We begin today with a link to an Israel National News video about the aftermath of the Carmel fire. It gives an excellent visual picture of the damage done, and provides an understanding of what authorities expect in the way of recovery.
And then, a look at a few news items passed by, as focus was on “the peace process” in the last few days:
We can start with mention of an event that is “peace process” related. When Clinton spoke at the Saban Forum, our Defense Minister, Ehud Barak (Labor), was there and also spoke. He thinks Jerusalem should be divided, with Jewish neighborhoods going to Israel and Arab neighborhoods to a Palestinian state. Reaching agreement with the Palestinian Arabs is very critical, he says.
In my opinion, he is a colossal fool, for — even aside from the broader political issues — he must know that Jewish and Arab neighborhoods are so intertwined that division of the city is not feasible, and would present us with a major security risk were it to be attempted.
Of course, he softened this with all sorts of provisos about the Palestinian state being demilitarized, major settlement blocs being retained, an end of conflict agreement being required, etc. etc. But he’s a fool nonetheless.
Without a peace process, he declared, Israel and the Palestinian Arabs will fall back into violence. And he thinks that we wouldn’t have violence if we had a Palestinian state at our eastern border?
The Labor party is making noises — something they do every so often — regarding the fact that they will leave the coalition if there are no peace talks.
(Opposition head Tzipi Livni of Kadima is making similar foolish, and unfortunately public, noises about the need to achieve a peace agreement.}
What I hasten to add here is that I am genuinely convinced that Barak is not speaking for the government and that this is not Netanyahu’s position. This is what ultimately matters. In a coalition government, sometimes the head of one faction or another will take the liberty of promoting that faction’s position.
Been there, done that: George Mitchell, US Mideast envoy, has arrived and is supposed to start his shuttle diplomacy by meeting today with Prime Minister Netanyahu. I confess to a bit of confusion as to what follows this meeting: the PA had clearly said — for whatever this is worth — that they would not participate without a series of consultations, which, to the best of my knowledge have not yet all taken place.
See what a nice guy is the man Israel was supposed to negotiate with:
Palestinian Media Watch reports that Mahmoud Abbas, on PA-TV, Nov. 28, expressed his personal support for the president of Sudan, Omar Hassan Al-Bashir, who is accused of being responsible for the genocide in Darfur.
PMW says that in a letter to the Sudanese president, Abbas wrote that he and Palestinians “have complete faith in the wisdom of President Omar Al-Bashir.”
We need reminders such as this from time to time to remind us whom we’re dealing with.
According to a poll released by the Saban Center, 57% of Israel Arabs and Palestinian Arabs believe that the right of return should not be compromised. While 63% believes lasting peace will never happen.
This is for me more telling because it includes Arabs who are Israeli citizens. (The poll lists an aggregate of answers and does not separate the two groups with regard to these particular questions.) Especially is this the case concerning “right of return.” It indicates — no surprise– that some percentage of Israel Arabs is waiting for Israel to be overtaken.
For greater details, see here:
There is now more information regarding negotiations between Israel and Turkey on the Flotilla incident. Seems the Israeli government (ouch!) was prepared to offer “regrets” at a “humanitarian level” for the death of Turkish activists on the Mavi Marmara, who attacked our soldiers. In fact, according to reports, Israel was also prepared to pay considerable compensation to the families (ouch again!).
But the Turkish government says it is willing to settle for nothing less than a formal apology to the government of Turkey. This is the government that helped to fund and launch the terrorists. At the moment the situation appears stalemated.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beitenu) has said this is backwards — that the Turkish government should be apologizing to us, and paying us compensation for soldiers injured. He’s right on, as he often is. But (here’s another situation where this is the case), he is not speaking for the Israeli government.
As the Palestinian Arabs are screaming about “right of return” as a priority in negotiations, and as they base this right on UN General Assembly Resolution 194, it becomes important to have a clear understanding of what this is all about:
There is no such thing as the “right of return” as an internationally recognized legal right.
When the term is used, it refers to the alleged right of Arabs who fled Israel during the course of the war in 1947-48 to come back to Israel (“to their homes and villages”).
UNRWA, the UN agency charged with care of the Palestinian Arab refugees, would have you believe that there is a right in this regard. There is a reference in its mandate specifically to United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194, paragraph 11, which says, in its lead sentence, “the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date…”
However, resolutions of the General Assembly of the UN are only recommendations — they have no status in international law.
What is more, while the resolution states as a condition of return the desire of the refugees to live at peace with their neighbors, it is inarguably clear that the intent of the refugees with regard to Israel is not peaceful.
The full UN Resolution 194 included a call for the formation of a Conciliation Commission and attempted to seek an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict in its entirety. While it was passed by the General Assembly before the 1948 war was over, all of the Arab states voted against it because of its implicit recognition of Israel. It was only later that they returned to it, exclusively for the purpose of drawing on paragraph 11.
Note that what UNRWA refers to is just one sentence in one paragraph of the resolution. A careful reading of the full paragraph 11 makes it clear that it does not mandate an unconditional right of return..after the allusion to return, there is an instruction to the Conciliation Commission to facilitate a number of remedies, including resettlement. That the General Assembly saw resettlement as an option is made even clearer when other GA resolutions of the same time period are examined.
All other refugees in the world other than the Palestinian Arab refugees are the responsibility of the UN High Commission for Refugees, which maintains a policy of settling refugees elsewhere when repatriation is not possible. No principle has been established that requires repatriation.
For a more complete understanding of precisely who these so-called “refugees” are, see:
Start at page 7. If this information is new to you — it will blow you away.
Today I’m reading that the rain that fell in the north, while extensive, was less than had been expected because the storm’s center moved up into Lebanon. But Arutz Sheva says eight inches (20 cm) of rain fell in the north. The Kinneret is up by over 6 cm, and heavy rain started in Jerusalem last night. In outlying regions of Jerusalem (I’m not seeing it where I am) and in the colder Gush Etzion, there was a light snow. More than two meters of snow fell on the Hermon — this snow, when it melts, contributes to the Kinneret.
The government is now working on emergency plans to cope with inadequate water for the next two years, until new desalination plants are up and running. Our prime minister has order existing desalination plants to increase their output.
“The Good News Corner”
Not brand-new information, but worth a smile non-the-less:
When the Shah ruled Iran, there were good relations with Israel, and Israelis actually helped to build Iran’s airport.
Now someone using Google Earth has discovered that a Jewish star was placed into the roof of the Iranian Air building.
The Iranians were not amused.
A final report regarding the Carmel fire indicates that not a single animal was lost from the Bar Hai animal reserve, because firefighters bravely defended its perimeter.
The preserve breeds, raises and releases into the wild several species of rare animals — gazelle, deer, eagle, etc. Most notable is the Persian fallow deer that once was native to, but had become extinct in Israel. A number of the species were brought from Iran — where they were protected in the Shah’s gardens — in the last El Al plane that left before the revolution. A fascinating story.
These animals are in several places in the wild today in Israel, and can be seen at the Jerusalem zoo.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.