Tuesday, February 25, 2014

From Ian:

The Myth of Israel’s Refusal to Make “Tough Decisions” for Peace
The relentless calls for Israel to take difficult decisions for peace not only neglect to account for the attitude of the Palestinian side but also of the extensive concessions already offered by the Israelis. Both under Ehud Barak during the Camp David talks in 2000 and certainly under Ehud Olmert in 2008, Israel’s offers for peace went just about as far as possible without Israel either ceasing to exist as a Jewish state or rendering its remaining territory indefensible. Similarly, the current Israeli negotiating position does not appear to be measurably different from that of Barak or Olmert’s. Certainly, if Prime Minister Netanyahu’s negotiating stance was falling significantly short of previous offers then his dovish chief negotiator, Tzipi Livni, who served in the Olmert government and remains a political rival to Netanyahu, would doubtless call him out on this. Israel is once again offering as much as it can without ceasing to survive as Israel. But then this is the crux of the matter. It really looks as if it may just be the case that no offer that leaves the Jewish state in existence will be acceptable to Palestinians. (h/t Bob Knot)
Challenging the Long-Held Notion That Israeli Settlements Are ‘Illegal’
In a 2010 column for the American Interest, Nicholas Rostow, then-counsel and vice chancellor for legal affairs at the State University of New York and today director of the Center for Strategic Research at National Defense University’s Institute for National Strategic Studies, described five of the arguments made by those who disagree that the Geneva Convention prohibits Jewish Israelis from living legally in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
In their view, the Geneva Convention is inapplicable because under Article 2, the Convention applies only to territory that is occupied by “a High Contracting Party.” Because no country has a legally recognized claim to the “occupied territories,” the argument goes, the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem do not belong to any contracting party.
Rostow wrote: “In making this argument, advocates of legality stress that the international community did not recognize Jordan’s annexation of the West Bank and that now Jordan has withdrawn its claim.”
Terrorism pays – literally
Nor is jail time a deterrent. “Nobody believes they’re going to serve [a full] sentence,” he said, “because they are going to be part of the next prisoner release, or of the next discussion even to have a discussion about a prisoner release.”
This travesty is supervised by the Palestinian Ministry for Prisoners and written into PA legislation. The law determines an ascending pay scale for terrorists: The more the carnage and the longer the prison term, the higher the salary.
According to [Edwin] Black, “This takes up $5-7 million a month – approximately six percent – of the PA budget. If you add in the other payments [to terrorists] for weddings, social events, special bonuses, academic scholarships, it comes to 16% of the Palestinian budget.
"And where does the money come from? From American and European taxpayers.”

Until the blood-for-money law is rescinded, he said, “There can be no peace between Palestinians and Israelis.”

