Tag: UDI


On Tuesday, November 8, 2011 at 5:00pm a candle lighting ceremony will take place at Israeli President Shimon Peres’ residence in Jerusalem, ushering in the 16th Yitzhak Rabin Memorial Day. An official memorial service for Lea and Yitzhak Rabin, z”l, will be held Wednesday, November 9, 2011 at 3:00pm at Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem.


Isi Leibler

Jerusalem Post, November 7, 2011

As the nation commemorates the 16th anniversary of the assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, I can vividly recollect—as though it was yesterday—the shock and anguish that we all experienced when we first heard the devastating news.

I was privileged to develop a warm rapport with Rabin who, on my frequent visits to Jerusalem before I made aliya, nearly always found quality time to talk to me. I had a great liking for him. He was a straightforward man whose frankness and impatience with small talk was refreshing.

Our discussions in the later stages were largely centered on the pros and cons of the Oslo Accords. Like many others, I felt that Rabin had been sandbagged by Shimon Peres, Yossi Beilin and their group into endorsing a policy that ran completely counter to his instincts and long-standing outlook.

As the process developed and he faced increasingly fierce criticism, he became impatient, inflexible and aggressive. I recall a particularly tense disagreement between us after he referred—in the media—to settlers, whom in the past he had frequently referred to as the salt of the earth.…

But contrary to what was frequently alleged, in all my private discussions with him he was never euphoric about Oslo, repeatedly describing it as a “gamble” which he felt obliged to put to the test. “If it fails,” he said, “we will take everything back,” although in retrospect, I doubt whether he really believed that was possible.

To achieve the necessary Knesset majority to endorse the Oslo Accords, Rabin cynically indulged in political corruption, bribing unsavory opposition members to defect by offering to make them government ministers. But notwithstanding this and contrary to many of his harshest critics, I remain convinced that Rabin always rationalized his actions as being in the national interest. To me, there is absolutely no question that he was a genuine Israeli patriot.

Despite his best intentions, however, the gamble failed. As a consequence of that disastrous initiative much Israeli blood was, and continues to be, shed.…

Today, as we continue to commemorate Rabin’s memory and the appalling crime of his assassination, we should feel outraged at the ruthless and cynical distortions employed by the far Left and others who invoke his memory to justify their initiatives and seek to portray him, falsely, as having shared their delusional political views.

The truth is that Rabin did not even bother to conceal his utter contempt for many of those who now have the gall to invoke his name. In fact, Rabin adamantly refused to make the concessions to the Palestinians and the Americans that were extended by our current “right wing” prime minister.

In his last Knesset speech on October 5, 1995, several weeks prior to his assassination, Rabin was adamant that “we will not return to the June 1967 lines.” Furthermore, in relation to the settlements, he said: “We committed ourselves before the Knesset not to uproot a single settlement in the framework of the interim government and not to hinder building for natural growth.” He repeatedly vowed that he would never agree to divide Jerusalem.

Yet the left and much of the media now invoke Rabin as the leader who promoted “peace,” while condemning current Prime Minister Netanyahu, who ironically was willing to compromise on these issues.

That applies also to Rabin’s resistance to American pressure. Unlike Netanyahu, Rabin did not indulge in diplomatic niceties; when pressured he responded aggressively, reminding the Americans that Israel was a sovereign state and would not be dictated to by outside parties, even its ally the United States.

When we commemorate our assassinated prime minister, we should not concentrate on his failure in relation to Oslo. Instead, we should relate to him as one of the last of the great Labor Zionist leaders, who served his country with distinction both as a military commander and a dedicated leader.… His Yahrzeit should be commemorated in a manner designed to promote unity and harmony rather than being misrepresented to encourage division and rancor. That is how most Israelis would wish to honor the memory of Yitzhak Rabin.

Evelyn Gordon

Contentions, November 8, 2011

Tonight, as Israel’s memorial day for slain Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin begins, is a good time to debunk a myth that has recently gained great currency: that Israel’s population has become increasingly right-wing, constituting a major obstacle to peace. This myth was most famously propounded by former [US] President Bill Clinton, but it also crops up frequently in academic discourse. A study published by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies in September, for instance, declared that “Today Israel’s Jewish population is more nationalistic, religiously conservative, and hawkish on foreign policy and security affairs than that of even a generation ago, and it would be unrecognizable to Israel’s founders.”

Yet Rabin himself, the idol of those who propagate this myth, provides the best possible refutation of it. All you have to do is read his final speech to the Knesset, given one month before his death, to realize how far to the left Israel has traveled since then.

For instance, Rabin envisioned a final-status solution in which Israel lived alongside a Palestinian “entity which is less than a state.” Today, even the “right-wing” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu openly advocates a Palestinian state.

Rabin envisioned “united Jerusalem, which will include both Ma’ale Adumim and Givat Ze’ev [two nearby settlements],” as “the capital of Israel, under Israeli sovereignty.” Since then, two Israeli prime ministers have offered to give the Palestinians East Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount and most of the Old City.

Rabin declared that Israel’s “security border…will be located in the Jordan Valley, in the broadest meaning of that term.” Since then, two Israeli premiers have offered to give the Palestinians almost all the West Bank, including the Jordan Valley; even the “right-wing” Netanyahu reportedly agreed to negotiate borders based on the 1967 lines.

Rabin listed Gaza’s Gush Katif as one of the settlement blocs Israel would retain. Since then, Israel has withdrawn from every inch of Gaza.

Rabin pledged “not to uproot a single settlement in the framework of the interim agreement, and not to hinder building for natural growth.” Since then, Israel has uprooted 25 settlements (21 in Gaza and four in the West Bank) without a final-status agreement, while the “right-wing” Netanyahu instituted Israel’s first-ever moratorium on settlement construction (for 10 months), including “building for natural growth.”

Israeli public opinion has also moved dramatically leftward. Two decades ago, for instance, a Palestinian state was anathema to most Israelis; the idea was entertained only on the far-left fringe. Today, polls consistently show overwhelming support for a Palestinian state on almost all the West Bank and Gaza.

On only one issue have Israelis actually moved rightward: Far fewer now believe the “peace process” will ever produce peace. In April 1996, for instance, 47 percent expected Israeli-Palestinian peace to be achieved “in the coming years,” while 32 percent did not. In October 2011, only 32 percent foresaw peace being achieved anytime soon, while 66 percent did not. The latter results have been roughly consistent for years now.

That, however, has nothing to do with Israelis becoming more “nationalistic” or “religiously conservative” and everything to do with hard experience: Since 1993, Israel has evacuated Lebanon, Gaza and large chunks of the West Bank only to see all three become bases for murderous anti-Israel terror, while its Palestinian “peace partner” has steadfastly refused to recognize a Jewish state or cease demanding to destroy it through an influx of millions of Palestinian “refugees.”

If the world truly wants to see an Israeli-Palestinian peace, it must start addressing these very real problems. Blaming the impasse instead on a nonexistent Israeli turn rightward merely ensures that peace will remain an unachievable dream.

Hillel Neuer

National Post, November 8, 2011

John Humphrey, the McGill University law professor who drafted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, must be rolling in his grave. By a gross lapse in judgment, the McGill human rights centre that Humphrey inspired is about to lend its platform to Richard Falk, a lifelong apologist for terrorists and a major 9/11 conspiracy theorist.

Before inviting Falk to speak next week, on the subject of U.S. drone killings, did the university do its homework?

At first glance, the former Princeton professor of international law, prolific author and UN expert appears highly qualified.… Yet a brief review of Falk’s record shows him to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Fluent in the language of human rights, Falk’s twisted judgment, morality and sense of reality promote the very opposite. Examples abound.

First, Falk was an energetic campaigner for Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini, both before and after the 1979 revolution. Days after the cleric arrived in Tehran to seize power, Falk reassured the world, in a New York Times op-ed titled “Trusting Khomeini,” that “the depiction of him as fanatical, reactionary and the bearer of crude prejudices seems certainly and happily false.” Khomeini’s entourage, wrote Falk, had “a notable record of concern for human rights.” Indeed, the ayatollah’s “new model of popular revolution” offered the world “a desperately-needed model of humane governance for a third-world country.…”

In world politics, folly carries a price, and legions of Iranians—brutalized, tortured and raped by the Islamic Republic—continue to pay it.

Second, Falk is one of the figures responsible for turning the UN Human Rights Council…into a travesty. In 2008, shortly after Falk accused Israel of planning a “Palestinian Holocaust,” a bloc of dictatorships, including Bashar al-Assad’s Syria and Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya, installed him as the council’s expert on Palestine. The mission they gave him is so biased in its formulation, that Falk tries to obscure it. He calls himself the Special Rapporteur on “the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories,” implying a regional jurisdiction that objectively treats all actions and parties. Yet his actual mandate is to investigate “Israel’s violations.” Not Hamas, not Fatah, not Islamic Jihad—just Israel.…

Third, Falk uses his UN post to legitimize Hamas, systematically ignoring its open incitement to genocidal murder of Jews and the deliberate targeting of civilians. Falk takes pains to portray Hamas as “the elected government” of Gaza—never mind that that the group seized power by throwing opponents off rooftops and shooting them in hospital beds.… Falk’s support for the terrorist group is so extreme that even the Palestinian Authority—as revealed in a Wikleaks cable, and which Falk himself admits—has sought to remove him, on grounds that he is a “partisan of Hamas.”

Fourth, in July Falk published a cartoon showing a dog, with “USA” written on its body and wearing a skullcap marked with a Star of David, urinating on a depiction of justice while it devours a bloody skeleton. Falk was globally censured. United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay found the posting “anti-Semitic” and “objectionable.…”

Fifth, Falk is one of the world’s most high-profile 9/11 conspiracy theorists, lending his name to those who accuse the U.S. government of orchestrating the destruction of the Twin Towers as a pretext to launch wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In particular, Falk actively promotes the writings of David Ray Griffin, a disciple and close friend, who has produced 12 books describing the World Trade Center attack as “an inside job.…” Even after his UN appointment, Falk penned a 2008 article entitled, “9/11: More Than Meets The Eye,” arguing that the crimes were committed by “the established elites of the American governmental structure.”

Falk has repeatedly appeared on the “TruthJihad.com” show of Kevin Barrett, a 9/11 conspiracy theorist and Holocaust skeptic who rails against the “ethnic Jews” who (he says) run Washington and the media. Falk endorsed Barrett’s “good work,” while also praising Iranian tyrant Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

In January, after Falk blogged more of the same, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon took the floor of the Human Rights Council to issue an unprecedented condemnation of a UN official. Falk’s remarks, said Mr. Ban, were “preposterous” and “an affront to the memory of the more than 3,000 people who died in that tragic terrorist attack.”

How can McGill now treat Falk as an authority on the war on terror? What message does this send?

U.S. ambassador Susan Rice, a strong defender of the UN, called Falk’s 9/11 remarks “despicable,” saying his “distasteful sideshow” harms the cause of human rights. She’s right. And someone who consistently contorts reality to fit a preconceived political agenda—one that always ends up excusing the preachers of hate and perpetrators of terror—has no place in an institution of learning premised on the principles of rational and empirical inquiry.

(Hillel Neuer graduated from the McGill Faculty of Law in 1997
and is now the executive director of
UN Watch.)


New York Sun, November 4, 2011

Many of us will be watching the Supreme Court of the United States Monday, [November 7, 2011] when the justices are scheduled to hear one of those only-in-America cases, where a child is challenging one of the most powerful of the government’s secretaries. The youngster in the case is a nine-year-old American boy, Menachem Binyamin Zivotofsky. The secretary he is suing is Hillary Clinton. He is asking the court to order her to carry out a law requiring the state department accede to his request that the papers memorializing his birth state that, when he was born at Shaare Zedeck hospital in the western part Jerusalem, the country he was born in was Israel.

Mrs. Clinton actually voted for the law before she refused to carry it out. That was back in 2002, when she was a member of the Senate, which passed the law on a unanimous vote. Now she is claiming that it would infringe on the powers of the president to carry out the foreign policy of the United States. Mrs. Clinton is not alone. President George W. Bush issued a signing statement when he affixed his signature to the law, making the same dissent.…

The notion that the case has any impact on foreign policy is itself in dispute, however. Master Zivitofsky’s lawyer, Nathan Lewin, won a hearing at the Supreme Court precisely by arguing that all the handwringing by Mrs. Clinton over the impact of the case is, in effect, for naught and that the effect on foreign policy of the section of the law that gives the youngster the right to a birth certificate stating the country he was born in is “trivial.”

It may be, though, that the justices will want to delve more thoroughly into the question of which branch has the upper hand constitutionally in respect of foreign policy. If that happens, get set for a marvelous argument. The lawyers for Mrs. Clinton have tried to suggest that the historical record favors the upper hand in foreign affairs going to the executive. But Mr. Lewin has placed before the judges a memorable brief, featuring such figures as Geo. Washington, John Marshall, Alex. Hamilton, Thos. Jefferson, Jas. Monroe, Henry Clay, J. Q. Adams, Andrew Jackson, Zach’ry Taylor, and A’bram Lincoln. Writes the attorney for Master Zivitofsky:

“From the founding of the Republic through the Lincoln Administration there clearly was no consensus that the Constitution assigned recognition of foreign governments exclusively to the discretion of the Executive. President Monroe requested joint action from the Congress to accord recognition to new Latin American republics. President Jackson analogized the recognition power to the power to declare war, and he left to Congress the recognition of the independent Republic of Texas. President Taylor believed that he could only ‘recommend to Congress…the recognition of Hungary.’ And President Lincoln withheld dispatch of ministers to Haiti and Liberia until Congress authorized recognition of those countries—even though he could discern no reason why nations with black populations should not be recognized.”

Master Zivitofsky, therefore, asserts that it is, in his attorney’s words, “inaccurate to say”—as the government has suggested—“that ‘it has been commonly understood since the Washington Administration’ that the President has exclusive discretionary power to recognize foreign governments. At least through the administration of President Lincoln, Presidents who were confronted with controversial recognition issues acknowledged that action or approval by the Congress was necessary before a foreign government would be formally recognized. More recent assertions of exclusive Executive authority have been challenged by Congress, and no decision of this Court or any lower federal tribunal has, until now, determined whether the President has the totally plenary discretionary recognition power that is being asserted by the Solicitor General in this case.”

It’s not every day one gets a case that opens up these vistas into our constitutional and historical substructure.… It’s just the sort of situation in which it makes sense to seek one’s wisdom in history that the Founders gave us.


The month of September has come and gone, and the political “tsunami” that many predicted would devastate Israel never materialized. Instead, Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas’ attempt to gain a unilateral declaration of independence (“UDI”) at the United Nations was dampened by US president Barack Obama’s opposition to the move, and by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s steadfast refusal to make further concessions, at the behest of the “international community,” to a PA that continues to reject Israel’s legitimacy. Despite the Palestinians’ “UDI” gambit, the Israeli government has nonetheless accepted the Quartet’s recent proposal to resume direct negotiations “without delay or preconditions,” a motion summarily rejected by an uncompromising Mahmoud Abbas.



Moshe Arens

Haaretz, September 28, 2011

The month of September is…gone and Israel does not lie devastated like north-eastern Japan after the tsunami that hit that region in the wake of a 9.0 magnitude earthquake last March. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas submitted an application to the United Nations that Palestine be recognized as a state and admitted to the UN. Hamas, as was expected, objected to this move, and President Barack Obama said what any sensible person should have known—that bypassing direct negotiations by applying to the UN was not going to advance peace between Israel and the Palestinians. It turns out that the tsunami predicted to hit Israel in the month of September went the way of so many other predictions that have been made about the Middle East in recent years.

The hero of the drama that played out at the UN was undoubtedly Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but not because he meddled in U.S. internal politics, encouraging the Republicans to criticize Barack Obama’s policy toward Israel—he knows better than to attempt to do that (the Republicans, and even many Democrats, need no outside encouragement to fault Obama on this subject ). Netanyahu is the hero because he did not allow himself to be spooked by the panic-stricken warnings coming from all directions that a tsunami was approaching and that he should advance “daring” initiatives before the tsunami hit Israel. Everybody knows what was meant by “daring” initiatives—announcements of concession that Israel was prepared to make to the Palestinians before the start of negotiations; that he would freeze construction in the West Bank; or, better yet, that he would uproot settlements there, or that he would agree that the April 1949 armistice lines with Jordan (“the 1967 lines” ) would be the basis for negotiations with Abbas. He kept a cool head, and did none of that.

There was another actor in this drama at the United Nations. Little known, but possibly important—Anthony Weiner, the Democratic Congressman, representing the ninth New York Congressional district. It was Weiner who was compelled to resign his seat for posting indecent photos of himself on the Internet, forcing an early election in this traditionally Democratic district with a large Jewish population. Ed Koch, the former mayor of New York City and a life-long Democrat, called on voters to choose the Republicans this time and express their disapproval of Obama’s policy on Israel. The Republican candidate, Bob Turner, won.

Add to that the criticism voiced by the leading Republican presidential candidates, Mitt Romney and Rick Perry, on the same subject. Romney said Obama’s suggestion that Israeli-Palestinian negotiations should be based on the “1967 lines” was “throwing Israel under the bus.” All this must have been noted in the White House, preparing for elections a little more than a year away, or else Obama did some serious reading on Jewish and Zionist history during his recent vacation in Martha’s Vineyard in preparation for his speech at the UN. In his speech he did not mention settlements, nor the “1967 lines”, but rather emphasized that “Israel is surrounded by neighbors that have waged repeated wars against it,” and that “Israeli citizens have been killed by rockets fired at their houses and suicide bombs on their buses.… These are the facts”, he concluded, “they cannot be denied.”

This time, the Israeli left did not like Obama’s speech. They were probably also disappointed to find that Israel was not completely isolated, as they claimed, with the whole world aligned against it. Who knows if mythological Micronesia supports Israel’s position? But we do know that Stephen Harper, the Prime Minister of Canada—no Third World country this—firmly stands by Israel. And Donald Tusk, the Prime Minister of Poland—not only not a Third World country but presently claiming presidency of the Council of the European Union—is not prepared to back the “1967 lines” as the basis for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.…

So will all those who predicted that a tsunami would hit Israel in the month of September please stand.


Jonathan S. Tobin
Contentions, October 2, 2011

[On Sunday], the Israeli government formally accepted the Diplomatic Quartet’s proposal for restarting negotiations with the Palestinians. In doing so, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has once again made it crystal clear that the main, indeed, the only real obstacle to peace is the refusal of the Palestinian Authority to go back to the table. The PA has refused this offer; it says it won’t talk unless Israel agrees in advance to concede everything on territory even before the negotiations begin.

