make peace. But we also understand that peace will make Israel stronger. Any peace agreement must also guarantee Israel’s identity as a Jewish homeland. (Applause.) As Ehud Barak said on this stage last year, a two-state solution is the only way for Israel to stay true to its founding principles – to remain both Jewish and democratic. At last year’s AIPAC conference, he said statehood is not a favor for the Palestinians, and let me reaffirm: He is right; it is not.

Israel also needs peace in order to create greater prosperity. All of you here know the great economic benefits of peace. All of you have already seen what Israel has already been able to build with the forces of the region that raid against it. Just imagine what it will be able to build as a result of peace with Palestinian neighbors. I’ve had the foreign minister of one of the surrounding countries – a very wealthy country and a very smart foreign minister say to me if we make peace – this is under the Arab Peace Initiative and the Arab Follow-on Committee that is following everything we’re doing very closely and supporting it – and they said if we make peace, Israel will trade more in this community within a few years than it trades with Europe today. That’s what we have available to us. (Applause.) And I believe that we need to stand together with a single voice to reject any of the arbitrary unwarranted boycotts of Israel. For more than 30 years, I have staunchly, loudly, unapologetically opposed boycotts of Israel – (applause) – and I will continue to oppose those boycotts of Israel. That will never change. (Applause.)

Every time that Israel is subjected to attacks on its legitimacy, whether at the United Nations or from any nation, the United States will use every tool we have to defeat those efforts and we will stand with Israel. (Applause.)

Finally, peace demands that Israel fulfill its destiny not just as a nation but also as a neighbor. And that begins with the Palestinians, and it extends to the entire Arab League whose Arab Peace Initiative can open the door to peace and normalized relations with 20 additional Arab countries and a total of 55 Muslim countries. The upheaval in the Middle East has shown us all that Arabs and Israelis share some of the very same security concerns. Without the Palestinian conflict to divide them, these common interests can grow into real relationships and transform Israel’s standing in the region. And I just invite you – I promise you these conversations take place. I’ve had them throughout the Gulf region, throughout the Middle East, where increasingly those countries begin to see the possibilities of mutual security interests coming together for all of them against an Iran, against terrorism, against religious extremism. This is a commonality that is a new thread in the region, and I believe it brings the potential of new possibilities.

It is also important to remember that ending the conflict means ending the incitement. President Abbas has called incitement a germ that must be removed. And he has sought our help in order to try to deal with the problem. And I can tell you that with any final agreement it will also include a larger endeavor in order to help people on both sides move beyond a painful past and promote a culture of peace and tolerance.

After all these years, my friends, it is really no mystery what the end-game really looks like. I think you know that in your hearts. We understand what the end-game is. I know what peace looks like. When I talk to Prime Minister Netanyahu and others, I think everybody shares this because this is not new. After Camp David and Oslo and Wye and Annapolis and Taba and all of these efforts, what the end-game should look like is straightforward: security arrangements that leave Israelis more secure, not less; mutual recognition of the nation-state of the Jewish people and the nation-state of the Palestinian people; an end to the conflict and to all claims; a just and agreed solution for Palestinian refugees, one that does not diminish the Jewish character of the state of Israel; and a resolution that finally allows Jerusalem to live up to its name as the City of Peace. (Applause.)

It will take hard work. I’m not pretending any of the answers – these are all narrative issues. They’re tough issues. They complicated. But there is a vision of peace, and it takes tough choices on both sides, especially over the coming days. I guarantee you that America, that President Obama and this Administration will be there every day of the week, every step of the way. And we will stand with Israel’s leaders today and with the leaders of the future. And we will ensure that our light shines not just throughout the nations, but throughout the generations.

Leaders like a fellow named Guy – I’ll leave his last name out – but he’s a young Israeli who took part in an exchange program with the State Department, sponsors that brings Israelis and Palestinians together to talk about their histories and their hopes. Guy’s grandparents fled Europe. He was born and raised in Jerusalem. He served in the IDF. And he worked as an entrepreneur in Israel’s booming tech industry. And this is what he said in that program: We respect our past, but we don’t want to live it. We are young enough to dream, to believe that change is possible, and that fear can be defeated.

I think Guy is right. Change is possible. Fear can be defeated. But those are choices we have to make now.

My friends, a few months ago I landed in Tel Aviv and it was the 18th anniversary of Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination. I went straight to Kikar Rabin, and I stood with the late-prime minister’s daughter, Dalia, at the site of her father’s murder. And we stood just steps away from where the great general, in the last moments of his life, sang the famous lyrics of Shir LaShalom: Don’t whisper a prayer; sing a song of peace in a loud voice. Don’t say the day will come; bring that day. (Applause.) That is our mission. All of us, in whatever capacity that we can, but just as important our mission is also to raise our voices for peace, and we also need to listen. We have to listen to those who first gave voice to our values, voices that still echo thousands of years later.

He almost – I think it was the first time I went to Israel. I spent a week there and went all over the country and like many first-time visitors, I climbed Masada. I climbed it with a guide – some of you may know him or heard of him, a fellow by the name of Yadin Roman. Yadin, the publisher of Eretz Israel. And our group debated Josephus Flavius’s account of what happened on the top of that mountain, the account of what happened 2,000 years before we were there.

Then Yadin, after we’d had this long debate, made us all vote to determine did it happen as he recounted or was it different. And we all voted unanimously it did happen the way he recounted. He told us to then walk to the edge of the precipice which we did, and to look out across the chasm and to shout, to shout across the ancestral home of the Jewish people. And as we stood where every new Israeli soldier begins his or her service, by swearing an oath to honor that history and secure the future, Yadin instructed us to shout, all at the same time, “Am Yisrael chai.” We shouted. (Applause.) And then I have to tell you, echoing across the chasm in the most eerie and unbelievably unforgettable way were these haunting echoes of “Am Yisrael chai, Am Yisrael chai, chai, chai.” I’ll never forget hearing the echo of those words bouncing off that mountain. It was literally like we were hearing the voices of the souls of those who had perished sacrificing their lives for Israel a thousand years ago. And we were affirming those words, the state of Israel lives. The people of Israel live.

We have to listen to those voices. Those long ago who encouraged us to build a city on a hill to be a light unto the nations, an example to the world, to ensure Israel’s survival. And we have to listen to the voices of young people whose futures depend on the choices that we, the leaders of today, make. It’s for their future that we will give new strength to the U.S.-Israel partnership as AIPAC does like no other organization in our country. It’s for their future that we will come together giving greater voice to the timeless oath and we will remember forever those words and be driven by them: “Am Yisrael chai” will be said generations upon generations into the future because of the work you do and the work we will do together.

Thank you all very much. Honored to be with you. (Applause.)

The Office of Website Management, Bureau of Public Affairs, manages this site as a portal for information from the U.S. State Department.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 16th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Do ‘Syria,’ ‘Iraq’ and ‘Lebanon’ Still Exist?

based on the  original article by Jonathan Spyer that was posted by the Philadelphia-based Middle East Forum and that we re-post with a series of changes that are mainly of editorial nature.
The Tower
February 2014

www.meforum.org/3751/syria-iraq-lebanon-nation-states

For almost a century, the Middle East has been defined by the nation-states that emerged following the Allied Europeans – British and French – victory in World War I which was the end of the Ottoman Empire, and followed later by the unraveling of the resulting colonial era. Since then, strategic analyses of the region have concentrated on the relations between these states, created by bureaucratic lines drawn by the interim colonial powers, and diplomatic efforts have generally attempted to maintain their stability and the integrity of these borders. As a result, the current map of the Middle East has remained largely unchanged over more than nine decades.

But these actually never made sense and do so much less now.  The old maps do not reflect the reality on the ground, and the region is now defined not by rivalry between nation-states, but by sectarian divisions that are spilling across the old borders and rendering them irrelevant. Today, there is a single sectarian war underway across the Middle East, one that threatens to engulf the entire region.

This war has a number of fronts, some more intense and active than others, but it is everywhere defined by sectarian conflict – especially the divide between Sunni and Shia Muslims. It is most intense in the area encompassing the current states of Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon; but has also spread further afield—to Bahrain, northern Yemen, and to some degree Kuwait and eastern Saudi Arabia.

The core power on the Shia side is the Islamic Republic of Iran, the world’s leading state that accepts terror as a means to implement its plans.  Iran was the founding patron of Hezbollah, which even before 9/11  had killed more Americans than any terror group in the world. The Assad regime in Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Maliki government and assorted Shia militias in Iraq, the Houthi rebels in northern Yemen, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, are all allies or proxies of the Islamic Republic of Iran, which is capable of rendering substantial assistance to its friends through the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) – a powerful military and economic force that possesses substantial expertise and experience in building proxy organizations and engaging in political and paramilitary warfare.

On the Sunni side, the dominant power is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which has been wary of Tehran, but also has struggled since 9/11 – on and off -  against the Islamists of Al Qaeda. Its allies include various groups among the Syrian rebels, the March 14 movement in Lebanon, the military regime in Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Jordan, and sometimes Turkey. The Saudis, however, are at something of a disadvantage. They possess no parallel to the IRGC, and have problematic relations with the extreme Sunni jihadists of al-Qaeda, who have played a prominent role in the fighting on all three major fronts and who are an outgrowth of the Saudi Wahabbi movement – the kind of Islam on which the Saudi throne is based. (Here we have a clear different approach to the issue then we found in the original article – that seemed to be over friendly to the Saudis – possibly because of the way Washington is siding with the Saudis.)

How did this situation come about? Is there evidence of a clear linkage between the various forces on the respective sides? Why is this conflict so extreme in certain countries—like Syria and Iraq—where it appears to be leading to the breakup of these states? How dangerous are these changes for the West?

Focusing on the areas of most intense conflict—Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon—can help us answer these questions.

This war is a result of the confluence of a number of circumstances. First, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon are all home to a host of different sectarian and ethnic communities. The stark divisions that exist in these societies have never been resolved. In Syria and Iraq, they were suppressed for decades by brutal dictatorial regimes. The Assad regime in Syria and Saddam Hussein’s in Iraq – were family dictatorships based on minority sectarian communities – the Alawis in Syria, and the Arab Sunnis in Iraq – while claiming to rule in the name of pan-Arab nationalism. In service of this ideology, the Syrian and Iraqi regimes ruthlessly put down ethnic and sectarian separatism in all its forms; in particular, Shia Islamism in Iraq, Sunni Islamism in Syria, and the Kurdish national movement in both countries. All were treated without mercy.

Lebanon, by contrast, is a far weaker state, which was ruled by a power-sharing arrangement between ethnic and religious groups that collapsed into civil war in 1975. The issues underlying that war were never resolved; instead, between 1990 and 2005 the Syrian army presence in Lebanon ended all discussion of basic issues of national identity. (Here we must add something the original article has completely left untackled – the fact that in Lebanon the French colonial power has sponsored a Christian – mainly Maronite – minority and allowed for its governing over the Sunni and Shia parts of the population in a  prearranged structure that fell apart with the influx of Sunni Palestinian refugees. These refugees ended up being supported by the Shia backed Hezbollah and eventually got attacked from the outside by the Israelis). Lebanon thus developed a different dynamics that is still tripartite in its Arab make up. Lebanon’s Maronite families with their French backing did not become dictators like in the cases of Iraq and Syria.

Over the last decade, the once ironclad structures of dictatorship and suppression that kept ethnic and sectarian tensions from erupting, have weakened or disappeared.

The 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq destroyed the Saddam Hussein regime. A sectarian Shia government, based on the Shia Arab majority and conditionally accepted by the Kurds, took its place. In Syria, a brutal civil war has severely curtailed the power of the Assad regime, which now rules only about 40 percent of the country’s territory. The Sunni Arab majority and the Kurdish minority have carved out autonomous sectarian enclaves in the 60 percent that remains.

Western hopes that a non-sectarian identity would take hold in the areas formerly ruled by Saddam and the Assads are persistent but proven illusory. Remarks about Iraq made by then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice in 2004 sum up these hopes and the tendency to self-delusion that often accompanies them. “What has been impressive to me so far,” Rice said, is that Iraqis—whether Kurds or Shia or Sunni or the many other ethnic groups in Iraq—have demonstrated that they really want to live as one in a unified Iraq…. I think particularly the Kurds have shown a propensity to want to bridge differences that were historic differences in many ways that were fueled by Saddam Hussein and his regime… What I have found interesting and I think important is the degree to which the leaders of the Shia and Kurdish and Sunni communities have continually expressed their desires to live in a unified Iraq.

This faith is expressed also by the Obama Administration, and as a result, it has continued to support the Shia-dominated government in Iraq, led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. It sees Maliki’s opposition to Sunni insurgents in western Anbar province as an elected government’s opposition to extremist rebels. This fails to take into account the sectarian nature of the Maliki government itself, and the discriminatory policies he has pursued against the Sunnis of western Iraq.

The reemergence of sectarian conflict so evident in Iraq has also emerged in Syria and is, in turn, showed up in neighboring Lebanon.

Lebanon was first drawn into the Syrian  conflict as a result of the significant and highly effective intervention in Syria in support of the Assad regime by Iran’s Lebanon-based terrorist army, Hezbollah. This quickly led to retaliation against Hezbollah targets in Lebanon by elements among Syria’s Sunni rebels. Supporters of the Sunni rebels have succeeded in attacking Hezbollah’s Dahiyeh compound in south Beirut five times. The bombing on January 2, 2014,  was carried out by a young Lebanese member of an organization called ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) named Qutaiba Muhammad al-Satem; ISIS are Islamic extremists who have been operating as a branch of al-Qaeda in Iraq and Syria.

 

 

A map of Syria showing zones of control by the regime and various militias. (Image Source: WikiMedia Commons)

While Hezbollah’s decision to intervene on behalf of the Assad regime in Syria and the subsequent Sunni reaction is partially the result of the divided nature of Lebanon, and Syria, and their unresolved questions of national identity, larger regional conflicts, also of a sectarian nature, are a driving force behind the violence.

Hezbollah’s participation in the Syrian civil war came not as a result of automatic sentiments of solidarity, but because Hezbollah forms part of a regional alliance headed by Iran, to which the Assad regime also belongs. When Assad found himself in trouble, Hezbollah was mobilized to assist him. On the opposing side, the Syrian rebels have benefited from the support and patronage of Iran’s rival, Saudi Arabia, and other states along the Arabian peninsula, including the United Arab Emirates.

This rivalry is long standing and not just rooted in theological differences. It is about power. Iran is controlled by a revolutionary regime whose goal is to become the hegemonic force in the Middle East. Although the Iranians certainly regard the Saudis as an enemy and as unfit custodians of Islam’s most holy sites, Tehran’s main goal is to assert control over Arabian Gulf energy supplies, replacing the U.S. as guarantor of resources upon which world is dependent. Tehran understands that the real source of power in the region is the Gulf itself, with its enormous reserves of oil and natural gas that are essential to the global economy. To achieve its goals, Iran must tempt or coerce the Gulf monarchies away from U.S. protection and toward an alliance with Tehran, and ironically, American perceived weakness in the face of Tehran’s nuclear pursuit makes that all the more possible.

Riyadh has emerged as the principle opponent to Iran’s regional ambitions, mainly because the former guarantor of the current regional order, the United States, has chosen to leave the field. Until 2011, the Middle East appeared to be locked into a kind of cold war, in which the Iranians, along with their allies and proxies, sought to overturn the U.S.-dominated regional order, which was based on U.S. alliances with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Israel. Events over the last five years, however, have created the impression that the U.S. no longer wishes to play this role: America failed to back its longtime Egyptian ally, Hosni Mubarak, when he faced domestic unrest in early 2011. It failed to support the rebel forces fighting the Iran-backed Assad regime. And it failed to back Bahrain against an Iran-supported uprising in the same year. Now, the U.S. appears to be seeking a general rapprochement with Iran.

As a result of all this, Saudi Arabia has begun to take a far more active role in the region. Riyadh and its Gulf allies have certainly helped to finance and stabilize Egypt after the military removed Muhammad Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood government from power. It began to take a leading role in supporting the Syrian rebels. It has well-documented relations with the anti-Syrian March 14 movement in Lebanon. In December 2013, the Saudis pledged $3 billion to the official Lebanese army. They also support anti-Maliki elements in Iraq. In addition, they are seeking to create an alliance among the other Gulf states in order to oppose Iranian ambitions, with some success.

But all of the above will not work for the Saudis unless they also stretch out a friendly hand to Israel and do a “SADAT” – that is – backing the right of Israel provided it settles with the Palestinians and do this in a pro-active way by showing their readiness to bankroll a solution of the Palestinian conflict. We say this is the cheapest way for the Saudis to wrestle the region from the Iranians – but we found no such conclusion in the original article. This might be too revolutionary for the conventional mindset that believes the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is just another Middle East intractable conflict like the one in the article. The trick is to see how an opportunity is created when trying to go about two seemingly intractable problems in tandem!

The original article follows instead by saying -  “increasingly violent rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran, intensified by American withdrawal from the region, has helped turn a conflict that was once cold into an increasingly hot cross-border sectarian war.”

There is considerable evidence of links between Iran and Saudi Arabia, on the one hand, and their respective allies in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, on the other.

On the Iranian side, Tehran no longer makes any serious attempt to deny the enormous assistance they have given the Assad regime in Syria. Indeed, the Iranians have effectively mobilized all their available regional assets in order to preserve it. The commander of the Revolutionary Guards’ elite Qods Force, Qassem Suleimani, went to Syria himself in order to coordinate these efforts. Perhaps most notably, in mid-2012 the Iranians began training a new light infantry force for Assad. Called the National Defense Force, it was necessary because Assad was unable to use much of his own army, which consisted of Sunni conscripts whose loyalty was unreliable. Iran has even sent its own IRGC fighters to fight in Syria; a fact revealed by footage taken by an Iranian cameraman who was later killed by the rebels, the testimony of Syrian defectors, and the capture of a number of IRGC men in August 2012.

