Abbas and Netanyahu UN Speeches Signal the 30-Year Peace Process Is Dead: Ben Cohen, JNS, Oct. 4, 2018— There was one corner of New York City last Thursday where the Senate Judicial Committee hearings into the accusations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh went largely unnoticed…
President Trump, Tell the Palestinians: No Negotiations Without Recognition of Jewish Self-Determination: Dr. Robert P. Barnidge, Jr., BESA, Oct. 14, 2018— The great promise of the letters exchanged between Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Chairman Yasser Arafat in September 1993 was that Israel and the Palestinians (and the Arab world more generally) seemed on the cusp of peace.
The Palestinian Battle Against a Plan that Does Not Exist: Khaled Abu Toameh, Gatestone Institute, Oct. 15, 2018 — No Palestinian — or anyone else for that matter — has been made privy to US President Donald J. Trump’s long-awaited plan for peace in the Middle East, which has also been referred to as the “deal of the century.”
Trump Is Reinventing the U.S. Approach to the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: Robert Malley & Aaron David Miller, Atlantic, Sept. 20, 2018— Recent months have seen a series of dramatic steps by the Trump administration with respect to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict…
On Topic Links
‘Trump Peace Plan Will Focus on Israel’s Security Needs’: Arutz Sheva, Aug. 10, 2018
Palestinian Leadership Threatens To Boycott United Nations Peace Envoy: Charles Bybelezer, The Media Line, Oct. 15, 2018
No Hope for Mideast Peace if the Palestinians Won’t Renounce Terrorism: Vivian Bercovici, National Post, Sept. 25, 2018
The Fallout: Yoni Ben Menachem, Jerusalem Online, Oct. 14, 2018
ABBAS AND NETANYAHU UN SPEECHES SIGNAL THE
30-YEAR PEACE PROCESS IS DEAD
JNS, Oct. 4, 2018
There was one corner of New York City last Thursday where the Senate Judicial Committee hearings into the accusations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh went largely unnoticed: the United Nations building perched on the East River, where the 73rd General Assembly has been in full swing this week.
But while the proceedings in Washington were electrifying, the spectacle at the United Nations had all the feel of an annual routine. Most of all, there were the usual lengthy speeches, laden with protocol and platitudes, and delivered by world leaders of varying rank whose visits to Manhattan for the diplomatic season are of dubious value to the taxpayers who underwrite them.
And then Mahmoud Abbas and Benjamin Netanyahu came along on Thursday morning. In different ways, both their speeches ventured into territory similar to that under the spotlight in Washington, with its underlying themes of unanswered aggression and injustice, punctuated by reputational smears and factual distortions. Moreover, and again in different ways, both speeches pointed even uninformed listeners to the conclusion that the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, at least as conceived over the last 30 years, is now dead.
Abbas, in particular, sounded like a throwback to the 1970s, when the Palestine Liberation Organization was committed to a unified ”secular democratic” state stretching from the Mediterranean Sea to the River Jordan. Those were also the days when the PLO, with Soviet assistance, began pushing the libel that Israel is an “apartheid” state. In his UN speech, Abbas asserted exactly that point with relish, arguing that the recently passed law designating Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people was the final seal on the inherently discriminatory character of the Jewish state.
This was the launch pad for some even more hyperbolic observations. According to Abbas, the Palestinians are the only nation on earth denied the right to self-determination — apparently, the Kurds, the Sahrawis, and the Tibetans don’t exist. Towards the end of the speech, he even questioned whether the international community, which has lavished billions of dollars on the Palestinian Authority over the last two decades, regarded the Palestinians as human beings. Moreover, Abbas continued, the Palestinians are wise to the use of humanitarian aid as a political trick and will never accept anything less than a full state with eastern Jerusalem as its capital. Getting to that point will require a definitive break with the US-led peace process, he argued, since the United States is now unambiguously in Israel’s corner. It will also require more “sacrifices” from the steadfast Palestinian people; this from a man whose mandate to govern those same Palestinians ran out 10 years ago.
