Obama Admin.-Funded Iron Dome “Crucial” to Israel’s Defense

— by Jason Attermann

The Washington Times reported on the extraordinary accuracy of Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system at stopping rockets fired from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. The system has been operational since April and has performed successfully at an 85% efficiency level against short-range rockets fired toward civilian areas. With such a high level of success, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak announced that Israel’s third Iron Dome battery has been deployed to protect the city of Ashdod, with more batteries to come in other locations throughout the country. President Barack Obama spearheaded the U.S. funding effort for the Iron Dome as a demonstration of his commitment to securing Israel.  

The Hamas – Oops, Gaza – Flotilla

–by David Harris

We’re on the verge of another “flotilla” to Gaza. Estimates of the number of ships and participants vary from day to day, tending downward, but the erstwhile organizers insist that the maritime operation will take place.

Their spokesmen have been hyperactive in drawing attention to the event. After all, without coverage, they’d be denied their oxygen. And the kind of coverage they seek – idealistic humanists and peace activists determined to aid the poor, beleaguered residents of Gaza versus stone-hearted oppressors in military uniforms determined to block them at all costs – would, needless to say, portray Israel in the worst possible light.

The International Solidarity Movement, Free Gaza Movement, U.S. Boat to Gaza, and kindred spirits want the world to believe there is a strip of land called Gaza that, left to its own devices, would create the Shangri-La of the Middle East.  
All its residents want are peace, harmony, coexistence, and tranquility. Some spokesmen acknowledge that Gaza has a governing authority. A very few even mention its name, Hamas, but hasten to add that it was elected democratically, so end of story. The rest don’t give it a name, as it might muddy the waters.

According to this narrative – a word particularly popular in Middle East discussions- the residents of Gaza face a neighboring oppressor, Israel, which, for diabolical reasons of its own, wants to inflict maximum harm on people whose only dream in life is to live and let live. For these spokesmen, the wealth of vocabulary in the Oxford English Dictionary fails to capture the true nature of Israel’s venality.

Enter, then, the self-described, modern-day Freedom Riders. They’re boarding flotilla ships, they suggest, to bring aid, relief, and attention to those trapped in Birmingham, Alabama, circa 1963.

George Orwell, where are you? You could have a field day with this story.

Actually, you anticipated it when you wrote about the Ministry of Truth in your classic book, 1984. What were the ruling party’s slogans on the outside of the 1,000-foot-tall building housing the ministry? Weren’t they “War is Peace,” “Freedom is Slavery,” and “Ignorance is Strength”? And didn’t the ministry rewrite history at will to ensure it always served the party’s interests?

The Gaza flotilla spokesmen are inverting the truth and rewriting history at will to serve their interests. And what are those interests? To prop up the Hamas regime in Gaza and delegitimize Israel.

While they are entitled to their own opinions, however misguided, they are not entitled to their own facts.

They cannot separate Hamas from the equation. Much as they might try, the central fact is that Hamas is key to understanding Gaza today.

Hamas is a terrorist organization. Don’t take my word for it. Check with the United States and European Union, both of which have designated Hamas as a terrorist entity.

Hamas preaches the elimination of Israel and a toxic brew of classical anti-Semitism. Again, don’t believe me. Read the Hamas Charter.

While Hamas may have been elected to govern with the PA in 2006, the first and only national Palestinian elections, one election does not a democracy make. Hamas used the ballot box to gain a foothold, then employed anti-democratic means to impose its own suffocating vision on the land. Hamas violently ousted the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority from Gaza in 2007 and has ruled ever since. Because Hamas cannot reform, the much heralded “unity” agreement it signed with Fatah six weeks ago is headed for an uncertain future.

Hamas celebrates violence. It joyously speaks of jihad, martyrdom, conflict, and the ultimate destruction of Israel. It has matched its fiery rhetoric with a sustained effort to import weapons, courtesy of Iran, smugglers in the Sinai, and tunnels from the Egyptian side of the border. In recent years, literally thousands of rockets and missiles have been fired from Gaza at Israel. Why?

Israel has no claim on Gaza. To the contrary, Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005. Soldiers and settlers alike were pulled out by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, giving local residents the first chance ever in their history to govern themselves.

Indeed, with Israel’s encouragement, a number of Jewish donors purchased Israeli greenhouses in Gaza and left them behind to help jump-start the local economy. The first reaction was to ransack them, when they could have been sources of flowers and vegetables for the local economy.

Israel has an interest in a stable, peaceful, and prospering Gaza, not a gun-toting, missile-firing, jihad-preaching entity. After all, you can change a lot of things in life, but not neighbors. Israel and Gaza are destined to be neighbors for a long time to come.

The Quartet – the U.S., EU, Russia, and UN – set three conditions for engagement with Hamas. The group must forswear violence, recognize Israel’s right to exist, and accept previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements. To date, none of those conditions have been met. Apologists for Gaza would have you believe otherwise, but Hamas’s spokesmen always undercut them. When it serves their purposes, they might briefly curtail violence to regroup and rearm, but Hamas is adamant that it will never abandon its struggle against Israel.