In April 2013, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah was summoned to Iran and instructed to deploy his own fighters in Syria. Up to 10,000 of them are now on the ground in Syria at any given time, and they played a crucial role in retaking the strategic town of Qusayr in August 2013. Hezbollah fighters are also taking a prominent role in the battle for the Qalamun area near the Lebanese border, as well as the fighting around Damascus.

Iranian financial donations have also been vital in keeping the regime alive. In January 2013, Iran announced a “credit facility” agreement with Syria that extended a $1 billion line of credit to Assad. Later the same year, an additional credit line of $3.6 billion was announced.

Iraq has also played a vital role in supporting Assad, mainly by allowing Iran to use Iraqi territory and airspace to transfer weapons to Syrian forces. At first glance, this appears to be a strange policy. Relations between Iraq and Syria prior to the civil war were not good, with Maliki openly accusing Assad of supporting Sunni insurgents. But this has now changed. Indeed, Maliki has openly supported Assad since the beginning of the Syrian civil war. This reflects his increasing closeness to Iran, which helped ensure Maliki’s emergence as prime minister after the 2010 elections and pressured Assad to support him as well. Relations between Iraq, Iran, and Syria have only improved since.

In addition to government support, Iraqi Shia militias are now fighting in Syria on behalf of Assad. The Abu Fadl al-Abbas Brigades, Ktaeb Hezbollah, and the Ahl al-Haq group all have forces in Syria. They are playing an important role, given that one of Assad’s major weaknesses is his lack of reliably loyal soldiers. The eruption of violence in Iraq’s western Anbar province has further cemented this alliance, since the insurgency is a direct result of advances made by Sunni jihadis in Syria.

As a result of all this, the Iranian-led side of the regional conflict has emerged as a tightly organized alliance, capable of acting in a coordinated way, pooling its resources for a common goal, and fighting effectively from western Iraq all the way to the Mediterranean.

The Sunni side of the conflict is more chaotic and disjointed. Saudi Arabia is its main financier, but it lacks an equivalent to the Qods force and the IRGC, who are world leaders in subversion and irregular warfare.

Only the most extreme jihadi elements appear capable of clear coordination across borders. For example, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, as its name suggests, is active in both countries and controls a contiguous area stretching from the western Anbar province in Iraq to the eastern Raqqa province in Syria. ISIS regards itself as a franchise of al-Qaeda, although it does not take orders directly from the al-Qaeda leadership in Pakistan. Another al-Qaeda group, Jabhat al-Nusra, is active in Syria. In Lebanon, a third branch of al-Qaeda, the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, has played a role in the attacks on Hezbollah. In addition, both the ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra are active in Lebanon.

But there are also less extreme groups opposing the Syrian-Iranian axis. Saudi Arabia has backed the March 14 movement, which is the main Sunni opposition party in Lebanon, as well as providing financial support to the Lebanese army. In Syria, the Saudis have fostered the Islamic Front, an alliance of eight Islamist groups unconnected to al-Qaeda. It includes some of the strongest rebel brigades, such as Ahrar al-Sham, Liwa al-Islam, and Liwa al-Tawhid. It is now emerging as the key bloc among the rebels. The Saudis also dominate the Syrian opposition in exile, with Ahmed Jarba, who has close links to Riyadh, recently reelected chairman of the Syrian National Coalition.

There are no indications that the Saudis are backing Sunni insurgents in Iraq, but the larger Sunni community is certainly looking to Riyadh for help. Relations between Saudi Arabia and the current Iraqi government are very bad. The border between the two countries is closed except during the Hajj pilgrimage, there is no Saudi embassy in Baghdad, and commercial relations are kept at a minimum. Some of the Sunni tribes in western Anbar have close links to the Saudis. While they are hostile to al-Qaeda, they are also opposed to the Maliki government, which they regard as a sectarian Shia regime.

There is a third element to this regional conflict that is something of a wild card: The Kurds. A non-Arab people who have long sought an independent state, the Kurds have succeeded in creating a flourishing autonomous zone in northern Iraq that enjoys most of the elements of de facto sovereignty. Since July 2012, another Kurdish autonomous zone has been established in northeast Syria. These two areas occupy a contiguous land mass, but are not politically united. The Kurdish Regional Government in Iraq is controlled by the Kurdish Democratic Party, led by Massoud Barzani, while the autonomous zone in northeast Syria is controlled by the PYD (Democratic Union Party), which is the Syrian branch of the Turkish-based leftist PKK movement.

These movements are rivals, and each sees itself as the appropriate leader of the Kurds. But while there is tension between them, each appears to be securely in control of its respective areas. The Kurds do not enjoy the support of any state in the region, and both the Iranians and the Saudis regard Kurdish national aspirations with suspicion. Nonetheless, the Kurds have managed to accumulate sufficient organizational and military strength to ensure the survival of their self-governing enclaves.

All these factors indicate that two rival alliances are clashing for hegemony over the region. There are myriad practical links between the various combatants, and their activities have long since spilled across the borders of the various states involved in the fighting; as indicated by the presence of Iranian fighters, ISIS, and Hezbollah in Syria; Syrian rebels in Lebanon; and many other examples. Iran is the leader of one side, Saudi Arabia is the main backer of the other, while the Kurds are concerned with maintaining their areas of control and are trying to stay out of the conflict.

The most significant result of the analysis is that the continued existence of Syria and Iraq as unified states is now in question. Practically speaking, Syria has already split into three areas, each controlled by one of the three elements listed above. Iraq has also effectively split into Kurdish and Arab zones, with Sunni and Shia groups fighting over the latter.

In many ways, Lebanon ceased to function as a unified state some time ago; since Hezbollah essentially functions as a de facto mini-state of its own. The Lebanese Sunnis lack a military tradition and have proved helpless in the face of Iran’s support for Hezbollah. But now, the emergence of the Syrian rebels and the growing popularity of Islamism among the Sunni underclass may be altering this balance. This appears to be borne out by the recent surge in Sunni violence against Hezbollah, which is the result of an attempt by Syrian jihadis and other rebels—in concert with their local allies—to bring the war to Lebanon.

Taken together, this indicates that a massive paradigm shift is underway in much of the Middle East. The eclipse of Arab nationalist dictatorships in Iraq and Syria, the historical failure to develop a unified national identity in these states, their mixed ethnic and sectarian makeup, and the U.S.’s withdrawal from its dominant position in the region—with the resulting emergence of a Saudi-Iranian rivalry—have all combined to produce an extraordinary result: A region-wide sectarian war is now taking place in the areas still officially referred to as Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

For the West, as in the region itself, this has very serious implications. Dealing with it effectively will required an equally massive paradigm shift in strategic thinking on the Middle East, one that is capable of dispensing with previous illusions and admitting that sovereign borders once regarded as sacrosanct are swiftly becoming meaningless.

There are new borders taking shape, defined by sectarian divisions that the West ignores at its peril. Despite fantasies of withdrawing from the region, the security of global energy supplies and the maintenance of regional stability are still essential to Western interests. The West has as large a stake in the outcome of this sectarian conflict as the regional players involved. If it cannot adapt to the new Middle East that is swiftly taking shape, it will find itself on the losing side.

Jonathan Spyer is a senior research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.

The concluding paragraphs are why we thought highly about the article even we had to make some changes in it – and now again – we do not think the Western powers – the United States and the former Middle East colonial Powers of Britain and France have to try to keep onto the internal borders of the fictional States of Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, they helped create years ago, and then helped maintain by helping the dictatorial and monarchic regimes that they helped institute.

It is obvious – if the Iran led Shia forces and allies come out victorious in Syria, there will be immediate follow-ups in Bahrain and the oil regions of Eastern Saudi Arabia itself – regions with clear Shia majorities.

As we said, the self preservation of the Saudi regime, that is if Saudi Arabia wants indeed to be considered as half of the tongues that hold together the Middle East – takes them to Jerusalem/Tel Aviv/Ramallah – and this might not be what the original article intended.

That article wanted the Saudis to travel to Washington instead – but really – President Obama with the US experience in Iraq and Afghanistan is best advised to let the Arabs stew in their own pot, go for alternate energy, help China go for alternate energy as well – so they are not dependent on this imaginary Middle East source of global oil either. After all – the US has already lost the oil of Iraq and the contracts now are with China – who imagines the US thinks they will still manage the Saudi oil? The only ones still ready to hang on to strong positions in the region are the Israelis – and that is where the Saudis could find real brothers. Trying  to differentiate between varieties of Islamic extremists will not help create that devil with talent to know the difference between an Al-Qaeda Sunni who works well with the Iranian Shia and the Iraqi Sunni who still likes Saudi money.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 20th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

Israel Permanent Representative to the UN in New York, Ambassador Ron Prosor addressed the UN Security Council on the Situation in the Middle East on January 20, 2014 – Martin Luther King Jr. birthday – a US holiday. In his speech Ambassador Prosor  attacked the Palestinian leadership’s continuous incitement against Israel and discussed the violence and instability afflicting the Middle East region.

 

Thank you, Mr. President.

 

 

 

Before I begin, I want to express Israel’s condolences on the death of United Nations personnel in Friday’s terrorist attack in Kabul.  There is no excuse for targeting civilians and UN workers.

 

 

 

Mr. President,

 

 

 

Allow me to take this opportunity to congratulate Jordan on its election to the Security Council.  We thank the Secretary-General, Foreign Minister Judeh, Mr. Jean Asselborn, and Vice Minister Cho Tae-yul for being here today.

 

 

 

We also congratulate the new non-permanent members of the Security Council – Chad, Chile, Lithuania and Nigeria. You as Ambassadors have the privilege of representing your countries – good luck.

 

 

 

Mr. President,

 

 

 

The Middle East is known as the cradle of civilization – the birthplace of history’s greatest empires and three world religions.  The region was once admired for its stirring art, striking architecture and significant innovations.

 

 

 

Today, the world looks at the Middle East and sees a region shaken by violence.  From the Arabian Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, not a day goes by when we do not read about brutality and bloodshed or new threats looming on the horizon.

 

 

 

Amidst this sea of hostility, Israel is an island of stability and democracy.  It is a nation in which the majority governs, but the minority enjoys equal rights; a nation that embraces diversity and welcomes diverse opinions; and, a nation that leads the world in human rights and encourages women to be leaders.

 

 

 

Israel is proud of its democracy and yearns for peace with its neighbors and security in its borders.  The people of Israel are still mourning the loss of their legendary statesman and soldier, Ariel Sharon.  He was a fearless leader who knew the heavy price of war and was willing to take bold steps for peace. 

 

 

 

The State of Israel is still willing to take courageous steps for peace and is committed to serious and meaningful negotiations with the Palestinians. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the United States and Secretary Kerry, in particular, for his tireless devotion to promoting peace in our region.

 

Mr. President,

 

 

 

Twenty years ago, I recall watching King Hussein and Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin meet in the Arava desert to sign the historic peace treaty between our two countries.  At the signing, King Hussein said (and I quote), “This is peace with commitment. This is our gift to our peoples and the generations to come.” 

 

 

 

Fifteen years after his death, King Hussein’s legacy of peace lives on. Israelis from across the political and religious spectrum still admire King Hussein’s towering morality and his profound belief in the sanctity of life and the dignity of every human being. 

 

 

 

I and most Israelis will never forget the sight of King Hussein consoling the Israeli families whose children had been killed in a terrorist attack.  After learning that a Jordanian soldier had murdered seven Israeli schoolgirls, King Hussein traveled to Israel to visit the homes of the bereaved families.  One by one, he sat with the grieving parents, held their hands, offered words of condolence and hugged and kissed them.

 

 

 

King Hussein told them (and I quote), “I feel that if there is anything left in life, it will be to ensure that all the children enjoy the kind of peace and security that we never had in our times.”  This is the legacy that his son, King Abdullah, proudly continues today.

 

 

 

Mr. President,

 

 

 

Contrast this picture, with a picture from just a few weeks ago. In December, Israel once again made the heartbreaking decision to release convicted Palestinian terrorists in an effort to advance the peace process. 

 

 

 

The released terrorists were given a heroes’ welcome by the Palestinians and embraced by President Abbas.  Murderers were met with fireworks and festivities and showered with candies and congratulations.  The Palestinian Authority is rewarding terrorists with tens of thousands of dollars. The motto of the PA’s pension plan seems to be ‘the more you slay, the more we pay.’ 

 

 

 

This is coexistence? This is tolerance? This is mutual respect?  Grieving Israelis watched as Palestinians celebrated men like Abu Harbish who threw a firebomb at a bus, murdering 26-year-old Rachel Weiss and her three young children. 

 

 

 

To everyone in this room I ask – how would you feel if you had to watch your family’s murderers being celebrated?  Would you call into question the so-called ‘peaceful’ intentions of your neighbors? President Abbas could learn a great deal from King Hussein of Jordan about demonstrating his commitment to making peace.

 

 

 

Mr. President,

 

 

 

Since peace talks began in July, there have been hundreds of examples of Palestinian incitement against Israelis and Jews.  From cradles to kindergartens and from schools to soccer stadiums, Palestinian children are besieged by messages of hate. 

 

 

 

They are born in hospitals named after violent Palestinian groups, attend schools named after terrorists, and are taught from textbooks that describe Zionism as racism.  In their free time, Palestinian children play on sports teams named after murderers and watch television programs that teach that Jews are “our enemies and should be killed.”

 

 

 

Rather than condemning this incitement, the Palestinian Authority is amplifying the messages of intolerance.  President Abbas’s Fatah party regularly displays maps that erase Israel. In one map, for example, the Palestinian flag flies over the entire geographic area of the State of Israel.  This map extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River and is entitled “Palestine.” 

 

 

 

In a speech on Christmas Day, President Abbas declared that Jesus was a (quote) “Palestinian messenger” and suggested Israel was to blame for the exodus of Christians from the Holy Land.  This is a blatant attempt to rewrite history and erase any connection between the Jewish people and the land of Israel.  Today we are witnessing a mass exodus of Christians from the Palestinian territories and the Arab world because of the constant persecution and discrimination that they face by the Arab states.

 

 

 

Abbas’s made-up maps and mythical accounts could join the fables of One Thousand and One Nights.

 

 

 

We have already lost an entire generation to incitement.  How many more children will grow up being taught hate instead of peace; violence instead of tolerance; and martyrdom instead of mutual understanding?  The international community must finally confront Palestinian leaders and publically demand an end to the incitement.

 

 

 

Mr. President,

 

 

 

The glorification of terrorists combined with unrelenting messages of hate are having deadly consequences.  In 2013, there were 1,500 attacks against Israelis, 700 of which occurred after peace negotiations began in July.  In recent months there has been a sharp increase in terrorist attacks including the murder of five Israelis.

 

 

 

Just last month, a Palestinian sniper murdered 22-year-old Saleh Abu Latif, an Israeli Bedouin civilian.  Two day earlier, a bomb exploded on a civilian bus in a suburb just outside Tel Aviv.  Had it not been for the quick thinking of the bus driver and an alert passenger, dozens of people could have been killed.  A successful attack could have had disastrous consequences for the peace talks.

 

 

 

In the face of this violence and bloodshed we have yet to hear President Abbas and the Palestinian Authority, utter a single word denouncing these attacks. They even remained silent when it was revealed that one of the bus bombers was a member of the Palestinian police force.  While most police forces have officers that uproot terrorism, this police officer was busy planting bombs.

 

 

 

The Palestinian leadership has yet to learn that real peace requires real commitment. You cannot condemn terrorism to international media and congratulate terrorists on Palestinian media.  You cannot victimize others and then insist you are the victim.  And you cannot use this forum to spread destructive messages and expect constructive results.

 

 

 

Mr. President,

 

 

 

How many times have you heard that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the major conflict in the Middle East?  ‘You solve this conflict, you solve all the conflicts in the Middle East.’ Some in this Chamber have even repeated this fiction.

 

 

 

Really?  The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the major conflict in the Middle East? Wow. People who say this need an eye doctor to help them see clearly – beginning maybe with the ophthalmologist from Damascus, Bashar al-Assad, who is butchering his people every day.  I’m sure that’s connected to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

 

 

 

Shiites fighting Sunnis fighting Alawites; extremist groups battling one another in Libya, Yemen and Tunisia; Al-Qaeda forces overrunning major cities in Iraq – all of this is caused by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? That’s a revelation.

 

 

 

The truth is that Israel is an island of stability in a sea of tyranny.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose legacy is being celebrated today, once described Israel as (quote): “one of the great outposts of democracy in the world and a marvelous example of what can be done – how desert land can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy. Peace for Israel means security, and that security must be a reality.”

 

 

 

I think it should be obvious that the violence and instability afflicting the Middle East has nothing to do with Israel. We must solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on its own merits because it’s important for us. Solving this conflict isn’t a prescription to cure the epidemic of violence plaguing the Middle East.

 

 

 

Despite what you constantly hear, the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has never been about borders or settlements. The major obstacle to peace remains the refusal of Palestinian leaders to accept the Jewish State in any border. You will never hear President Abbas or any Palestinian leader utter the phrase “two states for two peoples.”

 

 

 

Let me understand this – the Palestinians call for an independent Palestinian state, but want millions of their people to flood the Jewish state?  It will never happen.  It is a complete nonstarter.  Many in this Chamber are vocal about telling Israel what to do, but begin to stutter, mumble and fall silent when it comes to telling the Palestinians what they must do.  

 

 

 

Each and everyone here must tell the Palestinians that there will never be peace as long as they refuse to recognize Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people and insist on a so-called right of return.

 

 

 

Mr. President,

 

 

 

Despite what many may believe, Israel dedicates a great deal of its energy and resources to assisting the Palestinian people.  Today, more than 100,000 Palestinians earn their living in Israel and their income constitutes more than 10% of the Palestinian GDP. 

 

 

 

Israel helps generate solutions to energize the Palestinian economy.  We transfer millions of dollars in electricity, water and natural gas to power Palestinian homes, schools and hospitals.  When a giant storm struck last month, Israel delivered humanitarian aid and water pumps and facilitated the passage of fuel and cooking gas to Palestinians in need.

