Saturday, May 30

An Independent Palestinian State?

Over the years , there has been much discussion, official and unofficial of a Two-State Solution. Many think tanks were also involved in finding a way to achieve this. It seems logical, just and fair striving and supporting this solution. It is unjust to occupy another people who seek independence from an occupying country. The world supports a Two-State Solution. However, the problems involved in trying to achieve this seem insurmountable.

In order to begin the process of a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, there must be a basic desire on both sides to reach an agreement. If there is a desire on the one side, but not on the other, no agreement will ever be reached.
Hamas has reaffirmed its "strategic position" regarding its refusal to recognize Israel, or hold direct talks with it, Jordanian newspaper Al-Ghad said.

It is not enough expressing support for a Two-State Solution verbally, while in practice, both parties are not prepared to concede, apart from not having  leadership that has the courage and foresight to get the peace process moving.

On the Palestinian side, the Palestinian Authority (PA), under President Mahmoud Abbas, has no support from the Palestinian People. The PA negotiators are there but they are impotent. The chief negotiator, Dr Saeb Erekat, has been representing the PA for over 20 years. The same polemics are uttered endlessly and no progress has been made. In the background of all these negotiations, keeping a watchful eye on the PA, is Hamas and its allies. Hamas, has no intention of recognizing Israel's right to exist and is against negotiations for peace of any kind. Hamas has more support from the Palestinian electorate than the PA. In aprevious article I had enlarged on this. If by remote chance there is an agreement on a Two-State Solution and President Mahmoud Abbas signs, he stands a good chance of his life being endangered by Palestinian extremists.

On the Israeli side, support for a Two-State Solution is receding. PM Netanyahu is determined  that it will not occur on his watch. Netanyahu has appointed veteran Cabinet Minister, Silvan Shalom, to be in charge of negotiations with the Palestinians. Both Hamas and the right wing Israeli coalition government paradoxically do not agree to a Two-State Solution, each for totally different reasons of course.

The present Israeli Government will never agree to dismantling settlements and withdrawing from areas occupied after the June 1967 War. This is one of the basics of a Two-State Solution. Apart from that even if they did dismantle settlements, it will have no impact on Hamas. Hamas will only agree to a One-State Solution - the replacement of Israel by a Palestinian State and all that it entails. In the unlikely event of Israel withdrawing from the West Bank, it would result in Hamas taking over as they did in Gaza, there would be slaughter of settlers and those Palestinians opposing Hamas.

On both sides of the deep divide, there are no serious partners, who can engage in peace negotiations with the Palestinians. Apart from seriouslack of trust and hatred, there is nothing that can remotely link the two sidesin a common desire for peace. The PA, with its history of corruption and its fear of Hamas and the extremist Islamist elements, does not represent anybody but themselves.

Another factor in this conflict is that Hamas, which has more support than the PA, does not wish to come to terms with Israel's existence or negotiate a peace treaty. This is in contrast to the situation in South Africa when all peoples had a desire to end apartheid and the White and Black leadership negotiated in good faith an end to the apartheid regime. I "apologize" to the self-righteous, double standard, "humanists" and their NGO allies, who keep on comparing Israel to apartheid South Africa as well as supporting BDS. They view Hamas as an organization for liberation of the Palestinians from the Israeli Occupation and refuse to see this notorious organization of terrorist thugs who kill their own people that oppose them, as well as carrying out terrorist acts against innocent Israelis. The racist anti-Semitic slogans of Hamas resembles the diatribes against the black people of apartheid South Africa if one is searching for a comparison with the Palestinian - Israeli Conflict and apartheid South Africa.

The stalemate will continue until a new order on both sides arises that has the courage to negotiate a Two-State Solution, which is the only possibility for true and lasting peace. Painful concessions and compromises have to be made by both sides and neither side is prepared to do just the bare minimum towards achieving peace.

On the other hand, the PA and Hamas have signed an agreement and despite the tenuous nature of this agreement, it is obvious that Hamas will not allow the PA to sign a peace agreement with Israel. The Hamas Charter makes this perfectly clear:
Article 13 of the Hamas charter states unambiguously
“There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors.. ” (The Avalon Project).

When the PA is handcuffed by Hamas, a Two-State Solution will never be feasible and the stalemate will continue. This stalemate will lead to further violence and terror. 

