Thursday, November 10, 2016

Water libel

From Algemeiner, 4 Nov 2016:

A major international news agency falsely blamed Israel for water supply issues in a Bethlehem-area Palestinian village in an article published earlier this week...

The Reuters piece in question alleged that Mekorot — Israel’s national water company — was “responsible for supplying water to Palestinians” in the West Bank. Furthermore, the article highlighted claims by Al Jab’a village residents that the Mekorot system “supplies water only intermittently and at low pressure” and their fears that their community’s illegally-built reservoir could be demolished by Israel.

...according to the 1995 Oslo II Agreement — the Palestinians are “free to build any and all components of the water and sanitation sector, subject to the approval of the JWC [Joint Water Committee.] Once approved, Israel has no further authority over projects in Areas A and B (Palestinian military and/or civil control). Palestinian water projects in Area C (Israeli civil and military control) require permits from the Israeli Ministry of Defense Civil Administration (CA). However, in most cases, implementation of the projects is the responsibility of the PWA (Palestinian Water Authority).”

Furthermore, the Water Agreement allows the Palestinians to dig and maintain their own wells, and the majority of wells in the West Bank are owned and operated by the Palestinians. Mekorot drills in the West Bank, as agreed upon by the Palestinians in the JWC, in order to provide water to both Palestinians and Israelis regardless of nationality.

...Why have water projects not been approved by the JWC? ...Palestinian representatives have refused to meet with Israeli authorities to coordinate water management activities. Given that the Palestinians aren’t prepared to cooperate with Israel, it has led to a situation where unauthorized infrastructure such as the reservoir in Al Jab’a have been constructed without permission. (Al Jab’a is located in Area C of the West Bank, which is under the full administrative and security control under the Oslo Agreements.) So Palestinians refuse to meet with Israelis who are offering to help improve their water supplies.

...In the previous years, the State of Israel has raised the water flow to the Palestinian Authority. Just last summer, 11,000 cubic meters of water were added to the water line leading to Bethlehem and Hebron, which is connected to a water pipe leading to the village of Al Jab’a. It should be noted that starting from the connecting pipes, the Palestinian Authority is responsible for regulating the water.

Civil Administration officials are continuously in contact with the residents of Al Jab’a which has raised no complaints regarding the water supply. Also, there have been no demolition orders issued against water facilities within the village.

Due to the regular failure of convening the Joint Water Committee, COGAT unilaterally confirmed over ten projects, such as water and sewer connections in the past two years, which are designed to improve the water infrastructure in Judea and Samaria. One of the projects is a comprehensive upgrade of the water system in the area between Al Jab’a and Tarqumyia, including the replacement of water pipelines, pumping stations and the construction of water reservoirs. This upgrade, is an initiative of USAID and is expected to significantly improve the water regulatory system. The Coordinator has approved the project… and has urged the Palestinian Authority to promote the initiative, which affects mostly Area B.

Currently Israel supplies to the Palestinian Authority some 67 million cubic meters of water a year, which is a large amount of 30 million cubic meters above that determined in the Oslo Accords.

Trump does not view the settlements as an obstacle for peace

From JPost, 10 Nov 2016:

...Trump does not condemn Jewish building over the pre-1967 lines, nor does he believe in dictating the terms of any peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinian, a close legal advisor, Jason Greenblatt, told Army Radio on Thursday morning.

Trump's legal advisor: Jason Greenblatt

“Mr. Trump does not view the settlements as being an obstacle for peace...” ...

...Trump’s views, he said, come from the past example of the 2005 Israeli demolition of 21 settlements in Gaza and four in northern Samaria. That withdrawal did not bring peace but rather was a precursor to a Hamas takeover of Gaza and three wars with Israel.

"The two sides are going to have to decide how to deal with that region, but it's certainly not Mr. Trump's view that settlement activity should be condemned and that it's an obstacle for peace - because it is not the obstacle for peace.”
“He is not going to impose any solution on Israel. He thinks that the peace has to come from the parties themselves. Any meaningful contribution he can offer up, he is there to do,  it is not his goal, nor should it be anyone else’s goal, to impose peace on the parties...” ...

