Saturday, April 10, 2010

A Landmark Work.

 

 

by William Mehlman

 

Author: Howard Grief
"The Legal Foundation and Borders of Israel under International Law"
Pub Date: October 2008
ISBN-10: 9657344522,
ISBN-13: 9789657344521
Publisher: Mazo
(mazopublishers@gmail.com)

With The Legal Foundation and Borders of Israel under International Law (Mazo Publishers, Jerusalem) Canadian-born Israeli constitutional scholar and lawyer Howard Grief has given us a book that shatters every myth, lie, misrepresentation and distortion employed over the 61 years of Israel's existence to negate the sovereign rights of the Jewish People to their national home.

It is a lengthy treatise — 660 pages plus a 50-page appendix — but the Jewish people's long and tortuous struggle to retrieve their stolen patrimony deserves nothing less than full disclosure. Anyone who has ever been at a loss to counter the slanders and calumnies that are the stock in trade of the Israel-bashers and anti-Semites on both the Left and Right will treasure every one of its 20 illuminating chapters.

Rooted in the premise that the best antidote to a myriad of small and medium sized fabrications is the exposure of the whole cloth from which they've been woven, The Legal Foundation lays bare two dominant myths that have shaped popular perspectives on Israel. The first is the fallacy that Jewish sovereignty over the land of Israel was the joint product of the 1947 United Nations Partition and the May 15th, 1948 termination of the British Mandate for Palestine. In fact, as Grief points out, Jewish sovereignty in Palestine had been validated under international law 28 years earlier. "The legal title of the Jewish People to the mandated territory of Palestine in all of its historical parts," he informs us, was first recognized on April 24, 1920 when the post-World War I Allied Supreme Council (Britain, France, Italy and Japan), meeting in San Remo, Italy, "converted the 1917 'Balfour Declaration' into a binding legal document."

How "binding" may be construed from the fact that its wording gave effect to the provisions of Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations and became incorporated into the Mandate for Palestine. Indeed, the "San Remo Resolution," within which the Allied Supreme Council's decision is contained, constitutes what the author terms "the foundation document of the State of Israel, the legal existence of which is directly traceable from that document."

That the Jewish People were unable to exercise their sovereignty in Palestine for 28 years — it being assigned to the British Mandatory power as their de facto agent — did in no way detract from their de jure rights to the land under international law during that interregnum. In this thesis, Grief is ironically supported by both a passionate Zionist, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis and one of Zionism's most implacable opponents, post World War I British Foreign Secretary Lord George Nathaniel Curzon. Brandeis believed that with the passage of the San Remo Resolution, the debate over who owned Palestine was effectively over. Curzon called the Resolution the "Magna Carta" of the Jewish People.

From the initial misattribution of Jewish sovereignty in Palestine to the 1947 Partition Plan rather than the 1920 San Remo Resolution, it was just a hop and a skip to a second major misrepresentation of Israel's international legal status — the erroneous assumption that the Partition Plan and the May 1948 termination of the British Mandate somehow erased the Jewish People's rights to Palestine in all its historical parts and dimensions enunciated at San Remo, and implemented under the terms of the League of Nations Covenant. Those "parts and dimensions" were defined inter alia, as including the northwestern portions of the Golan and most of present day Jordan by the "Franco-British Boundary Convention" in Paris.

The presumptive cancellation of those rights, Grief submits, is thoroughly discredited by "the principle of acquired rights," codified in the 1969 Vienna Convention on the "Law of Treaties," and the "doctrine of estoppel." The first, he asserts, insures that "the fundamental rights of the Jewish people did not lapse with the international process [the San Remo Resolution] which brought them into existence. The second further guarantees that these rights cannot "simply be abrogated or denied by those states which previously recognized their existence." Taken together, they provide what the author terms a "definitive answer [to] anyone who claims that Jewish legal rights and title of sovereignty over all of Palestine and the land of Israel did not continue after the end of the Mandate for Palestine...except in the allotted boundaries of the UN Partition Plan..."

Noteworthy among the states that wholeheartedly endorsed Jewish sovereignty over Palestine in all its "historical parts and dimensions" was the United States of America — the same U.S.A that today regards Israel's presence in Judea and Samaria as an illegal "occupation" of lands upon which it favors the creation of a Palestinian State. The Obama administration and the Bush administration that preceded it are either unaware or have chosen to be unaware of the fact that the 1924 Anglo-American Convention on Palestine made the U.S. a "contracting party" to the Mandate, further reinforcing a unanimously passed Joint Resolution of the 67th Congress two years earlier, signed by President Warren G. Harding, recognizing a future Jewish State in "the whole of Palestine."

It needs to be borne in mind, Grief notes, that the Mandate for Palestine that was ceremoniously incorporated into U.S. law in 1924 "was a constitution for the projected Jewish state that made no provision for an Arab state and which especially prohibited the partition of the country." Thus, he concludes, the fierce exception the U.S. has taken to Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and its unremitting pressure for creation of a "Palestinian State" amount to a repudiation of its signature to the Anglo-American Convention on Palestine. It is in violation of American law and America's obligations under international law.

The Legal Foundation and Borders of Israel under International Law is the product of 25 years of independent research by Grief, a former adviser on international law to the late Professor Yuval Ne'eman, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure in the Shamir government and the father of Israel's nuclear energy program. It is the kind of seminal work that seems destined to become both an indispensible source for defenders of Israel's rights under international law and a mirror on the events and personalities that transformed a November 2, 1917 letter from British Foreign Secretary Lord Arthur James Balfour to Lord Lionel Walter Rothschild into the trumpet call that awakened Jewish nationhood from a 1,900-year coma.

