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The Failure of the Mideast 'Peace Process': Melanie Phillips, Wall Street Journal, Mar. 20, 2014— The Middle East peace process seems all but doomed.
The World From Here: Has Obama Unmasked Abbas?: Dan Diker, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 18, 2014 — The March 17 meeting between US President Barack Obama and PA President Mahmoud Abbas revealed little new information. There was no breakthrough.
Has Mahmoud Abbas Really Accepted the Clinton Parameters on the Refugee Problem?: Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Mar. 19, 2014 — An analysis of Mahmoud Abbas’ speech to the Fatah Revolutionary Council before he met with President Barack Obama in Washington on March 17 reveals that his claim to have accepted the Clinton Parameters on the refugee issue is not consistent with his demand for recognition of the personal right of return of each individual refugee.
Four Things President Obama Should Tell Mahmoud Abbas: Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Fox News, Mar. 17, 2014 — On Yom Kippur, 1972, I was standing alongside a Soviet Jewish dissident outside Moscow’s lone synagogue when we were suddenly surrounded by KGB agents. Sensing my alarm, the refusenik sought to disarm my fear with some vintage Soviet humor.
Tchaikovsky Flashwaltz at Hadassah Hospital (Video): Hadassah.org
Kerry is Not Pro-Palestinian Enough for Leftist US Jews: David M. Weinberg, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 13, 2014
Israel's Top 5 Medical Breakthroughs in 2013: Virtual Jerusalem, Dec. 31, 2013
Wall Street Journal, Mar. 20, 2014
The Middle East peace process seems all but doomed. Although U.S. President Barack Obama said he remained "convinced" it could still succeed when he met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas this week, Secretary of State John Kerry has said trust between the Israelis and the Palestinians has reached a "nadir." David Cameron visited Jerusalem and Bethlehem last week, his first visit to the region after four years as British Prime Minister. His government has kept the Middle East at arm's length. It is Secretary Kerry who has made all the running in this latest peace process, endlessly shuttling between the two sides.
Ostensibly, both the U.S. and the U.K. are urging both sides equally to take "tough political risks," as Mr. Obama put it, for peace. Alas, such exhortations seem to elicit merely disdain from both Jews and Arabs.
A poll by the Israel Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University revealed last week that 64% of Israelis do not trust Mr. Kerry to treat Israel's security as a "crucial factor" in the framework peace proposal, while some 53% of Israeli Arabs don't trust him either. Both the U.S. and Britain present themselves as Israel's candid friends. Israel doesn't quite see it like that.
For all his well-received remarks in the Knesset, where he declared his "unbreakable" belief in Israel and "rock solid" commitment to its security, Mr. Cameron's government is widely viewed there with suspicion. Last year, the U.K. played a key role in the EU's provocative decision to label goods made in the disputed territories, and even issued an explicit warning to British companies over the risks of doing business there—initiatives the Israelis regarded as gratuitous acts of aggression.
More important, there is also deep shock within Israel at what it sees as bullying by the U.S. When President Obama met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier this month, he issued a veiled threat that if Israel did not accept the Kerry framework, the U.S. would no longer defend Israel against its enemies at the U.N. and elsewhere. This followed Mr. Kerry's remark last year that if Israel stymied the peace process, it might soon be facing an international delegitimization campaign "on steroids."
In Israel, there is bewilderment that it alone is being held responsible for the absence of peace. After all, while Mr. Netanyahu has accepted the prospect of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, Mr. Abbas has said repeatedly that the Palestinians will never accept that Israel is a Jewish state. He also continues to insist on the right of every Palestinian "refugee" to immigrate not just to Palestine but also to Israel, which would destroy it as the Jewish national home. In addition, despite President Obama's statement this week that Mr. Abbas has "consistently renounced violence," the Palestinian Authority continues to incite hatred against Israel through its educational materials and regime-controlled media, and permits and glorifies acts of terrorism by the al Aqsa brigades and others.
Yet the U.S. and U.K. hold only Israel's feet to the fire. Why? An important part of the answer lies in the inherent nature of the "peace process" itself. This rests on two premises. The first is the Western fallacy that everyone in the world is governed by reason and material self-interest, whereas in fact some have non-negotiable agendas. The second is the current liberal belief that trans-national instruments such as international law can transcend the grievances of nation states. War thus becomes a primitive throwback. It must be replaced by conflict resolution, negotiation and the "peace process." This then becomes a deeply problematic end in itself. Based on an amoral equivalence in such negotiations between aggressor and victim, the peace process has to be kept going at all costs if war is to be avoided. That means ignoring the fact that the aggressor in the dispute may still be violent or threatening. For if that is acknowledged, the "peace process" becomes something unconscionable: an enforced surrender to violence.
