The Time Factor in the Israeli-Arab Conflict

It is true. Time moves at a different pace for the players in the Middle East.

Looking for some proof?

  • The acting-President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas said in September 2016: “We ask Great Britain, as we approach 100 years since this infamous declaration, to draw the necessary lessons and to bear its historic, legal, political, material and moral responsibility for the consequences of this declaration, including an apology to the Palestinian people for the catastrophes, misery and injustice this declaration created and to act to rectify these disasters and remedy its consequences, including by the recognition of the state of Palestine.” No joke. He asked Great Britain to apologize for the Balfour Declaration from 100 years prior that sought to facilitate the emigration of Jews to their holy land.
  • A poll of Palestinians conducted in March 2018 found that only 9% of Palestinians believed that there would be peace with Israel within 100 years.

Whether 100 years into the past or 100 years into the future, the Palestinians view the situation as stagnant. They hold onto perceived injuries of 100 years ago as if they just occurred, and imagine that they will feel the same in a century as well.

Is the Arab-Israel Conflict inherently unsolvable, or is the nature of how Arabs in the Middle East consider time simply different than how Israel and western societies relate to it?

Democracy-versus-Dictatorship

Political matters typically require immediate attention, such as budgets, trade policies, military contracts and establishing treaties. Governments seek to move at the pace of life – in the present – so the protagonists act to effectuate policies under their administration and ideally witness the associated results.

That mode of thinking is actually only relevant in a democracy. A government with a finite term that must seek re-election from its citizens is vulnerable to having a short stint in office. Its “present” is fleeting. However, a dictatorship has no set term limit of being in office or caring much about the opinions of its populace. Its “present” might extend for decades.

Consider the lengths of time that Arab leaders have stayed in power in the Middle East:

  • Syria. Bashar al-Assad has been in power for 17 years and counting while he decimates his country. His father Hafez al-Assad was the leader for 29 years.
  • Jordan. King Abdullah II has been king for over 19 years. He took over from his father King Hussein who was king for 47 years.
  • Saudi Arabia. The monarchs of Saudi Arabia have all been from the same family for generations, starting with Ibn Saud in 1932.
  • Egypt. Hosni Mubarak ruled for almost 30 years until the Arab Spring swept him out. The country tried democracy electing Mohamed Morsi, but he was quickly kicked out after just a year in office.
  • Libya. Muammar Gadaffi headed the country for 42 years until he was killed.
  • Tunisia. Zine El Abidine Ben Ali ruled for 24 years until he was swept out by the Arab Spring

The list goes on, even for non-countries.

The Palestinian Authority held elections in 2005 to elect a president for a four-year term. The victor, Mahmoud Abbas, has not held elections since then and remains as the acting-President nine years after his term expired.

The leadership in the Arab world is entrenched. The only method of deposing the leaders and changing the direction of the country is often by assassination, coup or civil war, such as those raging in Syria and Yemen.

In contrast, democracies do not stay entrenched, as the citizens vote for new leaders every few years. Healthy, peaceful democracies have established term limits for the highest office. As such, the leaders in democracies are cognizant of the most precious resource – time. They know that they have a short window to take action and make their mark on society. They can stretch that time by being very mindful of their citizenry, but ultimately, the time remains short.

A dramatic contrast in the orientation of time between democracies and dictatorships.

Secular-versus-Religion

When it comes to the Middle East, religion plays a significant role in politics and government.

Many of the wars that rage in the Middle East stem from the divide within Islam between Sunni and Shiite Muslims. Iran and Iraq are predominantly Shiite, while much of the rest of the region is Sunni.

The civil war in Syria is as much about the majority Sunni Muslims fighting the Shia dictator that rules the country, as it is about a country seeking a new direction. Saudi Arabia and Iran are fighting a proxy war in Yemen about the future direction of that country, whether it will be headed by Shia or Sunni leaders.

In the Middle East, the battle between religions and sects has the added layer of the sensitivity regarding holy sites.

The region is packed with holy sites for Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The fights for control extend beyond physical land and resources, to the spiritual centers for different people.

These spiritual locations operate on a different plane. They exist beyond time.

When competing parties fight over control of holy sites, they operate in the dimension of the divine, and consequently engage in a timeless dance. The earthly connection to the Heavens is eternally rooted in a handful of discrete locations, and it is impossible to “walk away” from those anchors. To do so would be akin to being a traitor and apostate. Relinquishing a holy site to a another sect – or even worse, a different religion – would forever tarnish a person’s reputation and that of his entire family. It would be seen as the ultimate failure, an embarrassment.

Conversely, a person could achieve eternal honor by becoming a ‘shahid,’ a martyr in Arabic, by fighting to the death to protect and/or seize a religious site.

The risk-reward mathematics drives a bloody calculation. On one side, there is a consideration of compromise and relinquishing some control over holy land to enable a better day-to-day life for one’s people, but forever be viewed as a traitor to one’s religion. On the other, is the fight for a holy cause that may not yield any benefits for one’s community, but ensures a revered space within one’s society. Is a better job for a few years a worthy trade-off to an eternity with 72 virgins? (Out of curiosity, do they stay virgins for eternity, meaning there is never any sex?)

Israel and Palestinians

Within the Islamic world stretching from Morocco to Indonesia, lies the only Jewish State, Israel.

Israel is more than a little unique in the Middle East. As the sole true democracy, its leadership changes often according to the desire of the Israeli citizens. The prime minister and parliament (Knesset) may be right-of-center at one time, and left-of-center shortly thereafter.

The current Israeli Prime Minister is Benjamin Netanyahu who has won several elections, and may set a record for the longest serving leader of the country, perhaps passing David Ben Gurion if he stays in power until July 16, 2019. The democracy has not instituted term limits as it is still in a state of war with many of its neighbors.

The acting-President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas has been in power since 2005, not by winning several elections, but by not conducting any. If he had, he would have been thrown from office many years ago by a population that considers him to be both corrupt and ineffective at governing (he’s great at stealing).

Even without a country, Abbas is a dictator, holding onto power without the blessing of his constituents. He stands above his people and above the law as he tries to grasp at the penumbra on the holy land. He imagines himself a timeless champion fighting on behalf of nearly 2 billion Muslims worldwide against the “Zionist Invasion.”

From his vantage point, Abbas can look back in time 100 years as though he were talking to someone in the back seat of a car. The Balfour Declaration of 100 years ago is still yapping, and the Jews keep piling on and will seemingly overload the car over the next 100 years. Time only changes the number of Jews in the car, but will not change his attitude towards Jews regarding their rights to sit in the car, let alone take the wheel.

For their part, the Israelis have made many offers for peace both with Palestinian Arabs as well as Egypt and Jordan over the years. Leaders like Ehud Barak and Ehud Omert knew that they had short windows in office to make a better more peaceful future for their citizens. They attempted different approaches towards compromise with the PA, only to be shut down each time. Real compromises, even in the very small Jewish Holy Land, which received no responses.

