Friday, June 23, 2017

The EastMed Pipeline Could Be a Giant Step Towards Enhancing Regional Security

From BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 505, June 22, 2017, by George N. Tzogopoulos:

Boundaries of the Levant Basin, US Energy Information Administration

The EastMed pipeline, a proposed means of transporting gas from the eastern Mediterranean to new markets, would be expensive and difficult – but it is feasible. Easier and less expensive solutions are also being considered, but the security element works in EastMed’s favor. EastMed would allow Cyprus, Greece, and Israel to collaborate while developing their roles as hubs of stability in a turbulent neighborhood. The EU and the US would likely see improvement in Western energy dependence. And Israel would have the opportunity to improve its relationship with the EU, not only by participating in a project of European interest but also by finding new clients for its own gas in the European market.

The gas discoveries in the eastern Mediterranean are altering regional dynamics. Transporting that gas to new export destinations, principally in Europe, will be complicated but feasible.

With this challenge in mind, Cyprus, Greece, and Israel have intensified their contacts of late. Trilateral summits are regularly taking place with the participation of Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Greek and Israeli Prime Ministers Alexis Tsipras and Benjamin Netanyahu. (In April 2017, Italy joined the club, signing a declaration in Tel Aviv to that effect.)

The first trilateral summit took place in Nicosia in January 2016 and the second in December 2016 in Jerusalem. A third was held only a few days ago in Thessaloniki. At that most recent summit, the leaders agreed to deepen their energy collaboration by exploring means of constructing an underwater “EastMed” pipeline.

The project envisages a 1,300 km offshore pipeline and a 600 km onshore one from Eastern Mediterranean sources to Cyprus, from Cyprus to Crete, from Crete to mainland Greece (the Peloponnese), and from the Peloponnese to Western Greece. Then, the plan is to connect Western Greece to Italy east of Otranto via a 207 km offshore pipeline across the Ionian Sea, the so-called Poseidon.

At first glance, the biggest obstacle to the construction of the EastMed pipeline – which, if constructed, would be the longest and deepest subsea pipeline on earth – is its technical viability. Practical challenges abound. On the approach to Crete, for example, there is a stretch of about 10 km where the depth is quite high, which could cause construction problems. However, the companies involved are optimistic that technology will advance sufficiently to enable the pipeline to be built.

The Natural Gas Supplier Corporation (DEPA) of Greece describes the project as “technically feasible,” according to studies it has conducted. To bolster its case, DEPA notes the success of the Medgaz pipeline, which runs between Algeria and Spain. Israel energy minister Yuval Steinitz, too, has attempted to ease fears about construction issues and suggests that EastMed can be completed by 2025.

Technical feasibility is not the only matter of concern, however. Another challenge is the cost, which has been projected to range anywhere from $4 billion to $7 billion. Low gas prices are also concern, as they could prevent private companies from supporting the project alongside the EU (which is prepared to offer co-financing).

Alternatives scenarios are on the table to address these concerns. LNG bases in either Cyprus or Israel could work in theory, but the prohibitively high cost of constructing them makes them a nonstarter. On a practical level, there are two real options available.

The first is to construct a 550 km submarine pipeline beginning from the Leviathan reservoir in Israeli waters, passing through Cypriot waters, and reaching southern Turkey. Israeli gas would then be shipped from southern Turkey to Europe via existing, and perhaps some newly constructed, pipeline networks. This project is estimated to cost half or possibly even less than half what EastMed would cost. But in view of the lack of resolution on the Cyprus Question, Israel is hesitant to proceed to an agreement with Turkey on this matter.

The second option is to use already existing LNG facilities in Egypt. Gas from the eastern Mediterranean could theoretically be supplied to the two Egyptian facilities in Damietta and Idku, turning Egypt back into a gas exporter. But the recent discovery of the Zohr field represents an unknown factor. It cannot be anticipated how this field will influence Egypt’s energy priorities and the balance between domestic consumption and exports. Also, neither the construction of new pipelines nor the reversal of the existing one connecting Israel to Egyptian LNG facilities would be an easy process.

If the Cyprus Question is resolved soon, the Turkish option will gain ground. But the restarted talks between Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci are highly unlikely to lead to a breakthrough. In any case, Turkey will not be considered a reliable partner by Israel for as long as President Tayyip Erdoğan dominates the political sphere, despite the rapprochement achieved last summer. Israel also has reservations vis-à-vis Egypt: the growing Russian role in Egypt’s energy sector cannot be ignored.

Israel has always attached great significance to political and security parameters. If the EastMed project develops, it will certainly improve Israel’s relationship with the EU. Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete has said construction of this pipeline would contribute to the reduction of Europe’s dependency on Russian energy, a potential result also viewed with favor by the US.

The traditional division among EU member states on their view of Moscow can work in EastMed’s favor. While Germany is looking favorably towards Nord Stream II, which will complement Nord Stream I in the transporting of Russian gas to Europe under the Baltic Sea, the EU might well emphasize energy security and push (with the support of the US) for the realization of EastMed.

Israel is the driving force for energy development in the eastern Mediterranean, and its choices on this matter will have serious implications in terms of both strategic calculations and long-term economic planning. By cooperating with trustworthy democratic countries, Jerusalem will be able to mitigate the risk of instability, secure clients on the Continent, strengthen its relationship with the EU, and improve its image in Europe.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

General John Allen’s Plan Is Dangerous

From BESA Center Perspectives No. 504, June 21, 2017, by Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen:

Gen. John Allen in Kabul, Afghanistan, Feb. 9, 2012. DoD photo by D. Myles Cullen

The Trump White House is currently reexamining the Allen Plan, an Obama-era proposal that calls for a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders with no IDF presence whatsoever. This plan is dangerous. If it is implemented, Israel will have to rely on foreign forces for its security, a situation that has not worked in the past. More than that, it is antithetical to the Israeli ethos of self-defense and self-preservation in the Jewish homeland.

...The plan envisages a Palestinian state with full sovereignty inside the 1967 borders, its capital in east Jerusalem, with minor modifications for settlement blocs. The plan is based on complete acceptance of the Palestinian demand for full sovereignty. This means no IDF soldiers anywhere in their state, which would extend from the Jordan River to the 1967 line.

In lieu of Israel’s demands regarding defensible borders, which include an Israeli military presence in the Jordan Valley to ensure the Palestinian state’s demilitarization, the plan proposes a varied and complex security solution. One element would be a US military force that would operate in the Jordan Valley. As the document’s Executive Summary states,
The purpose of this study is to demonstrate that well-thought-through security measures in the context of the two-state solution can provide Israelis and Palestinians with a degree of security equal or greater to that provided today by Israel’s deployment into the West Bank…
The basic problem is the notion that Israel will rely for its security on foreign forces. Not only is it difficult to ensure that such forces would fulfill their duty successfully, but it is uncertain whether or not they would stay in place – particularly after they have suffered casualties like those they have suffered in Afghanistan and Iraq over the past decade.

Recall that during the waiting period before the Six-Day War, the security guarantee given by President Eisenhower to Ben-Gurion after the 1956 Sinai Campaign evaporated. When he demanded that Israel withdraw unconditionally from the Sinai Peninsula, Eisenhower promised that if the Straits of Tiran were ever again closed to Israeli shipping, the US would intervene. Yet when Israeli foreign minister Abba Eban came to Washington in May 1967, President Johnson candidly explained to him that Eisenhower’s promise – however estimable – was no longer a practical proposition. With his army bogged down in Vietnam, Johnson apparently could not have gained the nation’s or Congress’s support for an intervention in the Straits of Tiran even if he had wanted to.

The main concern is that the existence of the Greater Tel Aviv area – indeed, the daily routine of the State of Israel – will come to be dependent on the goodwill of foreign forces. That is the heart of the matter. Do we want Israel to be no more than a haven for persecuted Jews where they can subsist under foreign protection? Or do we want Israel to be a place of freedom, a homeland, in which we alone are responsible for our own security and sovereignty?

The authors of the Allen document emphasize that Israel’s security would continue to be based on the IDF’s power. But it is hard to imagine under what circumstances Israel would attain the international legitimacy to pursue an offensive deep within the Palestinian state, should the need arise. Regarding the conditions that could justify an IDF operation in Palestinian territory, the document says:
The Palestinians will never agree to an Israeli right of re-entry, but there could be a side agreement between Israel and the United States on the conditions under which the United States would support unilateral Israeli action. Ultimately, Israel is a sovereign state that enjoys the right of self-defense. Thus, it can unilaterally violate the sovereignty of another state, but with the attendant risks that would have to be weighed by Israeli leadership.
Should the IDF evacuate the territories completely, as envisaged by this plan, the Palestinians would certainly employ their carefully honed tactical and strategic talent for nonaccountability and ambiguity. They would take care to ensure that the Palestinian state cannot be defined as a hostile entity against which a “just war” can be declared. Whether deliberately or not, they would be able to let “rogue,” non-state forces do their work for them, and avoid taking responsibility. What then?

There is also good reason to doubt whether conditions for demilitarization can be maintained.
In an era of global arms proliferation, and of forms of smuggling that elude surveillance (as in the flow of weapons to Hamas in Gaza and to Hezbollah in Lebanon), along with increasingly sophisticated local arms manufacture, there is no way to guarantee real demilitarization without a constant effort to keep the territory fully isolated and to operate within it.

We must also take into account the possibility that war could erupt in more than one arena at at a time. If war were to break out with the state of Palestine in the West Bank, it could happen simultaneously in Lebanon, Gaza, and so on. The IDF would be unable to concentrate its efforts in the West Bank arena – which, because of its geographic proximity to Israel’s population centers, could inflict a heavy blow. Under the new conditions of war, which are fundamentally different from those that prevailed in June 1967, reconquering the territory would be incomparably more difficult.

And what of the document’s validity under changing conditions? The security solution the document proposes must be weighed in terms of the time dimension, and in circumstantial contexts that are subject to change. If a solution is responsible and workable, what time span is envisaged? Who knows under what evolving circumstances the solution will be required to provide protection to a state of Israel that has been trimmed down to the coastal plain? Is there not also a need for responsible risk management regarding contingencies that are still beyond the horizon?

We must ask to what extent we ourselves, with the excessive emphasis we have placed on security concerns in recent decades as a key criterion by which to assess any prospective solution, have laid the groundwork for Gen. Allen’s plan. His security document is, after all, intended expressly to offer a technical solution to all the familiar security issues. It would leave the Israeli leadership without the faintest possibility of invoking a security pretext to ward off the “peace solution.”

In describing Kerry’s efforts, Thomas Friedman asserted (The New York Times, February 17, 2013) that in light of Gen. Allen’s solution for Israel’s security concerns, the Israeli government had reached a juncture where it would have to choose between peace and ideology.

Perhaps we have forgotten that protecting the national existence, in terms of how the IDF defines national security, does not pertain solely to ensuring the physical existence of the citizens of the country but also to safeguarding national interests. A national interest – such as the sovereignty of the people of Israel in their capital, Jerusalem – can go far beyond the technical contents of a plan for security arrangements, however worthy. Security is only a means, not an end in itself.

From a practical, professional standpoint, Gen. Allen’s plan leaves much to be desired. But on a deeper level, it completely ignores the possibility that the people of Israel, in renewing their life in their homeland, are motivated by something much greater than the need for a technical solution to security concerns.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Concessions encourages terrorism

Passover massacre in Netanya, image via IDF Blog

It is a widespread belief that Palestinian hopelessness feeds terrorism and the prospects for peace decrease it. 
This has always been false. 
In fact, the opposite is true: when Palestinians feel hopeless, Palestinian terrorism declines; when they are hopeful of gaining the upper hand, Palestinian terrorism increases. 
An Israeli iron fist is necessary to save both Israeli and Palestinian lives.

The common mantra that Palestinian hopelessness increases terrorism and that the prospects for peace decrease it has always been fake news. Palestinian terrorism invariably rises in tandem with their hopes of gaining the upper hand.

During the first intifada, Palestinians killed 91 Israelis over the course of slightly over five years. Palestinian terror shot up dramatically, however, as the Camp David peace process initiated at the end of 1991 morphed into direct negotiations with the PLO. The Oslo “peace” process was thus accompanied by a precipitous increase in Palestinian terrorism.

The more Israel made concessions to the Palestinians – 
  • the creation of the Palestinian Authority (PA), 
  • the granting to PLO leadership and major Palestinian terrorists entrance into the West Bank and Gaza and even Israel 
– the higher the terrorist toll climbed. 

In 1992, when the Palestinians realized Israel was going to withdraw from Gaza to make way for some kind of Palestinian autonomy, the number of Israelis killed jumped from 11 the previous year to 34. After the signing of the Declaration of Principles and the establishment of the PA in the summer of 1994, that figure nearly doubled (61). When the PA was expanded in 1995 to include the major Arab towns in the West Bank, they killed 65 people, mostly as a result of three suicide bombings. The towns had become terrorist sanctuaries into which the IDF could not enter for fear of international condemnation.

The left-of-center Israeli government and leading left-wing intellectuals called the victims of these terrorist acts korbanot hashalom, or sacrifices killed on the altar of peace. Needless to say, many relatives of the victims, as well as other Israelis, found this appellation offensive.

Palestinian hopelessness set in after Netanyahu’s electoral victory in 1996. According to the mantra, terrorism should then have increased. The opposite took place. Terrorism declined dramatically: it more than halved to 32 deaths in 1997, dropped to 13 in 1998, and dropped further to four in 1999, Netanyahu’s third and final year in office at the time.

Part of the decline could be attributed to the PA’s efforts to come down on Hamas terrorists. This was done in the knowledge that further concessions by a right-wing government were only conceivable if Jewish blood-letting subsided.

Since the second intifada, the same trend has prevailed. Israel’s conquest of the Arab towns in the West Bank in 2002 brought about a radical reduction of terrorism, from a high of 452 deaths in 2002 to 13 in 2007. And once again, a renewal of peace talks in 2008 coincided with an increase in terrorism, this time to 36 deaths. In the year following the failure of the talks, that figure abated to 15.

Netanyahu’s return to office in 2012 coincided with a low of ten victims of Palestinian terror. Then, as if on cue, Secretary of State Kerry’s strenuous efforts to restart the peace talks led to a resurgence of terror – 19 deaths in 2014, not including the 72 deaths in the third Israeli-Hamas round of conflicts.

Why does hopelessness lead to less Palestinian terrorism and hopefulness to more? This is not as counter-intuitive as it sounds. The tendency to rebel increases not when all appears lost, but when prospects for the rebellious appear to be improving but the improvement does not meet rising expectations.

The same phenomenon occurred during the Iranian revolution and the so-called Arab Spring. The Iranian revolution occurred not after a period of hopelessness, but after a sharp rise in the income level of urban Iranians over at least a decade. Many of those urbanites – the very people who made the revolution a reality – lived to regret their role in the Shah’s downfall.

Similarly, in the Arab Spring, revolutions took place in the two Arab states – Tunisia and Egypt – that had shown the greatest improvement in the Middle East over the three previous decades on the human development index. This index is a composite of three indicators: gross domestic product per capita, educational attainment, and life expectancy. This time span coincided with the rule of Egypt’s Mubarak and Tunisia’s Zein Abidin Bin Ali. Once again, violence was not the product of a lack of improvement. There was plenty of improvement – so much so that expectations rose even more sharply than the human welfare curve.

...The moral is that there must be a significant majority on both sides ready to make necessary concessions well before any “peace” process is attempted. Until that time, it is hardly concessions that are needed but an Israeli iron fist to save Israeli and Palestinian lives.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Would you entrust your nation’s security to this man?

From The Australian,12 June 2017, by CHRIS UHLMANN:

Bob Carr: Would you entrust your nation’s security to this man?

There are many sins of commission in Bob Carr’s crack at ­debunking his straw man version of the Four Corners-Fairfax investigation into Beijing’s influence in Australia.

More fascinating are its sins of omission.

The joint investigation examined Chinese Communist Party activities that ranged from directing student groups, through threatening pro-democracy advocates to effectively controlling most Chinese-language media in Australia.

We also reported that, in 2015, ASIO warned the Liberal, Labor and National parties that two of their big donors had Chinese Communist Party links. The parties chose to keep taking money from both.

The two are Chinese-born billionaire property developers Chau Chak Wing and Huang ­Xiangmo. As we reported, Chau is an Australian citizen. Huang has applied for citizenship but it has stalled while ASIO assesses it.

Between them they have given $6.7 million to the Coalition and Labor, which puts the pair in the front rank of the most generous individual political donors in the land. They are also huge academic benefactors and have been particularly generous to University of Technology Sydney [UTS].

Carr does not name either, which is curious because he knows both men well.

As NSW premier, he employed Chau’s daughter as an adviser. Perhaps he believed this detail ­immaterial, and that is arguable.

But given Carr writes as director of the Australia China Relations Institute at UTS, then Huang surely rated a mention.

In 2014, Huang donated $1.8m to help set up ACRI. Two years later he boasted to Primrose Riordan, now of this newspaper, that he had hand-picked Carr for the ­director’s job.
“When we established the ­institute, ACRI, someone recommended an even more influential figure from politics to me but I ­decided to invite Bob Carr ­because I consider him to be a very good academic,” Huang said.
Others are less enthusiastic about ACRI’s academic credentials. The institute is at the heart of a live discussion among Australia’s universities over whether academic inquiry is being distorted by an over-reliance on Chinese money. That topic is worthy of its own investigation.

So let’s leave the case of Chau to one side and just examine the one piece of evidence that Carr will admit: that our story only turned up “a single big donation from a Chinese national”.

The nub of ASIO’s concern about Huang is that his money might come with strings attached, so we tested that idea.

We reported that in the lead-up to last year’s federal election, Huang pulled a $400,000 pledge to Labor, after its defence spokesman said Australia should let the navy challenge the 12-nautical-mile zones around the islands ­Beijing is militarising in the South China Sea.

The next day senator Sam Dastyari joined Huang at a press conference called exclusively for Chinese-language media. There Dastyari said: “The South China Sea is China’s own affair.”

Pause to consider how those words and images would have been interpreted when broadcast in China: an Australian politician standing beside a billionaire ­patron repudiating his party’s foreign policy and embracing Beijing’s. Then imagine what the Communist Party would do to the official and the donor if the circumstances were reversed.

A week later, as Huang continued to withhold the promised $400,000, he was front and centre at another press conference, where Labor announced it had put his political ally, businessman and active ALP member Simon Zhou, on the last spot on the ALP’s Senate ticket.

Huang spoke to China’s state broadcaster at the event.
“As China’s power keeps rising, the status of overseas Chinese is also rising,” he said.
“Now overseas Chinese realise that they need to make their ­voices heard in politics. To safeguard Chinese interests and let Australian ­society pay more ­attention to the Chinese.”
We also reported that Dastyari was so concerned about Huang’s stalled citizenship that he directly petitioned the Immigration ­Department about it on at least two occasions. Either he or his ­office called two more times. Labor says these were routine constituent matters.

Then there is the proximity of some of the donations to political events, including the parachuting of Huang’s ally, Ernest Wong, into NSW parliament. Wong stepped into the upper house seat vacated by a once-influential figure in the ALP right, Eric Roozendaal. Huang later employed Roozendaal.

So without access to ASIO’s resources, a reasonable person might conclude that there was some merit in the agency’s concerns about Huang.

Carr also dismisses the evidence of the Chinese embassy’s direct hand in organising students for mass events such as the welcome of Premier Li Keqiang. Again, he ignores a key point.

Nick McKenzie asked student leader Lupin Lu if she would tell the embassy if any students were organising a human rights protest. “Yes,” she said. “I would definitely, just to keep all the students safe and to do it for China as well.”

Carr ignores the 10-day detention and questioning in China of fellow UTS academic Feng Chongyi. Feng said the state ­security officials wanted details about his contacts in Australia and believed his interrogation was designed to send a signal to other academics not to trespass in sensitive areas. 

Carr’s critique also omits mention of the threats made by authorities against the China-based parents of Australian resident and pro-democracy advocate ­Anthony Chang.

Nor does he respond to the testimony of Don Ma that state ­security officials in Beijing forced a migration agent to stop adver­tising with his Australia-based, Chinese-language newspapers because he ran stories that irked the Communist Party.

This is not an exhaustive list, so it is hard to reconcile Carr’s ­assertion that every nation ­behaves here in the way that China does.

Our security agencies appear not to be as sanguine. ASIO director-general Duncan Lewis told parliament that 
espionage and foreign interference are occurring here “on an unprecedented scale”.
“And this has the potential to cause serious harm to the nation’s sovereignty, the integrity of our political system, our national ­security capabilities, our economy and other interests...” ...
Which man would you entrust your nation’s security to? ...

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Qatar – the end of the road?

From Arutz Sheva, 9 June 2017, by Dr. Mordechai Kedar:

The Saudis and their Arab allies have had enough of Qatar and its media proxy al Jazeera's behavior. They intend to win this fight.

The Emirate of Qatar is a peninsula that juts out from Saudi Arabia into the Persian Gulf. The only overland route out of Qatar is by way of Saudi Arabia and if that route is blocked, the only way to reach Qatar or leave it is by air or sea. However, flights to and from Qatar pass over Saudi air space part of the time and ships from or to Qatar have to pass through Saudi territorial waters. This means that Saudi Arabia can in effect declare a total blockade on Qatar if it so desires. It has never done so before, but it began the process on June 5th.

In addition to a blockade, the Saudis, joined by the United Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Mauritius, the Philippines and the Maldives, cut off diplomatic and consular relations with Qatar.  Egypt, Libya and the Emirates declared that they would ban Qatari plans and ships from their air space and territorial waters. In 2014, these countries took much milder steps in order to punish Qatar, cancelling them once Qatar agreed to accept the dictates of the Umma and signed the Riyadh agreement along with the rest of the Arab nations.

The reasons provided by the countries involved for the unprecedented severity of the current steps against Qatar included: 
  • "Qatar aids the Muslim Brotherhood and other terror organizations such as Hezbollah, Hamas, ISIS and Jebhat al-Nusrah" 
  • "The Emir of  Qatar has declared that Iran is a good nation" 
  • "Qatar destabilizes our regime," 
  • " Qatar provides hiding places and shelter to Muslim Brotherhood leaders who fled there from Egypt," and 
  • "Qatar is giving aid to  the Houthi rebels (read Shiites) in Yemen."

Another and most subtle reason, whose source is a Kuwaiti commentator, appears on al Jazeera's site: "Qatar refused to meet Trump's financial demands." This odd remark relates to a rumor on Facebook and other social network sites claiming that before Trump agreed to come to the Riyadh Arab League Conference, he demanded the Gulf Emirates purchase US arms in the legendary sum of one and a half trillion dollars, to be divided among Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Emirates. The three agreed, but Qatar pulled out at the last minute, causing the Emirates to follow suit, and leaving the Saudis holding the bill demanded by Trump.   The falling through of this deal, the largest in history, may have been the reason for Trump's noticeably grim face in Riyadh.

Claiming that Qatar causes the destabilization of regimes is a veiled hint referring to al Jazeera which broadcasts from Qatar.

Al Jazeera - ramming propaganda down it's viewers throats, as usual....

Every since it began broadcasting in 1996 from the capital city of Qatar, Doha, al Jazeera has infuriated Arab rulers because it constantly carries out a media Jihad against them also aimed at others such as  Israel, the US, the West and Western culture. 

The channel also promotes and supports the Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoots such as Hamas, al Qaeda and the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel headed by Sheikh Raad Salah. 

Al Jazeera's media strategy is determined by Qatar's Emir and is carried out down to the last detail by its very professional leading broadcaster and editorial policy setter, Jamal Rian, a Palestinian born in Tul Karem in 1953, who moved to Jordan where he was active in the Muslim Brotherhood until expelled by King Hussein.

Every so often other Arab regimes, chief among them Egypt under Mubarak, attempted to close down al Jazeera's offices in their countries after overly harsh criticism was aimed at the ruling government, only to reopen them when al Jazeera simply stepped up its attacks

The general feeling is that any government official – or anyone at all – who opposes a ruling regime (and there is no shortage of these people in any Arab country) leaks embarrassing information to  al Jazeera all the time, so that the channel is always poised to expose the information when the time is ripe and especially if the now-cornered victim has been unfriendly to it and to Islamists. The thought of this happening is enough to paralyze every Arab leader who would like to clamp down on al Jazeera in his country.

Every time a conflict erupts between Israel and Hamas, al Jazeera comes out in favor of the terrorist organization because of Qatar's support of it. Hamas leader Haled Mashaal, makes his home in Qatar and the Qatari Emir is the only Arab leader so far to visit Hamas-ruled Gaza. The Emir has give billions to Hamas, enabling the organization to develop its  terror infrastructure.

Qatar has budgeted half a billion dollars to "buy" organizations such as UNESCO (whose next head will, unsurprisingly, be from Qatar), as well as media, academic and government figures to advance the goal of removing Jerusalem from Israeli hands. Al Jazeera runs a well publicized and organized campaign in order to ensure this outcome. This is the face of media jihad.

Saudi Arabia has never allowed al Jazeera's reporters to work from within the country, but does allow them to cover special events once in a while, mainly the Hajj. The Saudis know exactly what the Emir had up his sleeve when he founded a media network that would rule over Arab monarchs by means of recording their slip-ups, taking advantage of the Arab obsession with avoiding public humiliation by broadcasting from a satellite that can reach every house in the Arab world with no way of blocking it.

The last reports are that the Saudis blocked access to the al Jazeera internet site from their territory.  It is harder to block al Jazeera's satellite channel reception legally and it can still be accessed throughout the monarchy. Arab media attribute the blockage to declarations supportive of Hamas and Hezbollah made by the Emir of Qatar after Trump's speech in Riyadh in which the US president included Hamas and Hezbollah in his list of terror organization, equating them with al Qaeda and ISIS....

