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%.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Join in this discussion

Professor John Quigley - Professor of Law at Ohio State University - has urged America to recognize a Palestinian State. His article can be viewed at:

I have posted a reply and urge others to do likewise. I will respond to all comments to my post.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Brainwashed Or Brain Dead?

Editor: When you read Marty Morrison's article you will see how Goebbels was right: in claiming that if you repeat a lie often enough, it is believed. I did what we all have to do when this happens and responded to her anti-Israel article with "just the facts", just the provable facts, point by point.

Hats off to the Independent Australian as well for publishing both the article and my response.

[Published 27 November 2010]

Marty Morrison's article ‘Marty In Palestine’ (9.11.2010) contains factually false and/or misleading statements, contends David Singer.

1. “The sympathy that the world community had for Jews following the horrors of World War II blinded people to the dispossession of the Palestinians.”

In fact world sympathy for the Jews had been established after World War 1 with the creation of the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine in 1920 calling for the “reconstitution of the Jewish National Home” in Palestine after thousands of years of exile, anti-Semitism and pogroms.

The Arabs have never recognized this unanimous and binding legal declaration by the League and this has been the source of their misfortune ever since.

2.” historians say the Palestinians have inhabited the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Dead Sea for more than 13 centuries.”

There was no designated group called “Palestinians” until 1964. During the 400 years rule of the Ottoman Empire (1519-1919) the population was divided into “Jews”, “Moslems” and “Christians”. This practice continued during the Mandate (1920 -1948). The Mandate document itself only referred to “the existing non-Jewish communities”. The UN partiton Plan (1947) only spoke of a "Jewish" state and an "Arab" state.

3. “In 1917 at the time of the Balfour Declaration Palestinians comprised 70 per cent of the population and owned more than 90 per cent of the land.”

The Arabs only owned 8% of the land and the Jews 6%. The rest was state land vested in Turkey and forming part of the Ottoman Empire.

4. “One way to do this is to stand with the Palestinians and Israeli activists when homes are being destroyed, when more Jewish settlements are being constructed on Palestinian land”

Homes have been destroyed pursuant to court decisions ruling their construction illegal or as a result of the application of Jordanian laws still applicable in the West Bank. The land is not “Palestinian land”. It is at this point of time "no man's land". Its legal status is that it forms part of the remaining 5% of the territory of the Mandate for Palestine still unallocated in accordance with the terms of the Mandate. Jews are legally entitled to settle anywhere in the West Bank under article 6 of the Mandate and article 80 of the UN Charter.

5. “One can understand the Palestinians’ frustration and apprehension for the future when one considers that when the United Nations partitioned Palestine into two states in 1947 the Jewish state received 55 per cent of the land and the Arab Palestinians and Christian Palestinians got 45 per cent of the land”

More than 70% of the 55% offered to the Jews comprised the arid and sparsely populated Negev desert. The 45% offered to the Arabs was mostly the fertile and contained the majority of the Arab populated areas. The Arabs rejected the UN offer as they had previously done in 1937 when rejecting the Peel Report recommendations.

The Arabs could have had what they now demand in 2010 - at any time between 1948-1967. Had they been prepared to negotiate and recognize Israel in the five years following the 1967 War the political landscape today would have been entirely different. Their refusal to accept less than 100% of the West Bank and Gaza over the last 17 years and their expressed desire to destroy Israel has seen their position further deteriorate.That is their prerogative but it is a bit late to cry over spilt milk. Their leaders have led them – and apparently well intended persons such as Marty – up the proverbial garden path.

6. “In the ensuing war the Israelis captured even more land, so that at the cease-fire the Jews were in control of three-quarters - leaving just 22 per cent of land for the Palestinians (the West Bank and Gaza)."

The Jews only controlled 17%. Jordan controlled 83%, which it unified into one country with the consent of the West Bank Arabs in 1950. Only Great Britain and Pakistan recognized that reunification. The Arabs could have created a separate state out of that 83% at any time between 1948-1967 but did not do so and did not request one. They were the architects of their own missed opportunities.

7. “The boundary at this time came to be known as the Green Line.”

There was no boundary – only an armistice line that had been in existence following the end of hostilities in 1949.

8. “After the war in 1967 the Israeli army conquered all of Mandated Palestine”

Incorrect. 78% of Mandated Palestine had been granted independence in 1946 and was not conquered by Israel in 1967. The West Bank (Judea and Samaria are the Biblical names for this area) and Gaza – conquered by Israel in 1967 – was only 5% of Mandated Palestine.

9.” I hate to write this but I firmly believe that Israel, by and large, wants the Palestinians to disappear and are therefore deliberately colonising the West Bank”

Israel is clearly failing in this “objective” if Marty only took the time to look at the increasing West Bank Arab population and improvements in their standard of living. Since 95% of the West Bank Arab population is now under total Palestinian Authority administration after the Oslo Agreements in 1993. Marty's “firm belief” is a load of nonsense and amounts to racial vilification,

10. “Jews are invited to come to live in the West Bank from every country on earth.”

Why does this worry Marty? Jews have this right legally granted to them under the Mandate and article 80 of the UN Charter. They had done this prior to 1948 before they were driven out of the West Bank by six invading Arab armies.

11. “Settlers live freely without any of the curtailments of the Palestinians”

The Jews live behind barbed wire and stringent security restrictions with their schools and public places all under security guard protection and for good reason.

12. “I realise that the burden of my account is at odds with the information supplied by the skilled Israeli public relations officers and government ministers.”

Marty's account sure is. She appears to have relied on a whole lot of dishonest material given to her by her Arab hosts. It is a pity she didn’t check the veracity of this material before rushing into print. Had she done so she might have had a better perspective on the conflict between Jews and Arabs that has gone on for the last 130 years.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

West Bank - Jews Worldwide Have Legal Rights

[Published January 2010]

Catherine Ashton - High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission - was merely parroting European Union policy when she told the European Parliament in Strasbourg on 30 December 2009:
"East Jerusalem is occupied territory, together with the rest of the West Bank.”

It was justification enough however for Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon to pen an article in the Wall Street Journal on 30 December 2009 pointing out that Israel considers these territories to be “disputed territories” rather than “occupied territories” - the nomenclature adopted by the United Nations General Assembly and the International Court of Justice.

Mr Ayalon stated the reasons for Israel‘s position as follows:
“That’s because the land now known as the West Bank cannot be considered "occupied" in the legal sense of the word as it had not attained recognized sovereignty before Israel’s conquest. Contrary to some beliefs there has never been a Palestinian state, and no other nation has ever established Jerusalem as its capital despite it being under Islamic control for hundreds of years.”

Mr Ayalon criticised the perception that:
“... Israel is occupying stolen land and that the Palestinians are the only party with national, legal and historic rights to it. Not only is this morally and factually incorrect, but the more this narrative is being accepted,the less likely the Palestinians feel the need to come to the negotiating table.”

Mr Ayalon was affirming that the West Bank was at present “no man’s land” in which no recognized State - including Israel - had yet attained sovereignty.

The current claimants - Israel on behalf of the Jewish people and the Palestinian Authority (PA) on behalf of the Palestinian Arabs - are yet to finally negotiate on and conclude the allocation of sovereignty between them based on their competing claims.

It was therefore particularly pleasing that Ms Ashton stated:
“ Negotiations should be based on international law and respect previous agreements.”

This should be seen as a welcome statement from the European Union since the international law dealing with the legal status of the West Bank and Jewish rights to claim sovereignty there has been consistently and studiously - perhaps even deliberately - overlooked since Israel‘s capture of the West Bank from Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is a prime example of such oversight.

In its 2004 advisory opinion on the legality of the security barrier constructed by Israel - the ICJ omitted to even mention - let alone consider - the international law applicable to the entitlement of the Jewish people to reconstitute the Jewish National Home in the West Bank by close settlement on West Bank land - including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes.

These rights were vested in the Jewish people pursuant to Articles 94 and 95 of the 1920 Treaty of Sevres, the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine 1920 and Article 80 of the United Nations Charter.

The failure of the ICJ to consider these Jewish rights is exacerbated by the fact that one of the Judges who heard the security barrier case - Judge Elaraby - gave this warning to his fellow 14 judges sitting on that case:
"... the international legal status of the Palestinian Territory merits more comprehensive treatment" .

Judge Elaraby identified the need for such a review saying:
"A historical survey is relevant to the question posed by the General Assembly, for it serves as the background to understanding the legal status of the Palestinian Territory on the one hand and underlines the special and continuing responsibility of the General Assembly on the other. This may appear as academic, without relevance to the present events. The present is however determined by the accumulation of past events and no reasonable and fair concern for the future can possibly disregard a firm grasp of past events. In particular, when on one or more than one occasion, the rule of law was consistently sidestepped."

The failure of the ICJ to consider the legal status of the West Bank was therefore inexplicable.

Judge Elaraby continued:
"The point of departure, or one can say in legal jargon, the critical date,is the League of Nations Mandate which was entrusted to Great Britain"

True the Arab League has never accepted the Mandate in which inalienable Jewish rights to closely settle the West Bank were created. But they were created by the unanimous vote of the then members of the League of Nations, still do exist for the benefit of the Jewish people today and are entitled to be taken into consideration in negotiations on the future sovereignty of the West Bank.