Ultimately, Abbas’ speech was a plea to retain the Palestinian question as the central challenge in the Middle East. While that argument was once taken for granted, especially by the Europeans, the wars in Iraq and Syria, the rise of Sunni Islamism, and the looming Iranian threat all suggest a very different reality. So, at the same time as facing what he insists is Israeli and American duplicity, Abbas has to contend with a loss of status. And all this while Hamas in Gaza refuses to accept the PA’s rule — perhaps the most revealing of all of Abbas’ complaints, but one that was easily lost amid his verbal assaults on Israel and America.
When Netanyahu came to the podium about an hour later, his speech was the perfect illustration of why Abbas sounds so desperate. I didn’t time it exactly, but we were probably 30 minutes into the speech before he even said the word “Palestinian.” The Middle East, as presented by the Israeli prime minister, has evolved dramatically as a result of the empowerment of Iran enabled by the 2015 nuclear deal — so much so that the old divide between Israel and the Arab states over the Palestinians has been overtaken by an unprecedented spirit of unity in the face of Iran’s military interventions across the region. Preventing Iran from weaponizing its nuclear program is a goal shared by states across the Middle East, and as Netanyahu sees it, it is one whose urgency far surpasses the unresolved Palestinian question.
To expect Abbas, one of the few surviving members of the PLO’s founding generation, to adjust to this reality is a fantasy. Although the Palestinian leader has continually confounded predictions of his imminent demise, it will probably have occurred to Abbas that Thursday may well be the last time he addresses the UN. In which case, he will have deliberately left a legacy of conflict, rather than the transformative strategic thinking the Palestinians desperately require if they are to achieve the two-state solution that President Trump says he “likes.”
In the final analysis, Abbas’ speech to the UN confirmed that the Palestinian Authority and the PLO are returning to their old game of undermining Israel’s legitimacy at every turn. Netanyahu’s speech demonstrated that while Israel is aware of the Palestinian retreat into maximalism, there are bigger problems that his country is facing. Ironically, it is the prospect of renewed warfare between Fatah and Hamas, strongly hinted at by Abbas, that is more likely than anything else to drag Israel’s attention away from Tehran. Contents
PRESIDENT TRUMP, TELL THE PALESTINIANS: NO NEGOTIATIONS WITHOUT RECOGNITION OF JEWISH SELF-DETERMINATION
Dr. Robert P. Barnidge, Jr. BESA, Oct. 14, 2018
The great promise of the letters exchanged between Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Chairman Yasser Arafat in September 1993 was that Israel and the Palestinians (and the Arab world more generally) seemed on the cusp of peace. After all, Israel recognized the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. And the PLO, for its part, formally renounced violence, agreed to negotiate with Israel and accept relevant UN Security Council resolutions, and recognized the “right of the state of Israel to exist in peace and security.”
Yet, while the “peace process” has frozen the conflict, a final agreement seems unlikely for the foreseeable future. A return to first principles is needed. Rather than endlessly focus on renewing negotiations, an alternative paradigm should be applied. The onus must shift to the Palestinians to demonstrate their acceptance of Jewish self-determination. The Middle East Forum’s Israel Victory Project, which has received bipartisan support in the US Congress and both coalition and opposition support in the Israeli Knesset, is spearheading such an initiative. Its fresh perspective should be supported.
While President Donald Trump was right to reiterate the American commitment to a “future of peace and stability in the region, including peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” when he addressed the UN General Assembly on September 25, this is not enough. He should demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel’s right to exist in peace and security as a Jewish state and insist that the US will not press Israel to negotiate with the Palestinians unless and until that happens.