Qatar is now under great pressure. The nations that broke off relations with Qatar have stopped recognizing the Qatari Rial as a viable currency and have confiscated all the Qatari Rials in their banks. As a result, Qatar cannot purchase goods with its own currency and must use its foreign currency reserves. The supermarket shelves in Qatar have been emptied by residents hoarding food for fear that the blockade will not allow food to be imported. Long lines of cars can be seen trying to leave for Saudi Arabia to escape being shut up in the besieged, wayward country.

Qatar is trying to get the US to help improve the situation. The largest American air force base in the Gulf is located in  Qatar and it is from there that the attacks on ISIS are generated. Qatar also hosts the US Navy Fifth Fleet as well as the Central Command and Control of US forces in that part of the world. Qatari media stress the US concern about the siege that the Saudis have put on Qatar.

As part of its efforts to enlist US aid, Qatar has begun a counterattack: Qatar media have publicized that the U.A.E. ambassador, Yousef Al Otaiba , said on US election eve: "What star could make Donald Trump the president?" This is intended to cause a rift between the US and the Gulf Emirates, but will certainly not improve Qatar's own relations with the Emirates.

Meanwhile, the Saudis and the Emirates have ejected Qatar from the coalition fighting the Houthis in Yemen, and there are rumors that they will also remove Qatar from the Council for Cooperation in the Gulf. The Saudis could suspend Qatar's membership in the Arab League and other organizations if this dispute continues, raising the pressure on the Emir's al-Thani clan.

The next few days will decide Qatar's future. There  is a distinct possibility that the foreign ministers of Qatar and the Arab nations taking part in the boycott against it will meet in some neutral spot, perhaps Kuwait, Qatar will give in and new rules will be set by Arab leaders, that is by King Suleiman, to keep Qatar in line. They would include: 

  • toning down al Jazeera and perhaps even switching its managerial staff, 
  • ending the support for the Muslim Brotherhood and other terror organizations, 
  • ending cooperation with Iran and above all, 
  • listening to what the Saudi "Big Brother" says about issues, especially those having to do with financial dealings with the US. 
Once the conditions for Qatari surrender are agreed upon, we can expect the ministers to meet the press, publicize a declaration on the end of the intra-family dispute, shake hands before the cameras and smile – until the next crisis.

There is, however, another scenario: Qatar does not give in, the Saudis and its allies invade, their armies eject the Emir and Mufti of Qatar, and also Jamal Rian, the guiding brain behind Al Jazeera's  policies. They would then appoint a new Emir from the ruling family, one who knows how to behave, one who listens to the Saudis.  No one except for Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas would oppose this solution, and the soft-spoken condemnations will not succeed in hiding the world's joy and sighs of relief if the Saudis actually carry out that plan.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Will the Saudi-Qatar clash push Hamas into a dangerous corner?

From The Times of Israel, 7 June 2017, by Avi Issacharoff:

As Gaza’s economy sinks, its ruling terror group is at odds with much of the Sunni Arab world — and running out of options 

The former Qatari Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, left, and Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh, right, arrive for a cornerstone-laying ceremony for Hamad, a new residential neighborhood in Khan Younis, Gaza Strip, October 23, 2012. (AP/Mohammed Salem)
The former Qatari Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, left, and Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh, right, arrive for a cornerstone-laying ceremony for Hamad, a new residential neighborhood in Khan Younis, Gaza Strip, October 23, 2012. (AP/Mohammed Salem)

...Riyadh’s loathing for Doha is well known and longstanding. Despite their geographic proximity, or perhaps because of it, the two countries’ enmity is enormous.

Qatar’s flirting with Iran, Saudi Arabia’s greatest nemesis, its closeness to the Muslim Brotherhood, and of course, its founding of the Al-Jazeera satellite news channel in 1996, all turned Qatar into one of the most hated of Arab states among its fellow Sunni Arab regimes, especially in Riyadh and Cairo. 

Al-Jazeera transformed in the 2000s into a key tool for advancing the agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas at the expense of the Egyptian, Saudi and Palestinian governments.

Because of this protracted antagonism, any attempt to reduce the crisis between Qatar and six other Arab states to a mere scuffle over certain comments that may or may not have been said by Doha’s emir misses the significance of Riyadh’s move: It marks a bid to permanently change Qatar’s policies.

The Saudi regime’s conditions for reconciliation with Doha, presented on Tuesday by Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, are not trivial; they include ending Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.

It’s hard to imagine Qatar making haste to meet such a demand. Qatar sees itself as the main patron of both movements and is widely seen in the region as their most enthusiastic backer. In recent days, Qatari authorities expelled eight Hamas activists, but these were members of Hamas’s armed wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. The other side of Hamas, its politicians and top echelon of leaders, remains safely ensconced in Doha and continues to enjoy all the creature comforts the peninsula kingdom has to offer. The same goes for men of faith affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, such as the Egyptian-born cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi.

Hamas’s top officials now find themselves unexpectedly caught in the eye of the storm. On Saturday, Hamas leaders Yahya Sinwar, Ruhi Mushtaha, Tawfik Abu Naim and Marwan Issa left the Gaza Strip for meetings in Egypt, and they were supposed to continue from there to Qatar and Lebanon. One imagines these men are going through difficult days as they struggle to come to terms with the possibility that their most significant backer, as closely identified with its sponsorship of their movement as with its support for Barcelona Football Club, is liable to sever that lifeline because of the Saudi-Egyptian pressure.

This uncertainty leaves Hamas weaker and probably more susceptible to pressure. The next time Egyptian authorities negotiate with Hamas over the opening of the Rafah crossing or the easing of some other restriction as part of their blockade with Israel of the Gaza Strip, they are likely to find a more pliable partner in the talks than in the past.

Gaza is now in worse shape than ever before, and is likely to keep deteriorating economically in the near term due to economic steps being taken against the Hamas government by the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, including ending the PA’s funding of Gaza’s electric bill and mandatory early retirements and pay cuts for PA employees in the Strip.

Yet for all that, if Hamas feels its back is to a wall, or that it is liable to lose its hold on Gaza because of either the Qatari-Saudi crisis or the PA’s economic actions, it may be tempted to reshuffle the deck by resorting to its favorite tactic – firing rockets into Israel

50 Years of Palestinian Rejection - And the world encourages it.

From Commentary magazine, 8 June 2017, by EVELYN GORDON:

Yuri Kochetkov/Pool photo via AP, File

The 50th anniversary of the Six-Day War, which fell this week, has sparked much hand-wringing about why Israel still controls the West Bank half a century later. By sheer coincidence, Haaretz reporter Amir Tibon produced a scoop this week answering that question. It detailed the precise offer the Obama administration made to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the final stages of the peace talks it brokered, and how Abbas, once again, walked away without even deigning to respond.

In early 2014, as the end of the nine months of talks agreed to the previous July were drawing to a close, the administration began drafting a “framework agreement” that would serve as the basis for further talks. Tibon obtained two versions of the administration’s proposal.

The first, dating from February 2014, contained a relatively balanced mix of concessions to Israeli and Palestinian demands. For instance, it stipulated a border based on the 1967 lines, as Abbas demanded, but said Palestinian refugees and their descendants would have no “right of return” to Israel, as Israel demanded. It rejected a permanent Israeli military presence in the Jordan Valley, thereby pleasing Abbas. It also pleased Israel by saying the talks must result in a Palestinian state alongside “Israel, the nation-state of the Jewish people.” It also left a few issues open: On Jerusalem, for instance, it merely restated both sides’ aspirations.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave verbal consent to the document. Then, on February 19, Secretary of State John Kerry presented it to Abbas, who went ballistic. His primary objection, U.S. officials told Tibon, was that the issue of Jerusalem was left open. Abbas wanted the U.S. to commit to giving him half the city.

So the Americans revised the document to accommodate more of Abbas’ demands. The new version, written in March, explicitly said East Jerusalem must become the Palestinian capital, thereby prejudging the outcome of one of the talks’ most sensitive issues. It also made several other concessions to the Palestinians, such as adding a statement asserting that the talks’ goal was “to end the occupation that began in 1967,” the implication being that the conflict isn’t one for which both sides share blame, but an evil unilaterally perpetrated by Israel against innocent Palestinians.

Similarly, whereas the February document said the border would be based on the 1967 lines with 1:1 land swaps that would “take into account subsequent developments” since 1967, this phrase was dropped in the March version. In other words, the February version said the border would be adjusted to accommodate the major settlement blocs, while the March version allowed Abbas to continue demanding that hundreds of thousands of Israelis be uprooted from their homes.

