Gaza War Diary 1 Sun-Sun. Mar. 12-19, 2017 Day 1282-1289 1 Sent 3/23 10:30pm
2.Hezb’Allah’s trust in Russia–strategic dilemma for Israel DEBKA
Gail Winston Winston@winstonglobal.org Gaza War Diary Sun-Sun. Mar. 12-19, 2017 Day 1282-1289 Sent 3/23
Dear Family & Friends,
Last week was wonderfully busy: Fri/Sat Shabbat here in my home with one of my families. Sunday in Gush Etzion at Bat Ayin for one Purim (incl. 2 PurimMagillas & 1 Purim Feast-Sudah); Monday at Neveh Ya’acov with my youngest family at a 3 family Purim Sudah. Had the cleaners for Pesach on Tuesday. All events were very wonderful, but, time is not that flexible. I haven’t worked up here on my GW Diaries since Wed.-Fri. Mar.8-10. So I must catch up.
Lots of very excellent research material picked up from several of my very good sources. Enjoy!!
Remember: ISRAEL’S CLOCKS SPRING FORWARD TONIGHT!
All the very best for the upcoming sunny Shabbat & Sunday. Gail/Geula/Savta/Savta Raba x 2/Mom
https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/10047/real-hamas March 15, 2017 at 5:00 am
What does Hamas mean when it says that it “accepts” an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem without recognizing Israel’s right to exist?
Is this a sign of moderation & pragmatism on the part of the extremist Islamic terror movement? Or is it just another ploy intended to deceive everyone, especially gullible Westerners, into believing that Hamas has abandoned its strategy of destroying Israel in favor of a two-state solution?
Recent reports have suggested that Hamas is moving towards “declaring a Palestinian state over the 1967 borders.”
According to the reports, Hamas is also contemplating changing its charter so that it would no longer include anti-Semitic references. The charter, which was drafted in August 1988, contains anti-Semitic passages and characterizations of Israeli society as Nazi-like in its cruelty. The same reports also claimed that Hamas’s revised charter will also state that the terror movement is not part of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Some analysts in Israel and the West have interpreted these reports as a sign that Hamas is finally endorsing a policy of pragmatism toward Israel and Jews. They are particularly excited about Hamas’s purported intention to declare (in its revised charter) that its conflict is “only with Zionism and the occupation, and not with Jews around the world.”
Judging from the analyses published by some commentators and Palestinian affairs “experts” in the past few days, one might conclude that Hamas is on its way to making a dramatic change in its vicious ideology. Unfortunately, however, the facts suggest otherwise.
Changes or no changes, the movement has no intention whatsoever of abandoning its jihad to destroy Israel and kill Jews.
The purported shift in Hamas’s policy is illusory. What Hamas says, day and night, in Arabic, tells the real story. In fact, Hamas officials are very clear and straightforward when they address their people in Arabic. Yet some Western & Israeli analysts do not want to be bothered by the facts.
When Hamas talks about “accepting” a Palestinian state in the pre-1967 lines without recognizing Israel’s right to exist, it is actually saying, “Give us a state so that we can use it as a launching pad to destroy Israel.”
Indeed, senior Hamas official Ismail Radwan leaves no room for ambiguity when he explains this point. Hamas, he says, does not oppose the establishment of a Palestinian state on the 1967 “borders” but this does not mean that “we will recognize the Zionist occupation and that the entire Palestinian land belongs to Palestinian & Islamic generations.” He also repeated Hamas’s opposition to any form of negotiations with Israel.
Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar was also quick to refute claims that his movement was headed toward accepting the two-state solution. Calling for stepping up the “intifada” against Israel, Zahar said that Hamas’s goal was to “liberate all of Palestine”.
Hamas has also denied its intention to cut off its ties with the Muslim Brotherhood. “The reports are aimed at tarnishing the image of Hamas in the eyes of the world,” explained a top Hamas official. He also denied that Hamas was planning to abandon the armed struggle against Israel in favor of a peaceful popular “resistance”.
Some reports have suggested that Hamas leaders Khaled Mashaal & Ismail Haniyeh are the ones pushing for the changes in the movement’s charter. However, even if Mashaal & Haniyeh succeed in their mission, there is no guarantee that Hamas’s military wing would comply.
Hamas’s recent internal and secret election saw the rise of Yahya Sinwar as the top leader of the movement in the Gaza Strip. His election is seen as an indication of the growing influence of Hamas’s military wing. Sinwar, a convicted murderer, was released from Israeli prison a few years ago. The rise of Sinwar to power is also a sign that Hamas is headed toward more extremism, terrorism & preparing for the next war with Israel.
The Hamas military wing has a rather spotty history of following the directives of the movement’s political leaders. For example, recurring attempts by Mashaal & Haniyeh to end the dispute with Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority (PA) have been repeatedly thwarted by the Hamas military wing and other leaders of the movement, first and foremost Zahar.
Let’s remember, for a moment, the annual rallies held by Hamas’s military wing in the Gaza Strip. At these rallies, masked Hamas terrorists remind the world that their true goal is to “liberate all of Palestine.”
