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%.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Two State Option Is Dead

[My letter published in Israel National News - 26 February 2010]

Oslo is dead. The Road Map and Annapolis are the only games in town that define the scope of the currently stalled negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

America's commitment in a letter to Israel by President Bush dated 14 April 2004 remains the linchpin on which any future negotiations will proceed.

Since the Palestinian Authority refuses to accept Bush's conclusions one can confidently predict that the resumption of those negotiations will be a complete waste of time.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Only Two State Solution

[My letter published in Y Net - 8 February 2010]

The only two state solution...

1.Jordan PLUS Arab populated areas of West Bank
2.Israel PLUS Jewish populated areas of the West Bank

All that is required to achieve this two state solution is to redraw the boundary between Israel and Jordan in direct face to face negotiations between these two countries.

Why is everyone running around like chooks with their heads chopped off when the solution is so simple?

Get a life Abdullah. You can achieve fame and glory with the stroke of a pen.

Blair Is All Hot Air

[My letter published in Ha'Aretz - 7 December 2007]

Tony Blair will be bitterly disappointed if he is expecting a Palestinian State to emerge in 2008.

Israel`s Prime Minister - Ehud Olmert - in his speech at Annapolis stated that:
"The negotiations will be based on previous agreements between us, U.N. Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, the road map and the April 14, 2004 letter of President Bush to the Prime Minister of Israel."

That letter is going to be a central pillar in Israel`s continued rejection of PLO demands that the PLO be given every single metre of the West Bank, that the 450000 Jews living there be uprooted and that millions of Arabs be allowed to go and live in Israel.

PLO Chairman, Mahmoud Abbas, is too weak to abandon these demands - first made by Yasser Arafat in 1974 - which have been parroted and trotted out by the Arab League ever since.

Unless Abbas is prepared to concede the heavily populated Jewish areas of the West Bank to Israel and abandon the claimed Arab right of return to Israel, these negotiations will become bogged down in the quicksand that marked the frenetic negotiating sessions prior to Annapolis.

Despite the posturing and grandstanding at Annapolis, there will be no change in the cycle of nothingness that has existed since President Bush`s euphoric announcement of his " two state vision" in 2002.

Fruitless negotiations over the next twelve months will see the President`s vision consigned to the shelves of his Presidential Library as a testament to six years of wasted diplomacy.

Paralysis has set in and become institutionalised for the next 12 months as a result of Annapolis - and nothing the President or Tony Blair does or says will be capable of producing any discernible movement.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Gaza - Cranky Ban Ki Engages In Hanky-Panky

[Published January 2009]

The dust has settled temporarily in Gaza with at least one fact clearly established - a badly bloodied but unbowed or unrepentant Hamas still remains firmly entrenched in occupation and control of Gaza’s civilian population.

Its estimated terrorist army of 20,000 fighters pledged to bring about the destruction of Israel has only been reduced by 500 at the most - perhaps only by as few as 48 if you want to believe Hamas.

Whilst the Hamas arsenal of rockets and mortars may have been seriously depleted, the ingenuity and determination of its political leaders and backers virtually guarantees full re-supply within six months - no matter what steps are taken by the international community to try to stop the flow of weapons into Gaza.

Doubtless this success - and the hatred engendered by Israel’s invasion - will encourage others in Gaza to join the ranks of this army that fights in mufti from houses, shelters, hospitals, schools and mosques using the civilian population as human shields.

The price paid by Gazans in deaths, injuries, and property losses for Hamas continuing its rocket barrage of Israeli civilian populations after the end of a six months ceasefire in December has been catastrophic.

The temporary ceasefire now prevailing - and the conditions demanded by Hamas for its continued operation - make it highly likely that hostilities will be soon resumed again rather than permanently suspended.

Into this scene of chaos and at a conference on Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance in Gaza held at Sharm El Sheikh on January 18 rides the United Nations Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon. His contribution at that conference is to tell those assembled:
“As the Secretary-General for the United Nations I have a broad responsibility to take care of all humanitarian sufferings by the people in Gaza. I am going to dispatch early this week a humanitarian needs assessment team to Gaza, organized and led by the United Nations and together with the World Bank and other donor organizations, Within ten days I think we will be able to make an assessment report and we will issue an urgent humanitarian flash appeal, and within three weeks, we will be able to present an assessment report on early recovery and essential repairs. I urge and certainly hope that the major donor countries will generously contribute to this appeal.”

Why would the Secretary-General not be urging the conference attendees to consider offering Gazans permanent resettlement - or at least evacuation - until the political situation in Gaza is finally determined?

It makes no sense to pour billions of dollars into the reconstruction of Gaza and the attempted rehabilitation of its traumatized citizens in situ with the more than likely possibility that the money spent will once again disappear down the tunnels still left untouched by Israel’s bombs or into the Swiss bank accounts of corrupt officials as has occurred so often in the past.

Gaza is a hell hole - and has been so for the last 60 years - whether occupied by Egypt, Israel, the Palestinian Authority or Hamas. Its surviving residents have been subjected to inordinate suffering whilst political solutions have been vainly pursued during that time.

The population of Gaza is 1.5 million of whom 750000 are children. Offering them the chance of going to a safer haven permanently - or even temporarily - until an acceptable political solution is found seems to be a far better use of the billions of dollars that will be thrown to the wind in keeping the Gazans confined to Gaza and Hamas in control whilst that political solution is worked out.

The Secretary-General’s escape into fantasyland in believing a political solution could be soon achieved was revealed when he then declared:
” …we urgently need to bring back this Middle East peace process on track. We have already experienced sufferings and tragedies in 2006 in Lebanon, the situation in Gaza has been a repetition of the failure of this peace process, this is a failure of political will, at the level of people and at the level of leadership, all international community, particularly the Arab countries, should fully support and encourage this peace process on track. As a member of the Quartet, I will fully participate in trying to help the Middle East peace process,”

The United Nations has been a sponsor of the Middle East process - the Roadmap - for the last 6 years. It has gone nowhere and is dead as a dodo.

Neither the Roadmap - nor the Arab Peace Initiative first proposed in 2002 - have any chance of succeeding whilst the Arab demands for their successful conclusion require Israel to cede every square metre of the West Bank and Gaza and allow millions of Arabs the right to emigrate to Israel.

In the meantime the Secretary-General has no better idea for ending the suffering of Gazans than letting them continue to live in Gaza to continue enduring the tribulations that have plagued them since 1948.

On the 6th January 2009 Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Vatican’s Council for Justice and Peace, said in an interview in the Italian online newspaper Il
“Defenceless populations are always the ones who pay. Look at the conditions in Gaza: more and more, it resembles a big concentration camp,”

When the Allies encountered the remnants of European Jewry in the Nazi concentration camps at the end of World War 2 they opened the gates and set them free. Surely the Secretary-General cannot be so heartless as to deny Gazans the same opportunity to leave if they wish to do so.

The international outcry at the humanitarian crisis in Gaza should ensure that a large number of countries would be prepared to offer themselves as a permanent or temporary haven for Gazans.

The money outlaid in rehousing and rehabilitating the new arrivals in those host countries would be infinitely more better spent than being poured into Gaza and would make the provision of assistance to those refusing to move much easier to implement.

Hamas might seek to restrain the evacuation of the population preferring to hold them as hostages in pursuit of their fanatical drive to eliminate the State of Israel. The United Nations should not be deterred in ensuring Hamas is not allowed to prevail and frustrate this vital humanitarian objective.

The Secretary-General needs to act with firmness and authority. More of the same is simply not good enough.

Palestine - Bye Bye Bush, Onwards Obama

[Published January 2009]

President Bush’s Roadmap has been unceremoniously dumped at the Senate Foreign Relations confirmation hearing nominating Senator Hillary Clinton to be America’s next Secretary for State.

Amazingly not one mention was specifically made by Ms Clinton of the Roadmap or its VIP quartet of sponsors - America, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations - in the 63 pages of the transcript of the proceedings published 13 January 2009.

Indeed not one of the Senators present even asked a question relating to the future of the Roadmap.

The closest Ms Clinton got to almost mentioning the Roadmap was this curious statement made by her in response to a question by Senator Kerry:
“Well, you know, we are at a point where the current administration is working very hard behind the scenes and in front of the scenes and we don’t want to say or do anything that might interrupt or undermine what they are doing.”

With just 6 days to run before the current administration was ended, it was hardly a ringing endorsement of the Roadmap or really offered any expectation that the Roadmap would be at the forefront of the new administration’s efforts to solve the 130 years old conflict between Jews and Arabs to the territory once called Palestine.

Rather Ms Clinton gave this insight into what to expect under President Obama:
“As intractable as the Middle East problems may seem—and many presidents, including my husband, have spent years trying to work out a resolution—we cannot give up on peace. The president-elect and I understand and are deeply sympathetic to Israel’s desire to defend itself under the current conditions and to be free of shelling by Hamas rockets.

However, we have also been reminded of the tragic humanitarian cost of conflict in the Middle East and pained by the suffering of Palestinian and Israeli civilians. This must only increase our determination to seek a just and lasting peace agreement that brings real security to Israel; normal and positive relations with its neighbors; independence, economic progress, and security to the Palestinians in their own states.

We will exert every effort to support the work of Israelis and Palestinians who seek that result. It is critical not only to the parties involved, but to undermining the forces of alienation and violent extremism around the world.”

Ms Clinton pointedly did not say these objectives would be created through the continued pursuit of the Roadmap.

