Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Obama’s November surprise


From The Hill, 26 November 2016, by Gregg Roman:



... there is growing speculation that President Obama will spring a diplomatic surprise on Israel during the interregnum between the U.S. presidential election on Nov. 8 and his departure from office in January.
Some say the surprise will be a speech laying down parameters for a final settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute or some type of formal censure of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, but the scenario generating most discussion is a decision to support, or perhaps not to veto a UN Security Council resolution recognizing a Palestinian state.

This would be a bombshell. Washington’s long-stated policy is that a Palestinian state should be established only through an agreement negotiated directly between the two sides. In practice, this would require that Palestinian leaders agreed to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and concede the so-called “right of return” for refugees of the 1948 war and their descendants to areas within Israel’s borders, a prospect which would mean the demographic destruction of Israel.
For decades, Palestinian leaders have made it clear they won’t do this: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas doesn’t mince words, telling a gathering of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo in November 2014, “We will never recognize the Jewishness of the state of Israel.” Efforts to win recognition of Palestinian statehood by foreign governments and multilateral institutions are designed to skirt this precondition for statehood.

Any state that comes into existence without Palestinian leaders formally recognizing Israel will be a brutal, unstable train wreck, with areas under its jurisdiction likely to remain a hotbed of terrorism. On top of whatever existing factors are producing the endemic corruption and autocracy of the Abbas regime (not to mention the Hamas regime in Gaza), unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state will vindicate radicals who have been saying all along that there’s no need to compromise.
On the other hand, official Palestinian acknowledgement once and for all that Israel is not just here to stay, but has a right to stay, would deprive Palestinian leaders of time-honored tools for manipulating their constituents – appealing to and inflaming their baser anti-Jewish prejudices, promising them salvation if they’ll only shut up ‘til the Zionists are defeated, and so forth. Instead, they will have to do things like govern well and create jobs to win public support.

Previous American administrations have understood that recognizing Palestinian statehood before Abbas and company allow Palestinian society to undergo this transformation would be the height of irresponsibility. This is why American veto power has consistently blocked efforts to unilaterally establish a Palestinian state by way of the UN Security Council.
Notwithstanding his apparent pro-Palestinian sympathies and affiliations prior to running for the Senate and later the White House, President Obama initially maintained this policy. The expressed threat of an American veto foiled Abbas’ 2011 bid to win UN member-state status for “Palestine.” He settled for recognition of non-member-state status by the General Assembly in 2012.

As moves by the PA to bring the issue of statehood to the UN picked up steam last year, however, it appeared to walk back this commitment. While U.S officials privately maintained there was “no change,” Obama and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power refused – despite the urging of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid – to state publicly that the U.S. would use its veto to stop a resolution recognizing Palestinian statehood.
The conventional wisdom was that Obama’s refusal to make such a public declaration was intended to exert pressure on Netanyahu to tone down his opposition to the Iran nuclear deal, and later to punish him for it or hold it out to secure concessions. As his presidency enters its final months, it’s clear something even more nefarious is at work.

President Obama’s failure to clarify his administration’s position has greatly damaged prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace. Even if it is Obama’s intention to veto any resolution on Palestinian statehood that comes up at the UN, his refusal to publicly state this – or, put differently, his determination to go on the record for the history books not saying it – has fueled perceptions among Palestinians and European governments facing pressures of their own that American will is softening.

It is imperative that Congress use the tools at its disposal to make this unwise path as difficult as possible for the Obama Administration.
Ultimately, a one-sided UN declaration such as this serves only to postpone by a long shot the day when Palestinian leaders accept Israel as it is – the homeland of the Jewish people – and allow their subjects to enjoy the lasting peace and prosperity they and their neighbors deserve.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Israel will take its rightful place among the nations.


Remarks by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the 71st sessions of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, September 22, 2016.

Mr. President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

What I’m about to say is going to shock you: Israel has a bright future at the UN.

Now I know that hearing that from me must surely come as a surprise, because year after year I’ve stood at this very podium and slammed the UN for its obsessive bias against Israel. And the UN deserved every scathing word – for the disgrace of the General Assembly that last year passed 20 resolutions against the democratic State of Israel and a grand total of three resolutions against all the other countries on the planet.

Israel – twenty; rest of the world – three.

And what about the joke called the UN Human Rights Council, which each year condemns Israel more than all the countries of the world combined. As women are being systematically raped, murdered, sold into slavery across the world, which is the only country that the UN’s Commission on Women chose to condemn this year? Yep, you guessed it – Israel. Israel. Israel where women fly fighter jets, lead major corporations, head universities, preside – twice – over the Supreme Court, and have served as Speaker of the Knesset and Prime Minister.

And this circus continues at UNESCO. UNESCO, the UN body charged with preserving world heritage. Now, this is hard to believe but UNESCO just denied the 4,000-year connection between the Jewish people and its holiest site, the Temple Mount. That’s just as absurd as denying the connection between the Great Wall of China and China.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The UN, begun as a moral force, has become a moral farce. So when it comes to Israel at the UN, you’d probably think nothing will ever change, right? Well think again. You see, everything will change and a lot sooner than you think. The change will happen in this hall, because back home, your governments are rapidly changing their attitudes towards Israel. And sooner or later, that’s going to change the way you vote on Israel at the UN.

The UN, begun as a moral force, has become a moral farce.

More and more nations in Asia, in Africa, in Latin America, more and more nations see Israel as a potent partner – a partner in fighting the terrorism of today, a partner in developing the technology of tomorrow.

Today Israel has diplomatic relations with over 160 countries. That’s nearly double the number that we had when I served here as Israel’s ambassador some 30 years ago. And those ties are getting broader and deeper every day. World leaders increasingly appreciate that Israel is a powerful country with one of the best intelligence services on earth. Because of our unmatched experience and proven capabilities in fighting terrorism, many of your governments seek our help in keeping your countries safe.

Many also seek to benefit from Israel’s ingenuity in agriculture, in health, in water, in cyber and in the fusion of big data, connectivity and artificial intelligence – that fusion that is changing our world in every way.

You might consider this: Israel leads the world in recycling wastewater. We recycle about 90% of our wastewater. Now, how remarkable is that? Well, given that the next country on the list only recycles about 20% of its wastewater, Israel is a global water power. So if you have a thirsty world, and we do, there’s no better ally than Israel.

How about cybersecurity? That’s an issue that affects everyone. Israel accounts for one-tenth of one percent of the world’s population, yet last year we attracted some 20% of the global private investment in cybersecurity. I want you to digest that number. In cyber, Israel is punching a whopping 200 times above its weight. So Israel is also a global cyber power. If hackers are targeting your banks, your planes, your power grids and just about everything else, Israel can offer indispensable help.

Governments are changing their attitudes towards Israel because they know that Israel can help them protect their peoples, can help them feed them, can help them better their lives.

Governments are changing their attitudes towards Israel because they know that Israel can help them protect their peoples, can help them feed them, can help them better their lives.

This summer I had an unbelievable opportunity to see this change so vividly during an unforgettable visit to four African countries. This is the first visit to Africa by an Israeli prime minister in decades. Later today, I’ll be meeting with leaders from 17 African countries. We’ll discuss how Israeli technology can help them in their efforts to transform their countries.

In Africa, things are changing. In China, India, Russia, Japan, attitudes towards Israel have changed as well. These powerful nations know that, despite Israel’s small size, it can make a big difference in many, many areas that are important to them.

But now I’m going to surprise you even more. You see, the biggest change in attitudes towards Israel is taking place elsewhere. It’s taking place in the Arab world. Our peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan continue to be anchors of stability in the volatile Middle East. But I have to tell you this: For the first time in my lifetime, many other states in the region recognize that Israel is not their enemy. They recognize that Israel is their ally. Our common enemies are Iran and ISIS. Our common goals are security, prosperity and peace. I believe that in the years ahead we will work together to achieve these goals, work together openly.

So Israel’s diplomatic relations are undergoing nothing less than a revolution. But in this revolution, we never forget that our most cherished alliance, our deepest friendship is with the United States of America, the most powerful and the most generous nation on earth. Our unbreakable bond with the United States of America transcends parties and politics. It reflects, above all else, the overwhelming support for Israel among the American people, support which is at record highs and for which we are deeply grateful.

I believe the day is not far off when Israel will be able to rely on many, many countries to stand with us at the UN. Slowly but surely, the days when UN ambassadors reflexively condemn Israel, those days are coming to an end.

The United Nations denounces Israel; the United States supports Israel. And a central pillar of that defense has been America’s consistent support for Israel at the UN. I appreciate President Obama’s commitment to that longstanding US policy. In fact, the only time that the United States cast a UN Security Council veto during the Obama presidency was against an anti-Israel resolution in 2011. As President Obama rightly declared at this podium, peace will not come from statements and resolutions at the United Nations.

I believe the day is not far off when Israel will be able to rely on many, many countries to stand with us at the UN. Slowly but surely, the days when UN ambassadors reflexively condemn Israel, those days are coming to an end.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today’s automatic majority against Israel at the UN reminds me of the story, the incredible story of Hiroo Onada. Hiroo was a Japanese soldier who was sent to the Philippines in 1944. He lived in the jungle. He scavenged for food. He evaded capture. Eventually he surrendered, but that didn’t happen until 1974, some 30 years after World War II ended. For decades, Hiroo refused to believe the war was over. As Hiroo was hiding in the jungle, Japanese tourists were swimming in pools in American luxury hotels in nearby Manila. Finally, mercifully, Hiroo’s former commanding officer was sent to persuade him to come out of hiding. Only then did Hiroo lay down his arms.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Distinguished delegates from so many lands,

I have one message for you today: Lay down your arms. The war against Israel at the UN is over. Perhaps some of you don’t know it yet, but I am confident that one day in the not too distant future you will also get the message from your president or from your prime minister informing you that the war against Israel at the United Nations has ended. Yes, I know, there might be a storm before the calm. I know there is talk about ganging up on Israel at the UN later this year. Given its history of hostility towards Israel, does anyone really believe that Israel will let the UN determine our security and our vital national interests?

We will not accept any attempt by the UN to dictate terms to Israel. The road to peace runs through Jerusalem and Ramallah, not through New York.

But regardless of what happens in the months ahead, I have total confidence that in the years ahead the revolution in Israel’s standing among the nations will finally penetrate this hall of nations. I have so much confidence, in fact, that I predict that a decade from now an Israeli prime minister will stand right here where I am standing and actually applaud the UN. But I want to ask you: Why do we have to wait a decade? Why keep vilifying Israel? Perhaps because some of you don’t appreciate that the obsessive bias against Israel is not just a problem for my country, it’s a problem for your countries too. Because if the UN spends so much time condemning the only liberal democracy in the Middle East, it has far less time to address war, disease, poverty, climate change and all the other serious problems that plague the planet.

Are the half million slaughtered Syrians helped by your condemnation of Israel? The same Israel that has treated thousands of injured Syrians in our hospitals, including a field hospital that I built right along the Golan Heights border with Syria. Are the gays hanging from cranes in Iran helped by your denigration of Israel? That same Israel where gays march proudly in our streets and serve in our parliament, including I’m proud to say in my own Likud party. Are the starving children in North Korea’s brutal tyranny, are they helped by your demonization of Israel? Israel, whose agricultural knowhow is feeding the hungry throughout the developing world?

The sooner the UN’s obsession with Israel ends, the better. The better for Israel, the better for your countries, the better for the UN itself.