Wednesday, May 27

The Bickering Right Wing Coalition of Self-Interest

The Likud won the most seats in the Knesset after the March 2015 Elections and, superficially, it seemed that Netanyahu would have no problem forming a right to extreme right-wing coalition. Everything seemed to go in his favor especially the moment the results were known.
34th Cabinet of Israel

This was not to be. He was surrounded by a macabre mix of small right wing parties, such as Naphtali Bennett's  Bayit Hayehudi, Moshe Kahlon's Kulanu, the ultra-Orthodox Shas under Arye Mahluf Deri and Torah Judaism Parties. Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beitenu decided not to be part of the coalition. A right wing coalition of 61 members was cobbled together with much bickering, political blackmail for cabinet posts and intra-fraternal strife. Even the opposition of 59 members is fragmented. This will give the coalition more power than it deserves.

We all saw the result. Netanyahu won and lost. While forming a coalition, he paid a very high price by giving out key cabinet posts to the small, political blackmailing, sectoral parties so that he could present his credentials to President Reuven Rivlin. We witnessed an amazing circus of squabbling, mediocre party hacks scrambling for cabinet posts, leaving the Likud dry with relatively minor portfolios that were divided into almost indecipherable cabinet posts that hopefully would make a united coalition. This was meant to satisfy the hungry potential cabinet ministers, whose grudges against each other were so blatant. The latest edition to the cabinet is Gilad Erdan, who was sworn in at the last minute possibly at the expense of veteran, Benny Begin. Begin may have a cabinet post created for him at the last minute. Gilad Erdan is loyal to Netanyahu and defended Netanyahu and his wife's follies through thick and thin. Initially he was left out of the cabinet. However with a "kvetch" here and there he was brought into the cabinet.

The majority of the Israeli Electorate is right wing and even that vote is split among right wing small parties. Most of the leaders of these parties have super-inflated egos and wield tremendous power to blackmail Netanyahu into giving in to their demands for cabinet posts. In order to satisfy them a law increasing the number of cabinet ministers from eighteen members to twenty members was cobbled together at a lightning pace.

The ultra-Orthodox partners never had it so good for many years. The conscription of Haredi youth into the IDF will not occur. There will be increased funding for their yeshivot at the tax-payers' expense. They will get increased funding from the National Insurance for maintenance of their children. Secular education will be denied them so that they will remain eternal Talmud scholars, unable to develop skills to earn a decent livelihood on the free market. More state money will be going into settlements in the occupied West Bank, thanks to Bayit HaYehudi (The Jewish Home Party) in the coalition. It will be a coalition to promote narrow sectarian interests.

In apartheid South Africa under white minority rule, the government maintained power by shouting "swart gevaar" (black danger) which was basically a call to the blood by using racist scare tactics. This worked for many years until sanctions were declared against South Africa and the economy collapsed as a result. This heralded the demise of apartheid and a democratically elected ANC government.

In Israel, on Election Day, Netanyahu went into a panic and used the sane "call to the blood" tactic. He stated that the Arabs were coming out in droves to vote and this could be a threat to Israel. The ruse worked but Netanyahu lost to the small right wing parties and the ultra-Orthodox parties. The "wheeling and dealing" to form a coalition, which has always been part of Israel's political leadership, had reached a new low. All the members of the coalition dislike and do not trust each other. This coalition will probably not last until the next scheduled election in 4 years.

The Zionist Camp candidate, Isaac Herzog, lost the elections and perhaps it is a blessing in disguise for him. We are all witnessing "how the mighty Netanyahu has fallen". Netanyahu had it made for him after the elections, but had made painful compromises rather than brave decisions as the small parties blackmailed him politically and left him without any choices. He went back on his cabinet post promises for his political party cartel, leaving his party colleagues disgruntled.

This coalition will be impotent and there will be no reforms that will improve the lot of the economically weak sectors. The Finance Minister, Moshe Kahlon, who promised to introduce reforms in lowering prices of natural gas has turned around and has washed his hands fromhis rhetoric before the elections as it goes against a tycoon friend of his that has large financial interests in one of the gas companies called Tamar.

Most of Israel's Likud cabinet ministers have received chopped up pieces of portfolios to satisfy their voracious appetites for cabinet posts. It is rather pathetic and wasteful. Thank goodness that Israel has many tax-payers who will fulfill their civil duties to pay for coalition follies.