 

 

 

Yet for every truckload in the name of coexistence, we seem to be feeding a Palestinian opposition that challenges our very existence.  It is time for Palestinians leaders to lead.  It is time for them to set a course towards coexistence.  And it is time for them to build the Palestinian people up rather than tear Israel down.

 

 

 

Mr. President,

 

 

 

The Middle East is plagued by a reign of tyrants and a drought in leadership.  Millions of people have taken to the streets demanding better lives, better economies and greater opportunities.  The first peaceful protests in the region were in the streets of Tehran, where the government brutalizes it citizens and throws innocent people into jail. 

 

 

 

Many in the international community believed that the new Iranian president would set a new precedent.  It has been almost six months since President Rouhani took office and Iran is still persecuting minorities, imprisoning journalists, and targeting political adversaries.  The Iranian government has executed more of its citizens per capita than any other government. Last year alone, the regime executed almost 600 people, including 367 since President Rouhani took office in August. 

 

 

 

Iran does not confine its violence and extremism to its own borders.  From Buenos Aires to Burgas, Iran is the world’s primary sponsor of terror.  Just this month, Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif paid tribute on behalf of the Islamic Republic at the grave of one of Hezbollah’s most notorious murderers.

 

 

 

Rather than cleaning house, the new president believes he can sweep Iran’s atrocities under the Persian rug by introducing UN resolutions that condemn violence and extremism. Iran’s WAVE resolution may have made a splash at the UN, but messages of intolerance and violence continue to trickle down from the top.

 

 

 

Behind Iran’s smiling façade, President Rouhani and Ayatollah Khamenei continue to preach hatred and provoke hostility.  Ayatollah Khamenei recently appeared on state television and delegitimized Israel using disgusting profanity that doesn’t bear repeating.

 


The ink is barely dry on the interim nuclear agreement and Iran is already showing its true colors. This is a regime that crosses red lines, produces yellow cake, and beats its citizens black and blue.  Meanwhile, some in the international community are willing to serve Iran its yellow cake on a silver platter.  Permitting Iran to keep its enrichment capabilities today means that Iran will retain the ability to breakout and build a nuclear bomb tomorrow.

 


Mr. President,

 

 

 

Violence is encoded in the Iranian regime’s DNA.  It doesn’t take a crime scene investigator to see Iran’s fingerprints on the violence erupting in parts of the Middle East. 

 

 

 

In the Gaza Strip, Iran backs the Hamas terrorist organization that uses Palestinian schools, hospitals and mosques to launch rockets at Israeli citizens.  We are barely three weeks into the new year and Hamas has already launched 17 rockets at Israel – attacks that have closed schools and kept tens of thousands of children in Southern Israel at home.

 

 

 

The international community has yet to find the time to utter even a single condemnation of these attacks – attacks that could derail the peace process.  It has also yet to condemn Hamas for deliberately exploiting children.  Schools in Gaza have become the training ground for the next generation of terrorists. Last week, Hamas graduated 13,000 students from paramilitary camps geared at training children to fight Israel.

 

 

 

In Lebanon, Iran has helped Hezbollah hijack the Lebanese state and transform it into an outpost for terror.  For years, Hezbollah insisted it needed a private army to defend Lebanon against Israel. Today, that army has sent 2,000 fighters to butcher the Syrian people and shoot rockets into Israel.

 

 

 

Hezbollah has positioned 60,000 missiles and rockets in the heart of Southern Lebanon’s civilian population.  General Hajizadeh, a senior commander in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards recently boasted that Hezbollah has improved its missile capabilities and can now “hit and destroy any target” in Israel.

 

 

 

Hezbollah intentionally hides these missiles in the basements of homes, in the playgrounds of schools, and in the back rooms of hospitals.  In doing so, Hezbollah is committing a double war crime – first by using Lebanese civilians as human shields and second by targeting Israeli citizens.

 

 

 

The Government of Lebanon cannot continue to ignore what is happening in Southern Lebanon and it can no longer ignore its international obligations under resolution 1701.  Throughout December, armed terrorists fired shots across the Blue Line into northern Israel.  In one incident, a member of the Lebanese Armed Forces shot Israeli, Shlomi Cohen, in a ruthless and unprovoked attack.

 

 

 

It is time for this Council to hold accountable all those that arm, train and harbor terrorists. It is time to speak out against those who callously disregard human life.  As we have seen in Syria, the failure to do so has disastrous consequences.

 

 

 

Mr. President,

 

 

 

The war in Syria is approaching its fourth year and the death toll continues to climb.  The Syrian government has resorted to new depths of brutality by dropping “barrel bombs” packed with explosives, nails and other shrapnel on markets and hospitals. In just a few days, more than 700 people were killed and over 3,000 were injured. 

 

 

 

The State of Israel and the Jewish people are deeply troubled by the suffering of the Syrian people and are reaching out to help them.  While some in the region are aiding the murderous Assad regime, Israel is providing medical aid. 

 

 

 

Sunnis, Alawites and Shiites are running to Israel – the so-called “enemy” because they know that Israel will treat anyone without prejudice and regardless of ethnicity, religion or gender. And we will continue to lend humanitarian assistance to the victims with open arms and an open heart.

 

 

 

Mr. President,

 

 

 

Today, the Middle East stands at a critical juncture.  There are two roads before us.  The first is the future offered by Iran and Syria – a future of more extremism and greater violence.  And the second is the road towards equality, reform and stability.  

 

 

 

Study after study has shown the clear connection between advancing peace and advancing equal rights.  When a woman receives an education, her children are healthier and more likely to get an education. And when a woman generates her own income she reinvests 90% in her family and community.  But women can only help drive a nation’s economy if they are allowed into the driver’s seat.

 

 

 

As we begin this new year, the international community must call upon Arab leaders to choose the path of progress and abandon the road of repression.  Tell them that tyranny will fail; tell them peace is built on tolerance; and tell them that every man and every woman is entitled to equal rights and equal opportunities.

 

 

 

As Winston Churchill said: “All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom… honor…hope.”  The international community must stand on the side of human rights and human dignity. You must speak up and speak out so that the people of the Middle East can finally enjoy freedom, honor and hope.

 

Thank you, Mr. President.

======================================

 AND FROM THE UNITED STATES:

 

01/20/2014 02:46 PM EST

 


 

 

 

Thank you, Mr. President, thank you for joining us here today and for chairing this critical session. Thank you Secretary General Ban, Mr. Deputy Secretary General. And thank you also Foreign Minister Judeh for your remarks.

Mr. President, ministers, colleagues, the Middle East has often been prey to the turbulence of conflicting forces, but rarely have we seen efforts toward peace and the staggering human costs of war so vividly and simultaneously evident.

This contrast is especially striking in Syria, where diplomatic initiatives have intensified against the backdrop of an ever more brutal civil war. The best way to begin to end that war is through the Geneva II talks scheduled to start in Switzerland on Wednesday. My government has been working closely with the international community and the Syrian Opposition Coalition to prepare for that conference. We welcome the Coalition’s courageous decision this past weekend to participate in the talks, the purpose of which is implementation of the Geneva Action Group Communiqué. That document calls for the establishment, based on mutual consent, of a transitional governing body with full executive authority, including over military and security entities. It is vital that all participants in the opening ministerial and subsequent talks support that core goal. As of this morning, Iran still has yet to demonstrate its willingness to explicitly and publicly subscribe to the full implementation of the Geneva communiqué that is a minimum requirement for participation in this peace process.

Mr. President, the Syrian government’s recent and deadly bombing campaign — including the use of SCUD missiles and “barrel bombs” — in the Aleppo and Damascus suburbs provides a further demonstration of the Asad regime’s cruelty and of the fact that there is no military solution to this conflict. That is why we are so focused on a negotiated political transition of the type to be discussed in Geneva.

The urgency of diplomatic progress is highlighted by the deepening of the humanitarian crisis created by the war and by the Syrian government’s failure to implement the Council’s October 2 presidential statement. In recent days, the Syrian regime has seemingly agreed to improve humanitarian access to besieged areas, but we haven’t seen evidence of meaningful implementation on the ground. For months, communities including Yarmouk, East Ghouta, Darayya, Old City of Homs, and Mouadhamiya have been besieged and cut off from food and medical supplies. And it is not just the case that food can’t get in. People, starving people, desperate people, can’t get out. And in the very rare occasions that evacuations from besieged areas are organized, the regime has taken inhabitants away to be screened. In many cases the whereabouts of those individuals are unknown and remain unknown today.

East Ghouta is an egregious example of Syrian obstruction. This is an area where international chemical weapons inspectors were allowed access, but 160,000 civilians remain cut off from humanitarian aid. Pro-Assad snipers regularly target residents attempting to travel through checkpoints. The government has blockaded fuel supplies and residents have electricity for only a couple of hours a day. A young child even died of carbon monoxide poisoning because his family had been compelled to burn firewood inside their house to keep warm. Let us be clear: if inspectors can obtain access to East Ghouta, so too should the providers of medicine and food.

Yarmouk provides another tragic example. It has been under constant siege since July 2013. Recent reports of more than a dozen malnutrition-related deaths among children and other Palestinian residents are horrifying and should shock the conscience of all of us. We received reports from the UN in recent days that UNRWA was able, finally, to carry in a small amount of food parcels: 200 parcels that will feed 1,000 people for one month. There are 18,000 people in Yarmouk who are under siege, lacking food and medicine. It is devastating to imagine how starving people will divide up the food parcels. Humanitarian providers who managed to deliver these parcels literally had to dodge sniper fire.

Although the regime is primarily responsible for denying humanitarian assistance, some opposition groups have also been culpable in such communities as Nubl, Zahra and Fuo. This is unacceptable. The deliberate blocking or withholding of life-giving aid by any party cannot be justified and must stop now – before more innocent people die.

Mr. President, the plight of Syrian civilians and refugees is heartbreaking and makes last week’s conference in Kuwait all the more important. The United States pledged $380 million in new funds to help tackle the crisis, bringing our total commitment since the fighting began to more than $1.7 billion. We welcome the new pledges from other donor nations, as well as the international community’s renewed commitment to assist the Syrian people and the neighboring countries that are providing a safe haven for refugees.

In the brief period before Geneva II, and as the talks go forward, it is critical that we make concrete progress on humanitarian access issues. We must also do everything that we can to halt the violence. To that end, we call urgently on all parties to agree on local ceasefires and to move ahead with prisoner releases.

We commend, Mr. President, your country of Jordan for sheltering some 600,000 refugees and we recognize the enormous economic and social toll the conflict has taken on your country. Jordan has opened its doors for an emergency situation and we know that that is draining its domestic resources. The international community has an obligation to ensure that Jordan’s generosity does not become an unsustainable burden on its population.

In Lebanon, the situation has grown even more perilous, as the Syrian war has exacerbated the security, financial, and social pressures faced by the nation’s leaders. More than 1,600 Lebanese communities bear the burden of hosting more than 900,000 refugees from Syria. My government continues to help Lebanon tackle its massive challenges via the recently-established International Support Group (ISG), and we urge other donors also to provide aid that is consistent with ISG priorities.

A stable and united Lebanon, with strong democratic institutions, is in the best interests of the Lebanese people and of citizens throughout the Middle East. In that context, we encourage formation of a new cabinet to address the country’s security, economic and humanitarian challenges and to meet its international obligations.

The Syrian civil war has contributed to rising sectarian violence and political friction inside Lebanon. As has been said, the December 27 assassination of the widely-respected former finance minister, Mohammad Chattah was an outrage. The January 2 suicide bombing in southern Beirut’s Haret Hreik neighborhood killed five people and wounded many more. Meanwhile, sporadic violence has continued for weeks in Tripoli and near the Syrian border. To that end, we note Saudi Arabia’s commitment – announced last month – to provide generous amounts of additional aid to the Lebanese Armed Forces. We will continue to partner closely with Lebanon’s security services, which have a pivotal role to play in support of Lebanon’s security and its sovereignty.

We condemn the violence and urge all parties to exercise restraint, and commend the LAF for their efforts to stem the violence. The Lebanese government’s policy of disassociation from the Syrian conflict, as enshrined in the Baabda declaration, must be upheld.

It is equally vital that all relevant Security Council resolutions be implemented, including numbers 1559 and 1701, which call for the disbandment and disarmament of all militias in Lebanon. The United States strongly condemns the December 29 rocket attack that was launched from Lebanese territory into Israel.

Finally, we welcome the start of the trial before the Special Tribunal for Lebanon of four persons charged with the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and others who were killed in the bombing. This trial is a positive step toward justice and away from the acceptance of impunity for political violence. We commend the Lebanese Government and other donor countries for supporting the court.

Turning to the subject of Middle East peace, the United States is continuing its efforts to assist the Israelis and Palestinians in reaching a final-status agreement that recognizes two states for two peoples, living side-by-side in peace and security. Secretary of State Kerry returned to the region earlier this month in support of a proposed framework that addresses all core issues. As the parties consider the difficult decisions ahead, the United States remains convinced that the benefits of peace – for both sides – can best be achieved through the kind of process in which we are presently engaged.

Accordingly, the United States reiterates its view that all parties should refrain from actions that might undermine the atmosphere required for ongoing negotiations. Steps that diminish trust, such as continued settlement activity, only feed skepticism on both sides.

Further, we are deeply troubled by the escalation of violence leading to civilian casualties and condemn rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel and the attempt to kill civilians by placing a bomb on a public bus in Tel Aviv.

We are also seriously concerned about the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, and urge all parties to cooperate in expanding access for people, goods, and humanitarian supplies.

The consistent support of peace efforts by key partners is essential. We particularly welcome the European Union’s generous pledge last month to provide “unprecedented” political and economic support for Israel and the Palestinians in the context of a final status peace agreement. We are gratified, as well, by the decision of the Arab League, whose representatives met with Secretary Kerry in Paris on January 12, to reaffirm its commitment to these negotiations.

Finally, Mr. President, on Iraq, I thank the Secretary General for reporting on his recent visit and would like to commend the United Nations Assistance Mission and the High Commissioner for Refugees for their efforts to ensure the delivery of aid to the people of Anbar Province. The U.S. strongly condemns the attacks carried out by forces affiliated with Al-Qaida in Anbar and elsewhere in Iraq. Their brazen attempt at destabilization cannot be allowed to succeed. As this Council, in its recent statement made clear, “No terrorist act can reverse the path towards peace, democracy and reconstruction, which is supported by the people and Government of Iraq and the international community.” In that spirit, we are encouraged by the cooperation being shown by Iraq’s government, its national security forces, and local tribal leaders in trying to restore stability, resist terrorist aggression, and ease the hardships faced by Iraqi civilians.

Mr. President, I too note that, in the United States, today is a national holiday. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. taught the citizens of my country and people everywhere to pursue justice and the resolution of differences by peaceful means. In his words, “returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.” The wisdom in that warning is always and everywhere relevant, but never more so than now in the Middle East, where peace initiatives demand our support amid the anguish of continued conflict.

Thank you.

==============================================================

Statement by UK Ambassador Sir Mark Lyall Grant to UN Security Council on Situation in the Middle East – 20 January 2014  

 

 

 

Thank you, Mr President.

 

I welcome your Foreign Minister’s attendance in the Security Council today. And I would also like to thank the Secretary-General for his statement and the representatives of Palestine and Israel for their contributions to this debate.

 

 

 

As we enter 2014, we are at a moment of opportunity for the Middle East Peace Process. Entering back into direct negotiations last year was a bold step forward. It was a welcome move toward peace in a troubled area. It is the responsibility of all of us here to support the parties, led by the United States, to capitalise on this opportunity.

 

 

 

My government continues to put its full support behind Secretary Kerry and his team, and we urge the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships to continue their admirable focus and commitment.

 

 

 

This year started on a positive note with the implementation of Israel’s brave decision to release the third tranche of Palestinian prisoners. The United Kingdom firmly believes that such steps, despite their difficulty, are important to achieving a lasting peace and security.

 

 

 

However, we are very concerned by Israel’s decision to announce further settlement building in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. My government condemns these announcements and considers such actions as a serious a threat to peace. We urge Israel to avoid any further illegal settlement activity and to reverse the advancement of plans.

 

 

 

The United Kingdom has also been clear that for this process to be a success, people on the ground – both Israelis and Palestinians – need to see the real and tangible benefits of peace. We remain deeply concerned about the 663 Palestinian-owned homes and livelihood structures demolished in Area C and East Jerusalem in 2013. Demolitions and evictions are harmful to the peace process; and, in all but the most limited circumstances, are contrary to international humanitarian law.  Reports of “price-tag” attacks, including on a mosque in Deir Istiya village on 15 January, are also of serious concern. We condemn such acts and urge the Israeli authorities to bring those responsible to justice.

 

 

 

We are also concerned about rocket fire from the Gaza strip into Israel and in particular condemn the rockets fired at Ashkelon on 16 January in violation of international law.  All parties must respect the November 2012 ceasefire agreement in full. The people of Gaza and Israel will only lose from further violence.

 

 

 

There will be difficult decisions in the months ahead, but we urge all those involved to keep their shared goal in mind – a negotiated two state solution leading to a sovereign, viable and contiguous Palestinian state living in peace and security alongside a safe and secure Israel. The United Kingdom stands ready to do its part. That is why we strongly back the European Union’s readiness to offer an unprecedented package of political, economic and security support to both parties in the event that a final status deal is reached.

 

 

 

Mr President, on Syria,

 

The United Nations Secretary-General has made clear that the aim of this week’s Geneva Conference on Syria is to “assist the Syrian parties in ending the violence and achieving a comprehensive agreement for a political settlement, implementing fully the Geneva Communiqué, while preserving the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Syria”.  As the permanent members of this Council agreed on 30 June 2012, and was endorsed by the whole Council in Resolution 2118 last September, this means agreeing a transitional governing body in Syria with full executive powers, formed by mutual consent, to meet the aspirations of the Syrian people. 