The author's unsparing portrayal of France's opposition to the creation of a Jewish state at San Remo and, when thwarted, its efforts at the Franco-British Boundary Convention to confine it to the narrowest geographical limits, should dismiss any notion that French anti-Zionism began with De Gaulle. By the same token, the Zionist sympathies attributed to Winston Churchill by Martin Gilbert and other historians withers in the face of the 1922 "White Paper" attached to his name as then Colonial Secretary. Grief offers irrefutable evidence of its having not only "negated" the Jewish state in Palestine that the Mandate "required" of Britain, but of having elevated "Arab pretensions and aspirations to such an extent that everything thereafter became muddled...subject to continuous disputes as to what was really intended in the Mandate for Palestine."

For the actual authorship of that document and the wreckage it made of the original plan for the establishment of a Jewish state in all its "historic parts and dimensions" under British tutelage, we have Herbert Samuel to thankג€"the same Herbert Samuel who worked closely with Chaim Weizmann in the Zionist Organization and was later to pack it in for a "Lordship" and an appointment as British High Commissioner to Palestine. In ironic contrast, Lord Curzon, Balfour's successor as Foreign Secretary, who "detested" the idea of a Jewish state, put loyalty above personal feelings at San Remo and Paris in arguing manfully for the realization of Prime Minister David Lloyd George's vision of a Jewish state comprised of all its ancient Biblical territories.

On the Jewish side, nobody comes off better in this saga than Brandeis, who Grief portrays as "the only Zionist leader...who properly understood the natural consequences of the legal recognition of the Balfour Declaration embodied in the San Remo Resolution." Had Brandeis headed the Zionist Organization, the author believes, "there is little doubt that he would have successfully halted Britain's gross violation of its [Mandatory] obligation ...to rebuild the Jewish state."

At the end of the day, it was Menachem Begin who provided the most heartbreaking counterpoint to Lloyd George's vision of a Jewish state reconstituted in most, if not all of its Biblical parts, Grief submits. Begin, national Zionism's anointed champion, bearer of the torch lit by Herzl and passed to Jabotinsky, not only failed to make Israel constitutionally whole by annexing Judea, Samaria and Gaza (as he was expected to do), but in what the author describes as an act of "unimaginable folly," brought to the Knesset in 1977 a plan to establish Arab "self-rule" over those critical portions of the Jewish estate. In so doing, he opened the portals wide for their identification as "unalloted," "disputed" and finally "occupied" territories.

Nine months later, in September 1978, Begin crowned his "achievement" by injecting the "self-rule" proposal into the negotiations with Egypt at Camp David, offering to leave the final determination of sovereignty over Judea, Samaria and Gaza to their inhabitants and "local representatives." Thirty one years later, Israel remains bedeviled by that fateful decision.
 

William Mehlman is Americans for a Safe Israel (AFSI)'s representative in Israel. Howard Grief's book is sold on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

Netanyahu says Israel will reject imposed peace plan.

 

by Barak Ravid and Natasha Mozgovaya

 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in private meetings in recent days that Israel would not accept a Middle East peace agreement that is forced on it from the outside, sources said yesterday.

"It won't work and it won't be acceptable if a settlement is forced on us," Netanyahu reportedly told close aides. He reportedly said Israel would have to retain a military presence along its border with Jordan and that adequate security arrangements would be an important element of any future peace deal.

Netanyahu's comments came as Washington Post columnist David Ignatius quoted two top administration officials as saying U.S. President Barack Obama was "seriously considering" proposing an American peace plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. One of the officials told Ignatius the administration could formally launch the initiative by this fall.

 

The peace plan would apparently be based on previous Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, with an emphasis on the 2000 Camp David talks.

The possibility that the Obama administration would try to impose a peace plan on Israel and the Palestinians was broached in meetings held by Netanyahu in recent weeks.

A senior Israeli source said Netanyahu believes security arrangements - especially the need to prevent missiles and rockets from reaching Palestinians in the West Bank - have never been properly dealt with in previous negotiations with the Palestinians. Because of this, the source said, the prime minister says he would not accept security arrangements that do not entail an Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley.

Another government source said there is an argument within the U.S. administration over the peace process. Special envoy George Mitchell is pushing for an incremental process in which the United States will try to convince Israel to

freeze construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and start negotiating borders, but senior White House aide Dennis Ross believes the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians have a slim chance of succeeding and that the focus should be on building the PA's institutions from the bottom up, the source said.

At the same time, top White House officials close to Obama say an American peace plan should be similar to the one Bill Clinton presented in December 2000 after the failure of the Camp David talks. Israel had responded favorably, though with reservations, to the plan, which was rejected by PA chairman Yasser Arafat.

 

 

Barak Ravid and Natasha Mozgovaya

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Terms of Endearment.

 

by Elliott Abrams

 

The Obama administration's Middle East diplomacy goes from bad to worse.

 

 "Obama to Impose Terms on Israel" is the headline you didn't read on David Ignatius's column in the Washington Post today. The story ran under the title "Obama's Mideast Plan," which Ignatius describes as "proposing an American peace plan to resolve the Palestinian conflict."

 

But the substance is clear: It is a threat against Israel by the Obama administration and particularly by National Security Advisor James Jones. (The give-away is this line: "The fact that Obama is weighing the peace plan marks his growing confidence in Jones." Now who do you think was Ignatius's source for that gem?) Apparently Obama and his team are frustrated by their inability to get Israelis and Palestinians to negotiate a deal, and have therefore decided we'll just impose one.

