Thursday, January 19, 2017

Jerusalem is the Center of Gravity

From BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 398, January 19, 2017, by Prof. Efraim Inbar*:

Making strategic choices requires distinguishing which issues are urgent and which are important. Right now, the securing of Jewish control over Jerusalem is both urgent and important. Jerusalem carries great symbolic and strategic value for Israel, and Israeli control of the city must be protected.

Israel’s control of a united Jerusalem is challenged now more than ever. UN Security Council Resolution 2334, adopted on December 23, 2016, declared the Jewish Quarter, the Western Wall, and the Temple Mount occupied territory and any Jewish presence there illegal if it is without Palestinian consent. This followed the October 2016 UNESCO resolution ignoring Jewish links to the Temple Mount. Moreover, US Secretary of State John Kerry announced on December 28, 2016 that for the first time, the US supports the idea that Jerusalem should be the capital of two peoples.

Many Israelis console themselves that President Donald Trump will move the US embassy to Jerusalem, signaling a new era. Even if the move takes place, and even if it goes smoothly with few repercussions, it is not at all clear that the rest of the world will fall in step.

In all probability, most of the world will refuse to come along, despite the fact that West Jerusalem is not disputed territory. It will not help that there should be no legal or political problem moving an embassy to the Western part of the city. There was great reluctance to move embassies to pre-1967 Jerusalem long before the Palestinians issued any demands for parts of the city. No particular sensitivity to the Palestinian issue was displayed during the 1948-67 period.

The truth is that many foreign ministries have not yet put to rest the November 1947 UN resolution for the partition of Palestine, which includes an article to internationalize the city under UN control. They simply do not want the Jews to have full control over the eternal city, and are eager to help the Palestinians prevent such control. 

In the Christian and Muslim worlds, Jerusalem has great resonance, and we know the attitudes towards Jews in those cultures. These factors, together with diplomatic inertia (which certainly plays a role), explain the persistent international refusal to acknowledge that Jerusalem is the seat of government and the capital of the Jewish state.

Jerusalem carries great symbolic value. There is no Zionism without Jerusalem, and David Ben-Gurion accordingly gave the city first priority during the 1948 War of Independence. The Palestinians understand this, which is one of the central reasons why they insist on claiming Jerusalem: they hope to water down Jewish attachment to the Land of Israel.

They have not been entirely unsuccessful in this. Today, the most assimilated elements in Israel’s society advocate parting with the Temple Mount for the sake of peace. Most Israelis, however, continue to believe that Jerusalem and the Temple Mount are more important than peace. Indeed, they are ready to fight for it. (For the time being, the Palestinian leadership feels the same.)

Jerusalem also carries great strategic value. Control of Jerusalem secures dominance of the only highway from the coast of the Mediterranean to the Jordan Valley, a route along which military forces can move with little interference from Arab communities. If Israel wants to maintain a defensible border in the east, it must secure the east-west axis from the coast to the Jordan Valley via an undivided Jerusalem. The military importance of Jerusalem, and Jerusalem’s central role in Israel’s eastern line of defense, cannot be overestimated – especially given the immense potential for political upheaval east of the Jordan River. The turmoil of the past few years in the Arab world suggests the need for great caution.

Jerusalem is an issue that commands consensus in Israel. Maintaining social cohesion in the protracted conflict with the Palestinians is easier, not harder, if the struggle is for a united Jerusalem. Therefore, educational efforts should be directed towards reinforcing the national love for Jerusalem, in tandem with budgetary preferential treatment for the development of an even more thriving city.

Israel’s government should make this priority clear in its dealings with the new American administration. With that in mind, it should encourage the US to overcome complaints and threats from the international community and move its embassy to Jerusalem. That would be an important step in securing Jerusalem for the Jewish people.

Of course, most of the work remains to be done by the Israelis themselves. Fortunately, Jerusalem is in our hands, and we have a clear advantage in deciding its future.

Battles are often won by taking over the center of gravity. Jerusalem is the center of gravity in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in both a symbolic and a strategic sense. This insight must be internalized by Israeli society.

*Efraim Inbar is professor emeritus of political studies at Bar-Ilan University, and the founding director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.

Moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem Will Improve Prospects for Peace

From BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 397, 18 January 2017, by Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman:

In contrast to the recent "Stop Trump" conference in Paris, a decision by the next US administration to move the US embassy to Jerusalem might be conducive to the cause of peace. 

It will remove the air of delusional unreality surrounding all aspects of the Jerusalem question, and modify what the Palestinians should legitimately expect to achieve at the negotiating table. 

It will send a message of credibility and of stern refusal to bow to threats of violence. It would still need to be packaged carefully, above all in terms of policies the key Arab players now hope to see instituted; such as the restoration of US support for traditional allies and the willingness to back them against the Iranian and Islamist threats.

Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and no amount of UN new-speak can change that. For this reason alone, a decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem – as was clearly mandated by Congressional legislation – is long overdue. But it might also turn out to contribute, in the long run, to the prospects of peace.

This claim stands in stark contrast to the dire warnings coming out of the Paris summit (which looks, in hindsight, like a “Stop Trump” gathering; hence the chilly British reaction). John Kerry, for example, spoke carelessly about an "explosion," upon which radical Islamists might feel obliged to deliver. As has been so often the case in the past, however, it is the very attempt to placate Palestinian and Arab demands that makes peace less likely. A hard dose of realism may well set the stage for serious negotiations.

In his rambling speech after the UNSCR 2334 vote, Kerry suggested that Jerusalem can be kept united while serving as the capital of two sovereign states (a somewhat paradoxical proposition). Soft and fuzzy phrases about the future of Jerusalem avoid a simple truth: no Israeli government in the foreseeable future will take the knife to a living city, relinquishing the rights of the Jewish people in the very place that has been the focus of their aspirations for millennia.

Some changes in the line of sovereign control are possible in outlying areas, but that is not what the Palestinians have in mind. What they want is a dramatic outcome that will confirm, retroactively, that the Jews never had a birthright in their own homeland and holy city. This would, they believe, break the moral back of the Zionist endeavor as a whole. This is precisely why it will not happen.

The language of UNSCR 2334, and the atmospherics (if not the relatively harmless results) of the Paris Conference, encourage such unrealistic expectations among the Palestinians. The sooner they are disabused of these notions the better. A proposition that hinges on the dismemberment of Jerusalem or the forcible removal of hundreds of thousands of Jews from their homes is a nonstarter. The Palestinians will need to grasp this premise if the two sides are ever to settle down to the business of negotiating a workable and implementable agreement.

The embassy issue is an opportunity to get back to basics. The promulgators of 2334, Kerry in his speech, and the European foreign ministers (with the exception of Boris Johnson) who participated in the Paris conference proceeded from the assumption that their object was to save the two-state solution. They were, in fact, doing the opposite.

As a majority of Israelis have said again and again, in surveys and through the electoral process: a Palestinian state may be possible, but not on Palestinian terms. When much of the world, including the outgoing US administration, buys into the Amr Musa and Saeb Erekat school of negotiations – which posits that Israel, the aggressor, has no right to an inch beyond the 1949 armistice lines, and a total withdrawal, removal of all Israelis living there, partition of Jerusalem, and the right of return are the "objective requirements of peace" – a dose of cold water is in order.

None of that is what UNSCR 242 requires. Nor is it what any true reading of the events of 1948 and 1967 would warrant. A symbolic act such as the establishment of a US Embassy, or at least the installation of some of its functions, in (West!) Jerusalem should help to undo this unrealistic set of demands and expectations.

