This week we witnessed Mahmoud Abbas presenting his bid for recognition of a state of Palestine to the United Nations General Assembly.
We heard the rapturous applause he received entering the UNGA.
We heard the rather less rapturous greeting received by Israel Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu whose few supporters in the UNGA tried desperately to raise the decibels of applause.
It was clear that whatever the outcome of the Palestinian bid, there is no doubt it was a PR success for Abbas and has highlighted Israel’s growing isolation.
So let’s first look at Israel’s standing in the popularity stakes versus Turkey’s; once good friends, now anything but.
Israel’s support from the US was bolstered by President Obama’s speech where he signalled his country’s intention to use the veto in the UN Security Council, if necessary and a strong affirmation of the need to settle the conflict via negotiations. Canada has also come out strongly on Israel’s side.
The Europeans are fence-sitting, but Spain’s unexpected declaration confirming Israel as the Jewish national home was a welcome plus for Israel.
The UK is waiting to make its decision in the UNSC but will probably abstain whilst making the usual noises about Israel’s right to security. Other European countries, including France, have made similar declarations.
Any vote in the UNGA to enhance the Palestinian status from observer to non-member state will clearly demonstrate that the overwhelming majority of UN member states recognise the State of Palestine.
In short, the UN shennanigans of the PLO have further highighted Israel’s isolation and its reliance on the USA.
Recently, in Egypt, as a result of the Arab Spring, the long-standing peace agreement with Israel, a legally binding agreement, has been questioned. The pipeline which provides Israel with 20% of its gas has been blown up for a sixth time.
A terror attack near Eilat a few weeks ago was launched via Egypt and some of the participants may have been Egyptian. The subsequent tragic death of Eagyptian border police during the Israeli pursuit of the murderers of eight innocent people further enflamed sentiments in Egypt.
The attack on the Israeli Embassy in Cairo which almost resulted in the lynching of six Israeli security officers has emphasised an undercurrent of anti-Israel anti-Jewish sentiment in Egypt which is bubbling to the surface as new freedoms materialise.
Egypt will not even sell palm leaves to Israel for the Succot festival which comes immediately after Yom Kippur. A mean and childish act which pretty much tells you what ‘Cold Peace’ means.
In Jordan, King Abdullah appears to be keen to bolster his popularity in a country which is 80% Palestinian and whose people are also making noises about their own peace treaty with Israel.
And, most importantly, Israel’s long-standing friendship with Turkey is not only in ruins, but Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is pursuing a series of belligerent measure against Israel politically, economically, juridically and militarily.
Turkey’s actions are ostensibly in response to Israel’s refusal to apologise to Turkey for the death of nine Turkish passengers aboard the Mavi Marmara when Israel intercepted their boat in order to enforce its blockade of Gaza. But relations have been cooling for some time. The national affront which Turkey cites as its reasons for punishing Israel may be covering its drift away from Ataturk secularism toward a form of democratic Islamism.
However, Israel’s loss of Turkish friendship may have released it to forge other friendships which highlight Turkey’s growing isolation.
On the principal, it seems, that my enemy’s enemy is my friend, Greece, a country not previously known for its affection for Israel, has strengthened ties.
The forty-year-old festering European sore that is the division of Cyprus, which somehow remains firmly under the world’s radar, is an important issue for Greece and Turkey.
Israel has signed agreements with the (Greek) Cypriot’s to co-operate on gas exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean, angering the Turks who have made more belligerent noises about Turkish Cypriot rights to the potential bonanza in the seeming belief that only Turkey has any rights in this field.
Israel’s gas exploration is at a juncture of Lebanese, Israeli and Cypriot waters which Lebanon is disputing and Turkey, naturally, supports Lebanon’s position against Israel.
Israel has also been active in the new state of South Sudan quickly establishing diplomatic and commercial ties.
In West Africa there is a surprising rapprochement with Nigeria, a country with a large Muslim population and sectarian divisions.
Israel is a major trade partner with Turkey’s neighbour Armenia and has recently supported moves for recognition of the Armenian genocide, a move which Turkey cannot be expected to approve given its 100 yer denial of being the perpetrator of that genocide. Israel’s break in relations with Turkey have released it from the fear of causing offence to its former friend.
Moves by Prime Minister Erdogan to pressurise Azerbaijan to cut ties with Israel have, so far, not succeeded. Azerbaijan is an important link in the oil pipeline to Israel. Any moves to cut off that oil would be in contravention of international law and would have to be seen as an Act of War by Israel if Turkey should pursue that particular enterprise.
Israel remains one of only two countries whose citizens do not require visas to visit Azerbaijan.
Meanwhile the perceived thuggishness of Erdogan and his attempted bullying of Israel have done him no favours.
He has threatened the EU should Cyprus take the chair of the EU next year; a somewhat hollow threat coming from a country which still has plans to join the EU.
Turkey’s relationship with Iran is strained as both vie for power in the region and disagree about policy toward President Assad in Syria.
Recently, Turkey agreed to the placing of a NATO radar system as part of the West’s defence against, presumably, Iran furthering that country’s suspicions of its neighbour.
Erdogan’s visit to Egypt had a mixed reception once he berated them about democracy.
Turkey’s new policy to actively patrol the Eastern Mediterranean will send warning signs to Greece and Cyprus as well as Israel. The UK and Italy may also be nervous.
Incidents at the UN between Erdogan’s body guards and UN security as well as an attempted attack on Erdogan by an unknown assailant have all shored up the impression of his being part Mafioso part head of state.