 

The inability of Israelis and Palestinians to get to the negotiating table is, in this administration, an iatrogenic disease: Our diplomatic doctors have caused it. The astonishing incompetence of Obama and special envoy George Mitchell has now twice blown up talks—direct talks last year, and proximity talks more recently—by making Israeli construction plans a major world crisis, thereby forcing Palestinian leaders to back away from engagement with the Israelis. So the administration will, in the fall, just do it the simpler way. Why bother with Israelis and Palestinians, in whom the president apparently does not have "growing confidence," when you can just have your own brilliant team draw up the terms? As Ignatius's sources, "two top administration officials," tell him, "everyone knows the basic outlines of a peace deal."

 

 This is false and dangerous. First, if indeed everyone has known the terms for nearly 20 years (since Oslo) yet agreement has never been reached, is it not obvious that neither Israelis nor Palestinians are willing and able to accept those terms? Does their embrace by an ambitious American president make them any more palatable to the people who will have to live with them? Second, the conclusion that all the terms are known is quite wrong. Is the fate of Jerusalem's Old City agreed? Do Palestinians accept that Israel will keep every major settlement bloc? Do Israelis and Palestinians agree on the terms needed to guarantee Israel's security once the IDF must leave the West Bank? (Examples: Is it agreed that Israel will control the air space and electromagnetic spectrum? Is it agreed that Israel can keep troops in the West Bank for some years? Do Palestinians accept that Israel can control the Jordan Valley and patrol the border with Jordan?) This is nonsense.

 

One of Ignatius's sources says the Obama plan will "take on the absolute requirements of Israeli security." After 14 months of harassment by Obama and his team, will any Israeli risk his nation's safety on that assurance?

 

A tell-tale: One of the demands that Obama is said to have made of Prime Minister Netanyahu is withdrawal to the pre-intifada (September 2000) IDF lines in the West Bank. This is striking, for the demand apparently is not to promise a future withdrawal, or a staged withdrawal as and when conditions permit, but simply to pull back now. This means ignoring security conditions on the ground and the current capabilities of Palestinian forces to keep order and stop terrorism, or it means assuming that the Palestinian forces are adequate. If they are not, well, so what, there will be a few acts of terror, and then we'll see that maybe they pulled back too far too fast. Everyone makes mistakes. These are the kinds of calculations that persuade Israelis the administration is cavalier about their security, despite the occasional repetition of campaign pledges to the contrary.

 

Ignatius reports, approvingly, that Obama came to the conclusion that he should impose a "peace plan" after meeting with six former national security advisors. The first to suggest imposing terms on Israel was Brent Scowcroft; he was seconded by Zbigniew Brzezinski. This will not reassure Israelis. (Absent from his list of those attending, and approving, were Condoleezza Rice and Steve Hadley, George W. Bush's two NSAs. Perhaps this was mere accident; perhaps they are not invited to these festive events in Jones's office; perhaps they are too smart to lend their names to such White House games and the ensuing leaks.)

 

Perhaps this is all a trial balloon by Obama and Jones. If so, it will make Israeli-Palestinian negotiations even harder than they are today, after 14 months of Obama administration failures. For Palestinians will conclude that they have no reason to negotiate seriously, or to make concessions, when Obama may deliver what they want on a nice platter; and Israelis will conclude that Washington no longer takes their security seriously, so they must toughen their stance.

 

According to Ignatius, one senior official explained that "the American peace plan would be linked with the issue of confronting Iran," because "the issues are two halves of a single strategic problem" and "we have to get the debate away from settlements and East Jerusalem and take it to a 30,000 feet level that can involve, Jordan, Syria, and other countries in the region." There is a certain irony here, since the administration itself is wholly responsible for making "settlements and East Jerusalem" central issues right now. But read those quotes again. Phrases like "take it to a 30,000 feet level" are gibberish—a substitute for real analysis. There is no linkage to "confronting Iran," for weakening Israel and U.S.-Israel ties makes that harder. Yet an underlying Obama theme is audible here: The United States needs to get closer to Arab countries, needs to "engage," and Israel is in the way.

 

Ignatius begins his column by writing that "despite recent turbulence in U.S. relations with Israel," President Obama is considering trying to impose his own "peace plan." Where did "despite" come from?

 

Elliott Abrams is a senior fellow for Middle East studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

Will the Palestinians Just Declare a State?

 

by P. David Hornik

In the aftermath of last month's diplomatic ruckus—Israeli bureaucrats referred, with Vice-President Biden in town, to building apartments for Jews in East Jerusalem; the Obama administration took severe umbrage; the Palestinians pulled out of the nascent proximity talks—things, at this moment, remain stuck. Does that mean no progress toward the administration's cherished goal of a Palestinian state, and frustration all around?

Not necessarily. Moshe Elad, a columnist for Israel's largest daily Yediot Aharonot, notes that the Palestinian Authority's president, Mahmoud Abbas, and prime minister, Salaam Fayyad, have been talking about unilaterally declaring such a state in 2011—and that while "in the past, such statements would anger the Americans…this time around, even if we heard a response from the White House or the State Department, it was rather meek."

Palestinians, Elad reports, have been setting aside their traditional anti-Americanism and "taking pleasure in feeling that 'America is with us'"; and are "coordinating with the Americans the building of infrastructure across the West Bank as preparation for economic independence and detachment from Israel's hold." Elad goes on to ask "What will Israel's position be in respect to the long list of guests invited to the ceremony that will seek to land in Ben-Gurion Airport?"—that is, if and when the Palestinians declare their state next year and invite many of the world's dignitaries to honor the event.

