Tag: Two state solution

REFUSING TO ENDORSE TWO-STATE SOLUTION, TRUMP SHIFTS THE “PEACE PROCESS” PARADIGM

Did Trump Just Nix the Idea of a Two-State Solution?: Tovah Lazaroff, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 16, 2017— In diplomatic parlance, nothing says "I love you" more than telling a right-wing Israeli leader that perhaps a Palestinian state isn’t necessary after all.

The Two State Solution: Does Trump’s Indifference Matter?: Jonathan S. Tobin, National Review, Feb. 16, 2017— Those who expected Donald Trump to effect genuine change in Washington still might be waiting for him to take action on some issues, but when it comes to altering existing Middle East policy, the president has not disappointed.

Trump Has Fans in Israel: Prof. Efraim Inbar, BESA, Feb. 13, 2017— In a poll taken following Donald Trump’s victory, 83% of Israelis said they consider Trump a pro-Israel leader; by contrast, another poll showed that 63% view Barack Obama as the “worst” US president with regard to Israel in the last 30 years.

In the Middle East, Whispers of Breaking the Mould — and the Dangers that Poses: Father Raymond J. de Souza, National Post, Feb. 6, 2017— All eyes here are on Washington, where on Wednesday President Donald Trump will welcome Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House.

 

On Topic Links

 

“The Two-State Solution”: What Does It Really Mean?: Amb. Alan Baker, JCPA, Feb. 14, 2017

Tread Carefully with the New US Administration: Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror, BESA, Feb. 16, 2017

Trying to Create a Palestinian State Would Repeat Mistakes that Have Led to so Much Mideast Bloodshed: Lawrence Solomon, National Post, Feb. 6, 2017

Netanyahu and Trump Must Confront Iran, Global Threats: John Bolton, Algemeiner, Feb. 15, 2017

 

 

DID TRUMP JUST NIX THE IDEA OF A TWO-STATE SOLUTION?                                                                 

Tovah Lazaroff

Jerusalem Post, Feb. 16, 2017

                       

In diplomatic parlance, nothing says "I love you" more than telling a right-wing Israeli leader that perhaps a Palestinian state isn’t necessary after all. He could have gone for the more traditional type of Valentine’s Day present. Nothing wrong with champagne, cigars, roses or even chocolates hearts.

 

But then, US President Donald Trump is hardly a run-of-the-mill politician. Touching the third rail of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by appearing to disavow a two-state solution is in keeping with his torch and burn attitude to tried and true staples of Washington policies. Twenty-some years ago, another outlier politician, former US president Bill Clinton, created a new paradigm for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the Rose Garden. There, on the White House lawn on a bright fall day, he wed the Israelis and Palestinians to the notion that the only resolution to the conflict was a two-state solution.

 

The principle of two states for two peoples became such a basic truth, that in the conflict’s lexicon it was defined as synonymous with peace. Those who supported peace wanted a two-state solution and those who didn’t, opposed it. As Netanyahu left for Washington this week to hold his first meeting with Trump since the latter's January 20th inauguration, right-wing Israeli politicians called on him to trash the 25-year-old standard. They demanded that Netanyahu convince the new US president to oppose the creation of a Palestinian state and to support settlement building in Area C of the West Bank. “A Palestinian state is a stumbling block to peace,” Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev said in Jerusalem this week.

 

They were buoyed in their calls by the fact that since taking office, Trump has not pledged his commitment to a Palestinian state. It was presumed that he was simply waiting for Netanyahu’s arrival, so that the two of them would speak of this together, before Trump spoke about it publicly. Instead, on a cloudy day, in a packed briefing room inside the White House, Trump created the first new paradigm for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a quarter of a century and became the first US president to set aside the principles of the 1993 Oslo Accord.

 

Trump did it immediately upon Netanyahu’s arrival, as the two stood near each other, at joint podiums, flanked by Israeli and American flags. With a few brief sentences, Trump stated that a two-state solution was not the only option to resolving the conflict. “I’m looking at two states and one state. I am very happy with the one that both parties like. I thought for a while the two-state might be easier to do, but honestly, if Bibi [Netanyahu] and the Palestinians, if Israel and the Palestinians are happy, then I am happy with the one they like the best,” Trump said.

 

His goal, Trump explained, was peace, and in its pursuit, he was not wedded to one solution or the other. “I would like to see a deal be made,” said Trump. This would not be a deal for a two-state solution, but a deal for peace, with or without a two-state solution. In a Tuesday briefing to reporters in Washington, a White House official expanded briefly on this idea, stating, “Peace is the goal, whether it comes in the form of a two-state solution, if that’s what the parties want, or something else, if that’s what the parties want. We’re going to help them.”

 

This wouldn’t be just any deal, Trump said on Wednesday, in his characteristic way of speaking. “It might be a bigger and better deal than people in this room even understand,” he said. It would not just be a bilateral deal but would involve other regional players. “It would take in many, many countries and it would cover a very large territory,” Trump said. These are countries, of course, that are firm in their stance that a two-state solution is the only alternative. But Trump’s words do not rule out a two-state solution, rather they change the focus and the end goal. It neither eliminates nor affirms a Palestinian state, but rather invites a fresh start of sorts.

 

On the surface of it, Trump appeared to hand Netanyahu a significant victory. Netanyahu could return to Israel and assure his right-wing voters that one of their key demands, disavowal of a Palestinian state, might be achievable, even if he himself remained committed to it. But Trump’s new philosophy for ending the conflict, uttered amidst a pledge of friendship, also carried with it some words of warning. His pursuit of what he has called the ultimate deal and peace between Israelis and Palestinians would know no bounds, such that he would entertain a non-ethnic nationalist solution, otherwise known as a one-state solution, or a state for all of its citizens…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

Contents

 

THE TWO STATE SOLUTION: DOES TRUMP’S INDIFFERENCE MATTER?                                                             

Jonathan S. Tobin

National Review, Feb. 16, 2017

 

Those who expected Donald Trump to effect genuine change in Washington still might be waiting for him to take action on some issues, but when it comes to altering existing Middle East policy, the president has not disappointed. With his refusal to specifically endorse a two-state solution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, the president has seemingly discarded the idea that has been the bedrock principle of U.S. Middle East diplomacy for the past generation.

 

When asked about a two-state solution during a joint press conference prior to his first meeting as president with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, Trump replied: I’m looking at two-state and one-state. I like the one that both parties like. I’m very happy with the one that both parties like. I can live with either one. In doing so, Trump upset people on both sides. Palestinians think his unwillingness to pledge to work for an independent Palestinian state reveals his belief that they don’t deserve sovereignty. By the same token, many Israelis worry that his willingness to “live with” a one-state solution means he wouldn’t care if a Jewish state were replaced by one in which Arabs outnumbered Jews — which would end the entire Zionist experiment.

 

His statement was typically Trumpian in that it displayed either his ignorance or his lack of interest in the details, but it’s clear that the president wasn’t supporting either the one-state or the two-state option. Instead, what he was doing was endorsing a diplomatic principle that is just as important: The U.S. cannot impose peace on terms that aren’t accepted by the parties, and we shouldn’t behave in a manner that encourages Palestinians’ ongoing refusal to make peace.