So, let’s be clear. The flotilla participants, whether they acknowledge it or not, are handmaidens of a terrorist regime. That regime, not Israel, is responsible for the conditions in Gaza, which may not be enviable, but are a far cry from the dire picture of starvation and stunted growth painted by the hyperbolic spokesmen.

Israel has only one concern, which is to ensure that Hamas, a declared enemy of Israel, does not get additional means to threaten its neighbor. That’s it, pure and simple.

As has been said, if Hamas laid down its weapons, there would be peace. If Israel laid down its weapons, there would be no Israel.

The flotilla participants claim their mission is nothing more than humanitarian, but, in reality, it serves the interests of a regime that espouses terrorism, peddles anti-Semitism, and praises the memory of Osama Bin Laden.

To portray themselves as the new wave of Freedom Riders is to trample grotesquely on the legacy of America’s civil rights struggle and rewrite history. Orwell’s Ministry of Truth is back.

For more information, visit ajc.org.

Goldstone Report

From the Washington Post op/ed by Richard Goldstone:

We know a lot more today about what happened in the Gaza war of 2008-09 than we did when I chaired the fact-finding mission appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council that produced what has come to be known as the Goldstone Report. If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document….

…While the investigations published by the Israeli military and recognized in the U.N. committee’s report have established the validity of some incidents that we investigated in cases involving individual soldiers, they also indicate that civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy.

Richard Goldstone chaired the U.N. fact-finding mission on the Gaza conflict.

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

Statement by the President on Bombing in Jerusalem

— President Barack Obama

I condemn in the strongest possible terms the bombing in Jerusalem today, as well as the rockets and mortars fired from Gaza in recent days. Together with the American people, I offer my deepest condolences for those injured or killed.   There is never any possible justification for terrorism. The United States calls on the groups responsible to end these attacks at once and we underscore that Israel, like all nations, has a right to self-defense.  We also express our deepest condolences for the deaths of Palestinian civilians in Gaza yesterday.  We stress the importance of calm and urge all parties to do everything in their power to prevent further violence and civilian casualties.

Details and further reactions after the jump.

  • Bomb was at bus stop
  • No advance warning of bombing
  • First terror bombing in Jerusalem since 2004

A bomb exploded next to a bus stop in a busy part of Jerusalem on Wednesday, injuring dozens of people, several seriously, police said.
The bomb, hidden in a bag, was placed outside a telephone kiosk and exploded around 3 pm local time while two buses full of passengers were picking up passengers, Jerusalem police commander Aharon Frenkel told an impromptu news conference.

The explosion happened near the Binyamei Ha’Uma International Convention Center. Hospital officials reported that between five and eight people were seriously hurt.

“It was an enormous explosion, deafening,” said TIP senior staffer Laura Kam.

“I was in a taxi very close to the central bus station where the attack took place.  Suddenly an extremely loud explosion shook the city.  Seconds later sirens were heard and we knew instinctively that a terrorist attack had taken place,” she said.    

This was the first terrorist bombing attack to hit Jerusalem since 2004.

Police closed road leading to the site of the explosion. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was due to embark on a trip to Russia but delayed his departure and convened urgent consultations.

Israeli officials said the Palestinian Authority was indirectly to blame for the violence because it continued to incite violence among Palestinian population.

“The PA’s culture of praising terrorists produces terrorism. This incitement must stop,” a Foreign Ministry statement said.

The attack came at a time of high tension in southern Israel. Palestinian terrorists in Gaza, armed and financed by Iran, have fired over 80 mortars and rockets at Israel since last Saturday, nine on Wednesday alone.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas walked out of peace talks with Israel last September and has refused to return. Historically, when the peace process is stalled, terrorist violence fills the void.

B’nai B’rith International

B’nai B’rith International condemns in the strongest terms possible the bombing outside Jerusalem’s central bus station on March 23.

Israel’s minister of public security says a two-pound bomb left hidden in a bag on a sidewalk exploded injuring at least 25, some critically. The attack took place near the International Convention Center.

Unfortunately this attack cannot be viewed as a surprise. The constant incitement against the Jewish state from Israel’s enemies creates an atmosphere where a vicious attack can be launched on the people of Israel.

B’nai B’rith stands in solidarity with the people of Israel. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families.

Rabbi Eric Yoffie, President of the Union for Reform Judaism

First and foremost, we pray for the victims of today’s tragic terrorist attack in Jerusalem.  We are dismayed by the loss of even one life and outraged at the terrorists’ disregard for human life. Additionally, our thoughts are with the first responders and hospital staff who are treating the victims, and the police and soldiers working to secure the city.

