Last week, JTA came out with an article regarding the ostensible moderation of Fatah because it’s new charter — passed at the Fatah Conference this past summer — didn’t call for the destruction of Israel, as had previous charters. When it showed up in the US, a reader (thanks, Michael P.) called it to my attention. By Sunday it had also appeared in the Jerusalem Post. Knowing what I do about Fatah, and about the militant tenor of that Conference (which I had previously written about), I didn’t buy it for a minute.
I’ve spent time in the last couple of days checking with people with expertise and then looking more closely at the revised charter itself. Suffice it to say there that, indeed, there is indeed nothing to it. I will follow with more information, or, if an article I’ve written is published, I will provide the URL.
What’s important here is for you to know, should you see the JTA piece — which would have appeared in a host of Jewish publications, that this is not much more than hot air.
PA president Abbas is still demanding that we do a total freeze on building, including in Jerusalem, for a period of three months, and that we agree to the ’67 lines for a state, so that he can save face and return to the negotiating table.
Thank Heaven, our government is still refusing to do this.
Abbas claims that this is our obligation under the road map and our refusal here signals a lack of sincerity with regard to beginning negotiations.
Some comments are in order. First, that Abbas came to the table during Olmert’s administration without building having been frozen — it’s clear that this demand is selective.
And then, that it has been the position of our government (a position rejected by Obama) that when we agreed to the road map (with reservations, it should be noted), there was an understanding between the Israeli government and the US government of George W. Bush regarding what is meant by a freeze on building and what we would be permitted to retain regarding communities past the Green Line.
But Netanyahu’s spokesman, Mark Regev, didn’t go there in his response. What he said was:
“The Palestinians clearly fall short of their road map obligations, most recently on the difficult issue of incitement, and they should look in the mirror before accusing others.”
And here a comment is called for. Yes, Palestinian incitement is horrendous. At bottom it’s not even an issue of road map obligations, but rather of the fact that it’s illusionary to imagine we can genuinely make peace with a population that is routinely being told that Israel isn’t legitimate, Jews are evil, and jihad (terrorism against Israel) is laudatory.
But what does Regev mean by “most recently”? As someone who has been monitoring that incitement for years, I can say unequivocally that there is nothing recent about it. The simple fact is that once we gave the PA autonomy, with Oslo, and Arafat was, for the first time, able to control the media and the schools in Palestinian Arab areas, the people’s animosity towards us rose. This is one more ironic situation. They resented us less when we administered their lives then when we moved to give them greater independence. All a question of what they began to hear about us: They were being prepared for war, not peace.
“Most recently” in this context means that this Israeli administration has finally begun — and I salute them for this!! — to challenge the PA on the issue of incitement. Previous governments ignored the issue, because taking it on would have “interfered” with the peace process. We were told, ludicrously, that once we had peace with the Palestinian Arabs this incitement would disappear.
(Could it really be that PA incitement was so thoroughly ignored by previous Israeli governments, and the policy of tracking it so absent, that Regev really imagines that this, which is now being tracked, is new? Not sure, but yes, it’s possible.)
Whatever…we’re on the right track now, and need to stay there. No cutting the PA slack any longer.
According to EU Mideast envoy Marc Otte, George Mitchell’s alternate plan for starting negotiations — a shuttle diplomacy effort being called “proximity talks” (don’t you love the diplomatese?) — may start soon if Abbas agrees.
Mitchell’s mediation, it is being reported, would begin with the question of how each side perceives a two-state solution, which would, in theory, lead to some common ground. Mitchell would then attempt to convince each side that the vision was implementable. Whose “vision” is being referred to is not clear — apparently there is supposed to be an amalgamation of visions so that Mitchell emerges with just one.
Well…let’s leave aside for a moment the fact that there should be no “two state solution,” so that the suggestion that we move ahead with this is painful. Let’s just look at what’s being proposed here, at least according to Otte:
Purim, which falls at the very end of February this year, is a time for jesting. Many papers put out Purim editions that are simply silly.
If I didn’t know better, I would think that the proposal for this mediation was really intended for Purim. But, alas, that’s not the case.