This contradicts the conventional wisdom put forward by most talking heads on television and liberal pundits who continue to insist it is Netanyahu’s fault peace has not broken out. But when did any of those commentators (like the New York Times’ Tom Friedman who demanded last week Israel once again freeze building in the West Bank in order to entice the PA back to the table) let the facts get in the way of their pat stories about Israeli stubbornness?

Israel has clear misgivings about the idea put forward by the Quartet (which consists of the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations) of separating the issues of territory and security from those concerning refugees and the status of Jerusalem. In the unlikely event of an agreement being reached on territory, there would now be no incentive for the Palestinians to compromise on their intransigent stands on dividing Jerusalem and upholding the so-called “right of return” for the descendants of the 1948 refugees. But Netanyahu wisely accepted the invitation to the talks, because he understands Israel must not refuse any opportunity to negotiate.

In any event, there is little danger the Palestinians will take him up on the offer. The PA has spent all of Barack Obama’s term in the White House disappointing a president who is eager to pressure Israel to accommodate the Palestinian cause. But Obama’s desire to pick fights with Netanyahu and to bring a Palestinian state into being has been frustrated by the simple fact PA leader Mahmoud Abbas has no intention of signing any peace deal that would force him to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders would be drawn. Abbas has gone to the UN to demand recognition for a Palestinian state without making peace with Israel in order to evade the U.S.-sponsored peace process, not to enhance its negotiating position.

Netanyahu has moved as far as he should go toward accommodating America’s desire for more talks. If the Palestinians want peace and a state, they can have it, provided they are willing to negotiate. But the only thing they seem interested in is a deal in which they get everything without being required to end the conflict.…

The Palestinians no longer want land for peace. Now they are demanding land for nothing. That is not an equation that any Israeli or American who cares about the Jewish state should be willing to accept.


Charles Krauthammer

Washington Post, September 30, 2011

While diplomatically inconvenient for the Western powers, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s attempt to get the United Nations to unilaterally declare a Palestinian state has elicited widespread sympathy. After all, what choice did he have? According to the accepted narrative, Middle East peace is made impossible by a hard-line Likud-led Israel that refuses to accept a Palestinian state and continues to build settlements.

It is remarkable how this gross inversion of the truth has become conventional wisdom. In fact, Benjamin Netanyahu brought his Likud-led coalition to open recognition of a Palestinian state, thereby creating Israel’s first national consensus for a two-state solution. He is also the only prime minister to agree to a settlement freeze—10 months—something no Labor or Kadima government has ever done.

To which Abbas responded by boycotting the talks for nine months, showing up in the 10th, then walking out when the freeze expired. Last week he reiterated that he will continue to boycott peace talks unless Israel gives up—in advance—claim to any territory beyond the 1967 lines. Meaning, for example, that the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem is Palestinian territory. This is not just absurd. It violates every prior peace agreement. They all stipulate that such demands are to be the subject of negotiations, not their precondition.

Abbas unwaveringly insists on the so-called “right of return,” which would demographically destroy Israel by swamping it with millions of Arabs, thereby turning the world’s only Jewish state into the world’s 23rd Arab state. And he has repeatedly declared, as recently as last week in New York: “We shall not recognize a Jewish state.”

Nor is this new. It is perfectly consistent with the long history of Palestinian rejectionism. Consider:

–Camp David, 2000. At a U.S.-sponsored summit, Prime Minister Ehud Barak offers Yasser Arafat a Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza—and, astonishingly, the previously inconceivable division of Jerusalem. Arafat refuses. And makes no counteroffer, thereby demonstrating his unseriousness about making any deal. Instead, within two months, he launches a savage terror war that kills a thousand Israelis.

–Taba, 2001. An even sweeter deal—the Clinton Parameters—is offered. Arafat walks away again.

–Israel, 2008. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert makes the ultimate capitulation to Palestinian demands—100 percent of the West Bank (with land swaps), Palestinian statehood, the division of Jerusalem with the Muslim parts becoming the capital of the new Palestine. And incredibly, he offers to turn over the city’s holy places, including the Western Wall—Judaism’s most sacred site, its Kaaba—to an international body on which sit Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

Did Abbas accept? Of course not. If he had, the conflict would be over and Palestine would already be a member of the United Nations.

This is not ancient history. All three peace talks occurred over the past decade. And every one completely contradicts the current mindless narrative of Israeli “intransigence” as the obstacle to peace.… So why did the Palestinians say no? Because saying yes would have required them to sign a final peace agreement that accepted a Jewish state on what they consider the Muslim patrimony.

The key word here is “final.” The Palestinians are quite prepared to sign interim agreements, like Oslo. Framework agreements, like Annapolis. Cease-fires, like the 1949 armistice. Anything but a final deal. Anything but a final peace. Anything but a treaty that ends the conflict once and for all—while leaving a Jewish state still standing.

After all, why did Abbas go to the United Nations? For nearly half a century, the United States has pursued a Middle East settlement on the basis of the formula of land for peace. Land for peace produced the Israel-Egypt peace of 1979 and the Israel-Jordan peace of 1994. Israel has offered the Palestinians land for peace three times since. And been refused every time.

Why? For exactly the same reason Abbas went to the United Nations: to get land without peace. Sovereignty with no reciprocal recognition of a Jewish state. Statehood without negotiations. An independent Palestine in a continued state of war with Israel.

Israel gave up land without peace in south Lebanon in 2000 and, in return, received war (the Lebanon war of 2006) and 50,000 Hezbollah missiles now targeted on the Israeli homeland. In 2005, Israel gave up land without peace in Gaza, and again was rewarded with war—and constant rocket attack from an openly genocidal Palestinian mini-state.

Israel is prepared to give up land, but never again without peace. A final peace. Which is exactly what every Palestinian leader from Haj Amin al-Husseini to Yasser Arafat to Mahmoud Abbas has refused to accept. Which is why, regardless of who is governing Israel, there has never been peace. Territorial disputes are solvable; existential conflicts are not.

Land for peace, yes. Land without peace is nothing but an invitation to national suicide.


Alan Dershowitz
New Republic, September 28, 2011

The Palestinians are in the process of seeking sovereignty from the United Nations, but in doing so, they are asking for more than what was offered them in any prior negotiation with Israel—including during the talks involving President Clinton and Ehud Barak in 2000 and 2001. Rather than more, it is imperative that the Palestinians get less.

It is imperative to world peace that the Palestinians pay a price—even if it’s only a symbolic price—for rejecting the generous Clinton/Barak offer and responding to it with a second intifada in which 4,000 people were killed. It is also important that Israel not return to the precise armistice lines that existed prior to the 1967 war. If the Palestinians were to achieve a return to the status quo prior to Jordan’s attack on Israel in June of 1967, then military aggression will not have been punished, it will have been rewarded. That’s why Security Council Resolution 242—which was essentially the peace treaty that resulted from the end of the Six Day War—intended for Israel to retain territory necessary to give it secure boundaries (Indeed, in the formal application submitted by Abbas, he sought membership based on UN General Assembly Resolution 1810-11 of November 29, 1947, which would put the borders where they were before the Arab armies invaded the new Jewish state in 1948. This would reward multiple aggressions.)

Yet, however important it is that aggressive and unjustified violence not be rewarded, the international community seems bent on doing just that. If the end result of Jordan’s 1967 attack on Israel—an attack supported by the Palestinian leadership and participated in by Palestinian soldiers—is that the Palestinians get back everything Jordan lost, there will be no disincentive to comparable military attacks around the world. If the Palestinians get more than, or even as much as, they rejected in 2000 and 2001 (and did not accept in 2007), then further intifadas with mass casualties will be encouraged. A price must be paid for violence. That’s how the laws of war are supposed to work and there is no reason to make an exception in the case of the Palestinians.…

I was at the United Nations on Friday when President Abbas made his speech demanding full recognition of Palestine as a state with the borders as they existed just before the Jordanians and Palestinians attacked Israel. In other words he wants a “do over.” He wants the nations that attacked Israel to suffer no consequences for their attempt to destroy the Jewish State. He wants to get back The Western Wall, The Jewish Quarter, and the access road to Hebrew University. Only then will he begin negotiations from this position of strength. But why then negotiate if the UN gives him more than he can possibly get through negotiation?…

Although many in the international communities and on the editorial pages of newspapers claim that Abbas wants to negotiate a two-state solution, while Netanyahu has refused to do so, the truth was on full and open display at the General Assembly on Friday: Netanyahu wants to negotiate a peace now, whereas Abbas wants to win recognition from the United Nations before any negotiations begin. As Netanyahu put it: “Let’s stop negotiating about negotiating and let’s just start negotiating right now.…”

If…the UN were to reward nearly a century of Palestinian rejectionism and violence by simply turning the clock back to 1967 (or 1947), it will be encouraging more cost-free rejectionism and violence. The Palestinians must pay a price for the thousands of lives their rejectionism and violence have caused. The price must not be so heavy as to preclude peace, but it must be heavy enough to deter war.


Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu last Friday addressed the United Nations General Assembly in New York, conveying Israel’s “hope for peace,” while reiterating that peace with the Palestinians can only be forged through direct negotiations between the parties. Netanyahu’s appeal followed Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas’ remarks, deemed by Israeli Foreign Minster Avigdor Lieberman a “speech of incitement,” in which Abbas on multiple occasions invoked the Palestinian “Nakba”—the “tragedy” of Israel’s creation in 1948 and the beginning of the “occupation.” Abbas confirmed that he would ignore Israel and the US and submit an application for a sovereign Palestinian state directly to the UN Security Council.—Ed.



Weekly Standard, September 23, 2011

Thank you, Mr. President.

Ladies and gentlemen, Israel has extended its hand in peace from the moment it was established 63 years ago. On behalf of Israel and the Jewish people, I extend that hand again today. I extend it to the people of Egypt and Jordan, with renewed friendship for neighbors with whom we have made peace. I extend it to the people of Turkey, with respect and good will. I extend it to the people of Libya and Tunisia, with admiration for those trying to build a democratic future. I extend it to the other peoples of North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, with whom we want to forge a new beginning. I extend it to the people of Syria, Lebanon and Iran, with awe at the courage of those fighting brutal repression.

But most especially, I extend my hand to the Palestinian people, with whom we seek a just and lasting peace. (Applause.)

Ladies and gentlemen, in Israel our hope for peace never wanes. Our scientists, doctors, innovators, apply their genius to improve the world of tomorrow. Our artists, our writers, enrich the heritage of humanity. Now, I know that this is not exactly the image of Israel that is often portrayed in this hall. After all, it was here in 1975 that the age-old yearning of my people to restore our national life in our ancient biblical homeland—it was then that this was braided—branded, rather—shamefully, as racism. And it was here in 1980, right here, that the historic peace agreement between Israel and Egypt wasn’t praised; it was denounced! And it’s here year after year that Israel is unjustly singled out for condemnation. It’s singled out for condemnation more often than all the nations of the world combined. Twenty-one out of the 27 General Assembly resolutions condemn Israel—the one true democracy in the Middle East.

Well, this is an unfortunate part of the U.N. institution. It’s the—the theater of the absurd. It doesn’t only cast Israel as the villain; it often casts real villains in leading roles: Gadhafi’s Libya chaired the U.N. Commission on Human Rights; Saddam’s Iraq headed the U.N. Committee on Disarmament.

You might say: That’s the past. Well, here’s what’s happening now—right now, today. Hezbollah-controlled Lebanon now presides over the U.N. Security Council. This means, in effect, that a terror organization presides over the body entrusted with guaranteeing the world’s security.

You couldn’t make this thing up.

So here in the U.N., automatic majorities can decide anything. They can decide that the sun…rises in the west.… They can also decide—they have decided that the Western Wall in Jerusalem, Judaism’s holiest place, is occupied Palestinian territory.

And yet even here in the General Assembly, the truth can sometimes break through. In 1984 when I was appointed Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, I visited the great rabbi of Lubavich. He said to me—and ladies and gentlemen, I don’t want any of you to be offended because from personal experience of serving here, I know there are many honorable men and women, many capable and decent people serving their nations here. But here’s what the rebbe said to me. He said to me, you’ll be serving in a house of many lies. And then he said, remember that even in the darkest place, the light of a single candle can be seen far and wide.

Today I hope that the light of truth will shine, if only for a few minutes, in a hall that for too long has been a place of darkness for my country. So as Israel’s prime minister, I didn’t come here to win applause. I came here to speak the truth. (Cheers, applause.) The truth is—the truth is that Israel wants peace. The truth is that I want peace. The truth is that in the Middle East at all times, but especially during these turbulent days, peace must be anchored in security. The truth is that we cannot achieve peace through U.N. resolutions, but only through direct negotiations between the parties. The truth is that so far the Palestinians have refused to negotiate. The truth is that Israel wants peace with a Palestinian state, but the Palestinians want a state without peace. And the truth is you shouldn’t let that happen.… [See “On Topics” below for continued full text of P.M. Netanyahu’s UN address—Ed.]


Elliott Abrams
National Review, September 26, 2011

The rapturous applause that greeted Mahmoud Abbas, appearing before the U.N. General Assembly in his role as chairman of the PLO, was deceiving. The collection of states that swooned when he mentioned Yasser Arafat’s 1974 appearance in the same hall will never give him a state—nor even the foreign-aid money to pay his delegation’s hotel bills. His statehood project depends on Israel and the United States, and to a lesser extent on the Europeans (and a bit of Gulf Arab financing). His U.N. gambit has annoyed or offended all of those parties.…

The Israeli reaction to the Abbas speech is predictably negative, for it was a nasty piece of work filled with harshly worded denunciations—and from which any real commitment to telling truths to the Palestinian people was absent. Instead, Abbas repeatedly referred to the nakba or “catastrophe” of 1948 as the source of the Palestinians’ plight, thereby telegraphing to Israelis that his main complaint was the existence of the State of Israel rather than its “1967 borders.” His reference to the “Holy Land” as the home of Jesus Christ and the place from which Mohammed ascended to heaven excluded all references to Jews and Jewish history, and delivered the same awful message. The Abbas speech will end up strengthening Netanyahu’s tough approach to Israeli security.

But the most striking evidence of Abbas’s error came in the Quartet statement (from the U.S., the U.N., the EU, and Russia) released Friday night, after Abbas and Netanyahu had spoken. In the past two and half years, every Quartet statement has reflected Obama’s obsession with construction in the settlements and has demanded a freeze. The statements have also often reflected the Obama administration’s tilt toward the Palestinians and against Israel.

But not this one. Instead it reflected both Obama’s own U.N. speech, tilting the other way as the American elections appeared over the horizon, and EU annoyance with Abbas. This Quartet statement did not even mention settlements, not once, and instead simply laid out a long timetable for negotiations. The Quartet statement “reiterated its urgent appeal to the parties to overcome the current obstacles and resume direct bilateral Israeli-Palestinian negotiations without delay or preconditions,” thereby rejecting the Palestinian demand that a construction freeze come first.

The operational paragraphs were these:

1. Within a month there will be a preparatory meeting between the parties to agree an agenda and method of proceeding in the negotiation.

2. At that meeting there will be a commitment by both sides that the objective of any negotiation is to reach an agreement within a timeframe agreed to by the parties but not longer than the end of 2012. The Quartet expects the parties to come forward with comprehensive proposals within three months on territory and security, and to have made substantial progress within six months.

“The end of 2012” takes them, of course, beyond the U.S. elections. And lest the election-year tilt to Israel was still unclear, the State Department briefer who explained all this to the press late on Friday referred twice to Israeli “flexibility.” Gone are the days when the Obama administration pugnaciously sought confrontations with Jerusalem—at least until the reelection campaign is over.

But Palestinians would be mistaken to attribute the entirety of their defeat to American politics; they should note that Abbas did not get the Security Council vote he wanted. For the moment, at least, the Palestinians could not attain the nine votes they needed to win and thus force an American veto. This is another measure of their failure in New York.

It is true that Abbas’s U.N. ploy may work for him in terms of his own domestic politics—for a while, anyway. Instead of being the man who lost Gaza, he may briefly be the man who “bravely” took the statehood issue to the U.N. But he did not take the Palestinians one step closer to peace, nor did he speak to them seriously about what peace will require from them. In this he is a faithful follower of his mentor Yasser Arafat. If there is ever to be peace, the Palestinians will someday need a leadership that tells them the truth: Hard work and difficult compromises will be needed, not applause in the General Assembly.

(Elliott Abrams is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.)


Martin Peretz
New Republic, September 24, 2011

…The very surprising words in Obama’s address to the General Assembly on Wednesday assured Israelis, Jews, Zionists, and literally millions and millions of Christians (along with other religious humanists) whose beliefs ally them with Jewish civilization that America had not actually turned its back on the very nation that was the first in history to define and give content to the idea of peoplehood.

Read these words carefully:

“Let us be honest with ourselves: Israel is surrounded by neighbors that have waged repeated wars against it. Israel’s citizens have been killed by rockets fired at their houses and suicide bombs on their buses. Israel’s children come of age knowing that throughout the region, other children are taught to hate them. Israel, a small country of less than eight million people, looks out at a world where leaders of much larger nations threaten to wipe it off of the map. The Jewish people carry the burden of centuries of exile and persecution, and fresh memories of knowing that six million people were killed simply because of who they are. Those are facts. They cannot be denied.

“The Jewish people have forged a successful state in their historic homeland. Israel deserves recognition. It deserves normal relations with its neighbors. And friends of the Palestinians do them no favors by ignoring this truth, just as friends of Israel must recognize the need to pursue a two-state solution with a secure Israel next to an independent Palestine.”

Well, for the first time the president had actually been honest with himself, not totally honest, to be sure, but honest enough, giving him the undeserved benefit of the doubt. Had he spoken like this in any one of the venues where he had previously addressed crowds actually concerned about a peace settlement in the region he would have first of all assured the State of Israel that he understood its history, its security needs, and its very realistic anxieties about the mercurial neighborhood in which it lives. Had Obama done something like this before he would have reassured the lovers of Zion, the many tens of millions in America, and similar numbers elsewhere that all of his talk about statehood for the Palestinians was not just about satisfying their grievances but also calming the deep foreboding of the Jewish commonwealth that practical arrangements will not be made to balance the obvious instability of Arab countries and present Muslim civilization. This would not be easy to achieve.

