Friday, July 29, 2011

Kushner - From Israel: UNRWA and More

Arlene Kushner
Arlene from Israel
29 July '11

There's a great deal about UNRWA in the news these days, and I have no doubt that I'll return to this subject again before long. Now I want, first, to share a link to my latest report on the subject. This is more of a mini-report (my major reports can run 30 or 40 pages) -- an overview, with more information to follow. The subject: UNRWA's connection with Hamas.

In Gaza, members of a Hamas-affiliated group, the Islamic Bloc, go right into UNRWA schools and do programming with the goal of recruiting the next generation of members for Hamas.


Then, an article of mine that has just come out in Middle East Quarterly, which takes a close look at the anti-Israel statements of key UNRWA personnel:


I am sooo tired of Mahmoud Abbas. So tired of hearing of his conflicting statements and outright lies, and so tired of reporting them to you, when you are likely sooo tired of them. as well. Thus I will allude only briefly to the two following items:

Abbas is now calling for "peaceful resistance" in support of the venture in the UN. This is not a good sign.

First, because I've yet to see real peaceful resistance by Palestinian Arabs. He's riling the people.

And second because he's raising expectations of something really happening at the UN. When this turns out not to be the case, violence is likely to ensue because of frustration. The higher the expectations, the greater the violence is likely to be. That's the pattern, folks. And if he already called for "resistance" before the fact?


And then, Abbas is saying that it's not clear that the US rejects his statehood plan at the UN. "We heard about their opposition through mediators. The leadership has not received a clear American rejection of the idea to go to the UN." he told the PLO Central Committee.

This, reports Khaled Abu Toameh, "despite the fact that senior PA officials who visited Washington in the past two months clearly stated that the US administration had threatened to use the veto in the Security Council to thwart the PA plan."

Abbas is apparently waiting for a final go-ahead from the Arab League on August 4, but then expects to proceed to the Security Council. (What happened to skipping the SC and going to the General Assembly?)


There was a dry-run of sorts in the Security Council this week, when the Middle East was under discussion.

According to YNet, Palestinian observer Riyad Mansour called for the UN to recognize a Palestinian state, and then burst into tears.

Ron Prosor, our new Ambassador to the UN, then asked him, "On behalf of whom will you be presenting a proposal in September, Abbas or Hamas?"

See more here:,7340,L-4100584,00.html


You can see Prosor's full statement to the Security Council here (top item). It gives us perhaps a sense of what will transpire in September:


Then see these articles regarding the fact that the PA is going broke:

Elliott Abrams, asks pointedly, in a blog for the Council on Foreign Relations, "Will the Arab League Pay for Palestine?"

A rhetorical question, for the Arab states are reneging on their commitments to the PA.
"This is a simple and quick test of the oil-rich Gulf states, and especially Saudi Arabia. With crude oil in the area of $100 a barrel, it is not a measure of their financial ability; they have the money. And that being the case, this is a far better test than speeches and UN votes of just how committed to Palestinian progress they really are." (Emphasis added)


Lawrence Solomon draws the necessary corollary in, "An independent Palestine couldn't pay its own bills":

Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain, the five countries whose financial obligations burden the European Union, may soon be joined by another that the EU may unwittingly be taking on - Palestine. If Palestine declares statehood this September, as many of its EU underwriters are encouraging it to do, the EU would be implicitly assuming an open-ended financial burden for a country of over four million...

"...there is something that the Europeans who assume a hypothetical, independent Palestine have overlooked: Without Israeli good will, a Palestinian state couldn't support itself. (The author explains this in his article.)

"...Palestine without Israel has no viable economy, and the Americans don't seem particularly eager to meet any shortfall (and have troubles enough with their own balance books). If Europe, through its encouragement of a premature Palestine, breaks the Palestinian economy, it could own it."


And one last, not very palatable article about the PA here. According to Haaretz, Shimon Peres -- the left wing octogenarian who holds the ceremonial position of president -- has been engaged in secret negotiations with PA negotiator Saeb Erekat to find a formula for negotiations that will bring the PA back to the table and stop them from going to the UN. Myself, I believe the chances are dim. But it riles me none-the-less. This is not the first time Peres has stuck his nose in where it doesn't belong.

According to Haaretz, this is being done with Netanyahu's sanction. Best I can figure is that he says, sure, why not, let's see what happens. For, whatever you think of Netanyahu, his policies and ideologies are not the same as those of Peres. But Peres speaks as if he represents the State of Israel.

What people like Peres don't wish to grasp is that there is no essential give from the other side.

