Monday, January 30, 2012

Arlene Kushner on The Israel-Palestinian "Peace Talks"

From Arlene Kushner:


January 30, 2012

"Frenetic Times"

Afraid it's "that time" again: Time for a review of what's going on with our "partners for peace" and their brothers in Hamas.  Hate doing this.  But every so many days...

As was totally predictable, the "talks" supervised by Jordan have gone nowhere and are likely finished.  (Although, as I write there is an unconfirmed report that the low level talks may continue for another month.  We'll see.)


You realize, of course, that the lack of progress in the talks is all Israel's fault.  Must be, because that's what PA leaders are saying.  We failed to submit a detailed plan of our demands for security and borders (to which I say, Baruch Hashem!); we merely submitted principles of what we think must be dealt with.  The PA says the deadline for us to do so was January 26.  Israel says the PA is counting wrong.  The Quartet had said both side were to submit plans within three months. The PA calculates that three months as having ended now.  Israel says it ends three months after the Jordanian talks began.

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For background information: It is Israel's policy generally (not always adhered to as perfectly as might be desired) not to reveal specifics of what might be conceded until everything is on the table and dealt with -- "nothing is decided until everything is decided."

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At the Cabinet meeting yesterday, Netanyahu reported, "As things stand now, according to what happened over the past few days - when the Palestinians refused even to discuss Israel's security needs with us - the signs are not particularly good." 

Naturally, we will continue to see pressure brought to bear, to bring the parties back to the table.  Catherine Ashton, EU foreign policy chief, was in the region last week, meeting with Israeli and PA officials.   
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What particularly enrages -- although this is hardly new -- is that the Western world knows full well that Israel has no "partner for peace."  It's simply that leaders are mindful of their relationship with Arab nations, and pander to the growing number of Muslims within their own nations, as well as to the left wing pro-Palestinian segment of their electorates.  And so, they have an agenda that has nothing to do with facts or justice.

Please see this Palestinian Media Watch bulletin revealing the fact -- complete with video clip -- that Palestinian Authority TV twice last week broadcast greetings to Hakim Awad, convicted of murdering five members of the Fogel family last year, from members of his family and from the TV host.  From his mother, who calls him the "apple of my eye," and his aunt, who refers to him as "the hero, the legend."

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Irish Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore has been here visiting, and PM Netanyahu remarked to him that while the world asks Israel to provide "confidence building measures," what the PA does with such praises of a terrorist destroys Israel's confidence.

Actually, I think that our prime minister didn't make the case nearly strongly enough.  What this behavior does is cast a light on the perverted soul of the PA: What sort of society glorifies the murderer of babies this way?  And why is it imagined that such a society merits a sovereign nation of its own?
But in the end it probably doesn't matter what Netanyahu said -- although he was correct to speak out -- because Gilmore, who represents a nation that is not exactly pro-Israel, probably wasn't really listening anyway.  His mind is made up. 

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Con Coughlin, writing last week in The Telegraph, said, "The Palestinians are doing their best to derail peace talks with Israel":

"...I am told by Western diplomats close to the exploratory talks that are currently taking place [note: have since ended] in Jordan between the two sides that the real reason they are running into difficulty is because the Palestinian delegation, led by the veteran Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, is refusing to take the talks seriously.

"For example, I am told by a Western diplomat working for the Quartet that when the Israeli delegation arrived for a meeting last weekend in Amman, the Jordanian capital, to present their latest security proposals, Mr. Erekat simply refused to enter the room."My man in the Jordan conference room says that he was surprised at Mr. Erekat's behaviour, especially as the topic under discussion was supposed to be one of the two main topics the Palestinian delegation wanted on the agenda...


"Erekat's refusal to enter the negotiating room and hear what the Israelis had to say does not bode well for the Quartet's attempts to get the two sides to resume full negotiations, and raises questions about just how serious the Palestinians are about getting a peace deal..." 


http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/concoughlin/100132355/the-palestinians-are-doing-their-best-to-derail-peace-talks-with-israel/


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"Not bode well"?  "Raises questions"? Enormous understatements, but point is taken.
Barack Obama was inclined at one time -- before he began currying favor with American Jews for election purposes -- to publicly chastise Israel, for example, for announcing that homes for young couples would be build in Jerusalem east of the Green Line.  But if he publicly chastised the PA for failure to exhibit good faith in the negotiations, I missed it.


