Before Shabbat begins, I want to touch base on a handful of subjects, most mentioned yesterday:
The UN vote on Goldstone was taken, and, as we knew it would, it passed. Attempts by Western nations to negotiate with the Arab states a compromise resolution failed. The Arabs figured they had enough third world votes to put it through and simply proceeded.
The vote: 114-18, with 44 abstentions. Israel and the United States, voted against, of course, as did Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and the Czech Republic. That leaves 12 other states that also voted nay, and I have not yet been able to identify them.
The European vote, disappointingly, was split, with both Britain and France — craven in their inability to take a stand — simply abstaining.
From our foreign ministry came this response:
“Israel rejects the Assembly’s decision, which bears no connection to the reality which Israel faces. In operation Cast Lead, the IDF showed standards of fighting and morality that were higher than those of any of the resolution’s initiators.
“Israel will continue to act, like other democracies, to protect its citizens from international terror, as was proven this week.”
In point of fact, Israel has now filed an official grievance with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the UN Security Council, following the capture of the arms ship:
“The intended route of the Francop, coupled with the types of weaponry found on board, raise serious concerns that this incident also constitutes a violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 and 1373.”
Resolution 1373 of 2001, among other things, prohibits states from “providing any form of support, active or passive, to entities or persons involved in terrorist acts” This would apply to Iran, supplying weapons to Hezbollah.
Resolution 1701, hammered out at the end of our most recent war in Lebanon (i.e., our war with Hezbollah) in 2006, was designed to prevent the re-arming of Hezbollah and to keep the area south of the Litani River free of any armed presence except Lebanese army and UNIFIL. It is forbidden to provide any entity in Lebanon with weapons or military equipment. What is more, it is forbidden to allow planes or ships to be utilized in the transport of such weapons.
The Israeli grievance thus also said;
“Iran’s national shipping company (IRISL) has been repeatedly found to be involved in transporting weapons and other banned items in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu, in his statement after the contents of the ship were uncovered, called what Iran was doing a war crime. What is now being pushed by our diplomats is a position internationally in which countries would refuse to work with the Iranian shipping line at all (which would serve to severely weaken Iran).
I hope you will not hold your breath waiting for an appropriate UN response. Better chastise us than go after Iran.
Also as expected, Abbas has declared his intention not to run again in the presidential election. This was not a tactic, he said, and his decision was final.
Although there was a flurry of phone calls to Abbas from world leaders, more than not, the reaction was tepid. There was no huge and horrified outcry — although Fatah is planning a demonstration to take place in the next few days, to urge him to stay.
The statement from our government was that this was an internal matter in which we should not get involved. There was no response to the heated accusations by Abbas that our refusal to totally freeze building was killing the “peace process.” Netanyahu did make a statement saying that if Abbas had the courage to do so, he could be a partner for peace.
Nor, do I believe, did the US bite with regard to accusations. One wonders if Obama perceives the way in which he has created this situation by raising expectations.
Hamas forthrightly accused Abbas of playing games. Its message to Abbas was that it was time to stop waiting for Israel and the US to change, to admit that negotiations had failed, and to turn towards Hamas and reconciliation.
By today a senior member of the Fatah council, Mohammed Shtaya, told Al-Jazeera that there was a good chance that Abbas would change his mind — if there was a significant shift in the political situation.
How about this!
I have been making the assumption that when he came to the States next week, Netanyahu would be meeting with Obama. I have invested energy in speculating on what would be discussed. Nor have I been alone in this, as I’ve been in communication with others very much in the know who have been making the same assumption. In fact, one news source cited Barak, whose pronouncements on arranging a peace plan with Obama to sell to the PA made me very nervous. Barak, it seems, talks off the top of his head, in line with what he wishes would happen.
But according to the news today, there are no plans in place for Netanyahu and Obama to meet. The prime minister is going to address the General Assembly of the United Jewish Communities. The GA is the single largest gathering of Jews within an organizational context in America, and Netanyahu has a very legitimate agenda in terms of strengthening Israel-Diaspora ties and helping American Jews to better understand Israel.
News sources report that before Obama agrees to meet with Netanyahu, he wants something in return. In return for a meeting? This from the man who believes in dialogue with enemies?? If this is the case, I will be rather pleased if our prime minister does not meet with the president, because it means he refuses to be coerced.
What I have just picked up, however, is information about Obama speaking at the GA as well. Hmmm… And no meeting scheduled but perhaps an informal meeting on the sidelines?
According to the Guardian, Iranian scientists have experimented with an advanced nuclear warhead design.
Don’t know about you, but this makes my blood run cold. After Shabbat I hope to have more to say about the IAEA and its destructive head, ElBaradei.
At any rate, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon has said that talk of our attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities is not an idle threat.
According to defense analyst Yaakov Katz:
“I believe the option is viable and is ready. In other words, the question for today for Israel is not a ‘can or can’t we’… it’s a question on a political level of ‘should we or shouldn’t we?'”
If we do end up deciding that we must hit Iran, I wonder if Obama will understand the degree to which he will have made this necessary.
The news is a bit mind-boggling: A Muslin US soldier, Nidal Malik Hasan, using two weapons, one a semi-automatic, last night killed 12 and wounded 31 at Fort Hood, the largest US army base — a base from which troops are dispatched to Iraq and Afghanistan. A US-born citizen of Jordanian heritage, Hasan is a psychiatrist (first reported dead, it seems he is not). He was scheduled to be shipped out to Iraq. A great deal of information has yet to be uncovered.
See this commentary by Dr. Aaron Lerner of IMRA:
Lori Lowenthal Marcus, co-founder of Z Street (ziostreet.wordpress.com) attended the J Street Conference and has written about it. Her description is well worth reading: