Posts Tagged ‘West Bank’

Israel’s Never Looked So Good

March 6, 2011

by D  Suissa

February 2, 2011 02:32 PM

They warned us. The geniuses at Peace Now warned us. The brilliant diplomats warned us. The think tanks warned us. Even the Arab dictators warned us. For decades now, they have been warning us that if you want “peace in the Middle East,” just fix the Palestinian problem. A recent variation on this theme has been: Just get the Jews to stop building apartments in East Jerusalem and Efrat. Yes, if all those Jews in the West Bank and East Jerusalem would only “freeze” their construction, then, finally, Palestinian leaders might come to the table and peace might break out.
And what would happen if peace would break out between Jews and Palestinians? Would all those furious Arabs now demonstrating on streets across the Middle East feel any better?
What bloody nonsense.
Has there ever been a greater abuse of the English language in international diplomacy than calling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict the “Middle East peace process?” As if there were only two countries in the Middle East.
Even if you absolutely believe in the imperative of creating a Palestinian state, you can’t tell me that the single-minded and global obsession with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the expense of the enormous ills in the rest of the Middle East hasn’t been idiotic, if not criminally negligent.
While tens of millions of Arabs have been suffering for decades from brutal oppression, while gays have been tortured and writers jailed and women humiliated and dissidents killed, the world — yes, the world — has obsessed with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
As if Palestinians — the same coddled victims on whom the world has spent billions and who have rejected one peace offer after another — were the only victims in the Middle East.
As if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has anything to do with the 1,000-year-old bloody conflict between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, or the desire of brutal Arab dictators to stay in power, or the desire of Islamist radicals to bring back the Caliphate, or the economic despair of millions, or simply the absence of free speech or basic human rights throughout the Arab world.
While self-righteous Israel bashers have scrutinized every flaw in Israel’s democracy — some waxing hysterical that the Jewish democratic experiment in the world’s nastiest neighborhood had turned into an embarrassment — they kept their big mouths shut about the oppression of millions of Arabs throughout the Middle East.
They cried foul if Israeli Arabs — who have infinitely more rights and freedoms than any Arabs in the Middle East — had their rights compromised in any way. But if a poet were jailed in Jordan or a gay man were tortured in Egypt or a woman were stoned in Syria, all we heard was screaming silence.
Think of the ridiculous amount of media ink and diplomatic attention that has been poured onto the Israel-Palestinian conflict over the years, while much of the Arab world was suffering and smoldering, and tell me this is not criminal negligence. Do you ever recall seeing a UN resolution or an international conference in support of Middle Eastern Arabs not named Palestinians?
Of course, now that the Arab volcano has finally erupted, all those chronic Israel bashers have suddenly discovered a new cause: Freedom for the poor oppressed Arabs of the Middle East!
Imagine if, instead of putting Israel under their critical and hypocritical microscope, the world’s Israel bashers had takenIsrael’s imperfect democratic experiment and said to the Arab world:
Why don’t you try to emulate the Jews?
Why don’t you give equal rights to your women and gays, just like Israel does?
Why don’t you give your people the same freedom of speech and freedom to vote that Israel does? And offer them the economic opportunities they would get in Israel? Why don’t you treat your Jewish and Christian citizens the same way Israel treats its Arab and Christian citizens?
Why don’t you study how Israel has struggled to balance religion with democracy — a very difficult but not insurmountable task?
Why don’t you teach your people that Jews are not the sons of dogs but a noble, ancient people with a 3,000-year connection to the land of Israel?
Yes, imagine if Israel bashers had spent a fraction of their energy fighting the lies of Arab dictators and defending the rights of millions of oppressed Arabs. Imagine if President Obama had taken one percent of the time he has harped on Jewish settlements to defend the democratic rights of Egyptian Arabs — which he is suddenly doing now that the volcano has erupted.
Maybe it’s just easier to beat up on a free and open society like Israel.
Well, now that the cesspool of human oppression in the Arab world has been opened for all to see, how bad is Israel’s democracy looking? Don’t you wish the Arab world had a modicum of Israel’s civil society? Would you still be worrying about “stability in the Middle East?”

You can preach to me all you want about the great Jewish tradition of self-criticism — which I believe in — but right now, when I see poor Arab souls being murdered for the simple act of protesting on the street, I’ve never felt more proud of being a supporter of the Jewish state.


U.S. Embassy told to monitor Israeli leaders, motives – Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News

December 10, 2010

U.S. Embassy told to monitor Israeli leaders, motives – Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News.


The U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv was asked to collect information about senior figures in Israel, and to assist in the gathering of information on key intelligence topics regarding military and political moves, national infrastructure and coded means of producing passports and government ID badges.

This secret task, among the WikiLeaks documents published yesterday, is included in a telegram from the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, dated October 31, 2008 – a few days before U.S. President Barack Obama’s victory and about two months before Operation Cast Lead.

Following the American failure to locate weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, in 2005, the head of the CIA was put in charge of human intelligence for the entire intelligence community, and delegated that authority to the CIA’s secret operations wing. Giving the task of intelligence gathering to the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv could be perceived as proof of American spy operations in Israel.

The American agents were asked to supply information about Israeli plans for military operations against Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza and Lebanon and against Syrian or Lebanese targets, as well as Israel’s methods of fighting terror and the impact of reserve duty in the territories on Israel’s preparedness.

The American intelligence sources were also asked to report on how decisions on military operations, including retaliations against terror attacks, were made and approved. Information was also sought on Israeli contacts with Hamas and unofficial channels vis-a-vis the Palestinians, with or without permission from the Israeli leadership; positions of Israeli leaders, especially the prime minister (Ehud Olmert, at that time ) and his aides toward the United States, and on settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Other issues of interest included the possibility of development of natural gas deposts off the Gaza shore, prisoner exchanges, Israel’s interrogation methods of Palestinian prisoners and the emigration of Jews from Israel and their motives.

In another telegram, dated July 20, 2009, the head of the security department in the Defense Ministry, Amos Gilad, was quoted as telling participants in the American-Israeli strategic dialogue that he was unsure how much longer Egyptian President Mubarak would live and doubted the ability of Mubarak’s son to take over. Gilad also said the Egyptian army continued to train as if Israel was the only enemy, and that Egyptian-Israeli peace was tenuous.

The Flotilla Farce

August 15, 2010

Whether they are from Turkey, Ireland or Cyprus, those that participate reek of hypocrisy.


A couple of years ago, a Palestinian refugee camp was encircled and laid siege to by an army of tanks and Armored Personnel Carriers. Attacks initiated by Palestinian militants triggered an overwhelming response from the army that took the life of almost 500 people, including many civilians. International organizations struggled to send aid to the refugee camps, where the inhabitants were left without basic amenities like electricity and running water. During the conflict, six U.N. personnel were killed when their car was bombed.

Government ministers and spokesmen tried to explain to the international community that the Palestinian militants were backed by Syria and global jihadist elements. Al Qaeda condemned the government and the army, declaring that the attack was part of a “crusade” against their Palestinian brothers.

AFP/Getty ImagesA Palestinian refugee collects metal and plastic objects at a garbage dump in the Palestinian refugee camp of Beddawi near Tripoli.



While most will assume that the events described above took place in the West Bank or Gaza, they actually took place in Lebanon in the summer of 2007, when Palestinian terrorists attacked the Lebanese Army, which struck back with deadly force. The scene of most of the fighting was the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp in Northern Lebanon, which was home to the Islamist Fatah al-Islam, a group that has links with al Qaeda.

At the time, there was little international outcry. No world leader decried the “prison camps” in Lebanon. No demonstrations took place around the world; no U.N. investigation panels were created and little media attention was attracted. In fact, the plight of the Palestinians in Lebanon garners very little attention internationally.

Today, there are more than 400,000 Palestinians in Lebanon who are deprived of their most basic rights. The Lebanese government has a list of tens of professions that a Palestinian is forbidden from being engaged in, including professions such as medicine, law and engineering. Palestinians are forbidden from owning property and need a special permit to leave their towns. Unlike all other foreign nationals in Lebanon, they are denied access to the health-care system. According to Amnesty international, the Palestinians in Lebanon suffer from “discrimination and marginalization” and are treated like “second class citizens” and “denied their full range of human rights.”

Amnesty also states that most Palestinian refugees in Lebanon have little choice but to live in overcrowded and deteriorating camps and informal gatherings that lack basic infrastructure.

In view of the worsening plight of the Palestinians in Lebanon, it is the height of irony that a Lebanese flotilla is organizing to leave the port of Tripoli in the next few days to bring aid to Palestinians in Gaza. According to one of the organizers, the participants are “united by a feeling of stark injustice.”

This attitude exposes the dishonesty of the whole flotilla exercise. Whether it is from Turkey, Ireland or Cyprus, those that participate in these flotillas reek of hypocrisy. There are currently 100 armed conflicts and dozens of territorial disputes around the world. There have been millions of people killed and hundreds of millions live in abject poverty without access to basic staples. And yet hundreds of high-minded “humanitarian activists” are spending millions of dollars to reach Gaza and hand money to Hamas that will never reach the innocent civilians of Gaza.

This is the same Gaza that just opened a sparkling new shopping mall that would not look out of place in any capital in Europe. Gaza, where a new Olympic-sized swimming pool was recently inaugurated and five-star hotels and restaurants offer luxurious fare.

Markets brimming with all manner of foods dot the landscape of Gaza, where Lauren Booth, journalist and “human rights activist,” was pictured buying chocolate and luxurious items from a well-stocked supermarket before stating with a straight face that the “situation in Gaza is a humanitarian crisis on the scale of Darfur.”

No one claims that the situation in Gaza is perfect. Since the bloody coup and occupation by Hamas of Gaza in 2007, in which more than 100 Palestinians were killed, Israel has had no choice but to ensure that Hamas is not able to build up an Iranian port on the shores of the Mediterranean. Until Hamas meets the three standards laid out by the international community, namely renouncing violence, recognizing Israel’s right to exist and abiding by previously signed agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Hamas will continue to be shunned by the international community.

While Israel’s policy is to continue to see that all civilian needs are addressed, it can not allow Hamas to rearm and use Gaza as a base to attack Israel and beyond. For this reason, Israel initiated a blockade, fully legal under international law, to ensure that no items can be appropriated by Hamas to attack innocent civilians. Organizations that wish to join the U.N. and the Red Cross to deliver goods or aid to Gaza are welcome to do so through the Kerem Shalom crossing or even through Egyptian ports. Those that refuse and seek to break the legal blockade to boost Hamas are interested in provocation. If Israel allows these confrontational flotillas to successfully open up a shipping lane for arms smuggling for an Iranian proxy, then the region will suffer from continuous conflict. Actions that embolden the extremists will be at the cost of the moderates and this will pose a grave danger to moving the peace process forward.

The latest flotilla preparing to leave from Lebanon fully exposes not only the hypocrisy but the danger of these provocative vigilante flotillas. The Lebanese flotilla, whose organizers claim injustice while ignoring the dire human rights situation of the Palestinians in Lebanon, amply demonstrate that these flotillas have nothing to do with humanitarian concerns and everything to do with delegitimizing Israel.

Mr. Ayalon is Israel’s deputy minister of foreign affairs. 



Last week’s events off the coast of Israel

June 8, 2010

Last week’s events off the coast of Israel continue to resonate. Turkish-Israeli relations have not quite collapsed since then but are at their lowest level since Israel’s founding. U.S.-Israeli tensions have emerged, and European hostility toward Israel continues to intensify. The question has now become whether substantial consequences will follow from the incident. Put differently, the question is whether and how it will be exploited beyond the arena of public opinion.

The most significant threat to Israel would, of course, be military. International criticism is not without significance, but nations do not change direction absent direct threats to their interests. But powers outside the region are unlikely to exert military power against Israel, and even significant economic or political sanctions are unlikely to happen. Apart from the desire of outside powers to limit their involvement, this is rooted in the fact that significant actions are unlikely from inside the region either.

The first generations of Israelis lived under the threat of conventional military defeat by neighboring countries. More recent generations still faced threats, but not this one. Israel is operating in an advantageous strategic context save for the arena of public opinion and diplomatic relations and the question of Iranian nuclear weapons. All of these issues are significant, but none is as immediate a threat as the specter of a defeat in conventional warfare had been. Israel’s regional enemies are so profoundly divided among themselves and have such divergent relations with Israel that an effective coalition against Israel does not exist — and is unlikely to arise in the near future.

Given this, the probability of an effective, as opposed to rhetorical, shift in the behavior of powers outside the region is unlikely. At every level, Israel’s Arab neighbors are incapable of forming even a partial coalition against Israel. Israel is not forced to calibrate its actions with an eye toward regional consequences, explaining Israel’s willingness to accept broad international condemnation.

Palestinian Divisions

To begin to understand how deeply the Arabs are split, simply consider the split among the Palestinians themselves. They are currently divided between two very different and hostile factions. On one side is Fatah, which dominates the West Bank. On the other side is Hamas, which dominates the Gaza Strip. Aside from the geographic division of the Palestinian territories — which causes the Palestinians to behave almost as if they comprised two separate and hostile countries — the two groups have profoundly different ideologies.

Fatah arose from the secular, socialist, Arab-nationalist and militarist movement of Egyptian President Gamal Abdul Nasser in the 1950s. Created in the 1960s, Fatah was closely aligned with the Soviet Union. It was the dominant, though far from the only, faction in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). The PLO was an umbrella group that brought together the highly fragmented elements of the Palestinian movement. Yasser Arafat long dominated Fatah; his death left Fatah without a charismatic leader, but with a strong bureaucracy increasingly devoid of a coherent ideology or strategy.

Hamas arose from the Islamist movement. It was driven by religious motivations quite alien from Fatah and hostile to it. For Hamas, the liberation of Palestine was not simply a nationalist imperative, but also a religious requirement. Hamas was also hostile to what it saw as the financial corruption Arafat brought to the Palestinian movement, as well as to Fatah’s secularism.

Hamas and Fatah are playing a zero-sum game. Given their inability to form a coalition and their mutual desire for the other to fail, a victory for one is a defeat for the other. This means that whatever public statements Fatah makes, the current international focus on Gaza and Hamas weakens Fatah. And this means that at some point, Fatah will try to undermine the political gains the flotilla has offered Hamas.

The Palestinians’ deep geographic, ideological and historical divisions

occasionally flare up into violence. Their movement has always been split, its single greatest weakness. Though revolutionary movements frequently are torn by sectarianism, these divisions are so deep that even without Israeli manipulation, the threat the Palestinians pose to the Israelis is diminished. With manipulation, the Israelis can pit Fatah against Hamas.

The Arab States and the Palestinians

The split within the Palestinians is also reflected in divergent opinions among what used to be called the confrontation states surrounding Israel — Egypt, Jordan and Syria.

Egypt, for example, is directly hostile to Hamas

, a religious movement amid a sea of essentially secular Arab states. Hamas’ roots are in Egypt’s largest Islamist movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, which the Egyptian state has historically considered its main domestic threat. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s regime has moved aggressively against Egyptian Islamists and sees Hamas’ ideology as a threat, as it could spread back to Egypt. For this and other reasons, Egypt has maintained its own blockade of Gaza. Egypt is much closer to Fatah, whose ideology derives from Egyptian secularism, and for this reason, Hamas deeply distrusts Cairo.

Jordan views Fatah with deep distrust. In 1970, Fatah under Arafat tried to stage a revolution against the Hashemite monarchy in Jordan. The resulting massacres, referred to as Black September, cost about 10,000 Palestinian lives. Fatah has never truly forgiven Jordan for Black September, and the Jordanians have never really trusted Fatah since then. The idea of an independent Palestinian state on the West Bank unsettles the Hashemite regime, as Jordan’s population is mostly Palestinian. Meanwhile, Hamas with its Islamist ideology worries Jordan, which has had its own problems with the Muslim Brotherhood. So rhetoric aside, the Jordanians are uneasy at best with the Palestinians, and despite years of Israeli-Palestinian hostility, Jordan (and Egypt) has a peace treaty with Israel that remains in place.

Syria is far more interested in Lebanon

than it is in the Palestinians. Its co-sponsorship (along with Iran) of Hezbollah has more to do with Syria’s desire to dominate Lebanon than it does with Hezbollah as an anti-Israeli force

. Indeed, whenever fighting breaks out between Hezbollah and Israel, the Syrians get nervous and their tensions with Iran increase. And of course, while Hezbollah is anti-Israeli, it is not a Palestinian movement. It is a Lebanese Shiite movement. Most Palestinians are Sunni, and while they share a common goal — the destruction of Israel — it is not clear that Hezbollah would want the same kind of regime in Palestine that either Hamas or Fatah would want. So Syria is playing a side game with an anti-Israeli movement that isn’t Palestinian, while also maintaining relations with both factions of the Palestinian movement.

Outside the confrontation states, the Saudis and other Arabian Peninsula regimes remember the threat that Nasser and the PLO posed to their regimes. They do not easily forgive, and their support for Fatah comes in full awareness of the potential destabilizing influence of the Palestinians. And while the Iranians would love to have influence over the Palestinians

, Tehran is more than 1,000 miles away. Sometimes Iranian arms get through to the Palestinians. But Fatah doesn’t trust the Iranians, and Hamas, though a religious movement, is Sunni while Iran is Shiite. Hamas and the Iranians may cooperate on some tactical issues, but they do not share the same vision.

