By Ted Belman
The parameters of the deal which have been set in stone, notwithstanding that all issues are to be decided by negotiations, are the ’67 lines plus swaps and the division of Jerusalem. Never mind that such a deal is not good enough for the Arabs. Hamas rejects it outright. Mahmoud Abbas, as President of the PA, is still clamoring for the so called right of return and is unwilling to recognize Israel as the home of the Jews while at the same time insisting that “Palestine” be yudenrein.
The EU has already put a boycott on goods from Judea and Samaria and is drafting legislation imposing sanctions on Israel. It is even rumored that the US is contemplating doing the same. That’s ironic considering that both want to ease sanctions on Iran.
Israel, for its part is going along to get along, at least that is, to a degree. Netanyahu has agreed to negotiate the two-state solution subject to three pillars, “One, genuine mutual recognition; two, an end to all claims, including the right of return; and three, a long-term Israeli security presence.” according to his remarks to the Saban Conference. He did not mention borders. Would he accept ’67 lines plus swaps? He didn’t say but I think it is implied. Even so, there are no takers.
The Palestine Authority (PA) has turned its back on negotiations which would require it to accept these pillars and instead is getting ready to ask the UN Security Council to recognize the state of Palestine and to call for Israel to evacuate the territories calling for a full Israeli withdraw to the pre-1967 lines by November 2016. The Obama administrations is working to prevent this but at the same time is considering the implications of not vetoing it. From the point of view of Obama, the more pressure on Israel, the better. Europe agrees. The European parliaments, one after another, have favoured the recognition of Palestine in non-binding resolutions.
Congress on the other hand in their spending bill provides, according to the Washington Post, “The bill stops assistance to the Palestinian Authority if it becomes a member of the United Nations or UN agencies without an agreement with Israel. It also prohibits funds for Hamas.” and provides “$3.1 billion in total aid for the country (Israel) plus $619.8 million in defense aid”. It has yet to pass.
Meanwhile the PA continues its incitement and lies. A recent poll of Palestinians showed that 80 percent supported individual attacks by Palestinians who have stabbed Israelis or rammed cars into crowded train stations and 59.6 percent supporting rocket fire at Israel. Is this a partner for peace? This poll may have been intended to promote the resistance.
At long last Israel is mounting certain responses. 1) Greater police presence in Jerusalem with fewer restrictions on them, 2) Greater penalties, like longer sentences, for any violent rioters and 3) Enacting zero tolerance laws prohibiting incitement. The Bill, not yet passed into law, states, “A call to an act of violence or terror deserves condemnation in the criminal realm as well, even if it is insufficient to lead to violence or terror. It does not deserve to be protected by the principle of freedom of expression.”
Wednesday, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon attributed the building freeze in Judea and Samaria to pressure from the Obama administration and suggested Israel has to wait him out.
Speaking to reporters in Washington, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that objection to “settlements” was longstanding and would not change after President Barack Obama leaves office in 2017 and said “Our policy has been consistent for quite some time,”
I am not so sure. Besides, she misses the point. While all administrations, from President Reagan on have considered settlements, while not illegal, to be an “obstacle to peace”, none of them forced Israel to freeze construction and even planning for construction and certainly not in Jerusalem.
The US and the EU continually allege that settlements are an obstacle to peace. Have you ever heard them claim the same about PA incitement, or its support of terror or its refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state or its unwillingness to forego the “right of return”. Maybe, a little bit in passing, but they have done nothing to change their position and hardly condemned them.
Furthermore, Obama’s decision to back negotiations based on borders along the ’67 lines plus swaps was a big mistake. Doing so was contrary to his often stated position that any settlement must come through direct negotiations. He has forever repeated the mantra that neither side should take any unilateral moves which pre-determine the outcome. He himself, by predetermining the borders, is pre-determining the outcome.
Had he not pre-determined the borders of the final settlement, then Israel would have been entitled to build everywhere at its peril meaning that when borders are agreed upon, if ever, the housing on Israel’s side would remain and the housing on the Palestinian side would have to be vacated if the PA insists on the Nazi doctrine of making the land yuden frie (Jew free) and the West supports such a doctrine.
The only unilateral moves proscribed by the Oslo Accords and all subsequent agreements, are those which change the status of the land. By this is meant, to claim sovereignty. So Israel can’t annex the land and the PA can’t go to the UN and ask them for sovereignty, not so long as the Oslo Accords have not been formally abrogated. The construction of housing by Israel in no way changes the status of the land. And neither does land use planning.
And if you think that Israel will agree to divide Jerusalem, their eternal capital, think again. Nir Barkat, the Mayor of Jerusalem, when addressing the JPOST Diplomatic Conference attended by over three hundred of diplomats, gave a very upbeat assessment of the transformation of Jerusalem that is taking place and will continue to take place. He stressed the commitment by him and the government to maintain the status quo between all religions. He ended by disabusing the audience of any thoughts they might have about dividing Jerusalem. It will never happen he said and I believe him.
Israel is consumed with the issue of whether to pass the nation-state bill which essentially declares that Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people. To do so, claims the left in Israel, is to diminish it as a democratic state. But there is no evidence to support this.
Eugene Kontorovich wrote a two part article in the Washington Post on The legitimacy of Israel’s nation-state bill in which he said the bill was unremarkable when compared to many European constitutions with similar, and stronger, national homeland provisions.
He also argued that:
“The proposed measure must also be understood in the context of Israel’s diplomatic situation. Israel’s biggest diplomatic issue is the status of Jerusalem and the West Bank, and international pressure to create a new Arab state there and in Gaza. The major argument by proponents of territorial withdrawal (including President Obama and Sec. Kerry) is that despite the serious security risks, Israel must retreat in order to maintain a “Jewish state.” Indeed, even foreign leaders, like President Obama and Secretary Kerry have both justified their pressure on Israel by invoking the preservation of the Israel’s Jewish identity.”
And went further:
“Thus supporters of Israel leaving the West Bank believe having a Jewish state is worth security risks, surrendering historical homeland and religious sites, and expelling over 100,000 Jews. That suggests a Jewish state is not merely a legitimate thing, but one that is worth a great deal. Yet the same voices calling for Israel to undertake dangerous diplomatic concessions in the name of preserving the state’s Jewish identity balk at legislation declaring that the state in fact is what they claim they want it to remain.”
According to a Israel Democracy Institute recent Poll, 75% of Israeli Jews see no contradiction between Israel being Jewish and being dermcratic.
MEMRI, the NGO that for years has translated the Arab media to document what the Arabs including the PA say amongst themselves as opposed to what they say in English to the West, prefaced their latest report with this:
“Preacher At Al-Aqsa Mosque In Jerusalem Tells Jews: ‘We Shall Slaughter You Without Mercy’ and ‘I Say To [You] Loud And Clear: The Time For Your Slaughter Has Come’; Says Koran Depicted Jews ‘In The Most Abominable Images,’ Allah Turned The Jews ‘Into Apes And Pigs’; Calls To ‘Hasten The Establishment Of The State Of The Islamic Caliphate’”
Is there any making peace with these people?