 

Using the words “one state” was a mistake on Trump’s part. A one-state solution could lead to peace of a sort but only if one of the two sides surrendered. If Israelis acquiesce to the destruction of their country, it would end the conflict — at the cost of a potential Holocaust. Similarly, peace could result from the Palestinians’ deciding that they were ready to cede all of the country to the Jews and give up all hope of governing themselves. But since neither scenario is going to happen, to speak of one state is to declare that any compromise is impossible even in a distant and theoretical future.

 

The one-state option is the platform of Hamas, the Islamist terror group that governs the independent Palestinian state that exists (in all but name) in Gaza. Hamas’s goal is one Islamist state in which the Jewish population would either be massacred or expelled. The Fatah Party that runs the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank pays lip service at times to a two-state solution, but its ideology centers on denial and hope: Deny the right of the Jews to any part of the country, and hope for a state Arabs will dominate. Both Hamas and Fatah glorify violence against Jews and honor terrorists.

 

That’s why few Israelis believe a two-state solution is possible. Though it’s clear an overwhelming majority of Israelis want a two-state solution, they understand that the Palestinians have yet to come to terms with Israel’s legitimacy, and they think more territorial withdrawals would endanger their security without bringing peace. The idea of possibly replicating a Hamas state in the West Bank — far larger and more strategic than Gaza — strikes most Israelis as not only ill-advised but utterly insane.

 

A minority of Israelis do think that Israel can rule between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River indefinitely in spite of the presence of millions of Palestinians who don’t want to share the country with them. But there is a difference between supporting the right of Jews to disputed territory and asserting that you regard the exercise of that right as more important than making peace (if making peace were possible). Those to the right of Netanyahu might oppose giving up any territory, but they know that if the Palestinians ever did accept one of Israel’s offers of statehood, the Right would be heavily outvoted by the Israelis willing to give up territory for peace.

 

But just because Trump isn’t demanding a two-state solution doesn’t mean he is opposing it or even that his stance makes it less likely. For eight years, President Obama insisted that the Israelis give up the West Bank and part of Jerusalem in order to allow a Palestinian state. Putting all the pressure on the Israelis was a bigger mistake than anything Trump has said. Obama didn’t take into account that Palestinian politics and the Hamas–Fatah rivalry made it impossible for their so-called moderates to accept the legitimacy of a Jewish state, no matter where its borders might be located. Obama’s approach had the effect of rewarding Palestinian intransigence, which doomed his efforts.

 

In saying he didn’t care what the terms of peace were so long as both sides accepted them, Trump sent the opposite message to the Palestinians. The Palestinians believe that pressure from the international community will isolate the Jewish state and make it vulnerable. Trump’s refusal to sanctify the two-state mantra is a warning that if Palestinians want a state, they will not get it by jettisoning negotiations and asking the United Nations to impose terms on Israel — which is how they rewarded Obama for his efforts on their behalf.

 

Trump appears genuine in his desire to broker a peace deal. Indeed, to the dismay of many on the Israeli right, he wants Netanyahu to restrain settlement growth in parts of the West Bank that would be included in a Palestinian state — even if Trump knows that settlements are not the cause of the conflict. Yet like all others who have tried, Trump is bound to fail in his quest to conclude the ultimate Middle East real-estate transaction. If he does fail, it will not be because he declined to utter the magic words “two states” at a White House presser. Even the ablest diplomat or deal-maker can’t wish away the realities of Palestinian politics. But Trump’s willingness to put pressure on the Palestinians — rather than pointlessly hammering the Israelis as Obama did — actually increases his chances of success, minimal though they may be.

 

Contents

 

TRUMP HAS FANS IN ISRAEL

Prof. Efraim Inbar

BESA, Feb. 13, 2017

 

In a poll taken following Donald Trump’s victory, 83% of Israelis said they consider Trump a pro-Israel leader; by contrast, another poll showed that 63% view Barack Obama as the “worst” US president with regard to Israel in the last 30 years. Indeed, after eight years of tense relations with the Obama administration, most Israelis are relieved to see a friend in the White House. Moreover, on issues that are important to Israel – Iran and the Palestinians – there seems to be a greater convergence of views than before.

 

Trump’s stance on Iran is particularly important now, as Iran recently held a military exercise to test its missile and radar systems after the Trump administration imposed sanctions on Tehran for a ballistic missile test. When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits Trump in Washington DC this week, it will be worth noting what the leaders say about the Iran nuclear deal and what kind of role the US will play in Israel. Netanyahu fought tooth and nail against the nuclear agreement negotiated by the Obama administration with Iran. Trump slammed it as “one of the dumbest deals ever.” Senior members of his administration share this view and are apprehensive about Iranian intentions.

 

Obama gave a high priority to negotiating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and was obsessed with Jewish settlements in the West Bank. He estranged Israelis by not distinguishing between Israeli building in Jerusalem and in the West Bank. He often dished out “tough love” to Israel, as he called it when addressing a synagogue in Washington, DC. Trump and his advisors, by contrast, seem more relaxed about the Israeli-Palestinian issue, correctly understanding that it is by no means the most important problem in the chaotic Middle East. Even the White House criticism of new settlement building plans – it called them unhelpful to the peace process, but added that they are not impediments to peace – represents a positive change to many Israelis.

 

Furthermore, Trump’s promise to move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem seems more sincere than similar promises made by previous presidential candidates. Throughout his campaign and into the early days of his presidency, Trump has shown that he follows through, and is more concerned with fulfilling his promises than flattering the electorate. Israelis cannot understand why other countries refuse to accept Jerusalem as their capital and to place their embassies in western Jerusalem, which is not, after all, disputed territory. Picking David Friedman – an Orthodox, pro-settlement, Jewish American who owns an apartment in Jerusalem – as ambassador to Israel lends credence to Trump’s promise.

 

Several of Trump’s positions that draw tremendous criticism at home and abroad are less problematic for Israelis. For example, the idea of building a wall along the US-Mexico border to stop illegal immigration is viewed in Israel as the expression of the sovereign right of any nation to prevent undesirable elements from entering its territory. Israel has built walls and fences to stop the infiltration of terrorists and illegal immigrants from Palestinian territory. Trump’s diatribes against Muslims are unseemly, but Israelis can understand where he is coming from, since they have been subjected to Muslim terrorism and Arab state aggression for 100 years. The political correctness of the Obama years – when the president refused to acknowledge radical Islam as the source of most of the terrorism in the world – frustrated Israelis.

 

Thus, Trump’s willingness to speak his mind is appreciated in Israel, even if some of his statements border on the vulgar. It is refreshing to the Israeli ear to hear an American president decline to beat around the bush, but rather to address issues directly, without the constraints of liberal political correctness. This quality has earned Trump some popularity in Israel. Israelis well know that a portion of the Washington bureaucracy, especially at the Department of State, and some of the media and academic elites are unfriendly to Israel. They welcome a president who dislikes that bureaucracy and is critical of those elites.

 

We should not forget that since the late 1960s, Israelis have largely preferred Republican presidents. Yitzhak Rabin, who served as Israel’s ambassador to Washington from 1968 to 1973, openly supported the Republican presidential candidate, Richard Nixon. Similarly, Prime Minister Netanyahu made his preference for Mitt Romney over Obama abundantly clear. Unlike many European politicians and American Democrats, Israelis are substantially nationalist and conservative. The conservative Israeli Likud party has won more elections than any other party since 1977.

