Volume XI, No. 2,809 • April 24, 2012
The following is an excerpt of a letter delivered last week
to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu by a Palestinian delegation:
…Mr. Prime Minister,
Twenty years ago, we concluded with Israel an agreement under international auspices which was intended to take the Palestinian people…to independence. Now, as a result of actions taken by successive Israeli governments, the Palestinian National Authority no longer has any authority, and no meaningful jurisdiction in the political, economic, social, territorial and security spheres. In other words, the P.A. lost its raison d’être.
In recognition of the above and in furtherance of the peace process and the agreements we signed with Israel…we call on the Government of Israel to do the following:
1. Accept the two-state solution on the 1967 borders with possible minor and mutually agreed upon land swaps of equal size and value;
2. Stop all settlement activities, including in East Jerusalem;
3. Release all prisoners, in particular those imprisoned prior to the end of 1994; and
4. Revoke all decisions taken since 2000 which undermine agreements signed between Israel and the PLO.
Should the Government of Israel refuse to honor these above-referenced obligations, we will seek the full and complete implementation of international law as it pertains to the powers and responsibilities of Israel as occupying power in all of the occupied Palestinian territory. For the Palestinian Authority—now stripped of all meaningful authority—cannot continue to honor agreements while Israel refuses to even acknowledge its commitments.…
Chairman of the P.L.O. Executive Committee
President of the Palestinian National Authority
MAHMOUD ABBAS’S UNHAPPY ANNIVERSARY
Washington Post, April 19, 2012
It was a year ago this month that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas turned his back on the U.S.-sponsored “peace process” with Israel and embarked on a radically different strategy for achieving Palestinian statehood. It’s time for a reckoning.
Abbas’s step one was the…signing of an agreement in Cairo with the Islamic Hamas movement, ruler of the Gaza Strip, that promised to end the rift between Hamas and Abbas’s…Fatah movement. A joint government was promised that would stage parliamentary and presidential elections within a year—i.e., by now. Needless to say, no Palestinian elections are on the horizon. The joint administration, despite several subsequent announcements, has not been established.
Abbas’s step two was the publication in the New York Times of an op-ed in which he declared his intention to take the Palestinian case to the United Nations, where he would seek full membership from the Security Council or General Assembly. This, he wrote, would “pave the way for the internationalization of the conflict as a legal matter” and allow “us to pursue claims against Israel at the United Nations, human rights treaty bodies and the International Court of Justice.”
Last September, Abbas duly launched his campaign at Turtle Bay. But neither the Security Council nor the General Assembly ever voted on the Palestinian case. In the Security Council, it turned out that the Palestinians lacked the votes to win even a simple majority, despite months of globe-trotting and lobbying of world leaders by Abbas. The only result of the U.N. campaign was the admission of Palestine to UNESCO—and the subsequent devastation of that cultural agency’s budget by the loss of U.S. funding. Other U.N. agencies quietly begged the Palestinians not to apply.
The final phase of the Abbas strategy was supposed to kick in last fall: Palestinians were urged to turn out for mass pro-statehood demonstrations. Abbas’s aides made no secret of their hopes that a new popular intifada would erupt.… That, combined with the U.N. votes, would bring unprecedented pressure to bear on Israel. Only nothing happened. There were a couple of West Bank demonstrations but no intifada.
[Last] week, Abbas effectively brought his campaign to a close with a last, pathetic gesture: a letter, under preparation for months, that was delivered to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by a Palestinian delegation. Predictably, the missive faulted Israel for the failure of peace talks; somewhat audaciously, it also blamed Netanyahu for the collapse of Palestinian reconciliation.
Even the small bombshell Abbas planned to drop this time fizzled: Under pressure from U.S. and European leaders, the 77-year-old leader merely threatened rather than declared the dissolution of the Palestinian Authority. “This situation cannot continue,” the letter ominously states. But the disappearance of Abbas’s administration looks no more likely than reconciliation with Hamas, admission to the United Nations or a new intifada.
