The State Department’s Secret: Does Abbas Talk Peace in Arabic?


PA Minister Mahmoud Al-Habbash: “In less than two years, the Prophet returned and based on this treaty, he conquered Mecca. This is the example, this is the model.”

— by Toby Klein Greenwald

David Makovsky, on leave from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, was recently named to the State Department’s Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiating team. Makovsky will be a senior adviser to Martin Indyk, who leads the team.

Makovsky, when asked a number of questions regarding his own writing and views on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, replied that he cannot have any contact with journalists, and referred me to a State Department official.

In an article Makovsky published in The Atlantic last January, he wrote:

President Abbas has also appeared recently on Israeli television, stating that he renounced any personal “right of return” to his home town of Safed — and that Palestine today means the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza, but not pre-1967 Israel, “now and forever.”

The U.S. should ask him to repeat those assurances, along with his public disagreement with Hamas about its rejection of the principle of peace with Israel.

Therefore, my first question was:

Has Abbas, in fact, ever made these assurances in Arabic? Or disagreed with Hamas in Arabic? And what about the fact that the focus of the Palestinians’ plan of action is on the “right of return” to the area of Israel, as opposed to living in the West Bank?

The State Department official, in lieu of Makovsky, replied, “Regarding that first question, I will have to talk to my colleagues; I need a little bit longer. It will take some research.”

After several days and phone and e-mail reminders, I did receive the following answer:

Unfortunately we have no additional comment…

The fact that a State Department official cannot (or will not) give answers to this critical question may indicate that there is a gap between the wishes of the U.S. government regarding the Palestinians’ plans, and the reality on the ground.

Full interview after the jump.
Q: What are the implications, for the peace process, of the ongoing praise on the Palestinian Authority (PA) television for those who murder Jews, and Abbas’ glorification of released terrorists?

The U.S. Government is committed to anti-incitement efforts. From Secretary Kerry on down and throughout the State Department, we take incitement seriously, recognize it is a serious issue and are working to combat it in order to achieve peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.  

We have consistently called on all parties to refrain from provocative rhetoric that only serves to raise tensions. Such hateful rhetoric has no place in the region.

Q: Since the term of Abbas actually ended four years ago, and the last Palestinian election, in January 2006, witnessed the Hamas victory in the entire PA, what guarantee do we have that any agreement that Abbas reaches will be honored by the Palestinian population?

Achieving a final status agreement is what the parties are working toward. It is up to both parties to determine the steps they need to take once they achieve that goal, but we know that we have a lot of work to do before we get to that point.

Beyond this, I am not going to comment on internal Palestinian politics or their political process and would refer you to the parties.

Q: What about the precedent of Gaza attacks on the rest of Israel, once the IDF retreated from Gaza? Do you fear that if the IDF withdraws from areas on the high ground in Jenin and Ramallah, they will become staging grounds for rocket attacks on Gush Dan, including the Ben Gurion International Airport?

Security is paramount, especially to the Israeli people as they contemplate taking calculated risks for peace. The outcome of these negotiations needs to leave both sides feeling more secure, not less.

General Allen has been working as an adviser to the Secretary of Defense focusing on security in the context of Middle East Peace. He has been working closely on the ground with his Israeli counterparts to support our comprehensive efforts to find a way forward that meets the legitimate security needs of Israel.

Q: What is your realistic assessment of the outcome of the current peace talks?

We remain focused on our goal: achieving a final status agreement on all the core issues between the parties which resolves the conflict, ends all claims and creates peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.

The President spoke to what we are striving for in his address to the U.N. General Assembly:

The children of Israel have the right to live in a world where the nations assembled in this body fully recognize their country, and where we unequivocally reject those who fire rockets at their homes or incite others to hate them…

The United States remains committed to the belief that the Palestinian people have a right to live with security and dignity in their own sovereign state.

The author is the editor in chief of WholeFamily.com.

Settlement Construction Is No Obstacle to Peace


“There are realities within life in Israel that also have to be taken into account here.”

— by Steve Sheffey

Israel’s announcement of new construction, in settlements beyond the 1967 cease-fire line with Jordan, is not an obstacle to peace. Secretary of State John Kerry and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas knew about it in advance, and it did not scuttle the peace talks. Significantly, and in contrast to previous administrations, the Obama administration has taken no action to force Israel to reverse this announcement, even though the Obama administration’s position on settlements is the same as previous administrations.

