Friday, June 29, 2012

Kushner - From Israel: Not Just Wishful Thinking

Arlene Kushner..
28 June '12..

Perhaps my need to report some news that is potentially positive is kicking in. Today the state of the world still seems grim, but a tad less so.

The last residents -- 18 families -- of the houses in Ulpana slated for expulsion were moved out today.

With this, we have been mindful that one of the next issues to be faced is that of Migron, where there is also a Court-ordered expulsion, to be carried out before August 1.

But according to information acquired by Israel Hayom: in an effort to prevent that expulsion, an American Jewish philanthropist -- whose name has not been revealed -- has bought land constituting more than 80% of Migron from the Arabs who claimed ownership.

Credit: IndyNews


The story of Migron conforms to a typical pattern. It was established in 1999, with government funding (but without the final signature of the defense minister): the Israeli government set up the electrical lines, running water and the infrastructure for functioning sewage and telephone systems, while also providing mobile homes for families. And no Arabs came forth to claim rights to the land.

What is more, Migron was situated on a hilltop for security purposes. The government saw a need for a Jewish community in this location: A by-pass road had been established at the foot of the hill on which Migron is situated so that Jews would be able to travel -- via route 60 -- while avoiding entry into Ramallah. It was understood that without Jews on this hill, Jews traveling the road below would be at risk.

It was seven years later that Peace Now brought the case to the High Court on behalf of Arabs claiming to be owners. According to Migron residents these Arabs were not aware of their "ownership" until approached by Peace Now. To the very best of my knowledge, the alleged ownership by Palestinian Arabs has never been documented. The Court decision, rather, was predicated on government guidelines that make assumptions about ownership by Arabs -- this is almost a default position, and it one of the things that must change. (I will want to return to this in due course.)


The entire transaction was handled in great secrecy -- for reasons that seem fairly obvious. Even residents were not aware of all details. According to those involved, the land was purchased "in a completely legal and valid manner."

At this point, only four houses out of the 70 buildings that constitute this community are on land that cannot be solidly and legally identified as having Jewish ownership.

Residents hope that the High Court will agree to reverse its order. Those involved in the transaction call it a "win-win" situation.


As Dr. Aviad Cohen has written:
"The finality of a ruling is a cornerstone of the legal system; once a final ruling is handed down, there can be no further debate. This is how the legal system avoids endless appeals and the uncertainty that accompanies them.

"But there is an exception to every rule..

"If such exceptions occur in district courts, they should certainly occur in the High Court of Justice. As its name suggests, the High Court of Justice does not only rely on legal considerations but also feeds on the laws of integrity and justice. There are unusual cases when justice requires overturning even final verdicts.

"If the news reports are true...then the verdict ordering the outposts' evacuation must be reconsidered. In light of the new circumstances, there is room to make an exception and reopen the case before the High Court of Justice in order to reach a more just verdict..."


More than one seller was involved, and now there is concern for their lives -- both because the PA can levy the death sentence for selling land to Jews and because they will incur the hostility of other Arabs. This very fact -- that the Arab seller might find his life at risk -- is what inhibited the residents of Beit El from registering the purchase they made of land for the Ulpana neighborhood, which decision later rebounded upon them in an unfortunate manner.


Yasser Ali, spokesman for Egyptian president-elect Mohamed Morsi, has announced that Morsi's office is preparing to file a suit against the Iranian news agency FARS for fabricating an interview with Morsi that never took place. Good start for Iranian - Muslim Brotherhood relations.


Meanwhile, a member of Egypt's military council, Major-General Mohamed Assar, announced on a TV talk show that Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi -- who was Mubarak's defense minister for 20 years -- will be defense minister in Morsi's new cabinet, which has yet to be announced.

Additionally, Tantawi will retain his positions as head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, and as the commander of the armed forces. These are indications of the ways in which Morsi's power will be circumscribed. The fact that this announcement was made before Morsi was even sworn in is significant.

The military council has also created a new National Defense Council to run defense and foreign policies. Morsi and his future prime minister will serve on the council, but will be outnumbered by the generals also sitting on the Council; decision will be made by majority vote.