Armed Hamas militiamen on parade with a vehicle-mounted rocket launcher in Gaza, Aug 2016. (Image source: PressTV video screenshot)
At one such rally, Zahar announced that Hamas already has an army whose mission is to “liberate all of Palestine.” He continued: “By God’s will, this army will reach Jerusalem.”
Hamas continues to remain committed to all forms of terrorism against Israelis. There are no signs whatsoever that the movement is on its way to endorsing a peaceful and popular resistance against Israel. Quite the opposite is true: Hamas never misses an opportunity to clarify that it continues to encourage terrorism against Israel. The latest assertion from Hamas came this week when one of its spokesmen, Abdel Latif Al-Kanou, issued a statement praising a stabbing attack against two Israeli policemen in Jerusalem. Hailing the attack as a “heroic operation,” the spokesman stressed that the “intifada” against Israel would continue.
This is not the first time that Hamas has talked about “accepting” a Palestinian state on the pre-1967 lines.
In the past, some Hamas officials were quoted as saying that they do not rule out the possibility that their movement would one day accept such an idea. But these statements always came in the context of Hamas’s effort to rid itself of its growing isolation in the Gaza Strip.
The latest reports concerning floated changes in Hamas’s charter, too, ought to be seen in the context of the movement’s ongoing effort to end its isolation. But it is nothing but a smokescreen to mislead the international community into believing that it is on its way to toning down its murderous intentions.
So, what is prompting this disingenuous “change of heart”?
Reports that the Trump Administration is considering the possibility of designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group. In all likelihood, Hamas is simply seeking to appear as if it is moving toward moderation. In other words, Hamas is prepared to lie — at least in English — about its independence from the Muslim Brotherhood.
Disturbingly, some Westerners are already marketing Hamas’s deception tactics as a “major shift” in the movement’s ideology & plans. Facts, however, are that Hamas remains a terrorist organization that has not & will not abandon its plans to eliminate Israel & kill as many Jews as possible. Here is a dose of deadly reality: Hamas seeks to extend its control to the West Bank as part of its plan to destroy Israel. It wants Israel to give the Palestinians more land so that it would be used as a launching pad to drive the Jews into the sea. This is Hamas, like it or not.
Bassam Tawil is a scholar based in the Middle East.
5.Palestinians: Fake News & “Alternative Facts” by Bassam Tawil
https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/9962/palestinians-fake-news March 9, 2017 at 5:00 am
One after another, young Palestinians continue to carry out terrorist attacks against Jews. Why? We might start at the beginning: the campaign of incitement, indoctrination & lies that Palestinian media outlets wage against Israel. This campaign has poisoned the hearts & minds of millions of Arabs & Muslims. It ought to be no surprise, then, when the poisoned Palestinian youths grab a weapon & set out to do the death-work they are taught to cherish.
The anti-Israel incitement can even be quite subtle. Those injecting the venom do not always issue a direct call for Palestinians to go out & kill Jews. It is enough, for example, to tell Palestinians that Jews are “defiling with their filthy feet” Islamic holy sites, to drive a Palestinian to go out & stab a Jew.
Or when a Palestinian leaders repeatedly accuse Israel of seeking to “Judaize” Jerusalem & change its “Arab & Islamic character.” This is like urging Palestinians to “defend“ their city against Israel’s “evil conspiracies.”
The vicious rhetoric & the fairy tales they feed Palestinians provide ample incentive & ideology for would-be terrorists.
While Palestinian mosque preachers, political activists, journalists& senior officials have long been preoccupied with the mission of delegitimizing Israel and demonizing Jews, other Palestinians also fabricate “news” in order to further the Israeli death count.
The epidemic of “fake news” and “alternative facts,” which has recently flooded the internet, is not new to Palestinian culture. In fact, “fake news” has long been an essential component of the Palestinian campaign to delegitimize Israel, demonize Jews & even to cite false claims. Historically, for example, Jordan illegally seized Jerusalem & the West Bank in the 1948 war & proceeded to ethnically cleanse the area of Jews; in the 1967 war, the Israelis merely took their land back.
Head of Apple, Tim Cook, was recently quoted as saying, “Fake news is killing people’s minds.”
Palestinians have long been fed fake news. It is a tried & true method for recruiting terrorists & jihadists in the fight against Israel & Jews. As, in Islam, jihad is allowed to “defend Islam” narratives sometimes have to be provided to give the impression that Islam is being attacked.
There is no shortage of Palestinian & Arab news websites that publish hoaxes, propaganda, lies and disinformation disguised as real news. This garbage is accepted as factual by many Palestinians and other Arabs.
This is another form of incitement to which the West is deaf, largely because journalists working for Western mainstream media do not wish to understand what is being reported in Arabic, or even in English. These journalists either deliberately turn a blind eye to this indoctrination or underestimate how it deforms the hearts & minds of Palestinians.
Take, for example, a recent story published on Palestinian news websites, claiming that Israel has been spraying agricultural fields in the Gaza Strip with pesticides. According to the report, Israel uses planes to destroy Palestinian agricultural products in order to ruin the Palestinian economy & deprive farmers of their livelihood.