I don’t imagine that the president cottoned lightly to the tactics and strategy of his own U.N. speech. It was not his natural bearing or disposition. But the raw fact is that Mohammed Abbas refused to compromise on his insistence that America be the party that negotiates with Israel over settlements in the West Bank and about the myriad issues surrounding Jerusalem. By his anger and his ongoing reproaches to Netanyahu (and the almost day-in-day-out cuts at the Israeli prime minister) the president seemed to oblige the Palestinians. The administration also mounted a campaign among fashionable media to demonize Bibi, a campaign taken up irrationally by nearly the whole salient staff of The New York Times.… What is Netanyahu’s sin? He would not permit the Obama administration to negotiate on Israel’s behalf. Which self-respecting country would have parlayed with an intermediary, even one so crucial to its own security like America, over such defining matters? That Obama somehow felt that he could force Israel to participate in such an unrealistic gambit shows how innocent he is or how malevolent he was. Indeed, both his innocence and his malevolence were bolstered by his essential sympathies with the Palestinian cause. But I suspect that Obama will not indulge the Arabs in such dangerous fantasies again.…

Obama’s statement was not, one should point out, the unvarnished, chapter-and-verse recitation of Israel-friendly policy views on substantive issues. He could have noted that only one of the two parties—the Palestinians—has refused to negotiate since last September. He might have specifically underscored the reality of a divided Palestine, in which a sizable part of the state seeking UN recognition is under the control of a terrorist movement committed to Israel’s (and the Palestinian Authority’s) destruction. He did not take the opportunity to clarify certain aspects of his parameters for peacemaking that he sidestepped in his May remarks, such as the eminently logical principle that Palestinian refugees will return to Palestine, not Israel, or the urgency of an agreement that ends the conflict and terminates all claims once and for all. He could have scolded many in the room, especially Arab states and their all-talk-but-no-action approach to the Palestinian state-building project. And he should have called specifically on rulers and peoples in countries that already have treaties with Israel (i.e., Egypt and Jordan) to strengthen the regional environment for peace by defending their strategic choice for peace, rather than letting it be the preferred pinata for discontent over domestic issues.

Still, those deficiencies only marginally detract from the declaratory power of his speech. Many factors may have motivated the president to make his passionate statement opposing Palestinian UN recognition, but whether it was born of high policy, moral conviction, or crass politics, it will be compared in the annals of America’s lonely defense of Israel at the United Nations alongside Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s castigation of the Zionism-is-Racism resolution during the Ford administration, and John Negroponte’s declaration during the George W. Bush administration that the United States would veto any Security Council resolution on the Middle East conflict that failed to condemn terrorism against Israel.…

We shall see what we shall see. Will Obama’s sudden counter-instinctive respect for Israel’s predicament be long-lasting? Will Israel see Obama’s shift as both grave and truthful? Will it, can it aim to reinforce that change? How does he deal with his own sensibility and his many anti-Semitic allies so at odds with the millennial journey of Zion to the State of the Jews?

(Martin Peretz is editor-in-chief emeritus of The New Republic.)


Michael Oren

Wall Street Journal, September 24, 2011

The Palestinian Authority, which has already made a pact with the Hamas terrorist organization, now seeks recognition for a unilaterally declared state at the United Nations. President Barack Obama, though deeply committed to Palestinian statehood, declares his intention to block that scheme, even by exercising an American veto in the Security Council. Congress, for its part, threatens to cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority if it breaches its commitment to direct talks with Israel and pursues unilateralism.

American mediators, meanwhile, lobby other members of the Middle East Quartet—the U.S., the European Union, the U.N., and Russia—in an attempt to forge a new framework for renewing Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. And Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waits for the Palestinians to rejoin him at the negotiating table.

Sound confusing? Indeed it was for many observers of this past week’s dizzying diplomacy in New York. They asked themselves what exactly had transpired at the U.N., and why? What had spurred the Palestinians to turn their backs on a sympathetic U.S. president and a strong Israeli statesman capable of leading his skeptical people to peace? How could the Palestinians risk all they had achieved in recent years—a thriving economy, restored law and order, and significant U.S. aid—in a reckless bid to snatch the statehood that they could easily have earned?

Confusing, perhaps, but the answer is simple. The Palestinians came to the U.N. to get a state, but without giving Israel peace in return.

Understanding the Palestinians’ decision requires a review not only of this past week’s events but of one that occurred nearly 64 years ago at the same U.N. On Nov. 29, 1947, the General Assembly voted to partition British-controlled Palestine into two states, one Arab and one Jewish, that would live side-by-side in peace. The Jews accepted the agreement, but the Palestinians rejected it and joined with five Arab armies in an ultimately thwarted attempt to destroy the Jewish State of Israel.

Forty six years later, in 1993, the Palestinians received another chance to accept the two-state solution. In the Oslo Accords, which the U.S. co-signed, Palestinians and Israelis pledged to resolve all outstanding issues through face-to-face negotiation and to achieve an historic peace. In fact, these discussions produced two Israeli peace proposals, in 2000 and 2008, that met virtually all of the Palestinians’ demands for a sovereign state in the areas won by Israel in the 1967 war—in the West Bank, Gaza and even East Jerusalem.

But Palestinian President Yasser Arafat rejected the first offer and Mahmoud Abbas ignored the second, for the very same reason their predecessors spurned the 1947 Partition Plan. Each time, accepting a Palestinian State meant accepting the Jewish State, a concession the Palestinians were unwilling to make.

In between Israeli peace offers, the Palestinians waged a terror war that killed and maimed thousands of Israelis. When Israel uprooted all of its settlements from Gaza in 2005, the Palestinians failed to create a peaceful enclave and instead created a Hamas terrorist stronghold that fired thousands of rockets at Israeli civilians. Yet, in spite of their rejection and trauma, Israelis continued to uphold the vision of two peaceful adjacent states.

That goal was embraced by Mr. Netanyahu, leader of the Likud Party, in a speech at Bar Ilan University in June 2009. Turning to “our Palestinian neighbors,” he declared, “let’s begin negotiations immediately without preconditions.” But Mr. Abbas refused to negotiate. Nevertheless, Mr. Netanyahu ordered the removal of hundreds of checkpoints in the West Bank, facilitating remarkable economic growth and dramatically increased transport in and out of Gaza. When President Obama asked him to freeze construction in West Bank settlements, Mr. Netanyahu announced an unprecedented 10-month moratorium. But over the course of two and a half years, Mr. Abbas negotiated for a total of six hours, and then refused to discuss Israel’s security needs.

Those needs have grown immensely in the wake of the upheaval in the Arab world, the rise of Iranian proxies, and the deployment of tens of thousands of terrorist rockets on our borders. Though doubtful of the Palestinians’ readiness for genuine peace, Israelis retain the hope of a two-state solution. Mr. Netanyahu championed that hope and even brought it to the U.N. this week. “I am extending my hand, the hand of Israel, in peace,” he told Mr. Abbas—and the world—on Friday. “I hope you will grasp that hand.”

Unfortunately, Mr. Abbas did not come to New York to shake Mr. Netanyahu’s hand but to grab a state which, he wrote earlier this year, “will pave the way for the internationalization of the conflict” and “pursue claims against Israel at the United Nations.”

The U.S. and other principled nations are standing strong, though, and Mr. Netanyahu is ready to negotiate today—if only Mr. Abbas is willing. While the circumstances have changed since 1947 and even 2008, the formula for peace remains unaltered. By accepting the Jewish State, the Palestinians can have their own.

(Michael Oren is Israel’s ambassador to the United States.)


Mahmoud Abbas at the UN, to paraphrase Julius Caesar, venit, vidit, sed non vincit, “He came, he saw, but he did not conquer”. His demand, wrapped rhetorically in the usual uncompromising narrative distortions and untruths, was that Palestine—while ignoring direct negotiations with Israel—be recognized by the Security Council as a fully sovereign state. Abbas was given standing ovations by the majoritarian herd of General Assembly anti-Israel diplomats, but even as the formal request was dramatically deposited in Ban Ki-Moon’s hands, it was clear that it would be going nowhere.


The American President, dispelling nagging doubts about American policy, had already in his address to the Assembly the day before, explicitly rejected Abbas’s demand. He noted that a Palestinian state could be created only through negotiations recognizing Jewish Israel. Obama clearly and forthrightly stated that Israel’s security—repeatedly threatened in the past–was paramount, and that the US would veto a Unilateral Declaration of Independence motion if it came before the Security Council.


Only a year before, Obama, demanding an immediate settlement halt, had publicly committed to seeing such a state quickly emerge.  And even more recently he had alienated the Israelis by emphasizing the indefensible pre-1967 Six Day War “borders” (i.e., the dangerous 1949 armistice lines) as a starting point for talks.


Now, at the UN, he seemed suddenly to be doing tshuvah, repentance, for what many had come to see as a decidedly pro-Arab, and pro-Palestinian, foreign policy tilt.  Indeed Abbas, in his rostrum remarks the next day, seemed aggressively to target the American leader, saying that anyone “with a shred of conscience” could not reject his people’s application.

The pro-Israel community, as well it might, heaved a sigh of relief over the forthright American defense of Israel. But in diplomacy, as in life, there is often many a slip ‘twixt the lip and the cup, and much manipulative maneuvering is already under way at Turtle Bay and in Washington.


Abbas’s document may not reach the Security Council for several weeks, giving the US time to mount a desperate attempt—within and without the Council–to avoid what is being referred to as the “embarrassment” of having to cast a veto earning it the “wrath” of an inflamed Arab world.  (Celebrations of Abbas’ speech in the West Bank   includedburnings of American flags and, inter alia, descriptions of America as “the head of the snake” and of Obama as “no different from former American presidents”, i.e., the hated George Bush.)

The media is already rife with various reports of “deals” designed to avoid a veto. These include the “Quartet”’s immediate, and obviously previously concerted, call—made by American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton—for resumed direct negotiations within the next month (at a conference reportedly to be held in Moscow, no less). This call will, if it gets off the ground (the Palestinians have reportedly already rejected it), no doubt include renewed pressure on Israel to meet demands for a complete settlement halt prior to any resumption of face-to-face talks.


Of course, many observers see in Obama’s UN speech not so much a sudden conversion to a strong, principled pro-Israel policy, as a largely party-political calculation related to the need for Jewish support in the rapidly approaching November, 2012 Presidential election.


(Obama, sinking in the polls, no doubt also had his attention on the Jewish vote concentrated by that remarkable recent New York City straw in the wind, the Congressional election upset massively returning a Republican in a heavily Democratic, and Jewish, district.  Voters here had returned Democrats since 1920, and Obama’s  dangerously luke-warm Israel foreign policy was a key  electoral issue.)


Of course, despite Obama’s threatened or actual veto, the Palestinians’ manufactured “crisis” at the UN is far from over. Indeed, the shrewdly calculating Abbas clearly had already taken this “setback” into account. The Palestinian move is not a sudden, impetuous action, but part of a deeper, broader delegitimation campaign against Jewish Israel. The UN move was designed  with multiple purposes in mind, including making use even of a momentarily denied recognition of full state sovereignty.


Hence, whether or not a US Security Council veto is, finally, exercised, General Assembly approval of semi-official observer status, similar to the Vatican’s, is surely guaranteed.  “Palestine” can then plead its legal case before such bodies as the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice, seeking indictment of Israel for human-rights violations and “war crimes” and invoking the “South Africa apartheid analogy” already issuing from the various Durban “human rights” conferences.


Such moves would enable it, as a state-in-the-making, to seek the “BDS”–-“Boycott, Divestment, Sanction”—measures against Israel already demanded by pro-Palestinian political, NGO, and academic non-state actors. “Palestine” could also contest Israeli control of its air, land and sea borders, posing a direct security threat.


More immediately, “denial” of full-fledged state status could trigger “popular” disturbances, leading to a third “intifada” or—given the unstable “Arab Spring” political context–-worse.

The local instability which Abbas’s move may unleash (and which it may well have been intended to spur) must be related to the deteriorating Middle East regional situation. The Egyptian peace treaty with Israel is in tatters, as Cairo’s will to control the Sinai and Gaza borders crumbles and the Israeli embassy smolders.  Meanwhile Syria’s descent into murderous chaos continues, the Hezbollah terrorists continue to dominate Lebanon, Turkey’s “neo-Ottoman” Islamist, Erdogan, threatens naval confrontation in the eastern Mediterranean (and around Cyprus), and, most ominous of all, Iran proceeds essentially unimpeded towards possession of a nuclear weapon.


The region is potentially a tinder-box (for which “Arab Spring” is a dark euphemism), and Abbas’s move at the UN, far from being a “statesman-like” act, is more akin to  a lighted match.


And while for the moment it is of course well that the US will veto the UDI should it get to the Security Council, looking ahead a bit, an Obama victory, however narrow, in the coming 2012 Presidential election, could nevertheless prove quite dangerous. Once freed, in a second and final term, of any need to take “the Jewish vote” into consideration, would Obama, in the context of continuing world and US economic contraction, and given his repeated concern for “legacy” and the “remaking” of America, revert to his earlier pro-Arab policies?


A far left-liberal American President determined to “down-size” American foreign involvements (and the military), keeping Israel at arm’s length while engaging the Third [including the Arab] World”,   and disengaging not only from Iraq  and Afghanistan but from Syria and a now-nuclear Iran, would indeed be a novum, a radical and dangerous new departure.


Such a scenario would be one which would also mesh, consciously or not, with ongoing moves finally to achieve real sovereignty for “Palestine” while simultaneously delegitimating democratic Israel.


Just as Holocaust denial is underlain by a desire for Holocaust repetition, so, functionally, delegitimation—the attempt to weaken, isolate, and destabilize the Jewish state—points to its elimination. The  “two state solution” is a Western construct—the Palestinians’ UDI gambit should be seen for what it is, an aspect of the delegitimation drive, and part of their consistent refusal across the last 64 years—that is, since Israel’s foundation, to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.


What Abbas, like his predecessor and mentor Yasser Arafat (whom he invoked in his UN speech) is really pursuing is a one-state—Palestine—solution. Elimination of Israel, as envisioned by the advocates of delegitimation, can occur through exacerbating internal divisions, leading to political and moral exhaustion; by flooding the Jewish state with millions of Palestinian “refugees” via the never-abandoned “law of return”; by fomenting external pressures and crises leading to terrorism and war; or through a combination over time of all of these factors.


As the old curse goes, May you live in interesting times.


To conclude: An American veto, even if used, should not uncritically be assumed to be a sign of a permanent shift in attitude and policy, and Abbas’ UN UDI move, even if deflected, may well have other unsettling results.  Nevertheless, however shrewd and calculated the Palestinian strategy may be, it cannot assume passive acquiescence on the Israeli side, and may, therefore, have quite serious unintended consequences.


Indeed, Abbas’s move may well ultimately destroy the very possibility of a Palestinian state (assuming, again, that a state is really what the Palestinians want). For openers, it violates the Oslo Accords, mandating direct negotiations in exchange for the land Israel gave up in creating the P.A., and which were signed not only by Israel and the PLO, but by the U.S. In this sense the UDI tactic may yet confirm what the late Abba Eban, Israel’s great UN ambassador, noted long ago: “The Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity”.


This reality was caught quite clearly by Benjamin Netanyahu’s far from rhetorical question to a two-thirds-empty General Assembly auditorium. Speaking after Abbas’s peroration rejecting any recognition of a Jewish state, the Israeli P.M. asked, “[You are the] body that recognized the ‘Jewish state’ 64 years ago. Now, don’t you think it’s about time that Palestinians did the same?”


(Prof. Frederick Krantz, Editor of IsraBlog, is Director of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research. He teaches history at Liberal Arts College, Concordia U., in Montreal.)



Jerusalem Post, September 23, 2011

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday said that “the time has come for Palestinian independence,” in a speech to the UN General Assembly, shortly after he officially submitted a request to the world body for recognition of Palestine as a full member state.

“Enough, enough, enough,” Abbas stated, saying that “63 years of ongoing tragedy must end.”

Abbas called the UN vote on the PA request for statehood a “moment of truth” in which the world must decide if it will continue to allow “the last occupation in the world to continue.” The PA president held up a copy of the official request for statehood to raucous applause from the crowd of world diplomats. He added that the state in question should have the pre-1967 lines as its borders with east Jerusalem as its capital.

He called on the nations of the world to vote for the recognition of Palestine and urged the UN Security council to expedite their decision. “I say to the Israelis, come to peace,” Abbas said during the speech, reiterating his position that the statehood bid should not be an impediment to the peace process.

Abbas said the Palestinians would continue peaceful, popular resistance to Israeli occupation and warned that Jewish settlement construction threatens both to destroy the two-state solution and the survival of his fledgling government, the Palestinian Authority.

The PA president blamed Israel’s continued building of settlements on “Palestinian land” for the impasse in the peace process. Abbas said that over the past year all attempts to renew peace negotiations were repeatedly “smashed against the rocks of the Israeli government’s positions.…”


Jerusalem Post, September 23, 2011

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addressed the UN General Assembly on Friday, saying despite popular perception, Israel and he himself want peace, but that peace “must be anchored in security” and can not be forged by UN resolutions.…

“Palestinians want a state without peace,” Netanyahu stated, telling the assembled diplomats, “You should not let that happen.” Netanyahu called on Abbas to renew peace talks immediately, “today at the United Nations.” “If we genuinely want peace, what is there to stop us,” Netanyahu asked Abbas. “With God’s help lets find the common ground for peace. I can’t make peace without you,” Netanyahu said during his address.

Netanyahu criticized the hypocrisy of the United Nations, noting that the UN Security Council is now headed by Lebanon, who is controlled by Hezbollah—a group considered a terrorist organization by the United States, Israel, and the European Union. The UN, Netanyahu said, denounces Israel more than any other nation.

The prime minister called comments by PA officials that Jews would not be allowed in a future Palestinian state “ethnic cleansing.” He called laws in Ramallah making the selling of land to Jews punishable by death “racism.”

The prime minister stated that Palestinians should “give up the fantasy of flooding Israel” with millions of refugees, saying that he did not want Palestinians to try and change the Jewish character of the state.

Netanyahu called for the release of kidnapped IDf soldier Gilad Schalit. “Every nation represented here should request his release,” Netanyahu declared to applause. “If you want to pass a resolution about the Middle East today, that’s the resolution you should pass,” the prime minister said.


