When last I wrote, I spoke about light behind the shadows and looking ahead to what is possible – what good may be on the way. I meant every word, and will continue to seek the light.
However, I am not a Pollyanna and I don’t for a moment intend to suggest that what’s coming is all good. Only someone thoroughly deluded and obtuse could imagine that today.
In terms of what we envision, we have to strike a balance between two poles .
I continue to see news articles and opinion pieces that provide the same take I had in my last posting with regard to Defense Minister Lieberman: that the message he is delivering to our enemies is different – tougher! – and that the situation has shifted in some potentially significant ways.
I will add here a comment I saw regarding the fact that Lieberman is said to be demonstrating his trademark capacity for decisiveness. Let’s hope. If he is able to make up his mind without vacillating and stand strong on what he has decided this is not only very positive, it is badly needed. We’ve seen too much from our prime minister, who is known for a certain indecisiveness. Not infrequently, he talks tough, only to back off later. Adversaries need to know we mean what we say.
Two weeks ago, Lieberman unveiled a new “carrot and stick” policy for dealing with the Palestinian Arabs (emphasis added):
“We will implement a differential policy in Judea and Samaria. Its purpose is to continue to give benefits to those who desire co-existence with us and make life difficult for those who seek to harm Jews…anyone who is prepared for co-existence will prosper, while those who opt for terrorism will lose.”
According to this new plan, the map of Judea and Samaria has been divided into areas from which no terrorists have come, and those – mainly in southern Judea, from Hevron southward – from which terrorists have emerged.
The terror-free areas will receive a hospital (Beit Sahur), an industrial zone (Nablus), and a soccer field (Kafr Bidia). Other infrastructure development is planned for the no-terror areas as well.
For the areas from which terror emanates, there will be increased IDF activity; home demolitions; increased arrests; raids on terrorists’ homes; confiscation of terrorism funds and property; cancellation of VIP permits for senior Palestinian Authority officials taking part in incitement; increased vehicle searches at the Kalandiya refugee camp; and more.
Lieberman says that Netanyahu is on board with this in full measure.
At first, criticism for this plan came from some sources on the right concerned that the “good” Palestinian Arab villages in Judea and Samaria would actually be given a latitude with regard to development that is not being provided to Jews living in these areas. This would be a troubling prospect.
But what I see here is something that has the potential to be enormously positive: Lieberman is interested in dealing with individuals and specific towns, not with the PA proper. This is a good move, which undercuts the influence and the power of the exceedingly corrupt and malign PA.
The biggest mistake that was made by the Israeli government at the time of the Oslo Accords was arranging in 1994 for Arafat and his cronies to come into Judea and Samaria from Tunisia as the official representatives of the Palestinian Arabs. It was somehow imagined that this was necessary, as they headed the PLO – self-designated as the voice and official representative of the Palestinian Arabs – and that there could be no effective negotiations without them.
Prior to this, dealings had been with local Arabs. Once Arafat and his entourage entered the scene, they supported terrorism from within (while previously he promoted it from outside), taught hatred of Jews and Israel, and incited incessantly. Arafat’s protégé and successor Mahmoud Abbas (about which more below) has followed this model.
Many Israeli Jews are witness to the better relations that existed with local Palestinian Arabs before the advent of “peace.”
This past Monday, at a press conference, Lieberman spoke out on behalf of IDF soldiers who are intimidated by media:
“I would expect the Israeli press to work hard to strengthen the Israeli deterrent capability against our enemies — not to deter Israeli soldiers from fighting terrorists and fighting terror.
“I want a free press, not a press that deters IDF soldiers.
“I want to remind you that people are fighting terror on a daily basis, fighting terrorists. They can’t go out to a mission with a lawyer at their side, and therefore sometimes [their] thought process will be correct and sometimes it won’t.”
Lieberman had two specific cases in mind – most specifically that of soldier Elor Azaria, whose trial for manslaughter for killing a terrorist who had already been wounded is still on-going. This is refreshing after Moshe Ya’alon, Lieberman’s predecessor, spoke out inappropriately and prejudicially on this case.
Israel National News, citing the Palestinian Arab news agency Ma’an, reports that the body of terrorist who committed a stabbing in October has been turned over to the PA. The deal with the family, according to the report, was that no more than 25 people would attend the funeral; the family was said to have put up a bond of 25,000 shekels.
