I have no intention here of reviewing matters in the sort of detail I offered yesterday. It is not necessary, in any event.
I’m seeing much the same as I did yesterday: Inherently contradictory comments from Kerry regarding his continued faith in the “peace process” that prompts him to declare that he will continue “no matter what,” coupled with a resignation that “you can facilitate, you can push, you can nudge, but the parties themselves have to make fundamental decisions and compromises.”
This is a very conflicted man, I would say: he sees the end but cannot admit the failure.
And PA leaders? Playing games. Commented one senior political leader in Israel, “Every time it gets to the point of making a decision, [Abbas] runs away.”
Top Fatah official Mohammed Shtayyeh was a member of the PA negotiating team until he resigned in November. Yesterday, speaking to Sky News Arabic, he said the PA was willing to keep talking in April. Challenging Israel to present a map based on the 1967 line, he declared that discussion “will be on the border only.”
It is at this point, of course, that Netanyahu should say, so sorry, but we reject discussions based on that line, as it was only a temporary armistice line.
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) has the right idea (emphasis added):
The time has come to stop being the go-to sucker of the Middle East. I call on the prime minister and Minister Livni to end the entire negotiation process so long as Abbas doesn’t withdraw his request from the United Nations, and [to] unilaterally implement the many measures Israel has in order to convince the Palestinian leadership that it doesn’t pay for them to fight us in the international arena.”
So does Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel (Habayit Hayehudi):
“The Palestinians turning to the U.N. breaks down all the [negotiation efforts], and we should respond in kind and work to strike down the Oslo Accords.”
We are not nearly where we need to be yet. But I take heart when I see members of the government speak as these two did.
Understand what has happened: The PA could have had 400 more prisoners released in a deal that would have been sweetened by the US, and that required only that they stay at the table. The Israelis are saying Abbas “torpedoed” it.
Not an accident, not simply the result of enormous anger at Israel. I would say this was a planned tactic, that had simply awaited the proper timing. These guys are masters at manipulation and effective PR.
(Arafat had thoroughly planned the second intifada, and then he waited. When Sharon went up on the Temple Mount, Arafat said this created so much anger there was a “spontaneous” uprising “caused” by the Israelis.)
Now they claim to be ready to continue negotiations but put a major stumbling block in the way of Israel with demands that only the border at the ‘67 line be discussed. Shatayyeh followed his demand for discussion only of the border with a telling statement:
Should the talks fail, the PA will move to join 63 international organizations including the International Criminal Court.
Of course the talks are going to fail! The trick, from their perspective, is to make it Israel’s fault that they failed. This gives us a bit of understanding into why Netanyahu behaves as he does. There is another way, however, and it’s the approach of Elkin and Ariel. It means taking the offensive.
This route that the PA is now embarking on was inevitable. It was only a matter of time, and being forever conciliatory in order to placate the Palestinian Arabs means simply delaying that inevitability.
There is considerable concern on the part of some of my readers regarding the implications of what the PA is planning now. In due course I will deal with the various issues. But I want to do so with seriousness, and I hope to be consulting with one or more attorneys I rely upon before writing. The fact that we are heading towards Pesach does slow matters down.
What I will say here is that the situation can be managed, if the Israeli approach is one of strength and self-confidence. What we are facing in good part are international perceptions, and not matters of international law. In any event, the UN cannot “create” a state.
See what Alan Baker – international lawyer and Director of the Institute for Contemporary Affairs at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs – said when the PA went to the UN just a little over a year ago (emphasis added):
“The UN upgrade resolution has neither created a Palestinian state, nor did it grant any kind of statehood to the Palestinians. General Assembly resolutions, including the Palestinian upgrade resolution, can neither determine nor dictate international law or practice.
“…After the Palestinian upgrade resolution, neither the status of Israel in the territories, nor that of the Palestinians, has changed in any way. The new claim voiced by the Palestinian leadership that Israel became, overnight, an occupant of Palestinian sovereign territory is without any basis.
The internationally accepted requirements for statehood include, among other things, a unified territorial unit and responsible governance of its people, and capability of fulfilling international commitments and responsibilities. Furthermore, the UN Charter requires that a state seeking membership in the UN be ‘a peace-loving state’ that accepts and is willing and capable of carrying out the obligations of the UN Charter.”
Robbie Sabel, Professor of International Law at Hebrew University, is quoted by Times of Israel as saying (emphasis added:
“…even if ‘Palestine’ were admitted [to all 15 treaties and conventions] it would have no direct practical implications for Israel…
“It gives them a feeling of satisfaction and it strengthens their feeling of getting international recognition of their state, but [it has] no practical importance whatsoever.”
I will close here – hopefully to pick up again after Shabbat – with this good news story:
The Tiferet Israel synagogue was one of the most prominent synagogues in Jerusalem before the War of Independence, but it was destroyed – along with all of the other synagogues of eastern Jerusalem – in 1948 when Jordan occupied this part of the city.
In 2012, plans were first mentioned for restoring this synagogue (just as the Hurva Synagogue has been restored). Now, Elder of Ziyon tells us, the plans for its restoration have been approved.
The Arabs are in an uproar over this and say it will threaten the stability of the Al Aqsa Mosque (everything we do apparently threatens the Mosque) and will “judaize” the city.
The Arabs object to all major Jewish building in eastern Jerusalem, but the restoration of this synagogue will present a particular problem: Mosques and other Muslim religious buildings are supposed to be the tallest in a given area. But Tiferet Israel, because of its location in the Jewish Quarter, which is on a hill, will be higher than the Dome of the Rock.
Here is a pre-1948 picture of the synagogue, which is the building on the upper left, as seen from the Temple Mount.
The full story can be seen here:
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