Fouad Ajami
Wall Street Journal, September 23, 2011

‘U.N. 194” is the slogan of the campaign to grant the Palestinians a seat at the United Nations, to recognize their authority as the 194th nation in that world body. This is the Palestinians’ second chance, for there was the session of the General Assembly in 1947 that addressed the question of Palestine, and the struggle between Arabs and Jews over that contested land.

A vote took place on the partition resolution that November and provided for two states to live side by side. It was a close affair. It required a two-thirds majority, and the final tally was 33 states in favor, 13 opposed, 10 abstentions, and one recorded absence. Israel would become the 58th member state. The Palestinians refused the 59th seat.

Arab diplomacy had sought the defeat of the resolution, and the Palestinians had waited for deliverance at the hands of their would-be Arab backers. The threat of war offered the Palestinians a false promise; there was no felt need for compromise. The influential secretary-general of the Arab League, the Egyptian Azzam Pasha (by an exquisite twist of fate a maternal grandfather of al Qaeda’s leader Ayman al-Zawahiri), was to tell a talented, young Zionist diplomat, Abba Eban, that the Arab world was not in a compromising mood. “The Arab world regards the Jews as invaders. It is going to fight you,” he said. “War is absolutely inevitable.”

For the Zionists, the vote was tantamount to a basic title to independence. But the Jewish community in Palestine had won the race for independence where it truly mattered—on the ground. Still, theirs was a fragile enterprise.

Britain, the Mandatory Power in Palestine since the end of World War I, had wearied of the Zionists, of the Arabs, and of the whole sordid burden of adjudicating their competing claims. The British Empire was broke and looking for a way to reduce its burdens. In August 1947, it had given up India, the Jewel of the Crown, and stood aside as a wave of cataclysmic violence between Hindus and Muslims provided a shameful end to a long imperial dominion. It was no use shedding blood and treasure in Palestine, and Pax Britannia was eager to pass the problem onto the U.N.

Nor were matters clinched for partition, and for the cause of a Jewish state, in the American councils of power. President Harry Truman was indecisive. He drew sustenance from the Bible and the cause of Jewish statehood tugged at him, but he was under immense pressure from a national security bureaucracy that had no sympathy for the Zionist project. An accidental president who had come to the presidency after the death of FDR, he lacked the self-confidence a crisis of this kind called for.

His secretary of state, Gen. George Marshall, was dubious of the idea of partition, fearful that a war would break out over Palestine that would require the intervention of American troops. Truman stood in awe of Marshall, regarded him as one of the “great commanders of history.” Secretary of Defense James Forrestal was more antagonistic still. There were oil interests in the Arab world, and a big strategic position in the region to protect.

The voting at the U.N. was messy. In the end, all American doubts were swept aside, and the United States opted for partition, lobbied for it, and was joined by the Soviet Union. Britain abstained. The tire magnate Harvey Firestone secured Liberia’s vote for partition. The Philippines hesitated but cast a favorable vote. India had hinted that it was in sympathy with partition but in the end chose not to run afoul of the sensibilities of its own Muslim population. Rumor had it that the delegate from Costa Rica sold his country’s vote for $75,000.

“The partition line shall be nothing but a line of fire and blood,” Azzam Pasha warned. And history would vindicate him. Six months later, with Britain quitting Palestine without even a ceremonial handover of responsibility, war would break out.

But the scenarios of doom for the new Jewish state were not to be fulfilled. Israel held its own. And the Palestinians who had bet on the Arab cavalry riding to the rescue were to know defeat and dispossession. Their cause was subsumed under a wider Arab claim, mandatory Palestine was to be divided—there was the new Jewish state, Jordanian sovereignty over the West Bank and east Jerusalem, Egyptian control over Gaza. The victory of Israel two decades later in the Six Day War reunited the land and, ironically, gave the Palestinians a chance to release themselves from pan-Arab captivity.

“We need to have full membership at the U.N. We need a state, a seat at the United Nations,” Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared last week in Ramallah as he launched this bid, in defiance of American wishes. Thus state-building would be bypassed, and the Palestinians, in a familiar pattern of their history, would place their faith in deliverance through the indulgence of others.

But were the Palestinians to look at their history, they would come to recognize that the one break that came their way happened in 1993, through direct negotiations with Israel. The peace of Oslo that secured them their national authority, that brought Yasser Arafat from his Tunisian exile to Gaza, was a gift of direct diplomacy. Arafat was looking for redemption; he had bet on Saddam Hussein in the Gulf War of 1990-91 and lost the financial support of the Arab oil states. Israel, for its part, had just elected a war hero, a stoical, determined man, Yitzhak Rabin, as its leader, and he had campaigned on the promise of getting “Gaza out of Tel Aviv.”

True, the ceremony of reconciliation on Sept. 13, 1993, had taken place on the South Lawn of the White House, Bill Clinton nudging Arafat and Rabin together for that reluctant handshake. But the Americans were giving away the bride long after the couple had eloped.

A generation after that handshake, the lesson of that accord remains unaltered. There can be no avoiding the toil and the exertions of direct negotiations. The deliberations at the U.N. are only theater, just another illusion.

(Fouad Ajami is a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.).


Herb Keinon
Jerusalem Post, September 23, 2011

Distinct similarities are beginning to emerge between the “freedom flotilla” that was supposed to set sail for Gaza from Europe this summer with “1,500 activists in 15 ships,” and the Palestinian’s unilateral statehood bid that PA President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to launch Friday at the UN.

Both were accompanied by sound and fury and expectations of what these “dramatic, historic” steps would signify. Both were accompanied by nightmare predictions, here and abroad, of the damage that would be caused to Israel, and of how it would further isolate our already badly isolated country. Both were held up as evidence of this country’s impotence and the failure of its diplomacy. Both were used to strike fear into the hearts of the populace that things have rarely been worse.

In the end, the vaunted flotilla ended with a whimper as the Greeks prevented it from setting sail, and only one vessel with a motley handful of radical leftists and journalists took to the seas, easily intercepted by the navy. And while the Palestinian UN gambit is still a work in progress, there, too, the buildup is shaping up as being much greater than the climax.

US President Barack Obama’s speech at the UN on Wednesday took much of the sting out of the Palestinian gambit. If the bid was an attempt to isolate Israel as much as it was an effort to create a virtual Palestinian state, then Obama’s words severely immobilized that effort. A country with the degree of rhetorical cover support given by the US president at the United Nations in New York, and not at an AIPAC policy conference in Washington, is not an isolated country—despite what some media outlets may be reporting.

The Palestinian reflexive reaction, as well as that of many of their supporters around the world, was that these words came out of Obama’s mouth only because of his need for the Jewish vote in the 2012 election, and because of the nefarious Jewish lobby’s control of US foreign policy. But make no mistake, the broad brushstrokes of Obama’s carefully crafted speech were most definitely shared beforehand not only with Israel, but also with America’s Arab allies—countries like Saudi Arabia, Oman and Jordan—and with its European partners.…

As Abbas takes the podium Friday afternoon, much of the winds—primarily thanks to Obama’s strong speech against the move—have been taken out of the Palestinian sails. While Abbas’s move has definitely not yet run its course, and while there may still be surprises at the UN—let alone violence in the territories—the UN bid is looking increasingly like this summer’s flotilla: More bark than bite; more mild breaker than tsunami.


Gil Troy
Canadian Jewish News, September 15, 2011

On July 15, Ronnie Cahana, the 57-year-old rabbi of Congregation Beth-El in Montreal’s Town of Mount Royal, suffered a massive stroke in his brainstem. He now lies immobilized in the Montreal Neurological Institute, unable to talk, walk or even wave.

Yet, his mind is intact and his spirit is soaring, and from his hospital bed, Rabbi Cahana is teaching his devoted congregants, his loving family and the rest of us, about the soul’s power and Judaism’s deeper meaning, even when we lose the physical, the material. “I live in a broken place,” he said when stricken, “but there’s holy work to do.”

Rabbi Cahana’s body is in trouble. A ventilator and other tubes do for him what most of us do naturally. Nevertheless, he may be the healthiest—and happiest—person I know. “Emotional paralysis is far worse than physical paralysis,” he preaches. “To live humanly is to believe in the pure and the profound. To live Jewishly… is to choose the blessing over the curse. I choose blessing and feel blessed.”

Before the stroke, this gangly, 6’2 Houston-born rabbi was the least Texan Texan, and the most unconventional Conservative rabbi, I knew—I befriended Ronnie and his amazing wife, Karen, decades ago in the Young Judaea Zionist Youth Movement.

A dazzling personality, both vital and ethereal, as well as a passionate Jew and perpetual seeker, Rabbi Cahana has never done small talk. He makes even the most casual interaction intense and intimate. Watching him with his congregants and his family is wondrous. His “How are you?” is never perfunctory. Rather, it’s a sincere probe, asking whether you’re getting the most out of your life, nurturing fulfilling relationships while benefiting from the kind of profound interaction he enjoys with Judaism and God.

Visiting the bedridden rabbi, you brace for heartbreak and emerge uplifted. He mouths words—or laboriously blinks them out. When no one can read his lips, he closes his eyes, and someone starts reciting “a, b, c…” He opens his eyes at the desired letter. The “Blinkischer Rebbe,” as Karen calls him, blinks out stirring weekly sermons, greeting congregants from his “subterranean world,” urging them to use the blow he sustained to experience life and Judaism in new dimensions.

“I know the end will be good,” this rabbinic Stephen Hawking insists. “I did not lose anything. I gained.”

All summer, Rabbi Cahana has bathed in his extraordinary family’s love and laughter—he and Karen have five fabulous children, ages 14 to 23. Karen says it’s hard to despair when he’s so positive, when he delights in “feeling” every prayer for him, “visiting” with his late father, renewing his relationship to Judaism and God by painstakingly re-learning each mitzvah, bringing new meaning to each commandment.

On Tisha b’Av he fasted, demanding that his feeding tube be shut down. Every weekday morning, he puts on tfillin at the same time his congregants do.

“Finding spiritual paths in the hospital while vulnerable and fragile,” he blinked to them, provides “a great delight of the day… I hear the tone, rhythm, the light banter, music and join you. I know our sounds and I listen to your voices. Our prayers are good and honest, and God looks favourably on the kind.”

Currently, he can only wear the head phylacteries. This, he calls “the most healing of privileges. The retzuot [straps] course through the whole body…from the mind. Crown encircles the cranium. In the holiest of holies, the kesher, which we believe lies contiguously off of Hashem’s holy kesher knot, sits on the brainstem to heal, to repair, to purify the world.”

This year, I witnessed the miracles that can occur despite catastrophic brain trauma after my father took a serious fall and recovered remarkably. Rabbi Cahana has already progressed much faster than the doctors predicted. This Rosh Hashanah—as those who can rally around the Cahana family, bombarding them with the love and support they need—we should also learn from the Blinkischer Rebbe’s teaching.

Let us follow him, temporarily, voluntarily, into the realm of the purely spiritual, the world of the soul, his transcendent universe of pure Jewish thought and emotion. And let us return less complacent and more compassionate, less tense and more intense, less alone and more loving, learning that whatever this next year brings, “the end will be good.”



Herb Keinon
Jerusalem Post, September 21, 2011

It took some 34 months, but on Wednesday at the UN Israel finally heard the speech it wanted to hear from US President Barack Obama.

Gone were so many elements of previous Obama speeches on the Middle East that rankled so many Israelis, and left a taste in many people’s mouths that here was a president who simply did not get us; who did not understand our history, our daily reality, or our fears.

Gone was any reference at all to the settlements. Not in this speech were his words from Cairo in June 2009 that did so much to knock the diplomatic process off kilter: “The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop.”

Gone were veiled comparisons between the Palestinian struggle and the US Civil rights movement, as was done in his Cairo speech when, during his discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he said, “For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America’s founding.”

Gone too were infuriating hints that the Jewish people’s link to Israel was the result of its tragic history, not because Israel is the cradle of the Jewish people. Gone too was the striving after perfect balance, talking about the Holocaust in one breath, and then saying in the very next, “On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people—Muslims and Christians—have suffered in pursuit of a homeland.”

No, this was a speech of an entirely different tone and tenor.

This was a speech in which the US President, speaking to the world, gave context to words that other world leaders will undoubtedly spew out over the next two days from the UN podium about Palestinian degradations and humiliations, about the evils of Israeli checkpoints and security barriers and defensive actions. “Let us be honest with ourselves: Israel is surrounded by neighbors that have waged repeated wars against it,” Obama said. “Israel’s citizens have been killed by rockets fired at their houses and suicide bombs on their buses. Israel’s children come of age knowing that throughout the region, other children are taught to hate them. Israel, a small country of less than eight million people, look out at a world where leaders of much larger nations threaten to wipe it off of the map. The Jewish people carry the burden of centuries of exile and persecution, and fresh memories of knowing that six million people were killed simply because of who they are. Those are facts. They cannot be denied.”

That was a dose of empathy and understanding that goes a long way toward explaining so much of Israeli policy, past and present. Looked through this prism the security fence isn’t a land grab, and Operation Cast lead was not just another opportunity by a blood thirsty people to persecute the Palestinians. This was a dose of empathy and understanding Obama had not articulated strongly in the past. Had he mouthed these words during the first few months of his presidency, so much of the tension in the US-Israeli relationship over the last two-and-a-half years could have been avoided.

Speaking to a body often obsessed with the difficult reality under which the Palestinians live, Obama urged the UN to actually consider the Israeli reality as well. “This body—founded, as it was, out of the ashes of war and genocide, dedicated, as it is, to the dignity of every single person—must recognize the reality that is lived by both the Palestinians and the Israelis,” he said. “The measure of our actions must always be whether they advance the right of Israeli and Palestinian children to live lives of peace and security and dignity and opportunity.”

Obama did not jettison his desire to see a Palestinian state, he just gave articulate expression to the truth that it will only come about through talks. In the early days of the Obama tenure, when the president harped on the settlement issue, he created the impression that the US believed that if the settlements were just halted, then the Arab world would pitch in and take steps toward Israel, and everything else would fall into place.

On Wednesday he acknowledged that there were no shortcuts, period. No magic formulas, no silver bullets. As he said, “I know that many are frustrated by a lack of progress. I assure you, so am I.” But this frustration seems to have begot a more realistic appreciation of what is, and what is not, possible.

He even spoke—although not directly—of something not often mentioned publicly by world leaders: of the need for the Palestinians to compromise as well. “Ultimately, peace depends upon compromise among people who must live together long after our speeches are over, long after our votes have been tallied,” he said.

Cynics will argue that Obama doesn’t mean it, but that he is just mouthing the words—pandering to the Jews, worried about re-election, re-calibrating his message after a Democrat was roundly defeated by a Republican in a heavily Jewish congressional district that the Republicans have not represented in nearly 90 years. No one can read into his heart, but the words—at this time, at that forum, in the manner in which they were expressed—do matter.…

At the UN podium on Wednesday, Obama sent a message—whatever the reasons for that message may have been—that between Israel and the US there will be no wedge. And that is not an insignificant message.


Alan M. Dershowitz
Jerusalem Magazine, September 22, 2001

The United Nations is being asked to grant the Palestinians the status of a “state,” for at least some purposes.  The question arises what kind of a state will it be? In an effort to attract Western support, the Palestinian Authority claims that it will become another “secular democratic state.” Hamas, which won the last parliamentary election, disagrees. It wants Palestine to be a Muslim state governed by Sharia Law.

We know what the Palestinian leadership is saying to the West. Now let’s look at what its saying to its own people, who will, after all, be the ultimate decision makers if Palestine is indeed a democracy.

The draft constitution for the new state of Palestine declares that “Islam is the official religion in Palestine.” It also states that Sharia Law will be “the major source of legislation.” It is ironic that the same Palestinian leadership which supports these concepts for Palestine refuses to acknowledge that Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people. Israel, in contrast to the proposed Palestinian state, does not have an official state religion. Although it is a Jewish state, that description is not a religious one but rather a national one. It accords equal rights to Islam, Christianity and all other religions, as well as to atheists and agnostics. Indeed, a very high proportion of Israelis describe themselves as secular.

The new Palestinian state would prohibit any Jews from being citizens, from owning land or from even living in the Muslim state of Palestine. The Ambassador of the PLO to the United States was asked during an interview whether “any Jew who is inside the borders of Palestine will have to leave?” His answer: “Absolutely!” After much criticism, the Ambassador tried to spin his statement, saying that it applied only to Jews “who are amid the occupation.”

Whatever that means, one thing is clear: large numbers of Jews will not be welcome to remain in Islamic Palestine as equal citizens. In contrast, Israel has more than 1 million Arab citizens, most of whom are Muslims. They are equal under the law, except that they need not serve in the Israeli army.

The new Palestine will have the very “law of return” that it demands that Israel should give up. All Palestinians, no matter where they live and regardless of whether they have ever set foot in Palestine, will be welcome to the new state, while a Jew whose family has lived in Hebron for thousands of years will be excluded.…

It is noteworthy that the very people who complain most loudly about Israel’s law of return and about its character as the nation state of the Jewish people, are silent when it comes to the new Palestinian state. Is it that these people expect more of Jews than they do of Muslims? If so, is that not a form of racism?

What would the borders of a Palestinian state look like if the Palestinians got their way without the need to negotiate with Israel? The Palestinians would get, as a starting point, all of the land previously occupied by Jordan prior to the 1967 War, in which Jordan attacked Israel. This return to the status quo that led to the 6 Day War is inconsistent with the intention of Security Council Resolution 242, which contemplated some territorial changes.

The new boundaries of this Palestinian state would include Judaism’s holiest place, the Western Wall. It would also include the access roads to Hebrew University, which Jordan used to close down this great institution of learning founded by the Jews nearly 100 years ago. The new Palestinian state would also incorporate the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem, in which Jews have lived for 3000 years, except for those periods of time during which they were expelled by force.

It is contemplated, of course, that Israel would regain these areas as part of a land swap with the Palestinians. But there is no certainty that the Palestinians would agree to a reasonable land swap. Palestinian leaders have already said that they would hold these important and sacred sites hostage to unreasonable demands. For example, the Western Wall covers only a few acres, but the Palestinian leadership has indicated that these acres are among the most valuable in the world, and in order for Israel to regain them, they would have to surrender thousands of acres. The same might be true of the access road to Hebrew University and the Jewish Quarter.…

An Apartheid, Islamic, Judenrein Palestine on the 1967 borders is a prescription for disaster. That is why a reasonable Palestinian state must be the outcome of negotiations with Israel, and not the result of a thoughtless vote by the United Nations.…


Irwin Cotler

National Post, September 22, 2011

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s impending visit to United Nations is a cruel parody of law. Ahmadinejad will enter the U.S. despite being inadmissible under American law. He will address the United Nations General Assembly despite being in violation of its UN Charter and international law. And, he will be indulged—even feted—by universities, institutes and the media, thereby sanitizing his crimes and mocking the suffering of the Iranian people.