The Roadmap had been virtually declared a historical document in the long list of failed attempts to find a solution to the conflict when the Arabs rejected the following two conditions that President Bush had considered they would have to accept if there was to be a successful conclusion to any arrangement negotiated under the Roadmap:

1. That the entire area of the West Bank would not form part of a new Arab State to be created in the West Bank and Gaza

2. That the Arabs (and their descendants) made homeless in the 1948 War between Israel and the six Arab armies that invaded Western Palestine would not be allowed to return to the homes they had left - the so called “right of return”.

Whilst the first condition could be ultimately accepted by the Arabs, the right of return has been firmly ingrained in the Arab psyche in both the PLO Charter and the Hamas Covenant. Any Arab leadership recanting on this demand would be swept aside by the radical forces that urge its retention.

Ms Clinton however seems to feel this demand can be abandoned by adopting a more comprehensive strategy and by the payment of compensation as she told the Foreign Relations Committee:
“But we have refugee populations, some of decades longstanding and some of a few days standing, in so many places. I will do my very best to elevate this issue, to give you the kind of expertise within the State Department that will give you comfort that we’re going to make this a high priority, and to come up with solutions to some of our longstanding refugee challenges.

This is a very complex issue, because everywhere we look in the world, conflict, famine, disease, the economy, we have refugees. And so our hope is that we can get a more comprehensive strategy to deal with refugees, come to the Congress to get the funding for refugees, a problem which is compounded by the point that Senator Lugar made at the beginning of the hearing about the food crisis.

So I would welcome working with you and those who are concerned, as you are, to come up with an effective strategy for the United States to deploy with respect to refugees.”

Hot air and waffle have characterised the well intended - but fatally flawed - efforts of the Bush administration to bring peace between Jews and Arabs in the Middle East.

It seems at this early stage that the Obama administration is in a policy void following the demise of the Roadmap. Ms Clinton has offered no positive proposals for ending the conflict at the Senate confirmation hearing. That indeed may be a positive for the new administration.

Ms Clinton may have learnt from her husband’s failure to bring peace to the Middle East and understand that managing - not necessarily resolving - the conflict remains the real key to any future American involvement at this particular time and for the foreseeable future.

Policies should be promoted that enable the current tensions in Gaza to be ameliorated and that separate the warring combatants in the West Bank so as to permit more conducive conditions to be created to enable a final settlement to be negotiated after the dust of conflict of the last 60 years - and in particular of the last three weeks - has first been given time to settle.

This will take time and patience. There is no quick fix to ending the suffering sustained by both Jews and Arabs and a lengthy passage of time and absence of non-violence and confrontation is needed to create the opportunities - and environment - to then end the conflict.

As he readies himself to take the oath of office President-elect Obama should carry with him the sage advice proffered in the ancient Jewish text - the Ethics Of The Fathers:
“The work is great - the day is short. It is not our duty to complete the work - but neither are we free to desist from it.”

Egypt and Jordan - Lifelines to Gaza and West Bank

[Published January 2009]

The growing humanitarian crisis in Gaza is slowly leading to the realization that removal of Hamas and its 20000 terrorist army from there has become a fundamental priority in permanently ending the suffering of Gaza’s civilian population.

This understanding has been complemented by the acknowledgment that the Palestinian Authority has been reduced to the status of a political eunuch following

1. its failure to achieve any breakthrough in 15 years of fruitless negotiations with Israel and
2. the embarrassing loss of its political and administrative control over Gaza to Hamas in the bitter confrontation played out between them in 2006 and 2007.

These views are reflected in articles appearing in the Washington Post on 5 January 2009 –“The Three State Option” – written by John Bolton former US ambassador to the United Nations and in the Jerusalem Post on 6 January 2009 – “The Solution to the ‘Palestinian Problem’” – written by respected international analyst Daniel Pipes.

Messrs Bolton and Pipes have both advocated a Jordanian – Egyptian rescue package as the solution to end the chaos and mayhem in Gaza and avoid the threatened crisis that will inevitably occur in the West Bank as President Bush’s Roadmap is finally determined to have run out of roads to traverse.

Both Bolton and Pipes recommend that Jordan return to control the West Bank and Egypt do likewise in Gaza -replicating the position that had existed from 1948 until 1967 when both territories were lost to Israel in the Six Days War in June 1967.

Despite continuing rosy and optimistic assessments claiming an imminent breakthrough in the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the parties still remain poles apart in their negotiating positions.

The Palestinian Authority continues to insist on the following two demands being accepted by Israel

1. The removal of all 500000 Jews now living in the West Bank and
2. The return to Israel of millions of Arabs (and their descendants) made homeless by the 1948 Arab-Israel War.

Israel has clearly indicated its outright rejection of these two demands and the last twelve months of intensive and exhaustive negotiations have failed to make any real dent in the negotiating positions of either side.

The Arab Peace initiative 2002 has now been touted as the saviour of these negotiations but it fails to offer any answers to resolving these two deal-breaking demands. Indeed it virtually imposes their acceptance as essential to the success of the Initiative. It is presented by the Arab League on a “take it all or leave it basis” and accordingly will be left at the starting gate by Israel.

In essence then the so called solution to the “Palestinian problem” – the creation of a new Arab State in the West Bank and Gaza – has become insoluble because the Arab conditions for its creation are unattainable in any negotiating process.

The international community has posited many solutions for the last 90 years to end the conflict between Jews and Arabs to the territory once called “Palestine” - all of which have been refused by the Arabs resulting in continued and ongoing death, injury, trauma, suffering and misery for both Jews and Arabs.

This situation has not been helped by the failure of the 21 Arab League member states – with the notable exception of Jordan - to resettle and offer permanent citizenship to those Arabs who fled the fighting in 1948 between the fledgling state of Israel and six invading Arab armies. It has also not been helped by the refusal of these member states - other than Egypt and Jordan - to recognise Israel, to enter into peace treaties with Israel and to grant each other full diplomatic representation.

Therefore the re-entry of Jordan and Egypt into the West Bank and Gaza respectively remains the most realistic option available to manage and contain - if not finally resolve - the current conflict.

Successful conclusion of negotiations between Israel, Jordan and Egypt (possibly under United Nations Chairmanship) could

1. Offer the Arab residents of the West Bank and Gaza - presently stateless - Jordanian or Egyptian citizenship
2. End the current humanitarian crisis in both Gaza and the West Bank
3. Allow every Arab or Jewish resident of the West Bank to continue living in his current home
4. End any actual – or perceived - Israeli control or restrictions over Gazan and West Bank Arabs
5. Finally resolve sovereignty in the 6% of Palestine that still remains unallocated between Jews and Arabs since the Mandate for Palestine was promulgated by the League of Nations in 1922.
6. Set up an International Tribunal to compensate Arabs affected by the 1948 War and Jews who were forced to leave Arab countries in the wake of its aftermath

Both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas have been given enough time to achieve some positive advance towards a peaceful resolution of the conflict. They have both proved themselves unequal to the task.

The call by Bolton and Pipes for their replacement by Jordan and Egypt as Israel’s negotiating partners needs to be urgently embraced – and demanded - by the international community.

Refusal by Israel, Egypt and Jordan to sit down and attempt to negotiate the future of the West Bank and Gaza - with the backing of promised financial aid, military and diplomatic assistance from the international community - will herald an end to any peaceful efforts to settle the conflict between Jews and Arabs.

The international community cannot let this happen due to the objection of one or more of these parties.

It should make clear that to do so will result in all further military and financial assistance to the refusing parties being withheld. It should also make clear that it will turn its attention away from resolving “the Palestinian problem” to resolving other conflicts around the world where its prestige, financial clout and influence will be more appreciated and likely to yield positive results.

President elect Obama will be searching for a way out of the current impasse caused by the failure of the Roadmap negotiations and the current invasion of Gaza by Israel. No doubt he will be made fully aware of the views of John Bolton and Daniel Pipes. Hopefully he sees the merits of their proposals and adopts them.

This way forward could also be President Obama’s lifeline – not only that of the Gazan and West Bank Arabs.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Gaza - Oust Hamas Or Surrender To Terror

[Published January 2009]

Concern for Gaza’s civilian population has engendered a wave of demonstrations around the world over the past few days as Israel’s army enters Gaza to try and effectively end the incessant barrage of rockets and mortars that have been fired indiscriminately into Israel’s population centres by Hamas for the last eight years.

Significantly missing from those demonstrations were any signs demanding “Hamas Out”.

There were plenty of banners saying “Free Palestine” but not one saying “Free Gaza”, “Hamas End Occupation” or “Hamas Handover To Abbas”.

Even Israel has stated its current incursion into Gaza is not designed to bring about regime change. One would hope the attainment of this objective has not really been foregone but remains the ultimate- but as yet unexpressed - goal to be achieved.

Mahmoud Abbas and every spokesman for the Palestinian Authority - thrown out of Gaza by Hamas eighteen months ago and locked in a bitter internecine struggle with Hamas for political control of Gaza ever since then - have not called on Hamas to leave Gaza to end the suffering of Gaza’s population.

No world leader has taken the frequent opportunities afforded by CNN, Fox or the BBC to call for Hamas to be removed from Gaza.

Indeed there has not been one demonstration by Gaza’s civilian population calling on Hamas to end its rocket and mortar attacks on Israel to end the insufferable horrors that are now occurring in Gaza.

Hamas has entrenched its armed forces and its rocket and mortar stocks in civilian population centres. Hamas knows full well the inevitability of heavy Gazan civilian casualties being sustained as Israel seeks to root out and destroy Hamas fighters located there - virtually ensuring the intensity of these world-wide demonstrations increasing as those Gazan civilian casualties continue to climb.

