Thursday, December 31, 2009

Recent Official Incitement of the Palestinian Authority Media

With Renewed Talks in the Offing, This Report is Most Salient

Abbas sponsors birthday celebrations honoring "Martyr" Dalal Mughrabi, killer of 37 (Palestinian Media Watch)

Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik
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This week Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas once again honored the memory of the terrorist Dalal Mughrabi - this time by sponsoring a
ceremony celebrating the 50th anniversary of her birth. Mughrabi led the
worst terror attack in Israel's history in 1978, when she and other
terrorists hijacked a bus and killed 37 civilians. Present at the ceremony
were Palestinian dignitaries and a children's marching band. Earlier this
year, Abbas sponsored a computer center named after Mughrabi.

The PA further glorified Mughrabi on the date of her birth when the Governor
of Ramallah announced the naming of the "Dalal Mughrabi Square".

An article by Fatah spokesman Jamal Nazal in the official PA daily [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Dec. 30, 2009] defined the terrorist Mughrabi as "the heroine of Palestine's heroines."

The text on the giant banner carrying Mughrabi's portrait at the birthday
ceremony read:

"Under the auspices of President Mahmoud Abbas
The Political and National Education Authority
Ceremony on the anniversary of the birth of the bride of the cosmos
The Shahida (Martyr) Dalal Mughrabi."

Two PA TV news broadcasts focused on the celebration:
"Under the auspices of President Mahmoud Abbas, the Political and National
Education Authority held a ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the
Shahida (Martyr) Dalal Mughrabi, commander of the Coastal Operation (i.e.
hijacking of bus and killing of 37 civilians)."

[PA TV (Fatah), Dec. 29, 2009]

Abbas and PA turn latest terrorist murderers into Palestinian national heroes
by Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook
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Rabbi Meir Avshalom Hai -- a 45-year old Israeli and father of seven
children - was killed in a drive-by shooting last Thursday. The Al-Aqsa
Martyrs' Brigades, part of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's
Fatah movement, took responsibility for the killing. On Friday night,
Israeli forces located and killed three of the terrorists involved in the
attack. The fourth surrendered to the PA police.

The response of the PA has been unequivocal support and backing for the
terrorists. Since Friday, the leadership of the PA, the heads of Fatah, the
heads of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades and the PA-controlled media have
continuously portrayed the killers as Palestinian heroes and Shahids -- holy
Martyrs -- while describing Israel's killing of the three terrorists as
"murder in cold blood" and "assassination."

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas declared the killers "Shahids" (holy Martyrs) and
sent his personal emissary to visit the families:

"Secretary General of the Presidents Bureau, Tayeb Abd Al-Rahim, conveyed condolences on behalf of President Mahmoud Abbas to the residents of Nablus
and to the families of the three Shahids [Martyrs] for the Martyrdom of
their sons, who were assassinated by Israeli occupation forces yesterday
morning. He conveyed to the fighting families letters of condolences from
the President [Abbas] and updated them as to [Abbas's] decision to declare
them as Shahids [Martyrs] of the Palestinian revolution..."

Tayeb Abd Al-Rahim:

"Without doubt, what the [Israeli] occupation
authorities have carried out is a wild and barbaric act and a deliberate,
malicious assassination in cold blood."

[PA TV (Fatah) News, Dec. 27, 2009]

PA Prime Minster Salam Fayyad went even further, personally visiting the
families of the terrorists along with other senior PA officials.

"Prime Minister visits Nablus and conveys condolences to the families of the Shahids (Martyrs). Prime Minister Dr. Salam Fayyad today visited the city of
Nablus in the wake of the Israeli military operation, and presented
condolences to the families of the three Martyrs who were murdered by the
occupation forces.

Dr. Fayyad was accompanied by Internal Affairs Minister Dr. Said Abu Ali,
leaders of the security agencies, and Police Director-General Major General
Hazem Atallah, and they visited the house of mourning, which was held in the
Trade Unions compound in the city... The Prime Minister condemned the
Israeli military operation in the city."

[WAFA news agency, Dec. 26, 2009]

The Fatah movement is glorifying the terrorists:

"Mahmoud Al-Aloul, member of the Fatah Central Committee, said that the occupation murdered these three young men as well as another three in Gaza,
in cold blood. He described them as '[military] commanders, brave heroes,
and fighters.'"

[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Dec. 27, 2009]

PA TV focused on the Fatah poster (above), signed with condolences of PA
Chairman Abbas, honoring the three terrorists. The following is the text on
the poster with pictures of the terrorists:

"With honor and admiration to those who are more honored than all of us." [Reference to supreme honor of Shahids - Martyrs in Islam] (

"The Palestine Liberation Organization, Fatah, accompanies to their wedding:"
[Reference to Islamic belief that Martyrs marry virgins in Paradise]

The Martyr, Commander, Hero: Rassan Abu Serah
The Martyr, Commander, Hero: Ra'ed Al Aschregi
The Martyr, Commander, Hero: Anan Sobh

The Director General of the Presidency expresses condolences to the Nablus
Martyrs - in the name of the President [Abbas]

It's important to note that in condemning Israel's killing of the
terrorists, the PA is not denying that those killed were responsible for the
murder of Rabbi Hai:

"The Shahid Imad Mughniyeh group [named after Hezbollah terrorist] of the [Fatah's] Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades has denounced the [Israeli] crime of the
assassination in Nablus, killing three Fatah activists, including Anan Sobh,
who, according to the [Fatah's Al-Aqsa] Brigades, planned the Tulkarem
operation which led to the death of the settler in a shooting operation."
[Ma'an News Agency, Dec. 26, 2009]

In the official announcement right after the terror attack, Fatah took
responsibility, while calling the killers "Jihad Fighters" and warning of
more "quality operations:"

"A group announcing that it belonged to the Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs'
Brigades claimed responsibility for the shooting... 'The Jihad Fighters
confirmed that the person who was in the car had taken a direct hit, and
praise to Allah - the Jihad Fighters escaped unharmed...' The announcement
said that 'this action is part of a series of operations; you can expect
more quality operations [terror attacks] from us.'"

[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Dec. 25, 2009]

After the terrorists were killed the Fatah changed from threatening more
"quality operations" to warning that it would avenge the killing of the
"Jihad Fighters:"
Headline: "The occupation murders three residents of Nablus in cold blood...
the President's [Abbas's] Bureau denounces the Israeli crime..."

"The [Fatah's] Al-Aqsa Brigades announced: 'By the act of murdering an
elite group of our Jihad Fighters in Nablus and in Gaza, the occupation is
opening for itself the gates of Hell.' They threatened that 'our activists
will not stand idly by while the blood of Jihad Fighters is spilled... The
enemy will hear nothing from us but the language of blood and fire, and our
Shahada [Martyrdom] Seekers will go out to [the enemy] from every place in
order to turn his days into nights, and he will come to regret his crime. We
shall not sleep over the blood of our Jihad Fighters, and our response will
be swift... We affirm the continuation of our choice of blood and Martyrdom.
The only choice, in the face of the repeated attacks against our people in
the towns and villages and refugee camps of the occupied homeland. We shall
turn the spilled blood of the Martyrs and the commanders into a torch of
fury that will burn the forces of evil and aggression."

[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Dec. 27, 2009]


Fatah vows to escalate struggle against occupation
Thu Dec 31, 2009:44 am ET

RAMALLAH (West Bank) (AFP) - The secular Fatah movement led by Palestinian
president Mahmud Abbas on Thursday vowed to step up its struggle against the
Israeli occupation with demonstrations and diplomacy.

"Our program emphasizes the importance of a two-track approach, with the first being the escalation of the popular struggle to resist occupation,"
the movement said in a statement.

The group said it would model the struggle on the weekly demonstrations in
two West Bank towns, Bilin and Nilin, where residents hurl rocks and protest
against the expansion of Israel's controversial separation barrier.

Fatah, which marks the 45th anniversary of the start of its armed struggle
on Friday, also vowed to "increase movement on the international level to
pursue Israel, to isolate it and to force it to answer to international

"We renew our vow to continue the struggle until the end of the occupation
and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, with east
Jerusalem as its capital, and a solution to the refugee issue," it said.

Fatah went on to say that it "would not spare any effort in restoring
Palestinian national unity and returning the Gaza Strip from the hands of
those who have taken it hostage," referring to its Hamas rivals.

The two main Palestinian movements have been divided into geographically
separated hostile camps since the Islamist Hamas seized power in Gaza in

The secular Fatah was founded by the late iconic leader Yasser Arafat in the
1950s and formally launched its armed struggle against Israel on January 1,

Arafat entered into peace negotiations with Israel when he signed the 1993
Oslo autonomy accords, but during the 2000 Palestinian uprising Fatah's
armed wing, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, carried out scores of deadly

When Abbas became president following Arafat's death in 2004 he brought the
armed struggle to a halt, but the movement has never given up its "right to
resistance" against the Israeli occupation of lands seized in 1967.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Philadelphia Bulletin: Reconsidering the Credibility of DAVID MAKOVSKY as a Commentator on the Current Middle East Situation.

Reconsidering the Credibility of DAVID MAKOVSKY as a Commentator on the Current Middle East Situation.

After reading DAVID MAKOVSKY AT GA: OPTIMISTIC THAT ABBAS IS A REAL PARTNER in the Winnipeg Jewish Bulletin, ( , here are some thoughts.

David Makovsky wants to live up to his job description as the “director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s project on the Middle East peace process”, and therefore promotes the notion that a middle east peace process still exists, when he states that “he is “hopeful” that real opportunities for peace between the Palestinian Authority and Israel exist today.

Makovsky chooses to ignore the unambiguous declaration of war on Israel to that the Fatah, which is the controlling organization in the Palestinian Authority, declared at its conference in August and at the meeting of the Fatah’s central committee Palestinian at its conference last week in Ramallah.