Peace with the Palestinians and the two-state solution will not happen on this Netanyahu watch. He has made that clear. There will be no freezing of settlements in the West Bank. On the Palestinian side there is no viable partner for peace any less than on the Israeli side. President Mahmoud Abbas, will be unable to sign any agreement with Israel on that score even if conditions were amenable. The extremists in the Palestinian camp from Hamas, Islamic Jihad and those even more radical will assassinate Mahmoud Abbas, whose power base is very weak if he even signs a peace agreement with Israel. He is better off threatening to take Israel to the International Court of Justice in The Hague for war crimes where he can somehow maintain his status quo which suits him and his PA. After all, Dr Saeb Barekat, the eternal negotiator, will be unemployed in the remote event of a peace treaty being signed.

The blame for this situation lies with many Israeli voters who are ignorant of the importance and responsibility of voting. There will be no breakthroughs for peace or any progressive new laws. It will be the same stereotype declarations of recognizing Israel as the nation state of the Jewish People and with that much undertones of racism towards Israel's non-Jewish minorities. Sectarian interest, especially serving the right wing, will take priority in this pathetic coalition of mediocre, small party political hacks.The government will have its strength in making laws that have a right wing and religious orthodox Jewish consensus rather than what is good for all Israel's citizens. Israel will be in for a rough ride internationally. 

Israeli Police Violence against Demonstrators

It is unfortunate that police violence crosses all boundaries, It is directed against demonstrators who are weak, including Israeli Ethiopians, ultra-Orthodox, Arab Israelis and various groups who have legitimate gripes against government policies.

Friday, May 15

Palestinians' Anti-Peace Campaign

Palestinians' Anti-Peace Campaign Prior to attending this meeting I wrote an article about the unfortunate demise of the Two-State Solution. What happened at this meeting is gaining support among Palestinians and is aiding the right wing Netanyahu Coalition, by strengthening Netanyahu's claim that there will be no Palestinian State. If this is what occurs at Peace Meetings sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, we are going to have a disaster as Hamas gives support to these activities. It will also strengthen the hawkish Netanyahu Government, which was sworn in with the majority of one vote (61 for and 59 against).

Tuesday, May 5

Palestinian State - Figment of Imagination?

