Netanyahu’s “explicit support or implicit consent”… .

Even Israeli PM Benyamin Netanyahu has now said tensions re: the Haram Al-Sharif are the cause of the October 2015 violence…  But Netanyahu boastfully says Israel did nothing wrong, and he’d never say he did something wrong.

No, the Palestinias are entirely to blame.

Chemi Shalev, US bureau chief for Haaretz, has just written this:

“just as the U.S. has been hard-pressed in the past to accept Israeli explanations that lowly civil servants are solely responsible for the announcements of massive building projects in settlements that have often enraged and embarrassed U.S. administrations – remember the March 2010 debacle during Vice President Joe Biden’s visit – they are likewise finding it difficult to digest that provocative tours by government ministers of the Temple Mount, calls by coalition Members of the Knesset to upend the status quo, religious edicts by venerated rabbis and public chanting by their disciples to burn down the Muslim mosques in order to rebuild the Jewish temple – that all of these could be going on against Netanyahu’s explicit support or implicit consent”… This full analysis by Chemi Shalev is posted here here.

Avi Issacharoff reported this afternoon in the Times of Israel that Netanyahu – who insists he’s maintaining the “Status Quo” on the Haram Al-Sharif (as he defines it, the Status Quo is unwritten) — refuses to return to the Status Quo of 28 September 2000 (when Ariel Sharon’s visit there with a massive amount of armed Israeli security forces, as a result of which the Islamic Waqf lost possession of the keys to the Moghrabi Gate where non-Muslim visitors enter:

    “Israel recently rejected a Jordanian proposal that would have seen the Hashemite Kingdom begin to oversee visits to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem instead of Israel, Arab sources told The Times of Israel on Monday. During recent meetings between officials in the Prime Minister’s Office and the Jordanian government, the latter proposed giving the Jordanian-run Muslim Waqf control over entry to the contested holy site — as it had until the outbreak of the Second Intifada in 2000. Since then Israel has effectively exerted control over entrance to the Temple Mount complex, which is considered Judaism’s holiest site and the third holiest to Muslims.

      The current outbreak of violence has been fueled by rumors that Israel is plotting to take over the area, where Jews can currently visit but not pray. Israel has adamantly denied the allegations, saying it has no plans to change the status quo on the Temple Mount, and accused the Palestinians of incitement by spreading the rumors.
      (In addition) According to a report in a Kuwaiti Arabic-language paper on Monday, Israeli officials proposed in a clandestine meeting with PA security officials that Palestinian plainclothes police officers be stationed on the Temple Mount. The meeting reportedly took place in Ramallah last Saturday. Undercover Palestinian police had been stationed on the Temple Mount in a similar fashion before the outbreak of the Second Intifada.
      (There is no indication in Issacharoff’s report as to whether or not Palestinian security officials agreed…)

    The Jordanian suggestion came as France submitted a United Nations proposal for an international presence on the Temple Mount, to ensure that the status quo is upheld. Netanyahu on Saturday slammed the French proposal and the Foreign Ministry on Monday summoned the French ambassador in Israel over the matter”. The Issacharoff report is published here.

Yesterday, US Secretary of State John Kerry said an international presence was not necessary, as Netanyahu has declared he will maintain the “Status Quo” — “Israel understands importance of that status quo. What’s important is to make sure everybody understands what that means”, Kerry noted.

Is Kerry beginning to catch on?

After winning early elections + forming coalition, Netanyahu vows to fight… the calls for boycott

Israel’s re-elected Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu has announced he’s dedicating some 100 million shekels to “to combat the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement (BDS)”, as YNet reported here. According to the YNet report, Netanyahu will give his Strategic Affairs and Information Minister Gilad Erdan “10 new positions for employees who will deal solely with the boycott and de-legitimization activities against Israel”.

Haaretz’ veteran “Twilight Zone” correspondent Gideon Levy wrote today in Haaretz: “What are you defending? What are you fighting for? … As usual, there are questions that are not even asked. Soul-searching, after all, is a clear sign of weakness. And so an explanation has been invented that absolves us of responsibility: The boycott fell out of the sky, an unavoidable force majeure of Israel hatred, and the only way to fight it is to fight right back at them”…

Levy added:

    “Israel is now defending the preservation of the status quo. It is fighting against the whole world to preserve its advanced school of brutality and cruelty, in which it is educating generations of young people to act brutishly toward human beings, old people and children, to tyrannize them, to bark at them, to crush and humiliate them, only because they are Palestinians. Israel is defending the continuation of apartheid in the occupied territories, in which two peoples live, one of them without any rights…

    Continue reading After winning early elections + forming coalition, Netanyahu vows to fight… the calls for boycott

White House Chief of Staff: "We cannot simply pretend that those comments were never made"

Almost a week after early general elections in Israel on 17 March resulted in a win for Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu after one of the ugliest campaigns in recent memory — not least of which due to Netanyahu’s election-eve remarks urging his supporters to rush to the polls because “Arabs were voting in droves”, and stating that a Palestinian state will never be established while he’s in office — the White House Chief of Staff strongly reinforced President Obama’s strong message that Netanyahu’s remarks were “troubling”.