Writes Haaretz journalist Akiva Eldar:

"The two went over maps of the West Bank and East Jerusalem in an effort to find a formula that would bypass the dispute over establishing the June 4, 1967 border as a basis for negotiations toward a final settlement between Israel and the Palestinians.

"One option explored was the exchange of territory, and others was to compensate the Palestinians for settlement blocs annexed into Israel, on the basis of the U.S. proposal that the area of a Palestinian state be equal to the territory of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip."

What unmitigated nonsense. Can anyone be that blind, except purposefully? If the Palestinian state is equal to the West Bank and Gaza, then the '67 lines ARE being used as the basis.

In deciding how seriously to take this, we must also keep in mind that Haaretz promotes the negotiations, and then some.


I've long felt that it's time for Peres to be sent to a home for seniors. But I think that it would serve our nation well if Ehud Barak, currently serving as our defense minister, would somehow be sent into retirement as well -- even though he's barely 70.

Barak, who has what is undoubtedly the best relations with the Obama administration of anyone in our government, has just met with US officials -- US Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and National Security Advisor Tom Donilon.

And now he's coming out pushing hard for an Israeli apology to Turkey. "I don't like it," he told the press, "but it's not a bad thing to have reasonable relations with Turkey in a region which has instability in Egypt, downsizing in Saudi Arabia and a hostile Iran."

But that's the Obama line -- that this will allow good relations with Turkey. But it's appeasement, and would be futile. Those in the know, including Minister of Security Affairs Moshe Yaalon, understand this.

I'll return to this issue, and other statements made by Barak.


Hezbollah, it would seem, is spoiling for a fight.

This Tuesday, in a televised talk in recognition of the fifth anniversary of its war with Israel, Hasan Nasrallah, Hezbollah's Secretary-General, alluded to the maritime border dispute with Israel, saying that when Israel demarcated its border with Cyprus it infringed on 850 square kilometers of Lebanese territorial waters:

"With regard to the 850-square-kilometer zone, as long as the state considers it Lebanese territory, it is Lebanese in the resistance's eye (resistance? Hezbollah sits in the government of Lebanon ) and there is no disputed area. There is an area that has been infringed on. Lebanon has a diplomatic opportunity to recover it through the border demarcation. [A reference to Lebanon having submitted this demarcation to the UN.]
"We warn Israel against extending its hands to this area to steal Lebanon's resources from Lebanese waters. Until Lebanon decides to exploit this area, Israel must be warned against extending its hands to it.

"Whoever harms our future oil facilities in Lebanese territorial waters, its own facilities will be targeted."

The leader of the Islamic resistance movement also threatened to target Israel’s oil installations if Lebanon’s oil facilities are attacked.


Additionally, there was a bombing of a UNIFIL convoy in Lebanon recently that Israeli officials are interpreting as a signal from Hezbollah to back off.

According to UNIFIL's current mandate -- from Resolution 1701 -- this force is not allowed to enter Lebanese villages to search for Hezbollah arms without coordination with the Lebanese army. Israel has been lobbying countries that contribute to UNIFIL to secure a change in these rules, via the UN, so that Lebanese villages might be searched.


Can something good be happening here, can we be on the verge of changing policy on Har Habayit (The Temple Mount)? Or is this report from Arutz Sheva overly optimistic? (Sorry for my cynicism, but it's been fostered via long experience.)

In 1967, after we re-claimed the Old City and Har Habayit, Moshe Dayan, in an act of supreme foolishness, however well-intentioned it may have been, told the Islamic Wakf (Trust) that it could continue to control day to day affairs on the Mount, where Muslims come to pray at the mosques. What Dayan apparently didn't anticipate is that the Muslims know no compromise; slowly over the years they have attempted to usurp our influence over matters there.

Today, while we do handle security, in essence the Muslims conduct themselves as if the site of our holy Temples is exclusively theirs. Galling is not the word for this, for Jewish presence is restricted and there's been damage by the Muslims to archeological remains (they would prefer to obliterate evidence of Jewish presence there).

What has happened is that Jews are forbidden to pray on the Mount, and -- I'm ashamed to even write this -- it is Israeli police who enforce this with real vigor. The fear is of Muslim rioting on the Mount. Better deprive Jews of their rights than risk the ire of a Muslim mob prone to violence. Never mind that this is also appeasement.

This article describes a visit by the Attorney General, Yehuda Weinstein, to the Mount, to see matters for himself, at which time he indeed did discover police bias against religious Jews.

A group known as Ha Habayit Shelanu (the Temple Mount is ours) has issued an expectation that the Attorney General will now pursue this matter.

I will be delighted to write about this again if some progress is made.


© 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.

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