September 2012

September 28, 2012

EDITOR: It affects us all, everywhere!

Like in 1973, and numerous other junctures, the Israeli actions (or inaction) affect us all. Israel intransigence and its leadership extreme positions lead to world-wide tensions, economic difficulties in times of crisis, and the general heightening of tensions that are likely to lead to a middle east war of frightening dimensions. The oil markets are quite savvy, so if this is their reaction to Netanyahu’s speech, you can bet on that. Those who are defending Israeli excesses, want us all to pay for them.

Oil prices spike after Netanyahu speech at UN: Haaretz

Crude oil futures jumped to $91.85 per barrel as Iran nuclear program rhetoric ratchets up.

By Nimrod Halperin | Sep.28, 2012 | 9:31 AM

oil - Bloomberg - December 27 2010

Oil prices had the highest jump in eight weeks after Netanyahu’s U.N. speech yesterday. Photo by Bloomberg

Crude oil prices rose 2.1 percent to $91.85 a barrel on Thursday, the sharpest jump in eight weeks, the day Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech at the United Nations raised concerns over escalating tensions between Israel and Iran.

The Spanish government’s approval of budget cuts and the expectation that China’s central bank will inject greater liquidity into China’s financial system also helped alleviate floating anxieties in world markets, which pushed oil prices upwards.

During his speech yesterday before the U.N. General Assembly, Netanyahu called for a clear red line to halt the development of Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

“The relevant question is not when Iran will get the bomb,” said the prime minister. “The relevant question is at what stage we can no longer stop Iran from getting the bomb.

“I believe that faced with a clear red line, Iran will back down,” he continued. “This will give more time for sanctions and diplomacy to convince Iran to dismantle its nuclear weapons program altogether.”

Netanyahu later added, “Red lines don’t lead to war; red lines prevent war. In fact, it’s the failure to place red lines that has often invited aggression.”

Addressing the General Assembly, the prime minister emphasized the urgency for action.

“By next spring, at most by next summer, at current enrichment rates, the [Iranians] will have finished the medium enrichment and moved on to the final stage,” he said. “From there, it’s only a few months, possibly a few weeks, before they get enough enriched uranium for the first bomb.

“What I told you now is not based on secret information,” Netanyahu continued. “It’s not based on military intelligence. It’s based on public reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Anybody can read them. They’re online.”

“This ratcheting up of rhetoric brought the focus of the oil market back to oil supply concerns,” said Summit Energy analyst Matt Smith in an interview with the financial news site Marketwatch.

Crude futures for November delivery rose 2.1 percent yesterday to close at a price of $91.85 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Mahmoud Abbas to UN: Israeli policies leading to ‘new Nakba;’ recognize Palestine before it’s too late: Haaretz

Palestinian president says ‘settler terrorists’ have carried out 535 attacks against Palestinians since the beginning of the year; PA will seek UN recognition as ‘non-member state.’

By Barak Ravid, Chemi Shalev and Reuters | Sep.27, 2012 | 8:10 PM

Mahmoud Abbas speaking at the UN General Assembly

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addresses the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Sept. 27, 2012. Photo by AP

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told the UN General Assembly in New York on Thursday that his government would seek non-member status for Palestine, but he warned that Israel was “promising the Palestinian people a new Nakba” if it continues with its current settlement policies in the occupied West Bank.

Nakba is the term used by Palestinians to refer to the “catastrophe” of the 1948 war over Israel’s declaration of independence, during which hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were displaced or made refugees.

Over the past few months, Abbas said, “attacks by terrorist militias of Israeli settlers have become a daily reality, with at least 535 attacks perpetrated since the beginning of the year.” He added that Israel had demolished 510 Palestinian structures over the past 12 months, displacing some 770 Palestinians from their homes.

“We are facing relentless waves of attacks against our people, our mosques, churches and monasteries, and our homes and schools; they are unleashing their venom against our trees, fields, crops and properties, and our people have become fixed targets for acts of killing and abuse with the complete collusion of the occupying forces and the Israeli government,” he said.

He blamed the attacks on Israeli government policy, which he said supports settlements and occupation and creates a “racist climate” and a “culture of incitement.” He also accused Israel of committing war crimes, including “murder, torture and abuse of peaceful civilians.”

Israel’s actions, said Abbas, show that it rejects the two-state solution.

However, he said, the Palestinians remain committed to peace and non-violence. “We realize that progress towards making peace is through negotiations between the PLO and Israel,” he said.

“Despite all the complexities of the prevailing reality and all the frustrations that abound, we say before the international community there is still a chance – maybe the last – to save the two-state solution and to salvage peace,” Abbas said.

Noting the PA’s aborted attempt to gain UN Security Council recognition as an independent state last year, which he said was foiled by “a major and hostile uproar,” he said he would seek a General Assembly resolution declaring Palestine a non-member state during the current session.

At last year’s General Assembly, Abbas attempted to win full membership to the world body. However, that application failed to win enough support in the UN Security Council. The Palestinians did win membership last year to UNESCO, the Paris-based UN cultural agency, despite the objections of Israel and the U.S.

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September 26, 2012

EDITOR: The argument about the single democratic state in Palestine gets stronger!

It is quite surprising that anyone still treats the two-state solution as anything but a hoax, but bearing in mind the great Zionist and western investment in this coverup for the contnuation of the occupation and the connected oppression, it is understandable. While more and more people in Palestine and abroad are now coming to understand not just the lie behind the two-state solution, but also the value and positive qualities of havinga single, democratic, secualr and non-racist society organised in a single state structure in Palestine. Only those whi oppose democracy and equality still stick to arguments against such a solution.

Debunking the racism behind a two-state solution: Ma’an News Agency

Published Monday 24/09/2012 (updated) 25/09/2012 11:00
Israel’s separation wall in Bethlehem. (MaanImages/File)
Much has been said and written about the Oslo Accords and the Geneva initiative. The signatories claim that these much debated documents in principle opened up new possibilities for ‘cooperation’ between what has for so long seemed to be irreconcilable positions.Yasser Abed Rabbo and Yossi Beilin, the signatories of the Geneva Initiative, for example, believe that “the only solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the establishment of two-states.” And, in what sounds like a warning, the latter adds that the window for a two-state solution will not be available indefinitely and Israel will be forced to deal with the “demographic threat” imposed on it by the Palestinians in historic Palestine.This article, on the contrary, maintains that the two-state solution under present conditions denies the possibility of real coexistence based on equality. This is because both the Geneva document and the Oslo accords accept the Zionist consensus and, for the first time in the history of the conflict, seek to legitimize Israel as a Jewish state in historic Palestine.In both of these documents, therefore, Israel would appear to have been confirmed as the “state of all the Jews” and never “the state of all of its citizens”. The logic of separation implicit in these documents implies some fundamental contradictions and begs certain serious questions.

The Accord and the Initiative have legitimated apartheid. Both documents include a language that is, euphemistically, reminiscent of the series of laws known collectively as the Group Areas Act which forced the relocation of millions of non-white South Africans into racially-specific ghettos. It was created to split racial groups up into different residential areas.

Like in Apartheid South Africa, where the most developed areas were reserved for the white people, and 84 percent of the available land was granted to the same racial group, who made up only 15 percent of the total population, in Palestine even the 22 percent of the historic land on which an ‘independent state’ is supposed to be declared is, according to the Oslo accords, “disputed”.

In the South African case, the 16 percent of remaining land was then occupied by 80 percent of the population. But contrary to the Palestinian case, that was never given legitimacy by the leadership of the indigenous population.

How can you call for the implementation of Security Council resolutions asserting the right of return of the 4.5 million Palestinian refugees to their lands in Israel, and at the same time maintain the exclusively Jewish nature of the state? To be fair, this contradiction also appears in the literature of the Palestinian Resistance Movement. Both Hamas and the PLO also fail to answer this question. Moreover, how does this solution solve the problem of racism and cultural oppression of the marginalized Palestinian citizens of Israel?

Furthermore, is the establishment of an independent state as the solution to the Palestinian problem even possible?

No Israeli position supports full statehood

The argument of Beilin and Abed Rabbo, and even that of the leadership of the PA, is that only negotiations can solve the problem. For ten years negotiations have not moved the Israeli position at all; the Camp David negotiations reached the impasse predicted by both the Palestinian left and the ant-Zionist Israeli left. Ehud Barak’s red lines in 1999, are now very well-known, and Netanyahu’s platform leads to nothing more than a canton for native Palestinians.

Of course Avigdor Lieberman’s advocacy of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine has won him more seats in the Knesset. Add to this the fact that the establishment of a Palestinian state is not mentioned in any of the clauses of the Oslo agreement, thus leaving the matter to be determined by the balance of power in the region. This balance tilts in favor of Israel, which rejects the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state, in spite of its recognition of the PLO.

No Israeli party, neither Labor nor Likud, is ready to accept a Palestinian state as the expression of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination as defined by international law.

The Labor Party is prepared to negotiate with the Palestinians in order to give them an advanced form of self-rule that will be called a state, and through which the Palestinians will be enabled to possess certain selected features of ‘independence,’ such as a Palestinian flag, a national anthem, and a police force. Nothing more. This was Barak’s ‘generous’ offer in Camp David.

The Likud Party, on the other hand, is not prepared to give the Palestinians even these semblances of self-rule. Their vision of the future is rather that the Palestinians should be allowed to run their own affairs under strict and binding Israeli control.

Turning the blame

And lately, in a bizarre, ironic twist, Palestinians have been blamed for killing the two-state solution. Right-wing Israeli historian Benny Morris has given up on finding a solution to “the conflict… mainly due to the Palestinians’ consistent rejection of a solution of two states for two peoples.”

This is not unlike saying that blacks of South Africa are to blame for killing the Bantusan system. And they should be punished. “In the end, both sides of the Palestinian movement, the fundamentalists led by Hamas and the secular bloc led by Fatah, are interested in Muslim rule over all of Palestine, with no Jewish state and no partition.” And Palestinian leadership, according to Morris, “has no desire or intention of reaching a solution of two states for two peoples.”

The two- state solution is dead because “the Palestinian leadership and people will not be satisfied with 20 percent of the territory of Palestine. A state composed of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem will not satisfy them,” Morris says.

And when asked about the right of return, Morris claims that it “essentially requires the destruction of the Jewish state… the Palestinian discourse and the Palestinian objectives have not changed, and their actions, i.e. terror…”. It is Palestinians that are to blame because “[the] demonization is not equal on the two sides. In the Israeli education system, in general, there is no demonization of the Arab, [whereas,] there, the Jews are completely demonized. The Palestinian authorities are busy deeply implanting the demonization. The Palestinian people think we can be made extinct. We don’t think that about the Palestinians.”