The Jerusalem Post reported on 25 September 2008 that there were 13.3 million people around the world who define themselves as Jewish and who do not belong to any other faith according to a survey conducted by Prof.Sergio Della Pergola from the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute and the Harman Institute of Contemporary Jewry at the Hebrew University.

5.55 million Jews live in Israel and 7.75 million live outside Israel, meaning 58.7 percent of World Jewry now resides outside the Jewish state.

The reconstitution of the Jewish National Home in the West Bank is as much a concern for a large number of those Jews living outside Israel as those who live within Israel - if not for themselves going to live there then for their children and future generations who might want to do so.

Ms Ashton is therefore to be commended on drawing attention to the need to base any resumed negotiations on international law.

Ms Ashton further stated:
“The EU will continue to support and work closely with the US via the Quartet [America, Russia, EU and the United Nations - author]. The Quartet needs reinvigoration. The current stalemate in the peace process demands it. The Quartet can provide the careful yet dynamic mediation that is required.”

The first steps in that invigoration should involve the Quartet gaining a full understanding of:
1. The current legal status of the West Bank and
2. Jewish rights to claim sovereignty in the West Bank under international law.

Ms Ashton said she will be travelling to the region shortly adding:
“ My main objective will be to meet the main actors and see first hand how the EU can be a force for change. I think we all share the overall and overriding priority of a resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Not negotiations for negotiations sake but negotiations to achieve a peace deal and turn the page. We cannot, and nor, I doubt can the region tolerate another round of fruitless negotiations. Negotiations have taken place on and off for several years starting with the Oslo Declaration of Principles signed in September 1993.”

Negotiations to achieve that peace deal can only realistically take place within the context of the European Union recognizing Jewish rights to sovereignty in the West Bank and comprehending the current legal status of the West Bank.

Otherwise her visit to the region will end up in total failure like the hundreds - if not thousands - of earlier attempts at peace making by well intended but totally misinformed envoys.

Headhunt Hamas or Heil Haniyeh

[Published January 2010]

What is Israel - and the World - to conclude when Gaza’s Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh addresses 100000 cheering Gazan Arabs on 14 December 2009 to mark 22 years since the formation of Hamas and tells them:
“We will never give up on Palestine from the [Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] sea.

It is not enough for Hamas to liberate Gaza, nor to establish an emirate in Gaza, nor a state, nor an independent entity… Hamas strives to liberate all of Palestine.”

Is this the rant of a madman or a leader on a deadly - but seemingly hopeless - mission to get rid of 6.5 million Jews who live in what was formerly 22% of the British Mandate for Palestine - today called Israel and the West Bank?

When Haniyeh talks of liberating “all of Palestine“ does he also include the remaining 78% that is today called Jordan?

Is his territorial conquest only related to “all of Palestine” or does it extend far beyond Palestine’s former boundaries?

One can draw an analogy in Haniyeh’s message with a disbelieving world which blithely ignored Hitler’s warnings in his book “Mein Kampf” - written in 1923 - calling for territorial conquest and a war on the Jews. 16 years later and because of such complacency World War 2 resulted.

Hitler was in 1923 the failed leader of a coup, possibly a future potential leader but without power, land or an army and languishing in prison. His writings in 1923 could have been regarded as no more than expressed fantasies incapable of fulfillment.

Hamas- formed in 1987 - had its own constitution which clearly set out its quest for the identical goals as Hitler wrote about in 1923 - territorial conquest and a war on the Jews - but in addition contained provisions calling for the subjugation of Christianity and Judaism to Islam, the defeat of secularism and the overthrow of secular Arab regimes making peace with Israel.

The major difference from 1923 was that the Jews now had their own country - Israel - and an army to defend them. Israel represented the major obstacle to Hamas achieving all its stated goals.

This made the Hamas fantasy far more difficult to believe as its sights were directed towards the improbable destruction of Israel as the first step in achieving its international ambitions.

Hamas in 1987 - like Hitler in 1923 - was a dream without any foundation of power, land or an army.

Yet today Hamas exercises power and rules over territory which contains 1.5 million citizens. Gaza is home to a large number of terrorist groups many of whom swear allegiance to Hamas and others who are allowed to operate from Gaza with impunity.

Hamas has an army of well trained and disciplined fighters and is steadily building up a huge supply of rockets and armaments in pursuit of its goal to liberate all of Palestine.

The acquisition of nuclear weapons by Hamas cannot be discounted.

Haniyeh’s coup in ousting the Palestinian Authority from political control of Gaza in 2007 did not fail as Hitler did in 1923 - but was achieved in a matter of days with spectacular success.

Whilst the governments of Canada, the European Union, Israel, Japan, Australia, and the United States classify Hamas as a terrorist organization - Haniyeh basks in the international limelight with such persons as Iran’s Ahmadinejad, Syria’s Assad, Britain’s George Galloway and former American President Jimmy Carter beating a path to his door.

Haniyeh hides behind the findings of the Goldstone Report believing Israel’s hands are tied in the actions it can take in future to uproot Hamas from Gaza following its unsuccessful attempt to do so one year ago.

Haniyeh basks in the international opprobrium following Israel’s invasion that sees well meaning but ill informed organizations and members of the public focusing their anger on Israel for seeking to protect its citizens from threats like that being uttered by Haniyeh - instead calling for boycotts of - and divestment from - anything that has to do with Israel.

These sympathisers ignore the provisions of the Hamas Covenant which provide that:
1. Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences are in contradiction of the principles of Hamas… These conferences are only ways of setting the infidels in the land of the Moslems as arbitrators.
2. There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavours.
3. Liberation of Palestine is an individual duty for every Moslem wherever he may be. It is necessary to instill in the minds of the Moslem generations that the Palestinian problem is a religious problem, and should be dealt with on this basis.
4. Freemasons, Rotary Clubs and Lions Clubs, are nothing more than cells of subversion and saboteurs… These organizations operate in the absence of Islam …. The Islamic peoples should perform their role in confronting the conspiracies of these saboteurs. The day Islam is in control of guiding the affairs of life, these organizations, hostile to humanity and Islam, will be obliterated.
5. Jews were behind World War I, when they were able to destroy the Islamic Caliphate,making financial gains and controlling resources. They obtained the Balfour Declaration,formed the League of Nations through which they could rule the world. They were behind World War II, through which they made huge financial gains by trading in armaments, and paved the way for the establishment of their state. It was they who instigated the replacement of the League of Nations with the United Nations and the Security Council to enable them to rule the world through them. There is no war going on anywhere, without having their finger in it.
6. Leaving the circle of conflict with Israel is a major act of treason and it will bring curse on its perpetrators. Egypt has already been cast out of the conflict, to a very great extent through the treacherous Camp David Accords, and she has been trying to drag other countries into similar agreements in order to push them out of the circle of conflict. [Jordan has since signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994 - author]
7. Israel, Judaism and Jews challenge Islam and the Moslem people.
8. Under the wing of Islam, it is possible for the followers of the three religions - Islam,Christianity and Judaism - to coexist in peace and quiet with each other. Peace and quiet would not be possible except under the wing of Islam.
9. Secular thought is diametrically opposed to religious thought.

These are no longer expressed fantasies being dreamt up by someone powerless to execute them - nor are they limited to hatred of Jews only. Christians, secularists,and Arab States making peace with Israel are also targets.

From the Hamas perspective the time for achieving these goals is rapidly approaching - particularly as consistent efforts are made by many in the international community to delegitimize the State of Israel.

There is no longer any room for complacency - as might have existed in 1987. Appeasement is not an option.

The defeat of Hamas and its hatred filled agenda, its removal from Gaza and the freeing of Gaza’s citizens fed up with the devastation wreaked by Hamas control must be confronted and dealt with before Hamas sucks the world into another unwanted war.

Palestine - Two-State Option Stymied

[ Published December 2009]

Any hope of creating a new Arab state between Israel, Egypt and Jordan has been stymied after the following statement was made by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on December 28:
“Today, 8 months after our government was formed, we have formulated a broad national consensus on the principles to approach the negotiations with the Palestinians in order to achieve peace and security. The two principles are clear, there are others - the recognition of the state of Israel as a Jewish state, and of course, security measures that guarantee effective demilitarization and other principles that I have already expressed.”

These two principles -
1.recognizing Israel as a Jewish State and
2.demilitarization of a future Palestinian State

- were first stipulated by Israel as two of fourteen reservations made by Israel at the time of its acceptance of the Road Map issued by President Bush in April 2003.

They have been consistently maintained by all Israeli Governments since then.

Reservation 5 made by Israel to President Bush stated :
“The character of the provisional Palestinian state will be determined through negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. The provisional state will have provisional borders and certain aspects of sovereignty, be fully demilitarized with no military forces, but only with police and internal security forces of limited scope and armaments, be without the authority to undertake defense alliances or military cooperation, and Israeli control over the entry and exit of all persons and cargo, as well as of its air space and electromagnetic spectrum.”

Reservation 6 stated:
“ In connection to both the introductory statements and the final settlement, declared references must be made to Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state and to the waiver of any right of return for Palestinian refugees to the State of Israel.”

