Tag Archives: mahmoud abbas

With Israel or against? The West has to decide NOW and fast

With Israel or against? The West has to decide NOW and fast whether it is willing to stand by and see a second Holocaust.

Will Cameron and Sarkozy and Merkel and Obama and the rest wring their hands and say: “If only they had compromised; if only they had shared Jerusalem and dismantled the settlements. If they hadn’t been such stiff-necked Jews then all this genocide would not have happened.

Why do I say this? Surely Israel is the regional superpower?

Well that means nothing.

The Palestinians are so emboldened by the UN and the Western powers not standing up for Israel, and, to the contrary, accusing Israel of intransigence, failure to compromise, not wanting peace, occupation, appropriation, war crimes, crimes against humanity… you know how it goes; so emboldened are the Palestinians that now they have no fear of saying in English what they have always said in Arabic.

Now the days of bad faith and playing the peace game are over. The mask has dropped.

Now they are telling it like it is and ‘it’ is the destruction of Israel and the creation of a Palestinian IslamoFascist, West-hating, anti-Semitic, racist, genocidal, state.

And this is to replace the democratic, free, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, JEWISH state of Israel.

Let’s see what the Palestinian Authority’s president had to say in the New York Times on the anniversary of what he calls the ‘Nakba’ (catastrophe) and what Israel calls its Independence Day.

This month, however, as we commemorate another year of our expulsion — which we call the nakba, or catastrophe — the Palestinian people have cause for hope: this September, at the United Nations General Assembly, we will request international recognition of the State of Palestine on the 1967 border and that our state be admitted as a full member of the United Nations.

Of course, he doesn’t mention that the same United Nations recognised the very State of Israel that he refuses to recognise. He does not mention that the so-called 1967 border is in fact the 1949 armistice line and was never an agreed border. The borders of Israel were never finalised because the Arab states would not recognise Israel and have not recognised Israel since or intend to do so in the future.

And here’s the really good bit:

It is important to note that the last time the question of Palestinian statehood took center stage at the General Assembly, the question posed to the international community was whether our homeland should be partitioned into two states. In November 1947, the General Assembly made its recommendation and answered in the affirmative. Shortly thereafter, Zionist forces expelled Palestinian Arabs to ensure a decisive Jewish majority in the future state of Israel, and Arab armies intervened. War and further expulsions ensued. Indeed, it was the descendants of these expelled Palestinians who were shot and wounded by Israeli forces on Sunday as they tried to symbolically exercise their right to return to their families’ homes.

Minutes after the State of Israel was established on May 14, 1948, the United States granted it recognition. Our Palestinian state, however, remains a promise unfulfilled.

Let’s see how some commentators reacted to this outrageous rewriting of history.

Elder of Ziyon:

A complete and utter lie. Within mere hours after the partition vote, Arabs started murdering Jews:

The link in the above quote is to another Elder blog which describes the massacre of November 1947 :

The first victims were on a bus to Jerusalem. Some were killed instantly from a grenade hurled into the bus; one of the injured passengers was murdered as he tried to tend to his injured wife. Another victim was on her way to Jerusalem to get married.

Others were killed that day as well, and many hundreds more – men, women and children – were to be brutally murdered in the coming months.

The reasons for the hate have not changed a bit from then to today. They were not murdered because of “occupation” or “refugees” or any of the dozens of other justifications that have been since used to minimize the horror of these unabashed terror attacks.

Their “crimes” were simply because they were Jews with the desire to live in their own nation, at peace with their neighbors. What the world recognized instinctively in 1947 – that Jews deserve the right to self-determination – was to be tested by a massive temper tantrum of Arab supremacists who were willing to attempt a second genocide against the Jews rather than face what they consider “humiliation.

The Elder tells us:

Abbas’ account is so outrageously false that it should have been rejected from being in the New York Times editorial just on that basis. An op-ed does not give the writer carte blanche to make up history. The facts are documented quite well. Abbas is a liar.

The Arab armies that invaded in May 1948 didn’t “intervene” to protect Arabs of Palestine. They went in to massacre all the Jews of Palestine.

So it is not surprising that an established liar can write:

Minutes after the State of Israel was established on May 14, 1948, the United States granted it recognition. Our Palestinian state, however, remains a promise unfulfilled.

That “promise” was roundly rejected by not only the entire Arab world but by every Palestinian Arab leader themselves. Abbas is arrogantly trying to pretend that he deserves a state when his forebears, and he himself, have rejected just such a state numerous times.

Rivka Shpak Lissak wades in:

Abu Mazen’s article is a combination of 2 lies:
About historical facts
About the negotiating with Israel

Lies about History:…

The historic name of the country is the Land of Israel
It was the homeland of the Jews/Israelis from the 18th century BCE. 3 to 4 million Jews lived in the Land of Israel in 66 CE when they revolted against the Roman occupation of their country and failed.
From 66 CE to 640 CE the Romans and the Byzantines were engaged in a policy to put an end to the Jewish majority, and by 640 only 200,000 Jews survived. Many were killed, many enslaved and sold in the empire’s markets and many were forced to run away.

Until the 15th century CE there was a Christian – Aramaic majority in the so called Palestine (the Romans changed the name of the country in 135 CE).

In the 16th century there were less than 100,000 Muslims in the country. Most of the ancestors of the today Palestinians immigrated to Palestine from Arab and Muslim countries between the middle of the 19th century and the 20th century, most of them, illegally,during the 20th century, due to jobs created by the Zionist movement and the British Mandate.
The only region settled by Arabs in Palestine between the 7th and 12th centuries was the today Western Bank

Conclusion: There was never an Arab or Palestinian state in Palestine.

Lies about the negotiating with Israel

Abu Mazen wrote:
“We have been negotiating with the state of Israel for 20 years without coming any closer to realizing a state of our own.”
The Palestinians are responsible for the continuation of the conflict without a peace agreement:
2000 – Camp David, Clinton and Barak gave Arafat a fair proposal. It included 97% of the West Bank and 100% of Gaza, and compensation in Israeli territory for part of the settlements, division of Jerusalem and a solution to the holy places. Arafat rejected the proposal because it included settlement of the refugees in the Palestinian state and not in Israel.
2008/9 – Ulmert proposal was even better than the Clinton – Barak proposal, Abu Mazen admitted in an interview to the Washington Post , May 2009, but he did not say Yes to the proposal because it did not include the settlement of the refugees in Israel.

The settlement of the refugees in Israel is a Trojan horse to put an end to the Jewish state, by turning the Jews into a minority.
The refugee problem was created as a result of the war Palestinians and Arab states declared against Israel because they refused to accept the 1947 UN resolution of 2 states. They declared they were going “to throw the Jews into the sea.” And eliminate the Jewish state,
Israel.
Palestinians could get a state in 1947 besides Israel, thus the refugee problem would have never created. Its their responsibility.
Freeze of settlements was never a pre- condition in 2000 and 2008/9. This is a new device to prevent negotiations.
The settlements were always part of the talks – not a pre- condition. This issue should be part of the negotiations.

