Mandate for Palestine - July 24, 1922

Mandate for Palestine - July 24, 1922
Jordan is 77% of former Palestine - Israel, the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and Gaza comprise 23%.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Israel - Fresh elections,not musical chairs

[Published May 2007]

The severity of the criticism heaped on Israel's Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, and the Defence Minister Amir Peretz by the Winograd Commission demands the immediate calling of fresh elections to allow the Israeli electorate to have its say on whether the Government still retains the public's confidence.

The Government's culpability did not start and end with the Second Lebanon War.

The writing was on the wall long before the Winograd Commission delivered its' scathing interim Report.

Any idea of playing musical chairs by simply replacing Mr. Olmert and Mr Peretz must be resisted .

Every member of the Government must accept responsibility for the precarious position in which Israel finds itself today.

Mr Olmert's unqualified support for two States between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean has not got off the ground despite the active involvement of America, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations.

The Government seems incapable of formulating an alternative policy to break the deadlock such as proposing negotiations for the division of the West Bank between Jordan and Israel within the context of their present peace treaty. The best it has managed to do is express interest in discussing the 2002 Arab League Peace Initiative, which had already been comprehensively rejected by previous Governments.

Gross errors of judgement in pursuing its policy of unilateral withdrawal such as the abandonment of the physical control of the Philadelphi corridor between Gaza and Egypt and the failure to stop the indiscriminate rocketing of Israeli civilian population centres from Gaza have resulted in Israel's national and security interests being placed in great danger.

The Government has witnessed the rise of a Hamas dominated Government in Gaza, the unrestrained arming of myriad terrorist groups and the entry of Al Qaida into the conflict in the region. It has sat on its haunches and done little of any consequence in any of these areas.

Israel's Arab enemies now believe that further unilateral withdrawals by Israel can be achieved by the continued use of violence, forcing Israel to retreat to more vulnerable borders.

The Government's attempt to negotiate with Palestinian Authority President Abbas to the exclusion of Prime Minister Haniyeh has failed miserably. Photo opportunities at bi-weekly meetings are a waste of time and will not bring tangible results.

Contemplating the release of 1400 prisoners, many of them murderers, for the return of one soldier, indicates the sense of hopelessness in Government circles. Waiting in the background are the decisions that will then have to be taken to procure the release of two more soldiers captured by Hezbollah.

Surrounded by countries that do not recognise its' existence and threatened to be nuked by Iran and attacked by Syria, Israel's Government appears to be bankrupt of any effective policies to counter all the threats facing the country at this time.

Add to this a number of corruption scandals alleged against Government members and one gets a very depressing picture about this Government's ability to govern at one of the most critical stages in Israel's 59 year history.

The Government needs to come clean, clearly articulate its policies in all of these areas and go to the polls to obtain a mandate to implement them from the Israeli electorate.

Clearly the resignation of Mr Olmert and Mr Peretz will solve nothing. Clinging to power at any cost without facing up to the electorate is the last thing Israel needs at this critical juncture.

Only fresh elections can reverse the downhill slide into which Israel is rapidly descending. Surely any other course of action at this time is a sell-out and a subversion of the democratic process.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Quartet Crumbles, Arab League Rumbles, Israel Fumbles

[Published 15-03-2007]

America, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations - the Quartet - have now apparently decided that their shared vision of creating a second Arab State in former Palestine -in addition to Jordan - is unrealistic and unattainable.

It has taken the Quartet four years of fruitless endeavour to finally understand that this vision has turned into a nightmare, that its' negotiating skills have been found wanting, totally inept and ineffective, and that its' inability to exercise any persuasive leadership or control over the negotiations has made it the laughing stock of the Arab world.

Competent negotiators know that you don't start negotiations unless you can reasonably be assured of a successful outcome. The Quartet has stumbled badly and its' reputation has been shot to pieces.

You would think that in these circumstances the Quartet would understand the need to go back to the drawing board and formulate a new policy that did not have the creation of another Arab State in former Palestine as its' centrepiece.

Instead the Quartet has decided to create a symphony orchestra by joining with the 22 members of the Arab League in pursuing the League's outdated and totally flawed 2002 Peace Initiative - which calls for precisely the same second Arab State to be created in former Palestine.

By what stretch of the imagination does the Quartet believe the Arab Plan will succeed when its' own plan has so spectacularly failed to be implemented in even the smallest detail?

Does the Arab plan have any more desirable features than the Quartet's Plan to enable this new Arab state - the 23rd in the world - to be created?

Definitely not for the following reasons:

(i) It demands the right of return to Israel of all Arabs (and their descendants) who have not lived there for the last 60 years , which even our intrepid Quartet found to be totally unrealistic.

The Quartet's view on this outrageous proposal is set out in the letter George Bush gave to Israel's then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at the White House on 14 April 2004 (the Bush Pledge) which explicitly stated:

"It seems clear that an agreed, just, fair and realistic framework for a solution to the Palestinian refugee issue as part of any final status agreement will need to be found through the establishment of a Palestinian state, and the settling of Palestinian refugees there, rather than in Israel."

(ii) It demands the right of expulsion of 400000 Jews living in the West Bank for the last 40 years - ethnic cleansing at its' cruellest and most primeval level , a gross abuse of international humanitarian law and as racist as you can get.

The Bush Pledge said of this pernicious proposal :

"In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion. It is realistic to expect that any final status agreement will only be achieved on the basis of mutually agreed changes that reflect these realities."

(iii) It demands the return of every single inch of the West Bank to Arab rule. No ifs and buts- every single inch.

This makes a mockery of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 which made it clear to the Arabs that more than a few inches of the West Bank would remain in Israel's hands.

Again the Bush Pledge was firm and uncompromising stating:

"As part of a final peace settlement, Israel must have secure and recognized borders, which should emerge from negotiations between the parties in accordance with UNSC Resolutions 242 and 338."

It is critical to understand that the Arab League Plan is not something that is open to bargaining of the kind one usually indulges in on a visit to an Arab bazaar where the end result usually involves the shopkeeper running down the street after the departing customer, frantically prepared at that stage to do any deal he can conclude.

The Arab leadership has made it crystal clear that its' plan is an "all or nothing proposal".

Israel and the Quartet must somehow think otherwise as both suddenly find something of value in an overture that has been ignored for the last five years.

What could possibly lead them to that conclusion is the real mystery.

What is also crystal clear is that the symphony orchestra will not play a note of this score and that it will be consigned to the dustbin of history like the many plans that have preceded it. Anyone buying tickets to this performance will be bitterly disappointed .

The creation of a second Arab State in former Palestine on the terms demanded by the Arab League is dead in the water.

There is only one piece left to be performed- the division of the West Bank between Jordan and Israel.

Who in the orchestra will have the guts to grab the baton, get on the podium and bring this program to a successful finale?