Unstable Neighborhood: Terrorist Groups Encircle Israel
A breakdown in state sovereignty among Arab countries bordering Israel has created a vacuum eagerly filled by radical non-state actors.
In lawless areas around Israel, both Sunni and Shi'ite terrorist organizations are reaching out across borders and moving personnel and weapons. This means that an eruption of violence in one area carries the potential to ignite other arenas around Israel.
To Israel's south and west, Al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist networks are growing. They operate in both the Gaza Strip and in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, and maintain a relationship with Gaza's rulers – Hamas – as well as with Islamic Jihad.
Smaller Gazan terror groups, such as the Popular Resistance Committees (which are heavily involved in firing rockets at Israel) have taken to "sub-contracting jobs" to terrorists in the neighboring Sinai Peninsula, to avoid exposing Hamas in Gaza to Israeli retaliation.
The Politics of the Palestinian Right of Return
The 'right of return' is sometimes explained away as being symbolic rather than practical, an element of the Palestinian 'narrative' regarding the blameless circumstances of their diaspora. Israelis are demanded to accept both the narrative, in which they are the villains, and the possibility of the mass return of Palestinians that would, by design, end Israel as a Jewish state.
In contrast, the demand that Israel be recognized as a Jewish state would have no practical costs for Palestinians. But it would be acknowledgment of the character and permanence of Israel, and thus is rejected outright. This cannot be admitted, indeed, the entire thrust of Palestinian public culture, from education to summer camps to TV programming, relentlessly pushes the idea that Israel is temporary and illegitimate. Statements, such as the Palestinian Authority's Religious Affairs minister Mahmoud al-Habash's recent demand that "every inch" of the pre-1967 territory must be turned over by Israel, including the "Buraq Wall" – better known as the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest place – make deep impressions on Israelis. But they pass unnoticed by Kerry and his associates. (h/t Bob Knot)
‘We Don’t Want a Palestinian State, We Just Want to Live Well’
Abu Muatz, a resident of Dir Isatia located just south of Nablus, said local Palestinian-Arab issues have become an international cause célèbre with dire results.
“It’s frustrating to have politicians from the Arab League and Muslim countries meddle in my life.” Muatz said. “I have this to tell them: do whatever needs to be done in order that the quality of our lives improves. Instead, they expect me to fight on their behalf in order to liberate Jerusalem and the Palestinian people.”
Muatz also dismissed the PA’s claim that it wont sign a peace treaty with Israel until Jerusalem allows all Palestinian-Arabs considered by the UN to be refugees the right to live in Israel proper, Ma’ariv reported.
“I have a brother who lives in Jordan. He lives there with his wife and children. He is still considered a refugee. Do you really think that he plans to ever return to this village?” Muatz said. “All he’s interested in is in being compensated financially for his refugee status. He as well as all the other refuges living in Jordan, Lebanon and anywhere else will never return [to lands currently administered by the Palestinian Authority].”
Analysts: Palestinian State Collapse “Liable to Become a Subversive and Hostile Entity and Develop Into Grave Security Threat to Israel”
Whatever elements are mobilized to bolster its viability, analysts have long identified at least four critical dynamics that would have to be addressed to prevent a Palestinian state from collapsing into a failed state: the absence of political legitimacy, the absence of economic stability, the absence of a monopoly on the use of force, and the existence of rival governments in some of the territories that Palestinians reserve for a future state. Despite the peace process, it is difficult to find evaluations citing progress along these four dimensions. Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas is currently in the ninth year of his four-year term, Palestinians are scrambling to avoid an economic collapse due to donor fatigue, there is a growing jihadist presence throughout territories controlled by Palestinian governments, and efforts to unite the Fatah-controlled West Bank and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip have again stalled. The latter factor has often been left unaddressed in peace talks, but a single state under two governments is almost by definition a failed state.
Qatar's true colors
On the one hand, Qatar is funding the Hamas terrorist organization, whose mission is to eradicate Israel, while on the other hand it is promoting the Arab League's Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative -- all while Al-Jazeera "documentaries" incite the Palestinians against the Zionist enemy and warn them against compromising on "the right of return."
This political zigzag, which is reminiscent of the world's oldest profession, allows Qatar's rulers to use the various regional players for their own protection. The Egyptians and Syrians, it seems, are getting tired of this game.
The Jewish Demographic Bomb: Judea and Samaria Up 4.3% in 2013
These days the work on analyzing the figures of the 2013 population census is being concluded, and once again the Jewish Settler communities are showing a resounding increase, according to Srugim. Based on these figures, 2013 has seen a 4.3 percent population growth in Judea, Samaria and the Jordan valley.
As of last December (which means the real figures for today are even higher), the Jewish settler population in Judea and Samaria is about 375,000, with an addition of some 15,400 new residents. The Judea and Samaria annual growth rate is more than twice the average in Israel west of the 1949 armistice line—aka the green line—which is 1.9.
After reported strike on Hezbollah, PM says Israel will defend itself
Speaking at a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Netanyahu said he would not speak to the reports that Israeli planes struck a missile shipment or missile base in the Baalbek region on the border between the Syria and Lebanon.
However, he added that Israel would defend itself through whatever means necessary.
“Our policy is clear,” he said to a reporter’s question about the reported strike. “I won’t speak about what is being claimed or not being claimed. However, we will do everything we need to in order to defend the security of our citizens.”
In no mood for fight, Hezbollah downplays reported Israeli strike
The most overt reference on the al-Manar website to the reported Israeli attack was that “senior security officials did not confirm that there was an attack.”
Earlier, the network said there had been “no raid on Lebanese territory,” reporting only the “strong presence of enemy planes over the area north of Bekaa” in eastern Lebanon.
The al-Mayadeen channel, considered close to Hezbollah, also buried news of the attack late Monday. Its headline emphasized that “there were no injuries or damage” in the raid, contradicting reports of Hezbollah casualties in al-Arabaiya. The report seemed to telegraph to the Lebanese public how inconsequential the attack was.
Police pelted with stones and firecrackers in Temple Mount clash
Israeli police forces in Jerusalem were showered with stones and firecrackers Tuesday morning, as Palestinian youth seemingly protested an upcoming debate on Israeli sovereignty of the contested holy site.