Last week, some Palestinian news websites came up with a story that sounds as if it were lifted straight from an action movie. What do such stories accomplish? Excuses for the murder of Jews.
The story goes as follows: “An Israeli plane dropped suspicious objects that look like candies near the Palestinian city of Jenin in the northern West Bank.” According to the report, Palestinians who examined the “candies” discovered that they contained toxic material. In other words: Israel is seeking to poison Palestinian children. Is it any wonder when a Palestinian teenager who hears such a story runs out to murder Jews, as in Petah Tikva last month, when a 19-year-old Palestinian shot & stabbed several Israelis.
Another recently resurrected old blood libel that Palestinians have been spreading against Israel claims that Israelis are flooding Palestinian communities with narcotics in order to spread moral corruption & destroy the health of Palestinian youths. This particular lie helps the Palestinians avoid responsibility for the smuggling of drugs (by Palestinians) into the West Bank & Gaza Strip from Jordan & Egypt.
At a recent seminar in the Gaza Strip, a group of Palestinian “experts” claimed that “hidden parties backed by Israel” were responsible for “drowning the Gaza Strip with various types of lethal & dangerous drugs.”
Similar false charges were made by the Palestinian police in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip last year.
Ayman Al-Batnihi, a police spokesman in Gaza City, went as far as claiming that the widespread use of narcotics was the product of an Israeli “conspiracy” to destroy Palestinian youths & prevent them from engaging in the fight against Israel. Needless to say, the spokesman, like the Palestinian news websites, never provides any evidence to back up his false claims.
The libels & lies are not coming from Hamas alone. The Palestinian Authority (PA), which relies almost solely on American & European funding, offers similar “information” to its readers. Here is a news report that appeared in the PA’s Ramallah-based Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda newspaper, claiming that Israel is “flooding” the Arab residents of Jerusalem with narcotics. The report claims that some 20,000 Arabs have fallen victim to the purported Israeli “conspiracy” and have become drug addicts. “Israel’s goal is to destroy the Arab youths of Jerusalem and empty the city of its Arab inhabitants,” the report went on to explain.
According to reports such as these, Jews also supposedly use pigs to persecute Palestinians. Palestinian news websites regularly inform their readers that Israel releases wild pigs in the West Bank to destroy Palestinian crops & drive Palestinians out of their homes. The wild pigs, the reports tell Palestinians, are brought by Jews to Palestinian villages as part of a scheme to destroy the crops & intimidate villagers (some of whom claim the wild pigs attack them). An interesting facet of this “fake news” is that the Jewish settlers accused of using pigs to wage war against Palestinians are mostly religious, the last people in the world interested in getting involved with swine.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the lies about Israelis that Palestinians are fed daily by their leaders, journalists & media outlets. This is also what Palestinians think of when they pick up a knife to thrust into the body of a Jew.
Blood libels against Jews were once thought to be part of the dark past. They are not. That leaves us with some questions: Where is the international community’s exposure of the lies that fuel the Palestinian murder of Jews? And: Will the international community once again in history fail to speak the truth about the murder of Jews?
Bassam Tawil is a scholar based on the Middle East.
300 million Arabs, their oil and gas exports and their one billion co-religionists mean, that It matters not what the facts, history, agreements, values, guarantees etc. are. 14/03/17 21:00
Ted Belman is a retired attorney & the editor of IsraPundit. In 2009 Ted made aliya & is now living in Jerusalem.
One hundred years ago the British government published the Balfour Declaration which stipulated: “His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”
In 1920, the WWI victorious allies met in Sam Remo for the purpose of drawing up boundaries for the captured territories. It was decided, among other things, to put Palestine under British Mandatory rule. Thus the Allies confirmed the pledge contained in the Balfour Declaration concerning the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine & made it a legal obligation on Britain & a legal entitlement for the Jews.
When the Palestine Mandate was drafted by the League of Nations pursuant to the San Remo Resolution, it added this important addition:
“Whereas recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine & to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.”
This addition was of great importance as it affirmed the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine, which the PA & the UN today are doing their best to deny. In addition, the Jewish right to “reconstitute” their national home was recognized. Thus the Jews were in Palestine as a matter of right & NOT sufferance.
The Mandate provided:
“The Administration of Palestine, while ensuring that the rights & position of other sections of the population are not prejudiced, shall facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions & shall encourage, in co-operation with the Jewish agency referred to in Article 4, close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands & waste lands not required for public purposes.“
The first betrayal of that promise & right came in 1921 before the Mandate was signed. The Arabs had rioted. So Britain decided to reduce Jewish immigration to “absorptive capacity” & told Chaim Weizmann that the Mandate wouldn’t be signed if the Jews didn’t agree to delete “temporarily”, the East bank of the Jordan. The Jews had no choice but to agree & The Palestine Mandate was signed in 1922. This territory amounted to 78% of what was promised to the Jews & it ultimately became Jordan. The deletion of the East bank became permanent, contrary to Article 5 which prohibited any removal of land from the Mandate.