So this is the narrative which gets western leaders putting their fingers in their ears and singing ‘la la la’.

It could not be plainer,

This is what Abbas said:

The State of Palestine intends to be a peace-loving nation, committed to human rights, democracy, the rule of law and the principles of the United Nations Charter. Once admitted to the United Nations, our state stands ready to negotiate all core issues of the conflict with Israel. A key focus of negotiations will be reaching a just solution for Palestinian refugees based on Resolution 194, which the General Assembly passed in 1948.

Palestine would be negotiating from the position of one United Nations member whose territory is militarily occupied by another, however, and not as a vanquished people ready to accept whatever terms are put in front of us.

So even when he has his state it will still be negotiating for the return of refugees TO ISRAEL bu Israel is, to him, ‘militarily occupied’. Don’t be fooled. You may think he is talking about the West Bank, but he is clever, this peace-loving man with a doctoral thesis questioning the extent of the Holocaust. He knows and his people know that when he speaks of ‘territory’ that is ‘occupied’ he means the WHOLE OF ISRAEL.

This same narrative is the one you can encounter in the Guardian’s Comment is Free, in the politics of the Far Left, in trendy kaffiyeh-wearing students who shout death to Israel and the United States.

It’s the same lie that makes the dispute a border dispute not an ideologically and religiously driven 100 year long struggle to kill or drive Jews from sacred Islamic land. Leave, die or become a fourth class dhimmi, oh Jew. That is the true narrative. Not settlements, not the Green Line, not so-called East Jerusalem. It’s about a psychotic and deeply-embedded hostility to Jews qua Jews that is endemic in Palestinian society and in the countries which surround Israel. If they wanted a state they could have had it at least four times in history.

An important article from Palestine Media Watch reports what is taught in Palestinian School Books which explains the real truth and intention of the PA and, for that matter, the tens of thousands of people who invaded or attempted to invade Israel on the anniversary of the ‘nakba’ earlier this week:

Abstract:“The Zionist gangs stole Palestine … and established the state of Israel” – this quote, from an official PA 12th Grade schoolbook, is an accurate depiction of how the PA educates its population to view the establishment of the State of Israel. Presenting the creation of the state as an act of theft and its continued existence as a historical injustice serves as the basis for the PA’s non-recognition of Israel’s right to exist. In order to create an ideological basis for this, the PA denies there was an ancient Jewish history in the Land of Israel and also distorts modern history, presenting Zionism as a demonic Nazi-like phenomenon. In order to explain what made Jews come to Israel, since they claim there was no historical connection to draw them, Zionism is presented as a colonialist movement created by the West to further its interests.

First, the countries of Europe wanted to rid themselves of the Jews and needed a place for them. They also wanted a foreign body in the heart of the Arab world to serve Europe’s colonialist aims. For these reasons, they sent the Jews to “steal Palestine.” Israel is further demonized through images and descriptions, such as “the foster child of the Nazis,” “an organized terror state,” “the cruelest enemy,” etc. Accordingly, the idea of the State of Israel ceasing to exist is presented as the achievement of justice.Today, following the establishment of a Fatah and Hamas unity government, many countries are demanding that Hamas recognize Israel’s right to exist as a condition for the world’s recognition of their new government. Ironically, this very condition is violated daily by the Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas.

Not only to they teach anti-Semitism as they would teach Mathematics, their intention is clear. The state they intend to have recognised in September is just a Trojan horse, another step along the road of delegitimisation, demonisation and ultimate destruction.

On the BBC Radio 4 Today programme we heard exactly this narrative from a Palestinian representative , Husam Zomlot.

The question was: did not Israel have the right to defend its borders when thousands of people from neighbouring hostile countries, who are technically in a state of war, come streaming across the border. Is  it not surprising some were killed?

Mr Zomlot did the usual rhetorical trick of avoiding an answer simply because he believes Israel is not Israel; it’s Palestine and these people were returning to their homes. If you are in the UK you can hear the interview and also Mark Regev’s response on behalf of Israel here. But here’s a flavour of it:

“… they reside in what remains of the Occupied Palestinian Territories’ (namely, Israel)”

Humphrys: “They were carrying clubs, they were throwing stones, they posed a threat to the Israelis”

Zomlot: “Those are the definition (sic) of peaceful demonstration, sir.”

Humphrys: “How would you have expected the Israeli security forces to react?”

Zomlot: “This is not a security matter… definitely the security forces would always fail to deal with such a purely political, humanitarian, legal matter”. Wha? Clearly avoiding the issue.

Humphrys: “You say it’s not a security matter.. if I marched into your house waving a club and throwing a stone then it would be a security matter, wouldn’t it?”

Zomlot:  According to the United Nations, according to UN Security Council resolutions, those people they’re marching to their homes, they have the deeds of their homes, it’s their private property… these people are not marching into a foreign territory

And there you have it. Israel is not a foreign territory for this Palestinian spokesman, it is Palestine. From the River to the Sea.

You see now what I mean about ‘emboldened’. Now we see how these Palestinians (if indeed they are) feel. They have a right to march into their homeland because Israel is not a legitimate state. And he has the audacity to quote the UN resolutions as proof of this when, in fact, quite the opposite is true.

The nakba invasions proved very fertile ground for those who would destroy Israel. It gave them a very potent weapon; they will organise more such invasions backed, no doubt, by Hizbollah/Iran and Hamas/Iran and see what the Israelis do. They will be ‘peaceful’ demonstrations, even though invading another country is not peaceful. They will be unarmed with sticks and rocks. And when the Israelis try to  hold them back with tear gas or rubber bullets or live rounds they will be violent colonialist aggressors.

Here’s someone with a long memory salivating at the though of murdering Jews and stealing their property AGAIN. A 92 year old woman gloats about how she saw Jews being massacred in Hebron.

http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/2929.htm (transcript below)

An interview with Sara Jaber, a 92-year-old Palestinian who participated in a Right of Return demonstration on the Jordanian Israeli border. The interview was aired on Al-Aqsa TV on May 13, 2011:

Interviewer: Please tell us who you are.

Sara Jaber: I am from Hebron. The Jaber family.

Interviewer: What is your name?

Sara Jaber: Sara Muhammad ‘Awwadh Jaber.

Interviewer: How old are you?

Sara Jaber: I am 92.

Interviewer: So you remember May 15, 1948, the day of the Nakba.

