Friday, April 29, 2011

Mideast Media Sampler 04/29/2011

From an email from DG:
1) What's insulting?

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in an interview with Andrea Mitchell about the announcement to build in Ramat Shlomo in March, 2010

QUESTION: Yet they are kept from the negotiating table. Now you're a secretary of state. So you're not kept from the negotiating table. But here you are with the Middle East just beginning to approach negotiations and Israel announces an expansion of settlements. It was really a slap in the face to the visiting Vice President.
SECRETARY CLINTON: It was, Andrea. And-- I've expressed that directly to the prime minister. It was-- not just an unfortunate incident of timing but the substance was-- something that-- is not needed as we are attempting to move toward-- the resumption of negotiation. And the United States is a strong supporter of the security of Israel. Always have been, always will be. 
We share common values and there is so much that-- Israel represents that we support. But we believe in the two state solution. The prime minister has said he believes in it. And we wanna see confidence building measures and actions that will-- result in the resumption of negotiations and then a move toward the resolution on the final status issues. 
QUESTION: But this is a setback and insulting. 
SECRETARY CLINTON: It was insulting. And-- it was insulting not just to the vice president, who-- certainly didn't deserve that. He was there with a very clear message of-- commitment to the peace process solidarity with-- the Israeli people. But it was an insult to the United States. 
I mean the United States is deeply invested in trying to-- work with the parties in order to bring about-- this resolution. We don't get easily discouraged, so we're-- we're working toward the resumption of the negotiation. But we expect-- Israel and the Palestinians-- to do their part, and not to take any action that-- will undermine the chance that we can achieve the two state solution. 
QUESTION: And it doesn't help as you are trying to work so hard to rally the Arab world for Israel's benefit, as well as the United States, obviously, against Iran. The Iranians threat rests there, the Saudis recently went to China to try to persuade the Chinese that they would be-- a good oil supply to them, even without Iranian oil. How do you get the Iranian negotiations on track? 
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we're working very hard on that. And here at the United Nations-- I had numerous meetings-- about what we were-- doing concerning the-- the security council. We're working to-- obtain support for a strong resolution. And there are several reasons why this is so important. 
First, Iranians have violated their obligations under the Nonproliferation Treaty. They have-- ignored the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Na-- the UN Security Council before. And the international community has to demonstrate there are consequences--
(Note: it's hard to ignore Andrea Mitchell's anti-Israel bias. But Secretary of State Clinton agreed with each statement Mitchell made.)

Biden's statement:

I condemn the decision by the government of Israel to advance planning for new housing units in East Jerusalem. The substance and timing of the announcement, particularly with the launching of proximity talks, is precisely the kind of step that undermines the trust we need right now and runs counter to the constructive discussions that I’ve had here in Israel. We must build an atmosphere to support negotiations, not complicate them. 
We all know that this week Fatah agreed t reconcile with Hamas, for now. Fatah, the moderate - or less explicitly terrorist - faction of the Palestinians has embrace an unapologetic terrorist organization, Hamas. To the best of my knowledge, VP Biden issued no condemnations of this alliance. And the State Department according to Jennifer Rubin: 
However, a State Department official authorized to speak only on background was a bit more expansive, albeit not definitive. He said, “We have seen the press reports and are seeking more information. As we have said before, the United States supports Palestinian reconciliation on terms which promote the cause of peace. To play a constructive role, any Palestinian government must accept the Quartet principles by renouncing violence, accepting past agreements, and recognizing Israel’s right to exist.” For now it is business as usual, he explained: “I note that the current Palestinian government remains in place and our assistance programs continue. As I said, we have seen press reports and are seeking more information. Our current support to the Palestinian Authority, as led by President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad, serves as an important contribution to U.S. efforts to support the building of Palestinian institutions that are necessary for a future state.”
"[S]eeking more information..." How patient and understanding of them. Imagine that, when Israel builds in Jerusalem against Palestinian wishes it is "insulting" and requires condemnation; but when Fatah partners with Hamas, which, a few weeks ago, shot 50 rockets into Israel, in contravention of any sane definition of peace making or trust building, the State Department needs more time. Apparently Palestinian feelings are more important than Israeli lives.

Daled Amos has a related, astute observation.

2) More on "durable peace"

Yesterday I wrote about a recent NYTimes editorial President Obama and the peace process which argued:

The outlines of a deal are no secret. They were first proposed by President Bill Clinton in 2000. But neither side has been willing to make the necessary concessions — on land swaps, how Jerusalem can be shared and how many displaced Palestinians can go home, or not. The Israelis need to know that their closest ally won’t enable more inaction. The Palestinians need to know they will have American support so long as their demands are realistic. Mr. Obama needs to speak up before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel pre-empts the debate with what is certain to be an inferior proposal when he addresses a joint meeting of Congress next month.  
Mr. Netanyahu has made some concessions, most notably giving Palestinians more control over their own security in the West Bank. But he has long insisted that the Palestinians aren’t serious about negotiating a final deal, and he is now hinting that he will unilaterally offer them an interim, step-by-step arrangement that will put off statehood to some undefined future. 
He also has used the upheavals in the Middle East as one more excuse not to act, rather than a reason to reinforce Israel’s security with a durable peace deal. 
This was written before the Fatah-Hamas deal. But the editors of the NYTimes seem interested in seeing that Israel gets a "durable peace deal."

So explain the reporting here about the Fatah-Hamas agreement :
It was the first tangible sign that the upheaval across the Arab world, especially the Egyptian revolution, was having an impact on the Palestinians, who have been losing faith in American-sponsored peace negotiations with Israel and seem now to be turning more to fellow Arabs. But the years of bitterness will not be easily overcome, and both sides warned of potential obstacles ahead. 
Israel, feeling increasingly surrounded by unfriendly forces, denounced the unity deal as dooming future peace talks since Hamas seeks its destruction. “The Palestinian Authority has to choose between peace with Israel and peace with Hamas,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared in a televised statement. The Obama administration warned that Hamas was a terrorist organization unfit for peacemaking. 
Perhaps I'm reading too much into the juxtaposition here, but this report seems to be based on the premise that the reconciliation is a good thing for peace and stability and Israeli fears are an obstacle to that outcome. (Isn't the word "feeling" at the beginning of the second paragraph superfluous?)

But how can the Times one day criticize Israel for not doing enough to achieve a "durable" peace and then, in a news report a few days later, dismiss Israeli concerns when its "peace partner" announces that is allied with its open enemy?

Or take this happily headlined article Poll Finds Egyptians Full of Hope About the Future ? (Take it. Please.)

After some ten paragraphs mostly explaining how moderate the Muslim Brotherhood is, the article inconveniently informs us:

The poll also found that a majority of Egyptians, 54 percent, want to annul the 1979 peace treaty with Israel that has been a cornerstone of Egyptian foreign policy and the region’s stability. The finding squares with the overwhelming anecdotal evidence that Egyptians feel Israel has not lived up to its commitments in its treatment of the Palestinians. But more than a third of respondents, 36 percent, favored keeping the treaty, and the poll did not ask the more controversial question of whether Egyptians wanted to sacrifice the three decades of peace they have enjoyed along the border.
Again, Israel's peace with Egypt was thought to be "durable." If, after 30 years it isn't, shouldn't that be something acknowledged up front instead of buried in an upbeat news article about Egypt's future?

I didn't have to wait too long, now a new article about Egypt is up
 In Shift, Egypt Warms to Iran and Hamas, Israel’s Foes

After months of assuring us that Israel had nothing to worry about, now the New York Times tells us!

Egyptian officials, emboldened by the revolution and with an eye on coming elections, say that they are moving toward policies that more accurately reflect public opinion. In the process they are seeking to reclaim the influence over the region that waned as their country became a predictable ally of Washington and the Israelis in the years since the 1979 peace treaty with Israel.  
The first major display of this new tack was the deal Egypt brokered Wednesday to reconcile the secular Palestinian party Fatah with its rival Hamas. “We are opening a new page,” said Ambassador Menha Bakhoum, spokeswoman for the Foreign Ministry. “Egypt is resuming its role that was once abdicated.”  
Egypt’s shifts are likely to alter the balance of power in the region, allowing Iran new access to a previously implacable foe and creating distance between itself and Israel, which has been watching the changes with some alarm. “We are troubled by some of the recent actions coming out of Egypt,” said one senior Israeli official, citing a “rapprochement between Iran and Egypt” as well as “an upgrading of the relationship between Egypt and Hamas.”
Is the fact that the new policies "more accurately public opinion" supposed to be reassuring? And is the reporter really telling us that Egypt's influence has waned because it was pro-Western?