While the British Cabinet was generally sympathetic to the Zionist project, the Civil Administration appointed by it to manage the mandatory was anti-Semitic. It restrained the Jews & emboldened the Arabs, thereby violating its pledge to use its best efforts to facilitate the creation of a Jewish homeland. Whenever Arabs rioted, the Jews were made to pay the price. Sound familiar?
After the Arab riots of 1929. a “white paper” was issued by Britain that stated that because of the shortage of arable land, Jewish settlement would be permitted only under stringent government supervision. Thus, another betrayal.
The entire world takes the position that the goal of the Oslo Accords is the creation of a Palestinian state. This is a lie & a betrayal.
From 1936 to 39, the Arab Revolt against the British took place which led to the Peel Commission being appointed to study the matter & make recommendations. The Commission recommended that the Mandate be partitioned between Arabs & Jews thereby further diminishing what was promised to the Jews & what they had the legal right to. This recommendation was passed by the British Parliament but ultimately abandoned.
In & by virtue of the 1939 White Paper, Jewish immigration to Palestine was limited to 75,000 for the first five years, subject to the country’s “economic absorptive capacity” & would later be contingent on Arab consent. Stringent restrictions were imposed on land acquisition by Jews.
This betrayal was all the more egregious as Hitler, who had been in power for six years had systematically denied Jews their rights & their property as well as removing them from their jobs & their professions. The Jews were in dire straits & needed to emigrate.
The Jewish Agency for Palestine issued a scathing response to the White Paper, saying the British were denying the Jewish people their rights in “darkest hour of Jewish history”. It was to no avail.
During WWII, Hitler attempted to exterminate the Jews, by first transporting them to extermination camps, like Auschwitz & then killing them with the use of poison gas. Britain still refused to allow more Jews into Palestine.
In effect, Germany was herding the Jews into barns before setting fire to them & Britain was guarding the burning barns to make sure no Jews escaped, metaphorically speaking.
After the war, Britain still wouldn’t let the survivors in. Instead they were housed in “displaced persons” camps in Europe & Cyprus until Israel’s Declaration of Independence on May 15, 1948.
Just imagine the millions of Jews who would have emigrated to Israel during the holocaust had Britain adhered to her obligation in the Mandate.
But before leaving Palestine, Britain once more betrayed the Jews by turning over all their military equipment & police stations to the Arabs. This was after they had confiscated all weapons in the hands of the Jews that they could find.
To make matters worse, the US imposed an embargo on all US weapons to either the Arabs or the Jews, making it very difficult for the Jews to get the arms needed to defend themselves.
Upon Israel declaring independence, seven Arab countries invaded Israel intent on destroying the State & killing the Jews. Pres. Truman believed that the Jews would be defeated within 4 months but still maintained the arms embargo. The Jews succeeded in turning the war around & began conquering additional territory. Only then was it possible to arrange a permanent ceasefire. In the Ceasefire Agreement with Jordan, Jordan insisted that the ceasefire lines were never to be construed as a border between Jordan & Israel. Israel agreed. This didn’t stop Pres Obama from demanding that the border between Israel & Palestine be the ‘said’ ceasefire lines.
In 1956, Nasser closed the Straits of Tiran, an international waterway, & Israel, in response to this casus belli, conquered the Sinai in concert with the Britain & France who were interested in reclaiming control of the Suez Canal. President Eisenhower forced them all to retreat. Part of the deal was that the US, Britain, France & Russia would guarantee that the Straits would remain open to Israel.
In 1967, Nasser again closed the Straits of Tiran & the ‘Guarantors’ were nowhere to be found. Another betrayal.
In response to this casus belli & the massing of Arab armies on all Israel’s borders, Israel preemptively attacked, defeating Eqypt, Syria & Jordan in 6 days.
Considering that this was the third time in 20 years that Israel was forced to defend itself, you would think that Israel should be entitled to keep all land conquered in such a defensive war pursuant to international law. But no, the best it could get from UN Security Council was Res 242 which began by “Emphasizing the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war” in total disregard to this war being a defensive war which permits it. It required Israel to withdraw from territories acquired (but not all territories) in exchange for recognized & secure borders. Thus it was recognized that secure borders would necessitate Israel retaining some of the territories.
Subsequently, the international community embraced the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, which has no legal standing whatsoever & which requires 100% withdrawal. Another betrayal.
In addition, the international community interpreted this, ‘ex post facto’, to include non-secure borders which can be made secure by arrangements rather than borders (which are inherently secure) as was originally intended. Again, a betrayal.
In 1973, on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, Egypt & Syria launched a surprise attack on Israel & in the first 2 or 3 days came close to destroying Israel. It took Israel that long to fully mobilize. Israel quickly ran low on ammunition & parts, so she appealed to the US for resupply. Henry Kissinger, President Nixon’s Secretary of State, refused immediate delivery as he wanted Israel to suffer a bloody nose so that she would be more pliable in future negotiations. Fortunately, even without this much-needed resupply, Gen Ariel Sharon managed to create a beach head on the West side of the Suez Canal from which he started for Cairo – which was undefended.