Sara Jaber: Why wouldn’t I remember? May Allah support us. I hope we forget those days. Allah willing, you will bury [Israel], and massacre the Jews with your own hands. Allah willing, you will massacre them like we massacred them in Hebron.

Interviewer: What does this day mean to you? You have lived 63 years since the Nakba. You have experienced the entire Nakba…

Sara Jaber: 92 years. That’s 92. I lived through the British era, and I lived through the massacre of the Jews in Hebron. We, the people of Hebron, massacred the Jews. My father massacred them, and brought back some stuff…

Interviewer: Thank you very much.

And if you can stomach some more, take a look here:

http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/2934.htm (transcript below)

Following are excerpts from an interview with Hamas MP and cleric Yunis Al-Astal, which aired on Al-Aqsa TV on May 11, 2011:

Yunis Al-Astal: The [Jews] are brought in droves to Palestine so that the Palestinians – and the Islamic nation behind them – will have the honor of annihilating the evil of this gang.

[…]

All the predators, all the birds of prey, all the dangerous reptiles and insects, and all the lethal bacteria are far less dangerous than the Jews.

[…]

In just a few years, all the Zionists and the settlers will realize that their arrival in Palestine was for the purpose of the great massacre, by means of which Allah wants to relieve humanity of their evil.

[…]

When Palestine is liberated and its people return to it, and the entire region, with the grace of Allah, will have turned into the United States of Islam, the land of Palestine will become the capital of the Islamic Caliphate, and all these countries will turn into states within the Caliphate. When this happens, any Palestinian will be able to live anywhere, because the land of Islam is the property of all Muslims.

Until this happens, we must reject all the resettlement plans, naturalization, or even reparations prior to the return of the refugees.

[…]

It’s about time the democracies of the world stood behind Israel. It’s about time the UN did something about it. It’s about time they all recognise this conflict for what it is: a genocidal and fanatical war against Israel, democracy and freedom.

If this is the Arab Spring what will winter bring.

 

 

 

Palileaks – what goes on?

These are my quick notes on the PaliLeaks farrago so far:

What currently concerns and confuses me is how two completely opposite narratives are coming out of the same material, The JPost seems to accept the validity of the leaks and claims it shows the PA in a bad light and Israel is exonerated, whereas the Guardian, BBC et al see it the opposite way.

Robin Shepherd claims it shows the settlements were never an issue; Melanie Phillips  agrees with Erekat that the key documents represent the Israeli position not the PA position; Channel 4 news in the UK take the Guardian position.

And what is noticeably absent? Once again, no statement from the Israeli government either denying or clarifying any of this. So much for Public Diplomacy.

The Arab world sees it as aimed at the PA, which is clearly the intention, whereas, where I am sitting, it is Israel that is being blamed once again by the media: The Guardian, BBC News, Channel 4 and the usual suspects who will spin anything against Israel. There seems to be a difference of emphasis between how this is seen in Europe and the Middle East. The Israeli press is not as animated about it as you would expect, for example, but the rab Press seems to have fallen out of love at last with the PA and Mahmoud Abbas.

Does it not matter anymore whether the leaks are true or not? Does it not matter that everything is spun against Israel without proper journalistic procedures or caution? The line in the UK is “these may be fake but Israel is to blame” even though Israel’s ‘Peace Partner’ denies them, which is almost completely airbrushed out.

And what about seeing this in the context of the Tunisian revolt and possible uprisings in Egypt and Lebanon, even Jordan, I now hear.

The Arab street may have found its own voice at last, but will it be cheering for Islamism or Democracy? How will  this play out with the Palestinians? They seem outraged at any compromise, but is that true? Will they replace the PA with Hamas or a more democratic system? – if it happens at all.

I hope to analyse this when the leaks are more easily digested and truth and lies can more easily be judged.

In the mean time much of the pro-Israel blogosphere seems apoplectic for one reason or another: it’s Israel, it’s the PA, it’s the USA, what’s Britain been up to, yada, yada.

Maybe I’ll find out in the coming days as I’ll be in Israel very soon. I think the leaks and the revolts are very significant, especially when taken together.

Sorry about the rushed notes but I have little time at the moment.

The practical absurdity of a Palestinian Right of Return

In the current round of peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority one of the sticking points will certainly be the Palestinian claim to a Right of Return for Palestinian refugees.

The Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister argued today in the Jerusalem Post that no such Right existed:

The so-called Palestinian ‘right of return’ is legal fiction. United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194, the supposed source for this ‘right’ does not mention this term, is not legally binding and, like all other relevant United Nations resolutions uses the intentionally ambiguous term ‘refugees’ with no appellation.

This is also taken up on the Zionism and Israel Information Center website:

Palestinian advocates claim that the refugees of 1948 have a right guaranteed in international law to return to Israel. In fact, there is no such law. The Fourth Geneva Convention, often cited in this context, does not stipulate a right of return for refugees. UN Resolution 194, also cited as the basis for this “right” is a resolution of the UN General Assembly. Such resolutions are not binding in international law. No nation has the obligation to admit enemy belligerents. Moreover, Resolution 194 does not insist on a Right of Return. It says that “refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so.”

The refugees were not Israeli citizens. They did not want Israeli citizenship. Beyond the dry provisions of the law, in this case admission of several million refugees would soon create an Arab majority in Israel. The people who advocate “Right of Return” also favor abolishing the Israeli Law of Return that permits Jews to immigrate to Israel freely. Israel would cease to be the national home of the Jews, and the Jewish people would lose the right to self-determination. Clearly “Right of Return” cannot be implemented in any case if it contradicts a different fundamental right that is anchored in international law.

Here we are already beginning to explore the practical absurdity of any such Right.

As indicated above, allowing ‘refugees’ to return, assuming that were practical or even practicable would effectively destroy the Jewish nature of the State of Israel, and Israel would cease to be a guarantor of the safety of Jews worldwide, which was one of the major factors in its establishment. And I am not referring here to the Holocaust; any student of Jewish history can list a very long litany of Jewish persecution for the last 2000 years, and they could also reference the current growing antisemitism in Europe and around the world. The need for a state of the Jewish people is as urgent now as at any time in history.

But let’s assume there is a Right of Return for Palestinian refugees. Let’s assume that they can now return to the homes or villages across Israel where they or their forefathers once lived 62 years ago.

1. How would any individual Palestinian prove his/her claim to his/her ancestor’s residency in any particlualr home or village?

2. What would happen to the current residents of those properties? They may not all be Jews, of course.

3. We are assuming that the ‘refugees’ want to become Israelis? Why would they? Why would they want to become citizens of a country that their leaders, media and education system has taught to loathe and despise? Has anyone asked? If not,  what is the basis for the Palestinian Authority’s insistence that this is a non-negotiable agenda item?

