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
July 27, 2001
Issue number 337
18-Year-Old Israeli Murdered by Arabs
Unidentified Arabs kidnapped and brutally murdered 18-year-old Uri (Yuri) Gochin from Jerusalem Monday night. The victim was last seen at a friend's house in the northeastern suburb of Pisgat Ze'ev around midnight, only three buildings away from his own home. In the middle of his short walk home, Arabs apparently pounced on him and brought him to the PA town of Al Bireh. He was shot and stabbed to death, although investigators are still unsure where the murder actually took place. Palestinian residents said they found his body north of Ramallah, close to the Beit El Military Court and the District Coordinating Office, and brought it to an IDF office at around 3 AM. The El Aksa Shahid (Martyr) Brigades of Fatah boasted via loudspeakers throughout Gaza that they had killed the boy. (arutzsheva.org Jul 24,25)
P.A. Ignores Obligations to Arrest Terrorists, but Demands Reciprocity
Two of Israel's highest-ranked security figures - Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer and IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Sha'ul Mofaz - both acknowledged this week that there is no ceasefire, and that the Palestinians are continuing their campaign of violence apace. When asked about the involvement of Force 17 forces in terrorist attacks, Mofaz replied Tuesday that it has been known for some time that members of various PA security forces are responsible for perpetrating terror attacks. Ben-Eliezer, talking to reporters about the most recent terrorist in Pisgat Ze'ev Monday, said, "There is no ceasefire, nor is there anything that comes close to a ceasefire." The Palestinian Authority planned to submit a list of 50 "Israeli right-wing extremists" and demands that Israel arrest them for their "barbaric crimes against the Palestinians." The Palestinian Authority demands "reciprocity," saying that just as Israel has submitted to the PA a list of wanted terrorists, the PA has similar demands. However, Israel refuses to accept the list, saying that it is just a "gimmick with which Israel has no plans to cooperate." Ynet published six of the list's names Monday: Hevron Jewish Community spokesman Noam Arnon, Hevron activists Noam Federman and Baruch Marzel, Arutz-7 Editor Haggai Segal, Hevron rabbi Uzi Sharbaf, and Education Minister Limor Livnat's brother Noam Livnat. Reactions: MK Michael Kleiner: "This is a threat to murder. The government must supply them with personal protection, just as it does with MK Ahmed Tibi after he makes one of his statements." Haggai Segal: "The PA never would have dreamed of publicizing a list like this if the government had treated it like the terrorist organization it is. This treatment will not bring quiet, but in the end will lead to the placing of Arik Sharon himself on lists like these." The Yesha Council: "Every Israeli citizen is on the Palestinian list. If the government thinks that this list is serious, we demand that they be afforded protection." (A7 Jul 24)
Three Arabs Reported Killed in Attack; Jews Are Suspected But Police Never Saw the Bodies
Three Arabs were reported killed and five injured in a drive-by shooting attack in the Hevron Hills area last Thurdsday night. The murders were initially attributed to Jews, partly because of an anonymous phone call claiming responsibility on behalf of an organization calling itself "The Committee for Safety on the Roads." However, Israeli security agencies are investigating all avenues. The three are members of the Tamizi family members, killed outside their Arab village of Idna. Correspondent Haggai Huberman notes that no Israeli officials have seen the bodies, and in fact the only evidence that the Palestinians have allowed them to see was the car in which the victims were killed. In addition, the only eyewitnesses to the crime were Arabs. The Tamizi family was known to have had connections with Israeli security sources; Arab terrorists killed one of the family in Hevron, and another Tamizi also had run-ins with terrorists. So writes Atty. Elyakim Ha'etzni in Tuesday's Yediot Acharonot. Palestinian murderers have killed at least eight informants for Israel in the past few months. In addition, Itim News Agency reports that although bullet casings were not found on the scene when the police first arrived, two or three hours later local Palestinians "found" some casings and gave them to the police. The murders were immediately and sharply condemned across the Israeli political spectrum. The Yesha Council condemned the attack and called upon police to do everything possible to apprehend the killers, but noted that it was not yet certain that Jews were in fact responsible - especially as the alleged getaway car was seen travelling towards the Green Line and away from the Jewish communities. Both Public Security Minister Uzi Landau and his Deputy, former GSS Deputy Chief Gideon Ezra, warned against premature conclusions as to the identity of the murderers. Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau said, "With all our understanding for the difficulties, deep frustrations, and growing anger, there cannot be under any circumstances a regimeŠ in which each citizen takes revenge and acts according to his own understanding and feelingsŠ Revenge is in G-d's hands onlyŠ" Rabbi Lau added, "If it turns out that a Jew pulled the trigger, Israeli society must not condemn the entire public from which he sprouted."Hevron Jewish Community spokesman Noam Arnon condemned "all forms of violence," and added, "The left has lost its moral right to condemn this murder, as it embraces the Arab murderers every day." (A7 Jul 20,24)
UN Demanding Action From Lebanon
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Anan has threatened that if the government of Lebanon does not deploy military forces along its southern border - Israel's northern border - the UN will cut back its own forces. In accordance with Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon in May 2000, Lebanon is responsible for deploying its forces to prevent Hizbullah attacks against Israel. (arutzsheva.org Jul 24)
Terrorist Camps For Arab Children
The Islamic Jihad terrorist organization is running camps in PA-controlled Gaza for 8-12-year-old children. Channel 2 TV reports that the "Paradise Camps" train the children in military tactics and weapons operations, instilling the concepts of the significance of being a suicide bomber and dying as a martyr. Israel has called for the end of Arab and Moslem incitement against Israelis since the Oslo accords were first signed, almost eight years ago. (arutzsheva.org Jul 22)
Terrorist Carelessness Leads to Accidents
A senior Hevron-area Fatah terrorist was killed, and nine Tanzim terrorists were wounded, in an explosion in a Fatah headquarters last Friday night. PA sources report that IDF missiles hit them, but the IDF Spokesman said there was no IDF activity in the area. The explosion was most likely the result of a 'work accident' by terrorists preparing a bomb, he continued. Two other terrorists were wounded Saturday night in an explosion in a refugee camp near Shechem; in this case, PA officials admitted that they were injured while preparing a bomb. Both of the terrorists are wanted by Israel. (arutzsheva.org Jul 22)
IDF War Preparations Around the World
The IDF announced that it would be establishing emergency induction centers in several cities around the world to help Israelis abroad return home in the event of war. The centers will be set up in New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris, Johannesburg, Frankfurt, Bombay, Amsterdam, and Bangkok. It is expected that if the need arises, local media airtime will be purchased to inform the reservists to contact the offices, and El Al Israel Airlines will likely operate an airlift operation to bring the reservists to Israel. (A7 Jul 22)
Preparations for Tisha B'Av
MK Zevulun Orlev (National Religious Party) calls upon the army to make appropriate arrangements for the coming Tisha B'Av fast this coming Saturday night and Sunday. Orlev asks that soldiers observing the 25-hour fast be released from performing non-security duties that day. He further asks that soldiers on leave for the Sabbath not be required to return to base until after the fast. (arutzsheva.org Jul 24)
"These are bad days for America in the Middle East. Ali Khamenei, Iran's clerical overlord, isn't alone in seeing the United States on the defensive throughout the region. American policy toward the Israeli-Arab confrontation-keep trading Israeli-held land for the promise of Arab peace-is naive. Yet the the Israeli Left adopted this policy and kicked it into overdrive, and now the inevitable dénouement is at hand: a real war between the Israelis and Palestinians. Seemingly endless Israeli concessions, always applauded by the Clinton administration, have undermined America's standing in the Middle East.
"The Bush administration, led by an obviously and understandably exasperated Colin Powell, has compounded the problem by endorsing the Mitchell Report, which puts forth the odd, very secular notion that Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza, comprising less than 2 percent of the land, have provoked Palestinian young men to blow themselves to bits. The White House and Foggy Bottom are desperate to "stop the cycle of violence." But only violence-Israeli violence, if prime minister Ariel Sharon still has the stamina and insight at last to unleash it-may recoup the damage that the Labor party, Bill Clinton, and the Near East Bureau of the State Department have done to America's standing in the region." - From a feature article "A Cowering Superpower: It's time to fight back against terrorism." By Reuel Marc Gerecht (Weekly Standard July 30)
The Palestinian grudge against Israel is not just a political one, but a religious one as well. So says Director of Palestinian Media Watch Itamar Marcus in his recent report and at a recent oral presentation at Tel Aviv University's Jaffe Center for Strategic Studies. In his paper entitled "Islam's Mandatory War Against Jews and Israel," Marcus documents Islamic holy leaders declaring Jews to be "the eternal enemies of Allah," and the killing of Jews to be Allah's will. Palestinian Media Watch monitors the Palestinian media and issues regular reports.
"The Palestinians have redefined the conflict from one over borders, in which compromise may be a solution, into a religious war for Allah in which compromise is heretical," Marcus explains. Religious leaders in the Palestinian Authority who lead Friday services in mosques continuously emphasize the following eight points:
Marcus notes a number of horrifying quotes straight from the mouths of PA religious leaders that make the above points, including the following:
"We the Palestinian nation, our fate from Allah is to be the vanguard in the war against the Jews until the resurrection of the dead, as the prophet Muhammad said: "'The resurrection of the dead will not arrive until you will fight the Jews and kill themŠ" - Dr. Muhammed Ibrahim Madi, PA Television, 30 March 2001"The Jews are the Jews... They are all liarsŠ They are terrorists. Therefore it is necessary to slaughter them and murder them, according to the words of AllahŠ it is forbidden to have mercy in your hearts for the Jews in any place and in any land. Make war on them any place that you find yourself. Any place that you encounter them, kill them. Kill the Jews and those among the Americans that are like themŠ The Jews only understand might. Have no mercy on the Jews, murder them everywhereŠ" - The preacher Dr. Ahmed Yousuf Abu Halabiah, a member of the Palestinian Sharianic (Islamic religious law) Rulings Council, and Rector of Advanced Studies, the Islamic University, PA Television, 13 October 2000
"Blessed is he who fights Jihad in the name of Allah, blessed is he who [goes on] raids in the name of Allah, blessed is he who dons a vest of explosives on himself or on his children and goes in to the depth of the Jews and says: Allahu Akbar, Blessed be Allah. Like the collapse of the building upon the heads of the Jews in their sinful dance-hall, I ask of Allah that we see the Knesset collapsing on the heads of the Jews." - Dr. Muhammad Ibrahim Madi, Friday Sermon, Palestinian TV, June 8, 2001
"The Day of resurrection will not come without the victory of the believers over the descendants of the monkeys and pigs and with their annihilation."
- Sheikh Muhammed Abd Al Hadi La'afi, Responsible for Religious Teaching and Instruction in the Office of the Wakf in the official PA newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, 18, May 2001
Quotes from Palestinian leaders regarding territorial compromise:
"We are discussing the current problems and when we speak about Jerusalem it doesn't mean that we have forgotten about Hebron or about Jaffa or about AcreŠŠ.we are speaking about the current problems that have priority at a certain time. It doesn't mean that we have given up... We have announced a number of times that from a religious point of view Palestine from the sea to the river is Islamic." [Note: Jaffa and Acre are Israeli cities.] - Sheikh Ikrima Sabri - The PA-appointed Mufti of Jerusalem and Palestine on PA Television, 11 January 2001
"Even if agreements were signed [regarding] Gaza and the West Bank, we will not forget [the currently Israeli cities of] Haifa, Acre, Jaffa, the Galilee Triangle, and the Negev. It is only a question of timeŠ" - Dr. Ahmed Abu Halabiah, PA Television, 13 October 2000"We exaggerate when we say 'peace'... what we are speaking about is 'Hudna', a temporary ceasefire." - Arab Knesset Member Abdel Maleh Dahamshe, PA Television, 1 September 2000 (arutzsheva.org Jul 19)
"We Can Live With It" By David Wilder
Last [Thursday] night it finally happened. Someone took aim, pulled the trigger, and hit seven Arabs in a car, about 15 miles west of Hebron. Three were killed and four others seriously wounded.
The Israeli news media had the crime half solved immediately. On Kol Yisrael news and on the Ma'ariv newspaper web site, (and probably other places too that I didn't check out or see) the headlines screamed, "Settlers murder Arabs in Drive-by shooting." The news editors knew what everyone else did not know. The culprits were "settlers." Of course, one correspondent pointed out that eyewitnesses noted that the murderer's vehicle fled west, in the direction of Kiryat Gat-Ashkelon and not east, in the direction of Hebron-Gush Etzion. That, however, makes no difference. All that's important is the fact that 3 Arabs were killed by "Jewish settlers." Case closed!
This morning journalists began calling me, asking for a statement concerning the killings. More than one correspondent had the audacity to ask me if I knew who'd done it, thereby not so implicitly implying that I might really know who the murderers actually are. (It's nice to know that you're so highly respected and thought of.)
Still, I was asked what we think, those of us living here in Hebron.
The answer is both simple and yet very complex.
First things first-so there should be no mistake. The Jewish Community of Hebron has always rejected use of unwarranted violence against anyone and everyone. We do not believe that random acts of killing are the solution to the problems we face. If our community, or any other community for that matter, decided to take up arms (issued to us by the IDF and privately licensed for reasons of self-defense) against Arabs arbitrarily and haphazardly, similar killings to those of last night would already have occurred, perhaps dozens of times. That fact that this has not happened is proof of our beliefs-what should be done and what shouldn't be done.
That having been said, crystal clear, a few other points must be clarified and fully understood:
The truth is that now we must wait and see what the police investigation reveals. Until then, we must be very careful who we blame.
However, there is one other factor that must not be ignored. As far as I'm concerned, the responsibility for last night's attack, assuming that is was committed by Jews, falls straight in the lap of Ariel Sharon. Sharon, being led by the nose by Shimon Peres and Binyamin ben Eliezer, Foreign and Defense Ministers respectively, has abandoned Israelis, both in Yesha and throughout Israel. His restraint policy has led to the deaths of 67 people since becoming Prime Minister. Arafat's war against the Jews continues unhindered, with massive shooting at Israeli communities in Yesha, mortars in Gilo, and terror attacks throughout Israel. Yet Sharon is doing nothing to effectively stop the attacks. People are dying, and Sharon continues to sit in a Peres-controlled government.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about a conversation between Shimon Peres and a journalist in 1995, before the Rabin assassination, when Peres said, "I'm not worried about the Jews in Yesha. Many of them will flee, and the others, well, let's see what happens when the Arabs start killing them."
A few days ago I had a conversation with a correspondent for a major international publication, who told me of a chat he'd had with a major Israeli leader, earlier in the week. THIS WEEK. JULY, 2001. The leader told him something like this: "The present violence may continue for months, or even years, on a low flame. And if the price is one or two settlers killed each week, we can live with that."
I have no doubt that last night's killers are not pathological murderers. They didn't kill Arabs 9 months ago, or six months ago, or three months ago. But different people have different saturation points, and sometimes people just lose it, as it seems was the case last night. But again, I have no doubt that if Ariel Sharon had not decided on a policy of abandonment, after having promised to return security to Israel, last night's events would not have occurred.
So, when I'm asked if I condemn last night's actions, I say yes, I say that I condemn Ariel Sharon, Shimon Peres, and Binyamin ben Eliezer, for bringing about a situation where Jews feel that they have no choice but to take to the streets, and to take to their own weapons, in order to achieve what the IDF should be accomplishing.
And lastly, I condemn Ariel Sharon for including, in his government, such creatures who "can live with one or two settlers killed each week."
We cannot, and will not, live with that.
(The Jewish Community of Hebron July 20)
Camp David, One Year on Jerusalem Post Editorial
What a difference a year makes. It was 12 months ago today, on July 25, 2000, that the tense and dramatic Camp David summit finally came to a head, with Yasser Arafat turning down the president of the United States and rejecting the package of far-reaching Israeli concessions offered by then-prime minister Ehud Barak. After two weeks of round-the-clock wrangling, the summit abruptly broke off, effectively sealing the fate of the Oslo process, just seven years after it had begun. Two months later, the violence began, and it has yet to show any signs of letting up.
At the time there was a clear sense that the Palestinians had missed an unprecedented opportunity to achieve their stated goals. Now, with the benefit of hindsight, that initial impression has only gained in strength. It is worth recalling that Barak went to Washington intent on laying all of his cards on the table.
On virtually every issue, Barak offered Arafat more than he could ever have hoped for. He reportedly was prepared to divide Jerusalem, share sovereignty on the Temple Mount, give the Palestinians control over 95% of the territories, uproot most of the settlements and even turn over part of the Halutza region of the Negev to the Palestinians. Barak was even ready, it is said, to recognize the "right of return" and allow tens of thousands of Palestinians abroad to settle within pre-1967 Israel.
And yet, despite Barak's unparalleled largesse, Arafat stubbornly rebuffed the proposal. He did not offer a counter-proposal of his own, nor did he show any inclination to use Barak's package of concessions as a basis for further talks. With opportunity knocking, Arafat chose to slam the door shut. That Arafat was indeed the one responsible for the breakdown of Camp David is attested to by none other than Bill Clinton himself. Newsweek reported last month that Clinton told guests at a New York dinner party that Arafat had called him to say goodbye three days before he left office. "You are a great man," Arafat told Clinton, who then replied, "The hell I am. I'm a colossal failure and you made me one." Clinton reportedly told his listeners that Arafat is an aging leader who relishes his own sense of victimhood and is incapable of signing a final peace deal. "He could only get to step five, and he needed to get to step 10," Clinton said. Clearly, the former president lays the blame entirely at Arafat's door.
Historians and analysts will no doubt ponder Arafat's intransigence for years to come, wondering why on earth the Palestinian leader would reject a plan that appeared to meet almost all of his demands. By returning to large-scale terror and violence against Israel, Arafat has unwittingly provided the answer: He was never truly interested in peace with Israel in the first place. Arafat's declarations over the years about the need to wage jihad against Israel, his comparisons of the Oslo Accords to the temporary cease- fires that Muhammad signed with the Quraish tribe, only to violate them once he was strong enough to vanquish his enemies, now take on added significance. At the time, such statements were explained away as little more than attempts by Arafat to appease the extremists in his own camp. But with the Palestinian security services now playing a central role in the current warfare against Israel, and with Arafat persistently refusing to halt the violence despite the Mitchell Report and the Tenet cease-fire proposal, it is now clear that such statements truly embodied his ultimate goal - to wipe Israel off the map.
Camp David, and the failed Oslo experiment that precipitated it, have left the Middle East in tatters. Israelis and Palestinians are now in open conflict, with the danger of a wider conflagration perhaps greater than at any time in the past decade. Large sectors of the Israeli public have been stripped of their illusions about the Palestinians, and a strong shift to the political Right is clearly under way. Mixed feelings seem to prevail among many Israelis, for the country did all that it could to achieve peace, demonstrating once again to the world that Israel is a peace-loving nation. But this is countered by the sobering thought that there is no partner on the other side, no one that Israel can negotiate with to finally put an end to the conflict. Of the three central players at Camp David, two - Barak and Clinton - have already left the stage. Alone under the glare of the lights, Arafat now stands before the world, his true face finally exposed for all the world to see. Therein lies the real legacy of Camp David, one year later. (Jerusalem Post July 25)
Apologies By Martin Peretz
Live by the sword, die by the sword. But if you live by the word--as a political commentator or policymaker--you are hardly ever held accountable. Your analysis may have been disastrously wrong. It may have misled our government, demoralized its friends, heartened its enemies--even contributed to the death of innocents. No matter. You go about your work, blithely pontificating about the blunders of others, never apologizing for your own.
Throughout the 1990s, American policy toward the Arab-Israeli conflict was based on the assumption that if Israel retreated to the 1949 armistice lines, Palestinians would accept a two-state solution and both peoples would live peacefully in the land of their ancestors. This presumption was conclusively tested at Camp David, where Ehud Barak agreed to a Palestinian state with its capital in Jerusalem. And Yasir Arafat said no. The jig was up. A decade's worth of peace-process ideology had been disproved.
Many of America's most prominent pundits and ex-officials now scorn that ideology as hopelessly naive. What they don't do is admit that, until the day before yesterday, they peddled it to anyone who would listen. Take Thomas Friedman, who now flays Arafat in The New York Times for having "learned nothing from his mistakes." But for years Friedman himself promoted Arafat as a fitting peace partner for Israel. It was he, after all, who suggested to James Baker that the secretary of state insult Israel with that now-infamous rhetorical device: "Everybody over there [in Israel] should know what the [White House] telephone is: 1-202-456-1414. When you're serious about peace, call us." I am glad Friedman has seen through Arafat. But he should reflect on why it took him so long.
But the worst amnesiacs aren't the journalists; they're the peace processors. For twelve years, under Presidents Bush and Clinton, Dennis Ross offered Arafat concession after concession, in an endless bid to turn him into something he wasn't. Now Ross makes his living telling the dismal narrative and heaping scorn on the Palestinian chairman's head. But he never implicates himself. In a July 7 Washington Post op-ed, he wrote that "Sharon gives his commitments only reluctantly, because he expects to be held accountable for every commitment he makes. Conversely, Arafat has spent a lifetime giving commitments that he assumes he will never have to fulfill." But this is not only a comment on the personal character of the two leaders. It is a comment on the difference between the Israeli and Palestinian political classes, one of which consistently speaks to the outside world with a forked tongue. You would think that, having misled both his bosses and the American people for so long about Arafat's reliability, Ross would be wary of churning out advice. Yet that is precisely what he has done.