On 23 May 2003, then Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice made the following statement from the White House:
"The roadmap was presented to the Government of Israel with a request from the President that it respond with contributions to this document to advance true peace. The United States Government received a response from the Government of Israel, explaining its significant concerns about the roadmap.

The United States shares the view of the Government of Israel that these are real concerns, and will address them fully and seriously in the implementation of the roadmap to fulfil the President’s vision of June 24, 2002.”

On 25 May 2003, the Israeli Cabinet met and by a majority resolved:
“Based on the 23 May 2003 statement of the United States Government, in which the United States committed to fully and seriously address Israel’s comments to the Roadmap during the implementation phase, the Prime Minister announced on 23 May 2003 that Israel has agreed to accept the steps set out in the Roadmap.

The Government of Israel affirms the Prime Minister’s announcement, and resolves that all of Israel’s comments, as addressed in the Administration’s statement, will be implemented in full during the implementation phase of the Roadmap.”

Palestinian Authority President - Mahmoud Abbas - told Haaretz on 28 May 2003 that the 14 reservations made by Israel had nothing to do with him. He said:
“They don’t interest me,”

Haaretz reported that as far as Abbas was concerned, the only document that mattered was the road map that was finalized in December 2002 and handed over to the parties at the end of April 2003. Nothing more, nothing less. Abbas continued:
“We do not accept each side picking and choosing only those specific elements that are convenient for them in the road map.

The map was prepared last December and we accepted it, despite our own comments and reservations. We wanted to give this initiative a chance, but it’s impossible to continue inventing comments and reservations after it was submitted.”

This was a very intransigent - indeed foolish and naïve - attitude to adopt in the face of President Bush having specifically invited both sides to comment on the Road Map.

The response from President Bush to Israel’s reservations acknowledged that Israel’s concerns were real and they would be fully and seriously addressed during the implementation phase.

It is inconceivable that President Obama would repudiate the Bush assurances given to Israel.

Both principles have been rejected by the Palestinian Authority on numerous occasions in the past and no doubt will be met by further adverse comment after Mr Netanyahu’s announcement this week.

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat commented on 16 June 2009 in Haaretz on the issue of demilitarization:
“He (Netanyahu) will have to wait 1,000 years before he finds one Palestinian who will go along with him with this feeble state.”

President Abbas told Reuters on 27 April 2009 on recognizing Israel as the Jewish State:
“I do not accept it. It is not my job to give a description of the state. Name yourself the Hebrew Socialist Republic—it is none of my business.”

Israel’s reservation went far beyond an issue of terminology - and Abbas knew it. It was resisted by Abbas because it was seen as denying millions of Arabs the right to emigrate to Israel thereby changing the demographics of Israel to seriously dilute or even overtake the Jewish majority.

Rejection by the Palestinian Authority of demilitarization and the recognition of Israel as the Jewish State coupled with rejection by Israel of the Palestinian Authority’s demands that Israel cede sovereignty over every square metre of the West Bank and remove 500000 Jews presently living there amount to a joint public declaration by both sides that any further negotiations between them - if ever resumed - are going to be a complete waste of time and will achieve no result.

The Palestinian Authority has shown no interest in resuming negotiations with Israel since it announced a ten months moratorium on housing construction in the West Bank on 25 November.

The announcement now made by Mr Netanyahu will only act as a further excuse for the Palestinian Authority to continue to refuse to negotiate.

The Palestinian Authority’s use by date as a negotiating partner with Israel to determine the allocation of sovereignty in the West Bank and Gaza has surely now been reached.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Exchange of Letters In The Globe and Mail

[Published 16 September 2010]

From: Watching China

To: David Singer

Dear Mr. Singer;

Why should the Arabs negotiate? Why should they have approved of the giveaway of Palestine by those who didn't own it?

You can quote all the nonsense you want, but the one salient fact is that Palestine does not belong to the Jews; it belongs to the Arabs who inhabited it for the past 2,000 years.

Yes, the UK promised to give it to you, but wasn't theirs to give. And now you forcibly occupy 95% of it and are still salivating for the remaining 5%, at which time your victory will be complete.

It's THEIR land. You took it, and they want it back. End of discussion.


From: David Singer

To: Watching China

You state:

"You can quote all the nonsense you want, but the one salient fact is that Palestine does not belong to the Jews; it belongs to the Arabs who inhabited it for the past 2,000 years."

Sorry but your "salient fact" is wrong.

Palestine did not belong to Arabs - or the Jews - who lived there at the end of World War 1. It had belonged to the Ottoman Empire for the previous 400 years and before that to a string of conquerors following Rome's conquest of Eretz Yisrael - the sovereign state of the Jews - 2000 years ago.

You are confusing sovereignty with habitation.

When the British and French conquered Palestine they were perfectly entitled to allocate sovereignty of the conquered Ottoman territories as they determined and as was approved by the League of Nations. The Arabs were to get 99.999% and the Jews 0.001%

You further state:

"And now you forcibly occupy 95% of it and are still salivating for the remaining 5%, at which time your victory will be complete."

Israel is the sovereign ruler in only 17% of the Mandate. Jordan is the sovereign ruler in 77% of the Mandate - and the West Bank and Gaza makes up the remaining 6% where sovereignty still remains unallocated between Jews and Arabs. Your percentages are pure fiction.

Israel has agreed to cede its claim to more than 90% of the West Bank and Gaza which has been rejected by the PA.

If the Palestinian Arabs do not want to negotiate that is their perfect entitlement. The PLO Charter makes it clear that they regard the Balfour Declaration and the Mandate as being null and void. That is the reality and the Palestinian Arabs show no intention of being bound by international law.

They are paying - and have paid - a heavy price for taking this stance.

With 21 Arab Moslem states around the world still continuing to deny the Jews the right to have their own state in their biblical - and internationally sanctioned - homeland the prospects for a peaceful outcome seems very bleak indeed.

My letter published in Palestine Note

[Published 18 September 2010]

To: M J Rosenberg

Israel requires the PA to accept the existence of Israel as a Jewish State because the PLO Constitution contains the following clause:

"The Balfour Declaration, the Mandate for Palestine, and everything that has been based upon them, are deemed null and void. Claims of historical or religious ties of Jews with Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history and the true conception of what constitutes statehood. Judaism, being a religion, is not an independent nationality. Nor do Jews constitute a single nation with an identity of its own; they are citizens of the states to which they belong."

Perhaps if you can get them to unequivocally revoke this clause (and some other choice clauses) your argument [that Israel should not require acceptance and recognition by the PA of Israel as a Jewish State] might have merit.

And why is the only alternative to the "two-state solution" the "one state solution"?

What about dividing sovereignty of the West Bank between Israel and Jordan which would see Jordan probably getting sovereignty in about 90% of the West Bank, virtually return the West Bank territory to the status quo that existed in June 1967 and involve no Jew or Arab having to leave their current homes in the West Bank.

I bet you and King Abdullah could negotiate the new boundary in six weeks. There is already an existing peace treaty with Israel that deals with contentious issues such as water, refugees and Jerusalem.

The solution is in front of your eyes. Open them and see the possibilities.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Palestine - Netanyahu Courts Disaster Without Political Gain

[Published December 2009]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ten months suspension of residential house construction in the West Bank reached Israel’s High Court of Justice on 23 December - without any sign of the Palestinian Authority showing the slightest interest in resuming negotiations one month after the moratorium was announced on 25 November.

During the past month Jewish residents angered by the suspension have mounted large demonstrations and clashed with police and building inspectors seeking access to settlements. Tensions have been rising between Jewish and Arab neighbours.

The Yasuf mosque arson on 13 December and the murder yesterday of a 45 years old Jewish father of 7 in a terrorist ambush are grim portents of what may happen in future in the present state of indecisiveness caused by the moratorium.

Civil disobedience is set to continue which the Government has indicated will be met with firm resistance by the police and civil authorities - and if necessary by the Army - to ensure the moratorium is observed and no new residences are constructed.

Thousands of would be occupants of dwellings slated for building or halted by the moratorium in various stages of construction - not to mention builders and building suppliers - will suffer huge financial losses requiring compensation claims being made against Israel. It is impossible to quantify the damages that will be have to be paid at this time but they obviously will be substantial.

Add to this the public cost of providing additional police, building inspectors, possibly deploying large parts of the army to assist in enforcing the moratorium and the costs of prosecutions for, and demolition of, illegal building work - and you have a picture of chaos and confusion set to involve Israel’s courts and civil authorities for years to come.

That Israel is not prepared for the consequences of its moratorium was made clear by the High Court of Justice which on 23 December gave the State 30 days to let it know when a compensation claims court included in the military order freezing settlement construction would be established and begin work.

The panel of three justices, headed by Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch, demanded to know
1. when the compensation claims committee would be established,
2. when it would start working,
3. what the grounds would be for applying to it,
4. how applications would be filed,
5. what the hearing procedures would be and
6. what body the settlers could turn to if they were dissatisfied with the committee’s decisions.
This decision is only going to cause greater distress and anxiety for those affected by the moratorium as a further 30 days is given to the State to provide these details whilst the moratorium continues to drift for another month with no assured response from the Palestinian Authority on the resumption of negotiations.