4. How would Israel accommodate several million new citizens?

5. As Israel has never been compensated for the 900,000 Jewish refugees who were forced out of, or fled, Arab lands after 1948, why should Israel now have to foot the bill for several million people who need homes, schools, hospitals, sanitation, water, food?

5. How can Israel be expected to accept within its borders millions of people with an historic grudge against the state who have demonstrated for several decades that they are willing to shoot, bomb, attack and sabotage Israelis and Israeli infrastructure with the ultimate aim of destroying the very state they are now asking to become citizens of?

Is it not patently obvious that the Palestinian so-called Right of Return is nothing but the expression of an on-going desire to destroy Israel and remove the Zionist entity?

As Danny Ayalon puts it in the article cited above:

Before 1948 there were nearly 900,000 Jews in Arab lands while only a few thousand remain. Where is the international outrage, the conferences, the proclamations for redress and compensation? While the Palestinian refugee issue has become a political weapon to beat Israel, the Arab League has ordered its member states not to provide their Palestinian population with citizenship; Israel absorbed all of its refugees, whether fleeing the Holocaust or persecution and expulsion from Arab lands.

Can Mahmoud Abbas really be a genuine believer in a two-state solution when one of the most cherished and immoveable pillars of the Palestinian Authority, Fatah and the PLO is the Right of Return?

How can a peace settlement be based on the negation and denial of the rights of one side?

A limited return based on humanitarian grounds such as the reunification of families might be a possibility.

Beyond that, the Right is and always has been an instrument of delegitimisation and an excuse for scuppering peace.

I would not be at all surprised if it were again.

Back to Ayalon:

EVEN THOUGH the number of Jewish refugees [from Arab lands] and their assets are larger than that of the Palestinians, the international community only appears to be aware of the latter’s plight.

There are numerous major international organizations devoted to the Palestinian refugees. There is an annual conference held at the United Nations and a refugee agency was created just for the Palestinian refugees. While all the world’s refugees have one agency, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Palestinians fall under the auspices of another agency, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

UNWRA’s budget for 2010 is almost half of UNHCR’s budget.

Equally impressive is the fact that UNHCR prides itself on having found “durable solutions” for “tens of millions” of refugees since 1951, the year of its establishment. However, UNRWA does not even claim to have found “durable solutions” for anyone.

What is also impressive is the Palestinians’ and their supporters’ success in completely obliterating the story of the fate of Jews from Arab lands whilst perpetuating their own refugees for more than six decades.

What constantly surprises me is why the practical absurdity of the Palestinian Right of Return has rarely, if ever, been examined and no comprehensive survey of Palestinian ‘refugees’ intentions has ever taken place.

Biden and Bibi love-in scuppered by Israeli incompetence

Oh dear, oh dear. Oy va avoy!

Here is that nice vice-President Joe Biden arriving in Israel to try to get the annual peace talk talks about peace talk talks going again and what happens? His best pals embarrass him and themselves because Israeli politics seems incapable, sometimes, of understanding what ‘joined-up’ means.

You should probably know that since President Obama decided that the way to overcome six decades of Palestinian rejectionism was to get tough with Israel, his target for this toughness has been ‘settlements’. Stop! he says, it’s the settlements that are the reason why Palestinians won’t talk or talk about talks. Even though a settlement freeze was not a prerequisite of the many previous attempts to establish a Palestinian state (because, let’s face it, that’s what it’s really about), suddenly, with this brilliant insight, this veritable epiphany, Mr Obama gave the Palestinians, and the world’s press (including some in Israel) an excuse a) to reject and b) beat Israel over the head.

Along comes Bibi and what does he do? A 10 month moratorium on further settlement construction EXCEPT (and this is a big ‘except’) in Jerusalem (East that is as no-one cares about West). This doesn’t stop the Israelis from finding some excuses, legal or otherwise, of doing some further construction in existing ‘settlements’.

This moratorium was clearly designed as a sop to the Americans, a supplication to show good faith. It was of course (and understandably) pooh-poohed by Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian President.

After much background negotiating the Palestinians at last agreed to ‘indirect’ peace talks. This means they won’t sit with the Israelis but act through an (American) intermediary. Abbas somewhat negatively said that he doubted the talks would achieve anything and should be limited to four months. I won’t discuss at this time the reasons why I don’t think Abbas wants  a deal but at least he is giving the impression that he will talk to someone who will act as a carrier-pigeon to the Israelis who will then indulge in something that is called ‘shuttle diplomacy’ which has been put forward as an Olympic sport for 2016.

So what happens when Joe Biden arrives to meet his old friend Bibi? Here’s a flavour of the shmooze that went on (get the bucket ready now):

Prime Minister Netanyahu: Vice President Biden, Joe, welcome to Israel and welcome to Jerusalem.  We’ve been personal friends for almost three decades.  Can you believe it’s been that long?

Vice President Biden: No, you’re getting older, Bibi.  I don’t know…

It get’s worse, stay with me.

Prime Minister Netanyahu: And you remain younger all the time.  And in all that time you’ve been a real friend to me and a real friend to Israel and to the Jewish people and you’ve come to Israel many times since you first came here on the eve of the Yom Kippur War.  But now you’re coming as the Vice President of the United States of America and this is deeply appreciated and for me deeply moving.
….

A tad patronizing, maybe?

I also appreciate the Administration’s effort to advance peace in the region.  I know that this has been difficult and has required a great deal of patience, but I’m pleased that these efforts are beginning to bear fruit and we have to be persistent and purposeful in making sure that we get to those direct negotiations that will enable us to resolve this conflict.

I look forward to working with President Obama, and with you and your entire Administration to forge an historic peace agreement in which the permanence and legitimacy of the Jewish State of Israel is recognized by our Palestinian neighbors and in which Israel’s security is guaranteed for generations to come.

….

I think we heard this before – Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush….

Vice President Biden: Thank you very much.  Mr. Prime Minister, it’s a pleasure to be back.  It’s been too long between visits here and it is true that you and I have been friends a long, long time and a matter of fact, when each of us were in the minority, occasionally I’d get a phone call at home and I’d call you as well to get a sense of what’s going on.  Our friendship is real, but what’s even deeper is the relationship between the United States and Israel.

….  The relationship between Israel and the United States has been and will continue to be a centerpiece – a centerpiece of American policy and it’s been that way since Israel’s founding in 1948.

….  Bibi, you heard me say before, progress occurs in the Middle East when everyone knows there’s simply no space between the United States and Israel.  There is no space between the United States and Israel when it comes to Israel’s security

….

Well I’m glad he qualified the ‘no space’ thing because there’s plenty of space from where I’m standing.

President Obama and I strongly believe that the best long-term guarantee for Israel’s security is a comprehensive Middle East peace with the Palestinians, with the Syrians, with Lebanon, and leading eventually to full and normalized relationships with the entire Arab world.  It’s overwhelming in the interest of Israel, but it’s also overwhelming interest to the Arab world and it’s in our interest as well.