The problem for Morris is that “[aside] from revenge, the Palestinians have absolute faith in the justice of their side, which derives in part from religious faith. What God commands, and what his interpreters on Earth say that God commands, is the definite truth. While the Jews are much more skeptical about this sort of interpretation, the Palestinians feel that justice is on their side and that God doesn’t want the Holy Land to be shared with another people….”. Edward Said and Frantz Fanon must be turning in their graves.

But facts on the ground tell another story. Settlement activity in the West Bank continues, as does the confiscation of land and the opening of zigzag roads to service the settlements. Notably, the number of Jewish settlers has risen from 193,000, when the Oslo Accords were signed, to 600,000. No Israeli government has ever been willing to commit itself to the complete evacuation of settlers from the West Bank.

Yet this is a basic pre-condition for the creation of an ‘independent Palestinian state’ impossible in light of Israel’s commitment to the settlers. In order to guarantee the security of the settlements and ensure their future development, Israel is bound to control the greater part of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Furthermore, in any future contingency it is certain that Israel will invoke its security needs to justify tightening its control over the Jordan Valley, thus, again, rendering the project of an independent Palestinian state impossible.

Jerusalem has suffered and is still suffering from the continuation of settlement activity, the building and expansion of Jewish neighborhoods, the confiscation of Jerusalem IDs, ethnic cleansing, and the policy of ‘facts on the ground’ which leave no room for future Palestinian control over the city.

In addition, Palestinian refugees living outside the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are experiencing increasing difficulties especially in places like Lebanon and Syria, and are waiting for the day to return to Palestine and to be compensated for their confiscated property. This is a right guaranteed by UN resolution 194.

Meanwhile the Palestinian community in Israel is prevented from coexisting on an equal footing with Israeli Jews. Israel’s state policy against its Palestinian citizens amounts to Apartheid as defined by the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid, and ratified by United Nations General Assembly resolution 3068 (XXVIII) of 30 November 1973. Needless to say, the PA does not represent either of those two large segments of the Palestinian people.

One state

Defending a two-state solution is, therefore, an insult to the memory of those who fought for equality and justice not only in Palestine, but also in the American South and South Africa.

Thus we come to the inevitable conclusion that a sovereign, independent Palestinian state is, for the reasons mentioned above, unattainable. The question, therefore, is whether there is an alternative solution?

One alternative increasingly to be found in the writings and pronouncements of certain Palestinian intellectuals and activists is the idea of a secular-democratic state in Mandate Palestine in which all citizens are treated equally regardless of their religion, race or sex.

A secular, democratic state is one inhabited by its citizens and governed on the basis of equality and parity both between the individuals as citizens and between groups which have cultural identities. Inherent in such an arrangement is the condition that the groups living there are enabled to coexist and to develop on an equal basis.

This is summed up in Nelson Mandela’s last words at the end of his four hour statement to the court at the Rivonia Trial: “I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

This system is proposed here as a long-term solution that will need much nurturing, following the political demise of the project of an ‘independent Palestinian state’ as a result of the Oslo Accords, the siege of the Gaza Strip, and the occupation of the West Bank. The establishment of four Bantusans in South Africa was considered by the International Community to constitute a racist solution that could not and should not be entertained.

In order to bring that inhumane solution to an end, the Apartheid regime was boycotted academically, culturally, diplomatically and economically until it succumbed and crumbled into pieces. Nothing remains of the old ethnically cleansed South Africa or the impoverished Bantusans it had created; not the red carpets, nor the national anthems, or the security apparatuses.

This is what racist solutions come to; a corner in the dustbin of history — a museum for the gaze of new generations.

Haidar Eid is an independent political commentator and professor in the department of English literature at Al-Aqsa University in Gaza.

EDITOR: Some useful links on the Single state in palestine:




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September 24, 2012

EDITOR: Benny Morris barks again…

The darling of the Israeli right, the once ‘new historian’ now spouts the old message. Benny Morris, who told the world that Palestinians were ‘barbarians’ and needed to be ‘locked down in cages’ is at it again, apparently not satisfied with the 2004 interview where he said those things to Haaretz. So here he is, with his dog, again being the voice of Israeli propaganda… It is saddening and disturbing, to read he recanting his past sins and ‘misunderstandings’. Morris is trulya Jeckyl and Hyde character, oscillating between his two states of mind. If Shamir, Begin, Sharon or Netanyahu said these things, no one would blink, but here is Bennt Morris, the New Historian, being an unreflective mouthpiece of Israeli propaganda, It is painful to behold.

Due to its interest, I publish the whole long interview here.

Benny Morris on why he’s written his last word on the Israel-Arab conflict: haaretz

The historian, best known for exposing IDF atrocities from 1948, now says it’s the Palestinians who are not interested in a two-state solution.

By Coby Ben-Simhon | Sep.20, 2012 | 2:22 PM |  8

Benny Morris at his home in the Elah Valley

Benny Morris at his home in the Elah Valley. Photo by Yanai Yechiel

After 30 years, he’s giving up. “This is the last book I will write about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” declares historian Benny Morris, sitting on the balcony of his home, overlooking distant lush hilltops covered with cypresses and pines. A pioneer in researching the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and one of the most prominent Israeli historians of his generation, he has had his fill of the exhausting and bloody cycle that he has documented for the past three decades. “The decades of studying the conflict, which led to nine books, left me with a feeling of deep despair. I’ve done all I can,” he says. “I’ve written enough about a conflict that has no solution, mainly due to the Palestinians’ consistent rejection of a solution of two states for two peoples.”

This weary feeling about the bitter encounter between the two sparring peoples is given profound expression in the new Hebrew edition of his book, “One State, Two States: Resolving the Israel/Palestine Conflict” ‏(first published in English in 2009‏). In the book, Morris describes − for what he says is the last time − another chapter in the history of relations between Israel and the Palestinians. Given the circumstances, he concludes his research with an incisive political essay that could be read as an indictment. “It’s a historical essay that has a political purpose and a political explanation,” he admits. “My aim is to open readers’ eyes to the truth. The objective is to expose the goals of the Palestinian national movement to extinguish the Jewish national project and to inherit all of Palestine for the Arabs and Islam.”

To Morris, a professor of history in the Department of Middle East Studies at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, his book is akin to a dead-end journey. Rather than sketch a way out, he seeks to entrench himself within a sober-eyed view of a hopeless reality. “The book deals with the various objectives and solutions that have been proposed throughout the history of the conflict,” he explains. While at the start, the two movements − Zionist and Palestinian − sought to establish their own state on the entire territory, a shift occurred at a certain point. The movements followed different trajectories in terms of their intentions.

“The Zionist movement started out calling for the establishment of a Jewish state on all the territory of the Land of Israel, but from 1937 on, its leaders gradually abandoned the claim of ‘it’s all mine’ and adhered to the ambition to form a sovereign Jewish state in part of the territory of the Land of Israel. Thus it changed its approach and consented to territorial compromise: that is, to the idea of two states for two peoples, a decision that derived in part from the logic of dividing the land between the two peoples living in it.”

Hands resting on a wooden table, Morris cites venom-filled quotes from the Palestinian National Charter, the Fatah constitution and the Hamas charter. He asserts that, unlike the Zionists, since its inception the Palestinian national movement has never retreated from its demand to establish a single state in the disputed territory.

“The Palestinian national movement has remained unchanged, throughout the different periods of the struggle, whether under the leadership of Hajj Amin al-Husayni or his successor, Yasser Arafat,” says Morris with near-palpable disgust. “It did not even change during the years of the Oslo process. In the end, both sides of the Palestinian movement − the fundamentalists led by Hamas and the secular bloc led by Fatah − are interested in Muslim rule over all of Palestine, with no Jewish state and no partition.”

A couple of charming dogs scamper about in the shade of the fig and olive trees. After Morris gets the two to calm down, he goes back to making his argument: “In the Zionist movement, they understood − under the impress of Hitler’s deeds and rising anti-Semitism in Europe − that the Jewish people needed a refuge and a state. Because of the urgency, and because they had to save the nation, the Zionists were prepared to abandon the dream of Greater Israel and to make do with part of it. The same policy was supported by the major powers that also strove for compromise. This impact − the Holocaust, the demand of the major powers and even a sense of justice − led the Zionists to conclude that two states for two peoples should be established here. This conclusion was manifested, of course, in the acceptance of the UN Partition Plan in 1947.”

But the Zionist movement didn’t always support the idea of compromise.

“This was the guiding line of the Zionist movement in the years 1948-1977, and has been again since 1992. Aside from a few years of euphoria in which the right held power and propounded the idea of Greater Israel, the Israeli position was one of compromise. The brief euphoria dissipated very quickly. Since the first intifada in 1988, about two-thirds of Israelis support territorial compromise. The Palestinians, no. They have consistently − even if outwardly they seemed ready for compromise − never accepted the legitimacy and the claims of the Zionists. The Palestinian movement doesn’t care about Jewish history. They deny the connection between the Jews and the Land of Israel. The Jewish narrative is completely foreign to them.”

You write in the book that the Palestinians’ basic claim is that the land belongs to the original inhabitants who were here before 1882. In other words, before the first aliyah. For this reason, they view the Jews as thieves with whom there can be no compromise. But some would say you are describing a monolithic Palestinian voice, as if all Palestinians are radical Islamists.

“It’s true there’s a difference between the extremists, who say directly that they want to wipe out the State of Israel, and the secular nationalists, who outwardly say they’re ready for a compromise accord. But actually, both of them, if you read their words very carefully, want all of Palestine. The secular leaders − if you can call them that − like Yasser Arafat and President Mahmoud Abbas, are not prepared to accept a formula of two states for two peoples. So as not to scare the goyim, they project a vagueness about it, but they think in terms of expulsion and elimination.”

What do you mean exactly when you say “in terms of expulsion and elimination”?

“Arafat, since the ‘70s, after Fatah’s guerrilla warfare failed to yield results, concluded that the liberation of the homeland would be accomplished through a ‘policy of stages.’ The idea of the ‘struggle in stages’ was meant to achieve the gradual elimination of Israel and a solution of a single Arab state. In other words, the Palestinian Liberation Organization leaders continually put on a conciliatory face in order to please the West, but actually their goal was to eliminate Israel in stages, since they couldn’t do it in one blow.

“The same staggered strategy, which sees the establishment of a state in the occupied territories as the first stage in the conquest of the entire land, was, in their view, better than a direct strategy of endless military confrontation. Abbas says it day in and day out, and continues to demand the right of return.”