Instead, Makovsky declares that PA President Mahmoud Abbas is not a rejectionist, in the speech that he gave at the General Assembly of Jewish Federations of North America that took place in Washington, D.C., Nov. 8-10. On what basis did Makovsky draw such a conclusion? In Makovsky’s words, because, “Abbas has faced death threats from extremists for advocating a two-state solution.” Why does Makovsky not relate to the widespread corruption that continues to plague the Palestinian Authority and the widely publicized graft that Abbas’s own sons have benefited from in that context? Why does Makovsky not mention a word about the whereabouts of the billions of dollars from his mentor’s Arafat’s slush accounts that continue to help Abbas’s colleagues live high on the hog? Why does Makovsky not make any mention of the e thousands of Palestinians whom the PA continues to confine to UNRWA camps, under the specious premise and promise of the right of return to homes and villages that no longer exist from 1948?

Makovsky’s standing as a serious academic comes into question when he declares that he relies on the polling data of Khalil Shikaki of the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research, who declares that “49 percent of Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state”.

In a totalitarian system, what is more important - what a state-run pollster concludes or the statements of all Palestinian Authority spokespeople who categorically declare that they will never recognize Israel as a Jewish state, beginning with Abbas’s countless statements in this regard.

A most unprofessional statement from Makovsky at the GA was when he praised the removal of checkpoints and barricades, saying that this would solve the problem that “people can’t get from Ramallah to Nablus”, in Makovsky’s words.

Makovsky’s praise of the “security co-operation between Israel and the PA” is devoid of any warning that this may have disastrous consequences, since the Fatah-dominated PA repeats, time and again, that it is not abandoning the military option against Israel.

Yet the unkindest cut of all in Makovsky’s myopic promotion of the Fatah as a peace partner occurred in October 2003, when he hosted four leaders of the Fatah Tanzim to Washington, D.C., to advance their cause with the U.S. Congress and with various Jewish organizations.

Yet Makovsky hosted the Tanzim at a time when the Tanzim were helping to orchestrate a murder campaign that claimed the lives of hundreds of people in Israel at the time.

It would be instructive to know if Makovsky, in his frequent visits to Israel, has taken the time to visit the victims of those whom he promotes as a peace partner.

Makovsky lived in Israel for many years. However, Makosvky chose to leave Israel and to raise his children in the comfortable suburb of Silver Spring, Md.

Distance makes the heart grow less sensitive to those who suffer at the hands of a terrorist organization. Anyway, that would not fit the script that Makovsky so optimistically lays out, which is that Israel has a peace partner to deal with.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Philadelphia Bulletin: U.S. Presidential Envoy Makes Pledge To Combat Anti-Semitism

Will that Include a Campaign against Palestinian Authority Anti-Semitism?

by David Bedein

Jerusalem - Hannah Rosenthal, appointed last week as the United States State Department’s official envoy to combat anti-Semitism, delivered an address on Wednesday to more than 500 people who participated in the Jerusalem-based Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism.

Ms. Rosenthal opened her address by invoking her own father, who was the only member of his family to live through the ordeal of the Nazi concentration camps and then went on to delineate her job description.

Ms. Rosenthal said that she has been delegated to create a policy of vigilance against anti-Semitism and to coordinate her task assignment with all diplomatic missions of the United States throughout the world. She stated that she would focus a special effort to monitor expressions of anti-Semitism at the United Nations, noting that Israel is being held to a double standard.

Ms. Rosenthal’s passionate speech was widely acclaimed and quoted in the Israeli media.

The Bulletin asked Ms. Rosenthal after her speech about whether she would indeed apply her principled statement to combat the virulent antisemitism that emanates from the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority (PA), an entity which has received wide support from the American foreign policy establishment. Ms. Rosenthal responded that her mandate was global and would be applied everywhere.

Asked specifically about whether she would take on the anti-Semitism of the Palestinian Authority, Ms. Rosenthal said that she would consider the question. In that context, The Bulletin dispatched a letter to Ms. Rosenthal’s office, asking for a policy statement concerning official Palestinian Authority anti-Semitism.

Previous administrations of President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush had made it official policy to ignore official Palestinian Authority anti-Semitism that emanates from the media, the new constitution and the new schoolbooks of the Palestinian Authority.

At the Annapolis Summit in Nov. 2007, hosted by President Bush, The Bulletin asked representatives of the State Department and White House as to whether the U.S. would ask the PA to put an end to official anti-Semitic policies in PA education, PA media and the PA public domain. The answer was “no.”

Since Ms. Rosenthal invoked her father as an inspiration in her new task assignment, it will be instructive to see how she copes with the fact that President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warmly receive Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, while overlooking the fact that Mr. Abbas remains one of the world’s greatest holocaust deniers. Mr. Abbas wrote a Ph.D. thesis entitled “The Other Side: the Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism” which describes Nazi persecution of the Jews as a “Zionist fantasy, the fantastic lie that six million Jews were killed.”

Mr. Abbas’ Ph.D. is now widely used as a prime text in Palestinian Authority schools and Palestinian Authority Universities.

The Philadelphia Bulletin: The Knesset Calls for Boycott of British Products

by David Bedein

Jerusalem - 42 Members of Israel’s Knesset Parliament have signed an unusual parliamentary petition calling for the boycott of products from the United Kingdom.

This is the response to the recommendation of British government officials that Israeli products made in Judea and Samaria and the Golan Heights be marked, in order to abet those citizens wishing to boycott Israeli products.

In addition to the petition, the Knesset is considering legislation that would mandate similar marking of British products, as long as the British decision remains standing.

The petition, which was secretly organized in recent days, was initiated by Ronit Tirosh, of Kadima and a Member of Knesset (MK), and is signed by former senior Israeli government ministers, chairmen of senior Knesset committees, faction chairmen and regular MKs.

Among the signatories are former Defense Minister Amir Peretz, former Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik, former General Security Service (GSS) Director Avi Dichter, Coalition Chairman Zeev Elkin, Finance Committee Chairman Moshe Gafni, Knesset Committee Chairman Yariv Levin, Education Committee Chairman Zvulun Orlev, State Audit Committee Chairman Yoel Hasson and former ministers Roni Baron, Meir Shetrit, Eitan Kabel and Gidon Ezra.

The signatories represent eight of the 12 present Knesset factions.

“We express our revulsion toward the decisions recently made in the United Kingdom to mark Israeli products sold within its borders,” the petition states. “We call on the United Kingdom to immediately rescind the decision, which casts a shadow on economic cooperation between the citizens of our countries. We recommend that the Israeli public reconsider using the services of companies from countries making such decisions, so long as their governments’ recommendations remain standing.”

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said that he would pass the petition on to the speaker of the British parliament next week.

At the same time, MK Tirosh approached the accountant general in the Israel Finance Ministry and asked that he prevent senior public officials from flying with British Airways as well as other British airlines operating in Israel.

“There are some situations in which one simply must not remain silent,” said MK Tirosh. “Marking Jewish products for the sake of a boycott is simply not the right course for those who seek to develop ties with the Jewish people. If, by recruiting the public, we will be able to encourage the purchase of Israeli-made products, than our loss will be our gain.”

View the original article in the Philadelphia Bulletin

The Philadelphia Bulletin: Israel’s Peace Offering Met By Fatah’s Push For War

by David Bedein

JERUSALEM - In an article never before run in the Arabic language publication Asharq Al-Awsat, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon called on the Arab world to accept Israel’s hand extended in peace.

The headline read, “An open letter to the Arab world.” Mr. Ayalon called on the Arab world to step forward and to join Israel “to repel the extremist and destructive forces in the Middle East, first and foremost Iran.”

“Iran, the sponsors of terrorists and environmental and climate problems are the issues that threaten the Arab world and Israel as one. Now is the time to look ahead and to create a better future for all residents of the region.”

Mr. Ayalon argued that “we have to free ourselves of past paradigms and to understand that the Jewish people are here by virtue of historic, legal, moral and national right.”

The deputy foreign minister also wrote: “Israel has gone far and is prepared to do much for the sake of peace, but for peace one needs to have a partner who wants it as well. Without that, the entire region is doomed to friction and conflicts that will only intensify.... Israel extends a hand to all of its Arab neighbors.”

However, over the past week, senior Palestinian Authority officials launched the “National Conference for Strengthening Popular Activity” in Ramallah.

During that conference, the Palestinian leadership examined ways of renewing “uprising,” a third “Intifada,” armed rebellion against Israel.

“In practice, at issue is the execution of resolutions that were passed by the Fatah Conference that was held of late in Bethlehem, in which a strategic decision was made to continue the resistance to Israel,” said senior Fatah officials.

In other words, the appeal for peace from an Israeli leader seemed to have fallen on deaf ears.

View the original article in the Philadelphia Bulletin

The Philadelphia Bulletin: Israel is Now the Leading Defense Contractor to India

by David Bedein

JERUSALEM - India’s Defense Minister Shri Antony recently told parliament that Israel was a key partner in the development of missiles. Mr. Antony said Israel was supplying components for medium- and long-range missiles for the Indian Air Force and Navy.

“Procurement of defense items, including missiles, is made from various indigenous as well as foreign sources, including Israel, in accordance with the well-laid down defense procurement procedure,” Mr. Antony said in a statement to parliament on Monday.

The Indian Defense Ministry said the missile development projects included the state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries, regarded as a leading defense contractor in India.

Mr. Antony also said the Israel Aircraft Industries was helping to develop the long-range surface-to-air missile for the Indian Navy as well as the medium range surface-to-air missile for the Indian Air Force. The long-range missile project was reported at $55.9 million, and the medium-range program $216 million.

“Both missiles being developed are comparable in performance and cost to missiles available in their class in the world market,” the ministry said.