It would also send a clear signal to the Palestinians, including key members of Mahmoud Abbas's own Fatah, that their outlandish threats of violence – "we shall open the gates of hell" upon America – will not work, and will no longer be tolerated from an entity that enjoys generous US aid. To validate such threats, as Kerry did, is to succumb to the same mistake that President Clinton made in 2000, when he responded frantically to the Palestinian burst of violence. In effect, Clinton signaled to Arafat that his strategy of violence had worked, and he could now extract better terms than what he had been offered at Camp David a few months earlier. The results were sad but predictable, as they would be if Washington again bows to such coercion.

Having said all this, it would be wise for the incoming administration to build a framework or package of measures that would help Palestinian and Arab pragmatists (there is nothing to hope for from the radicals) explain why it would be better to swallow this bitter pill. After all, this is about moving the US embassy to West Jerusalem, which even the Palestinians acknowledge is part of Israel. The US could increase their material rewards, as Israel just did on the water issue. It could sustain the right of waiver over the suspension of aid, which seems likely to flow from new legislation on PA funding for terrorists and their families. It could – indeed must – give Egypt and Jordan a much firmer level of support than what they came to expect from Obama.

Above all, by forging a new and robust interaction with the key Gulf states based on a much more aggressive stance towards the Iranian regime, the incoming administration would greatly reduce the likelihood of an "explosion" in the Arab world. If done right, and in the right context, moving the US embassy to Jerusalem might bring home to the PA the sheer futility of their strategy of threats and of international gatherings and impositions.

*Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman, a senior research associate at the BESA Center, is former deputy for foreign policy and international affairs at the Israel National Security Council. He is also a member of the faculty at Shalem College.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Out with the Old, In with the New

From BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 395, January 16, 2017, by Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror*:

trump obama

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: President Barack Obama has eroded the US's superpower status and is leaving behind a far more dangerous world than the one he inherited. A Trump administration gives Israel reason to be optimistic, although it must bear in mind that he is a very shrewd businessman.

One cannot help but admire the American public, which eight years ago elected Barack Obama as the country's first African-American president. The genuine elation and joy in the streets of New York City, where I was when he was sworn in, reflected the change American society had undergone.

Obama assumed office with a very solid worldview. He believed many of the challenges the US was facing globally stemmed from its forceful conduct and ability to impose its will on other nations. In his view, many of Washington's international failures stemmed from the fact that it had not tried to improve ties with its adversaries.

This drove Obama to visit the Middle East – not including Israel – in 2009 and deliver his famous Cairo speech. He believed that addressing the people from the heart would be reciprocated. This was also the logic that drove his attempt to promote a new rapport with Russia.

Eight years later, it is hard to say the world has repaid Obama in kind. The world is not a better, more democratic place; nor does it favor the US in any way. This is especially true in the Middle East, but the sentiment is shared elsewhere as well.

Moreover, the US rollback on its role in different regions has made its allies wary of their aggressive neighbors. This is so much the case that in some countries, there has been talk of replacing the dwindling American nuclear umbrella – by which the US, as a nuclear power, guarantees the protection of its non-nuclear allies – with independent atomic abilities. Should this become reality, it would spell a horrific nuclear race.

Obama is leaving behind a world far more dangerous than the one with which he was entrusted as leader of the most powerful country on earth – a title he managed to seriously compromise.

As far as Israel-US relations go, the eight-year Obama administration has been complex. On the one hand, Israel had a sympathetic ear in Washington with regard to its security needs. The landmark $38 billion defense aid package signed with the US, and the fact that Israel, of all nations, was the first to receive the state-of-the-art F-35 fighter jet, speaks to the American commitment to the Jewish state's security for decades to come.

The relationship between the Israeli and American intelligence agencies continues to be excellent, a state of affairs that would not be possible without direction from the White House. Israel has also received vital US backing in the international arena more than once.

Still, Washington and Jerusalem were at odds under Obama on four important issues.

The first was nuclear nonproliferation
In 2010, the administration failed to keep its promise to Israel and gave in to Arab demands for supervision of Israel's alleged nuclear capabilities. This was done as part of the American effort to maintain consensus at that year's nuclear nonproliferation conference in Vienna.

The Americans may not have explicitly admitted that they broke a promise to Israel in this regard, but they understood that it was perceived that way by Israel and the world. Judging from the limited foreign reports on the issue, Israel's complaints were justified. The US ultimately took action to help Israel overcome the difficulties incurred as a result of that mistake, but that blatant breach of promise made a dent on the collective Israeli consciousness, even if its overall effect has dimmed.

The second issue is the settlement enterprise
The outgoing administration turned settlement construction in Judea and Samaria into the key issue with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. It was nothing short of an obsession, and the issue by which any progress would rise or fall.
Washington refrained from pressuring Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in any way, even when he failed to agree to the 2014 US framework to reignite the talks. The US deemed Abbas too politically weak to be pressured, while any Israeli construction, in either Judea and Samaria or Jerusalem, was denounced as an obstacle to peace. The administration thereby lost an opportunity of possibly historic proportions to advance the peace talks, while the Israeli government – and a Likud government at that – was more willing than ever to promote it.

The dissonance in the administration's responses was so jarring that it eroded the effectiveness of US condemnation, as the majority of the Israeli public, and some around the world, began to perceive it as one-sided, unjust and unwise. Moreover, the way in which the Obama administration handled the issue of settlements made Abbas climb up a very tall tree. It will be hard for him to climb down from such a height toward future negotiations.

UN Security Council Resolution 2334 denouncing the settlement enterprise, passed in the last month of Obama's presidency, has only made things worse, and is likely to stall negotiations even further. The outgoing president appears to have decided to hinder his successor as much as possible, even at the expense of an interest he allegedly wants to promote. For anyone seeking to advance the peace talks, UNSCR 2334 is counterproductive. If anything, it will be remembered as a low point, the "revenge" of an administration purporting to be analytical and calculated.

Outgoing Secretary of State John Kerry's Middle East vision speech, warning that Israel's settlement policies placed the two-state solution in "serious jeopardy," only exacerbated the feeling that the US administration's obsession with the issue has lost all proportion and clouded common sense.

The third issue of discord between Jerusalem and Washington was the Iranian nuclear program.
Some would say this disagreement culminated in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to Congress in March 2015, perceived as an affront to Obama on his own turf. Truth be told, the crisis was of the administration's making.

Contrary to how things are generally handled between allies, the White House made a conscious choice to deceive Israel and conceal the fact that it was holding intensive nuclear negotiations with Iran – an issue that has direct bearing on Israel's very existence.

This move was especially jarring as it involved a dramatic shift in US policy, which resulted in a very bad deal. Even those who believe the deal is solid have a hard time justifying the winding road walked by the US administration to reach it – even more so when some top officials within the administration itself thought it was wrong to hide the talks from Israel.

Choosing this path cost the US Israel's trust, good will, and, to an extent, professional assistance, which could have reduced the scope of error inherent in the agreement. The American claim that things were kept secret for fear of a leak on the Israeli side does not hold water, as nothing had been leaked from intimate Israel-US talks on the issue prior to the US's deviation off course.

The new reality presented by the administration required Netanyahu to outline Israel's position in the clearest possible way, especially before the American public, which is Israel's most important friend. Issues pertaining directly to the fate of the Jewish people must be addressed out loud, and it is right to do so in the highest seats of power. As Kerry himself said, friends must tell each other the truth.

Netanyahu had to consider that the bad deal inked between world powers and Iran might one day require Israel to use force to stop the Islamic Republic's nuclear program from developing military dimensions. He had to lay the moral groundwork that would justify such extreme measures.

This need stemmed from the change in US policy, which went from demanding that Tehran relinquish any nuclear ability to deferring the development of such abilities by 15 years at most, and allowing Iran to continue to develop the next generation of centrifuges and missiles without interruption.

Top US officials stress that the quality of defense ties is proof of the Obama administration's strong support of Israel, but to the president's opponents, it sounds more like an effort to justify undercutting Israel on the Palestinian issue and on Iran's nuclear program.

