Tuesday, April 01, 2014

From Ian:

Kerry’s “Last Chance” Diplomacy Implodes
Continually crying that this is the “last chance” for peace is not only inaccurate—diplomats have been saying the same thing for decades and have always been wrong, since peace will come the day the Palestinians give up their illusions about re-writing history and not one day sooner—it is also the sort of sentiment that rationalizes the actions of extremists who don’t want peace on any terms.
It is true that many Israelis worry about the long-term consequences of the current impasse which leaves the West Bank in limbo while Hamas-ruled Gaza functions as the independent Palestinian state in all but name. But as Diehl says, the alternative to Kerry’s apocalyptic warnings was an embrace of the reality of a conflict that couldn’t be solved but might be managed. Measures aimed at giving the Palestinians a bigger stake in an improved economy and better governance wouldn’t have cut the Gordian knot of Middle East peace but would have provided Abbas and his Fatah Party a reason to keep a lid on the territories as well as more of an incentive to think about preparing the way for eventual peace. Instead, Kerry has brought Abbas to the brink where he feels he has no alternative but to give the back of his hand to a negotiation that he never wanted to be part of in the first place. If violence in the form of a third intifada (perhaps funded in part by Iran via aid to Islamic Jihad or Hamas) follows, then it should be remembered that it was Kerry who set a potentially tragic series of events in motion.
Peace process as an obstacle to peace
The "peace process" has been turned – by the Israelis, Palestinians, Americans and in some sense the Europeans too – into a sort of independent diplomatic entity, whose ethical and political rhetoric is more important than its deeds, whose outward appearance conceals not only real inaction but sometimes even worse – deeds which clearly contradict peace itself. The peace process deludes us, and therefore calms us too, to believe that peace will certainly come. It induces tolerance which is eventually complete passivity.
For the sake of illustration, let us recall the short and efficient peace process between Israel and Egypt, two countries which waged major, bloody wars against each other. This peace process began dramatically with Egyptian President Sadat's visit to Israel in November 1977,and less than a year later the sides already agreed upon the main principles at Camp David. A withdrawal, demilitarization, uprooting communities and opening embassies. The agreement itself was signed several months later. And this peace agreement has lasted more than 35 years now.
Suddenly, it’s 1947
Recently I had a discussion with a visitor from Mars. He said that he found it difficult to understand the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It went like this:
VFM: What do the Israelis want?
Me: They want the Palestinians to stop trying to kill them. In return, they will give them some of their very small homeland for a new Arab state. But they can’t get the Palestinians to agree to take it.
VFM: The Palestinians want a state, and the Israelis want to give it to them? But why won’t the Palestinians take it?
Me: Because they won’t take it unless the Israelis agree that the part that they don’t give them belongs to the Palestinians too.

VFM: That doesn’t sound fair. I suppose the Palestinians must be very powerful in order to demand so much.
Me: No, actually Israel is much stronger militarily and economically.
VFM: Then what’s the point in talking to them?
Me: Ask John Kerry.