So Turkey still has one foot in the West and one in the East and is playing the game well to the extent that the US and NATO seem unfazed by Turkey’s belligerence toward Israel and have asked the two countries to patch up their disagreement.
The US has agreed to drone sales to Turkey to replace its Israeli ones and NATO is shtum when it comes to the problematical membership of a country which has ties with Islamist regimes inimical to NATO.
But how many real friends does Turkey now have? Not Syria, not Iran, not Israel or Greece. If it carries on it will soon alert the Europeans and the US to pressurise it further to tone things down.
Turkey’s new-found nationalist pride which presents itself in the form of sabre-rattling and muscle-flexing on the international scene is a direct result of America’s and Europe’s perceived weakening due to financial disasters, low growth, potential inflation and increasing civil unrest. And you can add to that two pretty disastrous excursions in Iraw and Afghanistam which make further military adventures improbable.
Countries like Turkey and Iran sense a growing power vacuum and are testing the waters, literally, to see how far they can push before they meet resistance.
Any economic recovery in America and Europe would be a severe blow to countries waiting in the wings to pick the bones of Europe and the USA.
If Turkey sullies its good relations with Russia by trying to punch above its weight, then isolation would become a reality. However, recent commercial deals and mutual interests in the Caucasus make this a remote possibility. Nevertheless, Russia has sent warships to the Eastern Mediterranean to protect Cypriot gas exploration. Turkey will not want to confront Russia.
Turkey also has problems with Kurdish separatists, the PKK, and tensions with Iran or even Iraq could be problematical.
Turkey is in a unique position geographically and is seen and behaves as a conduit between the West and the Muslim world.
But if you judge each country by its real friends (whatever friend means in international relations) then it’s pretty even between Israel and Turkey.
It is a tragedy that a great country like Turkey seems to be determined to make waves in the Mediterranean as well in diplomatic circles rather than nurturing its ties with Israel, mending fences and performing an important role as a bridge between the West and the Islamic world.
Erdogan’s behaviour is anything but statesmanlike. His recent speech in the UN stating that Israel is still trading off the Holocaust as well as claims that Israel has killed hundreds of thousands of Palestinians place him as borderline antisemitic.
Although he may be a hero to those who like bashing Israel, to the rest of the world he is a dangerous man who could light the fuse of a new war in the Middle East.
It will be interesting to see how the two countries fare over the coming months as things develop in the Middle East, Europe and in the USA where President Obama’s hoped for second term looks to be in serious trouble.
Are we are seeing the beginning of a new polarised alignment of powers as the former hegemonies of the US and Europe are diluted?
A period of dangerous instability with Israel at the epicentre may be upon us.
I was honoured to receive an email from Dr Naftali Moses who lost is firstborn son Avraham David in the attack on Mercaz HaRav in 2008.
Naftali writes about his book, “Mourning Under Glass“. Nothing can prepare one for the loss of a child. Nothing can prepare a parent to hear the news of a terror attack and slowly discover that his son is among the eight shot down in cold blood. Nothing can prepare a father for the heartrending pain that burying his firstborn son brings. On March 6, 2008, my sixteen-year-old son, Avraham David, was killed while studying in the Mercaz HaRav library in Jerusalem. On that day my life changed forever.
In the first year of mourning my son, I often felt torn between the intimacy of loss and its public expression. In one tragic moment, my son had become a “martyr,” and I, a “bereaved parent.” Having already buried his body, I worried how I could ever preserve his memory under the frequently too-bright lights of public attention. Mourning Under Glass explores the tensions between memory and memorial, between private pain and public mourning. Can any of our attempts at memorial adequately recall an extinguished life? Can any give voice to the nearly ineffable pain of loss?
It is a little-known fact that of all the nations with full member status of the United Nations, Israel alone is singled out for special treatment.
In a damning report from the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Alan Baker describes an intolerable situation whereby Israel is treated like no other state at the UN and is effectively denied equal rights to membership of several UN bodies the chief cause being the built-in anti-Israel majority in these bodies, populated as they are, by several nations with appalling human rights violations.
Baker tells us that it is:
the most elementary and basic right of all states: to be regarded and accepted, and to conduct itself vis-à-vis other states on the basis of full equality
During the initial drafting of the Charter of the United Nations, the expert in jurisprudence Hans Kelsen, in an article in the 1944 Yale Law Journal, makes reference to the Moscow Declaration of October 1943 in which the governments of the United States, the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, and China jointly declared that they recognized “the necessity of establishing at the earliest practicable date a general international organization, based on the principle of sovereign equality of all peace-loving States and open to membership by all such States, large and small for the maintenance of international peace and security.
It is interesting to note how the concept of ‘peace-loving’ was a prerequisite of membership and how a significant number of current UN members are anything but. Furthermore, there appears to be no mechanism or will to expel member states that fail to meet that criterion, as ill-defined as it is.
So, under international law, Israel has complete equality with all and any other state. This refers to ‘juridical equality’ and enshrines the important concept that states, by use of their economic or military power cannot make claim to special rights and privileges that are not afforded equally to all states, be it Palau or Russia, Montenegro or China. Like citizens of a democracy, each state is subject to the same treatment before the law, that is international law, without exception.
In theory, at least.
This right is a fundamental principle of the UN charter itself.
Baker goes on to tell us that these rights were given further clarification in 1970:
All States enjoy sovereign equality. They have equal rights and duties and are equal members of the international community, notwithstanding differences of an economic, social, political or other nature.
