For the second time now, the EU has delivered a message that its relationship with Israel will suffer if we do not maintain a “two state solution” stance.
Not long ago, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solan said that the EU might re-evaluate its relationship with Israel if the new government isn’t committed to a “two-state solution.”
On Friday, Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, whose country currently holds the EU presidency, said if the new Israeli government does not commit itself to establishing a Palestinian state, “relations would become very difficult indeed.”
“At one of our next ministerial meetings we would have to discuss what consequences the EU would draw from that.”
And the Czechs were said to be our friends. Threatening friends is not nice.
Said Schwarzenberg, “Both parties must stick to their commitments from the past: A two-state solution and all agreements reached over the past few years.”
So in theory he’s holding both sides to former commitments. But in reality he chooses to overlook that fact that there is no one with whom Israel might negotiate a “two-state solution.” There is still not one address for the Palestinians and should there be a unity government it would adhere to Hamas policy, which says no end to terrorism, no commitment to former agreements of the PLO, no recognition of Israel.
In fact, things are so bad that Fatah strongman Mohammad Dahlan has admitted that even FATAH never recognized Israel’s right to exist, only the PLO did. Fatah was just along for the ride, while maintaining its own obstructionist policy.
So, given this, why — why!! — should the EU, if it is balanced in its approach, expect us to continue to support that non-starter, a “two state solution?
The answer is that the EU, whatever lip service it gives to being balanced, in fact is not. The EU is on the cusp of recognizing Hamas if it just “respects” former agreements. And it is promoting that unity government, without giving due attention to what it will stand for.
Its eyes are closed, willfully.
Which leads us to yet one more examination of where Netanyahu stands on this.
It is making news here that “sources” report that in coalition negotiations he refused a request to say there would be no “two-state solution.”
I knew then that this would have prevented the entry of Labor into the coalition, which is something Netanyahu sought. Furthermore, it would have labeled us, within the international community, as right wing obstructionist. The stand of the EU is an early sign of this.
The question remains one not of what he would or would not put into a coalition agreement — but of what he will and will not sign off on in real time.
He countenances something short of a genuine sovereign state for the Palestinians. And I find, looking back, that he’s been quite consistent on this. He says we shouldn’t rule them, but they should not have the power to bring us harm. To that end he envisions a Palestinian entity that is internally autonomous — electing mayors, having a police force, managing their own schools, etc. The restrictions he would put on this entity are several: no army, no control of their air or electromagnetic space, no right to make treaties, etc. In addition, we keep all of Jerusalem, united, and maintain strategic areas in Judea and Samaria. And there is that small matter of incitement of PA children to jihad via their textbooks.
If he holds to this, there will be no deal at all, as this is less than the Palestinians will accept.
Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat has gone on the offensive with regard to this, in a Washington Post op-ed. The PA is for peace, you see, and Israel is not. Unfortunately some Washington Post readers will buy this. The only thing that is acceptable is a fully sovereign Palestinian state based on (please note!) ’67 lines. Otherwise there will be no peace deal and it will be Israel’s fault.
There is, of course, no mention of the PA meeting its obligations.
We are being told that our new government will be sworn in on Tuesday, but, as I write, Netanyahu still hasn’t decided which of the few available ministry posts which of the big names in Likud will be offered. Nothing like waiting until the last minute.
Moshe Ya’alon has now said that he joined Likud and agreed to run in the elections because Netanyahu told him he needed him. But as that may not be the case, he may resign. He has been publicly very gracious but must be steaming (with reason) at almost being named Defense Minister and then seeing it go to Barak.
Negotiations with UTJ have apparently broken down because the party refused the Health Ministry it was offered. No mention of the National Union, which has toughened its stance again after the dismantlement of the Meoz Esther outpost next to Kochav HaShachar last week.
I reported very recently about an attack we apparently made (there is no official confirmation) on a convoy of Iranian weapons traveling across Sudan to Egypt and destined for Gaza. A great deal more information has surfaced since then:
ABC, citing an unnamed US official, on Friday night released a report that Israel carried out three different aerial attacks to stop the transfer of weapons to Gaza: two hit convoys in the desert in Sudan — on January 27th and February 11th, and subsequently one hit a ship at sea.
If this information is reliable, it is most reassuring both with regard to our intelligence and our readiness to act.
Today’s Sunday Times (London), citing Israeli security officials, reports that our air force used drones — UAV (unmanned aerial vehicles) — to carry out the attacks. It says that Hermes 450 drones, accompanied by huge Eitan UAVs, were used. The advantage of a drone over a plane for a mission like this, which involves hitting a moving target, is that a drone can hover for up to 24 hours at great heights where it cannot be seen, until its target is in place; it is controlled by satellite.
According to the Times, this smuggling operation had been masterminded by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, who paid local smugglers well to do the job. The convoys were carrying Fajr-3 rockets, which — with a range of 40 miles — have the capacity to reach Tel Aviv. They had been manufactured in pieces and were to be assembled by Hamas experts in Gaza who had been trained in Iran and Syria.