Every administration since the Six Day War has opposed and condemned Israeli settlement construction. Secretary of State John Kerry said last week, “The policy of the United States of America with respect to all settlements is that they are illegitimate, and we oppose settlements taking place at any time, not just the time of the peace process.”

More after the jump.
So what was Kerry’s reaction when Israel announced new settlement construction as peace talks were beginning? Did he strike Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with lightning? Did he cut aid to Israel? Did he demand that Israel rescind the construction plans? No. In the same press conference where he reiterated U.S. policy on settlements, Kerry said:

Prime Minister Netanyahu was completely upfront with me and with President Abbas that he would be announcing some additional building that would take place in places that will not affect the peace map, that will not have any impact on the capacity to have a peace agreement. That means that it is building within the so-called blocs in areas that many people make a presumption — obviously not some Palestinians or others — will be part of Israel in the future. He has specifically agreed not to disturb what might be the potential for peace going forward.

Now, we still believe it would be better not to be doing it, but there are realities within life in Israel that also have to be taken into account here going forward. President Abbas understood that coming into these talks. That’s why these talks are pressed into this time period of nine months. That’s why we all understand there is urgency, as I said yesterday, to getting to the discussion of borders and security. If you resolve the borders of Israel — and you can only do that also resolving the security issues for Israel — you have resolved any questions about settlements, because then you know what is in Israel and what is not.

In other words, the U.S. opposes settlement construction, but it understands that Netanyahu faces internal political pressure of his own, and has to do what he has to do. If that is pressure, I wish that the Bush and Reagan administrations had applied similar pressure.

Why did Israel announce new construction in disputed areas? Some have suggested, with no evidence, that maybe there was a quid pro quo, that in return for releasing Arab prisoners, Israel was allowed to announce new settlements. Such a belief has no basis in reality, and suggests that Benjamin Netanyahu would release terrorists in exchange for housing starts. The idea is absurd. The two have nothing to do with each other.

Others have suggested that Israel’s announcement shows that it is not serious about peace, or is trying to undercut the process as it gets underway. Read again what Kerry said. Abbas and Kerry knew in advance that this was coming, and indeed, the peace talks were not derailed by this announcement.

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What Price to Pay for Peace?

— by Steve Sheffey

There is no evidence that the U.S. pressured Israel to release Palestinian prisoners in order to renew the peace talks. Prime Minister Netanyahu made this painful decision because he believes it is in Israel’s best interests to negotiate a two-state solution, even at an unfairly high price.

Virtually all of the 26 prisoners released on August 13 were directly involved in the murders of Israelis. Read about each of them here.

So why did Israel release them? Blogger Matan Lurey summed it up perfectly: The Israel/Palestinian negotiations are about “peace, not justice; pragmatism, not revenge.” The prisoner release was unfair, unjust, and — in the opinion of Prime Minister Netanyahu — in the best interests of Israel.

Perhaps Netanyahu could have brought the Palestinians back to the table with a settlement freeze (which he tried to do before, but it did not work), or an explicit agreement to negotiate based on the 1967 lines, but instead he decided to release the prisoners, which he said was “an incomparably difficult decision, it is painful for the bereaved families and it is painful for me.”

More after the jump.


Feel free to criticize the prisoner release, if you think that you understand Israel’s security needs better than the Prime Minister of Israel.

This is not about justice or fairness. Israel needs a two-state solution to remain Jewish and democratic. We can talk as much as we want about what it says about the Palestinians, that they insisted that these murderers be released as a precondition to negotiations. Israel is negotiating a two-state solution for its own sake, not the Palestinian’s sake. Prime Minister Netanyahu determined that this prisoner release was in the best interests of Israel.

Feel free to criticize the prisoner release, if you think that you understand Israel’s security needs better than the Prime Minister of Israel, but do not insult Netanyahu by suggesting that he would sacrifice Israel’s security in response to U.S. pressure. Do not insult previous Israeli governments, which have released more than 10,000 terrorists. There is no evidence whatsoever that the Obama administration pressured Israel into releasing these prisoners. Those on the extreme right and the extreme left, albeit for very different reasons, refuse to see that Netanyahu is willing and able to make difficult decisions for peace.