This is what my younger son calls ‘stating the bleedin’ obvious’.

And so Mr. Prime Minister, toward that end, I’m very pleased that you and the Palestinian leadership have agreed to launch indirect talks.

This is called ‘bigging up’ in today’s parlance.

We hope that these talks will lead and they must lead eventually to negotiations and direct discussions between the parties.

Well, ‘hope’ is one of Obama’s key words and a word that almost defines Israel.

The goal is obviously to resolve the final status issues to achieve a two-state solution with Israel and a Palestine living side by side in peace and security.

Something which Bibi is not convincingly signed up to, the two-state solution, that is. Palestinians believe in a one-state solution – Palestine. To think otherwise is dangerous but Israel and the US and the world like to pretend that Abbas and co. are not like Hamas; they want a two-state solution. Yes, but only as a first step to a one-state solution.

An historic peace is going to require both parties to make some historically bold commitments.

This means Israel will have to make all the concessions and the Palestinians will reject them as not going far enough. This will be after months of tough negotiations with everyone getting very excited about a ‘peace deal’ only to end in rejection and probably more violence and Israel blamed for not agreeing to destroy itself. Been there before I believe.

You have done it before and I’m confident for real peace you would do it again.

See what I mean?

Over the last year, Mr. Prime Minister, you have taken significant steps, including the moratorium that has limited new settlement construction activity and you have significantly increased freedom of movement across the West Bank.

O-oh, he mentioned settlements – this was before the Israelis kicked him up the backside and then thumbed their nose at him.

You still got that bucket ready? Well here goes.

Prime Minister Netanyahu: I will say that agreements are dependent on the arrangements not on paper, but on the ground.  Here’s a piece of paper that reflects an arrangement on the ground.  We have planted a circle of trees in Jerusalem in memory of your mother; Catherine Eugenia Finnegan Biden because you have said many times that she was a source of immeasurable strength which I recognize in you, Joe.  We planted a tree to serve as a tribute, a circle of trees next to the leaders of the nations.  We have a forest of the leaders of the nations and right next to it are the trees that we have planted in memory of your mother as a tribute to her immeasurable strength and I want to offer it to you on your visit to Israel.

Vice President Biden: Well, thank you very much.  If you don’t mind my saying Mr. Prime Minister, my love for your country was watered by this Irish lady who was proudest of me when I was working with and for the security of Israel, so it’s a great honor.  Thank you very much.

(full text here)

And immediately after this the Jerusalem authorities announced the approval of 1600 new homes in East Jerusalem. This led to an unprecedented condemnation from Biden

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.

– he could hardly do otherwise – and the Palestinians latching on to the opportunity to threaten withdrawal from the indirect talks – maybe they’ll agree to indirect talks about indirect talks? After all, it was they who wouldn’t speak directly.

After all that schmaltz, to have it pushed in your face is unpalatable even for a philo-Israeli like Biden.

The actual truth about the approvals for more building is that a) Israel has never seen East Jerusalem as a settlement and there is no moratorium in place there b) This was a stage in a long process of approval quite separate from State politics c) Even approved, building may not start for years.

However, the timing was unforgivable and even though Bibi told Biden that he did not know, there is something rotten in this State when a municipality can cause such a diplomatic embarrassment at such an important time. Furthermore, it serves to confirm all the prejudices of those determined to undermine Israel and gives further fuel to its enemies.

When will they ever learn.

Ahmadinejad and the history deniers

That nice Mr Ahmadinejad from Iran is at it again.

Having found himself in hot water at home because of accusations of a rigged election, he has apparently sought to unite the people against, you guessed it, the Jews.

Ho hum.

His latest Holocaust denial came on Quds (Jerusalem) Day:

He is reported to have said:

“[The Holocaust] a lie based on an unprovable and mythical claim”.

He also repeated the canard that the Zionist entity (Israel) was created as a result of this supposed lie.

Not only is this historically illiterate (and this faulty historical narrative can be heard in many places, not just in the Middle East) but he and those like him are attempting to create another Holocaust. But this time it isn’t the physical extermination of the Jewish people (although that is a much desired outcome for Hamas and Hizbollah to name the prinicpal culprits) but this time the Holocaust will begin with the extermination of Jewish history.

Anyone who knows anything about the Jewish people will know that history is central to identity. This is true of most nations but for Jews it defines them even more deeply because for 2000 years they were scattered across the nations of the world with only their history to unite them.

That history was not just one of persecution, migration and expulsion but also a history of yearning for a return to the Land, to the holy city of Jerusalem whose importance in history is solely due to its Jewish history. Without the connection to the Land, to Israel and Jerusalem there would be no Jewish people at all. Look at Jewish liturgy: the Torah, the three daily services, literature, poetry, art.

The Jews and their ancestral land have always been two sides of the same history: the People and the Land.

Now you can argue, and I’m sure you will, about the right to that land today and it’s an argument of history that is a valid one to discuss. And it should be because there are so many lies and misconceptions about the Jews’ return to the Land.

But if you accept that, whatever you may think of Israel and the events of the last sixty or hundred years, that Judaism and the Jewish soul identify completely with that land, (and it is a spiritual as well as a religious and historical connection), then you will see that to deny that connection in effect denies the existence of the Jewish People and its right to exist; to exist anywhere, not just in Israel.

And this is what Ahmadinejad does, but it is also what is taught in the Middle East; not just by the perverted purveyors of hatred that are known as Hamas and Hizbollah but by clerics, publishers, academics, politicians, archaeologists, teachers and broadcasters across the Middle East. They daily trot out lies which deny that Jeruslaem was the site of the two Jewish Temples, deny any Jewish connection whatsoever to the Land and characterise the Israelis and, therefore, of course, all Jews, as part of a (Zionist) plot to deprive them, the Palestinians and the Muslim umma in general, of their land. And part of this ruse perpetrated originally by a few hundred thousand Jews was to fabricate or exaggerate their own suffering to prick the conscience of those who persecuted them, or allowed them to be persecuted, and thereby allow them to steal the Land. That ruse, they claim, was the Holocaust.

And don’t take this lightly. because those who deny history – the ‘history deniers’ (Richard Dawkins uses this term in rather a different context in his latest book) who use it now against the Jews will and, in fact, do use it against everyone else. They denigrate and deny others’ holy books whilst being ready to kill the denigrators of their own, they deny what happened on 9/11 whilst in a breathtaking example of double-think and hyprocisy, celebrate it as a victory over the Zionists who they also say carried it out!

Mahmoud Abbas wrote his doctoral thesis on the Holocaust and you won’t be surpised to find that he found it was a lie.

You can get a flavour of it here: http://www.pmw.org.il/holocaust.htm which shows very starkly that the oh so moderate Palestinian Authority is Holocaust-denying to its rotten core.

So Ahmadinejad is not alone. He is part of a vast army of Muslims who actively seek to deny Jews their history, any land whatsoever and in some cases, their lives. And it is widespread because it is promulgated and taught not just in the Middle East but across the world.

Palestinian Authority rejects the two-state solution

Fatah, led by the Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, has held its first congress for 20 years.

Draw your own conclusion as to why now.

My guess is that things are going very well for Fatah which is in power on the West Bank and nominally in Gaza where it has been chucked out by the nice Hamas people by a series of gunfights, murders, torture, intimidation, throwing people off high buildings etc. you know, the sort of stuff that passes for politics in the Palestinian world.

Anyhow….

… things are going well because Israel is under intense attack not just from the usual suspects in the Arab world, the EU, NGO’s and the UN, but also from its closest ally, the United States of America.

This means that Fatah, alias the Palestinian Authority, alias the PLO (yes, I know they are all different but they temd to have the same cast list) believes it can make another small step or two forward in its ultimate goal of destroying Israel.

It doesn’t need to use an Intifada, armed resistance, suicide bombings and other terrorist tactics, it just has to sit back and watch Israel dangle from an ever-tightening noose, partly of its own making but mainly from the pressure from the Obama administration.

It appears the world wants Israel to make concessions: freeze “settlements”, freeze expansion of “settlements”, grant a Right of Return for the great grandchildren of  Palestinians who left, or were driven out in 1947-9, concede East Jerusalem which is supposed to be “Arab” m, and withdraw to the 1967 borders (thereby rendering the Arab attack on Israel in 1967 as of no consequence).

But Fatah have made some surprise moves on the compromise front – the main one being no compromise at all, so:

it will not change its charter which calls for Israel’s destruction whilst retaining the option of armed struggle enshrined within this charter ““until the Zionist entity is wiped out and Palestine is liberated”.

So where is there room for two states if they still want to eradicate Israel? They say they will pursue peace but reserve the right to use arms. But what peace do they intend? A peace where Israel no longer exists. The road to peace from the Fatah perspective is a series of concessions by Israel which will lead to its destruction. That is Fatah’s idea of peace and if they don’t get it, they will take up arms – possibly.

Fatah refused to recognise Israel as a Jewish state. In fact it’s quite derisory about the idea and considers a Jewish state to be a racist concept but not an Islamic state.

The whole tenor of the Fatah congress was refusal to compromise, refusal to recognise Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people, refusal to give up the armed struggle, refusal to relinquish any part of its charter where the destruction of Israel is its stated goal.

Of course, recent events in Israel show the current administration to be equally uncompromising: Prime Minister Netanyahu states that the whole of Jerusalem is indivisible; retains the right to expand “settlements” and cares little about how evictions of Palestinians, however legal, play out on the world stage and give fuel to Palestinian rhetoric.

Israel has not ruled out a Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza, but the Palestinians’ idea of a two state solution appears to be little more than empty rhetoric aimed at the non-Arab world whilst they tell each other that the liberation of ALL of Palestine is still their goal. So we may have two entrenched positions but what is there to negotiate from an Israeli perspective until their right to exist is fully recognised.

All Quiet on the West Bank Front

The current world media, and indeed the Palestinian and left-wing Israel narrative about Israel’s activities on the West Bank tells of road-blocks, a so called “apartheid” wall, unwarranted restrictions on movement of Palestinians and general emiseration of life.

But here’s a funny thing. Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas has just been to Washington. In an interview with the Washington Post he made (albeit translated) the following astonishing statement:

“I will wait for Hamas to accept international commitments. I will wait for Israel to freeze settlements,” he said. “Until then, in the West Bank we have a good reality . . . the people are living a normal life.”

Normal life! Good reality! If everything is so dandy, what’s the beef?

The truth is that whatever the aspirations and long-term goals of the PA things have got a lot better recently. I’m not saying there is normality as that would be untrue. But Abbas sees new possibilities with Obama. Abbas can wait to achieve his goals whilst the US, Europe and, ironically, Israel pour billions of dollars into the development of the West Bank and what would be a future Palestinian state. Yes. He can wait.

Abbas also revealed what former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered him, and this says it all about Abbas, Obama’s policy, the possibility of peace and the PA’s true intentions:

Abbas acknowledged that Olmert had shown him a map proposing a Palestinian state on 97 percent of the West Bank — though he complained that the Israeli leader refused to give him a copy of the plan. He confirmed that Olmert “accepted the principle” of the “right of return” of Palestinian refugees — something no previous Israeli prime minister had done — and offered to resettle thousands in Israel. In all, Olmert’s peace offer was more generous to the Palestinians than either that of Bush or Bill Clinton; it’s almost impossible to imagine Obama, or any Israeli government, going further.

Abbas turned it down. “The gaps were wide,” he said.

What!!! He turned it down? Just like his predecessor, Yasser Arafat at Camp David and Taba in 2000/2001 who was made a similar offer, rejected it and began the Second Intifada. Why does the world say it is Israel that is the main stumbling block to peace? Each time Israel offers more, not less (as would be the case in any other conflict where the answer to peace negotiations is violence not a counter-offer). “The gaps were wide”. What does Abbas want for heaven’s sake? Well we know what he wants: the right of return for 4 million Palestinians and ALL of the Old City of Jerusalem (he does not reveal waht Olmert offered there but Barak in 2000 offered to divide the city). In other words he will settle for nothing less than the destruction of Israel demographically.

Now, perhaps, we can see why the Netanyahu government sees no point to further negotiations with the PA. What more is there to discuss at the moment? What will Israel get in return for freezing settlement expansion or dismantling settlements? It’s a stand-off. It’s a bit like the final scene in “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” with each side circling round the other and waiting for someone to blink.

Obama to Netanyahu: stop settlement expansion and we’ll talk about Iran

Netanyahu to Obama: do something about Iran or we’ll continue with (existing) settlement expansion

Obama to Abbas: stop saying horrible things about Israelis (you can’t use the words “vile anti-Semitic propaganda” in the even-handed world of Obama). Make nice with Hamas.

Abbas to Obama: I can wait. Get rid of Netanyahu or get him to unequivocally accept a two-state solution. I’m not playing ball with George Mitchell until you do that, so no talks with moderate Arab states to help the process. I can wait for Hamas.

Abbas to Netanyahu: (silence)

Netanyahu to Abbas: (silence)

As the Post concludes:

What’s interesting about Abbas’s hardline position, however, is what it says about the message that Obama’s first Middle East steps have sent to Palestinians and Arab governments. From its first days the Bush administration made it clear that the onus for change in the Middle East was on the Palestinians: Until they put an end to terrorism, established a democratic government and accepted the basic parameters for a settlement, the United States was not going to expect major concessions from Israel.