All demonstrations and current calls from world leaders instead only demand an immediate cease fire – not the ouster of Hamas from Gaza.

If such a cease fire is ever achieved Hamas would still be the dominant power in Gaza. What has been happening for the last ten days would then only become round one in a contest between Israel and Hamas guaranteed to be renewed with definite certainty and even greater ferocity at some time in the future.

Amazingly too the concern of the world community with the welfare of Gaza’s civilian population has not included a demand that the Rafah crossing – controlled by Egypt – be opened to allow at least Gaza’s women and children to be evacuated whilst the conflict continues. The Arab League has been shamefully silent in making any such demand obviously preferring to keep Gazans penned in as virtual hostages and human shields to become potential casualties in an effort to discredit Israel’s attempts to end the Hamas campaign against Israel.

Everyone seems to have also forgotten that Hamas has been declared a prescribed terrorist organization by America, the European Union, Japan, Canada and Australia. Hamas has been declared as an illegitimate usurper of power in Gaza by the Palestinian Authority.

Hamas has stymied any efforts to create a 22nd Arab State in Gaza and the West Bank – a political settlement which has no possible chance of happening whilst Hamas controls Gaza and admittedly very little chance of eventuating even if Hamas is ousted from power.

The only satisfactory outcome to Israel’s incursion into Gaza can be the removal of Hamas from Gaza. Anything less will signal an enormous victory for terrorist groups world -wide who will be able to count on hiding behind civilians to ensure that heavy civilian casualties will be the breaking point on which attempts to eliminate the terrorists will ultimately founder.

All terrorist groups must be heartened by the current world-wide demonstrations that focus on Gaza’s undoubted humanitarian crisis and completely ignore the root cause of Gaza’s problem today – the decisions made by Hamas that have brought the territory and its citizens to the disastrous position that they now face.

Israel is doing the world’s dirty work in combating the ugly face of terrorism as it is so ruthlessly exploited in Gaza. There are no NATO forces or troops from other countries supporting Israel’s attempt to silence the Hamas barrage.

Israel has had to take up the gauntlet once again in fighting terrorism as it did when faced with very similar circumstances involving the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in Lebanon in 1982. At the conclusion of Israel’s then campaign Yasser Arafat and 14000 armed PLO fighters were exiled to Tunisia following mediation by US Ambassador – Philip Habib.

The cancer that had affected both the civilian populations of Israel and Lebanon had been removed.

A Multinational Force was authorized to facilitate the process and to provide protection for Palestinian civilians left in Lebanon. On August 21, 1982 French troops arrived and on August 24 the US Marines went ashore in Beirut. The PLO evacuation was completed without significant incident and the Marines withdrew to their ships on September 10.

A similar outcome is possible - and is essential - if Gazans are to be freed from the conflict and instability that has dogged them since Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 and Hamas ejected the Palestinian Authority from Gaza in 2007.

To enable this to happen Hamas must be militarily ground down to the point where it is in danger of complete extinction unless it retires to lick its wounds and reconsider its options if it wishes to be taken seriously as having any political standing in resolving the Arab - Jewish conflict over the territory once called Palestine.

As diplomatic efforts now step into top gear the consequences of leaving Hamas in control in Gaza need to be fully understood.

Israel must be given the opportunity to militarily end the Hamas reign of terror in Gaza.

Failure to facilitate allowing this to occur will most certainly be a recipe for further conflict and even greater suffering by a civilian population which has paid an inordinately high price for electing Hamas to a position where it was able to lead the civilian population down the road to despair that faces it today.

Continuing terror or the prospect of peace are the options facing the world as they grapple diplomatically in trying to end the war on terrorism in Gaza.

Hopefully they make the right choice.

Gaza - The Solution Ain't Rocket Science

[Published January2009]

Gazan Arabs have no one but themselves to blame for voting Hamas into power and allowing Hamas to destroy their lives in the traumatic manner that has suddenly befallen them in the past week.

This inevitability was on the cards from the day Gazans freely - and overwhelmingly - elected Hamas to power in Gaza’s municipal council elections on 28 January 2005 giving Hamas a solid power base and stranglehold in 77 out of the 118 seats contested.

Emboldened by Israel’s total - and unilateral – withdrawal from Gaza on 12 September 2005, Gaza’s population immediately went on a rampage burning synagogues and communal centres left behind in Gaza by the 8000 Jews who had built them over the previous four decades whilst also destroying the productive green houses and agricultural lands created out of desert by the departing Jewish farmers.

Gaza’s exclusively Arab population had by then come to regard Hamas as the party that could really deliver Israel into Islamic hands and wipe the Jewish state off the map as the Hamas Charter so clearly declared. Hamas claimed the credit for Israel’s withdrawal and promised more to the crowds that thronged the Hamas rallies to celebrate Israel’s retreat.

Hamas had by then already carried out thousands of terror attacks killing 425 Israelis and wounding 2,233 others since 2000. Between 1993-2005 Hamas had been responsible for sending 113 suicide bombers into Israel to deliberately target, murder and maim civilians in places like restaurants, buses and shopping centers.

Hamas certainly practised what they preached and Gaza’s civilian population were now prepared to vest Hamas with even greater political power in Gaza.

193,000 Gazans gave Hamas that green light on 25 January 2006 in the Palestinian Legislative Council elections whilst 174,000 Gazans supported the incumbent ruling party - Fatah. Hamas ended up winning 74 seats overall whilst Fatah could only win 45 seats.

Gazans had made their choice undeterred by the fact that Hamas had been declared a terrorist organization by America, the European Union, Australia, Canada and Israel.

Fatah certainly only had itself to blame for its 2006 stunning electoral defeat having allowed Hamas to contest those elections in breach of the Oslo Accords that Fatah had signed in 1995 which stated:
“The nomination of any candidates, parties or coalitions will be refused, and such nomination or registration will be cancelled, if such candidates, parties or coalitions 1) commit or advocate racism, or 2) pursue the implementation of their aims by unlawful non-democratic means.”

The ensuing havoc and political schism between Hamas and Fatah following Hamas’ huge win saw Gaza being effectively taken over by Hamas whilst a large number of the 174000 Fatah supporters and their families fled to the relative safety of the West Bank to escape the purge of Fatah members occupying positions of power within Gaza’s political echelons. Others were not so lucky and died in the internecine strife that followed.

Entrenched in power in Gaza, Hamas did not embark on nation building. Instead it engaged in a massive build up of rockets smuggled through an extensive network of tunnels running under Egypt and into Gaza whilst continuing to manufacture its own home grown versions for indiscriminate dispatch into Israeli population centres.

Gazans were willing partners to this murderous enterprise making their homes the exit points for newly constructed tunnels whilst actively assisting in the assembling and manufacturing of an arsenal of rockets and mortars that seemed infinite in the number available to be fired at Israel.

Israel absorbed many attacks and responded to others by blockades, embargoes and limited incursions into Gaza which had little effect in stemming the almost daily barrages. Each retaliatory action by Israel was met with huge protests and demonstrations by tens of thousands of Gazans.

No voices of protest or warning were heard or raised in Gaza at its Government’s precipitate action. Some may argue this was caused by fear and that the population had become captive and hostage to its new rulers whose dreams of driving Israel into the sea had overwhelmed its primary responsibility to advance the well being and development of its own constituency.

Suffering became the norm as electricity, water and fuel supplies were cut by Israel.

“Humanitarian crisis”, “collective punishment” and “breaches of international humanitarian law” became the international chants to comfort Gazans as their leaders – duly emboldened by this limp response - persisted with their sworn declaration to kill as many Jews as they could.

Renewal of an uneasy six months’ truce mediated by Egypt in June 2008 was spurned by Hamas. The truce period had enabled a build up of rockets with a far greater range than had been previously been employed. It was time for the rocket game to begin in earnest once again.

Israel however had had enough and has now responded like never before. The destruction visited on Gaza’s institutions of power, its Hamas foot soldiers, rocket launchers, network of tunnels and rocket and mortar arsenal are yet to be publicly revealed. Hamas has not been bowed and has indicated its intention of continuing its suicidal program by firing more rockets far deeper into Israel than previously thought possible.

Gazan Arabs are now having their electoral decisions sheeted home to them in no uncertain fashion. Whilst the Palestine Liberation Organisation may have been foisted on them in an undemocratic fashion in 1964, the embrace of Hamas in 2005 and 2006 was decidedly the opposite.

Rescuing the Gazans from the disastrous consequences of their political choices involves the removal of Hamas. Replacing Hamas with Fatah is not really a viable alternative. Fatah has shown itself to be totally incapable of reaching a peaceful accommodation with Israel after 15 years of fruitless negotiations. Both organizations are total political write-offs.

The only possible solution involves Egypt reassuming control over Gaza as it did between 1948-1967. This time there will have to be one fundamental difference – Gaza and its citizens must embark on the road to peace with – not seek the destruction of – Israel.

Redrawing the boundary between Israel and Egypt to incorporate all of Gaza and its citizens in Egypt’s sovereign territory is a commonsense approach that now urgently requires the support of the Arab League, the other Islamic States and the remainder of the international community to make it work.

It can - and must – happen if the suffering and despair of the Gazan Arabs are to be ended.

This solution does not –thankfully – involve rocket science although first removing Hamas probably will.