Any terrorist attack is cause for profound concern. But, given that this attack comes as part of a significant increase of violence in Israel – rockets targeting Israeli cities, heavy exchange of fire between Palestinian terrorists and the Israeli Defense Forces in Gaza, and of course the recent horrific massacre of an Israeli family in Itamar in their sleep – our fears are heightened.  Renewed violence and terrorist tactics threaten to further undermine any possibility of peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and pose risks for Israeli security in the already, and increasingly, unstable Middle East.

We call upon Palestinian leaders to condemn today’s attack and make it clear that rocket fire and bombs in bus stations are not the answer. We urge both Israeli and Palestinian leaders to do all they can to ensure the violence we have recently witnessed does not escalate. We call upon the Palestinians to return to peace talks immediately so that progress can be mode toward the peace that the Israeli and Palestinian peoples so desperately want and need.

But, most importantly today, we pray for the Jewish State and her citizens and offer our condolences to the victims and their families.

World Jewish Congress

The leadership of the World Jewish Congress harshly condemns today’s barbaric terrorist attack at a central bus station in
Jerusalem, in which one person was killed and dozens of people were wounded, many of them gravely. “It is appalling to see that once again, innocent Israeli men, women, and children have been deliberately targeted by terrorists. We hope that today’s terrorist attack does not mark a return to the days of a Palestinian terror war, and we strongly urge the Palestinian Authority and the international community stop extremists from causing more death and destruction in Israel and elsewhere,” declared Ronald S. Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress.

WJC Secretary General Designate Dan Diker added: “Today, Jews throughout the world stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Israel, who are again coming under deadly fire by those who want to destroy them. As any other nation, Israelis have a right to live in peace and security. The World Jewish Congress calls on the Palestinian Authority leadership to stop the on-going incitement to hatred of Israel and the Jewish people, which is a primary cause of these terrorist attacks.”

The Fallacy of the 1967 “Borders”

— Alan Baker, Former Ambassador of Israel to Canada

  • The Palestinian leadership is fixated on attempting to press foreign governments and the UN to recognize a unilaterally declared Palestinian state within the “1967 borders.” Indeed, this campaign appeared to have some initial successes in December 2010 when both Argentina and Brazil decided to recognize a Palestinian state within what they described as the “1967 borders.”
  • But such borders do not exist and have no basis in history, law, or fact. The only line that ever existed was the 1949 armistice demarcation line, based on the ceasefire lines of the Israeli and Arab armies pending agreement on permanent peace. The 1949 armistice agreements specifically stated that such lines have no political or legal significance and do not prejudice future negotiations on boundaries.
  • UN Security Council Resolution 242 of 1967 acknowledged the need for negotiation of secure and recognized boundaries. Prominent jurists and UN delegates, including from Brazil and Jordan, acknowledged that the previous lines cannot be considered as international boundaries.
  • The series of agreements between the PLO and Israel (1993-1999) reaffirm the intention and commitment of the parties to negotiate permanent borders. During all phases of negotiation between Israel and the Palestinians, there was never any determination as to a border based on the 1967 lines.
  • The PLO leadership solemnly undertook that all issues of permanent status would be resolved only through negotiations between the parties. The 2003 “Road Map” further reiterated the need for negotiations on final borders.

Full article after the jump.
With ongoing and increasing intensity, the Palestinian leadership is fixated on advancing a concerted policy vis-à-vis the international community and public opinion, demanding recognition of what they claim to be the “1967 borders,” and acceptance of a unilaterally declared Palestinian state within those borders. Indeed, this campaign appeared to have some initial successes in December 2010 when both Argentina and Brazil decided to recognize a Palestinian state within what they described as the “1967 borders.”1

In actual fact, the Palestinian leadership, as well as members of the international community, are well aware that such borders do not exist, nor have they ever existed. They have never figured in any of the international, agreed-upon documentation concerning the Israel-Arab and Israel-Palestinian issues, and have no basis whatsoever, neither in law nor in fact.

There are no provisions in any of the agreements signed between Israel and the Palestinians that require withdrawal to the “1967 borders.” There were never any geographic imperatives that sanctify the 1967 lines. Clearly, there could be no legal or political logic to enshrining as an international boundary an inadvertent and coincidental set of ceasefire lines that existed for less than 19 years

While the above is fully evident to the Palestinian leaders who are actively and daily advancing this policy – principally the head of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, and the head of the Negotiations Department of the Authority, Sa’eb Erekat, both of whom were themselves actively involved in all the stages of negotiation – they nevertheless continue with their fixation to present the concept of the “1967 borders” as an accepted international term-of-art and as an Israeli commitment.

The following is a summary of the background to the 1967 lines as described in the international documentation:

UN Security Council Defines Initial Ceasefire Lines

The term “1967 lines” refers to the line from which Israel military forces moved into the territories at the start of hostilities on June 4, 1967 (“The Six-Day War”).

These lines were not based on historical fact, natural geographic formations, demographic considerations, or international agreement. In fact, they had served as the agreed-upon armistice demarcation lines from the termination of the 1948 War of Independence, pursuant to the armistice agreements signed between Israel and its neighbors Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon in 1949. These lines remained valid until the outbreak of the 1967 hostilities.

