Mandate for Palestine - July 24, 1922

Mandate for Palestine - July 24, 1922
Jordan is 77% of former Palestine - Israel, the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and Gaza comprise 23%.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

No Drama From Obama

[Published July 2008]

Barack Obama’s visit to Jordan and Israel this week turned out to be one very big yawn as he endorsed President Bush’s fundamentally flawed and totally failed plan - the so called “two state solution” - designed to create a new Arab State between Jordan and Israel - where none has ever existed before.

Hailed as the shining light for change on America’s political horizon Mr Obama showed himself to be completely bereft of any new ideas to end the territorial conflict between Jews and Arabs over this tiny piece of land the size of Delaware.

This was clearly evident as he told a press conference in Amman:
“I do believe that an ultimate resolution is going to involve two states standing side by side in peace and security, and that the Israelis and the Palestinians are going to both have to make compromises in order to arrive at that two-state solution.”

What Mr Obama ignores is the fact that 5 years of the most intense diplomatic pressure by America, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations - the Quartet - has failed to bring even the slightest hint of any breakthrough in realising the Bush solution that Mr Obama still so seriously espouses.

Mr Obama sought to explain away the failure to achieve this “ultimate resolution” by asserting to the assembled media:
“Now, one of the difficulties that we have right now is that in order to make those compromises you have to have strong support from your people, and the Israeli government right now is unsettled. You know, the Palestinians are divided between Fatah and Hamas. And so it’s difficult for either side to make the bold move that would bring about peace the way, for example, the peace between Israel and Egypt was brought about. Those leaders were in a much stronger position to initiate that kind of peace.”

This statement is a complete furphy for three major reasons:

1. Israel’s Government is not unsettled - unless you call threats to flee the coalition unsettling, which is a constant fact of life in all democracies. Whilst its Prime Minister is almost out on his knees, the democratically elected Government continues to maintain a parliamentary majority and the confidence of the Knesset to ensure that any compromises an Israeli Government makes will be honoured and enforced .

2. The objectives of Fatah and Hamas are identical - the elimination of the existence of Israel as the Jewish State - as both their constitutions frankly and openly declare. Hamas says this can only be achieved by armed struggle whilst Fatah thinks it can happen via the diplomatic route.

No matter which one of them the Palestinians choose - or even if they reconcile and reunite to form a government of national unity - how then can there ever be any bold move for peace whilst this joint mind set continues to persist and what is the point of any further negotiations with either of them until such racist ideology is first removed from their respective platforms?

3. The peace between Israel and Egypt concerned sovereign territory that belonged to Egypt prior to its loss to Israel in 1967. This then became a far easier conflict to resolve than the West Bank and Gaza - territory in which sovereignty has remained undetermined since 1920 but to which Israel claims superior title over any other claimants under the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine, article 80 of the United Nations Charter and Security Council resolutions 242 and 337.

Mr Obama cannot be that ignorant, naïve or poorly advised to be unaware of these basic contradictions to his statement to the media

He himself has given Hamas and Fatah notice of his stance on their policy to eliminate Israel telling a meeting of the American and Israel Public Affairs Committee just last month :
“[A]ny agreement with the Palestinian people must preserve Israel’s identity as a Jewish state.”

In doing so Mr Obama has given his wholehearted endorsement to a similar statement made by President Bush to Israel in 2004 - sounding the death knell then - and now - for President Bush’s vision ever coming to fruition.

This is the ultimate deal breaker that neither Hamas nor Fatah will ever be prepared to relinquish and which America has quite rightly said is totally abhorrent and must be rejected.

Mr Obama has now also affirmed to the Jerusalem Post in an interview this week that there will have to be some “give and take” in the West Bank - knowing full well that the Palestinian Authority has refused to give even one square metre for the last five years. He also made it clear in the same interview that Israel cannot be expected to return to the armistice lines that existed prior to the Six Day War in June 1967.

So why is Mr Obama still endorsing President Bush’s two state solution when he knows it can never eventuate?

Is this how he seeks to establish his leadership and foreign policy credentials - by continuing to engage in a diplomatic process begun by the incumbent American President that has been a total diplomatic disaster since it was first articulated?

Why would Mr Obama want to be associated with this clear policy failure by - and humiliation of - the world’s only superpower to bring about the division of a tiny piece of real estate between two competing parties to end the conflict between them?

In continuing to endorse Mr Bush’s failed vision, Mr Obama has made it clear that he is more interested in not rocking the American political boat by giving his opponents any sniff that he might contemplate a different direction in resolving the Arab-Israeli dispute.

In doing so he has aligned himself with a failed President - obviously deciding this is less of a political risk than formulating his own bold move for trying to achieve what so many past American Presidents have wanted to do - but also failed to achieve.

That might be smart politics - but it has merely confirmed that on this issue he lacks the sincerity and conviction to be the architect for change and to break the unbridgeable deadlock that has spelt doom for the current negotiations and will continue to plague them until they are finally disbanded.

Meanwhile the killing and carnage will continue followed by the usual condemnations and recriminations.

Mr Obama’s visit to the Middle East this week has shown he is just your ordinary politician after all.