Dictators like Abbas have a different calculus, especially since he will be second-guessed by dozens of other dictators that have an interest in Muslim holy sites in Israel. The attitude and approach cannot be moderated by time. The Palestinian Arabs feel the same way:

Time is irrelevant. Feelings trump facts and frustrate a pathway to peace. But it doesn’t matter. Peace is not the goal. Control of the land and the holy sites are paramount. Issues like the economy, security, healthcare and rights always rank at the bottom of every Palestinian poll.

The unaccomplished former US Secretary of State John Kerry understood the Arab world’s perception of time. Kerry suggested in January 2018 that the Palestinians “hold on and be strong,” and “play for time, that he [Abbas] will not break and will not yield to President [Donald] Trump’s demands.” Hey, Abbas! You are a dictator and Israel and the United States are democracies. You can wait it out. Screw today. Stick it out and wait for a better payday.

Play for time. Only democracies have a shot clock.


The Western World views time very differently than the Arab Middle East. As secular democracies, the West seeks to enjoy and improve life in the here-and-now, while the Arab Middle East is a world of religious dictatorships where time is not a critical factor. Any negotiations between parties that view time so differently must be mindful in considering short-term and long-term situations and goals. Specifically, a democracy must adapt to either be willing to wait forever and show no rush towards concluding a deal (adopt the Arab approach), or demonstrate that time is an enemy to the dictatorship (force the Arabs to play with a shot clock too).

Israel has slowly learned the lesson. Will the rest of the West?


Related First.One.Through articles:

Failing Negotiation 101: The United States

Failing Negotiation 102: Europe

The Israeli Peace Process versus the Palestinian Divorce Proceedings

Delivery of the Fictional Palestinian Keys

Nikki Haley Channels Robert Aumann at the UN Security Council

The Parameters of Palestinian Dignity

Would You Rather Have Sovereignty or Control

The Proud Fathers of Palestinian Terrorists

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The UN Must Pay to Repair the Gaza Fence

The United Nations has long encouraged a deeply flawed directive which stands against global international law, that descendants of Palestinian Arabs who left homes in 1948 have a right to move back to such houses inside Israel.

In addition to that particular Palestinian-only ruling, the UN created a unique definition for a “refugee” as it relates to Palestinian Arabs, coupled with a unique refugee agency, UNRWA, distinct from the global refugee agency. These convoluted UN initiatives have encouraged the Palestinian Arabs to view the borders of Israel as permeable, as mere temporary and arbitrary lines with no meaning. The UN has educated generations of these Stateless Arabs from Palestine (SAPs) that with the help of the United Nations, they will all move into Israel.


Key on top of UNRWA camp in Bethlehem,
encouraging the “Right of Return” for Palestinian Arabs

Together with the incitement of their leaders from the terrorist group Hamas, Gazans have taken the next small step to view the border fence with Israel as not just irrelevant, but completely illegitimate.

It is therefore no surprise that Gazans attacked the border fence with Israel in their “Great March of Return” during the spring of 2018. The Palestinian Arabs have been given tacit approval of such actions for decades by the United Nations.

It is therefore highly appropriate that the United Nations take active steps to correct the violation of Israel’s sovereignty which the UN itself implicitly inspired.

The UN must contribute funds to Israel’s repair of its border fence with Gaza. It must make clear to the people of Gaza and around the world that Israel’s borders are inviolable and no threat to the country will be tolerated.

Unless it really believes otherwise.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Delivery of the Fictional Palestinian Keys

The “Great Myth of Return”

Removing the Next Issue – The Return of 20,000 Palestinian Arabs

Stabbing the Palestinian “Right of Return”

UNRWA Is Not Just Making “Refugees,” It’s Creating Palestinians

UNRWA’s Ongoing War against Israel and Jews

Help Refugees: Shut the UNRWA, Fund the UNHCR

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Nikki Haley Channels Robert Aumann at the UN Security Council

On February 20, 2018, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley addressed the UN Security Council about the situation in the Middle East. Her remarks showed negotiating skills that were woefully absent during the eight years of ineptitude under the Obama administration. It was as stark as if Haley had been advised by masters of negotiation rather than community organizers. And I am not referring to President Donald Trump, author of “Art of the Deal” compared to Barack Obama. I write of Robert Aumann.


2005 Nobel Prize winner in economics, Robert J. Aumann

Aumann on the Middle East Conflict

Noted Israeli Robert J. Aumann won the Nobel Prize in economics in 2005 for his lifetime of remarkable work in “game theory,” also known as interactive decision theory. Aumann studied how people make decisions under different scenarios, such as encounters between strangers compared to negotiations between parties that will deal with each other many times in the future. According to Aumann, in a situation in which parties will only encounter each other a single time, there is pressure to make a deal and maximize gains. If the two parties know that they will be encountering each other for a long time, then the dynamics of the negotiations are completely different.

On December 8, 2005, as Aumann was accepting his Nobel prize, he said the following about war and peace (32:40):

“You must not be too eager for immediate results. The present, the now, must not be too important for you. If you want peace now, you may well never get peace. But if you have time, if you can wait, that changes the whole picture. Then, you may get peace now. If you don’t want it, you may get it. It is one of those paradoxical upside-down insights of game theory, and indeed, in much of science…. Wanting peace now may prevent peace now. Wanting peace now may prevent you from ever getting it, not now and not in the future. But if you can wait, maybe you can get it now.”

Aumann added that the dynamic in negotiations needed to be coupled with the concept of punishment; that the actions of the two participating players would be met with responses not just from the counter-party, but outside forces (like the rule of law). However, if the intensity of the punishment was too great, the parties could conceivably view a long-term situation as a one-shot deal. Balanced pressure is the key for parties to avoid taking absolute positions and make compromises.

Aumann’s comments were both general in nature and directly related to the Middle East conflict. He made that perfectly clear in an article he wrote for aish.com about The Blackmailer Paradox, which is worth reading in full. Here is an excerpt:

“The political relationship between Israel and Arab countries is also conducted according to the principles of this paradox. The Arabs present rigid and unreasonable opening positions at every negotiation. They convey confidence and assurance in their demands, and make certain to make absolutely clear to Israel that they will never give up on any of these requirements.

Absent an alternative, Israel is forced to yield to blackmail due to the perception that it will leave the negotiating room with nothing if it is inflexible. The most prominent example of this is the negotiations with the Syrians that have been conducted already for a number of years under various auspices. The Syrians made certain to clarify in advance that they will never yield even an inch of the Golan Heights.

The Israeli side, which so desperately seek a peace agreement with Syria, accept Syria’s position, and today, in the public discourse in Israel, it is clear that the starting point for future negotiations with Syria must include a full withdrawal from the Golan Heights, despite the critical strategic importance of the Golan Heights to ensure clear boundaries that protect Israel.”

Aumann goes on to argue that for peace to be achieved, Israel must make three basic changes to its position: 1) a willingness to renounce agreements; 2) a consideration of repeated games; and 3) faith in its positions. Conviction coupled with seriousness and the understanding that the parties will continue to deal with each other is the pathway to an enduring solution.