Yaakov Katz, military correspondent for the Jerusalem Post, describes Israel as "extremely worried" about the prospect "because it may lead to a third intifada, during which Israel would be fighting a 20,000-strong militia"—much of which would be American-trained. As Katz explains,

Five battalions of 500 soldiers each and trained by US security coordinator Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton in Jordan have already deployed throughout the West Bank alongside seven regional battalions.

By 2011, another five battalions will have undergone training. Fayyad's plan is to then dismantle the regional battalions and expand the Dayton-trained battalions to close to 1,000 soldiers each, bringing the total number to around 10,000. Add the police and the presidential guard and the number of armed PA security officers comes out to around 20,000.

The Palestinians would still then have to face the fact that about 300,000 Israelis live in settlements in the West Bank. "The solution—an official PA decision to launch a violent terror campaign branded around the world as a war for freedom."

Or, in another scenario, Fayyad goes to the UN Security Council to get his state recognized; with the Europeans, Russians, and Chinese likely to assent, the question mark is the United States.

Traditionally the U.S. has vetoed anti-Israeli resolutions in the Security Council, and also has upheld the principle of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations as the way to resolve the dispute. But given what is now known about President Obama's identification with Palestinian goals, delegitimization of any Israeli presence in the West Bank and even East Jerusalem, contemptuous treatment of Israel's prime minister, and hurried timetable for Palestinian statehood—augmented by General Dayton's activities that started under President Bush—Israelis can no longer be confident of U.S. backing in such a situation.

Some say these fears are exaggerated because Abbas and Fayyad lack sufficient Palestinian support. While Abbas's Fatah movement (with which Fayyad, while not a member, is effectively aligned) is thought likely to defeat Hamas in this summer's municipal elections, Fatah is itself deeply divided with its young guard scorning Abbas and Fayyad as weaklings—to the point that even a civil war is not ruled out.

Israel, though—as if not already pressured enough by the Hamas, Hezbollah and, ultimately, Iranian threats—has to take all scenarios into account, and now would be the time to start emphasizing to friends in the U.S. the dangers posed by a Palestinian state. True, in his speech at Bar-Ilan University last June, Prime Minister Netanyahu said he could accept such a state as the outcome of negotiations if it, in turn, was genuinely accepting of Israel and effectively demilitarized.

Clearly, a unilaterally declared Palestinian state would be neither. It would be bristling with hatred instilled by the seventeen years of hate-education enabled by the "peace process," and with largely American-provided forces that would only grow as further weapons, trainers, and fighters flowed in from the Arab and Muslim world.

 

 

P. David Hornik

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

The Idea of the Obama Administration Supporting an "Imposed Solution" on the Israel-Palestinian Issue Takes a Big Step Forward.


by Barry Rubin

Is the U.S. government going to present its own comprehensive peace plan on the Israel-Palestinian issue? There is growing evidence it is thinking of doing such a thing, though that is by no means certain. If the Obama Administration does move in this direction, however, I predict that it will be a major failure and humiliation for that government.

The latest development is an apparently well-informed New York Times
article about a meeting chaired by National Security Advisor James Jones, known for being hostile to Israel, and including former national security advisors, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Brent Scowcroft—also known for being anti-Israel—and Samuel Berger. All three (it should be mentioned that none of this trio covered himself with glory when in office and are not exactly foreign policy geniuses) reportedly favor the idea. Former national security advisor Colin Powell disagreed, but he's a Republican (though a pro-Obama one) and probably less influential. Oh, and President Obama dropped in to hear the discussion.

One might ask a lot of people who voted for Obama if they are happy having Brzezinski and Scowcroft as top advisors on Middle East policy. Again, though, it should be clear no decision has been made and such an initiative might never happen, assuming clearer heads triumph.
But, the reporter writes:

"Still, for all of that, a consensus appears to be growing, both within the administration and among outside advisers to the White House, that Mr. Obama will have to consider suggesting a solution to get the two sides moving." This might happen also if indirect talks fail.

Let us pause a moment to consider that this whole approach is the opposite of being brilliant. First, the administration has just signaled to the Palestinians that they want to make the indirect talks fail, since then the U.S. government will make an "imposed" offer that will adopt almost all of their demands. After all, if it doesn't, they can sabotage the proposal, knowing that the Obama administration will never punish or criticize them. Since the government desperately wants to succeed, it is giving the Palestinian Authority all the leverage.

Of course, Israel is going to reject this idea, which then lets them sit back and enjoy more U.S.-Israel conflict. Thus, the whole strategy in advance is doomed to fail.

In addition, the strategy is deeply against diplomatic norms. U.S. policy has always been to insist that the two parties will decide on the issues. For many years, Israel has been making concessions based on an understanding that there would be no attempt at an imposed solution.

This, then, would be the third commitment from past years that the Obama administration would break.

The first was that any diplomatic solution could include Israel keeping some areas—settlement blocs—across the pre-1967 borders (though a State Department note back in October 2009 hinted that would be possible). The second was agreeing that Israel could build in east Jerusalem if it stopped building in the West Bank, a promise noisily and insultingly broken recently. Why, then, should Israel trust any promise in future made by this government?

The agreement outlined in the article is that there would be no return of Palestinian refugees to Israel and the 1967 borders with possibly some modifications. There would be U.S. or NATO security guarantees for Israel, and possibly troops along the Jordan River. And finally, that Arab states would recognize Israel.

Leaving aside the problems that such a proposal would bring for Israel, on its face the idea is absurd and doomed to defeat. To start with, there is no consideration of a little problem called the Gaza Strip, which is ruled by Hamas and would never accept this plan. Then there is the fact that Arab states would not recognize Israel for a variety of reasons, including the question of Syria's interests in the Golan Heights.