With regard to Israel’s larger security issues, Greenblatt said that the newly elected president “thinks that Israel is in a very tough situation and needs to defend itself as it needs to defend itself.”

With regard to Trump’s pre-election promise that he would relocate the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Greenblatt said he expected that the pledge would be fulfilled.

“I think he said it, he is going to do it. He is a man who keep this word. He recognizes the historical significance of the Jewish people to Jerusalem, unlike UNESCO,” Greenblatt said.

Trump won’t be like his predecessors, Greenblatt said. “He is different for Israel than any recent president has been.

Greenblatt also addressed a question about whether he could be the Middle East envoy in the Trump administration.

“It’s a little too soon to tell. I would be honored and privileged to serve in that kind of role. It would be an incredible opportunity and a bracha (blessing),” he said.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

BDS is the new face of terrorism

From Middle East Monitor, 19 Sept 2016:

Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked branded the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement a form of “terrorism”, in remarks made yesterday ...[in which she] compared the BDS campaign to tunnels under the Gaza border fence.
“Sometimes the BDS movement’s funding sources are identical to those funding the terrorist organisations ...This is the new face of terrorism.”
The minister claimed that while “criticism of Israel is legitimate”, criticism “that attempts to undermine Israel’s right to exist is illegitimate.”

Therefore, Shaked said:
“The BDS is illegitimate. I define it thus: BDS is another branch of terrorism in the modern age ...there are also some young Jewish liberals who get confused and are led astray by this movement.”
“They swallow the lies that the Palestinian propaganda disseminates. They have fallen into this web and are not even aware of the fact that the mechanisms pulling the strings are terrorists from radical Islam.”

The hypocracy of some Israeli NGOs

From FrontPage, November 2, 2016, by  Noah Beck:

Where are the condemnations of the PA’s efforts to prevent “normalization” with Israel?

Israeli human rights group B’Tselem recently appeared before a special session of the United Nations Security Council, excoriating Israel and pleading with the body to act against Israel’s settlements.

In 1975, the UN famously declared that “Zionism is racism” and, four decades later, the organization continues to hound Israel. In each of the last four years, as the Syrian bloodbath claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, there were at least five times as many resolutions condemning Israel as those rebuking the rest of the world.

The UN’s cultural body, UNESCO, recently passed a motion ignoring any Jewish (or Christian) historical ties to East Jerusalem holy sites, referring to the Temple Mount and Western Wall only by their Muslim names and condemning Israel as “the occupying power.” It turns out that some of Israel’s left-wing NGOs worked to help produce the UNESCO motion.

Given the UN’s chronic hostility, efforts by Israeli NGOs to persuade the UN to act against Israel are arguably treasonous. Indeed, one attorney and activist for Israel’s left-leaning Labor party filed a police complaint alleging treason against B’Tselem, arguing that the NGO has harmed state sovereignty, tried to give land away to a foreign entity, and taken steps that could cause a war.

Israeli democracy is extremely tolerant, to the point of allowing its members of parliament to openly support terrorism and terrorist groups. Last March, several Israeli Arab Knesset members condemned Arab states for labeling Hizballah a terrorist organization, even though it has been at war with Israel for decades and regularly threatens new hostilities.

Last February, members from the Joint (Arab) List paid a solidarity visit to relatives of Palestinian terrorists whom Israeli security forces had killed to stop them from murdering Israelis. In 2014, MK Hanin Zoabi (Balad) drew praise from Hamas after she asserted that the kidnappers of three missing Israeli youths were “not terrorists.” Hamas’s connection to the young men’s abduction and murder helped to spark the third war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

Thus, Israel already has plenty of dissenting voices and activists without foreign intervention. Nevertheless, foreign interests have identified Israeli NGOs as the soft underbelly of Israeli democracy and have leveraged them to promote their own agendas. The problem became so acute that a watchdog, NGO Monitor, was formed in 2002 to track the self-hostility being funded largely by European and other foreign sources. As the organization notes:
“NGOs lack a system of checks and balances, and…provide accountability to their funders and activist members, and not to the citizens or societies whose lives are directly impacted by their activities.”