In particular, sovereign equality includes the following elements:
(a) States are judicially equal; (b) Each State enjoys the rights inherent in full sovereignty; (c) Each State has the duty to respect the personality of other States; (d) The territorial integrity and political independence of the State are inviolable; (e) Each State has the right freely to choose and develop its political, social, economic and cultural systems; (f) Each State has the duty to comply fully and in good faith with its international obligations and to live in peace with other States.
It does not take too much head searching to realise these noble concepts are observed more in the breach by a large number of states.
We are then told by Baker that these rights are clearly only ‘theoretical’ and that the UN itself does not treat all states as equal, despite its own charter.
And can you guess the principle, indeed, unique recipient of this unequal treatment?
in Israel’s case where the assumptions inherent in sovereign equality –
judicial equality, equality of voting, equality in participation in all UN activities and processes, and equality in membership in all fora – break down and leave Israel isolated and discriminated against.
How is this discrimination achieved and how and why is it allowed to continue?
Baker refers us to the Regional Group System which underpins much of the UN’s work which was designed, ironically, to give ‘equitable geographical representation’.
The regional group system has become the central mechanism for the representation and participation of UN Members in the UN system. Membership of a regional group is the only way full participation in the work of the UN system can be ensured.
So exclusion from your regional group means exclusion from the major organs of the UN and international representation.
Israel, being geographically in a group dominated by enemies and Islamic countries never manages to have a representative elected. This is because these groups have autonomy and exclude Israel in contravention of the principles of the UN, whilst some of the most putrid and criminal nations on earth have representation.
Since Israel is excluded from its geographical regional group – the Asian Group (by vote of the Arab and Muslim members of that group) – and is not accepted as a full member in the Western European and Others Group, and does not enjoy any other special or ex-officio position in the United Nations, Israel is, to all intents and purposes, denied its Charter-guaranteed equality.
This has serious consequences:
In such a situation Israel can never put up its candidacy for membership of the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, or the other major UN organs such as the International Court of Justice, it is denied any chance of having its jurists chosen as candidates for the major juridical institutions, tribunals, and courts within the UN system, and it cannot participate in consultations between states, organized within the regional group system, to determine positions and voting on issues, resolutions, and other matters.
Even world-renowned experts are denied a voice. The UN itself has recognised this anomaly. The Secretary General stated in 1998:
Israel could do much more for the United Nations were it not for a significant obstacle:
its status as the only Member State that is not a member of a regional group, which is the basis of participation in many United Nations bodies and activities
Israel cannot sit on the Security Council – the only nation thus excluded. Similarly, membership of International Court of Justice is also denied.
The attempts to have Israel to be part of another regional group have not met with any great success. Nor does there appear to be any remedy for this anomaly.
What is even more ridiculous is the thought that if a state of Palestine were given full membership it would be afforded the rights denied to Israel.
This isolation is not confined to the UN.
This filters down through the BDS campaign to exclude Israeli goods, academics and even performing artists from international forums and events.
When it comes to soccer, Israel has to qualify in the European groups because FIFA never had the guts to exclude nations who would refuse to play Israel or include it in the Asian associations. At club level, Israeli teams have to play in the European Championship and Europa Cup.
Iranians refuse to compete against Israelis in the Olympics or to acknowledge them on the same podium.
Two year ago Shachar Peer was denied entry to Qatar to play in a tennis tournament.
Israel is truly the Jew among the nations of the world yet many of those opposing this tiny country and the Jewish nation continue their absurd and antisemitic claims of Jewish world hegemony, financial power and malign conspiracies.
And all this whilst Iran, Saudi Arabia, Zimbabwe, Libya, Syria, Burma, China, Somalia, Yemen and any number of tyrannical serial human rights abusers suffer no such treatment.
It is surprising that Israel does not do more to find its voice at the highest levels of international discourse.
Its exclusion is a disgrace and diminishes the UN and its many organs to mouthpieces of hypocrisy, antisemitism and genocide.
Palestinian Arab “refugees” wouldn’t be citizens of “Palestine” – even if they live there!
Did you think that 63 years of Arabs using the “refugees” as political pawns would end if there was a Palestinian Arab state?
If you want to know the depths of cynicism of the Palestinian Arab leadership towards their people, you must read this article in The Daily Star Lebanon:
Palestinian refugees will not become citizens of a new Palestinian state, according to Palestine’s ambassador to Lebanon.
From behind a desk topped by a miniature model of Palestine’s hoped-for blue United Nations chair, Ambassador Abdullah Abdullah spoke to The Daily Star Wednesday about Palestine’s upcoming bid for U.N. statehood.
The ambassador unequivocally says that Palestinian refugees would not become citizens of the sought for U.N.-recognized Palestinian state, an issue that has been much discussed. “They are Palestinians, that’s their identity,” he says. “But … they are not automatically citizens.”
This would not only apply to refugees in countries such as Lebanon, Egypt, Syria and Jordan or the other 132 countries where Abdullah says Palestinians reside. Abdullah said that “even Palestinian refugees who are living in [refugee camps] inside the [Palestinian] state, they are still refugees. They will not be considered citizens.”
Let’s read that again, shall we?
“Even Palestinian refugees who are living in [refugee camps] inside the [Palestinian] state, they are still refugees. They will not be considered citizens.”
People who live in camps in their own state would be barred, by their own leaders, from becoming citizens of that very state!
Why? Because, to Palestinian Arab leaders, the “refugees” are not an oppressed group who must be helped. They are human weapons in a never ending war against Israel. Giving them citizenship removes their status as weapons.