If the victims protest at this free pass to murderous aggression and refuse to submit, it is they who get the blame for derailing the peace process. That process is therefore innately inimical to justice, and biased in favor of the aggressor in a conflict. This is what happened in the Northern Ireland peace process. Widely viewed as a triumph in creating a power-sharing administration between the hitherto warring Catholic Irish Republican Army (IRA) and the Protestant Unionists, this is the template for the Middle East negotiations and Mr. Kerry's last stand. The U.K. government first under John Major and then Tony Blair is credited with having turned IRA terrorists into statesmen by bringing them into this peace process. In fact, the IRA came in only because they were in effect beaten by the British army and British intelligence. They realized they could never win by military means. So they put their weapons "beyond use" and were given a share in the government of the province. But to keep the peace process on track, the Unionists were denied knowledge of certain facts, such as deals being made to not prosecute IRA terrorists. When these secret deals recently became public, Mr. Cameron had to move swiftly to stop the Unionists from destroying Northern Ireland's power-sharing administration, which brought the risk of a return of IRA terrorism.
Not so much a true peaceful democracy, therefore, as an institutionalized protection racket. For Northern Ireland, the peace process was a Faustian pact in one U.K. province. For Israel, the stakes are rather higher.
Jerusalem Post, Mar. 18, 2014
The March 17 meeting between US President Barack Obama and PA President Mahmoud Abbas revealed little new information. There was no breakthrough. This is little surprise; Abbas finds himself hemmed in by the US framework agreement, cornered by unprecedented dissension within the Fatah party, and left bereft of Palestinian support in the West Bank and Gaza. In previous diplomacy, since his four-year term began in 2005, Abbas had been able to dance around red lines to avoid compromises he could never make. However, the current American led efforts have tightened the screws on the Palestinians beyond their pain threshold. The tireless efforts of Secretary of State John Kerry and his team to broker a framework for further peace talks have revealed Palestinian red lines. They have also exposed fault lines within the ruling Fatah party that render Palestinian acceptance of Obama’s deal impossible.
Abbas is exposed on three issues in the American paper; long-term IDF active presence in the Jordan Valley, an undivided Jerusalem and recognition of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people. The irony in the Palestinian rejection of the American proposal on these issues is that it was King Abdullah of Jordan who had insisted that the IDF, and not Palestinian security forces, defend the Jordan Valley up to the Judea and Samaria hill ridge facing Jordan. Jordan’s insistence on Israeli troops in the Jordan Valley influenced the American position in recent months. On Jerusalem, Jordan’s insistence on remaining the sole custodian of the Muslim holy sites in line with the 1994 treaty of peace between Jordan and Israel that noted Jordan’s special role in Jerusalem also dashed Abbas’ demand to control the Temple Mount and most of the Old City. Abbas will not budge on the principle of mutual recognition; as he said repeatedly, “We will never sign an agreement recognizing Israel as a Jewish state.” Abbas’ local Arabic response to the US paper further illustrates his real positions.
As Abbas’s March 9, 2014, speech to Fatah revealed, Abbas remains faithful to Fatah’s founding principles. Fahmi Zaarir, vice-chairman of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, stated on Radio Palestine on March 11 that, “Everyone knows what these principles are: Palestine’s borders from the Jordan River to the 1967 lines and no compromise on all of Jerusalem along the ’67 lines.” Regarding refugees, Zaarir noted that, “They themselves will need to agree based on UN decisions and the Arab Initiative.” Abbas spoke of the “right of return” of all refugees – into the State of Israel itself. But Abbas’ Fatah constituency and wider Palestinian public clearly understood that Abbas’s commitment to Fatah’s principles also includes what had been affirmed in the 6th Fatah conference as recently as 2009 in Bethlehem. The Conference’s internal order document declared that, “The armed popular revolution is the only inevitable way to the liberation of Palestine,” and added that, “The struggle will not end until the elimination of the Zionist entity and the liberation of Palestine.”
Abbas faces a mountain of Fatah and Palestinian public opposition to any compromise on the US framework deal. The “pro-Abbas” demonstrations in Ramallah, Nablus and Jenin that took place on March 17 were protests led by Fatah against any Palestinian concessions. Notably, other PLO groups were absent. In Gaza, the Hamas assaulted and arrested Fatah activists and confined them to house arrest to prevent “pro-Abbas demonstrations.” The Jerusalem Post’s Khaled Abu Toameh reported that the latest Palestinian hit song, called “The People’s Message to John Kerry,” that has taken Youtube by storm, accused the US secretary of state of “presenting a Zionist plan.” It also warns Abbas to uphold Palestinian rights, otherwise, “The people and I will take to the street and chant against you and demand you go away.”