Isn’t it legitimate for the Palestinians to demand the right of return for some of the refugees?

“The realization of the right of return essentially requires the destruction of the Jewish state. For the same reason, Abbas currently refuses to hold negotiations with the Israelis. Because negotiations could lead to a resolution to the conflict. He has no desire or intention of reaching a solution of two states for two peoples.”

The book was first published in English in 2009. The general spirit of the book, as you yourself describe it, has been echoed repeatedly by Israeli politicians and journalists, who fixed the image of the Palestinian side as “no partner,” while the Israeli side was making a maximum effort to reach an accord. In this regard, do your arguments add anything to the public discourse?

“The book was written several years after the end of the second intifada [in 2005], under the impression that it [had] left. The book is relevant to the extent that the Palestinian discourse and the Palestinian objectives have not changed, and their actions, i.e. terror, are continuing by means of the rockets that are being launched almost daily, and could also return when circumstances warrant by means of suicide bombers.

“In this context, it is vital to show the continuous, historical line of thinking that characterizes the Palestinians − which, at its base, does not give Jews any legitimate right to this place. The first section of the Hamas charter says, ‘In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate … Israel will rise and will remain erect until Islam eliminates it as it had eliminated its predecessors.’ It is important that we recognize who we are facing.”

The public debate about the conflict is mired in prejudices. Don’t you feel you’re adding fuel to the fire with such a demonic depiction of the Palestinians? After all, we, too, like the Palestinians, outwardly talk about compromise, but meanwhile settle in their territory with the clear intention of preventing a solution to the conflict. Some of our people torch mosques, and shoot at innocents. We’re not exactly saints.

“The demonization is not equal on the two sides. In the Israeli education system, in general, there is no demonization of the Arab. He might not be described positively, but he’s not the Devil. There, the Jews are completely demonized. The Palestinian authorities are busy deeply implanting the demonization. The Palestinian people think we can be made extinct. We don’t think that about the Palestinians. What I am doing is describing the history; I’m not demonizing. The book describes the Palestinian position. If there’s demonization in it, it simply derives from the things that they themselves say and do. I’m only letting them express themselves. What they say is what has adhered to their image.”

Morris, the preeminent Israeli historian writing about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, was born in Kibbutz Ein Hahoresh in 1948 to parents who were immigrants from England − “passionate Zionists,” as he describes them. His father was the first secretary of the Hashomer Hatzair movement in England, and later served as Israel’s ambassador to New Zealand.

“They came here just before the founding of the state,” says their son, at his home in Srigim Li On, in the Elah Valley. “After a brief time on Kibbutz Ein Hahoresh, my parents were part of a group that founded Kibbutz Yasur, which was built on the ruins of the village of Al-Birwa, the birthplace of Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish. That’s why I feel a certain connection with Darwish,” he notes casually and laughs.

His childhood was spent between Jerusalem and New York. “A year after I was born, my parents left the kibbutz and moved to Jerusalem. My father, who’d been the kibbutz driver, got a job with the Jewish Agency. Later on he joined the Foreign Ministry and worked in information [hasbara]. When I was 9, he was sent as a consul to New York. I remember very little from my childhood there,” says Morris, without any noticeable regret. “I remember getting mugged in the park and having my chessboard stolen. I remember that at Ramaz, the school I went to, they mixed together Talmud, Bible, Jewish history and general studies. It was a private school, one of the best in New York. Most of the graduates went on to top universities like Harvard and Columbia.”

But Morris took a different path. Although he thought about continuing his studies in the United States, after high school he returned to Israel and enlisted in the Nahal, serving in the 50th ‏(Paratroop‏) Battalion. “The period of my military service was relatively quiet. They shot at us a little bit in the Jordan Rift Valley, there were a few ambushes, but not the experience of real combat. The only event possibly worth noting was in ‘67, at the start of the Six-Day War, when I took part in an operation that’s recorded as a footnote in the history books. While Golani and the 8th Brigade breached the Syrian lines in the northern Golan Heights, we new recruits carried out a diversionary action in the southern Golan Heights. Our battalion commander was killed by a Syrian bombardment.”

In the War of Attrition, Morris took a more significant part in the fighting and was sent to an outpost on the Suez Canal. There, in 1969, he was wounded by Egyptian shelling, which led to his early discharge from military service. After that, he began studying history and philosophy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

“I didn’t think about becoming a doctor or lawyer, or a historian for that matter,” he says, taking a piece of watermelon from a bowl. “History simply interested me. After three years I saw that philosophy didn’t interest me, so I decided to pursue a doctorate in history. I studied in Jerusalem for another year and then I continued at Cambridge University.”

He returned to Israel in 1977. When he was unable to find a teaching position, he began working as a translator and for the classified ads section of the Jerusalem Post. Not long afterward, when he was 28, he moved from the classified section to the news pages and began a new career, first as an education reporter and later as the diplomatic correspondent. But Morris soon found that journalism didn’t satisfy him. “As a journalist, I felt a need to do something ‘more serious,’” he says. “I thought about writing a book that would tell the story of the Palmach [the elite strike force of the Haganah, the prestate underground Jewish militia]. I contacted the Palmach Generation Association and they gave me access to their archive, which was still classified at the time in the IDF Archive [where there was a copy of everything]. I got down to work.”

But his Palmach book − which he started working on at the end of 1982, just as the first Lebanon war was unfolding − did not reach fruition. “I’d started working on the Palmach archive, but after about two months of work, when I was sitting one day in the library in Efal, this Palmach political commissar − a man called Sini, Yisrael Galili’s former aide − came up to me and said: ‘You know what, Benny, we’ve decided that one of our people will write the history of the Palmach. You’re fired.’”

But Morris wasn’t ready to give up on his ambition of publishing a book. “Ironically, while working in the Palmach archive, I was exposed to material that dealt with the creation of the Palestinian refugee problem. For example, I came across the expulsion order for the residents of Lod and Ramle, issued by Yitzhak Rabin on behalf of Yigal Allon. These materials were linked somehow to the war in Lebanon, when for the first time I saw refugees from the Al-Rashidiya camp − some of whom I interviewed. The Lebanese refugees captured my imagination. I felt that the Palestinian refugee phenomenon could be a good subject for a book. In fact, if I hadn’t been prevented from finishing the book on the Palmach, I probably would have spent years writing a totally different book.”

In addition to his journalistic work, in the early 1980s Morris began writing “The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem.” The book, which caused a sensation, made mincemeat of the official Israeli version of events that said Palestinian refugees had fled their homes of their own accord, and put Morris at the center of a raucous public debate. Relying on a range of documents, Morris showed that the Palestinians who fled their homes between 1947 and 1949 did so largely due to Israeli military attacks, undermining the official story. He also noted that there was no deliberate policy of expulsion, but says now that “the senior Israeli command did carry out expulsions in certain areas.”

The book contained harsh findings that stained the image of the 1948 Israeli soldier. Morris described incidents of rape and slaughter that occurred in the shadow of the War of Independence, including an incident in Acre in which four soldiers raped a woman and then killed her and her father. In another incident, a female captive in the village of Abu Shusha, near Gezer, was raped repeatedly. Morris described, in chilling detail, massacres that included the arbitrary killing of hundreds of innocents − old men walking in a field; a woman in an abandoned village − and orderly executions carried out against a wall or next to a well. “I felt then, while I was writing it, that this was a volatile subject,” he says. “I realized that I was going to publish a different depiction than the usual depiction, than the familiar Zionist narrative. I felt that this was something different that broke with convention. And, in fact, there was a lot of anger when the book was published. Some were saying quietly that it was too early to publish what I wrote, since it would blacken Israel’s image while it was still in a struggle with the Arab world. They said the kind of things I described could give ammunition to our enemies. Today I see that there is something to that. I understood it then, too, but at the time when I was writing, Israel seemed secure. In the 1980s, it appeared as if Israeli society could weather such ‏historical‏ criticism.”

That pioneering research also defied the historians who’d chosen to refrain from describing the harsh facts. From this standpoint, your writing caused a real earthquake in academia, because you undermined the familiar basic knowledge.

“It was a paradox. On the one hand, the academic world quite quickly related very positively to the book. But there were also people who were discomfited by it. The research exposed the work of many scholars as whitewashing and lies. It exposed the ‘old’ Israeli historians, as I referred to them, as not having done serious history. About the same time my book appeared, works in the same vein came out, written by others − including Avi Shlaim, of Reading and then Oxford University; Tom Segev of Haaretz; and Simha Flapan, a Mapam activist. None of them emerged from or worked in the Israeli academic establishment. But subsequently, it became far more difficult for Israelis to write ‘scientific’ history − that is, history not based on archival material and suppressing unpleasant elements of the historical truth. Historians felt they had to fall in line with this ‘New Historiography’ in terms of modus operandi, and it became far harder to evade or distort the past. In subsequent years, even books published by the Defense Ministry included descriptions of massacres by Israeli troops.”

But your work proved to be a double-edged sword for you. While it made you a star, all the doors were closed to you.

“I was treated like an enemy of the state. This image stuck. I was ostracized. I wasn’t invited to conferences and, of course, I wasn’t offered a university position. It was a tough time. I couldn’t support myself and my family. For six years I had no job, until − with the intervention of President Ezer Weizman − I was hired at Ben-Gurion University in 1997. I lived off loans from friends. I had no money. In 1991 I was fired by the Jerusalem Post, which was taken over by right-wing millionaires ‏(including Conrad Black‏), who dismissed all the paper’s left-leaning veteran staff. I spent the years writing further histories, published by Oxford University Press and Am Oved. But I had no job.”

Today you say you were stuck with an image that was inaccurate. But in fact, during the first intifada, just months after the publication of “The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem,” you refused to serve in the territories. In those years, that was a highly controversial act.

“True. I saw the first intifada that erupted in the winter of 1987 as an effort of a people to throw off a 20-year military occupation. This effort, in the main, was not lethal, and the protesters did not use live-fire weapons. They’d simply had enough; they wanted to be rid of the yoke of occupation − that is how I saw it. I did not feel it right to take part in the suppression of this nonlethal uprising, and I refused to do reserve duty in the Nablus Casbah. I felt that the Palestinian struggle for independence was legitimate and that the oppression was fundamentally illegitimate. The second intifada was a totally different story. Against the backdrop of the waves of terror attacks, the Palestinian uprising certainly looked like it was geared to destroying Israel. Therefore, today I am opposed to refusal to serve in the territories.”