The sooner the UN’s obsession with Israel ends, the better. The better for Israel, the better for your countries, the better for the UN itself.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

If UN habits die hard, Palestinian habits die even harder. President Abbas just attacked from this podium the Balfour Declaration. He’s preparing a lawsuit against Britain for that declaration from 1917. That’s almost 100 years ago – talk about being stuck in the past. The Palestinians may just as well sue Iran for the Cyrus Declaration, which enabled the Jews to rebuild our Temple in Jerusalem 2,500 years ago. Come to think of it, why not a Palestinian class action suit against Abraham for buying that plot of land in Hebron where the fathers and mothers of the Jewish people were buried 4,000 years ago? You’re not laughing. It’s as absurd as that. To sue the British government for the Balfour Declaration? Is he kidding? And this is taken seriously here?

President Abbas attacked the Balfour Declaration because it recognized the right of the Jewish people to a national home in the land of Israel. When the United Nations supported the establishment of a Jewish state in 1947, it recognized our historical and our moral rights in our homeland and to our homeland. Yet today, nearly 70 years later, the Palestinians still refuse to recognize those rights – not our right to a homeland, not our right to a state, not our right to anything. And this remains the true core of the conflict, the persistent Palestinian refusal to recognize the Jewish state in any boundary. You see, this conflict is not about the settlements. It never was.

The conflict raged for decades before there was a single settlement, when Judea Samaria and Gaza were all in Arab hands. The West Bank and Gaza were in Arab hands and they attacked us again and again and again. And when we uprooted all 21 settlements in Gaza and withdrew from every last inch of Gaza, we didn’t get peace from Gaza – we got thousands of rockets fired at us from Gaza.

This conflict rages because for the Palestinians, the real settlements they’re after are Haifa, Jaffa and Tel Aviv.

The issue of settlements is a real one and it can and must be resolved in final status negotiations.

Now mind you, the issue of settlements is a real one and it can and must be resolved in final status negotiations. But this conflict has never been about the settlements or about establishing a Palestinian state. It’s always been about the existence of a Jewish state, a Jewish state in any boundary.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Israel is ready, I am ready to negotiate all final status issues but one thing I will never negotiate: Our right to the one and only Jewish state.

Wow, sustained applause for the Prime Minister of Israel in the General Assembly? The change may be coming sooner than I thought.

Had the Palestinians said yes to a Jewish state in 1947, there would have been no war, no refugees and no conflict. And when the Palestinians finally say yes to a Jewish state, we will be able to end this conflict once and for all.

Now here’s the tragedy, because, see, the Palestinians are not only trapped in the past, their leaders are poisoning the future.

I want you to imagine a day in the life of a 13-year-old Palestinian boy, I’ll call him Ali. Ali wakes up before school, he goes to practice with a soccer team named after Dalal Mughrabi, a Palestinian terrorist responsible for the murder of a busload of 37 Israelis. At school, Ali attends an event sponsored by the Palestinian Ministry of Education honoring Baha Alyan, who last year murdered three Israeli civilians. On his walk home, Ali looks up at a towering statue erected just a few weeks ago by the Palestinian Authority to honor Abu Sukar, who detonated a bomb in the center of Jerusalem, killing 15 Israelis.

When Ali gets home, he turns on the TV and sees an interview with a senior Palestinian official, Jibril Rajoub, who says that if he had a nuclear bomb, he’d detonate it over Israel that very day. Ali then turns on the radio and he hears President Abbas’s adviser, Sultan Abu al-Einein, urging Palestinians, here’s a quote, “to slit the throats of Israelis wherever you find them.” Ali checks his Facebook and he sees a recent post by President Abbas’s Fatah Party calling the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics a “heroic act”. On YouTube, Ali watches a clip of President Abbas himself saying, “We welcome every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem.” Direct quote.

Over dinner, Ali asks his mother what would happen if he killed a Jew and went to an Israeli prison? Here’s what she tells him. She tells him he’d be paid thousands of dollars each month by the Palestinian Authority. In fact, she tells him, the more Jews he would kill, the more money he’d get. Oh, and when he gets out of prison, Ali would be guaranteed a job with the Palestinian Authority.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

All this is real. It happens every day, all the time. Sadly, Ali represents hundreds of thousands of Palestinian children who are indoctrinated with hate every moment, every hour.

This is child abuse.

Imagine your child undergoing this brainwashing. Imagine what it takes for a young boy or girl to break free out of this culture of hate. Some do but far too many don’t. How can any of us expect young Palestinians to support peace when their leaders poison their minds against peace?

How can any of us expect young Palestinians to support peace when their leaders poison their minds against peace?

We in Israel don’t do this. We educate our children for peace. In fact, we recently launched a pilot program, my government did, to make the study of Arabic mandatory for Jewish children so that we can better understand each other, so that we can live together side-by-side in peace.

Of course, like all societies Israel has fringe elements. But it’s our response to those fringe elements, it’s our response to those fringe elements that makes all the difference.

Take the tragic case of Ahmed Dawabsha. I’ll never forget visiting Ahmed in the hospital just hours after he was attacked. A little boy, really a baby, he was badly burned. Ahmed was the victim of a horrible terrorist act perpetrated by Jews. He lay bandaged and unconscious as Israeli doctors worked around the clock to save him.

No words can bring comfort to this boy or to his family. Still, as I stood by his bedside I told his uncle, “This is not our people. This is not our way.” I then ordered extraordinary measures to bring Ahmed’s assailants to justice and today the Jewish citizens of Israel accused of attacking the Dawabsha family are in jail awaiting trial.

Now, for some, this story shows that both sides have their extremists and both sides are equally responsible for this seemingly endless conflict.

But what Ahmed’s story actually proves is the very opposite. It illustrates the profound difference between our two societies, because while Israeli leaders condemn terrorists, all terrorists, Arabs and Jews alike, Palestinian leaders celebrate terrorists. While Israel jails the handful of Jewish terrorists among us, the Palestinians pay thousands of terrorists among them.

So I call on President Abbas: you have a choice to make. You can continue to stoke hatred as you did today or you can finally confront hatred and work with me to establish peace between our two peoples.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I hear the buzz. I know that many of you have given up on peace. But I want you to know – I have not given up on peace. I remain committed to a vision of peace based on two states for two peoples. I believe as never before that changes taking place in the Arab world today offer a unique opportunity to advance that peace.