Palestine - The Ten Commandments That Must Be Broken

[Published December 2008]

The United Nations Security Council in passing Resolution 1850 on 19 December 2008 solemnly noted:
“that lasting peace can only be based on an enduring commitment to mutual recognition, freedom from violence, incitement and terror and the two-State solution ..”

Strangely the Security Council in coming to this considered position made no mention of one of the greatest obstacles to achieving that mutual recognition - the arrogant, racist driven and offensive provisions contained in the Charter of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

The Charter still remains in its 1967 format despite spurious claims by the PLO to have amended or revoked its terms as a condition of – and following - the execution of the Oslo Accords in 1993.

The Charter contains the following Ten Commandments to be followed by Palestinian Arabs in denying Jews any claim to sovereignty in any part of Palestine, pursuing Arab supremacist claims to all of Palestine, nullifying international law recognizing that the Jews have the right to nationhood similar to the Arab Nation and absolutely precluding the possibility of any “two-State” solution:

1. Palestine is the homeland of the Palestinian Arab people and an integral part of the great Arab homeland and the people of Palestine is a part of the Arab Nation
2. Palestine with its boundaries that existed in the time of the British Mandate is an indivisible territorial unit.
3. The Palestinian Arab people possesses the legal right to its homeland
4. Armed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine.
5. The Palestinian Arab people affirm its absolute resolution and abiding determination to exercise its right of self determination in Palestine and sovereignty over it.
6. The partitioning of Palestine in 1947 and the establishment of Israel are fundamentally null and void whatever time has elapsed
7. The Balfour Declaration, the Mandate Document and everything based upon them are deemed null and void.
8. The claim of historical ties or religious ties between Jews and Palestine does not tally with historical realities nor with the constituents of statehood in their true sense.
9. Judaism is not a nationality with an independent existence
10. The Jews are not one people with an independent identity but citizens of the state to which they belong.

This disturbing mindset is one that needs to be eradicated before any chance of resolving sovereignty in the West Bank between Arabs and Jews becomes even a remote possibility.

Such ideas fuel continuing Arab demands that call for:

1. A “one-State solution”,
2. Millions of Arabs being allowed to emigrate into Israel
3. Israel ceasing to exist as the Jewish State
4. The West Bank being turned into a “No Jews” zone.
5. Unrealistic “peace proposals” such as the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative
6. Solidarity and enforced silence from many of the 57 States in the Arab and Islamic world that wish to normalise their relations with Israel but are afraid to do so
7. Support of terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad
8. Continued indiscriminate rocket and mortar attacks on Israel’s civilian population centres

The United Nations lacks the ability to procure the passage of any resolution - either in the General Assembly or the Security Council – calling on its Arab, Islamic and Third World members to condemn the continued existence of these hate-driven provisions in the PLO Charter.

Nor does the United Nations possess the willpower to demand the PLO redraw the Charter to remove these offensive provisions and raise some hope of a possible end to 130 years of Arab delusion, paranoia and rejectionism that has prevented any Arab acknowledgement that Jews have any rights to a Jewish State in any part of their biblical and internationally sanctioned homeland.

Resolution 1850 is therefore not worth the paper it is written on. Its call for mutual recognition is merely empty words devoid of any legal enforcement or moral persuasion. The Resolution reflects the impotence of the Security Council to do anything but attempt to save face as it finally realises that time has run out for the Bush Performance Based Road Map and the ignominious role played by the United Nations as a member of the supposedly high powered Quartet that was going to bring the lasting peace that had eluded all the intensive efforts by so many others before it.

Until these Ten Commandments prescribed in the PLO Charter are obliterated and shredded into tiny little pieces, any hopes of peacefully resolving the conflicting Arab and Jewish claims to the West Bank and Gaza are doomed to failure.

To suggest these insuperable barriers to peace will be removed once a peace agreement is signed is to believe in the existence of fairies at the bottom of the garden. Putting the cart before the horse only guarantees that your longed for destination will never be reached.

2009 therefore promises to be another year of tragedy and suffering for both Jews and Arabs.

Resolution 1850 has now dubbed the “two-State solution” - involving the creation of a 22nd Arab State between Jordan and Israel - as “an irreversible process”.

Unfortunately it is only the negotiations to achieve this outcome that continue to slide irreversibly into ever growing farce and continuing failure. They will continue to go backwards until the Arab mindset expressed in the PLO Charter is changed.

No amount of sweet talk and “feel good” statements by the United Nations can halt this downward spiral. Indeed Resolutions such as 1850 only serve to reward continuing Arab intransigence by failing to condemn demands made by the Palestinian Authority and the Arab League extending over the last 60 years that remain unchanged and have no possibility of being accepted by Israel

The time for talkfests and playing diplomatic games has well and truly expired.

Bad Commandments require to be broken and these ten are perfect examples of what can be achieved if this occurs. At this time and season of universal goodwill we can only hope such a miracle happens very soon.

UN Security Council Flirts With Racist Fantasyland

[Published December 2008]

“All these attacks prove that settlers are dangerous and that it’s impossible to live with them. If these settlers are allowed to stay, that would mean more friction and confrontation. Peace can be achieved only if Israel withdraws to the last centimetre of the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967” - Ahmed Qurei , Head of Palestinian Authority Negotiating Team – Jerusalem Post - 13 December 2008

This call to remove every Jew living in the West Bank – 500000 men, women and children - was accepted in total silence by the United Nations. No urgent meeting of the General Assembly or any of its Human Rights Committees was called to condemn this racial vilification of Jews by a former Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority and its chief negotiator with Israel.

One remembers how fervently world leaders correctly argued that you couldn’t blame all Moslems for the terrorist actions of those few who hijack Islam and commit horrible atrocities worldwide in the name of Allah.

No similar statements were heard from those same leaders this week condemning Mr Queri for calling for the removal of those 500000 Jews because of the misguided actions of a few.

Collective punishment – not to be tolerated for Gazan Arabs – was perfectly acceptable when it involved West Bank Jews.

Indeed the UN Security Council met just three days after Mr. Qurei’s outrageous statement –yet raised not one word of protest or censure at his highly offensive and hate-ridden remarks.

Instead it passed Resolution 1850 (2008) by 14 votes to 0 - with Libya abstaining – declaring:
“its support for the negotiations initiated at Annapolis on 27 November 2007 and its commitment to the irreversibility of the bilateral negotiations”

and called on
“both parties to fulfil their obligations under the Performance-Based Roadmap, as stated in their Annapolis Joint Understanding and refrain from any steps that could undermine confidence or prejudice the outcome of negotiations.”

One could not imagine a more destructive statement designed to undermine confidence or to prejudice the outcome of the Annapolis negotiations than that delivered by Mr. Qurei.

His demand defiantly flies in the face of the written commitment given by President Bush to Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on 14 April 2004 – forming an integral part of the Roadmap negotiating process under the auspices of the Quartet - America, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations.

In that letter President Bush stated:
“As part of a final peace settlement, Israel must have secure and recognized borders, which should emerge from negotiations between the parties in accordance with UNSC Resolutions 242 and 338. In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion. It is realistic to expect that any final status agreement will only be achieved on the basis of mutually agreed changes that reflect these realities. “

In declaring its support for the Annapolis negotiations the Security Council conveniently ignored the basis on which those negotiations were undertaken by Israel as expressed in these clear and unambiguous terms by its Prime Minister – Ehud Olmert – at the opening of the Annapolis conference:
“The negotiations will be based on previous agreements between us, U.N. Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, the road map and the April 14, 2004 letter of President Bush to the Prime Minister of Israel.”

All the international players sitting in the Security Council – including outgoing US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice – were surely aware that Mr Qurei’s statement sounded the death knell for the Annapolis negotiations and signalled the end of any hope for a successful outcome of those negotiations.

Yet instead of condemning Mr Qurei’s statement - or demanding its retraction - Ms. Rice had the effrontery to tell the Security Council that Israeli and Palestinian negotiators:
“had made the choice to defeat an ideology of hatred with one of hope”

The only conclusion that one can draw from the Security Council’s extraordinary conduct in totally ignoring Mr Qurei’s statement is its unwillingness to face up to the fact that Annapolis is finished, President Bush’s dream has turned into a nightmare and the Quartet’s strategy in backing President Bush’s Roadmap has exposed it as totally impotent in having any influence to determine the allocation of sovereignty in the West Bank between Jews and Arabs.

The Security Council by its silence has offered encouragement to those Jew haters like Mr Qurei who for the last 130 years have opposed Jews having any right to live in their biblical homeland – the West Bank - or indeed within any part of the 23% of Palestine designated by the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine and article 80 of the United Nations Charter as the site for the reconstitution of the Jewish National Home.

In doing nothing to disavow the Arabs from pursuing their long standing enmity and racial hatred of the Jews, the Security Council has ignored a whole body of international law on the issue and given comfort to the long held Arab view that everything done since the creation of the Mandate in 1920 is deemed null and void.

“Jews out” is indeed a call that is still alive and kicking in the Middle East.

This racist fantasyland has been given a considerable boost by the Security Council’s flirtation with - and failure to unequivocally repudiate - Mr Qurei’s remarks when endorsing Resolution 1850.

United Nations efforts to eliminate all forms of racism worldwide have been seriously compromised.

RIP President Bush’s Performance –Based Roadmap. RIP Annapolis. RIP the United Nations.

Palestine - Consolation And Consolidation

[Published December 2008]

The failure of the Palestinian Arabs to grab the opportunity of statehood offered to them in 1937, 1947, and between 1948 - 1967 and 1993 - 2008 must surely now be testing the international community’s patience.