The fourth issue at odds is the chaos in the Middle East
This was particularly evident after the 2011 ousting of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, when the Obama administration favored the Muslim Brotherhood's Muhammad Morsi as the representative of authentic sentiments among the Egyptian people over the military's countercoup.

Israel preferred Egypt not be ruled by the radical ideology propagated by the Muslim Brotherhood, even if the alternative was Gen. Abdel Fattah Sisi, who maintains an iron grip on Egypt as president. In this case, the lack of consensus between Washington and Jerusalem over the dangers of political Islam was at the heart of their dispute.

The American approach is ideological, in that it refuses to recognize that radical Islam is an authentic side of Islam. The very phrase "Islamic terrorism" was stricken from the politically correct vocabulary employed by Washington during the Obama years.

As to the incoming administration: 
as far as one can understand its positions on these issues, it appears that with regard to settlement construction and Iran's nuclear program, Israel is likely to find a far more sympathetic ear.
Many of Trump's advisers understand that it is not the settlement enterprise that has prevented Abbas from resuming negotiations with Israel, so there is no point in locking horns over that issue. 
Instead, efforts should focus on measures that could reignite the peace talks – if that is even possible. Abbas will have to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. He will have to take concrete steps, from halting the Palestinian Authority's financial support of terrorists' families to eliminating the incitement encouraged by Ramallah.

In this context, it is very important that Trump fulfill his campaign promise to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This would be a clear signal of US commitment to Israel and recognition of Jerusalem (or the west side of it at least) as its capital. After the outgoing administration's stunt at the Security Council and Kerry's settlement speech, the decision to move the embassy to the Israeli capital will carry even greater significance.

With regard to Iran, many in the incoming administration seem to believe the nuclear deal is as bad for the US as it is for Israel. 
The US is expected to pursue three paths of action: exhausting measures outside the framework of the agreement, such as imposing sanctions on the Iranian missile program and over the fact that it supports terrorism; holding Tehran to the letter of the agreement far more adamantly than did the outgoing administration; and collaborating with Israel on options by which Iran would be unable to pursue nuclear weapons after the deal lapses, even if that means reopening the deal.

It is not up to Israel to push for the annulment of the dangerous Iran deal, to which the outgoing administration committed itself. The US must do so to serve its own interests. Moreover, Iran is a dynamic force in the Middle East, one in the midst of tightening its control over an axis stretching from Tehran to Baghdad, Damascus and Beirut. Unless Tehran is stopped, most of the Arab nations east of the Mediterranean will fall under its influence one way or the other.

This would be a historic change that would seriously undermine America's traditional allies, pushing many Sunnis into IS-style radicalism. This is another issue where collaboration between the US and Israel would be key, and it could involve the Sunni Arab states seeking regional stability. It might even be possible to pursue a more far-reaching move that would see the Palestinians enter negotiations as well.

As a guiding principle, ties between Israel and the Trump administration will have to be based on Israel-US relations going back decades. The two will have to determine what new areas of collaboration would prove most beneficial to both.

Understandings will have to be reached to bring about a breakthrough in ties between the two countries. The cyber sphere is one area in which such understandings are likely to reached. This will not be the only area, of course, but Israel should focus its efforts on improving the issues most important to it and refrain from scattering its interests.

It is generally believed that once in office, Trump will break rules, abandon politically correct practices, and act from his gut, in stark contrast to his predecessor. Although it is too soon to judge, the incoming president's instincts seem to be more Israel-friendly than those of his predecessor – although we would be wise to remember that he is also a shrewd businessman.

*Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror is the Anne and Greg Rosshandler Senior Fellow at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. He is also a distinguished fellow at JINSA's Gemunder Center for Defense and Strategy.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Australia distances itself from Paris peace conference concluding statement

From the ABC (Australia), 16 Jan 2017:

Australia has distanced itself from the concluding statement of the Middle East Peace conference in Paris...

...A spokesperson for the office of Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told the ABC that
"while the Australian Government was represented at the Paris conference, this does not mean we agree with every element of the final statement".
"The most important priority must be a resumption of direct negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians...."
Australia was the only country to speak out publicly against the US-backed security council resolution on settlements last month, with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull calling it "one sided" and "deeply unsettling".

The Foreign Minister's office says Australia does not agree with every element of the final statement. (ABC News: Ross Nerdal)

Washington effectively cleared the way for the resolution, which demanded an end to Israeli settlement building, prompting Israeli Government officials to direct harsh attacks against US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry.

Ms Bishop noted at the time that Australia was not currently a member of the Security Council and was not eligible to vote on the resolution, but indicated the Federal Government did not support the contentious move.

The US position was seen as a parting shot at policy by US President Barack Obama, who has had an acrimonious relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and who has made settlements a major target of peace efforts that have proven ultimately futile.

In response, Mr Netanyahu said Israel did not need to be lectured to by foreign leaders and that he looked forward to working with US President-elect Donald Trump, who has vowed to pursue more pro-Israeli policies.

"We cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect," Mr Trump wrote on Twitter on December 29.

Britain has 'reservations' about conference outcome
Britain said on Sunday it had reservations about the outcome of the conference in Paris, saying it risked "hardening positions".
"We have particular reservations about an international conference intended to advance peace between the parties that does not involve them — indeed which is taking place against the wishes of the Israelis and which is taking place just days before the transition to a new American president, when the US will be the ultimate guarantor of any agreement," a British Foreign Office statement said.
"There are risks therefore that this conference hardens positions at a time when we need to be encouraging the conditions for peace."

Britain had observer status at the conference. It did not back the final communique.

France fails to regain lost prestige

From JPost, 15 Jan 2017, by Herb Keinon:

France hosts a Purim Shpiel: a lamb survives 70 marauding wolves - a tribute to the Shepherd

French Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean-Marc Ayrault plays Haman at the opening of the Mideast "peace conference" in Paris, January 15, 2017. (photo credit:REUTERS)

There in Paris, inside the French Foreign Ministry, tables were set for representatives of some 70 countries, including more than 30 foreign ministers.

At the head of the hall was an elevated area with a podium, a single French flag and, in white letters against a blue background, the following was writ large: "Middle East Peace Conference, Paris – Sunday, January 15, 2017."

Yes, another Middle East "peace conference". Never mind that neither of the parties who are supposed to be making peace – the Israelis and the Palestinians – were present, another Paris peace conference was under way, nonetheless.

...Few expect [anything tangible] to emerge from Sunday’s event in Paris, especially given the fact that in five days there will a new president in the United States widely expected to object to this type of Middle East initiative so adamantly opposed by one of the concerned parties: Israel.

No, this conference is likely to be remembered along with some of the other international meetings in Paris, convened amid great fanfare, that led nowhere.

One such conference was the 2008 parley organized by then president Nicolas Sarkozy – the Union of the Mediterranean – that brought together leaders from some 40 countries around the Mediterranean, including former prime minister Ehud Olmert and Syrian President Bashar Assad, who stood on the very same stage without speaking or looking at each other.

That conference, widely viewed then as one of Sarkozy’s vanity projects, led to nothing.

Sarkozy also was instrumental in establishing the Group of Friends of the Syrian People in 2012, which convened in a number of different locations, including Paris, to discuss the Syrian situation. That, too, has not been a resounding success.

Yet, the French were adamant in going ahead with Sunday’s parley, even though they obviously know that – with the absence of Israel’s participation and the emergence of the Trump administration in Washington – the likelihood of its success is very slim.

Why, then, go ahead with it at all? 

Firstly, because this is what the French do – they organize and hold international conferences.

Secondly, because the French feel a historic responsibility toward the Middle East – primarily toward Lebanon and Syria, but also toward Egypt and Israel. They do not see the Levant as a remote corner of the world, but rather a region to which they have strong historic ties and responsibilities.