The Obama Doctrine of Selective Memory
And that’s the consequence of the administration’s penchant for selective memory in foreign affairs that Obama brushed aside when it came to Israel. It’s not about whether Obama would or would not have signed such a deal himself. It’s about whether American promises evaporate every four or eight years.
The obvious rejoinder is that presidential administrations cannot be bound by every political or strategic principle of their predecessors–otherwise why have elections? True, but the question is one of written agreements, “memoranda,” and understandings, especially those offered as the American side of a deal that has been otherwise fulfilled. Sharon pulled out not just of Gaza but also parts of the West Bank and made concessions on security in both territories he was hesitant to offer. He held up his end of the bargain, and Israelis were only asking that the administration hold up Washington’s.
That’s the point Gelb is making on Ukraine, and it’s an important one. He is saying that the United States’ decision on how to respond to Russia’s aggression should not be made in a vacuum. This may bind Obama’s hands a bit, but there is danger in reneging on this agreement. It’s a danger that was mostly ignored when it came to Israel. But now it’s clear that this is a pattern with Obama, and that American promises are suspended on his watch. It’s no surprise that the world is acting accordingly.
12 Hours, 2 Meetings for Netanyahu & Kerry; Abbas & Kerry, 0
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has left Israel without speaking to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, and after two intense meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in less than 12 hours.
Kerry met in Jerusalem with Netanyahu for several hours on Monday evening and then again for another two hours on Tuesday morning before leaving to attend scheduled NATO ministerial meetings in Brussels on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Abbas, meanwhile, chaired his own meeting Monday night with top officials from the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the PA’s leading Fatah faction.
Officials decided to again appeal to United Nations agencies for recognition of the PA as an independent sovereign nation if Kerry does not force Israel to free a final group of 30 terrorist prisoners, according to the PA official who spoke with reporters.
Alan Dershowitz, Irwin Cotler: Why President Obama must commute Pollard's sentence
Reports are circulating that the Obama Administration is considering releasing Jonathan Pollard, as part of an effort to encourage Israel to release Arab prisoners. Justice demands that Pollard be released without regard to what Israel decides to do. A case for Pollard’s release is based on both legal and humanitarian considerations.
Although many former government officials who were involved in Pollard’s prosecution now favor commutation, some continue to insist that he should serve his complete life term. In opposing Pollard’s release now, these former officials are violating the spirit, if not the intent, of the contract our government made with Pollard 28 years ago.
Reject the Pollard-for-prisoners deal
Second, Pollard's release is not the grand bonanza for Netanyahu that Kerry perhaps thinks it is. With all due sympathy for Pollard, large segments of the Israeli public will turn their noses up at this stinky deal, and say: Fooya! It is better that Pollard not be released in this way. Thus, such a release will not purchase true political cover for Netanyahu in terms of bending before the Palestinians.
Most of all, the deal is mistaken for the following reason: If Prime Minister Netanyahu is to keep making concessions to Abbas then he should expect something of substance in return from the Palestinians that would bring us closer to peace. Doing so only for the sake of Pollard makes no diplomatic sense.
It is time for Abbas to show some concrete compromises for peace; to "sacrifice for peace"; to show that he too cares about and desires these negotiations. In the absence of such, Israel's repeated and grandiose concessions to the Palestinians only indicate Israeli weakness in the face of continued Palestinian rigidity.
Pollard-for-prisoners deal said to be near completion
Under the terms, Israel will soon release the last 27 prisoners from the 104 agreed to when peace talks began in July.
In addition, another 400 low-level prisoners, not convicted of violent crimes, would be set free. This group would include women, children and inmates with only a few months of incarceration left, the source said.
The identity of the prisoners would be decided partly by Israel and partly by the Palestinian Authority.
According to Israel Radio, the agreement was waiting for approval from Ramallah.
Israeli minister Ariel: Pollard wouldn't want to be freed for Palestinian prisoners
Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel said on Tuesday he would oppose any such accord that would see Pollard go free in exchange for the release of more Palestinian prisoners, telling Army Radio that Pollard himself was against being part of a prisoner exchange.
"I was personally told he is against being released in such a disgraceful deal," said Ariel, a member of Bayit Yehudi, arguing that Pollard deserved unconditional freedom and not to be swapped for Palestinian "murderers".
Politicians Uneasy Over Pollard Deal
Finance Committee chairman MK Nissan Slomiansky (Jewish Home) expressed disbelief at the deal Tuesday afternoon, while on a visit to the Hevel Yavne Regional Council
"This cannot be that the Americans call to release terrorists when they hold, on their land, a prisoner [Pollard] who is neither a murderer nor a terrorist," Slomiansky stated. "Releasing murderers breeds more terrorism, no sane country would releasing murderers to allow them to murder its citizens again."
Terror Victim Families to Kerry: Leave Israel Alone Already
Lizzy Hameiri, an organizer of the protest, told Arutz Sheva that she and her friends had decided to protest, in order to make it clear to Kerry that he was “not wanted” in Israel so long as he is trying to persuade the government here to release terrorists.
Israel agreed to release about 100 terrorists last summer, as a “concession” to persuade Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas to resume peace talks after a three year hiatus. The last batch was set to be released Saturday night, but Netanyahu, apparently under pressure from his ministers, postponed the release.
“We are in the midst of a struggle that has been going on for nine months,” said Hameiri. “Every time Kerry comes here we feel as if he is preparing to bring a tragedy on us. Kerry is putting fear in our hearts. The least we can do is protest against him.”
Ramallah Gives Kerry Ultimatum Over Peace Talks