I commend President el-Sissi of Egypt for his efforts to advance peace and stability in our region. Israel welcomes the spirit of the Arab peace initiative and welcomes a dialogue with Arab states to advance a broader peace. I believe that for that broader peace to be fully achieved the Palestinians have to be part of it. I’m ready to begin negotiations to achieve this today – not tomorrow, not next week, today.

President Abbas spoke here an hour ago. Wouldn’t it be better if instead of speaking past each other we were speaking to one another? President Abbas, instead of railing against Israel at the United Nations in New York, I invite you to speak to the Israeli people at the Knesset in Jerusalem. And I would gladly come to speak to the Palestinian parliament in Ramallah.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

While Israel seeks peace with all our neighbors, we also know that peace has no greater enemy than the forces of militant Islam. The bloody trail of this fanaticism runs through all the continents represented here. It runs through Paris and Nice, Brussels and Baghdad, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, Minnesota and New York, from Sydney to San Bernardino. So many have suffered its savagery: Christian and Jews, women and gays, Yazidis and Kurds and many, many others.

Yet the heaviest price, the heaviest price of all has been paid by innocent Muslims. Hundreds of thousands unmercifully slaughtered. Millions turned into desperate refugees, tens of millions brutally subjugated. The defeat of militant Islam will thus be a victory for all humanity, but it would especially be a victory for those many Muslims who seek a life without fear, a life of peace, a life of hope.

But to defeat the forces of militant Islam, we must fight them relentlessly. We must fight them in the real world. We must fight them in the virtual world. We must dismantle their networks, disrupt their funding, discredit their ideology. We can defeat them and we will defeat them. Medievalism is no match for modernity. Hope is stronger than hate, freedom mightier than fear.

We can do this.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Israel fights this fateful battle against the forces of militant Islam every day. We keep our borders safe from ISIS, we prevent the smuggling of game-changing weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon, we thwart Palestinian terror attacks in Judea and Samaria, the West Bank, and we deter missile attacks from Hamas-controlled Gaza.

That’s the same Hamas terror organization that cruelly, unbelievably cruelly refuses to return three of our citizens and the bodies of our fallen soldiers, Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin. Hadar Goldin’s parents, Leah and Simcha Goldin, are here with us today. They have one request – to bury their beloved son in Israel. All they ask for is one simple thing – to be able to visit the grave of their fallen son Hadar in Israel. Hamas refuses. They couldn’t care less.

I implore you to stand with them, with us, with all that’s decent in our world against the inhumanity of Hamas – all that is indecent and barbaric. Hamas breaks every humanitarian rule in the book, throw the book at them.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The greatest threat to my country, to our region, and ultimately to our world remains the militant Islamic regime of Iran.

The greatest threat to my country, to our region, and ultimately to our world remains the militant Islamic regime of Iran. Iran openly seeks Israel’s annihilation. It threatens countries across the Middle East, it sponsors terror worldwide.

This year, Iran has fired ballistic missiles in direct defiance of Security Council Resolutions. It has expended its aggression in Iraq, in Syria, in Yemen. Iran, the world’s foremost sponsor of terrorism continued to build its global terror network. That terror network now spans five continents.

So my point to you is this: The threat Iran poses to all of us is not behind us, it’s before us. In the coming years, there must be a sustained and united effort to push back against Iran’s aggression and Iran’s terror. With the nuclear constraints on Iran one year closer to being removed, let me be clear: Israel will not allow the terrorist regime in Iran to develop nuclear weapons – not now, not in a decade, not ever.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I stand before you today at a time when Israel’s former president, Shimon Peres, is fighting for his life. Shimon is one of Israel’s founding fathers, one of its boldest statesmen, one of its most respected leaders. I know you will all join me and join all the people of Israel in wishing him refuah shlemah Shimon, a speedy recovery.

I’ve always admired Shimon’s boundless optimism, and like him, I too am filled with hope. I am filled with hope because Israel is capable of defending itself by itself against any threat. I am filled with hope because the valor of our fighting men and women is second to none. I am filled with hope because I know the forces of civilization will ultimately triumph over the forces of terror. I am filled with hope because in the age of innovation, Israel – the innovation nation – is thriving as never before. I am filled with hope because Israel works tirelessly to advance equality and opportunity for all its citizens: Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druze, everyone. And I am filled with hope because despite all the naysayers, I believe that in the years ahead, Israel will forge a lasting peace with all our neighbors.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am hopeful about what Israel can accomplish because I’ve seen what Israel has accomplished. In 1948, the year of Israel’s independence, our population was 800,000. Our main export was oranges. People said then we were too small, too weak, too isolated, too demographically outnumbered to survive, let alone thrive. The skeptics were wrong about Israel then; the skeptics are wrong about Israel now.

Israel’s population has grown tenfold, our economy fortyfold. Today our biggest export is technology – Israeli technology, which powers the world’s computers, cellphones, cars and so much more.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The future belongs to those who innovate and this is why the future belongs to countries like Israel. Israel wants to be your partner in seizing that future, so I call on all of you: Cooperate with Israel, embrace Israel, dream with Israel. Dream of the future that we can build together, a future of breathtaking progress, a future of security, prosperity and peace, a future of hope for all humanity, a future where even at the UN, even in this hall, Israel will finally, inevitably, take its rightful place among the nations.

Thank you.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

An Inside Look at Israeli National Security Strategy

From The Washington Institute, Policy Forum 2693:



On September 15, former Israeli defense minister and military chief of staff Moshe "Bogie" Yaalon addressed a Policy Forum at The Washington Institute. The following is a rapporteur's summary of his remarks.


The ongoing earthquake in the Arab world over the past five years has reoriented the political landscape and contributed to deep instability that will likely persist for the foreseeable future. This realignment is due to the collapse of the nation-state system imposed by colonialist powers, with artificially constructed states such as Syria, Iraq, and Libya breaking apart and creating dangerous power vacuums. These broken states are unlikely to put themselves back together again; instead, they will probably be reconstituted into ethnically homogenous cantons or loose confederations.