Thus, what started out as a relatively balanced document in February had morphed by March into one that clearly tilted toward the Palestinians. So how did Abbas respond to these concessions? He neither accepted the document nor rejected it; he “simply didn’t respond,” Tibon reported.

This, of course, is exactly what happened the last time Abbas received an offer complying with almost all his demands. 

In 2008, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered him 93 percent of the West Bank with 1:1 land swaps for the remainder, plus all of Gaza and most of East Jerusalem, with Muslim control over all the city’s holy sites, including the Western Wall (Olmert proposed governing the sites with a five-member committee comprising representatives of Palestine, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Israel, and America, thereby guaranteeing the Muslims an automatic majority). But Abbas never responded; he simply walked away. Only nine months later did he tell the Washington Post’s Jackson Diehl that he rejected the offer because “the gaps were wide.” Perhaps he would have said the same of Obama’s offer had Diehl interviewed him again.

This is also what happened when Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and U.S. President Bill Clinton made a similar offer to Yasser Arafat in 2000-01. 

Arafat walked away without even making a counterproposal and then launched a lethal terrorist war against Israel, killing over 1,000 Israelis in the next four years.

And that’s without even mentioning all the previous examples, like the Arabs’ rejection of the UN partition plan in 1947, or their adoption of a policy of “no peace, no recognition and no negotiations” with Israel at the Khartoum summit three months after the Six-Day War.

In other words, there’s one very simple reason why Israel still controls the West Bank: The Palestinians have consistently refused repeated offers to give it to them.

But there’s an important supporting reason as well: Palestinians feel they can get away with serial rejectionism because the world always responds by blaming Israel, as the Obama Administration did.

Addressing the Senate in April 2014, for instance, Kerry famously declared that Israel’s announcement of new construction in Jerusalem had caused the talks to go “poof,” carefully neglecting to mention that by this point, the talks were dead anyway since Abbas had already rejected the administration’s best offer. The excuses administration officials gave Tibon were equally ridiculous. Abbas, they said, was “disappointed” that Netanyahu had delayed releasing some two dozen Palestinian prisoners—as if that were ample grounds for rejecting an offer of statehood. They also said Abbas wasn’t sure Obama could “deliver” Netanyahu. But Netanyahu said yes to the February proposal without being sure Obama could deliver Abbas – which it turns out he couldn’t; why was it unreasonable to expect Abbas to go out on a similar limb?

The problem isn’t just Palestinian rejectionism. It’s that the rest of the world actually encourages this rejectionism by ensuring that the diplomatic price is always paid by Israel, and never the Palestinians themselves. The Palestinians have quite reasonably concluded that they can play this game ad infinitum, until the world eventually pressures Israel to accept even those Palestinian demands that would entail committing national suicide, like the “right of return.”

If the Palestinians actually wanted peace, they’d do a deal regardless of how the rest of the world behaved. If the world behaved differently, the Palestinians might eventually conclude that a deal was in their interests. But as long as neither of these two conditions is met, there’s every reason to think that in another 50 years, we’ll be reading more hand-wringing articles about why Israel still controls the West Bank.

Common Sense Trumps Ideology

The US President is the first Western leader to stand up and announce that the whole sick business of terrorism has to stop. He means it.

...In his first four months of office, Donald Trump has made any number of false steps, but the actions for which he is most disliked have for the most part been effective and shrewd. His celebrated tweets about London Mayor Sadiq Khan are a case in point. Khan had told the press in response to a bombing in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood that “part and parcel of living in a great global city is [that] you’ve got to be prepared for these things,” to which Trump tweeted, “You’ve got to be kidding!”

European governments are resigned to a certain level of terrorism as the price of tranquil relations with large Muslim populations that harbor significant numbers of terrorist sympathizers and with Muslim regimes that support terrorist groups — Qatar, for example, which has backed both Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. Kahn was not condoning terrorism but expressing the prevailing view that reducing terrorism to an infrequent occurrence is the best that can be hoped for.

By singling out London’s Muslim mayor, Trump rubbed in the point he made to Muslim leaders meeting in Saudi Arabia last month: the United States will not tolerate terrorism, and it will not tolerate the toleration of terrorism. “Drive. Them. Out,” Trump said. “Drive them out of your places of worship. Drive them out of your communities. Drive them out of your holy land, and drive them out of this Earth!”

In some respects, Trump’s view is narrowly American: with its relatively small Muslim population and enormous security budget, the United States can compel its own Muslim communities to do just that. That is much harder in England or the European continent, where very large and extensively radicalized Muslim populations overwhelm the resources of security services.

Turkish President Recep Erdogan and Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani attend a joint press conference following their meeting in Doha, Qatar in December 02, 2015. Source: Youtube screen grab of footage by Stringer / Anadolu Agency
President Recep Erdogan and Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani hold a press conference in Doha, Qatar on December 02, 2015. Source: Youtube screen grab of footage by Stringer / Anadolu Agency

But there is a broader strategic issue involved in Trump’s tangle with London’s mayor, and it reflects on his support for the diplomatic isolation of Qatar by other Arab states. The botched American interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan disenfranchised the Sunnis of Mesopotamia and the Levant, destroying the one stable Sunni regime in the region, namely that of Saddam Hussein.

It left the Sunnis to fend for themselves through non-state actors including al-Qaeda and ISIS. Both Washington and the Sunni regimes, including Turkey – and Saudi Arabia – responded to this disaster by dealing with non-state actors (that is, terrorists) where it suited them.

Under the Bush Administration, Gen. David Petraeus spent hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies to buy the Sunnis’ temporary quietude – thereby preparing the ground for a Middle Eastern equivalent of the Thirty Years’ War. The CIA (under Petraeus and others) armed Syrian rebels, mainly al-Qaeda affiliates with a spare business card reading “Moderate Muslim.”

The Saudis helped pay for it, and members of the royal family wrote checks for Sunni terrorists from the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt to Uyghur rebels in Western China. The Qatari royal family dallied with the Brotherhood, Hamas, and Iran.

I do not know what Lt. Gen. (ret) Michael Flynn might have done wrong, or what ultimately may happen to him, but there is no doubt as to what he did that was right: he provoked Barack Obama into firing him by exposing America’s covert support for the Sunni irregulars who would coalesce around ISIS. He was the sole senior figure in the US intelligence establishment to break omertà and reveal that the Sunni terror problem was being amplified by serial stupidity on the part of the United States.

Trump was the first Western leader to stand up and announce that the whole sick business had to stop. All of the nation-builders, responsibility-to-protectors, human rights fanciers and democracy promoters looked with cold blood on the devastation wrought by their blunders.

They had left Syria, Libya, Sudan and Yemen shattered, Iraq in a permanent confessional war, and perhaps a million civilians dead — half a million in Syria since 2011, 300,000 in South Sudan since 2013, 150,000 in Iraq, and about 10,000 each in Yemen and Libya. Trump wants to stop the bloodshed, but humanitarian calculation is not his only motive.

Iraqi soldiers pose with the Islamic State flag. Photo: Reuters, Zohra Bensemra
Iraqi soldiers pose with the Islamic State flag. Photo: Reuters, Zohra Bensemra

The sectarian war in the Middle East has to stop because it has become a Petri dish breeding jihad from the Caucasus to Southeast Asia. Russia had any number of reasons to step into Syria, but the decisive factor is that thousands of Russian Muslims were fighting there and returning to Russia to wreak mischief.

China feared not only for the Muslim Uyghurs of its westernmost province but also for the stability of Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines. Where the Sunni jihad drew on the support of Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, Russia and China quietly backed Iran as it recruited cannon fodder for the Syrian war from the Shi’ites of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The Levantine and Mesopotamian wars have metastasized and now threaten to become a Eurasian war. That is the fault of sorcerers’ apprentices in the American foreign policy establishment – which should be kept in mind whenever the punditeska attacks Donald J. Trump.

It takes refined intellect and profound scholarship to rationalize the mayhem that the foreign policy establishment has inflicted on the world in the name of nation building, human rights, and similar humbug. An entire generation of diplomats, soldiers and professors has devoted itself to this sort of rationalization. 

The intellectual caste thinks Trump is the man who put the “dumb” into oderint dum metuant (let them hate so long as they fear). On the contrary: They are the malady for which Donald Trump is the cure.

There is no way to end the conflict without an agreement with Russia and China, who are backing Iran’s intervention in Syria as much as Washington backed the Sunni rebels fighting the Bashar al-Assad regime. That means both sides must leash their own dogs. Saudi Arabia is not an American ally except of convenience.

The two countries find each other’s culture, political systems and religion utterly repugnant, but are tied together by practical interests. The same applies to Iran and Russia, who are allies of convenience. Persians and Russians have hated each other since the Russians appeared on the scene.

