Monday, March 24, 2014

From Ian:

Report: Abbas Rules Out End-of-Conflict Clause in Any Deal
Skeptics of Palestinian intentions have long turned to the first two rejections — made consistently by Palestinian leaders over the years — as proof that PA leaders had never negotiated in good faith, using the talks as a ploy to legitimize later violence and bolstering the international movement to delegitimize Israel. Yet with the third rejection — No to an “end of conflict” clause — it becomes difficult to understand what the point of talks was in the first place. By stating from the outset that negotiations will not bring a termination of the conflict, Palestinian leaders remove nearly all the incentive for Israeli compromise. Indeed, the absence of an end-of-conflict clause is widely seen as one of the main failings of the catastrophic 1993 Oslo Accords.
“Right of Return” Is Not About “Refugees”
In “A Jewish State,”the Wall Street Journal notes that “the right of return, with its implicit promise to eliminate Israel, is the centerpiece of the conflict” between Israelis and Arabs. The Journal observes that it is a “right” recognized “for no other refugee group in the world,” and that its acceptance by Israel would risk “a demographic time bomb that could turn the country into another Lebanon, sectarian and bloody.” The Journal explains the Palestinian rejection of a Jewish state as follows: “As to why Mr. Abbas won’t accept a Jewish state, it’s because doing so means relinquishing what Palestinians call the ‘right of return.’”
The Journal’s otherwise excellent editorial confuses a tactic and a goal. The reason the Palestinians won’t accept a Jewish state is not because it means relinquishing the “right of return.” It is the other way around: they won’t relinquish the “right of return” because it would mean accepting a Jewish state. Nor is this simply a matter of substituting the converse for the Journal’s formulation. Rather, it reflects a fundamental point that Ron Dermer (then one of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s closest aides and currently Israel’s ambassador to the U.S.) made in a May 2009 AIPAC presentation. Dermer’s point was that the “core issue” in the conflict was not refugees, but recognition:
Three More Palestinian “No’s” to Peace
Indeed, though Kerry attempted to create a framework that was more or less on the terms that the Palestinians have always demanded–an independent state whose borders would be based on the 1967 lines that would include a share of Jerusalem–they have refused to assent to it since it would obligate them to actually end the conflict and recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders would be drawn. Obama’s decision to publicly hammer Netanyahu while praising Abbas seems to have emboldened the Palestinian to think he has carte blanche to up the ante on the Israelis while giving nothing in return. That Kerry and Obama cheerleaders like the left-wing J Street group have endorsed Abbas’s refusal to say those two little words—Jewish state—that would indicate his willingness to envision actual peace only reinforces his reluctance to give an inch.
Israelis are now expected to release the last of the murderers Abbas demanded as a ransom for his presence at the table just as he is abandoning it with the extra insult that the names of the terrorists on the list are actually Israeli citizens rather than residents of the territories. The bottom line is that after issuing three historic “no’s” to Israeli peace offers including statehood in 2000, 2001, and 2008, Abbas has now added three more refusals that add up to yet another instance in which the Palestinians have rejected a compromise that would end the conflict. How many more “no’s” will convince the administration that Abbas hasn’t the courage to challenge the Palestinian political culture of intransigence that he helped create and therefore must be held responsible for the deadlock rather than Netanyahu? Right now, Abbas is betting the number is infinite. (h/t Norman F)

Eugene Kontorovich: More on the Gaza Missile Ship Raid
I wrote earlier about what Israel’s interdiction on the high seas of a ship bringing missiles from Iran to Gaza (under the obligatory cover of building supplies) means for international law. It turns out the operation had a far simpler legal basis than was previously evident: the ship’s flag state, Panama, consented to the operation.
Because a ship is legally an extension of the flag state’s territory, that state has an absolute right to consent to search on the high seas. Of course, nations have always been reluctant to allow interference with their civilian ships. Moreover, flags of convenience like Panama have about as much taste for allowing foreign security forces peeking into their ships as the Swiss have for peeking into their banks. So Panama’s cooperation is laudable. It is a happy example of a registry state taking actual responsibility for what happens under its flag, and yet another of many contradictions to the Jewish state’s alleged “growing isolation.”