Following the repeated terror attacks and the failure of the July 2000 Camp David summit, Morris’ positions in relation to the conflict changed sharply. In a 2004 interview with Haaretz Magazine, he claimed that in certain conditions, expulsion was not a war crime, and that there were circumstances in history when expulsions were justified − such as when the alternative was someone killing you.

You said that people were mistaken when they labeled you a post-Zionist, and you described Palestinian society as being like a “serial killer” whose people should be locked up “in a cage.” You called Arafat a “liar” and the Arabs “barbarians.”

“I may have gone a little overboard. I think that I wasn’t careful enough in choosing my words, although I still stand behind what I said. I said that the Palestinians should be put in a cage so they won’t be able to get here to place bombs in buses and restaurants. The word ‘cage’ did not go over well and perhaps it was the wrong word to use. Of course, I meant fenced off. As for the refugee situation, I still maintain that it was a requirement of the reality. Since the Palestinians tried and intended to destroy us, and their villages and towns served as bases in wartime, the winning side had to take over villages and expel populations. This situation was built into the nature of the war, even if people from the left have a hard time swallowing it. Massacres are always reprehensible, but the Jews behaved much better than other nations in similar circumstances.”

You pointed out the dichotomy between the “new historians” who did not adopt the Zionist narrative, and the “old historians” who wrote from an establishment perspective. But your book and the general approach with which you wrote this essay definitely express the Israeli consensus, and perhaps an even more right-wing view than that. Some will say your historical analysis is more characteristic of the old historians.

“I don’t see myself as an ‘old historian’ or as someone who is taking back any of his words. All of my writing, both before and after 2000, is faithful to the truth that comes out of the historical documents. I did not change the facts or the way of looking at the past, although I did learn to appreciate the depth of the Arabs’ rejection of Zionism and the idea of territorial compromise. I definitely accept the Israeli narrative about Camp David, which says that the Palestinians were made − both by Ehud Barak and President Bill Clinton − unprecedented offers, and that they turned them down. In my book I argue that this is essentially their consistent, perpetual line since the dawn of the Palestinian national movement. Just as they rejected the two-state offers in ‘37, ‘47 and ‘77, they rejected the offer in 2000.”

One of Morris’ most striking conclusions is that, regarding the past, there was no point at which the Israelis could have acted differently. “There are people who believe that we blew an opportunity here or there,” he says. “There is even a hint of this, perhaps, in my book ‘Border Wars,’ about the peace talks between Israel and its neighbors after ‘48. But a more thoughtful look back shows that no opportunity appears to have been missed. There simply was no readiness for peace on the other side. They didn’t want to accept us here. As long as the Jews wanted a state of their own, under their control, no acceptable accord could be reached with the Arabs. Not before ‘48 and certainly not afterward, when the Arab side was also prompted by vengefulness.”

Revenge is one of the explanations that Morris places on the table to explain the intransigence of the Palestinian national movement. “Aside from revenge, the Palestinians have absolute faith in the justice of their side, which derives in part from religious faith. What God commands, and what his interpreters on Earth say that God commands, is the definite truth. While the Jews are much more skeptical about this sort of interpretation, the Palestinians feel that justice is on their side and that God doesn’t want the Holy Land to be shared with another people. Another thing: They absolutely believe that time is working in their favor. And the Palestinians feel that they have the backing of 400 million ‏(or so‏) Arabs and another billion-odd Muslims around the world. So why compromise?”

In the second chapter of “One State, Two States…” you discuss the two main accepted models for a resolution of the conflict: two states for two peoples, or a single binational state of some kind in which Jews and Arabs live together. The problem is that neither of these models is realistic, in your view. At the end of the book you propose as a solution a federation between Jordan and Palestine.

“I say that the compromise proposals that have been continually put forward since ‘67, that are based on a Jewish state on about 80 percent of the territory of Mandatory Palestine and a Palestinian state on about 20 percent of the territory, are not realistic. The Palestinian leadership and people will not be satisfied with 20 percent of the territory of Palestine. A state composed of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem will not satisfy them. They will want to expand − to Jordan, to Israel, to Sinai, or in all three directions at once. In order to satisfy the need for growth and territorial expansion, a merging of the West Bank, Gaza and Transjordan might satisfy the Palestinian urge for more territory and constitute a more reasonable and durable accord.”

MK Aryeh Eldad ‏(National Union‏) may be the most vocal proponent nowadays of such a confederation.

“But this was essentially the ‘Allon Plan,’ and the concept of the Labor Party in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Although never officially adopted by the party institutions, it was accepted by most of its leaders. According to this plan, Palestine would be divided into Israel − more or less along the pre-’67 borders − and an Arab state that could be called a Palestinian-Jordanian state, that would combine most of the territory of the West Bank and East Jerusalem with the East Bank i.e., the kingdom of Jordan.

“Ariel Sharon once talked about turning Jordan into Palestine − in other words, ousting the kings, putting the Palestinians in charge in their place and thereby solving the Palestinian demand for a state. But I am talking about something different: The bulk of the West Bank united with Transjordan in one state.”

But from the moment Jordan washed its hands of the West Bank in the late 1980s, and said it viewed this as Palestinian territory, the rug was pulled from under the advocates of the Allon Plan, and since then the plan has rightly been gathering dust. Today as well, it is unreasonable to expect to convince the Jordanians, or the other nations of the world, to support this move, that would necessarily lead to a situation in which the royal family was ousted. If it’s impossible to convince anyone to go along with this idea, what’s the point of discussing it?

“Because it is still more logical than an accord between us and the Palestinians that is based on a division of Mandatory Palestine. The logic of a large Palestinian-Jordanian state is more valid than any partition plan − which I support, by the way. Justice and logic say that the Palestinians should have a state alongside Israel, but the portion of the land that is designated for them in a simple partition will not satisfy them. And so the territory east of the Jordan River also has to be inserted into the equation in order to give the Palestinians a vision of space. The West Bank, even without the Jewish settlers who are there now, is a very constricted space. Gaza is one big slum. Jordan-Palestine could be the basis for an accord that will last, even if it cannot be achieved in our time. For now it is impractical and unrealistic. So the message is certainly pessimistic.”

Do you see any signs of light?

“The only optimistic thing I can say is that the history of the Zionist movement and of Israel is so unusual and unpredictable that the end of the story, or the next part of the story, could yet surprise us in a good way. Maybe. I yearn for such a surprise.”

Since you’ve decided to quit researching the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, what do you plan to focus on now?

“I’ve already begun to write a history of Turkish-Armenian relations from 1876-1924, together with Prof. Dror Zeevi, an Ottomanist. The Armenian genocide will, of course, figure large in it. It’s a whole new story.”

Benny Morris.
Benny Morris.Yanai Yechiel
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September 17, 2012

EDITOR:The show must go on…

While the ghost war between Netanyahu and Obama continues to entertain some, the real preparations for the bombing of iran continue. Not only the US, but also its partner in crime in the Arab East, the UK, is preparing for the coming war. It seems they have learnt nothing from Iraq and Afghanistan. Now they are going to urge Israel into an attack, then move in to secure its back. Even the recent reshuffle in the UK of cabinet ministers is part of the Israeli plans, it seems. Read and become worried… In the meantime, the US diplomats are preparing to leave Beirut ina hurry.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

<>UK: Defence Minister: Clegg Axed Me Because I Won’t Support Attack on Iran: ICH

By Mark Nicol and Brendan Carlin

September 16, 2012 “Daily Mail” — A Liberal Democrat Defence Minister has claimed he was sacked to avoid a damaging Coalition split over a pre-emptive strike on Iran.

Former Armed Forces Minister Sir Nick Harvey told friends that he was fired in the reshuffle to allow Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to sign Britain up to an Israeli-US preventive strike to take out Iran’s nuclear installations.

Friends of Sir Nick – who was handed a knighthood just days later – say that he could have embarrassed the Lib Dem leader by being too critical of Israel’s actions if he had still been in the key Ministry of Defence post.

The row broke as sources confirmed that British intelligence agents are already deeply involved in attempts to discover Iran’s nuclear secrets.

It is also understood that the US has asked Britain to provide frigates to patrol the Straits of Hormuz, through which much of the world’s oil passes.

The sacking of the respected Minister took MPs and Army top brass by surprise.

Party sources have insisted the move – which has left the Ministry of Defence staffed entirely by Tories – was due to Mr Clegg’s decision to accept Lib Dem ministerial jobs in other, more ‘voter-friendly’ Government departments.

But when approached by The Mail on Sunday, Sir Nick confirmed he had considered his sacking was linked to mounting speculation of a pre-emptive strike on Iran and the expectation that UK forces would be drawn in afterwards. However, the MP went on to say he had since discounted that theory.

‘I have cast my mind over the issues that might have led the party leader to this decision,’ he added.

‘But having toyed with that one, I have decided it could not have played any part in it.’

However, one party insider said the idea made sense, adding: ‘With our record over opposing the Iraq War, no one in our party is going to congratulate Israel on launching a strike.

‘But Nick may have been particularly outspoken, especially in the immediate aftermath and when we’re bound to get caught in cleaning up the mess alongside the Americans.

‘He probably takes the view that we’d need to give a particularly strong condemnation of Israel to show the Arab world that we didn’t approve. However, that could have caused a problem for some of Clegg’s Tory Coalition colleagues.’

The reshuffle earlier this month came amid renewed speculation that Israel is planning to launch a unilateral attack to prevent Iran developing nuclear weapons.

Only last weekend, Israel’s defence minister Ehud Barak appeared to hint that he believed the US would join his country in the pre-emptive attack.

There were also reports that US President Barack Obama was poised to set out the ‘red lines’ that would trigger an American attack if Iran continued to press ahead with its nuclear programme.

MoD sources yesterday confirmed that contingency talks over the dispatch of Royal Navy minesweepers to the Gulf had already been held.

Last night, Professor Malcolm Chalmers, of the Royal United Services Institute, suggested that the Lib Dem reshuffle arrangements would not release the party from difficult defence decisions as part of the Coalition.

He said: ‘The United Kingdom is doing everything it can to keep a handle on what the Iranians are doing and we have got a lot of well-developed sources in the region – signals and human intelligence.

‘The Liberal Democrats cannot simply wash their hands of national security issues by removing their Ministers from the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign Office.

‘As a member of the National Security Council, Nick Clegg is briefed on the latest intelligence on Iran and will continue to be so.

‘Clegg could adopt a position of agreeing to disagree, raising his objections to the Prime Minister but saying go ahead.’

Dr Anthony Cordesman, an expert on Iran at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington DC, said the US and Britain were sharing ‘a great deal of intelligence at this time’.

