Motzei Shabbat (After Shabbat)
I'm not done talking about the election. Not by a long shot. But it's time, here, to return to consideration of other events. Wish I could say I had good news...
Things have heated up again in Israel's south.
Early Saturday evening, an anti-tank missile was fired at IDF soldiers, reportedly of the Givati Brigade, who were riding a jeep along the fence at the Gaza border -- adjacent to central Gaza -- doing a security check. Four soldiers were wounded, one seriously and one very seriously. The IDF responded with tank fire and then fire from helicopters. Reports are that three Arabs were killed and several more wounded.
This followed an incident on Thursday in which a tunnel, which extended into Israeli territory and had been packed with hundreds of kilograms of explosives blew up. One soldier was lightly wounded, and it seems a small miracle that this was all that happened.
And now there has begun again what is referred to in the news as an "escalation" in attacks from Gaza. Kassams, mortar shells, and Grad katyushas are being launched -- a total of ,more than 30 so far tonight, as I write -- into Eshkol, Gadera, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Yavne, Sderot and Sha'ar Hanegev. I'm seeing conflicting reports on whether Islamic Jihad or Hamas is responsible for these attacks.
Again, there is talk of closing schools, as weary residents have to hunker down. Again that breathtaking requirement that they remain within 15 seconds of a shelter.
IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz is calling for a security assessment.
Bottom line: this is an unacceptable situation.
Home Front Defense Minister Avi Dichter apparently agreed, as he said that Israel "must reestablish its military deterrence in Gaza."
While Alon Shuster, head of Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council, speaking to Ynet, said "...we now realize there is no easy solution and that the country must address this situation."
In the north, the situation is not exactly placid either. In this instance, however, it does not appear that there is a deliberate attack on Israel. Rather, there is "spillover" of the fighting going on in Syria near the Israeli border:
Last Monday, an IDF jeep on the Golan Heights was hit, although no one was hurt. On Wednesday, stray bullets hit near an IDF position. On Thursday, three mortar shells landed in a town close to the border.
New rules of engagement for soldiers stationed in the area instruct them to return fire if there is continuous fire that comes from Syria. While there is no desire to provoke confrontation, there is concern about Islamists slipping over the border.
Chief of Staff Gantz visited the northern border this past week and noted that the Syrian war might "become an Israeli matter" if this situation persists. From where he stood, he was able to hear cries of "Allahu Akbar" from across the border -- it's close indeed.
Minister of Strategic Affairs Moshe Ya'alon said Syria has been sent several warnings about the situation.
As for the Palestinian Arabs, they are still talking about going to the UN General Assembly, either on November 15 or November 29 -- or, maybe they'll wait. Their announcements are made with the usual clarity. And are accompanied by conflicting statements: this will allow us to proceed more effectively with the peace process; this will render Oslo null and void.
I will examine the situation in more detail as it becomes a bit more clear as to what may transpire. The legal issues are confusing, to say the least -- in no small part because not everyone is playing by the rules.
The US, the UK, and Israel are attempting to dissuade them from proceeding.
Not long ago, Abbas made a statement on Israeli television regarding the fact that he would not seek to return to live in S'fat (in the Galil), which is where his family had lived, although he wouldn't mind visiting. (He has long pretended to be a "refugee" from there, but there are clear statements by him on the record to the effect that his family moved voluntarily.) Now he spoke about a Palestinian state as being compromised of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.
With this he generated apoplexy among other Palestinian Arab leaders, who furiously accused him of relinquishing the "right of return." Thus he quickly backtracked: No, no, he was speaking for himself only. Of course the "right of return" is an inalienable right that still exists.
This is noteworthy for only one reason. There may soon be another push by the Obama administration for Israel to sit down with the PA to negotiate. But what is obvious on the face of it is that if the PA demands this "right" that cannot ever be relinquished, then no agreement is possible. (This aside from all the other reasons, of course.) Even if Abbas truly would want to negotiate away this "right," he would not be able to -- not if he valued his safety.
Just before Abbas made his statement, PLO official Farouk Kaddoumi made another sort of proposal: Jordan should annex Judea and Samara (aka the West Bank) he said, thereby creating a Palestinian-Jordanian confederation. End of negotiations, end of Oslo.
But the very hard line Kaddoumi never supported Oslo. He's still in Tunisia, whence the PLO leadership had come, because he wouldn't participate in the Palestinian Authority.
Jordan's King Abdullah, whose position is very shaky, would never support such a proposal, for fear of being overrun totally by the PLO. There's history here: His father, King Hussein, in a bloody engagement, threw the PLO out of Jordan in 1970, when Arafat threatened to wrest control of the country.
Jordan had occupied the West Bank from 1949-67, and today some 70% of Jordanians are of Palestinian origins. But in recent years Jordan has actually been stripping some Palestinians of their Jordanian citizenship.
Nonetheless, I found this proposal interesting. Only becaused it seemed to me that Kaddoumi was expressing a weariness with the game-playing of Oslo and attempting to put a new scenario into play.
Administration officials are being cited in news reports saying that, while President Obama has not made his final decision regarding a new Secretary of State, first on his list is Susan Rice, currently US Ambassador to the UN.
Heaven help us. She makes Hillary look pro-Israel.
When PM Netanyahu addressed the General Assembly recently, she opted to absent herself.
This past February, in a speech to the Security Council she said: "For more than four decades Israeli settlement activity in territories occupied in 1967 has undermined Israel’s security and corroded hopes for peace and stability in the region. Continued settlement activity violates Israel’s international commitments, devastates trust between the parties, and threatens the prospects for peace."
This statement, you must understand, came immediately after the US had vetoed a SC resolution on Israeli settlements. It was vetoed because Obama wanted to see negotiations, and feared that interference by the UN would be counterproductive to his goal. All she had to do was veto. There was no need to editorialize. As Omni Ceren put it, in Commentary: "the American ambassador to the United Nations telegraphed — through words, body language, and her anti-Israel tantrum — that she didn’t support the policy she was implementing on behalf of the president."
And the above is just the latest on Rice.
She is on record as having said that: "when we meet our financial obligations to the UN, we make Americans safer,” and "the UN promotes universal values Americans hold dear." (If THAT doesn't give you nightmares...)
According to Rick Moran:
"Her steadfast belief that poverty, not radical Islamist ideology, is responsible for terrorism has upended 20 years of American anti-terrorism policy. Rice is the inspiration behind the Obama administration’s de-emphasizing military action against terrorists, while looking for ways to address the 'root causes' of the violence. She co-authored an academic article in 2005 that postulated that terrorism was 'a threat borne of both oppression and deprivation.'"
In 2009, she counseled against the US pulling out of the virulently anti-Israel Durban Conference (although the US ultimately did).
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.