A collection of the week's news from Israel
A service of the Bet El Twinning Committee of Beth Avraham Yoseph of Toronto
A collection of the week's news from Israel
January 5, 2001
Issue number 307
Wednesday January 16, 8:00pm
First meeting of the new BAYT Chug Aliyah, an association of people interested in aliyah, open to the community, at BAYT. For information call David Miller at (905) 305-6100.
Solidarity Missions to Israel
United Israel Appeal / UJA-Federation mission to Israel February 13-18, Cdn$1,500 (plus minimum 2001 donation to UJA of $500); Jerusalem Sheraton Plaza / Inbal (Laromme); Includes visits to Efrat and Gilo; For info call Aviva Malka (416) 631-5680.
One Israel Fund / Young Israel of Midwood / Orthodox Union Solidarity Trip to Israel January 21-29; US$1170 if 50 people, US$1270 if 25 people, from New York; Jerusalem Sheraton Plaza; Visits throughout Yesha; For further information contact Yedidyeh Hirtenfeld (718) 338-7702
Prime Minister Ehud Barak:
While there is no legal limitation on a government during an election period, the legal consideration is not the central one. The instructions of the law are designed only to prevent the creation of a vacuum in authority - and not for the setting of dramatic, fateful, all-encompassing changes such as an agreement with the Palestinians.
There is a great distance between the paralysis of the government that the promulgators of the law wished to avoid, and dramatic moves.
An election-eve agreement with the Palestinians should be such that it does not raise even the suspicion that it was subject to time-related considerations - namely, election considerations. Thus, great care and constant awareness of these suspicions is required, and even more so in the case of a minority government whose prime minister has resigned.
The agreement being negotiated is different than all its predecessors. This one deals with the setting of the borders of the nation, the extent of its capital, including concessions in territory, and including, to my great sorrow, the tearing apart of the nation both by the decision and its implementation. [These are] decisions that will be difficult to withdraw from. All of these are great reasons for much care to be taken. I raise doubt as to the moral authority of the government while the resigned prime minister awaits re-election, and when the president of the United States, who is acting as midwife for the agreement, will no longer bear any responsibility for the implementation of the agreement since his days at the White House are over - and [because] the operative meaning of the agreement will be the removal of settlements, dramatic changes in Jerusalem that cut into the very essence of the city, etc.
The government is the representative of the entire public, and thus should carefully weigh heavy nation-dividing decisions made during its waning hours. I bring to your attention the laws enacted in the Knesset protecting Jerusalem, and the law requiring a majority of 61 for changes in the borders of the sovereign territory of Israel. Such diplomatic agreements must be presented to the Knesset for approval, and considering the current parliamentary situation it can be assumed that this would not be done before the elections, but rather upon the establishment of a new government.
I also raise doubt as to the ability of the Palestinians to honor the agreement, both from a security standpoint and in terms of their willingness to maintain true legal relations with Israel.
I oppose the agreement regarding the Temple Mount. I doubt that there is room for expecting generosity from the Palestinians in their recognizing our connection to the Temple Mount.
I do not want to put barriers against the efforts for peace, but it is my obligation to say what I have said.
Barak was unsurprisingly critical of the Attorney-General, saying that the letter was in opposition to previous things he himself had previously said, and reflected only his "personal, political, right-wing opinions." It may be noted that Rubenstein was attacked several times from the right side of the political spectrum since assuming office. Knesset Law Committee Chairman Amnon Rubenstein (Meretz) and Justice Minister Yossi Beilin came to the defense of the Attorney-General; the former said that Barak must not attack the Attorney-General, "who works with dedication and under very difficult conditions." Beilin said that Elyakim had not said that the government is forbidden from conducting negotiations at this time, "but merely that it is not suitable. We disagree, and feel that we have a moral obligation to continue to seek an end to the violence." Beilin added, however, that he would "not serve for one minute in a government that would fire its Attorney-General." (arutzsheva.org Jan 2)
Another miracle apparently occurred in northern Gaza's Dugit Tuesday morning: a roadside bomb exploded as a school bus passed by, but did not cause any injuries. One terrorist was killed in the ensuing exchange of fire. Not far away, an IDF sapper was lightly wounded when a bomb exploded outside the Kfar Darom greenhouses. An IDF soldier was wounded and is listed in moderate condition after Palestinians shot him outside the ancient Jewish cemetery in Hevron Tuesday. He was evacuated under fire exchanged between Israeli security forces and Palestinians¼ Also on Tuesday, a bus was shot at on the road leading to Hevron from the south; bullets hit the bus, but no one was hurt¼ An IDF worker was hit by a bullet fired at him near the Nurit outposts on the Lebanese border. (arutzsheva.org Jan 2)
Monday, fire was opened at an Israeli bus near Shavei Shomron; the bus was damaged, but no one was hurt. Terrorists also shot at an IDF position south of Shechem. Heavy fire this afternoon near Tulkarm, and the army is brought in tanks. Residents of Bat Hefer, just west of Tulkarm, said that it was the heaviest fighting seen there. To the east, the road to Avnei Hefetz and other western-Shomron communities was closed for most of the day because of roadside bombs placed there by Palestinian terrorists. IDF sappers safely detonated the bombs. Arabs shot at an Israeli car along the Anatot-Adumim road; no one was hurt. An Israeli woman was hurt when large rocks were thrown at her car near the Gitai junction in the Shomron.
The condition of Yossi Baruch, 30, of Neriah - some five kilometers east of the Green Line in the Modi'in area - is life-threatening. He was shot Tuesday night by Palestinian terrorists on the Modi'in-Tel Aviv highway. Residents of Dolev, some 15 kilometers further east, blocked the main Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway at the Latrun junction last night in protest. Another Israeli citizen suffered moderate wounds Wednesday afternoon when Palestinians shot at him near the Atarot airport in northern Jerusalem. Also Wedensday, Palestinians fired at Givat Dagan in Efrat; and shooting was directed at an IDF force on the Israeli-Egyptian border this morning. In both incidents, no one was hurt and the soldiers returned fire.
Israeli military officials are concerned over the increasing use of roadside bombs by the Palestinians in Gaza. PA soldiers have placed mines in the Khan Yunis area and near the Israeli-Egyptian border...It was also permitted for publication that Israeli security forces recently uncovered an Islamic Jihad terrorist cell that received help from Israeli-Arabs in Jerusalem in obtaining materials with which to manufacture bombs; one terrorist was shot and killed. (arutzsheva.org Dec 28-Jan 3)
“Many things are happening, everyday Jews are killed and everyday our newspapers are covered with black ornaments. At first when we saw a black heading in a newspaper and we read that a man from Israel was killed, we stood up from our meal.- Israeli Nobel laureate S.Y. Agnon's "Shira", circa 1950
“Now that the problems are common, A person sits at his table and eats his bread with butter and honey, reads and says, another man was killed, another woman was killed, another baby was killed.
“And we sit with our hands crossed and submit ourselves to the killings and we say restraint, restraint. They are killing, murdering and burning and we are sitting and "restraining". And the government what do they do? They impose a curfew. And the people of Israel are closed in their homes afraid to go out, so they won't be hit by the gunmen. And the gunmen walk freely and shoot their bullets.
“You can not say that we are not doing our duty, for we are restraining ourselves and showing the world how beautiful we are, how beautiful are the Jewish morals, even when our enemies come to kill us - we are quiet.”
"Despite Israel's longtime mantra that Palestinians cannot win concessions through violence, that is exactly the scenario now playing itself out: Weeks of bloody fighting have been capped with the best offer yet to Arafat."- Jordan Times Jan 3.(IMRA Jan 3)
"There are core matters in the Palestinian cause that touch on the Palestinian future.and these clarification deal with Jerusalem, the holy places, the holy shrine (haram al-sharif), and it is impossible that we accept what the Israelis have offered and what appears in the American paper also, because the sovereignty of Israel from the war neighborhoods (apparently a reference to neighborhoods built after the '67 war) of the city, actually from one end to the other (of Jerusalem) in effect controlling the heart of the city has no basis in truth from the religious point of view. There is some talk of a Palestinian capital in Jerusalem without us seeing the map. Well, we will not accept the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem being segmented and separated one from another with an Israeli region clucking (i.e. gloatingly controlling) over them and controlling them as cantons within an Israeli city. We also need to see the maps regarding the West Bank and Gaza. That's because the talk of 95-percent more or less, that kind of talk cannot lead to a result, because the subject is not appropriate , because the subject is land which has a future, and it is incumbent to deal with the issue of contiguity in the West Bank. And it is impossible to cut the West Bank into two parts or three parts which is what the Israelis are aiming at. And the issue of the refugees. Up to this moment there is nothing encouraging in the American paper on this matter. There is no right of return, no treatment of it, or anything close to it. Likewise the rights of the refugees in Lebanon who have priority in any treatment.."- Yasser Abd Rabbo, PA Information Minister, 7:30 am, Jan. 3 (after Arafat had allegedly said yes to Clinton) (Voice of Palestine / IMRA Jan 3)
I remember the first time I saw Jerusalem.
I was a young bride, and I'd been in the country for only a few days. My husband and I took a bus from our absorption center in Kfar Habad. As we wound our way through the forests, higher and higher, I finally glimpsed it in the distance: a white, shining vision hovering somewhere between heaven and earth. My heart contracted the magical way it does, I suppose, when you glimpse the person you sense will be the love of your life.
Jerusalem was more a prayer than a place; a direction in which to turn one's most exalted spiritual longings. "Next year in Jerusalem" we said every Pessah. I meant it.
When I arrived at long last, the fact that the reality did not fall short of my dreams was nothing less than miraculous. How can you explain to someone what it means for a believing Jew to touch the last remaining stones of the Holy Temple, God's chosen dwelling place on earth?
Under pre-1967 Arab control, the Wall was off-limits to Jews; the Jewish Quarter was destroyed; and Jewish graves on the Mount of Olives were desecrated, the gravestones used to pave roads. The Six Day War put an end to all that. Jews and Moslems could visit Jerusalem's holy places undisturbed.
On my first visit to Jerusalem, I walked though the Arab bazaars and visited the stores on the eastern side of the city. There was graciousness in the shopkeepers, and a sense of serenity. Over time, we all forgot what it was like when the city was divided. We let the wounds from the vandalism of Jewish holy places under Moslem control heal.
As the years went by, I saw life in the city gradually change. Stabbings convinced us we were not welcome in the Arab part of Jerusalem, and we stopped going. Arab Jerusalemites, however, felt no such discomfort. They were - and still are - frequent and welcome visitors to Jewish shops, ice-cream parlors and malls.
The first time a bus blew up in the center of Jerusalem, special burial volunteers had to scrape human flesh from second-story balconies in the center of town. It took days to wash the blood stains off Jerusalem's streets. And I thought: Only someone with no faith in God, no sense of the holiness of this, His City, could have allowed this unforgivable desecration. These people, and their supporters, have no rights in this city. No, no rights at all. Not to pass through its streets, to touch its stones, to breathe its air, or to whisper God's name in its holy places. They don't even have the right to enter their own holy places, which would be desecrated by their presence.
Five wars, and the entire Arab world had no power to wrest Jerusalem from the caring and respectful hands of the Jewish people. And now, the worst government in Israel's history, rejected by 80% of the public, is rushing to hand it over to Yasser Arafat.
I don't know why the world isn't connecting the dots: there were no Christmas celebrations of note in Bethlehem this year because Arafat controls the city, and his gunmen have turned the birthplace of Jesus into a battleground. In Indonesia this year, Moslems blew up Christian worshippers in their churches during Christmas Mass. If only the Moslems' fervent, militant respect for their own holy places extended to those of other faiths.
To such a man, and such a people, you do not turn over the well-being of some of the most sacred religious sites in the world. Certainly not after watching them plow under Joseph's Tomb and the ancient synagogue in Jericho.
You certainly don't give them any sovereignty over the Temple Mount, from which they can submachine-gun Jewish worshipers at the Western Wall. (And is anyone truly naive enough to think it won't happen once the Israeli army withdraws?)
Only, perhaps, the gang of four who are busy facilitating this sacrilege: Ehud Barak, Yossi Beilin, Shimon Peres and Yossi Sarid. Those avowed secular dreamers, whose vision of Israel is a bustling, godless industrial center like Hong Kong, are now aligned with the greedy, equally godless religious hypocrites such as Shas. Together, they've managed to reduce Jerusalem to one more casino chip thrown with reckless abandon onto the gambling table on which they have already lost our security, our peace of mind, and our moral and historic claim to this place, the epicenter of 3,000 years of Jewish faith, hopes and dreams. It is an illegal act of the most profound immorality. It will not go unchallenged. And those responsible will never be forgiven.
