American officials declare regularly and with great passion that they are true and devoted friends to Israel. But right now they’d have a hard time proving it. We have friends in the US – without question! They can be found in the US Congress and the Pentagon. But the administration is altogether another story. What was bad has only gotten worse.
There are, first of all, the official fingers that have been pointed at Israel with regard to the failure of the “peace negotiations.”
Most culpable in this regard has been US envoy to the Middle East Martin Indyk. He has made several statements of late regarding the “settlements” as being a major cause for the breakdown of the talks. Indyk has been identified as the unnamed source who claimed: “the main act of sabotage on peace talks was from the settlements.”
I mention this malicious nonsense only in order to refute it. Oslo did not prohibit settlement building in Area C by Israel. Nor did the agreement for nine months of negotiations, which ended in late April, restrict building,
An unidentified senior Israeli official said pointedly that Indyk’s charges are hypocrisy:
Indyk, he says, knew construction would continue during the period of negotiations and was, in fact, informed of all construction plans, down to the number of homes.
“Furthermore, [Indyk] knew that it was on this basis that Israel agreed to enter the talks. So it’s not clear why now that should be criticized.”
When we consider the ways in which Abbas overtly and deliberately sabotaged the talks – first via application to UN agencies, and then via the unity agreement with Hamas – the outrage of Indyk’s position becomes very apparent.
It has even been revealed that Netanyahu – while demanding recognition for Israel as the Jewish state – was willing to work on wording that would be more acceptable to Palestinian Arabs. But Abbas would have none of it:
” Israeli negotiators were willing to work with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his team on the wording of the desired declaration, towards a formula that would have described the Jewish people’s and the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination in precisely equivalent terms, and would have also included phrases to guarantee the rights of Israel’s Arab minority.”
It would have been as plain to Indyk as the nose on his face that Israel was attempting to go that extra mile (not necessarily a good idea, but there it was), while Abbas was totally obstinate. But hey! let’s blame Israel.
My fervent hope (foolish me) is that our prime minister would take a look at the way Israel ends up being blamed no matter what, and determine that it’s foolish to try so hard to be accommodating.
My prayer, actually, is that he would simply speak out for Israel’s rights. It’s not just that Indyk “knew” about planned construction before the beginning of the negotiation period. It’s that we have a RIGHT to do that construction. That point is consistently overlooked.
And now we have the barrage of accusations regarding Israeli spying on American officials. These charges have come mainly by way of two exceedingly distorted articles in Newsweek. One of the main stories in the second of the articles involves the claim that a secret service agent in a hotel room in Jerusalem that was about to be occupied by then VP Al Gore discovered an Israeli spy in a heating vent. (Although the “spy” is never positively identified as such, and might just as easily have been a custodian.)
The response from Israel has been that since the Pollard affair Israel has been scrupulous about not spying on the US, or official Americans. What is more, says Ronen Bergman:
“The scene described by Newsweek of the…Israeli in the vent, makes no sense even for a much more prosaic reason: Why should the Shin Bet act that way? After the all, the location of the suite the vice president is about to stay in is known some time in advance, and numerous listening devices and surveillance cameras can be installed in it even before the agents arrive. The days in which there was a need to physically keep someone in the vent in order to listen to what is happening in the room are long gone.”
Former ambassador to the US Michael Oren also vociferously denied claims – based on reports by “two former top counterintelligence officials” cited in the second Newsweek article – that Israeli officials in Washington DC had to be summoned by the FBI “dozens of times” in the last several years and warned about spying activities.
Oren called these charges “utterly without foundation.”
“Oren, a historian of the US-Israel relationship, said that when it has gone through periods of tension in the past, stories frequently appear in the US media citing anonymous sources leveling stinging criticism of Israel.
“The ambassador…said the important questions to ask are about what the motivation is behind them, and why ‘somebody is making an effort to leak this stuff and give it prominence.’ (Emphasis added)
“Without saying who he thinks is behind the stories, Oren speculated that it could be elements inside the security establishment opposed to granting Israelis visa waivers; it could be people within the intelligence services acting to preempt an early release of Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard; or it may be individuals who hold Israel responsible for the failure of the peace talks seeking retribution.”
There are a dozen reasons not to release terrorists from Israeli prisons – certainly this should not be done to lure Palestinian Arabs to the negotiating table, nor in a trade. Their release is an injustice that causes great pain to families of terror victims.
And…there is the problem of recidivism. That some of those released will immediately return to terror is well documented. But here we have a different sort of plot that has now been exposed: terrorists still in prison in Israel had planned an attack, to be executed after their release.
The plan was to have been put into motion in April of this year – which means they anticipated release as part of the “price” of keeping Abbas at the table. They were going to set about kidnapping soldiers (with the intent, undoubtedly, of securing further releases in exchange for these soldiers).
There were, of course, some operatives outside the prison. Support and funding came via Hamas. Communication with those inside the prison was via cell phones smuggled in by visiting relatives.
You can read the whole convoluted plot here:
A law is now being advanced that would serve to block the early release of terrorists from prison. The law, which would become part of Basic Law, would give judges the jurisdiction to deny terrorists the possibility of parole when they are being sentenced. It already passed the Knesset Committee for Legislation yesterday, by a vote of 7-3.
Those ministers supporting the bill included: Pensioners Minister Uri Orbach and Housing Minister Uri Ariel (Habayit Hayehudi); Culture Minister Limor Livnat, Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar, and Communications Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud); and Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir and Absorption Minister Sofia Landover (Yisrael Beitenu).
The legislation still has to pass three readings in the Knesset.
While possibility of true success for a Hamas-Fatah unity remains dubious, the process does seem to be rolling along in certain superficial ways – a release of prisoners, appearance of a Hamas newspaper in PA-administered Judea and Samaria, etc.
But with it all, Hamas is insisting that it will be in control of the military in a unified gov’t. There will certainly be no dismantling of the Hamas military arm – Al-Qassam Brigades, or agreement that it be under the jurisdiction of Fatah.
I will end with good news about Israel:
See this lovely video about the Youth Village of Yemin Orde, which houses and educates immigrant youth from many cultures:
And then this about the Israeli Save a Child’s Heart foundation which treats children from all over the world:
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.
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