There is a paucity of good news in this part of the world right now. But this qualifies. As I face down the bitter truths of what the governments of the Western world (Canada excepted) want from us, I know there is recourse only to Heaven, and to our own strength.
What the world demands of us is neither rational, nor fair, nor benign.
And so, when our prime minister faces the governments of the US and Britain and France, and refuses to back down, I feel a gladness. And, as always, I pray that this strength should continue and grow.
From a source in the Prime Minister's Office has come this statement:
Israel will "continue to stand up for its vital interests even in the face of international pressure.
"The Palestinian unilateral moves at the UN are a blatant and fundamental violation of agreements to which the international community was a guarantor. No one should be surprised that Israel is not sitting with its arms folded in response to the unilateral Palestinian steps."
What is more, the source stated that Israel would take further steps if the Palestinians went ahead with more unilateral moves.
According to Yisrael Hayom, Netanyahu said that "those who had voiced their opposition should have considered the ramifications before allowing Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to embarrass Israel at the United Nations."
All in all, members of the Israel government do not seem unduly distressed by the international furor.
The foreign ministries of Britain, France, Spain, Sweden and Denmark, as well as of Brazil and Australia, have called in their respective ambassadors from Israel to protest what Israel is doing.
White House spokesman Jay Carny said that Israel's actions are "counterproductive." "We reiterate our long-standing opposition to Israeli settlement activity and east Jerusalem construction."
East Jerusalem? There is only ONE Jerusalem and the US doesn't get it yet, that it is under full Israeli sovereignty and will not be divided again.
German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said his government was "very worried...now is the time to make possible a renewal of the negotiations."
He's smoking something, right?
Siebert further observed that, "What Israel is doing sends a negative message [and] undermines faith in Israel's intention to negotiate."
EXCUSE ME? After Abbas's vile and inciteful speech in the UN, he dares to talk about losing faith in ISRAEL's intentions?
Alistair Burt, Minister for the Middle East in Britain's Foreign Office, lamented that (emphasis added);
"The settlements plan in particular has the potential to alter the situation on the ground on a scale that threatens the viability of a two-state solution."
But the "two-state solution" has no viability.
I think what most enrages these governments is that Israel is not jumping to their demands. Their frustrated, angry comments simply underscore what I said above:
What the world demands of us is neither rational, nor fair, nor benign.
According to one Israeli official cited in Israel Hayom, the Europeans understood that Israel had to respond, and had we not responded at all the damage to Israel would have been greater than it is now (i.e., we would have been seen as weak and vulnerable). That said, however, they weren't happy with the form our response took.
There are rumors floating about Britain recalling its ambassador to Israel for consultations. And, says Israel Hayom:
"The British satellite news agency Sky News reported on Monday that Britain was considering imposing sanctions against Israel if it went through with the expansion plan...and submitting a request to the EU to consider postponing commercial agreements with Israel, which provide Israel access to European markets."
It's important to remember, I think, that Britain today, in all but name is now a Muslim nation. And that these are, after all, not "done deals," but rather talk.
The foreign ministers of the 27 nations of the EU will be meeting on Monday and discussing this issue. We have not heard the last yet.
On Thursday, Netanyahu is meeting German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin. (See below on Germany.) Hold tight, Bibi!
I have the sense that all of the pressure has simply stiffened Netanyahu's back.
What is more, European attempts to utilize media in Israel again the prime minister has backfired: The hope was that the public would get angry about European distress with Israel and that Netanyahu would then back down because an election is coming.
What the Europeans didn't count on is that the majority of the electorate totally supports the prime minister on this. He has probably garnered additional mandates by standing strong.
And there's even more indicating strength from Netanyahu. Has he turned a corner now?
This is from Der Speigel:
"The chancellor was particularly annoyed because Netanyahu had shown himself completely unwilling to make concessions. On several occasions, Merkel had urged him to at least make a gesture on the issue of settlement construction in order to send out a signal to the Palestinians. Doing so would have made it easier for Merkel to campaign for the Israeli position. But Netanyahu stubbornly ignored her wish.
"...Chancellery officials hope that the shock of Germany's abstention in the UN vote will prompt Netanyahu to think things over. 'Perhaps now he will find himself more willing to give a signal to the Palestinians,' says one member of Merkel's administration, though he admitted that the chances weren't all that great. 'There are few signs of a change of heart.'" (Emphasis added)
My friends, let's give Prime Minister Netanyahu a word of encouragement:
Send him an e-mail or fax. In the subject line, put "please carry this message to the prime minister," or "please let the prime minister know," or something similar.
A very short message would be most effective here. No speeches, no history lessons. In your words, tell him that he's doing great/ or that his standing up for Israel is absolutely essential / or that you're proud of his strength. Encourage him to sustain that strength no matter what the pressure. Remind him that making concessions to unfair demands simply weakens Israel and encourages further demands.