A lot of prestige, time, effort and billions of dollars has been spent by the international community over the last 15 years trying to successfully achieve the creation of a 22nd Arab State between Egypt, Israel and Jordan.

Such a State – if created - would have come into existence for the first time ever in recorded history.

It would have been located in the West Bank and Gaza - territory actually promised to the Jewish people as part of the site for the reconstitution of their national home by the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine in 1922 and article 80 of the United Nations Charter.

Israel has reportedly now agreed to end the 130 years old conflict between the Arabs and the Jews by evacuating 70000 Jews from the West Bank, relinquishing any claim to 93.5% of the West Bank and all of Gaza and by excising from the sovereign territory of Israel an area equivalent to the remaining 6.5% of the West Bank..

This compromise ensured:

1, Israel procured secure and recognized boundaries as prescribed by Security Council Resolution 242 and
2. 430000 of the 500000 Jews currently living in the West Bank would be allowed to continue to live where they presently resided as Israeli citizens within the expanded boundaries of the State of Israel.

These proposals have been rejected by the Palestinian Authority (PA) – the negotiating arm of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) - which demands 100% of the West Bank and Gaza and the ouster of its 500000 Jewish residents – Arab demands that have indeed been pressed without modification since 1967.

To all intents and purposes the current negotiations have come to an irreconcilable end and what purports to constitute ongoing negotiations is simply empty and meaningless talk leading to nowhere.

How then should the international community now respond to this stalemate?

For the answer one first needs to go back to the years between 1948-1967 when not one Jew lived in the West Bank or Gaza and these areas - constituting about 6% of former Palestine – were then respectively under Jordanian and Egyptian occupation.

A separate and independent Arab State could have then been established in the entirety of these territories at any time within those 19 years by the stroke of a pen and with the consent and blessing of the Arab League.

The reason why what is being strenuously sought now was not demanded or created then can be gleaned from perusing Article 24 of the founding Charter of the PLO in 1964 which stated:
“This Organization does not exercise any regional sovereignty over the West Bank in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, on the Gaza Strip or the Himmah Area. Its activities will be on the national popular level in the liberational, organizational, political and financial fields.”

Regional sovereignty in the West Bank and Gaza was therefore clearly never contemplated by the PLO or the Arab League in 1964. Another independent Arab State in these areas was never sought nor demanded by the Palestinian Arabs from its Arab occupiers – Jordan and Egypt.

The international community needs to take note of that Arab position, the subsequent loss to Israel of the West Bank and Gaza by Jordan and Egypt respectively in the Six Days War in 1967 and the total failure of negotiations between Israel and the PLO over the last 15 years.

The international community needs to conclude and require that regional sovereignty of the West Bank and Gaza now be allocated between Israel, Jordan and Egypt in direct face to face trilateral negotiations.

Jordan only abandoned its claims to the West Bank in 1988 in favour of the PLO. The PA was created by the PLO in 1993 to negotiate the future of the West Bank and Gaza after the signing of the Oslo Accords between Israel and the PLO.

There appears to be no impediment to Jordan and Egypt once again assuming the mantle to negotiate the issue of regional sovereignty in the West Bank and Gaza with Israel now that the PA has proved itself totally incapable of ever reaching any settlement with Israel and has been reduced to a completely ineffectual and spent force since its split with Hamas in 2007.

Should Jordan and Egypt both refuse to accept this negotiating role then the international community should indicate it is not prepared to invest any further time, effort and money in trying to resolve the issue of regional sovereignty in the West Bank and Gaza.

There are too many other pressing problems in the world where such time, effort and money can be better directed in the hope of achieving satisfactory outcomes that have eluded the West Bank and Gaza for 40 years.

Bringing the issue to a head – rather than allowing it to meander aimlessly nowhere – is urgently required to end the daily suffering of both Jews and Arabs as any breakthrough in the Roadmap negotiations fails to materialise.

The Palestinian Arabs will receive a consolation prize – seeing the status quo existing in 1967 in the West Bank and Gaza being restored in a substantial majority of those territories as they are consolidated within either Jordan or Egypt.

Those Arab residents coming under Egyptian or Jordanian sovereignty will attain Egyptian or Jordanian nationality and freedom of unimpeded movement within the expanded boundaries of Egypt and Jordan.

Those residents have always considered themselves as a part of the Arab nation and will be reunited with their fellow Arabs in one of the 21 existing Arab States that comprise the territorial area of that nation.

The international community or Israel should not expect to receive any iron clad guarantee that the PLO and Hamas would abandon their common objective of destroying the state of Israel.

But finality would hopefully be brought to the issue of regional sovereignty in the whole of former Palestine – an unfinished piece of business that has festered with disastrous consequences since 1967.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Palestine And Obama - Ego Trip Or Meaningful Journey?

[Published December 2008]

Hillary Clinton’s appointment as Secretary of State will afford many future opportunities to compare her performance with her predecessor Condoleezza Rice in bringing finality to the allocation of sovereignty in the West Bank and Gaza - where no internationally recognised sovereign ruler has reigned supreme since Britain left in haste in 1948 with its lion’s tail firmly planted between its legs.

To be fair to Ms Rice her failure to resolve the status of the West Bank and Gaza was due to the flawed objectives of President Bush’s 2003 Roadmap - popularly termed the “two state solution”.

President Bush misguidedly envisioned the Palestinian Arabs accepting a democratic, contiguous, viable - - and 22nd Arab Moslem - state in the major part of the West Bank and Gaza between Jordan, Egypt and Israel - living in peace and harmony alongside an expanded Jewish State whose boundaries would incorporate a substantial majority of the 200000 Jews then living in the West Bank and Gaza.

President Bush also believed the Arabs would abandon their 70 years old demand for millions of Arabs to be granted permission to emigrate to Israel - opting instead to engage in the business of nation building in their own newly created state in the West Bank and Gaza.

Not only he genuinely believed this laudable and idealistic goal was achievable. The President was able to convince the European Union, Russia and the United Nations to join him in negotiating such an outcome.

He - and they - have been proved sorely wrong on all counts.

Ms Rice became the most frequent - and frustrated - foreign emissary to the region since the Roadmap’s formulation yet failed to achieve even the slightest change in the Arabs’ negotiating stance - first formulated in 1967 - which totally rejected the President’s vision and its desired result.

Israel had been prepared to make concessions in settling its claims in the West Bank and Gaza in accordance with the rights accruing to the Jewish people under Article 80 of the United Nations Charter. However in the face of entrenched Arab opposition to recognising any Jewish claims of any sort whatsoever in the West Bank and Gaza those concessions were always bound to be rejected.

President Bush’s belief that he could solve the Arab - Jewish conflict has come crashing to the ground joining the failed attempts of President Carter and President Clinton - who also thought they too had the power prestige and standing to do exactly the same.

Now President-elect Obama stands ready to follow their footsteps. He needs to be very careful in believing he has the answers to finally end the Arab -Jewish conflict where distinguished former Presidents - and even the League of Nations and United Nations before them - have failed so abysmally.

Unverified reports that President-elect Obama intends to pursue the two-state solution or perhaps even embrace the 2002 Arab League Peace Initiative will inevitably land him in the same cavernous potholes that President Bush - and those who resolutely accompanied him - encountered in their six year trip to nowhere.

The Arab League Initiative is a sugar coated pill that merely repeats the 40 years old Arab demands that have caused the Roadmap to be taken off the best seller list. Put to the Jewish people as a “take it or leave it” proposal the Initiative will be rejected - as no major political party in Israel could possibly embrace its terms unconditionally and hope to gain Government when the next elections are held in February 2009.

Peace between Jews and Arabs will not be achieved in one trip. There will need to be frequent garage stops to refuel the vehicle and even a few oil and grease changes. It is a very long journey that will require patient and very careful navigation around all kinds of obstacles and pot holes.

The overly-ambitious objective of totally solving the conflict should now give way to genuine attempts to manage and moderate the conflict - rather than bring it to a triumphant and permanent end - since Jews and Arabs remain as far apart as they were when the division of Palestine was first proposed between them by the Peel Commission in 1937.

President-elect Obama needs to prepare for his journey armed with the Congressional Resolution dated 21 September 1922 (42 Stat. 1012 PART 1, 1922) signed by the 29th President Warren G. Harding which stated:
“Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled THAT the United States of America favours the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of Christian and all other non-Jewish communities in Palestine, and that the holy places and religious buildings and sites in Palestine shall be adequately protected.”

The President-elect should unequivocally affirm his support for this resolution and its clear intent.

He needs to understand where the territorial boundaries of “Palestine” were located in 1922 and what has since happened to the allocation of sovereignty between Arabs and Jews in the length and breadth of that territory.

He has to recognise that the Jews now exercise sovereignty in 17% of Palestine, the Arabs exercise sovereignty in 77% of Palestine and that sovereignty remains unallocated between either Jews or Arabs in the remaining 6% now called the West Bank and Gaza.

He must appreciate that the history of Palestine did not start in 1948, that it was part of the territorial division of the Ottoman Empire after the defeat of Turkey in World War 1 - offering the Arab nation self determination in 99.99% of that liberated land and the Jewish people self determination in just 0.01% of such land.

He must acknowledge the body of international law that exists in relation to Palestine - starting with the Treaty of Sevres in 1920 - which the Arabs now need to finally accept since continuing rejection prevents any possible prospect of a peaceful resolution of the Arab-Jewish conflict.