 

Israelis followed the decline of American international fortunes during the Obama years with alarm. It frightens them to see America so weakened. Thus, a Trump who wants to make his country great again by increasing defense spending and standing tall against America’s enemies abroad (especially Iran) strikes a responsive chord among Israelis. Finally, Trump’s family biography endears him to Israelis. His daughter converted to Judaism and belongs to an Orthodox community. Trump has Jewish grandchildren of whom he is proud. His Jewish son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is an important advisor. Living in New York may have sensitized him to the sensibilities of the Jewish community. Moreover, he has always expressed strong support for the Jewish state…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

                                                                           

Contents

 

IN THE MIDDLE EAST, WHISPERS OF BREAKING THE MOULD

— AND THE DANGERS THAT POSES

Father Raymond J. de Souza

National Post, Feb. 6, 2017

 

All eyes here are on Washington, where on Wednesday President Donald Trump will welcome Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House…Unpredictability is precisely the order of the day. The predictable future is no longer so predictable here.

 

I have been coming to Israel regularly for more than 10 years, and on this visit I am hearing for the first time people discussing openly that that two-state solution is dead, or that its time is past, or that it needs to be revived, or that it should be rejected. Apparently no one thinks it likely. Such views are not new, but the public rhetoric at least honoured the two-state consensus, which has been the basis of global Israeli-Palestinian policy for the nearly 25 years since the Oslo Accords.

 

Senior ministers in the Netanyahu coalition government speak openly about annexation of parts of the West Bank — the “Area C” territories where the overwhelming majority of Jewish settlers live (some 400,000) and where the Arab population (some 100,000) could be granted Israeli citizenship without upsetting the demographic balance of Israel, which is about 75 per cent Jewish, 21 per cent Arab, and 4 per cent others.

 

While the end of Obama and advent of Trump might explain some of the more frank talk, the underlying dynamics have been in place for years. Neither Netanyahu nor Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, believes the other is sincere in wanting a two-state solution. Neither trusts the other to keep promises made. And on the Israeli side, there is no confidence that Abbas, who is in his eighties, will be succeeded by a stable partner for peace. To the contrary, the fear is that the Hamas takeover in Gaza might be replicated in the West Bank, or that the broader regional dynamics — disintegration of Syria and Iraq and Yemen, regime change in Libya and Egypt, the expansion of Iranian influence, the rise of ISIL — might visit themselves upon Israel’s eastern border.

 

Indeed, there is more talk now than I have heard in years about a regional conference that would include the Arab powers in addition to the Israelis and Palestinians. Along with open talk of annexation, there is talk of a kind of confederation that would link Gaza and the West Bank with Jordan and Egypt. All of which brings about a certain déjà vu. After the first Gulf War, there was the regional conference in Madrid in 1991, convened by the United States and co-sponsored by the Soviet Union, then in the last days of its existence. Today, Russia is back in the Middle East as it has not been since the early 1970s, and its arrival makes any peace less likely. Madrid produced the various bilateral talks that led to the Israel-Jordan peace treaty and the Oslo Accords which created the Palestinian Authority. Israel’s agreement to the latter in Gaza and the West Bank, headed by the PLO’s Yassir Arafat, was agreement in principle to a future Palestinian state. The entire existence of the Palestinian Authority is premised on being a state in waiting.

 

Waiting is perhaps the most ancient practice of politics in the land of Israel, from biblical times until today. In that light, the quarter century since Madrid, or even the 50 years since the Six Day War, or the even the nearly 70 years since the independence of the modern state of Israel, might not seem so long. Yet the widely held conviction is that waiting for a new situation, new circumstances, new leaders, will not produce progress toward peace in a two-state solution. There are popular majorities in favour of it on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides, but similar majorities also believe that it is impossible given the failings of the other side.

 

Which leaves the status quo, no longer as the default in light of failed peace talks, but as a deliberate choice for an unhappy but tolerable situation, as opposed to an exhausting striving for an impossible situation. The alternative is to break the existing mould, the consensus of experts who for decades have insisted that the only way forward was toward a solution that successive generations of leaders could not deliver…                   

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

Contents       

    

On Topic Links

 

“The Two-State Solution”: What Does It Really Mean?: Amb. Alan Baker, JCPA, Feb. 14, 2017—The phrase “two-state solution” is repeated daily by international leaders and organizations. It has become the catch-phrase for anyone advocating resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. However, the phrase is repeated without a full awareness of its history or of the practical aspects of its implementation in the realities of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.

Tread Carefully with the New US Administration: Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror, BESA, Feb. 16, 2017—In the run-up to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's February 15 meeting with President Donald Trump, the difference in worldview between the Israeli political Right and Left, especially with regard to the Palestinian issue, became more pointed.

Trying to Create a Palestinian State Would Repeat Mistakes that Have Led to so Much Mideast Bloodshed: Lawrence Solomon, National Post, Feb. 6, 2017— Will Palestine exist in another generation? With the Trump administration gearing up for its meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu next week, it’s a question worth asking. The last thing the Trump administration should want is a repeat of the mistakes the Great Powers made a century ago when they created artificial countries.

Netanyahu and Trump Must Confront Iran, Global Threats: John Bolton, Algemeiner, Feb. 15, 2017—Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met today with President Donald Trump. While the two leaders had a full agenda to cover — including international terrorism, the ongoing carnage in Syria and Israel’s continuing efforts to find peace with its neighbors — Iran’s nuclear-weapons program undoubtedly dominated their discussions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BOTH PA AND HAMAS WEAKER POST-MORSI, AS DANON RISES ON NETANYAHU’S RIGHT

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Danon Emerging as Netanyahu’s Main Foil: Aron Heller, Times of Israel, June 29, 2013—Danny Danon says he has no problem with his party leader, Israel’s prime minister — so long as he doesn’t make peace. The ambitious deputy defense minister isn’t a household name internationally yet, but at home he has emerged as an unlikely opponent to Benjamin Netanyahu and his strongest opposition within the hawkish ruling Likud Party.

 

Political Persuasion, Palestinian Style: Khaled Abu Toameh, Gatestone Institute, July 3, 2013 —Earlier this week, Hussam Khader, a prominent Fatah activist, woke up to the sounds of gunfire outside his home in the Balata refugee camp in the northern West Bank. Khader, a staunch critic of the Palestinian Authority leadership and government corruption, discovered when he walked out that his car and front door had been sprayed with more than 20 bullets. Some of his terrified neighbors reported seeing masked gunmen fleeing the scene.

 

Morsi Has Fallen, but Hamas May Be as Big a Loser: Mitch Ginsburg, Times of Israel, July 4, 2013—Thursday was a bad day for the Muslim Brotherhood. The Islamist movement’s leaders were rounded up or forced to go into hiding, a day after seeing their man in Egypt’s presidential palace pushed from power by the military.