Thirdly, because of domestic political considerations. And there are two distinct elements at play here.

French President Francois Hollande’s left-wing government has been consistently criticized by the Left for not being leftwing enough. After Hollande came to Israel in 2013, he was criticized inside his party for cozying up too much to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

This conference shows the French Left that the government has not forsaken the plight of the Palestinians.

And there are also cold electoral calculations at play, as well.

The Muslim electorate is a significant voting bloc in France, and for a large part of that bloc, the Palestinian issue remains very important. This conference is a way of showing them that the issue is also important for the Socialist Party. Keep in mind that the French will be going to the polls in just a few months to vote in a new president, so the Muslim voting bloc will be particularly significant.

Finally, the French are hosting this conference because there remain few vehicles in the world that lift up a country’s international diplomatic stature – if only momentarily – than hosting a Middle East peace conference.

Paris has, over the last number of years, bet on all the wrong horses in the Middle East: Saddam Hussein in Iraq; Assad in Syria; Yasser Arafat in the Palestinian Authority; Hosni Mubarak in Egypt; and Rafik Hariri in Lebanon.

But hold a Middle East peace conference and maybe – just maybe – none of that will matter and some of that lost diplomatic prestige and luster can be regained.

Then again, maybe not.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Israel, as seen from Judea and Samaria

From Martin Sherman, 13 January 2017:

As the coming Paris conference looms closer, avid two-state proponents should understand what the prescription they advocate really means: Israel through the binoculars of a Palestinian “intelligence officer”

If a Palestinian state is established, it will be armed to the teeth. Within it there will be bases of the most extreme terrorist forces, equipped with anti-tank and anti-aircraft shoulder-launched rockets, which will endanger not only random passers-by, but every airplane and helicopter taking off in the skies of Israel and every vehicle traveling along the major traffic routes in the coastal plain…[T]he frontiers of the Palestinian state will constitute an excellent staging point for mobile forces to mount attacks on infrastructure installations vital for Israel’s existence, to impede the freedom of action of the Israeli air-force in the skies over Israel, and to cause bloodshed among the population…in areas adjacent to the frontier-line…
— Shimon Peres, “Tomorrow is Now”, (Keter publishers), pp. 232, 255.
Israel, small and exposed, will neither be able to exist nor to prosper if its urban centers, its vulnerable airport and its narrow winding roads, are shelled. This is the fundamental difference between them and us, this is the terrible danger involved in the establishment of a third independent sovereign state between us and the Jordan River.
— Amnon Rubinstein, ‘The Pitfall of a Third State’, Ha’artez, Aug 8, 1976.
These two citations encapsulate, with chilling accuracy, the deadly dangers to which Israel would be exposed if a Palestinian state were to be established on the commanding hills overlooking the country’s heavily populated coastal plain, in which about 80% of the country’s civilian population and commercial activity, are located.
As the upcoming Paris conference, designed to foist a two-state reality on Israel, draws closer, it is vital that the public, both in Israel and abroad, understand just how precarious Israel’s situation is liable to be if such a perilous prescription be adopted. These dire dangers are graphically conveyed by the following series of photographs taken from sites inside the territory designated for any future Palestinian state. They demonstrate dramatically how vulnerable and exposed Israel would appear through the binoculars of a Palestinian “intelligence officer” (a.k.a. terrorist).
Greater Tel Aviv sky-line — as seen from “Palestine”
 Credit Hagai Nativ.
The clearly visible Azrieli Towers complex, an iconic feature of the central Tel Aviv skyline, houses a three-story shopping mall and recreation area, a thirteen-floor luxury hotel, and numerous prestigious commercial companies, including many of the country’s leading law firms. And, oh yes, it is adjacent to the compound (known as “Camp Rabin”, named after the late Yitzhak Rabin) that comprises Israel’s Defense Ministry and the headquarters of the IDF General Staff…
Credit Hagai Nativ.
The Aviv Tower, located in the bustling vicinity of the Ramat Gan Diamond Exchange, is the tallest building in Israel, surrounded by popular restaurants, cafes, commercial enterprises and recreational facilities. The Akirov Towers houses the former apartment of Ehud Barak, underscoring the stunning fact that there is a line of sight between the residence of the then-Defense Minister and …“Palestine”!
Ben Gurion Airport — through binoculars of a Palestinian “intelligence officer”
Credit Hagai Nativ.
Main terminal & runway at Ben Gurion Airport — as seen from “Palestine”: This shot underscores just how utterly exposed Israel’s only international airport would be to any hostile elements (renegade or otherwise), deployed on the hills overlooking the main terminal and runway.
Credit Hagai Nativ.
For those familiar with Ben Gurion airport, the long inclined corridor connecting the passport control stations with the large duty free area is clearly visible from well within “Palestine”.
Credit Hagai Nativ.
A tempting target: The unnerving sight of a plane clearly visible taking off on the main runway — hopelessly exposed to any nefarious forces in the nearby hills inside “Palestine”.
Israel’s vulnerable power generating facilities — as seen from “Palestine”
Credit Yohar Gal.
The Orot-Rabin power station, near Hadera (named after the late Yitzhak Rabin): The plant is currently Israel’s largest power station with almost 20% of the Israel Electric Corporation’s total generating capacity. It is adjacent to Caesarea, a very upmarket locality, home to many of Israel’s rich and famous, including current PM Benjamin Netanyahu. Taken from the site of Homesh, one of the four communities destroyed in Ariel Sharon’s 2005 disengagement from Northern Samaria (which took place at the same time as the Gaza disengagement).
Credit Hagai Nativ.
The Orot-Rabin Power station at sunset.
The Reading power station, supplying electricity to the Greater Tel Aviv district. The plant is located close to Tel Aviv port, Sde Dov airport and the upmarket neighborhoods of North Tel Aviv and Ramat Aviv, where Tel Aviv University is located. Taken from the vicinity of the Palestinian village of Rantis.
Terror Tunnels and Transportation
 Credit: Israel Institute for Strategic Studies.
Taken near the Palestinian-Arab city of Qalquilaya, a hot bed of terror in the past, this drone shot underscores the grave danger to traffic on the Trans-Israel highway (Route 6), connecting the North of the country with the South. In light of the threat of terror tunnels, mortar fire and rocket attacks emanating from Gaza, little imagination is required to visualize the consequences of evacuating areas abutting one of Israel’s major transportation arteries.
Pictures worth thousands of words
These photos convey the stark truths, expressed in the introductory excerpts above, as to the dire dangers a Palestinian state would pose to Israel’s “urban centers, its vulnerable airport… and traffic routes in the coastal plain … as well as to infrastructure installations vital for Israel’s existence…”

11 More Lies About Israel

From JCPA, No. 608, January 2017:

Further to the recent publication of “Ten False Assumptions Regarding Israel,” which addressed many of the widely-held and universally-disseminated false and mistaken assumptions regarding Israel, a number of additional false assumptions – some even more willful and malicious – are addressed.

1. “Israel is committing genocide, mass murder and ethnic cleansing against the Palestinian People” – a false and malicious blood-libel.