Armed with this body of information President-elect Obama will understand why the two state solution and the Arab League Initiative never did, never could, and never will succeed. He should be able to conclude that changes in the Arab negotiating stance are necessary since pressing for 100% of your demands can never lead to a concluded agreement with your adversary.

President-elect Obama must carefully plan for the journey that awaits him before he turns the engine on.

Palestine - Fantasy And Fiction Feature At The United Nations

[Published November 2008]

The gross ignorance displayed by current United Nations General Assembly President - Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann - highlights the difficulty in having any kind of rational discussion at the United Nations about finally resolving Jewish and Arab claims to the territory once called Palestine.

Speaking on the Question of Palestine at the 57th Plenary Meeting at UN headquarters in New York on 24 November, President Brockmann stated (apparently without anyone present attempting to correct him) :
“No amount of arm twisting and intimidation will change the Security Council resolution 181, adopted 61 years ago, calling for the creation of two states”

The President was demonstrably wrong in making this remarkable utterance.

Resolution 181 calling for the partition of western Palestine into one Jewish State and one Arab State was a resolution of the General Assembly not the Security Council. Being a General Assembly resolution it did not bind any member state of the United Nations - even those Arab States violently opposing it.

However many member states were concerned that Arab rejectionism of Resolution 181 could result in outright war and sought to qualify their support for Resolution 181 by seeking assurances that the Security Council would enforce the resolution once it was passed.

Resolution 181 therefore specifically requested
“The Security Council determine as a threat to the peace, breach of the peace or act of aggression, in accordance with Article 39 of the Charter, any attempt to alter by force the settlement envisaged by this resolution; “

The subsequent invasion of western Palestine in May 1948 by the armies of all the Arab League members (excepting Yemen) - signalled open defiance of Resolution 181 by the Arab League and exposed the Security Council as a toothless tiger unwilling to stop this clear act of aggression by the Arab League in its campaign to wipe out the nascent Jewish State.

Yet the opportunity presented by Resolution 181 could still have been translated into reality between 1948 and 1967 - after the Jews living in Gaza and the West Bank had been driven out by the invading Arab armies leaving the solely Arab population under Egyptian and Jordanian occupation.

However instead of creating a state in the West Bank and Gaza in that 19 year window of opportunity and self determination for its exclusively Arab population - the United Nations bowed to Arab League pressure and perpetuated a refugee problem instead - haunting its thought processes on Palestine to this very day.

Yet worse was to come as President Brockmann continued his journey into Fantasyland by declaring:
“Shamefully there is no Palestinian state to celebrate today and the prospects are as distant as ever”


The President of the General Assembly had obviously not read the debates of the General Assembly on 26 November 1947 when the Question of Palestine was being discussed. Had he done so he would have come across Uruguay’s representative - Rodriguez Fabregal - reminding those present on that day:
“But this word “partition” is not new; it has not been suddenly introduced into the present debate on the question. It goes back further than that. The territory of the old League of Nations Mandate [ for Palestine] has already been divided; and an independent State has already been established in its territory. That new State, Transjordan, has already been considered as a candidate for admission by the competent organs of the United Nations”

Not one of the hostile Arab delegations then present disputed Mr Fabregal’s statement of fact - namely that in 1946 Transjordan - with its exclusively Arab population - had been the first sovereign and fully independent state to be created in Palestine on territory that comprised 77% of Palestine.

Transjordan still exists today - having been renamed Jordan in 1950. Israel - established in 1948 comprises 17% of the former territory of Palestine. The West Bank and Gaza - in which sovereignty still remains undetermined - makes up the remaining 6% of what was once known as Palestine.

This historic truth makes a mockery of Arab propagandists and sympathisers who claim today that Israel comprises 78% of Palestine whilst Gaza and the West Bank comprise the remaining 22% of Palestine.

President Brockmann - revelling in his fictitious world - then appealed to member states :
“All explanations notwithstanding, this central fact[no Palestinian state] makes a mockery of the United Nations and gravely hurts its image and prestige. How can we continue like this?”

President Brockmann’s blatant attempt to bury any explanation for this “central fact” indicates the extent to which he has become a victim of his own rhetoric and a guarantor for the continued mockery of the UN.

Resolution 181 was adopted on 29 November 1947 by a vote of 33 nations in favour , 13 against and 10 abstentions. Those against the resolution included Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Yemen - the then entire membership of the Arab League with the exception of Transjordan.

Arab outrage at the proposed Resolution clearly failed to win the day in the General Assembly. The Arabs were simply not prepared to accept this overwhelming international support for Resolution 181. Their failure to do so has been the root cause for everything that has occurred since then in relation to Palestine.

Even today Articles 19 and 20 of the PLO Covenant proclaim that the partition of Palestine in 1947 was illegal and the Balfour Declaration, the Mandate for Palestine and everything that has been based on them are deemed null and void.

Respect for this body of international law still has no place in the Arab lexicon.

This is the explanation President Brockmann did not have the moral courage to identify, face up to or address.

No amount of crocodile tears by President Brockmann - or those who have pushed proposals such as Oslo and the Road Map - can ever hope to succeed in bringing about a 22nd Arab State in all of the West Bank and Gaza.

This is the clear message to be understood on the 41st Anniversary of Resolution 181.

Redrawing the boundary lines between Israel, Egypt and Jordan to allocate sovereignty of the West Bank and Gaza between them represents the last - and now the only - hope for peace between Jews and Arabs.

Until the United Nations abandons the notion of three states in former Palestine its image and prestige will continue to remain at rock bottom. It has become the victim of its own gutlessness.

It is indeed time for fact to replace fantasy and fiction at the United Nations.
Starting at the top with the President of the General Assembly would be a welcome first step in the right direction

Palestine - Lame Ducks, Dead Ducks, And Revived Ducks

[Published November 2008]

President George Bush became a lame duck on 20 November 2008 - giving up his unfettered executive authority to begin working closely with President-elect Barack Obama on important policy matters of significant national importance until his retirement from office at noon on 20 January 2009.

President Bush’s Roadmap became a dead duck on the very same day - after the Palestinian Authority placed full page advertisements in a number of Israeli and Palestinian newspapers urging Israelis to embrace the Arab League Initiative first proposed in 2002.

That Initiative was rejected by Israel on 25 May 2003 as having any role in the Roadmap negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority to create a new Arab State between Israel, Jordan and Egypt.

The placement of these advertisements amounted to a total - and highly public - repudiation of the Roadmap by the Palestinian Authority after almost six years of totally fruitless negotiations.

Such repudiation should be immediately accepted by Israel so that there is no possible misunderstanding that the Bush Roadmap and the negotiating farce it represented is effectively ended once and for all.

The timing of the advertisements was exquisite - even if perhaps a little irreverent - in burying President Bush’s vision on the very same day he surrendered his absolute power to make any decisions on the future progress of the Roadmap proposals he personally instigated.

Dead ducks or mortally wounded ducks need to be buried or the stench soon becomes unbearable. They indeed abound aplenty and many people, countries and organizations will feature in the obituary notices.

The Quartet - America, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations - has been mortally wounded. It has now seen its collective prestige in jointly endorsing and promoting the Roadmap finally come crashing to the ground without achieving one iota of movement in achieving the Roadmap’s objectives.

Yet the end of the Quartet’s negotiating role must be seen as a merciful release in finally terminating its public humiliation and embarrassing impotency at failing to have had the slightest effect whatsoever on influencing the course or outcome of the Roadmap negotiations.

Those countries who have paid up on their pledges totalling US$7.7 billion dollars to the Palestinian Authority just 11 months ago must be gagging on their duck pancakes - as must those other countries who have contributed billions of more dollars in the last 15 years to a totally implacable and unyielding Palestinian Authority.

Rejecting 90% of what you want and holding out for 100% - and being supported in that rejection by a host of fawning nations eager to throw money at you - has been brought to an end by a few full page ads.

The Roadmap - like the Oslo negotiations conducted between 1993 - 2000 - are now curiosity pieces to be picked over by future historians and conflict resolution centres as they ponder how 15 years of negotiations could have foundered in resolving sovereignty over a piece of land the size of Delaware.

Resurrection is not an unknown phenomenon in the Middle East and so the re-emergence of the Arab League Initiative from the dustbin will no doubt be trumpeted and discussed for quite a while.

There are even reports that President-elect Barack Obama will announce his support for the Initiative heralding a new and important foreign policy move by the new US administration. Mr Obama would be well advised to duck the issue and move very cautiously before taking to the air on such a flight of fancy.

Israel’s rejection of the Arab League Initiative in 2003 was unequivocal and for very good reason.

The Initiative called for the removal of about 300,000 Jews then living in the West Bank and Gaza, complete withdrawal from the West Bank, Gaza, the Golan Heights and Lebanon and the emigration of millions of Arabs into Israel to turn the Jews into a minority population in their own State.

Some things have changed since Israel’s outright rejection of these proposals. Israel has evacuated all 8,000 Jews from Gaza. It has withdrawn its military forces and ended its occupation in Gaza and part of the West Bank. 500,000 Jews now live in the West Bank.

What hasn’t changed is the Arab League’s refusal to agree to any amendments to its six years old Initiative - which itself mirrors the Arab League’s unchanged position for the last 41 years.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Abdelelah al Khatib confirmed this position telling Reuters on 27 March 2007
“The Arabs have agreed to reactivate the Arab initiative without changes. We reiterated that all Arab nations will adhere to the initiative as it is,”

Notwithstanding this “take it or leave it” approach both Israel’s President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert have recently expressed interest in the Arab League Initiative. Both are lame ducks without any political power to translate their views into political action.