One must seriously question the continuation of the moratorium in the absence of any signal from the Palestinian Authority of its intention to resume negotiations.

The idea of a moratorium is not in issue. It has been done before. If it achieved its intended result of negotiations being resumed then it can be justified - even if those negotiations eventually lead to nowhere which is the most likely scenario that will occur.

Menachem Begin instituted a three months moratorium on settlement construction when he commenced negotiations with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. But the distinction then from the present moratorium is that it was given in consideration of the actual negotiations being undertaken.

This is not the case in the present moratorium where there are no such understandings or commitment.

Netanyahu’s failure to place a deadline on the continuation of the moratorium being dependent on the Palestinian Authority resuming negotiations - only encourages the Palestinan Authority to sit around and do nothing for 10 months ostensibly trying to extract a more comprehensive moratorium from Israel including a total freeze on any construction whatsoever in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Meanwhile the financial and social costs to Israel arising from the moratorium soar exponentially as the time frame of the moratorium increases and civil disobedience escalates.

Any expectation of lasting political gain being obtained by Israel by announcing the moratorium is minimal.

Although American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described the moratorium as “unprecedented” nevertheless US Special Envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell said on 27 November:
“The United States also disagrees with some Israeli actions in Jerusalem affecting Palestinians in areas such as housing, including the continuing pattern of evictions and demolitions of Palestinian homes,”
It is precisely these Israeli actions that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has given for refusing to accept the current limited moratorium and seeking its widening to cover such actions.

The Americans can therefore hardly blame Abbas if he sits on his heels for 10 months and does nothing whilst professing to express his earnest desire to resume negotiations if Israel ceases any such evictions and demolitions during the moratorium.

Freezing all settlement construction has been urged for years by the Quartet - America, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations. Again the Quartet cannot complain at Abbas’s demand that the moratorium be extended to all such construction - not merely residential houses.

Whilst President Obama had urged Abbas and Netanyahu to enter into negotiations without preconditions prior to the current moratorium offered by Israel, Abbas will lose little support from the Quartet - if any - as he continues to refuse to negotiate until there is a total freeze.

Netanyahu should have prevented the current state of uncertainty arising by initially putting a deadline on the resumption of negotiations and declaring that in default the moratorium would end and a resumption of unrestricted building activity in the West Bank would immediately follow.

As time drags on the folly and consequences of failing to stipulate this time constraint becomes clear for all to see. Overlooking such a small but highly significant detail is unforgivable.

The moratorium in its present form is bad news for Israel and a classic blunder that has caused and will cause significant financial and social consequences for Israel and its citizens until it is rectified.

Perhaps Netanyahu will come to his senses now that the issue has come before the Courts.

The sooner a deadline for the resumption of negotiations is announced by Israel - the sooner some clarity and certainty will be established to replace what is developing into a very tense and dangerous political void.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Palestine - Perpetuating Propaganda Prevents Peace

[Published December 2009]

Propaganda can be a very effective ploy in promoting false viewpoints and opinions and has been used by the Arabs with great success in the Israel-Arab conflict.

No more has this been evident than in their concerted and continuing efforts to mislead and confuse world opinion in relation to the location of the geographical entity once called “Palestine” and the allocation of sovereignty that has taken place within that territory between Jews and Arabs over the last 90 years.

These are not esoteric statements but have real practical consequences for any lasting solution—be it “the two state solution”, “the one state solution” or any other solution that might be proposed for ending the territorial claims by both Arabs and Jews to the territory once called “Palestine”.

Arab propaganda has created the impression that Israel is located on 78% of Palestine whilst the West Bank and Gaza comprise the remaining 22% of Palestine - thereby claiming that the Jews possess sovereignty in the major part of Palestine.

In fact Israel is only 16% of historic Palestine, the West Bank and Gaza is 6% of historic Palestine and Jordan is 78% of historic Palestine - which substantiates that it is in fact the Arabs that possess sovereignty in the major part of Palestine.

In an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour as recently as 4 November 2009 Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian Authority’s chief negotiator with Israel still continued to promote this canard against the Jews stating:
“We have accepted and recognized Israel on 78 percent of historic Palestine and accepted to have our state on the remaining 22 percent of the land. Now, it seems to me that Mr. Netanyahu wants to partition this 22 percent. If this is the case, this is a non-starter.”
Ms Amanpour accepted Mr Erekat’s response without demur. She obviously believed what he was telling her - and so did the hundreds of thousands of viewers watching the interview.

This statement was repeated as fact not once - but twice - by well known Israeli commentator Akiva Eldar on 21 December when he wrote the following in an article in Haaretz:
“Without receiving anything from Israel in return, the Palestinian National Security Council declared a state [in 1988] on territory captured in the Six-Day War - 22 percent of Mandatory Palestine”
and was repeated later in the same article:
“In the eyes of the world in general, not to mention the Arab world, this 22 percent is not up for negotiation.”
These statements are utter nonsense, factually misleading and hinder - rather than assist - in efforts to find a negotiated settlement for the following reasons:
1. They fail to take into account that a sovereign Arab state already exists in 78% of Palestine and that any negotiations on the allocation of sovereignty in the remaining 6% of Palestine - without the inclusion of Jordan - are destined to fail.
2. The world has recognized by the passing of Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 that Israel will not be required to withdraw from the entire West Bank and Gaza but only to “secure and recognized borders.”
3. America has indicated that circumstances on the ground - namely the presence of 500000 Jews living in territory captured by Israel in 1967 - make it impossible for 100% of the West Bank and Gaza to become sovereign Arab territory.
4. The declaration of statehood by the PLO in 1988 was meaningless since the PLO never had and until this day has not achieved effective control over the area claimed by it.
Mr Eldar - not content with supporting Mr Erekat’s propaganda on the false geographical location of Palestine - also in the same article promotes another piece of choice propaganda uttered by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as recently as 15 December 2009 when he stated:
“We will renew negotiations if the settlements are completely halted and the 1967 borders recognized as the borders of the Palestinian state,”

Mr Eldar’s article is itself titled ” Talk about 1967 borders, not settlement blocs.”

In the body of the article he makes mention of this fact once again when writing:
” Until we [ Israel] reach an agreement with the Palestinians on the basis of the 1967 borders…"
However the references to “1967 borders” by both President Abbas and Mr Eldar are factually incorrect and misleading.

There were no “1967 borders” between Jordan and Israel or Egypt and Israel in 1967. They were only armistice lines that had been fixed in 1949 after the Jews had repelled six Arab armies that had invaded the fledgling Jewish State of Israel the day after it announced its independence on 14 May 1948.

It was not until 1979 that Israel’s border with Egypt was settled in negotiations. It was not until 1994 that Israel’s border with Jordan was demarcated in negotiations.

Specifically the 1994 Peace Treaty between Jordan and Israel stipulated that the defined and agreed boundary between their respective states:
“ the permanent, secure and recognised international boundary between Israel and Jordan, without prejudice to the status of any territories that came under Israeli military government control in 1967.”
The permanent boundary in the Peace Treaty between Israel and Egypt is
“..the recognized international boundary between Egypt and the former mandated territory of Palestine…without prejudice to the issue of the status of the Gaza Strip.”
The status of both the West Bank and Gaza are therefore still undetermined and have to be decided between the current negotiating parties—Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Both maintain claims to exercise sovereignty in these areas in which at present neither has sovereignty.

Abbas’s demand that he be granted sovereignty in 100% of the territory is a demand and nothing more.

Describing the armistice lines as “borders” has become an integral part of propaganda used by the Arabs to suggest that the West Bank and Gaza are and have always been under Arab sovereignty. This is wrong and needs to be corrected whenever the term “1967 borders” is used. The Arabs have no monopoly or entitlement to any part of the West Bank or Gaza until their claim and Israel’s claim have been negotiated and settled.

The terms appearing in Mr Eldar’s article in Haaretz to describe the 1967 armistice lines as “1967 borders” and the West Bank and Gaza as being “22% of mandatory Palestine” are very concerning and does the paper’s editor no credit.

Accuracy in reporting should be a primary goal of one of Israel’s major newspapers. Adopting the incorrect language of your enemies is shameful and misleads its readers into adopting views based on false facts.

I cannot believe that Mr Eldar is not fully aware of the true facts concerning these two fundamental issues that must materially impact on the conduct of negotiations designed to end the Israel-Arab conflict.

If Mr Eldar is innocently parroting the falsehoods of Mr Erekat and President Abbas then he really shouldn’t be writing op-eds on current issues involving Israel and its Arab neighbours.

Haaretz needs to raise its game or risk losing a substantial part of its readership and its journalistic integrity as well.

Palestine - Abbas Aborts Any Two State Solution

[Published December 2009]

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has now made it abundantly clear that he does not intend to enter into further negotiations with Israel to create a new Arab State between Israel, Jordan and Egypt - by insisting on conditions for resuming negotiations with Israel that prejudge fundamental issues that were supposed to be only settled in negotiations.

Speaking before the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Central Committee in Ramallah on 15 December Abbas said:
“We will renew negotiations if the settlements are completely halted and the 1967 borders recognized as the borders of the Palestinian state,”
In demanding that the 1967 “borders” - they are in fact only armistice lines - be recognized as the “borders” of the Palestinian state before negotiations are resumed - Abbas has repudiated one of the key issues that was to be decided by negotiations.