This is how the White House defines the American role in the negotiations:

The bottom line is these are direct and bilateral talks between the parties. They are going to have to sort these issues out themselves. They will be meeting with each other, as they did here. They met together with the Americans, they also saw each other separately. But as [Senior State Department Official] said, facilitator means to facilitate, and whatever way we can to be helpful, at whatever level, is what we’re going to do.

And that is exactly what they are doing.

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Reprinted courtesy of Yaakov (Dry Bones) Kirschen www.DryBonesBlog.blogspot.com.

Palestinian Minister Admits Peace Talks With Israel to Be a Ploy


“In less than two years, the Prophet returned and based on this treaty, he conquered Mecca. This is the example, this is the model.” PA Minister Mahmoud Al-Habbash.

(CAMERA) Last month, as preliminary negotiations were set to begin between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, PA Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud Al-Habbash delivered a Friday sermon. PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas was present and it was broadcast on official PA-TV on July 19, 2013.

Did he talk about peace? Did he preach about achieving a treaty? Well, sort of. Palestinian Media Watch posted and translated a video of the sermon, in which Al-Habbash starts off well:

We hate war. We don’t want war. We don’t want bloodshed, not for ourselves, nor for others. We want peace. We say this because our culture is founded on this, and because our religion is based on this. Yes, we want peace, but not any peace. We want a peace based on justice, therefore the Palestinian leadership and the PLO have not missed any opportunity for peace…

More after the jump.

The Palestinian leadership’s sense of responsibility towards its nation made it take political steps about 20 years ago (i.e., signing the Oslo Accords). Despite the controversy, despite much criticism and much opposition by some, it brought us to where we are today: We have a [Palestinian] Authority and the world recognizes the [Palestinian] state.

All this never would have happened through Hamas’ impulsive adventure, but only through the wisdom of the leadership, conscious action, consideration, and walking the right path, which leads to achievement, exactly like the Prophet [Muhammad] did in the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah, even though some opposed it…

What is the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah? After Muhammad and his followers were driven out of Mecca by the Quraish tribe, there continued to be fighting. Muhammad and his followers wanted to return to Mecca. Rather than battle, they made a ten-year peace treaty with the Quraish. Al-Habbash explains the rest:

The hearts of the Prophet’s companions burned with anger and fury. The Prophet said: “I’m the Messenger of Allah and I will not disobey Him.” This is not disobedience, it is politics. This is crisis management, situation management, conflict management…

Allah called this treaty a clear victory…

Omar ibn Al-Khattab said: “Messenger of Allah, is this a victory? Is this logical? Is this victory? We are giving up and going back, and not entering Mecca. Is that a victory?” The Prophet said: “Yes, it is a victory.”

In less than two years, the Prophet returned and based on this treaty, he conquered Mecca. This is the example, this is the model.

So, according to PA leadership, the “model” is to make a peace treaty and then come back and breach it through violence. This strategy is pretty newsworthy and yet only the Israeli and Jewish press reported it.

When the Israeli government publishes bids for the construction of apartments in Jerusalem, the mainstream press writes literally thousands of stories. Naturally, there was a New York Times editorial calling these potential apartments “a fresh cause for pessimism about the prospects for successful peace negotiations.”

Yet, when PA leaders brag about faking their way through the peace talks? Nothing.

When they boast about their insincerity and malicious intent? Zero.

Kerry Names Indyk as Special Envoy for Israeli-Palestinian

Secretary of State John Kerry And Ambassador Martin Indyk
July 29, 2013, Press Briefing Room, Washington, D.C.

SECRETARY KERRY:  Good morning, everybody. Well, as you all know, it’s taken many hours and many trips to make possible the resumption of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. And the negotiators are now en route to Washington, even as we speak here. And I will have more to say about the journey to this moment and what our hopes are after our initial meetings conclude tomorrow.

This effort began with President Obama’s historic trip to Israel and Ramallah in March of this year.  And without his commitment, without his conversations there, and without his engagement in this initiative, we would not be here today. The President charged me directly with the responsibility to explore fully the possibility of resuming talks. And in our meetings with President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu, he conveyed his expectations for this process.

Transcript continues follows the jump.
Getting to this resumption has also taken the courageous leadership of Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas. And I salute both of them for their willingness to make difficult decisions and to advocate within their own countries and with their own leadership teams – countries with the Palestinian territories.