NGO Monitor also notes that, even though most of the foreign government funding for these Israeli NGOs is “formally designated for ‘educating the Israeli public’ and ‘changing public opinion’ (both in violation of the norms on non-interference in other democracies), these Israeli NGOs are very active externally, in the delegitmization and political warfare against Israel.”

These left-wing Israeli NGO’s receive money from about two dozen foreign governments, and some private organizations. That includes millions of dollars from billionaire George Soros.

In Catch the Jew, author Tuvia Tenenbom exposed how foreign-funded “human rights” and “cultural” organizations in Israel tend to serve as vehicles for attacking Israel. By presenting himself to interview subjects as “Tobi the German,” Tenenbom elicits some surprising confessions. For example, the New Fund for Cinema and TV, a foreign-funded Israeli cultural NGO, told him that that about 80 percent of political documentaries made in Israel are co-produced by Europeans. That includes a documentary called “10%—What Makes a Hero,” which equates Israel’s military with the Nazis. Such films would be too scandalous to be produced in Germany, but German-sponsored NGOs can safely pay left-wing Israelis to make such movies.

Some foreign funders of Israeli NGOs have even unwittingly enriched Hamas. Last August, Hamas allegedly siphoned off “tens of millions of dollars” from World Vision, a U.S.-based charity, and used the funds for weapons purchases, tunnel construction, and other military activities.

The Knesset passed a law in July requiring disclosure of foreign funding sources for NGOs that get more than half of their money from overseas. The law is “clearly aligned with the American Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA),” wrote legal scholar Eugene Kontorovich, who defended the legislation in response to critics.
“Israel is unique in the sheer scale of the foreign government sponsorship of domestic political groups ...For example, the European Union alone has in recent years given roughly 1.2 million Euro a year for political NGOs in the US and roughly an order of magnitude more in Israel—a vastly larger per capita amount.”
The Obama administration opposes foreign influence only when that influence promotes a dissenting view. Obama opposed Netanyahu’s speech to the U.S. Congress against the Iranian nuclear deal, but was happy to give a speech to the UK parliament against Brexit. The Obama administration critiqued Israel’s NGO-funding-disclosure law, perhaps because it had sent U.S. taxpayer money to an Israeli NGO working to oust Israel’s prime minister.

The same hypocrisy seems to prevail among Israel’s foreign-funded NGOs. They ostensibly exist to promote democracy and peaceful co-existence, but are conspicuously silent when Palestinian institutions violate those ideals. Such silence enables abuse by Palestinians and promotes a distorted and incomplete picture of the complex reality in which Israelis operate. Foreign-funded Israeli NGOs remained silent after the Palestinian Authority arrested Palestinians who visited a Sukkah in a symbolic peace event promoting coexistence.
“These organizations are silent when the Palestinian leadership pays salaries to the families of terrorists, glorifies murderers and calls streets and city centers after them,” Netanyahu said. “These organizations prove again and again that they are not actually interested in human rights, but only in shaming Israel and libeling it around the world.”
If Israel’s left-wing NGOs truly are committed to democracy and peace, why haven’t they condemned the PA’s efforts to prevent “normalization” with Israel? 

In 2014, Jibril Rajoub, the deputy secretary of the Fatah Central Committee and the head of the Palestinian Supreme Council for Sport and Youth Affairs, condemned a coexistence-promoting soccer match between Israeli and Palestinian youths on a southern kibbutz, as “a crime against humanity.”

Last week, a Palestinian newspaper came under intense criticism for publishing an interview with Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman. The Jerusalem-based newspaper Al-Quds was denounced by Hamas, the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate, and the supposedly “moderate” PA. The “chilling effects” and anti-peace message implicit in the harsh reactions to the interview have yet to catch the attention of any left-wing NGOs supposedly working for peace and democracy.