His demand is both peremptory and racist - amounting effectively to an ultimatum that Israel agree to 500000 Jews being evicted from their present homes and businesses in the West Bank prior to the Palestinian Authority even agreeing to resume negotiations on the future of the West Bank’s Jewish population.

Abbas has now reached the end of the road of no return in making the irrational demands he has.

In welcoming Israel’s 10 months moratorium on residential building activity in the West Bank as “unprecedented” in an effort to induce Abbas to resume negotiations with Israel - United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had declared on 25 November:
“We believe that through good faith negotiations the parties can mutually agree on an outcome that ends the conflict and reconciles the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state based on the 1967 lines, with agreed swaps, and the Israeli goal of a Jewish State with secure and recognized borders.”
The Secretary of State’s expressed belief that Abbas would agree to land swaps has now been comprehensively and publicly rejected by Abbas in his latest statement.

Abbas’s statement also amounts to a rejection of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 which do not require that Israel withdraw from all the land it occupied following the Six Day War in 1967.

There seems to be a general ignorance about the status in international law of the West Bank and Gaza which are at present not under the recognized sovereignty of any State.

In international law the West Bank and Gaza are the only remaining areas of the Mandate for Palestine still unallocated between Jews and Arabs pursuant to the 1922 League of Nations Mandate whose provisions still apply today by virtue of Article 80 of the United Nations Charter.

Both Jews and Arabs claim the West Bank and Gaza - which are “no man’s land “ in common parlance.

Although all Jews living in Gaza evacuated their homes there in 2005 no formal abandonment of Jewish claims to sovereignty in Gaza has yet been conceded by Israel.

Both Jews and Arabs maintain claims to sovereignty in the West Bank that can only be peacefully resolved by negotiations between them.

The Palestinian Authority has now made it plainly clear that it is not prepared to enter into further negotiations with Israel to settle their respective claims to sovereignty in the West Bank and Gaza by stipulating the Palestinian Authority be granted sovereignty in 100% and not one square metre less as a pre-condition to resuming negotiations.

Israel now needs to find an Arab negotiating partner or partners that will not demand such a pre-condition. Until that happens the unsatisfactory status quo will continue - which clearly is in no one’s interest.

In response to Abbas’s latest demands Mark Regev the spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on 17 December 2009:
“Up until now, he (Abbas) was talking about a settlement freeze. Now he is adding (a return to) 1967 borders. It’s like we have to accept the outcome of negotiations before negotiations start. We are concerned that they are trying to avoid negotiations.

The reason we haven’t been negotiating is the Palestinians have been placing new preconditions on talks.”
Israel needs to go much further than Regev has articulated.

Any hope that Abbas will withdraw or modify his latest conditions for resuming negotiations is fatuous.

Israel initially erred in not conditioning its 10 months building moratorium on the Palestinian Authority agreeing to resume negotiations with Israel within a fixed period of time after the date when the moratorium was first announced on 25 November 2009.

In theory the Palestinian Authority was given up to 10 months to decide whether to negotiate any further with Israel - during which time no further houses would be commenced in the West Bank even if the Palestinian Authority made no decision to negotiate during that time.

This moratorium has already caused much personal distress, confusion and financial loss as well as large demonstrations in Israel and on the West Bank protesting the moratorium. Continuing the moratorium in view of Abbas’s latest demands will not advance the peace process one iota.

There is at this point of time no possible hope whatsoever in negotiations being resumed by Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

In view of Abbas’s latest statement Israel should now make it very clear that:
* Abbas’s conditions for resuming negotiations with Israel are completely unacceptable
* If Abbas does not resume negotiations with Israel by 20 January 2010 without the preconditions stipulated by Abbas then Israel will cancel the 10 months moratorium and resume building houses in the West Bank in accordance with the rights vested in the Jewish people by the Mandate for Palestine and the United Nations Charter.
The time for playing diplomatic word games is surely over.

Arab Human Rights Abuses Uncovered In Explosive Report

[Published December 2009]

“A man spends his first years learning how to speak and the Arab regimes teach him silence for the rest of his life” Algerian writer Ahlem Mosteghanemi, “Memory in the Flesh”

The above quote forms the backdrop to an explosive report titled “Bastion of Impunity, Mirage of Reform” released this week by the Cairo Institute For Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) on the state of human rights in the Arab World for 2009.

Given the Report’s contents and the existence of CIHRS as a non government organization since 1993 - one wonders how it has managed to survive to continue its valuable work openly in Egypt exposing human rights abuses in the Arab World.

Perhaps the reason can be found in the associations CIHRS has built up over the years with other human rights organizations around the world that has now enabled it to produce this second comprehensive annual report in which it notes the worsening of human rights in the Arab world since 2008.

The CHIRS web site describes these associations as follows:
“CIHRS enjoys consultative status with the United Nations ECOSOC, and observer status in the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. CIHRS is also a member of the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) and the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX). CIHRS is registered in Egypt, France and Geneva, has its main offices in Cairo, an office in Geneva for its work at UN human rights mechanisms and an institutional presence in Paris. CIHRS was awarded the French Republic Award for Human Rights in December 2007.“

The Report notes that in the Arab world in 2009
“Human rights defenders and advocates of democratic reforms were targeted for various threats and acts of repression.”

The Report cites Syria as the worst offender, describes Tunisia as a “Police State” and includes Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Yemen, Algeria, Egypt and Sudan as sanctioning state authorized acts of repression against human rights defenders. It lists a large number of specific individual cases and actions taken in these countries to support its claims.

The report is particularly revealing about three of the six Arab countries that currently sit on the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) - Bahrain, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia - a body that spends most of its time and discussions on condemning human rights abuses committed by Israel.

Saudi Arabia is exposed as having no independent media and according to the Report
“... it is estimated that hundreds of thousands of internet websites are blocked. Some Saudi bloggers were subjected to arbitrary arrest, and one Saudi citizen was sentenced to five years in prison and 1,000 lashes on charges of publicly proclaiming a sin, following statements he made on a program carried by a Lebanese satellite channel…

… remains dangerous for human rights defenders and advocates of reform. Authorities refuse to grant legal status to the few human rights organizations that exist in the Kingdom and many reformers have been detained for long periods of time without trial and tortured. An Islamist reform activist was sentenced to a prison term for opposing government policies, and several rights defenders were banned from travel.

… a great many people detained in connection with terrorism cases were subjected to physical and psychological torture, including cuffing, beatings, sleep deprivations, and the denial of family visits. Some people detained for their advocacy of political reform were also tortured.”

Bahrain - according to the Report:
“… continued to block political, news, and advocacy websites, as well as online forums. In a space of just three months in early 2009, more than 70 websites were blocked, among them online newspaper sites. Lawsuits were filed against journalists on charges ranging from slandering officials to undermining the judicial authority to harming national unity…

…Torture remains a routine practice in Bahrain, used especially against activists in social and political movements seeking an end to the institutionalized discrimination against Shiites; several human rights defenders were also tortured.”

Egypt has been in a state of emergency for the last 28 years and according to the Report:
“The greatest infringements of freedom of expression in Egypt were seen in the broad attacks launched by the security apparatus on bloggers and internet activists, dozens of whom were placed under administrative detention, abducted, or temporarily taken to undisclosed locations, usually State Security police headquarters; some have been detained for more than two years without charge or trial….

… continued to top the list of countries in which torture is routinely and systematically practiced. In 2009 Egyptian authorities used torture not only against those accused of political crimes or terrorism, but also against adherents of minority religions such as Shiites as well as suspects of criminal offences. Indeed, the threat of torture hangs over anyone who steps foot in a police station, whether to give a statement or file an assault charge, or pursuant to a summons by an officer, who might discipline or abuse citizens on behalf of influential persons.”

The Report comments as follows on the consequences of the split governance by Hamas in Gaza and by Fateh in the West Bank :
“Under the cover of the war in Gaza, Hamas embarked on several repressive measures targeting Fateh members, figures who oppose Hamas’ rule, and suspected collaborators with Israel, and it is suspected that dozens of people were killed, either shot to death or as a result of torture. Hamas personnel also broke the legs and arms of dozens of other people to compel them to stay in their homes. Also, some government employees in Gaza were replaced with Hamas loyalists.

In the West Bank, under the authority of Fatah, hundreds of Hamas sympathizers remain in detention; it is thought that at least two of the detainees have died as a result of torture. The West Bank authorities fired civil servants and teachers suspected of Hamas sympathies, while the salaries of thousands of employees of the Palestinian authority inside the Gaza Strip were suspended. Licensing for associations and companies in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip is now preceded by a security check,and those organizations that have affiliations with the “wrong” party are refused Licenses.”

Few of the 22 members of the Arab League are spared criticism in the Report which should be required reading for anyone interested in seeing some balance restored in any deliberations regarding the numerous and ongoing conflicts in the region.

No doubt this Report will not even rate any serious review or investigation by the UNHCR.

Whilst the Arab man in the street is prevented from expressing his opinion freely and without fear - the Arab world shall continue to present the monolithic Arab view of those few repressive regimes who rule to the detriment of the rest of the populations they rule over.