Sarkozy Succumbs To Mediterranean Mismatch

[Published July 2008]

France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy has had to eat humble pie after his ground-breaking plan to establish the 43 member Mediterranean Union failed to reach an agreed final communiqué because of the opposition to its wording by the Palestinian Authority (PA) - the only non-state member present.

President Sarkozy’s efforts in bringing Israel and 9 members of the Arab League - including Syria - to this inaugural meeting promised to introduce a ray of light for Israeli-Arab co-operation and an end to regional turmoil.

Hopes were high that the parlous - indeed terminal - state of negotiations between Israel and the PA under the Roadmap proposed by America, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations - the Quartet - might miraculously be brought back to life.

Israel’s Prime Minister Mr Olmert had been remarkably upbeat in claiming - prior to the meeting - that his country had never been closer to a peace deal with the Palestinians.

The images of President Sarkozy, PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Mr Olmert smiling and enjoying a three way bear hug would have encouraged President Sarkozy into believing that he would be able to achieve the diplomatic breakthrough that had eluded the Quartet for the last 5 years.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner however was not taken in by Mr Olmert’s absurd assessment and had sounded a word of warning when he bluntly told European News (12 July):
“Being around the same table with people you have fought is the beginning of something, it is the wind of hope. I’m sorry to say that the talks between the Israelis and Palestinians are not part of this wind of hope”

Little did Mr Kouchner - or President Sarkozy - imagine that the fundamental disagreements between Israel and the PA would be used by the PA to undermine the grand design of President Sarkozy to bring the nations of the Mediterranean and the European Union together in a new spirit of co-operation and joint venture.

The unfriendly wind Mr Kouchner had felt was shortly to blow away any hopes of an agreed summit position when the PA objected to the wording of the summit declaration.

Why the PA thought it necessary to incur the wrath and displeasure of President Sarkozy by importing the Middle-East conflict into the formation of the Mediterranean Union was puzzling. Quibbling over a few words in an otherwise agreed document remained a mystery - until the PA tried to explain the significance - and insidiousness - of its objection.

PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki told reporters according to Xinhua news agency (July 15):
“The Israelis insisted on the inclusion of the words - “state for the Jewish people” - something we are categorically opposed to. It was out of the question for us to accept this wording. We wanted to ensure the final statement was very clear on this point".

The Israeli delegation had a different take on what had happened telling Xinhua that Israel was in “ agreement with everything that has been adopted in the declaration because it was done by consensus”

Mr Kouchner was more forthcoming on what had actually occurred to spoil President Sarkozy’s party.

He told Xinhua that the standstill had been caused by the use of the expressions “nation state, national state, and democratic state”. This had resulted in “ a last minute deadlock between the Israelis and the Palestinians which meant that the final text had to undergo some little changes. The use of the expression “national state” implies difficulties in ensuring the return of refugees to the Jewish State or non-Jewish, Palestinian State.”

How the PA could ever hope to succeed in getting the Mediterranean Union members to unanimously agree to wording in the summit declaration that would support the entry of millions of Arabs into Israel and deny the Jewish people its own State is unbelievable.

These two intransigent demands of the PA have long been the sticking points in ensuring that President Bush’s vision - the creation of a 23rd Arab state between Israel and Jordan - will remain an impossible dream incapable of fulfilment. Now they had been brought to France by the PA to embarrass and undermine President Sarkozy’s vision - the establishment of the Mediterranean Union.

The supine French reaction to these untenable and badly mistimed demands was entirely predictable.

President Sarkozy could have told the PA to take a cold shower or to re-apply for membership of the Mediterranean Union when it had received international recognition as the governing authority of a sovereign and democratic state. Alternatively he could have suggested the PA be given observer status at the Mediterranean Union until statehood was achieved.

Mindful that any such action would have provoked an Arab walkout, President Sarkozy bit his tongue and chose the diplomatic path - sending the hapless Mr Kouchner on an appeasement journey to ease the frustration President Sarkozy must have felt at this upstart non-state thwarting mighty France at the very moment of what was to be one of its greatest achievements.

Mr Kouchner was left to tell Xinhua (July 15) :
“At the last moment we failed , perhaps for half an hour, to advance due to one word”

That one word was “Jewish”.

The Arab campaign to delegitimise the Jewish State was once again exposed as it continued in earnest in Paris at the birthplace of the Mediterranean Union.

One Jewish State on this planet remains an anathema to most of the 22 Islamic Arab States as they continue resisting it and calling for its destruction wherever and whenever the opportunity arises.

Mr Kouchner is fooling no-one as he bends the French knee once again in deference to this racist alliance that has actively opposed the existence of the Jewish State in its ancient homeland since its establishment 60 years ago.

It will take more than half an hour and more than one word before these nations are disavowed of their evil intention.


The Pope, Palestine And Papal Politics

[Published July 2008]

Pope Benedict XVI’s appointment of Archbishop Fouad Twal as the new Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem to succeed recently retired Archbishop Michael Sabbah - after 21 years in that position – signals a significant change of course by the Vatican in its relationship with the Jewish State.