Most of the Egyptian Army had gone to the East side to fight Israel. Russia threatened to intervene but Nixon stood up to them & ordered Kissinger to affect the resupply immediately & to arrange a ceasefire. The resupply was made more difficult as the various European countries denied the resupply planes with landing rights on their way to Israel.
I would say that Kissinger’s delay of resupply & Europe’s withholding landing rights were two more grave betrayals. [Emanuel Winston also said so.]
President George H.W. Bush put a lot of energy into convening the Madrid Conference in 1991 in which peace negotiations could start. He tried to have the PLO included in the talks but PM Shamir insisted that only Palestinians from the ‘West Bank’ could participate as part of the Jordanian delegation. Bush also insisted that Jerusalem be put on the table for final status negotiations. Shamir resisted this as well but in the end agreed. He needed a US guarantee for $10 Billion in order for Israel to be able to finance the massive aliya from Russia.
After this, Shimon Peres [with his sidekick, Yossi Beilin] had an opportunity to negotiate with the PLO in secrecy [when it was actually illegal to even meet with the PLO] to see what could be negotiated. PM Rabin gave his approval. [When we asked Yossi Beilin, the keynote speaker at a 1994 Bar Ilan dinner WHY they didn’t hold the promised Israeli referendum to vote on the Oslo Accords, Beilin admitted frankly, “We knew they would vote against it!” Another major betrayal!]
This resulted in the Oslo Declaration of Principles for Interim Self Government being signed in 1993. It awkwardly described the Palestinian party to the agreement as “the PLO team (in the Jordanian-Palestinian delegation to the Middle East Peace Conference) (the “Palestinian Delegation”), representing the Palestinian people.” Quite a mouthful.
“The aim of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations within the current Middle East peace process is, among other things, to establish a Palestinian Interim Self-Government Authority, the elected Council (the “Council”), for the Palestinian people in the West Bank & the Gaza Strip, for a transitional period not exceeding five years, leading to a permanent settlement based on Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) & 338 (1973)”
What is important to note is that the Council was “for the Palestinian people in the West Bank & Gaza” thereby excluding the refugees outside of the West Bank. Furthermore, it was intended to lead to “a permanent settlement based on Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) & 338 (1973)”. Nevertheless, the entire world takes the position that the goal of the Oslo Accords is the creation of a Palestinian state. This is a lie & a further betrayal.
Of further note, the Accords in no way limited settlement construction, though they did define the settlements as a “final status issue”. Nevertheless, the world demands a freeze on settlement construction because they say it imperils a two-state solution. But the Accords made no mention of a two-state solution. PM Netanyahu has always said that they are not an impediment because they can always be removed. Besides, the Palestinians have no right to such a state.
From day one, the Palestinians have been in default of the Accords because that engaged in incitement & violence to which they are committed NOT to do.
In Sept 2000 the PLO started the Second Intifada in which they murdered well over 1000 Israelis. Pres George Bush sent Sen. George Mitchell to the territories on a fact-finding mission & in his report, you guessed it, he recommended that Israel stop settlement construction. Once again, the West made the Jews pay the price for Arab violence.
Though Saudi Arabia played a major role in the perpetration of the attacks on 9/11 in 2001, Pres Bush felt he had to appease them by calling for a Palestinian state in his vision speech in 2002. This was a betrayal of Israel which had always rejected the creation of such a state.
He also introduced the Roadmap for Peace which was a further betrayal of Israel for a number of reasons: 1) It began by reciting the Arab Peace Initiative which called for 100% withdrawal by Israel contrary to Res 242 and 2) It called for Israel to freeze all settlement activity (including natural growth of settlements) and 3) for the emergence of an independent, democratic, and viable Palestinian state none of which Israel had agreed to. These were included in the 14 reservations raised by Israel to the Plan and Colin Powell insisted that the Plan be accepted, after all it was only a process he said, and promised that the State Department would give serious consideration to them which it never did.
Because of the pressure put on Israel by the US to create a Palestinian state, PM Sharon thought he had to initiate solutions before he was forced to do what the west wanted. Thus he proposed the Disengagement Plan. Bush gave him a letter in 2004 which committed the US to certain things including US support for the retention of the settlement blocs and a solution based on Res 242 rather than the API. It also committed the US to not allow any other Plan to be imposed. This letter was carefully drafted as it was considered to be binding on the US. One of the first things Pres Obama did after his inauguration was to disavow this letter so he would be free to impose terms on Israel, if not a full plan. I would say that was a major betrayal.
Pres Obama betrayed Israel in many ways during his presidency including forcing Israel to institute a settlement freeze and to support a two-state solution which it wasn’t legally obligated to do. Rather than leave all final status issues to be negotiated directly as had been agreed upon, he attempted to influence the parameters of an agreement by insisting on a division of Jerusalem and the ’67 lines as the borders. His parting shot was to refrain from casting his veto to UN Res 2334 which thoroughly attacked the settlements and demanded a permanent freeze. If that weren’t bad enough, it went on to apply these demands to communities in Jerusalem east of the ceasefire lines.
The Iran Deal requires special mention as a betrayal of major proportions.