The armistice demarcation line represented nothing more than the forward lines of deployment of the forces on the day a ceasefire was declared, as set out in Security Council Resolution 62 of November 16, 1948, which called for the delineation of permanent armistice demarcation lines beyond which the armed forces of the respective parties will not move. The line was demarcated on the map attached to the armistice agreement with a green marker pen and hence received the name “Green Line.”

The Security Council in its resolution stressed the temporary nature of the armistice lines that were to be maintained “during the transition to permanent peace in Palestine,” intimating that permanent peace would involve negotiating permanent bilateral borders that would be different from the armistice demarcation lines.2

1949 Armistice Agreements

In fact, the Israel-Jordan Armistice Agreement signed on April 13, 1949, as well as all the other armistice agreements, emphasized the transitional nature of the armistice as “an indispensable step toward the liquidation of armed conflict and the restoration of peace in Palestine.” The language of the agreement went to great pains to stress that the armistice lines were of a provisional and non-political nature and were not intended to, and did not constitute international boundaries, and as such do not prejudice the rights, claims, and positions of the parties in the ultimate peace settlement:

“No provision of this Agreement shall in any way prejudice the rights, claims and positions of either Party hereto in the ultimate peaceful settlement of the Palestine question, the provisions of this Agreement being dictated exclusively by military considerations.”3

“The basic purpose of the Armistice Demarcation Lines is to delineate the lines beyond which the armed forces of the respective Parties shall not move.”4

“The provisions of this article shall not be interpreted as prejudicing, in any sense, an ultimate political settlement between the Parties to this Agreement.”5

“The Armistice Demarcation Lines defined in…this Agreement are agreed upon by the Parties without prejudice to future territorial settlements or boundary lines or to claims of either Party relating thereto.”6

Subsequent Views on the Transitional Nature of the Lines

Statements from Arab and other sources between 1949 and 1967 confirm the common understanding as to the transitional nature of the lines. During the debate in the Security Council before the outbreak of hostilities in 1967, the Jordanian ambassador stated:

“There is an Armistice Agreement. The Agreement did not fix boundaries; it fixed a demarcation line. The Agreement did not pass judgment on rights political, military or otherwise. Thus I know of no territory; I know of no boundary; I know of a situation frozen by an Armistice Agreement.”7

Prof. Mughraby wrote in the Beirut Daily Star:

“Israel is the only State in the world which has no legal boundaries except the natural one the Mediterranean provides. The rest are nothing more than armistice lines, can never be considered political or territorial boundaries.”8

President Lyndon Johnson is on record stating:

“The nations of the region have had only fragile and violated truce lines for 20 years. What they now need are recognized boundaries and other arrangements that will give them security against terror, destruction and war.”9

In this context, international jurists have also acknowledged the limited effect of the armistice lines:
Elihu Lauterpacht, in his booklet, Jerusalem and the Holy Places, states:

“Each of these agreements…contains a provision that the armistice lines therein laid down shall not prejudice the future political settlement. It would not therefore be accurate to contend that questions of title…depend on the Armistice Agreements. Questions of sovereignty are quite independent of the Armistice Agreements.”10

Judge Steven Schwebel, former President of the International Court of Justice, stated in 1994:

“The armistice agreements of 1949 expressly preserved the territorial claims of all parties and did not purport to establish definitive boundaries between them.”11

Security Council Resolution 242, 1967

The transitory nature of the 1949 armistice demarcation lines was clearly acknowledged by the Security Council in Resolution 242 of 1967, after the “Six-Day War,” which affirmed, in its first paragraph:

“…respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force.”12

There is no call in this resolution for a return to the armistice demarcation lines or to any other line or border. The Security Council specifically dismissed the Arab demand for a text that required Israel to completely return all the territory it occupied during the 1967 conflict. Israel was called upon to withdraw from “territories occupied in the recent conflict,” not from “all the territories” or even from “the territories.” At the same time, the Council called upon the parties to work together to promote agreement on a peaceful and accepted settlement in accordance with the provisions and principles of the resolution. Clearly this settlement was intended to include the negotiation of secure and recognized boundaries that would replace the armistice demarcation lines, pursuant to the above references in the armistice agreements to the same “ultimate peaceful settlement.”
During the Security Council debate on the acceptance of Resolution 242, the representative of Brazil, in accepting the resolution, declared:    

“Its acceptance does not imply that borderlines cannot be rectified as a result of an agreement freely concluded among the interested States. We keep constantly in mind that a just and lasting peace in the Middle East has necessarily to be based on secure permanent boundaries freely agreed upon and negotiated by the neighboring States.”13

Israel-Palestinian Declaration of Principles, 1993

While this fact has been widely acknowledged in both legal and political literature throughout the years,14 the basic reciprocal undertaking by the Palestinian and Israeli leaderships to negotiate borders between their respective territories was given formal confirmation by Yasser Arafat, his deputy and later replacement Mahmoud Abbas, and Sa’eb Erekat during the groundbreaking “Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements” (signed inter alia by Abbas) of September 13, 1993, in which the PLO and the Government of Israel acknowledged that the negotiations on the permanent status of the relationship between them would cover:

“…remaining issues, including: Jerusalem, refugees, settlements, security arrangements, borders, relations and cooperation with other neighbors, and other issues of common interest.”