A Message in Refugee Camp Unrest

From Commentary, 3 Nov 2016, by Evelyn Gordon:

(AP Photo/ Khalil Hamra)

Reuters has finally noticed what Israeli papers have been reporting for a while: West Bank refugee camps are seething. And unlike in the past, when most of the anger was aimed at Israel, 
“These days most of the wrath is aimed at [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud] Abbas himself and his failure to keep his promises.” 
Western observers are watching anxiously, Reuters says, because they fear an eruption of violence. But they ought to be watching for another reason: Nothing casts more doubt on the wisdom of the West’s drive for Palestinian statehood now than the PA’s treatment of the refugee camps over its 22 years of existence.

The case for Palestinian statehood makes obvious sense in the abstract: Palestinians need a state where they can promote their people’s welfare, just as Jews need a state where they can promote their people’s welfare. It’s not that Israel did nothing for the Palestinians during its decades of governing the territories. Palestinian life expectancy jumped by 50 percent under Israeli rule, infant mortality plummeted by more than two-thirds, literacy rates and living standards skyrocketed, and so forth. Indeed, every hospital and university in the West Bank was built by Israel, as were most of those in Gaza.

...the refugee camps are precisely the kind of open sore that Palestinian statehood is theoretically supposed to solve. In reality, however, the PA has done nothing for the refugees. More than two decades after the PA’s establishment, the refugees’ schooling, healthcare and welfare allowances are still provided and funded wholly by UNRWA, the UN agency created especially for this purpose. Or, to be more precise, by the Western countries that fund most of UNRWA’s budget. 

Nor has the PA moved a single refugee into better housing. And this isn’t because Israel has somehow prevented it from doing so; most of the refugee camps are located in Area A, the part of the West Bank under full Palestinian control. It’s because the PA has no interest in doing so. As one resident of Balata, a refugee camp near Nablus, complained to Reuters, “The president [Abbas] hasn’t visited even once”–despite being in the 11th year of his four-year term.

Moreover, this neglect is quite deliberate: The PA doesn’t see the refugees as citizens to be served, but as a weapon aimed at Israel. They are kept in miserable conditions for the express purpose of creating sympathy for the Palestinian demand that they all be relocated to Israel, thereby eradicating its Jewish majority. 

And you needn’t take my word for that; as I’ve noted before, Palestinian officials have said quite openly that the refugees will never be granted citizenship in a Palestinian state–not even those already living in the West Bank and Gaza, the putative territory of this state.

Most of the arguments for creating a Palestinian state have long since proven false. The idea that such a state would bring peace to Israel, for instance, has been disproven not only by the upsurge in terror from every bit of territory Israel has handed over to Palestinian control to date, but also by the PA’s utter unwillingness to recognize that Jews have any right to a state even within the 1967 lines.
Similarly, the idea that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is the main source of Mideast instability has been amply disproved by the meltdown of several Arab countries over the last few years, none of which had anything to do with Israel or the Palestinians.

But even with all those theories disproven, the basic desire one Balata resident expressed to Reuters–“We want dignity, we want better lives”–understandably resonates with most Westerners. And many believe this alone is sufficient justification for demanding Palestinian statehood now.
Except that a Palestinian state won’t provide that either, as the past 22 years have shown. The refugees will still be deprived of better lives, ignored by their own government, stuck in squalid refugee camps, dependent on Western charity for their healthcare, welfare and schooling, and subject to all the abuses of Abbas’s dictatorial government. As one Balata resident commented, “We don’t let the Palestinian Authority in because they will take us, torture us.”

In other words, Palestinian statehood now won’t solve a single problem, but assuredly will create a lot of new ones. If you doubt that, just consider the three wars Israel has fought with Hamas-run Gaza in the 11 years since it unilaterally withdrew from that territory. As long as Palestinians refuse to accept the Jewish state’s right to exist, an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank would almost certainly produce constant warfare just as the Gaza withdrawal has. And a Palestinian state at war with Israel will inevitably be a failed state, given the combination of Israeli military strength and Palestinian economic dependence on their larger, wealthier neighbor.

Thus, instead of continuing to push for the imminent creation of a Palestinian state, the West would do better to focus on the hard, slow work of educating Palestinian [Arab]s to come to terms with Israel’s existence. Demanding that the PA finally dismantle those refugee camps and take responsibility for their residents off UNRWA’s hands would be an excellent place to start.