The driving force behind all these betrayals is the desire on the part of the West to appease the Arabs due to their 300 million population, their oil and gas exports and to their one billion co-religionists. It matters not, what the facts, history, agreements, values, guarantees are.
It remains to be seen whether Pres. Trump will put an end to this 100 year betrayal.
With Barack Obama’s term as president of the US coming to an end & Mahmoud Abbas’ tenure as Palestinian leader winding down too, the Israeli government will soon have an opportunity to recalibrate its diplomatic policies. Israeli policy on the Palestinian issue has been frozen for two decades.
But in which direction should Israel go? Fortify or vitiate the Fatah-led dictatorship in Ramallah? Redeploy from parts of Judea & Samaria (the West Bank), or re-assert Israel’s sovereign presence in major parts of Judea & Samaria through renewed building?
Do withdrawals toward the coastal plain offer a saner & safer future for Israel; or is building a united & “greater” Jerusalem from Jericho to Jaffa, the DNA that holds the key to the future of Israel and Zionism – as General Gershon Hacohen argues?
Muddle through, or attempt a radical paradigm shift?
These questions have been argued out in recent months in the seminar rooms & on the website of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies by center associates, including Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen, Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror (the Rosshandler senior fellow at the center, and a former national security advisor to the Prime Minister), Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman (a former deputy national security advisor) & professors Hillel Frisch (an Arabist), Efraim Inbar (a strategist) & Max Singer (a defense expert).
The upshot of their debate: Apply Obama’s first rule of governance. “Don’t do stupid things.” It is wiser for Israel to defer action than to take steps that threaten to make a bad situation worse.
Frisch mapped out five possible Israeli approaches: “caretaker conflict management, creative friction, constructive chaos, unilateral withdrawal & unilateral annexation”. The caretaker option is probably the most feasible, he feels; unilateral withdrawal is the least; and none of the options is ideal. In every case, Israel will have to maintain a significant military presence in Judea and Samaria.
Frisch completely dismisses a sixth option: Rapid establishment of a full-fledged Palestinian state. Neither he nor his colleagues view this as feasible or advisable in the foreseeable future.
Inbar says that “Israelis have gradually come to realize that at present the Palestinians are neither a partner for comprehensive peace nor capable of establishing a viable state, unfortunately. The Palestinian Authority has no intention of accepting a Jewish state in any borders. The two sides remain far apart on most of the concrete issues to be resolved.”
“Israel’s recent governments are left, willy-nilly, with a de facto conflict-management approach, without foreclosing any options. While there are costs to this wait-&-see approach, let’s remember this was the approach favored by David Ben-Gurion. He believed in buying time to build a stronger state & in hanging on until opponents yield their radical goals or circumstances change for the better.” [Gail sez: Ben-Gurion’s ‘buying time’ approach may have been appropriate then when there were 600,000 Jews in the new State of Israel BUT, now we have at least 8 Billion, a thriving economy, a huge strong IDF, & we should enact Sovereignty ASAP. Security itself is not enough.
Amidror too dislikes the drive for unilateral Israeli initiatives. “A partial withdrawal would likely increase, rather than decrease, Palestinian terrorism, as Palestinians would be motivated to push harder for total Israeli withdrawal. On the other hand, Israeli annexation would inflame Palestinian passions and engender severe opposition to Israel abroad.”
“This is not the time to embark on useless experiments or risky unilateral initiatives, either in the hope of preparing the ground for an eventual Palestinian state or in the hope of thwarting it. When standing on the edge of a cliff, it is wiser to keep still than to step forward,” Amidror concludes.
Lerman agrees, noting many factors bind both Prime Minister Netanyahu & Opposition Leader Herzog to their current position of genuine but hung support for the two-state rubric. This includes the sensitivities of neighbors who matter (Jordan, Egypt, etc.), the views of Diaspora Jewry & of Western diplomatic allies & defense establishment preferences for the status quo.
But Lerman also warns that the false Palestinian narrative of one-sided victimhood is a major hindrance to all peace efforts. “Global actors that want to help achieve peace need to assist the Palestinians in moving beyond wallowing in self-pity and rituals of bashing Israel,” he says.
“The concept of painful but practical compromises seems alien to the Palestinians & the international community is not doing its part to help the Palestinians mature towards this realization.”
Along these lines, Singer says that Washington & Brussels must robustly make clear their distaste for Palestinian denial of the Jewish People’s connection to the land of Israel & Jerusalem. They should modify their aid programs to reduce Palestinian use of foreign money to support terror; determinedly defend free speech in Palestinian society; & act to resettle Palestinian refugees outside of Israel.
Singer also feels that Israel should improve its public diplomacy “by moving from appeasement to truth-telling.” Specifically, Israel should formally adopt the report of Israel Supreme Court Justice Edmond Levy to challenge the myth that Israel has stolen Palestinian land. “Even opponents of Israeli settlements in the West Bank & supporters of a two-state solution should support Levy’s affirmation of Israel’s historic & settlement rights in the territories. This is critical in leveling the diplomatic playing field. Israel must not go into future negotiations as a guilty party.”