On the eve of the signature of the above declaration, Arafat made the solemn commitment in a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin:

“The PLO commits itself to the Middle East peace process, and to a peaceful resolution of the conflict between the two sides and declares that all outstanding issues relating to permanent status will be resolved through negotiations.”15

Clearly, the present, ongoing fixation by Arafat’s successor, Mahmoud Abbas, and his chief negotiator, Sa’eb Erekat, in attempting to bypass the agreed-upon negotiating process and achieve unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state within the “1967 borders” runs squarely against Arafat’s solemn undertaking in the name of the Palestinian people in 1993.

Israeli-Palestinian Agreements, 1993-1999

The above references to permanent status negotiations on borders and to achieving the aims of Security Council Resolution 242 were repeated in a series of mutually agreed documents entered into between the PLO and the Israel Government.16 Furthermore, with a view to strengthening this commitment, they undertook in the 1995 Interim Agreement not to act unilaterally to change the status of the territories pending outcome of those permanent status negotiations:

“…neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the permanent status negotiations.”17

This undertaking was reiterated by the parties in Article 9 of the 1999 Sharm el Shiekh Memorandum:

“Recognizing the necessity to create a positive environment for the negotiations, neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in accordance with the Interim Agreement.”

Throughout all the phases of the negotiations on these various agreements and memoranda between Israel and the Palestinians, and in the texts of these documents, there was never any reference to the 1967 lines as a potential border between the two neighbors, nor was there any reference to any commitment or obligation by Israel to withdraw to the 1967 lines.

Road Map, 2003

Further indication of the non-existence of “1967 borders” and the rejection of any unilateral act by the Palestinians is evident from the terms of the Quartet-initiated “Performance-Based Roadmap to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict” of April 30, 2003.18 In this document the parties were expected, in the second and third phases of implementation of the “Road Map” and after election of a responsible Palestinian leadership, to engage in negotiation focusing on the option of creating an independent, viable Palestinian state, initially with “provisional borders.” This was intended to serve as a way-station to the permanent settlement that was scheduled for the third stage, where final status borders would be recognized by an international conference convened for that purpose.

Clearly, if and when the parties return to a modus of bona fide negotiation and reach the issue of defining their mutual border, the 1967 line could indeed figure as a point of reference in the negotiations between them, assuming that it answers the criteria set out by the Security Council for a border that will avoid situations of threats of force and violence.

But this can only emanate from a reciprocal and good faith attempt by the parties to act together, and not unilaterally, in determining their own borders, based on their mutual interests as neighbors. Such issues cannot and must not be dictated from outside, whether by the UN or by individual states.

Thus, in light of all the above, the question arises if and when the Palestinian leadership will come to admit the absurdity in attempting to invent “1967 borders” that obviously lack any historical, legal, or factual basis?

Similarly, one may ask when they will see the utter lack of pragmatism and realism in their attempt to dictate to the international community a unilateral Palestinian state in violation of their own commitments, undermining the internationally accepted Middle East peace process as well as internationally recognized and witnessed documents.

1. For the text of the Argentinean declaration, see http://www.mrecic.gov.ar/. The text of the Brazilian declaration may be found at http://www.itamaraty.gov.br/sa…

2. S/RES/62 (1948)S/1080, 16 November 1948.

3. Article II(2), http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Fore…

4. Article IV(2).

5. Article VI(8).

6. Article VI(9).

7. 1345th meeting of the Security Council, May 31, 1967.

8. Beirut Daily Star, May 28, 1967.

9. Department of State Bulletin 33, June 19, 1967.

10. Elihu Lauterpacht, Jerusalem and the Holy Places (London, 1968), p. 45.

11. Justice in International Law, Selected Writings of Judge Stephen M. Schwebel (Cambridge University Press, 1994).

12. UN Security Council Resolution 242, November 22, 1967, http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Peac…

13. S/PV.1382(OR), 22 November 1967. See also Alan Baker, “Recognition of a Palestinian State – Premature,

Legally Invalid, and Undermining any Bona Fide Negotiation Process,” Jerusalem Issue Brief, December 9, 2010, http://www.jcpa.org/JCPA/Templ…

14. For example, see Prof. Ruth Lapidoth, “Security Council Resolution 242 at Twenty Five,” Israel Law Review, vol. 26, 1992, pp. 295-318. Ministry for Foreign Affairs: The First Fifty Years (Jerusalem, Keter), vol. 4, pp. 840-853 (Hebrew).