This charade—repeated annually since 2007—ignores and undermines basic principles of domestic, international and humanitarian law.

First, President Ahmadinejad belongs on the U.S. “watchlist” of persons barred from entry—those who “aid terrorists…persecute religious minorities…or commit or incite to genocide.” Indeed, President Barack Obama issued a proclamation just last month barring entry for persons “who participate in serious human rights and humanitarian law violations and other abuses.”

The evidence of Ahmadinejad’s criminality on each of these counts is compelling. The recent U.S. State Department Annual Report lists Iran as a leading state sponsor of international terrorism. Iran directly supports terrorist proxies such as Hamas and Hezbollah, whose platforms and policies are replete with genocidal calls.

Under Ahmadinejad, Iran has intensified its persecution and prosecution of religious minorities, especially the Baha’i—its largest religious minority—whose members are subject to harassment, repression, torture, imprisonment and execution. As for Christians, whose persecution has also accelerated, even praying together is a criminal act. These assaults on the religious rights of his own people, combined with the many other repressive acts carried out by his regime, are crimes against humanity.

Ahmadinejad’s violations of the Genocide Convention’s prohibition against “direct and public incitement to genocide”—symbolized by parading down the streets of Tehran with a Shiab-3 missile draped with the emblem “Wipe Israel off the map”—is cause alone for exclusion.

A person who pursues the world’s most destructive weaponry in violation of Security Council resolutions; who has already committed the crime of incitement to genocide in violation of international law; who is complicit in crimes against humanity; and who engages in massive domestic repression against his own people belongs in the dock of the accused, not at the world’s most watched podium.

Yet, Ahmadinejad has been admitted before and is likely to be admitted again. How can this be?

In 1947, the U.S. and the UN signed a treaty wherein the U.S. agreed not to impede access of representatives of member states to the UN headquarters in New York. This “Headquarters Agreement” is said to trump American domestic law. But the Vienna Law of Treaties states that responding to crimes against humanity overrides any treaty. Ahmadinejad’s crimes qualify. Nor would this be the first time a sitting head of state was denied entry—in 1987, Austria’s Kurt Waldheim was barred for complicity in war crimes committed during the Second World War.

If the U.S. allows him entry, Ahmadinejad’s travel should be restricted to only those parts of New York under UN control, the Iranian Mission and the airport. He should be shunned like the criminal he is. Further, countries like the U.S. and Canada should fulfill their responsibilities under international law—including the Genocide Convention—and refer the Iranian leaders’ criminal incitement to genocide to appropriate UN agencies. It is astonishing that this criminal incitement has yet to be addressed by any UN body, though the UN finds it fit to give Ahmadinejad a podium.

Inter-state complaints against Iran could be initiated at the International Court of Justice, while Ahmadinejad and his cohorts could be made to answer for their crimes at the International Criminal Court. President Ahmadinejad and other Iranian leaders should be placed on a “watchlist” by concerned countries, preventing their entrance as “inadmissible persons.”

Finally, strong sanctions should be adopted—and enforced—not only for Iran’s continued pursuit of nuclear weapons, but for its sponsorship of international terrorism and systemic violations of human rights.

History shows that sustained international juridical efforts can bring dictators like Milosevic and Pinochet to justice. Our choice is clear: We can either act or be on the wrong side of history.

(Irwin Cotler, a Canadian Member of Parliament,
is the former Canadian Minister of Justice and Attorney General.


David B. Rivkin Jr. & Lee A. Casey

Wall Street Journal, September 20, 2011

Later this week Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to seek recognition of a Palestinian state from the United Nations. The move is opposed by the Obama administration, which has rightly called it a “distraction.” Nevertheless, the PA’s effort has wide support among the U.N. membership, including Security Council members Russia, China and Britain, as well as other important regional states such as Turkey. These powers should think again because putting the U.N.—and particularly the General Assembly—in the business of state recognition is inconsistent with international law and the U.N. Charter, and it is manifestly not in their interests.

The U.N.—General Assembly or Security Council—has no power to create states or to grant all-important formal “recognition” to state aspirants. The right to recognize statehood is a fundamental attribute of sovereignty and the United Nations is not a sovereign. Those who cite as precedent the General Assembly’s 1947 resolution providing for the partition of Palestine misread that instrument and its legal significance.

Resolution 181 outlined a detailed (and rigorous) process whereby the British Mandate in Palestine was to end and two new states, one Jewish and one Arab, were to be established. It recommended that process to Great Britain (as the mandate-holder) and to other U.N. members. It did not create or recognize these states, nor were the proposed states granted automatic admission to the United Nations. Rather, once the two states were established as states, the resolution provided that “sympathetic consideration” should be given to their membership applications.

In the event, the Arab countries rejected partition and Israel declared (and successfully defended) its independence. Israel’s statehood was recognized, in accordance with international law, by other states—including the United States and the Soviet Union.

The Palestinian Authority, by contrast, does not meet the basic characteristics of a state necessary for such recognition. These requirements have been refined through centuries of custom and practice, and were authoritatively articulated in the 1933 Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States. As that treaty provides, to be a state an entity must have (1) a permanent population, (2) a defined territory, (3) a government, and (4) the capacity to enter into relations with other states.

As of today, the PA has neither a permanent population nor defined territory (both being the subject of ongoing if currently desultory negotiations), nor does it have a government with the capacity to enter into relations with other states. This pivotal requirement involves the ability to enter and keep international accords, which in turn posits that the “government” actually controls—exclusive of other sovereigns—at least some part of its population and territory. The PA does not control any part of the West Bank to the exclusion of Israeli authority, and it exercises no control at all in the Gaza Strip.

The PA does not, therefore, qualify for recognition as a state and, concomitantly, it does not qualify for U.N. membership, which is open only to states. All of this is surely understood by the PA and its backers, and is also why the administration has correctly labeled this effort as a distraction—“stunt” being a less diplomatic but even more accurate term in these circumstances. What is unfortunate is that the Obama administration has failed to present the case against a Palestinian statehood resolution in legal rather than tactical terms, even though these arguments are obvious and would greatly reinforce the U.S. position, also providing a thoroughly neutral basis for many of our allies, particularly in Europe, to oppose Mr. Abbas’s statehood bid.

The stakes in this battle are high. The PA’s effort to achieve recognition by the U.N., even if legally meaningless, is not without serious consequences. To the extent that state supporters of that measure may themselves have irredentist populations or active border disputes with their neighbors—as do Russia, China, Britain and Turkey—they will certainly store up future trouble for themselves.

Traditionally, states rarely recognize (even if they may materially support) independence movements in other states. This is because granting such recognition may have very serious consequences, up to and including war. (The classic example here being France’s recognition of the infant United States in 1778 and its immediate and inevitable entry into the War for Independence against Britain).

With respect to Israel, although it does not actually claim all of the territory on which the “State of Palestine” would be established, it is and has been engaged in difficult negotiations over that territory—and the PA’s status—for many years. Support for U.N. recognition might not rise to the level of an act of aggression against Israel, but the U.N. Charter also forbids members to act in a “manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.” First among those purposes is maintaining international peace and security, and efforts prematurely to force recognition of a Palestinian state clearly undercut this goal. This is, in fact, a rare instance in which a measure is bad policy, bad law, and has the real potential to damage the interests of its opponents and its supporters.

(Messrs. Rivkin and Casey are Washington, D.C., lawyers who served
in the Justice Department during the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations.


Media-o-crity of the Week

There are Jews who are trending toward the Republican Party, some of it because of their misunderstanding of Obama’s policies in the Middle East, and some of it, quite frankly, for economic reasons. They feel they want to protect their wealth.”—Democratic congressman Henry Waxman, following Republican Bob Turner’s landslide victory in a heavily Jewish New York Congressional district, claiming that the election results are not correlated to U.S. President Barack Obama’s perceived hostility towards Israel, but rather reflect Jews’ concerns about their money. (Contentions, September 16.)

Weekly Quotes


America’s commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable.… So we believe that any lasting peace must acknowledge the very real security concerns that Israel faces every single day. Let’s be honest: Israel is surrounded by neighbors that have waged repeated wars against it. Israel’s citizens have been killed by rockets fired at their houses and suicide bombs on their buses. Israel’s children come of age knowing that throughout the region, other children are taught to hate them. Israel, a small country of less than eight million people, looks out at a world where leaders of much larger nations threaten to wipe it off of the map. The Jewish people carry the burden of centuries of exile, and persecution, and the fresh memory of knowing that six million people were killed simply because of who they are.”—U.S. President Barack Obama, at the opening of the UN General Assembly in New York, affirming that the U.S.’ “friendship with Israel is deep and enduring,” and emphasizing that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be resolved “with negotiations between the parties.” (JTA, September 21.)


We view this unilateral action on behalf of the Palestinian Authority to be not helpful…in terms of establishing a long-run peace in the Middle East. Canada views the action as very regrettable and we will be opposing it at the United Nations.”—Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, reiterating Canada’s opposition to the Palestinians’ upcoming bid to obtain a unilateral declaration of statehood at the UN. (Toronto Star, September 16.)


This week I will leave for the US. On Wednesday I will meet with US President Barack Obama and other world leaders and afterwards I will address the UN General Assembly. The UN is not a place where Israel wins praise, but I think that it is important that I go there in order to represent both the State of Israel and the truth…and the truth is that Israel wants peace and the truth is that the Palestinians are doing everything to torpedo direct peace negotiations.… The [Palestinians] need to understand that, despite their current attempt to again overturn the negotiations by going to the UN, peace will be achieved only through direct negotiations.”—Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, at the weekly Cabinet meeting, announcing that he will travel to New York to “personally convey [Israel’s] message of…peace at the [UN] General Assembly,” and reaffirming his belief that the Palestinians’ “attempt to be accepted as a member of the UN will fail.” (Ynet News, September 15 & Independent Media Review and Analysis, September 18.)


The Palestinian people and their leadership will pass through very difficult times after the Palestinian approach to the United Nations.…”—Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, confirming that the PA is facing “huge” international pressure to abandon its UN statehood gambit, a situation he describes as “all hell has broken out against us [Palestinians].” (Jerusalem Post, September 19.)


Dear Mr. President.… We are deeply disappointed that President Mahmoud Abbas appears determined to scorn your persistent efforts to persuade him to return to the negotiating table with Israel and instead seek unilateral diplomatic action in New York that will only set back the prospects for peace. We are also troubled by the anti-Israeli rhetoric that Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan has displayed in recent weeks in the wake of the Palmer Report.… Lastly, the attack on the Israeli Embassy in Cairo earlier this month by a mob was profoundly unsettling.…  We believe it is imperative for you to speak strongly, forthrightly and publicly about U.S. concerns over these developments. We need to make it clear that we will not tolerate continued threats to Israel by governments or individuals in the region or attempts to delegitimize Israel at the UN or other international forums.…”—Letter written by 14 U.S. Senators to Barack Obama, calling on the U.S. President to issue a strongly worded defense of Israel during his address to the United Nations General Assembly, as “The world needs to hear unequivocally…that Israel—[the U.S.’] friend, ally, and strategic partner—is not alone in facing these threats.”. (Website of U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, September 19.)


Israel will not vote for Palestinian statehood, because the U.N. vote is more a referendum on Israel than it is on Palestine. Marginalized as never before, Israel is now witness to Iran’s continuing nuclear aspirations, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s cozying up to Iran by threatening Israel and Egyptian masses who despise Israel simply for existing. Iran, Turkey and Egypt have assumed their positions because of radicalization in the Arab world, not because of anything to do with the Palestinians.… Just days ago, Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority claimed that the Palestinians’ land had been occupied for 63 years. The ‘occupation’ to which he refers is thus not the result of Israel’s victory in 1967, but rather, Israel’s very creation in 1948.…”—President of the Shalem Foundation, Daniel Gordis, explaining in part Israel’s opposition to the Palestinians’ UN statehood gambit, which, he claims, “the Palestinians are explicitly transforming…into a referendum on Israel.” (NY Times, September 14.)


Like you, I have read suggestions by newspaper columnists and observers that…Israel is ‘isolating itself’ in the Middle East. That view is wrong, and always has been wrong. Israel is not isolating itself—Israel is leading in the Middle East.… We’re here to see that Israel continues to thrive—and to make clear it is America’s duty to stand by her side. Not just as a broker or observer—but as a strong partner and reliable ally.”—Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, John Boehner, conveying Congress’ unwavering support for Israel, and affirming that “Israel does not stand alone—Israel stands above as the one true beacon of freedom and opportunity in the Middle East.” (Weekly Standard, September 19.)


Unfortunate errors by the Obama administration have encouraged the Palestinians to take steps backward away from peace.”—Governor of Texas and leading Republican presidential candidate, Rick Perry, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, attributing the PA’s UN gambit to U.S. president Obama’s bumbling of the “peace process”, and calling on the U.S. to “affirm that the precondition for any properly negotiated settlement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority is the formal recognition of the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state behind secure borders.” (JTA, September 18.)


The fact of the matter is that there is nothing in the [1995] Interim Agreement [on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip]…and under Oslo that prohibits settlement activity.… The statement was technically correct.…”—U.S. Department of State representative, James B. Foley, at the Daily Press Briefing, confirming the veracity of former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright’s earlier assertion, in an interview with The Today Show’s Matt Lauer, that Israeli settlement activity is legal within the context of the Oslo Accords and subsequent Israeli-Palestinian agreements. (Independent Media Review and Analysis, September 21.)


Even Palestinian refugees who are living in [refugee camps] inside the [Palestinian] state…will not be considered citizens.”—Palestinian “ambassador” to Lebanon, Abdullah Abdullah, confirming that Palestinian refugees, even those currently residing in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, will not become citizens of a future Palestinian state, and will “absolutely not” be issued Palestinian passports. Abdullah added that “When we [Palestinians] have a state accepted as a member of the United Nations, this is not the end of the [Israeli-Palestinian] conflict.” (The Lebanon Daily Star, September 15.)


The Palestinian Authority’s path of unilateralism and reneging on its commitments bode extremely ill…for a peaceful resolution to our conflict.… Future assistance and cooperation could be severely…compromised if the Palestinian leadership continues on its path of essentially acting in contravention of all signed agreements [including the Oslo Accords] which also regulate existing economic relations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.”—Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Danny Ayalon, speaking at the UN’s Palestinian Donors Conference, confirming that Israeli-Palestinian economic cooperation may be “irreparably” damaged should the Palestinians unilaterally declare statehood. (Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, September 19.)


Dear Madam High Commissioner, We write to strongly protest the UN’s unprecedented decision to exclude UN Watch, an ECOSOC-accredited non-governmental organization, from [this] Thursday’s high-level meeting to commemorate the Durban Declaration. The rejection of our application was carried out without any notice or semblance of due process, and is an act of discrimination.”—Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, “the only watchdog group mandated to monitor the UN according to the principles of its charter,” in a letter written to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navanethem Pillay, condemning the UN’s decision to ban the Geneva-based group from attending the upcoming anti-Israel Durban III Conference, and urging Pillay “to speak out against this injustice, which undermines the UN’s credibility in combatting discrimination.” (UN Watch, September 15.)


Poland is to be congratulated for pulling-out of Durban III.… The UN and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation is attempting to hijack world leaders…to force them to be part of this appalling attack on Israel and human rights.…”—Human rights scholar and editor of Eye on the UN,Anne Bayefsky, lauding Poland for its decision to boycott the UN’s upcoming Durban III conference. British Prime Minister David Cameron also confirmed this week that “the UK will play no part in this conference,” adding that in the past the World Conference on Racism saw “open displays” of “deplorable anti-Semitism,” (Jerusalem Post, September 14 & 15.)


The Zionist regime is always doing the same thing. They destroy people’s homes and raze them to the ground. They have created a few major wars. They continue to assassinate and terrorize people; they continue their policy of coercion against other nations, including Iran.”—Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in an interview with the Washington Post, dubbing Zionism “a dreadful party, a feared party,” and claiming that the movement “was behind the First World War and the Second World War.” Weighing in on the Palestinians’ upcoming UN bid to obtain a unilateral declaration of statehood, Ahmadinejad referred to the cause as “the beginning of the liberation of the entire Palestinian land. The Palestinian nation existed before the Palestinians had unwanted guests pour into Palestine with guns.” (Ynet News, September 14.)


The Camp David agreement is not a sacred thing and is always open to discussion.”—Egypt’s Prime Minister, Essam Sharaf,  in an interview broadcast on Turkish state television, affirming Egypt’s right “make a change if needed” to the 1979 Egypt-Israel peace treaty. (Jerusalem Post, September 15.)


The government should take a fast step in removing the Israeli embassy from Amman in light of continued Zionist violations against the sovereignty and interests of Jordan.”—Excerpts from a statement issued by Jordan’s main opposition party, The Islamic Action Front, urging the Jordanian government to sever ties with Israel. Last week, Israel was forced to evacuate its embassy in Jordan, hours before an organized march under the banner (in Arabic) of “No Zionist Embassy on Jordanian Territory.” (Independent Media Review and Analysis, September 11 & Jerusalem Post, September 14.)


It’s hard to describe the sense of pride we felt, standing here with a local orchestra playing the [Israeli] anthem and seeing the flag flying in the background.”—Newly appointed Israeli Ambassador to Ghana, Sharon Bar-Lee, describing the official opening of the Israeli Embassy in Accra, capital city of Ghana, following the renewal of full diplomatic between the two nations some 38 years after ties were severed in wake of the Yom Kippur War. (Ynet News, September 15.)


Short Takes


BARAK CONVINCES NIGERIA TO VOTE AGAINST PA UN STATE BID—(Jerusalem) Israel’s Defense Ministry has released a statement confirming that Defense Minister Ehud Barak has convinced Nigeria to not support the Palestinian statehood bid. Israel’s Army Radio also reported that Gabon has not yet decided if it will back the Palestinians’ gambit. Until this week, Israel was sure that Gabon would support the Palestinians’ cause, giving the Palestinian Authority a majority in the Security Council. Should Gabon decide to withdraw its support, a resolution would not pass in the Security Council and the United States would not need to use its veto. (Jerusalem Post, September 20.)