 

On Topic Links

 

Why ‘A Little More Work’ Won’t Do it, Mr. Kerry: David Horovitz, Times of Israel, July 1, 2013

Livni's Lapses Legitimize the Delegitimizers: Gil Troy, Jerusalem Post, July 2, 2013

Is Hamas Losing Power?: Khaled Abu Toameh, Real Clear World, June 27, 2013

DANON EMERGING AS NETANYAHU’S MAIN FOIL

Aron Heller

Times of Israel, June 29, 2013

 

Danny Danon says he has no problem with his party leader, Israel’s prime minister — so long as he doesn’t make peace. The ambitious deputy defense minister isn’t a household name internationally yet, but at home he has emerged as an unlikely opponent to Benjamin Netanyahu and his strongest opposition within the hawkish ruling Likud Party. A soft-spoken lawmaker with a penchant for sharp suits, Danon is suddenly a major stumbling block toward Palestinian statehood as US Secretary of State John Kerry embarks on his latest push to restart long-dormant peace talks.

 

While Netanyahu attempts to convince the world of his peaceful intentions and sincere commitment to establishing a Palestinian state as part of a final peace settlement, Danon has repeatedly defied the prime minister’s stance while generating the type of political power that could hinder Netanyahu’s ability to make concessions.

 

His rising influence has raised Palestinian suspicions that Netanyahu is unwilling —and unable — to make peace. From his plush office on the 15th-floor of the gleaming, state-of-the-art Defense Ministry complex in Tel Aviv, Danon does nothing to dispel the suspicions. “I think the prime minister knows that if he is presenting the ideology of the Likud Party we all support him,” Danon said, noting that Likud has only had four leaders in its 65-year history. “It means that we do respect our leaders. But if the leader decides to go to the other direction then … there will be changes within the Likud.”

 

The Likud has long been the leader of Israel’s nationalist camp, believing the country should control all of the biblical Land of Israel between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. But Netanyahu and other party moderates have gradually come to the conclusion that there is no choice but to divide the land between a Jewish state and a Palestinian one.

 

Danon, 42, is among a group of young hard-liners who rose to prominence during a Likud primary vote last year. These officials, including Deputy Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin, Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein, deputy transportation minister Tzipi Hotovely and coalition whip Yariv Levin, oppose the establishment of a Palestinian state and are strong proponents of building settlements in east Jerusalem and the West Bank. The Palestinians claim both areas, captured by Israel in the 1967 war, for their future state.

 

Danon, a secular father of three, is the most vocal and has become the brightest star and strongest counterforce within the party. He finished fifth in the slate of candidates chosen in last year’s primary, well ahead of many party stalwarts, and this week he was overwhelmingly elected head of the Likud convention with 86 percent of the vote. On Sunday, he is expected to score another landslide victory and become chairman of the Likud Central Committee, a key position that will grant him power to set the agenda of the committee’s 3,500 members and complicate any Netanyahu initiatives.

 

He has also generated an impressive following in America, particularly among Christian evangelicals. His recent English-language book — “Israel: the will to prevail” — outlines his vision of further Israeli control over the West Bank. It won’t find many fans in the Obama administration, but it did receive high praise from two of Danon’s closest American allies: former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee and conservative TV personality Glenn Beck.

 

The front page of Friday’s mass-daily Yediot Ahronot points to Danon’s surge to prominence at home. Under the headline “Between Kerry and Danon,” a cartoon shows Danon and others pinning Netanyahu to the ground. The paper’s humour column has a mock quote from Kerry saying he is optimistic his visit can help promote a “brave and effective negotiation between Netanyahu and Danny Danon.”

 

Danon, until recently a rather anonymous backbencher, has garnered so much influence that Netanyahu’s chief peace negotiator, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, recently called on the prime minister to reject “Danonism” and forge ahead toward peace. The Palestinian chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, had also cited Danon by name as someone who is killing the prospect of peace. Danon remains undeterred and is convinced Netanyahu does not have the political backing to cede parts of the West Bank. “I think that the majority of people, not only inside the Likud, but also within the Israeli public, will not support such a dangerous initiative,” he said of a Palestinian state. “It is not just my personal opinion. I represent a lot of people … that think like me that the idea of land for peace doesn’t work anymore.”

 

Israel returned the Sinai Peninsula following its 1979 peace accord with Egypt and made small border adjustments after signing peace with Jordan in 1994. It unilaterally withdrew from the Gaza Strip and evacuated Jewish settlers there in 2005. But the Hamas militant group subsequently seized control of the area, and continued rocket fire out of Gaza has stoked fears that a pullout from the West Bank, located close to major Israeli cities, would bring similar and devastating results. That withdrawal also spawned a revolt within the Likud against then-leader Ariel Sharon, who eventually bolted to establish the centrist Kadima Party. Netanyahu, who led the rebel forces, eventually took over as leader.

 

His party has since drifted further to the right, with Jewish settlers taking over key positions and introducing legislation that seeks to give Israel’s Jewish nature precedence over its democratic nature. Political commentator Hanan Kristal said Danon is trying to position himself as leader of the group and a potential future alternative to Netanyahu. “Danon is Bibi from 10 years ago,” he said, referring to Netanyahu by his nickname. “He (Danon) is a Likudnik and he is saying what a lot of them believe. He just says it clearly and without mincing words.”

 

Netanyahu has distanced himself from Danon, insisting his comments do not reflect government policy, but he hasn’t fired him either as some have suggested he should. Danon makes no apologies for his maverick ways. “I don’t do things to try and disturb him,” he said. “We are in the same boat. I don’t want everyone rowing their oars in different directions but I do try to preserve what I believe in.”

 

With Kerry pressing hard to get Israeli and Palestinian leaders to resume peace talks that have been on hold since 2008, and Netanyahu’s centrist coalition partners urging a breakthrough, the prime minister may soon be forced to choose between the unity of his government and the unity of his party. Danon says Netanyahu is free to negotiate as he pleases, but if he ultimately reaches the contours of a deal he will have to bring it to a vote among his party and a general election for the people to decide. “It is not the case today. It is premature to even discuss this because I don’t think the prime minister is going in this direction,” he said.

 

Others disagree. There are jitters in the party that Netanyahu is nearing the point of following in Sharon’s path toward concessions. He has recently been sending signals that he is ready for compromises and has accepted the narrative of former opponents that ending the West Bank occupation is essential for Israel. The prime minister’s office refused to comment on Danon’s rise in Likud. Associates, though, have been quoted anonymously in the media as saying Danon is pushing Netanyahu out of the party with an extremist hostile takeover. “Being prime minister of Israel is a very difficult job,” Danon said. “There are those who are pushing the ship in one direction and it is legitimate for people like me to pull him in a different direction. He is the captain, steering the ship. At the end of the day, the prime minister navigates.”

 

Contents

 

POLITICAL PERSUASION, PALESTINIAN STYLE

Khaled Abu Toameh

Gatestone Institute, July 3, 2013

 

Earlier this week, Hussam Khader, a prominent Fatah activist, woke up to the sounds of gunfire outside his home in the Balata refugee camp in the northern West Bank. Khader, a staunch critic of the Palestinian Authority leadership and government corruption, discovered when he walked out that his car and front door had been sprayed with more than 20 bullets. Some of his terrified neighbors reported seeing masked gunmen fleeing the scene.

 

Although no group or individual claimed responsibility for the shooting attack, Khader has held Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas responsible. Khader is convinced that Abbas or someone close to him wanted to send him a "warning message" — namely to keep his mouth shut.

This was the third attack of its kind against prominent Fatah representatives in the past 18 months.

A few weeks ago, unidentified gunmen opened fire at the car of Majed Abu Shamaleh, an elected Fatah legislator, outside his home in Ramallah.