A most unpalatable fact of life: This is what Israel must contend with.


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According to the Palestinian Maan News, the PLO executive committee will be meeting today, to discuss the "failure" of the preliminary talks. Then of course there will be discussion of "alternatives."  UN bids, Hamas reconciliation (see below on this), etc.
Here we may go again...


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As to Hamas, it's in a severe state of turmoil.  Iran has cut off assistance because of its leaders' refusal to back Assad in Syria.  And thus, for all intents and purposes, Hamas is finished with regard to being headquartered in Damascus.  According to intelligence sources, Khaled Mashaal has left for good; he's in Jordan at the moment and won't be coming back. 

There seems, however, to be a real reluctance to say that the Hamas headquarters are closed.  As one diplomat cited recently in the JPost put it, "Our belief is that Hamas [would] not announce a departure from Syria even if it happened."  What is likely is that they'll keep low level staff there and maintain the fiction that they still have a headquarters there.

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But where will they go?  Jordan has established limits to a Hamas presence, saying that Hamas leaders are welcome as individuals, but no more than this. King Abdullah has his hands full as it is. 

Source: qassam

The Muslim Brotherhood is similarly less than keen on hosting this movement.  And, says Guy Bechor in YNet, they won't settle in Gaza because they fear it would make them too ready a target for an Israeli hit.
Bechor says that the "domestic" Hamas leadership in Gaza headed by Ismail Haniyeh is gaining ascendency within the organization now.   And Mashaal is so frustrated that he's talking about leaving Hamas and starting a rival Muslim Brotherhood group, which means "a return to the Islamic track at the expense of Palestinian national identity."

Lastly, says Bechor, "Hamas won momentary global glory as result of the so-called blockade on Gaza. Yet now, when the siege is no longer in place with the border crossing to Egypt open to people and goods, how will the organization survive on the public relations front? This may be the worst problem faced by a group that lives off anti-Israel slogans and now finds itself crashing against the rocks of reality. "
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A likely result of this enormous Hamas turmoil is that the idea of a Hamas-Fatah reconciliation will be more readily exposed for the myth that it is.

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We've looked before at the issue of the joint US-Israeli military exercises that were to take place here, but were cancelled, amid much speculation as to why and by which party.  Even now I am seeing reports claiming that Israel cancelled, and that is what a representative of the Obama administration claimed when Gingrich chastised Obama for the cancellation.

Now I have on background, from a highly reliable source, this information:

"The U.S.-Israeli exercise was canceled because Obama is dealing secretly and intensively with Iran in an effort to stop a nuclear crisis and to ensure Teheran's cooperation for a U.S. pullout from Afghanistan. The easiest and most effective way for Obama to show his sincerity to Teheran is to keep Israel at arm's length if not farther."

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I want to call an important article to your attention:
Caroline Glick's brilliant "Zionist Imperative," in which she speaks about the historical ambivalence of America Jews to Zionism (all emphasis added).
"The problem that anti-Zionism poses for American Jewry is that it forces them to pay a price for supporting Israel. This is problematic because Zionism has never been fully embraced by American Jewry. Since the dawn of modern Zionism, the cause of Jewish self-determination placed American Jewish leaders in an uncomfortable dilemma.

"Unlike every other Diaspora Jewish community, the American Jewish community has always perceived itself as a permanent community rather than an exilic community. American Jews have always viewed the United States as the new Promised Land.

"With the formation of the modern Zionist movement in the late 19th century, American Jews found themselves on the horns of a dilemma. Clearly, the state of world Jewry was such that national self-determination had become an existential necessity for non-American Jews.

"But while supporting Jewish refugees and a scrappy little country was okay, support for the Zionist cause of Jewish national liberation involved an acceptance of the fact that Israel – not the US – is the Jewish homeland. Moreover, it involved accepting that there are Jewish interests that are independent of – if not necessarily in contradiction with – American interests. For instance, irrespective of the prevailing winds in Washington, and regardless of whether the US supports Israel or not, it is a Jewish interest that Israel exists, thrives and survives...

"Pro-Israel American Jews have historically tried to tie their support for Israel to larger, more universal themes, in order to extricate themselves from the need to admit that as Jews and supporters of Israel they have a right and a duty to support Jewish freedom even if it isn’t always pretty. Again, for Israel’s first several decades, it was about helping poor Jews and refugees. In recent years, the predominant defense has been that Israel deserves support because it is a democracy.

"Certainly, these are both reasonable reasons for supporting Israel. But neither support for Israel because it was poor nor support for Israel because it is free is a specifically Zionist reason for supporting Israel. You don’t have to be a Zionist to support poor Jewish refugees and you don’t have to be a Zionist to support democracy.

"You do have to be a Zionist however, to defend the Jews in Israel and throughout the world in a coherent manner when the predominant form of Jew-hatred is anti-Zionism.
"You have to be willing to accept and defend the right of the Jewish people to freedom and self-determination in our national homeland against those who deny that right. You have to be a Zionist to defend Israel’s right to survive and thrive even though it is no longer poor and its democratically elected government is not liked by the Obama administration.

"And you have to be a Zionist to realize that since Jewish survival is dependent on Jewish power, and anti-Zionists reject the right of Jews to have power, that anti-Zionists seek to bring about a situation where Jewish survival is imperiled...

"...To oppose Iran’s nuclear program effectively, American Jews are required to oppose these strongly supported US policies. And at some point, this may require them to announce they support Israel’s right to survive and thrive even if that paramount right conflicts with how the US government perceives US national interests.

"That is, it may require them to embrace Zionism unconditionally...

"We must hope that world Jewry will recognize today that the fate of the Jewish people in Israel and throughout the world is indivisible and rally to Israel’s side whatever the social cost of doing so. But even if they do not recognize this basic truth, the imperatives of Zionism, of the Jewish people, remain in place."


http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Columnists/Article.aspx?id=255334


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I end, most appropriately in light of the above, by repeating the core of yesterday's posting, which requested the assistance of readers in contacting members of Knesset.  I know that many people of good heart and with the best of intentions read what I write, make a mental note to get to it, and then somehow never do.  Too little time, too many distractions.  And so, I am providing that information a second time, with my heartfelt thanks for your efforts.

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A very significant vote is coming up in the Knesset this week.  The issues are complex and YOUR COOPERATION HERE IS EXCEEDINGLY IMPORTANT.

You've heard about this legislation from me previously:  Proposed by MK Zevulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi), it would forbid the dismantling of communities of more than 20 families in Judea and Samaria without properly filed documentation that the land was Arab-owned.  This would negate the vague, unsubstantiated claims of land being "Arab" that are currently filed in court by Peace Now.
What is more, this legislation stipulates that if the documentation of Arab ownership is filed after a specified period of time (four years, as I understand it), the community still wouldn't be taken down and instead the Arab land owner would be provided with monetary compensation.

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Prime Minister Netanyahu -- at the behest of Minister Benny Begin, who is attempting to negotiate a "deal" with the residents of Migron and wants them to feel squeezed -- has secured a negative vote on this legislation in the Ministerial Committee for Legislation. Nothing prevents the promoters of a piece of legislation from bringing it to the Knesset without the approval of the  committee -- it is simply that without this endorsement it is less likely to pass in the Knesset.

An appeal has been filed -- requesting a re-vote in the committee -- by Minister of Diaspora Affairs Yuli Edelstein (Likud) and Minister of Science Daniel Hershkowitz (Habayit Hayehudi) -- but there has been no response to this.  There is reason to believe the original vote would overturned if there were a second vote. 