Map showing the West Bank and Gaza Strip in re...
Map showing the West Bank and Gaza Strip in relation to central Israel (situation of 2007) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The idea of a two-state solution has been doing the rounds for many years to achieve a peace settlement between Israelis and Palestinians. Most countries in the world including the US, EU have expressed support for a two-state solution. A solution to the Israeli Occupation since the Six Day War of June 1967 has been discussed in international forums for many years, including negotiations with the Palestinians. There has been no progress towards a two-state solution.
While we all want a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, there is no sign that this is going to happen any time soon. The reasons are numerous and complicated. It is not because PM Netanyahu said that under his watch, there will be no establishment of Palestinian State. There is no situation on the ground that is conducive to negotiations.
In order to even arrive at negotiations, there must be a desire on both sides to reach a settlement. The Palestinian Authority under
Mahmoud Abbas and his chief professional negotiator for peace, Dr. Saeb Erakat represent nobody but themselves. According to the latest polls, Hamas support in the West Bank is on the increase and support for the PLO- oriented PA (Palestinian Authority) is on the wane. Even if a peace agreement between Israel and the PA is reached, Abbas will never sign because Hamas will never accept it. Hamas will only accept a "Peace Treaty" that delegitimizes Israel's right to exist. Israel’s establishment of settlements in the occupied West Bank is not an issue. As far as Hamas is concerned, Israel is occupied territory since 1948 and this is their mantra that is well outlined in the Hamas Charter which has not changed. The PA has had no general elections since 2006. It has no democratic institutions and no accountability to its people. Transparency in government is non-existent. They know that Hamas is breathing down their necks waiting to take over the West Bank if elections would take place. The result for Israel would be disastrous!  The PA and Hamas have signed an agreement even though it is shaky.
There is total instability in the Middle East with warring factions ranging from ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra, the genocide of the Yazidis and Christians. Hezbollah, who are allies of Hamas, Salifis and many other Islamist terror groups are engaged in partisan terrorist activity. With all due respects, how on earth can one see a fertile ground for a two-state solution? One must also bear in mind that all these groups have an insatiable, pathological hate for Israel. These terrorist nationalist groups are hell bent on Israel's destruction. The UN is impotent and many of its members spend time on bashing Israel on "human rights abuse" concerning the Palestinians. The chaos in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon is hardly an issue. Iran and Turkey are also involved. The former is supporting Hezbollah and Syria’s butcher, Bashar el Assad, while the latter sits on the fence. The occupation and building settlements are opposed by many of us, however, we realize that the alternative is worse. If Israel relinquishes the occupied territories, it will be filled by Hamas and the West Bank will deteriorate into a second Gaza and Hamas terror, tunnel digging for the infiltration of Hamas terrorists into Israel will increase. This will be the alternative to the occupation. It is a reality and not an ideology. Ideology against the occupation and the reality of a barbaric scenario without the occupation is obvious. This is the choice we really have. Sorry for this pessimism! If only this was not the case. The biggest enemy of the Palestinian Leadership (Hamas and the PA) is the strong belief in their fantasy world of glory.  They create a reality based on their fantasies. In this attempt, they have much in common with ISIS and their terrorist ilk, despite their constant denials.
The earthquake disaster in Nepal has overshadowed most news items in Israel. Israel has bent over backwards to send IDF rescue teams to save as many Nepalese victims as possible. Field hospitals have been established and many lives have been saved. Rescue teams have arrived from all over the world, each doing what they can to alleviate the suffering and working round the clock.
There are groups of journalists in Israel of the likes of Gideon Levy who feel that Israel should be rehabilitating Gaza and not be putting in such effort to save lives in Nepal. He is wrong for many reasons (some of which will be outlined later in this article) and there are many double-standard, self-styled human rights activists who feel the same way.
The Gaza War - Operation Protective Edge - broke out in July 2014 and lasted 50 days. Of course, the Palestinians in Gaza underwent traumatic suffering no matter how one views it. Large densely populated areas in Gaza were destroyed, leaving many people homeless. This was not the result of a natural disaster but Israel's military reaction to Hamas aggression, which Gideon Levy and his colleagues of like mind, ignore. The attempts at firing missiles into Israel by Hamas terrorist militants as well as digging tunnels to carry out murderous acts of terror created a situation whereby the IDF was forced to act in order to defend Israel's citizens. Hamas was warned but they took no heed. The result for the Palestinian population was tragic. It was grist for the mill of human rights activists sympathetic to the Hamas-oriented Palestinian cause and all that it entails.
The Hamas use of innocent Palestinians as human shields is well documented with Hamas rockets being fired from UNRWA property and from civilian areas added to the tragic death rate of many innocent Palestinians. One must also note that the Hamas leadership was hidden in shelters underground and not a squeak was heard from them while Palestinian human shields surrounded their “hidey holes” and took a battering. The "brave-fearless-in-rhetoric" Khaled Mashaal sitting on the gold pots in Qatar, Ismail Haniyeh as well as many other Hamas leaders in an underground shelter were conspicuous by their absence. They came out of their holes when a cease-fire was declared to sprout their rhetoric of bravado and fantasy victory.
Nepal is not Gaza and the latter's leadership is hostile to Israel. They would not have allowed the IDF to go on a lifesaving mission to help those Palestinians caught up in the tragedy. This would be against their interests of portraying Palestinian suffering at the hands of the “cruel occupier - Israel”! There were cases where Palestinians did arrive in Israeli hospitals for medical treatment. How can one expect Israel to rehabilitate Gaza when Hamas was responsible for the tragedy as well as declaring war on Israel and not a natural disaster? Hamas was the cause of Palestinian suffering and destruction! The "peace loving" NGOs and their journalistic ilk avoided publishing the truth. Truth in Hamas eyes is based on fantasy in most cases as well as dishonest reporting.
After Operation Protective Shield, a ceasefire was declared and the destruction to Gaza was horrendous and the toll in death and destruction in Gaza was high. The blame for this must be laid at the doorstep of Hamas, who acted irresponsibility, crippled by their fantasies of victory, glory and irreconcilable hate for Israel that goaded them on to create a disaster for the Palestinians.
Today acts of terror against Israel still occur. Individual Palestinians go on the rampage periodically ramming their vehicles into innocent bystanders or stabbing people in the streets. These terrorists are imbued with an irreconcilable hatred for Jews and carry out individual terrorist acts.

The reality as portrayed in this article is not conducive to a Two State solution. It is a sad truth. It will remain a figment of the imagination to those, who are naive and ignorant to the reality on the ground in a sea of enemies surrounding Israel and the chaos in the Middle East of today.