The most important issue to the Palestinian Arab leadership is not to end the suffering of their people, or achieving independence. It is to destroy Israel, using the nonexistent “right of return.” Nothing could be more obvious – yet most of the world refuses to believe that Mahmoud Abbas and his cronies could possibly be so indescribably cruel and callous to their own people.
Abdullah said that the new Palestinian state would “absolutely not” be issuing Palestinian passports to refugees.
Neither this definitional status nor U.N. statehood, Abdullah says, would affect the eventual return of refugees to Palestine. “How the issue of the right of return will be solved I don’t know, it’s too early [to say], but it is a sacred right that has to be dealt with and solved [with] the acceptance of all.” He says statehood “will never affect the right of return for Palestinian refugees.”
The right of return that Abdullah says is to be negotiated would not only apply to those Palestinians whose origins are within the 1967 borders of the state, he adds. “The state is the 1967 borders, but the refugees are not only from the 1967 borders. The refugees are from all over Palestine. When we have a state accepted as a member of the United Nations,this is not the end of the conflict. This is not a solution to the conflict. This is only a new framework that will change the rules of the game.”
And make it easier for Palestinian Arabs to achieve their real goal – the end of the Jewish state.
For 63 years, three generations of Palestinian Arabs are being brought up being told that they must return to a non-existent state that their ancestors came from, and nothing else is acceptable. And the potential establishment of a Palestinian Arab state would ironically make their wishes to become citizens even more remote.
If there is to be a Palestinian Arab uprising, it should be against leaders like these who are happy to tell their own people to stay in hell – and to be happy about it.
A group of So- called “independent experts’ criticized the conclusions of Palmer’s Report on the legality of the Israeli naval blockade.
First, these So- Called “independent experts” are not independent at all. A member of the expert group, Richard Falk, a former UN official on human rights, is famous for his biased attitude towards Israel. He has a long history of anti- Israel policy.
Second, the so – called “independent experts” report deals with the blockade as a human rights issue of the Palestinian population and totally ignore the war against Israel conducted by the terrorist government of Gaza. They totally reject Israel’s right to defend its civilians against the rockets on its villages and towns.
Israel civilian population has been under constant attack of rockets from the Gaza Strip since 2006, despite of the fact that Israel destroyed all the settlements and removed all its citizens and soldiers from Gaza Strip in 2006. There was no naval blockade before 2006.
Third, the so- called “independent experts” totally ignore the statements made by the terrorist government of Gaza on its determination to eliminate the Jewish state by terror. This terrorist regime is closely connected with Iran, whose president declared of his policy to eliminate the Jewish state. Iran sends rockets, weapons and ammunition to Gaza by land and by sea. Israel has captured Iran’s consignment of arms by land and by sea. The naval blockade is the only way to prevent Iran from sending weapons and ammunition to kill Israeli civilians.
Gaza can get all it needs through its border with Egypt.
Why the so- called expert” don’t demand Egypt to open its border. They deal in their report only with Israel.
Also, Gaza gets daily shipments of food and other needs from Israel on a daily basis.
The Gaza terrorist government can put an end to the naval blockade by declaring change of its policy and by stopping targeting Israeli civilians with rockets.
According to the so- called “independent experts” Israeli civilians have no human rights. Their lives are not the concern of the experts.
In short, the real issue is not the human rights of the Palestinian population, but the human rights of the Israeli population. The terrorist government of Gaza is responsible for the Israeli naval blockade and it can bring an end to the blockade by stopping its war against Israeli civilians.
The way to deal with the Israeli- Palestinian conflict is by negotiations. The problem is the terrorist government of Gaza does not recognize the right of Israel to exist and is no interested in solving the conflict but in the elimination of Israel.
P.S: Britain bombed Dresden upon a daily base during Second World War. The people of Dresden were short of food, water, medicine and shelter.
Would the so-called “independent experts” blame Britain for the same accusations against Israel?
Germany could stop the suffering of the people of Dresden by stopping the war.
The same goes for Israel. The Hamas can stop the war against Israeli civilians and the naval blockade will be removed.
In an announcement that gives hypocrisy a good name, the Palestine Liberation Organisaiton ambassador to the United States announced yesterday, as reported by USA Today:
that any future Palestinian state it seeks with help from the United Nations and the United States should be free of Jews…
After the experience of the last 44 years of military occupation and all the conflict and friction, I think it would be in the best interest of the two people to be separated
So opined Maen Areikat without an ounce of irony. He played it with a straight bat.
It must be true that the very best bigots are so unaware of their own bigotry that they can let drop statements like this with complete sang froid.
Such statements would be common currency in Apartheid South Africa or the Deep South of the United States in the heyday of Jim Crow.
It’s not that we hate and have spent 100 years trying to annihilate the Jews, it’s just that the very sight of them in a Free Palestine might freak the children.
Yet it is Israel that is constantly accused of being Apartheid and racist, claims which are demonstrably false. The perpetrators of this lie point to the Israeli-only roads on the West Bank, the ‘Apartheid Wall’. They don’t mention the complete equality under law of all Israeli citizens or the fact that West Bank Arabs are not Israeli citizens and the West Bank has never been annexed.
Now, as I have frequently written, I am not a fan of settlements. I do favour land swaps for Israeli towns along the Green Line that are contiguous with Israel.
I am well aware that there are ‘frictions’, that some settlers behave abominably, that acts of vandalism occur, that the Palestinians are an inconvenient reality to many Israelis and that their are restrictions and, yes, abuses of human rights.
I am also aware that the separation is necessary because of security but that the status quo is not supportable and cannot go on forever.
