I want to return to the issue of the illegal Bedouin outpost of Khan al-Ahmar. It may not seem so to some of my readers, but this is a big story. I hope you will share this information broadly. Much of the media prefers to provide a skewed PA/EU version of the matter.
If there is, at all, a bright side to the story, it comes with the actions of the people of Regavim, who are doing their best to fight the fight that has to be fought for Israel’s sake. After I wrote last, Regavim ran a tour of the outpost for members of the Knesset, in order to provide clarity for them on the situation.
Regavim Activities Director Raful Engel explained:
“The Palestinian Authority, with the generous funding of the European Union, is systematically taking over strategic areas in Judea and Samaria.
“Khan al-Ahmar is the flagship of the plan. Consolidating Bedouin outposts in the area will complete Palestinian Authority continuity of control in the triangle of roads connecting Ramallah, Bethlehem, Jericho, and East Jerusalem.”
MK Yehuda Glick (Likud) and Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) were on that tour and were appropriately incensed.
Hotovely declared that the prime minister had said he would evacuate the outpost and asked him to: “Stand by your word and carry out the evacuation as soon as possible. We’ll manage with the international community because there’s clear incidence here of violating the rule of law.”
MK Bezalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi) was also there. His statement was strong and on the mark (emphasis added):
“Khan al-Ahmar has become a test of sovereignty and the ability of the State of Israel to stand up to its important interests in the face of international pressure that is hypocritical and tendentious.
“…the [Israeli] interest in this area is clear and it is not for nothing that the Palestinian Authority invests every effort in it, while cynically and brutally using the Bedouin residents. This interest requires the evacuation of the outpost and every day of submission to international pressure will only invite more pressure on us.”
The PA maintains a presence in the outpost at all times, and has schooled the Bedouin residents well – there is even a “protest tent.”
Sitting inside that tent, the mukhtar of Khan al-Ahmar declared (emphasis added):
“We…have no problem moving 100-200 meters off the road, and you know what? Even 400 meters away, but on one condition: that we relocate to a Khan al-Ahmar territory and nowhere else.”
“A Khan al-Ahmar territory”? This keeps them in E1.
“We do not want stone houses or permanent structures, like those offered to us near Abu Dis [where Israel has constructed a village for them], we just want to continue living our life the same way we have been living since birth—like this.”
Notice, please, that he didn’t even attempt to say this patch of land has been in the family for generations and that they are loath to leave it. Traditionally, these people were nomads, not attached to any particular land at all. He spoke about a Bedouin life style, which might be maintained in any one of a variety of places.
Take a careful look at the outpost – in all of its dismal reality – that they say they don’t want to leave.
Then I return very briefly to the situation with Gaza. Briefly, because that is all my stomach can bear.
On Monday, Defense Minister Lieberman declared once again that the only solution in Gaza is a “hard blow.” Yet on that very same day, COGAT reported that 17,103 tons of goods in 573 trucks were delivered to Gaza via the Kerem Shalom crossing.
And yesterday Lieberman announced that fuel deliveries would begin again on Wednesday (today).
But the violence at the fence, and the igniting of fires in Israeli territory continue — at a reduced but still unacceptable level.
It could be that Lieberman’s stomach may not be doing well, either. Clearly, there is pressure on him regarding the Gaza crossings in line with current government policy. As well, there is still international talk of arranging a “ceasefire” between Israel and Hamas.
And then, oh joy, we come to the Trump “peace plan” and some of its ramifications.
I am SOOO tired of hearing the plan’s architects, Jason Greenblatt and Jared Kushner, tell the world how wonderful this plan is in all its many facets, while they never actually release it.
Methinks they doth protest too much.
I will continue to give them the benefit of the doubt, and say that their intentions are sincere. But from the beginning it was clear that what they were aiming for was an impossibility, in spite of their proud insistence that had covered all eventualities.
How do you forge a plan for peace with an entity that is dedicated in its very charter to the destruction of Israel and that fosters hatred of Israel and terrorism at every turn?
This is a project that would only be assumed by naïve Americans, who don’t quite grasp what the PLO is, who believe they can “fix” matters; and who assume that in the end PLO leaders will want what is “best for the people,” or, conversely, that the people, even though they have been thoroughly indoctrinated by the PLO for over 20 years, will rebuff their government and embrace America. They fail to comprehend the power of ideology.
Not long ago, Kushner indicated that the team really thought Abbas would turn around after a period of being miffed, but this has not happened. It was suggested that there would be a delay, as a result of the situation. It would be political suicide to unveil a plan when one party will not cooperate.
Just days ago, Kushner framed matters a different way, saying that “a reasonable Palestinian leadership” will negotiate with Israel once the plan is unveiled. That’s “reasonable” by the American definition of what should be.
This is a common error of westerners: assuming they know what is best for Arabs in the Middle East.
There are rumors of some unfortunate things allegedly said by President Trump recently. I say “allegedly” because he didn’t say them directly for the press – they were carried by third parties and may have been said with a sort of braggadocio, or to play to the moment, rather than with sincere intention. But this is of sufficient import that we must look at the reports:
French President Macron was meeting with Trump on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
Macron expressed doubt about whether Prime Minister Netanyahu was sincere about being willing to negotiate peace, as he seemed to prefer the status quo.
Trump reportedly replied: “You know, Emmanuel – I’m very close to reaching the same conclusion.
“I was tough with the Palestinians because they would not talk to us and that’s unacceptable. I gave Bibi a lot…I can be tough with Bibi, like I was tough with the Palestinians.”
If this is true: OUCH! A senior White House official subsequently said that the president believes Netanyahu is committed to trying for a peace agreement. This, of course, does not really address the question of how much Trump would be prepared to lean on us to achieve what he wants.
There is no question but that we Israelis have been enormously grateful for the pro-Israel stance of the Trump administration, and in the end it would be sad if it came to this. But we have not been bought: Trump should not imagine that he has us in his pocket.
There was an immediate response from several MKs and ministers here in response to this report. Education Minister Naftali Bennett (chair, Habayit Hayehudi) for example, replied:
“There will not be a joint capital in Jerusalem for another thousand years. As long as we are part of the Israeli government, we will never agree to the division of Jerusalem, to a joint capital… As long as we are in Jerusalem, we will not allow concessions regarding Israeli sovereignty…
“We will also not agree to a territorial compromise, unless the Arabs want to transfer territory to us. We’re ready to accept territory. We are the smallest state in the region, we will not transfer one more inch to the Arabs, that saga is over.”
Then there is the matter of the huge scandal with regard to the murder in the Saudi consulate in Turkey of Jamal Khashoggi. There are even reports now that his body was dismembered. This exposure of the underside of Saudi behavior has put Trump in something of a bind:
“..the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the hands of Saudi agents may put the plan into a deep freeze…
“…Kushner’s team turned to the Saudis, hoping that the kingdom’s deep pockets and prestige in the Arab world could somehow help bring the Israelis and Palestinians together…
“Aides say Abbas believes the Americans want to keep him quiet by attracting large sums of money from Gulf Arab investors to develop the Palestinian economy. With the Palestinian front quiet, the United States could then proceed with the broader aim of creating an Israeli-Saudi alliance to serve as a regional counterweight to Iran.”
The only facet of this that is regrettable is the weakening of the possibility of a Israeli-Saudi alliance to counter Iran. Prime Minister Netanyahu has concerns about this, as well.
There are reports, meanwhile, that President Macron is thinking of unveiling a French peace plan if the US plan is not presented in the weeks after the US mid-term election.
Are we having fun yet?
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.