Untangling these articles two premises emerge.

  1. Peace with the Palestinians (and Arab world generally) is good for Israel so it is Israel's duty to make the necessary concessions to satisfy the demands of the Palestinians or else there can be no peace.
  2. Peace with Israel is bad for the Palestinians and Arabs generally, so belligerence and threats to Israel are OK, especially because it reflects the will of the people.
It's hard to know whether to attribute these views to incoherence or to malevolence.

Barry Rubin has related thoughts here.

3) Following a straight line
At the end of January, MK Gen. Moshe Ya'alon (ret) reported that Hezbollah was training terrorists.

 A month later Barry Rubin observed:

Then there’s the Gaza problem. Helping Hamas is considered a national and religious duty by most Egyptians. Maintaining sanctions on Gaza and a tightly controlled border is unpopular. Can any elected government resist the popularity to be obtained by opening the border or want to sustain the unpopularity in maintaining the status quo? Here's an Israeli intelligence evaluation of Iranian efforts to expand arms shipments to Hamas. 
Such a step would further embolden Hamas and entrench it in power. More arms and more sophisticated weapons are going to flow across the border. With the Muslim Brotherhood legalized, it will be free to stir up massive support for its Palestinian branch, Hamas. Indeed, these things are already happening. Consequently, the possibility of a renewed Hamas-Israel war in several years is increased. 
It appears that this fear is being realized.

There’s a lot of truth in this report from the RT, noting that the US was eager to support the Egyptian opposition in the name of Democracy, but in all likelihood it will do more to harm our main ally in the region, Israel, and put the Muslim Brotherhood in control of Egypt. 
And the situation may well deteriorate very quickly now. 

The Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza will open on a permanent basis within seven to ten days, Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Elaraby told Al-Jazeera during an interview Thursday. 
He said during the interview that steps would be taken in order to alleviate the "suffering of the Palestinain people." 
Over the past few months a threat has been developing against Israel. But the media with their focus on proving that the Muslim Brotherhood is moderate missed it.

4) Pajama grafs
From Why Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Will Speak to Congress by Barry Rubin

In Congress, there are not only Republicans but a majority of Democrats whose instincts and knowledge of international affairs exceed those of the president. Among those people is the likely source of a Democratic revolt against the administration’s mistaken policies. We’ve already seen that begin, especially on Israel-related issues. Now that’s the bipartisan spirit in action!
From Dr. Assad Meet Dr. Mengele by Roger L Simon

The president himself has no real values, only vague notions received from lamebrain post-modernist professors or, worse, the Walt-Mearsheimer-Rashid Khalidi nexus. But the virulent anti-Israel views of the latter crowd seem particularly laughable today. The Israelis would have to be genuine imbeciles to make the kinds of concessions these people want, considering the homicidally insane behavior their neighbors are currently exhibiting.
From Kingdom of Lies by Victor Davis Hanson

The Goldstone Report, I thought when I first scanned it, was worse than most undergraduate research papers I have graded — and therefore I expected it to be praised by the international community. And it was until even the author, like the rare guilty undergraduate who confesses to plagiarism, wants his signature off the report. But then long ago I got used to Israel being damned by reporters, NGOs, and the UN and EU types as apartheidists, racists, imperialists, and Nazis in direct proportion to the fact that visitors to the Middle East usually prefer to go Israeli cafes, hotels, and hospitals. Reporting on the West Bank is a 10 AM-2 PM day job, with a commute back across the green line. Half a million Jews ethnically cleansed in the 1960s from Baghdad, Cairo, and Damascus were opportunists; half a million who fled to the West Bank twenty years earlier are still recently arrived refugees. But then I don’t know why Jerusalem is a divided city and Nicosia is not; or why the Kuril Islands or East Prussia are not similarly said to be “occupied”; or why the fence in Israel is worse than the fence in Saudi Arabia.

5) Where's Goldstone?

I forgot to note this the other day, that NATO forces inadvertently killed 12 rebels in Libya.

The rebels seemed to understand that it was a friendly fire incident. There have been no cries from the Arab world to investigate.

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1 comment:

prasad said...

Both sides (Israel and Palestinian) countries should have peace talks then this issue will be solved otherwise this issue will continue for a long time and neighbouring countries will suffer along with these countries and also this conflict will be one of the reason for world war so we have to solve this problem immediately United Nations should negotiate with these countries.