So when it comes to a Palestinian state, I support two states living side by side with mutual respect and co-operation. But we ain’t there yet.
But let’s go back to Mr Areikat:
it would be in the best interest of the two people to be separated
Is this not what was proposed in 1947? Have not similar statements from Israelis when speaking of land swaps and voluntary transfer invoked howls of ‘racists’, ‘Apartheid’ and ‘ethnic cleansing’?
But look at what is being proposed: a Palestinian state without a single Jew and a Jewish state with 20% non-Jews.
And what’s more, the creation of a Palestinian state would not end the claims for a Right of Return for several million Arabs to live in Israel.
If the Palestinians can ethically cleanse their land of Jews, why not the Israelis of Arabs? Of course, they have no such intention.
As Oren Dorell in the USA Today article goes on to tell us:
Such a state would be the first to officially prohibit Jews or any other faith since Nazi Germany, which sought a country that was judenrein, or cleansed of Jews, said Elliott Abrams, a former U.S. National Security Council official.
Israel has 1.3 million Muslims who are Israeli citizens. Jews have lived in “Judea and Samaria,” the biblical name for the West Bank, for thousands of years. Areikat said the PLO seeks a secular state, but that Palestinians need separation to work on their own national identity.
‘Work on their own national identity’? What does that mean. Maybe Israel had to work on its national identity in 1948, then. How can it be right to perpetrate the very acts that the Palestinians and the world at large has been accusing Israel of for the last 63 years?
This is not just double-standards it’s moral bankruptcy, racism and anti-Semitism masquerading as nationalism. Now where have we hard that before? I think Elliott Abrams in the quote above will give you are clue.
I really cannot wait to see the far Left’s reactions and justifications for a judenrein Palestine. I bet there’ll be some good’uns.
And all this in the context of the Palestinian Authority’s bid for recognition this month in the UN General Assembly.
One should also recall that the PLO was formed in 1964 before Israel’s ‘occupation’. So what was it trying to liberate? Answer: Israel. Then as now the intention of the PLO, Hamas and Fatah has been to eliminate Israel.
Today the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, announced the UK was pulling out of Durban III, a modern-day pogrom without physical casualties. A UN sponsored human rights conference starring Iran’s Ahmadinejad and a bevvy of hate-spitting human rights abusers who want to tell the world that it is Israel, not they who are racists.
So Cameron’s action sounds good, but it could be the good news before the bad news.
The bad news may be that the UK will decide to support the bid for Palestinian statehood. See Melanie Phillips for her analysis of the government position and why the bid is anti-peace.
HMG have frequently asserted that the UK will not take sides and make up its mind when it sees the context of the bid.
But the UK should take sides.
How can a democratic country support the creation of a terrorist racist state next door to its supposed ally?
The answer is fairly simple: realpolitik. The conflict is like a wound that won’t heal. The world wants to get rid of it at any cost, including the cost of Israel. There is a demented belief that the Israel-Palestine conflict is the linchpin to securing better relations with the Arab and Muslim world.
To enable themselves to agree to such a monstrosity the UK and other Western governments have to believe their own rhetoric; they must paint the Palestinians as victims who deserve an end to their suffering. Israel is the aggressor and a stubborn one. So Accords and agreements and UN resolutions which are always used to beat Israel with can now be thrown on to the garbage heap, airbrushed from history, because the Palestinians want a state without negotiating one.
The fact that the PA admits that this is just a tactic, a first step on the road to the annihilation of Israel is dismissed or ignored. The fact that Hamas doesn’t want a state, because that might mean giving up claims to Israel, passes them by. The fact that Hamas and the PA are not unified is also ignored. The fact that they want a judenrein Palestine because, poor dears, the sight of a Jew will retard their ability to form a national identity is accepted.
They will not have a state at the end of the process. They will have a propaganda victory. But worse, those amongst them for whom international law and the UN GA is somewhat of a mystery will conveniently claim that they now have a clear UN mandate to expel the Jews from their country, Palestine, even though no such country will exist any more than it does now. The result will be disastrous.
All this stunt will do is cause more killing and suffering. But that’s OK for the Palestinians and their supporters; the more they are killed the more they suffer, the more they can claim victim-hood and go with their bleeding hearts to the International Court of Justice (which their new status may allow) with pictures of dead babies and take out lawsuits against the Jewish ‘settlers’.
Israel will be further isolated and made a pariah.
Israel will truly be the Jew among states. Or maybe now I should say ‘Palestinian’.
It looks like the Middle East has found a new Nasser for the 21st century.
Turkey’s president, Recep Erdogan, has announced a series of military and civil measures and sanctions against Israel since the publication of the Palmer Report enquiry into the Mavi Marmara incident over a year ago.
Even before the report Erdogan was making bellicose noises.
It appears that Erdogan is using the incident and Israel’s refusal to apologise as an excuse not only to withdraw from his country’s long and happy friendship with Israel, but to promote himself as a champion of the one cause that unites the Arab and Muslim worlds – the Palestinian grievance with Israel.
Erdogan came to power with a decidedly Islamist agenda. Turkey has been a secular state ever since Kemal Attaturk established the new Turkey in the ruins of the Ottoman Empire after World War I. For decades Turkey was an example of how Islam can be a national religion and identity whilst retaining secularism.
Turkey’s record on human rights has not always been without blemish, but it is a member of NATO and would like to join the EU.
In April 2010 a so-called Freedom Flotilla of pro-Palestinian and anti-Zionist groups announced their intention to beat Israel’s maritime blockade of Gaza and deliver ‘humanitarian aid’.