Israel’s Short-term Free Hand and Long-term Challenge

Given this environment, it is extremely difficult to translate hostility to Israeli policies in Europe and other areas into meaningful levers against Israel. Under these circumstances, the Israelis see the consequences of actions that excite hostility toward Israel from the Arabs and the rest of the world as less dangerous than losing control of Gaza. The more independent Gaza becomes, the greater the threat it poses to Israel. The suppression of Gaza is much safer and is something Fatah ultimately supports, Egypt participates in, Jordan is relieved by and Syria is ultimately indifferent to.

Nations base their actions on risks and rewards. The configuration of the Palestinians and Arabs rewards Israeli assertiveness and provides few rewards for caution. The Israelis do not see global hostility toward Israel translating into a meaningful threat because the Arab reality cancels it out. Therefore, relieving pressure on Hamas makes no sense to the Israelis. Doing so would be as likely to alienate Fatah and Egypt as it would to satisfy the Swedes, for example. As Israel has less interest in the Swedes than in Egypt and Fatah, it proceeds as it has.

A single point sums up the story of Israel and the Gaza blockade-runners: Not one Egyptian aircraft threatened the Israeli naval vessels, nor did any Syrian warship approach the intercept point. The Israelis could be certain of complete command of the sea and air without challenge. And this underscores how the Arab countries no longer have a military force that can challenge the Israelis, nor the will nor interest to acquire one. Where Egyptian and Syrian forces posed a profound threat to Israeli forces in 1973, no such threat exists now. Israel has a completely free hand in the region militarily; it does not have to take into account military counteraction. The threat posed by intifada, suicide bombers, rockets from Lebanon and Gaza

, and Hezbollah fighters is real, but it does not threaten the survival of Israel the way the threat from Egypt and Syria once did (and the Israelis see actions like the Gaza blockade as actually reducing the threat of intifada, suicide bombers and rockets). Non-state actors simply lack the force needed to reach this threshold. When we search for the reasons behind Israeli actions, it is this singular military fact that explains Israeli decision-making.

And while the break between Turkey and Israel is real, Turkey alone cannot bring significant pressure to bear on Israel beyond the sphere of public opinion and diplomacy because of the profound divisions in the region. Turkey has the option to reduce or end cooperation with Israel, but it does not have potential allies in the Arab world it would need against Israel. Israel therefore feels buffered against the Turkish reaction

. Though its relationship with Turkey is significant to Israel, it is clearly not significant enough for Israel to give in on the blockade and accept the risks from Gaza.

At present, Israel takes the same view of the United States. While the United States became essential to Israeli security after 1967, Israel is far less dependent

on the United States today. The quantity of aid the United States supplies Israel has shrunk in significance as the Israeli economy has grown. In the long run, a split with the United States would be significant, but interestingly, in the short run, the Israelis would be able to function quite effectively.

Israel does, however, face this strategic problem: In the short run, it has freedom of action, but its actions could change the strategic framework in which it operates over the long run. The most significant threat to Israel is not world opinion; though not trivial, world opinion is not decisive. The threat to Israel is that its actions will generate forces in the Arab world that eventually change the balance of power. The politico-military consequences of public opinion is the key question, and it is in this context that Israel must evaluate its split with Turkey.

The most important change for Israel would not be unity among the Palestinians, but a shift in Egyptian policy back toward the position it held prior to Camp David. Egypt is the center of gravity of the Arab world, the largest country and formerly the driving force behind Arab unity. It was the power Israel feared above all others. But Egypt under Mubarak has shifted its stance versus the Palestinians, and far more important, allowed Egypt’s military capability to atrophy.

Should Mubarak’s successor

choose to align with these forces and move to rebuild Egypt’s military capability, however, Israel would face a very different regional equation. A hostile Turkey aligned with Egypt could speed Egyptian military recovery and create a significant threat to Israel. Turkish sponsorship of Syrian military expansion would increase the pressure further. Imagine a world in which the Egyptians, Syrians and Turks formed a coalition that revived the Arab threat to Israel and the United States returned to its position of the 1950s when it did not materially support Israel, and it becomes clear that Turkey’s emerging power combined with a political shift in the Arab world could represent a profound danger to Israel.