Obama, in contrast, has repeatedly and publicly stressed the need for a West Bank settlement freeze, with no exceptions. In so doing he has shifted the focus to Israel. He has revived a long-dormant Palestinian fantasy: that the United States will simply force Israel to make critical concessions, whether or not its democratic government agrees, while Arabs passively watch and applaud. “The Americans are the leaders of the world,” Abbas told me and Post Editorial Page Editor Fred Hiatt. “They can use their weight with anyone around the world. Two years ago they used their weight on us. Now they should tell the Israelis, ‘You have to comply with the conditions.’ “

So all is quiet in the world of Abbas. He knows that Netanyahu’s options are limited. The next Israeli government might offer even more. Iran might do the job he always dreamed of. Hamas can stew in Gaza because why should he do anything that wil make life for Israel easier. He can squeeze Hamas on the West Bank and take them out when necessary. In fact, by doing so, as the Jerusalem Post reports, he is putting pressure on Israel:

In March 2007, a car carrying over 100 kilograms of explosives succeeded in infiltrating downtown Tel Aviv from the West Bank town of Kalkilya. The terrorists’ plan was to detonate the car on Seder night.

The existence of this cell, which was the target of the Palestinian clashes in Kalkilya on Sunday, had been the IDF’s excuse for refusing to scale back its operations in the West Bank city and implement there and in Tulkarm what is being called the “Jenin model.”

Under the Jenin model, the IDF has scaled back operations in that city, removed checkpoints in the area, permitted the deployment of US-trained Palestinian forces and allowed Israeli Arabs into the city to boost the local economy.

The more effective the PA police are in confronting Hamas and thwarting attacks on Israel, the less reason there is for the Israeli Army to be operating there. This, in turn, reduce tensions between Israelis and Palestinians and increases Abbas’s prestige at home and in the world. But, crucially, Israel’s ability to preempt terrorism emanating from the West Bank would be reduced.

And this is really the true nature of the Pax Palestina on the West Bank. They are rapidly approaching de facto statehood with improving social conditions and security; they are working with Israel on a number of projects to improve living conditions; checkpoints are reducing; Israel is acting against settlements that even they deem illegal.

For Abbas it is just a stage on the road to the destruction of Israel. He still cherishes that hope. He still wants 4 million refugees to flood Israel and create a third Palestinian state in the region; he still wants all of Jerusalem; he still tells his people that Jews have no historic connections or claim to the Holy Land; he still tells his people that there never was a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem; he still allows daily incitement against Israelis and Jews; he still allows lies and vicious Jew-hatred to be inculcated into Palestinian children from the earliest age.

Abbas can afford to wait.

Lieberman: Far Right or just right?

During the recent Israeli election campaign Avigdor Lieberman, representing Yisrael Beitenu (Israel Our Home) presented himself as a far-right nationalist who had made some inflammatory and what could be perceived as racist remarks about Palestinians and Arab Israelis. He also managed to upset Egypt, one of  only two neighbouring states that Israel has signed a peace treaty and with whom it has an important relationship with reagrd mutual security issues.

Hi smost controversial slogan was “No loyalty, no citizenship” which called for all Israel citizens, including Arabs, to swear an oath of allegiance. In itself this may seem unexceptional but if you consider that Basques donlt have to do this in Spain or Republicans in Northern Ireland or Kurds in Turkey, such a policy seemed designed to be a step toward another objective: 

What we state unequivocally is that we are completely opposed to what has been and still is the guiding principle of Israel’s foreign policy: ‘land for peace’ … There is either ‘peace for peace’ or the exchange of territory and populations.

The “exchange” he refers to is his idea of a Pakistan/India type transfer of all Israeli Arabs to a future Palestine and, presumably all Jews within the agreed border to return to Israel. If you analyse this it makes no reference about Israeli settlements and it undermines Israel’s claim that it is not an apartheid state and is not racist.

I do not subscribe to a transfer of populations and no Palestinian government would ever do so and a large number of Israelis would oppose it. Such an exchange would only lead to a considerable cultural loss to Israel. It sounds totally impracticable.

However,  land-for-peace IS off the table for Lieberman in this speech. But Lieberman is part of a broad coalition. But we’ll return to land-for-peace later.

Time and time again our leaders go to Egypt to meet Mubarak and he has never agreed to make an official visit here as president. If he wants to talk to us, he should come here. If he doesn’t want to come here, he can go to hell.

Great. So let’s make Lieberman Foreign Minister!

In 2006 he said this to an Arab member of the Knesset who is well-known for his support of the Palestinian cause:

 The fate of the collaborators in the Knesset will be identical to that of those who collaborated with the Nazis. Collaborators, as well as criminals, were executed after the Nuremberg trials at the end of the World War Two. I hope that will be the fate of collaborators in this house.

Isn’t it interesting that the Arab MK can openly express his views, make trips abroad to meet enemies of the state and not be imprisoned or worse. He’s a member of parliament! How would that work in Iran if a Jewish member of parliament expressed his Zionist views (or anyone else for that matter). One can’t imagine a single Arab state that would tolerate this sort of opposition.

On the other hand such language from Lieberman would not be tolerated in most democracies. Even if said in the heat of the moment, it is totally unacceptable.

I think Lieberman, in his new role a a coalition member is now finding a more moderate voice. But it’s still pretty strident at times.

Let’s now look at what Lieberman said on April 1st when taking office: (translation from Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs website).

He began describing the realities of a new world order where there are “semi-states”:

there are countries that are semi-states. It is hard to call a country like Somalia a state in the full sense of the word and the same holds true for the various autonomies in Eastern Europe, in the Balkans and here as well. It is even hard to call a country like Iraq a state in the full sense of the word. And even worse, there are now international players that are irrational, like the Al Qaeda organization. And we can certainly also ask if the leader of a strong and important country like Iran is a rational player.

In my view, we must explain to the world that the priorities of the international community must change, and that all the previous benchmarks – the Warsaw Pact, the NATO Alliance, socialist countries, capitalist countries – have changed. There is a world order that the countries of the free world are trying to preserve, and there are forces, or countries or extremist entities that are trying to violate it.

He sees the threat to world order not coming fro Israel-Palestine but from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq. He stresses regional stability and especially singles out Egypt as an important partner to Israel. So this is already a softening in an attempt too make up for hos remarks about Mubarak: “I would be happy to visit Egypt and to host Egyptian leaders here, including the Egyptian Foreign Minister”. In fact, this is not going to happen just yet; Ha’aretz reports “Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said on Thursday that Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman would not accompany Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on an upcoming visit to Egypt.” Maybe a tad too early for a Mubarak-Lieberman rapprochement. An apology from Lieberman might help.