U.S. PLANS TO DELAY SC VOTE ON PALESTINIAN STATEHOOD—(United Nations) According to officials, the U.S. and its European allies plan to delay a U.N. Security Council vote on Palestinian membership well beyond this week. Diplomats said that the Security Council will refer the forthcoming application to a panel for further study, a process which could take months, to enable the Quartet—which comprises the U.S., U.N., European Union, and Russia—to continue to develop a new negotiating framework for the resumption of talks. Officials also confirmed that the U.S. and Europeans will attempt to water down any resolution on Palestinian statehood presented to the General Assembly so as to keep the peace process alive. (Wall Street Journal, September 21.)


LIEBERMAN TAKES ON PLO’S ‘JUDENREIN PALESTINE’ REMARKS—(Jerusalem) Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has directed Foreign Ministry officials to submit a formal protest to the US and EU over the remarks made by the PLO’s ambassador to the US, Maen Areikat, in which he said that the future Palestinian state would be “free of Jews”. In an announcement distributed by Lieberman, he said that Areikat’s assertion correlates with similar declarations made by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, which, together, prove that the Palestinian leadership has adopted the “Judenrein” ideology. “It is advisable for the world’s nations to take these statements into account when discussing the Palestinian request to establish an independent state,” Lieberman affirmed. (Ynet News, September 15.)


HAMAS SLAMS ABBAS OVER UN BID—(Jerusalem) Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh has come out against the Palestinian campaign to achieve UN statehood recognition, describing the move as a “political adventure which does not reflect national or Arab consensus.” Haniyeh stressed that “no leadership [may] toy with the Palestinians’ rights or serve up concessions,” insisting that the Palestinian “right of return” not be yielded, and that the Palestinian people not recognize the State of Israel. Last week, Hamas official Khalil al-Haya expressed hope that the UN would recognize a Palestinian state not along the 1967 borders, but rather on all of Israel’s territory. (Ynet News, September 18.)


MOTHER OF 4 TERRORISTS CHOSEN BY THE PA TO LAUNCH STATEHOOD CAMPAIGN—(Jerusalem) The Palestinian Authority has chosen the mother of four terrorists as the person to launch its statehood campaign at the UN. In a widely publicized event, the PA had Latifa Abu Hmeid lead a procession to the UN offices in Ramallah and to hand over a letter destined for the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. The official PA daily reported that she is the “mother of seven prisoners [jailed in Israel],” four of whom are murderers. Last year, the PA Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs, Issa Karake, honored Abu Hmeid with an award, “The Plaque of Resoluteness and Giving.” The PA minister explained that “It is she who gave birth to the fighters, and she deserves that we bow to her in salute and in honor.” (Palestinian Media Watch, September 18.)


UN DIPLOMATS SAY COUNTRIES BEING INTIMIDATED INTO SUPPORTING PALESTINIAN BID—(Jerusalem) UN diplomats from various countries have confirmed that their support for the Palestinian statehood bid stems from fear of revenge from Muslim and Arab nations loyal to the Palestinian cause. Sources said that some countries will support the Palestinians because Muslim and Arab countries have threatened to take punitive measures against them, specifically by thwarting appeals to the Security Council or bids to be appointed to important UN bodies. Diplomats have pointed to Australia as an example of this intimidation, as Australia is already pushing its nomination for a seat on the Security Council next year. (Haaretz, September 15.)


IDF BOOSTS WEST BANK PRESENCE AHEAD OF UN BID—(Jerusalem) The IDF Central Command has raised its alertness level in the West Bank ahead of this week’s Palestinian bid for statehood recognition in the UN. Reserves from at least three regiments have been mobilized in order to reinforce troops levels, and additional reserves have been prepared to mobilize in a state of emergency. The IDF has also completed its training of the settlement civilian response units in the event that mass Palestinian demonstrations lead to conflicts in West Bank settlements. GOC Central Command Avi Mizrahi’s directives are that senior commanders be placed at the forefront of every incident and that restraint be exercised in order to avoid casualties. (Ynet News, September 16.)


JEWISH GROUP WARNS COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY OVER ILLEGALITY OF PLANNED BANQUET FOR IRANIAN LEADER—(Jerusalem) Jewish civil rights group Shurat HaDin—Israel Law Center—has sent a warning letter to Columbia University President Lee Bollinger advising him that Columbia’s plan to host a banquet for visiting Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad contravenes U.S. anti-terror laws and will subject the university and its officials to both criminal prosecution and civil liability to victims of Iranian-sponsored terrorism. The letter explains that Iran has been designated as a state sponsor of terrorism by the United States (22 U.S.C 2656f) and that the provision of any support by U.S. persons, including the planned banquet for Ahmadinejad, is considered unlawful provision of aid to the outlawed regime. The Law Center stated that victims of Iranian terrorism will file civil actions and hold Columbia liable for their injuries if the event proceeds. (Independent Media Review and Analysis, September 14.)


EGYPT BANS LULAV EXPORTS TO ISRAEL, DIASPORA—(Jerusalem) Egypt has banned the export of palm fronds to Israel and Jewish communities abroad, leading to fears of a lulav shortage for the Sukkot holiday. Israel had previously imported about 700,000 palm fronds a year in the run-up to Sukkot, approximately 40 percent of the annual demand, and another 700,000 of the 2 million lulavs used in Diaspora Jewish communities also historically came from Egypt. Israel’s Agricultural Ministry has issued special licenses to import lulavs from Jordan, the Gaza Strip and Spain, and is encouraging local palm farmers to increase their production. While Egypt reportedly has not given a reason for banning the palm export, it is believed that the current unstable relations between the two countries is the cause. (JTA, September 19.)


UK AMENDS LAW TO PROTECT ISRAELI OFFICIALS FROM PROSECUTION—(Jerusalem) The United Kingdom has approved an amendment to the universal jurisdiction law, which previously allowed private individuals to obtain arrest warrants, on charges of “war crimes,”  for Israeli dignitaries visiting the UK. UK Ambassador to Israel, Matthew Gould, stated that the Queen of England had signed the measure into law, and that “The change will ensure that people cannot be detained when there is no realistic chance of prosecution.” The law had allowed a warrant to be issued in December 2009 for the arrest of former Israeli  Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who had been scheduled to visit to address a Jewish group. (Jerusalem Post, September 15.)



[National PostManaging Editor for Comment], Jonathan Kay, sat down with Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman during his recent visit to Toronto. Below is an edited transcript of their conversation:

Kay: If the Palestinians get what they want at the United Nations General Assembly, how will your job change?

Lieberman: I don’t think that it will change my job. [But] I think it will change the reality on the ground. Since [Benjamin Netanyahu] established this government, the Palestinian Authority [has] enjoyed…8-9% economic growth in [the West Bank].… We have diminished dramatically the number of roadblocks [in order to] provide access and movement. We created very good relations on the ground.… There is very efficient security co-operation. [But] with this unilateral resolution, I am afraid they will lose all this co-operation.…

A [unilateral declaration of independence would be a] very bad precedent for other parts of the world. You have many territorial and political disputes between different countries and entities like Transnistria [in eastern Moldova], Cyprus, South America, Kashmir, etc.… Everybody must think about what will be the future of these disputes if you create this precedent.

Kay: Several months ago, the World Bank and IMF said that the West Bank had the financial tools to create an independent state. Do you agree?

Lieberman: No. You need to fulfill a lot of conditions to create your own national state. First of all, we have a divided Palestinian Authority. You have de facto Hamastan in Gaza Strip and you have Fatah [ruling] in [the West Bank]. They postponed three times their elections. Can you imagine that in Canada you postponed elections after the legal date? [Palestinian Authority President] Mahmoud Abbas has postponed local elections because he knows he will lose to Hamas.

When we ask Abbas why [Israel] should continue to be under [assault] every week from Gaza Strip—and you must understand that Israel suffered since [its] disengagement [from Gaza in 2005] about 12,000 missiles and shells on southern Israel, on peaceful towns—when we ask him, he says ‘What do you want from me, I’m not responsible. I’m not in power there [in Gaza].’ But now, when he goes to the UN, he says: ‘I’m the representative of all Palestinian people…including Gaza.’

To create a normal state, you must first of all create at least normal conditions that are similar to those of normal countries. You have more than 40% unemployment in Gaza—that’s far from normal.… The biggest problem between us and Palestinians, it’s not territory. It’s GDP per capita. In Israel, it’s more than $30,000. In the Palestinian Authority, it’s only $3,000. I say that when the Palestinians achieve at least $15,000 GDP per capita, we will achieve a comprehensive solution. But it’s still a long way.…

Kay: Recep Erdogan, the Prime Minister of Turkey, recently went to Egypt and devoted much of his time to criticizing Israel. Are his sentiments genuine—or is he merely trying to improve his profile in the Arab world?

Lieberman: I can only refer to the facts.… It’s very important [to] read his biography. [He’s] very Islamistic. He was in prison for his illegal Islamistic activity.… [Turkey’s leaders] describe their vision as ‘neo-Ottomanic’.… Their clear and public intention is to be a leader of the Islamic world. For this purpose, any confrontation and friction with Israel [means] they gain only more popularity and support.… Every confrontation with Israel is a win-win situation.… We must take his threats very seriously.

Kay: Were you surprised that Greece was so helpful in defusing the second Gaza flotilla this summer?

Lieberman: No—because we have established good co-operation with many countries…not just the United States and Canada. I think that there is more and more understanding in the Western world that Israel is now on the front line [of a battle involving] not just the Jewish people but all Western civilization.…

There is a popular view that the Israel-Palestinian conflict is at the heart of the Middle East’s problems. But I think that today it is clear that this is a misunderstanding.… I don’t see any links between our relations with the Palestinians, and the uprising in Tunisia or clashes in Bahrain or the violence in Libya or bloodshed in Yemen. When we speak about the problems of the Arab world, the biggest problem is that the middle class doesn’t exist. For a strong democracy, for freedom, you need a middle class.… The main reason for the revolution in Egypt, it’s not Zionism or the Jewish people or the Palestinians, but poverty and misery and unemployment.

Kay: Many conservatives believe Barack Obama has little interest, or regard, for Israel. What do you think of this?

Lieberman: I think this is a huge mistake. We saw [what] Barack Obama [did] during the last crisis around our embassy in Cairo. The White House has clarified their position regarding the Palestinian request for unilateral recognitions—they will use their veto [at the Security Council]. But you know, our friendship with the United States isn’t just based on personal contacts and relations, but it’s mutual values and economic co-operation, people-to-people diplomacy, history, the Jewish community. It’s a very strong relationship.… (National Post, September 20.)


Ron Prosor
LA Times, September 19, 2011

In Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” the heroine falls down a rabbit hole into a confusing fantasy world. Writing today, Carroll might have placed Alice in the 66th General Assembly of the United Nations, where Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas plans this week to seek U.N. recognition of statehood. If Alice was perplexed by the Mad Hatter or the Queen of Hearts, it would be interesting to see her reaction to a president whose mandate has long expired applying for statehood over territory, part of which he is too afraid to visit. Her confusion would be compounded on discovering that a majority of the world’s states were happy to indulge this fantasy.

The Palestinian Authority’s bid is likely to pass in the General Assembly, where voting dynamics effectively ensure that nearly every Palestinian whim is rubber-stamped. The truth is that the head of the Palestinian Authority has absolutely no authority in the Gaza Strip. Abbas has not set foot in Gaza since the Hamas terrorist organization carried out a bloody coup and took control of the area in 2007. It’s like New York City electing a mayor who is unable to travel to Brooklyn.

Every state recognized by the U.N. has the obligation to be willing and able to exert its authority over its own territory. Is Abbas willing and able to control Hamas? Perhaps the citizens of southern Israel, semi-permanent residents of bomb shelters, could offer an informed answer. The continued rain of Hamas rockets, mortar shells and missiles on Israeli homes, hospitals and schools provides a vivid illustration that the Palestinian Authority is both unwilling and unable to uphold this basic requirement.

In supporting this initiative, many in the international community seem willing to sweep issues of Palestinian terrorism, incitement and lack of coherent governance under the carpet. They are only indulging a march of folly. The General Assembly cannot create a Palestinian state—and a unilateral action would be bad for peace, bad for our region and, above all, bad for advancing the Palestinians’ aspirations for genuine statehood.…

What would a yes vote by the General Assembly do?

First, it would feed the fantasy that compromises reached in negotiations can be bypassed. John F. Kennedy once described the impossibility of working with those who say “What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is negotiable.” The basic premise of the Palestinians’ U.N. bid is this: Give us everything without negotiation, and then we will negotiate about the rest.

True friends of the Palestinians in the international community should urge them to return immediately to direct talks with Israel. No one but Israelis and Palestinians, on their own, at the table, can face the major challenges that must be addressed if peace is to be achieved.…

Voting for this unilateral gambit is a recipe for instability, the breakdown of cooperation and, potentially, violence. Passing resolutions in the General Assembly requires no concessions, no leadership and no responsibility from the Palestinians. The inevitable talks with Israel will not be as easy. They will entail hard work, frustration and many sleepless nights, but negotiations remain the only way forward.…

The pursuit of virtual statehood falls in the same realm of fantasy that Alice discovers in Wonderland, all white rabbits and red herrings. Only in the real world, in a direct dialogue filled with difficult truths and serious compromises, can Israelis and Palestinians forge a viable, secure and long-lasting peace.

(Ron Prosor is Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations.)


Isi Leibler
Jerusalem Post, September 7, 2011

On September [23], the vast majority of the 192 member countries of the United Nations will probably “recognize” a Palestinian state.

The “recognition” will not be accompanied with caveats about dismantling PA terrorist organizations such as Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades or ending the incitement to hatred and murder of Jews and Israelis that pervades all levels of Palestinian society. There will be no requirements for demilitarization. Nor will negotiations by the PA to unite with the genocidal Hamas be curtailed. The Palestinians will not be obliged to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and will continue demanding the Arab right of return to it.

Renewal of negotiations with Israel are unlikely because the Palestinians realize that their goals can be more effectively achieved by leveraging international pressure on us to make further unilateral concessions—and dismantle us in stages.

This event will be followed by Durban III, a UN-endorsed hate fest designed to delegitimize and demonize the Jewish state. The principal participant will be Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who recently predicted that the UN recognition of Palestinian statehood would represent the first step toward the inevitable elimination of the Jewish state. Like the preceding meetings in 2001 and 2009, this purportedly “anti-racist conference” will overwhelmingly concentrate on spewing venom against Israel.

The founders of the United Nations, who after the defeat of Nazism endorsed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, could never have visualized that the organization they created would become controlled by dictatorships and tyrannies and transformed into a platform for promoting genocide. This was exemplified by the Libyan representative serving as president of the UN General Assembly in 2009, succeeded in July this year by Qatar with Iran as a vice president; genocidal Iranian president Ahmadinejad repeatedly addressing the General Assembly as an honored guest; North Korea, renowned proliferator of nuclear arms, elected to chair the Conference on Disarmament; and Iran, notorious for stoning women for adultery, appointed to the UN Commission on the Status of Women.

But nothing beats the bizarre UN Human Rights Council, 80 percent of whose members, according to the Freedom House index for 2010, are either “not free” or “partly free” countries. Not surprisingly, scoundrels are appointed to positions of authority. Thus we have Richard Falk, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Palestinian territories, who claimed that the US backed and executed the 9/11 attacks, and recently also posted an anti-Semitic cartoon on his website. The Advisory Committee is chaired by Morocco’s Halima Warzawi, who previously blocked an effort to condemn Saddam Hussein for gassing 30,000 Kurds. It also includes Jean Ziegler from Switzerland, who praises Fidel Castro and Zimbabwe dictator Robert Mugabe and co-founded the “Gaddafi International Prize for Human Rights”—the recipients of which included Holocaust denier Roger Garaudy, Louis Farrakhan and Hugo Chavez.…

In this degenerate UN Human Rights Council, a pogrom environment dominates, with 70% of all resolutions directed against Israel. This also applies to the General Assembly, where demonizing, delegitimizing and attributing all the woes of the world to the Jewish state is reminiscent of the Middle Ages, when Jews were blamed as the principal source of all the evils confronting mankind.…

So how should we respond to the impending vote on Palestinian statehood? We must reconcile ourselves to the fact that we will never achieve justice at the United Nations. The combination of Islamic countries, rogue states and dictatorships guarantees that the most extreme resolutions against Israel will always be overwhelmingly carried. Blaming Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for this state of affairs because he failed to provide a “plan” is simply primitive political demagoguery. What “plan” beyond making suicidal unilateral concessions could conceivably satisfy the Palestinians? But we should not panic. Despite President Barack Obama’s ongoing policy of engaging and appeasing extremists and Islamic states, the US will almost certainly prevent the UN Security Council from imposing sanctions and boycotts against Israel.

Contrary to Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s recent hysterical remarks, this is not a “diplomatic tsunami,” and…we must bear in mind that the UN General Assembly can make proclamations, but it cannot “create” a state or change the status on the ground. Besides, in the absence of the IDF protecting the weak and corrupt PA, a genocidal Hamastan would displace it—a situation that even most European states would not wish to foist upon the region.

Today most Israelis would endorse a Palestinian state—provided Palestinians faced up to the issues mentioned in the opening paragraph of this column. Until Abbas is willing to recognize the Jewish state and forgo the “right of return,” even Obama will be obliged to exercise the US veto at the Security Council. And if the Palestinians resort to violence—Abbas has called for “Arab Spring-like popular resistance”—we must be prepared to overcome our adversaries as we did in the past.

On the positive side, there are rumblings in the United States Congress reflecting grassroots frustration with the annual $7.7 billion of American taxpayer funds being provided to the UN, despite the fact that the global body’s original noble objectives have been reversed and it has been transformed into a depraved organization.

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chairwoman of the powerful Congressional House Foreign Affairs Committee, maintains that the UN no longer has any credibility as a force for peace in the Middle East.…

She has concluded that with the Obama administration refusing to leverage US funding to defend US interests, Congress must fill the void. Thus on August 30, with 57 co-sponsors, she introduced the United Nations Transparency, Accountability and Reform Act, which would terminate US contributions to any UN entity upgrading the Palestinian mission. The bill would also require the US to disaffiliate and cease funding the Human Rights Council until it repealed its permanent anti-Israeli resolution. It would freeze contributions to UN activities related to the defamatory Goldstone Report and the Durban hate fest and suspend support for UNWRA until it ceased employing terrorists.