Sources close to Mr Clegg last night denied the Iran situation had played a part in the decision to remove Sir Nick.

Engineering Consent For An Attack Iran: ICH

Netayahu: Iran six to seven months from nuclear bomb capacity

The Israeli premier called the U.S. to spell out limits that Tehran must not cross or else face military action – something Obama has refused to do.

By The Associated Press and Reuters

September 16, 2012 “Haaretz<>” — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned on Sunday that Iran would be on the brink of nuclear weapons capability in six to seven months, adding new urgency to his demand that President Barack Obama set a clear “red line” for Tehran in what could deepen the worst U.S.-Israeli rift in decades.

Taking his case to the American public, Netanyahu said in U.S. television interviews that by mid-2013, Iran would be 90 percent of the way toward enough enriched uranium for a bomb. He urged the United States to spell out limits that Tehran must not cross or else face military action – something Obama has refused to do.

“You have to place that red line before them now, before it’s too late,” Netanyahu told NBC’s “Meet the Press” program, saying that such a U.S. move could reduce the chances of having to attack Iran’s nuclear sites.

The unusually public dispute – coupled with Obama’s decision not to meet with Netanyahu later this month – has exposed a deep U.S.-Israeli divide and stepped up pressure on the U.S. leader in the final stretch of a tight presidential election campaign.

America’s ambassador to the United Nations says there’s “no daylight” between the United States and Israel when it comes to stopping Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. But Susan Rice also says U.S.-Israeli intelligence indicates that the two nations have “considerable time” before that happens.

Rice tells CNN’s “State of the Union” that economic sanctions are working.

Tehran insists its program is peaceful.

Rice says President Barack Obama has been clear that it stands with Israel and “will do what it takes” to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. But, she adds, “we are not at that stage yet.”


Rice says President Barack Obama has been clear that it stands with Israel and “will do what it takes” to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. But, she adds, “we are not at that stage yet.”

Netanyahu to demand red lines for Iran on ‘Meet the Press’

WATCH: Interview part of PM’s campaign to garner American public support for his position on Iran.

By Jonathan Lis

September 16, 2012 “Haaretz<>” — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will begin a campaign to win American public support to draw “red lines” for Iran, regarding to the Islamic Republic’s nuclear aspirations. As part of his campaign, Netanyahu recorded interviews for American media programs on CNN and NBC.

During his interviews, Netanyahu will attempt to convince the American public that drawing red lines for Iran will not only discourage the nation from obtaining nuclear weapons, but also reduce the chances of a broader armed conflict.

Netanyahu is expected to mention recent attacks against American embassies in the Middle East. In a preview clip of the interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press”, Netanyahu said, speaking on what he called Iranian fanaticism, “it’s the same fanaticism that you see storming your embassies today. Do you want these fanatics to have nuclear weapons?”

Aides close to Netanyahu said on Saturday that the prime minister intends to stress that the is convinced that discussions of red lines will forge clear boundaries for Iran, and make it that much more difficult for the Islamic Republic to obtain nuclear weapons.

Also on Saturday, Foreign Policy published an interview with United States Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, who also discussed the ongoing debate between the U.S. and Israel regarding the setting of “red lines” for Iran.

He said that “Leaders of these countries don’t have, you know, a bunch of little red lines that determine their decisions,” he said. “Red lines are kind of political arguments that are used to try to put people in a corner.

Armada of British naval power massing in the Gulf as Israel prepares an Iran strike: ICH

An armada of US and British naval power is massing in the Persian Gulf in the belief that Israel is considering a pre-emptive strike against Iran’s covert nuclear weapons programme. 

By Sean Rayment, Defence Correspondent

September 16, 2012 “The Telegraph<>” — Battleships, aircraft carriers, minesweepers and submarines from 25 nations are converging on the strategically important Strait of Hormuz in an unprecedented show of force as Israel and Iran move towards the brink of war.

Western leaders are convinced that Iran will retaliate to any attack by attempting to mine or blockade the shipping lane through which passes around 18 million barrels of oil every day, approximately 35 per cent of the world’s petroleum traded by sea.

A blockade would have a catastrophic effect on the fragile economies of Britain, Europe the United States and Japan, all of which rely heavily on oil and gas supplies from the Gulf.

The Strait of Hormuz is one of the world’s most congested international waterways. It is only 21 miles wide at its narrowest point and is bordered by the Iranian coast to the north and the United Arab Emirates to the south.

In preparation for any pre-emptive or retaliatory action by Iran, warships from more than 25 countries, including the United States, Britain, France, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, will today begin an annual 12-day exercise

The war games are the largest ever undertaken in the region.

They will practise tactics in how to breach an Iranian blockade of the strait and the force will also undertake counter-mining drills.

The multi-national naval force in the Gulf includes three US Nimitz class carrier groups, each of which has more aircraft than the entire complement of the Iranian air force.

The carriers are supported by at least 12 battleships, including ballistic missile cruisers, frigates, destroyers and assault ships carrying thousand of US Marines and special forces.

The British component consists of four British minesweepers and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Cardigan Bay, a logistics vessel. HMS Diamond, a brand-new £1billion Type 45 destroyer, one of the most powerful ships in the British fleet, will also be operating in the region.

In addition, commanders will also simulate destroying Iranian combat jets, ships and coastal missile batteries.

In the event of war, the main threat to the multi-national force will come from the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps navy, which is expected to adopt an “access-denial” strategy in the wake of an attack, by directly targeting US warships, attacking merchant shipping and mining vital maritime chokepoints in the Persian Gulf.

Defence sources say that although Iran’s capability may not be technologically sophisticated, it could deliver a series of lethal blows against British and US ships using mini-subs, fast attack boats, mines and shore-based anti-ship missile batteries.

Next month, Iran will stage massive military manoeuvres of its own, to show that it is prepared to defend its nuclear installations against the threat of aerial bombardment.

The exercise is being showcased as the biggest air defence war game in the Islamic Republic’s history, and will be its most visible response yet to the prospect of an Israeli military strike.

Using surface-to-air missiles, unmanned drones and state-of-the-art radar, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and air force will combine to test the defences of 3,600 sensitive locations throughout the country, including oil refineries and uranium enrichment facilities.

Brigadier General Farzad Esmaili, commander of the Khatam al-Anbiya air defence base, told a conference this month that the manoeuvres would “identify vulnerabilities, try out new tactics and practise old ones”.

At the same time as the Western manoeuvres in the Gulf, the British Response Task Forces Group — which includes the carrier HMS Illustrious, equipped with Apache attack helicopters, along with the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle – will be conducting a naval exercise in the eastern Mediterranean. The task force could easily be diverted to the Gulf region via the Suez Canal within a week of being ordered to do so.

The main naval exercise comes as President Barack Obama is scheduled to meet Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, today to discuss the Iranian crisis.

Many within the Obama administration believe that Israel will launch a pre-emptive strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities before the US presidential elections, an act which would signal the failure of one of Washington’s key foreign policy objectives.

Both Downing Street and Washington hope that the show of force will demonstrate to Iran that Nato and the West will not allow President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian leader, to develop a nuclear armoury or close Hormuz.

Sir John Sawers, the head of MI6, the Secret Intelligence Service, reportedly met the Israeli prime minister and Ehud Barak, his defence secretary, two weeks ago in an attempt to avert military action against Iran.

But just last week Mr Netanyahu signalled that time for a negotiated settlement was running out when he said: “The world tells Israel ‘Wait, there’s still time.’ And I say, ‘Wait for what? Wait until when?’

“Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel.”

The crisis hinges on Iran’s nuclear enrichment programme, which Israel believes is designed to build an atomic weapon. Tehran has long argued that the programme is for civil use only and says it has no plans to an build a nuclear bomb, but that claim has been disputed by the West, with even the head of MI6 stating that the Islamic Republic is on course to develop atomic weapons by 2014.

The Strait of Hormuz has long been disputed territory, with the Iranians claiming control of the region and the entire Persian Gulf.

Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps recently boasted that “any plots of enemies” would be foiled and a heavy price exacted, adding: “We determine the rules of military conflict in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.”

But Leon Panetta, the US defence secretary, warned that Iranian attempts to exercise control over the Strait of Hormuz could be met with force.

He said: “The Iranians need to understand that the United States and the international community are going to hold them directly responsible for any disruption of shipping in that region — by Iran or, for that matter, by its surrogates.”

Mr Panetta said that the United States was “fully prepared for all contingencies” and added: “We’ve invested in capabilities to ensure that the Iranian attempt to close down shipping in the Gulf is something that we are going to be able to defeat if they make that decision.”

That announcement was supported by Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, who added: “We are determined to work as part of the international community effort to ensure freedom of passage in the international waters of the Strait of Hormuz.”

One defence source told The Sunday Telegraph last night: “If it came to war, there would be carnage. The Iranian casualties would be huge but they would be able to inflict severe blows against the US and British.

“The Iranian Republican Guard are well versed in asymmetrical warfare and would use swarm attacks to sink or seriously damage ships. This is a conflict nobody wants, but the rhetoric from Israel is unrelenting.”

© Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2012

U.S. will go to war with Iran in 2013, says ex-U.S. ambassador to Israel: Haaretz

Martin Indyk tells CBS there is not much time left until Iran has a nuclear weapon, but says Netanyahu’s demands for ‘red lines’ on Iran are ‘unreasonable.’
By Haaretz      Sep.17, 2012

Martin Indyk on the CBS program Face the Nation.

Former U.S. ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk said on Sunday that he thinks the U.S. will go to war with Iran over its nuclear program in 2013.

Speaking during a panel on the CBS program Face the Nation, Indyk said, “I’m afraid that 2013 is going to be a year in which we’re going to have a military confrontation with Iran.”

The former ambassador stated that “Iran doesn’t have a nuclear weapon,” but added that there’s not a lot of time left until it does.

“There is still time, perhaps six months, even by Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu’s own time table to try to see if a negotiated solution can be worked out,” Indyk said.

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Regarding the recent friction between U.S. President Barack Obama and Netanyahu over “red lines” on Iran, Indyk said that he doesn’t think “the difference between Netanyahu and Obama on this is that great, in terms of the president’s commitment not to allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons.”

He added, however, that Netanyahu’s insistence on public “red lines” was unreasonable.

“That is an unreasonable requirement. The idea of putting out a public red line – in effect issuing an ultimatum – is something that no president would do. If you noticed, Governor Romney is not putting out a red line; Senator McCain didn’t, either. And neither is Bibi Netanyahu for that matter, in terms of Israel’s own actions.”

