Tag Archives | ’1967 lines’

Why US Should Not Veto Palestinian State at UN

The following article, by Henry Siegman in Foreign Policy is the best argument for why the US should not veto UN recognition of a Palestinian state this September.  The author turns the tables on borders as well as concerns over ‘attacks’ on Israel’s legitimacy then links the Palestinians’ quest for UN recognition of a Palestinian state to Israel’s in 1948.  Here’s some of what he has to say.  Please read the whole article:

Shlomo Avineri, a leading Israeli intellectual and politically very much a centrist, is to be commended for dismissing Israeli fears that outside criticism of their country’s occupation policies is an effort to challenge Israel’s very right to exist. Writing in Ha’aretz, Avineri notes there is not a single country in the world that maintains diplomatic ties with Israel that has ever questioned the legitimacy of Israel’s existence…

…it is in fact Israel that is engaged in the “delegitimization” of the Palestinian people’s right to national self determination and statehood, not the reverse.

For proof of this one need look no further than Israel’s near-hysterical efforts to prevent the Palestinians from bringing their case to the United Nations, the institution that happens to be the source of Israel’s own legitimacy, as acknowledged in Israel’s Declaration of Independence. For what Israel’s current government apparently most fears is the legitimacy that the United Nations uniquely can confer not only on Palestinian statehood but on the 1967 borders.

A state that since 1967 (i.e. for most of its existence) has imposed a military occupation on its neighbor, confiscating its territory and dispossessing its population, is guilty not only of an abstract challenge to its neighbor’s claim to statehood but of violently preventing it on the ground.

Henry Siegman, President of the U.S./Middle East Project, is a non-resident visiting professor at the Sir Joseph Hotung Middle East Program, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

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Intelligence Chief Rebukes Netanyahu

The New York Times’ Ethan Bronner writes:

The man who ran Israel’s Mossad spy agency until January contends that Israel’s top leaders lack judgment and that the anticipated pressures of international isolation as the Palestinians campaign for statehood could lead to rash decisions — like an airstrike on Iran.

Mr. Dagan went on to complain that Israel had failed to put forward a peace initiative with the Palestinians and that it had foolishly ignored the Saudi peace initiative promising full diplomatic relations in exchange for a return to the 1967 border lines. He worried that Israel would soon be pushed into a corner.

Bronner reports news of Mr. Dagan’s remarks have shaken political circles in Israel.  Mr. Dagan said he and two other intelligence chiefs who recently resigned, acted as a check on the more extreme impulses in the Israel government.

It appears Netanyahu walked into a huge trap during his recent US visit.  A backlash against his cavalier, do-nothing approach to stem Israel’s isolation in the world in gaining steam.







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Human Rights: the Demands of Resistance

A friend invited me to see the film “Hebron”, about an Israeli settlement of 500 people surrounded by 150,000 Palestinians, at an event sponsored by Human Rights Watch last night.   An English HRW official from D.C., with a long journalistic career in the Middle East, spoke beforehand.  After giving an overview of the Arab Spring in various countries, he concluded by describing the recent Palestinian demonstrations at Israel’s border sites (with West Bank, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan) as the same in nature as the Arab Spring democracy movements.

Yes and no. The Arab Spring uprisings are by citizens of one country against that country’s ossified autocratic or royal leadership.  The border demonstrations by Palestinians are legitimate actions against Israeli occupation of the West Bank and also their lack of democratic rights.  But the Palestinian-Israeli clashes on the Day of Catastrophe (when Israel declared itself a state in 1948) were also border clashes where, in some cases, the Palestinians surged and began to over-run border fences.  For better or worse, this is a mitigating element.  A country shooting to defend its borders is not the same as one gunning down its citizens who threaten the established order of their shared state.  This is political reality, nothing else.

This doesn’t mean that the Israeli military was justified in firing into an unarmed demonstration.  With tear gas at its disposal, it’s hard to justify the IDF using live bullets.  But facts shouldn’t be muddied for partisan purposes or organizational agendas.  They must be clear and reported accurately.   The impasse in peace negotiations has heightened tensions throughout the Middle East.  Organized political forces, either governmental or independent, will try to provoke clashes and steer the narrative of events to their own advantage.

The PLA has officially endorsed non-violent peaceful resistance to the Israeli occupation.  They are taking cues the Tunisian and Egyptian democratic movements and are endorsing a non-violent strategy in opposition to past strategies that included armed struggle and terrorism.

Unfortunately,  Palestinians face severe problems in carrying out non-violent resistance.  First, there is no tradition of Ghandi/MLK-type resistance in this struggle.  Second, the governments of the area, as well as organized armed resistance groups, will try to co-opt and direct any significant Palestinian resistance to their own Syrian, Lebonese, Hezbella or Hamas agendas.  Third, if Palestinians youth throw stones or surge against border fences, expect the Israeli military to over-react with live ammunition.

Both sides are playing with fire.  That’s why it’s dangerous for human rights activists to equate internal political struggle for reform in one country (Egypt) with border clashes in a region where borders are the do-or-die issue.  This goes beyond who has this most legitimate grievance or who is morally justified.  Effective non-violent resistance as a serious political strategy takes constraint – from both sides.

If Palestinians allow themselves to be provoked in border demonstrations by Israeli soldiers, militants in Hamas, agents of nearby countries or anyone else, including human rights activists who pretend borders mean nothing against moral certitude,  their strategy fails.  Civil disobedience and resistance against occupation can work.  But a few rocks thrown, live bullets in response and we’re on the way to a third infatada.  As Obama said, the world is tired of this never-ending conflict and wants it to end.  In the meantime, it searches for whom to blame.

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Israeli Newspaper Poll After Netanyahu Visit

The poll shows a bump for PM Netanyahu after his visit to the US.  It also shows that 57% of those polled believed Mr. Netanyahu should have agreed with President Obama’s plans, including those who responded ‘agree’ and those who responded ‘agree, but….’  Figures below

by  TNS/Teleseker –

Q: If elections were held today, for which
party would you vote?

Likud headed by Netanyahu – 30
Kadima headed by Livni – 27
Yisrael Beiteinu headed by Lieberman – 16
Arab parties – 11
Shas – 10
Labor Party – 8
United Torah Judaism – 6
Meretz – 5
NRP/Jewish Home – 4
National Union – 3
Independence faction headed by Barak -
doesn’t pass the electoral threshold

The seat numbers are based on a sample of
550 respondents aged 18 and over from the
general population (including seniors, new
immigrants and the Arab sector). The margin
of error is two seats.

Q: Who is best suited today to be prime
Netanyahu – 36.9%
Livni – 28.3%
Lieberman – 9.2%
Barak – 2.6%
None of them – 18.2%

Q: To what degree are you pleased with
Netanyahu’s performance?
Very pleased: 7.7%
Fairly pleased: 34.2%
Not so pleased: 32.5%
Not pleased at all: 23.9%

Very pleased: 5.2%
Fairly pleased: 23.1%
Not so pleased: 32.5%
Not at all pleased: 31.1%

Q: How do you think Netanyahu should
have responded to the Obama outline?
He should have declared his support for the
president’s remarks with no reservations: 10%
He should have declared that he was opposed
to what Obama said: 36.7%
He should have declared his support but with
reservations: 46.8%

Q: Do you think that Netanyahu should
have publicly criticized Obama’s
statements, as he did at the press
Netanyahu should have publicly criticized
Obama: 46.3%
Netanyahu should have reserved his criticism
for closed meetings: 47.5%

Q: In light of the situation, do you think
that it is desirable or not to form a
national unity government with Likud and
Kadima at the center?
Desirable: 53.1%
Undesirable: 37.9%

The rest of the poll questioned 450
respondents from the Jewish population aged
18 and over. The margin of error is 4.6%

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Israeli Reactions: Good Speech, Now What?

Nahum Barnea, a widely read columnist for Yediot Aharonot, who accompanied Mr. Netanyahu to Washington, wrote that while the prime minister spoke well, the visit’s results were worrying. He listed them as “a president whom the Israelis suspect and the Arab world scorns for having yielded to the dictate of the Israelis; negotiations that had a slim chance of being renewed before the visit and now have no chance at all; a Palestinian Authority and an Arab League that are more determined than in the past to reach a resolution in the United Nations General Assembly on a state within the 1967 borders, which is a resolution that has quite dangerous consequences for Israel.”  – Ethan Bronner, NYT

Israeli reaction to Netanyahu’s visit in taking an introspective turn.  Most Israelis were hoping for some agreement to move the peace process forward.  As Nahum Barnea indicates in the quote above, the looming UN vote on Palestinian statehood is of high concern to many Israelis and their PM came back empty-handed on ways to address that and other issues.

What are the risks here?  Everyone knows the US will vote against statehood in the General Assembly and use its veto on the Security Council in support of Israel.  However, if the Palestinians are able to garner European support for a UN declaration of statehood, the consequences could be startling.  A decisive UN majority, including major European states, in support of Palestinian statehood would set the process in motion.  Palestinian statehood would change the character of the peace negotiations.  Instead of  between occupied and occupier, talks would be between two (nominally) independent states.  The UN charter and international law forbid one state to indefinitely occupy another, at least without authorization from the UN.  Therefore, Israel would face legal judgments, lawsuits and, perhaps most threatening of all, a new, more powerful divestment movement pattered after the popular 1980s international movement that forced governments, pension funds and other big investors to divest their holdings in South Africa under Apartheid and that was successful in weakening the Apartheid regime.

How can UN recognition of a Palestinian state be avoided?  That was a key strategic issue President Obama raised in his speeches and with Mr. Netanyahu.  Only the re-start of serious negotiations between Israel and the PLO (Abbas) on the two-state solution would persuade the Palestinians against petitioning the UN.  In meetings I attended with President Abbas this month, he clearly indicate his preference for a negotiated settlement and willingness to call off the September vote if the Israelis seriously wanted to negotiate.

Here is a sampling of other Israeli reaction:

A Kadima statement said: “After a difficult week, which peaked in a superfluous clash
with the US that highlighted the terrible relationship that Netanyahu has brought about in
this relationship in the last two years, it is time to begin taking action. After two years of
impasse and rejectionism, Israel is at one of its lowest diplomatic points in its history, its
vital problems are exposed on the table and it is in a worrying process of becoming
isolated” (“Anger on the Right, And on the Left,” Arik Bender et al., Maariv, p12).Speaking to Channel 2, MK Shaul Mofaz responded to Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu’s speech to Congress: “Netanyahu didn’t say anything new,” he said. “He has
no plan, he is leading us to a conflict with the world in September and if the people of
Israel have a choice between conflict and elections, I’m confident that they will choose
elections” (“Shaul Mofaz: ‘Netanyahu didn’t say anything new’,” Gil Hoffman,
Jerusalem Post Online).
MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima) said: “Netanyahu’s speech was no more than an election ad
and an attempt to create a false impression of willingness to enter negotiations.
Netanyahu’s policy will lead us to international isolation and to a bi-national state”
(“Anger on the Right, And on the Left,” Arik Bender et al., Maariv, p12).

MK Zehava Galon of Meretz said: “In Congress they applauded, in the Middle East we’ll
cry. Even Netanyahu knows that there is no peace without a compromise on the 1967
borders and dividing Jerusalem” (“Anger on the Right, And on the Left,” Arik Bender et
al., Maariv, p12).Minister Limor Livnat said: “In a brilliant speech, the prime minister presented the basic
principles for true peace while maintaining security for Israel and Israel’s continued
existence alongside a Palestinian state” (“Anger on the Right, And on the Left,” Arik
Bender et al., Maariv, p12)  (Likud)

For the first time, a right wing prime minister declares that he intends to give up parts of
Judea and Samaria,” said MK Tzippi Hotovely. “The prime minister should realize that
this is not acceptable to the absolute majority of the Likud faction” (“Anger on the Right,
And on the Left,” Arik Bender et al., Maariv, p12).  (Likud)