Then there is Martin Indyk, whose performance as ambassador to Israel I saw up close when my wife and I spent the spring there last year. Under his command, the U.S. embassy seemed like an outpost of Peace Now. Indyk's immediate constituency was a coterie of left-wing feuilletonists whom he panicked into believing what they wanted to believe anyway: that peace could be made only under Clinton. (I confess that he also badmouthed me as a danger to the peace process.) Last week he told The Jerusalem Post that "you have to say, after eight years, that the exercise failed" and that a prime reason for this was "a fundamental failure of leadership on the Arab side." Indyk now doubts that Arafat "ever really gave up violence as a tool [for] achieving his objectives." Why didn't he come to that realization when it still mattered?
Last October, you'll remember, Hezbollah sneaked inside Israel's northern border and kidnapped three soldiers. And now we learn that the United Nations had a videotape of the kidnappers trying to reclaim from U.N. troops the vehicles they used in the abduction. We know from Ha'aretz that Staffan de Mistura, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's personal envoy for Southern Lebanon, has known about the tape since shortly after the abduction. And Ha'aretz reports that he has been lying about it to the Israelis ever since. As of this writing, the United Nations still has not shown the tape to Israel. But when it does, it says, it will blot out the faces of the Hezbollah men. Why? Because the United Nations has to maintain its "neutrality" - neutrality between soldiers on their own side of the border and terrorists who cross it in order to take hostages. And the tape isn't the only outrage. Troops from a unit of Indian peacekeepers evidently witnessed the abduction. And not only didn't they stop it, they didn't even warn the Israelis they were in danger. The Palestinian Authority is today pressing, as always, for international monitors in the West Bank. And Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have, as always, endorsed the idea. But have they thought at all about what the kidnapping says about the United Nations' credibility as a moral referee? Three Israeli men are probably dead, and one reason may be that the U.N. secretariat hid information about how they were snatched from life.
In The New Republic's June 18 issue, I wrote about Faisal Husseini, whom The New York Times' Deborah Sontag and many others eulogized as a Palestinian dove. Now Husseini's last interview (with the Egyptian newspaper Al-Arabi) has been translated and posted on the Middle East Media Research Institute website. In it, he confides that in 1993, before Oslo, "all that was left of the Palestinian National movement and Pan-Arab movement was a wooden horse called Arafat or the PLO." It was this Trojan horse, he argued, that the Oslo accords transformed. "[T]he Intifada itself is the coming down out of the [wooden] horse.... [T]he Oslo agreement, or any other agreement, is just a temporary procedure, or just a step toward something bigger ... [which] is the liberation of all historical Palestine from the river to the sea." And who gave us that Trojan horse? Dennis Ross and Martin Indyk. And they are still handing out advice.
Indeed, the only place where anyone still seems to believe in the peace process is the academy. In the fall catalogue of Oxford University Press, I see the announcement of a new book, The Arab-Israeli Peace Process: Lessons for India and Pakistan, edited by Moonis Ahmar. The citation tells us that the book's "contributors believe that South Asia is in an excellent position to successfully embark upon a road of conflict resolution, using the Arab-Israeli peace process as a solid example." God preserve the people of India and Pakistan from such a model. The Israelis and the Arabs might do better to emulate the subcontinent: no real peace, it is true, but no real war either. (The New Republic July 23)
The writer is editor-in-chief and chairman of The New Republic.
Will the Middle East Conflict Spread?
A confidential analysis of the possibility that the current conflict between Israel and the Palestinians could spread has been produced by the outgoing chief of research of the military intelligence service (Aman), Brigadier-General Amos Gilad. Here are some highlights.
Aman's research department reckons that the chance that the Intifada might turn into a regional war is slim. However, if the armed forces implement an attack against the Palestinians, as some generals are recommending, the report predicts that "certain military steps will be taken by Arab countries in order to deter the Israeli army and mainly to calm down the mob".
Egypt: According to Aman, the new general secretary of the Arab League, Amro Moussa, a former Egyptian foreign minister, is well-known for his anti Israeli stance. He would co-ordinate the implementation of Arab League agreements to defend an Arab sister attacked by Israel. The Arabs see the Palestinian Authority as an Arab independent state. Aman believes that the Egyptian 3rd Army will cross the Suez canal and move into the Sinai peninsula in a violation of the peace agreement with Israel. Such a move would force the Israelis to send at least two armoured divisions to defend Israel's southern border. This is still not a war between Israel and Egypt, but it is not far off.
Jordan: Aman does not expect Jordan to attack Israel. However, if the Israelis attacked the Palestinians, Jordan would put its developing relationship with the Jewish state in the deep freeze. Jordan might allow some Iraqi units to enter and form bases there. Jordan may even accept the temporary presence of an Iraqi expeditionary force as it did in 1967 and 1973.
Syria: Aman's report asserts that Syria does not want to be involved in a war with Israel. However, Aman warns that an Israeli military attack on the Palestinians will force Hizbullah to implement its promise to attack northern Israel. That would be answered by Israeli Air Force retaliation on Syrian targets in Lebanon. Such an Israeli attack would provoke a larger one from Syria. Aman claims that Syria tested a Scud missile carrying a chemical warhead in the Syrian desert three weeks ago as a warning to Israel.
Europe: After an Israeli assault on the Palestinians, Israeli and American interests all over the world would be targeted. So far, the Intifada has not reached Europe. Once the Palestinians are attacked, however, it will. (Foreign Report July 24)
Palestinians Revising History of Peace Talks By Zev Chafets
In recent weeks, a new front has been opened in the war between Israel and Palestine ‹ a battle over who killed Camp David.
The widely accepted version is that Palestinians brought down the peace talks. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, with the prompting of then-President Bill Clinton, made an unprecedentedly generous offer to Yasser Arafat ‹ an independent Palestinian state in most of the West Bank and Gaza with control over the Arab areas of Jerusalem. Arafat turned down the offer, made no counterproposal and walked away. Back home, he gave the order to start a shooting war against Israel.
The minutes of Camp David have never been published, but this account of events has been endorsed by both the Israelis and the Americans. Clinton himself publicly blamed Arafat for turning down what he ostensibly had been demanding ‹ Palestinian sovereignty. Even the Palestinians haven't really challenged this version. Until now.
The first shot in the campaign to recast the narrative of Camp David came from Robert Malley in The New York Times on July 8. According to Malley, a second-tier security adviser who attended the summit, Camp David was not "the dream offer it has been made out to be, at least not from the Palestinian perspective."
Malley and Palestinian activist Hussein Agha expanded on this thesis in the latest issue of The New York Review of Books. There they offer a defense of Arafat's refusal to accept what he viewed as "neither generous, nor Israeli, nor indeed [an] offer."
The Malley-Agha article, far from a disinterested intellectual exercise, turns out to be part of a broader rewrite job. On Tuesday, a few days after its publication, Ahmed Qureia, chief Palestinian negotiator at Camp David, convened a rare press conference. Qureia, also known as Abu Ala, told the assembled journalists that the American-Israeli claim that Arafat turned down a generous offer is a lie of historic proportions.
Also on Tuesday, Akiva Eldar, an Israeli journalist generally sympathetic to the Palestinian point of view, revealed that young Arab intellectuals affiliated with the Palestinian negotiating team are carrying out a "don't blame Arafat" campaign in Israel itself.
"They lecture at parlor meetings in Herzliya and meet with forums of confused intellectuals in Jerusalem," Eldar reported.
"Jerusalem intellectuals" is an Israeli euphemism for left-wing, traditionally pro-Palestinian peaceniks, and if they are confused, it is because the Malley-Qureia narrative doesn't make much sense.
Indisputably, Barak was ready to agree to a Palestinian state in upward of 90% of the West Bank and Gaza in exchange for a peace agreement.
Malley regards Barak's proposition as insufficient "from the Palestinian perspective." But what is that perspective?
Qureia admits that at Camp David, he informed Clinton that the Palestinians would accept no territorial compromise whatsoever. And in their parlor meetings in Jerusalem and Herzliya, Palestinian spokesmen insist on the "right of return" ‹ a bottom-line demand that would effectively disestablish the Jewish state by flooding it with millions of Arabs.
Malley, Qureia and the other revisionists want the world to believe that Camp David failed and war broke out because Barak and Clinton were insensitive to the Palestinian perspective. In other words, all Israel needed to do to save the summit, and make the peace, was to give the Palestinians 100% of what they wanted ‹ and then drop dead. (New York Daily News July 26)