Indyk went on to speak about instability across the Mideast region, saying that is making Israel “very nervous.”

“The turmoil we see from here, they see from a much closer perspective, and that combines with the, as the prime minster puts it, the race of Iran towards weapons capability,” he said.

“The fear that the Egypt-Israel peace treaty will start to come apart,  the concern that in Syria what is happening there could lead to an Islamist government taking over eventually there as well, but before that a descent into chaos on the northern border – all that makes them very nervous and that’s why I think the prime minister is coming out much more vocally than one might have expected in the midst of an election campaign here saying, you know, we need reassurances, we need red lines aginst the Iranians because from his point of view, that’s the greatest threat they face.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned on Sunday that Iran would be on the brink of nuclear weapons capability in six to seven months, adding new urgency to his demand that President Barack Obama set a clear “red line” for Tehran in what could deepen the worst U.S.-Israeli rift in decades.

Taking his case to the American public, Netanyahu said in U.S. television interviews that by mid-2013, Iran would be 90 percent of the way toward enough enriched uranium for a bomb. He urged the United States to spell out limits that Tehran must not cross or else face military action – something Obama has refused to do.

“You have to place that red line before them now, before it’s too late,” Netanyahu told NBC’s “Meet the Press” program, saying that such a move could reduce the chances of having to attack Iran’s nuclear sites.

Amid spreading protests, U.S. diplomats in Beirut burn classified documents: Haaretz

U.S. State Department confirms decision to destroy classified materials, despite no imminent threat to embassy; Libya sacks Benghazi security chiefs in wake of attack on U.S. consulate that killed 4 Americans last week.
By Reuters and The Associated Press      Sep.17, 2012

Hezbollah leader Nasrallah, escorted by his bodyguards, addresses his supporters during a public appearance at an anti-U.S. protest in Beirut, Sept. 17, 2012. Photo by Reuters

Diplomats at the U.S.­ Embassy in Beirut have begun destroying classified material as a security precaution, amid anti-American protests in Lebanon and elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa.

A State Department status report obtained Monday by The Associated Press said the Beirut embassy had “reviewed its emergency procedures and is beginning to destroy classified holdings.”

It also said that local Lebanese employees were sent home early due to protests by the militant Shiite group Hezbollah over an anti-Muslim film produced in the U.S.

In Washington, a State Department official said there was no imminent threat to the heavily fortified Beirut embassy, which is about an hour away from where the nearest demonstration is planned.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss security procedures, said the decision was routine and made by embassy staff.

Protesters have breached the walls or compounds of several U.S.­ diplomatic missions, including the consulate in Benghazi, Libya where the ambassador and three other Americans were killed, Cairo and Tunis since last Tuesday.

After Tuesday’s incidents, the State Department ordered all U.S. ­embassies and consulates around the world to review their security postures. As a result, a number of missions decided to destroy classified material, the official said.

It was not immediately clear which other missions besides the one in Beirut had taken that step.

Earlier Monday, the State Department renewed its warning to U.S.­ citizens to “avoid all travel to Lebanon because of current safety and security concerns.” It said U.S. ­citizens “living and working in Lebanon should understand that they accept risks in remaining and should carefully consider those risks.”

In Beirut on Monday, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah made a rare public appearance, which he used to warn the United States that it faced further anger and repercussions across the Muslim world unless it suppressed a video that mocks the Prophet Mohammad.

“The world should know our anger will not be a passing outburst but the start of a serious movement that will continue on the level of the Muslim nation to defend the Prophet of God,” Nasrallah told tens of thousands of marchers in Beirut’s southern suburbs.

Nasrallah has lived in hiding to avoid assassination since Hezbollah fought a month-long war with Israel in 2006.

In Libya, Interior Minister Fawzi Abdel A’al said on Monday that the government of that country had decided to sack its security chiefs for Benghazi following the deadly attacks on the U.S. consulate in the eastern city last week.

The U.S. ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and three other Americans died when gunmen attacked the consulate and a “safe house” in the eastern city last Tuesday night. The attackers were part of a crowd that blamed the United States for a video posted online that mocks the Prophet Mohammad.

Meanwhile, a Tunisian Salafist leader on Monday escaped from a mosque that had been surrounded by security forces seeking to arrest him over clashes at the U.S. embassy in Tunis last week, a Reuters witness said.

Saif-Allah Benahssine, leader of the Tunisian branch of the hardline Islamist Ansar al-Sharia, slipped away after hundreds of his followers stormed out of al-Fatah mosque in Tunis, some of them wielding sticks and creating panic among pedestrians.

A few minutes earlier, around 1,000 riot and anti-terror police forces had retreated by some 200 meters (660 feet) from the mosque for unexplained reasons, witnesses said.

Interior Ministry officials could not be reached for comment.



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September 8, 2012

EDITOR: They cannot face reality!

The Jewish community of Frankfurt, with Israeli prodding, is fighting against the honouring of Judith Butler as the latest recipient of the Theodor Adorno prize. That they have reacted with such venom only shows the great fragility and weakness of their Zionist stand and its extreme outlook.

Frankfurt ripped for honoring Jewish-American scholar who backs Israel boycott: Haaretz

German Jewish groups protest plans to honor Judith Butler.
By JTA     | Sep.07, 2012

Jewish-American scholar Judith Butler. Photo by Wikipedia/ Jreberlein

Protests are mounting against plans by the city of Frankfurt to honor Jewish-American scholar Judith Butler, a staunch critic of Israel.

The Central Council of Jews in Germany and the political activist group Scholars for Peace in the Middle East are among groups that have slammed the city for choosing to honor Butler with its Theodor W. Adorno Prize on Sept. 11. The $63,000 prize is awarded every three years for “outstanding performances in the fields of philosophy, music, theater and film.”

Butler is a supporter of the United States Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel and also participated in the Canadian Israeli Apartheid Week in 2011.

Stephan Kramer, general secretary of the Central Council, reportedly called the choice of Butler, whom he said supports boycotts against Israel but considers Hamas and Hezbollah legitimate social movements, “outrageous.”

But Frankfurt Deputy Mayor in Charge of Cultural Affairs Felix Semmelroth, a member of the board that decided last week to honor Butler, said in a recent statement to JTA that the board of trustees at its May 30 meeting was “of the unanimous opinion that the Adorno Prize should go to Judith Butler for her comprehensive work on gender theory.”

Semmelroth wrote that “the incriminating statements that are now coming out were not the subject of discussion [by the trustees] and were clearly unknown to them; and they also don’t change anything regarding the importance of the work of Judith Butler.”

Planners of a protest demonstration called for Sept. 11 in Frankfurt also circulated a petition in which they noted, among other things, that Butler boycotts universities in Tel Aviv – an official partner city with Frankfurt – “but has no problem delivering lectures at the Bir Zeit University, which evidence shows is dominated by supporters of Hamas and Hezbollah.”

Butler defended herself in a Sept. 1 editorial published in two German newspapers, saying that she did not take attacks from German Jewish leaders personally. Rather, she wrote, the attacks are “directed against everyone who is critical against Israel and its current policies.”

Frankfurt’s mayor, Peter Feldmann, the city’s first Jewish mayor since 1933 and a member of the Social Democratic Party, was not involved in the decision to honor Butler. His predecessor, Petra Roth, of the conservative Christian Democratic Union Party, was on the board that chose Butler.

Theodor W. Adorno (1903-1969), for whom the prize is named, was the son of a Catholic mother and Jewish father. He survived the Third Reich in exile and returned to become one of Germany’s foremost sociologists, philosophers and art critics, particularly known for his criticism of fascism and for his writings on the Holocaust.

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September 7, 2012

EDITOR: New developments…

You may have thought there is hardly any new developments in Israel/Palestine, as the old conflict struggles on without much change. You will be wrong – there are always new developments, and as a rule, they are bad news. Having burnt and desecrated many mosques, in Israel and in the OPT, the fascists and racists are now branching out to burn churches. Why stop at mosques? After all, the non-Jew (and I am not even mentioning the Black migrants), the Goy, is not kosher, and is considered a pagan and worse, so burning a mosque, monastery or a church is just a Mitzvah (a positive commandment) for some deluded Jews in Israel. This is the logical conclusion of the racist hate policies which have been refined by the Israeli government, and should surprise no one. With city-centre pogroms, and the burning of mosques and churches, Israelis are doing all they can to clarify to the watching world what they are really about – getting rid of the other. A crowning glory of two thousand years of anti-Semitism, indeed. Israel seems to be the wet dream of an anti-Semite.

Senior Catholic cleric: ‘If Jews want respect, they must respect others’: Haaretz

In the wake of the ‘price tag’ vandalism at the Latrun monastery, Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa cautions Israelis over how Christians are treated in Israel.

By Nir Hasson | Sep.07, 2012 | 2:04 AM

Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa

Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa was a signatory on this week’s church condemnation of the vandalism at the Latrun monastery. Photo by Emil Salman


A catholic monk standing in a doorway of the Latrun Trappist Monastery where vandals spray-painted anti-Christian and pro-settler graffiti, Sept. 4, 2012.Photo by AP

The “price tag” vandalism this week of the monastery at Latrun, in which the culprits sprayed the building’s facade with the words “Jesus is a monkey” and set the front door alight, prompted a fierce statement of condemnation signed by Catholic church leaders here. One of the statement’s senior signatories, who holds the title of custos (Latin for guardian ) of holy sites on behalf of the Vatican, is a Franciscan priest of Italian origin named Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa. Prior to the church’s statement, which questioned what was going on in Israeli society that would prompt such an act, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced the vandalism, calling it “a criminal act” and that “those responsible for it must be severely punished.”

In a rare interview to the Israeli media just a month before he steps down from his current post, Pizzaballa cautioned Israelis over how Christians are treated here. “When you say ‘Christianity’ to the Israelis,” he said, “they immediately think of the Holocaust and the [Spanish] Inquisition. People don’t know that we are here and that we have roots [here],” adding that this attitude is reflected throughout Israeli society.

In a reference to the long-standing, continual incidents of Orthodox Jewish extremists in Jerusalem spitting at Christian clergy, Pizzaballa said: “When I came to the country, I was told that I should know that if I walk around with a frock in the city [of Jerusalem], people would spit on me, and I shouldn’t be offended, it’s normal.”

No matter how high his position, any priest who makes his way around the city will sooner or later be spat upon and cursed by a yeshiva student, he added.

Pizzaballa, who has been living in Israel for 22 years, is the head of the Franciscan order in the Middle East. As custos, he is one of the senior figures in the Catholic Church and has custody of most of the Christian holy sites in the country, including Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulcher, which Christians regard as the site of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, and Bethelem’s Church of the Nativity. After more than two decades here, he said he knows the areas of Jerusalem where he is at risk of being spat upon, including the area of Jaffa Gate and the Armenian Quarter.

This week’s vandalism at the Latrun monastery is the latest in a recent streak of attacks on Christian institutions. In February, following incidents in Jerusalem, Pizzaballa wrote to President Shimon Peres that in recent years, he and his colleagues had learned to ignore provocations, but that now they were escalating to the point that they had become intolerable.

Following his letter to Peres, however, anti-Christian animosity even surfaced in the Knesset, after Christian bibles were sent to parliament members and National Union MK Michael Ben Ari ripped a copy of the New Testament in front of the camera. “It was shocking,” said Pizzaballa. “If you as a Jew want people to respect you, you need to respect others. There are billions of Christians for whom this book is holy.”

He also took exception to what he said was the weak response by the political system and the public at large to Ben Ari’s act, saying it was limited to statements that Ben Ari didn’t need to do what he did. “It’s a lack of sensitivity,” said the cleric. “Such a serious thing occurs and no one does anything. In practice, it negates our existence here.”

The power of the custos to influence the political system here is limited, however. “All of the heads of the [Christian] denominations approached the Knesset speaker [Reuven Rivlin] in protest. Our communities are asking why we don’t do something, but what can we do other than write a letter?” And a week before the vandalism at the Latrun monastery, after the Franciscans established a residence on Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives, it was attacked by a large group of young Muslims.

Pizzaballa doesn’t expect the Christian presence in Jerusalem to disappear, however. “I am not that pessimistic. We are a minority within a minority and we always remain a small minority, but I don’t think we will disappear completely, as happened in North Africa or Turkey, because ultimately this is the Holy Land. There are holy places. There’s a presence. The Christian establishment, for all of its weakness, will remain. The question is the type of Christian population and its nature.”

Pizzaballa has required that his monks who come to live here learn either Hebrew or Arabic. “Most Israelis don’t know a thing about the Christian presence in the country. Both we and the Israeli public are to blame for this. We need to talk more,” he said.

Pizzaballa is preoccupied currently with the situation in Syria and visited the country many times over the years, most recently about six months ago, but since then the Syrians have barred entry by him and many other foreigners. He said there is great uncertainty over the fate of Christians there although they have not been targeted as Christians by the violence.

Christian monastery near Jerusalem vandalized, door set on fire: Haaretz

The incident, suspected to be a ‘price tag’ attack, follows the recent evacuation of Migron, a settlement in the West Bank; among graffiti found: ‘Jesus is a monkey.’

By Oz Rosenberg | Sep.04, 2012 | 8:47 AM |  13

Christian monastery vandalized – AFP

A priest walks between graffiti reading in Hebrew, “Jesus is a monkey” (L), which was sprayed on the wall of the Christian monastery near Jerusalem, September 4, 2012. Photo by AFP

The door of a Christian monastery in Latrun, near Jerusalem, was set on fire on Tuesday morning, and anti-Christian slogans were found spray-painted on the monastery’s walls.

The arson and graffiti are suspected to be a “price tag” attack, following the recent evacuation of Migron, a settlement outpost in the West Bank.

Monks residing at the monastery noticed the burning door on Tuesday morning, and called police after extinguishing the flames. Graffiti sprayed on the monastery walls included the words “Migron,” and “Jesus is a monkey.”

One of the monks that resides at the monastery claimed that the acts of vandalism and arson are the first such acts of their kind in the monastery’s 122 year history.

The Jerusalem Police’s central unit has opened an investigation into the incident.

Baruch Marzel, a right-wing activist, connected the attack to the evacuation of Migron. “We said that evacuating Migron could fan the flames. There’s an entire community that feels very bitter,” said Marzel.

“Price tag” attacks are generally carried out by West Bank settlers and their supporters against Palestinian targets, often in retaliation for moves against settlements

Israel’s Reform movement leader denounced the attack. “The attack on the monastery is additional proof that Israeli society is experiencing a wave of racism,” he said.

Referring to his church’s desire to regain rights to the traditional site of the Last Supper on Mount Zion, which it lost 500 years ago and which sits on top of the traditional tomb of King David, Pizzaballa said he is not seeking a change in the status quo. “But Jerusalem teaches us to you can’t take any decision alone,” he added. “You need the other [party]. That’s the difficulty and the beauty of Jerusalem.”

Israel’s High Court delays decision on African migrants trapped on border: Haaretz

Intermediate ruling orders IDF to continue to provide food, water, and medical aid for a group of 21 Eritrean refugees, sets continuation hearing for next week.

By Haaretz | Sep.06, 2012 | 2:11 PM |  1

An IDF soldier standing guard over a group of Eritrean migrants.

An IDF soldier standing guard over a group of Eritrean migrants, near the Israel-Egypt border. Photo by Reuters

The Israeli High Court of Justice failed to reach a decision on Thursday, concerning the fate of the 21 Eritrean migrants currently stuck between fences on the Israel-Egypt border, postponing its decision for Sunday.

The High Court added that it understood from the state’s representatives that Israel Defense Forces soldiers currently stationed by the border are supplying the Eritrean migrants with water, food, and medical attention, if it is necessary.

The court was convened to discuss the petition of an Israeli NGO, which Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Interior Minister Eli Yishai clarify why they have been denying the migrants’ entry to Israel.

Earlier on Thursday, Israel Police barred members of an Israeli physicians’ NGO from providing aid to the group of migrants, who have been trapped between the fences on the Israeli-Egyptian border for roughly a week.

On Wednesday, the envoy for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Israel William Tall called on Israel to grant immediate entry to a group of 21 Eritrean refugees, telling Haaretz that Israel could not “simply shut the door” and must allow them in and process their claims for asylum.

“The most worrying thing to me is the discussion of pushing them back into Egypt, which is highly irresponsible, because if they go back to Egypt there is a high risk these people will fall in the hands of human smugglers, and it is well known, it is all documented, that many of these people have been abused, there are cases of torture or rape, and if you send them back you are sending them to a situation with a very high degree of insecurity,” Tall said.

Continuing, Tall said that Israel and the Israel Defense Forces have stated that they have stopped the policy of “hot returns,” or, returing the migrants to Egypt as soon as they are apprehended. According to Tall, not allowing the refugees between the fences is “basically the same thing.”

UN refugee envoy: Eritreans trapped at Israel-Egypt border must be allowed in: Haaretz

William Tall tells Haaretz: Israel has to ‘step up to its responsibilities.’

By Talila Nesher | Sep.06, 2012 | 2:11 AM |  6

Eritreans caught between Israel and Egypt's border fences, on Wednesday.

Eritreans caught between Israel and Egypt’s border fences, on Wednesday. Photo by Eliyahu Hershkovitz
The envoy for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Israel has called on Israel to grant immediate entry to a group of 21 Eritrean refugees that has been trapped between the fences on the Israeli-Egyptian border for a week. In an interview to Haaretz last night William Tall called on Israel to “step up to its responsibilities,” saying that it could not “simply shut the door” and must allow them in and process their claims for asylum.

“The most worrying thing to me is the discussion of pushing them back into Egypt, which is highly irresponsible, because if they go back to Egypt there is a high risk these people will fall in the hands of human smugglers, and it is well known, it is all documented, that many of these people have been abused, there are cases of torture or rape, and if you send them back you are sending them to a situation with a very high degree of insecurity,” Tall said.

Continuing, Tall said that Israel and the Israel Defense Forces have said that they have stopped the policy of “hot returns,” and that not allowing the refugees between the fences is “basically the same thing.”

“If you look at [former Supreme Court President Judge Dorit] Beinisch’s decision … she says basically what we say; to return people to Egypt is not inconceivable, but it has to be done with certain guarantees, that their rights are respected, there’s a framework, it’s guaranteed that they won’t be returned to smugglers,” Tall said, noting that at present “there are no guarantees. The most disturbing thing to me is that many of these people may have spent months in smuggling camps in Egypt,” where cases of rape and torture have been documented.

A group of activists that tried to bring food to the trapped Eritreans on Wednesday was turned back by soldiers who told them the area was declared a closed military zone. They left the food in hope the soldiers would deliver it to the group.

“We will not bring the Eritreans into Israeli territory, Interior Minister Eli Yishai declared on Wednesday.

“It is hardest for me, of anyone, to see these pictures, and return families to their homelands. It is hard for me to see these pictures, but I am the one who has to make the difficult decision, and if I have to choose between the good of the state, its civilians, and its security, [and the good of the families] I will choose that there be a fence, that they won’t enter, and instead return to their country,” Yishai continued.

In an interview with Army Radio Wednesday morning Yishai said: “Every day there are people stuck there. If there were no fence, and if we weren’t steadfast, there would be a million people here. Don’t ask what we would do with a million refugees here – excuse me, migrant workers.”

The Israeli NGO We Are Refugees petitioned the High Court of Justice on Wednesday, demanding that Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Yishai explain why they have denied entry to the group, as well as food, water and medical care. The court is to discuss the petition this morning.

The petition states that Israel is violating international law as well as promises it has made with regard to the treatment of refugees.

The NGO said the petition was filed out of fear for the migrants’ lives in their homeland.

The petition says Israel should decide the migrants’ status after granting them entry. It also notes that human rights organizations and the UNHCR say the refugees are faced with life-threatening danger in Egypt and that they fear Egypt would deport them back to Eritrea without properly examining the danger to them there.

“The fact that for all this time the fate of these asylum seekers is under the effective control of the state of Israel requires the supplying of humanitarian aid, as us being the ‘good Samaritan,'” the petition said. Were the Eritreans successful to cross the fence, the petition said, they would have been granted temporary protection by Israel’s Immigration Authority because of the danger they are faced in their homeland.

Earlier on Wednesday, the NGO asked State Attorney Yehuda Weinstein to allow the trapped migrants to enter Israel and receive medical treatment, food and water.

The UN Refugee Agency said Tuesday that Israel violates the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees when dealing with the migrants on the border.

A number of Holocaust survivors protested in front of Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem against Yishai and called on the IDF to admit the African migrants into the country.

On Wednesday, MK Dov Khenin asked Barak and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to intervene immediately on behalf of the refugees, saying, “Do we want them to die at the fence?” Khenin said that the migrants were subjected to abuse while in Sinai and that one Eritrean woman had miscarried during her journey.

“A fence is not a magic solution,” Khenin wrote in a message to Barak and Netanyahu, “It does not annul the obligation to examine the status of those knocking on it.”