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Anatomy of Obama-Netanyahu Political-Media Event

Well, now it’s clear.  Not only did President Obama address the AIPAC (American-Israeli Political Action Council) national conference with words almost identical to his Middle East speech last Thursday night, he received repeated applause.  Among other things, Mr. Obama reiterated the formula ‘1967 plus swaps’ from Cairo.2.  And astonishingly, after rebuking the President days before,  PM Netanyanu was quoting his authority:

“Now, the precise delineation of those borders must be negotiated.  We’ll be generous about the size of the future Palestinian state.  But as President Obama said, the border will be different than the one that existed on June 4th, 1967.  Israel will not return to the indefensible boundaries of 1967.”(Emphasis added)

What is going on?  For four days, Mr. Netanyahu went out of his way pointing a finger at Mr. Obama’s Cairo.2 formulation.  Now he’s quoting  it!  I didn’t see any news reports that Mr. Netanyah apologized for misrepresenting the President’s remarks from the time he arrived until his speech to Congress.

President Obama was gracious in telling AIPAC attendees that his remarks were “misrepresented several times.”   Words diplomatically chosen:  Obama’s remarks were misrepresented, they were not misunderstood.  If they had been misunderstood the two leaders would have clarified their respective stands during a two-hour meeting the next day. Instead, the meme that President Obama had thrown Israel ‘under the bus’  became established media truth and was milked for every ounce of political blood it could draw.

Conservative media and politicians outdid themselves in whipping up false debate about what Obama never said, and the so-called East Coast ‘liberal’ press was not better.

There’s simply no excuse: not one major reporter or commenter thought or had the guts to interrupt another corrupt feeding frenzy and say:

“I think Mr. Netanyahu made a mistake here.  We are contacting Netanyahu’s press secretary now to clarify exactly why Mr. Netanyahu is interpreting the President’s remarks in a way seeming at odds with the record.  We’ll return with the Israeli response asap…….Meanwhile, in other news……”

The politics on display over the past week are hardly new. The PM stayed far away from real issues for which he had no answer, and avoided ones like settlements on which Israel is most vulnerable.  To fill the space, Mr. Netanyahu blew up the 1967 non-issue with symbolic importance and divisive meaning.  Mr. Netanyahu wanted and created a controversy, giving the signal to his conservative partisans in the US, now smelling blood, to go on attack

Dissecting Mr. Netanyahu’s speech to a Joint Session of Congress confirms this scenario.  The speech said nothing original, creative or in any way profound.

Most telling?  The PM failed to respond to President Obama’s challenge to AIPAC that the time for peace is running out because 1) demographic changes will mean Israel losing either its Jewish or democratic nature in the near future; 2) the changes in Arab states will put more pressure on Israel because it can no longer depend on the Mubaraks of the region suppressing a popular youth movement impatient for a Palestinian state; 3) for better or worse, the Palestinians have world opinion on their side.

What is Israel going to do?  I’d like to know. So would a lot of others. Does Netanyahu disbelieve challenges cited by President Obama? Is he in denial?  Is he racing head strong into his own self-imposed prophesy?

Sad to say it took the President of the United States to raise the level of discussion over Israel’s future by defining the strategic issues facing it.  The Israeli PM seemed content with a dog-fight.


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Netanyahu Lies ‘Officially’ Caught

This just in from the “Dish” by Andrew Sullivan now at Daily Beast:

From last November 11. Money quote:

The Prime Minister and the Secretary {Clinton} agreed on the importance of continuing direct negotiations to achieve our goals. The Secretary reiterated that “the United States believes that through good-faith negotiations, the parties can mutually agree on an outcome which ends the conflict and reconciles the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state, based on the 1967 lines, with agreed swaps, and the Israeli goal of a Jewish state with secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet Israeli security requirements.”

What a bald-faced liar Bibi is; and how pathetic that so many fell for his hissy fit yet again.


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