I would also like to recognize the important contributions of senior negotiators on both sides, particularly Minister Tzipi Livni and Saeb Erekat, both of whom really stood up and stood strong in the face of very tough criticism at home and whose unwavering commitment made the launch of these talks possible. I look forward to beginning work with them tonight.

Going forward, it’s no secret that this is a difficult process. If it were easy, it would have happened a long time. It’s no secret, therefore, that many difficult choices lie ahead for the negotiators and for the leaders as we seek reasonable compromises on tough, complicated, emotional, and symbolic issues. I think reasonable compromises has to be a keystone of all of this effort. I know the negotiations are going to be tough, but I also know that the consequences of not trying could be worse.

To help the parties navigate the path to peace and to avoid its many pitfalls, we’ll be very fortunate to have on our team on a day-to-day basis, working with the parties wherever they are negotiating a seasoned American diplomat, Ambassador Martin Indyk, who has agreed to take on this critical task at this crucial time as the UN – U.S. – excuse me – U.S. Special Envoy for Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations. Assisting Martin will be – as his deputy and as a senior advisor to me – will be Frank Lowenstein, who has been working with me on this process from the beginning.

In his memoir about the peace process, Ambassador Indyk quotes a poem by Samuel Coleridge that begins, “If men could learn from history, what lessons it would teach us!” Ambassador Indyk brings to this challenge his deep appreciation for the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And from his service under President Clinton, Secretary Christopher, and Secretary Albright, he brings a deep appreciation for the art of U.S. diplomacy in the Middle East. That experience has earned Ambassador Indyk the respect of both sides, and they know that he has made the cause of peace his life mission. He knows what has worked and he knows what hasn’t worked, and he knows how important it is to get this right.

Ambassador Indyk is realistic. He understands that Israeli-Palestinian peace will not come easily and it will not happen overnight. But he also understands that there is now a path forward and we must follow that path with urgency. He understands that to ensure that lives are not needlessly lost, we have to ensure that opportunities are not needlessly lost. And he shares my belief that if the leaders on both sides continue to show strong leadership and a willingness to make those tough choices and a willingness to reasonably compromise, then peace is possible.

So Martin, I’m grateful that you’ve agreed to take a leave from your post at the Brookings Institution to serve once again in this most important role. And I know that you are eager to get to work, as am I.  Martin.

AMBASSADOR INDYK: Thank you. Mr. Secretary, thank you very much for that generous introduction and for vesting in me such important responsibilities. I am deeply honored to serve you and to serve President Obama in your noble endeavor to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace. The fact that later today Israeli and Palestinian negotiators will sit down in this building to resume final status negotiations after a three-year hiatus is testament to your extraordinary tireless efforts, backed by President Obama, to try to resolve this intractable conflict.

President Obama made the case so eloquently in his historic speech in Jerusalem in March of this year when he argued to an audience of young Israelis that, quote, “Peace is necessary, peace is just, and peace is possible.” And you, Mr. Secretary, have proven him right. You’ve shown that it can be done.

I couldn’t agree more with President Obama. It’s been my conviction for 40 years that peace is possible since I experienced the agony of the 1973 Yom Kippur War as a student in Jerusalem. In those dark days, I witnessed firsthand how one of your predecessors, Henry Kissinger, brokered a ceasefire that ended the war and paved the way for peace between Israel and Egypt.

Because of your confidence that it could be done, you took up the challenge when most people thought you were on a mission impossible. And backed by the President, you drove the effort with persistence, patience, and creativity. As a result, today, Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Mahmoud Abbas have made the tough decisions required to come back to the negotiating table.

I’m therefore deeply grateful to you and to President Obama for entrusting me with the mission of helping you take this breakthrough and turn it into a full-fledged Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. It is a daunting and humbling challenge, but one that I cannot desist from. I look forward with great excitement to working with you, President Abbas, and Prime Minister Netanyahu, and their teams, to do our best to achieve President Obama’s vision of two states living side-by-side in peace and security. I also look forward to working with the team that you are assembling, starting with Frank Lowenstein, who, as you said, has made such an important contribution to getting us to this point and who will be my partner in this endeavor.

Fifteen years ago my son, Jacob, who was 13 at the time, designed a screensaver for my computer. It consisted of a simple question that flashed across the screen constantly: Dad, is there peace in the Middle East yet? I guess you could say, Mr. Secretary, that he was one of the original skeptics. (Laughter.) But behind that skepticism was also a yearning. And for 15 years, I’ve only been able to answer him, “Not yet.”Perhaps, Mr. Secretary, through your efforts and our support, we may yet be able to tell Jake, and more importantly, all those young Israelis and Palestinians who yearn for a different, better tomorrow, that this time, we actually made it.

Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, all. We’ll see you later. Thank you.

A Reasonable Request: PLO Ratification of the Oslo Accords


Arafat (right) signed the accord without the PLO’s sanction

— by David Bedein

Recently, US Secretary of State John Kerry passionately called for the renewal of talks with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Former President Bill Clinton, who hosted the PLO-Israel ceremonies on the White House lawn twenty years ago, is on his way to Jerusalem for high profile lectures, where he will also call for renewal of negotiations. And Shimon Peres, Israel’s president, who served as Israel’s foreign minister at the outset of negotiations with the PLO two decades ago, is about to convene thousands of dignitaries at a conference at the President’s mansion, that will call to expedite negotiations with the PLO.

Veteran observers of middle east politics may ask: what is there to negotiate about?

More after the jump.
Indeed, there is an item on the table that is hardly a minor detail: The Palestinian Liberation Organization did not ratify the Oslo Accords after Yasser Arafat and Mahmuod Abbas signed them on the White House lawn.

On September 13, 1993, at the White House, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin and Israeli Foreign Minister Simon Peres signed the “Declaration of Principles” (DOP) between Israel and the PLO together with Arafat and Abbas. The agreement, which had been hammered out in Oslo, stipulated mutual recognition between Israel and the PLO. It required the PLO to cease and desist from terrorism, and for the PLO to nullify its covenant, which calls for Israel’s destruction.

The Israeli Knesset ratified the accord one week later, by a vote of 61 to 50, with 9 abstentions. However, what received hardly any attention was the fact that on October 6, 1993, the PLO executive did not ratify the Oslo accord, for lack of a quorum.

Very few people know or remember that Pinchas Inbari, the only Israeli correspondent covering the PLO in Tunis at the time, writing for the Israeli left-wing Hebrew newspaper Al HaMishmar, broke the story that Arafat announced in Tunis that he could not get a quorum of the executive council of the PLO to ratify the Declaration of Principles of the Oslo Accords. Al HaMishmar then ran a headline, which reported that the PLO did not ratify the accord.


Yossi Beilin was sent to Tunis to thank Arafat for the ratification of Oslo, which never happened

Carrying Al HaMishmar in my hand, I walked into the office of the Israel Government Press Office director at the time, Mr. Ori Dromi, and showed him the headline. Dromi, an appointee of Rabin, made it clear that from the Israeli government’s point of view, this meant that Arafat signed the accord without the sanction of the PLO.

The rest of the Israeli media, however, did not report that the PLO never ratified the accord, and the Israeli government acted as if it had done so.

Inbari was scheduled to appear on Kol Yisrael’s popular morning radio show when he got back from Tunis. However, the Prime Minister’s office asked Kol Yisrael to cancel that appearance. Instead, the Israeli government dispatched then-Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yossi Beilin, to fly to Tunis to thank Arafat for facilitating the ratification of the Oslo accord, which the PLO never did.

Why is this important? According to the Israeli law, since the PLO did not ratify the Oslo accord, which renounce terrorism, the PLO and Fatah were never stricken from Israeli law books as “a terrorist entity,” a status that the PLO received on March 1, 1980.

The same goes for American law. In March 2002, US government designated the Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades of the Fatah as a terror organization. That designation was never changed. Under US law, any government that aids and abets an organization defined as a terror organization will forfeit US foreign aid assistance.

On two occasions, the Palestinian National. Council gathered to discuss the PLO Covenant, which calls for Israel’s destruction: on April 24, 1996 and on December 14, 1998. On neither occasion did the PNC cancel it.

In other words, there is a real reason to renew negotiations with the PLO: The first items on the agenda would be to ask that the PLO finally ratify the Declaration of Principles of non violence and mutual recognition, which constituted the essence of the Oslo Accord. The other request would be to cancel the PLO Covenant.

Aren’t those requests reasonable?

Israel Behind The News
Funds Needed to Continue Proactive News Investigations

  • Dangers of Further US Aid to the PLO Army
  • Threat of Planned PLO Army Deployment in Hebron and Jerusalem
  • UNRWA and PA for War Curriculum, financed by US and the West
  • Conflicts of Interests of Israeli businesses invested in the Palestinian Authority

Netanyahu and Obama are in a similar bind

US President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu are both in the midst of fruitless negotiations for basically the same reason.