Where there is no balance of power, the dominant nation can act freely. The problem with this is that doing so tends to force neighbors to try to create a balance of power. Egypt and Syria were not a negligible threat to Israel

in the past. It is in Israel’s interest to keep them passive. The Israelis can’t dismiss the threat that its actions could trigger political processes that cause these countries to revert to prior behavior. They still remember what underestimating Egypt and Syria cost them in 1973. It is remarkable how rapidly military capabilities can revive: Recall that the Egyptian army was shattered in 1967, but by 1973 was able to mount an offensive that frightened Israel quite a bit.

The Israelis have the upper hand in the short term. What they must calculate is whether they will retain the upper hand if they continue on their course. Division in the Arab world, including among the Palestinians, cannot disappear overnight, nor can it quickly generate a strategic military threat. But the current configuration of the Arab world is not fixed. Therefore, defusing the current crisis would seem to be a long-term strategic necessity for Israel.

Israel’s actions have generated shifts in public opinion and diplomacy regionally and globally. The Israelis are calculating that these actions will not generate a long-term shift in the strategic posture of the Arab world. If they are wrong about this, recent actions will have been a significant strategic error. If they are right, then this is simply another passing incident. In the end, the profound divisions in the Arab world both protect Israel and make diplomatic solutions to its challenge almost impossible — you don’t need to fight forces that are so divided, but it is very difficult to negotiate comprehensively with a group that lacks anything approaching a unified voice.

Author: ?

Industrialists: Palestinians only hurting themselves – Israel News, Ynetnews

May 18, 2010

Industrialists: Palestinians only hurting themselves – Israel News, Ynetnews.

Industrialists: Palestinians only hurting themselves

Factory owners say boycott of their products is ‘hate campaign that will blow up in Fayyad’s face’

Shmulik Grossman

Published: 05.18.10, 17:16 / Israel News
Major factory owners in Israel began to gird for battle against a Palestinian boycott of their products Tuesday, following the distribution of thousands of pamphlets to homes in the West Bank explaining which products were now off-limits.

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In a conversation with Ynet the factory owners called the boycott a “hate campaign” and said it was a political move that would “blow up in Salam Fayyad’s face”.

Avi Elkayam, who represents 300 factory owners in the area of Mishor Adumim, the largest Israeli industrial zone in the West Bank, said the Palestinians were only hurting themselves.

“The Palestinian Authority is playing in a political arena and in the end it will only harm its own citizens. Our industrial zone employs close to 2,000 Palestinian workers who are providing for thousands of children. If our factories get hit economically, they will be the first to go,” he said.

The website ‘My Israel’ has launched a counter-campaign. “We won’t let them subdue us,” one campaign leader explained. “When their products are boycotted they will feel the financial damage ten times worse and come back with their tails between their legs to ask for things return to the way they were. Then the world will see who the enlightened ones are and who the warmongers are.”

Reports from the Shaar Binyamin industrial zone say some factories have established smaller offices outside the West Bank in order to bypass the boycott, which only includes products made in settlements. The website says their campaign will also expose these factories.

But despite the tough stance, some factory owners claim to have already been hurt by the boycott, which

began unofficially a few months ago. “The machines are still and the Palestinian workers have been let go because I just don’t have the money to pay them,” said M. of Mishor Adumim.

But M. doesn’t just blame the Palestinians. He says the Israeli government has a lot to do with his dire financial situation. “Ministers and MKs have come here promising to help, but in actuality, just as the state does nothing to boycott Palestinian goods, it also does nothing to prevent the factories harmed by the boycott from collapsing,” he said, adding that the state must take action to force the PA to capitulate.

‘Israel planning to destroy al Aksa’

March 17, 2010

17/03/2010 03:18

Martyrs Brigades calls on PA to release jailed “fighters” to “defend J’lem.”
Talkbacks (41)

The armed wing of Fatah, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, on Tuesday called on the Palestinian Authority to give back the weapons it had confiscated from the group’s gunmen so that they could participate in the “Jerusalem Intifada.” The call came as both the PA and Hamas continued to accuse Israel of planning to destroy the mosques on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

“We call on all the Palestinian security services in the West Bank to release all Palestinian fighters from prison and to give them back their weapons so that they can join their people in defending Jerusalem against Israeli aggression,” the armed group, which was supposed to have been dismantled years ago in line with understandings between the PA and the US, said in a leaflet distributed in Ramallah.