Obama on the Middle East Conflict

The United Nations has a long history of abusing the State of Israel. President Obama joined that global abuse as the US took many steps to distance itself from the Jewish State as well. But Obama took no such actions against the Palestinian Authority.

Free of any external pressure, the Palestinian Authority took the messages of Aumann to heart and held fast to the three tenants above. They were given a wide berth and global absolution for their crimes against humanity and their failures to advance the peace process. Without even subtle external pressure, the intransigence set in and the PA scuttled any peace talks.

Meanwhile, Israel collapsed under Obama on all three points. It was compelled to publicly state its support for a two state solution which may-or-may-not be the best outcome for an enduring peace. It was repeatedly pushed for “good will gestures” that showed that Israel would take immediate action and would not walk away from the table. And far-left wing organizations such as J Street and the New Israel Fund actively undermined the faith and conviction that Jews have a basic human right to live in homes that they legally purchase.

The peace process was left in shambles.

The Trump Administration on the Middle East Conflict

The Trump administration has taken a decidedly different tack on the Middle East conflict. It has removed the heavy hand pressuring Israel and has begun to apply some pressure on the Palestinian Authority, including withholding some direct and indirect funds.

At the UN Security Council, Haley also sought to set the stage for a lasting peace, by reminding the parties that this is not a one-shot deal, and that America is willing to wait for the parties to be serious about peace negotiations.

“I sit here today offering the outstretched hand of the United States to the Palestinian people in the cause of peace. We are fully prepared to look to a future of prosperity and co-existence. We welcome you as the leader of the Palestinian people here today.

But I will decline the advice I was recently given by your top negotiator, Saeb Erekat. I will not shut up. Rather, I will respectfully speak some hard truths.

The Palestinian leadership has a choice to make between two different paths. There is the path of absolutist demands, hateful rhetoric, and incitement to violence. That path has led, and will continue to lead, to nothing but hardship for the Palestinian people.

Or, there is the path of negotiation and compromise. History has shown that path to be successful for Egypt and Jordan, including the transfer of territory. That path remains open to the Palestinian leadership, if only it is courageous enough to take it…

Putting forward old talking points and entrenched and undeveloped concepts achieves nothing. That approach has been tried many times, and has always failed. After so many decades, we welcome new thinking.

As I mentioned in this meeting last month, the United States stands ready to work with the Palestinian leadership.

Our negotiators are sitting right behind me, ready to talk. But we will not chase after you. The choice, Mr. President, is yours.”


Nikki Haley with Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt at the United Nations
February 20, 2018

Haley understood that the pathway to an enduring peace lies with balanced pressure coupled with the ability to take a patient long-term approach, just as Robert Aumann’s lifetime of research demonstrated.

Hopefully, the new tactics will yield success.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Enduring Peace versus Peace Now

John Kerry: The Declaration and Observations of a Failure

Failures of the Obama Doctrine and the Obama Rationale

Failing Negotiation 101: The United States

Failing Negotiation 102: Europe

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UNRWA Is Not Just Making “Refugees,” It’s Creating Palestinians

It has been often reviewed how the United Nations has manufactured Palestinian Arab “refugees.” The fabrication done at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has been via:

  • calling someone a “refugee” when they left a home or town, rather than a country which is the actual definition of a refugee;
  • allowing the descendants of those Palestinian Arab “refugees” to claim such status, even though no such status is conferred to other refugees;
  • Telling those refugees that they will return to homes that grandparents left decades ago, even when such homes no longer exist and not a goal of relief agencies;
  • Still calling such people “refugees,” even when they live in the same country that they claim to be refugees of, in the case of Palestinian Arabs living in Gaza and the West Bank

However, the NUMBER of Palestinian Arabs has not been reviewed, and particularly, how UNRWA has increased the number of Palestinian Arabs through its actions.

Fertility Rates in Undeveloped Areas

The UN has completed studies that show how more developed countries witness a much lower rate of birth and older population compared to less developed countries.

Development Stage:         Advanced           Less              Least
Annual rate of
population change                0.3%                1.4%              2.4%

Population age 0-14               16%                28%                40%

Maternal Mortality                0.01%            0.24%             0.44%

Undeveloped countries like Yemen and Sudan have very high birth rates, averaging over 4 children per mother. They similarly have a high maternal and infant mortality rates, as the level of healthcare in those countries is quite poor.

Not so for the healthcare of Palestinian Arabs, thanks to UNRWA.

UNRWA deploys billions of dollars every year to give the Palestinian Arabs the best healthcare in almost the entire world. As a result, despite the high birth rates in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, the mortality rates are a fraction witnessed throughout the region.

fertility vs mortality

Most of the mothers in the Middle East average between 1.5 and 3.0 children. Societies in Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Iran and Qatar average just below two children per mother according to the World Health Organization. The incidents of children under five years old dying was low in those countries, at roughly 1.0 to 1.5%. On the other end of the spectrum were countries under severe distress, including Sudan and Yemen. These countries with over four children on average per mother saw an expected rate of death for children under five years old of 6.0%, five times the rate of the more stable and advanced regions.

But the Palestinian Arabs are an anomaly. While Palestinian mothers average 4.1 children, according to the WHO, the probability of the children dying was the same as experienced in advanced Turkey or Saudi Arabia, at under 1.5%. Applying 2014 data of 121,330 Palestinian Arab births in Gaza and the West Bank, would suggest that 1,808 of these children will die before age 5, but the theoretical number without UNRWA intervention would be closer to that 6.0% percentage of Sudan and Yemen, or 7,280 deaths. That means that because of UNRWA, there will be 5,472 more Palestinian Arab children alive from the class of 2014.

Further adding the 0.2% improved rate of maternal mortality represents approximately 240 mothers each year that do not pass away due to UNRWA’s efforts. In total, considering that UNRWA has been operating for close to 70 years through multiple generations, the number of incremental Palestinian Arabs living in Gaza and the West Bank because of UNRWA is close to 1 million.

Future Action: Jobs versus Contraception

The United Nations created a document together with the Palestinian Authority called “Palestine 2030 – Demographic Change” which told an interesting narrative and plan for the Palestinian demographic boom.

The opening lines of the report bemoaned the slow rate of the population growth: “Palestine’s demographic transition particularly its fertility component, continues to lag behind that of many Asia countries, including Arab countries… Fertility, which was extremely high in the 1970s has been cut in half.” A shocking statement compared to the statistics listed above.

The report continued to discuss the connection between fertility rates and education and income. “Very universal marriage, early marriage, and a low contraceptive rate, especially for modern methods of contraception (used by 44%), are the main proximate determinants of the present level of fertility. Household wealth also plays a role. But it is mainly education, particularly female education that determines the fertility rate.

The report estimates that the Palestinian Arab population in Gaza and the West Bank will grow from 4.7 million in 2015, to 6.9 million in 2030 and 9.5 million in 2050. The doubling of the Palestinian population between 2015 and 2050 compares to a global growth rate of just 36%. The high Palestinian rate of growth is only anticipated in the large poor African countries like Chad, Uganda and Tanzania. Consider further that the number of “refugees” in the GS/WB areas is forecast to grow from roughly 2 million today to 3 million in 2030 and 4.5 million in 2050 (+125% for refugees and +85% for non-refugees). UNRWA clearly impacts the population growth, with estimates of “creating” an additional 800,000 Palestinian Arabs by 2050.

Those are staggering figures for a small territory.

And yet the report claims that the solution to the population boom is not population control, but more jobs and education for women.

If the United Nations is on the front lines of health services in the Palestinian territories, why is the use of contraception only at 44%, when it stands at 64% in the rest of the world where women have to obtain, purchase and manage their health on their own? Why isn’t UNRWA doing more education about family planning and making more contraceptives available?  It is estimated that 7.0% and 5.0% of Palestinians use the pill and condoms, respectively. Shouldn’t the rate be double or triple, more in line with Lebanon (15.1% pill) and Turkey (15.9% condoms)? Overall contraceptive use should be targeted at 75%, in line with the Islamic Republic of Iran at 76.6%.

The UN General Assembly made a global goal of comprehensive family planning in its 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in which it set out “universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, including for family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes.” With thousands of feet on the ground in Gaza and the West Bank, the UN is in prime position to take an aggressive stance.

Palestinian Arabs have extremely high fertility rates similar to third world countries but receive first-class healthcare from the United Nations. In doing so, UNRWA has helped the Palestinian Arab population balloon by an incremental one million people, or 25%. Will the UN advance its own global family planning goals for Palestinian Arabs, or does it prefer to create a demographic army to confront Israel?


Related First.One.Through articles:

Help Refugees: Shut the UNRWA, Fund the UNHCR

UNRWA’s Ongoing War against Israel and Jews

How the US and UN can Restart Relations with Israel

Delivery of the Fictional Palestinian Keys

Time to Dissolve Key Principles of the “Inalienable Rights of Palestinians”

An Inconvenient Truth: Population Statistics in Israel/Palestine

Mad World of Palestinian Quality of Life Statistics

Arabs in Jerusalem

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The Middle East with American Leaders that Back Friends and Punish Enemies

On February 2, 2011, US President Obama gave the Middle East a clear unambiguous message: the United States will no longer back its allies.

Arab countries had hoped that the only US ally that Obama was going to abuse was Israel, as witnessed by the callous and abusive treatment of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the first two years of Obama’s presidency.

However, on that February day, Obama pulled the carpet out from Hosni Mubarak, the long-time ruler of Egypt and loyal US ally.

“We’ve borne witness to the beginning of a new chapter in the history of a great country and a long-time partner of the United States,… [the transition] must be meaningful, it must be peaceful and it must begin now.

Obama made clear that the future was in the hands of the people of Egypt, not its leader and long-time US partner Mubarak.

The rest of the Arab world was appalled by Obama’s actions. The leaders of American ally Saudi Arabia felt that Obama had no clue how things worked in the Middle East. You backed allies, not enemies.

In Syria, the regime of Bashar al-Assad bombarded his own people with missiles and chemical weapons, but Obama set down fake “red lines” without ramifications.

Enemies got a pass in the brutalization of its people. Friends were scorned, thrown out of office and arrested.

Seven years later, on January 30, 2018, the Trump Administration’s ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley made clear this administration’s break with Obama’s foreign policy after Donald Trump’s State of the Union address:

“For the first time in a long time, our friends know that they can count on the United States to have their backs, and our enemies know that we will no longer give them passes when they threaten American interests.”

It is still early too tell if the Middle East will be better suited under the model of protecting one’s allies. But it is all too apparent that enabling one’s enemies as under Obama, was a catastrophic failure.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Remembering the Terrible First Obama-Netanyahu Meeting

John Kerry: The Declaration and Observations of a Failure

Failures of the Obama Doctrine and the Obama Rationale

Obama’s Friendly Pass to Turkey’s Erdogan

Obama and the Saudis

Israel & the United States Repel the Force of the World

Trump’s Take on Obama’s “Evil Ideology”

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Policy on Israel is like the United Nations

Nikki Haley Will Not Equivocate on the Ecosystem of Violence

Comparing Nikki Haley’s and Samantha Power’s Speeches after UN Votes on Israel

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The Hebron Narratives: Is it the Presence of Jews or the Israeli Military

The divide in the narrative of the pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian communities can be summarized in one city, and it’s not Jerusalem. It’s Hebron.

The Jewish Narrative

Jews look at the city of Hebron as the essence of their rights in the holy land. More than God’s promise of the land of Israel to the children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (including Genesis 13:15-17), Hebron represents the very first real estate transaction recorded in the Bible. In Genesis 23:12-20, Abraham purchased a cave to bury his wife Sarah. That purchase crystallized the promise of God in the action of man.

The founding fathers and mothers of Judaism are almost all buried in Hebron in the Tomb of the Jewish Patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca and Leah, making it the second holiest location for Jews. Their presence motivated Jews thousands of years ago to establish a large presence in the city and factored into King David’s decision to begin his rule there for the first seven years of his reign (Samuel II 2:1-11).

Cave of the Jewish Patriarchs in Hebron
with building atop attributed to King Herod
Hebron’s long Jewish history and religious shrine kept Jews living and visiting the city. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the Jews in Hebron had only a small community with a synagogue and school. But in 1929, Arab rioters killed 67 people when a false rumor was spread that the Jews were set to destroy the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. The British, who were administering the Palestine Mandate at the time, concluded that there was no way to protect the Jews in the city and evacuated every Jew. It marked the true beginning of the modern war of Jews and Arabs living together in the Holy Land. No Jew would return to the city until after the 1967 defensive Six Day War, when the Jordanians lost the land that they had illegally siezed in 1949.

When the Jews returned to Hebron, they eliminated the centuries-old ban (established 1266) that the Muslims had placed on Jews entering the Cave of the Jewish Patriarchs. They reestablished a small neighborhood in the city where they could live safely, protected by the Israeli army so that they would not be slaughtered again as they were in 1929.

As opposed to the Muslims (including Ottomans) and Arabs (Jordanians) who banned Jews from the holy site and city, respectively, the Israelis made accommodations for sharing the space. They partitioned the Cave so that both Muslims and Jews could pray at the site and sectioned a small part of the city where Jews could safely live.

The Israelis enforced coexistence with the Arabs and Muslims that had offered them no or limited ground for centuries.

The Arab Perspective

Arabs view themselves as the native population of Palestine. Their ancestors came to the region en masse in the 6th and 7th century as they spread Islam through the Middle East and North Africa. Their position as the dominant people in the Holy Land was secured at the end of the Crusades in the 13th century.

Over the next 700 years, various Muslim and Arab people would descend on the region, whether Egyptians, Syrians or Ottomans. The common religion made the nature of the sovereign less relevant to the Muslim Arabs. People from places that would later become Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia would come and go to Palestine and to Hebron. The fluidity of backgrounds in a world that had not been so fixed with nationality as today was natural; Palestine was after all the gateway to Egypt and Africa from Europe and Asia for trade.

Hebron’s Muslims mostly tolerated (by 18th century norms but not today’s) the small Jewish community. It didn’t give them rights to visit or pray at Islamic holy shrines like the Ibrahimi Mosque, as they called the Cave of the Jewish Patriarchs, but they didn’t have them banned from the city or region.

That changed at the end of World War I and the end of the Ottoman Empire, as the world powers decided to establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine through the 1917 Balfour Declaration and the subsequent elaboration of Jewish rights in the 1920 San Remo Agreement and the 1922 Mandate of Palestine. The Muslim Arabs who had seen a spike in Jewish emigration to Palestine over the prior hundred years now had a new fear and concern: the global powers were taking the sovereignty of Palestine away from Muslims and handing it to the Jews. And this, without the consultation or endorsement of the local Muslim Arabs.

The small minority of Jews was no longer a curiosity to be tolerated, but a group that was poised to assume control to be defeated.

When rumors came in 1929 about the Jewish attack on the third most holy site of Islam in Jerusalem, it was easily believed. The British had assumed their mandate just five years earlier and the Jews started to arrive in Palestine by the thousands. It was natural for the Palestinian Arabs to assume that the Jews were readying a takeover of their holy locations in Jerusalem and Hebron. The war was on.

When the Jews came back to Hebron in 1967, they didn’t just return as civilians, but with an army. They set a model for sharing the Ibrahmi Mosque that the Arabs tolerate, but in a format that Muslims fear that Israelis will try to replicate at the Al Aqsa Mosque Compound in Jerusalem.

It has now been decades that the Arabs of Hebron live under Israeli occupation, a reminder of their defeat in 1967 and of how their land and culture had been taken away from them. Every Israeli soldier that they see is there to inspect and check and validate their presence. But the Arab residents wonder why they need these Jewish interlopers to validate Arab presence in Hebron. They have been there for centuries.

The Conflicting Narratives

Whether one views one or both of these narratives as valid, the dichotomy of the root of the problem is very different. The Jews believe they have a natural right to live in the city as their ancestors had for thousands of years. The Israeli military is there to ensure the peace.

Yet for the Palestinian Arabs, the Israeli military is the core of the problem. They do not want to live under Jewish rule, neither as citizens of a Jewish State nor by an occupying army.

The Jews contend that the British action in 1929 did as much damage as the Palestinian Arab murderers. In the face of a heinous massacre of Jews, the response of the British Administrators was not to punish the Arabs and protect the Jews, but to ban the Jews from the city. That action taught the Arabs that violence pays. The terrorist group Hamas continued to make the point, having made Israel abandon Gaza in 2005.

The Palestinian Arabs make no apologies for any of their statements or actions: this is Arab land and home to Islamic shrines. The Israelis may say they are promoting coexistence, but they are doing so on stolen land. How noble is it to steal someone’s home and then offer to share it?!

Israelis view the Arab attitude as deeply problematic: their arguments are not localized to Hebron, but are the same throughout the land. The Palestinian Arabs reject the basic presence of a Jewish State in the land in any configuration. Why abandon Hebron, when the sentiment is the same for Haifa?

While moderate Arabs may indeed hold that view, they are willing to accept the de facto existence of millions of Jews within the 1967 borders. They realize that the Jews are not going anywhere any time soon.

So what makes a Hebron narrative different than a Haifa narrative or a Jerusalem narrative or a Jericho narrative? How and why is it unique in depicting the problems that people have in talking about the Israeli-Arab conflict?

Why Hebron?

Most of the world has accepted the reality and legitimacy of Israel and its borders within the 1949 Armistice Lines (the 1967 borders). Cities like Haifa, Tel Aviv and Nazareth are only contentious among the most rabidly anti-Zionist zealots who shout “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” The narrative that questions Haifa is one to be easily and readily dismissed as coming from the lunatic fringe.

Jerusalem is considered the most contentious topic for a variety of reasons ranging from the holiness ascribed to the city, its designation as a capital by the competing parties, and the fact that both populations – Jews and Arabs – live in the city in great numbers. Reasonable people can have completely different viewpoints on the best path forward.

And then there is Hebron. Compared to other major West Bank cities like Jericho, Nablus or Jenin, it is a city with a handful of Jews (as opposed to none), and home to a venerated site for Jews on par with Medina for Muslims, while most other cities have much more minor Jewish holy sites. As such, it is divided between areas under Palestinian Authority and Israeli control.

Modern division of Hebron into area under PA and Israeli control
The ongoing and persistent presence of Jews in Hebron has made it a flashpoint for an all-or-none possession of control and access for nearly 90 years. It was in Hebron that the world bodies took the first steps in modern times to evict all of the Jews, presumably for their own good. The 1929 action was an abrogation of the Mandate that the British were handed that “No discrimination of any kind shall be made between the inhabitants of Palestine on the ground of race, religion or language. No person shall be excluded from Palestine on the sole ground of his religious belief,” (Article 15).

Within a decade, the British would follow up their action with the 1937 Peel Commission and the 1939 White Paper, actions which would bar Jews from living in most of Palestine and prevent hundreds of thousands of Jews from moving to Palestine.

Hebron set the stage that coexistence was impossible; parallel existence was required.

But the counter-argument stands in reality in the State of Israel. In Israel, Arabs have full rights and account for over 20% of the population. Israel granted every non-Jew Israeli citizenship when it declared statehood in 1948, and offers any Arab in Jerusalem citizenship, if they so desire.

In EGL, east of the Green Line/ the West Bank, the desire for co-existence is seemingly non-existent. The Palestinian Authority has laws calling for the death sentence for any Arab that sells land to a Jew. The leader of the Palestinian Authority pledged that a future Palestinian state will not see the presence of a single Israeli (read Jew). Some Palestinian Universities even ban Jews from stepping foot on campus.

So today, most Israelis that live in EGL/West Bank are in towns that almost exclusively Jewish. The exception is Hebron, where just 700 Jews live among 250,000 Arabs. (Another 6,000 Jews live in adjoining Kiryat Arba).

It is Hebron that is the current test for coexistence for the Arab community. Can they accept and welcome the Jews in their midst? Could Israel withdraw its protective force from the small Jewish community of Hebron and not see them slaughtered?

Some Muslims that claim to be moderates say that Jews lived in Arab countries for centuries before the establishment of Israel. Will they defend and protect the Jews of Hebron and Kiryat Arba, or is the existence of Israel next door still too much of an insult for them to endure, and therefore cannot coexist with Jewish neighbors?

The narratives of Jew and Arab in the Holy Land and the pathway to either coexistence or divorce is encapsulated in the city of Hebron.