As it turned out, there was little aid of any use on the boats and it was not only clear but also admitted that the true reason was confrontation with Israel and to promote the anti-Zionist agenda.
What is also clear is that the lead boat, the Mavi Marmara, registered under the flag of the Cormoros, was owned and led by the Turkish Islamist group the IHH.
I will not rehearse events which are now well known and which I have written about here, here, and here and in several other posts.
Despite worldwide outcry and condemnation before the facts were known Israel always maintained that its soldiers fired as a last resort and in self-defence. This was the conclusion of a BBC documentary. This was broadly the conclusion of the Palmer Report whose main conclusions were reported by Honest Reporting here:
1. Israel’s blockade of Gaza is legal.
The fundamental principle of the freedom of navigation on the high seas is subject to only certain limited exceptions under international law. Israel faces a real threat to its security from militant groups in Gaza. The naval blockade was imposed as a legitimate security measure in order to prevent weapons from entering Gaza by sea and its implementation complied with the requirements of international law.
2. The Turkish IHH, which organized the flotilla, was looking for trouble with the IDF.
The majority of the flotilla participants had no violent intentions, but there exist serious questions about the conduct, true nature and objectives of the flotilla organizers, particularly IHH. The actions of the flotilla needlessly carried the potential for escalation.
3. The IDF used excessive force.
Israel’s decision to board the vessels with such substantial force at a great distance from the blockade zone and with no final warning immediately prior to the boarding was excessive and unreasonable . . . .
The loss of life and injuries resulting from the use of force by Israeli forces during the take-over of the Mavi Marmara was unacceptable. Nine passengers were killed and many others seriously wounded by Israeli forces. No satisfactory explanation has been provided to the Panel by Israel for any of the nine deaths.
4. IDF commandos defended themselves from pre-meditated violence.
Israeli Defense Forces personnel faced significant, organized and violent resistance from a group of passengers when they boarded the Mavi Marmara requiring them to use force for their own protection. Three soldiers were captured, mistreated, and placed at risk by those passengers. Several others were wounded.
5. Gaza aid should be delivered by land.
All humanitarian missions wishing to assist the Gaza population should do so through established procedures and the designated land crossings in consultation with the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Despite this, Prime Minister Erdogan said that the report is worthless and ‘null and void’.
Erdogan knew what was in the report. He knew that both Israel and Turkey would be criticised and he knew that the criticism would be mainly against Turkey.
Well before the report was published Erdogan was demanding an apology for the killing of 8 Turks. If this apology were not received by the time the report was published he threatened a tsunami of measures against Israel and he is, if nothing else, true to his word.
But Erdogan has form, as it were.
Here he is walking out on Israeli President Peres at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2009.
He accuses Israel of hypocrisy. He cites firstly the death of children (it’s always children) on a beach in Gaza supposedly from Israeli fire. Yet the ‘crime scene’ was quickly cleared by Palestinians and the IDF asserted that it did not shell the beach. There was a strong suspicion that this might have been a misdirected militant shell. But Erdogan does not give his supposed friend the benefit of the doubt.
Second he mentions two previous Israeli Prime Ministers saying they were happy when they entered Palestine in tanks. It is not clear which Prime Ministers he refers to or what he means by Palestine, but it was probably the Six Day War. Of course they were happy to force back the Jordanian armies from the West Bank and reunite Jerusalem. The notion of ‘Palestine’ that we have now did not exist in those days. The West Bank was occupied illegally by Jordan. I don’t recall the Palestinians complaining too much about that. Or maybe he is referring to tanks entering Gaza. Whatever he means, he is implying that Israelis are joyful aggressors rather than defenders fighting an existential threat.
He is angry with the crowd applauding Peres who spoke about peace but the willingness to defend against aggressive neighbours. He criticises the audience for applauding, in his interpretation, killing. He goes on to remind Peres of the commandment not to kill.
Hypocrisy appears to be writ large for Mr Erdogan. I’m sure the Kurds,the Armenians and the Cypriots know a thing or two about Turkey and killing. Only Israel is not allowed to defend itself.
This is not a very impressive performance from Erdogan who comes over as aggressive and claims that the chair of the meeting won’t let him speak.
This incident was the first clear indication that Erdogan did not much like his ‘friend’. As a result of this incident Erdogan was lionised across the Arab world and in the Palestinian territories for standing up to Peres.
Nevertheless, Turkey and Israel maintained relations, shared military manoeuvres, enjoyed mutual trade. Thousands of Israelis holidayed in Turkey.
But the die was cast.
Erdogan soon embarked on his project of being number one man in the Muslim world. He began cosying up to tyrants such as Ahmadinejad and Assad and making nice with Hugo Chavez.
His finest moment was a humanitarian award from Muammar Gadaffi.
He also sent envoys to Hamas in Gaza to tell them that Turkey was on their side and to enhance his reputation in the Arab world.
The European powers and the United States saw him, and, presumably, still do see him as the very embodiment of the Turkish nation which has a toe in Europe and the West, and a large land mass in the East.
Erdogan is a useful middleman, a secular Muslim, who could speak on equal terms with Israel and Iran. He was a key player, the perfect go-between.
Israel was not happy with some of the conclusions of the Palmer Report but feels, overall, vindicated by it.
As to the legalities or otherwise of the blockade, that would require a separate post on its own.