 

A third Fatah official, Shami al-Shami, who is also an elected member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, was less fortunate. Last year, he was shot and wounded near his home in Jenin. All three Fatah representatives have one thing in common; they represent the young guard of their faction and are known to be outspoken critics of the Palestinian Authority leadership.

 

Palestinians see the shooting attacks in the context of a power struggle between the old guard and young guard of Abbas's ruling Fatah faction in the West Bank.  Headed by Abbas, Fatah's old guard has always sought to block the emergence of a young leadership within the faction. So far, the old guard seems to have been successful in its efforts to maintain exclusive control over the Palestinian Authority. This power struggle surfaced after the signing of the Oslo Accords, when Yasser Arafat and the PLO and Fatah leadership moved from Tunisia and other Arab countries to the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Most young guard Fatah members still feel marginalized by Abbas and his veteran loyalists.

 

At the age of 78, Abbas feels no need to pave the way for the rise of new and younger leaders to power. At this stage, he and his inner circle seem determined to maintain their tight grip on the Palestinian Authority, even if that requires dispatching masked gunmen to scare their critics. This is perhaps why there is no "Palestinian Spring" in the West Bank. When a Palestinian sees masked gunmen shooting at the cars, homes and bodies of prominent Fatah figures, he or she will think ten times before uttering a word against Abbas or a senior Palestinian official in Ramallah.

 

Moreover, this is what is driving an increasing number of Palestinians into the open arms of Hamas and other radical groups. Of course none of those who carried out the three attacks against the Fatah representatives was ever caught. And there is good reason to believe they will never be apprehended or brought to trial. The reason? The attackers, according to Palestinians, are most likely members of the Palestinian security forces or Fatah's armed wing, the Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.

 

It is one thing when Abbas uses Fatah gunmen to intimidate his critics, but it is a completely different story when he or any of his aides resort to the Western-trained and -financed security services to carry out shooting attacks. A sign of how the Palestinian Authority leadership uses its security forces to intimidate critics was provided again this week when another Fatah operative, Sufian Abu Zayda, published an op-ed strongly denouncing Abbas's "autocratic" governance. Abu Zayda is also considered a representative of Fatah's young guard.

 

His article enraged Abbas and his top aides in Ramallah. But instead of responding to the charges raised by Abu Zayda's article, Abbas's office issued a statement on behalf of the "Palestinian security establishment" threatening and condemning the Fatah representative. "This statement is an assault on public freedoms," remarked Abu Zayda. "It would have been preferable had the [Palestinian] security establishment tried to uncover the identity of those behind the shooting attacks instead of preoccupying itself with a political essay."

 

Those who fund autocratic regimes apparently do not care about the long-term repercussions, so long as short-term stability can be secured. The consequences in the long-term are disastrous: they embolden the radicals and help raise new generations of Arabs and Muslims on hatred and anti-Western sentiments.

 

Contents

MORSI HAS FALLEN, BUT HAMAS MAY BE AS BIG A LOSER

Mitch Ginsburg

Times of Israel, July 4, 2013

 

Thursday was a bad day for the Muslim Brotherhood. The Islamist movement’s leaders were rounded up or forced to go into hiding, a day after seeing their man in Egypt’s presidential palace pushed from power by the military. In Gaza, Hamas is likely feeling little better watching events unfold across the border. The Palestinian group, an offshoot of the Brotherhood, may come out to be the big loser in Egypt’s upheaval, right behind ousted President Mohammed Morsi and his cronies, analysts said Thursday.

 

“If Hamas was already screwed before” – with Morsi’s unbendable need for US financial aid trumping his and Hamas’s shared Islamist agenda in the short term – “now it is double screwed,” said Dr. Jonathan Fine,  a lecturer at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya who focuses on terror ideology and religious violence.

 

MK Yisrael Hasson (Kadima), a former deputy commander of the Shin Bet, said in a phone interview that from an Israeli perspective the coup seemed to be a positive development, both regionally and within the internal Palestinian power struggle between Hamas and Fatah.

 

The Muslim Brotherhood, which had “reaped most of the fruits of the Arab Spring,” he said, “have taken a very serious blow.” Likening the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt to the flagship of an armada, he said it was taking water but “has not been sunk.”

 

Hamas, which has designs on a West Bank takeover, had been dealt a blow by the ouster of Morsi and the rise of, at least for now, a more secular leadership in Cairo, Hasson said. The group had seen itself as the vanguard of the Arab Spring — with its own Islamist coup in Gaza in 2007 serving as an example of a triumph over a corrupt and somewhat secular regime. The fall of Morsi may now signal the fragility of Islamist regimes born out of the same spring.

 

As far as Israeli security is concerned, the Kadima MK said it was impossible to know how matters would develop, positing that Hamas, if neglected, could make itself felt by heating up the border. It could also reasonably say that, with a preoccupied Egypt, “now is not the time to let the Jews run wild.” Israel’s security chiefs, he said, will “have to keep their eyes very open, look at things very suspiciously, and they’ll have to not express themselves publicly at all.”

 

What does seem certain, however, is that Hamas has been backed into a very tight spot. “This is a bad blow for the international Muslim Brotherhood, but for its Palestinian affiliate, Hamas, it is especially bad,” said Col. (res) Shaul Shay, a lecturer at IDC and a former military intelligence officer. “They gambled and broke away from Syria, banking on the natural alliance between them and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and that hasn’t worked out as planned.”

 

Hamas leadership left Damascus in January 2012, in the midst of the civil war, and has since been at odds with Tehran and Bashar Assad’s regime, severing most of its ties to the so-called axis of resistance. Egypt, though not riven by the sort of sectarian hatred that has been ripping Syria apart, is sure to be unstable in the coming years and may have to weather a period of internal violence. Dr. Mordechai Kedar of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies said that in light of such violence, Egypt may well “fasten the grip on the terror issue,” doing its utmost to seal the underground border between Gaza and Egypt so as to stop the flow of arms in a westerly direction. “Hamas now becomes suspect of collaboration with Morsi,” he said.

 

Shay, who said that Hamas would likely be extremely careful in its dealings with Egypt – a country on which it depends, no matter the ruler – also said that the Brotherhood lacks an organized militia and might, therefore, be willing to receive arms from Gaza. “The tunnels accommodate two-way traffic,” he noted.

 

With Egypt engaged in its own internal strife on the mainland, the Sinai Peninsula, already unruly and rife with global jihad terror operatives, could develop into an even greater problem, or it could be put down even more forcefully by the new regime in Egypt.

 

“The situation is so so so unique that almost anything could be correct,” said Hasson, who predicted that the Brotherhood would have to think long and hard “how to stay in the game.”

Contents

 

Why ‘A Little More Work’ Won’t Do it, Mr. Kerry: David Horovitz, Times of Israel, July 1, 2013—Insanity — according to a definition variously attributed to Albert Einstein, Mark Twain, Confucius, and most credibly to a 30-year-old book called “Narcotics Anonymous” — is “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

 

Livni's Lapses Legitimize the Delegitimizers: Gil Troy, Jerusalem Post, July 2, 2013—Israel’s Justice Minister and chief Palestinian negotiator, Tzipi Livni, just won what I am going to call the “Legitimizing the Delegitimizers Award” with a foolish, self-destructive speech in Eilat on Monday.  Livni legitimized Israel’s delegitimizers by echoing their unreasonable prejudices against the Jewish state to try encouraging Israeli peacemaking

 

Is Hamas Losing Power?: Khaled Abu Toameh, Real Clear World, June 27, 2013—Recent developments on a number of fronts in the Middle East suggest that Hamas is beginning to lose both power and popularity among Arabs and Muslims. Of course this is good new for moderate Arabs and Muslims, as well as for stability in the region. 