  • This dangerous, cynical and dishonest allegation has become one of the “big lies” disseminated on campuses and within the international human rights community.
    Its proponents include individuals and organizations that purport to advocate constitutional and human rights, but in fact indulge in the most acute form of legal acrobatics and distortion of facts.
    They selectively and maliciously misinterpret and twist legal principles, statements, and writings in order to malign Israel and call into question its very legitimacy and basis for its existence.
  • The proponents of this blood libel cynically manipulate and reverse historical fact by accusing Israel of entertaining an “incipiently genocidal mentality towards Arab society,”1 and of committing out of revenge, the very acts perpetrated against the Jewish people.
  • The term “genocide” was coined in 1944 by the Jewish legal scholar Raphael Lemkin, whose entire family was exterminated by the Nazis in Poland for being Jews.2
  • Contrary to these false accusations:
    • Israel has never advocated, devised or entertained any plan, design or campaign, systematic or otherwise, to undermine or destroy the Palestinian people, or to act out of revenge or despair.
    • Israel, the Jewish people, and Zionist movement have never entertained and are prevented both constitutionally and morally from maintaining or implementing any military, political, religious, economic or cultural campaign, or policy intended to destroy the national, ethnical, racial, and religious structure of the Palestinian people.
    • Israel has never sought to prejudice the essential foundations of life of the Palestinian people, or even to question its right to exist as a people.
    • Israel has not indulged in mass-murder.
    • Israel does not engage in ethnic cleansing, which runs solidly against the moral, religious, and ethical codes of the Jewish people.
  • In its 1948, Declaration of Independence, Israel committed itself to ensuring “freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel and complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race, or sex.”3
  • Israel undertook to guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education, and culture. It committed itself to be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
  • Despite the offer of peace, good neighborliness, cooperation, and mutual help in a common effort for the advancement of the entire Middle East, the neighboring Arab states initiated a war in 1948, the declared aim of which was to annihilate the new state of Israel.
  • It was not Israel that initiated this conflict, but Israel was obliged to defend its existence, its integrity and its population. Casualties and displacement of persons during the conflict, as regrettable as they were, were not part of any design or intent to destroy the Palestinian people, but the results of armed conflict.
  • By the same token, the hostilities of 1967 were the specific result of attempts to strangle Israel militarily and economically. Israel’s resulting entry into the West Bank and Gaza areas was not motivated by any design to destroy or remove the Palestinian residents of the areas or to undermine their rights as a people.
    • Attempts to justify a claim of genocide by accusing Israel of “repeated military assaults on Gaza,” as if Israel’s actions were gratuitous and contrived, are no less absurd. They deliberately and manipulatively ignore the thousands of rockets, attack-tunnels and other forms of terror emanating from Gaza and directed against Israel’s civilian population by an internationally acknowledged terror organization.
    • It was not Israel but Hamas that murdered Palestinian children who were digging tunnels for Hamas in Gaza,4 and who executed Palestinian residents of Gaza for “morality crimes” and for “collaboration with Israel.”5
  • Clearly, no serious, bona fide and self-respecting human rights expert or organization could interpret Israel’s acting in self-defense as an act of genocide aimed at destroying a people.
  • In a similar context:
    • It was not Israel that massacred 15,000 Palestinian residents living in refugee camps in Jordan during the nine-day “Black September” Civil War between Jordan and the PLO in 1970.6
    • It was not Israel that expelled 400,000 Palestinians in 1991 from Kuwait in retaliation for the PLO’s support of Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990. 7
    • It was not Israel that caused the displacement of 390,000 Palestinian refugees in Syria since the Syrian conflict began in 2011.8
    • It was not Israel that laid siege to the Palestinian Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus between 2013-2014 in which 18,000 civilians were trapped, with scarce food, water, and medical supplies, leading to instances in which Palestinian residents starved to death.9
  • From the regional demographic standpoint, since Israel’s entry into the West Bank areas of Judea and Samaria and into Gaza in 1967, the Palestinian Arab population has increased from 954,898 to 4,654,421. This indicates an increase of 387 percent.10
    In this context, Palestinian life expectancy in the West Bank and Gaza has climbed from 68.5 in 1990 to 72.9 in 2014.
    One may ask how such statistics could serve as any logical basis, or be considered compatible with the patently false, flawed and manipulative allegation of a purported Israeli genocide of the Palestinian People.

2. “The Jews are not a people and have no rights in the Middle East” – False and Misguided

  • This curious claim would appear to be in total denial of the history of civilization, from pre-Biblical and historic times and up to present day.
  • The very existence of the Jews as an indigenous people, as well as its roots, whether in their historic homeland in the “Holy Land” or throughout the various Jewish diasporas and exiles, are borne out in pre-Bible historic narratives as well as in Biblical scriptures including the Hebrew Bible, the Christian Gospels and the Muslim Koran. This is all backed-up by readily available and duly documented and exhibited archeological proof in museums throughout the world.
  • Judaism, the Hebrew language, and the Jewish People originated some 3,000 years ago in the area of the “Holy Land.” Christianity grew out of Judaism, and the early Christian existence there was an integral part of the Jewish settlement there. The presence of the two Jewish Temples in Jerusalem, and their destruction (in 587 BCE and 70 CE), were acknowledged by Greek, Persian and Roman pagan and Christian authors, travelers and historians, as well as in Koranic references.
  • The right to reestablish a national home for the Jewish People was acknowledged in the 1917 Balfour Declaration. It was given international legal recognition in the 1920 San Remo Declaration by the Supreme Council of Principle Allied Powers. It was subsequently reaffirmed by the League of Nations in 1922 as part of the British Mandate for Palestine, the opening paragraphs of which gave recognition to “the historical connection of the Jewish people within Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.”11
  • In addition to their historic and legal rights, the Jews, as one of the oldest indigenous and aboriginal peoples still in existence, have indigenous rights that are recognized by the international community.

3. “The establishment of Israel was a catastrophe for the Palestinians” – False

  • The perception of the creation of the State of Israel as a “catastrophe’ (Nakba) reflects a constant and on-going Palestinian narrative rejecting the creation of a national state for the Jewish people in any part of Mandatory Palestine.
    This absolutist narrative sees uncompromising struggle against Israel as the common national aim of the Palestinians, the very heart of the dispute. 
  • However, despite this, the establishment of the state of Israel was nevertheless effected following a recommendation of the international community in the 1947 UN General Assembly partition resolution, to establish two independent states in Mandatory Palestine – a Jewish and an Arab one. This reflected the acceptance by international community of the fundamental rights of the Jewish and Arab populations to govern themselves in their own independent sovereign entities.
  • The State of Israel was not established in place of, nor as an alternative entity to a Palestinian state. It was not established in denial of the existence of the Arab residents of Mandatory Palestine. It was intended to exist together with an Arab state in the area of Mandatory Palestine.
  • Rather than accepting this plan and thereby giving up their absolutist aim to create one Arab state in all the territory of Mandatory Palestine, the Arabs of Palestine, together with neighboring Arab states members of the Arab League, at the violent urgings of the Mufti of Jerusalem and Muslim Brotherhood, rejected the partition plan and went to war against the Jewish state. This despite some elements within the Palestinian Arab community who were prepared to live in peace with the Jews.
  • Despite the fact that the partition plan did not fully realize the hopes of the Jewish population of Mandatory Palestine, they nevertheless chose to accept it in the hope that is would indeed serve as a basis for peaceful coexistence between the Arab and Jewish communities in Mandatory Palestine.
  • It is widely acknowledged that the refusal by the Arab community and the neighboring Arab states, to accept the partition plan, and their subsequent failure to forcibly eliminate the Jewish state, and the sad consequences of such failure including the emergence of the refugee problem, were entirely their own doing. It was not the result of any action, inaction or injustice by Israel. It was the result of short-sighted and unfortunate misjudgment and a lack of clear, rational leadership among the Arab communities.
  • The creation and subsequent acceptance of Israel by the international community were considered by them to be a disastrous blow and a severe mistake. Hence the use of the term “catastrophe” (Nakba) to symbolize the Palestinian refugee issue.
    Nakba day has become an annual day of mourning, violent demonstrations and virulent incitement and propaganda in the attempt to undermine the legitimacy of Israel.
  • Presenting Israel’s creation as a “catastrophe,” rather than the misjudgment, misguided policies, and decisions by the Arab leaders, represents Israel’s detractors’ attempt to falsify and overturn the historic narrative from one of inherent denial of the right of existence of a Jewish state through aggression and rejectionism, to one of victimhood and denial of rights.
  • It is also indicative of the fact that the Arabs’ original 1948 rejection and denial of the right of existence of the state of Israel has not changed and remains the central aim of their narrative.
    Through well-orchestrated international brain-washing and incitement, the Palestinian leadership seeks to further this false and fictitious narrative, which is perceived by many to replace the true facts of the events of 1948.
  • This attempt to undermine the very legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state is particularly evident in recent calls by Palestinian leaders for the revocation of the 1917 Balfour Declaration, and their manipulation of international organizations.
  • Those subscribing to this false narrative, rather than relying on true historical fact, are in fact being manipulated into becoming party to this deception.