“We cannot simply pretend that those comments were never made”, Chief of Staff Denis McDonough said in an address to the JStreet.org annual conference in New York [#JSt2015].

The text of McDonough’s remarks are now posted on the White House website, here.

Here are some selected excerpts:

    “In his call to congratulate Prime Minister Netanyahu last Thursday, President Obama committed to continuing consultations on a range of regional issues, including resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The process of forming a new Israeli government is now underway, and in the coming days and weeks, we’ll see what that looks like…I’d like to share with you how President Obama sees the road ahead.

    “First, no matter who leads Israel, America’s commitment to Israel’s security will never waver. As we all know, Israel faces real dangers in a tough neighborhood. I traveled with then-Senator Obama to Israel in 2008. I will never forget our time in the holy city of Jerusalem and following behind him as he approached the Western Wall—and even in the dark hours of that very early morning, it was a place bustling with energy afforded by one’s faith. On that trip, the President toured Sderot and saw the devastation wrought by Hamas-launched rockets. He met with Israelis living under the threat of rocket attacks. And, since then, I’ve seen President Obama’s personal commitment to increasing our security cooperation with Israel to unprecedented levels.

    Today, our security, military, and intelligence cooperation is stronger than it’s ever been, and that’s not going to change. The U.S.-Israel consultative group will continue to ensure cooperation at the highest levels of our governments. Under President Obama, we’ve spent hundreds of millions helping to develop David’s Sling and the Arrow missile defense systems. I recall very clearly a call with the Israeli Ambassador at 5:00 PM on a Friday evening last July, when he requested – and shortly thereafter the President and Congress delivered – an additional $225 million for Iron Dome missiles and batteries. That on top of the nearly $1 billion we had invested in Iron Dome already, which saved so many Israeli lives during the conflict with Hamas last summer. And, next year, when we deliver the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, Israel will be the only country in the Middle East with a fifth-generation aircraft. In other words, we will continue to ensure Israel’s qualitative military edge. As the President has said so many times, we have Israel’s back.

    “Second, we continue to believe that the best way to safeguard Israel’s long-term security is to bring about a comprehensive peace between Israelis and Palestinians—two states for two peoples, living side-by-side in security and peace. To achieve this, the United States has long advocated direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. In 2009, Prime Minister Netanyahu publicly endorsed a two-state solution. Over the course of President Obama’s administration, most recently with the tireless efforts of Secretary Kerry, the United States has expended tremendous energy in pursuit of this goal. That is why the Prime Minister’s comments on the eve of the election—in which he first intimated and then made very clear in response to a follow up question that a Palestinian state will not be established while he is prime minister—were so troubling.

    “After the election, the Prime Minister said that he had not changed his position, but for many in Israel and in the international community, such contradictory comments call into question his commitment to a two-state solution, as did his suggestion that the construction of settlements has a strategic purpose of dividing Palestinian communities and his claim that conditions in the larger Middle East must be more stable before a Palestinian state can be established. We cannot simply pretend that those comments were never made, or that they don’t raise questions about the Prime Minister’s commitment to achieving peace through direct negotiations.

    “In recent days, some have suggested our reaction to this issue is a matter of personal pique. Nothing could be further from the truth. America’s commitment to a two-state solution is fundamental to U.S. foreign policy. It’s been the goal of both Republican and Democratic presidents, and it remains our goal today…

    Continue reading White House Chief of Staff: "We cannot simply pretend that those comments were never made"

The long-awaited Mahmoud Abbas speech to the UN General Assembly …

Well, it was very angry — but also a bit of a let down, this long-awaited and much-touted speech by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to the UN General Assembly, just before 7 pm in Ramallah or Jerusalem [but still part of the “morning” at the UN HQ/NY this Friday].

Describing the months of American-led negotiations brokered by a team assembled by US Secretary of State John Kerry, Abbas mimicked Israeli critics by saying:

“…as usual, the Israeli government did not miss the opportunity to undermine the chance for peace”…

The full text of Abbas’ speech can be consulted here.