 

 

 

Yesterday, the Secretary-General announced that he was extending an invitation to Iran to attend the opening of the conference at Montreux on the basis that they acknowledge that the conference’s purpose is the full implementation of the original Geneva Communiqué. If they are to attend, it is now vital that the Iranian government confirm publicly and clearly that they share this understanding.

 

 

 

We have also urged the United Nations, as mandated by the Security Council in many resolutions, including resolution 2122 of October 2013,  to ensure a full role for women in the Syrian peace negotiations. 

 

 

It is important to remember these negotiations  will be a process – not a single event . We should not underestimate the formidable challenges ahead and we must not lose sight of the desperate situation Syrian civilians are facing on a daily basis. 

 

 

 

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights now puts the death toll at over 125,000 people.  In Aleppo and across all of Syria, we have seen the regime continue to attack its own civilian population with barrel bombs.  This indiscriminate bombardment is yet another war crime on the part of the regime and Assad and those around him should be in no doubt that the world will hold them to account.   The situation in Syria should be referred to the International Criminal Court.

 

 

 

Mr President,

 

The humanitarian crisis has reached catastrophic proportions.  11 million Syrians are in desperate need of urgent assistance, particularly in besieged and hard to reach areas.  This is an unparalleled crisis and the world needs to respond accordingly.  We welcome the $2.4 billion in pledges made at the Kuwait Pledging Conference last week.  My government announced a further pledge of $163 million in humanitarian assistance, bringing our total contribution to nearly $1 billion – the largest sum that the United Kingdom has ever committed to a single crisis.  This funding is going towards meeting the basic lifesaving needs of Syrians affected by the conflict, both inside Syria and in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq. 

 

 

 

We pay tribute to those neighbouring countries, including Jordan, for the burden that they are carrying to help alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people.

 

 

 

But increased funding can only make a difference if there is progress on access and protection for humanitarian actors in Syria – where 21 UN staff members remain in Government detention and 47 humanitarian workers have now been killed.  Progress on implementing this Council’s Presidential Statement of 2nd of October remains extremely limited.  It is unacceptable that humanitarian organisations are being deliberately obstructed by the regime from delivering aid. The regime has shown it can facilitate access for chemical weapons inspectors – it needs to show the same commitment to ensuring aid reaches those most in need. 

 

Thank you, Mr President.

 

 

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 14th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

TWO VERY DIFFERENT ARTICLES OF THE SAME BLOG – The Al-MONITOR OF THE SAME DAY: HOW THEY DEAL WITH A VERY COMPLEX BUT AN IMMENSE FIGURE.

 

Palestinians may be missing the point on Sharon legacy.

by Mazal Mualem    Posted January 13, 2014

Mazal Mualem picture

Mazal Mualem

Columnist

Mazal Mualem is a columnist for Al-Monitor’s Israel Pulse, specializing in Israeli politics and social issues. From 2003 until 2011 she served as the senior political correspondent of Israeli daily Haaretz. Later she joined Israeli daily Maariv as their senior political correspondent and wrote a weekly political column. Parallel to her writing activities, she presents a weekly TV show covering social issues on the Knesset channel.

Mazal Mualem was born in the town of Migdal Haemek, and started her journalistic career during her military service in Israel, where she was assigned to the weekly army newspaper Bamachane.

Mazal Mualem holds a master’s degree from Tel Aviv University in security/political science.

From her name we assume that her family came to Israel from an Arab country.

—————————————————————————–

She writes:

The Palestinians’ insistence on regarding late Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, even after his death, as nothing more than a war criminal responsible for the massacre in Sabra and Shatila and the construction of the settlements is overly simplistic and anachronistic. More than anything else, this approach misses the complexity of the man and the central leadership role he had in Israeli history. Yes, Sharon did build settlements, but on two occasions he also removed Jews from their homes: once, when serving as defense minister, when he evacuated the Sinai settlements in 1982, as part of the peace agreement with Egypt; and again, as prime minister, when he developed and implemented the plan to disengage from the Gaza Strip and the north of the West Bank in 2005.

When senior Fatah member Jibril Rajoub bemoans the fact that he never got to see Sharon tried as a war criminal by the International Criminal Court and accuses him of assassinating PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat — and he does this on the very day that Sharon died — he is giving voice to a very narrow and selective worldview. When my colleague Daoud Kuttab turns to the younger generation of Palestinians and only attributes the massacre in the refugee camps to Sharon, without mentioning the evacuation of Yamit (from the Sinai), the Disengagement and the establishment of the Kadima Party — which Sharon thought of as a platform to consolidate an agreement with the Palestinians — he is distorting the image and person of Sharon as a bold and pragmatic leader.

 

Some of the Palestinian spokespeople sounded a lot like Israel’s extreme right, which was also happy about the death of the former prime minister. They chose to disparage him and his memory before he was brought to rest. Knesset member Orit Strock of the HaBayit HaYehudi Party, for example, accused Sharon of destroying his country and thanked God for his death. Both Rajoub and Strock, who has since apologized, regard Sharon as a demonic, destructive figure. The one-dimensional way in which the Palestinian representative and the representative of Israel’s extreme right wing see Sharon is, perhaps, the best possible proof of the many layers and conflicts that made up his life.

 

Sharon’s second term as prime minister, in which he made some of the most fundamental decisions by any Israeli leader concerning the Palestinians since Rabin decided to embrace the Oslo Accord, sums up his leadership. He was pragmatic, cynical and capable of making a decision and implementing it through the power of his leadership. With regard to the conflict with the Palestinians and the promotion of a two-state solution, he left an enormously important legacy behind that will determine how future challenges are confronted. He proved that the sovereign State of Israel is capable of making a controversial decision and implementing it, without having the government’s legitimacy be challenged.

 

The man who once declared that Gaza Strip settlement Netzarim is just like Tel Aviv, and then went through a metamorphosis and evacuated Netzarim out of a deep belief that by doing so he would be bolstering Israel’s security, proved that an Israeli prime minister can make pivotal decisions, great decisions, even if threats of bloodshed and civil war loom in the background. Sharon did not blink when he evacuated the settlements, even though he was also the person who put them there. He did it at the very moment it seemed as if the state had since lost its ability to make big decision, and in so doing he restored faith in the state to many. That is a central part of his legacy.

 

He displayed great courage when he shattered the political status quo between the Likud and Labor parties. In what has since become known as the “Big Bang,” he united politicians from the left and the right into a large centrist party. What did President Shimon Peres and former Minister Haim Ramon, two dovish politicians from the Labor Party, see in Sharon that the Palestinians still do not see today? They said it themselves on countless occasions: the man who rightfully earned the title of “Father of the Settlements,” woke up from the illusion of the occupation and became a powerful leader, who could make difficult decisions and bring them to fruition.

 

Sharon even paved the way for his heir former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and later for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to make painful concessions, when he showed them that the state remains intact even after the evacuation of settlements from a strip of land and its transfer to the Palestinians. Then, like now, the predominant feeling was that given the large number of settlements, no one could move them. Furthermore, before Sharon the last prime minister to make concessions to the Palestinians and seriously withdraw from the occupied territories was Yitzhak Rabin, who paid for it with his life.

 

It’s no coincidence that US Vice President Joe Biden, perhaps even more than Israeli leaders, was able to put his finger on precisely what it was about Sharon’s multifaceted personality that made him a great leader. In a very moving and personal speech that Biden delivered at the state funeral in Knesset Square on Jan. 13, he described Sharon as a complex individual and noted that it was this feature that characterizes all the great leaders of history. He related how Sharon would come into conflict with the US administration on numerous occasions, but, “like all historic leaders, all real leaders, he had a north star that guided him, a north star from which he never, in my observation, never deviated. His north star was the survival of the state of Israel and the Jewish people wherever they resided.” Biden spoke of the political courage that Sharon had, and recalled the Disengagement Plan, when he told thousands of Israelis to leave their homes. “I can’t think of a more difficult and controversial decision he made,” said Biden.

 

Biden added that Sharon “was a complicated man, and to understand him, history will judge that he also lived in complex times, in a very complex neighborhood. I would say that Ariel Sharon’s journey and the journey of the State of Israel are inseparable.” At the end of his speech, Biden rightly raised the question, “What would have happened if he had been healthy and lived?” Sharon left the public stage when he was at the height of his political career as a leader. He had big plans to resolve the conflict with the Palestinians, and he had the strength needed to implement those plans. So what would have happened had he not slipped into a coma? We can only imagine.

Read more:

Top Story

Sharon’s legacy: Only death is irreversible

by Akiva Eldar, January 13, 2014

Akiva Eldar is a columnist for Al-Monitor’s Israel Pulse. He was formerly a senior columnist and editorial writer for Haaretz and also served as the Hebrew daily’s US bureau chief and diplomatic correspondent. His most recent book (with Idith Zertal), Lords of the Land, on the Jewish settlements, was on the best-seller list in Israel and has been translated into English, French, German and Arabic.

Read more: www.al-monitor.com/pulse/israel-pulse?utm_source=Al-Monitor+Newsletter+%5BEnglish%5D&utm_campaign=bfa213c780-January_9_20141_8_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_28264b27a0-bfa213c780-93102841#ixzz2qOdBXfEu

It was in the spring of 1992, a number of months after the Madrid Conference, which began the peace process, and before the elections to the Knesset that ended 15 years of Likud Party rule. Ariel Sharon, then the minister of housing in the Shamir government, invited me to tour the Samaria region. From the heights of one of the hills near the Alfei Menashe settlement, he pointed to innumerable, randomly scattered clusters of red roofs, and many gleaming asphalt roads crisscrossing the landscape.

“You’re probably asking yourself, what’s the point of scattering small settlements on every hilltop, instead of concentrating all of them in one settlement?” Sharon thundered in his unique voice and explained, “This dispersion is intended to prevent any government established in Israel from returning to the borders of the Green Line and enabling the creation of a Palestinian state.”

Twenty-two years later, cabinet members who passed before Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s coffin, knew that not too long from now they will have to choose between the creation of a Palestinian state, with a western border based on the Green Line, and a diplomatic-security crisis and the risk of an economic boycott. The motto “Another goat and another dunam” that Sharon inherited from the leaders of the mother party of Israel’s Labor Party, Mapai, who founded the state, has ended its role. The 1977 plan, “A million Jews in Judea and Samaria,” which was meant to thwart the plan to divide the land, has passed from the world.

Despite the generous aid that Sharon and his heirs have offered, and still offer, the settlers, less than 400,000 Jews, 5% of Israel’s population, have chosen to settle in the West Bank. Two-thirds of them are crowded in areas abutting the Green Line. The vast dispersion of isolated settlements all over the West Bank has not swayed the international community to abandon its insistence on the 1967 borders and on territorial exchange as a key to a diplomatic agreement. There is no phenomenon that causes more damage to Israel’s status in the world like the settlement enterprise.

As defense minister in Begin’s government (1981-83), Sharon’s goal was to destroy once and for all the idea of dividing the land and perpetuate the vision of Greater Israel. On this issue, too, he achieved the opposite of his intentions. The pursuit of the leadership of the PLO, and Palestinian Authoriy Chairman Yasser Arafat specifically, into Beirut, in the Lebanon War (1982), which was meant to create a “new order” in Lebanon and push out the PLO, embroiled the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in a bloody war and strengthened the Shiite, pro-Iranian forces in Lebanon.

More so, the loss of control in Lebanon was the main incentive for Arafat and his exiled friends in Tunisia to recognize Israel within the 1967 borders in 1988, on the basis of UN Resolution 242. From there, the road was already paved for international recognition of the PLO, the convening of the Madrid Conference, the return of the Israeli Labor Party to power, led by the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, and to the Oslo Accord.

From his seat in the opposition, Sharon acted as a vocal trumpet for the extreme right, which did not shrink from incitement against Rabin. In an interview with the Kfar Habad ultra-Orthodox journal in 1995, extensively quoted in the daily press, Sharon claimed that Rabin had gone mad. After a short period of calm in the foreign minister’s office in the first Netanyahu government (1996-99), Sharon made his way to the prime minister’s office, upon the ruins of the Oslo process.

His provocative ascent to the Temple Mount in September 2000, at the height of the efforts to revive the failing negotiations at Camp David, gave the signal for the outbreak of the second intifada. The journalist Uri Dan, who was Sharon’s good friend, later recounted, “Arik would call me and ask, do I think there’s a connection between his ascent to the Temple Mount and him becoming prime minister? I answered him in the same way that he asked, ‘And what do you think, Arik, is there a connection?’ There was silence on the other end of the line.”

The series of suicide bombings, whose peak was the murder of 30 Israelis gathered for a Passover traditional meal at the Park Hotel in Netanya, was the grounds for Prime Minister Sharon’s decision, in March 2002, to launch Operation Defensive Shield. While the IDF assault on the cities of the West Bank fatally damaged terrorist elements, it also heavily damaged the physical and political infrastructure of the Palestinian Authority.

Moreover, in his book, A Look at the Resistance from Within, Mohammed Arman, a member of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, who is sentenced to 36 life sentences for the murder of more than 40 Israelis, tells how Sharon played into Hamas’ hands. The arch-terrorist revealed that all Hamas units received directions from above to thwart the Arab peace initiative on the eve of its anticipated approval at the Arab League summit in Beirut. The initiative was approved on March 28; the bombing in Netanya took place on March 29. On March 29, Sharon announced Operation Defensive Shield. The din of battle in Jenin and Ramallah drowned out the regional voice of peace from Riyadh to the Maghreb.

A few months before Sharon directed the IDF to surround the Muqata and isolate Arafat from the outside world, the former head of the Mossad, Shabtai Shavit, who was one of Sharon’s advisers, said in an interview with the Israeli daily Yedioth Aharanoth (Dec. 7, 2001) that if Israel could get rid of Arafat, “No one could step into his shoes to open doors among world leaders, and the Palestinian question will fall from the international agenda.” In the same interview Shavit also argued that [Palestinian Authority Chairman] Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) is “a member of the Bahai faith,” and therefore his appointment as Arafat’s heir “is like appointing a Samaritan as president of the State of Israel.”

Abu Mazen, as we know, was appointed prime minister, a fact that did not prevent Sharon from calling him “a chick who hasn’t sprouted feathers” in a government meeting. When it became clear that despite his efforts to ground Abu Mazen, the two-state solution wasn’t disappearing from the world’s agenda, Sharon formulated the plan for disengagement from the Gaza Strip. The problem was that the disengagement, which was not coordinated with Abu Mazen, led to the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip. Nevertheless, the diplomatic process was launched again.

The followers of the “new Sharon,” who claim that the evacuation of the settlements of Gush Katif testifies to Sharon’s reversal in his final political days, are urged to read the interview/confession Sharon’s right-hand man, Dov Weissglass, gave the Israeli daily Haaretz in October 2004.

Here are some enlightening quotations: “The disengagement is actually formaldehyde in which you put the president’s [George W. Bush’s] plan, so that it can be kept for a very long time. It supplied the necessary amount of formaldehyde so that there wouldn’t be a diplomatic process with the Palestinians. … Arik [Ariel Sharon] does not see Gaza as an area of national interest today. He does see Judea and Samaria as a region of national interest. He justifiably thinks that we are still very, very far from the time where we could reach final arrangements in Judea and Samaria.

“What I basically agreed with the Americans was that we don’t deal at all with some of the settlements, and with other settlements we won’t deal until the Palestinians turn into Finns. … Basically, this whole package called the Palestinian state, with all it entails, has been removed from our agenda for an unlimited time. And all this is officially authorized. All this is with a presidential blessing and the approval of the two houses of Congress.

“There was a very difficult package of commitments that they expected Israel to accept. They called this package the diplomatic process. It included components that we could never accept and components that we can’t accept today. But now we have succeeded in taking this package and pushing it past the mountains of time. With the right management, we’ve succeeded in removing the issue of the diplomatic process from the agenda. And we have educated the world that there’s no one to talk to.”

There’s something symbolic, perhaps historical poetic justice, in that the man who dedicated his life to creating an irreversible reality in the occupied territories has passed away just as the diplomatic and political reality at the beginning of 2014 reminds us that only death is irreversible.  

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 11th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

 

 Gibson Bible Atlas   –  Canaan before Abraham

Copyright 1927, 2003

The land of Canaan before Abraham

Annexation and the return of the one-state solution.

Monday, January 6, 2014 – published by the Palestine Center, The Jerusalem Fund, Washington DC – Written by Jack LeVine it was previously posted by Al Jezeera.www.thejerusalemfund.org/ht/display/ContentDetails/i/43942/pid/895

 

From time to time, the Palestine Center distributes articles it believes will enhance understanding of the Palestinian political reality. The following article is by Mark LeVine was published by Al Jazeera on 2 January 2014.

Mark LeVine writes what he writes – and we like to extend it to its logical target – the establishment of an Abrahamic State that is neither Jewish nor Muslim, in parts of the pre-Abraham Land of Canaan,  and to allow our readers the right to think for themselves and decide if this albatross can fly:

“Annexation and the return of the one-state solution

It was yet another slap in the face of the United States, Israel’s main patron without whom its existence, never mind its ability to maintain an ever intensifying occupation without fear of mentionable consequence, would be very much in question.

In direct response to US Secretary of State John Kerry’s attempt to establish a set of “security arrangements” that would, some day (Kerry apparently is suggesting after another decade), allow some level of Palestinian control over the security of the West Bank (wasn’t that supposed to happen during Oslo?  And isn’t it in fact already the de jure arrangement in Areas A and B?),  the Ministerial Legislative Committee voted to annex the Jordan Valley permanently to Israel.