Obama is negotiating with Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff while Netanyahu is negotiating with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

The President offered Boehner huge concessions reducing stimulus spending from $425B to $175B, abandoning extension of the payroll tax holiday and slashing entitlement spending (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid) by $725B in order to obtain a modest 2% increase in taxes for the wealthiest 0.7% of Americans which he could have obtained automatically simply by waiting for New Year’s. Boehner and Obama seemed close to an agreement and much was made of the fact that neither was willing to bridge the (relatively) small gap that remained between them.

However, in the end the inability to come to agreement with Boehner was probably irrelevant since Obama was negotiating with someone who did not have to power to deliver the votes. Boehner was unable to get enough votes to pass his own so-called “Plan B” which would have raised taxes on the poorest Americans by up to $1500 by eliminating the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit while simultaneously permitting tax rates to rise for 400,000 extremely wealthy families. Boehner’s failure Thursday night to win support for his plan from the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party forced him to shutter Congress for the holidays  without avoiding the “fiscal cliff.”

Similarly, one Israeli government after another is having difficulty bringing Abbas to the negotiating table let alone coming to a peace agreement with him despite a unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, economic support for the Palestinian Authority and other concessions. However, this failure is almost irrelevant since the Palestinian Authority is not really controlled by its nominal figurehead Abbas in Ramallah, but rather by Hamas in Gaza.

So why does Netanyahu waste his time talking to Abbas when it is clear that the leadership of Hamas holds all the cards?

The problem is that Hamas is a terrorist organization which by its very charter defines itself as devoted to the complete destruction of the State of Israel. By choosing essentially civilian targets and terror tactics, Hamas holds itself outside the rules of conventional warfare and maintains its status as a pariah organization with whom negotiation is anathema.

Similarly, the Tea Party has shown itself time and time again willing to hold the economy of the country hostage to its own interests. The 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution says that our national debt “shall not be questioned.” Unlike Greece, our debt is in our own sovereign currency. If worse came to worst, our lenders should know that we can always simply print what we owe them, so they could consider United States Bonds to be completely risk-free and charge us the lowest rate available. However, by playing a game of “chicken” with the debt ceiling, the Tea Party puts the entire solvency of our country needlessly into doubt.

Now with the fiscal cliff, Grover Norquist and his Tea Party allies are unwilling to bend on the smallest tax increase for the wealthiest Americans in order to avoid across the board tax increases and automatic budget cuts will would certainly put our economic recover into jeopardy.  

Since Netanyahu and Obama’s real opponents (Hamas and the Tea Party) are intractable ideologues with whom there is no hope of negotiating, Netanyahu and Obama persist in hoping that negotiating with figureheads (Abbas and Boehner) will give their negotiating partners the “street-cred” necessary to make a deal.

Well, good luck with that!

Mahmoud Abbas’s words at U.N. need cleansing

Whatever your view of the United Nations resolution recognizing “Palestine” as a state, Mahmoud Abbas’s speech revises Middle East history — to the point of being downright insulting to supporters of Israel.

“Without a Palestinian state,” says Australian Prime Minister Bob Carr, as quoted by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, “there can’t be peace in this region.”

What “peace in this region” can there be if the leader of the so-called state of Palestine demonizes Israel in front of the General Assembly of the United Nations?

More after the jump.
Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, accused Israel of “ethnic cleansing” and forced expulsion of the Arabs from Israel in 1948.

Strange. That’s exactly what the Arab world intended for Israel from the instant the U.N. approved its creation as a state of its own.

It is fair game for Australia and five other developed nations to criticize Israel for apparent retaliation of the GA’s vote to recognize “Palestine” as an independent state. However, they opened themselves up to accusations of bias for letting Abbas get away with his brazen lies before an assemblage that was formed to solve the world’s turf battles through reason and fair play.

Carr and the other leaders — from Britain, France, Spain, Denmark and Sweden — probably did not even read Abbas’s speech before they summoned Israel’s ambassadors to register their anger with Israel’s decision to build 3,000 housing units in the West Bank.

Abbas lost all credibility when he declared:

“The Palestinian people, who miraculously recovered from the ashes of Al-Nakba of 1948, which was intended to extinguish their being and to expel them in order to uproot and erase their presence, which was rooted in the depths of history.”