Ros-Lehtinen said she was promoting this resolution “for the sake of our ally Israel and all free democracies, for the sake of peace and security. And for the sake of achieving a UN that upholds its founding principles.” The Senate will probably narrowly block this resolution, and the Obama administration has already bitterly condemned the bill, which it would undoubtedly veto.

But the fact that such a resolution could be submitted by the chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee signals a growing frustration with the UN, which may sooner rather than later lead to a showdown with this obnoxious organization.…


Irwin Cotler
Jerusalem Post, September 15, 2011

It was said in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 that “the whole world changed.” I don’t know if the world is any different, but it is clear that 9/11 had a transformative impact on our politics and psyche.

But, if 9/11 was a transformative event, the same description applies to another event that ended on the eve of 9/11. I am referring to “The World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance” in Durban, South Africa [2001], which emerged as the tipping point for a new wave of anti-Semitism masquerading as anti-racism. Yet, the 10th anniversary of this event has gone largely unremarked.

As one of my colleagues put it at the time, if 9/11 was the Kristallnacht of terror, Durban was the Mein Kampf. Those of us who personally witnessed the Durban festival of hate—with its hateful declarations, incantations, pamphlets and marches—have forever been transformed. For us, “Durban” is part of our everyday lexicon as a byword for racism and anti-Semitism, just as 9/11 is a byword for terrorist mass murder.…

What happened at Durban was truly Orwellian: A conference purportedly organized to fight racism was turned into a festival of racism against Israel and the Jewish people. A conference intended to commemorate the dismantling of South Africa as an apartheid state resonated with spurious calls for the dismantling of Israel’s as an apartheid state.…

The six-point indictment emanating from the Teheran regional conference [in February 2001], which became a dominant blueprint for Durban, has emerged as one of the more scurrilous documents relating to Israel and the Jewish people to appear since World War II.

The first specific indictment of Israel spoke of the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza as a “crime against humanity, as a new form of apartheid, as a threat to international peace and security.” While UN Security Council Resolution 1373, adopted in the aftermath of 9/11, would characterize terrorism itself as a threat to international peace and security—which no cause or grievance could ever justify—Teheran and later Durban would characterize terrorist acts against Israel as “resistance” to occupation, and since delegates at Durban saw “resistance” against apartheid states as eminently praiseworthy, Durban served to validate terrorist acts against Israel.

Second, Israel was accused of the “ethnic cleansing” of “Mandatory Arab Palestine” in 1947-48—of being, in effect, an “original sin” in its very creation, though its international birth certificate was sanctioned by the UN Partition Resolution of 1947, which recommended the partition of then mandatory Palestine into two States—a Jewish State and an Arab State. The Jewish leadership accepted the Partition Resolution, while the Arab and Palestinian leadership rejected it, and launched, in their words, a “war of extermination” against the embryonic Israeli state.

Third, Israel was cast as being responsible for all the evils in the world, the “poisoner of the international wells,” the contemporary analogue to the medieval anti-Semitic libel. In this regard, the delegates at Teheran and Durban were very much taking their cues from the larger UN itself, where, on the occasion of the Teheran conference, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights condemned Israel—and Israel alone—for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Fourth, the documents emanating from Durban introduced a new perspective on the notion of “holocausts,” intentionally written in the plural and in lower case. A large number of states even sought to minimize or exclude any references to the Holocaust, or to marginalize and ignore anti-Semitism, while holding up Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians as an example of a “real” holocaust. Zionism was characterized not only as “racism,” but as a violent expression of racist supremacy—indeed, as a form of anti-Semitism itself.

As it happens, all of this hateful Durban-speak became a legitimizing instrument for a new wave of anti-Semitism in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, as evidenced by the following examples:

1. The Jews were blamed for 9/11 in a set of new “protocols” reflective of what some see as a new international Jewish conspiracy. For example, in many Arab and Muslim countries, teachers, religious leaders and the media propagated the theory about the 4,000 Jews who supposedly had been tipped off to stay away from work at the World Trade Center.…

2. In the anti-terrorism debate that took place at the UN in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, Arab states and their supporters opposed any attempt to classify “resistance” as terrorism, thereby appropriating the Durban rhetoric of the delegitimization of Israel, on the one hand, and the legitimization of terrorism as “resistance” against Israel, on the other.

3. A global campaign against Israeli “apartheid” was launched in the form of post-Durban calls for Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions. In an astonishing but revelatory development at a pro-divestment conference in Michigan, just weeks after Durban, a resolution calling for a two-state solution “if Israel were to transform itself and become a real democracy” was defeated, but a resolution calling for the dismantling of Israel as a racist apartheid state was adopted.

4. The first UN Human Rights Commission meeting in the aftermath of Durban—not unlike the one on the road to Durban—sought to single out Israel for differential and discriminatory treatment, with 40% of all the resolutions passed at the meeting indicting Israel.…

5. The convening, in December 2001, of the Contracting Parties to the 1949 Geneva Conventions on international humanitarian law was a particularly egregious discriminatory act. For 52 years, the contracting parties had never met—notwithstanding the genocide in the Balkans, the unspeakable and preventable genocide in Rwanda and the killing fields in Sierra Leone. The first and to date only time that the contracting parties have ever come together to put a country in the docket was in the immediate aftermath of Durban. That country, again, was Israel.…

In sum, Durban became the tipping point for the coalescence of a new, virulent, globalizing anti-Jewishness reminiscent of the atmospherics that pervaded Europe in the 1930s. In its “benign” form, it found expression in the singling out of Israel and the Jewish people for selective and discriminatory treatment; in its lethal form, this animus continues to find expression in the state-sanctioned genocidal anti-Semitism of Ahmadinejad’s Iran and its terrorist proxies, Hamas and Hizbullah.…

On the tenth anniversary of 9/11—a terrorist atrocity borne out of radicalism and hate—let us not overlook the racism and evil still prevalent today. Anti-Semitism—both old and new—is the canary in evil’s mine shaft. As history has taught us only too well, while it begins with Jews, it does not end with Jews. Combating racism, hate and anti- Semitism is everyone’s responsibility.

(Irwin Cotler is a Member of the Parliament and former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada. He was a member of the Canadian delegation to the Durban Conference.)



Wall Street Journal, September 18, 2011

Are Palestinians entitled to a state? Before certain readers erupt at the mere suggestion that Palestinians may not be so entitled, we’d note that the Kurds—one of the oldest ethnic groups in the world—don’t have a state. Neither do the Tamils of Sri Lanka, the Uighurs and Tibetans of China, the Basques of Spain, the Chechens of Russia or the Flemish of Belgium. The list of peoples with plausible claims to statehood is as long as the current number of U.N. member states, if not longer.

Yet when the United Nations holds its annual meeting in New York this week, the session will be dominated by the efforts of the Palestinian Authority (PA) to declare statehood. First the PA will apply to the Security Council for full membership in the U.N., which the Obama Administration has promised to veto. Then the General Assembly will hold a vote on whether to give the Palestinians “observer state” status on a par with the Vatican. This is almost certain to pass by a two-thirds, 129-nation majority.

A vote at the U.N. won’t create a Palestinian state and will likely retard the creation of one, perhaps for years.… Why, then, are the Palestinians intent on winning the sort of symbolic trinket with which their cupboards are already full? The charitable explanation is that they are using the statehood bid as a gambit to get Israel to agree to various demands, including a halt in settlement construction.

But Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas offered a hint of his real ambition when he wrote, in the New York Times in May, that “Palestine’s admission to the United Nations would pave the way for the internationalization of the conflict as a legal matter, not only as a political one. It would also pave the way for us to pursue claims against Israel at the United Nations, human rights treaty bodies and the International Criminal Court.…”

In other words, what Palestinians seek out of a U.N. vote isn’t an affirmation of their right to a state, but rather another tool in their perpetual campaign to harass, delegitimize and ultimately destroy Israel. “We are going to complain that as Palestinians we have been under occupation for 63 years,” Mr. Abbas said the other day. That’s another way of saying that the “occupation,” in Mr. Abbas’s view, began with the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, and not with Israel’s takeover of the West Bank and Gaza after a war that threatened Israel’s existence in 1967.

Mr. Abbas may also see the U.N. gambit as a cost-free exercise, since the international community…hasn’t exactly been punctilious in holding Palestinians to account for violating their diplomatic or political undertakings. Sooner or later, we will read an op-ed explaining that defunding the PA will only help the radicals of Hamas, and that the only way forward is for Israel to make new concessions to entice the PA back to the very negotiating table they spurned by going to the U.N.

Here is a better course: The Obama Administration, which has wasted six months begging the Palestinians to change course, might instead announce that a declaration of Palestinian statehood in New York would lead to the closure of the Palestinian representative’s office in Washington. Congress could also enact Florida Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s bill to cut funding to the U.N. if it endorses a Palestinian state. This worked wonders the last time the Palestinians sought to have the U.N. declare their state during the George H.W. Bush Administration.

Perhaps it’s also time to rethink the fundamental desirability of a Palestinian state so long as the Palestinians remain more interested in tearing down their neighbor than in building a decent political culture of their own.


National Review, September 19, 2011

There is no such thing as a Palestinian state, and the United Nations can’t conjure one into existence. That apparently won’t stop the Palestinians from seeking recognition as a state in the Security Council this week. We [the U.S.] should veto the Palestinian effort without hesitation.

On top of its legal nullity, the push for recognition at the U.N. trashes the spirit of the Oslo Accords, which commit both the Israelis and the Palestinians to addressing their differences through negotiations. Thwarted at the Security Council, the Palestinians will likely go to the rabble in the General Assembly, where we don’t have a veto and they will presumably succeed in putting a fig leaf on a fraud.

The General Assembly can change the status of the PLO from an observer “entity,” as it is now, to a “non-member state” observer, like the Vatican, and thereby recognize it indirectly as a state. But this won’t create a real state, either in law or in fact. Under international law, the Montevideo Convention of 1933 explicitly provides that the existence of a sovereign state is independent of recognition by other states, and further provides that a state must have a permanent population, a defined territory, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other states. The Palestinians arguably have none of those things. By their own admission, they don’t have a defined territory. Their government, meanwhile, is riven: Terrorists control one half of the territories and the other half is controlled by a former terrorist whose term of office expired two years ago.

Nobody would like to see the Palestinians under a functioning state of laws more than the Israelis. But a state must have a monopoly of violence, and Hamas has always rejected the monopoly of violence in favor of the inherent individual right of resistance to occupation. The Palestinians have barely managed to maintain political institutions of any kind, and a declaration of statehood will do nothing to solve that problem.

Any action in the cause of Palestinian statehood at the U.N. will serve to isolate Israel further, and could make its government subject to international legal proceedings. But the main danger is the effect it could have in the Muslim world.… Another intifada would force Israel to resort to military measures, giving Egypt and Turkey another excuse to express their growing hostility to the Jewish state.

The Middle East has come to this pass despite President Obama’s blithe belief at the inception of his administration that he could forge an Israeli-Palestinian peace. From the start, Obama cast his role in the Middle East as one of impartial mediator, not realizing that America’s influence among the Palestinians requires Israel’s confidence that we will protect the Jewish state come what may. Anyone can play the role of mediator, but only America can underwrite the risks of a negotiated settlement for both sides.…

Yet the Obama administration has reprised the Clinton administration’s childish schoolyard spats with Israeli prime minister Bibi Netanyahu. By embracing the Palestinian insistence on a halt to settlement construction as a precondition for talks, Obama encouraged the Palestinians to dig in their heels. Now the Palestinians think they can get what they want by forcing the issue at the U.N. and encouraging Egyptian and Turkish belligerence.

The new government of Egypt is seeking legitimacy by embracing the worst anti-Israeli sentiments of its populace. The army recently stood by as a Cairo mob ransacked the Israeli embassy. The Camp David Accords of 1979 are starting to crumble. Because no combination of Arab states could afford to go to war with Israel without Egypt’s help, Henry Kissinger realized that peace between Israel and Egypt would end the era of Arab-Israeli wars. The fraying of the Camp David Accords, which preserved a tenuous peace for more than three decades, is ominous. So is the reemergence of Turkey as a regional power. Turkey has pledged a military escort for the next “humanitarian flotilla” aimed at forcibly breaching the Gaza blockade, a fully legal blockade even according to the United Nations.

The Middle East is again on the cusp of crisis, with the U.N. about to stoke the flames and the Obama administration caught in a self-imposed impotence.


Richard Grenell

Huffington Post, September 19, 2011

…Over the last few years, the Obama Administration has encouraged the Palestinians to make bold moves. While shifting U.S. policy away from Israel, President Obama clearly and definitively told the Palestinians to…plan for statehood. Within five months of taking office, Obama spoke in Cairo to a massive Muslim audience in what the White House billed as the President’s first major address on Israeli-Palestinian relations. Arab leaders were hopeful and sat waiting to see if the new President of the United States with a Muslim father would change the status quo. And Obama didn’t disappoint. In his speech, Obama made clear: “I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world.” The President went on to celebrate the Muslim faith like no other U.S. leader had. Arab leaders believed their time for equality had come—and Obama was on their side.

In that June 2009 speech, Obama apologized for American military might, Guantanamo Bay, the Iraq war, colonialism and even what he called our “self-interested empire.…” After rebuking anti-Semitism and the tragedies of the Holocaust, Obama made an unusual comparison: “On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people…have suffered in pursuit of a homeland.…” He went on to say, “The situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own.” It was the early sign Arab leaders were looking for from the new President. They saw the President’s comparison between the Holocaust and the plight of the Palestinians as an indication that statehood and international acceptance would come.…

After the Cairo speech, the Obama team tried to assure the Israeli government that the President would not take sides. But soon thereafter, Administration officials did. Despite long-standing U.S. policy to encourage the parties to confront their issues at the bargaining table and to adamantly reject any outside influence making unilateral decisions, Obama himself called for an end to settlements and to start negotiations using the pre-1967 borders.… Obama’s Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, also consistently skipped Security Council meetings when Israel needed defending and even failed to show up for the emergency session on the Gaza Flotilla incident. The Israelis felt abandoned and the Palestinians were optimistic that the U.S. was not going to protect Israel.…

But in perhaps the boldest U.S. move, Rice secretly negotiated with the Arabs on acceptable language for a possible UN resolution to condemn Israel’s settlement activity.… When the Israelis got wind of the scheme, they cried foul. Conservative lawmakers quickly joined forces with the Israeli government to force Obama to change his position. In February of 2011, the U.S. vetoed a UN resolution on Israeli settlements that Susan Rice had started negotiations on with the Arabs. The Palestinians were furious and rightly so. After all, they had just spent weeks with Rice going back and forth on acceptable language to make Israeli settlement activity a violation of international law. Rice’s rejection of the long-standing U.S. position of only encouraging direct negotiations led the Arabs to believe they were on a different path. Previous U.S. Administrations had bluntly threatened vetos on resolutions that made unilateral declarations but Obama’s team was clearly open to the idea.

Arab diplomats also point to Obama’s 2010 statement that he wanted to see Palestine a member of the UN by September 2011 as proof that he wants them to make bold moves. While Obama has sent the same lower level diplomats multiple times to the region to encourage direct negotiations, he hasn’t sent Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. It’s no wonder the two sides haven’t spoken formally since September 2010. Instead, the Obama strategy has been to push the Israelis to accept Palestinian demands even though their unity government includes Hamas, a group the U.S. government classifies as a terrorist organization.…

Before the beginning of the Obama Administration in January 2009, candidate Obama spoke of the Palestinian and Israeli conflict in simple terms. His belief that he could bring the opposing sides together to find a solution was based on the premise that he is a likeable guy and if he could just get the two sides to sit down together their issues would be secondary. The Arabs saw Obama’s characterization of Iranian President Ahmadinejad and his willingness to directly negotiate with Hugo Chavez his first year in office as promising.…

So it’s no wonder Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas exclaimed Friday, “We are going to the Security Council.” Despite some media reports that the U.S. has been working hard to convince the Palestinians to drop their bid for statehood at the UN, the Administration’s late discussions with lower level diplomats signals something different. U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice spent this past week in what seemed anything but frantic. She hosted a documentary film screening, tweeted about the International Day of Democracy and Friday spent the afternoon at a local New York City high school with Congressman Joe Crowley at what was billed as a “Back-to-School” event. She didn’t even mention Israel or Palestine.

With all the signals the Obama administration has given the Arabs, no one should blame the Palestinians for seeking a reliably welcoming audience.… The Palestinians…[will now] appeal to [the] consistently friendlier, anti-Israel…UN. They can’t trust the Obama team—and neither can the Israelis.


Alan Baker & Dan Diker
Jerusalem Post, September 18, 2011

In a reasonable world, one firmly girded by international law and wisely guided by its underlying principles, Israel would not need to be overly concerned about the Palestinian leadership’s strategic decision to bypass the agreed upon and internationally sanctioned peace process and instead seek United Nations endorsement of a unilaterally declared Palestinian state. Simply put, the Palestinians couldn’t get away with it.

As a UN member in good standing, Israel could take comfort in the fact that it is the only member of the UN General Assembly whose rights to sovereignty were twice affirmed in the past century; first in 1922, by the UN’s predecessor, the League of Nations, whose assignment of Jewish rights in the Mandate for Palestine were reaffirmed in 1945 by the United Nations’ founding charter. Then there was Israel’s acceptance into the United Nations in 1949, as the Jewish state painstakingly satisfied all the international conditions for statehood incumbent upon UN member states.…

In a reasonable world, The Jewish state would today still be able to rely on the UN Security Council’s (UNSC) commitment to “secure and recognized boundaries” for Israel via the council’s unanimous passage of Resolution 242 following the 1967 war and affirmation of its sister resolution UNSC 338 following the 1973 war that, both legally and diplomatically, still govern relations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority pending a negotiated settlement.

And Israel might also take heed of the 1991 UN invalidation of the grotesque and PLO-inspired “Zionism is Racism” resolution passed 16 years earlier by the same international body.…

Unfortunately, Israel’s calculated risks for peace, from the 1993 Oslo exchange of letters and the 1995 interim agreement to Israel’s 2005 Gaza withdrawal to the 2008 Annapolis peace talks, resulted in some 10,000 Palestinian rockets and mortars landing on Israeli towns and cities, and more than 1,200 Israelis murdered in terror attacks. Ironically, perhaps, Israel is still calling on its Palestinian neighbors to negotiate a peace settlement.