Israel was said to have become the leading defense contractor to India this year.

Israel has been selling more than $1 billion worth of defense material and services to India.

The Indian Defense Ministry also reported contracts with the Aircraft Industries organization as well as other Israeli companies, including Elbit Systems and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.

Mr. Antony said India’s Central Bureau of Investigation was probing allegations of improprieties in IAI’s contract to supply the Barak point-defense missile system to the navy.

“The case is pending investigation,” the minister said.

View the original article in the Philadelphia Bulletin

The Philadelphia Bulletin: Iran’s First Nuclear Power Plant Passes Its Main Tests

by David Bedein

JERUSALEM - Iran has announced that its first nuclear power plant in the southern Iranian city of Bushehr has successfully passed the main tests and expressed the hope that the plant would launch operation within the next few months.

“Main tests of Bushehr nuclear power plant have been accomplished successfully,” Ali Akbar Salehi, chief of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), said in Iran’s state TV channel on Tuesday, adding another test will be carried out within the next few months so that we can include nuclear fuel into the power plant’s cycle.

Mr. Salehi, Iran’s former ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), called the West’s concern on Iran’s access to nuclear energy “political” and said, “the important issue is that Iran has got access to the required knowledge for employment of peaceful nuclear energy, although the West and particularly the U.S. feared from Iran’s access to the technology.”

He continued, “The U.S. can not put severe pressure on North Korea since the country has close cooperation with South Korea, Russia and China, whereas the IAEA inspectors visit Iran every two weeks and, despite of all observations, they are doubtful about Iran’s nuclear programs.”

He added, “Massacre has no place in Islamic Republic of Iran’s doctrine, and we do not want production of nuclear weapons.”

Read the original article in the Philadelphia Bulletin

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Philadelphia Bulletin: US-Trained Fatah Forces Vow To Continue Battling Israel

by David Bedein

JERUSALEM - The Fatah organization, the dominant factor in the Palestinian Authority (PA), has called to continue the “armed struggle” against Israel.

According to the official Fatah Web site, translated by the Palestinian Media Watch organization, members of Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades announced Wednesday that they are arming themselves for war against Israel by buying guns, instead of food for their kids and by selling their wives’ jewelry.

Fatah’s Web site makes it clear that the Brigades are preparing a “harsh and painful” response to any Israeli attacks on Gaza.

The following is the transcript of the item from Fatah’s Web site:

“With the renewal of the threats emanating from the Zionist military establishment to carry out a new attack on the Gaza Strip... the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades... warned of a harsh and painful response that the occupation state is not expecting. This response was conveyed by one of the heads of the Brigades in the Gaza Strip, Abu Ahed.”

Mr. Ahed also declared that the Brigades’ activity in Gaza should be viewed as a personal endeavor, since many of the Brigades’ jihad fighters purchase weapons rather than food for their children, and many of them have even sold their wives’ gold in order to obtain weapons, since the Hamas forces have confiscated the Brigades’ members’ weapons.”

This presents a dilemma to United States policymakers.

Although U.S. law defines Al Aqsa Brigades as a terror entity, the U.S. now provides military training for the Fatah armed forces - which includes Al Aqsa Brigades.

At the direction of the U.S. government, the Israeli army has stopped pursuing wanted terrorists who are affiliated with the Al Aqsa Brigades.

The U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem would not comment, on behalf of the U.S. government, with regard to threats on the Fatah’s Web site about Al Aqsa Brigades’ threats of military action against Israel.

View the original article in the Philadelphia Bulletin

The Philadelphia Bulletin: Israel, Vatican in Holy-Sites Crisis

by David Bedein

Jerusalem - Israeli and Vatican delegations, which this week discussed the financial and legal status of Israel’s Christian holy sites, have reached a dead end. According to Vatican sources, relations between the two are on the verge of crisis, and these same sources are also threatening to sever diplomatic ties with Israel.

The Israeli delegation, directed by Israel Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, flew to the Vatican in order to discuss the status of the Vatican’s assets in Israel, and also the Vatican’s demand to receive ownership of the Room of the Last Supper on Jerusalem’s Mount Zion, where, according to Christian tradition, Jesus held the Passover dinner with his 12 disciples before being crucified.

The two committees were unable to reach an agreement on any issue, and decided to postpone their discussions to May 27. A source in the Vatican told the Israeli media that they had been waiting 15 years to reach an agreement with Israel over the status of the holy sites, but that Israeli governments were unable to reach a decision on any matter.

Mr. Ayalon told Ma’ariv that he’d rather not refer to the matter as a crisis, and added that the delegations had decided to part cordially and refrain from speaking of a crisis. “There was no breakthrough, and we therefore agreed to end the meeting with the phrase ‘we have agreed not to agree.’” But the deputy minister also added that “Israeli and Vatican delegations reached an impasse.”

Mr. Ayalon evinced to the Vatican that Israel would not forfeit its sovereignty and possessions in Mount Zion, where the Room of the Last Supper is located - one of the key issues of contention between the two delegations. The Vatican seeks to be the only body to operate the site and to conduct prayers taking place there, whereas Israel opposes this request seeing that according to Jewish faith, King David is buried under the hall.

Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai opposes granting the Vatican exclusive rights to the hall, and also other officials, among them rabbis and organizations dealing with activities in the Jewish Quarter, have asked that the asset remain in Israeli hands.

View the original article in the Philadelphia Bulletin

The Philadelphia Bulletin: Israel, India Intensify Their Military Cooperation

by David Bedein

JERUSALEM - This week, India and Israel launched another defense summit.

The two countries convened their military chiefs for a five-day summit to review defense and military cooperation.

Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi represented Israel and was invited by his Indian counterpart, Gen. Deepak Kapoor.

“The visit to India is part of the process of strengthening the ties between Israel and India and the nations’ militaries,” a statement by the Israeli military statement said last Sunday.

Israeli military sources said Mr. Ashkenazi and Mr. Kapoor reviewed strategic relations, assessing the regional situation, including Al Qaida, and discussing experiences with new weapons and techniques. They said the review would help India decide on new weapons procurement programs with Israel.

“This was the first official visit of an Israel Defense Forces chief to India,” the statement said.

Israel has been deemed the leading military supplier of India.

The Indian military has been absorbing airborne early-warning and alert aircraft, air defense systems, aircraft upgrades, unmanned aerial vehicles, missile defense systems and light armament from Israel.

“In the past year, Israel has overtaken Russia as its main defense equipment supplier, and about 30 percent of India’s defense imports come from Israel, and that number is growing,” Indian defense analyst Behram Sahukar told the Jerusalem Post.

India has sought to intensify defense and military relations in wake of the Al Qaida-aligned Mumbai attacks in November 2008, in which six Israelis and Jews were killed.

India has deemed the acquisition of naval reconnaissance and counter-insurgency systems a priority.

“Both India and Israel want to expand their military exercises, especially for the air force,” an Israeli military source confirmed.

View the original article in the Philadelphia Bulletin

The Philadelphia Bulletin: IDF Says Rocket Fire Down, Hamas Threat Present

by David Bedein

JERUSALEM - Exactly one year after Israel’s incursion into Gaza, assessments are being made of the results of the operation.

There has been a 90 percent drop in rocket fire at Israel since the end of its military operation in Gaza, according to figures assembled by the Sderot Media Center for Information in the Western Negev and also by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Spokesperson’s bureau.

The figures show that since the last of the soldiers left the Gaza Strip, 282 rockets were fired at Israel, but only a very small number exploded in populated areas.

In February, immediately after the operation, 88 rockets were fired at Israel, in March, 76 rockets were fired, and then the fire dropped significantly.

In June and July, for example, only three rockets were fired at Israel and, in November, 13 rockets.

Since the end of the operation, the IDF attacked 143 targets throughout the Gaza Strip in response to high-trajectory fire. Among the targets were tunnels used for arms smuggling and for smuggling activists. The majority of the attacks took place in February and March, when the rocket fire was greater.

The IDF believes that the quiet in the Gaza Strip in the past year is fragile, since Hamas continues to operate without pause underneath the surface and is renewing its smuggling practices through Philadelphi Road and by sea.

The IDF also continues its preparations for a future threat against the home front. The IDF Home Front Command is preparing to brief the population living at a distance of up to 60 miles from the Gaza Strip for a possible confrontation. The IDF does not rule out the possibility that Hamas has rockets which could reach that population area.

View the original article in the

Friday, December 11, 2009



by David Bedein

Most recently, Israeli President Shimon Peres remarked to the European Union’s Middle East Envoy Miguel Moratinos, that the time has come to revive the dormant Refugee Working Group, comprised of 38 nations, chaired by Canada since the Madrid Middle East peace talks that were held in October, 1991. Indeed, despite the fact that Palestinian refugees and their descendents who dwell in or near United Nations refugee camps represent more than half of the Palestinian population, their fate has been overlooked by Middle East peace negotiations

Adopting the UNHCR model

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East, UNRWA, which has serviced the Palestinian refugees for more than for half a century, has countenanced a situation in which the agency operates as an anomaly: UNRWA, founded in 1949 to provide relief to the Arabs who fled from Israel in the course of the war of 1948-49, to keep them in refugee camps under the in principle promise of the “right of return” to the villages which no longer exist.

Less than one year later the UN High Commission for Refugees, UNCHR, was founded with the express purpose of protecting the rights of refugees to be rehabilitated in a permanent state of resettlement.

In real terms, this meant that UNRWA was permitted to continue to operate under its own terms with its own definition and not bound by the UNHCR Convention. UNRWA was, and remains, the only international agency devoted to keeping one specific group of refugees in a permanent state of refugee status. Why? The answer can be found on the UNHCR website, “The State of the World’s Refugees, Part 1, The Early Years puts the matter baldly: “Arab States... feared that the non-political character of the work envisioned for the nascent UNHCR was not compatible with the highly politicized nature of the Palestinian question.”