 

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Ber Lazarus, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish ResearchL'institut Canadien de recherches sur le Judaïsme, www.isranet.org

Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284 ; ber@isranet.org

THE “PEACE PROCESS”, “PALESTINE IS JORDAN” & DISCOVERY OF A JEWISH TEMPLE IN ANCIENT EGYPT

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Ber Lazarus, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail:  ber@isranet.org

 

 

 Download a pdf version of today's Daily Briefing.

 

It’s Time for Truth About the Two-State Solution: Evelyn Gordon, Jerusalem Post, June 24, 2013—If it weren’t for one flaw, I’d agree completely with Daniel Gordis' column in this paper last Friday. He’s right that the endless debate over the peace process has sucked all the air out of the international Jewish conversation “for far too long,” leaving no room for crucial topics like “why the Jews need a state and the values on which it ought to be based.”

 

The Return of the Jordan Option: Geoffrey Aronson, Al-Monitor, May 8, 2013—A recent visitor to Amman reports some senior Jordanians declaring openly that “there never was a place called Palestine. There is no such thing as Palestine, only Jordan.” Such sentiments, while still a minority view, mark a sea change in the long-standing Jordanian deference to the PLO on developments west of the Jordan River.

 

Was There a Jewish Temple in Ancient Egypt?: Stephen Gabriel Rosenberg, Jerusalem Post, July 1, 2013—Just a hundred years ago, they were searching for it desperately. German, French and Italian archaeological expeditions were mounted to comb the lower stretches of Elephantine Island in the Nile River, in southern Egypt, but without success. They had been activated by the publication in 1911, two years earlier, of papyrus documents from the area that contained personal stories of members of a Jewish military colony in the area from the 5th century BCE. According to the document, there had been a temple in their midst of the colony.

 

On Topic Links

 

It’s Time to Change the Israel ConversationDaniel Gordis, Jerusalem Post, June 20, 2013

'Even If You Give Up All the Land,  It Won't Solve the Problems in the Mideast': Dror Eydar, Israel Hayom, June 28, 2013

Is Netanyahu Planning a Unilateral Move?: David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom, June 28, 2013

John Kerry’s Bid for Mideast Peace Is Doomed: Jeffrey Goldberg, Bloomberg, July 1, 2013

Ancient Mosaic Depicting Samson Uncovered in a Galilee Synagogue: Rachel Avraham, Jewish Press, July 4th, 2013

 

IT’S TIME FOR TRUTH ABOUT THE TWO-STATE SOLUTION

Evelyn Gordon

Jerusalem Post, June 24, 2013

 

If it weren’t for one flaw, I’d agree completely with Daniel Gordis' column in this paper last Friday. He’s right that the endless debate over the peace process has sucked all the air out of the international Jewish conversation “for far too long,” leaving no room for crucial topics like “why the Jews need a state and the values on which it ought to be based.” He’s right that we can’t afford to keep ignoring these issues. And he’s right that the impossibility of an Israeli-Palestinian deal in the foreseeable future creates space to finally start addressing them. Indeed, that’s precisely what happened in the last Israeli election, which, for the first time in decades, revolved around domestic issues – i.e., what kind of state Israel should be – rather than the peace process.

 

Yet these important arguments are undercut by the flaw hidden in one seemingly innocuous statement: “Reasonable minds can differ as to whether saying publicly that the two-state solution is dead is healthy for Israel’s standing in the international community.”

 

Actually, where Gordis stands on that question seems pretty clear: Just last July, he signed an open letter urging Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu not to adopt the Levy Report, lest it “place the two-state solution and the prestige of Israel as a democratic member of the international community, in peril”; he then wrote an op-ed in Haaretz explaining his objections in more detail. Yet all the Levy Report said is what every Israeli government has said for decades: that the West Bank isn’t “occupied Palestinian territory,” but disputed territory to which Israel has a valid claim – which in no way negates Israel’s ability or willingness to cede part or all of it for peace. If Gordis views even that as too dangerous to say publicly lest it paint Israel as a peace rejectionist, I can’t imagine him not objecting to a blunt public statement that “the two-state solution is dead."

 

And therein lies the flaw. For if prominent Israelis, and especially Israeli leaders, aren’t willing to say this publicly and repeatedly, the “peace process” will keep right on monopolizing the conversation, and we’ll never have time and space for those other topics that Gordis rightly considers vital.

 

First, this is because nobody can be more Catholic than the pope: Neither American Jews nor world leaders can declare the two-state solution dead as long as Israeli leaders insist ad nauseam that it’s achievable. Moreover, the benefits of peace as envisioned by the optimists are enormous: no more terror, an economic boom, reduced defense spending that frees up funds for other purposes, unassailable international legitimacy instead of creeping delegitimization. Most Israelis by now consider this “peace dividend” a mirage: 83% think even withdrawing to the 1967 lines and dividing Jerusalem wouldn’t end the conflict, meaning that terror, high defense spending, the economic hindrance of being in a “war zone” and delegitimization of Israel’s efforts to defend itself would all continue. But people who still believe a deal is possible generally also believe it really would produce those benefits.

 

Thus as long as Israeli leaders encourage the fallacy that an agreement is possible, overseas Jews will naturally think this should take precedence over the issues Gordis rightly wants to discuss. For unless you think Israel would forfeit its heart by ceding its historic heartland – which two-state enthusiasts don’t – then whatever kind of state you want Israel to be, the above-mentioned benefits would make it easier to achieve.

 

The biggest problem, however, is that Israeli leaders don’t just say peace is possible; whether out of genuine belief or merely to prove their peacemaking bona fides, they also repeatedly declare it essential for Israel’s very survival: “If the day comes when the two-state solution collapses … the State of Israel is finished” (former prime minister Ehud Olmert); “it's impossible to survive in the long run without a political settlement” (Netanyahu); without a Palestinian state, “Israel will not be the Jewish nation-state” (Justice Minister Tzipi Livni).

 

When Israel’s own leaders – to whom Israelis routinely demand that Diaspora Jews defer on vital security issues – deem a two-state solution the most vital security issue of all, necessary for Israel’s very survival, how can overseas Jews be expected to care about anything else? If Israel truly will expire without a two-state solution, then there’s no point in discussing either why we need it or what kind of state it should be; all such questions are irrelevant until we first ensure its survival by implementing such a solution.

 

Thus if the conversation is ever to change, Israelis must first explain to the world why the two-state solution is indeed dead, and why Israel can nevertheless survive and even thrive without it, just as it has for the past 65 years. In fact, explaining this is absolutely vital – because Israel can’t survive and thrive without peace unless we invest in building a state capable of doing so, and that entails a lot of very hard work. We have to reform our economy and education system, promote our case overseas, foster social solidarity, better integrate our minorities, and much, much more. Yet none of this can happen if Israel continues wasting vast amounts of political time and energy on the peace process – which it must keep doing as long as world leaders and overseas Jewry keep insisting on it. And they will keep insisting until Israeli leaders persuade them of what most Israelis already know: that it’s a lost cause.