15. Exchange of letters between Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin, July 9, 1993, http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Peac…

16. See, for example, the “Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip,” Washington, D.C., September 28, 1995, Preamble, http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Peac… and see the “1999 Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum on Implementation Timeline of Outstanding Commitments of Agreements Signed and the Resumption of Permanent Status Negotiations,” 4 September 1999, Article 1.


17. Article XXXI (7).

18. See http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Peac…


Ayalon: “Israel had to end Freeze to avoid seeming weak.”

Admits that Gaza withdrawal was an excruciatingly painful mistake

In the aftermath of Israel’s decision on September 26 to end its ten-month construction freeze within existing West Bank settlements as originally scheduled, one of Israel’s leading diplomats, Danny Ayalon, deputy foreign minister and the number two man in Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu Party tells Shalom TV President Mark S. Golub that Israel had no choice but to end the settlement freeze in order to retain any credibility in the Arab world and in international circles.

In an exclusive interview with Shalom TV conducted with Minister Ayalon in New York City, Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister makes his government’s position clear.

“I’ll tell you Mark, the international scene is cruel. There is no real mercy for the weak and there is no second chance for people who cannot sustain themselves. It’s very cynical, it’s very hypocritical. And that is why we have to stand by our word, so our word will mean something–not just for us but for the international community in the future as well.”

Asked if the recent talks between Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas gives him hope or confidence that a real peace process is underway, Minister Ayalon answers, “Unfortunately at this point I don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel–or if I see the light it is an oncoming train. There is one thing we asked the Palestinians to recognize–that Israel is a homeland of the Jewish People. They refused.”

Mr. Ayalon also makes reference to his meeting with Salam Fayyad in which the Palestinian prime minister walked out of a joint press conference at the United Nations rather than sign a statement saying that the “two state solution” was for “two separate peoples.”

For Mr. Ayalon, Israelis don’t need the Palestinians to acknowledge that “Israel is a Jewish state” for their own self-identity; rather, Israel needs the Palestinians to say it in Arabic “so there will be a finality of conflict and an end of claims.”

“We don’t want a settlement with Palestinians whereby the children of the Palestinians are still taught that Haifa is theirs, Tel Aviv is theirs, Jaffa is theirs; this is what we mean by their recognizing Israel as the “Jewish” state.”

Ayalon, who was one of the chief proponents for Israel’s evacuation of Gaza when he was part of the Ariel Sharon government, is also asked by Golub whether, in retrospect, he feels the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza was a mistake.

“Yes, it was,” says Ayalon candidly, “and in hindsight we shouldn’t have done it because it was excruciatingly painful.”

But, for Ayalon, it is an event from which Israel can learn.

“We have a lesson that we cannot cede territory without a full agreement without a full commitment of the other side–and with enforcement to make sure that no terrorism and no violence can come out of any territory that we will ever leave in the future.”

Gaza Update: Remarks by Pres. Obama & Palestinian Authority Pres. Abbas

(White House) We saw the tragedy with the flotillas, something that I think has drawn attention all around the world to the ongoing problems in Gaza. As part of the United Nations Security Council, we were very clear in condemning the acts that led to this crisis and have called for a full investigation. And it is important that we get all the facts out. But what we also know is that the situation in Gaza is unsustainable. I think increasingly you’re seeing debates within Israel, recognizing the problems with the status quo. And so President Abbas and I had very extensive discussions about how we could help to promote a better approach to Gaza.

We agree that Israelis have the right to prevent arms from entering into Gaza that can be used to launch attacks into Israeli territory.

Full text of the remarks follow the break.



PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Before I begin, I know that there was just a vote in the United Nations Security Council.  I’m going to comment on that separately.  I don’t want to detract from the topic at hand here. So for reporters who are interested in that issue, I will be making a statement about that after our session here.


I just want to thank President Abbas for being here, and his delegation.  We just concluded some very productive discussions on this issue.  I commended President Abbas for the excellent work that he and Prime Minister Fayyad have been engaged in over the last several years in strengthening the security as well as improving the economic situation for his people.  He’s done so through hard work and dedication, and I think the whole world has noticed the significant improvements that we’ve seen as a consequence of his good administration.


But obviously there is a lot of work that remains to be done so that we can create a two-state solution in the Middle East in which we have an Israel that is secure and fully accepted by its neighbors, and a Palestinian people that have their own state, self-determination, and the ability to chart their own destiny.


Now, we’ve just gone through a difficult period in the region.  We saw the tragedy with the flotillas, something that I think has drawn attention all around the world to the ongoing problems in Gaza.  As part of the United Nations Security Council, we were very clear in condemning the acts that led to this crisis and have called for a full investigation.  And it is important that we get all the facts out.  But what we also know is that the situation in Gaza is unsustainable.  I think increasingly you’re seeing debates within Israel, recognizing the problems with the status quo.  And so President Abbas and I had very extensive discussions about how we could help to promote a better approach to Gaza.