4. “Israel prevents the supply of water to the Palestinian population” – False

  • The false allegation by Palestinian leaders that Israel is waging a water war in order to starve the Palestinian population, to prevent them from leading a dignified life as a form of collective punishment, has been willingly taken-up and amplified by international media.
  • Additional false allegations include leaving thousands of Palestinians without access to safe drinking water during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, a period of fasting, which can take place in the summer, at a time when temperatures can exceed 35C. However, the opposite is the case. In order to accommodate Palestinian daytime fasting during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, the water supply was increased during night-time.
  • These accusations were recently repeated in a report issued by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) claiming:
    Palestinians are prohibited from maintaining or digging water wells, while Israel has been extracting much more water than the level stipulated by the 1993 Oslo Accords and confiscating 82 per cent of Palestinian groundwater. The Palestinians are left with no choice but to import their own water from Israel to cover 50 per cent of their consumption.”12
  • The very opposite is in fact the case.
    Israel undertook in the Oslo Accords to increase the water supply to the Palestinians population in Judea and Samaria by 20 percent. In practice, over the last 15 years, the water supply increased by about 50 percent, most of which was designated for domestic consumption.13
  • World-wide global trends for water consumption indicate a general decrease in per-capita consumption over time due to population growth and deterioration of water resources. The opposite is the case with the Palestinian water usage, as a result of their increased access to water since 1967. In 1967, only 10 percent of Palestinian households were connected to water infrastructure, today, this figure has risen to 95 percent.
    In fact, access by Palestinians to running water is better than by residents of Amman and Damascus.14
  • The net per-capita domestic water consumption of the Palestinians is higher than the ‘minimum human need estimate’ given by the World Health Organization – 100 liters per day per capita. This quantity is much above the 50 liters per day per capita minimum to sustain life.
  • In contravention of their commitments in the Oslo Accords, and ignoring the resultant dangers of deterioration and salinization of the water quality, the Palestinians unlawfully extract water by drilling and operating unauthorized private wells. These are connected by the Palestinian Authority to the electrical network. In addition, water-theft occurs through unlicensed connections by Palestinian villages to Israel’s water system in order to irrigate fields.
  • Due to mismanagement, faulty maintenance, the Palestinians have not succeeded in independently increasing their water supply.
  • Since hardly any Palestinian farmers install water meters on their wells and about half of the houses in the Palestinian towns and villages have no meters, their governing authorities cannot monitor usage. Thus most Palestinians do not pay for their water consumption and there is no monetary incentive to conserve water.15

5. “Israel violates its obligations in the Oslo Accords” – False

  • Israel considers the Oslo Accords16 to be the major component in maintaining peaceful relations with the Palestinians. To this end Israel has implemented its obligations pursuant to the accords in good faith, irrespective of continuing obstructionism on the part of the Palestinian leadership:
    • Israel redeployed its forces from areas A and B as required in the security annex to the Interim Agreement, and transferred powers and responsibilities in over 40 spheres of civil administration to the PA, as set out in the civilian affairs annex to the Interim Agreement.
    • Despite ongoing threats by the Palestinian leadership to suspend the security cooperation and coordination in mutual security matters agreed to in the security annex, Israel has consistently maintained close security cooperation with the security authorities of the Palestinian Authority, including the provision of weapons for the use of the Palestinian police.
    • Israel regularly transfers funds, taxes and import duties to the Palestinian Authority in the context of its obligations pursuant to the annex on economic relations, irrespective of the huge debts owed by the Palestinian Authority to Israeli bodies for provision by Israel of electricity and to Israeli hospitals for medical treatment.
    • While Israel has attempted to maintain and conduct ongoing daily relations, at the professional level, with the various Palestinian administrative authorities, in order to enable continued implementation of various provisions of the agreements that require reciprocal coordination and cooperation, the Palestinian leadership has refused to permit such cooperation and has obstructed any such ongoing relations.
    • Regrettably the Palestinians refuse to implement the annex on Israeli-Palestinian cooperation programs, including the “People-to-People” Program, initiated by Norway as a program to enhance dialogue and relations at the grass-roots levels.
  • The long list of fundamental breaches by the Palestinians of some of their most central and basic obligations have frustrated and continue to jeopardize any further implementation of the Oslo Accords, or return to negotiations.
  • Such fundamental breaches include:
    • Active support, encouragement and financing of terror and violence against Israel and its population, and the maintenance of terror infrastructure despite obligations to dismantle it;17
    • Wholesale acquisition, manufacture and provision of illegal weaponry for purposes of terror;18
    • Daily hate indoctrination and incitement to violence and terror, from the highest levels of Palestinian leadership and governance, through the Palestinian media and education system and down to elementary schools and kindergartens. This is in clear violation of the Palestinian obligation to foster mutual understanding and tolerance.19
    • Attempts to unilaterally alter the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip outside the negotiating process, through unilateral initiatives in the United Nations and its Specialized Agencies and other international bodies, including the false representation of the Palestinian Authority as a state, accession to international conventions and conduct of foreign relations in clear contravention of the accords;20
    • Initiation, organization and support, internally and internationally, of economic and cultural boycotts and sanctions against Israel.21
  • Israel has consistently expressed its readiness to resume and complete negotiations in accordance with the Oslo Accords, without any preconditions, on those core issues agreed-upon by both parties to be permanent status negotiating issues. These include borders, Jerusalem, settlements, refugees, security arrangements, relations and cooperation with other neighbors and other issues of common interest.
  • Regrettably the Palestinian leadership has imposed preconditions to any return to negotiations. Such preconditions, pertaining to the very issues on the negotiating table, in effect obviate any possibility of genuine and bona fide negotiation.
  • This calls into question their bona fides as a viable and serious partner for negotiation.

6. “Israel is denying the ‘right of return’ to millions of Palestinian refugees” – False.

  • There exists no “right of return” for refugees in international law or practice, and no international treaty or binding resolution by any international body imposes any such obligation on Israel.
  • Similarly, none of the agreements and documents agreed upon between Israel and Egypt, the Palestinians and Jordan grants the refugees a right of return.
  • The only specific, non-binding reference to “return” of Palestinian refugees appears in article 11 of UN General Assembly resolution 194(III) of December 11, 1948 where the UN recommended that refugees “wishing to return to their homes and to live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earlies practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return.” 22
    This resolution, which was rejected by the Arab states, established no right and no obligation.
  • Security Council Resolution 237 of 4 June 1967 regarding “facilitation of the return of those inhabitants who have fled the areas since the outbreak of hostilities,”23 does not speak of a “right” of return and, like most Security Council resolutions, it is in the nature of a recommendation.
  • Throughout the peace process, Israel has acknowledged the need to solve the refugee issue through negotiation. In this context:
  • Israel accepted the UN Security Council resolution 242 (1967) which “affirmed the necessity for achieving a just settlement of the refugee problem,”
  • In the 1978 Egypt-Israel Camp David Agreement (Framework for Peace in the Middle East) Israel and Egypt agreed to establish “procedures for a prompt, just and permanent implementation of the resolution of the refugee problem.” They also established a “continuing committee” of representatives of Egypt, Israel, Jordan and the Palestinians to agree on the modalities of admission of persons displaced from the West Bank and Gaza in 1967.
  • Israel actively participated in the Multilateral Working Group on Refugees established by the 1991 Madrid Peace Conference and headed by Canada.
  • Israel and the Palestinians agreed in the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements of 1993 (Oslo I) that the modalities of admission of displaced persons should be decided by agreement in a “continuing committee,” and the issue of refugees should be one of the major negotiating issues on the permanent status negotiating table.
  • Similar provisions were agreed in the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
  • Jordan and Israel agreed, in the 1994 peace treaty between them, on the need to solve the refugee problem both in the framework of the multilateral working group established after the 1991 Madrid Peace Conference, and in conjunction with the permanent status negotiations. The Treaty also refers to UN and other agreed international economic programs concerning refugees and displaced persons.
  • In the same context, Israel has consistently maintained that the issue of Jewish refugees and displaced persons from Arab states constitutes an inherent component of any negotiation on refugees.