Palestinian political and popular rejection of compromise and acceptance of the US paper begs a larger question. Who will enforce any agreement on the Palestinian side? Abbas, nearly 79 years old, is in his 10th year of a four-year elected term. He stands to retire imminently, chalking up as his legacy standing up for Palestinian rights in the face of US pressure. There is no effective Palestinian parliament to affirm any prospective popular referendum. Hamas is reengaging with the Iranian regime and competing for power with other jihadi groups such as the Palestinian Jihad that fired tens of rockets at Israel recently at the Iranian regime’s behest.
The chaos within Fatah’s ranks also begs the question of control and accountability. Abbas has no clear successor. At the same time Abbas and arch-rival Mohammed Dahlan are trading accusations over who assassinated former PLO chairman Yasser Arafat. The US has unmasked the real Palestinian positions. US efforts to pin down a framework have also exposed the deep fissures within Fatah and among Palestinians at large. In this context, the Palestinian strategy will likely lead them back to the unilateralism they pursued at the United Nations in 2011. That program enabled the PA to lead international efforts to demonize, incite against and delegitimize Israel at the UN, the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court. However, it failed to bring the Palestinians closer to a viable sovereign independent nation state. The implications are severe. Recently the European donor states have expressed impatience with Palestinian refusals and have threatened to curtail financial assistance to the PA. Palestinian rejection of the current US framework paper may signal the end of the Palestinian statehood project in parts of Judea and Samaria/ West Bank and Gaza for the foreseeable future.
Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Mar. 19, 2014
An analysis of Mahmoud Abbas’ speech to the Fatah Revolutionary Council before he met with President Barack Obama in Washington on March 17 reveals that his claim to have accepted the Clinton Parameters on the refugee issue is not consistent with his demand for recognition of the personal right of return of each individual refugee. In his speech to the Revolutionary Council on March 12, 2014, Abbas, who carries the titles of “president of the state of Palestine,” head of the PLO, and leader of Fatah, set forth the basic tenets of the Palestinian stance on the negotiations with Israel for a permanent settlement. On the refugee issue, Abbas said the following (translated from Arabic):
The second point: the refugee issue. You know that [UN] Resolution 194 speaks of providing compensation to whoever does not desire to return. President [Bill] Clinton presented ideas [on this issue] that we accepted as a single package, and we find that they include four principles [for solving the refugee problem]. The first principle – a Palestinian who wants to remain where he is living will be able to do so and will receive compensation. [The second principle] – a Palestinian who wants to move to another country must obtain the agreement of the two countries and will receive compensation.The third principle – a Palestinian who wants [to live] in the state of Palestine will be able to return to it. The fourth principle – a Palestinian who wants [to live] in the state of Israel will be able to return to it in keeping with the right of return.
Everyone must receive compensation, and the countries that have hosted [the refugees], Jordan, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq, must also receive compensation. These countries took in the Palestinians in 1948 and have a right to compensation for the burden they have borne and for their efforts during this period, which now comes to sixty-six years. The Clinton Parameters for a permanent settlement between Israel and the Palestinians, which were presented on December 23, 2000, state that:
The solution [to the refugee problem] will have to be consistent with the two-state approach…the state of Palestine as the homeland of the Palestinian people and the state of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people. Under the two-state solution, the guiding principle should be that the Palestinian state would be the focal point for Palestinians who choose to return to the area without ruling out that Israel will accept some of these refugees.
I believe that we need to adopt a formulation on the right of return that will make clear that there is no specific right of return to Israel itself but that does not negate the aspiration of the Palestinian people to return to the area.
In light of the above, I propose two alternatives: 1. Both sides recognize the right of Palestinian refugees to return to historic Palestine, or, 2. Both sides recognize the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland. The agreement will define the implementation of this general right in a way that is consistent with the two-state solution. It would list the five possible homes for the refugees: 1. The state of Palestine. 2. Areas in Israel being transferred to Palestine in the land swap. 3. Rehabilitation in host country. 4. Resettlement in third country. 5. Admission to Israel.
In listing these options, the agreement will make clear that the return to the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and areas acquired in the land swap would be the right of all Palestinian refugees, while rehabilitation in host countries, resettlement in third countries and absorption into Israel will depend upon the policies of those countries. [To Read the Full Article With Footnotes Click the Following Link –Ed.]