We agree that Israelis have the right to prevent arms from entering into Gaza that can be used to launch attacks into Israeli territory.  But we also think that it is important for us to explore new mechanisms so that we can have goods and services, and economic development, and the ability of people to start their own businesses, and to grow the economy and provide opportunity within Gaza.


And so we are going to be working hand in hand to make sure that we come up with a better approach, and urge Israel to work with all parties involved — Egypt, the Palestinian Authority, and the international community — to find a resolution to this issue.


In the meantime, the United States — which is already the biggest humanitarian aid donor in Gaza — is going to be announcing an additional $400 million in assistance for housing, school construction, business development — not only in Gaza, but also in the West Bank, because we think it’s important for us to reaffirm once again our commitment to improving the day-to-day lives of ordinary Palestinians.


Now, what we also discussed, though, and what we will continue to work on over the next several months is the fact that not only is the status quo with respect to Gaza unsustainable, the status quo with respect to the Middle East is unsustainable. It is time for us to go ahead and move forward on a two-state solution that will affirm the needs of Israeli citizens and will affirm the needs of Palestinian — Palestinians who are desperate for a homeland.


We have had very productive proximity talks.  Senator Mitchell — who is here, I think standing in the back — has been very active, working with both the Palestinians and the Israelis to try to start moving this process forward.  And I want to thank President Abbas for participating in these proximity talks even under some difficult circumstances.  He has shown courage and tenacity in wanting to resolve this issue.  And we believe that with Israelis and the Palestinian Authority coming together, making clear that a peaceful, non-violent solution that recognizes both the security needs of Israel as well as the legitimate aspirations of Palestinians is the right way to go, can yield real progress in the coming months.


It’s important that we understand the sense of urgency that the Palestinian people feel in this process.  Obviously you’ve got organizations like Hamas that have not recognized Israel, have not renounced violence, who are calling for a different approach.  And we think it’s important that, given President Abbas’s commitment to a peaceful diplomatic solution to these issues, and I think the desire of people both in Israel and Palestine — Palestinian Territories for a peaceful solution, that we move forward.  And the United States is going to put its full weight behind those efforts.


I did share with President Abbas, in order for us to be successful in these next several months, that both sides have to create an environment, a climate, that is going to be conducive to an actual breakthrough.  And that means on the Israeli side, curbing settlement activity and recognizing some of the progress that has been made by the Palestinian Authority when it comes to issues like security.  It means on the Palestinian side — and I was very frank with President Abbas that we have to continue to make more progress on both security as well as incitement issues.


And if we can over the next several months try to lift up what are the honest and legitimate concerns of both sides and if both Palestinians and Israelis can recognize that they have a common interest in moving off of what has been this dead end, then I believe that potentially we can make significant progress before the end of the year.


So I just want to let President Abbas know that I said when I took office this was an issue that I cared deeply about and I was willing to spend a lot of time and energy and political capital on.  That commitment has not wavered.  And I think the American people want to see a resolution of this issue that is equitable.  We will continue to work side by side with you, as well as the Israelis, to resolve this in a way that is good for the children and future generations both in Israel and in a future Palestine.


So thank you very much.


PRESIDENT ABBAS:  (As translated.)  Thank you, Mr. President.  And we, indeed, have just held very important discussions that touched on the political process as well as the very important latest development that happened in Gaza.


Of course we value and deeply appreciate all the efforts of the United States, as well as the effort of President Obama, and all the assistance and help for pushing forward the economic and security levels.  And we have reached a satisfactory picture of the economic and security levels.  Yet we are determined to keep pushing forward in our efforts to bring it up to the next level.


And I also appreciate the attention and the determination of President Obama in seeing that we push forward the political process as soon as possible.  And I assert and I affirm that we will not give up on this endeavor ahead of us, because it is in our interest, it in the interest of Israel, in the interest of the world, and also, most of all, in the interest of the United States.


We know that time is of essence; we know that we must not miss this opportunity.  We affirm the importance of bringing about peace and security in the region.


And I would like to thank President Obama for the support that he will give to Gaza — and we have just talked about that now.  This is a positive signal of the United States that the United States cares about the suffering of the people in Gaza and about the suffering of the Palestinian people.


And we also see the need to lift the Israeli siege of the Palestinian people, the need to open all the crossings, and the need to let building material and humanitarian material and all the necessities go into the Palestinian people.


And also we appreciate the attention given to the formation of an investigation committee that would investigate what happened in the latest events, the events of what we call the Freedom Flotilla, or the Freedom Fleet.


And I say in front of you, Mr. President, that we have nothing to do with incitement against Israel, and we’re not doing that.  What we care about is to live in coexistence with Israel, in order to bring about the independent Palestinian state that will live side by side with Israel in peace and stability.


We adopt and we affirm the Arab Peace Initiative that was adopted in summits, in Arab summits, as well as in summits held by Islamic countries.  Fifty-seven Arab and Islamic countries have said that they would recognize Israel if Israel withdrew from the occupied Arab land.