7. “BDS is a progressive, non-violent movement in the best tradition of peaceful activism” – False and Deceptive

  • The publicly stated goal of the BDS campaign is to delegitimize and isolate Israel internationally. Its tactic is to portray Israel as the new illegitimate apartheid South Africa, with the strategic objective of causing Israel’s destruction through comprehensive political and economic warfare.
  • BDS leaders and activists characterize their activities as a complementary strategy to the policy of terror and political violence that Hamas, other Palestinian groups, and Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated organizations have long embraced as part of their avowed effort to dismantle Israel as a sovereign state.
  • This is readily evident in the statements of the BDS leadership, including:
    • BDS leader Omar Barghouti “Definitely, most definitely we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine.24
    • Ahmed Moor, BDS student leader and activist, “BDS is not another step on the way to the final showdown; BDS is the final showdown.25
    • As’ad Abu Khalil, BDS activist, California State University “Justice and freedom for the Palestinians are incompatible with the existence of the state of Israel.”26
  • The common chant used by BDS supporters, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” belies any claim that BDS is limited to a political and economic agenda as a means of pressuring Israel to withdraw from the territories.
    To the contrary, it reveals BDS true intentions to “liberate” both the disputed territories and pre-‘67 Israel from the Jews. This parallels the stated goal of Hamas (an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood), Hizbullah, Fatah, PLO groups, other radical Arab and Islamic organizations, which is to destroy the nation-state of the Jewish people.
    This has been described by Michael Gove, former British Minister of Justice and Education as a “resurgent, mutating, lethal virus of anti-Semitism” reminiscent of Nazi boycotts of Jews on the eve of the Holocaust.27
  • A basic aim of the BDS campaign is to advocate internationally the delegitimization of Israel and to promote persistent struggle against the existence of a nation-state for the Jewish people in Israel. This is based on a Palestinian narrative that denies both the existence of the Jewish people as a sovereign nation, as well as the historic relationship of the Jewish people to the land of Israel/Palestine.28 This narrative presents the Palestinians as innocent victims of vicious Western and Israeli colonialism.
  • The BDS movement has exercised tactical sophistication in camouflaging its radical linkages and extremist ends in a language of peace, justice, and human rights that appeal to well-meaning Western progressive organizations, groups and individuals who generally support human-rights agendas.
    In this manner the BDS movement is manipulating and abusing the bona-fides of peace-loving and concerned people by misleading them into believing that it is a genuine social movement propelled by non-violent resistance and economic boycott, seeking to advance a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
  • While economic boycott of Israel is not a new phenomenon and has been used by the Arab League since the establishment of Israel in 1948, its reincarnation in the form of the BDS campaign is significant. In addition to the Muslim terror groups sponsoring and supporting it, it includes new but equally radical actors, including far-left Christian, and even Jewish and Israeli groups and individuals.
    As part of its effort towards globalization and mainstreaming, it has also penetrated Western mainstream professional groups, trade unions, leading academic institutions, and even the world of cultural and entertainment icons.
  • Rather than advancing prospects for peace and normal relations between the Palestinians and Israel, the BDS campaign is inciting towards, and advancing a policy of total boycott of and anti-normalization with Israel. This serves to enhance polarization and hostility to Israel both in the Gaza and West Bank, as well as in the international sphere.
  • This is clearly the antithesis of any positive and constructive movement towards a peaceful solution and bon-voisinage (good neighborly relations) between the peoples of the area. In fact, it prejudices prospects for any future Palestinian political and economic independence and positive trade and security relationship with Israel. Its consequences include:
    • Encouraging radicalization of the Palestinian public discourse, particularly among Palestinian youth, and undermining agreed-upon areas of security and other forms of cooperation.
    • Distancing and alienating the Israeli public from considering further concessions to reach a peace agreement.
    • Harming the employment security and social benefits to families, and even causing the termination of more than 1000 Palestinian employees and managers, and their families, working in Israeli companies operating in those West Bank Industrial zones agreed upon and established pursuant to the Oslo Accords.
    • Distancing Israeli and foreign investors from investing in the West Bank and Gaza.
  • The BDS campaign has had little effect on Israel’s GDP, and in fact, several countries have taken steps to outlaw the BDS tactics, acknowledging that the path to peace and reconciliation is paved through mutual political social, economic and cultural engagement and normalization. In this context, Palestinian workers and managers, who have lost their employment because of BDS pressure, have begun to publicly oppose the BDS campaign.
    At the same time, South African black intellectuals who suffered under the apartheid regime have similarly emerged as opponents of the global BDS campaign.
  • A similar sentiment has recently been enunciated by Jordanian Parliament member Abed Almaala:29
    BDS is a reckless act of hatred that threatens the ‎security and stability of not only Israel, but also my country, Jordan, and the ‎entire Middle East.
    BDS is a threat to us all – a threat to America as much as it is a threat to ‎Israel, Jordan and our Palestinian brothers.
    BDS is not only hateful and shameful, but also strengthens Arab dictators who hypocritically criticize Israel for alleged human rights violations when they, themselves, are the world’s top ‎human rights violators.

8. “Israel is undermining the ‘two state solution’”- False and Misleading. 

  • Successive Israeli leaders have reiterated Israel’s principled support for the vision of “two states for two peoples living side by side in peace and security,” as the outcome of the negotiation process. This vision, initially foreseen by former Israel Prime Minister Barak in 2000, was enunciated by President George W. Bush in 2002 and is almost universally acknowledged by the international community.
    To accuse Israel of undermining or torpedoing the two-state solution would appear to be ingenuous, unrealistic and even gratuitous.
  • Logically, a two-state vision cannot be imposed by one-sided and politically generated UN resolutions, by an international conference or any other form of third-party intervention.
    It can only be realized through active and bona-fide negotiation and agreement between the parties on such basic, reciprocal issues as bilateral borders, mutual recognition, essential security issues and bilateral economic, commercial and political relationships between them.
  • The Palestinian imposition of preconditions to any return to negotiations, prejudging the substantive issues to be negotiated, and their maintenance of an “all or nothing” negotiating strategy are incompatible with any logical, bona-fide negotiating process. Such strategy has consistently undermined efforts to resume negotiations.
  • The Palestinian Authority’s support for and open incitement and encouragement of acts of terror against Israel, their attempts to undermine the very legitimacy of Israel and to initiate judicial proceedings against Israel’s leadership, all demonstrate a clear determination against achieving a negotiated two-state solution or any form of peaceful, neighborly relationship. 
  • A viable two-state solution envisages a unified Palestinian leadership. Regrettably this has not materialized. Rather than utilizing Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from the Gaza Strip to advance the two-state solution, the Palestinian leadership quickly lost power and control to the Hamas terror organization which established its own independent terror regime in Gaza.
  • This Hamas regime, identified with the Moslem Brotherhood and in ongoing conflict with the Palestinian Authority, rejects any possibility of political dialogue with Israel, and has launched three major terror campaigns against Israel, in 2009, 2012, and 2014.
  • Failure of the Palestinian Authority to secure a viable governing administration in Gaza, together with the designs of Hamas to extend its control of other Palestinian cities of the West Bank, does not inspire confidence that the Palestinian leadership would be capable of honoring and maintaining security or other agreements with Israel.   
  • The lack of a unified and agreed-upon Palestinian governance structure, massive, widely-acknowledged corruption, internal violence, and intense radicalization in schools, mosques and media in the West Bank and Gaza, further prejudice chances of progressing toward a two state solution.
  • Acceptance by the Palestinian leadership of concessions by Israel, while at the same time consistently refusing offers to reach an agreed-upon “end to the conflict” and to negotiate a final status, do not advance the chances of a two state solution. 
  • Rejection and prevention by the Palestinian leadership, of viable neighborly relationships at the people-to-people level, and support of boycotts and divestment initiatives all run against any concept of bon-voisinage (good neighborly relations) between the two peoples.