Americans: You might want to point out to President Obama what Iran’s role was here, and remind him that soft-pedaling it with Iran will give this terrorist-promoting nation more latitude to do damage. Demand that Israel be supported in her right to defend herself.
Fax: 202-456-2461 White House Comment Line: 202-456-1111
e-mail form via: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/
A number of defense issues are making news:
— The Iron Dome — a short-range missile defense system — tested well last week, intercepting mock Katyushas and Kassams. It is slated for deployment in the north , against Hezbollah missiles, and in south, against Hamas missiles. The system is slated to be operational in 2010, and there is now thought being given within the Air Force to establishing a Battalion to operate this defense system by the end of 2009.
— Israel has had her eye on American F-22 fighters, the ultimate in stealth fighter jets, for a long time. However, Congress has forbidden foreign sales of these jets — which operate successfully in enemy air space because of a combination of factors, including shape, color, and the composite materials it’s composed of.
Now there is some speculation that Congress may change the rules because foreign sales would be needed to keep the project afloat.
— Israel is concerned about the delivery from Russia to Syria of advanced MIG 31E fighter jets — something that the Pentagon Defense Intelligence Agency reports is coming soon. When news of a possible sale of these jets to Syria surfaced in 2007, Moscow denied it.
Until now Syria’s air force has been obsolete. Prospective delivery of these fighter planes, which can fly at almost three times the speed of sound while simultaneously shooting at several targets, is worrisome.
Again, rumors fly with regard to negotiations on Shalit. The Olmert government presumably has two days left, and it is considered exceedingly unlikely that anything can happen in this very narrow window of time. But key Israeli negotiator Ofer Dekel left the country yesterday to parts unknown; this has prompted speculation that he has gone to Cairo for last minute talks.
Our government is denying this, saying that Hamas has not submitted new names to replace the names of prisoners we will not release, and so negotiations are deadlocked.
Our Cabinet, just today, approved a proposal by Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann to impose sanctions on Hamas members in our prisons.
“Just because we’re the only democracy in the Middle East, doesn’t mean we have to be the only suckers. We must not radiate weakness.”
Bless him for this.
From now on prisoners’ benefits would be cut to the “legal minimum” — according to both international and local law.
Family visitation would be reduced to the legal minimum, and the Red Cross would still be permitted to visit prisoners.
But there would be no more television and radio rights, and no more opportunity to study [towards a degree]. This last has always made me crazy: men who have Jewish blood on their hands able to work towards a degree in our prisons? Suckers, indeed. Bleeding hearts.
I see no indication of the rule regarding prisoner use of cell phones, which enables them to be in touch with their comrades on the outside.
Said MK Meir Sheetrit on this: “It’s not reasonable that Shalit is living [in the Gaza Strip] without seeing his parents and Hamas prisoners live here almost like they’re in kindergarten.”
So what took so long? This now must be passed into law.
A look at our “partner for peace”:
Last Wednesday, the 13 members, aged 11 through 18, of the “Strings for Freedom” orchestra located in the Jenin refugee camp played a concert for elderly Holocaust survivors in the Israeli town of Holon.
Depends on whom you ask.
The PA has now dismantled the orchestra, boarded up the apartment where the orchestra practiced, and banned the conductor, Wafa Younis, from the camp.
Younis, 50, of the Arab village Ara inside of Israel, apparently made the arrangements with help from another Israeli Arab woman. This was done for “Good Deeds Day,” sponsored annually by an Israeli organization. She told the survivors gathered that the children would sing a song for peace before playing their instruments.
Leaders in the camp joined in condemning the orchestra’s participation; they said they saw this as an exploitation of children for “political purposes.”
Adnan al-Hinda, director of the Popular Committee for Services in the camp, said that “suspicious elements” were behind this event — people seeking to “impact the national culture of the young generation and cast doubt about the heroism and resistance of the residents of the camp during the Israeli invasion in April 2002.” This was a “dangerous matter” because it was directed against the cultural and national identity of the Palestinians.
Ramzi Fayad, a spokesman for various political factions in the Jenin camp, said all of the groups he represented were strongly opposed to any form of normalization with Israel.
The Jenin camp was a hotbed of terrorism a few years ago, and thus was a major target of IDF operations in Defensive Shield in 2002. That is what is being referred to above. The orchestra was established to raise morale.
But this entire scenario raises several thoughts and questions for me.
It strikes me with particular potency that these Palestinians are identifying resistance against soldiers who were seeking to weed out terrorists as a part of their culture that requires protection. This tells us a great deal.
I asked myself why being kind to elderly Holocaust survivors, and singing a song of peace to them, was perceived as diminishing Palestinian “bravery” in a completely different context. And I moved toward a conclusion that it was the promotion of peace by children of the camp that was disturbing, as it was perceived as undermining that “resistance” mentality, which they are not yet prepared to release. Also teaches us a lot.
And then there is the whole issue of the Holocaust, and an acknowledgement that it happened and that Jews suffered. The youngsters in the orchestra in the main had never heard of the Holocaust. In the eyes of the Palestinian leaders involved, it would seem that an acknowledgement of Jewish suffering diminishes or undercuts their self-image as a suffering people enduring victimhood — definitely a key part of their culture as well.