30 December 09
For those who are home, and for those who are on the way. For those who support the historic and just return of the land of Israel to its people, forever loyal to their inheritance, and its restoration.
Carl in Jerusalem has a perceptive analysis of Secretary Clinton’s statement on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, addressing some of the concerns in my post about the omitted phrase “defensible borders” — a diplomatic term of art that has been dropped without explanation from the lexicon of the Obama administration.
Carl notes another significant omission, this time on the Palestinian side: Clinton referred to the goal of an “independent and viable” Palestinian state but omitted a word that has been insisted upon by the Palestinians:
There’s a key word missing here: contiguous. I have argued many times on this blog that if a ‘Palestinian’ state is contiguous, then by definition the Jewish state would be neither contiguous nor secure. Thus Clinton’s omission of the word contiguous from her formulation, if tracked in the [potential] letter to the “Palestinians,” is significant.
There may be a connection here. If a “contiguous” Palestinian state is not consistent with an Israeli one with “defensible” borders — and vice versa — Clinton may have simply ducked the issue by leaving both words out of her statement.
As the year ends, it is time for a broader look at the peace process, which has to date produced three Israeli withdrawals (from Lebanon, Gaza, and part of the West Bank); three Israeli offers of a Palestinian state (at Camp David, in the Clinton Parameters, and during the Annapolis Process); three Palestinian rejections; and three wars – one from each area of the withdrawal. The enterprise is apparently too big to fail, even though it repeatedly does.
First it was Jimmy Carter and then came Gideon Levy. Now UNRWA's John Ging jumps on the bandwagon, wildly exaggerating the number of Gaza homes destroyed and damaged during Israel's Operation Cast Lead. A Dec. 29, 2009 UN News Centre report states:
“The Israeli blockade has meant that almost no reconstruction materials have been allowed to move into Gaza even though 60,000 homes were either damaged or completely destroyed. So we in UNRWA have been saying ‘let's lift this senseless blockage,’” UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness told UN Radio.
It seems that Mr. Ging has not been doing the requisite U.N. reading homework. Paragraph 1238 of the U.N.'s Goldstone report reads:
Figures about the overall damage to residential housing vary according to the source and time of the measurement as well as the methodology. The human rights NGO Al Mezan reports that a total of 11,135 homes were partially or fully destroyed. According to the human rights NGO Al-Dameer-Gaza, 2,011 civilian and cultural premises were destroyed, of which 1,404 were houses that were completely demolished and 453 partially destroyed or damaged. A UNDP survey immediately after the end of military operations reported 3,354 houses completely destroyed and 11,112 partially damaged.
FILE - In this Friday, Jan. 4, 2008 file photo, Palestinian, Israeli and foreign protesters run from tear gas fired by Israeli troops, bottom, during a demonstration on Highway 443 near the West Bank village of Beit Horon outside Jerusalem. Israel's Supreme Court ordered the military on Tuesday Dec. 29, 2009 to allow Palestinians to travel on the part of Highway 443 that runs through the West Bank, handing Palestinians their biggest victory yet against Israel's practice of reserving some roads for Jews. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
Iranians are being murdered in the streets. The sister of Shirin Ebadi, the 2003 Nobel peace laureate who is not currently in Iran, was arrested and imprisoned apparently for the crime of being Shirin’s sister. The Iranians are beating protesters, hanging protesters, torturing protesters, and have been doing so since last year.
And the world’s outrage this month is focused on—Israel. At Human Rights Watch, the last comment on Iran was Dec. 10th, where there is an article titled “Iran: Stop harassing Shirin Ebadi.” There is nothing to date about the current wave of protests, beatings, and murders.
The UN website is concentrating on Gaza. And Gaza. And Gaza. And Gaza. Four news releases in the last week on Gaza. How many on Iran? You’re kidding, right? Because the last one was over a month ago, and it was about Iran’s nuclear violations.
A few weeks after Nonie Darwish, Egyptian, former Muslim and founder of Arabs for Israel, was prevented from speaking at Princeton University, Princeton's Conservative paper, The Princeton Tory, published a piece detailing what caused the last minute cancellation of Darwish's lecture.
Imam Sohaib Sultan, Muslim Life Coordinator and Chaplain at Princeton University, took offense at quotes he attributed to Nonie Darwish and felt she attacked all of Islam in her presentations. Comparing Darwish to a "neo-Nazi," Sultan called on the sponsors to reexamine the invitation, and they did.
Writing in the Tory, Aaron Smargon ’11 observed:
Sadly, if only [those opposed to Darwish's appearance at Princeton] had listened to even twenty seconds of Nonie Darwish's prepared speech, they may have learned something: "I want to stress that I am not here to offend the good and peace-loving Muslims; but I am speaking out and trying to expose horrific human rights violations in Muslim countries, allowed under Sharia law. How can we ignore suppression of freedoms of speech and religion, and the demonizing of whole groups of people such as Jews and Christians in the Middle East?"
The war was started with the stated purpose of ending the surge of rocket attacks on southern Israel by Gaza militants. These began when a ceasefire broke down, after an Israeli raid in November.
To read the full version of this piece, pick up a copy of this week's New Statesman, available in all good newsagents.
The Jerusalem Post reports that George Mitchell will return to the Middle East in early January and quotes an Arab diplomat saying that Mitchell will present “two draft letters of guarantee, one for Israel and one to the Palestinian Authority” as a basis for renewing negotiations. The Post reports that a senior Israeli diplomatic source said “the terms of reference Mitchell is reportedly bringing would probably closely resemble [Hillary Clinton’s] statement” last month, which read as follows:
We believe that through good-faith negotiations the parties can mutually agree on an outcome which ends the conflict and reconciles the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state based on the 1967 lines, with agreed swaps, and the Israeli goal of a Jewish state with secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet Israeli security requirements.
Letters of assurance have previously played an important part in the peace process. In 1997, Secretary of State Christopher wrote to Israel to assure it that the U.S. supported “defensible borders” for Israel as the conclusion of the peace process. In 2004, President Bush reassured Israel of the “steadfast commitment” of the U.S. to defensible borders. In his “Let Me Be Clear” address to AIPAC in 2008, Barack Obama stated that “any agreement with the Palestinian people must preserve Israel’s identity as a Jewish state, with secure, recognized and defensible borders,” reflecting the longstanding U.S. commitment.