Yet, despite the despair of these terrible times, as a long-time Jerusalemite, I cannot but hope that there will be another Hanukka miracle; a light ignited in the darkness from an almost empty jug of hope. "For if I forget thee O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its cunning." (Jerusalem Post Dec 28)
Here is a riddle: The lives of how many families - out of a total of 420,000 residents of the Gaza Strip still living in refugee camps - have been improved with the large sums of money that the Palestinian Authority has received from donor states, since the signing of the Oslo agreement in 1993? Answer: None.This fact proves that the Palestinian leadership is basically no different from the leaders of the Arab states who, for several generations, have placed at the top of their respective agendas the desire to perpetuate the plight of the Palestinian refugees, but not the desire to end or even alleviate their suffering. The only difference is that the refugees living in the PA are the Palestinian leaders' own flesh and blood, and are living under their regime. However, the essentially indifferent attitude of the PA's leaders towards the plight of the Palestinian refugees does not, of course, stop Palestinian representatives at the multilateral conference on refugee affairs that was set up after the Madrid peace conference from demanding more and more contributions in order to "help improve the lives of the refugees."
Here is another riddle: What is the total amount that the Palestinians are demanding as an overall compensation payment for the refugee situation that was created by the War of 1948? Answer: Approximately $550 billion! This sum, which is targeted at a number of different issues, was arrived at by representatives of leading Western nations at a multilateral conference on the refugee question after they had calculated the Palestinians' claims. One Palestinian leader, Abu Mazen (a.k.a. Mahmoud Abbas) is defined as one of the more "moderate" members of the Palestinian leadership. Abu Mazen, deputy to PA Chairman Yasser Arafat, said after the last Camp David summit, that the compensation payments to the Palestinians should be made by Israel alone and should not come from any international compensation funds. In short, Israel must sell everything it possesses while other nations must set aside huge sums of money from their gross national capital in order to satisfy the Palestinian demands for compensation.
But the story does not end here. Recently, Arafat's economic adviser, Dr. Mahar Al-Kurd declared that, in addition to compensation for the refugees, the Palestinians would demand "compensation for damage incurred by the [Israeli] occupation since 1967." This separate "bill" even includes compensation for the "exploitation" of both the Palestinian beachfront on the Dead Sea and the underground water that Israel has pumped out, as well as the return of direct and indirect taxes, including those related to tourist activity, that Israel has collected from the Palestinians. Although this additional list of demands sounds like a joke, Al-Kurd claims that he and several of his colleagues heard Israeli experts give their indirect consent to it.
Regarding the matter of experts, one should beware of Israeli "experts" who make promises but have not been authorized by anyone to do so - because the problem of the Palestinian "right of return" is not really a problem. These experts rely on their own common sense, not on that of the Palestinians. It would be a good idea to compare what Palestinian leaders say today with what they said after the signing of the Oslo agreements. After the Oslo agreements had been signed, these leaders said that the refugees were not really interested in returning to Israel and that the issue was merely the granting of the right to return, and not the exercising of that right. Thus, the only demand Palestinian leaders made regarding the Palestinian refugee issue was that Israel issue a declaration recognizing its responsibility for the creation of the refugee problem. No credence should be given to these ingratiating words. In private conversations, responsible Palestinian leaders say - off the record - that nobody really knows how many Palestinian refugees want to return to Israel. According to these responsible leaders, a very large percentage of the refugees in Lebanon, where successive governments have never been interested in their remaining there, will undoubtedly want to return to Israel's Galilee region.
The Palestinian position on this issue today is summed up in an official document that they submitted at Camp David. Until that document is rendered null and void, it must be taken very seriously. The document is so extreme that it could be regarded as a joke - were it not for the fact that it appears to be a formula for destroying Israel from within. Here are a few examples: Israel will also compensate states (such as Syria and Jordan) that have provided the refugees with asylum; the Palestine Liberation Organization will receive compensation for public Palestinian property that has remained in Israel; the refugees who will return to Israel must not be settled in areas that could endanger their lives or well-being, or that lack a suitable infrastructure; Israel must amend its laws in order to assist in the refugees' integration; the refugees returning to Israel will automatically be granted Israeli citizenship; the right of return will have no time limit, although the process of registering for return will extend over a period of five years; and an international committee will carry out monitoring work in Israel to ensure that the refugees are integrated and protected.
Admittedly, Israel's position on the return of the refugees to Israel proper has become tougher, in the wake of the riots in which Israeli Arabs participated. This "achievement" can be credited to Balad (National Democratic Alliance) Member of Knesset Dr. Azmi Bishara, whose supporters encouraged the riots. However, more needs to be done. Israel must clarify once more that, in relation to the right of return, there can be no compromise and that, if Israel must choose between making concessions on this issue and going to war, it would be preferable to risk the possibility of a violent confrontation. It is doubtful whether there is any room for significant concessions on other questions as well when the Palestinians are pushing towards a confrontation over the right of Palestinian refugees to return to Israel proper. (Ha'aretz Jan 3)
In view of the Israeli government's silence in the face of Arafat's fallaciousness, we think it incumbent upon us to comment. Arafat continually repeats his demand that Israel surrender all territories beyond the "Green Line," namely, the 1949 borders, because this is, according to Arafat, what Security Council resolutions 242 and 338 decree. This also seems to be the premise upon which President Clinton's "alternative-dispute-resolution" proposals are based, and this is why Israel now has to stand at Arafat's doorstep begging for crumbs.At least for now, according to his phased plan, Arafat may be willing throw Israel a few crumbs of land, like a narrow strip to allow access to Ariel, Ma'aleh Adumin and Gush Etzion.
But in return for these "concessions," the American "mediator" offers Arafat the wide expanses of the Halutza dunes, leaving Israel's border with Egypt completely defenseless, and turning Israeli towns in the western Negev into an isolated enclave at Arafat's mercy. Going by this methodology, Israel is to uproot all its towns in the Jordan Valley, so that the future Palestinian state will have uninterrupted sovereignty all the way from Tul Karm to the boundaries of the Jordanian Kingdom.
Lies thus rule the roost, while the voice of truth, for some inexplicable reason, remains unheard. Well, the truth, according to the principles of international law, is as follows:
(a) One of the purposes of Security Council Resolution 242 (and Resolution 338, adopting 242) was to put an end to the belligerency between the sides that fought in the Six-Day War. The applicability of this resolution to the areas of Judea and Samaria that were under Jordanian rule between 1949 and 1967, is a matter of controversy among jurists. In any case, Arafat's PLO terrorist organization, which then started launching its violent activities, had no legal status under that resolution. It is also an established fact that the authentic language of Resolution 242 did not require Israel to withdraw from all the territories over which it had gained control as a result of its defensive efforts in 1967, but only from some of them.And yet despite this overwhelming set of facts, neither the negotiators assigned by the Israeli government nor the government's PR mechanism lift a finger to tear down Arafat's web of lies and give truth the credit it deserves. Why?
(b) Moreover: Resolution 242 stipulates that "secure and recognized boundaries" must be established in the region. At the time, Israel only had the cease-fire lines (not to be confused with boundaries) which were violated by Arab aggression in June 1967. These lines - dubbed the "Auschwitz borders" by Israel's then foreign minister, Abba Eban - were anything but "secure boundaries."
(c) There is no need to expand on the "creative" ideas for relinquishing sovereignty over Temple Mount, the Mount of Olives and the Old City. No one disputes the fact that the arrangements recommended by the UN General Assembly in 1947, on the eve of Israel's statehood, to turn Jerusalem into a separate entity ("corpus separatum"), were to expire within 10 years, by force of provisions within these arrangements themselves. Today, even the U.S. Congress openly recognizes Jerusalem as the Israeli capital. In the Jerusalem Embassy Relocation Act, Congress ordered the relocation of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. But President Clinton, in a generous farewell gift, once again exercised his veto right and curbed the implementation of this act in the "impartial" spirit of today's American administration.
(d) In order to exert violent pressure on Israel, Arafat lets his people continue with rampant terrorism, while negotiations on "the end of the conflict" go on. This is the place to mention that in his letter to Yitzhak Rabin of September 9, 1993, Arafat had undertaken that any future differences would be resolved in a peaceful manner. Israel's willingness to sign the Declaration of Principles on September 13, 1993 ("Oslo Agreement"), was contingent upon this undertaking.
Moshe Landau is former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Yehuda Blum is a professor of international law at the Hebrew University and formerly served as ambassador and permanent representative of Israel to the United Nations. Meir Rosenne formerly served as ambassador to Paris and to Washington and served as legal adviser for the Foreign Ministry.(Ha'aretz Jan 3)