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Now MK Orlev has decided to bring this proposed law before the Knesset -- possibly by Wednesday. 
And  here's where you have to pay attention to understand the situation and its serious implications:
Coalition discipline will not be invoked, so that members of the Knesset will be free to follow their conscience on this important matter rather than having to vote a party line. 

HOWEVER, since the Ministerial Committee voted against the legislation, ministers are expected to also vote against it in the Knesset.  They can, if they choose, vote for the legislation, but then, according to the rules, Netanyahu can fire them.  He is not obligated to fire them, he is simply at liberty to do so.

Needless to say, Netanyahu is applying pressure, and making noises about firing those who do not toe the line.

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This has an unpleasant echo of Gush Katif, when then PM Sharon applied every sort of strong-arm technique possible to keep his ministers in line so they'd vote as he wished.  We must not let this happen again.  Sharon betrayed his mandate when he behaved this way, and Netanyahu is now playing matters in a similar fashion.  I've cut him slack with regard to many issues.  But I cut him none here. 

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In  previous posting, I asked you to write to the Likud ministers in support of Migron.  Now I ask you to write again, to these ministers and those of Shas and Yisrael Beitenu as well:
Say that you understand that legislation that would save Migron and other communities in Judea and Samaria is about to come before the Knesset.  It would release Israel from the strangle-hold of Peace Now and prevent Jewish communities from being destroyed.

Remind them that the mandate given to the coalition by the voters was nationalist and that they would be betraying this mandate if they voted against this legislation. 

Tell them that, even more importantly, if they vote against it they would be taking a position that is not in the best interests of the State of Israel. 

Let them know that you see it as imperative that they vote their conscience on this matter.  It is not acceptable for them to place job security ahead of what is best for Israel.  In any event there is no guarantee that the prime minister will fire any ministers, and less likely if many ministers stand together to do what is right. 

Voters and those who support the parties are very tired of political game playing.  The ministers must know that they are being watched and that support in the future will depend on their readiness to do the right thing now.

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 Do NOT send a group message; the message to each minister should be separate.  But there is no reason to be intimidated by the fact that there are several names on the list that follows.
There is a way to make it easy for yourself:  Compose a message that says "Dear Minister," followed by text of that message.  Copy that message and salutation.  Then, in turn, click on each minister's e-mail address, paste in the greeting and message, and hit send. 

LIKUD:
Minister of Improvement of Government Services Michael Eitan

Minister of Environmental Protection Gilad Erdan

Minister of Welfare Moshe Kahlon

Minister of Transportation Yisrael Katz

Minister of Culture Limor Livnat
llivnat@knesset.gov.il (a previous typo in this address has been corrected) 

Minister Yosi Peled

Minister of Education Gideon Saar

Minister of the Development of the Negev Silvan Shalom

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz

Minister of Strategic Affairs Moshe Yaalon

SHAS:
Minister of Internal Affairs Eli Yishai

Minister Meshulam Nahari

Minister of Religious Affairs Yakov Margi

Minister of Housing Ariel Atias

YISRAEL BEITENU:
Minister of Tourism Stas Misezhnikov
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman
Minister of Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Danny Ayalon
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If Gush Katif infuriated you or pained you, if you want to be part of a democratic process that protects Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, if the idea of their having to turn over their land to Arabs distresses you,  please! take the time to do this. 
Numbers count a great deal.  Send this to others who are likely to also respond.
Thank you.  More will follow tomorrow.

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In closing, a note of clarification, very broadly, for those who are outside of Israel and perhaps confused by our system:  Parties receive mandates (seats) in the Knesset according to the percentage of votes they secured in the previous election. If one party does not have sufficient seats (i.e., more than 60) to constitute a majority of the Knesset, then a coalition is formed; this always happens.  Once the coalition is in place, there are ministerial positions allocated to the various parties in the coalition.  With very rare exceptions, the ministers are chosen from the ranks of those within the parties who have been elected to the Knesset.  Those who are ministers sit in the Cabinet and constitute the government, but they are still members of the Knesset.

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© Arlene KushnerThis material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.
See my website at www.arlenefromisrael.info  Contact Arlene at akushner@netvision.net.il
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