Under the terms of the understandings reached about three years ago, hundreds of members of the Aksa Martyrs Brigades handed over their weapons to the PA in return for promises that Israel would stop pursuing them and that they would be recruited as policemen in the various security forces.

Israel has since then pardoned dozens of Fatah gunmen who agreed to turn over their weapons and refrain from involvement in terror activities.

This was the first time since then that the Fatah group had called on the PA to return the weapons so that its gunmen could resume armed attacks on Israel.

The group also called on its members to “resist Israeli attempts to turn Jerusalem into a Jewish city and to respond to the series of Israeli assaults on Islamic and Christian holy sites.”

Although the PA leadership has been calling on Palestinians to demonstrate against Israel’s alleged scheme to destroy the mosques on the Temple Mount, Palestinian security forces have banned street protests in many Palestinian cities, eyewitnesses told The Jerusalem Post.

They quoted PA security officials as saying that demonstrations were only allowed in areas under Israeli control, including Jerusalem, and that there was no need to protest inside Palestinian cities in the West Bank.

Hatem Abdel Kader, a top Fatah official in Jerusalem and the former PA minister for Jerusalem Affairs, confirmed that the PA security forces were stopping Palestinians from demonstrating in many parts of the West Bank.

Abdel Kader said that the PA and several Palestinian factions were preventing the Palestinians from venting their anger and frustration over Israel’s measures in Jerusalem, including the inauguration of the Hurva Synagogue and plans to build new homes in Jewish neighborhoods in the city.

The Fatah official said that divisions between Fatah and Hamas were also torpedoing Palestinian efforts to launch a new intifada and stand united against Israel.

Hamas and Fatah have already begun referring to the recent wave of violence as al-Quds (Jerusalem) Intifada.

Abdel Kader told Post that he later received a phone call from Tayeb Abdel Rahim, an aide to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, threatening to punish him for stating that the PA was preventing anti-Israel demonstrations in its areas.

“This man thinks he’s the military governor of the West Bank,” Abdel Kader said. “Instead of dealing with the important issue of Jerusalem, Abbas’s office is threatening to punish me for telling the truth. They forgot that I’m an elected member of parliament and that I’m in charge of the Jerusalem portfolio in Fatah.”

The PA leadership in the West Bank on Tuesday sent copies of a letter to members of the Quartet – the US, EU, UN and Russia – urging them to intervene to stop Israel from “creating new facts on the ground, particularly in Jerusalem.” Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat headed with the letters to Moscow, where representatives of the Quartet are scheduled to meet next week. The letter accuses Israel of continuing to expand existing settlements and claims that Israeli authorities are working to “Judaize” Jerusalem.

Abbas Zaki, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, predicted that the violence, which broke out in Jerusalem in the past few days, would escalate “if Israel insisted on pursuing its scheme to rebuild the so-called Temple Mount.”

Zaki and several Fatah and PA officials have in recent days claimed that the inauguration of the newly renovated synagogue in the Old City of Jerusalem was part of a conspiracy aimed at destroying the Aksa Mosque.

“The battle for Jerusalem is the battle of all Palestinians and Arabs, regardless of their religion,” Zaki said. “We are facing huge challenges that need to be confronted.”

Hamas also urged Palestinians on Tuesday to step up the protests against Israel’s measures in Jerusalem. The appeal came after the Islamist movement called for a day of “rage” in Jerusalem on Tuesday to protest plans to build new homes in Ramat Shlomo and the inauguration of the old synagogue.

The armed wing of Hamas, Izaddin al-Kassam, said recent events in Jerusalem will lead to “a new explosion in the face of the Zionist entity.” The group called on the PA to stop security coordination with Israel and to allow armed gangs to resume terror attacks against Israelis.

Ahmed Bahr, a senior Hamas official in the Gaza Strip, called for a “military strike” against Israel. He claimed that Israel had just built a synagogue on the Temple Mount as part of its plan to destroy the Aksa Mosque. He also called on the Arab countries to withdraw their support for holding indirect talks between Israel and the PA.

The existence of the State of Israel

March 10, 2010

Biden Calls Ties Between U.S. and Israel ‘Unshakable’
The New York Times 09/03/10

JERUSALEM — Calling Washington’s ties to Israel “unshakable,” Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. opened talks with Israeli leaders on Tuesday, part of a concerted American effort to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and keep Israel focused on sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program rather than unilateral military action.