One duck still in full flight and prepared to throw her hat into the ring to seek election as Israel’s next Prime Minister is current Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni who told the Jerusalem Post on 20 November:
“Israel has interests that are incompatible with the Arab peace initiative, including the issues of borders, east Jerusalem and refugees. These [issues] are presented in the plan in a way that I find unacceptable.”

Any Israeli political party espousing acceptance of the unexpurgated version of the Arab League Initiative would face annihilation at the upcoming elections next February. Ms. Livni - the leader of the Kadimah Party - presently Israel’s largest Parliamentary party - clearly does not intend to be such a sitting duck

She now understands that embarking on protracted negotiations over proposals that do not have the remotest chance of succeeding is a recipe for disaster.

The Israeli media are winners from this novel Arab foray into the Israeli press. They would certainly welcome the boost to their flagging advertising revenues at this time of global economic downturn. They no doubt hope that this process will continue and that shuttle diplomacy and furtive backroom meetings will be replaced by full page ads on a weekly basis to inform the public about matters that impact on their very lives and on which they have not had any input.

The reality is that in the absence of substantial amendments to the Arab League Initiative there will be many more dead ducks and lame ducks on the hit list as the Initiative sinks to its inevitable denouement.

Sweet and sour duck might then be a good idea to serve on the menu as we all flock to hear ex-politicians on the speaker circuit telling us why Oslo, the Roadmap and the Arab League Initiative became fatally flawed exercises in peace making efforts between Arabs and Jews.

Palestine,President Peres And Poppycock

[Published November 2008]

“The President seems to extend executive privilege way out past the atmosphere. What he says is executive privilege is nothing but executive poppycock.” - Sam Ervin

Israel’s President -Shimon Peres - has seriously undermined Israel’s national interest in his endorsement of the 2002 Arab League Initiative proposing a comprehensive peace with Israel and the 22 members of the Arab League.

Addressing the United Nations General Assembly Meeting on Inter-Faith Dialogue in New York on November 12 President Peres called the Arab League expressions of establishing normal relations with Israel in the Initiative as:
“inspirational and promising, a serious opening for real progress”.

He was moved by the Initiative’s call
“to stop the further shedding of blood enabling the Arab countries and Israel to live in peace and good neighbourliness and provide future generations with security, stability and prosperity”

Fine sounding words indeed but the devil is in the detail of how this vision is to be realised.

Israel’s Government has made no bones of the fact that it does not consider the Arab League initiative as having any effective role to play in the current negotiations being conducted under the Roadmap adopted by America, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations - dubbed the Quartet.

In agreeing to enter into negotiations under the Roadmap Israel made it abundantly clear to the Quartet on 25 May 2003 that its acceptance of the Roadmap was subject to the removal of all references to the Arab League Initiative from its terms whilst further stating succinctly that :
“A settlement based upon the Roadmap will be an autonomous settlement that derives its validity therefrom.”

Israel’s reasons for rejecting the Initiative were based on the following Arab League demands that were clearly expressed as the price Israel was required to pay for Arab League recognition:

1. Full Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, Gaza, the Golan Heights and Lebanon which would have involved the uprooting of about 300000 Jews then living in those areas at the time and their resettlement inside the armistice line between Israel and Jordan on June 4, 1967 .

2. Achievement of a just resolution to the Palestinian refugee problem to be agreed on in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution 194 that would have involved the resettlement of millions of Arabs within Israel making the Jews a minority in their own country.

3. The establishment of a sovereign, independent and exclusively Jew free Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza - between Israel, Jordan and Egypt - with East Jerusalem as its capital.

President Bush accepted the strength of Israel’s rejection of the Arab League Initiative when he advised Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on 14 April 2004 that Israel could not be expected to withdraw from all of the West Bank and Gaza and remove every single Jew living there nor could the resettlement of millions of Arabs into Israel be expected outcomes of any negotiations under the Roadmap.

Indeed it appears that the Roadmap has come to an end precisely because the Palestinian Authority has refused to budge on these identical demands in its negotiations with Israel under the Roadmap.

What we then have at the present time are tenuous ongoing negotiations, meetings and press conferences which Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the Quartet continue to attend for fear of being blamed for bringing the Roadmap negotiations to a crashing end if they don’t.

President Peres would have done well to take the opportunity to remind the Inter-Faith attendees that the belated Arab League Initiative and the Roadmap would never have been necessary had the Arab League:

1. Accepted the United Nations Partition Plan in 1947

2. Not attempted to wipe Israel off the face of the earth in 1967.

3. Not refused to negotiate with Israel for 25 years after the loss of the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan Heights

4. Accepted the provisions of Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 which recognised that Israel’s return to the June 4, 1967 armistice lines was not going to happen.

President Peres is not the Government of Israel. He is entitled to dream of peace. In that he is no different to all Israelis - indeed the whole world - who pray and yearn for peace between the Jews and the Arabs.

However if in doing do so he hangs the Government of Israel out to dry by adopting a stance that is completely contradictory to its stated policy, then he forfeits the respect of large sections of the Israeli population all of whom he is sworn to represent as their Head of State - as well as the continuing support of all Jews and persons of goodwill world wide who regard Israel as the national homeland for all Jews not only for this but for all future generations.

The Roadmap is doomed to failure. When that inevitability is finally recognised, the way forward will certainly not be realised by negotiating on the Arab League Initiative. The Arab League has not changed its negotiating stance on the demands embodied in the Initiative for the last 41 years. Expecting it to do so now is pie in the sky thinking.

If however the Israeli Government were to nevertheless decide to try and change the Arab League’s intransigent stance by entering into negotiations based on the Initiative then it would be right and appropriate to do so only after receiving approval of the electorate. It is extremely doubtful that any political party in Israel could win a mandate to negotiate with the Arab League on its Initiative.

President Peres’ disastrous foray into peacemaking with the Arabs whilst a politician is matter of historical record. It is totally inappropriate for him to once again try do so from outside politics in opposition to the stated policy of the Government whilst holding the office of President

President Peres should stick to inspecting honour guards and giving cocktail parties for visiting dignitaries and leave the conduct of foreign policy to the democratically elected Government of Israel.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Remembering Rabin's Roadmap For Palestine

[Published November 2008]

“Truth, like gold, is to be obtained not by its growth, but by washing away from it all that is not gold.” - Tolstoy

Israel’s current President - Shimon Peres - and Prime Minister - Ehud Olmert - have used the 13th anniversary of the assassination of former Israeli Prime Minister - Yitzchak Rabin - to misrepresent the pursuit of their own failed and discredited political agendas as being somehow aligned with - and a continuation of - Mr Rabin’s vision.

Nothing could be further from the truth and needs to be vigorously rejected.
Speaking at the memorial service for Mr Rabin held this week- Mr Olmert told those gathered there:
” The bullets that killed Rabin could not stop the historic path that he led. Even after his death, Rabin will be victorious.”

President Peres was as equally effusive declaring:
“The bullets that were fired into Yitzhak’s back didn’t kill his way, because ideas and visions cannot be killed.”

Mr Rabin’s historic path and his 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”.

That speech identified the following signposts that Mr Rabin’s historic path and vision sought to take :

1. First and foremost the State of Israel would be a Jewish State, at least 80% of whose citizens would be Jews

2. The State of Israel would 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 would be home to most of the Palestinian residents living in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank

3. The Palestinian entity would be less than a State and would independently run the lives of the Palestinians under its authority.

4. The borders of the State of Israel would be beyond the lines which existed before the Six Day War. Israel would not return to the 4 June 1967 lines.

5. The main changes Mr Rabin envisaged as a result were:
(a) Jerusalem would be united and would include both Maale Adumim and Givat Zeev as the capital of Israel under Israeli sovereignty
(b) The security border of Israel would be located in the Jordan Valley in the broadest meaning of that term
(c) Gush Etzion, Efrat, Beitar and other communities in the area east of what was the “Green Line” prior to the Six Day War would be included in the State of Israel
(d) Blocs of settlements would be established in Judea and Samaria like the one in Gush Katif
(e) No single settlement would be uprooted in the framework of the Interim Agreement nor building hindered for natural growth
(f) The responsibility for the external security along the borders with Egypt and Jordan, as well as control over the airspace above all of the territories and the Gaza Strip maritime zone would remain in Israeli hands
(g) Murderers of Jews or those who had been wounded seriously would not be released
Mr Olmert and President Peres have totally rejected Mr Rabin’s Roadmap in favour of President Bush’s Roadmap which calls for a 22nd independent Arab State to be created between Israel and Jordan.

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

Division of Jerusalem is now part of Mr Olmert’s vision. He struggles to retain places like Maale Adumin, Efrat and Beitar within the new borders of the State of Israel as the Palestinian Authority demand Israel returns to the 4 June 1967 lines and forcibly remove 500000 Jews now living beyond it. He seeks to do so by swapping parts of the State of Israel with the pieces of Judea and Samaria he wishes to retain.

Gush Khatif and other settlements in Gaza no longer exist because of Mr Olmert’s idea to abandon Gaza and expel the 8000 Jews who 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.

Israel’s President and its Prime Minister need to stop engaging in telling fairy stories by suggesting that Mr Rabin has become victorious in death. They need to truthfully acknowledge that his ideas and vision are not alive nor continue today as they both pursue a path that is fraught with much greater danger for the continued existence of Israel than Mr Rabin’s proposals ever contemplated.

It was not bullets that killed Mr Rabin’s historic path, 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.