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The UN’s Disinterest in Jewish Rights at Jewish Holy Places

It is Time to Insert “Jewish” into the Names of the Holy Sites

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The Personalisation of War

There was a time that wars were fought between countries. Whether military or economic, a country or a group of countries would battle other countries. In extreme cases, the wars would ensnare much of the world.

But in modern times, battles have moved to a personal level.

Non-State Actors

Non-state actors like Islamic Jihad and the Palestinian Liberation Organization have been waging political terrorism for a long time. However in modern times (since 2011), terrorist groups like ISIS and Boko Haram moved the goalposts considerably, by using social media as an active part of their war efforts. The groups used Facebook and Twitter to share videos of brutal murders to both instill fear in their enemies and to enlist new troops. Such efforts were so successful, that politicians made combating these groups online one of their priorities in defeating the terrorists.

While social media became a new fertile area for the recruitment of civilians, the war efforts were still overseen and directed by the leadership of the terrorist groups. The leaders either deployed the new recruits in active fields of battle such as Iraq and Syria, or instructed them to conduct terrorist attacks in western countries that were supporting the battle against the jihadist groups.

That formula began to evolve in 2014.

Armies of One

For most of mankind’s history, an individual was a local being without a voice. In dictatorships, people’s opinions were irrelevant. A person’s existence was to pay taxes and serve in the army to further the goals of the leader. Even in democracies in which an individual’s opinion mattered in shaping a government’s makeup and therefore its policies, the individual’s impact would be relegated to the voting booth. If people wanted to achieve a more direct impact on government foreign policy, the choices were being part of a massive protest or joining the army or government. However, in each of those cases, the ultimate arbiter of foreign policy remained at the government level.

Social media has started to change that dynamic. Not only could non-state actors reach civilians around the world as described above, civilians could share their opinions and express their anger and actually impact foreign policy in a number of ways.

Defamation: In the third Hamas war from Gaza against Israel in 2014, Palestinian Arabs took to Facebook and Twitter to describe their personal situation. As described in the new book “War in 140 Characters: How Social Media is Reshaping Conflict in the Twenty-First Century,”  a teenage girl from Gaza posted live about her fear and suffering in the war, reaching hundreds of thousands of people around the world, punishing Israel’s image on a global level. According to the author of the book, “Israel lost the global information war because it did not ‘bleed’ enough, and as long as it maintains its military advantage, it never will.

Violence: By the 2014 war’s end, the Palestinian Arabs in the West Bank felt that they had also not ‘bled’ enough, and began a car ramming and stabbing intifada against Israelis, both civilians and soldiers. The attacks were inspired – but not orchestrated – by Arab leadership from the West Bank Fatah party as well as the Gaza-based Hamas party.


Cartoon from Fatah website directing people to use cars to run over Jews
November 6, 2014


Palestinian girl discussing stabbing Jews
November 12, 2015

The deadly “lone wolf” attacks in the United States from 2015 to 2017 were similarly inspired by ISIS, but were not planned by the terrorist group’s leadership.

Economic: The personal war is not just being waged with violence and libel. It is economic as well.

In the past countries-war model, countries would use economic pressure against one another, such as after Egypt lost the Yom Kippur War to Israel in 1973, it engaged in an economic war against all of the countries that supported Israel including the US via an oil embargo. In today’s individual-war model, people engage in a boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. The BDS movement targets the government of Israel, professors at Israeli universities, Israeli companies and even individuals looking to perform in Israel. The latest victim was the pop singer Lorde, who cancelled her Israel concert in December 2017 after being barraged by threats from individuals.

This is a new phenomenon. Individuals are now attackers and individuals are now victims. The ties that bind both attacker and victim are no longer based on nationality and borders, but by identity. Jihadists fight anti-jihadists around the world, and anti-Zionists fight Zionists everywhere. The global economy and pervasiveness of social media have enabled the protagonists to organize.

In such a new format, is Israel worse off or better? The one Jewish State is outnumbered 57-to-1 by the number of Muslim countries, but by 100-to-1 in terms of Muslim-to-Jewish population (twice as small). In general, Israel is just a single country out of 193 countries at the United Nations, but is dwarfed by 900-to-1 in terms of the global population (five times as small).

In a new personalized-war model, the small country looks even smaller.

But the personalization of war also leads invariably to a personalization of defense, and therein lies an amazing opportunity.

There is only one Jewish State and only a limited number of Jews, so Israel will always be outnumbered on the world stage. But there are millions of pro-Zionists in the world. These people must be educated and prepared to counter the scourge of demonization that is being touted on social media. They should be marketed to as consumers of Israeli products to repel the efforts of BDS minions. And they should be called upon to defend Israel when individuals, groups and countries shout “from the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free,” in efforts to destroy the one Jewish State.

Sign up to FirstOneThrough and other pro-Israel sites and share the articles and videos broadly on social media. The personalization of war has made everyone an active participant in the fight.

 


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The War Preferred

Summary: When a country prefers to use military force over financial pressure, what does that tell you about the party’s temperament and goals?

USA’s Financial Pressure First

Over the past decades, the United States of America has made efforts to contain the nuclear ambitions of rogue states like the Islamic Republic of Iran and North Korea. The USA viewed those state sponsors of terrorism as too dangerous to be the guardians of weapons of mass destruction. But in each case, the USA used economic means of combating Iran and North Korea as a preferred course to launching into a military war.

These were not unique situations.

The US has engaged in economic warfare several times. In situations like Cuba, the US never opted to attack the country militarily. However, in other situations like Libya, the US imposed economic warfare initially in February 2011, before deciding to use its military force some weeks later.

For the United States, the preferred course of engagement was to use economic means of achieving it’s aims, whether it was for a country to reverse course on a nuclear program, or to stop a war. The USA wanted to save lives – both of its own soldiers as well as in the country it attacked – so it delayed the use of force as long as possible.

Arabs’ Attack First

The Arabs in the Middle East have used the exact opposite approach.

When Israel announced its new state in 1948, five Arab countries invaded with an enormous military. Death was not only a means to an end but a goal: the destruction of the Jewish State.

In 1973, on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, Arab armies attacked Israel again. The Israeli army eventually repelled the invading forces of Egypt, Syria and Iraq, after incurring significant loss of life. In response to their loss, the Arab countries imposed an oil embargo on those countries that assisted Israel militarily during the battle. As summarized by the US State Department:

“During the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, Arab members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) imposed an embargo against the United States in retaliation for the U.S. decision to re-supply the Israeli military and to gain leverage in the post-war peace negotiations. Arab OPEC members also extended the embargo to other countries that supported Israel including the Netherlands, Portugal, and South Africa. The embargo both banned petroleum exports to the targeted nations and introduced cuts in oil production.”

The Arab countries were not concerned about the loss of life and rushed into battle to both destroy Israel having lost wars and land to Israel in 1948, 1956 and 1967. The Egyptian President Anwar Sadat said the following as it launched its attack on Israel on October 6, 1973:

“We have always felt the sympathy of the world but we would prefer the respect of the world to sympathy without respect.”