The sole expert quoted by the Times, by the way, is Robert Malley who, of course favors it though he stresses it won't be easy. Malley is very close to the PA and very far away from Israel. His influence with the administration seems to be growing and he has been seen closely advising Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and leading naïve person on these issues. I could write a great deal about Mr. Malley but suffice it to say that Israel's survival is not a major concern for him.

There are many factors here but let me cite just two. First, high-ranking administration officials are not exactly deeply understanding of the issues at stake. Any plan presented by them will be full of holes and dangerous errors. Second, the notion that they can solve this issue and the whole Middle East will fall into place is absurd. See here, for example.

Yet the outcome would be the exact opposite of what they expect on the regional level. Islamists and many others in the Arab world will present any plan as treason, proof that America is against them. Obama would become less popular, attacks on the United States (both verbal and terrorist) would increase, as the radicals would do everything possible to sabotage any deal. If PA leaders accepted it—which they won't—or even appeared sympathetic, opposition to them within Fatah would increase.

It would be nice if those favoring or reporting on current policy mentioned these problems and tried to refute them in some way. Instead, they are usually just ignored. How can you write about an imposed solution and not even mention that little detail regarding Hamas! At least the Washington Post
version--which as usual is superior to the Times reporting from Washington--says something about Gaza. But neither points out how this is a reversal of all previous American promises.

In reality, the United States would gain nothing and lose a great deal through such a strategy. What happens after the Obama Administration makes such an approach and it fails miserably? Where will its credibility in the region and its prestige at home be then?

After the British technical victory at the battle of Bunker Hill during the American revolution, suffering very heavy losses, a British officer wrote home: One more victory like this and there will be no one left to report it.

With the Obama Administration, having mishandled both Israel-Palestinian issues and sanctions against Iran (one could mention a few other foreign policy issues in this context), it could be said: One more initiative like this and there will be no one left in office. Even the New York Times editorial board won't be able to protect them. Can you say: One-term president?

Finally, one reason why I'd prefer that the administration did something right on foreign policy is so I could stop writing articles like this and find some good things to say about them. After all, the fact that the United States is doing so poorly in the world is bad for all freedom-loving peoples as well as the American people themselves. I beg the administration to stop being "one-sidedly" wrong so I can stop being "one-sidedly" critical. But I'm not holding my breath.


Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

Friday, April 9, 2010

How Do You Impose Peace?

 

by Jennifer Rubin

 

This report explains the latest Palestinian celebration of terrorism:

The future Palestinian Authority presidential compound will be built along a street named for an infamous Hamas arch-terrorist, Channel 10 reported on Wednesday.

The Ramallah street was named for notorious Hamas suicide bomb mastermind Yihyeh Ayyash, also known as the "engineer," who was the architect of multiple attacks, including a 1994 bombing of a Tel Aviv bus, which killed 20 people, and injured dozens.

Ayyash was killed in 1996 in what was most likely an Israeli assassination, after his cell phone exploded in his Beit Lahia home, in the Gaza Strip.

Last time, the Palestinians pulled this – naming a square in Ramallah for terrorist Dalal al-Mughrabi, who killed 38 Israelis — Hillary Clinton tried to pass it off as the doing of Hamas, despite ample evidence that the PA joined in the festivities. It's going to be even harder for the Obami to make excuses for the PA this time:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement in response to the naming, saying it was an "outrageous glorification of terrorism by the Palestinian Authority."

"Right next to a Presidential compound in Ramallah, the Palestinian Authority has named a street after a terrorist who murdered hundreds of innocent Israeli men, women and children," the statement said, adding that "the world must forcefully condemn this official Palestinian incitement for terrorism and against peace."

So does the Obama team manage to get out a simple declaratory sentence this time — "We condemn this behavior," for example? But more important, given this is the behavior and mentality of the PA — the supposedly reasonable Palestinian party to negotiations — how do the Obami intend to impose a peace deal? If one party is still caught in the grip of the cult of death, what reason is there to suppose that it is prepared to sign and then live up to an agreement by which they disarm and renounce terrorism?

At the AIPAC conference, Tony Blair laid out the challenge:

Until the year 2000, and with the heroic attempts of President Clinton, we attempted to achieve an agreement first and then shape reality around it. But it was not to be. After that came the Intifada. Thousands died. Then came the withdrawal from Gaza. Israel got out. It took 7000 settlers with it. In Israeli eyes, it received violence and terror in return.

The occupation deepened. Gaza was isolated. Faith in peace collapsed.

Ten years on, that faith has to be restored.

It can't be done in a summit.

It has to be done patiently, and over time on the ground.

It can't only be negotiated top-down.

It has also to be built bottom up.

Peace now will not come simply through an agreement negotiated; it must come through a reality created and sustained.

It means building institutions of Palestinian Government: not just well equipped, loyal security forces, but civil police, courts, prisons, prosecutors, the whole infrastructure of the rule of law.

It means treating those who commit acts of terror not only as enemies of Israel but enemies of Palestine.

Obviously, we are not remotely at that juncture – a point utterly lost or ignored by the Obami. So they imagine a pristine paper agreement will create peace — a  notion so divorced from experience and so blind to the realities occurring daily that one is tempted to conclude, "They can't be serious!"  Blair got it when he declared: "The mentality has to move from resistance to governance. There can be no ambiguity, no wavering, no half heart towards terrorism. It is totally and completely without justification and we will never compromise in our opposition to it or those that practice it." The Obami don't.