Mr. President, we thank you and we express our deep respect for all your efforts, specifically on the peace process and bringing about peace in the Middle East.  We know the two-state solution you said is a critical interest of the United States.  This is a slogan that we are proud of and we will pursue very seriously our efforts in order to bring about peace in the Middle East.


PRESIDENT OBAMA:  We got time for, I think, two questions.  So, on the U.S. side, we’re going to call on Matt Spetalnick of Reuters.


Q    Yes, Mr. President, I know you’re going to be making a statement later on Iran, but I just wondered if —


PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Yes, so just don’t waste that question on that.


Q    You’re not going to answer anything —


PRESIDENT OBAMA:  I’ll do that at the next one.


Q    Okay.  Did President Abbas ask you to take a tougher line with Israel over the Gaza aid flotilla raid, and will you in fact do so in outright condemnation of Israel’s actions?  And do you support Israel’s insistence on doing a flotilla investigation on its own, perhaps with some foreign involvement, or are you in favor of the U.N. proposal for a completely independent inquiry?


PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, let me take the second question first.  What the U.N. Security Council called for was a credible, transparent investigation that met international standards.  And we meant what we said; that’s what we expect.


I think everybody — people in Israel, people in Turkey, people within the Palestinian Territories, certainly people here in the United States — want to know the facts of this tragedy, what led to it, how can we prevent it in the future.  And I think I’ve said to the Israelis directly and certainly my team has communicated the fact that it is in Israel’s interest to make sure that everybody knows exactly how this happened so that we don’t see these kinds of events occurring again.  And we expect that the standard that was called for in the U.N. Security Council to be met.


With respect to the issue of taking a tougher line, I think President Abbas and I spent most of our time discussing how do we solve the problem.  One of the things that we see is that so often rhetoric when it comes to issues in the Middle East outstrip actually solving issues.  And our conversation was focused on how do we actually allow more goods, more services into Gaza?  How do we allow businesses to thrive?  How can we get construction moving?  How can we put people to work in Gaza?


The Palestinian Authority is already doing a number of things inside of Gaza, providing employment opportunities, providing assistance to people directly.  The United States is already providing assistance.  But the status quo that we have is one that is inherently unstable.  And I think the Israelis have come to recognize that.


The question now is how do we create a different framework so that people in Gaza can thrive and succeed; so that extremists are isolated as opposed to having an excuse for engaging in violent activities; but also, how do we do it in a way that Israel’s legitimate security concerns are met.


We — and I think President Abbas agrees with this — recognize that Israel should not have missiles flying out of Gaza into its territories.  And so there should be a means by which we are able to stop the flow of arms that could endanger Israel’s security.  At the same time, we’re doing so in a way that allows the people in Gaza to live out their aspirations and their dreams both for themselves and their children.  And that’s something that we’re going to spend a lot of time focusing on.  And we’ve already begun some hard-headed discussions with the Israelis in achieving that.


Q    (Asks a question in Arabic.)


And, Mr. President, if I may ask you a question —


PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Okay, I was just finding out what you were asking him.  (Laughter.)


Q    I can translate that to you if you want.  I just asked him that there is talk that the administration wants to move from proximity talk to direct negotiation, what the Palestinian Authority wants to see as a condition to move to that stage.


And if I may ask you, the European Union has proposed opening of the Gaza crossing.  Would you endorse that, with the E.U. supervision?  And the money you talked about now, the $400 million, what mechanism — who is going to distribute this money? Because in the past it has been a problem regarding the money.


PRESIDENT ABBAS:  (As translated.)  With regards to the transitioning from the proximity talks to the direct talks, we did not say — we are not saying that we have conditions.  What has happened is that we agreed that should a progress be achieved, then we would move on to direct talks.  We are working in order to make progress.  President Obama is working for that to see progress.  And we — this is what we have.


PRESIDENT OBAMA:  With respect to the aid to Gaza, I’ll let my team give you the details in terms of how that will be administered and how the money will begin to flow.


With respect to the broader issue of lifting the blockade, as I said before, I think the key here is making sure that Israel’s security needs are met, but that the needs of people in Gaza are also met.  And it seems to us that there should be ways of focusing narrowly on arms shipments, rather than focusing in a blanket way on stopping everything and then in a piecemeal way allowing things into Gaza.


So if we can get a new conceptual framework — and I’ll be talking to my European counterparts, as well as Egypt and Israel and the Palestinian Authority — it seems to me that we should be able to take what has been a tragedy and turn it into an opportunity to create a situation where lives in Gaza are actually directly improved.


But let me make this final point, that in the long run, the only real way to solve this problem is to make sure that we’ve got a Palestinian state side by side with an Israel that is secure.  And so we’re going to be dealing with these short-term problems, but we also have to keep our eye on the horizon and recognize that it’s that long-term issue that has to be focused on.  So many of the immediate problems in front of us have to do with the fact that we haven’t solved this broader problem.


Okay?  Thank you very much, everybody.