He goes on to describe the efforts of the two previous administrations and the meaning of “peace”:

I think that we have been disparaging many concepts, and we have shown the greatest disdain of all for the word “peace.” The fact that we say the word “peace” twenty times a day will not bring peace any closer. There have been two governments here that took far-reaching measures: the Sharon government and the Olmert government. They took dramatic steps and made far-reaching proposals. We saw the Disengagement and the Annapolis Conference. 

Yisrael Beiteinu was not then part of the coalition, Avigdor Liberman was not the foreign minister and, even if we had wanted to, we would have been unable to prevent peace. But none of these far-reaching measures have brought peace. To the contrary. We have seen that, after all the gestures that we made, after all the dramatic steps we took and all the far-reaching proposals we presented, in the past few years this country has gone through the Second War in Lebanon and Operation Cast Lead – and not because we chose to. I have not seen peace here. It is precisely when we made all the concessions that I saw the Durban Conference, I saw two countries in the Arab world suddenly sever relations, recalling their ambassadors – Mauritania and Qatar. Qatar suddenly became extremist. 

Then the old Lieberman slips out using a phrase which lends itself to misinterpretation:

We are also losing ground every day in public opinion. Does anyone think that concessions and constantly saying “I am prepared to concede,” and using the word “peace” will lead to anything? No, that will just invite pressure, and more and more wars. “Si vis pacem, para bellum” – if you want peace, prepare for war; be strong.

It is strange he begins by admitting Israel is losing the media war and then puts a very big foot in an equally big mouth with the the Latin quote.

But now we come to Liberman’s clever strategy:

We definitely want peace, but the other side also bears responsibility. We have proven our desire for  peace more than any other country in the world. No country has made concessions the way Israel has. Since 1977, we have given up areas of land three times the size of the State of Israel. So we have proven the point.

The Oslo process began in 1993. Sixteen years have passed since then, and I do not see that we are any closer to a permanent settlement. There is one document that binds us and it is not the Annapolis Conference. That has no validity. When we drafted the basic government policy guidelines, we certainly stated that we would honor all the agreements and all the undertakings of previous governments. The continuity of government is respected in Israel. I voted against the Road Map, but that was the only document approved by the Cabinet and by the Security Council – I believe it was Resolution 1505. It is a binding resolution and it binds this government as well.

The Israeli government never approved Annapolis, neither the Cabinet nor the Knesset, so anyone who wants to amuse himself can continue to do so. I have seen all the proposals made so generously by Ehud Olmert, but I have not seen any results.

So we will therefore act exactly according to the Road Map, including the Tenet document and the Zinni document. I will never agree to our waiving all the clauses – I believe there are 48 of them – and going directly to the last clause, negotiations on a permanent settlement. No. These concessions do not achieve anything. We will adhere to it to the letter, exactly as written. Clauses one, two, three, four – dismantling terrorist organizations, establishing an effective government, making a profound constitutional change in the Palestinian Authority. We will proceed exactly according to the clauses. We are also obligated to implement what is required of us in each clause, but so is the other side. They must implement the document in full, including – as I said – the Zinni document and the Tenet document. I am not so sure that the Palestinian Authority or even we – in those circles that espouse peace so much – are aware of the existence of the Tenet and Zinni documents.

This is where the world’s media  said “aha!” – see, he doesn’t want to observe the peace accords, he will renege on Israel’s previous commitments.  He is right: Annapolis did not oblige either side to anything because no agreement was reached and, therefore, Israel has no obligations under Annapolis. “Lieberman does not want a two-state solution” the media opined. But what was signed was a mutual agreement to negotiate:

We agreed to immediately launch good faith, bilateral negotiations in order to conclude a peace treaty resolving all outstanding issues, including core issues, without exception,” and that, “The final peace settlement will establish Palestine as a homeland for the Palestinian people just as Israel is the homeland for the Jewish people.

Thus a two-state solution was agreed for the first time by both sides as an end goal to negotiations. 

But looked what happened in the Arab world and in Iran. Both Hamas and Iran said the conference should be boycotted and Hamas even held a demonstration in Gaza against it four days before the conference began. Even in the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority stronghold, their were demonstrations against the conference which were brutally broken up by Fatah members. Ahmadinejad in Iran, meanwhile, also denounced it as “”A political show for the media which is in Israel’s interest””   (as reported by yNetNews at the time. It appears Ahmadinjad was very worried that there might actually be a settlement. Peace is not in his interests because it means Israel had not been wiped off the map”.

But in Israel too, when it was realised that Olmert had put East Jerusalem on the negotiating table, there were many protests, mainly by right-wing religious groups.

Before the conference Mahmoud Abbas of the P.A. had said that the ALL the West Bank and Gaza forming a Palestinian state would be the only acceptable solution. This sounds like a pre-condition to me, just the sort of pre-condition he accused Binyamin Netanyahu of stipulating when he said that the P.A. must recognise Israel as a Jewish State (and later appeared to back track on this to the point where we now don;t know whether he does or he doesn’t want this pre-condition). Of course, Abbas has his own constituency and any pre-condition that actually recognises a Jewish State is political dynamite and potentially fatal. Yet the P.A. have said in the past that they DO recognise Israel. So it’s clearly the “Jewish” bit they have a problem with.

So what happened next? The joint statement was actually a confirmation of the road-map which was issued 30th April 2003 by the “Quartet”. So the whole Annapolis Conference was little more than a belated Bush effort to get things moving again.

So back to Lieberman who recognises this:

The Israeli government never approved Annapolis, neither the Cabinet nor the Knesset, so anyone who wants to amuse himself can continue to do so. I have seen all the proposals made so generously by Ehud Olmert, but I have not seen any results. 

So we will therefore act exactly according to the Road Map, including the Tenet document and the Zinni document. …

We will adhere to it to the letter, exactly as written. Clauses one, two, three, four – dismantling terrorist organizations, establishing an effective government, making a profound constitutional change in the Palestinian Authority. We will proceed exactly according to the clauses. We are also obligated to implement what is required of us in each clause, but so is the other side. 

So what Lieberman is saying is that Annapolis reconfirmed the road-map to a two-state solution. But the very first steps have not been carried out by the Palestinian side because terror still exists. How can peace be reached with half of Palestine whilst the other half attacks from Gaza on a daily basis.

Lieberman is saying “enough of concessions” let’s move forward on the basis of the road-map. He is cutting to the chase and saying we have map, so let’s use it. He is challenging the Palestinians to move forward on this basis.

Liberman has his unsavoury side but he also makes a lot of sense. Israel must can not move forward on the road-map until its own security is assured and that may well mean that as long as Hamas rules Gaza very little will happen.