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November 20, 2011: That Unity Government

November 20, 2011

Various sources — which differ in some particulars — seem to concur that there has been a breakthrough with regard to a Fatah-Hamas unity government.  After leaders of the two parties meet on Thursday, it is said the agreement will be announced. Reportedly the new government and prime minister will be located in Gaza — with the prime minister likely coming from Gaza, while the president and parliament will operate out of Ramallah.  Elections are slated for May, and Islamic Jihad may participate.  Both PA prime minister Salam Fayyad and Ismail Haniyeh, who is prime minister for Hamas, may bow out.

According to Arutz Sheva, which puts it that, Abbas is “going for broke” (gambling all on this move), the unity government will be based on “resistance,” a Palestinian Authority state based on the temporary 1949 Armistice Lines and non-recognition of Israel. 

Let’s see how the world handles this.

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Yet another issue of major importance to Israel is that of Egypt, which is now again undergoing major street clashes as crowds demonstrate against the ruling military regime.  The protests began in Cairo’s Tahrir Square but have spread to other places, such as Alexandria.

Essentially, what we are looking at is a battle between the military and Islamic forces for control of the country — starting with the drafting of a new constitution.  Needless to say, which element controls the country will affect Israel’s relationship with Egypt at the most basic levels. 

Hillel Frisch of the BESA Center says that with regard to this constitution, “In essence, Egypt’s soul and identity is at stake.”  See his cogent explanation of the situation here:

http://www.biu.ac.il/Besa/perspectives155.html

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When push comes to shove, the military does not treat demonstrators with kid gloves: In the latest clashes two demonstrators were killed and 766 reported injured.  Nor will the military voluntarily relinquish control: At present emergency laws are still in place.

Staggered elections are due to begin on November 28, but may be delayed because of the violence.  I’ve read some reports suggesting the possibility of civil war, or “major civil strife,” as Frisch puts it. 

Another related issue is the question of what is going on in the Sinai. See a JINSA analysis on this:

http://www.jinsa.org/publications/analysis/israel/will-sinai-test-israeli-egyptian-peace

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Interestingly, in spite of the unrest, the Israel ambassador to Egypt has returned to Cairo, following the September attack on the Israeli Embassy when all staff left the country.  But this is Yitzhak Levanon, who, according to the Israeli Foreign Ministry, is on the cusp of retirement and has gone to Egypt (reportedly via a Turkish airlines flight) to conduct some farewell meetings before he departs.

The new ambassador, Yaakov Amitai, is scheduled to present his credentials in Cairo in December. The Embassy will not be fully staffed until all security arrangements are in place, and this may take somewhat longer.

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You may encounter reports that Israel is about to enact laws that are “anti-democratic.”  Do not believe it, even for a second. The laws in question, which have passed a Ministerial Committee on Legislation, concern limiting foreign donations to Israeli NGOs (non-governmental organizations).  The legislation, which is supported by the prime minister, still must jump through a number of hoops, such as Knesset readings, before becoming law.

I believe Israel is the only democracy to permit the sort of intervention by foreign governments that currently goes on — infusions of cash by those governments to support the agendas they wish to advance (but which do not represent the will of the Israeli electorate).  The more significant of the two bills has been proposed by two Likud MKs, Ophir Akunis and Tzipi Hotovely and Yisrael Beitenu faction Chair Robert Ilatov.  It would ban foreign governments from contributing over 20,000 NIS (shekels) — at current rates, about $5,400 — to political NGOs, defined as “organizations seeking to influence the diplomatic or defense agenda of the State of Israel.”

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NGO-Monitor has prepared background information on the situation, to answer questions and allay misunderstandings:

http://www.ngo-monitor.org/article/ngos_in_israel_background_to_the_debate_and_faqs

“While the level of European and other foreign government funding for Israeli political advocacy NGOs is very large, it is impossible to provide a comprehensive accounting because, for many years, this funding was mostly done in secret. In addition, many Israeli non-profits, in violation of Israeli law, do not submit annual reports to the Registrar of Non-Profits (Rasham Amutot). However, as more information becomes available, particularly after the NGO Transparency Law (February 2011), additional and verifiable information will become available.
“As of November 2011, NGO Monitor’s research reports list 23 Israeli political advocacy NGOs funded by foreign governments, all of which actively oppose, in varying degrees, the policies of the democratically elected government of Israel. A number of powerful groups receive more than 70% of their annual donations from foreign governments. (Emphasis in the original)