The simple reality is that the vision of Netanyahu and the vision of Abbas are so far apart that there can be no reconciliation. The minimum that the PA intractably demands — everything past the Green Line, including eastern Jerusalem with all holy sites, return of refugees, etc. — is more than the maximum Israel will give under any circumstances. In fact, Netanyahu has spelled out parameters, including an IDF presence in the Jordan valley, that give the PA less than what it rejected from Olmert.
The Obama administration, for its part, is proving intractable in its refusal to face this simple fact. If it continues to promote what cannot be, it raises Arab expectations and when there is failure there is also anger, and very likely violence.
It’s past time to seek alternatives to a “two-state solution” that might be viable. Some sort of civilian autonomy for Palestinian Arabs, perhaps, with Israel retaining sovereignty over the land. That is, once terrorists are eliminated and incitement is halted.
What concerns me now, aside from the very real possibility that Obama may be engendering Arab violence, is this:
According to Otte, Mitchell will be seeking a change in the situation on the ground, with Israel giving the PA additional “physical, political, economic and social space.” This would include extending areas in Judea and Samaria where the PA had full security and administrative responsibility.
Our government has said there would be no more concessions, that now it was Abbas’s turn. Let us pray that Netanyahu holds tight to this.
It’s just one more myth, that the PA security forces are competent enough to take over full security control of areas. If you saw my report last Friday, you read about the Abu Toameh exclusive, in which he quoted Fahmi Shabaneh, who had worked for PA General Intelligence Service, and said, “Had it not been for the presence of the Israeli authorities in the West Bank, Hamas would have done what they did in the Gaza Strip.”
According to Amos Gilad, head of the diplomatic-military bureau of the Defense Ministry, “Hamas must disappear before peace can be reached.”
I would put it differently. The elimination of Hamas (which doesn’t seem to be going anywhere) indeed is a necessary condition for peace, but not a sufficient one of itself. Fatah is not a peaceful movement either. But this is not the official line.
Meanwhile, Abu Toameh has a piece in today’s Post, in which he indicates that there are signs that Abbas may be ready to climb down from that tree he had scaled — he might be preparing to enter negotiations.
Im Tirtzu, a (secular) Zionist advocacy student group, is about to issue a report of considerable significance, and for which they should be highly praised:
Their claim is that 92% of the negative citations against Israel used in the Goldstone report came from 16 Israeli NGOs that allegedly received $7.8 million from the New Israel Fund in 2008-2009. The NGOs listed include Adalah, B’Tselem, Doctors for Human Rights, Rabbis for Human Rights and Machsom Watch.
Said a representative of Im Tirtzu:
“The Goldstone Report looks the way it does because of these 16 groups and the quotes they provided. In that vein, our goal is to remove the NIF’s mask and show the public what they really are — which is a fifth column, plain and simple.”
Im tirtzu means “if you will it” and refers to the famous statement by Zionist visionary Theodor Herzl, “If you will it, it is no dream.” (Im tirtzu, ein zo agada.)
Here, too, because of my research on, and experience with, some of these groups, I can attest to their anti-Israel orientation. While assuming the guise of organizations simply promoting human rights for Israeli Arabs, they actively seek to destroy the Jewish character of Israel. And they miss no opportunity in international forums to criticize Israel.
If you are interested in learning more, see my report on Adalah:
The report by Im Tirtzu is being taken quite seriously, I’m delighted (no, overjoyed) to see. MK Yisrael Hasson (Kadima), who was formerly with the Shin Bet and is now a member of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said on Sunday that it would be discussed during a special session of the Committee next week.
“I want to clarify what these groups are doing. I want to check and see, in plain and simple Hebrew, that their activities are legitimate. I also want to find out where they’re receiving their funding from.”
The fact is that, indeed, NIF is part of the funding picture. But another piece of the picture, which I have alluded to before, is that there is funding by foreign governments (in the EU) for these groups, who should be designated as foreign agents. (There is a bill on this very issue pending in the Knesset now.)
Additionally, Hasson said:
“I want to know if these groups are providing names of [IDF] commanders to foreign governments. It’s known that [Israeli] NGOs are also responsible for these arrest warrants, and I want to find out if the groups listed in the [Im Tirtzu] report have played a role in this.
Here, Hasson is referring to instances where “universal jurisdiction” laws in some European nations have been utilized to press charges against Israelis.