Suffice it to say that, lo and behold, as soon as Israel is in any way vindicated in its actions, up pops a new UN statement telling us it’s all wrong after all; the Blockade is illegal. And the perpetrator is none other than Richard Falk, Special Rapporteur on Palestinian Human Rights (there doesn’t appear to be one for Israeli human rights), and also Special Rapporteur for the Palestinian Territories, who also happens to be the author of a recent article which included a crude anti-Semitic cartoon, later withdrawn.
Falk is really likely to be unbiased, I guess, given his dual roles on behalf of Palestinians and a long track record of anti-Israel rhetoric and writing.
But back to Erdogan.
What the Turkish Prime Minister did and continues to do, on a daily basis, having failed to get Israel to apologise, is truly amazing.
Even the Palmer Report did not require an apology of Israel. Should Turkey not also apologise to Israel for more or less sponsoring a terrorist organisation to confront and provoke its supposed friend? Turkish nationals planned and executed a lethal, suicidal attack on IDF soldiers, and he believes Israel should apologise. No-one was harmed on any of the other boats where there was no violent resistance.
If these two nations were supposed friends, surely they can sort out their differences, admit mistakes and work to avoid future incidents which would endanger lives, innocent and otherwise.
But no, Israel’s ally and friend has unleashed a torrent of sanctions against Israel and here is this tragic litany which is unprecedented in the relations between states supposed to be allies:
Downgrading diplomatic status of Israeli embassy and expelling the ambassador
Saying that Turkey will now patrol the Eastern Mediterranean to protect shipping from Israeli aggression
Threatening Israel’s gas drilling agreements with Cyprus
Pursuing the prosecution of supposedly named Israeli soldiers in the Mavi MArmara incident whose identities were revealed to him by the IHH (how they would know any names apart from the ones of the soldiers they stabbed, battered and shot and dragged below decks, I have no idea)
Humiliating Israel tourists at Istanbul airport by having them strip searched
Threatening to escort Gaza ‘aid’ convoys and confront the Israeli navy
Calling the Palmer report on the Mavi Marmara ‘null and void’ and worthless
Confronting a tourist cruise ship headed for Greece which is childish and provocative
Changing its jet fighter software to identify Israeli navy and air force as ‘hostile’
Claiming the Mavi Marmara incident was a casus belli
Saying he is prepared for war with Israel
Says that Israel must ‘pay’ for its ‘terrorism’
And the latest atrocity – requiring Israeli citizens have visas to enter Turkey
This is the behaviour of megalomaniac more reminiscent of the last century than this. It is the behaviour of a child having a tantrum, not a serious politician.
How can Turkey remain a member of NATO when it is clearly trying to provoke Israel into a reaction it can use as an excuse to ‘punish’ her.?
What would happen if Turkey attacked Israel on some pretext? What would the US do?
What will the Greeks’ and Cypriots’ reaction be to Turkey’s sabre-rattling? What about the Italians?
Turkey has the second largest fleet in NATO after the US. Israel is no match for this navy. In the air Israel may have an advantage but who even wants to contemplate such a ludicrous scenario.
If you ignore bullies sometimes they just go away, but often they will ramp up the aggro to assert themselves. Erdogan is asserting a new Turkish nationalism.
Such a situation was hardly imaginable in the Bush era. But the US and the Europeans have economic problems whilst Turkey is booming. There may be frantic activity behind the scenes; many statements coming out of Ankara are often ‘clarified’.
If Erdogan is playing a game of brinksmanship it is not a very wise course of action given the volatility of the region.
What’s also certain is that some of the countermeasures mooted on the Israeli side, if they are true, such as supporting the PKK, the Kurdish separatist party which is designated a terrorist organisation, would be even more damaging to Israel and morally reprehensible.
There is no way Israel can give any succour to a terrorist organisation. This would be terribly wrong. If this is just Foreign Minister Lieberman’s rantings then he needs to be controlled or sacked.
Israel should avoid provocation, use the opportunity to cement ties with Greece and even Armenia and maybe think about counter-prosecution of the Turkish government for sponsoring the breaking of a legal blockade. Is that not also a casus belli?
It may even be worth the risk for Israel to pre-empt Turkey and go to the International Court and seek a ruling which no-one could then gainsay.
Let’s hope the Turkish people have enough sense to get rid of Erdogan at the next election. They deserve better.
If Erdogan pushes too far he may end up being cut off from Europe like his Ottoman predecessors.
If he’s not careful Turkey may well end up cooking its own goose.
UPDATE: Apparently Israeli jets and ships are being identified as ‘neutral’ not ‘hostile’ and not as I stated above.
Also – an interesting analysis in the Daily beast by Owen Matthews gives a less dramatic view than me.
On Friday night, after prayers, a mob of several thousand Egyptians attacked the Israeli embassy in Cairo.
Previously, the Egyptian authorities had raised a defensive wall around the embassy but that seems to have acted like a red rag to a bull.
A determined mob broke down the wall and entered the compound, torching it and burning the Israeli flag for the second time in a month.
Some reports suggested that this group was Islamist, others that it was Communists trying to destabilise the country.
What is clear is that several thousand turned up to break in to the compound. More than a thousand were injured and 3 actually died, which is insane.
Meanwhile, the Egyptian police stood back and did nothing. As the mob hammered at the walls and door where the remaining few embassy staff members were huddled, the members of staff of the Israeli embassy were in contact with Prime Minister Netanyahu and asked him to convey their final messages to their loved ones. They were clearly in fear of their life.
According to some reports President Obama called the Egyptian government and demanded they honour their obligations under international law.
Some say Obama even threatened the Egyptians with dire consequences if they did not act to save the embassy staff.