A Jewish state for the Jewish people, after all, was exactly what the General Assembly intended in November 1947 when it called for the partition of the Palestine Mandate into “the Arab State, the Jewish State, and the City of Jerusalem.” Although the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state does not stand or fall on this resolution – in declaring the independence of Israel on the eve of the Sabbath on May 14, 1948, the Jewish People’s Council also stressed the Jewish people’s natural and historic rights – it reaffirms the legitimacy of Jewish national rights in (what was to become) the state of Israel.
The Palestinians have steadfastly refused to recognize Jewish self-determination. To be clear, in recognizing Israel’s right to exist in peace and security in September 1993, the PLO was not, as might have been thought, accepting Jewish national rights. It was playing a double game. Chairman Arafat made this clear in a leaked speech delivered in a Johannesburg mosque in May 1994 when we called upon the umma, the Islamic nation, to “fight, to begin the jihad to liberate Jerusalem.”
It is not simply that the PLO supported the General Assembly’s determination in 1975, rescinded in 1991, that “Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination.” It is that that the PLO leadership continues to speak of Jews as a religious community rather than a People, and of Zionism as a colonial usurper rather than the national-liberation movement that it is. And this is to say nothing of Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement, which controls the Gaza Strip.
More troubling still is that the “State of Palestine” is party to the Arab Charter on Human Rights (2004), which describes Zionism as a “violation of human rights,” a “threat to international peace and security,” and a “fundamental obstacle to the realization of the basic rights of peoples.” This treaty goes on to require its adherents to “condemn and endeavor to eliminate” Zionism. (Sadly, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights  also calls for the elimination of Zionism.)
A plausible reading of the Arab human rights treaty would commit the Palestinians to the destruction of Israel. What else can be meant by calling for the condemnation and elimination of Zionism? This is unacceptable, and irreconcilable with the idea of good faith peacemaking with the Jewish state. Any peace reached between Israel and the Palestinians, as remote as it may seem, would surely be a hollow “peace in our time” without the recognition of Israel’s right to exist in peace and security as a Jewish state. The US should not expect Israel to negotiate with the Palestinians absent this recognition.
Almost more than anything else, President Trump values loyalty. He knows that Israel, often beleaguered and abused in the international arena, is one of the US’s strongest allies because Washington and Jerusalem share both strategic interests and liberal democratic values. To his credit, Trump has spoken some hard truths in defense of these shared interests and values. He has wisely withdrawn the US from the UN Human Rights Council, a bastion of anti-Israel vitriol that rivals the now defunct UN Human Rights Commission. He moved the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, cut funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, and ordered the PLO’s Washington office closed. These and other measures further the Israel Victory Project’s mission to bolster Israel on its path to victory over Palestinian rejectionism. They are a step in the right direction.
Israel without Zionism is not Israel. Israel without Zionism loses its purpose and raison d’être. Israel, with a new Basic Law describing it as the “nation state of the Jewish People, in which it realizes its natural, cultural, religious, and historical right to self-determination,” is inconceivable without Zionism. That PLO leader Mahmoud Abbas recently denounced this new law in the General Assembly as a “gross breach and real danger, both politically and legally, and reminds us of the apartheid state that existed in South Africa” and, on behalf of the “State of Palestine,” filed a lawsuit against the US in the International Court of Justice over the embassy move shows that he just does not get it. President Trump should make all of this clear to the Palestinians, Israel, and the world.
THE PALESTINIAN BATTLE AGAINST A PLAN THAT DOES NOT EXIST Khaled Abu Toameh
Gatestone Institute, Oct. 15, 2018
No Palestinian — or anyone else for that matter — has been made privy to US President Donald J. Trump’s long-awaited plan for peace in the Middle East, which has also been referred to as the “deal of the century.” This minor detail however, has not prevented the Palestinians from rejecting the rumored plan, on the pretext that it is aimed at “liquidating” the Palestinian cause and national rights.
Hardly a day passes without Palestinian leaders and officials across the political spectrum behaving as if they know every detail of the “deal of the century.” The Palestinians are not even prepared to wait until the US administration actually presents a plan. The Palestinian rejection of a yet-to-be-announced peace plan should not surprise anyone. The Palestinians will never accept any plan from a US administration they consider extremely “hostile” to the Palestinians and “biased” in favor of Israel.
Even before Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017, the Palestinians had made up their minds: As Trump administration is on the side of Israel, and its policies seem mainly designed to appease and strengthen Israel, the Palestinians apparently decided that they should boycott the US administration. This boycott is unlikely to end in the foreseeable future, especially in light of continued Palestinian denunciations of the US administration and its policies towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The Palestinians, it appears, have become hostage to their own vitriolic rhetoric. It is hard to see how after nearly a year of attacks on the Trump administration, any Palestinian leader would be able to accept the proposed “deal of the century,” no matter what is in it, or to have any dealings with US officials. The massive anti-US campaign that the Palestinian leaders have been waging for the past few months in the media and every available platform has made it impossible, if not dangerous, for any Palestinian leader to do business with the Trump administration.
While Palestinian hatred for Trump and his administration does not come as a surprise, what is strange is that the two Palestinians factions — Fatah in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip — are now using the President Trump’s awaited plan to throw mud at one another. The two rival Palestinian parties have been at each other’s throats for many years and are still engaged in a power struggle. Hamas and Fatah hate each other so much that they are even prepared to accuse each other of “collaborating with the enemies,” America and Israel.
President Trump is most likely unaware that he has secret Palestinian “agents” working for him in Fatah and Hamas. This is only true, of course, if one is to take seriously the mutual accusations made by Fatah and Hamas. Welcome to the Palestinians’ Theater of the Absurd, where fabrication, lies and conspiracy theories have long been part of the fabric of Palestinian culture and society. It is a sign of the times that Fatah, ruled by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, would accuse Hamas of being in collusion with an Israeli-American plot “to destroy the Palestinian national project.” In other words, Fatah is telling the world that Hamas — an Islamist movement that has killed and injured thousands of Jews and many others since its establishment three decades ago — is now working with the enemies of the Palestinians against the interests of its own people.
Consider, for example, the reaction of the Fatah and its leaders to the recent effort to solve the power shortage in the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave of Gaza. Qatar paid for the fuel needed to keep the power plant there running, while Israel facilitated the delivery of the fuel with the help of the United Nations. Outraged by the aid to the Gaza Strip, Abbas’s Fatah claimed that Hamas was “practically implementing the deal of the century.” Fatah seems convinced that Trump’s plan aims at separating the West Bank from the Gaza Strip and establishing an independent Palestinian state only in the Gaza Strip. Fatah and its leader, Abbas, claim that Hamas’s readiness to conduct indirect negotiations with Israel — about a truce and humanitarian and economic aid to the Gaza Strip — facilitates the US administration’s goal of “consolidating” the split between the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
According to a statement issued by Fatah in Ramallah, the (unseen) “deal of the century” requires Palestinians to “give up Jerusalem and the right of return and the right for compensation for Palestinian refugees.” Trump’s plan, according to Fatah’s imagination, also envisages separating the West Bank from the Gaza Strip “to prevent the establishment of an independent and sovereign state, on the pre-1967 armistice lines, with Jerusalem as its capital.”…
TRUMP IS REINVENTING THE U.S. APPROACH TO THE PALESTINIAN-ISRAELI CONFLICT
Robert Malley & Aaron David Miller
Atlantic, Sept. 20, 2018
Recent months have seen a series of dramatic steps by the Trump administration with respect to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, defunding the agency responsible for Palestinian refugees, cutting West Bank aid, shutting down the PLO mission in Washington, and persistently promising to present its own peace plan. The flurry of activity comes even as the prospects of an actual deal seem increasingly remote. The Palestinian leadership has made clear it won’t so much as glance at any U.S. proposal, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has suggested there would be no harm in taking more time before unveiling it, and Arab leaders whose support, or at least acquiescence, the administration deems crucial to the enterprise have voiced their own qualms and politely distanced themselves from the initiative. By now, it would be hard to find anyone serious who takes seriously the notion that the Trump administration will achieve the “ultimate deal.” Which raises the more interesting question: What, exactly, is the Trump team up to?