The clashes began when officers opened the Mughrabi Gate, an entrance to the Temple Mount next to the Western Wall which is the only access for non-Muslims to the Mount.
The perpetrators, whom police said were a group of young men, some of them masked, were dispersed by the officers with the use of stun grenades.
The Return of West Bank Terror?
Given the way these public displays by terror groups and their affiliates appear to now be tolerated in PA-controlled areas, it is certainly plausible that even if the PA isn’t actively instigating such activities, it may have made a decision to somewhat loosen its measures against such groups. Alternatively, this could simply be an indication of the growing weakness of the Palestinian Authority under Abbas. All of which must be taken into consideration when it comes to the current negotiations. From the start of the resumption of peace talks there have been ongoing concerns that were talks to collapse under particularly unhappy circumstances, this could trigger a new wave of Palestinian terror attacks. Equally, were the talks to lead to Israel making further territorial concessions in the West Bank, this would also be deeply concerning in light of a resurgence of Islamist groups in these areas.
To be clear, the present situation in the West Bank is far more secure and stable than in those territories Israel has withdrawn from. But given the partial control of the PA over the West Bank the situation remains mixed and the current trend does not appear to be in a promising direction.
Hamas cell planned bomb attack on major J’lem-TA road
A Hamas cell planned to detonate a roadside bomb against Israeli army troops along a major route linking Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, the Shin Bet security service revealed Monday.
Member[s] of the cell were among a larger group of 15 suspects, all from the West Bank village of Bayt Ur a-Tachta, who were arrested recently. The other suspects are being held for throwing Molotov cocktails and stones at passing Israeli cars on Route 443, part of an upsurge in attacks on the road.
The highway, one of only two arteries linking Tel Aviv and the capital, runs through the West Bank for 16 kilometers, from the Maccabim Checkpoint to the outskirts of Jerusalem.
After months of near total quiet, the route has witnessed a flare-up of violence, including 20 Molotov cocktail attacks during the first two months of the year.
The Deadly Reality of Palestinian Rock Throwing
Rock throwing is common in Judea and Samaria, and along with Molotov Cocktails and booby-trapped tire throwing, is a terror act that comes under the definition of ‘popular terror’. These incidents happen daily and are easily ignored by the mainstream media. But did you know that a simple rock can kill?
In 2013, there were more than 2,400 Palestinian rock throwing attacks in Israel. Of these, 30 percent were directed at civilian vehicles. 116 civilians were injured due to these incidents. They may appear inoffensive, but rocks threaten lives.
Abbas Refrains from Condemning Syrian War Crimes
Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman for the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Ramallah, declared Monday that PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is not only not taking a stance on the Syrian civil war, but that he is adamant about sticking to a non-interference policy in internal affairs in the Arab world.
According to Abu Rudeineh, Abbas does not want to put the "Palestinian refugees" at the heart of conflicts that do not directly serve the interests of the Palestinian people or the Arab world. In addition, the "official" PA policy is to distance itself from societal conflicts in the Arab world at large, according to the official.
Bayit Yehudi MK: West is financing ‘bile’ and incitement by supporting UNRWA’s projects
Chetboun opened the event by describing a recent visit to a tunnel built by Hamas “with concrete and cement that had been delivered to UNRWA by donor countries” that was used by terrorists and screened examples of incitement shown to children in UNRWA schools.
“This bile is being financed by the countries you represent,” Chetboun said. “Irrespective of how the current negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians are viewed, everybody can agree that the future does not bode well if the next generation is consistently exposed to ideas that would not be out of place in 1935 in Berlin.”
“Would you tolerate this state of affairs in your own countries? Is it not reasonable to suggest that the aid the world sends should not enable the hate which is the cause of this incitement and terrorism in the first place?” the Bayit Yehudi MK asked the representatives from the embassies of the EU, UK, Canada, Norway, France, Turkey, Argentina, Costa Rica, Chile, Belgium, Bulgaria and the Philippines.
IDF Blog: United Nations Textbooks too Peaceful for Hamas
Hamas’ education ministry recently denounced the use of UN textbooks in Gaza’s schools, saying the materials “contaminate the minds of our dear students” and deceive them into accepting peace with Israel.
“There is a tremendous focus on the peaceful resistance as the only tool to achieve freedom and independence,” Motesem al-Minawi, spokesman of the Hamas Education Ministry, complained about the latest UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency) textbooks for high school students in Gaza.
Relatives arrested over suspected 'honor' killing in Gaza
Gaza police have arrested family members over the deaths of two Palestinian teenage girls, one of them the victim of a suspected "honor" killing, an official said Monday.
Authorities caught relatives of one of the girls as they were trying to bury her in a cemetery near Jabaliya, north of Gaza City, on Thursday, police spokesman Ayyub Abu Shaar told AFP.
The girl's father had "beat her days before her death," Abu Shaar said.
The Gaza-based Palestinian Center for Human Rights said a post-mortem showed signs of "torture" all over the girl's body as well as signs of untreated gangrene from years of physical abuse.
Iran studied IDF tactics after 2006 war, official says
A team of Iranian experts carefully analyzed Lebanese targets demolished by Israel in the immediate aftermath of the Second Lebanon War to gain a better understanding of Israeli assault strategies and ammunition capabilities, a senior Iranian defense official announced on Monday.
“After Hezbollah’s 33-day war, we sent a team to Lebanon and studied the models of Israel’s assault on the Lebanese buildings and collected 5,000 images of all the destroyed buildings,” Civil Defense Organization head Gholam Reza Jalali said, according to the semi-official Fars News Agency.
Speaking at a conference in Tehran dedicated to the defense strategy of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), Jalali said the damage sustained to Lebanese targets in 2006 had more to do with the engineering strategies the IDF employed than the strength of their artillery.
Iran FM summoned for calling Holocaust ‘cruel’
The foreign minister of Iran was summoned to a closed session of the country’s parliament Monday to clarify public comments he made condemning the Holocaust.
Some 54 hard-line lawmakers signed the petition summoning Mohammad Javad Zarif to the session, Reuters reported, citing the official Iranian news agency IRNA.
The Holocaust was “tragically cruel and should not happen again,” Zarif said earlier this month at the Munich Security Conference.
Former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad often practiced Holocaust denial in public speeches.


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