Israel must be sober and realistic in addressing its dangerous neighborhood, and its response should follow a few clear principles. First, it should not engage in wishful thinking or patronizing behavior by trying to impose democracy or a nation-state framework onto countries that are unwilling to accept such arrangements. Real democracy means more than just holding elections -- it requires a long process of education and socialization, which these countries have yet to undertake.

Second, Israel does not wish to intervene in internal Arab conflicts, though it will act decisively when its interests are threatened and retaliate in clear, predictable ways. It learned this lesson in part from the events that followed its support for Lebanese president Bashir Gemayel during the 1982 war. Today, the Israeli government has deliberately adopted a neutral stance by not taking a public position on whether Bashar al-Assad should remain in power in Syria. At the same time, it will not allow violations of its sovereignty in the Golan Heights, delivery of advanced weapons to its enemies, or delivery of chemical weapons; the Israel Defense Forces have already demonstrated that they will respond firmly to such actions. In tandem with this strategy, Israel also provides humanitarian aid in Syria, including food, medical treatment, and fuel, in order to ameliorate the difficult conditions for victims of violence and prevent the refugee problem from growing worse.

Israel has employed a similar approach with Hamas: retaliating after rockets are fired, but otherwise seeking to avoid escalation and provide humanitarian support to the people of Gaza, including water and electricity. Elsewhere, Israel's unprecedented strategic cooperation with Egypt and Jordan contributes to its overall security in the region.

Altogether, this strategy has led to a fairly calm security situation despite the regional turmoil. Hezbollah has been reluctant to pursue conflict with Israel, and there has not been a single cross-border attack by Sunni jihadists in Syria, including the Islamic State. Moreover, since Israel has been holding Hamas responsible for all rocket fire from Gaza, such attacks are now infrequent; the wave of stabbings that began a year ago has largely dissipated as well.

Israel's biggest threat comes from further afield, in Iran. Although the nuclear deal lengthened Tehran's timetable for building a bomb, it came with a host of negative consequences too. The Iranians will retain some of their nuclear infrastructure, and thus the capacity to build a weapon in the next ten to fifteen years. They also continue to make regular conventional weapons deliveries to terrorist groups throughout the Middle East, including Hezbollah, radical Shiite militias in Iraq and Syria, and the Houthis in Yemen. In all, Iran has helped establish terrorist infrastructure on five continents -- a fact that belies its portrayal as moderate under the leadership of President Hassan Rouhani. Some see Tehran as part of the solution to the roiling regional conflicts because of its willingness to fight the Islamic State. Yet its opposition to that Sunni jihadist group should not be viewed as anything more than a ploy to remove an ideological rival and gain a greater foothold in the region.

Despite these threats, the geopolitical earthquake has created opportunities for Israel as well. Currently, the Middle East is divided into four broad camps:
  • Iran's Shiite axis, including the Assad regime, Hezbollah, and Yemen's Houthis;
  • the Muslim Brotherhood camp, led by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan but also encompassing elements in Egypt and Hamas;
  • the global jihadist camp, including the Islamic State and al-Qaeda; and
  • the Sunni Arab camp, which comprises Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and others.
Israel and the latter camp share several common adversaries, and while their cooperation is already robust (albeit quiet), it is in their mutual interest to increase it even further.

The United States should join Israel in publicly aligning with the Sunni Arab camp. One recent step in this direction was the signing of a bilateral Memorandum of Understanding in which Washington will grant Israel $38 billion in military assistance over the next decade.

Yet Sunni states have echoed Israel's frustration with the Obama administration for not addressing their concerns about the nuclear deal, for allowing Iranian proxies to stir up trouble in the region, and for wavering in its commitment to Sunni leaders, including Hosni Mubarak and Abdul Fattah al-Sisi in the wake of Egypt's revolutions.

To be sure, these states are not asking the United States to deploy ground troops to the region -- they just want Washington to be more engaged by supporting partners on the ground with airstrikes and intelligence and making their alliances known more openly.

Finally, while the world's focus has largely shifted to wider Arab issues in recent years, the Palestinian question still occupies a good deal of attention. Solving the conflict would be ideal, but it is not solvable at this time. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the core of the conflict does not stem from the disputed territories captured by Israel in the 1967 war, but from the fact that the Palestinians are not willing to accept the presence of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. As long as they are unwilling to recognize Israel's legitimacy, there is no value in making territorial concessions. This line of reasoning also dispels the idea that unilateral Israeli withdrawals would create the political momentum for a peace plan.

Since the gaps are too wide to bridge at this time, Israel should manage the conflict rather than trying to solve it. To move toward a political resolution, Israel should focus on building Palestinian society from the bottom up by improving economics, infrastructure, law enforcement, and governance in the Palestinian Authority. Ultimately, the Palestinians will also have to make sweeping changes to their education system, stop demonizing Jews, and concede that Israel has a right to at least some of the land. In other words, they cannot advance the cause of peace while also claiming that Tel Aviv is a settlement. These broad changes to Palestinian society are a prerequisite to real negotiations.

This summary was prepared by Aryeh Mellman.

Friday, September 16, 2016

At the UN, The Earth is flat, and only Israel is an ‘Occupying Power’


What about Russia in Crimea, Armenia in parts of Azerbaijan, or what Vietnam did in Cambodia?