Modus operandi

This is, by no means, the first vote or decision taken by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu government to challenge the Obama Administration’s attempts to play at peace-making in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In fact, announcing settlement expansion plans whenever a senior US official is visiting Israel to “jumpstart” or “save” the “peace process” has long been standard operating procedure for the Israeli government, as the Obama Administration learned early in 2010 when Vice President Joe Biden was greeted upon arriving in Israel with the “highly inflammatory announcement” of plans for 1,600 new homes in East Jerusalem. The Americans feigned anger at the “brutally contemptuous rebuff” to their good-faith efforts to resuscitate Oslo, but no one should have been surprised at the actions of  Netanyahu then, or now. Indeed, Netanyahu has been outmanoeuvering Obama since day one of the relationship.

This latest slap in the face comes after PA President Mahmoud Abbas once again “renounced claims” to Israel within its 1967 borders, this time singling out the one-time Palestinian-populated towns of Jaffa and Haifa, and accepted on-going settlement construction in return for freeing Palestinian prisoners. A few hundred Palestinian “detainees” are wonderful bargaining chips to play in lieu of actual policy changes whenever negotiations get serious.

Not surprisingly, the vote on annexation provoked the usual outcries by Palestinian officials, who decried the “indifference” to and “disrespect” for international law the vote represented.

Falling on deaf ears

This evaluation is certainly true, although the PA attacking Israel for disregarding international law is about as meaningful as the US criticising Saudi Arabia for refusing to let women drive. That is to say, it’s utterly devoid of meaning as long as they continue business as usual, which for the PA means doing whatever is necessary to keep the foreign aid, and salaries, flowing through its coffers.

But this latest attempt to annex the West Bank, as 2013 came to a close, offers both a tantalising glimpse of the future of Israel/Palestine and a good opportunity for Palestinians to start the New Year off in a way that throws the Israeli government back on its heels.  It could also turn the tide in the century-long conflict over the territory of Mandate-era Palestine.  It was not the PA, however, but the liberal Zionist Party Meretz that have taken the lead in doing so however.

Rather than denouncing the latest attempt to annex the West Bank as marking yet another nail in the coffin of a long rotted Oslo peace process, Meretz publicly declared it would no longer oppose votes to annex the Jordan Valley, which increases the likelihood such a vote could in fact pass the Knesset.

Meretz leaders have neither suddenly become territorial maximalists nor have they joined the one or bi-state camp that most self-described Zionists, regardless of how comparatively liberal their politics (from an Israeli perspective), still broadly refuse to support. But I don’t buy the refusal of Meretz Chairwoman Zehava Galon even to discuss a one-state future as reflecting the true nature of the shift inside Israeli liberal politics.  As the Israeli right becomes ever bolder in asserting territorially maximalist policies, and the religious establishment more blatantly bigoted, there is simply less space for liberal Zionists to operate as both liberal and Zionist.

The fact is that soon Israeli liberals, who are still a sizable minority of the population, are either going to vote with their heads or their feet – if the mainstream of Israeli political culture keeps moving to the right. A democratic state with rough demographic parity with Palestinians suddenly would offer a more positive alternative than an ultra-chauvinistic Jewish state that holds them in almost as much scorn as it does “Arabs” and “Africans”.

A new coalition?

The question is: When will the majority of Palestinians, who long ago lost faith in Oslo and in their hearts would prefer a one-state solution, give up the two-state illusion and come out in force demanding precisely what the Ministerial Legislative Committee voted to do – be annexed to Israel, and have the same voting rights as their fellow Palestinians across the quickly evaporating Green Line. Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warned of just this eventuality as the doomsday scenario facing Zionism, which is why a man who did more than almost anyone to create a Jewish-dominated Jerusalem became a firm supporter of two-states.

The PA will never go down this route because it would mean its dissolution and the loss of jobs, money and power for the entire political class, and perhaps the fatal weakening of Fatah along with it. Neither, strangely, would Hamas accept it as it would become moot in a one or bi-national solution.

Of course, while the Israeli right would actually welcome Palestinian acquiescence to the annexation of the West Bank, whose population can be absorbed into Israel without creating a Palestinian majority, their plan for a Greater Israel specifically excludes Gaza, whose incorporation would tip the demographic balance immediately, and permanently, in the Palestinian’s favour. A test of wills and political strategisation would emerge between the two sides as to whether Israel could convince West Bank Palestinians permanently to separate their fortunes from benighted Gaza, or Palestinians once “inside” Israel would constitute a large enough force with 1948 Palestinians and liberal/left Israeli to push, however fitfully, for a bi-national or even parallel states solution.

This leads to a final question:Will 2014 be the year Palestinian and Israeli exhaustion with Oslo and fear of a bleak and chauvinistic future creates the unstoppable force that finally buries Oslo and moves both peoples, and the land they inevitably share, towards a common future?

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Jerusalem Fund.

Click here for more Reports and Commentary of the site we tapped.

To view this article online, please go to:
www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2014/01/annexation-return-one-state-solution-2014125435732443.html.

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And an Israeli description of what it looks like now in the Israeli political arena – the Uri Avnery article of this week –
that in the “Gush Shalom” publication was titled more to the point as BIBI & LIBI & TIBI – referring to Dr. Ahmad Tibi, Currently a Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, who defines himself as  Arab-Palestinian in nationality, and Israeli in citizenship – thus trying to make sense in a situation that he sees himself as directing his party Arab Movement for Change (Ta’al), an Arab party in Israel, to full rights within Israel.
He is for the two State solution but wants to be an Israeli as well. Can he be the bridge to a One-State solution as well?

 

Uri Avnery

 

January 11, 2014

 

 

 

                                             Bibi & Libie

 

 

 

PERHAPS I am too stupid, but for the heck of me I cannot understand the sense of the Israeli demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

 

On the face of it, it seems like a clever trick by Binyamin Netanyahu to divert attention from the real issues. If so, the Palestinian leadership has fallen into a trap.

 

 

Instead of talking about the independence of the putative State of Palestine and its borders, its capital in Jerusalem, the removal of the settlements, the fate of the refugees and the solution of the many other problems, they quarrel endlessly about the definition of Israel.

 

 

One is tempted to call out to the Palestinians: what the hell, accord them this damn recognition and be done with it! Who cares!?

 

 

 

THE ANSWER of the Palestinian negotiators is twofold.

 

 

First, recognizing Israel as a Jewish State would be an act of betrayal towards the million and a half Palestinians who are citizens of Israel, If Israel is a Jewish State, where does that leave them?

 

 

Well, that problem could be solved by a provision in the peace treaty stating that irrespective of anything else in the agreement, the Palestinian citizens of Israel will enjoy full equality in every respect.

 

 

Second, that the recognition of Israel’s Jewishness would block the return of the refugees.

 

 

That argument is even less valid than the first. The solution of the refugee problem will be a central plank of the treaty. The Palestinian leadership, at the time of Yasser Arafat, already tacitly accepted that the solution will be an “agreed” one, so that any return will be at most symbolic. The recognition issue will not affect it.

 

 The debate on this Israeli demand is entirely ideological. Netanyahu demands that the Palestinian people accept the Zionist narrative. The Palestinian refusal is based on the Arab narrative, which contradicts the Zionist one on practically every single event that happened during the last 130 years, if not the last 5000.

 

 Mahmoud Abbas could just come forward and announce:  OK, if you accept our practical demands, we shall recognize Israel as whatever you want – a Buddhist State, a Vegetarian State, you name it.

 

 On September 10, 1993 – which happened to be my 70th birthday – Yasser Arafat, on behalf of the Palestinian people, recognized the State of Israel, in return for the no less momentous recognition of the Palestinian people by Israel. Implicitly, each side recognized the other as it is. Israel defined itself in its founding document as a Jewish State. Ergo, the Palestinians have already recognized a Jewish State. 

 

 By the way, the first step towards Oslo was made by Arafat when he told his representative in London, Said Hamami, to publish in the “Times” of London on December 17, 1973,  a proposal for a peaceful solution, which stated among other things that “the first step must be the mutual recognition of these two sides. The Jewish-Israelis and the Palestinian-Arabs must recognize each other as peoples with all the rights of peoples.”

 

 I saw the original draft of this statement with corrections in Arafat’s hand.

 

 

 

 THE PROBLEM of the Palestinian minority in Israel – about 20% of Israel’s eight million citizens – is very serious, but it has now acquired a humorous twist.

 

 Since his acquittal from corruption charges and return to the Foreign Office, Avigdor Lieberman is at it again. He has come out supporting John Kerry’s peace efforts, much to the chagrin of Netanyahu, who does not.

 

 Why, for heaven’s sake? Lieberman aspires to become prime minister some day, as soon as possible. For this he has to (1) unite his “Israel Our Home” party with the Likud, (2) become leader of the Likud, (3) win the general elections. But over all these there hovers (4): obtain the approval of the Americans. So Lieberman now supports the American effort and peace.

 

 Yes, but under one condition: that the US accept his master plan for the Jewish State. 

 

 This is a masterpiece of constructive statesmanship. Its main proposal is to move the borders of Israel – not eastward, as could be expected from an arch-nationalist, but westward, slimming Israel’s narrow hips even further, to a mere 9 (nine!) km.

 

 The Israeli territory that Lieberman wants to get rid of is the site of  a dozen Arab villages, which were given Israel as a gift by the then king of Jordan in the armistice agreement of 1949. Abdallah I, the great-great-grandfather of the current Abdallah II of Jordan, needed the armistice at any price. Lieberman now wants to give these villages back, thank you.

 

 Why? Because for this stalwart of Jewish Israel, the reduction of the Arab population is a sacred task. He does not advocate expulsion, God forbid. Not at all.  He proposes attaching this area, with its population, to the Palestinian state. In return, he wants the Jewish settlement blocs in the West Bank to be joined to Israel. A transfer of areas with their populations, reminiscent of Stalin’s redrawing the borders of Poland, except that Lieberman’s borders look completely crazy.

 

 Lieberman presents this as a peaceful, liberal, humane plan. No one will be displaced, no property expropriated. Some 300 thousand Arabs, all of them ardent supporters of the Palestinian struggle for statehood, will become Palestinian citizens.

 

 

 

 SO WHY do the Palestinians in Israel cry out? Why do they condemn the plan as a racist assault on their rights?

 

 Because they are far more Israeli than they care to admit, even to themselves. After living in Israel for 65 years, they have become accustomed to its ways. They don’t love Israel, they don’t serve in its army, they are discriminated against in many ways, but they are deeply rooted in the Israeli economy and democracy, much more than is generally recognized.

 

 “Israeli Arabs”, a term they hate, play a significant role in Israeli hospitals and courts, including the Supreme Court, and in many other institutions.

 

 Becoming citizens of Palestine tomorrow would mean losing 80% or 90% of their standard of living. It would also mean losing the social security net enjoyed in Israel (though Lieberman promises to continue payments to those currently eligible(. After being used for decades to fair elections and the lively give-and-take of the Knesset, they would have to get used to a society in which, as of now, important parties are forbidden, elections are postponed and parliament plays a minor role. The place of women in this society is very different from their role in Israel.

 

 The situation of the Palestinians in Israel is unique in many respects. On the one side, as long as Israel is defined as a Jewish State, the Arabs will not be fully equal. On the other side, in the occupied Palestinian territories, these Israeli citizens are not accepted as fully belonging. They straddle both sides of the conflict. They would like to be mediators, the link between the two sides, bringing them closer to each other. But this has remained a dream.

 

 A complicated situation, indeed.

 

 

 

 IN THE meantime, Netanyahu and Lieberman are hatching another plan to make Jewish Israel even Jewisher.

 

 There are today three factions in the Knesset which derive their votes from the Arab population. They constitute almost 10% of the Knesset. Why not 20%, to reflect their part in the general population? First because they have many more children, who have not yet reached voting age (18 years). Second, their rate of abstention is significantly higher. Third, some Arabs are bribed to vote for Zionist parties.

 

 The part of the Arab MKs in enacting laws is negligible. Any bill they introduce is almost automatically voted down. No Jewish party ever considered including them in a government coalition. Yet they have a very noticeable presence, their voice is heard.

 

 Now, in the name of “governability” (a trendy new term that can be used to justify any attack on human rights), Bibi & Libie, as someone called them, want to change the minimum share of votes that any election list needs to enter the Knesset.

 

 I was elected three times to the Knesset when the threshold was 1%. Later it was raised to 2%. Now the plan is to raise the threshold to 3.25%, which in the elections a year ago would have equaled 123,262 votes. Only one of the three “Arab” parties crossed this line – and then only barely. There is no assurance that it could do so again.                                                             

 

 In order to survive, they would have to unite and form a large Arab bloc. Many would think that this was a good thing. But it is very difficult to accomplish. One party is communist, another Islamist, another secular-nationalist. Also, competing extended families play an important role in Arab electoral politics.

 

 The Arab lists may disappear altogether. Or two may unite, eliminating the third.

 

 Some Israeli leftists fantasize about a dream party – a united parliamentary bloc that would include all the Arab parties with the Labor party and Meretz, turning it into a formidable challenger of the right wing.

 

 But that would be too good to be true – no chance at all of this happening in the near future.

 

 

 

 IT SEEMS that Kerry and his Zionist advisors already identify with the Israeli demand for recognition as a Jewish State or, worse, the State of the Jewish People (who were not even consulted).

 

 The Palestinian side is unable to accept this.

 

 If the negotiations come to naught on this point, Netanyahu will have achieved his real aim: to abort the negotiations in a way that will enable him to blame the Palestinians.

 

 As long as we have a Jewish State – who needs peace?

 

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 2nd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

So much for all that talk about transfer to an Arab State – as the best living Arabs in the Middle East are still the sometimes downtrodden Arabs of Israel. If this does not wake up the Monarchs of the Gulf, why make of the US Secretary of State, Senator Kerry, a martyr of unreasonableness? 

Sure, the two State Solution was the best solution in 1948, but the new facts on the ground work against it now not only on the Palestinian side – but also on the Israeli and Arab-Israeli  side.
Q.E.D. will say Netanyahu to Kerry when he sees him today.

And they will not let anyone forget – they have at least 12 freely elected members of Parliament in Israel which is more then in all Arab States combined!!!
 www.algemeiner.com/2014/01/02/isr…

Israeli Arabs Object to Palestinian Authority Rule in Proposed Triangle Swap

January 2, 2014 – The Algemeiner – While Kerry visits Netanyahu.

Israeli-Arabs and their representatives in the Knesset refuse to consider a territory swap backed by U.S. negotiators at the Israel-PA peace talks, which resumed on Thursday in Jerusalem, according to Israeli press reports.

 

The swap would see Israel cede sovereignty over 10 towns, home to 300,000 Israeli-Arabs, along the Green Line, in an area called the Triangle, to the Palestinian Authority in exchange for a similar amount of land developed by Jewish settlers.

 

Deputy Speaker of the Knesset – The Israeli Parliament - MK Dr. Ahmed Tibi, founder of the Arab Movement for Change Party, Ta’al, said, ”This is a bizarre proposal which relates to Arab citizens as chess pieces that can be moved and changed,” according to Israeli daily Ma’ariv on Thursday. “Once we feared for our nationhood and now we fear for our citizenship.”

 

A senior Israeli source involved in the peace talks told Ma’ariv that the Triangle proposal was being raised “in discussions between Israel and the United States over the issue of land swaps.” According to the source, the idea has become more widely discussed because of the U.S. effort to advance talks, Ma’ariv said.

 

“Many senior officials on the Israeli side agree with the exchange of territory and population, and the Americans know it’s a possible solution,” he said.

 

The Triangle, HaMeshulash, in Hebrew, or al-Muthallath, in Arabic, is split between the Central and Haifa Districts of Israel, in the eastern Plain of Sharon, in the Samarian foothills. Its geography, made it important for Israel militarily, and it was awarded to Israel officially in the 1949 Armistice Agreement as part of a swap, with Transjordan receiving Wadi Fukin, in the southern hills of Hebron.

 

Internally, the Triangle has developed economically under Israeli sovereignty, while it is split politically, with three towns surrounding the small city of Umm al-Fahm, around the lush Wadi Ara, in the north, being separate from the five surrounding towns around Taibe, in the south.

 

Israeli-Arab MK Dr. Afu Agbaria, from the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality Party, Hadash, a resident of Umm al-Fahm, told Ma’ariv, “Citizens in a democracy are not pawns or hostages in the hands of the government.”

 

While Agbaria is not known as a friend to Israel — in 2010, at the European Parliament, he called for Israeli leaders to be tried at the International Criminal Court, and accused Israel of attacking “its neighbors and its Arab citizens nonstop” during its 62 years of existence — local polls show that most Israeli-Arabs in the Triangle also still prefer being Israeli citizens to the alternative.

 

In 2000, when the Triangle proposal was first put forward by current Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, a survey conducted by Israeli-Arab weekly Kul al-Arab among 1,000 residents of Umm al-Fahm, found that 83 percent opposed transferring their city to Palestinian Authority rule.

Israeli-Arab city of Umm al-Fahm, along the Green Line. Photo: WikiCommons.

Israeli-Arab city of Umm al-Fahm, along the Green Line. Photo: WikiCommons.

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 15th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Just see – there is a storm and floods and see what you get:

“Israel opened the Kerem Shalom border crossing to the Gaza Strip on Friday to transfer emergency aid to residents suffering from wide-scale flooding and no heating.

The Jewish state sent gas for heating and water pumps to deal with the rampant flooding in Gaza. Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj. Gen. Eitan Dangot stressed that Israel would do everything necessary to help the Gaza and Judea and Samaria populations, Israel Hayom reported.”

Yet Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said, “Israel is the one to blame for what is happening in the Gaza Strip. The Knesset’s restriction on bringing building materials prevents us from fixing infrastructure and that is why we have floods.”

And what does that mean?

The Hamas Gaza leadership uses up all construction materials to build those infamous underground tunnels to Egypt and Israel – this for smuggling and for terrorism. So why send in more cement? Israel would be crazy to give in just because the UN keeps voting against Israel blaming them for everything under the son and the moon – rain or snow.    No pity for the Gazan’s and sorry for the Turkish mess that led to an Israeli apology for no good reasons.