What concerns me here is not simply the issue of whether bodies of terrorists should be turned over to families – it is a matter of consistency. When the terrorism was bad, the security cabinet declared that a separate cemetery for terrorists would be established, so that bodies could be buried (which, truth to tell, is appropriate), but that there would be a policy of not handing them back. And now?
I have no information on whether Lieberman was involved here.
The situation with regard to the PA is shifting with some considerable speed.
There is, first of all, the matter of the local elections, which are supposed to be held on October 8. in PA areas in Judea and Samaria. Some analysts surmised at the time the elections were announced that Abbas was attempting to show the Western world – upon whose largesse he depends – that the PA had democratic process. A joke, but never mind.
Then Hamas changed the dynamic by announcing not only intention to participate by backing candidates in Judea and Samaria municipalities, but also readiness to permit elections to be held in Gaza. Ooops. Not a good scenario for Abbas, as there are reliable predictions that Hamas will show very well in these elections. Shades of what happened in Gaza in 2006, when Hamas won and subsequently took over Gaza in a coup.
Now analysts are scratching their heads, trying to figure out why Abbas, who is facing a losing proposition, does not find an excuse for cancelling those elections.
Not so many weeks ago, it made news here that the IDF (or, more accurately, some upper level IDF officers) were recommending that the PA be given more security responsibility to show the Palestinian Arabs how valuable Abbas is, so that he would garner more votes and hopefully prevent a Hamas win in the elections. Not a great idea, to understate the matter.
But now we see Lieberman undercutting Abbas by dealing directing with people and villages. The scenario has shifted dramatically.
In fact, not long ago, Lieberman leveled a direct charge against Abbas (emphasis added):
“We’ve met dozens of economists and businessmen from the Palestinian Authority, and when you ask what’s most important for the Palestinian economy, they all reply that the most important thing is to get rid of Abu Mazen [Abbas]…He has imposed a reign of corruption that encompasses everything. He has people in every economic sector – in real estate, the fuel market, the communications market. Abbas’ people take a tithe from every deal, and aside from the people in the inner circle, the PA leadership doesn’t allow anyone there to develop economically. That’s why it’s so important for him to go. As long as Abbas is there, nothing will happen.”
For more on this issue, see Caroline Glick in “The end of Mahmoud Abbas” (emphasis added):
“Like it or not, the day is fast approaching when the Palestinian Authority we have known for the past 22 years will cease to exist.
”PA leader Mahmoud Abbas’s US-trained Palestinian security forces have lost control over the Palestinians cities in Judea and Samaria. His EU- and US-funded bureaucracies are about to lose control over the local governments to Hamas. And his Fatah militias have turned against him.
“Palestinian affairs experts Pinchas Inbari of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and Khaled Abu Toameh of the Gatestone Institute have in recent weeks reported in detail about the insurrection of Fatah militias and tribal leaders against Abbas’s PA.
“In Hebron, tribal leaders, more or less dormant for the past 20 years, are regenerating a tribal alliance as a means of bypassing the PA, which no longer represents them. Their first major action to date was to send a delegation of tribal leaders to meet with King Abdullah of Jordan.
”Even in Ramallah, the seat of Abbas’s power, the PA is losing ground to EU-funded NGOs that seek to limit the PA’s economic control over the groups and their operations.”
Glick says that the Hamas takeover of Palestinian Arab areas of Judea and Samaria will be swift, just as was the case in Gaza. The big question she raises is what Israel intends to do about this.
As it plays out, it may mean war. And that may be cleaner than pretending there is a “partner for peace” with Abbas. Our purported deal was with the PLO/PA and not with Hamas, after all.
But I share here a number of thoughts: First is Glick’s allusion to “tribal leaders.” Within Arab Judea and Samaria there are clans, each of which controls an area. It has long been the contention of Dr. Mordecai Kedar that the resolution of the situation – the way to a state of peace – is via dealing with these clans and allocating to each an area of autonomy. Now I wonder whether this scenario might play into the situation.
And then there is the allusion to Jordan. For all King Abdullah’s excessively hostile remarks about Israel for public consumption, it is Israel he wants controlling Judea and Samaria right up to his border. Is he, might he be, a factor now, surreptitiously? Surreptitiously, because radicals threaten his throne.