Image result for uninvolved in peace photo
 
The United Nations began its annual session this week, and Israel will be prominent on the agenda. Many fear the Security Council may consider a resolution setting definite territorial parameters, and a deadline, for the creation of a Palestinian state.
President Obama has hinted that in the final months of his term, he may reverse the traditional U.S. policy of vetoing such resolutions. The General Assembly, meanwhile, is likely to act as the chorus in this drama, reciting its yearly litany of resolutions criticizing Israel.
If Mr. Obama is seeking to leave his mark on the Israeli-Arab conflict—and outside the negotiated peace process that began in Oslo—there is no worse place to do it than the U.N. New research we have conducted shows that the U.N.’s focus on Israel not only undermines the organization’s legitimacy regarding the Jewish state. It also has apparently made the U.N. blind to the world’s many situations of occupation and settlements.
Our research shows that the U.N. uses an entirely different rhetoric and set of legal concepts when dealing with Israel compared with situations of occupation or settlements world-wide. For example, Israel is referred to as the “Occupying Power” 530 times in General Assembly resolutions. Yet in seven major instances of past or present prolonged military occupation—Indonesia in East Timor, Turkey in northern Cyprus, Russia in areas of Georgia, Morocco in Western Sahara, Vietnam in Cambodia, Armenia in areas of Azerbaijan, and Russia in Ukraine’s Crimea—the number is zero. The U.N. has not called any of these countries an “Occupying Power.” Not even once.
It gets worse. Since 1967, General Assembly resolutions have referred to Israeli-held territories as “occupied” 2,342 times, while the territories mentioned above are referred to as “occupied” a mere 16 times combined. The term appears in 90% of resolutions dealing with Israel, and only in 14% of the much smaller number of resolutions dealing with the all the other situations, a difference that vastly surpasses the threshold of statistical significance. Similarly, Security Council resolutions refer to the disputed territories in the Israeli-Arab conflict as “occupied” 31 times, but only a total of five times in reference to all seven other conflicts combined.
General Assembly resolutions employ the term “grave” to describe Israel’s actions 513 times, as opposed to 14 total for all the other conflicts, which involve the full gamut of human-rights abuses, including allegations of ethnic cleansing and torture. Verbs such as “condemn” and “deplore” are sprinkled into Israel-related resolutions tens more times than they are in resolutions about other conflicts, setting a unique tone of disdain.
Israel has been reminded by resolutions against it of the country’s obligations under the Geneva Conventions about 500 times since 1967—as opposed to two times for the other situations.
In particular, the resolutions refer to Article 49(6), which states that the “Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.” This is the provision that the entire legal case against Israel settlements is based upon. Yet no U.N. body has ever invoked Article 49(6) in relation to any of the occupations mentioned above.
This even though, as Mr. Kontorovich shows in a new research article, “Unsettled: A Global Study of Settlements in Occupied Territories,” all these situations have seen settlement activity, typically on a scale that eclipses Israel’s. However, the U.N. has only used the legally loaded word “settlements” to describe Israeli civilian communities (256 times by the GA and 17 by the Security Council). Neither body has ever used that word in relation to any other country with settlers in occupied territory.
Our findings don’t merely quantify the U.N.’s double standard. The evidence shows that the organization’s claim to represent the interest of international justice is hollow, because the U.N. has no interest in battling injustice unless Israel is the country accused.
At a time of serious global crises—from a disintegrating Middle East to a land war and belligerent occupation in Europe—the leaders of the free world cannot afford to tempt the U.N. into indulging its obsessions. Especially when the apparent consequence of such scapegoating is that the organization ignores other situations and people in desperate need of attention.
Mr. Kontorovich, a professor at Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law, heads the international law department at the Kohelet Policy Forum, a think tank where Ms. Grunseid is a researcher.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

PM Netanyahu just ROCKED the world in this 2 minute speech

From Israel Video Network, September 12, 2016:

Are Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria an obstacle to peace? 
 
Are the millions of Arabs living inside Israel obstacles to peace?

Prime Minister Netanyahu makes it clear that ethnic cleansing and judenrein are terms that will no longer be a part of the future of the Land of Israel.

Ethnic cleansing for peace – what the Arab side proposes – is nothing more than blatant hatred of Jews and Israel.    





And from Truth Revolt, 12 September 2016, by Caroline Glick:

Netanyahu’s statement flummoxed the administration because no Israeli leader has ever stated the obvious bigotry of the US position regarding the so-called settlements so pointedly.

Sometimes, nothing is more infuriating than the truth.

On Friday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu infuriated the Obama administration when he told the truth about the nature of the internationally supported Palestinian demand that Israel must transfer control over Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem to the Palestinians Jew-free.

In a video address posted to his Facebook page at around dawn Washington time, Netanyahu said, “The Palestinian leadership... demands a Palestinians state with one precondition: No Jews.
“There’s a phrase for that. It’s called ‘ethnic cleansing.’ And this demand is outrageous.”
Netanyahu then turned his fire on the so-called international community that supports this bigoted demand.
  “It’s even more outrageous that the world doesn’t find this outrageous,” he said, adding, “Some otherwise enlightened countries even promote this outrage.”

Later that day, Associated Press correspondent Matt Lee asked US State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau what the administration thought of Netanyahu’s statement.

Apparently turning to a prepared text, Trudeau declaimed robotically and emphatically, “We obviously strongly disagree with the characterization that those who oppose settlement activity or view it as an obstacle to peace are somehow calling for ethnic cleansing of Jews from the West Bank.
“We believe that using that type of terminology is inappropriate and unhelpful....
We share the view of every past US administration and the strong consensus of the international community that ongoing settlement activity is an obstacle to peace. We continue to call on both sides to demonstrate with actions and policies a genuine commitment to the two-state solution.”
The only thing missing from Trudeau’s response was an explanation of why Netanyahu was wrong. She didn’t explain, nor was she asked, how the US’s opposition to Israel’s respect for Jewish Israelis’ property rights in these areas squares with her denial that its policy supports ethnic cleansing.
To make this point a bit more clearly, here are a few questions that Trudeau was neither asked nor explained on her own, but whose answers are self-evident from the administration’s apoplectic response to every move by Israel to permit Jews to lawfully build homes in Judea, Samaria and unified Jerusalem.
  • In the US government’s view, does Israel have the right to pass laws or ordinances for land use in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria? If not, why not?
  • And if you do respect Israel’s right to issue rules on land use, why do you oppose the destruction of illegally built structures in Susiya? Why do you oppose the legal purchase of land by Jews in the so-called outposts?
  • Under what circumstances is it legal for Jews to buy land beyond the 1949 armistice lines in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria?
  • Under what circumstances is it legal for Jews to build homes for themselves in these areas? Through its consistently stated and deliberately applied policy of totally rejecting all rights of Jewish Israelis to live and build in these areas, from its first days in office, the Obama administration has made clear that it rejects the civil rights of Jews as Jews in these areas and seeks the complete negation of their rights through mass expulsion, property seizure and destruction, that is, through ethnic cleansing.
As Trudeau noted, the Obama administration’s support for the ethnic cleansing of Jews is a continuation (and radicalization) of the policies of its predecessors.
Netanyahu’s statement flummoxed the administration because no Israeli leader has ever stated the obvious bigotry of the US position regarding the so-called settlements so pointedly.