It being the Trump administration, the answer is not entirely straightforward. But this much is clear: Notwithstanding its repeated vows to the contrary, the primary goal of an administration that has given up on the current Palestinian leadership isn’t to encourage or pressure President Abbas to come to the table. By now, even the Trump team must know that won’t happen. Rather, the objective is to fundamentally reframe the U.S.’s understanding of, and policy toward, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, shifting the focus toward Palestinians’ material, economic concerns while downplaying their political and national ones.
There are other potential explanations for the administration’s decisions, including domestic politics, the president’s determination to live up to those of his campaign pledges that appeal to his natural base, and his team’s desire to align U.S. policies more closely with those of Netanyahu. But give the team at least this much credit: In its relentless, dogged assault against the foundations of traditional U.S. and international policy, it has shown remarkable single-mindedness and sense of purpose. Its first target has been the two-state solution itself. The essence of the approach pursued by the three prior administrations (not to mention several Israeli governments) has been to promote such an outcome, based on the 1967 borders, with territorial modifications meant to address Israeli concerns. This, the current administration has stubbornly refused to endorse. Even if it eventually does so, its reluctance will have delivered a plain message: Palestinians are not necessarily entitled to a state of their own, and Palestinian statehood ought not to be viewed as the natural or inevitable outcome of this process.
The same goes for the Trump administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. It has moved its embassy there. It is acknowledging Israel’s long, deep historical and religious attachment to the city. It has done nothing of the sort for the Palestinians. True, it has said that Jerusalem’s ultimate borders and questions of sovereignty are subject to negotiation. Again, however, the meaning is inescapable: In the hierarchy of claims to the holy city, one side’s is indisputable and sacred. The other’s is negotiable and worldly. Finally, there is its policy with respect to Palestinian refugees. Not content with defunding UNRWA, the organization that deals with Palestinian refugees, it has gone further, casting doubt on the salience of the refugee issue itself and claiming the number of refugees recognized by UNRWA is highly inflated. Last week, Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, went so far as to suggest that the right of return—the Palestinian aspiration that refugees and their descendants be allowed to return to their homes within the pre-1967 borders of Israel—was now off the table…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
On Topic Links
‘Trump Peace Plan Will Focus on Israel’s Security Needs’: Arutz Sheva, Aug. 10, 2018—One of the US officials tasked with drafting a blueprint for Israel-Palestinian peace says it will strongly reflect Washington’s commitment to Israel’s security but will also address Palestinian Authority concerns.
Palestinian Leadership Threatens To Boycott United Nations Peace Envoy: Charles Bybelezer, The Media Line, Oct. 15, 2018—The Palestinian leadership in the West Bank has threatened to impose a boycott on United Nations peace envoy Nickolay Mladenov, over his attempts to forge a long-term cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip that could bypass Mahmoud Abbas’ government.
No Hope for Mideast Peace if the Palestinians Won’t Renounce Terrorism: Vivian Bercovici, National Post, Sept. 25, 2018—On Sunday Sept. 16, a 17-year-old Palestinian, Khalil Jabarin, from a village near Hebron, plunged a knife into the back of 45-year-old Ari Fuld at the entrance to the Kefar Etzion mall in the West Bank.
The Fallout: Yoni Ben Menachem, Jerusalem Online, Oct. 14, 2018—In the past month, tension has increased between the Palestinian Authority and Egypt following attempts by Egypt to mediate between Hamas and Israel and reach an agreement for long-term calm. Egypt has made the issue of achieving a calm a higher priority than internal Palestinian reconciliation and the possibility of restoring full control of the Gaza Strip to the Palestinian Authority.