It therefore follows that the Obami's indifference to that fundamental requirement for peace disqualifies them as competent interlocutors. They are neither "honest" nor "brokering" — they have become henchmen for the Palestinians who await deliverance of the Jewish state — or what remains of it — without need to root out and renounce violence, without cultivation of the Palestinian institutions that can sustain peace. Israel and its supporters should be clear: there is no role for this administration in any peace process — they are, in fact merely, establishing incentives for violence and Palestinian rejectionism.

 

 

Jennifer Rubin

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

US blinkered by a simplistic view of Middle East peace.

 

by Michael Young

An interesting logic is taking hold in Washington, but where it will lead no one knows. The idea is that in order for the United States to contain Iran in the Middle East, it must impose a Palestinian-Israeli peace settlement, in that way denying Tehran the ability to mobilise regional animosities against Washington's interests.

In a Washington Post column on Wednesday, David Ignatius quoted an American official in support of this rationale. "The American peace plan [to propose the outlines of a final settlement] would be linked with the issue of confronting Iran, which is Israel's top priority," the official said. "We want to get the debate away from settlements and East Jerusalem and take it to a 30,000-feet level that can involve Jordan, Syria and other countries in the region."

 

There is some merit to the argument. To limit Iranian influence throughout the region, the Obama administration will need to multitask, gradually taking away from Tehran the many cards it has accumulated and played effectively in recent years.

One of these has been the "resistance" card – the notion that because Israel does not want peace, the best option for Arabs in general and Palestinians in particular is to pursue armed struggle. This has undergirded Iran's military support for Hamas and Hizbollah, who have enjoyed some popularity in the Arab world, despite the fact that in Gaza and southern Lebanon their actions in recent years have been disastrous. But that matters little to Iran's regime, since both organisations have given Iran the means to thwart Arab-Israeli talks.

 

But if containing Iran requires adopting a multifaceted approach in the Middle East, then a similar approach is required in other places where the Iranian-American rivalry is playing out. In Iraq, for instance, the Obama administration has taken great pride in saying that it did not interfere in the recent parliamentary elections. That is honourable, but with just under 90,000 troops in the country, and Iran not hesitating to shape electoral and post-electoral outcomes, such apathy also happens to be inane. The elections created an opening for the US to begin rolling back Iranian influence in Iraq by working toward a Sunni-Shiite consensus in a new government. Instead, Washington's lethargy merely allowed Tehran to regroup.

 

It would also be a mistake to expect too much from a Palestinian-Israeli accord. The skies of the Middle East will not suddenly open up to a new morning of harmony. Washington continues to have a naive impression that its interests in the broader region are somehow tied in to America being popular. By resolving the running sore of the Palestinian problem, the reasoning goes, the US would be less hated by the peoples of the region, who would therefore be more reluctant to reflexively oppose American actions as they are now doing.

 

Yet the problem is more prosaic. The US is disliked, and will continue to be disliked even after a Palestinian-Israeli settlement, because it is powerful. The US president, Barack Obama, entered office with the quaint notion that America's problems stemmed from George W Bush's tendency to employ force. Actually, Mr Bush's problem was that he stumbled in Iraq. If no one likes powerful nations, what people despise most is a nation that fails to use its power effectively. Worst than being hated is not being feared.

 

Nowhere will that lesson be more important than in dealing with one of the likely by-products of an American push to secure Palestinian-Israeli peace. As the official cited by David Ignatius implies, negotiations on the Palestinian track must bring in other regional actors, including Syria, which is still at war with Israel. But the Syrian track is the Godot of Arab-Israeli peacemaking – the person everyone is waiting for, without any certainty that he will ever appear.

 

Much is expected of a revived Syrian track – that it will break Syria away from Iran, that it will be the icing on the regional peace cake, that it will lead Damascus to abandon Hizbollah and Hamas, and more. Yet the regime of the Syrian president Bashar Assad has quite clearly, and quite honestly, declared that it has no intention of accepting these conditions.

Syria sees no advantages in relinquishing relationships that have greatly increased its leverage. Ultimately, peace with Israel is less useful than open-ended negotiations that allow Mr Assad to cash in on this leverage, but also neutralise outside efforts to curb Syria's efforts to enhance its clout in Lebanon and Iraq.

 

That is where American power comes in. Mr Assad is confident that the Obama administration can do nothing against him today. He sees the US ensnared in Afghanistan and on its way out of Iraq; he feels there will be no breakthrough on the Palestinian front; Syria's leading regional counterparts, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, are weak and their leaders getting on in years. The Syrian president's buoyancy is not good news for the US.

 

The Bush administration used to say that it sought behaviour change, not regime change, in Damascus. Yet the behaviour change is happening in Washington, where the administration has embraced warmer ties with Syria, even though Mr Assad has methodically undermined American interests in Iraq, Lebanon, and the Palestinian areas for years, and continues to do so with abandon.

A settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is vital, now more than ever, and tying it to containment of Iran is defensible. However, a settlement is not, and should not become, the whole story. Stability in the Middle East necessitates a clearer American understanding of those regional dynamics little affected by Palestine. It also dictates a more hard-nosed reading of American power to fill the destabilising vacuums the Obama administration has created all around.

 

Michael Young is opinion editor of the Daily Star newspaper in Beirut

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

Why Does the Palestinian Authority Celebrate Those Who Turned Christianity's Holiest Shrine into a Military Bunker?

 

by Barry Rubin

The Obama Administration doesn't understand this but it is signaling the Palestinian Authority (PA) that it can get away with anything, thus further dooming any hope for serious negotiations and perhaps leading to a restart of large-scale violence.

Decades ago, when Middle East experts held views closer to the region's realities rather than to its propaganda, it was well-known that one of the best ways to mobilize a big demonstration or riot in Arabic-speaking countries was to tell people: The government is with you.