Archbishop Twal becomes the second Palestinian Arab to be appointed - after Archbishop Sabbah - as head of the Roman Catholic Church in Jerusalem.

However their Palestinian lineage and political heritage have taken markedly different routes.

Archbishop Sabbah was born in Western Palestine in Nazareth in 1933 - growing up and spending his entire life in that part of Palestine that witnessed the political struggle by the Jews that had begun in 1917 to reconstitute the Jewish National Home in Palestine - and culminated in the birth of Israel in 1948 in just 17% of Palestine.

Archbishop Twal was born in Eastern Palestine in Madaba in 1940 - growing up in that part of Palestine in which Jewish rights to settle or constitute their National Home were postponed or withheld - culminating in the Mandatory Power - Great Britain - granting independence in 77% of Palestine in 1946 to the totally Palestinian Arab population living there - today called Jordan.

Archbishop Twal’s appointment must be seen as an attempt by the Pope to heal the serious rift in relationships between Israel and the Vatican that had sunk to their lowest ebb ever by the end of 2007.

In November 2007 a former Holy See envoy to Jerusalem – Monsignor Pietro Sambri – complained that relations with Israel had been better before a historic agreement was signed between the Holy See and Israel in 1993 - recognising the State of Israel 45 years after its establishment. Monsignor Sambri listed a number of complaints – the failure to ease travel restrictions for Catholic clerics, threatened taxes on the Church and the status of expropriated Church property.

His complaints were mild in the face of what was to come when Archbishop Sabbah delivered this Christmas message on 19 December 2007 questioning Israel’s legitimacy to exist as the Jewish State:
“In recent times, there has been some talk about creating “religious” States in this land. But in this land, which is holy for three religions and for two peoples, religious States cannot be established because they would exclude or place in an inferior position the believers of the other religions…[Political leaders] must know that the holiness of this land does not consist in the exclusion of one or the other of the religions, but in the ability of each religion, with all of their difference, to welcome, respect, and love all who inhabit this land.”

The Archbishop was not directing his call to the Palestinian Authority’s Basic Law that declares:
“Islam is the official religion of Palestine”

and calls for 450000 Jews to be thrown out of the West Bank.

He was not sending his message to Jordan whose constitution declares that:
“Islam shall be the religion of the State”

and where Jews are not permitted to live.

The Archbishop was unabashedly espousing the right of return for millions of Palestinian Arabs - overwhelmingly Moslem - and their descendants into the Jewish State - Israel.

This uncompromising demand has been war cry of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Arab League for the last 40 years and has wrecked any prospects by America, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations - the Quartet - to attempt to create a new Arab State between Israel and Jordan.

The Vatican was silent in face of the Archbishop’s partisan antagonism towards - and criticism of - Israel despite the Vatican’s supposed non-political stance as expressed in Article 11 (2) of the 1993 Agreement:
“The Holy See, while maintaining in every case the right to exercise its moral and spiritual teaching-office, deems it opportune to recall that owing to its own character, it is solemnly committed to remaining a stranger to all merely temporal conflicts, which principle applies specifically to disputed territories and unsettled borders.”

Archbisop Twal’s appointment serves notice that the Vatican is now ready to honour this agreement.

Mending bridges - not tearing them down - has been the hall mark of Archbishop Twal’s career as one of the Vatican’s top diplomatic envoys. It started in 1976 with his appointment as charge d’affaires in Honduras in Central America thence back to the Vatican between 1982-1985 where he was made responsible for 19 speaking African countries in the Secretariat of State. Egypt, Germany, Peru and Tunis were signposts on the roadmap toward his appointment in 2005 as Coadjutor Archbishop of Jerusalem.

Archbishop Twal told in an interview on 22 June that :
“If you want to touch Jews, Muslims, Christians, Jordanians, Palestinians, Cypriots, Europeans all together ..then you have to consider every comma”

In the same interview he said :
“Perhaps I will disappoint journalists in politics”.

Yet he is still alive to the need to involve Jordan in the peace process telling Vatican Radio on 21 June:
“The majority of our priests, nuns, schools families are in Jordan. We need a link to Jordan…,”

The Pope - who is visiting Australia this week for World Youth Day might not be aware that another Catholic with the name Benedict - Australia’s 16th Prime Minister Joseph Benedict Chifley - once said:
“You don’t try to make love to a woman by kicking her in the shins”

The Pope’s appointee in Jerusalem has signalled the universality of this message. Regular newspaper columns devoted to Patriarchal criticism of Israel will now become mere historical footnotes.

The last Pope to bear Pope Benedict’s name - Benedict XV - enthusiastically endorsed the Jews’ right to reconstitute their national home in what was then Palestine when he told Zionist leader Nahum Sokolov at an audience in 1917 :
“Nineteen hundred years ago Rome destroyed your homeland and when you seek to rebuild it, you seek a path which leads via Rome…Yes this is the will of Divine Providence, this is what the Almighty desires.”

This papal message is hopefully what will now permeate relations between Israel and the Vatican. It has been a long time coming but can only be seen as a positive development in a region where bad news is usually the norm.