In other words, UNHCR operates on the principle that they help the refugees under their jurisdiction to find solutions so that they might get on with their lives with permanency, while UNWRA operates under the premise that the Palestinian Arab refugees are still refugees even if they acquire a new citizenship,[as many have in Jordan] until such time as they will return to their homes in Israel, from which they or their grandparents and great-great parents fled.

Canada, in the leadership role that it plays in the RWG, could ask the 38 nations that contribute to UNRWA to ask that UNRWA operate according to the principles of UNHCR - to protect the right of refugees to be resettled instead of implementing a policy that perpetuates their suffering, while fostering the illusion of the “right of return”

For a generation, any attempts to provide the refugees with permanent residence elsewhere are blocked by the UN

Indeed, in December 1985, when Israel attempted to move refugees into 1,300 permanent houses built for them near Nablus, a UN resolution was passed demanding that Israel not move refugees, because this would violate their “right of return”.

The time has come for Canada to apply UNHCR principles into the operation of UNRWA, to protect the right of Palestinian refugees to be resettled in permanent conditions, instead of dooming Palestinian refugees to yet another generation of squalor and indignity of life in 59 teeming refugee camps spread in areas ruled by Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.


Monday, December 7, 2009

The Philadelphia Bulletin: Justice Dept. Investigation Of Peace Now Is Sought: Unregistered Agent Of Foreign Governments Questioned

by David Bedein

JERUSALEM - Last week, Attorney Lee Bender, head of the Beth Hillel Wynnewood-based Israel Advocacy Committee, received documentation from Karmel Israel-Nytt, a Norwegian newspaper published in Oslo, Norway with editorial offices in Jerusalem, that the Norwegian government has allocated 1.3 million Kroner, something over $200,000, to "Peace Now," a political organization which conducts surveillance of Israeli Jewish communities in Judea, Jerusalem and Samaria, to determine the extent of their growth and expansion.

Norway stands out in its hostility to Israel, as one of the few Western nations to give full recognition and aid to the Hamas regime in Gaza, at a time when the U.S., the European Union, the UN and Russia, the entities that form the quartet in the Middle East peace process, have predicated any recognition or negotiation with Hamas that it must first recognize Israel and cease its terror activity.

Peace Now, registered as a legal entity in the U.S. (and not in Israel, even though its projects are carried out in Israel) has received annual grants from the Norwegian government over the past eight years, along with governmental allocations from the European Union, the United Kingdom, Finland and Holland.

On Monday, Mr. Bender dispatched a letter to the Counterespionage Section/Registration Unit of the U.S. Department of Justice to ask why the U.S. government does not demand that Peace Now register as a foreign agent, a procedure required of a political lobby which receives grants from foreign governments.

The fact that Peace Now, which has operated a lobby in Washington, DC, since 1992, has never registered as a foreign agent means that it may be liable to prosecution under federal law.

Mr. Bender's letter received wide publicity on Israeli Internet sites.

On Monday, a Peace Now spokesperson appeared on an Israel radio network and denied any connection to funds received from Norway.

However, following a Tuesday morning seminar at the Israeli Knesset Parliament session at which foreign government funding of Israel-based political groups was documented and discussed, the Peace Now spokesperson appeared on the Israeli TV on Tuesday night and said that Peace Now was proud to receive funds from foreign governments, including Norway. The Peace Now spokesperson said on Israeli TV that Peace Now had received more than 1.1 million dollars from foreign governments.

The U.S. Department of Justice has not yet responded to Mr. Bender’s demand that the federal government require Peace Now to register as a foreign agent of a foreign government.

View the original article at

The Philadelphia Bulletin: Israeli Group Sues North Korea over Role in Terror Attack

Jerusalem - An Israeli group has filed suit against North Korea on charges of supporting a major attack against the Jewish state.

Shurat HaDin, an Israeli law center, has filed a suit in a U.S. district court in San Juan, Puerto Rico for the families of the victims of the 1972 attack in Israel. In an attack on Lod Airport, 26 people were killed and 80 others were injured by attackers alleged to have been trained by North Korea. The attack was also attributed to the Japanese Red Army (JRA) and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

"This will be the first time North Korea is being held to account in a U.S. court for its support of terrorism over many decades," Shurat HaDin said Tuesday.

Most of the victims in the 1972 shooting were Catholic pilgrims from Puerto Rico who had come to visit the Holy Land for the first time. The court complaint alleged that Pyongyang - North Korea's capital - had trained and financed the three attackers, who used automatic weapons, ammunition and grenades. Two of the three attackers were killed and the third was captured and sentenced to prison in Israel.

"North Korea was behind the attack," Shurat HaDin said. "As the trial will show incontrovertibly, in the months leading up to the massacre, the leaders of the JRA and PFLP met each other and with North Korean officials, who provided funding, intelligence, training, and other material support for the terrorists."

The trial was scheduled to begin on Thursday in the U.S. federal district court in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The plaintiffs have argued that North Korea supported JRA's plan to target Israel as part of its campaign to promote communist revolution.

North Korea, removed from the State Department's list of terrorist sponsors in 2008, has been identified as a leading weapons supplier to Iran and Syria. Israel has asserted that Pyongyang helped build the huge underground network for Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. Shurat HaDin has filed two other lawsuits against North Korea.

"It is widely known that one of the world's most oppressive regimes, North Korea, is also a consistent supporter of terrorism, including providing weaponry, training bases, and funding for Palestinian terrorist organizations," Shurat HaDin said.

The Philadelphia Bulletin: Israel, Turkey Keep their Military Ties

JERUSALEM - Israel and Turkey have managed to retain military cooperation despite rising political tension, a report by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs said.

The report asserted that the Islamist government of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has kept their military partnership with Israel despite their political crisis this year. Still, the Center, in a report by a leading U.S. analyst, warned that Israeli-Turkish relations were threatened by Ankara’s strategic alliance with Syria.

“Israel’s military relationship with Turkey, including ongoing joint air force training, military exchanges, and arms sales, appears to be secure for the time being,” the report, titled “The Islamist Transformation in Turkish Politics,” said. “Should bilateral political tensions continue, and as Ankara and Damascus enhance strategic ties, inevitably Israeli-Turkish military-to-military relations will suffer.”

Authored by former U.S. Defense Department analyst David Schenker, the report did not detail current Israeli-Turkish military cooperation. Instead, Mr. Schenker pointed to Turkey’s cancellation of Israel’s participation in the NATO-aligned Anatolian Eagle exercise in October 2009.

In the wake of the cancellation, the Turkish government announced plans to conduct a Turkish military exercise with Syria. The report said Ankara’s decision was expected and reflected the policy of the ruling pro-Islamist Justice and Development Party.

The report said Turkey’s key motive for a military alliance with Israel, launched in 1996, was Ankara’s war with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). By 1999, Turkey had forced Syria to expel PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan and later arrested him. Since 2002, Syria and Turkey have signed 46 agreements, including a military training pact.

“Turkey no longer needed Israeli assistance to pressure the Syrian government to change its policy of providing safe-haven to the terrorist Kurdish Worker’s Organization,” the report said.

Mr. Schenker, now a senior fellow at the Washington Institute, said Ankara’s embrace of Syria over the last three years reflected the decline of Turkey’s military. He said Mr. Erdogan’s party, which has succeeded in marginalizing the military, has been promoting relations with such countries as Qatar, Sudan and Syria while rejecting pro-Western Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia.

“Today, the Turkish military can do little to impact the policies of the Islamist AKP (Justice and Development Party), which promote solidarity with Islamist, anti-Western regimes while dismissing secular, pro-Western Muslim governments,” the report said.

The report said Turkey began weakening its relationship with Israel as early as 2006. This year, however, Ankara sparked a crisis with Israel during its war with Hamas as the Turkish government improved relations with Syria. This included the first Syrian-Turkish military exercise in April.

“Clearly, 2009 was a watershed year for the Turkey-Syria bilateral relationship and a year of setbacks for Israeli-Turkish ties,” the report said. “While the long-term implications of these developments remain to be seen, the current trajectory is not cause for optimism.”

Mr. Schenker said Turkey’s support for Iran and Syria has raised concern within NATO. He said Ankara’s pro-Iranian policy could harm U.S. interests in the Middle East. “Perhaps more worrisome is the prospect that Ankara may, over time, pursue a closer foreign policy alignment with Iran that would undermine U.S. and Israeli regional interests,” the report said.

View the original article in the Philadelphia Bulletin

The Philadelphia Bulletin: Israel battles with Iran over Pacific Islands

by David Bedein

JERUSALEM - Israel does not intend to give up on the Pacific Ocean islands and let them fall into the hands of Iran, as happened with the Solomon Islands. The support of the Solomon Islands, however, was “bought” by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s country for a grant of only $200,000.

Next month, the presidents of three of the island states that are considered strong supporters of Israel - Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Nauru, will be coming to Israel for an official visit. They will meet with Israeli President Shimon Peres and, perhaps, also with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and will be paid royal honors.

Israeli officials ascribe great importance to the support of these Pacific islands, mainly because it can be transferred easily from one side to another. A year ago, Iran signed a memorandum with the Solomon Islands stating that it would fund scholarships in the amount of $200,000 for students living there to study medicine in Cuba. The payment was not long in coming: The Solomon Islands voted in the United Nations (U.N.) for adopting the conclusions of the Goldstone Report, which blasted Israel for its counterattack in Gaza last year.

The vote surprised Israel because the Solomon Islands were considered a strong ally.

“This is part of a long-term effort to preserve and nurture relations with countries with which we would like to keep in contact,” explained Michael Ronen, the director-general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s Pacific desk. Mr. Ronen, who also serves as the ambassador to these islands, emphasized that Israel does not intend to offer money, as Iran did. “I will defeat the Iranians on my court by offering humanitarian and medical assistance, which Israel has made sure to give these islands throughout the years, without promising money or making my assistance conditional upon political support, as the Iranians have done,” he said.

The Pacific Ocean region has sixteen countries, including Australia and New Zealand. All the rest are tiny countries. Since size does not matter, the votes of 13 of these countries matter in votes that take place in the U.N. Tiny Micronesia’s vote is equal to that of enormous China.

Israel was among the first of the countries outside the Pacific region to recognize the independence of the island nations in the 1980s and formed diplomatic relations with them. Since then, Israel has worked a great deal in those countries, sending them medical equipment, vaccines, medicines and medical specialists. Thus, for example, an Israeli ear, nose and throat specialist has been in Nauru for the past three weeks at the request of the Nauruan government. Equipment worth $130,000 was sent to Samoa as assistance in coping with the damage from the latest tsunami. Israel also assisted the Solomon Islands, despite its vote in favor of the Goldstone Report, and continued to send it medical equipment in order to help it cope with diabetes, which is widespread there. The result of this ongoing assistance has been that in the U.N. votes, these countries have supported Israel or abstained from voting against it.

However, in recent years, countries such as Iran, Syria, Venezuela and Cuba have tried to change this situation by means of money, and Israel is trying to stop this from happening.

“Israel extends its hand to all countries, great and small,” Mr. Ronen said. “In the Pacific region, we have found tiny and far-flung states that know a great deal more about us than we know about them, and that have shown us extraordinary friendship. In the U.N., there is an almost absolute majority against Israel and, therefore, we are making every effort to keep them with us.”

View the original article in the Philadelphia Bulletin

Hamas, Hezbollah Continue Partnership

by David Bedein

JERUSALEM - Hamas terror organization representatives in Lebanon, led by Osama Hamdan, Hamas's bureau director in Beirut, met Wednesday with Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah.

Hamas Political Bureau Director Khaled Mashaal has recently revealed that his organization had consulted several times with Hezbollah's leadership.

This meeting carries new significance, since Hezbollah, this week, assumed the role of a full coalition partner in the Lebanese government.

As part of the official coalition agreement, Hezbollah inserted a clause to renew the official state of war that exists between Lebanon and Israel since 1948.

Unlike Jordan and Egypt, which have signed official peace treaties with Israel to end the state of war that had existed since 1948, Lebanon has only signed armistice agreements since the 1948 war. The new government in Lebanon, at the urging of Hezbollah, issued a statement on Thursday that, “The armed struggle with Israel will continue until all conquered land in the hands of Israel is recovered," referring to the entire land mass that composes the current state of Israel.

View the original article in the Philadelphia Bulletin

The Philadelphia Bulletin: Lieberman, Berman Fail To Press Fayyad

Lieberman, Berman Fail To Press Fayyad

Monday, December 07, 2009

Jerusalem - At a recent press conference in Ramallah, Jerusalem Post Editor David Horovitz described how “two staunch Jewish supporters of Israel,” Senator Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., former Democratic vice presidential candidate, and current Representative Howard Berman, D-Ca., chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, “nodded their encouragement” when Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Salam Fayyad explained how he was preparing Palestinians for statehood. Mr. Fayyad outlined a Palestinian state in formation regarding security forces, the economy, and civic institutions, with an optimistic sense of what the PA is achieving.

Regrettably, Senator Lieberman and Representative Berman did not use the press conference to raise some troublesome questions, conveying the notion that all is well with Palestinian statehood plans.

Questions that Senator Lieberman, Rep. Berman or Mr. Horovitz could have asked might have centered around these issues:

Renunciation Of PLO State Of War With Israel

The charter of Fatah, the predominant element in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the PA, to this day, continues to call for the destruction of Israel. Written in 1964, before Israel controlled the West Bank and Gaza, it uses the term “Palestine” to refer exclusively to Israel within the Green Line. The charter declares that “Liberating Palestine is a national obligation,” and that “Armed public revolution is the inevitable method” for doing so. This cannot be dismissed as an irrelevant anachronism. Last August, Fatah held its first General Congress in 20 years. Hope was held out for a charter revision, with violence officially renounced, but it never happened. Instead, Fatah continued to unambiguously embrace “armed resistance” to liberate Palestine.

Cessation Of Incitement From PA Textbooks

The Institute for Monitoring Peace and Tolerance in School Education has issued six reports on new PA textbooks issued over the last eight years. Journalist and scholar Dr. Arnon Groiss, who translated these PA textbooks, has just completed an update. He writes that the new PA texts:

• Deny the historical and religious presence of Jews in Palestine.

• Fail to recognize the State of Israel.

• Demonize Jews and Israel.

• Assign blame for the conflict exclusively on Israel, totally absolving Palestinians.

• Stress the idea of a violent struggle of liberation rather than a peaceful settlement.

It is disingenuous for Mr. Fayyad to profess dedication to peace, while the PA curriculum infuses these ideas within its youngsters. Peace is impossible until the message changes. Why do visiting elected officials and journalists not hold Mr. Fayyad and the PA accountable for the new PA textbooks?

Cessation Of PA Pursuit Of Hamas As A Partner

The PA inclination to participate in a government that includes Hamas remains an “elephant in the room” that the international community, somewhat inexplicably, has chosen to ignore: Hamas is recognized by the U.S. and the European Union as a terrorist entity. Yet, in March 2007, Fatah and Hamas briefly formed a “unity government,” negotiated by Saudi Arabia via the Mecca Accord, which saw Fatah acceding to Hamas demands. It fell apart with the Hamas coup in Gaza, but, in recent months the news is awash with reports of negotiations via Egypt for a Fatah-Hamas reconciliation. Pursuing negotiations with Israel and Hamas at one and the same time is not acceptable. Why not ask the PA to make a choice?

Renunciation Of The “Right Of Return”

The “right of return,” promoted for 60 years by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and embraced by the PA as a non-negotiable right, remains a recipe for the destruction of Israel from within. If Mr. Fayyad and the PA are serious about peace, why not ask them to accept the principle of permanent resettlement of the refugees? The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), which oversees all refugees except Palestinians, operates according to this principle. Only Palestinian refugees are not resettled, but, instead, for purely political reasons, are forced to linger in a rage-inducing state of limbo. Mr. Fayyad, in his master plan for a Palestinian state, openly states that he supports the “right of return.” Isn’t it time to ask for Senator Lieberman and Representative Berman to ask Mr. Fayyad and the PA to openly embrace the UNHCR policy and pave the way for UNRWA to adjust its mandate?

David Bedein can be reached at

Friday, December 4, 2009

Palestinians Uncompromising on Right of Return

As originally published in the Winnipeg Jewish Report

By Rhonda Spivak

BETHLEHEM- Although many Palestinians in the West Bank say they are interested in "peace," the vast majority of those encountered on a recent visit to the area, insisted that Palestinian refugees and their descendants have a right to return to homes and villages they left during the 1948 Israeli War of Independence.

Osama Alhrithi, a fourth-year law student at Al-Quds University in Jerusalem, said that even if Israel withdrew to the Green Line[ Israel's pre-1967 borders] and all Jewish settlements over the Green Line were dismantled, any Palestinian refugee who wants to return to his home that he left in 1948 should be able to come back."There are a lot of Palestinian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon, and if they want to come back, that is their holy right," he said.

Rami Sleimyyeh, a Muslim who works as a liaison officer for the Palestinian Authority in Hebron, nodded in agreement with Althrithi. Alhrithi's view that Israel, rather than a future Palestinian state, ought to be obliged to take in waves of Palestinian refugees was typical even among those who said they supported Fatah, not Hamas. It was also the predominant view among those people whom The Winnipeg Jewish Report encountered at a conference devoted to promoting dialogue and peace, held in Beit Jalla, near Bethlehem, put on by the Israel-Palestine Centre for Research and Information this past summer.

Ra'id Abdalla Otair, director of the Palestinian Authority's ministry of health in Tulkarem, said: "All refugees in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and elsewhere should be asked to come back to their land in Israel, in Haifa, and Jaffa and Akko."

Otair, who is also the representative for the NGO, Future Vision, dismissed the possibility that Palestinian refugees would receive some form of financial compensation and return only to a future Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. "People in Tulkarem like [to have] all Palestine," he said.

Badia Dweik, from Hebron who also attended the conference, said he became disenchanted with Fatah after former PA president Yasser Arafat signed the Oslo accords, because, among other things, it didn't deal with the refugee issue.

"The two-state solution is a big lie. Most of my friends are pushing for a one-state solution [where Jews would be a minority in a Palestinian majority between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River]. When there is 'one state', the Palestinian refugees can live wherever they want. Maybe the refugee can come back to the same house he left if it is still there. Maybe a refugee from Lebanon can come back to Haifa, and even if his house has been demolished, he can still live in that area."

Sumayah Soboh, a Muslim sociologist from Bethlehem, who also advocates a one-state solution, said: "Any Palestinian refugees who want can return to their land. Maybe the one state could be called 'Jew Palestina.' I am angry with Fatah for saying there could be two states. There shouldn't be a Jewish state, but just one state, one leader, one God, one people."

Soboh's sister, Mary, an occupational therapist, and her mother, Jamileh, a speech therapist, both agreed with her.

Firas Arafat, a pharmacist from Hebron, said that only if Israel returned to the pre-67 borders and dismantled all of settlements would he agree to forgo the right of return."I know [former U.S. president] Jimmy Carter just came to the Gush Etzion Jewish settlement [in June 2009] and told the Jews there that they would remain part of Israel in the future. I respect Jimmy Carter, but I don't agree. Israel must get out of every Jewish settlement in the West Bank," he said.

Mari Sadi, a Christian Palestinian artist from Bethlehem, said "We hope that all of the refugees will be able to come back. I have many relatives in Jordan and the U.S. and a lot of different lands. They are from Nazareth and Haifa and Jaffa, and they should be able to come back. They will want to come back."

Inam Mitwassi and Laila Nazzal, Christian Palestinian artisans in Bethlehem, agreed with Sadi that Israel should go back to the '67 line and Palestinian refugees should be able to return to the pre-67 Israel. Lorette Zoughbi, who runs a small patisserie in Bethlehem, said she accepted the two-state solution. "If we ask for everything, all we'll get is nothing." But then she added, "My grandfather had a house in Katamon and in Jaffa. I still have the keys. We' ll never give up our land."

Only a small number of Palestinians encountered, appeared willing to make concessions regarding the issue of Palestinian refugees. Fatima, a Muslim Palestinian said she believed "there should be a "Palestine and Israel," and she added, "We must finish this conflict. To end it, refugees should return only to the Palestinian state."

When contacted to discuss these findings, Guy Lupo, the chairperson of the dovish organization, One Voice, in Be-ersheba said that polls done by his organization have shown that "most Palestinians want recognition of their right of return, but most will not actually use the right of return."

He added that the maximum figure for the number of refugees and their descendents spead out everywhere in the world is 11 million. If one percent returned, "then we'd be talking about 100,000 people. Israelis fear that it could be 10% [ of Palestinian refugees]that return, which would be 1 million people. This issue is not something that can be solved tommorrow. But we think that there is a way to market the issue to the Palestinian people in the context of an overall agreeement. Some Palestinians will be willing to give up recognition of the right of return. Others will be satisfied with recognition only, others will agree to compensation in lieu of returning, and about 100,000 people could be allowed to return on the basis of the principle of family unification."

Rhonda Spivak is an attorney and writer. She is a member of the Canadian & Israel Bar Associations, and now edits the Winnipeg Jewish Report

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Philadelphia Bulletin: Turkish Jews Living under the Threat of Extremism

by David Bedein

JERUSALEM - A nervous Rabbi recently appeared at The Bulletin’s bureau in Jerusalem and related that the small Jewish community in Turkey feels threatened by the new Islamic resurgence and by the new Turkish alliance with Iran.

As a result, there is a a significant increase in the number of Jews leaving Turkey and immigrating to Israel.

One hundred and thirty five immigrants from Turkey have made the journey this year, compared with 108 in 2008.

The Jewish Agency predicts that, by the year’s end, some 200 immigrants will have come, nearly twice as many as in previous years.

The assessment is based on the fact that, for the first time in many years, Jewish Agency representatives are being swamped with calls. As of now there is a 100 percent increase in those expressing interest in immigrating to Israel, inquiring as to their rights and obligations - and for the first time, a long list of Jews hoping to relocate their businesses from Turkey to Israel.

Most of those asking to register as new immigrants explain that this is due to the new extremist attitudes towards Jews in Turkey.

One of those who have registered, a 39-yard-old father of four who did not give his name, is the owner of a large and prosperous shop in the capital. The man decided to sell his business and move to Israel.

“We are being harassed, Turkey is no longer the same Turkey. They listen to the words of the prime minister and refrain from setting foot in Jewish shops. Turkey is falling into extremism,” he explained.

He said that many of his Jewish colleagues were leaving for the West, not only to Israel, and others were considering doing so.

“We anticipated that the number of people interested in moving to Israel was going to rise, but we didn’t anticipate that there would be such a large number of people who wanted to immigrate and so swiftly,” said a senior Jewish Agency executive. He said that 600 Jews were expected to immigrate to Israel from Turkey in 2010, which is an unprecedented number.

Eli Cohen, the director of the Aliyah Department in the Jewish Agency, personally oversees the immigration of Turkish Jews told the Yediot Ahronot newspaper that “2009 is going to be a very successful year in terms of Aliyah - immigration to Israel - mainly from Turkey. We are pleased with this and have been operating to absorb them across Israel in the best way possible.”

Mr. Cohen said that there has been a 20 percent rise around the world in immigration to Israel, after years in which interest had declined, and that interest in Turkey was significantly higher than that.

“That proves that Israel is the home of the Jewish people. We serve as a safe haven for Jews. We do everything we can to improve the methods of absorption and to give the new immigrants a sense of belonging,” said Mr. Cohen.

Three Jewish families that came from Turkey not long ago currently live in an absorption center in Ashdod. One of the families explained yesterday that the reason they decided to immigrate to Israel was the sense that the Turkish public was taking the statements made by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan into action.

“I was born in Turkey, I grew up in Turkey, I know the Turks, and they’re tolerant of Jews. Regrettably, in the past year there has been a shift that has hurt the Jews. Curses, anti-Semitic comments, radicalization on the street - all of that left me with no choice. I took my family and immigrated to Israel. Some of my extended family intends to immigrate to Israel or to uproot for America,” said one woman who recently moved to Israel from Turkey.

View the original article in the Philadelphia Bulletin

The Philadelphia Bulletin: Turkey, Austria Fail to Play Israeli Anthem at Sporting Events

by David Bedein

Jerusalem - Moments after her moving victory in the world junior chess championship, Marcel Efroimsky of Kfar Saba, Israel, stood proudly at the podium as the new world champion. She grasped her silver cup, stole another glance at the gold medal around her neck, and expected the Israeli national anthem to be played in the background, as is customary in every competition. But silence filled the air. An irksome silence.

Ms. Efroimsky, 14, comes from a dynasty of chess masters. She began playing at the age of 6 and at 9 competed in her first world championship. Her dream came true when she won the first place in the world championship for players ages 14 and under, which was held in Turkey, but was very disappointed when the Israeli national anthem, “Hatikva,” was not played, as the winning country’s national anthem customarily is.

“This is simply a scandal,” fumed Shai Efroimsky, the new champion’s father. “How dare they mix politics with sports? The rules explicitly say that the national anthem is to be played. And that was the case two years ago as well, when she won the championship for girls up to the age of 12 that was held in the same location in Turkey.”

Indeed, two years ago Ms. Efroimsky won the championship for girls aged 12 and under, held in Turkey, and she became the first Israeli girl to do so. At that time, before relations between Ankara and Jerusalem had deteriorated, the Israeli national anthem was played.

But, this time the competition ended in a very different way. The medals were handed out, the trophy was presented to Ms. Efroimsky and, after the speeches, the organizers suddenly decided not to play the national anthems of the countries from which the award-winners hailed. The exception was the Russian national anthem, after Russia won the largest number of awards in the various competitions that were held. This is the second incident in the space of a week in which Israel’s national anthem was not played despite the fact that an Israeli won first place.

The organizers claimed in their defense that they had been forced to shorten the ceremony and that was the reason why the national anthems were not played, but officials involved in the competition said they suspected that the Turks’ intentions had been clear-to refrain from playing the Israeli national anthem. “I suspect that this was a specific move against Israel,” said Mr. Efroimsky.

In the wake of the incident last night, Aviv Bushinsky, the chairman of the Israeli Chess Association, sent a telegram to the president of the World Chess Federation with a request that he investigate the incident. Mr. Bushinsky wrote that steps ought to be taken against the Turks if it should become evident that the decision to refrain from playing the national anthem was deliberate.

Hatikva Not Played At Fencing Championship

Precisely one week ago Daria Sterlinkov, of Israel, won the gold medal in a prestigious fencing competition in Austria, while Alona Komorov won the bronze medal. However, in this case, too, the Israeli national anthem was not played upon the conclusion of the ceremony at which the awards were handed out.

The Israeli team coach, Yaakov Federman, said that the person responsible for playing the national anthems told him they were unable to find the Israeli national anthem.

“So, we decided to take the initiative and all the members of the delegation, 22 in number, sang Hatikva ourselves,” said Mr. Federman, who added that this was not the first time that an incident of this sort has happened. “Five months ago in Sweden we had the same story,” he said.

Yesterday, a moving ceremony was held at the Ort Maalot school in honor of the pupils Ms. Sterlinkov and Ms. Komorov, and in honor of the teacher at the school, Yaakov Federman, their professional coach. “We decided not to be silent over the Austrian decision to ignore playing the national anthem of the first place winner and that is why we held a ceremony at the school, in the course of which the Israeli national anthem was played proudly,” said the school’s principal, Avi Manshes.

“The Austrian ambassador was also invited to the ceremony, but he did not attend and sent a letter of apology about what happened in Austria as well.” The ceremony was conducted with the blessing of Dr. Orna Simhon, the director of the Israel Education Ministry’s northern district

View the original article in the Philadelphia Bulletin

The Philadelphia Bulletin: Iran Launches Largest Air Force Exercise

by David Bedein

JERUSALEM - Iran launched its largest air force exercise this past week.

The air exercise is part of an effort to introduce new indigenous platforms and systems and protect nuclear facilities. They said the five-day exercise, titled “Seal of the Prophets,” began last Sunday and would integrate operations by the regular air force and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

“The Iranian Air Force and IRGC will hold the largest air exercise in the history of the country,” Iranian Air Defense Commander Brig. Gen. Ahmed Miqani said Nov. 21.

Mr. Miqani told a news conference that Seal of the Prophets is taking place in central and western Iran and focus on air space protection and air defense. He said the exercise tested new systems, including air defense and electronic warfare. He said Iran has deployed air defense batteries around its nuclear facilities.

“The Air Defense Command is responsible for sensitive installations in the country, including nuclear facilities and will shoot down any plane that violates Iranian air space,” Mr. Miqani said. “This week’s air defense maneuvers will be held with the intention of protecting the country’s nuclear facilities.”

The exercise would also seek to enhance interoperability between fighter jets of the regular air force and IRGC. They said Seal of the Prophets would also test integration of operations by combat and reconnaissance platforms.