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September 5, 2012

EDITOR: The Two State solution – a train missed some years ago, lives on in Euro politicians fantasies

In the US they know and understand that the Two State so-called solution was always a mirage, a carrot held up to the Palestinians, to enable the continuation of settlement and land grab. US politicians have played their role in enabling this fiction, aiding and abetting Israeli crimes. In Europe it is different – some liberal politicians seem stuck to this view as if the chance is still there, asking Israel to reconsider its policies, so as not to miss the Two State train… now that would be interesting – Israel acting as if it believed in its own propaganda! Fat chance of that, of course. How do you explain this to nice Scandinavian liberals? They obviously have not heard of apartheid, either. Israel for them is still a small, vulnerable state surrounded by powerful enemies wishing to throw it into the sea… some fallacies seem immune to reality. It is exactly people like these, and their mistaken and bizarre policies, which make it possible for Israel to thrive and continue to oppress the Palestinians.

Israel, Palestinians may lose chance for two-state solution, Norway FM says: Haaretz

On eve of his visit to Jerusalem and Ramallah, Jonas Gahr Store says international community must consider how to relate to the import of goods that are produced in the settlements, ‘which we consider illegal according to international law.’

By Akiva Eldar | Sep.05, 2012 | 1:31 AM

Jonas Gahr Store in a meeting with Defense Minister Ehud Barak in 2011.

Jonas Gahr Store in a meeting with Defense Minister Ehud Barak in 2011. Photo by Defense Ministry

The international community must consider how to relate to the import of goods that are produced in the settlements, “which we consider illegal according to international law,” the Norwegian Foreign Minister, Jonas Gahr Store told Haaretz on the eve of his visit to Jerusalem and Ramallah.

Store, head of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee – a donor support group to the Palestinian Authority – said that Norway would “consider various options to demonstrate its policy in regard to the expansion of the settlements.”

Store arrives in the region as part of the preparation for the forum of donor states that will take place in New York at the end of the month.

One of the central issues on the group’s agenda will be Israel’s policy regarding the Palestinian residents of area C, which is under full Israeli civil and security control. Norway’s support of recognition of a Palestinian state, as well as the contacts it has with Hamas – including a meeting between a senior Norwegian diplomat and Hamas political leader Khaled Meshal – have caused tension between Jerusalem and Oslo.

In the interview, held in Store’s Oslo office, the minister expressed severe criticism of Israel’s actions in the occupied territories. Store said that Norway is very closely following the Israeli pressure against the Palestinians living in area C, especially in the south Hebron Hill.

“The idea of area C was part of the interim period. It was not meant to give Israel an opportunity to expand the settlements in 60 percent of the territories at the expense of the Palestinians who live in this area,” he said.

When Norway supported the acceptance of Israel into the OECD, he added, it made it clear that it meant Israel proper, not the occupied territories and the settlements in the West Bank. “I know that your government argues that these are disputed territories,” Store says. “Sorry, we believe that according to the international law, they are occupied territories.”

Are you aware of the argument that the donor states, including Norway, which contributes some $120 million to the Palestinian Authority (the third largest donor after the EU and the U.S. ), is actually funding the occupation?

“I am very aware of the argument that the AHLC’s money is actually financing the Israeli occupation and that Israel is the main beneficiary of the donors’ money. And who do we hurt if we dissolve the AHLC? Do we have any guarantee that the Israeli government will take responsibility for the welfare and security of the Palestinian people if the PA collapses?

“Having said that, we will not keep the AHLC forever. But my position until now has been that as long as the parties say they want to reach a two-state solution, we have to support it, but within a certain limit. Once it will be clear to everyone that the donors’ mechanism is perpetrating the status quo rather than contributing to peace, we will have to reconsider. We are not quite there yet.

“From a strictly humanitarian perspective, there may be poor countries in Africa that need help more than the Palestinians. But the point here is political, it is about our common vision to see the emergence of solid Palestinian institutions, which should also be in Israel’s interest. The World Bank’s recent report indicates the vulnerability of the PA’s financial situation.”

How can peace be promoted through a real process that would result in implementation of the Oslo Accords?

“The AHLC, headed by Norway, is promoting the process from the bottom up. But Norway and the AHLC cannot do much without progress in the top-down process, the political effort to solve the final status issues in the hands of the parties and the Quartet. The Oslo agreement is only the engine. In order to create momentum you must have wheels and a body. That is my deep concern. If there is no progress in the near future, we may miss the opportunity to reach the two-state solution.”

Are you aware that among Israeli politicians, the Oslo Accords have a very bad reputation?

“I am aware of the fact that Israeli politicians from the right are pointing the fingers to us, as if Norway carries a responsibility for the lack of progress in the peace process that started almost 20 years ago in Oslo. But the Oslo agreement belongs to those who signed it, the parties. We did our best to facilitate the negotiations and inject some ideas. I believe that the agreement is quite good, given that this was intended to be the first step. And even today most people come back to the Oslo agreement when they envisage a process of peace. Progress or lack of progress lies with the parties.

“The Oslo Accords have a variety of opponents. In their very different ways, the Israeli right and Palestinian terror contributed to weakening the agreements, and the leaders who were in charge were not decisive enough to stop them. Today I believe the continued settlement construction is creating a growing barrier to the peace process, making the two-state solution even harder to conceive.”

You have close ties with the Arab states. Are they doing enough to promote peace?

“I told Arab leaders that they must be more active in promoting the Arab peace initiative. We believe that this is a good basis for regional peace and security. But more creativity is needed, to see how peace can lead to economic activities and more security for all.”

What is your position concerning a possible strike of Iranian nuclear facilities?

“We have been in contact with the Israeli government with regard to the Iranian nuclear program. We understand Israel’s profound concern. We support the sanctions, but we remain very reluctant toward a military option at this stage. We are consistently defending Israel’s right to defend itself against all kinds of threats and terror. Norway is a friend of Israel and will always be. But as Israeli leaders speak out against Norwegians views where they disagree, so do we [when disagreeing with Israel’s views].


Requiem for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Haaretz

There are moments when the truth flies into your face and you realize your political program is no longer viable. But while I have no alternative to offer, I know one thing is sure: the two-state solution is dead.

By Carlo Strenger | Aug.29, 2012 | 2:34 PM |  2

Migron - Emil Salman

Construction work underway at the Migron outpost. Nachum Barnea suggests Israel’s High Court has turned into an accomplice of the settlement project. Photo by Emil Salman

Nachum Barnea is considered to be one of Israel’s most influential journalists, independent in his judgment, fair and balanced in his reporting and analysis. A few days ago he wrote an outspoken column in which he comes to the conclusion that the settlement project has reached its goal: the situation on the ground is irreversible, and the two-state solution is no longer possible.

The context of the column was Barnea’s visit to Migron, an outpost currently under the spotlight of Israeli media. The Palestinian owner of the land claims he never sold it, and Israel’s High Court ruled that it must be evacuated.

But Barnea is not impressed with this ruling. Around Migron there are many other settlements that no one touches, because they are not built on private land. Barnea claims that this turns the High Court into an accomplice of the settlement project:

“The original sin was committed by the High Court. In the second decade after the six-day war, when the settlement enterprise transformed from a marginal whim to the government’s primary policy in the territories, the High Court was asked to present its stance by ruling on a series of petitions. Over the years the court’s judges ignored the international law, which forbids the establishment of a settlement on conquered land, and instead focused on the issue of ownership: Jews are permitted to settle anywhere in the West Bank as long as the land is not Palestinian-owned.”

Barnea rarely expresses such outspoken views. He was interviewed in the popular TV Program “London and Kirschenbaum”, and said that the governments of both Israel and Palestine are not willing or able to pay the price of implementing the two-state solution, concluding that “Everybody knows how this will end.” When asked what he means, he answers, “There will be a bi-national west of the Jordan… the two-state solution is no longer possible.”

This was, of course, a surprise: most center-left politicians and commentators have a standard line: “Everybody knows how the Israel-Palestine conflict will end.” It is generally taken as a matter of course that they imply the two-state solution as proposed by Clinton in 2000. Barnea assumes that this received wisdom is, at this point, devoid of any realistic foundation.

As of late summer 2012, I cannot see any coherent plan to deal with reality on the ground. Only Israel’s extreme right takes a clear stance: National religious Rabbis quite simply say that Palestinians will not have political rights in the Greater Land of Israel, and some of the leading settlers say that Israeli democracy must be replaced by a theocracy.

Most leaders on Israel’s moderate right do not make clear statements. Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin and former Likud minister Moshe Arens are laudable exceptions: they think that Israel should annex the West Bank and give Palestinians full political rights, while maintaining its Jewish character. The problem is that they base this on a theory by Yoram Ettinger that there are only 1.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank. None of Israel’s professional demographers endorses this idea, and neither does Israel’s Central Bureau of statistics.

The situation is unpalatable to say the least: Israel’s extreme right argues for theocratic apartheid, and the moderate right builds its political program on demographic illusions – or thinks that Palestinians will settle for some disconnected Bantustans. The center and the left are silent for the simple reason that they do not have a coherent position. They prefer to talk about social and economic issues and disregard the elephant in the middle of the room.

I came to the conclusion that the two-state solution was dead at the end of 2011, when Abbas’ bid for recognition of Palestine by the UN failed. Ever since I published this assessment, friends and readers have asked what I suggest as an alternative. Some thought that I had finally moved to the extreme left’s endorsement of the one-state solution; others thought that I had moved to the right.

Neither is the case. There are moments when reality flies into your face, and in which you realize that your political program is no longer viable, even though you do not endorse any of the alternatives. I do not derive much comfort from being in good company: The remainders of Israel’s left pay lip service to the two-state solution, knowing that there is no longer a way to implement it.

My conversations with European diplomats and politicians generate the impression that the same holds true for Western Europe. For lack of an alternative to the two-state solution, European governments have not endorsed any alternative conception, but they are beginning to realize that the two-state solution won’t happen.

As I do not have any coherent strategy to propose, I’ll end on a more general historical reflection: the Middle East is currently in an ongoing upheaval. Except for Egypt, Iran and Turkey, none of its states have historical depth and most of them have lacked political cohesion once dictators were removed. Nobody can safely predict how the Middle East’s map will look in a decade: for starters it is very unclear whether Syria will continue to exist as a unified state after Assad’s fall. Other states may disintegrate along ethnic and religious lines, too.

It may well be that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is but a reflection of the Middle East’s inherent instability. Unfortunately, this means that the area’s fate – including that of Israel – will be determined by blind historical forces rather than by foresight and planning.

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