He did not use the word “Judaization” — but he used words that describe what Palestinians mean when they do use the term:

“Throughout the months of negotiations, settlement construction, land confiscations, home demolitions, killing and arrest campaigns, and forced displacement in the West Bank continued unabated and the unjust blockade on the Gaza Strip was tightened. The occupation’s campaign specifically targeted the City of Jerusalem and its inhabitants, attempting to artificially alter the spirit, identity and character of the Holy City, focusing on A1-Aqsa Mosque, threatening grave consequences. At the same time, racist and armed gangs of settlers persisted with their crimes against the Palestinian people, the land, mosques, churches, properties and olive trees”…

Continue reading The long-awaited Mahmoud Abbas speech to the UN General Assembly …

Israeli PM Shamir didn't want to withdraw, either – he said it in 1988

An interesting blog post this week [August 25 ] by MJ Rosenberg on something that happened when he worked as “a foreign policy aide to Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI). One February day, Levin called me into his office to say that he was disturbed at a quote he saw in that day’s New York Times. An article quoted Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir saying that he rejected the idea of withdrawing from any of the land Israel captured in the 1967 war”… This blog post can be read in full here.

I highlighted the interesting points on Twitter:  @Marianhouk · NYTimes 1988: “Mr. Shamir said in a radio interview, ‘It is clear that this expression of territory for peace is not accepted by me’.”

MJ Rosenberg wrote, in his blog post, that:

“Levin instantly understood what Shamir was saying. He was repudiating U.N. Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 which provided for “withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent [1967] conflict” in exchange for peace and security. Those resolutions represented official U.S. and international policy then, and they still do.

But, in 1988, Shamir tried to declare them null and void.

Levin asked me to draft a letter to Secretary of State George Shultz stating that it was the view of the Senate that the U.N. Resolutions remained the policy of the U.S. whether Shamir liked it or not. Of course, the letter wasn’t written in that kind of language. It was more than polite. Additionally, Levin wanted it addressed to Shultz, not to Shamir, to avoid ruffling too many feathers in Israel”…

Continue reading Israeli PM Shamir didn't want to withdraw, either – he said it in 1988

Netanyahu rejects a Palestinian State because it would 'violate' Israel's 'security'

Where to begin? With this:

Yarden Katz, a post-doctoral fellow at Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, has written an analysis of Israeli media coverage of the war on Gaza,  entitled “Israel’s Iron Dome For Information”.  It’s published on the Mondoweiss website, here.  Here is an excerpt:

“The inability of the Israeli press to criticize the government in a time of war is exploited by Israeli leaders. Israeli television’s Channel 2 covered a press conference with Prime Minister Netanyahu on July 11, where Netanyahu described his goal of ‘restoring peace’ to Israeli citizens who are under rocket attack — and vowed to ‘strike Hamas’ until peace is restored. Netanyahu’s main points were not new, and were summarized in Channel 2’s report.

What went unreported, and uncontested by journalists in the room, was Netanyahu’s strong rejection of a Palestinian state. In response to a question from a journalist, Netanyahu argued that disengagement from Gaza was a mistake whose consequences are now dealt with by IDF.

Netanyahu said that Israel will not, under any condition or agreement, give up ‘security control’ of the area ‘west of the Jordan river’ (i.e., the West Bank). He warned that relinquishing this control would create another front of war, a situation of ‘twenty Gazas’ and ‘thousands of tunnels’ in the West Bank (which he referred to as the biblical ‘Judea and Samaria’). Netanyahu revealed a simple policy: Israel will not allow Palestinian autonomy in Gaza or the West Bank, much less a Palestinian state, as this would violate Israel’s ‘security’.

The English-language right-wing newspaper Times of Israel, glowing about Netanyahu’s promise to forever occupy the territories, did report this part of the press conference. But the mainstream Israeli press let Netanyahu’s most informative statement escape unnoticed…”

– See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2014/08/israels-information-dome.html#sthash.yOvv4gF8.dpuf

Now in a new phase: the US is blaming BOTH sides for the lack of progress in the talks

Here is a video of US Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking from Algiers when he should have been back in Jerusalem or Ramallah [were he was a day earlier, on 1 April]… Instead, Kerry took off from a NATO meeting in Brussels, and headed to Algiers. But he kept on talking about the Israeli-Palestinian talks…

He even mentioned “self-determination”… and he can only have been referring to Palestinian self-determination, because Israel realized its right of self-determination on 15 May 1948:

“Self-determination”, Kerry said, “Peace” — “it’s easy to say the words but it is not easy to achieve the goals”…

US policy has morphed in past 24+hrs from 1) @AmbassadorPower [Samantha Power, US Ambassador to the UN] blaming Palestinians], to 2) not playing the “blame game”, and then to 3) apportioning blame to both sides.