“Although most of the foreign government funding is formally designated for ‘educating the Israeli public’ and ‘changing public opinion’ (both in violation of the norms on non-interference in other democracies), these Israeli NGOs are very active externally, in the delegitmization and political warfare against Israel. This campaign was crystallized at the 2001 UN World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, where 1,500 NGOs adopted a document and plan of action calling for the ‘total isolation of Israel.’ To achieve this goal, NGOs frequently label Israel an ‘apartheid’ state, make false allegations of ‘war crimes,’ promote anti-Israel BDS (boycotts, divestment, and sanctions), and bring lawfare cases against Israeli officials, among other tactics.”

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NGO-Monitor has also provided a list of those Israeli NGOs that receive foreign government donations, either directly or indirectly:

http://www.ngo-monitor.org/article/foreign_government_funding_for_israeli_political_ngos_

You will note that every single one of these organizations is left wing.  There is, by way of example, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, which receives 53% of its funds from foreign governments.

As NGO-Monitor notes: “NGOs are meant to represent civil society, not the interests of foreign governments…”  Something is very amiss.

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Giving a CNN interview today, Defense Minister Ehud Barak declared that Iran will be “unstoppable” in a year.  Time, he said, is running out.   Should Iran become a nuclear nation, it would result in nations such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey seeking nuclear arms, thus starting a “countdown” to terrorists getting nuclear materials.

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Then see this by Tzachi Hanegbi, former head of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, who says, “Accepting a nuclear Iran would cause much more danger to Israel than the anticipated damage from any action designed to harm nuclear program.”

Hanegbi presents a series of indisputable facts:

“Today no one disputes the fact that Iran has acquired the necessary know-how to enrich uranium for an atomic bomb.

“There is also no doubt that Iran has developed the ability to launch long-range missiles that can carry nuclear warheads.

“Even the biggest skeptics concede that if the moves designed to stop Iran fail, it will be able to fire missiles with nuclear warheads at any target in the Middle East and beyond in just a few years.

“The second fact concerns the dangers of Iran’s nuclear threat to Israel…From the dismal failure of the international community’s campaign against the nuclearization of Iran, and its refusal to take significant steps beyond economic sanctions, one can only conclude that the threat cannot be contained by the world.

“…for Israel, it is a very serious development. The leaders of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states have made it publicly clear that they would not leave Iran alone in the ‘nuclear club.’

“The nuclear arms race in the Middle East will leave Israel under a nuclear threat growing with time, dictating limits and restraints too difficult to deal with as we face terrorist threats and provocations from other countries.

“In fact, it will leave Israel with no qualitative edge against its neighbors. To that, we should add other possible dangers: nuclear weapons falling into the hands of extreme terrorist groups…

“…The third fact that everyone should face directly, without self-delusion, is the absolute failure of diplomatic attempts to divert Iran from progressing toward acquiring a nuclear weapon… 

“An analysis of reasons for this failure is not important now…

“The important thing is the bottom line: In the unequal race between the stammering international community and a determined fanatical state, the Iranian runner will be the first to cut the tape at the finish line…”

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He then looks at the Israeli dilemma regarding what to do.  Conceding that there are issues meant only for discussion behind closed doors and far too sensitive to be analyzed in an article, he goes on to say,

“All I would allow myself to say is that I totally reject the apocalyptic scenarios published in recent days. To the best of my knowledge, based on constant dealings with the Iranian issue in the most intimate possible way over seven consecutive years, I think that coming to terms with a nuclear Iran would cause much more danger and harm to Israel than the anticipated damage from any action designed to harm Iran’s nuclear program.

“Because of my familiarity with the political scene in the US, I believe that the warnings about a ‘destruction of relations with the United States’ have no basis. The leader of the US understands well that it has no right to undermine Israel’s right of self-defense against a strategic threat. This is true of the Obama administration as well as of any other administration, if there is a new one, following the US election in November 2012.

“I agree with those who recommend waiting for a US decision on whether to raise its hands and concede defeat in the wake of continued Iranian defiance, or to raise up a US Air Force attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

“However, the waiting period should be limited…”

http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Op-EdContributors/Article.aspx?id=245160

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© 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.

 

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