President Trump sent a clear message to America’s Muslim clients in Saudi Arabia: No more double games with non-state actors will be tolerated. Making a horrible example of Qatar is an obvious first step. The little Gulf monarchy perched on a giant gas bubble rates its own Wikipedia entry on “Qatar and state-sponsored terrorism.”

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is another matter. According to senior Chinese officials, Saudi royal family members are funding every radical madrassa in Asia, including those in Xinjiang Province. When Chinese diplomats have complained to the Saudi government, it has denied knowledge of the funding, while turning a blind eye to the “charitable contributions” of some of it members. No doubt the Saudis will have to arrange some one-way trips to the Rub’ al Khali.

Nonetheless, a negotiation of this sort is the only alternative to the spread of bloodshed and chaos across the Eurasian continent. It will require the major powers to deal with some of their own friends quite harshly. And it will be messy, if it succeeds at all. From the outside, some of the most carefully crafted maneuvers will seem like improvisation, and some outright blunders will be repurposed as masterstrokes.

In return, Russia will have to tighten the leash on Iran. Between Russia and China, which dominates Iran’s foreign trade, there is sufficient leverage to put the Shi’ite power in its place. Persuading the Russians to do so, and to do so without cheating, is a challenge.

Moscow and Beijing distrust the United States and suspect that it promoted Sunni jihadists in order to make trouble for them (that idea has indeed occurred to some people in Washington and its environs). They are tempted to use American weakness not only to advance their own interests but to embarrass the United States.

Healthy common sense is a far better guide to strategy than the ideological obsessions of the discredited elite. Here I am with Millwall and Trump. I don’t care if nobody likes us. Trump is nonetheless iterating towards the right thing.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Saudi Arabia: 'Qatar must stop supporting Hamas'

From Ynet News, 6 June 2017, by Roi Kais:

In light of the sharp diplomatic crisis in the Gulf, the Saudi foreign minister declares 
'Qatar is undermining the Palestinians and Egypt with support for the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas'; 
he makes it clear that ending support for terrorism is a critical step in trying to resolve the crisis.

Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir said on Tuesday, "Qatar must stop supporting Hamas." This was against the background of the deepening crisis in the Gulf, in which six countries, led by Saudi Arabia and Egypt, isolated the Qatari emirates.

"Enough is enough," said the Saudi ambassador to Paris and made it clear that ending support for terrorist organizations is a critical step on the part of Qatar to restore relations between the two countries.

Emir of Kuwait and Saudi king (Photo: Twitter)
Emir of Kuwait and Saudi king (Photo: Twitter)

"We have decided to take steps to make it clear that enough is enough," Jubeier told reporters in Paris. "No one wants to hurt Qatar, but it must decide whether it is going in one direction or the other, and I hope that the cost of the economic damage that will be caused to Qatar will convince it to go in the right direction and stop supporting organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas."

Jubeir added that Qatar was actually undermining the Palestinian Authority and Egypt by supporting these organizations and the "hostile media"—apparently referring to the Al-Jazeera network.
...At the same time, Kuwaiti Emir Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah arrived in Jeddah to meet with the King of Saudi Arabia and try to advance a solution to the crisis with Qatar. Kuwait managed to resolve a similar dispute about three years ago, and before his arrival in Jeddah, he also discussed the issue with his Qatari counterpart in the hope that he would not take steps that could lead to escalation...

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

NGO Links to Middle East Terror

From the Middle East Quarterly, Summer 2017, by by Gerald M. Steinberg and Joshua Bacon:

By 1948, sixty-nine NGOs had formal consultative status at the U.N. By 2015, the number was more than four thousand, many of which emphasize "universal human rights" in their mission statements.
In theory, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that promote human rights and humanitarian aid are at the opposite pole from terror groups. NGOs gain moral and ethical legitimacy as platforms for promoting the "inalienable rights of all members of the human family."

However, some prominent NGOs have employed individuals linked to terror organizations, formed alliances with such groups, supported their radical and violent agendas, and channeled humanitarian aid into terror activities. They are also political participants in conflicts, acting on behalf of terror groups or their political wings. These links are inherently incompatible with the emphasis on peace, security, and universal ethics that make up the core of NGO claims to legitimacy and influence.

These NGOs and their supporters must be held morally accountable while funding for these organizations must be critically considered.

By 1948, sixty-nine NGOs had formal consultative status at the U.N. By 2015, the number was more than four thousand, many of which emphasize "universal human rights" in their mission statements.

NGOs as Political Actors

NGOs with global impact emerged in tandem with the United Nations and were designed to support the norms and institutions of the post-World War II era, including democracy, human rights, and economic development. By 1948, sixty-nine NGOs had formal consultative status at the U.N.; by 2015, the number was over four thousand, many of which emphasized "universal human rights" in their mission statements.

Muhammad Halabi, World Vision NGO's Gaza director, is accused by Israel of having funneled 60 percent of funds into Hamas coffers.

The growth of this "NGO industry" and of power exerted outside democratic and governmental frameworks has been facilitated by large-scale funding, provided both privately and from governments through various humanitarian aid and human rights frameworks. For instance,

World Vision, whose Gaza director is accused by Israel of having funneled 60 percent of funds into Hamas coffers, has an annual worldwide budget of $2.8 billion, including major grants from governments....

Follow the link to the full article which identifies dozens of NGOs with strong links to terrorism.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Fifty Years After the Six-Day War

From The Washington Times, June 5, 2017, by Daniel Pipes:

Israel's military triumph over three enemy states in June 1967 is the most outstandingly successful war of all recorded history. The Six-Day War was also deeply consequential for the Middle East, establishing the permanence of the Jewish state, dealing a death-blow to pan-Arab nationalism, and (ironically) worsening Israel's place in the world because of its occupation of the West Bank and Jerusalem. did a spectacular battlefield victory translate into problems that still torment Israel today? Because it stuck Israelis in an unwanted role they cannot escape.

First, Israeli leftists and foreign do-gooders wrongly blame Israel's government for not making sufficient efforts to leave the West Bank, as though greater efforts could have found a true peace partner. In this, critics ignore rejectionism, the attitude of refusing to accept anything Zionist that has dominated Palestinian politics for the past century. Its founding figure, Amin al-Husseini, collaborated with Hitler and even had a key role in formulating the Final Solution; recent manifestations include the "anti-normalization" and the boycott, divestment, and sanction (BDS) movements. [Arab] Rejectionism renders Israeli concessions useless, even counterproductive, because Palestinians respond to them with more hostility and violence.

The Israelis vastly increased (the lined area) the size of Jerusalem on unifying it.

Second, Israel faces a conundrum of geography and demography in the West Bank. While its strategists want to control the highlands, its nationalists want to build towns, and its religious want to possess Jewish holy sites, Israel's continued ultimate rule over a West Bank population of 1.7 million mostly hostile Arabic-speaking, Muslim Palestinians takes an immense toll both domestically and internationally.

Various schemes to keep the land and defang an enemy people – by integrating them, buying them off, dividing them, pushing them out, or finding another ruler for them – have all come to naught.

Third, the Israelis in 1967 took three unilateral steps in Jerusalem that created future time bombs: vastly expanding the city's borders, annexing it, and offering Israeli citizenship to the city's new Arab residents.

In combination, these led to a long-term demographic and housing competition that Palestinians are winning, jeopardizing the Jewish nature of the Jews' historic capital. Worse, 300,000 Arabs could at any time choose to take Israeli citizenship.

These problems raise the question: Had Israeli leaders in 1967 foreseen the current problems, what might they have done differently in the West Bank and Jerusalem? They could have:
Made the battle against rejectionism their highest priority through unremitting censorship of every aspect of life in the West Bank and Jerusalem, severe punishments for incitement, and an intense effort to imbue a more positive attitude toward Israel.
Invited back in the Jordanian authorities, rulers of the West Bank since 1949, to run that area's (but not Jerusalem's) internal affairs, leaving the Israel Defense Forces with only the burden to protect borders and Jewish populations.
Extended the borders of Jerusalem only to the Old City and to uninhabited areas.
Thought through the full ramifications of building Jewish towns on the West Bank.

And today, what can Israelis do? The Jerusalem issue is relatively easy, as most Arab residents have not yet taken out Israeli citizenship, so Israel's government can still stop this process by reducing the size of Jerusalem's 1967 borders and terminating the offer of Israeli citizenship to all the city residents. Though it may lead to unrest, cracking down on illegal housing sites is imperative.

The illegal buildings in the "refugee camp" of Shuafat, located within Jerusalem's 1967 borders.