According to the Im Tirtzu report, which has touched on this issue in several respects, “Major NIF organizations signed a letter calling on Britain to prosecute senior IDF officials for war crimes.”
And then we have another report, or two, actually:
From a British taxpayer watchdog group, Taxpayer Alliance, come “Palestinian Hate Education Since Annapolis” and “Funding Hate Education.” These reports detail the ways in which European taxpayer monies go to the Palestinian Authority and end up funding incitement (a campaign of “demonizing Israel”) because of insufficient monitoring of how the money is spent.
Issues of terrorism, and the threat of terrorism, continue to loom large on a variety of fronts:
 Yesterday two explosive devices, floating in barrels, showed up on the beach at Ashkelon and Ashdod. They were dismantled and the entire shoreline was combed in case there were more.
The two devices were similar in design and the assumption is that they came from Gaza. According to one source they were intended for a hit on an oil rig, thus fueling (forgive the pun) concerns about terrorist intentions of hitting a strategic facility. Ali Waked, writing for YNet, said that, according to his information, this was a joint operation of a group affiliated with Islamic Jihad, another connected to Popular Resistance Committees, and a third associated with Fatah’s Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades.
 Mahmoud al Mabhouh, a founder of Hamas’s military wing, Izzadin Kassam, was assassinated just hours after he had arrived in Dubai on January 19th; his body was found in his hotel room on the 20th. He was without his regular contingent of body guards, and reports on the method of killing him have varied, with everything from electrocution to poisoning being mentioned. News releases on this have been slow to surface.
As Mabhouh was responsible 20 years ago for the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers, and has been instrumental in the smuggling of missiles and rockets from Iran into Gaza, the charge was being made that Israel was responsible for his death. There was even a suggestion that members of a delegation accompanying National Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau, who were in Dubai at the time, were involved — a suggestion that Landau dismissed as “wild.”
What happens when we are accused of assassinating a terrorist — whether it’s actually true that we did or not — is that there are then additional threats of terrorism to be carried out in “retaliation.” There have even been reports that Hezbollah, which has more extensive overseas connections, might help Hamas in a strike against us abroad.
Actually, there are a great many possibilities for who might have killed this man (who most definitely deserved to die). Yesterday Abu Toameh wrote that a Fatah-affiliated news agency says the possibility of an “inside job” has not been ruled out.
“The Good News Corner”
While the major part of the IDF medical contingent that was in Haiti has settled in at home again, we are still doing good work there.
Israel Flying Aid, in cooperation with 20 Christian nuns, is currently working to rebuild an orphanage that had been destroyed by the earthquake. It has started by housing 70 girls and will ultimately accommodate 200. Orange Israel Communications is supporting this effort, and the IDF contributed supplies — electric generators, fresh water, tents, etc. — and some medical services.
In thanking IFA, Haiti Minister for Culture and Communications said:
“We have been watching you and your team work 24 by 7 since you arrived at the orphanage. Your quick, professional and modest action in caring for these very small and sick children has saved many lives.
“The efforts of Israel Flying Aid should be used as an example to the world that Haiti children can be protected, cared for and provided with everything from essential supplies and housing to children movies and loving hugs.”
Israel Flying Aid rebuilt the orphanage in three days. They took children, all suffering from severe malnutrition, who had been sleeping on the cold ground and brought them to a new house, where they found soft, clean mattresses and colorful balloons. The children are receiving a host of services including nutritional food, medical care, trauma treatment, and educational services.
Said IFA founder, Gal Lusky:
“Israel Flying Aid is based upon the Jewish principles of the prophet Isaiah to: ‘Uphold the rights of the orphan; defend the cause of the widow,’ and in doing so we do not discriminate by race, nationality or religion.”
Israeli Flying Aid is a non profit, volunteer-based, non-governmental organization that seeks to provide humanitarian life-saving relief to communities in areas stricken by natural disaster or territorial conflicts.
When the IDF medical contingent returned home, they brought with them late last week a six year old Haitian boy who requires life-saving open heart surgery. It is being arranged by the Save a Child’s Heart Foundation and will be done at the Wolfsohn Medical Center. He is expected to be “good as new” after the surgery.
See a video on this: