The One Real Obstacle to Israeli-Arab Peace


Israel’s former deputy minister of foreign affairs, Danny Ayalon, explains the historical facts relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

The positions of the Palestinian Arabs in the latest round of peace talks, being pushed by Obama Administration and Secretary of State John Kerry, and the concessions being expected of Israel by the U.S. and media, will most certainly lead to a failure.

In the parallel universe in which Israeli-Palestinian Arab peace negotiations take place, the Palestinian Authority’s outright abrogation of prior agreements (Oslo Accords) and rejections of prior proposals (Camp David 2000 and 2008, which were pretexts for engaging in a terrorism war, the intifadah) must be placed back on the table as the starting point for the next round.

More after the jump.
A senior Palestinian official, Nabil Shaath, recently told the news agency Ma’an, “The minimum of what we were offered in the year 2000 hasn’t been reached, not to mention that the U.S. has failed to exert pressure on Israel to guarantee Palestinian rights.” He also said, “we will not recognize Israel as Jewish state.”

This is what the Palestinian Authority (PA) complains about, and what the media expects. Is there no price to pay for intransigence and rejection? Or defeat in war?

In every other situation throughout the world, when two parties are negotiating for something, there is the expectation of compromise, recognition and respect for the other side. Yet, none exists on the Palestinian-Arab side, nor do the media hold them to account.

Moreover, the PA President, Mahmoud Abbas, has a limited and questionable authority: His term has expired five years ago, and he only “rules” the West Bank/Judea and Samaria. The Gaza Strip is under the thumb of Hamas: an elected terrorist Islamic resistance movement, whose genocidal intentions against Jews and Israel are evident and proudly displayed.

There is no proof that even if Abbas signs an agreement, it will be honored by Hamas, or even that it will be binding on the PA.

Israel is held to impossible standards by the media. While the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has vowed to take any proposals and frameworks agreed to in negotiations directly to the Israeli people to vote and approve, what will the PA do? No one has ever said, nor pressed them to find out, if such an agreement will be endorsed by their people.

While Israeli actions to defend itself are routinely cast as obstacles to peace, it is the PA’s refusal to recognize a Jewish state, in any borders, which is rarely described by the media as an obstacle, when it is the sin qua non element essential to mutual recognition and an end to the conflict.

Israel’s rights, positions, opinions — those of a free democratic people — are marginalized, in favor of the seemingly poor, victimized, minority “Palestinian People.” The Palestinian Arabs are neither seen as part of the greater Arab nation (of 22 countries and 400 million), nor as people with their own country (Jordan, whose population consists of 2/3 “Palestinians,” on 78% of the Palestine Mandate, that was designated for the national Jewish homeland).

Israel has merely 6.2 million Jews, plus another 1.2 million Arabs living as equal citizens, in a country of 8,000 square miles, versus the 5 million square miles of the Arab world. These Arabs have many more rights and much more freedom than they do anywhere else in the Arab world.

As the indefatigable Kerry shuttles to square the circle of bringing the Israeli-Palestinian Arab negotiations to an agreement, it is instructive to focus on where the biggest obstacles to a peace deal really lie.

Israel’s Security Needs Minimized

The international media have been willing to blame Israeli “settlements” — even on land that has been under Israeli control since their capture in the defensive war of 1967, and per the Oslo Agreements of 1993; and “restrictive security practices” in PA-controlled areas (i.e. checkpoints); and even the Israeli-built security barrier, which has prevented innumerable terrorist attacks and saved countless lives on both sides, as the biggest obstacles to Middle East peace.

Recently, the European Union’s envoy to Israel warned that if peace talks with the Palestinian Arabs fail, Israel was likely get blamed for it due to construction in “West Bank settlements.” What is rarely ever discussed are Israel’s strong rights to the land, both historic and legal. Israel has recently begun to redress this by its issuance of the Levy Report, which has not yet been formally adopted by the government.

The late Israeli prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin of the Labor Party, was considered by many in his time a pro-peace leader. But as Kenneth Levin wrote in The Times of Israel, like the authors of the U.N. Security Council’s Resolution 242, Rabin “recognized that Israel’s pre-1967 armistice lines left the nation too vulnerable to future aggression.”

He insisted Israel must hold onto a significant portion of the West Bank to block traditional invasion routes and to protect both Jerusalem and the low-lying coastal plain, the latter home to some 70% of the nation’s population. In his last speech in the Knesset before his assassination, Rabin declared:
The borders of the State of Israel, during the permanent solution, will be beyond the lines which existed before the Six-Day War. We will not return to the 4 June 1967 lines, and these are the main changes, not all of them, which we envision and want in the permanent solution:
  1. First and foremost, united Jerusalem, which will include both Ma’ale Adumim and Givat Ze’ev – as the capital of Israel, under Israeli sovereignty, while preserving the rights of the members of the other faiths, Christianity and Islam, to freedom of access and freedom of worship in their holy places, according to the customs of their faiths.
  2. The security border of the State of Israel will be located in the Jordan Valley, in the broadest meaning of that term.
  3. Changes which will include the addition of Gush Etzion, Efrat, Beitar and other communities, most of which are in the area east of what was the “Green Line,” prior to the Six-Day War.
  4. The establishment of blocs of settlements in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank].

Nothing has changed in the last eighteen years that would diminish Israel’s need to retain the areas referred to by Rabin. The topography of the region has, of course, not changed, and the nations around Israel have not become more peaceful or more reconciled to Israel’s existence.

In fact, with the breakdown of the Arab Spring into violent civil wars on its borders (Syria, Lebanon, Egypt), and with a nuclear, terrorist-sponsoring Iran looming, the situation is even more precarious.

Israel cannot afford a major security threat aimed at the heart of the country from organizations whose charters call for its destruction. As Levin wrote, “Netanyahu’s views on defensible borders for Israel essentially conform to the parameters laid out by Rabin.”

Land for Peace, or for War?

In the Arab media, the Palestinian Arabs reveal what a farce the peace negotiations are: Abbas Zaki, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, explained on Syrian television that the PA would agree to a treaty with Israel if a Palestinian state is established on the 1967 lines, which would only be the beginning of a multi-stage plan to achieve their ultimate goal: a Palestinian State on the remains of the destruction of Israel.

It is also conveniently forgotten, and rarely mentioned by the media that the Palestinian Arabs have rejected a co-existent, mutually-recognized peace with a Jewish state living along side it six times: in 1937, 1948, 1956, 1967, 2000 and 2008. They have never missed an opportunity to reject obtaining their own sovereign state, if it means that they must recognize Israel.

Netanyahu has repeatedly stated Israel is prepared to recognize a Palestinian state. However, the essence of the problem is the lack of reciprocity: the Palestinian Arabs’ continual and absolute rejection of recognizing Israel as the nation state of the Jewish People. Without this, there will be no genuine peace, nor any hope for an end to the conflict.

Recently, Asharq Al-Awsat published an interview with the chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, in which he baldly claimed that Israel murdered Yasser Arafat — a lie which has been debunked repeatedly — and could do the same to Abbas. Erekat stressed that the Palestinian Arabs will not agree to have talks extended beyond the allotted nine months, set to end next month.

More notably, Abbas specifically rejected Kerry’s framework, and told President Obama that:

  • he rejected  Netanyahu’s demand that he recognize Israel as a Jewish state;
  • he refused to abandon the demand for a “right of return” for the allegedly millions of Palestinian Arabs and their descendants; and
  • he refused to commit to an “end of conflict.”

In essence, this is a rewording of the famous Three Nos from the Arab League issued at Khartoum in 1967: “No peace, no recognition, no negotiation with Israel.”  

As a result, Israel has indicated that it may not release a fourth and final group of Palestinian prisoners at the end of this month (a condition Israel agreed to in entering the current talks, last July) if Abbas does not first agree to extend the talks beyond their scheduled termination in April.

This is just further verification that the Palestinian Arabs cannot bring themselves to forge an agreement with the Jewish state: Putting an end to the conflict ends the raison d’etre of the Palestinian Authority and its culture of victimhood.