The West Bank is tougher. So long as Palestinian rejectionism prevails, Israel is stuck with overseeing an intensely hostile population that it dare not release ultimate control of. This situation generates a vicious, impassioned debate among Israelis (recall the Rabin assassination) and harms the country's international standing (think of U.N. Security Council Resolution 2334). But returning to 1949's "Auschwitz lines" and abandoning 400,000 Israeli residents of the West Bank to the Palestinians' tender mercies is obviously not a solution.

Instead, Israel needs to confront and undermine Palestinian rejectionism, which means convincing Palestinians that Israel is a permanent state, that the dream to eliminate it is futile, and that they are sacrificing for naught. Israel can achieve these goals by making victory its goal, by showing Palestinians that continued rejectionism brings them only repression and failure. The U.S. government can help by green lighting the path to an Israel victory.

Only through victory can the astonishing triumph of those six days in 1967 be translated into the lasting solution of Palestinians accepting the permanence of the Jewish state.

The Over-Dramatization of Israel’s “Dilemma”

From BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 479, May 28, 2017, by Dr. Max Singer*:

Israel is not facing a dilemma about how much, if any,  land to give up from the West Bank, because the Palestinians will not agree to take land and cannot be forced to do so. 

The Palestinian community sees peace with Israel as defeat in their 100-year struggle. Continued Israeli occupation is one of the Palestinians’ best weapons against Israel, and they will not give it up while their war to eliminate Israel continues. 

Israelis should recognize that since the Palestinians are forcing Israel to continue the temporary but long-term occupation, Israelis need to 

  1. cooperate in reducing the moral and other costs of that occupation; and
  2. stop telling the world that Israel could choose to end the occupation. 
The occupation, like the need for military strength and to absorb casualties, is part of the price Israel has to pay to live here. Maturity means being able to go forward with no solution in sight.

Ehud Barak recently had a long review in Haaretz of Micah Goodman’s important new book, Catch 67, to which Goodman responded the following week. Goodman argues that Israel’s 1967 victory created a “catch” or trap reflected in Israel’s current dilemma, in which both sides (the Israeli political left and right) are correct. Barak disagrees. In his view, the choice is clear: the left is correct.

Both Barak’s own view and his telling of Goodman’s ignore the reality of Israel’s actual choices today. We are not facing a dilemma about giving up territory. We are facing a distasteful task, and a need for patience over a period of decades.

Israel does not now have a choice about giving the Palestinians land or creating a Palestinian state; Israel is therefore not facing a dilemma.

While there are undoubtedly peace-seeking Palestinians, as a community, the Palestinians have not even begun to discuss the possibility of making a peace that accepts Israel and ends the Palestinian effort to gain all the land “from the river to the sea.” Nor have they begun public discussion of the possibility of most of the “refugees” settling outside Israel. Without debate among Palestinians, there is no way they can give up their determination to destroy Israel and make a genuine peace.

There is zero chance that there could be a real peace agreement now regardless of how much land Israel would be willing to give up.. A true two-state solution would finally defeat Palestinian and Arab efforts of a century, and they are not yet ready to accept defeat. Whatever disagreement there is among Israelis about how much land, if any, Israel should give up to get  peace, that disagreement is not what is standing in the way of peace.

Theoretically, there are two other possibilities that might create a dilemma for Israel about giving up land. The first would be an agreement with the Palestinians to take over some of Judea and Samaria without making a full peace with Israel.  The second would be a unilateral action by Israel to separate the peoples and end the occupation without Palestinian agreement.

For the reasons discussed below, neither of these is a realistic possibility regardless of how much of Judea and Samaria Israel is willing to give up.  Again, no real dilemma.

The Palestinians have a voice in what happens. The choice they have made is to force Israel to “occupy” them, because they want to keep up the struggle to destroy Israel.  Being a victim, an “occupied people,” improves their diplomatic position, causes Israel pain, and provokes internal conflict within Israel. These effects are bad for Israel and good for the Palestinians. Indeed, the more harmful they are for Israel, the more desirable they are for the Palestinians.

There would have to be a lot more disadvantages to the status quo for the Palestinians before they would give up such a weapon against Israel to improve their living conditions. This is especially true for the Palestinian leadership, which suffers less from the status quo than most Palestinians and benefits more from the continuation of the conflict.

But if the Palestinians will not make an agreement that would sacrifice the advantage of forcing Israel to be an “occupier”, is there any way that Israel can force them to do so by taking unilateral action to separate the peoples? This idea appealed to Sharon, and so he organized Israel’s “disengagement” from Gaza. Some Israelis say the withdrawal was a good idea that only worked out badly because it was done unilaterally. But why should we think the Palestinians would have agreed to arrangements that would have been better for Israel? They consider themselves to be at war with us. They want to cause us pain and put us at a disadvantage, and are willing to accept casualties and suffering to do so.

Gaza was simple, but the West Bank is complicated. There is no way Israel can separate itself from the Palestinian population in the West Bank without Palestinian agreement. This is because of Israel’s military need for access to the Jordan Valley, which would be true even if there were no settlement blocs.

Even if all the ideological settlements and hilltop outposts were gone, no unilateral Israeli withdrawal could produce a stable new status quo that we could impose on the Palestinians. Also, Israel is still regarded internationally as occupying Gaza even though it has withdrawn completely. The same would be true for Judea and Samaria after an Israeli unilateral withdrawal. The Palestinians would insist that they are still occupied and would take steps to force Israel to act in the evacuated areas.

So the Palestinians have us trapped. Although we have committed ourselves to the principle that the occupation in Judea and Samaria is temporary, we will be stuck with it for a long time. We also have to continue taking casualties and sending our children to become soldiers and to kill people. We were not given our home on a silver platter.

This reality means that the question of what land we should give up is a question for the fairly distant future. When there is a real possibility for improving things by giving up land, conditions in our region and perhaps the world will be unpredictably different than they are today. Our disagreements over how much land, if any, to give up make no difference right now. We are not facing a practical dilemma.  There is no reason we should continue to beat up each other about what land, if any, we should be willing to give up for what benefits.

A solid majority of Israelis and our government have decided that Israel should be willing to give up most of Judea and Samaria in order to have peace, and perhaps even to separate ourselves from the Palestinians without peace. An even bigger majority is opposed to any withdrawals while the Palestinian community is in its current state. Therefore it is not true that our conflict with the Palestinians is the result of a stubborn or selfish insistence on holding onto all of the land of Israel. But there is nothing we can do at present to implement our willingness to give up most of the West Bank.

What can we do to make things better while we are living with the status quo?  First, if we recognize that the Palestinians will not give us any way of getting out of being “occupiers,” we can work together, left and right, to reduce the moral and other harm of the “occupation.”  And we can stop the internal name-calling and harsh charges against each other for not trying hard enough to end the occupation. We shouldn’t be fighting over something we have no power to change. The energy used for such fights should be directed towards making the occupation less harmful.

Our diplomatic position would also improve if there were fewer Israelis blaming one another for the continued occupation when Israel has no choice in the matter.

For the longer term, we  should do whatever we can to make the Palestinians and the Arab world more willing to give up their determination to destroy us.  Being nicer to them might help, although that is not usually a very effective strategy in the Middle East. It may be more useful to let them see that we are not riven by internal division or unable to bear the moral burden of being occupiers, so we are as willing as they are to continue living with the status quo indefinitely. The US could help by replacing false “even-handedness” with a truth-telling strategy that shows the Arab world that the US will not help them destroy Israel.

Many Israelis argue that we have to find a solution for our conflict with the Palestinians, and some insist that the problem is urgent (“Peace Now.”) But the experience of Israel’s first sixty years should teach us that patience is an advantage and perhaps even a necessity. What entitles us to have a solution available?

This is not to argue that the status quo does not have dangers. Israel is not safe. We are strong but also vulnerable, and quite capable of making decisive mistakes. But eagerness to settle our conflict with the Palestinians will not make us safe. Neither will anything else. Keeping our home here requires that we accept dangers and human costs of all kinds.

Dr. Max Singer
*Dr Singer, a founder and senior fellow of the Hudson Institute, is a senior fellow at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University in Israel.

Monday, June 05, 2017

As an Arab, I am embarrassed by the Six-Day War

From Times of Israel, 4 June 2017, by Fred Maroun*:
Fred Maroun
Fred Maroun

On the fiftieth anniversary of the Six-Day War, I commemorate with my Jewish friends. Before the war, Jews around the world feared what would happen to the Jews of Israel as they were surrounded by Arab armies and as the Arab leaders drummed up anti-Semitic hatred. But Israel stunned the whole world and particularly Arab leaders when it initiated a preventative attack, and when its young army vanquished much bigger and more experienced Arab armies in the short space of six days.