On a five-day visit to the Middle East, Mr. Biden is also expected to meet Palestinian and Jordanian leaders and give a speech at Tel Aviv University expressing American solidarity with Israel — a theme that was apparent from the beginning of his discussions here.

Mr. Biden met Tuesday with President Shimon Peres and wrote in a guestbook at the president’s residence that “the bond between our two nations has been and will remain unshakable. Only together can we achieve lasting peace in the region.”

In a conversation with Mr. Peres in front of reporters, Mr. Biden reinforced the point, saying:

“There is absolutely no space between the United States and Israel in terms of Israel’s security. None.”

Mr. Biden later met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. George J. Mitchell, the administration’s Middle East envoy, announced Monday in Jerusalem that Israel and the Palestinians had agreed to start indirect negotiations and that he would be back next week to continue structuring those talks.

They will be the first peace talks in more than a year between the sides, but they have generated only the faintest enthusiasm here. Israeli and Palestinian leaders are skeptical that the other side will really accept a two-state solution. In addition, the contours and powers of a future Palestinian state are in sharp dispute.

Saeb Erekat, the Palestinians’ chief negotiator, told Israel’s Army Radio that this seemed likely to be the last chance to achieve two states and indicated that if the effort failed, there would be no choice but to insist that Israelis and Palestinians share one state.

Mr. Erekat added that the Palestinians were prepared to see a small percentage of West Bank territory stay in Israeli hands to accommodate settlements built after the area was conquered by Israel in the 1967 war, but only on the condition that Israel yield an equal amount of land in compensation.

“I’m not saying the borders of ’67; I’m saying the size of ’67,” he said.

Mr. Netanyahu supports two states but wants the Palestinian side to be demilitarized and to accept an Israeli military presence on its future eastern border to prevent the import of weapons and rockets that could be aimed at Israel’s population centers.

The issue of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and of Jewish residents in East Jerusalem is also expected to be a source of great contention. There are 500,000 Israeli Jews living on land the Palestinians want as part of their state. Even if much of the land they are on were granted to Israeli annexation in exchange for territory for the Palestinians, there would still be a need to relocate tens of thousands of settlers.

Israel announced a 10-month partial freeze on settlement building in November but allowed the completion of about 3,000 units already started and excluded Jerusalem from the moratorium, meaning that construction has not really slowed.

On Monday, as Mr. Biden was heading into the country, the Defense Ministry announced permission for 112 more units in an ultra-Orthodox settlement, Beitar Illit, saying that there were “safety” reasons for the exception and that the units had been approved before the moratorium was announced. The Palestinian leadership condemned the move as Israeli hypocrisy.

A full construction freeze in settlements has been a Palestinian condition for renewing direct talks, and Palestinian leaders say it remains their condition to move from these indirect talks to direct ones.

The coming negotiations are expected to last some months and are being called “proximity talks,” meaning that Israeli and Palestinian leaders will not sit at the same table but will respond to proposals carried by American officials between Jerusalem and the Palestinian leadership’s headquarters in Ramallah, in the West Bank. After thousands of hours of direct talks in past years, this is a sign of how much relations have deteriorated.

Much of Mr. Biden’s attention will be on Iran and assuring Israel that its fear of an Iranian nuclear weapons program is shared by the Obama administration and most of the world. Iran insists that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, but few Western governments believe it.

“I can promise the nation of Israel that we will meet, as allies, any security challenge that we may face,” Mr. Biden told the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot in written answers to questions published on Monday. “Iran equipped with nuclear weapons will constitute a threat not only to Israel, but also to the United States.

“Iran’s obtaining nuclear arms will deeply undermine the stability of the entire international community and could lead to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East that will be extremely dangerous for everyone involved, including to Iran. For this reason, our administration is mobilizing the international community to insist that Iran fulfill its international commitments. If it does not, it will have to deal with serious consequences and with increasing isolation.”

Israel feels that its risk from an Iranian nuclear weapon is greater than almost anyone else’s, given its proximity and the ideology of the Iranian leadership, which calls for the end of the Jewish state, arms Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza, groups that oppose the existence of Israel, and frequently denies the reality of the Holocaust.

Israel has been training for a military attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, but Washington has been pressing it to hold off and help work out a sanctions regime. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the director of the C.I.A. and the national security adviser have all been here with that message. Mr. Biden is expected to say the same.