By 1973, the Arab goals’ had expanded to not only destroying Israel, but establishing a modicum of honor. As he conceded the war to the Israelis, Sadat said:

“We have been fighting Israel for the fifteenth day running. Israel fought us on its own in the first four days and its real position was exposed on the Egyptian and Syrian fronts; it [Israel] lost by its own admission, 800 tanks and more than 200 aircraft on both fronts. For the last 10 days, however, I have been fighting the United States on the Egyptian front, armed as she is with the most sophisticated weapons in her possession. I simply cannot fight the United States or bear the historical responsibility for having our armed forces destroyed once again.”

In launching the war, Egypt made clear that its honor was at stake, and in calling for a ceasefire, it opted to claim victory over Israel, but capitulation to the US. As the Arab state could not beat the United States militarily, it pivoted to an economic war, the Oil Embargo.

Palestinians’ Also Attack First

Like the other Arab countries, the Palestinian Arabs have opted to fight militarily as a first effort. However, lacking a standing army, the Palestinian Arabs have used terrorism against Israeli civilians and army alike.

After the formation of the Palestinian Authority in 1995 as a result of the Oslo Accords, Palestinians attacked Israelis throughout the 1990s. When the head of the PA, Yasser Arafat (fungus be upon him) failed to deliver a peace in September 2000, the PA launched a Second Intifada which claimed the lives of thousands of additional civilians. The end of the Intifada was brought about with the help of Israel’s establishing a security barrier which stemmed the flow of Palestinian terrorists into Israel, which propelled the Palestinians into a new war. The launch of the boycott, divestment and sanction (BDS) effort in 2005 was designed to economically strangle Israel.

A Palestinian demonstrator raises a knife, during clashes with Israeli police, in Shuafat refugee camp in Jerusalem, Friday, Oct. 9, 2015. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

The Palestinian Arabs – like the Arabs of the neighboring states – opted to use military force to try to destroy Israel. Only upon the failure of such efforts, did they switch to economic warfare.

  • Goals: The US took action to prevent the tremendous loss of life (rogue states with nuclear weapons), while the Arab goal was to kill and destroy.
  • Tactics. The US pursued economic pressure first to prevent the loss of life, whereas the Arab states immediately went to war.

The consistency of the goals and tactics of the United States and Arab world is a fabric of their world view: the US has a goal of preserving peace, so uses military force as a last resort. The Arab states have a goal of destroying Israel, so attack it first and only resort to a BDS campaign once they conclude that they cannot win militarily.


Related First.One.Through articles:

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Paying to Murder Jews: From Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Iran to the Palestinian Authority

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I’m Offended, You’re Dead

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The Recognition Catch Up

The United States recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on December 6, 2017 in a move that President Donald Trump said was a “long-overdue step.” Many countries disagreed, and viewed the announcement as premature, claiming that such recognition should be done in conjunction with a broader peace process and mirror whatever the Israelis and Palestinian Authority themselves agree to.

If anything, Trump’s move was very late considering the recognition that had been afforded to the Palestinian Arabs over the previous decade.

Recognition of Palestine

In 1988, the Palestinian Liberation Organization declared its independence. Israel and the western world ignored the declaration of the noted terrorist organization, while fellow Arab and Muslim countries quickly recognized the State of Palestine.

Within a few years of the PLO declaration, the Israelis and Palestinian Arabs signed the Oslo Accords (in 1993 and 1995) which put in motion a peace process, including the creation of a Palestinian Authority (PA). As part of those agreements, both parties agreed that the PA would have limited powers regarding international relations (Article IX), including having no ability to obtain official recognition from other governmental bodies.

In accordance with the DOP, the Council will not have powers and
responsibilities in the sphere of foreign relations, which sphere includes the
establishment abroad of embassies, consulates or other types of foreign missions and posts or permitting their establishment in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip, the
appointment of or admission of diplomatic and consular staff, and the exercise of
diplomatic functions.”

When the leader of the PA, Yasser Arafat (fungus be upon him) failed to deliver on peace and launched a second intifada in September 2000, the peace process ground to a halt. Any movement by world organizations and governments to provide additional recognition on key issues for the Israelis and PA was put on hold.

Yet the Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas pushed forward with seeking global recognition, even as he lost control of the Gaza Strip in 2007.

Abbas began with Costa Rica (2008) and Venezuela (2009) before making significant headway with the major countries in South America.

In 2010, Abbas got Brazil and Argentina to recognize Palestine, despite commitments in the Oslo Accords that the PA would not take such steps. The Israeli foreign ministry released a statement that  “Recognition of a Palestinian state is a violation of the interim agreement signed by Israel and the Palestinian Authority in 1995, which established that the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip will be discussed and solved through negotiations….  All attempts to bypass negotiations and to unilaterally determine issues in dispute will only harm the trust of the sides and their commitment to agreed upon frameworks for negotiations.

No matter.

In 2011, other South American countries recognized Palestine including Chile and Uruguay. UNESCO followed suit and admitted the “State of Palestine.” Shortly thereafter, Iceland became the first country in western Europe to recognize Palestine, with borders based on the 1949 Armistice Lines. By the following year, the United Nations began calling the entity the “State of Palestine” in all official documents.

Remarkably, at the end of the third Hamas war on Israel in 2014, Sweden became the second western European country to recognize Palestine.

Recognition of Jerusalem

While Abbas’s PA actively sought recognition of a state since 2008, Israel was fighting three wars from Gaza and a “stabbing intifada.” Israel was not busy lobbying the world to recognize Jerusalem as its capital, but focused on getting the world to stop the Islamic Republic of Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons while it declared its intention of destroying Israel.

While the Palestinian Authority was playing offense, Israel was playing defense.

At this point in time, with over 20 countries and United Nations entities recognizing Palestine over the past decade despite the explicit statements in the Oslo Accords, isn’t it well past time for countries of the world to recognize the capital of Israel?

Alternatively, if countries are truly concerned with the peace process, they can strip their recognition of Palestine, and leave the Israelis and PA to negotiate their peace, including matters related to borders, settlements and Jerusalem, and ultimately embrace the conclusion of the parties. Impartiality demands one or the other.


Jerusalem from the air, facing north


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Corpus Separatum Ended Forever in 1995

“A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance
of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom.
But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason.”

Thomas Paine, Common Sense
January 9, 1776

Some political pretend-to-know-it-all pundits are taking to the airwaves to decry President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. They have noted that Jerusalem is too sensitive a topic for the United States to endorse without approval from the Palestinian Authority and the Muslim and Arab world. They are incensed that Trump has abandoned common practice of past presidents these last decades.

But they are wrong. The issue of Jerusalem was settled in 1995, and not just by the US Congress, but by the Palestinian Authority itself.