Daniel Pipes, of the Middle East Forum, readily agrees that the military is in control in Egypt -- that what we're seeing is a "palace coup." A reassuring perspective. In his blog, he writes:

"If even Time magazine realizes that in Egypt, 'The Military Shows Egypt Who’s Boss' one figures that the memo has finally been read by the dullest of the dull." The scenario as Time magazine, quoted by Pipes, sees it:

"Now that revolution is looking more and more like a palace coup, with the Mubarak ouster cleverly camouflaged in the language of democracy by a military working to prevent the total collapse of the old order. By jettisoning a leader who had stayed past his sell-by date, the generals — suddenly sympathetic to the protesters — bought time to re-engineer their hold on power even as the military played its Islamist and secular challengers against each other."


On the other hand, a grim assessment is offered by Brett Stephens, asking "Who Lost Egypt?":

"Egypt is lost.
"Don't console yourself with the belief that the victory of the Muslim Brotherhood in the country's first free presidential election is merely symbolic, since the army still has the guns...

"...By degrees, Egypt under the Brotherhood will seek to arm Hamas and remilitarize the Sinai. By degrees, it will seek to extract concessions from the U.S. as the price of its good behavior. By degrees, it will make radical alliances in the Middle East and beyond...

"So prepare for an Egypt that likes us about as much as Nasser's did and behaves accordingly. It's going to be a long and ugly haul. And it's just beginning."


Remember the joint US-Israeli maneuvers that were cancelled a few months ago, in the midst of diverse rumors? Well, it has now been announced that they will be held here in October -- the largest joint US-Israeli military exercise ever. It will feature thousands of soldiers -- 3,000 from the US and thousands of Israelis -- and missile defense systems.

The drill will simulate multiple missiles being fired simultaneously from Iran and Syria.

The timing has significance -- just before the election.

On the one hand, it might be a campaign maneuver. (See, everyone, how the US works closely with Israel!) On the other, it might make it more difficult for Israel to strike Iran with all that US military on hand.

According to Maariv, some analysts are dubbing this a "dress rehearsal" for a potential military conflict. The implications here are considerable, but this is speculative and I will not comment -- and will certainly not leap to prematurely hopeful conclusions about a cooperative attack.


In fact, I'll close here with a troubling piece by Shoshana Bryen, "The Incredible Shrinking US-Israel Security Cooperation," which calls puts all the hoopla about the joint exercise into a broader context.

"In light of increased sensitivity to intelligence leaks, it seemed innocuous...when the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) asked the Senate to remove a few words from the US-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act: the 'sense of the Senate' part of the bill included the sentence, 'Expand already close intelligence cooperation, including satellite intelligence, with the Government of Israel;' ODNI wanted the words 'including satellite intelligence' to go.

"An ODNI spokesman said it was 'simply a matter of clarifying the intelligence aspects of the bill and being sensitive to the level of specificity of the language…nothing nefarious here, just more clear language.'

"Yeah, right.

"This is just the latest example of the Obama Administration making clear that it does not want to be seen as Israel's partner in regional affairs – several of them predicated on Turkish desires. Despite Israel's status as a Major Non-NATO ally, a NATO 'partner' country, and a member of NATO's Mediterranean Dialogue, Turkey is increasingly insistent that Israel be isolated and cut out. This surrender to Turkey..coincides nicely with the Administration's increasingly open courtship of Turkey's Islamist-leaning and virulently anti-Israel Prime Minister and what appears to be the desire of the Administration to enhance security relations in the Arab-Muslim world as it dials back visible cooperation with Israel.

"This is no small matter. Israel's security is threatened...

"Agreeing publicly to keep intelligence information from Israel – a more likely target of Iran than Europe/NATO – at the behest of Turkey is a serious diminution of the U.S.-Israel security relationship..."

If you can be in Washington DC on July 19, please note:

EMET -- the Endowment for Middle East Truth -- is pleased to bring to Capitol Hill, Sgt. Benjamin Anthony, founder of the non-profit "Our Soldiers Speak."

Sgt. Benjamin Anthony (IDF. Res.), is a combat veteran and combat reservist in the Israel Defense Forces. As a heavy machine gunner, he has taken a full and front line roll in several of Israel’s most recent campaigns to defend it’s citizens in the face of new age terrorist activity, serving in large operations both within and beyond Israel’s borders.

Since his release from full- time service, Benjamin Anthony has established an organization - Our Soldiers Speak- a nonprofit-non-governmental body that has one aim, clear and singular: to bring the proud truth of Israel’s soldiers from the front lines of combat to the English speaking world, whenever and wherever audience is granted.

July 19, 2012, 12:000 Noon to 1:00 PM
Lunch to be served (dietary laws observed)
Rayburn House Office Building, Room B 340

Share the word, please.


© 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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