Say, for example, you wanted to smash up of the British embassy in Damascus or Cairo. The trick would be to persuade the masses that their rulers wanted them to do it and thus they would be rewarded, not punished. In effect, this is the consequence of what the Obama Administration is doing inadvertently.

The PA has concluded that the U.S. government will never criticize or punish it. Indeed, Palestinian leaders know that the more intransigent they are, the more conflict they can provoke in U.S.-Israel relations.
Here's the chain of reasoning:

--The Obama Administration wants progress toward peace for which it can take credit and which supposedly will help it in Afghanistan, Iraq, and in dealing with Iran.

--If Israel doesn't make concessions, U.S.-Israel friction will result. But if the PA is intransigent, there will be no problem in bilateral relations.

--Instead, the U.S. government will say: Since the PA won't yield or accept our offers, we must put pressure on Israel to give more in order to get the PA on board.

--Indeed, in this framework, the more radical things that the PA does which encourage Israeli anger and reluctance to take risks, the more Israel gets blamed for the result.

--Conclusion: Being intransigent, creating conflict, and even inspiring violence is in the PA's interest.
Here's an example. While the Obama Administration is angry at Israel merely because a low-level committee announced one of seven stages toward building apartments perhaps in a couple of years, the PA's very top leadership is honoring terrorists responsible for the murder of many Israeli civilians and American citizens.

By glorifying such deeds, the PA sends Palestinians the message that conciliation with Israel isn't on its agenda and moderation is equivalent to treason. By ignoring this, the U.S. government encourages more such behavior--Palestinian actions showing Israelis of all political views that the PA is not a real partner for peace and Israel should be very wary of making concessions. The effect, then, is to make both sides less willing to achieve a deal, the exact opposite of what the Obama Administration wants.

The latest step,
just announced, goes beyond all previous boundaries: the naming of a street in Ramallah, the de facto PA capital, after Yahya Ayyash, the bombmaking engineer who may have been directly involved in the murder of more Israelis than any other single terrorist in the field. He was killed by Israel in 1996, setting off additional numbers of terrorist revenge attacks. At least one of his victims was an American citizen, Joan Davenny, a 46-year-old teacher from New Haven , Connecticut.

This is not the only example of PA applause for terrorists who murdered Israeli civilians. In one case, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton blamed the naming of a square after a terrorist, who killed 28 Israelis in 1978, on Hamas, even though it was done in Ramallah, the PA's de facto capital. Indeed, that terrorist also murdered an American citizen, Gail Rubin.

While outraged about an Israeli construction announcement, the administration has never once criticized the PA's incitement against Israel to create future terrorists or cheering on past ones. In the entire time this administration has been in office it has never once criticized the PA despite its honoring of terrorists and sabotage of negotiations.

A third terrorist being
honored is also of special interest. Abdallah Daoud, former head of Palestinian intelligence in Bethlehem, was one of those who seized the Church of the Nativity in 2002 and turned it into a fortress from which to fire at Israeli soldiers. He and the others were eventually allowed by Israel to leave the country and he died recently of natural causes in Mauritania.

Why is this particularly shocking? Because it is a slap in the face of all Christians. Here's a man who took over what might be considered the single holiest shrine of all for Christians, intimidating the monks at gunpoint.

Imagine if the world—and particularly Western governments, intellectuals, and media--was a bit saner. We live in an era in which the slightest offense to a religion (or at least some religions; ok, make that one religion) is considered just about the worst crime of all. Yet the idea that PA gunmen take over an extremely sacred Christian church and use it as a military bunker did not stir outrage or provide much understanding of what kind of people we're dealing with here.

What signal should this send to Christians around the world? Imagine if the church had been taken over by Israelis or a Muslim shrine had been the target?

This is the significance of PA leaders giving Daoud a hero's funeral, of Abbas personally visiting his family and extolling his virtues. According to the report in al-Quds, the PA's official newspaper, of March 28:

"We must maintain the way of the Shahid (Martyr) Daud, who always believed in the struggle, in love of the homeland, and in the realization of national unity."
He added that Daud had been "suffering from the injustice of his expulsion."

Now this is a man involved in terrorist attacks, then taking over a Christian shrine, and making the Christian clerics there hostage. Saved from arrest and punishment, he was allowed to go abroad and live in freedom. And this is "injustice"?

Yet the basic point is the framework being set up by U.S. policy, one that will sabotage the Administration's own goals, make peace harder to achieve, encourage radical policies and forces, and possibly even lead to the outbreak of massive violence.

This is not good.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

The Armageddon Scenario: Israel and the Threat of Nuclear Terrorism.

 

by Chuck Freilich

EXECUTIVE SUMMERY: The Iranian nuclear threat has obscured the possibility of waging nuclear terrorism against Israel. There is a clear rationale for employing nuclear terrorism and countering it needs calibrated policies of prevention and possibly US-Israeli cooperation. The time to prepare for the Armageddon scenario is now.

For the past 15 years, Israel's focus on the Iranian nuclear threat has been nearly all-encompassing, eclipsing virtually all other threats. While understandable, this preoccupation may have distracted Israel from a threat which may be no less likely and actually far more dangerous; nuclear terrorism. Unlike "traditional" terrorism, nuclear terrorism poses a catastrophic threat to the state.

Moreover, those most likely to conduct nuclear terrorism (al-Qaeda, Hizballah, Hamas, Iran, and others) may be fundamentally nihilistic and thus undeterrable. As millennial movements who believe that Israel's destruction is a sacred mission, they may view a nuclear attack, even assuming a devastating Israeli response, to be a worthy means of ushering in a messianic era.