Sadly, we do not live in a reasonable world and such utopian logic appears to be naive. It also fails miserably when it comes to the United Nations, its treatment of Israel, and specifically the anticipated events in the General Assembly over the coming few weeks.

These events will include, in addition to the routine, annual twenty-odd resolutions singling out and bashing Israel, a Palestinian request to recognize a Palestinian state or grant the PLO an upgraded status in the UN, and a “celebration” of the tenth anniversary of the infamous 2001 Durban Conference and Declaration, which has since become the precursor for a concerted de-legitimization campaign against Israel.

It is patently clear to all members of the international community that the head of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, cannot claim that a Palestinian state exists except on paper since it has no control over the territory it considers part of its state, nor does it have a permanent population as required by international law for statehood.… For Abbas to come to the international community and claim that he has the components of statehood would be sheer hypocrisy and a cynical abuse of the United Nations and its member states and institutions.…

Clearly Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] and his colleagues are coming to the international community with “unclean hands” and without the bona fides that one might expect from an entity that seeks to be a respected member of the exclusive club of sovereign states.

It is depressing enough to weigh the sheer hypocrisy of the Palestinian leadership in dragging the international community through this unwanted and harmful process. What is worse, however, is the willingness of that international community, as typified by the United Nations, to turn a blind eye and enable itself to be steam-rolled into playing the Palestinian game and allowing them to get away with it. This unconscionable collusion is compounded by the fact that the UN knows all too well that the requested acknowledgement of a Palestinian state would be nothing more than a fiction, undermining the principles of the UN Charter and some of the most important resolutions of the UN as well as the very basis of the Middle East peace process.…

It is high time that the international community resolves itself to stop catering to the illegal whims of the Palestinian leadership in the mistaken hope that by allowing them to manipulate international institutions they might change their ways and adopt accepted norms.

It is also high time that the UN stop pampering the Palestinians and bending their own rules and principles and instead take a serious look at the far-reaching security, legal and diplomatic consequences of the upcoming events and the dangerous precedent they will be setting for future attempts by other non-state actors and similar international bodies to abuse and manipulate the very principles that anchor the international state system.

(Alan Baker is Israel’s former ambassador to Canada.
Dan Diker is the secretary-general of the
World Jewish Congress.)



Clifford D. May
National Review, September 1, 2011

Late this month, leaders of the Palestinian Authority are expected to issue a Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) and ask, in the words of PA foreign minister Nabil Shaath, that it receive “the blessing of the U.N.” That blessing will not come from the U.N. Security Council: If the Palestinians ask for approval from that body, President Obama is expected to exercise the American veto.…

In the General Assembly (GA), however, blessings almost certainly will be bestowed through the passage of a non-binding resolution. The GA has a permanent anti-Israeli (and anti-American) majority. More than 50 U.N. members also belong to the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). Many other nations are eager to please the OIC’s oil exporters—and not displease its terrorism exporters.

The GA does not have the power to grant statehood in any legal sense. Nor can it admit new U.N. members. The idea, as Shaath phrased it, is simply “to exert pressure on Israel.”

For what purpose? Shaath’s goal, and that of his boss, Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, is not what Obama and other Western leaders favor: a Palestinian state and a Jewish state living side by side in peace. On the contrary, as Shaath said clearly: “The story of ‘two states for two peoples’ means that there will be a Jewish people over there and a Palestinian people here. We will never accept this.” Last weekend, Abbas added: “Don’t order us to recognize a Jewish state. We won’t accept it.”

What they would accept instead is international recognition of a Palestinian state within the 1949 armistice lines—the point at which armies from the Arab states surrounding Israel were stopped after they refused, for the first time, to accept a “two-state solution” and launched a war, the first of several, intended to wipe Israel off the map. Note well: The UDI does not acknowledge Israel’s right to exist even on its side of the 1949 lines—not in Tel Aviv or Haifa or Eilat (where terrorists attacked last month, taking advantage of the deteriorating security situation across the border in Egypt).

In other words, Shaath and Abbas see the establishment of a Palestinian state as a means, not an end. They believe that a widely recognized Palestinian state can better demonize and de-legitimize Israel, harnessing such institutions as the International Criminal Court and energizing the ongoing BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanctions) campaign.

The truth is that despite years of peace processing, handshakes, and agreements, Palestinian leaders—those we call moderates quite as much as those we call extremists—remain intent not on a two-state solution but on a two-stage execution: Israel is to be weakened and then annihilated. From 1949 to now, the strategies have changed but not the goal.

The Palestinian state Abbas and Shaath envision would be, to use the apt German word, judenrein, ethnically cleansed of Jews. Meanwhile, they hope, the international community will exert pressure on Israel to accept a “right of return.” The opening of Israel’s doors to Palestinian refugees, their descendants, and their relatives would leave Jews as a minority in Israel. They would then enjoy the same minority rights that the Bahai enjoy in Iran, Christians enjoy in Pakistan, and other religious minorities enjoy in other OIC states. That is to say, they would enjoy no rights. Those who could emigrate, would do so. Some, perhaps a very large number, would be killed. A remnant might remain as dhimmis—most accurately defined as a permanently submissive, oppressed, and humiliated minority.

Many Western leaders choose to disregard these facts. That may become more difficult to do following GA approval of the UDI. At that point, terrorist attacks on Israel are likely to accelerate. Abbas has said he wants peaceful protests, not an armed intifada (the third if you’re keeping count). But if Hamas and Hezbollah add fuel to the fires, Israel will have no choice but to respond. Another war will be the result.

Those Europeans who are reflexively supporting Palestinian unilateralism and rejectionism will bear some responsibility for the carnage—though don’t expect them to shed salty tears. Instead, assuming Israelis successfully defend themselves, the Europeans will once again charge them with carrying out a “disproportionate response.”

There is still time to prevent this—if there is the will to do so. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, announced last weekend that she will introduce legislation cutting off U.S. taxpayer funding to “any UN entity that grants membership or any other upgraded status” to the Palestinians following GA approval of a UDI.

President Obama could do much more. To start, he could make a strong statement explaining why unilateralism must be opposed and why negotiations must be resumed. He could order a diplomatic surge—instructing American ambassadors to advise our allies in Europe and our aid recipients elsewhere that he will view a vote for the UDI with extreme disfavor.

At the very least, he could…push for a revised UDI, one that would make international recognition of a Palestinian state contingent on Palestinian recognition of the Jewish state—with borders to be established through negotiations rather than terrorism or the rulings of international entities controlled by the OIC and openly hostile toward Israel.

Is that not the outcome that American presidents, Democratic and Republican alike, have for decades worked to achieve? Does President Obama really want history to record that, on his watch, it all crashed and burned?

(Clifford D. May is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.)


Alan M. Dershowitz

Wall Street Journal, September 13, 2011

As Egypt and Turkey increase tensions with Israel, the Palestinian Authority seeks to isolate the Jewish state even further by demanding that the United Nations accord Palestine recognition as a “state” without a negotiated peace with Israel. President Mahmoud Abbas described his playbook for seeking U.N. recognition while bypassing the step of negotiating a two-state solution: “We are going to complain that as Palestinians we have been under occupation for 63 years.”

What exactly happened 63 years ago? The U.N. recommended partitioning the former British mandate into two states: one Jewish, the other Arab. Israel and most of the rest of the world accepted that partition plan, and Israel declared itself the nation-state of the Jewish people. The United States, the Soviet Union and all the great powers recognized this declaration and the two-state solution that it represented.

The Arab world unanimously rejected the U.N. partition plan and the declaration of statehood by Israel. The Arab population within Israel and in the area set aside for an Arab state joined the surrounding Arab nations in taking up arms. In defending its right to exist, Israel lost 1% of its population, many of whom were civilians and survivors of the recent Holocaust. Yet the current Palestinian leadership still insists on calling the self-inflicted wounds caused by its rejection of a two-state solution the “nakba,” meaning the catastrophe.

By claiming that the Palestinians “have been under occupation for 63 years” (as distinguished from the 44 years since the Arab states attacked Israel in 1967 and Israel occupied some lands of the invading nations), the Palestinian president is trying to turn the clock back to a time prior to Israel’s establishment as a state based on the U.N.’s two-state proposal. In other words, the push for recognition by the U.N. of Palestine as a state, based on Mr. Abbas’s complaint that the Palestinians have been under occupation for 63 years, is an attempt to undo the old work of the U.N. that resulted in Israel’s statehood 63 years ago.

Mr. Abbas’s occupation complaint also explains why he is so adamant in refusing to recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. Every Arab state is officially a Muslim state and yet, as in 1948, none of them is prepared to accept the permanent existence of a state for the Jewish people in the Middle East. Certainly some, including the Palestinian Authority, are prepared to mouth recognition of Israel as a state, so long as the so-called right of return remains for four million so-called refugees who, if they were to return in mass, would soon turn Israel into yet another Arab state.…

If the General Assembly recognizes Palestine as a state without the need to negotiate with Israel, it will, in effect, be undercutting many of its own past resolutions, as well as many bilateral agreements reached between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Such recognition would set back the prospects for a negotiated peaceful resolution and would encourage the use of violence by frustrated Palestinians who will gain nothing concrete from the U.N.’s hollow action but will expect much from it.

We saw what happened when the Palestinian people came close to achieving statehood in 2000-’01—a prospect that was shattered by Yasser Arafat’s rejection of the Clinton-Barak peace plan. Arafat’s rejection, which even the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. at the time, Bandar bin Sultan, later called a “crime” against the Palestinian people, resulted in a bloody intifada uprising among Palestinians in which thousands of Palestinians and Israelis were killed. The U.N. will be responsible for any ensuing bloodshed if it stokes the flames of violence by raising Palestinian expectations while lowering the prospects for a negotiated peace.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has urged the Palestinians to return immediately to the negotiating table without any preconditions.… The job of the U.N. is to promote peace, not to retard it. So instead of discouraging negotiations by promising recognition, the U.N. should be demanding that the Palestinian leadership and the Israeli government begin negotiations immediately without any preconditions. That would be a positive step.


Irwin Cotler
Montreal Gazette, September 8, 2011

Any negotiated resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—as part of wider Arab-Israeli peace and reconciliation—should be based on the principle of two states for two peoples living side by side in peace and security. Accordingly, a premature, unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood would undermine rather than resolve the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and would constitute a standing affront to the integrity of the United Nations, international agreements and international law.…

On July 27, [Canadian] Prime Minister Stephen Harper dismissed a unilateral declaration of statehood by the Palestinians as “a very unhelpful development.” He said a two-state solution should be predicated on “mutual recognition, including recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.”

What has gone largely unnoticed is that opposition to the proposed unilateral declaration has recently come from disparate—and unlikely—Arab and Palestinian leadership. First, the secretary-general of the Arab League, Nabil Al-Arabi, said the statehood bid “could be a very dangerous move for the Palestinians during this period.” Second, Hamas leadership—which presumably would be part of a proposed Palestinian state—has called the whole exercise a “sham.” Third, the Palestinian team responsible for preparing this initiative has been given an independent legal opinion—by its own counsel—that argues against such an initiative and warns of the serious risks involved to the Palestinian people, a position echoed by Jordan’s King Abdullah II.

These declarations opposing UN recognition of a unilateral Palestinian statehood bid—whether they emanate from western political leaders or from Arabs and Palestinians themselves—can be said to be anchored in a series of foundational principles and related precedents of international law, including:

-Such a unilateral declaration would undermine all accepted international frameworks for peace, such as UN Security Council resolutions 242, 338, and 1850; the Roadmap for Peace; and various statements by the Quartet (the UN, the U.S., the European Union and Russia), all of which call for a mutually negotiated and agreed-upon resolution of the conflict while rejecting unilateralism.

-It would violate existing Israeli-Palestinian bilateral agreements, most notably the Oslo II agreements, which state that “neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the Permanent Status negotiations” (Article 31).

-While the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement was signed by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, it was witnessed by the UN together with the EU, the Russian Federation, the U.S., Egypt and Norway. It would be highly inappropriate for such witnesses to now authorize a UN measure that would effectively violate this agreement, while undermining major resolutions of the UN Security Council and the Quartet itself.

-Such a unilateral declaration would unravel the institutionalized legal and administrative framework that underpins existing Israeli-Palestinian relations, which include bilateral arrangements in over 40 spheres of civilian activity, and which serve as a basis for economic, legal and security co-operation.

-Such premature and precipitous recognition—which would prejudice, rather than enhance, Palestinian rights and Palestinians’ legitimate claim to statehood—might well precipitate new and violent confrontations. Palestinians’ aspirations will be frustrated rather than realized.

-If such UN unilateral recognition were to take place while Hamas is the ongoing authority in Gaza, in partnership with Fatah, it would effectively constitute recognition of Hamas—a terrorist organization outlawed in Canada, the U.S. and European countries—while Hamas continues to reject the basic requirements of the international community, such as recognizing Israel’s right to exist, forswearing terrorism and accepting previous international agreements.

-The Palestinian Authority does not yet meet the traditional test for statehood—particularly the test of effective government, effective representation, control over a defined territory and adherence to the rule of law. A premature and unilateral recognition of an “unripe” Palestinian state could have a prejudicial effect on other regional conflicts.

Only an immediate return to direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians—based on the principle of mutual recognition of two states for two peoples—will invite the establishment of a just and lasting peace.

(Irwin Cotler is MP for Mount Royal
and a former minister of justice and attorney general of Canada.


Bruce Thornton
FrontPage, September 9, 2011

The idea that conflicts between peoples can be resolved by diplomatic negotiation has frequently been a dangerous delusion. Duplicitous states bargain in bad faith, using the process to buy time and mask their aggression. States unwilling or unable to use force will make diplomacy an excuse to substitute words for deeds. Too often, as historian Robert Conquest wrote about Cold War diplomacy with the Soviet Union, “since diplomats’ forte is negotiation, they believe negotiation to be good in itself.… But the Soviets did what their interests required when the alternative seemed less acceptable, and negotiation was merely a technical adjunct.”

The 60-year-long conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs is the textbook example of the dangers of insincere diplomatic negotiation. The latest phase of that struggle is the threat of the Palestinians to ask the U.N. Assembly to change their status from non-voting observer “entity” to non-voting observer state. “The change,” The New York Times writes, “would pave the way for the Palestinians to join dozens of United Nations bodies and conventions, and it could strengthen their ability to pursue cases against Israel at the International Criminal Court.” The United States has threatened to veto such a move if it comes before the Security Council, which unlike the Assembly can grant full U.N. membership as a state. Thus the U.S. is furiously lobbying other states in order to head off a move that could, according to the director of the American Task Force on Palestine, “inflame emotions [in the Middle East] and bring anti-American sentiments to the forefront across the region.…” A United States veto, former ambassador to Israel Martin S. Indyk agrees, “will provoke a Palestinian awakening” and incite “new violence” for which “we will be blamed.”

One has to wonder what world these diplomats live in. They seem to think that the conflict is one merely of achieving Palestinian statehood, and that negotiating to that end will resolve the dispute and bring peace to the region. They’re worried about the Palestinian move in the U.N. because it will end negotiations with Israel, negotiations that have been fruitless for decades, and that have done nothing to stem the terrorist violence perpetrated by Palestinians who want to destroy Israel, as the charter of Hamas makes explicit. Nor has the allegedly “moderate” Palestinian Authority negotiated in good faith over the years, turning down numerous opportunities to achieve a state because of an “all or nothing” attitude. Moreover, agreements that have been negotiated have merely encouraged the P.A. to demand more and more concessions from Israel.

Barry Rubin outlines this dismal history of the wages of bad-faith negotiation: “Since 1993, the Palestinian Authority has made several agreements with Israel. In exchange for being handed control over the Gaza Strip and much of the West Bank; billions of dollars in aid; the supply of weapons; the return of tens of thousands of Palestinians to these territories; and many other benefits, the PA promised to do various things in return. These include an end to incitement to kill Israelis; stopping terrorism; and negotiating in good faith for a comprehensive agreement.” Yet the P.A. has not fulfilled any of these promises for which it received such concessions. Indeed, as Rubin continues, “Since Hamas attacked Israel with rockets and mortars setting off a war in December 2008, the PA has refused to negotiate with Israel. When President Barack Obama in September 2009, announced he wanted to hold direct talks in Washington, the PA refused. In 2010, when Israel, at the request of President Barack Obama, froze all construction on settlements for nine months, the PA again wouldn’t talk.” Clearly, negotiation is a tactic to be used depending on circumstances, and the P.A. believes at this moment that the U.N. is a better avenue for achieving its aims than is engaging in talks with Israel.

As for that famous “peace treaty” with Egypt often touted as proof of the possibilities of a negotiated settlement, the fall of Mubarak is making it increasingly clear that it was merely a 30-year cold truce purchased with the Sinai’s oil fields and the $2 billion a year in U.S. aid. Now with Mubarak gone, the border with Gaza is open to weapons, and the Sinai is a launching pad for terrorist attacks like the one a few weeks ago that killed eight Israelis.

The historical experience of negotiation to end the Israeli-Arab conflict is clear: concessions negotiated by Israel are met with violence and intransigence, just as the Oslo Agreement of 1993, which handed over control of the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority, was followed the rest of the decade by attacks that killed 256 Israeli citizens and soldiers. For those with eyes to see beyond the false promise of a negotiated “two-state” settlement, the explanation is obvious. The goal of most Palestinians is not two states living side-by-side in peace; rather, the goal is the same as it was in 1947, when the Palestinian state created by U.N. resolution 181 was rejected and followed by war––the destruction of Israel.…

Instead of trying to head off the U.N. vote or calling yet again for futile “peace talks,” the U.S. needs to cast off the delusions of a negotiated two-state solution, and act on the basis of reality. We could start by making it clear to the Palestinians that further intransigence will result in the cut-off of U.S. aid, which (including contributions to the U.N.’s Relief and Works Agency for Palestine) has averaged $800 million a year.…

“It is easy enough,” [Robert] Conquest wrote, “to fall into the trap of thinking that others think, within reason, like ourselves. But this trap is precisely the error that must be avoided in foreign affairs.” The dismal history of the Middle East gives us ample evidence that we have fallen into that trap for decades, compromising our own national interests and putting at risk the security of a valuable ally. It’s long past time that we made policy based on reality instead of on our own delusions.