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%.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Australia and Israel: Concerning Trump and Obama Honouring Predecessors’ Commitments

[Published 5 February 2017]

A virtual media storm has erupted at the suggestion that President Trump might renege on President Obama’s agreement to take up to 2000 refugees off Australia’s hands presently languishing on Manus Island and Nauru (“Obama-Australia Commitment”)

The Obama-Australia Commitment was made in the dying days of Obama’s eight years reign as President in November 2016.

Yet the same media remained silent for the last eight years as President Obama reneged on President Bush’s agreement supporting Israel’s unilateral disengagement from Gaza and part of the West Bank, as well as advancing President Bush’s Roadmap designed to end the 80 years long unresolved Jewish- Arab conflict (“Bush-Israel Commitment”).

The differences between the Obama-Australia Commitment and the Bush-Israel Commitment could not be starker for the following reasons:

1. Search as you might - you cannot find what the Obama-Australia Commitment specifically states.

Dara Lind sums up this “agreement” as follows:
“The details of the agreement were a little fuzzy. It wasn’t clear how many refugees the US would end up taking, and there was some confusion about what role the UN High Commissioner for Refugees would play in the process. While Australia’s top immigration official, Michael Pezzullo, called the deal “an agreement entered into through diplomatic means,” it’s not clear whether a text was ever actually signed.”

On the other hand the Bush-Israel Commitment comprises a letter from President Bush to Ariel Sharon dated 14 April 2004.

2. There is a strong suggestion that the Obama-Australia Commitment was concluded in some sleazy backroom deal between the Australian Embassy in Washington and the US State Department that would see refugees from Central America presently housed in camps in Costa Rica being resettled in Australia.

On the other hand the Bush-Israel Commitment was openly discussed in the US Congress and endorsed in the House — 407 votes to 9 — and in the Senate — 95 votes to 3.
Obama had no qualms in sticking it to his own Democratic Congressional colleagues — including Hillary Clinton — voting in favour then as a Senator — by ignoring their almost unanimous support for the Bush-Israel Commitment.

Instead Obama led America down the garden path for five years to one of the worst diplomatic and policy failures of his presidency - antagonising Israel in the process.

Israel paid a huge price for its Gaza disengagement in 2005 in reliance of the Bush-Israel Commitment — including:
1. the expulsion of 8000 Jews who had lived in Gaza for periods of up to forty years,
2. the indiscriminate firing of tens of thousands of rockets into Israeli population centers reaching as far as Tel Aviv
3. three military incursions into Gaza to try and end the violence emanating from the Hamas-controlled enclave.
Yet the media never attacked Obama for disgracefully betraying his predecessor’s commitment to a close ally.

Now an infuriated President Trump has the supposed gall to tweet:
“Do you believe it? The Obama Administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal!”
An outraged media see this as a perfect opportunity to thump Trump - as do many politicians.

In doing so they betray their own appalling double standards and biases that sees so many readers abandoning their publications - and voters their political parties - in ever increasing numbers.

Outrage at Trump possibly not confirming the Obama-Australia Commitment stands awkwardly alongside the deafening silence following Obama’s repudiation of the Bush-Israel Commitment. Both are worthy of endorsement by President Trump on his terms - assisting two tried and trusted allies in their time of need.

That’s what friends are for.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Netanyahu needs Trump answer on Bush-Congress Commitments to Israel

[Published 1 February 2017]

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu will be meeting America’s President Trump on 15 February under very different circumstances to those when Netanyahu met President Obama on 20 May 2011.

President Obama had delivered a wide-ranging address on the Middle East just the day before when he dropped the following bombshell on his view of how negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority should proceed:
“The United States believes that negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine. We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states. The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their full potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state.‚”

Before boarding his plane for Washington Netanyahu said he:
“expects to hear a reaffirmation from President Obama of American commitments made to Israel in 2004 which were overwhelmingly supported by both Houses of Congress.‚”

Those 2004 commitments to Israel had been made by President Bush in a letter to Israel’s then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon dated 14 April 2004 (“the Bush Commitments‚”).

Obama never obliged Netanyahu by reaffirming those Bush Commitments.

Neither did Netanyahu press Obama to do so - though he had opportunities during
1.Remarks by Obama and Netanyahu After their Bilateral Meeting
2.An address by Netanyahu to AIPAC on 23 May 2011
3.An emotion-charged speech Netanyahu gave to a joint sitting of the Congress on 24 May 2011

Netanyahu’s failure to mention the Bush Commitments in his Congress speech was a grievous error of judgment — since those commitments to Israel had been endorsed in:
1. the House - 407 votes to 9 - and
2. the Senate - 95 votes to 3.
Such commitments had been given to support Israel’s unilateral disengagement from Gaza and part of the West Bank - marking real progress in realizing Bush’s Roadmap — and included the following:
“In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population 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.

Bush’s “mutually agreed changes‚” differed markedly from Obama’s “mutually agreed swaps‚” — which required Israel to swap some of its sovereign territory to gain sovereignty over any territory in the West Bank.

Under the Bush Commitments no such land swaps were required.

Obama had repudiated his predecessor’s commitments to Israel with this sneaky turn of phrase - adding insult to injury by demeaning Congress for its enthusiastic and overwhelming endorsement of the Bush Commitments.

In his AIPAC address — Netanyahu made mention of Israel’s:
“terrific Ambassador to the United States, a man who knows a few things about the U.S.-Israel alliance, Michael Oren‚”

Michael Oren — now a Knesset member - made the following call on 5 January 2015:
“The time has come to revive Bush’s letter to Sharon and to act in accordance with it”

As Netanyahu readies for his ground-breaking meeting with Trump he needs to heed Oren’s call and get a definitive answer this time from both Trump and the Congress.

America’s reputation and integrity as a trustworthy ally that honours its commitments is at stake.

Lightning can indeed strike twice in the White House and on Capitol Hill.