To discuss all of the hot issues that call for attention, and to do full justice to each, would require more time than is possible for me, and more space than is reasonable for this posting.
And so, I will touch upon the major issues, commenting relatively briefly, with intention to return as necessary. At the same time here, I will return to a couple of issues pending from the last few days.
The big news here is that Prime Minister Netanyahu has informed the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that the US demand that the growth of settlements in Judea and Samaria be halted is “not reasonable,” and that our government will not stop building for natural growth.
This is major. Especially as the pressure from Obama is intense. (More on this below.) It should be noted that this follows the failure last week of an Israeli delegation to come to terms with US governmental representatives in London on this and related issues.
However, Netanyahu also indicated that the government would be taking down “illegal” outposts. This, he said, was a “reasonable demand.” And, indeed, I’ve been picking up reports about preparations for dismantlement of some outposts (outposts with more than a tent and a shack).
This is also major, though not as major as building in the settlements, I suspect, with regard to our future in Judea and Samaria.
Am I all right with this? No. I am deeply disturbed. In particular because Netanyahu is suggesting that he’s responding to “a demand.” As to all of his talk about this being the “right thing” to do, because the outposts are illegal and we are a nation of law, etc., etc: I don’t buy it. The “illegal” outposts have been there for some time and somehow they managed to remain.
Why now? I am reminded of the astute comment by an analyst a couple of weeks ago — that the fact that we’re not engaged in “final negotiations” with the Palestinians, which theoretically would bring progress and resolve matters (ha!), puts more pressure on us with regard to our presence in Judea and Samaria, as if moving us out from there will solve matters. It becomes more of a big deal for Obama. The way to prove he’s “making progress.”
And so there remains the feeling, still, that this is somehow a trade-off. Which is where I started some days ago. Trade-off for what? Is the deal that Netanyahu will take down outposts in return for continuing to build in the major settlements? Don’t think so, and I’ll get to that in a minute.
At the Committee meeting today, Netanyahu pounded the table and declared that he was responsible for the security of Israel, even if that made him unpopular.
And yes, this feels like a re-run of what he said the other day. The implication, the hint, is that he’s taking down the outposts — which will make him unpopular — in return for something with regard to taking on Iran, which involves our security. But I won’t go there a second time, because right now I just don’t know. Is it pretense, pretext, or something more?
Netanyahu described for the Committee the meeting he had with Obama thus:
“There was a confirmation of our understandings on strategic matters. There was agreement over the danger of Iran going nuclear and on our right to self defense at all times.
“…during the meeting, there was no talk of linking the Palestinian and Iranian issues. We talked about how Iran will supply a nuclear umbrella to terror organizations.”
Do we take this at face value? Is he saying that Obama acknowledges our right to attack Iran and will refrain from getting in the way? And that whatever support — even passive — Obama gives in this regard is not tied to our progress regarding negotiations with the Palestinians?
Netanyahu said even more, but the rest will keep for another day. Suffice it to say here that he reiterated his position that dealing with Iran is first priority.
It’s likely to get ugly if and when larger outposts are dismantled. There will be violence, of a sort that pains us all enormously. Sort of like being kicked in the solar plexus.
Right now information is floating about dangers to Havat Gilad in Samaria, named after Gilad Zar, who was murdered by Palestinians.
I remain somewhat dubious as to whether all outposts will come down. Part of what we must see is when (or if) the nationalists in the government kick in with serious rebellion. It’s our job to keep the pressure on.
Some outposts are potentially more vulnerable than others because of charges of being on private Palestinian land — which, I’ve indicated, is not a simple matter. The legalities are vastly complex and further discussion on this must be tabled. Suffice it to say that sometimes the far left organizations make fallacious charges in this regard, and produce “the Palestinian owners.” Sometimes it happens that Arab land owners from a different time period have been absent longer than the law allows, and land has been re-allocated. Not a simple picture, because Judea and Samaria are not governed by Israeli civil law, and we are in control only 42 years, and before that was Jordanian control, and before that British Mandate control, and before that Ottoman law — with rules overlaid one over the other, all within the span of roughly a century.
None of this information contradicts what I wrote the other day with regard to the Road Map, etc. etc. It is simply another layer of information. And at some point I would like to address the actions a few years ago of one Talia Sasson, attorney, who made (infuriating) recommendations regarding what should be considered legal in the way of outposts and what should not.
According to the NY Times today, Obama is thinking about weakening support for Israel in the Security Council if we don’t freeze settlements.
There is no way to contain the rage I feel in this regard. The duplicity of the man. Concern for Israeli security indeed. The UN is among the most anti-Israel of institutions.
The article suggests that in doing this Obama is trying to play over Netanyahu’s head and reach the people, who will pressure him to do as Obama wishes so that we will not suffer. Said one senior administration official cited: “There are things that could get the attention of the Israeli public.” This will not work.
Then this same official had the unmitigated gall to say: “Israel is a critical United States ally, and no one in this administration expects that not to continue.”
With allies like this, who needs enemies?
So, please, my American friends — avoid using obscenities, just as I have avoided doing so here — but let Obama know what you think of him with regard to this:
Fax: 202-456-2461 Comment line: 202-456-1111
e-mail form via: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/
Elected representatives should be contacted on this as well:
To locate your representatives:
To locate your senators:
I alluded in my last discussion to an article by Caroline Glick, “Israel and the Axis of Evil,” in which she shared her opinion that nothing Netanyahu does will make Obama change his Iran policy.
