Tuesday, January 25, 2011

"Israeli Vindication, PLO Denials"

Arlene Kushner
Arlene from Israel
24 January '11

Two different stories, and we'll start with the Israeli vindication:

The Turkel Commission -- officially the Public Commission to Examine the Maritime Incident of 31 May 2010 -- released its findings yesterday.

The "maritime incident" alluded to is the one that involved a flotilla of six ships launched from Turkey, and pledged to break the Israeli maritime blockade of Gaza. The flotilla was organized by the IHH, an Islamic organization with terrorist ties. One of the ships -- the Mavi Marmara -- carried many so-called "activists" associated with IHH.

When the ship refused to change course, it was boarded by Israeli soldiers who were summarily and viciously attacked with weapons that had been stored on board. In the course of the ensuing struggle, in which Israeli commandos defended themselves, nine Turkish citizens were killed.

This incident caused a rupture with the Turkish government, and provided an opportunity for the international community to roundly condemn Israel. It was in response to this international furor that the Commission, consisting of four members and two international observers was set up; commission head was former High Court Justice Jacob Turkel.


The Commission review addressed the question of the legality the naval blockade itself; the actions taken by the organizers of the flotilla, and its participants; and the actions taken by the IDF to enforce the blockade.

In brief, the Commission found that:

1) "The naval blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip -- in view of the security circumstances and Israel's efforts to comply with its humanitarian obligations-- was legal pursuant to the rules of international law."

2) "The actions carried out by Israel on May 31, 2010, to enforce the naval blockade had the regrettable consequences of the loss of human life and injuries.

Nonetheless...the actions taken were found to be legal pursuant to the rules of international law."


The virulence and the brutality of the attack on the Israeli soldiers by IHH members and their associates on board the Mavi Marmara has come to light as a result of the Commission investigation. Weapons wielded included axes, knives, clubs, crowbars, and metal objects hurled with slings. And the terrorists wielding those weapons were heard to yell Allahu Akbar ("Allah is great" -- routinely heard when there is a terrorist attack).

One Israeli commando who gave testimony said:

"Before my feet hit the deck about 10 men jumped on me and started beating me with clubs, iron bars, their fists and anything else they could find. They beat my whole body, but they focused especially on my head and face. I have to make it clear that at that point I was not armed. That was when I knew my life was really in immediate danger."

You can see an extensive description of what went on, provided by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, here:



The Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (ITIC) has also uncovered information regarding active support for the flotilla provided by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who agreed to the departure of the ships even as he was aware that Israel would prevent the flotilla from reaching Gaza.

Evidence has surfaced of a meeting IHH held before the flotilla left, which makes obvious the close ties the government of Turkey had with IHH.

ITIC Director Reuven Erlich is very clear on this issue. Yesterday he said:

"The Turkish government was behind this unprecedented provocation against the State of Israel. The Turkish government went through several levels of involvement from behind the scenes to the front. You cannot disconnect the two."


Erdogan recently insisted that if the relationship between Turkey and Israel was to improve, Israel would have to issue a formal apology for the incident. At this, Foreign Minister Lieberman, in one of his "right on!" observations, commented that Turkey should be apologizing to Israel.

What Netanyahu's government was toying with at the time was some sort of unofficial expression of "regret" for the deaths of Turkish nationals. But, hell, these guys got exactly what they deserved. And I trust there will be no more suggestions in this regard following the exposure of the Turkish government's involvement.

Now, of course, Ergodan is totally rejecting the findings of the Commission.


The foreign observers for the Commission were Lord David Trimble, an Irish baron and politician, and Brig. Gen. (ret.) Kenneth Watkin, a former Canadian judge advocate general for the Department of National Defence. The two have issued an official letter, in which they indicate that they had full access to all of the material the Commission was working with, and were provided with translations of all testimonies given in Hebrew.

The Commission, they said, "made repeated efforts to hear both sides," and "made enormous efforts to get as much information as possible." They expressed regret that offers by the Commission to take evidence via video conferencing and, alternately, to take evidence in a neutral location, were "not taken up."

In conclusion, they wrote, "We have no doubt that the Commission is independent."


