Not a whole lot to report with regard to the meetings held in Sharm el-Sheikh today because nothing of genuine substance has come out.
After an alleged “rocky start,” with the cause unclear, a series of round-robin meetings was held involving host Egyptian President Mubarak, Secretary of State Clinton, US Envoy Mitchell, Prime Minister Netanyahu, and President Abbas.
The major meeting of the day lasted for 100 minutes and involved Netanyahu and Abbas, meeting with Clinton and Mitchell. Clinton then met again with Netanyahu and Abbas.
Mitchell has reported that things were going well with the two parties having discussed “core issues” and well on their to establishing a framework for negotiations. Just warms the heart, doesn’t it? But then, no matter what happened, Mitchell would put a pretty face on it.
It must be pointed out that “discussing” issues does not indicate anything with regard to coming to terms. In fact, in spite of a request from Mitchell that the discussions be kept private, PA officials have announced that they haven’t seen any progress, and expect none until an announcement is made about an extension of the freeze.
Most unsettling was the news that broke this evening, at least in some quarters, that there is a “90% likelihood” that Netanyahu will travel to Washington on Sunday. We can be certain that he’s not going 6,000 miles to tell Obama that he refuses to cave on anything. Some sort of deal or bargain, that requires Obama to sign on, has got to be in the works. Something big enough so that dealing with Clinton or Mitchell is insufficient.
The pressure on Netanyahu with regard to extending the freeze on building has been enormous. The other day Obama made a pitch in this regard, indicating essentially that, as things were going nicely, it would be a pity to ruin everything with a new start in building in Judea and Samaria; Mitchell has followed with a similar line. And I understand that, on the plane on the way to Egypt, Clinton told reporters explicitly that the freeze should be extended. Should.
Netanyahu has already suggested in various venues that some sort of “compromise” is likely: It needn’t be all or nothing, he is saying. There would not be a total freeze any longer, but neither would there be a vigorous start on construction, with all building starts that were approved before the freeze taking off now. The suggestion in broad terms is that sufficient building to allow “normal life” to proceed would be permitted. What this means is anyone’s guess. New clinics and school buildings, yes. But new apartments so recently married couples might have housing near their families?
This is not going to sit well in many quarters. If Netanyahu goes with this, he’s reneging on his promise to the people.
He did have a lengthy meeting with his Inner Cabinet — the Septet — last night, in preparation for today, and the freeze was one of the subjects discussed.
Meetings will now move to Jerusalem.
Khaled Abu Toameh, writing in Hudson NY with regard to the negotiations, makes a sound observation: “First, Deal with the Enemies of Peace.”
“No ‘moderate’ Palestinian leader will dare make any concessions for peace as long as Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria and Iran are continuing to issue daily threats against ‘traitors.’
“The major threat to the peace process is not an Israeli checkpoint or a new housing project in a West Bank settlement, but the threats coming from the evil forces in the Gaza Strip, Damascus, Beirut and Tehran.
You’ve heard it here, my friends, when I’ve spoken about Hamas setting the tone of political discourse. This is not just about making concessions in negotiations, although it is that. That tone calls on Abbas, as well, to laud the worst of the terrorists, and otherwise show how he supports the “resistance.” Every time he fails to do this, he risks losing credibility in the street.
My posts have been focused on the “negotiations” and related issues, but it’s important to note that it has not been quiet on the Gaza border, with attacks picking up considerably in the last several days:
Yesterday, the 10th rocket — a Kassam — to have been launched from Gaza since the beginning of Rosh Hashana hit southern Israel.
Today, an IDF unit operating near the Gaza fence came under attack when Arabs on the other side of the fence launched an anti-tank missile at them. Our soldiers returned fire, killing one terrorist and wounding four.
We can expect more of same: Ahmed Jaabari, head of the Hamas military wing, issued a statement today threatening a wave of violence to undermine the “peace process.”
I heartily recommend Caroline Glick’s piece, “A Prayer for 5771.”
She begins with reference to Glen Beck’s massive rally in Washington, which he called “Restoring Honor,” explaining that “it wasn’t really about restoring honor. It was about restoring something even more important. It was about restoring the American creed.”
In a splendid segue she then moves to a discussion of our creed:
“By building our lives in the land of Israel, our birthright, the Jews are able to cultivate our heritage and perform our dual mission in relative peace and make the blessing of choseness tangible for ourselves and the world as a whole.
“For 3,500 years, successive generations of Jews have understood our mission and creed. They internalized it and lived their lives by it.
“Since the dawn of modern Zionism, the overwhelming majority of Jews, in Israel and throughout the world have recognized the return to the land of Israel as the harbinger of redemption for the Jewish people – and through it, for the world. This understanding has been so ingrained that it has seldom necessitated a mention.
“On almost every level, the State of Israel has been an overwhelming success for the Jewish people and for the world that has enjoyed its blessings…
“…Judaism…is flourishing in Israel today as it never has at any time in the past two thousand years. The Jewish people emerged from the brink of annihilation 65 years ago to build a Jewish state whose population is more learned in Jewish law than any Jewish community has ever been. More Jews study in institutions of Jewish learning in Israel than have studied at any time in our history. And even non-observant Jews live Jewish lives in Israel to a degree their families could never have enjoyed or imagine just four generations ago.
“Israel’s extraordinary success is marred by but one failure. Since Theodore Herzl’s untimely death in 1904, Israel has lacked a leader who recognized the importance of espousing the Jewish creed both to the world and to the Jewish people. That is, since Herzl, Israel has lacked leaders who have understood the first principle of statecraft.
“For a nation to flourish and succeed over time, its leaders must assert its creed with utter confidence both to their own people and to the world at large. They must assert their nation’s creed with complete confidence even to leaders who reject it. And they must never give anyone else the right to deny their people their identity.
“…It is my prayer for the coming year that our leaders take a measure of strength from our people and our creed. I pray that they recognize that it is both their sacred duty and their great privilege to confidently represent and defend our exceptionalism and our destiny as the nation of Israel.
“The Good News Corner”
Two instances of something good, and heartwarming, that evolved out of something painful — the antithesis of good.
Some of you may remember: Ten years ago, a young American Jew named Tuvia Grossman, who was here in Israel studying, found himself attacked by a mob of Palestinian Arabs. He was saved by the officer of an Israeli border guard unit. The NY Times ran a picture of the officer, standing over a bleeding Tuvia, with an outrageous caption “explaining” that this was an Israeli soldier attacking a Palestinian. A particularly egregious example of media bias. It was enormously negligent reporting, as well, for the caption said the incident took place on the Temple Mount — but there was a large street sign behind the officer, and there are no such signs on the Mount.
When Tuvia’s father vigorously protested, the Times printed a correction, and a campaign to guard against such media bias was initiated. But Tuvia never met his rescuer, Gideon. Until now. See the video:
Many will also remember the horrendous attack in Mumbai in 2008, when Rabbi Gavriel Noah Hertzberg and wife Rivka were murdered viciously by terrorists at the Mumbai Chabad House. Their two-year old son Moshe was left weeping, sitting next to his parents’ bodies, smeared with blood. His nanny, Sandra Samuel, risked her own life to rush in and grab him away to safety. When his grandparents brought him here to Israel, Sandra, the person to whom this little boy now clung, came along. A widow with two sons in India, she has remained and is helping to raise Moshe.
Now Sandra has been given honorary Israeli citizenship by Interior Minister Eli Yishai. See the video, in which she speaks of her delight and her devotion to Israel, for which she expresses love and a readiness to give even her life. One of the world’s really good people who deserves whatever honor we can give her.