Such is the state of denial that the world currently finds itself in where the Arab world is concerned.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Washington Bumbles As Two State Option Crumbles

[Published December 2009]

Israel’s 10 months suspension of some building activities in the West Bank has yet to induce the Palestinian Authority to resume negotiations with Israel on the creation of a new Arab State between Israel, Jordan and Egypt.

In welcoming Israel’s moratorium United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared on 25 November:
“We believe that through good faith negotiations the parties can mutually agree on an outcome that ends the conflict and reconciles the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state based on the 1967 lines, with agreed swaps, and the Israeli goal of a Jewish State with secure and recognized borders.”

Regrettably Ms Clinton seems to have got the Palestinian goal wrong but the Israeli goal correct.

The Palestinian Authority is not interested in land swaps. It wants all 500000 Jews kicked out of their homes in the West Bank and is not prepared to concede its claim to sovereignty in one square metre of territory in the West Bank.

Land swaps had been proposed by Israel in 2008 and rejected by the Palestinian Authority. They were offered as a creative way of Israel retaining sovereignty of West Bank settlements created since 1967 on what is still “no man’s land” in international law - land included in the former League of Nations Mandate for Palestine in which sovereignty still remains unallocated between Jews and Arabs.

Israel’s withdrawal from 100% of the West Bank has been an unchanging Arab demand since 1967.

US Middle East Special Envoy George Mitchell in a press briefing given the same day following Ms Clinton’s announcement seemed to back away from his boss’s remarks omitting any mention of “agreed swaps” when he said:
“As we and others have said many times, the way to move forward is to enter negotiations without preconditions and reach agreements on the two-state solution: a Jewish state of Israel living side by side in peace and security with an independent, contiguous, and viable Palestinian state."

Mr Mitchell - in so doing - was correctly putting the Palestinian position contradicting what the Secretary of State had said earlier that day.

Land swaps are not on the Palestinian agenda although agreement to such a proposal could dramatically help towards the successful conclusion of any negotiations.

Ms Clinton in correctly pointing out the Israeli goal of a Jewish state with secure and recognized boundaries - raised one of the most contentious issues requiring Arab acceptance.

Mr Mitchell however questioned the Secretary of State’s remark when in an answer to a question a few minutes later he stated:
“Well, as I said, we believe that the best way forward is to re-launch negotiations in an atmosphere in which they can succeed. We will encourage both sides to continue to take steps that will lead to that result and enable us to begin negotiations in a way that affords what I believe to be a reasonable and good prospect of achieving what the Palestinians want and what we want; that is, a two-state solution with an independent and a viable and a contiguous Palestinian state, and a state of Israel living with secure and recognized borders with security for all of its people. And we are going to continue to pursue that objective.”

Specifically omitted from Mr Mitchell’s answer was that one critical word used by the Secretary of State - “Jewish”.

Recognition of Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people has been consistently rejected by the Palestinian Authority for the last 16 years and there has not been the slightest indication of any change of heart in that position.

Indeed it would be reasonable to expect that anyone in a position of leadership in the Palestinian Authority would be signing his own death warrant were he to make that concession since it completely negates the provisions of the PLO Covenant and the Charter of Hamas which both call for the dismantling of the Jewish State.

I do not believe that Mr Mitchell’s omission of the word “Jewish” was the result of oversight. It was deliberate and follows the pattern of conduct he has followed before as he tailors his comments before audiences depending on whether he is speaking to Jews or Arabs.

It is notable that he also said this is “what the Palestinians want and what we want”.

It certainly is what the Palestinians want. From the American perspective it does not appear to be what the Americans want judged by the remarks of the Secretary of State just hours before.

Whilst America speaks with two tongues any influence it may have in procuring successful negotiations to be concluded will prove a fruitless exercise.

Perhaps the Americans think that ambivalence and ambiguity is the best strategy to follow to keep both parties guessing what its final position will be in supporting either of the parties in the achievement of their respective goals.

It is clear however that the parties are as far apart as ever in resolving their cardinal differences and that America still appears unclear as to what the goals of each of the parties to the conflict are.

Until the Palestinian Authority disabuses itself of the notion that
1. Israel will withdraw from 100% of the West Bank
2. Israel will evict 500000 Jews who live in the West Bank
3. Israel will give up its claim to be recognized by the Palestinian Authority as the national homeland of the Jews

then the efforts of the Americans “to re-launch negotiations in an atmosphere in which they can succeed.” will be a total waste of time and effort.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Bibi's Big Blunder

[Published December 2009]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu incredibly appears to have committed a major blunder in announcing his cabinet’s decision on 25 November 2009:
“ authorizing a policy of restraint regarding settlements which will include a suspension of new permits and new construction in Judea and Samaria for a period of ten months.”
The statement further elaborated on this offer by clarifying that :
“..this suspension will not affect construction currently underway. It will not include the schools, kindergartens, synagogues and public buildings necessary for the continuation of normal life over the period of suspension. Obviously, any infrastructure that may be needed to protect our national security or to safeguard the lives of our citizens will also be provided during this time. … We do not put any restrictions on building in our sovereign capital."
Nowhere in the Prime Minister’s statement is there a cut off point for the Palestinian Authority to accept Israel’s offer before it is deemed to be withdrawn.

It seems that this offer is to be kept on foot for ten months during which period the Palestinian Authority will be given the time to decide whether it will enter into negotiations or not.

The Palestinian Authority is clearly not happy with the limited suspension of building activity set out in Mr Netanyahu’s statement and is trying to get America to pressure Israel into making further concessions before agreeing to enter into negotiations.

Y NET News reported the following on 25 November:
“Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s statements do not constitute a progress which will enable the Palestinians to resume negotiations. Erekat claimed the move was unsatisfactory.

Presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina said that the resumption of negotiations requires total cessation of settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem. "We will not accept any arrangement in which Jerusalem is not part of the proposal," Abu Rudeina said."
If the Palestinian Authority eventually decides to enter into negotiations with Israel in say seven months time, that will leave only three months to complete those negotiations. What will happen at the end of those three months if such negotiations have not been finalised? Will further extensions have to be granted by Israel to keep the negotiations alive?

Mr Netanyahu’s statement goes on to say:
“When the suspension ends, my government will revert to the policies of previous governments in relation to construction.”
This would appear to clearly indicate that if the Palestinian Authority does not enter into negotiations in ten months the moratorium period is over.

However if Israel were not to extend the moratorium period once the negotiations had begun - it would soon be branded as irresponsible and the prime cause of any breakdown in negotiations by unreasonably refusing to extend the moratorium period to enable the negotiations to continue.

The longer the negotiations continue the greater the pressure on Israel to extend the moratorium period to allow those negotiations to be finalized.

Since the parties have been negotiating for sixteen years without any result it would not be too unrealistic to assume that the Palestinian Authority could enter into negotiations within the next ten months and thereafter indefinitely delay the end of the moratorium period.

What Israel should have done is make it quite clear that:
1. The Palestinian Authority was to be given until 25 December 2009 to enter into negotiations with Israel.

2. If negotiations were commenced within that time then the moratorium period would be extended until 25 September 2010

3. If negotiations were not concluded by 25 September 2010, no extension of the moratorium period would be granted as a condition of the negotiations continuing.
Israel appears to have fallen into a trap of its own making. It urgently needs to clarify the intent and meaning of its statement and remove any ambiguity as soon as possible.

Juggernaut Coming Down The Road

[Published November 2009]

American broadcaster and Palestinian Arab Ray Hanania’s Two State Peace Plan to allocate sovereignty in the West Bank between Jews and Arabs and end the 130 years old conflict between them has already got off to a flying start.

The main features of his proposal that markedly depart from the current policy of the Palestinian Authority and the Arab League are:
1. Israel will be recognised as the Jewish State
2. Jewish settlements in the West Bank will become part of Israel in exchange for an equivalent area of land from Israel to the new Arab state
3. Arabs shall not have any right to emigrate to Israel
4. Arab refugees and Jewish refugees from Arab lands shall be entitled to compensation from an international fund set up to deal with claims
5. Arabs living in Israel shall only vote in elections in the newly created State
The impact of his proposal can be judged by the effect it has already had on Bradley Burston - the columnist for Ha’aretz and senior editor of Ha’

Burstons bio is very revealing:
"Bradley Burston is a columnist for Israel’s Haaretz Newspaper, and Senior Editor of which publishes his blog, "A Special Place in Hell." During the first Palestinian uprising, he served as Gaza correspondent for the Jerusalem Post, and was the paper’s military correspondent in the 1991 Gulf War. In the mid-1990s he covered Israeli-Arab peace talks for Reuters. He is a recipient of the Eliav-Sartawi Award for Mideast Journalism, presented at the United Nations in 2006.

Burston was born and raised in Los Angeles. After graduating from UC Berkeley, he moved to Israel, where he was part of a group which established Kibbutz Gezer, between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Burston served in the IDF as a combat medic, later studying medicine in Be’er Sheva for two years before turning to journalism."
Burston has been extremely critical of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel’s current Government.

On 22 July 2009 Burston wrote the following in the Huffington Post:
“Permit me at this point to save some time, and to speak candidly. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, whether they are willing to publicly acknowledge this or not, knows that obstacles are precisely what West Bank settlements were put there to be.

Settlements, whether considered legal or illegal, whether granted overt or blind-eye Israeli government sanction, or placed there by unruly-eyed fanatics who hate the Israeli government almost as much as they hate Arabs, have a common goal.

They were built to be explicit, intentional, physical, literal obstacles to any peace process that would include ceding West Bank land to Palestinians. And that, everyone knows, describes any conceivable future peace process.”
Burston followed this up with the following statement in the Huffington Post on 29 July 2009:
“There is no little irony in the circumstance that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chose Palestinian recognition of Israel as "the national state of the Jewish People" as a central tool in efforts to stave off peace talks and deflect demands for a settlement freeze.”
Hanania’s proposals have shredded these controversial statements by Burston into tiny pieces.

Burston has been one of the first Israeli-critical journalists to hop on the Hanania bandwagon.

In an article in Ha’aretz on 24 November entitled “A Palestinian peace plan Israelis can live with” Burston enthusiastically endorses Hanania’s proposals.
“What Hanania is proposing is a two state solution that addresses not only quantifiable issues, but underlying emotional grievances, and the anguish in the histories of both sides. Cynics, and, in particular, the extremists among them, will reject it out of hand as simplistic and artificially balanced. But if peace is ever to be made in the Holy Land, it will be made despite extremists and not by them.

As in every potentially workable peace proposal, Hanania’s plan has something in it to upset and disappoint everyone. But its underlying principle of compromise based on mutual respect and compassion, its openness to the needs and wounds of two victimized peoples, and its suggestion that grassroots sentiment for peace can succeed where leaders have so consistently failed, are surely as worthy of serious consideration, as anything currently on the table. “
Israel as the Jewish National Home and existing Jewish settlements in the West Bank are no longer regarded as obstacles to peace under Hanania’s proposals but are recognized now as the eventual outcomes of peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

One swallow doesn’t make a summer. However the attractiveness of Hanania’s plan has already been endorsed on a number of web sites in the 14 days since it first saw the light of day.

The real test will come when official responses to Hanania’s proposed plan as the basis for future negotiations are sought from the main parties trying to resolve the current impasse in negotiations - Israel, the Arab League, the Palestinian Authority, America, Russia and the European Union.

The people best able to approach those decision makers for comment are journalists - especially those of the calibre of Hanania and Burston.

In collaboration they already constitute a lobby of great influence. It is not always numbers that count but rather the quality of the people involved who are in a position to get proposals aired and discussed in public and not relegated to the backburner.

The responses when they come will be crucial in deciding whether an immovable roadblock will threaten the end of what has been the most innovative two state solution yet raised.

Somehow I don’t see journalists of the calibre of Hanania and Burston giving in very easily without a long and hard struggle to finally get Israel and the Palestinian Authority to sit down and negotiate within the parameters of Hanania’s proposals.

Sit back, enjoy the ride and watch this space for further developments.

European Union Finally Seeing Reality

[Published November 2009]

The veiled threat by the Palestinian Authority (PA) to approach the United Nations (UN) Security Council to seek its consent to the establishment of a new Arab state between Jordan, Israel and Egypt has received the short shrift it deserved from the European Union (EU).

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt whose country holds the European Union’s rotating Presidency said on 17 November 2009 in Brussels:
“I don’t think we are there yet. I would hope that we would be in a position to recognise a Palestinian state but there has to be one first, so I think it is somewhat premature.
The PA appears to have a totally misconceived notion of the UN as a body that can create states rather than give recognition to States once they have been established - for the purposes of admitting them to membership of the UN.

Mere declarations of statehood are insufficient to receive recognition by the UN and admission to membership.

Applicants seeking admission to the UN need to establish:
1. The borders of the new state
2. Complete and effective control within those borders
It is painstakingly obvious that the PA went way out on a limb when PA Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat declared:
“We have reached a decision to go to the UN Security Council to ask for recognition of an independent Palestinian state with Al-Quds as its capital within June-1967 borders. We are going to seek support from EU countries, Russia and other countries.”
The PA has no authority or control in Gaza and only has control of about 40% of the West Bank with Israel’s current consent.

The “June - 1967 borders” are not borders - only armistice lines agreed with Jordan and Egypt who occupied Gaza and the West Bank from 1948 until they were lost to Israel in the Six Day War in 1967.

The last recognized sovereign occupier of the West Bank and Gaza was Great Britain as Mandatory Authority under the Mandate for Palestine conferred on it by the now defunct League of Nations.

However the provisions of the Mandate in relation to the reconstitution of the Jewish National Home in Gaza and the West Bank “without prejudice to the civil and religious rights of the non-Jewish communities” living there - still prevail today by virtue of Article 80 of the United Nations Charter.

As in the case of the PA‘s refusal to resume negotiations with Israel on the future sovereignty of the West Bank without preconditions, the current threatened approach to the UN appears to have been some public relations ploy to put pressure on Israel and keep the cause of a Palestinian State in the media spotlight.

It has in fact achieved the opposite result and blown up in the PA’s face.

The PA is clearly desperate and frustrated as it unsuccessfully pursues alternative diplomatic paths to keep the “two state” solution alive.

Negotiations have hit a brick wall as the PA refuses to change its negotiating stance of the last 16 years by even the slightest concession or admission that Israel also has claims at least as good as the PA to sovereignty in at least those parts of the West Bank in which Jews currently reside.

There are a few other home truths the PA seem to have ignored in its proposed UN tour de force:
* The Arabs were offered - and refused - a state by the UN in 1947 in 100% of the West Bank and Gaza plus additional land in what is now Israel.

* The Arabs could have created a state in 100% of the West Bank and Gaza between 1948-1967 when not one Jew lived there ( having all been driven out by the Arabs) and it was under complete Arab occupation and control - yet failed to do so.

* The current demand that Israel now cede 100% of the West Bank and Gaza in the current changed environment of the Middle East to give the PA what could have been achieved 40- 60 years ago is not going to happen.

* UN Security Council resolution 242 has made it clear that the 1967 armistice lines must be replaced by secure and recognized boundaries that ensure Israel’s safety and security.

* Negotiations involving PA territorial concessions in the West Bank to Israel is the only possible way forward. If the PA refuses to offer any such concessions then they can kiss goodbye to any new state being created. The opportunities existing between 1947-1967 will not be returning in 2009 or at any time thereafter.

* The 500000 Jews now living in the West Bank are legally entitled to do so by virtue of the legal rights conferred on them under the League of Nations and United Nations Charter.

* The PA rejected two Israeli proposals in 2000 and 2008 that would have seen the PA receive sovereignty in 90-100% of the West Bank or its territorial equivalent in area. This offer is unlikely to be renewed by the current Israeli government in the light of Israel’s invasion of Gaza in January, the subsequent Goldstone Commission Report and the continuing power struggle between Hamas and Fatah that threatens to divide the West bank and Gaza into warring fiefdoms for the hearts and minds of the Arab residents who live in both areas.

* If the territorial division of the West Bank cannot be agreed upon then discussion on more difficult issues like refugees, Jerusalem, water and demilitarization will be a complete waste of time.
Arab rejectionism for the last 62 years has come - and will continue to come - at a high price.

The Arabs have had 90 years to mature their views since the small territory of “Palestine” was slated for reconstitution of the Jewish National Home and severed from the other 99.99% of the land freed from the Ottoman Empire by the British and the French and designated for Arab self-determination.

The EU’s instant dismissal of the PA’s proposed approach to the UN serves as a warning notice to the PA to return to the negotiating table and be more flexible in its negotiations with Israel if it ever wants to see the two-state option achieved.

The EU has at long last injected some air of reality into the Middle East. Its about time it did.

Palestine - Mountains And Molehills

[Published November 2009]

Judging by the fuss and flurry over the past week you would think that the world was in meltdown unless a resolution was found to finalising claims of sovereignty by Jews and Arabs to a piece of land 280 square kilometres in area (equal to just 5% of the size of Delaware) - forming part of the 5640 square kilometre territory called the “West Bank“.

Everyone involved needs to take a deep breath, calm down and review where this dispute is now at and put it in its proper perspective in the light of the events of the last seven days.

Continuing Palestinian Authority intransigence to concede even one square kilometre of this territory to Israel led to a breakdown in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority 12 months ago. Since then there have been large changes in the political landscape including the invasion of Gaza by Israel, the election of a new Government in Israel, the publication of the Goldstone Report and the continuing unresolved division of governance in the West Bank and Gaza between Fatah and Hamas.

The West Bank holds deep emotional and religious ties for the Jews - since it is the biblical heartland of the Jewish people - and is part of the territory within which the Jewish National Home was to be reconstituted under the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine and Article 80 of the United Nations Charter.

430000 Jews also happen to live in these 280 square kilometres pursuant to legal rights conferred on them by the Mandate for Palestine and the UN Charter. Israel also considers retention of this area to be absolutely essential for its security because of its strategic location.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 predicated that an area of the West Bank would be retained under Israel’s sovereignty as part of its secure and recognized borders in any negotiations.

In a fit of pique the Palestinian Authority has now refused to resume negotiations with Israel - ostensibly because Israel refuses to stop building houses and public buildings in the cities and population centres in the West Bank already designated and established for Jewish development - the so-called “settlements“.