All this amounts for pragmatic reasons to the need to push for a THREE STATES SOLUTION – that is for Israel-Palestine (the West Bank) agreements backed by Saudi Arabia and the other gulf States – this for the interest of everybody involved. That is achievable in the present conditions of the Middle East. Then Hamasstan remains as a renegade speck of land waiting for its own people to take the leadership in their own hands and chase out the Hamas. Sure – this will take time, but it should not cause a mortal danger to Israel as long as  it can withstand UN pressure.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 28th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

According to Al-Monitor:

“UN Leader’s Visit to Israel Shows Waning US Influence in Mideast.”

By: Ben Caspit for Al-Monitor Israel Pulse Posted on August 23.

While on a visit to Israel on Aug. 15-16, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon held some interesting talks, receiving the red carpet treatment from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who oversees the slow yet chanceless negotiations with the Palestinians.

I would like to suggest to you not to talk about the settlements, Livni told Ban. At around that time, Israel was issuing new tenders for construction in the territories, mainly in Jerusalem and the large settlement blocs. Ban wanted to know why. Since your position on this issue is well-known, Livni replied, I would propose that you do not talk about it at this particular time. According to her, any statements to that effect at this juncture would only render the negotiations harder, forcing Palestinian Authority Chairman Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) to say something harsh, which could perhaps then undercut the possibility of progress. Abu Mazen cannot come off as more moderate than the UN. He, too, faces an opposition.

Livni explained to Ban how sensitive the situation was, imploring him not to make the same mistake the Americans had made during US President Barack Obama’s first term. Back then, the administration put Abu Mazen on a high horse from which one cannot dismount peacefully. You can only fall off, and they left him to his own devices. Finally, the negotiations resumed, she told him, and the future of the settlements will have to be determined in the bilateral discussions. That’s why at this point it’s better to be smart than right and leave the talking to us (the recent sentences are my own interpretation.)

Livni adopted the same approach when the discussion touched on the Palestinian prisoners-murderers whom Israel had released just two days earlier. What I would like to suggest to you, she said, is not to issue a statement in support of the release. When the secretary-general wanted to know why, she explained to him that some 85% of the Israeli public was opposed to the release. If you find out what those people were convicted of, you would understand too. No other country in the world would have released such prisoners. This is an open Israeli wound. This move is hard for everyone, myself included, mainly because Israel did not get anything real in return.

In other words, Livni suggested to Ban that he let the Israelis and Palestinians run their own affairs without interfering by making unnecessary statements. When all is said and done, the peace treaties that Israel signed with the Arabs — Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinians in Oslo — were always accomplished through direct negotiations between the parties without involvement, interference, pressure or threats. Former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin made such a strategic decision and executed it, and the same is true of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. The world can only stand in the way. Whenever the world meddled, wielded pressure or lectured, it all came crashing down.

Then, it was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s turn. That was interesting, too. Netanyahu is a weak prime minister, a failed manager and a controversial leader. However, when it comes to public diplomacy he is unmatched. Having studied Ban, he knew exactly how to strike a chord with him.

Netanyahu presented Ban the ongoing Palestinian incitement against Israel that comes across from the Palestinian curriculum which continues to call for Israel’s obliteration from the face of the earth, while describing Jews as “monkeys and pigs,” etc. Then it was time for [Prime Minister Netanyahu] Bibi to get to the punch line. The prime minister compared the Palestinian campaign of incitement and lies against Israel to North Korea’s unending and unbridled incitement against South Korea. Bibi had a long list of examples which left the secretary-general dumbfounded.

Then, as was to be expected, Bibi proceeded to discuss the Iranian nuclear program. He drew a similar comparison to North Korea, or, to put it more precisely, to North Korea’s nuclear project. Netanyahu masterfully delineated the similarities between Iran’s nuclear program and that of North Korea. The latter didn’t give a hoot about the world or the United States, until South Korea woke up one morning only to find out that its neighbor to the north has a nuclear bomb.

In that case, too, the world believed that diplomacy could postpone or do away with the bad news — a belief which proved to be baseless. When Netanyahu switched over to the Iranian nuclear project, he let Ban understand how dangerous Iran is to world peace — not just to Israel. He explained to the secretary-general how messianic Iran’s leadership is and how it is guided by radical religious edicts. The Iranians must not be allowed to do what the North Koreans did, Netanyahu said. Iran is a huge country with immense oil deposits and high capabilities. Such a country cannot be isolated the way the West has isolated North Korea. A nuclear Iran will exact a heavy price from the world — a price it cannot afford.

The comic relief in the meeting between Ban and Netanyahu took place when the Israeli premier started talking about “construction in the settlements.” Most of the construction takes place in Jerusalem — Israel’s capital. It is carried out in places that everyone understands will remain in Israeli hands even in the settling of a final status arrangement, Netanyahu explained. For example, we build in Gilo, which is a neighborhood in Jerusalem across the Green Line, the premier explained. Then took the UN secretary-general to the window and pointed out the neighborhood. Can you possibly imagine that we won’t be able to build here, a place you can see from the prime minister’s office? Bibi asked.

Fortunately, Ban is not familiar with Jerusalem.

On the one hand, Bibi is right. The Palestinians know all too well that Gilo will remain in Israeli hands even in the settling of a final status arrangement. On the other hand, you cannot see Gilo from the prime minister’s office. What Bibi showed Ban is the Israel Museum, which is not too far from his office. But Ban is from South Korea. As far as he is concerned, the Israel Museum can represent Gilo, can’t it?

Incidentally, Ban did not hear anything substantially different from the leader of the opposition, Knesset member Shelly Yachimovich (chairwoman of the Labor party). When it comes to these issues, there is a consensus in Israel.

Later during his visit, it felt like the UN secretary-general had listened closely to what the Israeli leadership had said to him in that room. His statements sounded relatively mellifluous to Israeli ears.

I would assume that Ban is well-aware of the fact that the only capital in the Middle East where he can move about freely nowadays — without the fear of being targeted by rockets, car bombs, chemical missiles, mass demonstrations or other similar perils — is Jerusalem. He cannot do this in Cairo, Damascus, Beirut, Tripoli or Sanaa. Even Amman is not what it used to be. By way of comparison, Jerusalem and Ramallah are a paradise of leisure, although this is temporary, too. In the Middle East the tables can turn in a matter of a split second.

Since I last described here in Al-Monitor the relative quiet in Jerusalem and Ramallah, Israel was hit by rockets fired at Eilat on Aug. 13 (which were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system) and at the Western Galilee on Aug. 22 (likewise intercepted). On Aug. 19, 25 Egyptian policemen were executed by armed militants in Rafah in the Sinai, a car bomb exploded in Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah’s Dahiyeh quarter in Beirut on Aug. 15 and the Syrian regime killed hundreds, if not thousands of civilians in a chemical attack in east Damascus on Aug. 21.

Whenever we think that the Middle East has hit rock bottom, we hear heavy pounding from below, and then it turns out that hitting rock bottom is still quite a ways away. There’s one truth, however, that’s emerging right before our eyes: The West is losing control over the events. Western deterrence is already nonexistent. The days when everybody would hold their breath waiting for the daily press briefing from the White House are long gone. US President Barack Obama has made a mockery of himself, so much so that nobody really cares about what America thinks, says or does.

This is best illustrated when drawing a comparison between the events in Cairo and Syria. The Americans had long ago set a “red line” for Syria, namely the use of chemical weapons.

However, when a high-ranking Israeli intelligence officer revealed that chemical weapons had been used in Syria, the Americans gagged, got muddled, denied and ultimately confirmed this. Preposterously enough, they announced that “there might have been a possibility” that the Syrian regime had indeed masterminded the recent chemical attack in Damascus. Great. If that’s the case, what will you do? Nothing, it seems.

I’m not calling on the Americans to act in Syria. If I were the US president, I would not intervene in Syria no matter what. Anyone in his right mind has to steer clear from that. Intervention in Syria would pay off and be deemed legitimate only if it were supported by the entire international community. Since this is not going to be the case, there’s no point in goading this or that sheriff to hold the reins in Syria. The world has to come to terms with the new reality: You cannot avert every horror across the globe. Using moral principles, it’s very hard to decide between two similar devils — such as the warring factions in Syria.

It is against this backdrop that the Western conduct in connection with Egypt is becoming more perplexing. My friends, when will it dawn on you that what the Egyptian army is trying to do is to prevent replicating the harrowing reality in Syria? The nonsense of Western democracy and values are unsuitable for societies that still enslave women, minorities and weak castes.

The Americans placed their bet on the Muslim Brotherhood two years ago and now they find it hard to accept that they bet on the wrong horse. The Egyptian public doesn’t want “the brothers” to dictate their life, laws and customs. In Egypt, there are no checks and balances as one would find in a true democracy, at least not for now. So the only way of coping with the events is to determine that having the Egyptian army take control for a transitional period and disperse the riots with force is better than the alternative.

What’s the alternative? That’s simple. The alternative is an armed gang that takes 25 plainclothes men off two minibuses, forces them to lie on the ground and shoots all of them — one by one — to death in broad daylight. This is the face of radical Islam, of which all of us — regardless of religion, sex, color, race or nationality — should be afraid of.
——–

Ben Caspit is a contributing writer for Al-Monitor’s Israel Pulse. He is also a senior columnist and political analyst for Israeli newspapers, and has a daily radio show and regular TV shows on politics and Israel.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 24th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The reach of human compassion!
========================================================

And from Rabbi Michael Lerner’s Tikkun Magazine:

If you have California Bay Area friends, do tell them that rabbis Arthur Waskow, Phyllis Berman, and Lynn Gottlieb will be co-leading parts of the High Holiday services with me in Berkeley. The spiritual work we do at our service (which is not a performance but a deep inner process that incorporates as well as the key elements of the traditional service) is not just for Jews or for believers in God, but for anyone ready to engage in spiritual transformation.

Please urge them to check it out at www.beyttikkun.org/article.php/HH…www.beyttikkun.org/article.php/HH... ].

On Yom Kippur, during the Yizkor service, we will also do some grieving for the victims of the Egyptian coup (but also for those killed by Morsi’s regime), for the Syrians killed in their civil war, and for all the other victims of violence in our world. And we will be mourning for the earth as more of its species and more of its life force continue to get violently assaulted by the globalization of selfishness, materialism, and corporate rapaciousness.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 16th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Thanks to Olympic lifting by US Secretary of State John Kerry, with perhaps some secret help from the EU, finally direct negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians were started in Jerusalem this past Wednesday. Right immediately, the day after, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appeared in the region to remind the two sides that the UN was also part of that now inactive Quartet were the fourth player is Russia – a clear structure built for inaction. Just think what the UN has achieved in all other miserable places in the Middle East – this like Syria, Lebanon, and now fast moving Egypt.

In Syria there is already a number for the dead well above 1.000,000 and in Egypt, without large efforts, that number can be surpassed. So, the UN Secretary General comes to the place that is these days the most peaceful in the region and marks territory.

It is just possible, that behind closed doors, the Israelis and the Palestinians of the West Bank under the Abbas leadership, may indeed be planning an agreement in order to avoid the ISLAMIZATION that is killing the region. It is in the best interest of the two sides to compromise behind closed doors and allow for a process of normalization and economic Sustainable Development in the spirit of the 21st Century to be presented later to the World at large. This clearly without the need of bickering sessions at the UN. No problem – when we reach that stage, the UN will be allowed to bless on the final agreed results. But the UN is no place to obtain any practical results.

—————————————————————————————-

Israeli Defense Minister to UN Sec. General: ‘The Only Stable Thing in the Middle East is the Lack of Stability’

August 16, 2013
Reports Zach Pontz

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon meets separately with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem, August 15, 2013.

Then Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon met Friday August 16th in Jerusalem with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and warned him of the dire security situation in the region.

“The only stable thing in the Middle East is the lack of stability,” Ya’alon said.

He added that Lebanon based terror group Hezbollah was Iran’s main weapon against Israel, and warned Ban that the Israeli government has detected Hezbollah activity near Israel’s northern border, in violation of UN Resolution 1701.

“This organization is a state within a state. They get weapons from Iran and Syria,” he said.

“I think today everybody understands that the root cause of the instability in the Middle East and beyond has to do with the convulsion that is historic and cultural in nature of which the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is merely one of many, many such manifestations,” said Netanyahu.

Ban thanked Netanyahu for his effort to restart peace talks, saying, “I’m here to urge all the leaders to continue along the path to peace and to underscore a shared commitment to walk together to make 2013 a decisive year for Israel-Palestinian peace and peace in the region.”

During his meeting with Ban, Peres also addressed the security situation in the region within the context of the Israeli-Palestinian Authority peace talks.

“Peace is a real need for both parties, none of us have an alternative. The overall situation in the Middle East is quite bleak and if we can achieve an agreement between us and the Palestinians it is good news in a region that needs good news,” he said.

=========================================================================================================================

In the meantime – as reported by Avi Issacharoff – the same day:

In Egypt – The military claims that armed Muslim Brotherhood supporters opened fire on the soldiers, killing close to 50 and injuring dozens more. Each side recruited the television channel that supports its agenda. The Muslim Brotherhood was backed by Qatar’s al-Jazeera, which broadcast pictures of corpses and injured protesters in an endless loop, while al-Arabiya, which is funded by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which support the Egyptian military, screened a video of supposed Muslim Brotherhood activists wearing masks and firing at unseen targets.

As expected, the bloodshed was condemned by prominent figures in the Arab world and by various political parties in Egypt. Leaders such as Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh — former Egyptian presidential candidate, and a former Muslim Brotherhood activist in his more distant past — who strongly opposed Mohammed Morsi while he was president, criticized the army and their excessive use of violence. Representatives of the extremist al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya organization, the al-Wasat Party and countries such as Qatar, Turkey and Iran, condemned the Egyptian military as well. And to top it all, Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei, who was one of the first to stand by the military when protests against Morsi began on June 30, submitted his resignation.

The war for Egypt’s future has returned to international headlines and the Muslim Brotherhood is now demanding that el-Sissi be removed from power in order to restore peace. It is highly unlikely, though, that this will happen any time soon. Right now, Egypt is headed towards the unknown.

The days of Mubarak’s trial-and-error policies and mixed messages are over.

The army has entered a new era of all-out war against Islamic forces in Sinai and against the tunnels connecting the peninsula to Gaza, while at the same time, it is exerting force against the Muslim Brotherhood inside Egypt. The problem is that there are limits to the force and violence that can be applied, as the situation in Syria underlines. The Syrian army has been unable to suppress the opposition against Bashar Assad even as the death toll exceeds 100,000. Unlike in Syria, though, large portions of the Egyptian population support the military’s harsh policies.

Even as violence continues throughout Egypt, the army continues its efforts to destroy Jihadist headquarters in Sinai. Egyptian armed forces attack from the air and the ground and have managed to hit dozens of targets in the last week alone. The problem is that the number of armed activists that identify with al-Qaeda’s ideology is estimated at 3,000. It will be a long time before the Egyptian army will be able to declare victory in Sinai.

In Lebanon – Any four-year-old kid in Lebanon, and certainly in the Shi’ite community, knows who was responsible for Thursday’s attack in Hezbollah’s Dahieh stronghold of Beirut that killed at least 18 people. You don’t need to be an intelligence operative or a Middle East analyst to recognize that extremist Sunni groups operating as part of the Syrian opposition made good on their promise to strike at Hezbollah and its supporters on their home turf.

This was a response to the dominant involvement of Hezbollah in the fighting against the rebels in Syria. On Thursday evening, the “Brigade of Aisha” even issued a statement of responsibility to make it crystal clear to Hezbollah why it carried out the car bombing.

Yet despite this, a whole host of Lebanese politicians, not all of them Sh’iites, rushed to charge that Israel was involved – allegations ridiculous and in Lebanon too are considered an insult to the intelligence — even when they come from President Michel Suleiman, who claimed that the blast bore the fingerprints of the Israelis, or from Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, a Middle East’s great opportunists, who leveled similarly ridiculous charges.

These politicians, including Suleiman, are worried that an attack like this will prompt a particularly violent Hezbollah retaliation. In pointing the finger at Israel, they are trying to manufacture a common enemy for all Lebanese. Suleiman, who only days ago demanded the disarming of Hezbollah, understands that an attack like this in Dahieh could eventually lead to a complete takeover by the Shi’ite Hezbollah in Lebanon and a cleaning out of all pockets of opposition — be they Sunni extremists or rival politicians.

Like many in Lebanon, Suleiman recognizes that the Syrian civil war, which has intermittently seeped into Lebanon, escalated to a still more dangerous level for his country. It was notable that the internet site of Hezbollah’s TV station Al-Manar was quick to publicize comments by the organization’s number 2, Naim Kassam, who said that Israel is deterred from confrontation with Hezbollah “and checks itself before risking any aggression against us.” This was Hezbollah telling all those politicians, and its own people, that, no, Israel isn’t the problem right now.

So, again, the UN Secretary-General is in Israel to mark Territory, but what has he done to bring attention AND ACTION to the problems of Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt – did he campaign in Saudi Arabia and Qatar to get them to stop pushing Islamic extremism?

Also, in Nairobi, Kenya, an airport fire took place on the anniversary of twin blasts at US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 people in 1998.

Kenya has also seen terror targeted at Israelis. In 2002, terrorists blew up an Israeli-owned hotel in Mombasa, killing 13, and launched an unsuccessful attack on an Israeli plane departing from the airport there.

In May of this year, two Iranians were jailed for life for planning massive bombing attacks on Jewish, Israeli and Western targets in Kenya. Defense lawyers claimed that Israeli security official interrogated the two while in Kenyan custody. Kenya and Israeli security agencies have a long history of cooperation, dating back to the Entebbe hostage crisis in 1976.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 15th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Op-Ed Columnist at The New York Times writing from Tel Aviv


One-State Dream, One-State Nightmare.