To the contrary, for much of the past 20 years, in a futile attempt to mobilize international support Israel, it has been the consistent policy of successive Israeli governments to ignore the anti-Semitic bigotry at the heart of “otherwise enlightened” nations’ rejection of Jewish civil rights.

The problem for Israeli leaders has been that the so-called “two-state solution” which successive governments have been strong-armed by “otherwise enlightened countries” into supporting is predicated on the ethnic cleansing of Jews.

You cannot have a “two-state solution” unless Israel forcibly expels more than a half million Jews from their homes in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem.

In his remarks, Netanyahu argued that it is impossible to base peace on bigotry. And of course he is right. Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 proved his point.
Eleven years ago, with the support of ideologically driven jurists and journalists and the Bush administration, then prime minister Ariel Sharon suspended the rule of law in Israel when he denied the due process rights of 10,000 Israelis lawfully residing in lands to which they had legal title in Gaza and northern Samaria, and denied their supporters’ the right to lawfully protest his policies.
Far from convincing the Palestinians or their “otherwise enlightened” supporters of Israel’s commitment to peace, Sharon’s actions convinced them that there is no downside to supporting ethnic cleansing of Jews in furtherance of a Jew-free Palestine.
Hamas’s victory in the Palestinian elections the following year, and the Bush and later Obama administrations’ increasingly extreme rejections of Jewish rights across the board in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria proved that limited enactment of ethnic cleansing of Jews merely whets the “otherwise enlightened” nations’ appetite for more.
Rather than point out this state of affairs, until last Friday, Israel’s leaders pretended it away. And then, all of the sudden, Netanyahu decided to overturn the applecart.
Lee asked Trudeau whether the administration was demanding that Netanyahu “walk back” his statement. Trudeau gave no answer.
But it wouldn’t matter if they were. It is too late.
As Trudeau’s non-denial response showed, Netanyahu’s statement was the truth. The anti-settlement policies of the Obama administration and its predecessors are founded on the anti-Semitic assumption that Jewish civil rights – as opposed to everyone else’s rights, are conditional. When Jewish rights collide with the internationally supported demand for a Jew-free Palestine, Jews and Jewish Israeli governments become “obstacles to peace.” That is, they become evil and therefore deserving of persecution.

As Trudeau was failing to explain how the US’s support for ethnic cleansing was anything other than support for ethnic cleansing, The Jewish Press reported that the administration-supported pro-ethnic cleansing group J Street is lobbying the IRS to trample the civil rights of a group that rejects ethnic cleansing.
According to the report, J Street’s president Jeremy Ben-Ami sent an email to the group’s membership announcing that he is lobbying the IRS to revoke the non-profit status of Regavim. Regavim is a private group that documents illegal Palestinian construction.
Regavim works to convince the courts and the government to enforce land laws without prejudice to Jews and non-Jews alike. For rejecting anti-Jewish bigotry, Ben-Ami wrote, Regavim acts in defiance of US government policy. As a consequence, J Street is seeking to deny Regavim’s American supporters their right to lawfully donate and raise funds on behalf of Regavim’s lawful activities.
Netanyahu’s decision to tell the truth about the anti-Semitic nature of the anti-settlement movement was a watershed event. From now on, leaders from Ramallah to Washington to Brussels will have to account for their anti-Jewish policies.

For the first time, the Israeli government has made clear that there is no distinction between the civil rights of Jews in Tel Aviv, Beit El or New York.

Like every other national, religious, ethnic, racial and other group in the world, Jews have the right to exercise their civil rights to property. And if the Palestinians and their “otherwise enlightened” supporters don’t like it, that’s their problem, not ours.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Dennis Ross: If Elected, Clinton Should Seek More Israeli Concessions

Once again, a senior US official has demonstrated an inexplicable desire to pressure Israel into making further concessions to the Palestinians – a dangerous move that has only proven to distance peace, not facilitate it.