Palestine Exits Centre Stage - Enter Jordan

[Published September 2008]

The first Presidential debate between John McCain and Barack Obama remarkably failed to raise or even mention their future involvement in President Bush’s proposal to create a new Arab State between Israel and Jordan.

Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, North Korea, Russia, Georgia, Ukraine, Kosovo and eliminating America’s reliance on oil from the Middle East were all raised during a wide ranging discussion on American foreign policy. Israel was fleetingly mentioned by the contestants as they jointly pledged their determination to ensure that Iran’s threat to eliminate the Jewish State would never be allowed to happen.

Palestine and President Bush’s Roadmap were left out in the political wilderness.

This apparent lack of enthusiasm by both McCain and Obama indicates the sobering reality that President Bush’s Roadmap has reached a dead end so far as America’s future involvement in trying to bring it to fruition is concerned. No doubt there will be occasions during the remainder of the Presidential campaign when efforts are made to engage McCain and Obama but their responses will be half hearted at the best.

This position has certainly not come about for want of trying.

President Bush - like Presidents Carter, Reagan, Bush Senior and Clinton before him - invested a large amount of his authority, prestige, personal time and active involvement in attempting to bring peace between Jews and Arabs. All of them have ended up being humiliated and getting egg on their face for their efforts.

The stumbling block this time - according to the Arabs - is the Jewish cities towns and villages established in the West Bank since 1967 mainly on State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes - collectively called “the settlements”.

President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority once again repeated his mantra in front of the United Nations Security Council this week when declaring:
"Settlement activity is not only an obstacle but it risks undermining the peace process,”

Abbas stubbornly continues to reject Israel’s offer to resettle 70000 Jews and to cede an area of land from within its own sovereign state boundaries to compensate for the retention of those remaining settlements that house 400000 Jews and businesses in the West Bank. Abbas wants all the Jews tossed out and is apparently prepared to throw away the opportunity to get his State if he does not get his way.

The stumbling block this time - according to Israel - is the Arab insistence that millions of Arab refugees and their descendants be resettled in Israel - rather than in the new West Bank State.

President Bush has come down heavily in support of Israel’s stance on both issues recognising that the removal of all Jews from the West Bank and the resettlement of millions of Arabs in Israel is simply not going to be agreed to - and can never be agreed to - by Israel.

A last ditch stand by America to try and modify both of these Arab demands over the past ten months has met with embarrassing failure. Both of these contentious issues have been pressed by the Arabs for the last 40 years and nothing has occurred in Arab thinking to change or moderate them over that period.

It is therefore completely understandable that neither McCain nor Obama was really interested in flogging a dead horse. The Bush proposal was simply not worth discussing any longer.

In taking this stance, McCain and Obama were probably mindful of the sentiments expressed in two polls conducted among Arab residents of the West Bank and Gaza this week.

Only 27.5% of the 1270 adults interviewed by the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research believed the chances for the creation of the new state between Israel and Jordan were medium to high whilst 69.2% rated the chances as low to non-existent.

Encouragingly however 28% of the 1380 adults interviewed by the A-Najah University in the West Bank city of Nablus supported the idea of the establishment of a joint Palestinian - Jordanian state.

Perhaps these surveys herald the starting point of a new approach - involving the active participation of Jordan - in resolving the territorial dispute in the West Bank and Gaza, the humanitarian issues involving the Arab residents living there and the refugees who continue to languish in the refugee camps situated in the surrounding Arab states.

Opposition to Jordan’s involvement was expressed at a conference held by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy last weekend when former Jordanian foreign minister Marwan Muasher declared:
“Good luck finding Jordanians who will accept this idea. This is a non-starter.” (Jerusalem Post 23 September)

Former Head of Israel’s National Security Council Giora Eiland however was reported as saying in the same article that “tacit support for this idea has been expressed in private talks.”

Hopefully the international community - and America especially - will not be phased by this apparent case of stage fright from a player destined to once again share the spotlight with Israel as the two central characters in the continuing effort to end the conflict that has bedevilled the region for 130 years.

Jordan’s return to centre stage would cap a remarkable comeback. Jordan was the last Arab occupier of the West Bank between 1948-1967 and continued as the prime Arab interlocutor until 1974 when replaced by the PLO with Arab League approval. Having ceded all claims to the West Bank in 1988, Jordan once again could now find itself cast in the role of preserving at least some part of the West Bank and its Arab population under Arab sovereignty.

The alternative to Jordanian involvement is the renewal of terrorism and possibly war. Such outcomes will not only involve Israel, the West Bank and Gaza - but will surely spread to Jordan.

The time for Jordan to quit its delicate tightrope act is fast approaching.

There is nothing so dangerous as being left suspended in mid-air with no one to break your fall.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Paulson's Prognosis Pinpoints Palestine's Panacea

[Published September 2008]

“This needs to be big enough to make a real difference and get at the heart of the problem” US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson [Times Online 20 September 2008] - The Paulson Prognosis

The threat of a world economic meltdown does wonders in helping concentrate the mind on how to resolve the intractable 130 years old conflict between Arabs and Jews over a piece of land once called Palestine that today comprises two sovereign States - Jordan and Israel - and two tiny slivers of land that currently belong to no one - the West Bank and Gaza.

It has taken a roller coaster week of unprecedented turmoil, crises and upheaval for Governments, their central banks and stock exchanges to realise that unquantified wads of money - not just pocket money - had to be thrown at resolving - and thereby avoiding - a world financial crisis that threatened outcomes last experienced in the Great Depression 80 years ago.

Finding the vast amount required - estimated to eventually exceed US$ 1 trillion - was not seen as being an option or even negotiable but as an absolute essential to ending the crisis for one simple reason - the alternative of risking a world recession and global shutdown could simply not be countenanced.

United States Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson was the one to successfully deliver this unpleasant - but totally necessary - prognosis.

The unresolved Arab-Jewish conflict with its sinister overtones of possible nuclear war and surging oil prices threatens the health of the very world economies and societies that today only continue to survive because of the Paulson Prognosis.

Billions of dollars have already been spent over the last 60 years - as a consequence of the war in 1948 between Israel and six invading Arab armies - in perpetuating the only refugee crisis in the world that apparently appears incapable of resolution by resettlement and rehabilitation.

The cash budget for 2008 approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) is a staggering US$ 541.8 million. Preservation of refugee status - not its elimination - remains a cardinal tenet of its continued and privileged existence.

Since October 2000, UNRWA has launched Emergency Appeals to the donor community to fund the Agency’s Emergency Programmes in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. From October 2000 until December 2007, the Agency received a total of US$826.6 million in pledges, which was less than two-thirds of the amount requested. In December 2007, UNRWA launched an appeal for US$ 237.7 million to cover the cost of its emergency activities in 2008. In May 2008 the requirement was revised and increased to US$ 263.4 million. Against 2008 Appeal UNRWA received US$ 128.3 million in pledges as of 31 May 2008. []

Additionally billions of dollars - US$7 billion pledged in Paris alone in December 2007 - have been spent by the international community since 1993 in a concerted effort to create conditions for a new Arab state to be established between Israel and Jordan, to resettle and rehabilitate there those Arabs made refugees in 1948 and their descendants and to end the state of war between Israel and its Arab adversaries.

This money has been misappropriated, badly spent, poorly directed, irresponsibly controlled and has not had the slightest impact in achieving any of these objectives - which remain as unattainable now as they have for the last 60 years.

The uncertain nature of Iran’s current nuclear program, its threats to eliminate Israel and Israel’s refusal to become a sacrificial lamb constitute a potent cocktail that could well risk a world nuclear meltdown on a scale that would make this past week’s threatened economic meltdown pale into insignificance.

Can the international community continue to stand by and take the risk that this will not happen - possibly as early as within the next six months?

As we have seen this past week, events can take a very sudden turn for the worse after a slow period of gestation - which in hindsight probably justified action being taken far earlier, with less fallout and at possibly much less cost than had to be found this week to ensure the world’s economic survival.

President Bush’s Road Map was a sincere and well intended attempt to resolve the Arab-Jewish conflict. Its failure to get to first base after six years of trying has proved it to be totally ineffective as a cure. The writing has been on the wall for at least four years but the international community has closed its eyes, allowed the conflict to deteriorate and the rhetoric to increase.

It is abundantly clear that a huge amount of money needs to be strategically targeted and urgently spent to make a real difference by getting at the heart of the problem before it once again suddenly degenerates into outright war with possible nuclear as well as economic consequences world wide as its legacies.

The Security Council of the United Nations needs to unanimously resolve taking the following steps to resolve the conflict as a matter of grave urgency:
1. Setting up an international claims tribunal with sufficient funds to process and pay all claims made by

(a) Arabs from Palestine and Jews from Arab countries who became refugees as a result of the Arab - Israeli War in 1948 - and their descendants.

(b) Current host countries in resettling and rehabilitating those refugees now living within their national boundaries and closing down and demolishing any existing refugee camps.

2. Declaring that any claimed right of return by any refugee or his descendants to his original country of origin is deemed abandoned on settlement of his claim.

3. Immediately dissolving UNWRA and transferring its budget and responsibilities to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

4. Establishing an International Boundaries Commission to redraw the international boundaries between Jordan, Israel and Egypt with the participation and joint consent and approval of all three countries to such new boundaries.

The old saying - “when life gives you lemons - make lemonade” - is surely one that the international community should heed at this point of time. It is going to be a very expensive drink indeed but its cost pales into insignificance compared to the medicine that awaits us if we don’t.