By ROGER COHEN
Published: August 12, 2013

TEL AVIV — Let us deal, on the eve of the first direct peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians in almost three years, with the idea of one state. It hovers out there — as dream and as nightmare — and is best laid to rest.


First the dream: That somehow after all the wars and accumulation of hatred, Israelis and Palestinians can learn overnight to live together as equal citizens in some United States of the Holy Land, a binational and democratic secular state that resolves their differences and assures their intertwined futures.

Oh, what a seductive illusion (at least to some). Let’s set aside for a moment that the regional examples of such multiethnic states — Lebanon, Iraq and Syria come to mind — are not encouraging. Let’s set aside that such a state would have a hard time every May deciding whether to mark a Day of Independence for its Jewish citizens or a Day of Catastrophe for its Arab citizens.

Let’s set aside whether the Jabotinsky Streets of the imaginary country dear to the one-state brigade would become Arafat Streets, or vice versa, and whether to have a Begin Avenue or a Grand Mufti al-Husseini Boulevard. Let’s even set aside the fact that the two principal communities would be in constant, paralyzing battle, causing the best and the brightest to go elsewhere in search of opportunity and sanity.

The central issue is this: One state, however conceived, equals the end of Israel as a Jewish state, the core of the Zionist idea. Jews will not, cannot and must not allow this to happen. They have learned how dangerous it is to live without a certain refuge, as minorities, and will not again place their faith in the good will of others, nor trust in touchy-feely hope over bitter experience.

That is the ineradicable legacy of diaspora persecution and of the Holocaust. Emerging in the 19th century from the static ghetto into the Sturm und Drang of the modern world, the Jews saw two principle routes to emancipation: assimilation and Zionism.

The former was seductive. At first it offered rapid advancement, before it became clear that in this very advancement lay danger. It was a wager on acceptance that the Jews of Europe lost to Hitler: No citizen was more patriotic than the prewar German Jew.

Zionism, by contrast, placed no faith in others’ good will. It sought, rather, to usher Jews to the full realization of their nationhood and so, in a sense, normalize them — make them patriotic about something that was their own.

The world, in the form of the United Nations, upheld this quest in 1947, voting for the division of Mandate Palestine into two states, one Jewish and one Arab. Arab armies went to war — and the rest is history, including the now almost half-century-old occupation of the West Bank and Israeli dominion over millions of disenfranchised Palestinians.

And that brings us to one state as nightmare, which is what Israel, an extraordinary success story in many regards, faces today. The only way out of this nightmare is two states, one Israeli and one viable, contiguous Palestinian state living in peace and security beside it.

I sat with Yair Lapid, Israel’s centrist finance minister, son of a survivor of Nazi-occupied Hungary, grandson of a Hungarian Jew slaughtered in the camps, and he told me of his father’s repeated lesson: that he came to and fought for Israel so that Jews would “always have a place to go to.”

He said: “I have a lot of respect for the ethos of Greater Israel. I grew up in a house using this language. But we do understand that in the long term, if we stay there, that will be the end of the Zionist idea. We cannot live in one state. This will be a version of one state for two nations, and that this is the end of Zionism. Eventually the Palestinians will come to us and say, O.K., you decided we are not going to have a country at all, so we want to vote. If you say no, you are South Africa in its worst days. If you say yes, it is the end of the Jewish country, and I want to live in a Jewish country.”

Lapid argued that the all-the-land absolutists — Economics Minister Naftali Bennett and Deputy Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin among them — are, in their rejection of the two-state idea, undermining the idea of a Jewish state over time and so undercutting the core of Zionism and his own father’s life-shaping message. He is right.

Lapid later issued a statement criticizing Israel’s decision to publish construction bids Sunday for more than 1,000 housing units in contested East Jerusalem and several West Bank settlements. “To poke sticks in the wheels of peace talks is not right,” he said, “and not helpful to the process.” Right again.

One state as delusional fantasy of some Middle Eastern idyll and one state as nightmarish temptation involving the indefinite Israeli subjugation of another people are equally unacceptable.

As the Talmud says, hold too much and you will hold nothing.

==================================================================================

Roger Cohen ought to have visited with Uri Avnery as well – to get it that some in Israel saw reality for a long time.

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But then we find a different point of view – the one we tend to define as wishful thinking

August 14, 2013
Is convergence the object of the peace process negotiations.

By Ted Belman of Israeli Right-wing Israpundit. That found the following:

“I attended a briefing today by an employee of the government who was very involved with everything going on in J&S {Judea and Samaria}. I will try to interview her on Skype and record it.”

She said many things of importance. This is what I can remember:

1. Israel wants the EU and US Aid to continue financing projects in Area C even if this means that the EU has a say in what, when and why of the projects. Thus we are relinquishing our independence or control for this money. The sad thing is that the money involved is a little over $1 billion dollars, just a third of what we get from the US. Better to forfeit the $1 billion and remain in control of J&S.

2. No one including Kerry has confidence in the peace process so why is Kerry pushing it. That’s because it is a cover for a hidden agenda which she would not disclose.

I believe the hidden agenda is to define what settlements will remain in Israel and what will be abandoned. If they can come to terms on this then Israel would be able to build as much as she wants in the blocs that are ceded to her and will refrain from building in the rest. The Palestinian’s would have succeeded in stopping Israel construction in most of Area C.
Israel would have solved the illegal settlement accusation and would be free to build excessively in what has been conceded to her. Of course this means that she will start incentivising the Israelis in the doomed settlements to start evacuating them. This could be done over a five year period as new homes become available for them to move into. Previous administrations called it “convergence”.

3. Both Israel and the US want Abbas and Fatah to remain in power to prevent Hamas from taking over. It may be that Israel agreed to the prisoner release as an aid to Abbas to enhance his appeal to ward off Hamas. Considering that Abbas agreed to enter negotiations and may have agreed to make an interim deal on housing construction he would need this release to cover his ass.

4. Israel supports the building of Rawabi and the new city near Jericho because it concentrates the Arabs and prevents small enclaves from being built. Thus the plan for the city near Jericho is to house the many Arabs living all throughout the Jordan Valley. This is what Israel is trying to do with the Bedouin sprawl in the Negev.

5. We are really talking about a three state solution, Gaza, Palestine and Israel. Very few expect a reconciliation between Gaza and Palestine. Thus they don’t have to be connected. Abbas keeps spending half his budget on paying former Fatah employees living in Gaza. This is to maintain his influence over Gaza but this is a futile exercise. It won’t go on for ever. Some say we are talking about a four state solution if we include Jordan. To this end, Jordan is involved in the talks.

6.The Palestinians have little interest in their environment, sewage treatment, air quality, town planning etc.

7 College grads in the West Bank (J&S) have an unemployment rate of 28%. They represent a destabilizing influence. Israel is trying to raise GDP believing that the better the economic well being, the less terrorism. Avi Bell took issue with this saying there was no study supporting it.

Currently Jewish births exceed 130,000 while Arab births in Israel and J&S are about 80,000. When we factor in Jewish immigration of 20,000 a year and Arab emigration of 20,000 per year, 150,000 Jews are added to our numbers as against only 60,000 Arabs. Looking real good.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 9th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Israeli Professor to Receive Presidential Medal of Freedom.

August 9, 2013
 www.algemeiner.com/2013/08/09/isr…

Israel’s Professor Daniel Kahneman, 79, who received the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics, has been named one of the 16 recipients of the 2013 United States Presidential Medal of Freedom, the White House announced Thursday.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is America’s highest civilian honor, recognizing individuals who have made an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the U.S., world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.

The awards will be presented at the White House later this year.

“Daniel Kahneman is a pioneering scholar of psychology. After escaping Nazi occupation [in France] in World War II, Dr. Kahneman immigrated to Israel, where he served in the Israel Defense Forces and trained as a psychologist. Alongside Amos Tversky, he applied cognitive psychology to economic analysis, laying the foundation for a new field of research and earning the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2002. He is currently a professor at Princeton University,” the White House’s statement said.

Born in Tel Aviv in 1934, Kahneman spent his childhood years in Paris. After his family escaped the Nazis, he immigrated to Israel in 1948. Kahneman is professor emeritus at Princeton University’s Department of Psychology and Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, as well as a fellow at Hebrew University and a Gallup Senior Scientist. He is considered one of the world’s foremost researchers in the fields of the psychology of judgment and decision-making, behavioral economics and hedonic psychology.

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Israel’s Split Personality.

By ROGER COHEN
Published as Op Ed at the New York Times: August 8, 2013

JERUSALEM — Israel has just embarked, yet again, on U.S.-brokered peace talks with the Palestinians.

Zeev Elkin, the deputy foreign minister and a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, gives it to me straight: “Netanyahu changed his mind. It was some kind of revolution. Ten years ago he was responsible for the decision of our party against a two-state solution.” He continues: “We have a big argument between him and us on this. I respect his position and he respects mine.” And what is Elkin’s position on two states for two peoples? “Now I don’t believe in it.”

Netanyahu is opposed by his own party. He is opposed by the man who is in effect his acting foreign minister. He is opposed by prominent members of his own government, including Economy Minister Naftali Bennett.

Israel has just agreed to release more than 100 Palestinian prisoners as a gesture of goodwill. Elkin says he cannot understand how “to release terrorists and murderers with blood on their hands is something good for peace” but “building a kindergarten in Judea and Samaria is worse for peace.”

The West Bank is referred to as Judea and Samaria by religious nationalists and others committed to holding all Eretz Israel.

The gesture of goodwill comes as Israel Hayom reports that “as of July 1, 2013, the size of the Jewish Israeli population in Judea and Samaria stood at 367,000. In the first half of 2013, roughly 7,700 new residents were added. This is, as noted, a 2.12 percent rise in the population in a six-month period.” So this year, it seems, population growth has been faster in the West Bank settlements than in the rest of Israel.

Do goodwill gestures and settlement expansion make sense? Often Israel’s personality seems split. Its prosperity purrs. Its unease lurks. I listen to friends here. Like Goethe’s Faust, two souls seem to beat within them.

Yakov would be my liberal Israeli composite, an imaginary guy who spends a lot of his week working on a big business project in Turkey (“Don’t believe what you read in the papers”) while developing the killer app that will make his fortune in his spare time. His internal dialogue swings wildly between confidence and disquiet: “Hey, we just sold Waze, a navigation app for smart phones that helps you beat traffic, for over $1 billion to Google and now AOL is paying $405 million for another fruit of Israeli genius — don’t ask me what that does, puh-lease. And, hey, check out the Tel Aviv skyline. See the cranes? This place is Boomland, man. The French are pouring in — they even love our wine!”

Then a darker voice surfaces: “Woke up in a cold sweat. We’re isolated! Same old story, Jews getting blamed for everything. I know we don’t need the European Union, but what’s with cutting off E.U. funding to institutions based or operating over the Green Line? Talk about preempting a negotiation, it’s not like we know where the border is yet…. And Stephen Hawking, canceling his appearance at the Israeli Presidential Conference, how rude is that…. I mean, the Arabs hate us, O.K. The Turks pretend to hate us, O.K. The Persians try their best to hate us, O.K. But we’re part of the West, of Europe, they can’t hate the Jews (again), that’s not O.K.”

Yakov’s mood swings are sharpest over the conflict. A voice says: “I am completely supportive of the peace process — so long as it does not get to a solution. A solution could be problematic. You have to hand it to Netanyahu, by starting the peace process he has made peace. With Obama! Do I accept the idea of two states? Yes I do. Do I want two states? That is a different question … ”

At which point an angry voice will be raised: “Of course you don’t want two states.
Look what happened when we withdrew from South Lebanon: Hezbollahland!
And when we withdrew from Gaza: Hamasland!
Is that what you want in Judea and Samaria?
You want rockets not just in the south but all over Israel blowing up our children?
Olmert offered everything and still they refused it. You want Jerusalem divided?”

Deep inside Yakov there is a white Ashkenazi Israeli liberal, that dying breed. He knows the Jews are not going away; nor are the Palestinians.
He believes the Jews did not leave the European ghetto to build walls. The Jews did not emerge from millennia of exile to impose exile on another people, did not escape dominion to inflict dominion.
He believes, still, in the possibility of peace through territorial compromise in the occupied West Bank.
“The status quo is unsustainable,” his voice of reason says.

Another rebukes him: “You prefer Syria? You prefer Egypt? Our ‘conflict’ is a haven of Middle East stability.”

Yakov checks his cool Waze app, product of Israeli genius. It shows heavy traffic ahead — bottlenecks, road works, bloody accidents.
He wants the quickest, most peaceful way home. But of course that requires the most elusive of things: agreement on what the Jewish homeland is.

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And that brings us to our own position:

Yes, Israel is troubled but when viewing the neighborhood it is nevertheless an island of peace already.

The Arab desert that was sleepy since it was reorganized by the British and the French one hundred years ago, is in effect just waking up. Sure, there are elements in this Arab mass that look to the West as a model of civilization, but then there are masses in each Arab State that want to go back a thousand years instead. The Arab world at large has not evolved yet into the age of Enlightenment and not even Nationalism – instead the people believe that by turning back to true religion they will shake off the oppression of their own dictators – and to make this more generally palatable – hit first any foreigners. Foreign bodies are in their eyes even their own brothers who rather then waiting for the emergence of Islam have seen in Christianity their entree to the civilized world. Most affected being the Copts of Egypt – but then there were many very old Christian sects in Iraq and Syria as well. These communities are being decimated continuously by this wakening Islamic revolution. In Iraq the process is about to end – the country will be clean of any non-Muslims. In Syria it is just going on.

Syria is fractured many-ways and outsiders are pouring in to bolster their preferred sides. In a short time it will be like in Spain in the thirties – it will be the foreigners fighting each other on Syrian soil – and with the US and Russia backing different sides – if not careful – a major conflagration might occur – right there on the door steps of Israel. Who can dare to tell the Israelis to return the Golan Heights to Syria under such conditions. Do the Palestinians have a dream of becoming another Syria? If there is any chance for the Israelis and Palestinians to get together – this can come only when these two sides decide that the Syrian model is even worse and that a model of Israeli-Palestinian trust – in order to avoid the Syrian model requires the end of Hamas militancy – the closing of the door to the Outside Hezbollah movement and a true attempt at making peace based on aq psychology of the best economic joint interests. This is not just a dream – it is Nobel Prize material indeed. Syria is doomed by the Arab World at large and this ought to be the cause of the awakening of the Palestinians who finally ought to get it that their enemies are not just the Israeli invaders but as well the Arab despots that never cared about them but used them for their own methods of shunning internal criticism of the way they exploited their own States.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 9th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Uri Avnery
August 10, 2013

(A shorter version of this article was published yesterday in Haaretz.)

A Federation – Why Not?

AVRAHAM BURG (58) was a member of the Labor Party and for some time the Chairman of the Knesset. His late father was a long-time cabinet minister and a leader of the National-Religious Party, before it became a rabid messianic mob. The relations between Burg sr. and me were quite friendly, largely because we were the only two German-born members of the Knesset.

Burg jr., who still wears the kippah of an observant Jew, joined the Labor Party and was a member of the “eight doves”, a moderate grouping in the party.

Last week Haaretz published an article in which Burg proposed linking the “two-state solution” with a two-state federation. He used the metaphor of a building, the first floor of which would consist of human rights, the second floor would host the two states, Israel and Palestine, and the third the federation.

This brought a lot of memories to my mind.

IN THE spring of 1949, immediately after the signing of the original armistice agreements between the new State of Israel and the Arab countries which had intervened in the war, a group was formed in Israel to advocate the setting up of a Palestinian state next to Israel, and the signing of a covenant between the two nations.

At the time, that idea was considered heretical, since the very existence of a Palestinian people was strenuously denied in Israel.

The group consisted of a Muslim Arab, a Druze Arab and me. After some time, when our attempts to form a new party failed to get off the ground, the group dispersed. (Curiously enough, all three of us later became members of the Knesset.)

We were of one mind concerning a salient point: the borders between the two states must be open for the free movement of people and goods. We did not use the word “federation”, but something like that was on our minds.

After the 1956 Suez war, a new group took up the idea. It was founded by Nathan Yalin-Mor and me and attracted an impressive array of intellectuals, writers and artists. Yalin-Mor was the former leader of the Fighters for the Freedom of Israel, branded by the British as the most extreme Jewish terrorist organization and known to them as the “Stern Gang”.

We called ourselves “Semitic Action” and published a document, “The Hebrew Manifesto”, which I still think was and has remained unique: a complete, detailed blueprint for a different State of Israel. It contained among many other things the plan for the establishment of an Arab-Palestinian state alongside Israel, and a federation between Israel, Palestine and Jordan, to be called “the Jordan Union”.

In the 1970s, Abba Eban floated the idea of a Benelux-type solution, a name derived from the federation-like arrangement between Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxemburg. To my surprise, when I first met with Yasser Arafat during the siege of Beirut in 1982, he used the very same term: “A federation between Israel, Palestine and Jordan, and perhaps Lebanon too – why not?” He repeated the same idea, in the same words, at our last meeting, just before his mysterious death.

In the course of time, I dropped the word “federation”. I had come to the conclusion that it frightened both sides too much. Israelis feared that it meant diminishing the sovereignty of Israel, while Palestinians suspected that it was another Zionist ruse to keep up the occupation by other means. But it seems clear that in a small land like historical Palestine, two states cannot live side by side for any length of time without a close relationship between them.

It must be remembered that the original UN partition plan included a kind of federation, without using the word explicitly. According to the plan, the Arab and the Jewish states were to remain united in an economic union.

THE WORLD is full of federations and confederations, and no two are alike. Each one is a unique structure, formed by local circumstances and history. All are based on a covenant – foedus in Latin, hence the term.

The terrible US civil war was fought out between a federation (the North) and a confederation (the South). The federation was conceived as a close union with a strong central government, the confederation as a loose cooperation between semi-independent states.

The list is long. Switzerland calls itself a confederation. Post-Soviet Russia is a federation. Germany is a “federal republic”, and so on.