A nuclear terrorist threat against Israel might be designed for:

  • Actual Use – to deal Israel a devastating blow
  • Deterrence – to counter Israel's conventional superiority and purported nuclear capability, to deter Israeli attacks, or to conduct attacks with relative impunity
  • Compellence – to exert a decisive influence on Israeli decision making during crises or over fundamental issues, holding it hostage by the threat of an attack
  • Weakening – to severely erode Israel's national resilience due to the ongoing need to live in the shadow of nuclear terrorism
  • Back Up – to strengthen the deterrent value of a state-based (Iranian or Syrian) capability
  • Decapitation – to remove the Israeli political and/or military leadership

The potential means of conducting nuclear terrorism against Israel would be similar to those applicable to other countries (sea, air, and land-based), with one important addition: rockets. Rockets, such as those already in Hizballah's possession, could be fitted with nuclear warheads. Though unsuited for ordinary military purposes, they could be effective weapons of terror.

Policy Options

Prevention

Prevention includes a variety of intelligence, interdiction, and other offensive measures to detect and prevent a nuclear terrorist capability from being developed or used. If still under development, Israel will have sufficient time to pursue a range of preventative options, alone and in conjunction with the US, from targeted to massive military operations. Once a capability exists, the window for action will be severely attenuated and preventative efforts will have to include any and all capabilities to guarantee success at all costs. While a unilateral Israeli operation might be sufficient if the capability is still being developed, the need for immediate and guaranteed success to thwart an operational capability may require American involvement. The challenges posed by detection and elimination of a terrorist nuclear weapon are hugely difficult.

Deterrence

Deterrence is commonly thought to be ineffective against nuclear terrorism, due to the presumed nihilistic nature of potential perpetrators. However, Hizballah and Hamas, while certainly extremist, have populations for which they take responsibility and have proven over the years to be deterrable. Although their acquisition of a nuclear capability would pose severe threats, such as the ability to terrorize Israel's population with relative impunity, it does place them in the appropriate context.

Iran would presumably be willing to suffer great losses in pursuit of Israel's destruction, but would have to take into account that Israel is considered by the international community to be a nuclear power and that a nuclear crisis could lead to a devastating exchange. While a precise assessment of Iran's cost-benefit analysis is unknowable, it does appear to be fundamentally rational and thus deterrable.

The biggest question mark is in regard to al-Qaeda, whose presumed nihilism may indeed make it undeterrable. It is questionable whether this would truly be the case in the face of threats of annihilation of their leadership and families, Muslim population centers, and sites of major importance to the Muslim world.

Potential perpetrators of nuclear terrorism must be convinced that Israel will preempt/retaliate devastatingly. For Israel, this means a "shoot first, no questions asked" policy. Both those clearly responsible for an actual attack (if any) and those reasonably suspected of involvement must be held accountable, and Israel must retaliate with all the means at its disposal. In the absence of irrefutable and immediate evidence to the contrary, Israel's retaliatory policy should hold Iran and/or al-Qaeda responsible with an absence of irrefutable and immediate evidence to the contrary. In the event of a declared nuclear terrorist capability, a stated intention to acquire one, or an advanced suspected one, the known or suspected perpetrator and host country should be attacked in advance with the amount of all of the force necessary to prevent the threat's materialization.

As a global power, the US will be unlikely to adopt such a "no questions asked" policy and will require nuclear forensics. Nevertheless, American determination to prevent nuclear terrorism and retaliate devastatingly against those responsible must be beyond question. US declaratory policy on the nuclear terrorist threat to Israel would not need to be significantly different from its posture on nuclear terrorism generally, but could be further elucidated.

US-Israeli Cooperation

As with so many other areas of Israeli national security, cooperation with the US is a primary option for dealing with nuclear terrorism. In this case, however, the US would only be able to provide limited assistance. "Extended deterrence" would have little if any value in the face of nihilistic terrorists. Heightened cooperative preventative efforts, while important, may not suffice when the US lacks a satisfactory response to nuclear terrorism.

Conversely, global American efforts to minimize the threat of nuclear terrorism might be of significant indirect benefit for Israel. These efforts include, inter alia: heightened diplomacy to make better international use of existing diplomatic tools and to adopt new ones; intensified pressure on states to deny terrorists assistance and sanctuary; improvements in control over nuclear facilities, stockpiles and personnel; strengthening the NPT; heightened international cooperation regarding border security, export controls, intelligence sharing, and interdiction; and a variety of covert operations.

Ending Nuclear Ambiguity

Israel is widely thought by foreign observers to be nuclear and any potential perpetrator of nuclear terrorism must take this into account. It is doubtful whether ending nuclear ambiguity would be of significant deterrent value.

Defensive Measures

Israel has an extensive operational homeland security system (Arrow and Iron Dome) and an attacker must consider the probability of interception and massive retaliation. However, if "only" one nuclear warhead got through, this would constitute unacceptable failure for Israel, rendering defensive measures an insufficient option.

Conclusion

To date, no terrorist group has apparently acquired a nuclear weapon or the materials needed to make one. Al-Qaeda has tried repeatedly, but currently the technical challenges are daunting. This good news comes with a crucial caveat; it is true only "as far as we know." Even if the risk may be low at this time, the potential costs are monstrous and the threat assessment is likely to change significantly in the coming years. Israel must take into account that a nuclear terrorist threat could emerge in the foreseeable future and therefore devote greater attention and resources to it, in order to develop the necessary doctrine and undertake the preparations possible. The time to act is now.

 

Chuck Freilich is a Senior Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School, an Adjunct Professor at New York University, and a former Deputy National Security Adviser in Israel.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

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