Abbas’s defenders will claim that Netanyahu’s right-wing government, and the Obama administration’s inability to influence it, left him with few options. That’s a canard. In fact, Abbas has…repeatedly backed away from serious diplomacy, citing as an excuse Israeli settlement construction in Jerusalem and the West Bank—something that did not stop him from participating in negotiations with previous Israeli governments. He embarked on his unity-U.N.-intifada strategy on the premise that it would bring about Palestinian statehood without the need for negotiations with Netanyahu.
And, not for the first time, Mahmoud Abbas succeeded only in delaying Palestinian statehood—and weakening his own cause.
David M. Weinberg
Israel Hayom, April 17, 2012
The letter that Palestinian [Authority President Mahmoud Abbas sent] to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a prime example of everything wrong with the current Palestinian leadership. The letter…mixes fact with fiction, is maximalist and threatening, and indicates no real desire to negotiate, only to place Israel in the international dock of criminality.…
What the letter has in spades is a lot of bogus diplomatic history. [It] lists every Israeli-Palestinian agreement since 1993 (Oslo I and II, Wye, Hebron, Taba, Camp David, Annapolis, etc.) as if these were Palestinian concessions to Israel, but fails to mention that the Palestinians turned down offers from Israel in 2000, 2001, and 2008 that would have given them a state in virtually all of the West Bank, Gaza and eastern Jerusalem.
As has been their wont for the past three years (ever since Obama took office), the Palestinians in this letter yet again set impossible and outrageous preconditions for entering real peace talks with Israel. Basically, they want Israel to concede every point of contention such as borders and settlements in advance of the talks. Otherwise, no talks.
Furthermore, the letter expresses Palestinian maximalism. This includes a state on all of the pre-1967 territories, with only “possible minor and mutually agreed upon land swaps of equal size and value.” Note the new phraseology “possible” and “minor.” And of course, the “right” of return to Israel for refugees “as specified in the Arab Peace Initiative,” and so forth and so on. There is no preparation of the Palestinian people for “painful compromises,” as every Israeli leader is expected to repeatedly warn the Israeli public.
The letter falsely claims that the Palestinians have honored all their obligations, including the “reactivation of the trilateral anti-incitement committee.” This, from an “authority” that names streets after arch-terrorists and broadcasts anti-Semitic and virulently anti-Israel sermons on its official television station. (It is also an “authority” which imprisons journalists and Facebook bloggers who write favorably of Israel and unfavorably about Palestinian leaders).
[Abbas]’s propaganda missive claims Palestinian ownership and responsibility over the West Bank and Gaza “as a single territorial unit,” but amazingly fails to mention a slight problem named Hamas. As if Hamas didn’t exist; as if Hamas control of Gaza wasn’t a problem; as if…Abbas had control over Hamas. What a joke!
The bottom line is that the current Palestinian leadership (never mind the Hamas leadership) has no intention of truly entering realistic peace talks that involve compromise with Israel, or ever signing a piece of paper that recognizes the legitimacy of a Jewish state and therefore end the conflict for all time. Instead, Abbas…know[s] how to threaten: That unless Israel bows to [his] demands, the Palestinian Authority “will seek the full and complete implementation of international law” to criminalize and penalize Israel’s presence “as an occupying power in all of the occupied Palestinian territory.” To seek to further isolate Israel internationally.
In truth, this is what the Palestinian national movement has always been about: the delegitimization of the Jewish state. I would say that the…letter constitutes another missed Palestinian opportunity to gain their own state, but clearly and unfortunately, that is not what today’s Palestinian leaders are after.
HISTORY LESSONS FROM ABBAS
Weekly Standard, Apr 23, 2012
The situation of the Palestinian Authority is grim. Its diplomatic offensive against Israel in the United Nations did not win it statehood, there are no serious negotiations with Israel because the PA refuses them, Hamas controls Gaza, and Palestinian elections keep getting postponed despite the “Arab Spring” and the wave of elections in Arab countries. Internally, relations between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad were recently so poor that for several days Abbas apparently refused even to speak to Fayyad.