Arab League Prepares to Reject Israel as Jewish State
KUNA reported that “top diplomats will be discussing draft resolutions on the Palestinian cause, the Arab–Israeli conflict and activating the Arab peace initiative, since US Secretary of State John Kerry said the Israelis and Palestinians could not reach an agreement by next month.”
“They will reject recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, which, if happens, would undermine the right of the Palestinian people to return to their lands and the compensation of Palestinian refugees,” KUNA said.
The ‘dhimmi’ roots of non-recognition
It is a tragedy that western liberals do not see the self-determination of a small, indigenous Middle Eastern people – the Jews – as a progressive cause. Instead they support the Palestinian campaign against Israel – deceptively cloaked in the language of human rights. In so doing, they have become unwitting agents for the re-establishment of Arab and Muslim supremacy over a ‘dhimmi’ people. The Palestinians have skillfully cultivated their ‘underdog’ image. In reality, however, they are backed by hundreds of millions of Arabs and Muslims, enormous political clout and vast financial resources. The Palestinian cause was always a pan-Arab cause. Now, with Hamas and Hezbollah in the ascendant and the backing of the Islamic republic of Iran, it is an Islamist cause.
The West routinely ignores or minimises the plight of other small and powerless non-Muslim and non-Arab peoples who share the Middle East with their Arab and Muslim neighbours. There are twice as many Copts as Palestinians, but where are the protests against violations of their human rights? There are three times as many Kurds as Palestinians, but where are the calls for their cultural and political rights?
The turmoil of the ‘Arab Spring’ has been casting a long-overdue searchlight on the grubby repressive politics of Arab regimes. Perhaps greater freedom will result for both non-Muslims and Muslims. But we need a sea change in the way that the West views political rights in the Middle East belonging, as of right, to Arab Muslims. Israel has been misrepresented as an outpost of western colonialism. In reality, it represents the national liberation of the Jews, one of the most ancient of native Middle Eastern peoples.
JPost Editorial: Abbas’s triumph?
The US-orchestrated peace talks seem on the verge of falling apart. Can the relative stability that we have grown accustomed to in the West Bank no longer be taken for granted? Unfortunately, a Palestinian political leadership capable of making the sorts of concessions necessary for a peace agreement has failed to materialize. As a result, we are fast approaching a dead-end.
With little chance of a breakthrough in talks – unless there is a significant change in the Palestinian leadership’s approach – it makes little sense to move ahead with the release of the fourth and final batch of imprisoned terrorists.
The release of these terrorists was in any event originally conditioned on a sincere intention by the Palestinians to achieve peace through dialogue, an intention that is sorely lacking judging from Abbas’s reception in Ramallah.
90 reasons not to create a Palestinian state
The 90 rockets fired at Israel by Palestinian Arab terrorists in Gaza on Wednesday are not just another round of the same old Middle East turmoil to which the world is unfortunately accustomed. Coming just as US Secretary of State John Kerry is trying to conclude a deal to create a Palestinian state, the rockets offer 90 vivid demonstrations of why such a state must not be created.
For years, the international community badgered Israel to withdraw from Gaza. Israelis were told that if only the occupation ended, the Palestinians would embrace peace. That the presence of Israeli soldiers and the Jewish communities in Gaza were the obstacles to peace. That once Israel withdrew, the Gaza Palestinians would no longer have a reason to attack Israel. And that “if even a single missile were fired into Israel from Gaza,” the IDF would be justified in re-occupying the area.
Fatah spokesman: Israel's goal is to rule "from the Euphrates to the Nile"

How 30,000 Remaining Palestinian Refugees From ’48 Morph Into 5 Million
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is the UN agency responsible for aiding all the world’s refugees - “all” the world’s refugees, that is, except for the Palestinians. The tens of millions of actual refugees this agency helps receive initial assistance – which often entails helping to resettle them in a new state – and then they are no longer refugees.
According to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) – the UN agency which deals exclusively with Arabs of Palestinian descent – ‘Palestinian refugees‘ are defined as “persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948, and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict.” And the number of Palestinian refugees from the ’48 war who are still alive – out of the initial 711,000 or so – is estimated to be roughly 30,000. However, due to UNRWA’s expansive definition of who qualifies for “refugee” benefits – which includes the children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren of Palestinian Arabs who may have once lived in Historic Palestine – more than 5 million Arabs of Palestinian descent are considered “refugees.” This means that 99 percent of their clients are NOT in fact refugees.