Rabbi Abraham Cooper
Fox News, Mar. 17, 2014
On Yom Kippur, 1972, I was standing alongside a Soviet Jewish dissident outside Moscow’s lone synagogue when we were suddenly surrounded by KGB agents. Sensing my alarm, the refusenik sought to disarm my fear with some vintage Soviet humor. “In the Socialist Paradise,” he said with a nod toward the plainclothes men, “the workers make believe they worked and the State make believes they paid them.” That one-liner keeps coming to mind when trying to figure out if Secretary of State John Kerry’s tenacious and tedious struggle to create an agreed-upon “framework” for Israeli/Palestinian peace is real or just another expensive Middle East mirage.
Ask Israelis, and they will tell you the pressure from the Obama-Kerry team has been intense. The just-released Peace Index Poll of the Israel Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University found that 64 percent of all Israelis do not trust Kerry to take Israel’s security into account as a “crucial factor” in his “framework.” Seventy-four percent of Israeli Jews believe the U.S. is putting more pressure on Israel than the Palestinians. President Obama’s interview with Jeffrey Goldberg on the eve of Bibi Netanyahu’s U.S. visit, wherein he threatened to let Israel twist in the wind of growing international isolation, served only to deepen the concern of Israelis. Israel’s man in the street. And to top it all off, just days before Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas sits down at the White House, Kerry admits that mutual trust between Israel and the Palestinians is at an all-time low.
And the Iranians provide a 21-gun salute to that meeting by having their lackeys in Gaza launch 30 missiles targeting civilians in Israel’s southern communities. If Obama is serious about bringing about Mideast peace, it’s about time he got serious with Abbas, and here are four things he should tell him:
1. Stop the campaign denying the Jewish people’s historic link to the Holy Land. Denying that Solomon’s Temple stood on the Temple Mount and that a Jew named Jesus walked the streets of Jerusalem’s Old City is an affront to every Jew in the world and insults both Judaism and Christianity. Despite that historical link, Prime Minister Netanyahu has told his core right-wing constituents in Hebrew that he supports two states for two people. It is past due for you to deliver the same message in Arabic. Forget CNN. Try Al Jazeera.
2. Stop Teaching Your Kids to Lionize Terrorists. I'm talking about terrorists who murdered mothers and children in pizza parlors and city buses and at Passover Seders. In the Internet era, every street named after a mass murderer of Jews, every song celebrating convicted killers that is taught to pre-schoolers, reinforces the average Israeli’s conviction that you don’t want peace.
3. The USA is not an ATM Machine. If he wants more money from the American taxpayer, Abbas must end the endemic corruption in the Palestinian Authority. President Obama should tell him that. It’s no secret that if long-delayed elections were held on the West Bank tomorrow, Hamas and “None of the Above” would far outpoll the PA among a constituency fed up with bombast and empty promises.
Obama should deliver a little tough love of his own by demanding proof that the PA is using the millions it receives in aid for nation and democracy-building. He should stress that Americans expect transparency and accountability from the P.A., or the U.S. Congress will vote to distribute our aid to the Palestinian people through other means.
4. Recognize Israel as a Jewish state now. Abbas has long called for self-determination for his people. If he cannot tell his constituents and the 21 other Arab states that he recognizes that millions of Israelis have that same right, any peace process or peace framework would be a delusional sham that could hasten another war.
On June 14, 2009, I sat in the audience in Tel Aviv’s Bar Ilan University when Netanyahu delivered some straight talk to his core constituency. For the first time he endorsed a Palestinian state, as a neighbor alongside the Jewish state of Israel. Then, citing Isaiah’s biblical messianic vision of swords being beaten into plowshares, Netanyahu said of the Palestinians, “We do not want to rule over them, to govern their lives, or to impose our flag or our culture on them.” It was a powerful moment and an empowering gesture.A generation ago Egypt’s Anwar Sadat had the guts to bridge the abyss of conflict and hate to make peace with Israel’s Menachem Begin. Does Abbas have the courage to do the same? We wish our president and secretary of state well in convincing him to do so — but don’t bet the house or the safety of 8 million Israelis that he will.
CIJR wishes all its friends and supporters Shabbat Shalom!
Tchaikovsky Flashwaltz at Hadassah Hospital (Video): Hadassah.org
Kerry is Not Pro-Palestinian Enough for Leftist US Jews: David M. Weinberg, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 13, 2014 —Here is the emerging hard-left line on John Kerry’s peace process: It’s not good enough; not accommodating enough to the Palestinians.
Israel's Top 5 Medical Breakthroughs in 2013: Virtual Jerusalem, Dec. 31, 2013
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