9. “Israel’s maritime blockade of the Gaza Strip is illegal” – False.

  • It is widely acknowledged that the Palestinian Authority’s control in Gaza was usurped by the Hamas, an internationally regarded terror organization, sponsored and supplied with arms by Iran. Hamas and other terror groups such as the Islamic Jihad have turned the area into a base for mounting terror attacks against Israel.
    To this end Hamas produces, smuggles into the area and stockpiles missiles, guns, and ammunition for use against Israel and its civilian population. It periodically directs such missiles randomly at Israeli civilian targets, in violation of all accepted norms of international humanitarian law.
  • In light of this acknowledged situation of armed conflict, Israel has the prerogative to institute a naval and land blockade with a view to prevent the introduction of weapons and materials that could serve the belligerent purposes of Hamas. The institution of such a blockade is well established in international law and practice.
  • A naval blockade in such a situation once instituted and maintained in accordance with the rules of international law with the appropriate public notification as to the area of sea that it covers effective enforcement, impartiality and consideration of humanitarian needs of the population, is fully in accordance with accepted international law and practice.
  • In accordance with the findings of the UN Secretary General’s Panel of Inquiry on the 2010 Flotilla Incident:
    The fundamental principle of the freedom of navigation on the high seas is subject to only certain limited exceptions under international law. Israel faces a real threat to its security from militant groups in Gaza. The naval blockade was imposed as a legitimate security measure in order to prevent weapons from entering Gaza by sea and its implementation complied with the requirements of international law.”30
  • Despite the ongoing, declared hostile intentions of the Hamas administration in Gaza, and its renewed construction of tunnels and manufacture of rockets for use against Israel, Israel maintains an ongoing civilian policy enabling the transfer of commodities via the different overland crossings, civilian entry to and from the Gaza Strip with emphasis on the evacuation of Palestinian patients for medical treatment in Israel, the promotion of projects by international community, and coordination of operations and aid in agriculture, transportation, trade and industry. Pursuant to the recent agreement between Israel and Turkey, increased amounts of aid from Turkey are passing into the Gaza Strip.

10. Israel is conducting extrajudicial murders and is randomly and cold-bloodedly executing Palestinians – False and Malicious

  • In light of the clear video footage showing random knife attacks against Israelis by incited Palestinians passing through check-points and in other locations, it is incredulous to see how the Palestinian and Arab League leaders and spokesmen have the gall to manufacture a blatantly false narrative, boldly and openly accusing Israel of randomly executing these people in cold-blood.
  • It is no less incredulous to see the extent to which these lies are so readily accepted by the international media, by leading Western and Arab political personalities and even by various foreign and Israeli academics, who rush to accuse Israel’s police who are defending themselves against these knifings, of carrying out “indiscriminate,” “barbaric” or “extrajudicial” executions.
  • By allowing themselves to be influenced by such false and manipulative lies and by accepting and propagating them, the international media and some leading western political personalities are in fact giving encouragement and license to the Palestinian leadership to continue its incitement to such violence by individuals. The Palestinian leadership instigating this incitement knows that it will be viewed sympathetically in the West and that Israel will be condemned for defending against such attacks.
  • Claims by Palestinian leaders considered by the international community to be “moderate,” justifying such terrorist knifings and citing “lack of hope” or “desperation” by the perpetrators of such terror, cannot be considered acceptable by any moral standard.
  • Even the UN General Assembly annually resolves, “Criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons or particular persons for political purposes are in any circumstances unjustifiable, whatever the considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or other nature that may be invoked to justify them.”31

11. “Israel committed war crimes in the Gaza Strip including the indiscriminate murder of children” – False

  • Almost inevitably, whenever Israel is obliged to defend its population and territorial integrity from unbridled and indiscriminate terror emanating from beyond its borders, whether from Hamas in the Gaza Strip or from Hezbollah in Lebanon, Israel is accused of exercising “disproportionate force” and of committing war crimes.
  • Such accusations are gratuitous and inherently false. They ignore the unique and unprecedented nature of the terrorism unleashed against Israel, the tactics and strategy of which deliberately abuse and violate accepted civilized and humanitarian norms, and the realities of combat in the Gaza Strip.
  • The allegations against Israel knowingly manipulate casualty statistics in order to establish false and disproportionate equivalences between Israel, a sovereign country bound by international humanitarian norms, and terror groups that knowingly and deliberately abuse such norms.
  • They ignore the fact that the terror groups deliberately, as a matter of military tactic, take advantage of, and rely on the humanitarian limitations that Israel, as a member of the international community, imposes on its forces in seeking to avoid civilian casualties. Such tactics include:
    • Cruelly forcing civilians, including children to serve as human shields and denying them access to shelter;
    • the deliberate use of private homes, schools, medical facilities and religious locations for storage and operation of rockets and other ammunition, as access-points to operational tunnels and as headquarters for terror activity;
    • willful and indiscriminate targeting of populated civilian centers, public facilities, schools and religious locations within Israel;
    • a declared aim of kidnapping Israeli citizens for purposes of hostage-taking,
  • The use of civilian facilities and the forced use of human shields are a deliberate tactic and widely used strategy in the arsenal of these terror groups. They rely on the likelihood that any military and defensive retaliation by Israel would likely endanger and harm those innocent civilians and thereby generate the accusations levelled against Israel.
  • The Hamas terror organization has proudly admitted that its fighters are instructed to use human shields in order to purposely suffer civilian deaths and thereby increase international pressure and blame on Israel. 32
    Former Hamas interior minister Fathi Hamad boasted in 2008 that Hamas fighters “formed human shields of the women, the children, the elderly, and the mujahedeen in order to challenge the Zionist bombing machine.”33
  • Such tactics and strategy are widely known and acknowledged throughout the international community. Leading political personalities in the U.S. and Europe, as well as the various international and local organizations and bodies purporting to uphold compliance with humanitarian norms are fully aware of the serious humanitarian dilemmas and challenges faced by Israel in attempting to defend itself against such terrorism, while at the same time minimizing civilian casualties.
  • Leading military experts, after reviewing Israel’s military actions, have commented on the fact that “Israel had gone to extraordinary lengths to limit collateral damage and prevent civilian casualties in the Gaza conflict.”34(Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff).
    Similarly, the British military expert Col. Richard Kemp has testified to the fact that Israel’s forces “did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.”35
  • In the absence of clear and accepted international criteria for dealing with unbridled abuse of humanitarian norms by terror organizations, those making allegations against Israel choose rather to ignore and overlook the dilemmas and challenges faced by Israel in defending itself against such terror.
  • Humanitarian norms are an inherent part of the legal obligations on Israel’s military. Israel’s judicial and military authorities are obligated to investigate accusations of abuse of humanitarian norms, and where relevant to taking the appropriate juridical measures.