Kerry said in Algiers: “The parties themselves have to make fundamental decisions and compromises. The leaders have to lead”…

Netanyahu, at age 28, on a Palestinian State [basically: no way … at most, if they behave well, the Palestinians can get eventual citizenship of some kind, Israeli or Jordanian or some other, he says…]

While looking for something totally unrelated on Youtube, this completely other video was suggested:  it shows a young Benyamin Netanyahu, before he even took the name “Netanyahu”.

He’s identified here as “Ben” or “Benjamin Nitay”, a 28-year-old graduate of MIT, an Israeli [and, according to the screen titles, an “economic consultant”] who has “written widely on this question before the house tonight”.

In the video, Ben Nitay / Benyamin Netanyahu is not debating his political views, he’s being given a platform to say what he wants, to argue his polemic.

Looking a lot like John Travolta in the movie “Saturday Night Live”,  but with much wilder eyes, Nitay / Netanyahu says:

“No, I don’t think Palestinians do have a right to a state… For 20 years [from 1948 to 1967] we didn’t hear a word about self-determination… I’m sure…if the process continues they will be offered citizenship of some kind, be it Israeli or Jordanian”

The moderator is Marilyn Berger of the Public Broadcast System in the U.S. — who co-anchored the best and almost only non-stop coverage, such as it was in the days before satellite communications and computers, of both the 1967 and 1973 Middle East wars — and the endless debates in the UN Security Council in New York, afterwards.

“Attorney One”, as we shall call him, is the gentle-mannered late Morris Abrams whose warm and kind demeanor didn’t obscure fierce pro-Israel views.  He was later to become the U.S, Ambassador to the UN in Geneva, where he served for years, before his retirement — when he founded the Geneva-based UN Watch [which watches out for Israel].

Morris Abrams gets the first Question: “Mr. Nitay, is self-determination at the core of this conflict?”

This allows the young Netanyahu to explain: “No, I don’t think it is.  The real core of the conflict is the unfortunate Arab refusal to accept the State of Israel”…

Little has changed in more than three decades.

“For twenty years, the ‘Arabs’ had both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and if self-determination were, as they say it is, the core of the conflict, they could have easily established a Palestinian State, but they didn’t…For twenty years, we didn’t hear a word about self-determination. In fact what we did hear, those of us living in the Middle East, was about ‘driving the Jews into the sea’… Now, after 1967, under the leadership of the PLO, the hardline strategy shifted to adopting a moderate dressed-up slogan which talked in terms about first a secular, democratic state and then replaced it with ‘Palestinian self-determination’. But, what this really means, is contrary to what Mr. Arouri said about 1977 being a a changed year in the PLO’s objectives, let me quote you what the PLO Information Office said in a Dutch paper in 1977, on May 5, 1977, the statement was very simple: ‘Our objective remains the destruction of the Zionist state’. So, let’s keep in mind, the objective here is not to build a state, but to destroy one”…

Continue reading Netanyahu, at age 28, on a Palestinian State [basically: no way … at most, if they behave well, the Palestinians can get eventual citizenship of some kind, Israeli or Jordanian or some other, he says…]

Netanyahu throws the table over

Israel’s Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, back from the US + the UN where he insisted on even-more-than-full implementation of Security Council demands on Iran, went this evening to Bar Ilan University [where he sort of endorsed something that he hoped at the time could be construed as a two-state solution to the conflict with Palestinians] and threw it all over.

In an unusually-strongly-written piece, Haaretz correspondent Barak Ravid reported here that:

“Almost four and half years after he stood at the podium at Bar-Ilan University and delivered a moderate speech in which he recognized for the first time the two-state solution, Netanyahu returned to the same spot to give a hawkish address in which he did everything except announce that he is reneging on his agreement in principle to Palestinian statehood. ‘Unless the Palestinians recognize the Jewish state and give up on the right of return there will not be peace’, he said in his address.

The prime minister went on to say that even if they do agree to these conditions, it will not be sufficient. ‘After generations of incitement we have no confidence that such recognition will percolate down to the Palestinian people’, he said. ‘That is why we need extremely strong security arrangements and to go forward, but not blindly’.

Netanyahu went on to emphasize that the ‘occupation and settlements’ are not the core of the conflict. Netanyahu used the word ‘occupation’ with a mixture of disdain and abhorrence. ‘The conflict, if I have to choose a date when it began in earnest, began in the year 1921, on the day Palestinian Arabs attacked the immigrants’ house in Jaffa. This attack, of course, had nothing to do with the territories or settlements. It was against the immigration of Jews to the Land of Israel. Then came the Partition Plan in 1947, with the suggestion of an Arab state alongside a Jewish state’, he continued. ‘The Jews agreed, the Arabs refused. Because the issue was not then the question of a Palestinian state – the issue was and remains the Jewish state. Then 19 years later came the stranglehold around us aimed at uprooting us. And why? After all, then there was no occupation’.”

Netanyahu’s speech came only hours after, as Barak Ravid also reported, in an earlier article posted here, “Housing Minister Uri Ariel on Sunday demanded that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu provide the cabinet with weekly reports on the negotiations with the Palestinians, fearing that Netanyahu might spring an ‘all or nothing’ solution too far to the left…’It can’t be that the cabinet isn’t kept up to date on such negotiations [Ariel said]. In the end you’ll bring for a cabinet vote a finished product in the style of all or nothing. This can’t continue. I demand information’. Netanyahu did not respond. After not receiving an answer, Ariel said he intends to repeat his demand every week”.

And Netanyahu’s speech preceeded by a day a previously-postponed reciprocal visit to Ramallah, as the Times of Israel reported here, of a group of Israeli MPs [or MKs, Knesset members] dissatisfied with Netanyahu’s approach to negotiations. The Israeli Knesset members have formed a caucus, and had in July hosted, at the Knesset in Jerusalem, a small group of Palestinians designated by President Mahmoud Abbas to make contacts with Israelis.

The Times of Israel reported that “caucus chair MK Hilik Bar (Labor) told The Times of Israel on Sunday [before the Netanyahu speech] that: ‘We have a government that has promised to pursue the two-state solution and a majority in the Knesset for two states, despite the rhetoric on the right. We want to show Abu Mazen that we’ll do everything in our power to advance peace, and the Palestinian Authority has to do the same’.”  Referring to an attack on a 9-year-old Israeli girl in the “Jewish community” of Psagot, adjoining Ramallah-AlBireh, Bar added:  ‘We’re not achieving anything when we stop the negotiations because of these horrific, evil attacks. There have been attacks on Jews for decades. Only a final peace agreement that ends the conflict will end the attacks’.”

Netanyahu’s new tone also followed a two-day conference held at the Eretz Israeli Museum in Tel Aviv organized by the Israeli organization Zochrot, aimed at reducing fear of discussion of the Palestinian Right of Return. Gideon Levy, who addressed the conference, also reported on it, in an article Haaretz published here.

Continue reading Netanyahu throws the table over

Palestinian MPs and politicians go to a Knesset caucus meeting — to support negotiations

It could have gone either way, but Palestinian participants say the July 31 meeting between a handful of members of the “Civil Dialogue Committee” appointed by President Mahmoud Abbas, and the Knesset “Caucus to Resolve the Arab-Israeli Conflict”, went even better than expected.

Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, head of the Political Committee and the Fatah bloc in the [non-functioning] Palestinian Legislative Council [PLC] said he was relieved that there’d been no raucous denunciation in Israel either of the meeting itself, or of the Palestinian flag displayed, next to Israel’s, at the front of the room. He said he’d been worried that the caucus might “be subject to criticism — for hosting terrorists”.

“The substance was more important than seeing the Palestinian flag in the Knesset”, Dr. Abdullah said – but he nonetheless said it was indeed the first time the Palestinian flag had been displayed inside the Knesset, during a meeting.

Abdullah, a member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council who also works on the Fatah Foreign Relations Committee with Nabil Shaath, said that “every MK who spoke in the meeting was in favor of the two-state solution”. A Times of Israel account of the meeting is posted here.

Mohammad Madani, a member of Fatah’s Central Committee, its highest decision-making body, was named by Abbas to head the “Civil Dialogue Committee”. He said the meeting had been “fruitful”, and added that “we were very happy to see MKs who stand behind the two-state solution”.

Abdullah conceded that “We are sensitive to the ‘normalization’ issue”, but he said that “we know that when we meet, they are the occupiers and we are the occupied. We were not there to tolerate the occupation — but to tell them it must end”.

Continue reading Palestinian MPs and politicians go to a Knesset caucus meeting — to support negotiations