Remarkably, under UNRWA’s bizarre rules, even Arabs of Palestinian descent who are citizens of other Arab states – such as Jordan – are still considered “refugees.”
Shin Bet Busts Two Samaria Terror Cells
Several members of a terror cell in Shechem, which opened fire on Israeli cars at Jit Intersection next to the Samaria community of Kedumim, were arrested in a joint mission between the IDF and Israel Security Agency (ISA, or Shin Bet).
Permission was given today (Monday) to release details about the incident, which took place on January 15. The rifle used in the attack was seized at the time of the arrests.
The shooting attack fortunately did not cause any injuries, even while it damaged the car. Later on, the cell threw an explosive at an additional passing vehicle.
IDF Soldiers Come under Fire from Egypt
IDF forces patrolling the border with Egypt were targeted by fire from the Egyptian side on Monday. No injuries were reported in the incident, and further details are currently being investigated.
The soldiers were just north-west of Be'er Milka, located right on the border with Egypt to the south of Gaza, when they were shot at.
Border Policemen Injured in Rock-Throwing Attack
Palestinian Arab terrorists rioted at Rachel's Tomb on Sunday, next to Bethlehem, injuring two Border Policemen. One suffered moderate injuries and the second suffered light injuries, according to the Border Police spokesman.
Arabs from the village of Al Aida, next to the Tomb, hurled an improvised explosive device and firebombs at the policemen. The policemen responded with riot dispersal gear.
PA TV: Suicide bombers who killed 16 are "stars" in "the skies"

Hell Forced To Open New Wing For Suicide Bombers (satire)
The management of the Underworld announced this morning that a continued influx of suicide bombers from various countries in the Middle East has made it necessary to set aside a separate extension of the domain just for them.
Beelzebub and Lucifer held a press conference on the banks of the River Styx to publicize the change, which they stressed was not prompted by any considerations of space. “Hell expands as necessary to accommodate all who deserve to dwell here,” said Beelzebub. “The main consideration behind this renovation is the effect that the presence of these suicide bombers had on other residents of Gehinnom.” He explained that the other denizens of the demonic afterlife were experiencing unauthorized relief at the knowledge that they were not nearly as %$!@ed in the head as the bombers.
Hamas warns against Israeli reoccupation of Gaza
Gaza’s Hamas premier Ismail Haniyeh warned Israel Sunday it would pay dearly if it heeded its foreign minister’s call to reoccupy the enclave to try to halt rocket attacks.
“We tell the enemy and [Foreign Minister Avigdor] Liberman who is threatening to reoccupy Gaza that the time for your threats is over,” Haniyeh told a rally in Gaza City. (h/t Jewess)
Hamas rally in Gaza takes aim at Egypt, Israel and Abbas
Hamas tried in vain to mollify Egypt by insisting that its hostility was directed exclusively at Israel, but is now turning up the rhetoric.
"The punishment of the people of Gaza must end," Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Hamas government, told the rally in a speech interspersed with chants of "Jihad is not Terrorism" over the loudspeakers.
"Why punish Gaza? Was it because it achieved victory against the Occupier? Why punish Gaza? Was it because it took up the rifle against Israel?" Haniyeh said.
Hamas Admits Helping the 'Resistance' in Gaza
Fathi Hamad, Hamas’s interior minister, revealed in an interview with Hamas’s Al-Aqsa television, which aired Sunday, that Hamas supports the "resistance" by maintaining and strengthening the internal front, both in times of calm and escalation.
Hamad added that the government in Gaza provides support to the “resistance” and cracks down on Gazans who act as agents and informants of Israel.
Egypt sentences 529 Morsi supporters to death
The sentence was delivered in the second hearing of a trial which began on Saturday in Minya, south of the capital.
Of those sentenced, 153 are in detention and the rest are on the run, the sources said, adding that 17 others were acquitted. The verdict can be appealed.
Those sentenced are among more than 1,200 Morsi supporters on trial in Minya. A second group of about 700 defendants will be in the dock on Tuesday.