Fax: 02-670-5369 (From the US: 011-972-2-670-5369)
See, and utilize, Jonathan Tobin's excellent article in Commentary, "Israel's Building No Obstacle to Peace" (emphasis added):
"Even those who disapproved of the vote by the General Assembly of the United Nations to upgrade the Palestinian Authority to a pseudo-state at the world body damned the housing...The argument is that by allowing building in the E1 development area...Israel will be foreclosing the possibility of a two-state solution since this would effectively cut the West Bank in half and forestall its viability as an independent Palestinian state.
"It sounds logical but it’s absolute nonsense. If the Palestinians did want a two-state solution, the new project as well as the other ones announced yesterday for more houses to be built in 40-year-old Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem wouldn’t stop it...But the operative phrase here is 'if' the Palestinians wanted such a solution. They have refused every offer of a state they’ve gotten and refused even to negotiate for four years, not to mention employing the UN gambit specifically in order to avoid talks. The notion that Israeli building in areas that everyone knows they would keep if there was a deal in place is stopping peace from breaking out is ludicrous.
"Nor should the Israeli gesture be viewed as petulant. To the contrary, it is exactly what is needed to start changing the one-sided nature of the argument in international forums about the dispute over territory.
"Though you wouldn’t know if from listening to the UN debate or even to most spokespersons for the Jewish state over the last forty years, the argument about the West Bank is not solely about pitting rights of Palestinians against Israel’s security needs. The West Bank is, after all, part of the area designated by the League of Nations for Jewish settlement under the Mandate of Palestine. It is also the heart of the ancient Jewish homeland to which Jews have historical, legal and religious ties that cannot be erased by a century of Arab hatred.
"...For its pains, Israel has been subjected to even greater vituperation and delegitimization during this period than before. So long as it does not speak of its rights, it will always be treated as a thief who must return stolen property rather than as a party to a conflict with its own justified claims."
I shared a JPost article on the ICC the other day, that had been written by a legal correspondent who cited other experts. The opinions quoted therein were seen by a lawyer acquaintance of mine who "deals quite a lot with issues emanating from the ICC."
His take was a bit different from that of the article, and he has now given me permission to share, anonymously, what he said to me. I appreciate this opportunity to provide a different, informed opinion with my readers.
"They can 'investigate' it all they want, but in the end, the ICC does not have jurisdiction over Israel or its leaders, as Israel is not a party to the ICC (much in the same manner that the US is not a party to the ICC for the same reason). Also, the ICC does not come after 'Israel' but rather against its individuals because it only has the mandate for prosecution of individuals. Then you have an issue with the act of state doctrine, head-of-state immunity, etc. This will be a difficult proposition.
"On the other side, I looked at the comments which were intimating that Israel could then pursue similar claims against Hamas and the PA before the ICC. Here’s the problem with that approach: Israel is not a member of the ICC, and therefore, as it does not recognize the ICC's right to adjudicate international crimes, it cannot come in and try to seek justice against the PA/Hamas on its own behalf without being willing to accede to the power of the ICC over it."
So, we cannot go after Hamas or the PA at the ICC (my contact calls this a "catch 22"), but it looks like we don't have a great deal to worry about, hysterical PA threats notwithstanding.
Members of Fatah who had fled Gaza during the Hamas coup in 2007 are beginning to return in a spirit of enhanced good will between the two factions.
One reason for that good will:
"The Gaza-based chief of Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades Hanan al-Qassas said Monday that goodwill had been built between Hamas and Fatah after their military wings fought side-by-side during the assault."
Before closing, I want to share information about Obama's position on Iran (with thanks to Bernard F.):
"The White House announced its opposition to a new round of Iran sanctions that the Senate unanimously approved Friday, in the latest instance of Congress pushing for more aggressive punitive measures on Iran than the administration deems prudent.
"...National Security Spokesman Tommy Vietor sent The Cable the administration's official position, explaining the White House's view the sanctions aren't needed and aren't helpful at this time.
"...An e-mail from the NSC's legislative affairs office to some Senate Democrats late Thursday evening, obtained by The Cable, went into extensive detail about the administration's concerns about the new sanctions legislation, including that it might get in the way of the administration's efforts to implement the last round of Iran sanctions, the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act (TRA), to which it flatly objected at the time. (Emphasis in the original.)
"...One of the White House's chief concerns is that Congress is not providing the administration enough waivers, which would give the United States the option of negating or postponing applications of the sanctions on a case-by-case basis. (Emphasis added)
"The Obama administration often touts the Iran sanctions it once opposed. In the final presidential debate Oct. 22, President Barack Obama said his administration had 'organized the strongest coalition and the strongest sanctions against Iran in history, and it is crippling their economy.'"
Could the administration's desire for additional "negotiations" with Iran be playing into its position on sanctions. You know the routine: Don't be nasty, act nice, so they'll talk with us.
As recently as a month ago, Secretary of State Clinton put out a call to Iran to engage in negotiations. In fact, she expressed the hope that Iran would begin "serious, good faith negotiations."
This of course leads to speculation that she, as well, is smoking something.
Maybe Obama thinks Israel is required to deal with the PA the same way.
© 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.
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.