A federation between Israel and Palestine, with or without Jordan, will have to find its own character, according to its unique circumstances.

But the main point is timing.

Since Burg likened his proposal to a building, it follows that it must be built floor after floor, from the bottom up. That’s how I see it too.

The first floor is the two-state solution. This must be implemented first of all. Any idea about what may come after is meaningless without it.

This means the foundation of the State of Palestine along the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital, as a free, independent and sovereign nation-state of the Palestinian people.

As long as this basic idea is not implemented, and the solution of all the connected problems (“core issues”) agreed upon, nothing else has much meaning.

The occupation is a bleeding wound, and it has to be healed in the framework of peace before everything else. There can be no meaningful talk about federation between oppressor and oppressed. Federation presumes partners of equal status, if not of equal strength.

The two-state solution promises peace – at least the formal peace that puts an end to the hundred-year old conflict. Once this peace is achieved, one can – and should – think about the next stage, the deepening of the peace and turning it into a day-to-day reality that shapes people’s lives.

LET’S ASSUME that this round of negotiations, or some future round, will lead to a formal peace treaty, and an end to all mutual claims, as John Kerry puts it. It’s then that the idea of federation should be considered.

What do we have in mind? A close federation or a loose confederation? What functions are the two sides ready – of their own free will – to transfer from the national to the federal level?

Most probably, Israel will not give up its freedom of decision-making concerning its relations with the world-wide Jewish Diaspora and immigration. The same is true for Palestine’s relation to the Arab world and the return of refugees.

What about foreign relations in general? I believe that in all existing federations and confederations, the central authority is in charge of these. In our situation this constitutes a problem. Military and security matters are even more problematic.

As I see it, a federation will be mostly concerned with economic matters, matters of human rights, freedom of movement and such.

But the main point is this: the negotiations between the State of Israel and the State of Palestine concerning a federation must be free of pressure, conducted in good faith between equals.

WILL THIS be the end of the road to real peace? I like to think that these are only the first few steps.

If the two-state solution is the first floor, and the federation is the second, one may imagine that the third floor will be a regional union, on the lines of the present European Union.

With the current turmoil in our region, it is hard to imagine that the Arab Spring will lead to any kind of stability. But our memory is short. The EU was the direct offspring of the most terrible of all wars – World War II, with millions of Europeans among the casualties.

A regional organization (I used to call it a “Semitic Union”) that includes Israel and Palestine will be advantageous to all partners in a world where regional groupings are playing an ever expanding role.

But the crown of a new order will be some kind of world governance, which is sorely needed even now. I am fairly sure that it will come into being before this century is over. This is no more utopian than was the idea of a European union a hundred years ago, when a handful of far-sighted idealists first brought it up.

At this point in time, there are a host of problems that can no longer be solved on the national, or even regional, level. The saving of our planet from environmental catastrophe. The regulation of a globalized economy. The prevention of wars and civil wars. The safeguarding of human rights everywhere. The achievement of real equality for women. The protection of minorities. The ending of hunger and diseases. All these need a new world order.

Such an order will necessarily be similar to a worldwide federation. This need not mean the disappearance of nation-states. These will probably continue to exist, as they exist today within the European Union, but with diminished sovereignty.

Can such a world order be democratic? It must be. Some day, humankind will elect a world parliament, as Europeans today elect a European parliament which is steadily taking on new responsibilities.

THESE ARE dreams for the future, though it is worthwhile to think about them even now.

But for us, in this small country, the task for today is to achieve peace – the peace between two nations living in harmony in two sister-states.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 31st, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Secretary of State John Kerry with the chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, left, and Israel’s justice minister, Tzipi Livni, right, in Washington. The two sides plan to meet next in the Middle East.


Kerry Says Goal Is Mideast Peace Deal Within 9 Months.

By MICHAEL R. GORDON
Published in the New York Times: July 30, 2013

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday that Israeli and Palestinian negotiators would convene again in the Middle East within two weeks and that their goal would be to work out a comprehensive peace agreement within nine months that would lead to an independent Palestinian state. {That is by May 2013}

Related: Talks Begin on Mideast, to Doubts on All Sides (July 30, 2013)

“The parties have agreed to remain engaged in sustained, continuous and substantive negotiations on the core issues,” Mr. Kerry said at the State Department, flanked by Tzipi Livni, Israel’s justice minister, and Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator.

“Our objective will be to achieve a final status agreement over the course of the next nine months,” Mr. Kerry said. “We all understand the goal that we’re working towards: two states living side by side in peace and security.”

As they resume peace talks that have been moribund since 2010, Mr. Kerry and other Obama administration officials are seeking to counter the widely held perception in the Middle East that President Obama has been detached from the peacemaking effort and that this recent initiative is largely due to the efforts of his secretary of state.

Mr. Kerry and the Israeli and Palestinian negotiators met with Mr. Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. at the White House for almost 30 minutes on Tuesday morning. “The president used this opportunity to convey his appreciation to both sides for the leadership and courage they have shown in coming to the table, and to directly express his personal support for final status talks,” Jay Carney, the White House spokesman, said later.

But many experts say that Mr. Obama will need to become much more involved if the talks are to succeed.

Mr. Kerry was also at pains to battle skeptics who have all but written off the prospects for a breakthrough. “I know the path is difficult,” he said. “There is no shortage of passionate skeptics.”

But Mr. Kerry said that a peace agreement was possible, and that both sides owed it to future generations to try. “While I understand the skepticism, I don’t share it, and I don’t think we have time for it,” he said.

The talks here on Monday and Tuesday — which involved three-way meetings that included the United States as well as direct discussions between the Israelis and the Palestinians — were largely procedural and did not grapple directly with the difficult “final-status” issues like borders, the status of Jerusalem and the Palestinians’ right to return to what is now Israeli territory.

But all of those vexing issues are to be taken up now.

“The parties have agreed here today that all of the final-status issues, all of the core issues, and all other issues are all on the table for negotiation,” Mr. Kerry said in his remarks, which were made in the State Department’s Benjamin Franklin Room.

“They are on the table with one single goal: a view to ending the conflict, ending the claims,” he added.

American officials said they expected Israel to take steps soon to improve the atmosphere for negotiations by relaxing controls and regulations that have hampered private-sector investment in the West Bank. A centerpiece of Mr. Kerry’s initiative is a plan to attract as much as $4 billion in job-creating investment in the West Bank, though most of it would depend on the successful resolution of the conflict.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel also cleared the way for the resumption of talks on the politically contentious decision, approved by his cabinet, for the phased release of 104 Palestinian prisoners, most of whom have served 20 years or more for attacks on Israelis.

Mr. Kerry did not press for an Israeli commitment to freeze settlement construction as a condition for resuming talks. American officials made clear they were hoping for, but not counting on, Israeli restraint.

A senior State Department official told reporters that the United States was hoping that each side would “take steps to create a positive atmosphere,” but added, “It is fair to say that you are likely to see Israeli settlement activity continue.”

The next round of negotiations is to be held in Israel or the West Bank. Martin S. Indyk, Mr. Kerry’s newly announced envoy to the talks, is expected to be present.

“Palestinians have suffered enough, and no one benefits more from the success of this endeavor,” Mr. Erekat said. “I am delighted that all final status issues are on the table and will be resolved without any exceptions, and it’s time for the Palestinian people to have an independent, sovereign state of their own.”

Ms. Livni, addressing Mr. Erekat, said the two sides needed to look beyond the problems that had frustrated talks in the past.

“You know, Saeb, we all spent some time in the negotiations room,” she said. “We didn’t reach dead end in the past, but we didn’t complete our mission. A new opportunity is being created for us, for all of us, and we cannot afford to waste it.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 30th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Netanyahu the Peacemaker

By ROGER COHEN, New York Times Op-Ed Columnist
Published: July 29, 2013 – 9 Comments
 www.nytimes.com/2013/07/30/opinio…

Jimmy Carter, as he pointed out in London a few days ago, dealt with a right-wing former terrorist and “the last person you would expect to make peace” in reaching the 1978 Camp David Accords that ended the conflict between Israel and Egypt.

Related News: Israel and Palestinians Set to Resume Peace Talks, U.S. Announces (July 29, 2013)
Netanyahu Agrees to Free 104 Palestinians (July 28, 2013)

The man in question was the former Israeli prime minister, Menachem Begin, who noted in his memoir “The Revolt,” that he was known as “Terrorist Number One” in Britain as he led the fight to end British rule of Mandate Palestine and establish a Jewish state.

Begin acknowledges that he was driven by hatred of British rule. “We had to hate the humiliating disgrace of the homelessness of our people,” he wrote, adding that, “We had to hate the barring of the gates of our own country to our own brethren, trampled and bleeding and crying out for help in a world morally deaf.”

Yet, three decades after the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, Begin the warrior — a man as responsible as any other for the transformation of the meek, acquiescent Jew of the diaspora who went head bowed to the Nazi gas into a fighter — chose to set hatred aside to trade land for lasting peace.

Carter’s conclusion is that Benjamin Netanyahu, a hawk raised on the ethos of Begin (Israel’s first right-wing prime minister), may also want to go down as the “historic hero” who brought peace.

“I don’t see anyone else” in Israel “as a possible peacemaker,” the former U.S. president, who had just been briefed by Secretary of State John Kerry on his diplomatic initiative, observed.

The notion that Netanyahu the Likudnik — fierce opponent of the late Yitzhak Rabin’s peace push, reluctant latecomer to the notion of two states, longtime ideologue of the Jewish right to all the Biblical land of Israel — might reinvent himself as peacemaker is not new. I have heard it from several people who have spent long hours with Netanyahu, including former Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain.

Skepticism is de rigueur, but it would be wrong to dismiss the idea. Never give an inch was Begin’s fierce creed forged in European persecution — and yet. The controversial release of 104 Palestinians is not the action of an Israeli prime minister unserious about final-status negotiations. Carter said, “I think this concept that John Kerry has pursued now secretly, very secretly for five months, I think it has much more chance of success than I had believed before we met with him.”

Kerry’s work up to now has been impressive: the doggedness, that very secrecy (necessary to diplomacy but harder than ever to achieve), the choreography (pluck the interlocutors out of the region to begin talks in Washington), the orchestration (involvement of the Arab League, appeals to major U.S. Jewish groups).

The context of his work looks adverse — but perhaps not. Next to Syria’s implosion and Egypt’s secular-religious fracture, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an old, tired issue: Its protagonists weary of it, the outline of its resolution well known, the futility of its perpetuation evident. My sense is that even the Arabs who are long used the Palestinian issue as a diversion from their core problems are sick of it. They see the conflict as an impediment to growth and an ideological distraction (rather than serviceable tool). There is more heat right now to Sunni-Shiite than Palestinian-Israeli enmity.

Carter said a resolution should be based on the 1967 borders, “with one exception — that is that there can be land swaps very near Jerusalem for the major Israeli settlements, and acre by acre or hectare by hectare the land that’s given by the Palestinians to Israel for these major settlements will be repaid to the Palestinians on an equal basis.”

He said Palestinian return would have to be to the West Bank or Gaza — “unless it’s a few dozen or something like that” to Israel. He said, “I have met many, many hours with Hamas leaders, and they have assured me for a long time that they will accept any negotiation that is successful between the P.L.O. and Israel if it is put to the Palestinian people in a referendum.”

Yes, the outline of the only possible resolution is well known. (Jerusalem will require immense creativity.) The dire alternative is also well known. At times the conflict comes close to self-parody, being so thrashed to death. Could it be that the Israeli and Palestinian peoples are unready to be fooled again?

Begin also wrote: “We had to hate — as any nation worthy of the name must and always will hate — the rule of the foreigner.” He wrote: “If you love your country, you cannot but hate those who seek to annex it.”

Netanyahu should read those words carefully. He might find in them the decisive spur to a resolution that grants Palestinians a state in peace and security beside Israel. It is hard for him: Sinai, unlike the West Bank, was not part of Eretz Israel — land Begin believed was “our natural and eternal right.”

Hard, yes, but no harder than for Begin the bomb maker to become Begin the peacemaker.

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Following 3-year deadlock || Israeli-Palestinian peace talks kick off with Iftar dinner at State Department
The negotiating teams have traditional feast to break Ramadan fast, while discussing agenda for 9-month-long negotiations; Abbas: Not a single Israeli in future Palestinian state.

By Barak Ravid and Reuters | Jul. 30, 2013 | 5:17 AM – HAARETZ

Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams arrived at the State Department building in Washington Monday night after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry set the wheels in motion for the first direct peace talks in almost three years.

The negotiating teams began talks over the traditional Iftar dinner to break the Ramadan fast, hosted at the State Department building by Kerry. He will give the first press conference on renewed negotiations on Tuesday at 6:00 P.M. local time.

The Iftar dinner was relatively informal and was intended primarily to establish a friendly atmosphere. However, a senior Israeli official noted that the parties would begin discussing the agenda for negotiations during dinner.

During a press conference earlier Monday, Kerry lauded Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, for their efforts to move the process forward.

Speaking from Cairo where he was meeting with Egypt’s interim president Adly Mansour, Abbas said that no Israeli settlers or border forces could remain in a future Palestinian state and that Palestinians deem illegal all Jewish settlement building beyond the Green Line.

“In a final solution, we would not see the presence of a single Israeli – civilian or soldier – on our lands,” Abbas said in a briefing to mostly Egyptian journalists” .An international, multinational presence like in Sinai, Lebanon and Syria – we are with that,” he said, referring to United Nations peacekeeping operations in those places

Before heading to Washington, Livni told the Associated Press that “the idea is to start the negotiations today.”

“There is a lot of cynicism and skepticism and pessimism but there is also hope,” Livni said.”I believe that by relaunching the negotiations we can recreate hope fo rIsraelis and Palestinians as well.”

The delegations will meet with Kerry again Tuesday to continue talks on the issues up for discussion and a timetable for further meetings. At the end of the day, a joint press statement is expected to be read by the secretary of state, amrking the official start of negotiations.

Kerry also appointed former U.S. ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk as Washington’s special Middle East peace envoy.

Both Netanyahu and Abbas approved of the choice of Indyk, whose appointment was revealed earlier this month. Indyk will accompany the peace talks as they progress, Kerry said on Monday, after officially introducing him as the new U.S. envoy, and naming adviser Frank Lowenstein as Indyk’s deputy.

“Indyk is realistic,” Kerry said. “He understands that peace will not come overnight but that there is a sense of urgency.”

Accepting the task, Indyk said, “Middle East peace is a daunting challenge but one that I can’t run away from.” He then added: “Peace is possible.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 28th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Resumption of Israeli-Palestinian Direct Final Status Negotiations.

Press Statement
Jen Psaki
Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
July 28, 2013


Today, Secretary Kerry spoke with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and personally extended an invitation to send senior negotiating teams to Washington to formally resume direct final status negotiations. Initial meetings are planned for the evening of Monday July 29 and Tuesday July 30, 2013.

The Israelis will be represented by Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Yitzhak Molcho, and the Palestinians will be represented by Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat and Mohammad Shtayyeh. As Secretary Kerry announced on July 19 in Amman, Jordan, the Israelis and Palestinians had reached agreement on the basis for resuming direct final status negotiations. The meetings in Washington will mark the beginning of these talks. They will serve as an opportunity to develop a procedural workplan for how the parties can proceed with the negotiations in the coming months.

In his invitation, the Secretary again commended the courage shown by Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas. The Secretary said, “Both leaders have demonstrated a willingness to make difficult decisions that have been instrumental in getting to this point. We are grateful for their leadership.”

The United States and the parties are looking forward to beginning these substantive discussions and in moving forward toward a final status agreement.

The Monday night event in Washington includes a gala post-Ramadan-fast dinner hosted by US Secretary of State John Kerry.

PRN: 2013/0934

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 14th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

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Photographs from  Gaza !!

 On  TV you see only the crumbling, dilapidated buildings and injuries inflicted on the Gazans by the Israelis !!

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 14th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Israeli Parents Meet Palestinian Boy Whose Life Was Saved by Their Dead Son’s Kidney.

June 13, 2013 on the Algemeiner website

Author:  Zach Pontz

Sarit Naor meets Yakoub Ibhisad. Photo: Schneider Children’s Medical Center/Channel 2.

Two families touched by the death of a 3-year-old Israeli boy were finally able to meet Thursday, Israel’s Channel 2 reports.

When Noam Naor was killed after falling out of a window at his family home in May, his parents decided to donate his kidneys. One went to an Israeli child, the other to a 10-year-old Palestinian boy.

During the meeting, which Channel 2 reported left not a single dry eye in the room, Noam’s mother, Sarit, said she was deeply grateful to get a chance to meet the boy and his family.

“I just wish him health and rehabilitation,” she said. “It’s bliss for me, it brings me great comfort. ”

The Palestinian boy, Yakoub Ibhisad, had been treated with dialysis at Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center for seven years before the match was found. According to the Times of Israel, the Health Ministry’s transplant center contacted Noam’s parents, and asked them if they’d be willing to donate the kidney to someone who wasn’t Israeli — specifically, a Palestinian.

“It doesn’t matter who gets the kidneys, so long as fewer children need to undergo dialysis treatments,” Noam’s father  was quoted as saying.

Following the operation last week Yakoub”s father told Israel’s News1 he had “no words” that could express his feelings towards the Naor family.

Sarit Naor also expressed her delight.

“Knowing I saved a life gives me great comfort and the power to go on,” she said. “It was not an easy choice, but I today I am happy I made it. It doesn’t matter that it’s a Palestinian boy, I wish it would bring us peace.”

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 Comments:

  • Incidents such as these must be cherished and savored in the hopes of bringing peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.

  • isaac \Geld

    This gives me hope for the future.

  • Stevie the K

    Sadly, the cynic in me says that in about 5 years that kid will be throwing rocks at Jews

  • This is a beautiful story. It’s so nice to read about good things happening instead of anti-Israel lies all the time. Unfortunately, I am sure that this story of love is going to be twisted into a story of hatred.

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