I am happy for my Jewish friends, but at the same time, as an Arab, I am embarrassed. I am not embarrassed that we lost. We deserved to lose, and I cannot even think of the massacres that may have ensued if we won. I am embarrassed that we started the war in the first place. An unnecessary war that followed 19 years after another unnecessary war that we also lost.

I am embarrassed that we let hatred drive our decision to go to war. I am embarrassed that we did not take Israel’s offer right after the war to make peace in exchange for land. I am embarrassed that since then, Egypt’s and Jordan’s realization of the foolishness of war was not matched by the rest of the Arab world, particularly my own country of Lebanon.

I am embarrassed that we never made a single credible comprehensive offer of peace to Israel. I am embarrassed that still today, 69 years after our first war against Israel, we still use the Palestinians as pawns in our war of hatred.

I am embarrassed that instead of denouncing the hatred, much of the world has joined with us in attacking the Jews’ right to self-determination.

I am embarrassed that I, and the few other Arabs who stand up to hatred, cannot do much more than speak up, and that we have not moved to action even our fellow Arabs who live comfortably in the West.

I am embarrassed as a citizen of the West because we pay lip service to Israel but we cannot provide substantial support to Israel, for example against the Arab attempts to rewrite the past and erase the Jewish history of Jerusalem.

I am embarrassed that we in the West are too beholden to Arab dictators to even take the symbolic step of recognizing that Jerusalem is an indivisible part of Israel.

I am embarrassed to ethnically belong to a group that thrives on hatred and to geographically belong to a group that appeases haters.

I am embarrassed to belong to a human race that has learned nothing from the lessons of the past and that continues to let antisemitism fester and grow.

I am embarrassed that I cannot write these words in an Arab publication or even in a mainstream Western publication because hatred and appeasement are too strong.

But there is something that I can do, and it is to fly in the face of every Arab tyrant and every Arab hatemonger, and to write the truth where I can, because unlike the vast majority Arabs who see the truth and yet remain silent, I refuse to be silenced, and that is something that I am proud of.

So, to my Jewish friends, on the fiftieth anniversary of the Six-Day War, I say, you have a lot to be proud of, not only from those six days, but from everything that your people did before and after. All the hatred in the world cannot take that pride away.

*Fred Maroun is a Canadian of Arab origin who lived in Lebanon until 1984, including during 10 years of civil war. Fred supports Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state, and he supports a liberal and democratic Middle East where all religions and nationalities, including Palestinians, can co-exist in peace with each other and with Israel, and where human rights are respected. Fred is an atheist, a social liberal, and an advocate of equal rights for LGBT people everywhere. Fred Maroun writes for Gatestone Institute.

Friday, June 02, 2017

Arab leaders planned for genocide in Six-Day War

From Ynetnews, 29 May 2017, by Ben-Dror Yemini:

During the 1967 war, Israel seized Egyptian and Jordanian operational documents with clear orders to annihilate the civil population. Nevertheless, different academics are distorting the facts in a bid to turn the Arabs into victims and Israel into an aggressor. Here’s the real story.

More than anything else, the Six-Day War has turned into a rewritten war. A sea of publications deal with what happened at the time. Gamal Abdel Nasser’s Egypt, the revisionists assert, had no ability to fight Israel, and anyway, he had no intention to do so.

It’s true that he made threats. 
It’s true that he sent more and more divisions to Sinai. 
It’s true that he expelled the United Nations observers. 
It’s true that he incited the masses in Arab countries. 
It’s true that the Arab regimes rattled their sabers and prepared for war. 
It’s true that he closed the Straits of Tiran. 
It’s true that Israel was besieged from its southern side. It’s true that this was a serious violation of international law. It’s true that it was a “casus belli” (a case of war).

IDF forces at the Western Wall during Six-Day War. When there is a narrative, who needs facts? (Photo: Bamahane)
IDF forces at the Western Wall during Six-Day War. When there is a narrative, who needs facts? (Photo: Bamahane)

All that doesn’t matter, however, because there is a mega-narrative that obligates the forces of progress to exempt the Arabs from responsibility and point the accusing finger at Israel. And when there is a narrative, who needs facts? After all, according to the mega-narrative, Israel had expansionist plans, so it seized the opportunity. Different scholars are distorting the facts in a bid to turn the Arabs into victims and Israel into an aggressor.

Excuse us for winning
I was a child, an elementary school student. I remember fear, a lot of fear. There were no shelters in the house I lived in. It was clear that there would be bombings, so we dug pits in the yard.

Occasionally, we are reminded of the sound of thunder from Cairo to remind us of the annihilation threats. But in fact, they were much more serious. Both the Arab League and the leaders of all neighboring states announced in an unequivocal manner that the plan was annihilation. I repeat: Annihilation. Arrogant talk? Considering the fact that the Arab and Muslim world was engaged in endless self and mutual massacres, it was pretty clear that what they were doing to themselves—and it’s still going on—they would also do to Israel.

We must remember one thing, therefore: The alternative to victory was annihilation. So excuse us for winning. Because an occupation without an annihilation is preferable to an annihilation without an occupation.

‘Our goal is clear: To wipe Israel off the map’
The Arab states never accepted the State of Israel’s existence, not for a moment. There was no occupation from 1949 to 1967, but a Palestinian state wasn’t established, because the leaders of the Arab world didn’t want another state. They wanted Israel. They didn’t hide their intentions for a minute.

The new stage began in 1964. On the backdrop of a conflict over the water sources, the Arab League convened in Cairo and announced:
“... collective Arab military preparations, when they are completed, will constitute the ultimate practical means for the final liquidation of Israel.”
Two years went by, and then-defense minister Hafez Assad, who went on to become Syria's president, declared:
"Strike the enemy’s settlements, turn them into dust, pave the Arab roads with the skulls of Jews.” And to erase any doubt, he added: "We are determined to saturate this earth with your (Israeli) blood, to throw you into the sea.”

 Six-Day War. Those who rewrite history are winning
Six-Day War. Those who rewrite history are winning

Nine days before the war broke out, Nasser said:
“The Arab people want to fight. Our basic aim is the destruction of the State of Israel.” Two more days passed before Iraq’s president, Abdul Rahman Arif, joined the threats: “This is our chance…our goal is clear: To wipe Israel off the map.”
Two days before the war broke out, PLO founder and leader Ahmad Shukieri said:
“Whoever survives will stay in Palestine, but in my opinion, no one will remain alive.” 
Yes, that was the atmosphere. Does anyone still seriously think that those were just declarations? Does anyone think that their intention was an enlightened occupation? Does anyone think that there would not have been a mass slaughter like the one Egypt carried out in Yemen and later on in Biafra?

Hussein: No annihilation orders, 'as far as I know'
In order to understand that these were not false statements, it should be noted that in a meeting held after the war between Israel’s Ambassador to London Aharon Remez and British Foreign Secretary George Brown, Remez said that Israel had seized documents of the Jordanian army on operational orders, from May 25 and 26, about two weeks before the war's outbreak, which included orders to exterminate the civil population in the communities that were planned to be occupied as well. They believed at the time that it was indeed going to happen.

It isn’t clear, Remez said at the time, whether Hussein was aware of these orders, but they were very similar to the annihilation orders issued by the Egyptian army. This appears both in Michael Oren’s book about the Six-Day war and in Miriam Joyce’s book about Hussein’s relations with the United States and Britain, as well as in Dr. Moshe Elad’s book (“Core Issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”). At first, Hussein rejected the claims about the annihilation orders out of hand, but later added: “As far as I know.”

Clear and simple facts
The days passed. The threats increased. More and more forces were sent to Sinai. More Arab countries joined the war coalition. It’s unclear whether Nasser really wanted a war, Oren wrote in his book. But he and the Arab countries did everything in their power to deteriorate the situation. Nasser’s appetite kept growing, and immediately after blocking the straits, he declared: “If we managed to restore the conditions that existed before 1956 (the Straits of Tiran are blocked), God will surely help us and urge us to restore the situation that existed in 1948.”

The late Yitzhak Rabin, who served as IDF chief of staff at the time, told the government that “it will be a difficult war… There will be many losses.” He estimated that 50,000 people would be killed. And Oren, who had read almost every document that had been declassified, concluded: “The documentation shows that Israel wanted to prevent a war with all its might, and that up to the eve of the battles it tried to stop the war in every possible way—even at a heavy strategic and economic cost for the state.” These are the facts. But those who rewrite history are winning.

The political debate over the Israeli control of the territories has led to a situation in which political opinions disrupt the factual research. The political debate is important. It’s certainly legitimate. But there is no need to rewrite history to justify a political stance. It should be the other way around: 
Facts should influence political views. And the facts are clear and simple: 
The Arab states’ leaders did not only settle for declarations on an expected annihilation, they even prepared operational orders.