 

It may be the world isn’t yet ready to hear this from the very top (even assuming Netanyahu were capable of saying it, which I doubt). But it never will be ready unless other Israelis start laying the groundwork. Thus even if more diplomatic phrasing might be preferable, second-tier politicians like Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett and Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon are performing an essential service by stating this truth. The more Israelis are willing to join them in saying this publicly, the more likely overseas Jews are to finally start believing it. And only then will we be able to have the conversation Gordis (and I) so badly want to have.

 

Contents

 

 

THE RETURN OF THE JORDAN OPTION

Geoffrey Aronson

Al-Monitor, May 8, 2013

A recent visitor to Amman reports some senior Jordanians declaring openly that “there never was a place called Palestine. There is no such thing as Palestine, only Jordan.” Such sentiments, while still a minority view, mark a sea change in the long-standing Jordanian deference to the PLO on developments west of the Jordan River. According to one Palestinian, such views are being encouraged by some voices in Fatah, who fear Hamas' baton more than Amman's reluctant embrace, and who no doubt believe, as many veterans in Fatah do, that all it will take to turn Jordan into Palestine is a Palestinian decision to do so.

 “Jordan is Palestine” is the mirror image of  “Palestine is Jordan." Jordanians identified with the latter are not contemplating a confederal agreement between respective Jordanian and and Palestinian states, but rather the restoration of Jordan's uncontested place in Jerusalem and the West Bank on the eve of the June 1967 war. The ruler of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is not to be envied. History and geography have played a cruel trick on the leader of this unlikely country. He is squeezed between more powerful and often warring parties, presiding over a population of subjects thrown together by war and circumstance.

To its credit, Jordan has succeeded more often than it has failed to construct a popular and workable, if fragile sense of national identity shared by disparate Palestinian and Transjordanian communities during the last nine decades. However, the self-immolation of Syria, Fatah’s failure to end Israel's occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the uncertain promise of the Arab Spring are posing new and unprecedented challenges for King Abdullah II, whose head lies ever uneasy on the royal throne.  

The feasting on the corpse that was once Syria poses the most immediate challenge to Jordan, and it was at the heart of recent discussions during the King's recent visit to Washington in the last week of April. But Jordan's cascading problem managing the fallout from Syria complements the more essential challenge that has always been uppermost in the mind of Jordan's political elite as well as its growing Islamic opposition. This challenge, of course, relates to the Palestinian dimension of Jordan's national identity, and the King's ability to manage this without his Hashemite or Transjordanian identity suffering as a consequence.

It is against Jordan's basic nature to make precipitous moves in any direction, yet a dynamic trend favouring a “New Look” in Jordan's Palestine policy — one that is viewed sympathetically in both Jerusalem and Washington — is hard to ignore. For many years now Jordan has been confronting a most unwelcome strategic environment to its west, across the Jordan River. Fatah has failed to end Israel's occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the growing power of Hamas as a political factor has proceeded in tandem.

 

Fatah is no friend of Jordan, where memories of Black September remain etched in the consciousness of the Jordanian elite. But Jordan long ago was forced by its own failures and by circumstances beyond its control to make its peace with the PLO, not only as the recognized representative of the Palestinian people — at least those residing east of the Jordan River —- but also as a strategic buffer against Israeli, American and Islamic/Arab claims against Amman. The PLO, notably after King Hussein's 1988 disengagement from the West Bank, became Jordan’s insurance policy against the imposition of a solution at Jordan's expense to Palestine's problems in West Bank and Gaza Strip.

 

To Jordan's dismay, it is being forced to realize that Fatah and the PLO it embodies cannot perform this task. This conclusion has been debated from time to time in recent years. The barometer of these discussions is Amman's on-again, off-again dance with Khaled Meshaal and Hamas, most notably the 2009 thaw in relations engineered by Gen. Mohammad Dhahabi, who was at the time head of Jordan's General Intelligence Department. If Fatah cannot be a Palestinian shield protecting Jordanian interests in a quiescent West Bank, it is argued, then perhaps Hamas should be given a go.

The other option, and the one today at the center of Jordan's agenda, suggests a fundamental rethinking of Jordan's exit from the West Bank that began with King Hussein's failure in 1972 to reach an agreement on Israeli withdrawal with Moshe Dayan and that gained momentum with the Arab League decision to recognize the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people in 1974.  Like Jordan's unenthusiastic turn in Hamas' direction, this option reflects Jordan's despair at Fatah's failure and is a hedge against Fatah’s capitulation to Israel in a deal that would endanger Jordan's interest in preventing an influx of Palestinians eastward across the Jordan River.

One example of this trend is the “historic,” if precipitous, agreement between King Abdullah and PLO head Mahmoud Abbas in March confirming the Jordanian king’s stewardship of the holy places in Jerusalem. "In this historic agreement, Abbas reiterated that the king is the custodian of holy sites in Jerusalem and that he has the right to exert all legal efforts to preserve them, especially Al-Aqsa mosque," the palace said in a statement. Abbas said that the agreement confirmed "Jordan's role since the era of the late King Hussein" and that it consolidated agreements established decades ago.

Abbas' signature marks the first formal Palestinian recognition of Jordan's central role in Jerusalem and it complements the understanding detailed in Jordan’s treaty with Israel in 1994. The treaty notes that “Israel respects the present special role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in Muslim Holy shrines in Jerusalem. When negotiations on the permanent status will take place, Israel will give high priority to the Jordanian historic role in these shrines.”

Abbas' interest in formalizing Jordan’s role is a function of Palestinian weakness and stands in ironic contrast to the nominal, and apparently symbolic boost for sovereignty won at the UN last November. The understanding on Jerusalem reflects the PLO's interest in Amman as a diplomatic safe harbour, protecting against both Hamas and Israel, and Amman's readiness to reaffirm its interest in Jerusalem at the PLO's (and Hamas') expense.

These interests are not inconsistent with the evolving diplomatic strategy being pursued by US Secretary of State John Kerry. For more than a year, Amman has been a key way station of Washington's diplomacy, much to the dismay of some in Egypt who preside over long-stalled reconciliation efforts. But unlike President Mohammad Morsi, King Abdullah is interested in being identified with any American effort. Even if opposed to the ideas Kerry is now circulating, Jordan has rarely viewed itself as in a position to reject US efforts.

“Palestine is Jordan” has long been the rallying cry of Israel's right wing. It is now finding an uncertain echo in Jordan.

Contents

 

 

WAS THERE A JEWISH TEMPLE IN ANCIENT EGYPT?

Stephen Gabriel Rosenberg

Jerusalem Post, July 1, 2013

 

Just a hundred years ago, they were searching for it desperately. German, French and Italian archaeological expeditions were mounted to comb the lower stretches of Elephantine Island in the Nile River, in southern Egypt, but without success. They had been activated by the publication in 1911, two years earlier, of papyrus documents from the area that contained personal stories of members of a Jewish military colony in the area from the 5th century BCE. According to the document, there had been a temple in their midst of the colony. But where, exactly? Was it real or a myth ? Where was the colony, exactly, and why was it there at all? With the advent of World War I in 1914, the search was called off. It resumed after 1918, but again without success.