The 1947 Plan

The United Nations wanted to reserve the “Holy Basin” of religious sites of the three monotheistic faiths into a “corpus separatum,” an international zone that would not be part of either a Jewish State (which would have a minority of Arabs) nor of an Arab one (which would have a minority of Jews). This area included greater Jerusalem and greater Bethlehem.

Annex B of UN 1947 Peace Plan showing Corpus Separatum

The Arabs of Palestine and the greater Arab world rejected the plan, while the Jews of Palestine and many countries at the United Nations supported the plan.

It would never go into effect.

1948-1949 Israel’s War of Independence

As soon as Israel declared itself an independent country in May 1948 when the British ended their mandate, armies from five Arab countries invaded Israel. At war’s end, Israel took control of the western part of Jerusalem while Jordan took control of the eastern half of Jerusalem and all of greater Bethlehem and the West Bank.

Corpus separatum divided into
Jordanian area in white and Israeli area in blue
The Jordanians and Israelis would sign an Armistice Agreement in 1949 establishing the contours of non-belligerency, but not peace. That line became known as the “Green Line.” The countries of the world recognized Israel’s borders west of the Green Line, but did not recognize the Jordanian annexation of the West Bank, eastern Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

While the world recognized the expanded borders of Israel beyond that proposed in the 1947 UN Partition Plan, it would not recognize the western half of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, in the hopes that peace could be established with inclusion of aspects of corpus separatum in a peace agreement.

Things moved in the opposite direction.

The Jordanians expelled all Jews from their section of corpus separatum and forbade the entry of Jews into the Old City. They would offer citizenship to all Arabs who lived in the area, and specifically exclude any Jews from obtaining Jordanian citizenship in 1954.

From 1967 to 1995

In June 1967, the Jordanians (and West Bank Palestinian Arabs since they had taken Jordanian citizenship), attacked Israel again and lost all of the land they had illegally annexed including the eastern portion of corpus separatum. Israel rescinded the ban on Jews living and visiting their holiest city of Jerusalem and tore down the barbed wire that had split the city in two. It also enabled all Arabs who wanted to obtain Israeli citizenship to apply. Thousands of Arabs have done so.

By 1980, Israel had defined new borders for Jerusalem which excluded the southern portion of corpus separatum around Bethlehem, and declared Jerusalem “complete and united, is the capital of Israel.

Some countries moved their embassies to Jerusalem in the wake of the announcement, such as Costa Rica in 1982 and El Salvador in 1984, in the hope of winning political and economic support from Israel. However, both countries moved their embassies to Tel Aviv in 2006, in the hopes of establishing stronger relationships with the Muslim and Arab world.

Oslo II Accords of 1995

The Israelis and Palestinian Arabs reached an agreement to begin a peace process in 1993. Two years later, in September 1995, they signed the Oslo II agreements. Those agreements put the nails in the coffin for the concept of an international body overseeing corpus separatum.

First, the Palestinian Authority recognized that Israel controlled Jerusalem. Any decisions that happened with Jerusalem would be done in conjunction with Israel. This is a far cry from what people see and read today, where everything that Israel does in Jerusalem is described as illegal and subject to condemnation at the United Nations Security Council.

Further, the PA only labeled Jewish towns in Gaza and the West Bank as “settlements.” Jews living in Jerusalem were specifically excluded from being labeled as settlers. Today, acting-President of the PA, Mahmoud Abbas cannot blink his eyes without calling Jews in the Old City as “right-wing settlers” and “colonialists,” even though the last agreement signed by both Israel and the PA clearly stated that they were not settlers.

Most significantly, the PA and Israelis agreed to begin to chop up the corpus separatum. The concept that it would be an international city was dismissed, as the Holy Basin would be divided between the two parties. This began in practice shortly after the Oslo II Accords were signed, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu handed over control of Bethlehem to the PA in December 1995.

The United States was supportive of these moves. As part of the effort to move the parties along, the US Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act in October 1995. The Act focused just on Jerusalem – half of corpus separatum, as Bethlehem was being transferred by Israel to the Palestinian Arabs – stating “it to be U.S. policy that:

(1) Jerusalem remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic religious group are protected;

(2) Jerusalem be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel; and

(3) the U.S. Embassy in Israel be established in Jerusalem no later than May 31, 1999.”

The Act did allow the US president to waive the move of the embassy every six months, and for over 20 years, US presidents did just that:

“Authorizes the President to suspend for six months (with possible subsequent six-month extensions) the 50 percent limitation on the obligation of funds with respect to the opening of the Embassy if he determines and reports to the Congress that a suspension is necessary to protect the national security interests of the United States.”

That ended in 2017.

The US Recognizes Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel in 2017

On December 6, 2017, US President Donald Trump saidJerusalem is the seat of the modern Israeli government. It is the home of the Israeli Parliament, the Knesset, as well as the Israeli Supreme Court. It is the location of the official residence of the prime minister and the president. It is the headquarters of many government ministries…. we finally acknowledge the obvious. That Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality.

The reality of Israel’s choice of Jerusalem as its capital had never been in dispute. People questioned US support of that choice. Many key components of that decision were clear:

  • The US and many countries recognized Israel’s sovereignty over western Jerusalem in 1949
  • The Palestinian Authority and Israel recognized Israel’s control of Jerusalem and the PA’s control over Bethlehem in 1995
  • The US Congress declared that “Jerusalem be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel,” in 1995

But legal scholars debated whether Congress had the ability to make such determination, as only the executive branch had constitutional authority to set foreign policy. That question ceased with Trump’s declaration.

“A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong,…”

Despite most of the world recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over western Jerusalem and Palestinian Authority control over Bethlehem, many continued to contort themselves as to why they did not move their embassies to Jerusalem.

  • Countries contend that the 1947 UN Partition Plan with corpus separatum continued to have merit, even though the principle parties had moved past that formula many years ago.
  • Countries defend their refusal to move their embassies to Jerusalem because the Arabs do not recognize any claim of Israel to Jerusalem. But the Palestinian Authority has not officially recognized Israeli sovereignty over western Jerusalem any more than Tel Aviv. Therefore, how can the location of the embassy have more credibility in Tel Aviv than Jerusalem?
  • Countries believe that Jerusalem is matter for the Israelis and Palestinian Authority to determine, but Trump said the exact same while announcing the move of the US embassy to Jerusalem. One does not preclude the other.

A great American patriot, Thomas Paine, pointed out that people have a tendency to be lulled into the belief that a status quo is a proper course of action. They come blinded to the wrong and comfortable with its stench. They will even contrive reasons to rationalize the offense.

Both reason and time have demonstrated that the path to peace does not reside either in minds that deny the truth or hearts that curse the obvious. Israel’s capital is Jerusalem and should be the home of all foreign embassies.


Related First.One.Through articles:

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Recognition of Acquiring Disputed Land in a Defensive War

Real and Imagined Laws of Living in Silwan

The US Recognizes Israel’s Reality

The New York Times Inverts the History of Jerusalem

The Israeli Peace Process versus the Palestinian Divorce Proceedings

A “Viable” Palestinian State

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