General Hacohen goes beyond his BESA Center colleagues. To him, caretaking & truth-telling are insufficient. He believes in Israeli activism that forces the adversary onto the defensive & creates advantageous new situations. This means maneuvering & expanding in Jerusalem & the Judean/Samarian heartland. “Settlements are forward outposts of Zionism, in addition to their being critical to Israel’s military deployment in the territories. Where there is a farmer on his land,” he says, “the army has the strength to rule.”
Source: The BESA Bulletin, November 2016
At the conference, Prof. Efraim Inbar of the BESA Center reviewed the strategic landscape in the Eastern Mediterranean. The US has become absent, he said; Turkey is increasingly becoming a revisionist power; & Iran’s presence is increasing along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. It is not clear whether the Greek-Cypriot-Israeli alignment can counter the radical Islamist powers & it remains to be seen whether Egypt is ready to join this alignment.
At the conference, Prof. Efraim Inbar: https://youtu.be/6PCTZHfrQEI
U.S. Navy photo by Paul Farley
Experts from Greece, Russia, Britain, Turkey, Albania, the US & Israel convened at the BESA Center for an international conference to study strategic challenges in the Eastern Mediterranean. View videos of the lectures & panels held at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies on the conference day.
Mr. Dan Mariaschin, Executive Vice President and CEO of B’nai B’rith International opened the conference (of which BBI was a co-sponsor) by pointing out the importance of this second annual conference in assessing dramatic challenges in the Eastern Mediterranean region, and their significance at this time of transition in world affairs – with a special emphasis on the need for new and more effective American policy in the region.
Prof. Eyal Zisser of Tel Aviv University gave an account of the “miracles” which saved Asad’s regime and turned him into the “Liberator” of Aleppo: Obama’s decision not to strike, the Russian intervention, and now (perhaps) the ascension of President Trump. He suggested three possible outcomes to the civil war in Syria: a Spanish outcome (total victory for one side), an Afghan one (continued insurgency in the periphery), and a Libyan result (chaos and disintegration).
Prof. Boaz Ganor of the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya sharply criticized the ineffectual counter-IS strategies of President Obama and surveyed options for President Trump. These include “more of the same,” Russian-style carpet bombing, boots on the ground, and the more likely “businesslike” strategy of letting the Russians handle the situation — at a cost to US positioning in the region. He suggested a fifth approach involving greater US firepower and “sandals” – special forces – on the ground.
Prof. Yehudit Ronen of Bar-Ilan University gave a detailed and tragic description of Libyan disintegration since the overthrow of Qaddafi, emphasizing the lack of foresight by the intervening powers and the current struggle between the “legitimate” government and the forces of General Hiftar.
Prof. Efraim Inbar of the BESA Center reviewed the strategic landscape in the Eastern Mediterranean. The US has become absent, he said; Turkey is increasingly becoming a revisionist power; and Iran’s presence is increasing along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. It is not clear whether the Greek-Cypriot-Israeli alignment can counter the radical Islamist powers, and it remains to be seen whether Egypt is ready to join this alignment.
Konstantinos Bikas, the Ambassador of Greece to Israel tried to explain the roots of policy disasters in the region – in Iraq, Syria and Libya – as resulting from a lack of understanding of local societies. He spoke of the importance of supporting the forces of stability – Egypt and Jordan – and the role of Greece and Cyprus, working together in five tripartite frameworks alongside Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and the Palestinians.
Prof. Elena Suponina of the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies described Russia’s role in Syria and Libya, and emphasized the high value that today’s Russia (unlike the USSR) accords to its relationship with Israel. She said that while Russia was capable of saying “no” to America, it does not want to be maneuvered by some Arab players into a “cold war style” adversarial relationship with the US.
Prof. Shaul Chorev of Haifa University presented the findings of the Haifa U./Hudson Institute working group on Eastern Mediterranean security. He emphasized mutual interests (in energy and stability) that compel regional and international elements to cooperate.
Dr. Jonathan Spyer of the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya presented the dramatic regional refugee situation. More than 4.8 million refugees and 6 million IDPs have been created, he said, and suggested that the Syrian Sunnis have lost the war.
Dr. Karin von Hippel of the Royal United Services Institute in London discussed the impact of the Syrian war and refugee crisis on Europe.
Ambassador Ünal Çeviköz spoke emphatically about Turkey’s long tradition of taking in refugees, both in the Ottoman era and in modern times (including millions of Turks uprooted in the population exchange with Greece). He described Turkey’s current efforts to care for the massive Syrian population in Turkey, including education. He also suggested that the achievements of Operation Euphrates Shield, in effectively creating a safe zone in Northern Syria, should be a model for the future, arguing that the international community had not done enough to help.
Prof. David Ohana of Ben Gurion University dedicated his presentation to the memory of Jacqueline Cahanoff on the centennial of her birth, and gave a deeply sympathetic survey of her life and of her personal and intellectual role in laying the foundation, more than anyone else, for the present discourse on Israel’s Mediterranean identity.
Prof. Nissim Calderon of Ben-Gurion University spoke passionately and pointedly about Jacqueline Cahanoff’s legacy and her concept of a Levantine/ Mediterranean identity, which was not a burden carried because of place or group of origin, but an opportunity for an enriched concept of identity.