Hezbollah, Israel’s nasty new neighbor in the Golan
Tuesday’s attack on an IDF patrol in the Golan Heights, and the subsequent punitive strikes by Israel, constitute an important chapter in the history of the new Middle East. The developments signal not only the erosion of the 40-year quiet between Israel and Syria, but also a major change in the complex fabric of relations between Hezbollah and Damascus.
Hafez Assad, father of Syrian President Bashar Assad, must be rolling over in his grave as his son allows Hezbollah to take a dominant role in defending the regime.
Weapons Spreading Through Lebanon, Risking Escalation
Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam condemned the latest armed clashes to erupt on the streets of Beirut as increasing numbers of factions and individuals get their hands on weapons, threatening the stability of country and trying to drag Israel into the regional conflict.
There is little or no central security control, according to The Israel Project’s defense analyst, Major (res.) Stephane Cohen.
"The problem in Lebanon is that so many groups have weapons – Alawites, Sunnis, Christians, Shiites and Palestinians – and no official Lebanese authority has the monopoly over security and force."
Hezbollah Launches iPhone App as Part of Broader PR War
Hezbollah has launched a multi-lingual news application for iPhones and iPads, the latest weapon in its hate-ware against the U.S., Sunni Muslims and Israel. The Lebanese-based, Iranian-funded Hezbollah describes the app known as LCG as “an application that brings news from all around the world.” Nowhere on the Apple pages describing the product in English is it clear that LCG is the creation of Hezbollah. Hezbollah uses every available medium to try to control the message regarding its terror campaigns in the region and beyond.
The Anti-Defamation League is amongst those leading the campaign against Hezbollah’s public relations war.
Analysis: Turkey as a model of Muslim democracy is in shambles
Asked about a possible shift in US policy toward Turkey, [Michael] Rubin responded that while American policy is always slow to change, “Americans are starting to recognize the new reality: Turkey has almost completed its transition from ally to enemy.”
Asked about the chances that the opposition could do well in upcoming elections, Rubin commended the active opposition, but warned against betting on their success. “The age of free and fair elections in Turkey may be over,” he said.
Supporting this worry, the AK Party has demanded a list of ballot box clerks, Hurriyet quoted the daily Taraf as reporting. AKP officials requested that the Election Board in Istanbul provide names of the monitors, but the request was rejected.
Turkey: We Shot Down Syrian Jet
Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Turkish F-16 fighter jets shot down a Syrian military jet which had violated its airspace Sunday.
The incident reportedly took place near Yayladağı, a district of the southern Hatay province, in an area where Syrian rebels and government forces have been fighting for control of a border crossing.
According to Turkey's Sunday Zaman, the shooting down of the jet may be a government effort to gain political scores ahead of a local vote that is scheduled to take place on March 30.
Erdogan Defends Twitter Ban
Speaking at a campaign event in Istanbul ahead of March 30 municipal elections, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he had given the order because Twitter was not obeying Turkey's laws.
Previously, the Turkish government said that the telecommunications authority had blocked Twitter on court orders. However, the move came shortly after Erdogan threatened to "rip out the roots" of the website.
Erdogan said Twitter was applying double standards, shutting down accounts when the U.S. or the U.K demand it, but defending freedom when Turkey, Ukraine or Egypt have concerns.
MEMRI: Pakistani Media Reports: 'Pakistan Will Provide … 30,000 Troops For The Defense Shield Force Of The Gulf Cooperation Council'
On the subject of the Bahraini king's visit to Pakistan, a number of Pakistani writers and columnists warned Pakistan against supporting the Sunni regimes in the Middle East. On Twitter, noted columnist Raza Rumi warned: "the day is not far when Pakistan will be a member of the Monarchies' Commonwealth – Al Bakistan, Saudi Arabia, & Bahrain!" The name "Al Bakistan" is a pun on Pakistan becoming an Arab country, as the letter "P" isn't available in Arabic and is instead rendered as a "B." Blogger Nilofer Afridi Qazi tweeted: "Pakistan, Bahrain agree to enhance military relationship? What does that mean? We will support suppression of Shia rights/democratic movement?" In a tweet, journalist Raja Arsalan Khan reminded that Pakistan's General Zia-ul-Haq had early in his career led a Jordanian force to crush the Palestinians: "#Pakistan will cooperate with #Bahrain in defense sector. Are we going to reproduce the job executed by #Zia in #Jordan."

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