And now to the PLO denials:

Some 1,600 confidential documents regarding negotiations between the PLO and Israel have been leaked to Al Jazeera, over a period of months, reportedly by several sources. Al Jazeera -- a network based in Qatar -- in turn has shared this material with the Guardian in London. Apparently covering a period of ten years this material is now being released by both sources. The Guardian says it has confirmed the authenticity of most of the documents.

The various documents were originally part of the records drawn up and maintained by the Palestinian negotiation support unit (NSU), an arm of the PLO functioning in Ramallah. In other words, this is official, at least in theory, from the PLO side -- notes taken at meetings and such.

According to the Guardian, there has been discontent inside of the NSU, with many leaving, because of the degree of concessions being offered by the PLO.


The main thrust of what is being publicized concerns an apparent flexibility by the PLO beyond anything that has been made public before. In 2008, the PLO reportedly agreed to Israeli annexation of the Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem, except for Har Homa. Additionally, it is claimed, at one point Ahmed Qurei -- who had been PA prime minister -- offered Israel part of the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.

The Palestinian Arab officials in the PLO and the PA are having apoplexy over these reports, for, given their current position (that any building in Jerusalem past the Green Line works against peace), it is greatly embarrassing.

There are several ways to interpret what is going on here, and to determine what lessons, if any, can be drawn from it. The bottom line for me, no matter how it is interpreted, is that it will all come to nothing. (I will elaborate.)


Palestinian officials are charging that Al Jazeera -- and Qatar -- are deliberating working against them. PLO Secretary General Yasser Abd Rabbo called a press conference today, at which he said:

"[Al Jazeera took] references which were said now and again in an ironic manner as Palestinian answers. Al Jazeera took a lot of things out of context, including things that were said in jest. They made up things I've never heard of.

"We ceded nothing in Jerusalem. We ceded nothing more than [Abbas] presented. Our position is that we have a right over the 1967 lands, the rest is not true."
While Abbas, who is in Cairo at the moment, claimed that the leaked documents deliberately confuse the Israeli and Palestinian positions:

"What is intended is a mix-up. I have seen them yesterday present things as Palestinian but they were Israeli... This is therefore intentional."


The interesting thing is that analyst Barry Rubin says Abbas may be correct. Or it may be, he says, that the documents provided to Al Jazeera were altered, or the translations (from Arabic to English) turned matters around. Somewhere, somehow, it is extremely likely that there is fabrication, Rubin believes. For matters on the record, including notes on negotiations that Israel has and all public statements made by the PLO with regard to its demands, make it close to impossible to accept that the PLO would have been so forthcoming.

Are we going to accept a purely Arab version of events, asks Rubin, when we know the Arab propensity for fabrication?

Besides which, if the PLO was so eager to make concessions, why does it refuse to negotiate now?

In addition to which, if the Americans had known of the PLO willingness to make concessions, why would this have not been factored into its policy? (He doesn't specifically mention the Obama role in demanding freezing of all construction in Jerusalem past the Green Line, but this certainly doesn't comport with Arab conciliation.)



And what is the intended effect of these released documents?

There are those who claim that this will show that the PLO/PA is really more moderate and conciliatory than has been understood, and that, indeed, peace has a chance. It's a way to help the Arabs and make them look good.

But I think this utter nonsense. Unless there is something moderate and conciliatory on the public record, it all comes to nothing. Remember please, to put this in context. The PA still uses maps that have no "Israel" on them, still teaches its school children that all the land is theirs and that jihad is praiseworthy, and continues to name public squares after the most heinous terrorists. What conciliatory and moderate? What sign that peace is genuinely sought?

If, by some remote chance, these conciliatory offers were genuine, even this is meaningless if positions have hardened now. If the fact of their having been conciliatory is an embarrassment to them, what does this tell us?

And with regard to this, we come to the final piece in the equation: Hamas. There is an unfortunate tendency to forget about how Hamas affects Palestinian political discourse. Hamas fashions concession and conciliation as betrayal of the people. The PLO/PA cannot be seen to go there -- to be seen as weak and unable or unwilling to fight for the land and support the rights of the people. This is a sure way to lose the street. Already Hamas is attacking the PA because of these "leaks."

If anything at all will come of this, it will be to further stiff the backs of PLO/PA officials.


© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution

see my website www.ArlenefromIsrael.info

If you enjoy "Love of the Land", please be a subscriber. Just put your email address in the "Subscribe" box on the upper right-hand corner of the page.

No comments:

Post a Comment