 

The papyrus scrolls were specific. The Jewish colonists lived in peace with their Egyptian neighbors, and they kept the Jewish laws. In fact, the Persian Emperor Darius II had commanded them to keep the Passover feast of unleavened bread in 418 BCE and not to drink beer for seven days after Nissan 14, according to one of the papyri. The area at the time was under Persian control; it had been captured by Cambyses in 525 BCE, and the Jewish colony was under Persian jurisdiction.

 

They occupied a whole row of mud-brick houses, some of them married Egyptian wives, some did not, and altogether they lived their lives in peace and quiet. Why were they there? They were a military unit serving there to guard Egypt’s southern border. They were on Elephantine Island, opposite Aswan on the mainland, and it was here, at the first cataract of the Nile, that Egypt had always had to defend itself against infiltrators from the south, where the poorer nations were desperate to enter and enjoy the riches of their wealthy neighbors.

 

But why were the Hebrews doing this job? The Persians were also keen to guard the border and they trusted the Jews, who had come to Egypt as refugees and were not allowed to work or to own land as citizens, but could serve as mercenaries, and that is what they did. There was a whole colony of them, they built their houses and it seems set them around a small temple, at least according to the papyri.

 

There was no record of this Jewish colony in the history books, nothing in the works of Jewish historian Josephus Flavius, and nothing in the Talmud or any official Jewish records, nothing at all except in the papyri that had been found in 1893. So the world was desperate to see if they were correct. Had there really been a Jewish temple in Egypt in the 5th century BCE? IN 1893 the American adventurer C.E. Wilbour acquired a hoard of documents from the locals on Elephantine Island. He could not read the Aramaic texts, so he stored them in a sealed metal trunk, which passed to his daughter on his death in 1896. She eventually passed them on to the Brooklyn Art Museum in 1947. However, other papyri on the subject had come into the hands of British and German scholars in 1901 and 1903, and were quickly translated and published by the Germans in 1911.

 

Among other details, the documents described a shrine standing in an open courtyard with an altar on which animal sacrifices were offered. It had stood before the conquest of Egypt (in 525 BCE.) by the Persians and Cambyses had spared it, although destroying other temples. It remained standing until about 400 BCE, when the Persians were driven out by the Egyptians. (It had been destroyed at one time by the priests of Khnum, who had an adjoining temple, but it was rebuilt again a few years later, on the orders of the Persian governor. The priests of Khnum were powerful because Khnum was the ramheaded god who was presumed to govern the rise and fall of the Nile from this spot, at the first cataract).

 

This was the story and the European expeditions were desperate to find the temple, but after WWI they lost interest and it was not till 1967 that another expedition was mounted. This was not to search for the temple, but to record all the pagan temples that had been built at this important site in southern Egypt. They recorded many Egyptian temples of various periods but, after many years, also found what they called “the Aramaic village.” This was a series of mud-brick houses, in ruins, that were lined up along two sides of a central site with a fine plaster surface, and a small building paved in fine tiles.

 

Luckily, Hebrew University professor Bezalel Porten had published his plan of the Jewish colony houses, based on the papyrus documents, and the German team recognized that what they had found were the Jewish houses around the temple site, all as Porten had predicted from the documents.

 

The temple itself was small, in fact only half of it remained, but it had a fine tile floor in two layers, indicating that the first had been destroyed and then replaced. It stood in a courtyard of fine plasterwork, while the houses only had crude mud floors. So this was the temple, and the papyri were true.

 

The final discovery was only made in 1997, but it indicated a small Jewish temple in southern Egypt, built to serve a Jewish colony that acted as garrison to defend the southern approach to the rich country of Egypt. The Jews had acted as mercenaries to the Persian colonizers, so when the latter were ousted by the Egyptians in about 400 BCE, the Jews were in danger, and might even have been considered traitors. So what happened to them? There is no record in the documents. Hopefully they were not murdered, but more probably they assimilated and lived on with their Egyptian counterparts.

 

There is however the other possibility: that they escaped. If they escaped, they could not have gone north, back to their homeland – that would have meant a 1,000-kilometer trek through enemy territory. Rather, they most probably would have gone south and may even have got as far as Ethiopia. Perhaps they settled there and showed themselves to be good Jews, keeping Passover and other mitzvot, and thus converting some of their Ethiopian neighbors to the true religion. Who knows?

 

The author is a Senior Fellow at the W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem.

Contents

It’s Time to Change the Israel Conversation: Daniel Gordis, Jerusalem Post, June 20, 2013—Naftali Bennett, not long ago the election season’s “candidate to watch” and today the economy and trade minister, declared the two-state solution at a “dead end” this week, and said, memorably, that “never in Jewish history have so many people talked so much and expended so much energy on something so futile.”

'Even If You Give Up All the Land,  It Won't Solve the Problems in the Mideast': Dror Eydar, Israel Hayom, June 28, 2013 —An interview with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, author of "Infidel". "From the perspective of the Arab leaders, reaching a two-state solution is to betray God. If you want peace and not merely a process, you must make peace with the people. The negotiators themselves are of no importance."

 

Is Netanyahu Planning a Unilateral Move?: David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom, June 28, 2013—Israel's negotiating position would be weakened, not strengthened, by such unilateral moves; and this plan would lead us away from peace, not closer to peace. Unilateral Israeli action to redraw the map of settlement in Judea and Samaria will only encourage Palestinian maximalism.

 

John Kerry’s Bid for Mideast Peace Is Doomed: Jeffrey Goldberg, Bloomberg, July 1, 2013—It’s a testament to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s grit, determination and self-assurance that he refuses to give up in his quest to bring Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table. But I wish that he would, during the long slog toward renewed talks, ask himself one question: Why didn’t his predecessor, Hillary Clinton, apply herself to the problem in the same manner?

 

Ancient Mosaic Depicting Samson Uncovered in a Galilee Synagogue: Rachel Avraham, Jewish Press, July 4th, 2013—Excavations in a late Roman era synagogue at Huqoq in Israel’s eastern lower Galilee have uncovered a new mosaic depicting the biblical hero and judge, Samson. Jodi Magness of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who has been conducting archaeological excavations at Huqoq since 2011, notes that while scenes from the Bible are not uncommon in ancient synagogues, mosaics featuring Samson are. 

Top of Page

 

 

Visit CIJR’s Bi-Weekly Webzine: Israzine.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing is available by e-mail.
Please urge colleagues, friends, and family to visit our website for more information on our ISRANET series.
To join our distribution list, or to unsubscribe, visit us at http://www.isranet.org/.

The ISRANET Daily Briefing is a service of CIJR. We hope that you find it useful and that you will support it and our pro-Israel educational work by forwarding a minimum $90.00 tax-deductible contribution [please send a cheque or VISA/MasterCard information to CIJR (see cover page for address)]. All donations include a membership-subscription to our respected quarterly ISRAFAX print magazine, which will be mailed to your home.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing attempts to convey a wide variety of opinions on Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world for its readers’ educational and research purposes. Reprinted articles and documents express the opinions of their authors, and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.

 

 

Ber Lazarus, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish ResearchL'institut Canadien de recherches sur le Judaïsme, www.isranet.org

Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284 ; ber@isranet.org