If Hillary Clinton is elected US president, she should launch a behind the scenes initiative to bring about changes in Israel’s policies, according to former Clinton adviser and US Mideast envoy Dennis Ross.
Ross’s remarks came during a panel discussion at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service on Thursday.
Ross said that “even though negotiations with the Palestinian Authority won’t work now,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should take steps of his own. “He should, at a minimum, announce an official policy that there will be no further Israeli construction east of the security barrier,” Ross said.
Numerous Israeli settlements would be affected by such a policy, including the communities in the Jordan Valley. Ross said such unilateral concessions would be consistent with “the traditional Zionist way of shaping your own destiny.”
The public disputes between Israel and the Obama administration were counter-productive, the former peace process negotiator said. “So if the more traditional of the two presidential candidates is elected, she should not undertake a big public initiative, but instead there should be some effort behind the scenes,” he added.
Ross charged that Netanyahu “does not want to make the difficult choice between his domestic interests and what the international community expects.” But, he emphasized, Netanyahu’s past concessions to the Palestinian Authority indicated that “if you could create the circumstances that would force him to make that historic choice, I think he would.” Twice the former ambassador said the Israelis need to realize if they want peace, “they can’t get it on the cheap.”
Ross sparked a moment of controversy when he said that President Obama “considers himself a genuine friend of Israel–the kind of friend who doesn’t let his friend drive drunk.”
Ross’s apparent agreement with the comparison of Netanyahu to a drunk driver provoked a strong response from fellow panelist Elliot Abrams, a former assistant secretary of state and former President George W. Bush’s former deputy national security adviser.
Abrams said senior White House aides traditionally step in to help patch relations when the president does not get along with a foreign leader. With Netanyahu, “the White House staff has made things worse,” he asserted.
Abrams singled out National Security Adviser Susan Rice as harming relations between the US and Israel. He also pointed out that the unnamed White House official, who last year used an obscenity to characterize Netanyahu, “did it deliberately, for publication, and yet was never punished for that ugly remark.” Abrams added, “If the president and his national security adviser wanted such talk to stop, it would have.”
Ross responded that “things like that didn’t happen under Tom Donilon, with whom I worked.” Donilon, Rice’s predecessor, served from October 2010 to June 2013. Several audience members pointed out afterwards there were a number of unpleasant incidents during Donilon’s time, including Obama’s open mic moment when he complained that he “has to deal with [Netanyahu] every day,” and Hillary Clinton’s assertion, at the 2012 Saban Forum, that Israel has a “lack of empathy” for “the pain of an oppressed people.”
Ross also seemed to blame Netanyahu for some of the problems enforcing the terms of the Iranian nuclear agreement. “Instead of holding Iran’s feet to the fire, [the administration] just comes up with excuses for Iran’s actions,” he said. “More could have been accomplished if Netanyahu had pressed for the creation of a Joint Implementation Committee, as I proposed.”...

Israeli victory is the only way to advance peace process

From The Hill, 4 Sept 2016, by Gregg Roman*:

Getty Images

At his first security briefing, Avigdor Liberman, Israel’s Defense Minister, declared that Israel no longer has “the luxury of conducting drawn-out wars of attrition.” 100 days into his term, with no sign of the decades-long conflict slowing, it is clear that the time has come to apply that principle to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. In order for there to be peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors, Israel must win and the Palestinians must lose.
For most of human history, military victory ended wars. The Pax Romana, a period of 200 years of relative peace within the Roman Empire, began only when Augustus defeated Marc Antony in the Battle of Actium.  When the North ravaged the South in the American Civil War, it caused the seemingly intractable conflict that claimed three quarters of a million lives over four years to fade away. The South, knowing it was defeated, never made trouble again. German and Japanese ill-will toward Western democracies in World War II rapidly dissipated, thanks to the bitter pill of defeat; friendship soon followed.
Today’s conventional wisdom holds that conflicts are best resolved through negotiation and compromise. But let’s look at the facts. After 40 years of negotiations to reunite Cyprus, the island remains divided, and 60 years of standoff over the Korean peninsula have achieved little. In Syria, the killing continues unabated despite five years of talks to reconcile Sunnis and Alawites. And at the same time, years of diplomatic efforts to roll back Iran’s nuclear program ended with the West’s capitulation to Tehran’s demands.
The negotiations fallacy is especially evident in the Arab-Israeli conflict. 
The crux of the conflict is simple:  Israel wants to survive; the Palestinian leadership wants to destroy it. 
Some Palestinian leaders make no secret of this. Hamas leaders’ open incitement to violence spawned the so-called “stabbing intifada,” and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas praises the Palestinian “martyrs” and names streets after them. Others talk peace but demand a Palestinian “right of return” to Israel, a requirement that would effectively eviscerate the Jewish state by allowing millions of Arabs of Palestinian descent to resettle permanently within Israel’s borders.  But no matter their angle, all Palestinian leaders preach hatred towards Israel.
American policy has long been to prevent Israel from achieving a decisive military victory over its adversaries. In 1956, President Eisenhower forced Israel to abandon its territorial gains from the Suez Crisis.  Similarly, following the 1967 Six Day War, the U.S. helped engineer a U.N. resolution calling on Israel to return unspecified “territories occupied” in the war.  The Reagan administration stopped Israel from obliterating Yasser Arafat’s PLO forces in Lebanon in 1982, and, most recently, the Obama administration pressured Israel to limit its objectives in its 2014 war with Hamas. These concessions, which are often unilateral and irreversible, include settlement freezes, prisoner releases and forfeiture of territory.
Such policies deliver pernicious results; American “restraint” of Israel encourages its enemies to take risks. Much like government bailouts encourage banks to make high-risk, high-payoff investments by removing the consequences of failure, Israel’s adversaries need not fret over irrevocable loss because they know the international community will admonish Israel for any gains it achieves.
Moreover, restraining Israel legitimizes and nourishes Palestinian rejectionism, defined as the refusal to acknowledge Israeli sovereignty and right of Jews to live in their ancestral homeland. Because it knows there will be no consequences for its sophisticated propaganda war, the Palestinian Authority can continue to demonize Israel. “To become a normal people, one whose parents do not encourage their children to become suicide terrorists, Palestinian Arabs need to undergo the crucible of defeat,” writes Middle East Forum President Daniel Pipes.
When Israel has licensure, without American opprobrium, to unleash its military might after a Palestinian rocket or terror attack, as when Liberman ordered over 50 airstrikes on Hamas military infrastructure in Gaza in response to one rocket, the Palestinians retreat. The fear of crushing defeat is a potent weapon in neutralizing Palestinian resistance.
America’s handling of the Arab-Israeli conflict is preventing the kind of metamorphosis in Palestinian thinking about Israel that peace requires. It’s time for Washington to allow Israel to demolish the Palestinian dream of a one-state solution, free of Jews. As Ronald Reagan said regarding the US fight against communism, the only way to “win is if they lose.”
This doesn’t mean the U.S. should support a winner-take-all settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But we must dispense with the fallacy that Israel is only a concession or two away from an American-brokered diplomatic breakthrough. As Gen. Douglas MacArthur said famously, “there is no substitute for victory.”
*Gregg Roman is the director of the Middle East Forum.