“Our unit will be in charge of the maneuver, but there will be units from IRGC and the Basij militia,” Mr. Miqani said.

Seal of the Prophet would contain three stages and envisioned an attack by an unnamed enemy, officials said. They said the exercise would test Russian-origin air defense systems, including the TOR-M1 and Pantsyr-S1.

Iran has been awaiting the longer-range S-300 system from Moscow. Mr. Miqani said Iran would test S-300 interceptors, but did not elaborate.

“In various maneuvers, new and modern missile networks will be used and evaluated, including the advanced S-300 missiles, for which production capability exists in Iran,” Mr. Miqani said.

IRGC has asserted that Iran reached the capability to defend against any Israeli air strike. IRGC Air Force Chief Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh said the military has developed an air defense umbrella that combined surface-to-air missiles, surface-to-surface missiles and fighter jets.

“Be assured that in case of aggression, the Zionist F-15 and F-16s will be trapped by our air defense and destroyed,” Mr. Hajizadeh said. “And, if one of their aircraft manages to escape Iran’s air defense, the bases from which these aircraft took off will be struck by our destructive ground to ground missiles.”

View the original article in the Philadelphia Bulletin

The Philadelphia Bulletin: Darwish Engagement Canceled at Princeton

by David Bedein

JERUSALEM - For more than a generation, people who follow the Arab-Israeli War wonder if articulate Arab spokespeople will emerge to express genuine recognition of Israel, with a clear and unambiguous desire for peace.

Seven years ago, when Israel marked the 25th anniversary of the 1977 visit by the late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat to Israel - which led to the first peace treaty between Israel and an Arab State - a young Egyptian native, now an American citizen, Nonie Darwish, whose late father fought against Israel, made a presentation for a large mixed audience of Arabs and Jews at the same place President Sadat had landed - at Jerusalem’s posh King David Hotel.

At the same hotel where Sadat first proclaimed his desire for peace with Israel, Nonie Darwish, announced that she had formed a new organization, calling it Arabs For Israel.

Ms. Darwish described her passion and pride for Arab nationalism and the need for every Arab nationalist to embrace the state and people of Israel as a neighbor in the Middle East.

Skeptical reporters who felt that Nonie Darwish was, perhaps, too good to be true began to bombard her with questions after her erudite presentation.

After all, one reporter said, this has been a “cold peace” and very few Egyptians have come to visit Israel with any such proclamation.

Ms. Darwish responded in the affirmative, saying that, indeed, the same radical Muslims who murdered Sadat had intimidated Egyptians from all walks of life from visiting Israel and from expressing any kind of affinity for the Jewish state.

Three years later, Nonie Darwish addressed a memorial rally for victims of Arab terror in Berkeley, Calif., where the rally organizers had brought the remains of a bombed out bus in which 17 people had been murdered.

Ms. Darwish’s message had not changed. She remained a proud Arab who spoke with passion about the state and people of Israel and stated that she felt shamed by what the crimes that people do in the name of Islam.

Yet, by 2005, Ms. Darwish did not exude the same smile that she bore in her appearance in 2002 in Jerusalem. She described in private conversations how radical Muslims had stalked her all over the United States and have tried to prevent her from speaking.

Indeed, radical Muslims even succeeded in preventing Ms. Darwish from speaking at Princeton University Hillel Foundation’s “Center for Jewish Life.”

Last week, on November 18th, a student group Tigers for Israel, a Princeton undergraduate student organization that is also affiliated with the Center for Jewish Life, scheduled then, suddenly, cancelled a lecture by Nonie Darwish.

Jewish students had invited her to speak on campus because they felt it was important to hear her critique of radical Islam.

However, the Islamic leader on campus, Muslim Life Coordinator, Imam Sohaib Sultan threatened Tigers for Israel and demanded that they cancel Ms. Darwish’s appearance because, he contended, “she perpetuates stereotypes about Islam that implicate all Muslims, not just Muslim fundamentalists”.

In the spirit of academic freedom and dialogue, Tigers for Israel Vice President Rafael Grinberg offered Imam Sultan the opportunity to rebut and respond to Nonie Darwish after her presentation and to offer him equal time to express his point of view.

The Islamic leader would hear nothing of any such a suggestion for a dialogue in an academic setting and furthered his demand that Nonie Darwish’s lecture simply be cancelled.

According to Mr. Grinberg, Rabbi Julie Roth, the Executive Director of the Center for Jewish Life at Hillel in Princeton, supported the intimidation of the campus Imam and told the students, “An invitation to Nonie Darwish is like an invitation to a neo-Nazi.”

According to a statement by Rabbi Roth to The Bulletin, however, “The students made an independent decision to cancel the lecture because it is not in accordance with their mission to perpetuate stereotypes or generalizations about any group.”

When The Bulletin asked as to why Rabbi Roth did not encourage a dialogue with Ms. Darwish that would befit the academic and democratic atmosphere of a University, Rabbi Roth acknowledged that, “It is true, in our university environment and in our country, free speech and open debate and exchange of ideas are primary values.” However, she added, “It is also true that our university environment and our country support the right of any group to disassociate themselves with views they deem do not represent their mission or goals or values.”

Asked as to whether Rabbi Roth had met with and spoken with Nonie Darwish to discern for herself whether Ms. Darwish would be an appropriate speaker, Rabbi Roth did not respond because she did not make any effort to meet with or speak with Ms. Dawrish before expressing her passionate support for the decision of Tigers for Israel to buckle under the demand of the radical Muslims on campus to cancel the appearance of Ms. Darwish in front of the campus Jewish community.

This leads one to wonder if Rabbi Roth, who describes herself as a leader in the promotion of “dialogue between the Muslim and Jewish communities on campus,” can ever muster the courage to present views that disturb radical Muslims at Princeton.

So much for the spirit of academic freedom and dialogue on an Ivy League campus.

View the original article in the Philadelphia Bulletin

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Philadelphia Bulletin: Israel Warned To Prepare For Ballistic Missile Threats

by David Bedein

Jerusalem - Israel has been urged to prepare for ballistic missile threats from Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

A senior defense executive warned that Israel’s military and Defense Ministry might not have been allowed to prepare its missile defense umbrella to combat possible future threats from Middle East states, which are not directly threatening Israel at this time, due to political constraints.

The executive, who works closely with the Defense Ministry, said the threat could come from Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, which have been developing or procuring medium- and intermediate-range missiles.

“We are not paying attention to what is going on in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey,” Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) vice president Yair Ramati said.

Mr. Ramati, who for years headed IAI’s Arrow missile defense program, cited Turkey’s growing missile and rocket capabilities.

He said Ankara has been acquiring U.S. and Chinese systems as well as developing Turkish weapons.

This included the Chinese-origin 302 mm rocket, with a range of 150 kilometers.

The Israel Defense Ministry has never cited Egypt or Turkey as threats. Egypt has maintained a peace treaty with Israel since 1979, and Turkey was regarded as a strategic ally of the Jewish state from 1996 until 2008. Over the last year, Turkey increased ties with neighboring Iran and Syria.

In a presentation to the International Aerospace Conference and Exhibition-Israel on Nov. 17, Mr. Ramati said Egypt and other Arab states could constitute missile threats by 2020. He said Saudi Arabia, concerned over Iran’s military modernization effort, was expected to replace its Chinese-origin intermediate-range CSSS2 for an advanced modern ballistic missile.

Yet, leading strategists in Israel forget that Saudi Arabia remains in a state of war with Israel. Saudi Arabia is the only neighboring country contiguous to Israel to have never signed a peace treaty or even an armistice with Israel since 1948.

Mr. Ramati stated clearly that Israeli missile defense exercises do not take the Egyptian, Saudi and Turkish capabilities into account.

He suggested that the Defense Ministry and military were under political constraints from the government.

“Are these scenarios politically correct?” Mr. Ramati asked.

View the original article in the Philadelphia Bulletin

The Philadelphia Bulletin: Born In India, Doctor Has Jewish Spirit

by David Bedein

Jerusalem - Dr. Aharon Avraham opens his Jewish prayer book with trepidation.

His lips mouth the verses in Hebrew, his new language.

When he finally lifts his eyes from the page, his gaze stops at the framed photograph on the shelf. Dr. Avraham glances at the photograph of the couple who changed his life, and his eyes glimmer.

"I truly loved Rabbi Gabi and his wife Rivka," he sighs. "I miss them so much."

On Wednesday night, Dr. Avraham was one of the guests of honor at the central memorial ceremony held by Chabad's youth division to mark the first anniversary of the terror attack at the Chabad House in Mumbai in which six Israelis were murdered. Those attending the ceremony will also mark the third birthday of Moishie, the little son of Gabriel and Rivky Holtzberg. His parents, who were Chabad emissaries in the Indian city, were murdered by terrorists. Moishie survived.

This coming Thursday, the morning after the memorial ceremony, Dr. Avraham will mark one of the most meaningful days of his life. The 51-year-old physician, who was born to an Indian family, will remarry his wife Ruth-Malka, this time in a Jewish ceremony. In attendance will be the couple's three children, who converted together with them: Shmuel, 18, Sarah, 15 and Sharon, 10.

The ceremony will be held at the Tomb of the Patriarchs, fairly close to Kiryat Arba, a Jewish community close to Hebron, where the physician from India has made his home.

Dr. Avraham was born Bhagirath Prasad. Materially speaking, he was very well off. He excelled in his medical studies, became well-known and served as the director of the intensive-care department at the prestigious Breach Candy Hospital in Mumbai.

Spiritually speaking, an abyss opened up in his heart. In his youth, he shrank from Hinduism, a polytheistic faith.

"I found no rest for my spirit because I felt that I did not believe in the true God," he said last night.

"Twenty years ago, I was exposed to the Bible and began to come close to Judaism. Over the past five years, I began to study the Torah and observe the commandments as a way of life. I changed my Indian name to a Jewish one, and I went to the Chabad House in Mumbai almost every day to study with Rabbi Gabi. Chabad House became my second home, until that terrible day."

Dr. Avraham will never forget Nov. 26, 2008, the day of the terror attack in Mumbai.

"I met with Rabbi Gabi and Rebbetzin Rivky almost every day," Dr. Avraham said. “

I was as close to them as family. On the day of terror attack, I was about 1,000 kilometers away from Mumbai. I remember that I prayed for a miracle, that the Holtzberg family wouldn't be harmed. On the way back to Mumbai, my thoughts ran wild: how to treat Gabi and Rivky if it turned out that they'd been wounded. But when I got there, I realized that of the whole family, only little Moishie had survived."

The massacre shocked Dr. Avraham to the depths of his soul.

He decided to immigrate to Israel with his wife and children.

"I got fed up with the corrupt way of life in India," he explains. "Relations with my family have remained very good. I don't believe in their religion, but I still have a great deal of love for them. They weren't happy with my decision, but accepted it in a good spirit. 'It's your life,' they told me."

Five months ago, the physician arrived in Israel. Today, he is crowded into a tiny apartment with his wife and their three children in Kiryat Arba.

Dr. Avraham says that no one is happier than he. "I'm thrilled anew every day that I live near Hebron, the second-holiest place to the Jewish people. Soon, when I get my Israeli medical license, I'll start working at the Kiryat Arba first-aid center. At the same time, I hope to be accepted for work at Shaarei Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem."

View the original article in the Philadelphia Bulletin


Are there Questions People are Afraid to Ask Fayyad?

In his column of November 20, Salam Fayyad builds Palestine, Jerusalem Post Editor David Horovitz describes “two staunch Jewish supporters of Israel” - Senator Joe Lieberman, former vice presidential candidate, and Representative Howard Berman, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee - “nodding their encouragement” at a recent Ramallah press conference, where Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad explained how he was preparing Palestinians for statehood. The piece goes on to outline a Palestinian state in formation, regarding security forces, the economy, and civic institutions, with an optimistic sense of what the PA is achieving.

Regrettably, Senator Lieberman and Representative Berman did not use the press conference to raise some troublesome questions.

Since these American elected officials let that opportunity pass, perhaps it was the journalistic responsibility of Mr. Horovitz to explore these matters, to offer a more balanced picture. Instead, he alluded to “staunch supporters of Israel nodding their agreement,” conveying the notion that, except for some technical problems, all is well.

Questions that Senator Lieberman, Rep. Berman or Mr. Horovitz could have asked would have included:

Renunciation of the PLO state of war with Israel

The charter of Fatah - the predominant element in the PLO and the PA - to this day continues to call for the destruction of Israel. Written in 1964, before Israel controlled the West Bank and Gaza, it uses the term “Palestine” to refer exclusively to Israel within the Green Line. The charter declares that “Liberating Palestine is a national obligation,” and that “Armed public revolution is the inevitable method” for doing so. This cannot be dismissed as an irrelevant anachronism. Last August, Fatah held its first General Congress in 20 years. Hope was held out for a charter revision, with violence officially renounced, but it never happened. Instead, Fatah continued to unambiguously embrace “armed resistance” to liberate Palestine.

Cessation of incitement via changes in PA-produced textbooks

The Institute for Monitoring Peace and Tolerance in School Education has issued six reports on new PA textbooks issued over the last eight years. Journalist and scholar Dr. Arnon Groiss, who translated these PA textbooks, has just completed an update. He writes that the new PA texts...

- Deny the historical and religious presence of Jews in Palestine.
- Fail to recognize the State of Israel.
- Demonize Jews and Israel.
- Assign blame for the conflict exclusively on Israel, totally absolving Palestinians.
- Stress the idea of a violent struggle of liberation rather than a peaceful settlement.
- It is disingenuous for Fayyad to profess dedication to peace, while the PA curriculum infuses these ideas within its youngsters. Peace is impossible until the message changes. Why do visiting elected officials and journalists not hold Fayyad and the PA accountable for the new PA textbooks?.

Cessation of PA pursuit of Hamas as a coalition partner.

The PA inclination to participate in a government that includes Hamas remains an “elephant in the room” that the international community, somewhat inexplicably, has chosen to ignore: Hamas is recognized by the US and the entire Quartet as a terrorist entity. Yet in March 2007, Fatah and Hamas briefly formed a “unity government” - negotiated by Saudi Arabia via the Mecca Accord - that saw Fatah acceding to Hamas demands. It fell apart with the Hamas coup in Gaza, but in recent months the news is awash with reports of negotiations via Egypt for a Fatah-Hamas reconciliation. Pursuing negotiations with Israel and Hamas at one and the same time is not acceptable. Why not ask the PA to make a choice?.

Renunciation of the “right of return.”

The “right of return,” promoted for 60 years by UNRWA and embraced by the PA as a non-negotiable right, remains a recipe for the destruction of Israel from within. If Fayyad and the PA are serious about peace, why not ask them to accept the principle of perma­nent resettlement of the refugees? UNHCR, the UN High Commission for Refugees - which oversees all refugees except Palestinians - operates according to this principle. Only Palestinian refugees are not resettled, but instead, for purely political reasons, are forced to linger in a (rage-inducing) state of limbo. Fayyad, in his master plan for a Palestinian state, openly states that he supports the “right of return.” Isn’t it time to ask Fayyad and the PA to openly embrace the UNHCR policy and pave the way for UNRWA to adjust its mandate?

Lastly, Mr. Horovitz writes that “most of the international community completely supports [PA] demands for a 100% Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank,” noting that “ intent on driving a harder bargain.” The reader is left with the impression that Netanyahu is obstinately resisting what the world expects. Left unsaid is that the Israeli electorate is most definitely not in favor of complete withdrawal, and that the prime minister simply reflects the will of the nation in this regard. What is more, Mr. Horovitz neglects to say that neither does international law support this: UN Security Resolution 242, which does not demand full Israeli withdrawal, acknowledges Israel’s need for secure borders.

David Bedein works as the Director of the Israel Resource News Agency and the Center for Near East Policy Research, and the Middle East Correspondent for the Philadelphia Bulletin,

Arlene Kushner is the senior research analyst for the Center for Near East Policy Research and author of a daily blog, “Arlene From Israel”,

Are there Questions People are Afraid to Ask Fayyad?

The Philadelphia Bulletin: America Slams Israeli Construction Efforts

by David Bedein

Jerusalem - Despite firm opposition from the American government, the Jerusalem municipality decided to approve the construction of 900 new housing units in the Gilo neighborhood in southern Jerusalem. Gilo, which was no man’s land between 1949 and 1967, was acquired by Israel in the aftermath of the 1967 war and annexed to Jerusalem and Israel.

U.S. administration officials voiced their anger over the decision. Special U.S. envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell relayed to the Israeli government a request from the Americans not to build in Gilo.

A few hours after that news emerged, the Jerusalem municipality’s District Committee for Planning and Construction unanimously approved the plans to expand the built-up area in the northwestern part of the neighborhood. Within sixty days, after objections to the plans have been submitted, the plans will reach the implementation stage.

“Israeli law does not discriminate between Jews and Arabs,” explained Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat. “The demand to stop construction for Jews only is not legal, neither in the United States nor anywhere else in the world.”

Israel Interior Minister Eli Yishai said: “We won’t permit construction in Jerusalem to be stopped.”

However, U.S. administration officials responded to the decision sharply.

“While we’re working to renew the negotiations, an act of that sort makes it even harder for our efforts to succeed,” said a high-ranking State Department source. “This is a unilateral step, and we’ve demanded of both sides not to take any such steps. Our position is clear, Jerusalem is a final status arrangement issue.”

An official statement released by the White House noted the administration was “dismayed” by the decision, and that the United States also objected to other Israeli actions in Jerusalem that pertained to construction, including the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes and the demotion of Palestinian buildings.

A U.S. administration official said that the Israeli government had “given a slap in the face to the United States’ efforts to bring about successful dialogue between the parties.”

The decision to approve the construction in Gilo was perceived by the U.S. administration as a departure from the agreements that had been reached in the previous number of weeks.

“Israel is taking unilateral measures while it demands that the world oppose unilateral measures by the Palestinians,” said an American official. “That isn’t going to work on the ground. We’re disappointed in (Israel Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu.”

Officials in the Prime Minister’s Bureau rejected the American criticism and said: “The Gilo neighborhood is an integral part of Jerusalem, just as Ramat Eshkol, Rehavia, French Hill and Pisgat Zeev are. This issue is part of a broad national consensus.”

Officials in the Prime Minister’s Bureau said that “construction in the Gilo neighborhood has been underway continually for dozens of years and there is nothing new in the construction permit procedures.”

They added that there was no crisis in relations between Israel and the United States.

Rules Of The Game Have Changed

If anyone among the Israeli decision-makers still believed the Americans would ultimately get on with business as usual in the aftermath of the Israeli decision to build 900 housing units in Gilo, along came reality and slapped them in the face.

The U.S. administration does not accept the Israeli decision to apply Israeli law to any area acquired by Israel in the wake of the 1967 war.

Even more important to remember is that the American government does not recognize any part of Jerusalem as an integral part of Israel.

All documents processed by the American government in Jerusalem - passports, birth certificates, affidavits and even death certificates are stamped “Jerusalem” with no nation state mentioned.

Instead, successive U.S. administrations abide by the UN’s 1949 definition of Jerusalem as an international zone.

While lobbyists for Israel have, for many years, tried to influence countless American administrations to move the American embassy to Jerusalem, very few of Israel’s friends abroad ask the American government to simply recognize Jerusalem, Israel’s capital, as a part of Israel.

View the original article in the Philadelphia Bulletin