So what is on Abbas’s mind right now? The Jews of Iraq, and they way they were driven out of that blessed land…by the Zionists.…
In [an] article [he published April 4th], Abbas claims that Iraqi Jews were “forced and compelled to leave.” Here is his explanation: “This is what happened to the Iraqi Jews, who were relocated to Palestine as the result of a tripartite Zionist-British-Iraqi conspiracy. The role played by Ben Gurion in this [conspiracy] has already been exposed: he sent his emissaries [to Iraq] to intimidate the Jews, and they harmed and killed [Jews]. Then they left it to the media to spread rumors that extremist Arabs had been behind the despicable acts.”
Why did the wicked Zionists do this? Because European Jews were not coming to Israel in sufficient numbers. So, he recounts, “the Zionist movement turned to the Jewish communities in Iraq, Yemen, North Africa, Egypt and Syria, urging them to emigrate, though these [communities] had no motivation to leave, for they all enjoyed high standards of living, as well as civil and political rights that the European Jews had not even dreamt of for centuries.”
In this context it is probably impolite to mention Abbas’s 1982 doctoral dissertation in Moscow, in which he argued with respect to the Holocaust that “the number of Jewish victims might be 6 million and might be much smaller—even less than 1 million.” Nor perhaps is it charitable to harp on his assumption that the Jews in Arab lands “all enjoyed high standards of living.” In any event it should not be necessary to go over the well-known history of what happened to Jewish communities in Arab countries after the establishment of the state of Israel: the riots and pogroms, the theft of property, the anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist legislation, which led a million Jews to flee to Israel.
Abbas is not, then, a very reliable commentator on Jewish history, in Europe or in Arab lands. What is more remarkable is that he would choose this moment to publish such ‘reflections’ on the subject. On March 19, President Obama and President Abbas spoke, by telephone, for the first time in six months. Perhaps in their next conversation Mr. Obama—who appeared at the Holocaust Museum in Washington on Monday—might tell Mr. Abbas to knock off the history lessons if he wishes to salvage what tarnished reputation he has left.
HAMAS: WE’LL NEVER RECOGNIZE ISRAEL
Jonathan S. Tobin
Contentions, April 20, 2012
For those optimists who continue to believe peace with the Palestinians is possible, the focus in the Middle East continues to be on Israel.… However, [last week brought] a reminder that those who view Middle East peace as something that only is about Israeli decision-making are looking at the situation through the wrong end of the telescope.
The Forward’s Larry Cohler-Esses snagged an interview with Mussa Abu Marzook, the second-highest ranking official in Hamas, and what he found out was something that caused him, as the journalist later told Haaretz, to view the situation with less optimism. Though apologists for Hamas claim the group is moving toward peace with Israel, Abu Marzook made it plain that the best that could be hoped for is “hudna,” or truce, rather than a peace that would end the conflict. He also defended Hamas’s right to continue attacks on Jewish civilians.
Pressed by Cohler-Esses to define what even a hudna, rather than peace would mean, Abu Marzook said it would be similar to Israel’s relationship with Syria and Lebanon. Both countries remain in a state of war with Israel.…
In particular, Abu Marzook took issue with the idea that Hamas is dropping its legacy of violence.… The Hamas leader stands by his group’s charter that, as Cohler-Esses points out, contains blatantly anti-Semitic material including “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” and passages of the Koran that call for the death of the Jews.
Whatever changes may be happening inside Hamas, as Abu Marzook jockeys with his rivals for the leadership of the group, it remains an Islamist terrorist group committed to Israel’s destruction. If the Fatah-Hamas agreement is finalized and men like Abu Marzook assume power in the West Bank while continuing their tyrannical rule over Gaza, it will mean the end of any hopes for a Western-style Palestinian government dedicated to cooperation with Israel and economic development.… [See ‘On Topics’ below for the full interview—Ed.]
PALESTINIANS ARE NOT WANTED IN JORDAN
Haaretz, April 17, 2012
Jordan refuses to let in the more than 1,000 Palestinians stranded along the Syria-Jordan border, even though it has allowed 100,000 Syrian refugees to enter. There are at present an estimated 500,000 Palestinian refugees in Syria, and clearly the last thing the rulers of Jordan want is for them to come streaming into Jordan.
The rulers of Jordan believe they have a demographic problem, and Palestinians are not wanted in Jordan. Jordanian spokesmen insist over and over again that Jordan is not a Palestinian state, and the assertion heard now and then that Jordan is Palestine is considered subversive propaganda in Amman.
How things have changed since the time that Jordan’s King Abdullah sent his British-officered and -equipped Arab Legion into western Palestine in 1948 and, at the conclusion of hostilities, annexed the areas of Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria that had come under his control during the fighting and awarded Jordanian citizenship to the Palestinian population there, turning the Palestinians into a majority of Jordan’s population. As far as the leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization was concerned, Jordan was most definitely Palestine, as seen when the PLO tried to take over Jordan during Black September, in 1970. The Jordanian army routed the Palestinian forces, leaving King Hussein in control.
The vagaries of Middle East borders and national identities come to mind when we recall the birth, more than 90 years ago, of what is today the kingdom of Jordan. In 1921, Winston Churchill, the newly appointed British colonial secretary, hurried from London to Jerusalem and offered Emir Abdullah, the son of Sharif Hussein of Mecca, the territory of Palestine east of the Jordan River. That was three-quarters of the area that had been intended to serve as the national home of the Jewish people, but Churchill assured Emir Abdullah that, contrary to the League of Nations mandate on the matter, these territories would be closed to Jewish immigration and settlement.
This gratuitous offer was followed in 1922 by the Churchill White Paper, which declared that “unauthorized statements have been made to the effect that the purpose in view is to create a wholly Jewish Palestine. Phrases have been used such as that Palestine is to become ‘as Jewish as England is English.’ His Majesty’s Government regard any such expectations as impracticable and have no such aim in view.” It signalled…Britain’s retreat from the commitments it had undertaken in the Balfour Declaration and its obligations under the League of Nations mandate.
What began as the Emirate of Transjordan developed over the years, under British tutelage, into the Kingdom of Transjordan, which during 1948 extended its control to the Old City of Jerusalem and areas west of the Jordan river. Transjordan renamed itself in 1949 as the Kingdom of Jordan, and a “Jordanian” nation was born.
During the first intifada, Jordan’s King Hussein, fearing that the intifada might spill over into Jordan, decided to cut Jordan’s legal and administrative ties to eastern Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and distance himself from the Palestinian population living there. In 2009 he began a process of revoking Jordanian citizenship from Palestinians. He is trying to bring his demographic problem under control.
But there is no changing the fact that Palestinians constitute a majority of the population in Jordan; the rest of the population consists of Bedouin tribes. If one were to apply the definition used by the advocates of the Palestinian cause in Israel, who maintain that the Bedouin in Israel are also Palestinians, then all of Jordan’s population can be counted as Palestinians.… [Accordingly], the proponents of a Palestinian state in Judea, Samaria and Gaza are actually calling for the establishment of a second Palestinian state.…
Jerusalem Post, April 19, 2012
Return to Sender
Forward, April 19, 2012
Hamas Wouldnât Honor a Treaty, Top Leader Says
Jerusalem Post, April 19, 2012
Whatâs That About Daughters?
Algemeiner, April 20, 2012
Time for the U.S. to Stop Funding the Palestinian Authority
Times of Israel, April 22, 2012
Dismantling the 'Settlement' Delusion
FrontPage, April 19, 2012
Jack L. Schwartzwald
Israel, Palestinians and Water Libel
Prof. Frederick Krantz, Director (Canadian Institute for Jewish Research)
Prof. Harold Waller (McGill University)
Prof. Ira Robinson, Associate Chairman (Department of Religion, Concordia University)
Baruch Cohen, Research Chairman (Canadian Institute for Jewish Research)
Rob Coles (Canadian Institute for Jewish Research)