Soon after, commandos rescued the remaining Israelis and smuggled them out of the embassy wearing Arab attire.
Avi Mayer (@avimayer) has reported via Twitter from several sources. Here are some snippets:
I don’t get it. When Netanyahu/Barak called, Tantawi was unavailable. When Obama/Panetta called, he picked up. Is he screening our calls?
Walla: Fearing #Cairo protesters would pretend to be rescuers, #Egypt commandos used “secret sign” and #Israel emb guards opened door.
When I tweeted about the incident earleir this evening a received a couple of brusque rejoinders including this one which I answered vias a retweet:
RT @fat_lam: @RayPCook at least no Israeli was killed, #israel on other hand did kill innocents<<what do you think would have happened to the #Israelis if they had not been saved by #Egyptian army?
This links in to the presumed spark to this incident. Over a week ago now 8 Israelis were killed in separate incidents near Eilat on the border with Egypt when terrorists fired automatic weapons and artillery rounds at a car, a bus and IDF soldiers.
As the IDF pursued the perpetrators and despite every effort not to hit anyone on the Egyptian side, several Egyptian soldiers were killed by Israeli fire. One of the reasons given is that the terrorists were actually dressed in Egyptian uniforms or something similar.
The tweeter above is not concerned with Israeli deaths just the Egyptian ones despite an expression of regret from Israel.
This is the cover story for the Egyptian mob.
The truth is that no excuse is required for a mob raised on an anti-Semitic diet of Jew-hatred.
Egyptian clerics are often very keen to demonise Israel and the Jews.
Mein Kampf and The Protocols of the Elders of Zion appear to be standard reading and are freely available.
Israel is blamed for every calamity in a press which is often hysterically (in both senses) obsessed with Israel hatred: when a tourist was attacked and killed by a shark in Sharm-el-Sheikh, Mossad were blamed;
an Israeli is currently under arrest for spying even though there does not appear to be a case to answer;
during the demonstrations in Tahrir Square foreign journalists were accused of being Israeli spies and the CBS reporter Lara Logan was brutally sexually assaulted and accused of being an Israeli in February.
Even yesterday the appearance of a female journalist was met with accusations that she was Israeli and she had to be rapidly whisked away.
So it appears that the Arab Spring has become an excuse for mob rule and taking the law into ones own hands in certain sections of Egyptian society.
These same people who accuse Israel of breaking international law are only too quick to do the same themselves.
There are some positives:
The Egyptian authorities have arrested and arraigned several of the trouble-makers
A Bahraini government spokesman tweeted:
Not protecting the Israeli embassy in Cairo is a clear violation of the Vienna Convention of 1961 on diplomatic relations
I’m not completely au fait with the relations between Bahrain and Israel, but given the almost uniform hatred of the Arab world against Israel, this is a very decent thing to have said, and it constitutes a reprimand.
But here’s the ‘whatif’ bit. The guards inside the embassy had guns. They even fired some warning shots in the air according to Avi Mayer (@avimayer). They were given permission to open fire on the crowd should their lives be in danger.
Now here’s the thing; imagine that – they asked permission to save their own lives knowing that if it came to this the diplomatic fallout would inevitably go against Israel.
So, what if the commandos were a little late and the mob had battered down a wall and there were the guards, guns drawn, and the mob attacked them, presumably filled with jihadi zeal and the prospect of paradise for dying whilst trying to kill some Jews.
Does this sound familiar? Think Mavi Marmara, a somewhat different arena, yet, nevertheless, armed Israelis with no intention of lethal conflict are faced with a baying mob ready to lynch them.
So what if the Israelis fired, killed nine or ten of their attackers and then the Egyptian cavalry arrived and saved them.
What would the world have said? Would they be condemned for using excessive force as the Palmer report found?
With more Egyptian blood on their hands would Israel have been blamed for its citizens defending what is, in international law, sovereign territory?
What would all the leftists say? What would the Guardian say? I can take a pretty good guess; they would have found a way to condemn the Israelis. They would quote members of the mob saying that they had no intention of hurting anyone.
Some elements in Israel would call for an end to the peace treaty. The UN would have demanded an investigation.
Yet, the situation is not dissimilar to the Mavi Marmara. If a mob is coming at you with clearly lethal intent, what is a proportionate response?
And, ‘what if’ the Egyptian commandos got there too late and six Israelis were lynched? General rejoicing across the Arab and Muslim world whilst their governments would disingenuously condemn the deaths and, at the same time, try to ‘explain’ them in the ‘context’ of the ‘incident’ near Eilat.
Israelis would demonstrate outside the Egyptian embassy – maybe. But as now, and as always, Israelis would respect the Egyptian embassy physically.
It should be noted that before the mob attacked the Israeli embassy in Cairo, a man was arrested in Tel Aviv for throwing a stone at the Egyptian embassy. Throwing a stone. One man. So much for the evil, murderous Israelis so often characterised across the world.
If the Israelis had killed anyone we would have a third incident, along with the Flotilla and the terrorist attack on the highway near Eilat where Israelis killed those trying to kill them and were condemned for doing so.
With a poll showing the majority of Egyptians wanting to end the 32 year treaty with Israel, despite the commendable, but somewhat belated actions of the Egyptian government, it is clear that when a new government is elected it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that it will do so on an anti-Israel ticket.
Additionally, 60%, according to another poll, want to restore Sharia Law.
The prospects for a continued peace with Israel look fragile and would only be maintained for strategic reasons rather than a wish for peace.