I return to that article now for another issue of great concern. Wrote Glick:
“…last Friday, Yediot Aharonot reported that at a recent lecture in Washington, US Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton, who is responsible for training Palestinian military forces in Jordan, indicated that if Israel does not surrender Judea and Samaria within two years, the Palestinian forces he and his fellow American officers are now training at a cost of more than $300 million could begin killing Israelis. (emphasis added)
“Assuming the veracity of Yediot’s report, even more unsettling than Dayton’s certainty that within a short period of time these US-trained forces could commence murdering Israelis, is his seeming equanimity in the face of the known consequences of his actions. The prospect of US-trained Palestinian military forces slaughtering Jews does not cause Dayton to have a second thought about the wisdom of the US’s commitment to building and training a Palestinian army. (emphasis added)
“Dayton’s statement laid bare the disturbing fact even though the administration is fully aware of the costs of its approach to the Palestinian conflict with Israel, it is still unwilling to reconsider it.”
Is your blood boiling yet? This is so in-your-face awful that it rather defies further comment.
There’s more of significance in this article as well (make sure you move to page two):
Then I want to turn to yet another article that is exceedingly illuminating: A piece in the Washington Post by Jack Diehl, “Abbas’s Waiting Game,” which ran last Friday after Abbas’s meeting with Obama. This was the original article that carried the expectation voiced by Abbas that it would take about two years for Obama to squeeze Netanyahu out; it describes a meeting Diehl had with Abbas the day before his meeting with Obama.
Abbas, writes Diehl, says that he will make no compromises, and will not meet in negotiations with Israel until Netanyahu agrees to his terms: freeze settlement construction and publicly accept a two-state solution.
“What’s interesting about Abbas’s hardline position, however, is what it says about the message that Obama’s first Middle East steps have sent to Palestinians and Arab governments. From its first days the Bush administration made it clear that the onus for change in the Middle East was on the Palestinians: Until they put an end to terrorism, established a democratic government and accepted the basic parameters for a settlement, the United States was not going to expect major concessions from Israel.
“Obama, in contrast, has repeatedly and publicly stressed the need for a West Bank settlement freeze, with no exceptions. In so doing he has shifted the focus to Israel. He has revived a long-dormant Palestinian fantasy: that the United States will simply force Israel to make critical concessions, whether or not its democratic government agrees, while Arabs passively watch and applaud.”
But Diehl looks at even more than the damage Obama is doing:
“In our meeting Wednesday, Abbas acknowledged that Olmert had shown him a map proposing a Palestinian state on 97 percent of the West Bank — though he complained that the Israeli leader [my note: a sneak if ever there was one] refused to give him a copy of the plan. He confirmed that Olmert ‘accepted the principle’ of the ‘right of return’ of Palestinian refugees — something no previous Israeli prime minister had done — and offered to resettle thousands in Israel. In all, Olmert’s peace offer was more generous to the Palestinians than either that of Bush or Bill Clinton; it’s almost impossible to imagine Obama, or any Israeli government, going further.
“Abbas turned it down. ‘The gaps were wide,’ he said.”
But Abbas didn’t really turn it down because of wide gaps. He turned it down because he doesn’t want a state, he wants the status quo and the pressure on Israel to continue. If ever there was clear evidence of this, it is right here.
Diehl quotes Abbas at the end of the article: “Until then, in the West Bank we have a good reality . . . the people are living a normal life.”
“A normal life.” No huge suffering under “occupation,” no great longing for a state. Good people in America, please make sure the president and your elected representatives see this.
(thanks, Judith N.)
It must be noted that a good deal of Obama’s tough posture with regard to Israel precedes his major speech in Cairo, to be delivered on Thursday (and which I predict will fall flat because he’s over-shooting and making tactical errors).
What I find astonishing is the degree to which he has Mubarak licking his shoes. This week, the Egyptian president declared that peace in the Middle East is more important than resolving the issue of Iran. Of course, that he is saying this just before Obama comes to talk about his Middle East peace plans is just a coincidence.
This is total nonsense, in any event. Egypt, a Sunni country, has hated Shiite Iran forever, and is now quite afraid of the radical Islamic groups supported by Iran encroaching on it and threatening instability. This is far more important to Egypt than whether Abbas gets his state.
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, who is in the US and was interviewed by Fox News, said that Iranian long range missiles are capable of hitting the east coast of the US.
I hope a lot of people are paying attention.
“The Good News Corner”
A cutting edge brain research center — to be called the Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences Israel — is to be built at Hebrew University. The international committee that made the decision regarding investment in this center had determined that the level of research in the field of brain sciences at HU is already among the highest in the world. With the advantage of a newly equipped center, HU will be ranked among the top five in the world in this field.
It will open shortly on the Givat Ram campus of the university, with dozens of staffers. Research will be done in how the human brain works, and advances will be made in treating neurological disorders.
What a source of pride this is — that we are capable of this at the same time that we face down Iran, and endure a host of security threats as well as international attempts at delegitizimation. We are doing very well indeed.