Lastly, I just read a comment about how it is obviously the case that were Hamas to be in charge instead of the PA, the world would understand that a “peace” deal is no longer viable. I would like to think so, but I do not. I have expected on numerous occasions – such as when Fatah and Hamas were negotiating a unity government – that the world would understand that Israel had no genuine partner for negotiations. But always there were those who rationalized the situation away.
Thus would I expect it to be the same in some quarters were there to be a Hamas takeover. In spite of the fact that our deal, such as it is, is with with the PA and not Hamas. They’ve moderated, we’d be told. Negotiations are still important. And so on. I am vastly cynical where these matters are concerned. Or perhaps just realistic with regard to world views.
We can see this distorted and sick thinking now. The PA is falling apart. Abbas is hated by his own people and losing control. Would you not think that the international leaders would lament what they had hoped would be, but concede that chances for a “two state solution” were just about non-existent?
But no. We still are criticized for doing things that “endanger” that non-existent solution. This is not about genuine hope for two-states. This is about attempts to weaken Israel.
This week we have UN envoy to the Middle East, Nickolay Mladenov, who has blasted “Israeli settlement expansion.”
Said Mladenov (emphasis added):
“No legal acrobatics can change the fact that all outposts, whether legalized by Israeli law or not, whether located on state land or absentee land or private Palestinian land – just like all settlements in Area C and East Jerusalem – remain illegal under international law.”
What an outrage this statement is, and what a total distortion of truth. The UN, as do other bodies, agencies and governments, willfully makes the assumption that everything past the 1949 armistice line “belongs” to a “Palestinian state.”
But there is no “East Jerusalem.” There is only one unified Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty.
As to Area C, the Oslo Accords give Israel full control in Area C, including the right to build there. Mladenov’s position subverts Oslo, which provides the underpinning for the “two-state solution” he claims to be seeking. But that’s small potatoes. The bottom line is that Area C, along with Areas A and B, are Mandate land. The borders of Israel, according to customary international law, are the borders of the Mandate, the internationally recognized administrative area that preceded it.
The “huge” amount of building that so upset the UN envoy:
A 234-unit retirement home in Elkana; 30 private houses in Beit Aryeh; and 20 units in the town of Givat Ze’ev. In addition, 179 existing housing units in Ofarim were retroactively approved.
For the record: Area C is about 60% of Judea and Samaria, but all Jewish housing and communities in Judea and Samaria constitute less than 5% of the land area.
Prime Minister Netanyahu responded appropriately, as far as he went:
“Jews have lived in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria for thousands of years and their presence there is not an obstacle to peace. The obstacle to peace is the attempt to incessantly deny the relationship of Jews to their historical land and the stubborn refusal to acknowledge that they are not foreigners there.
“The claim that Jewish construction in Jerusalem is illegal is as absurd as the claim that American construction in Washington or French construction in Paris are illegal. The Palestinian demand for ethnic cleansing of Jews in its future state is horrifying, and the UN should be condemning it instead of adopting it.”
What I would wish from the prime minister is a more definitive statement regarding the fact that, according to international law, we are not illegal.
And then we have a statement from the US yesterday:
Hours after Israel’s Civil Administration gave approval to 463 housing units in Samaria, the Obama administration condemned the decision, saying that Israel risked undermining “the prospects for a two-state solution.”
How ludicrous this all is. “Prospects for a two-state solution” indeed.
Please see this piece – “The ‘Other’ Palestinians” by Khaled Abu Toameh, which is very much to the point (emphasis added):
“Nearly 3,500 Palestinians have been killed in Syria since 2011. But because these Palestinians were killed by Arabs, and not Israelis, this fact is not news in the mainstream media or of interest to ‘human rights’ forums.
“How many Western journalists have cared to inquire about the thirsty Palestinians of Yarmouk refugee camp, in Syria? Does anyone know that this camp has been without water supply for more than 720 days, and without electricity for the past three years?…
“When Western journalists lavish time on Palestinians delayed at Israeli checkpoints, and ignore bombs dropped by the Syrian military on residential areas, one might begin to wonder what they are really about.”
An ongoing libel against Israel is being sustained with regard to the so-called Arab village of Susiya, in the Hevron Hills. See what Honest Reporting has to say about this:
A musical flashmob from the city of Ariel, which is in Samaria and is not going anywhere. With thanks to my friend Chana G.
© 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.