Anti-Israel Incitement Ignored

While Israeli society has steadily moved over the years toward accepting Palestinian-Arab self-determination, this has not been shared on the Palestinian-Arab side.

The incitement rampantly permeates through Palestinian culture, in its schools, textbooks, mosques, and media and has ensured that an entire generation of Palestinians has been brainwashed and fed a diet of hatred towards Jews and Israel.

The demonizing of Jews as subhuman, the de-legitimitation of a Jewish state regardless of its borders, the negation of Jewish history, and the glorification of terrorists who have murdered Jews is endemic.

To its credit, the New York Times has published a story on Palestinian Arab incitement, prompted by the Israeli government’s recent release of its PA Incitement and Culture of Peace Index:

Adolf Hitler is quoted on the websites of Palestinian Authority schools; a young girl appears on Palestinian television describing Jews as “barbaric monkeys, wretched pigs” and the “murderers of Muhammad,” the Islamic prophet; maps on the Facebook page of the Palestinian presidential guards do not show Israel; President Mahmoud Abbas himself embraced as “heroes” released Palestinian prisoners who killed Israelis.

As HonestReporting has observed, “This focus on Palestinian responsibilities marks a refreshing and welcome departure from the New York Times’ usual knee-jerk, blame-Israel-for-all, approach.”

At an Israeli Cabinet meeting last January, Netanyahu remarked: “The Palestinians are continuing their campaign of inciting hatred, as we have seen in the last few days with their refusal to recognize Israel as a state for the Jewish people… This is the main issue that we’re discussing with [Kerry].”

He added, “We are not foreigners in Jerusalem, Beit El or Hebron. I reiterate that, in my view, this is the root of both the conflict and the incitement — the non-recognition of this basic fact.”

Netanyahu concluded, “True peace cannot exist without stopping the incitement against Israel and educating for peace. The refusal of the Palestinians to recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish People and declare the end of national demands — this is the root of the conflict. This is also the reason why we are insisting on significant security measures, so that we will be able to defend ourselves by ourselves in any situation.”

Two States for One People

PA officials and leaders have repeatedly stated that one of their red lines is the “right of return” which will flood Israel with potentially millions of descendants of refugees who left Israel during the 1948 War, and the concomitant refusal to allow any Jews to live in the Palestinian State.

Not only is this designed to destroy the Jewish nature of Israel proper, it is pure racist in ideology and effect — And it is not a secret. This is a non-starter for Israel.

Last month, Tom Wilson wrote that “Abbas’s spokespeople in Ramallah announced the PA’s new set of red lines in any negotiated peace settlement. Each and every one of these red lines blows to pieces anything Kerry was about to propose, as it does to the prospects for an agreement between the two sides in general.”

In this way Abbas artfully dodges a scenario in which the Israelis would agree to a peace plan and the Palestinians would come under pressure not to derail yet another effort to resolve the conflict. Abbas’s new red lines block just about every concession that the Israelis, and even the U.S., have requested.

Abbas demands: a total Israeli withdrawal from all territories that went to Israel in 1967; that Israel complete that withdrawal within three to four years; that the Palestinians not be required to recognize the Jewish state; that east Jerusalem be specified as the capital of a Palestinian state; the release of all Palestinian prisoners; and resolving the refugee issue along the lines of UN General Assembly resolution 194, which in essence means sending those Palestinians claiming to be refugees, not to a Palestinian state, but to Israel, thus terminating the existence of the Jewish state Abbas refuses to recognize.

Would the U.S. Release Prisoners for Negotiations?

Israel was urged by Kerry to release more than 120 Arab convicted prisoners, many of whom murderers, as a “good will gesture,” just to entice the Palestinian Arabs to come to the negotiations. No concessions, of course, were asked of the Arabs.

Yet, the Obama Administration made sure to express reservations about the release of one man: Othman Amar Mustafa. It turns out he had killed an American.

Nadav Shragai reported in Israel Hayom that “Haaretz military correspondent Amos Harel revealed that the Judea and Samaria branch of the Hamas military wing is being run by remote control by a group of terrorists who were included in the prisoner exchange after being sentenced to life sentences for their roles in the murder of Israelis.”

These prisoners were banished to the Gaza Strip as part of the Shalit deal. It turns out that in the last two years, the Shin Bet security agency has intercepted at least 80 attempted terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria, plots that were masterminded by this particular group of released convicts.

Per Shragai, the bottom line is appallingly evident: According to statistics compiled by the Defense Ministry, nearly half of the 13,000 terrorists whom Israel has released since 1985 within the framework of agreements, gestures, and diplomatic outlines resumed terrorist activities either as planners of attacks, executors of attacks, or accessories.

Hundreds of Israelis have already been killed by freed terrorists and 3,000 have been maimed. The 1,150 terrorists freed as part of the Jibril exchange in 1978 went on to serve as the backbone of the leadership during the First Intifada. At least half of the 7,000 terrorists freed following the signing of the Oslo Accords were reintegrated into terrorist organizations and took an active role in the Second Intifada.

This is the price Israel is being forced to pay just to sit at the negotiating table with these alleged “peace partners.”

The Importance of UN Resolution 242

As Ambassador Dore Gold has written in Israel Hayom, “now is the time to recall exactly what Israel’s rights are in its territorial dispute with the Palestinians over the future of the West Bank,” specifically the rights enshrined by the U.N. Security Council Resolution 242.

According to Gold, over the years Resolution 242 has “evolved into the basis of the entire peace process, including the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, the 1991 Madrid peace conference, the 1993 Oslo Accords, the 1994 Jordanian-Israeli peace treaty, and draft agreements with Syria.”

Back in 1973, on the eve of the Geneva Peace Conference, the U.S. even provided a letter of assurance to Israel that it would prevent any party from tampering with Resolution 242. Israeli diplomacy sought to protect Resolution 242 as though it was a crown jewels of the Jewish state.

The most prominent feature of Resolution 242 is its famous “withdrawal clause,” which did not require Israel to withdraw to the pre-war 1967 lines: it only stated that there had to be a pull back “from territories,” and not “all the territories.” Any Israeli withdrawal had to be to “secure and recognized borders.”

Moreover, as Gold pointed out, according to Resolution 242, Israel was entitled to these lands without having to “pay for it with its own pre-1967 territory.”

There is no language in 242 regarding land swaps, nor any corridor crossing Israeli sovereign territory so that the “West Bank” could be connected to the Gaza Strip. Actually, per Gold, these diplomatic innovations were thought of by negotiators in the 1990s, but Israel in no way is required to agree to them, pursuant to Resolution 242.

Finally, Resolution 242 says nothing about Jerusalem, that is to be a separate issue entirely. Of course, it is Israel’s position that the city is to be united and never divided again.

The world saw clearly what happened when Jordan illegally occupied Judaea and Samaria, including Jerusalem, from 1948 to 1967: It destroyed more than 50 synagogues in the Old City, and denied Jews access to the Temple Mount. Under Israeli rule, the city has been unified, and all citizens and religions have free access to religious sites, and the ability to practice openly.

The Biggest Problem in the Middle East?

The Obama Administration, through Kerry, is trying yet again to force the parties to conclude an agreement, while the issues raised for the “solution” are not the real issues that will lead to a successful one.  

The U.S. continues to see only Israel’s so-called “illegal occupation” of the West Bank, the Palestinian refugee issue, and the issue of Jerusalem as the capitol of the newborn Palestinian state, as the main obstacles to conclude the peace agreement.

Inconceivably, the U.S. continues to believe that by solving this intractable conflict, the remaining issues in the Middle East will be voila, solved, and harmony and tranquility will reign over the region. Despite, of course, the utter chaos in the surrounding Egypt, Lebanon and Syria.

Abbas is not the man of compromise the media portrays him to be, and his people have deliberately not been prepared for peace, but instead brainwashed for hatred, violence and terrorism. He cannot deliver the goods, nor does he want to bring the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to an end.

The only end that is acceptable among the Palestinian Arabs is “peace of the entire Palestine” — which means destroying Israel — and nothing less.

Lee Bender is the co-author of Pressing Israel: Media Bias Exposed From A-Z, and co-President of Zionist Organization of America — Greater Philadelphia District.

Cartoons courtesy of Yaakov “Dry Bones” Kirschen, and The Cartoon Kronicles.

Ethnic Cleansing or Negotiated Deal? The Arab Exodus From Lydda


Israeli soldier after capturing Lydda.

— by Naomi Friedman, The Jerusalem Post

On July 13, 1948, thousands of Arabs left their homes in Lydda (now Lod) and marched in the heat of the summer toward Ramallah, then held by the Arab Legion. Why they did this has been the subject of great historical and political debate.

One account explains the exodus as a product of the civil war that preceded the May 1948 attack on Israel by its Arab neighbors.

Another account, now making the rounds of Jewish book clubs across the U.S., is Ari Shavit’s My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel. Ignoring the recent work of prominent Israeli academicians and the growing body of first-hand narratives and other primary sources, Shavit paints the exodus as an act of ethnic cleansing.

Israeli academicians Avraham Sela, Alon Kadish and Arnon Golan’s book, “The Occupation of Lod, July 1948,” meticulously documents the unfolding of events. The book cites primary sources, from Israel Defense Forces (IDF) telegrams and reports, to documents found at the Lydda Military Command, to personal accounts by both Jewish and Arab participants. Here is the account, in brief.

Continued after the jump.
On November 30, 1947, the day after the U.N. voted to partition the British Mandate of Palestine, Arab fighters launched the “War of the Roads.” Stationed in Lydda and other towns along the major trade routes, they attacked trucks, and later convoys carrying supplies to Jewish Jerusalem and other Jewish villages.

In July 1948, the IDF implemented Operation Danny, whose ultimate goal was to gain control of the road to Jerusalem. The first objective of the operation was to capture Lydda.

The attack on Lydda was not organized or carried out as planned, as indicated by IDF reports and telegrams. It was led by the Palmach, the “Strike Force,” then already part of the IDF. On July 11, Moshe Dayan‘s jeep force drove into the city, opened fire, came under heavy attack by the Arab Legion, and withdrew permanently.

Then 300 foot soldiers, led by Palmach commander Mula Cohen, with no heavy arms, and not aware of Dayan’s intention not to support their push, entered the city. They took a tenuous hold of part of the city center.

According to accounts by both Jewish and Arab sources, Arab fighters gathered at their headquarters, surrounding olive groves, and the police station. This is well-established by first-hand accounts of the Palmach leader in charge of negotiating with the Arab population of Lydda, Shmaryahu Gutman, and an Arab civilian guard member, Spiro Munayyer.

On the following day, July 12, two or three Arab Legion tanks entered Lydda and opened fire on the Jewish forces. Arab Legion forces stationed at the police station, and other local fighters, joined the attack.

After heavy fighting, the Palmach maintained its precarious hold on part of the city center. The Palmach exchanged fire with soldiers at the police station throughout the night, and by the morning of July 13. They discovered that all Arab forces but one injured fighter in the police station had abandoned the city.

Meanwhile, Gutman, according to his 1948 testimony, had spent two days negotiating with the Arab leaders of Lydda asking them to lay down their arms. They had sent a town crier to announce that all arms were to be placed in the front of the houses.

Not a single weapon was handed over. Like the Jews, the Arabs anticipated a counterattack by the Arab Legion and hoped to wait it out. The Palmach, however, had gathered approximately 4,000 Arab men of military age, held in a mosque and a church.

Still, the Arabs refused to surrender. Only after the city leaders realized that the Arab Legion forces had abandoned the police station, did they agree to make a deal: If the 4,000 men were released, the Arabs would leave the city. And so it happened that most, but not all, of the Arab residents left Lydda.

Ari Shavit’s Mistakes


The Arab fighters were wellarmed, and vastly outnumbered the Jewish forces. Palmach soldiers near a destroyed Arab armored car.

Shavit’s account rests on two false premises. The first is that the IDF captured Lydda from an unsuspecting civilian population who were easily overtaken.

Primary sources indicate that the Arab fighters were wellarmed, and vastly outnumbered the Jewish forces. Sela and Kadish estimate that at least 1,000 local fighters and 50 soldiers from the Arab Legion held 25 anti-tank launchers, 20 machine guns, armored cars, submachine guns and rifles.

The second false premise is that Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion issued a top-down order to the head of the Palmach, Yigal Allon, to expel the Arab inhabitants. This fallacy is enthusiastically embraced by those who accuse Israel of ethnic cleansing. Primary sources clearly show that the decision was initiated by the commanders on the ground under fire.

These mentioned sources include Palmach commander Mula Cohen’s reports and telegrams from Lydda, other first-hand accounts, and an official IDF directive issued on July 6, 1948.

The directive, found in the IDF archive 2135/50, File 42, on the subject of “Discipline,” orders that:

Outside of active fighting, it is forbidden… to expel Arab residents from their villages, neighborhoods, and cities and to displace residents without special permission or the clear instruction from the Defense Minister in each specific case. Anyone violating this order will be tried.

Mula Cohen, however, was unaware of this directive. In his memoirs “To Give and To Receive,” he wrote:

Let me be clear: I do not deny that it was I, as head of the brigade, who made the decision, and only after did I receive the permission of the commanders of Operation Danny.

Allon accepted Cohen’s view that the only way to hold Lydda was to expel the residents. Allon and Yitzhak Rabin, then his deputy, argued about it and went to Ben-Gurion. They were perhaps aware of the directive and of the fact that they needed to obtain his permission, since at the time he was also serving as defense minister.

Why Lydda?

Missing in Shavit’s books, and in most popular history books that are now being written, is why the IDF targeted Lydda in the first place.

Lydda had been housing both local and foreign fighters who attacked the Jewish convoys during the War of the Roads. Today, this war is gradually being written out of popular history and national memory.

Operation Danny, which precipitated the mass exodus of the Arabs from Lydda and Ramla, was the first in a series of three initiatives. The ultimate goal of those initiatives was to free the road to Jerusalem, to feed the 100,000 Jews living there.

When I tried to explain this to my Jewish book club members, nobody had heard of the War of the Roads, or of the Jewish children who were starving in Jerusalem. I could not forget, because my father was one of those children.

The author is an American-Israeli writer and development editor of textbooks and online education products for McGraw-Hill, Cengage, Pearson, Oxford University Press and other educational companies. She holds an M.A. in Political Science from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and is a former student of Avraham Sela, mentioned below.

Kerry: I Came to Israel “Without Any Illusions About the Difficulties”

Secretary of State John Kerry spoke about the Israeli-Arab peace talks at the memorial for Israel’s former prime minister, Itzhak Rabin:

I come here without any illusions about the difficulties, but I come here determined to work with leaders — with the Prime Minister, with the President of the Palestinian Authority — to try to find a way forward so that Israel can live the dream that President Peres and Prime Minister Rabin expressed so eloquently and beautifully in the tragedy of that day here and in many days before that. We will continue to work, and I can promise Israelis that America will stand by the side of Israel every step of the way.

During the ceremony, a protest was held, opposing the release of dozens of jailed Arab terrorists as a precondition for starting the peace talks.

Full remarks after the jump.
Kerry: It’s a great privilege for me and always a sad moment to come to remember the memory of a great man, a great general, a great prime minister, a great leader, a great man of peace. And one can hear his booming voice saying the words — the famous words — “We are destined to live together.”  

Here, just moments before his life was taken and the possibilities of peace were disrupted through an act of violence, he stood up on that balcony with his friend, Shimon Peres, and together, they sang, “Don’t whisper a prayer. Sing a song of peace in a loud voice.” We are now 18 years since that moment, and it is clear that we need voices ready to sing a song of peace loudly, with courage, with the same determination that Prime Minister Rabin showed in his quest for peace. He dared to take the risks for peace because he believed not just that it was important for the sake of peace, but that it was vital for the security and future of Israel, and of the region.

Eighteen years is important because I am told that 18 is important in the Proverbs — the 18th Proverb, it says that “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Death and life in the power of the tongue. So what we say with our voices, how we talk about peace, how we prepare the possibilities of peace are really critical to all of us. We need to avoid incitement. We need to sing that song that Prime Minister Rabin and President Peres embraced together.  

Eighteen is also, I am told, very important in Hebrew, because the letters that write the word “eighteen” literally mean life, hayyim. I remember shouting those words once from the top of Masada in my first visit to the Holy Land. And we stood up there and together, as a group, we shouted across the chasm, “(In Hebrew), hayyim.”  Those words meant something to me. And so maybe 18, maybe the word hayyim in life will have a special meaning at this particular moment.  

The Proverbs also teach us L’chaim. That’s something we now need to put into practice. So I come here without any illusions about the difficulties, but I come here determined to work with leaders — with the Prime Minister, with the President of the Palestinian Authority — to try to find a way forward so that Israel can live the dream that President Peres and Prime Minister Rabin expressed so eloquently and beautifully in the tragedy of that day here and in many days before that.  

We will continue to work, and I can promise Israelis that America will stand by the side of Israel every step of the way. We believe this is something that is possible, that is good for all, and that it can be achieved. And I will leave here inspired by being here with Dalia and with members of the family, most importantly by seeing the symbolism of the turbulence, the earthquake that followed that moment of violence. It should rededicate every person in Israel with the possibility of a just and appropriate and fair peace which protects the security of Israel, guarantees that Israel’s security will be protected, but makes possible for people to live the words of the prime minister, “We are destined to live together,” I add, in peace. Thank you.

Tel Aviv’s mayor, Ron Huldai: We appreciate the fact that you took the time to begin your visit here in Tel Aviv, the center of Israeli democracy. In this spot, Prime Minister of Israel Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated because of his quest for peace. From here, he spoke. We want to tell you, Mr. Secretary, that the people of Israel and the city of Tel Aviv, therefore, want peace. And the person who will manage to bring peace, will receive our highest appreciation, and it is true.  

So I wish you and all of us good luck in this challenging mission. Thank you, Mr. Secretary.  

Kerry: Thank you, Mr. Mayor.

Rabin’s daughter, Dalia Rabin-Pelossof: Mr. Secretary, Mayor of Tel Aviv, ambassadors of Israel to Washington and Ambassador Dan Shapiro, Ambassador Martin Indyk, and all the staff that joins you, I really appreciate and I am moved — the fact that you came to this painful and tragic spot in Tel Aviv where his life was taken brutally 18 years ago. It’s very symbolic that you came here. It’s the 5th of November.  Yesterday, we marked the 18th anniversary.  

And we all wish you all the best because everybody that stands here understand that this is the only way, his way, that maybe was a little ahead of his time, but 18 years is enough time that has passed by, and it’s time to make peace between Israelis and the Palestinians. We wish you luck and we keep our fingers crossed. And thank you so much for coming over here. (Applause.)

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

Rabbis Bless Republican & Democratic National Conventions

Rabbis offered benedictions at both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. Last night Rabbi David Wolpe offered the closing benediction at the Democratic National Convention, capping a night on the heels of the keynote speech by President Bill Clinton and the roll call vote which officially renominated President Barack Obama.

Rabbi David J. Wolpe is the spiritual leader of Temple Sinai in Los Angeles and a Philadelphia native. He teaches modern Jewish religious thought at UCLA. He was a graduate of the Akiba Hebrew Academy’s class of 1976.

Jewish day school does more than educate. It helps shape character. Its influence reaches far beyond the years we spend at school. I am glad and grateful for my knowledge, pride and passion for Jewish life and that is my legacy from Akiba Hebrew Academy, now Barrack.

Rabbi Wolpe is the author of such books as Why Faith Matters, Why Be Jewish?, Healer of Shattered Hearts and the national bestseller Making Loss Matter: Creating Meaning in Difficult Times. He was named #1 Pulpit Rabbi in the U.S. by Newsweek magazine, and one of the 50 most influential Jews in the world by The Jerusalem Post. Rabbi Wolpe writes for many publications, including The Jewish Week, Jerusalem Post, Los Angeles Times, and Beliefnet.com. He has appeared as a commentator on CNN and CBS This Morning and has been featured on the History Channel’s Mysteries of the Bible.

Last week, Rabbi Meir Soloveichik offered the benediction at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida. Rabbi Soloveichik is the associate rabbi at Kehilath Jeshurun, a modern Orthodox synagogue in Manhattan, New York. His colleage, KJ’s spirtual leader, Rabbi Haskal Lookstein, is according to Mondoweiss “a sometime Obama ally. He [Rabbi Lookstein] delivered a prayer at the National Cathedral at the Obama Inaugural Run-up, and took heat from other Orthodox Jews for setting foot in a church. He attended the Rabin funeral with Bill Clinton. But Lookstein lately met with Obama and slammed him afterward.”

Gen. Dempsey in Israel: “America is Your Partner”

— by David Streeter

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey visited Israel to conduct high level meetings regarding the Iranian threat. The New York Times reported on Dempsey’s trip:

The meetings were closed and their contents were not revealed. But General Dempsey, on his first visit to Israel as military chief, was quoted in brief remarks released by the office of Israel’s defense minister as saying, ‘We have many interests in common in the region in this very dynamic time, and the more we can continue to engage each other, the better off we’ll all be.’…

General Dempsey began his visit here with an intimate dinner on Thursday evening at a restaurant in Jaffa with his counterpart, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, Israel’s military chief of staff. The men were joined by their wives. Early Friday, General Dempsey was greeted at Israeli military headquarters in Tel Aviv with an honor guard and held meetings with General Gantz and other senior commanders.

The top generals ‘discussed military-to-military relations, the new U.S. defense strategy, budget and economic issues and regional security challenges,’ Col. Dave Lapan, the Special Assistant for Public Affairs in the Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a statement.

Other meetings were held with Mr. Netanyahu, Mr. Barak and Israel’s president, Shimon Peres. General Dempsey also visited Yad Vashem, Israel’s official Holocaust memorial, where he wrote in the visitors’ book, ‘We are committed to ensuring that such a human tragedy never happens again.’ He departed Israel before the onset of the Sabbath at sundown on Friday.

Each of the meetings ‘reinforced the deep and special relationship shared by Israel and the U.S.,’ Colonel Lapan said, and ‘served to advance a common understanding of the regional security environment.’…

Mr. Peres told General Dempsey on Friday that ‘Even today in a very complicated situation we can find a common ground. We have profound trust in your democratic system and your armed forces.’ General Dempsey assured Mr. Peres that ‘America is your partner and we are honored to have you as a partner in that regard.’


The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the United States Military, General Martin E. Dempsey, visited Israel On January 19th — 20th, 2012. This was General’s Dempsey’s first visit to Israel, and he was hosted by the IDF Chief of the General Staff, Lieutenant General Benny Gantz.
During his visit, General Dempsey held a private meeting with Lieutenant General Gantz, as well as a briefing with senior commanders of the General Staff, focusing on cooperation between the two militaries, as well as mutual security challenges. During his visit, General Dempsey also met with the Minister of Defense, Mr. Ehud Barak, with the Prime Minister, Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, and with the President, Mr. Shimon Peres.

General Dempsey was welcomed to the IDF General Headquarters in Camp Rabin (the Kirya) by an IDF honor guard of soldiers and to the sounds of the national anthems of Israel and the United States of America. General Dempsey also visited the Yad VaShem Holocaust Memorial Museum, where he was very moved by the exhibition.

In brief remarks after the tour, Dempsey noted the significance of the date — 70 years to the day of the infamous Wannsee Conference held in that Berlin suburb on Jan. 20, 1942. It was at that meeting that senior officials of the Nazi regime discussed their “Final solution to the Jewish problem.”

“We are committed to ensuring that such a human tragedy never happens again,” Dempsey wrote in the museum’s visitor’s book.