Nakba” has been traditionally translated to mean “catastrophe.”

He then accused Israel of “one of the most dreadful campaigns of ethnic cleansing and dispossession in modern history.”

History contradicts Abbas. Israel accepted a U.N. partition plan to allow Jews and Arabs to live in separate enclaves… in peace. Instead, Arabs from within the partitioned areas and from five Arab nations attacked Israel.

As Israel held its ground, many Arabs fled for a variety of reasons, according to historians. Their leaders demanded they move out so Arab troops could conquer Israel, and the Arab inhabitants would return a few days later. Others understandably feared being caught in the cross-fire.

Perhaps Jewish extremists drove some Arabs out, but this has yet to be proven. If indeed they did, the Arabs provided them with the opportunity by initiating the war from the outset.

No doubt that some Israelis were pleased that a large number of Arabs fled, yet this was not their responsibility.

A half-century later, the Israelis offered the Palestinian Authority an independent state, but then-PA leader Yasser Arafat turned it down and facilitated a war against Israel.

Abbas likely bypassed the negotiating process because he is afraid that powerful blocs among his people are demanding more — the “right of return,” which will mean flooding Israel with 5 million refugees.

Granted, Netanyahu authorized settlement expansion on the West Bank, which gave Abbas an excuse to ignore negotiations.

In the midst of this 64-year span of events, a 30-year-old Israeli colonel known as “Yoni” died in 1976 while leading the rescue of 100 Israeli hostages held in Uganda by a group of Arab and German gunman. His brother is now Israel’s prime minister.

“Extinguish their being?…Expel them?” First Abbas’s associates cause the death of Netanyahu’s brother, and all these years later Abbas casts Israel as the villain. One needs not to have lost a brother to these creeps or even live in Israel to take offense with Abbas’s version of history.

Bruce S. Ticker of Philadelphia is author of the e-book George Costanza Goes to Washington available at TheWriteDeal.

 

A Tale of Two Trips

— by Elizabeth Leibowitz

Perhaps the most interesting moment in Monday’s presidential debate was one of President Obama’s best lines of the night:

…when I went to Israel as a candidate, I didn’t take donors, I didn’t attend fundraisers, I went to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum there, to remind myself the nature of evil and why our bond with Israel will be unbreakable.” He continued, saying, “I went down to the border towns of Sderot … I saw families there who showed me where missiles had come down near their children’s bedrooms, and I was reminded of … what that would mean if those were my kids, which is why, as president, we funded an Iron Dome program to stop those missiles.

Now, let me begin by saying that I know Romney visited Yad Vashem in 2007 and traveled to Sderot in 2011. But when the details of the two men’s trips to Israel as presidential candidates are contrasted and evaluated for who was more “presidential,” only one individual fits the bill.

President Obama visited Israel during his 2008 presidential campaign and met with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, President Shimon Peres, then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, then-opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu and – unlike Governor Mitt Romney – with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. He traveled to Sderot, where he talked with families who faced the daily fear of Palestinian rocket fire. He visited Yad Vashem, where he laid a wreath on a tomb that contains ashes from Nazi extermination camps. Obama’s trip to Israel greatly affected his actions once in office, prompting him to provide record aid to Israel, restore the country’s Qualitative Military Edge, fund the Iron Dome missile defense system, and more.

Governor Romney had quite a different trip as a candidate. He did meet with Peres, Netanyahu, and various other Israeli leaders — though he opted to cancel his meeting with the Labor Party’s Shelly Yachimovich. He chose to only meet with Fayyad, selecting to return to Jerusalem on the eve of Tisha B’Av to focus on his speech as well as his $50,000-a-plate fundraiser. Standing in front of his supporters, Romney spoke broadly about his stances on the Middle East, all the while dishing out subtle jabs at the President and breaking the “politics stop at the water’s edge” protocol. The next day, he managed to stretch U.S.-Palestinian relations even further when he chalked up the difference between Israeli and Palestinian economies to “culture.” During Romney’s August 2012 trip as a candidate, there was no trip to Sderot, no visit to Yad Vashem, and no conversations with average Israelis about their hopes for the future. Instead, his trip to Israel served a political purpose.

There is only one candidate in the 2012 race whose trip to Israel was presidential and whose actions afterward were presidential-President Barack Obama.