Ambassador Aryeh Mekel of the BESA Center gave an insider’s informed (and at times, amused) view of the dramatic turn for the better in Israeli-Greek relations, at the governmental and popular levels, which persisted throughout a period of political turmoil and change as well as of great economic difficulties in Greece.
Mr. Ditmir Bushati, Albanian Minister of Foreign Affairs, described his country’s positive role in the eastern Mediterranean and as a NATO ally, as well as the growing friendship with Israel (and Albania’s historic attitude towards the Jewish people). He put a special emphasis on the common effort to combat terrorism, in practical measures as well as on the ideological level.
Dr. Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum offered a comprehensive survey of political developments, largely related to the rise of the Islamist threat, in the eight nations of the Eastern Mediterranean – Greece, Cyprus, Israel, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and Libya. He also noted the rising involvement of Russia and China in the region. He sharply criticized the gap between President Erdogan’s immense skill in domestic politics and his failure to read right the regional and international challenges; and gave Israel high marks as a master of her own fate.
Mr. Gideon Sa’ar, former Israeli Minister of Education and Interior and a former member of the Security Cabinet (Likud), laid out a strategy for Israel based on cooperation with key players in the region. But he also said that Israel expects other countries to share the burden of dealing with key problems, such as the need to find new paradigms to replace the increasingly problematic “two-state solution” rubric. He also joined the criticism aimed at President Erdogan, questioning whether Turkey can be counted today as a democratic country.
Mr. Gary Saltzman, President of B’nai B’rith International.
Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Yitzhak Rabin at entrance to old city of Jerusalem during Six Day War, with Def. Mtr Moshe Dayan & GOC Central Command Uzi Narkiss, IDF Photo Gallery, Flickr 6/4/67
To the ordinary citizen, wars upset the routine of life by surprise, like natural disasters. Israelis experienced the Six Day War as a war of no choice.
In the 40th year after the conflict, Yossi Sarid maintained Levi Eshkol had not wanted a war & neither had Nasser. In Sarid’s view, the war could have been prevented & it was IDF generals who pushed for it.
We will focus here on 2 periods: that of the escalation, as border clashes mounted during the 3 years preceding the war & the time span that mainly concerned Sarid, which began when the Egyptian army entered Sinai on May 15, 1967, Israeli Independence Day. From that moment, despite Sarid’s claims, the slide into war appears to have been unavoidable. Much has been written on this topic.
In my view, it is more important to reconsider what transpired in the first period, in the years before the war — what the General Staff now refers to as “the campaign between the wars.” The objective of the campaign, as set forth in the document on IDF strategy by Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot, was to weaken negative factors, achieve deterrence, and defer the next war.
Thus, in the 3 years before the outbreak of war, the IDF conducted a 3-pronged campaign aimed at the following objects: thwarting the diversion of the sources of the Jordan River; implementing sovereignty in the demilitarized zone along the border with Syria & fighting the terror that had intensified with establishment of Fatah. Under Rabin’s leadership, the generals of the General Staff sought to make the most of the border clashes, even hoping to bring about a wide-scale military conflict with Syria. They were aware of the political constraint-the desire to avoid a descent into an all-out war in which Syria & Egypt, which had signed a 1966 mutual defense pact, would jointly take part.
In March 1967, when formulating the IDF’s multiyear plan, military intelligence (Aman) estimated that an all-out war was unlikely at least until 1970, as long as Egypt was involved in the fighting in Yemen. At the same time, the research department of the intelligence branch acknowledged the possibility of an unforeseen deterioration. In light of this assessment, and with the border clashes treated as the campaign between the wars, the issue was how to guide and limit IDF operations, particularly in the north, in a way that would forestall deterioration.
On April 7, agricultural work in the demilitarized zone east of the Sea of Galilee led to a border clash. During the incident, shells landed on homes in Kibbutz Tel Katzir. Prime Minister and Defense Minister Eshkol approved the dispatch of air force planes to silence the sources of the fire. The planes flew 171 sorties for the purposes of this attack and patrol, during which six Syrian MiGs were downed.
This incident marked a turning point in the deterioration that impelled the Soviet Union and Egypt towards war. Thus, despite tactical achievements, April 7 constituted an operational failure in terms of the goal of the campaign between the wars, which was to defer war.
The dynamic of the escalation to the Six Day War offers a crucial lesson about how a limited campaign can, contrary to expectations, spin out of control. About a week ago, as Chief of Staff Eizenkot completed the first two years of his tenure, the media gave an interim assessment. Everyone praised his performance, while emphasizing that he still had not undergone the most critical test-the test of war-as though he were a soccer coach whose team hasn’t yet been tested in an important game.
But the wisdom and responsibility of the chief of staff have been tested no less, indeed possibly more, during the time between the wars. He has succeeded by conducting a sober, judicious campaign, clandestine in not a few of its aspects, and manifest to the appropriate extent. For the person at the helm of the military, a campaign of this sort requires no less skill than a big war. When it is properly managed, there is hope of deferring that war to the point that it becomes unnecessary.