For the Arabs, their interest in continuing to reject Israel’s claim to this 280 square kilometres is directed at driving out its Jewish residents and reducing the security of Israel in pursuit of a policy aimed at eventually destroying Israel by creating yet another Arab state - the 22nd - in the world.

The President of the Palestinian Authority - Mahmoud Abbas - threatened this week not to stand for President at the next elections supposedly to be held in January. Such elections are unlikely since his political opponent - Hamas - has the power to stymie the elections and has indicated it will do so.

Abbas is presently holding on to power illegitimately since his term expired last January. The vacancy caused should have been filled by the Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council - Aziz Dweik - but Mr Abbas refuses to yield.

Notwithstanding his political impotence - Mr Abbas hoped his threatened resignation would bring forth cries to rethink his resignation because a Hamas nominee might become President.

Some in Israel rose to the bait.

Israel’s ceremonial President Shimon Peres and the failed politician Yossi Beilin headed the Israeli chorus calling on Abbas to recant.

Peres recalled that along with Rabin, he and Abbas were among signatories to the 1993 Oslo peace accord and he appealed to Abbas by name not to quit.
“We both signed the Oslo agreement, I turn to you as a colleague, don’t let go.”
Beilin told the Lebanon Daily Star:
“The resignation threat presents a real danger because there is no other Palestinian leader on the horizon who can enjoy the same international prestige and try to lead his public to an agreement with Israel. If Abbas tells US President Barack Obama he is considering resigning, the American leader should not consider this an empty threat. It would constitute a blow to his administration’s regional policies, following long months of wasted time and empty maneuvers.”

Apparently President Obama was unmoved by such pleas as his Secretary of State reportedly accepted Mr Abbas’s resignation. Abbas had clearly lost the poker game on this score.

Abbas will now no doubt try to hold on to the reins of power in the absence of any elections. However he is a spent force incapable of delivering anything he signs or agrees to.

Statements and contradicting statements were also made by various Arab spokesmen during the week threatening to dismantle the Palestinian Authority. This was yet another attempt to pressure Israel to stop all building activity in the “settlements“ as the price for the resumption of negotiations.

As a tactic it could not possibly work. Israel had already made concessions in this area that Secretary of State Clinton had acknowledged to be “unprecedented” .

In a November 4 interview with Jackie Northam of National Public Radio Clinton said:
“What is so clear is that once borders are decided, the settlement issue goes away. The Israelis build whatever they want in their territory, the Palestinians build whatever they want in theirs,”
America had again spoken to clear the air in an attempt to make Abbas see sense and resolve the issue of borders without delay. Her advice seems certain to be ignored. He is in no position to concede any land without bringing the wrath of Hamas on him.

Just in case Abbas was not listening to Clinton - President Obama had the following to say in a taped video played at the Rabin Memorial Commemoration on 8 November:
"Palestinian dreams of statehood will be deferred unless Israelis are assured of their own safety and security”
The abject surrender of control in Gaza to Hamas has destroyed the credibility and effectiveness of the Palestinian Authority to govern any area of the West Bank in a way that could possibly meet Israel’s security requirements.

There is only one Arab State that can possibly do that - Jordan - the last Arab state to occupy the West Bank from 1948-1967 - and with whom Israel has a signed peace treaty that has stood the test of time and many pressures faced by both countries since the treaty was signed in 1994.

A trial balloon was also floated this week suggesting Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Fayyad was seeking a new Security Council resolution to replace Resolution 242 in a bid to win the international community’s support for the borders of a Palestinian state. The move was said to be designed to bring stronger pressure on Israel to withdraw from the West Bank.

This idea is doomed to failure in the Security Council.

All the Arab huff and puff of the past week should be viewed as failed and desperate attempts by the Palestinian Authority to make mountains out of molehills so as to avoid making decisions on borders and to try and shore up support for its rapid decline in political influence.

The Authority and Abbas have jumped head first into the abyss leaving Israel with no reliable or credible negotiating partner. They should both be replaced by Jordan as Israel‘s Arab partner for negotiations on the future sovereignty of the West Bank.

Until this change occurs President Obama should turn his attention and efforts to resolving the really serious problems that presently confront him - Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, climate change, his own domestic economy, universal health care and terrorism within the military.

Leave the Arabs and Jews alone to first sort out this minimalist territorial issue over a sliver of land.

The agreement on borders still remains the first mountain to be climbed by Arab negotiators. There are others to follow but if this - the easiest to climb - cannot be achieved then it is pointless trying to scale the much higher peaks - refugees, water,Jerusalem, demilitarization - that still remain to be conquered.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Palestine,Peres,Pledges And Poppycock

[Published November 2009]

Israel’s current President - Shimon Peres - has used the 14th anniversary of the assassination of former Israeli Prime Minister - Yitzchak Rabin - to pledge that the former Prime Minister’s vision of peace would not be abandoned.
“The goals bravely sought by Yitzhak, with a bold vision and diplomacy, will not be abandoned,” President Peres said.
The President added that:
“even if they are delayed we will achieve his goals.”
Regrettably - however - President Peres was pulling the wool over the Israelis’ eyes by not articulating what those specific goals were and by suggesting they could ever be achieved.

In order to assess the truth of President Peres’s effusive statements - one needs to look at what Mr Rabin himself proposed.

Mr Rabin’s ideas and visions are set out in the speech he delivered to the Knesset on October 5, 1995 - just days before his assassination - when presenting the 300 page “Israeli - Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip” for approval.

That speech identified the following goals that Mr Rabin was seeking to achieve:
“We are striving for a permanent solution to the unending bloody conflict between us and the Palestinians and the Arab states.

In the framework of the permanent solution, we aspire to reach, first and foremost, the State of Israel as a Jewish state, at least 80% of whose citizens will be, and are, Jews.

At the same time, we also promise that the non-Jewish citizens of Israel—Muslim, Christian, Druze and others—will enjoy full personal, religious and civil rights, like those of any Israeli citizen. Judaism and racism are diametrically opposed.

We view the permanent solution in the framework of State of Israel which will include most of the area of the Land of Israel as it was under the rule of the British Mandate, and alongside it a Palestinian entity which will be a home to most of the Palestinian residents living in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

We would like this to be an entity which is less than a state, and which will independently run the lives of the Palestinians under its authority.

The borders of the State of Israel, during the permanent solution, will be beyond the lines which existed before the Six Day War. We will not return to the 4 June 1967 lines.

And these are the main changes, not all of them, which we envision and want in the permanent solution:

A. First and foremost, united Jerusalem, which will include both Ma’ale Adumim and Givat Ze’ev—as the capital of Israel, under Israeli sovereignty, while preserving the rights of the members of the other faiths, Christianity and Islam, to freedom of access and freedom of worship in their holy places, according to the customs of their faiths.

B. The security border of the State of Israel will be located in the Jordan Valley, in the broadest meaning of that term.

C. Changes which will include the addition of Gush Etzion, Efrat, Beitar and other communities, most of which are in the area east of what was the “Green Line,” prior to the Six Day War.

D. The establishment of blocs of settlements in Judea and Samaria, like the one in Gush Katif.”
Yet President Peres himself has rejected Mr Rabin’s Roadmap - instead endorsing former American President Bush’s Roadmap which calls for a 22nd independent Arab State - rather than Mr Rabin’s “entity” - to be created between Israel and Jordan.

Releasing murderers of Jews and granting them pardons have now become accepted policy under President Peres.

The Palestinian Authority has already rejected offers in 2000 and 2008 by Prime Ministers Barak and Olmert to end the conflict by dividing Jerusalem.

The Palestinian Authority demands that places like Maale Adumin, Efrat and Beitar become part of the new State of Palestine and continue to insist that Israel returns to the 4 June 1967 lines and forcibly remove 500000 Jews now living beyond it.

Gush Khatif and other settlements in Gaza no longer exist because of Mr Olmert’s unilateral abandonment of Gaza in 2005 and the evacuation of 8000 Jews who once lived there.

Israel no longer controls the border with Egypt and allows flagrant breaches of the Gaza Strip maritime zone for fear of creating a public relations backlash.

The idea that the Arabs will ever recognize Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people is a pipe dream.

Israel’s President need to stop engaging in telling fairy stories by suggesting that Mr Rabin’s ideas and visions can still triumph despite his death.

President Peres needs to truthfully acknowledge that Mr Rabin’s ideas and vision are incapable of fulfillment today as Israel pursues a path that is fraught with much greater danger for the continued existence of Israel than Mr Rabin’s proposals ever contemplated.

Ironically President Peres made the following comment on the occasion of the 13th commemoration of Yitzchak Rabin’s death last year:
“The bullets that were fired into Yitzhak’s back didn’t kill his way, because ideas and visions cannot be killed.”
It was not bullets that killed Mr Rabin’s ideas and vision. It was the abandonment of his policies by those who succeeded him in the corridors of power that has been the real cause.

The official public commemoration service to mark Mr Rabin’s death has been postponed until 7 November because of inclement weather last week. A videotaped message from President Obama is due to be played to a crowd expected to reach 100000.

Hopefully President Obama will not indulge in such duplicity. His message will be awaited with great interest.