The Palestinian Authority on Monday gave US Secretary of State John Kerry 24 hours to get Israel to release the fourth batch of terrorists, according to AFP, after which they will resume moves to seek international recognition.
"If we don't get an answer from John Kerry on the prisoners tonight, we'll begin to ask for membership in all UN agencies tomorrow," Palestinian MP Mustafa Barghuti told AFP following a top-level leadership meeting in Ramallah which took place as Kerry arrived in Israel.
Jordan’s Abdullah: Chance for peace deal won’t be repeated
Jordan’s king called on Israeli and Palestinian leaders to stick with negotiations Monday, saying the chance for peace would not come again.
King Abdullah II made the statements while meeting with Israeli opposition leader MK Isaac Herzog (Labor) in Amman Monday morning.
“There is a one-time opportunity to reach an agreement in the Middle East, and we must find the formula that doesn’t blow up the negotiations,” the Jordanian leader told Herzog, according to a statement from Herzog’s office.
Waqf Official Beats Jewish Man on Temple Mount
Yitzhak Tessler, one of hundreds of Jews who came to ascend to the Temple Mount on Tuesday, was beaten by a Waqf Muslim Authority official.
Activist Yehuda Glick reported that Tessler asked the policeman accompanying the Jews up the mount to stop the attacks. In response, the Israeli police arrested Tessler.
Analysts: Demonstrations Suggest Hamas Gaining in West Bank
The funeral came a day before a separate Hamas rally on the Jerusalem campus of Al-Quds University in which “demonstrators were seen with black ski masks and carrying replicas of rockets.”
The Fatah-linked president of the university, Sari Nusseibeh, announced three days later that he was stepping down from his post. Tensions between Hamas and Fatah have long been cited as among at least four structural barriers threatening the viability of any future Palestinian state.
Hamas Reminds Everyone Violence Needed to Conquer Israel
Hamas has reminded everyone that peace talks or no peace talks, “the masses of the Palestinian peoples are still steadfast on every inch of the Palestinian land rejecting all compromises and concessions on their land.”
It’s official website stated, “The Israeli occupation’s escalating plans to impose a fait accompli in Palestine through settlement and Judaization would not succeed in changing the truth that Palestine belongs to the Palestinians.”
UN report assails Iran for persecution of religious minorities
According to a highly detailed March UN report on Iran, “Under the law, religious minorities, including recognized Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians also face discrimination in the judicial system, such as hasher punishments.”
While the major world powers (the US , England, France, China, Russia, and Germany) have limited their scope to dismantling key elements of Iran’s illicit nuclear program, many experts advocate ramped up pressure on the human rights front.
There is a missing lever of power, such as a one-two punch to influence a change in Iran’s nuclear and human rights policies. A salient – and frequently overlooked – punitive measure is human rights sanctions.
Iran loses Manhattan skyscraper to terror vics
The Iranian companies that own a Midtown office tower worth more than $500 million must forfeit the building to people who successfully sued Iran for damages over terrorist attacks, including 9/11, a judge has ruled.
In a written opinion Friday, Manhattan Federal Judge Katherine Forrest said the companies must hand over the building because they acted as fronts for the Iranian government and therefore “are” the government of Iran under certain federal laws.
In a separate but related decision in September, Forrest said the feds have the right to seize the building, 650 Fifth Ave., partly due to money laundering acts.
Peres to IAEA Chief: We Don't Want Another Hiroshima
President Shimon Peres warned on Monday that a nuclear armed Iran could lead to “another Hiroshima”.
The comments were made during Peres’s meeting in Vienna with the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Yukiya Amano.
“It's time to put the facts on the table and realize that nuclear weapons by the Iranian leadership would be a danger to all humanity,”
Peres said.
Report: Iranian Mini-Subs, Irregular Tactics, Threaten Gulf States
DefenseNews recently highlighted the capabilities of Iran’s navies, the Islamic Republic of Iran Navy (IRIN) and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Navy (IRGCN). While neither navy is a major threat in conventional terms both are threats, especially in the Persian Gulf region, due to their “ability for irregular warfare.”
A military analyst described the Iranian naval threat to DefenseNews: "The Iranian Revolutionary Guards [Corps] threaten every state in the region. The IRGC possess mini-subs and are a constant menace to not only the UAE Navy, but to all naval trade passing through the Strait of Hormuz as they are particularly hard to trace. There have been numerous unconfirmed reports that Iranian midget subs have been spotted within a number of the regional ports, something which is particularly worrying for the entire [Gulf Cooperation Council] region."
Turkish artillery fires into Syria after rocket hits mosque
The rocket from Syria wounded an elderly Syrian refugee woman in Hatay province on Sunday, where several mortar rounds also hit the ground, without causing harm, the Dogan News Agency reported.
“In accordance with our new military engagement rules, our artillery units on the border fired into Syria in response,” Hatay officials were quoted saying in a statement.
After Twitter, YouTube bans, Turkey targets Google
Google says Turkey has been intercepting its Internet domain, redirecting users to other sites in the latest battle between Ankara and Web giants.
In a weekend post on Google’s security blog, software engineer Steven Carstensen said the company has received “several credible reports and confirmed with our own research that Google’s Domain Name System (DNS) service has been intercepted by most Turkish ISPs (Internet Service Providers).”
Islamophobia in action? 'Honor Diaries' screening shut down by CAIR
CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) is at it again. This time they have succeeded in shutting down a screening of the film, "Honor Diaries," at the University of Michigan, Dearborn last Thursday night, claiming that the film is ‘Islamophobic.’
"Honor Diaries" is a recently-released documentary profiling nine Muslim women and their horrific experiences in Islamic societies living with practices such as female genital mutilation, honor violence, honor killings and forced marriage at young ages.
CAIR started a Twitter campaign a few days ago against the film, calling it ‘Islamophobic,’ the term groups such as CAIR use not to mean prejudice or fear against the religion, but a fabricated term used to denote anything unflattering to Islam.


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