Mutual Disagreement of Mediators and Judges in the Arab-Israeli Conflict

Mediators serve an important role in conflicts. They attempt to bridge the gap between parties to arrive at a mutually-agreed upon compromise to conclude the disagreement. If the mediator cannot resolve the matter, it is most likely that a judge would be tasked at making – and imposing – a final ruling.

Take divorce as an example. A mediator may be brought in by the parties to resolve issues related to child custody. If the mediator cannot get the parties to agree to terms, the case would go to court to rule on the matter.

Obama and Trump as Mediators

In February 2017, US President Donald Trump seemed to take a new stance in trying to mediate the Israeli-Arab conflict. In response to a reporter’s question about how the US will approach its role as a mediator, Trump said:

“So I’m looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like.  (Laughter.)  I’m very happy with the one that both parties like.  I can live with either one.  

I thought for a while the two-state looked like it may be the easier of the two.  But honestly, if Bibi and if the Palestinians — if Israel and the Palestinians are happy, I’m happy with the one they like the best.”

The media went wild. They printed headlines that Trump abandoned the two-state solution.

In actuality, Trump said that he is happy if the parties themselves are happy. The role of the mediator was not to dictate the outcome but to resolve the conflict so that the parties themselves reach a consensus. The goal was peace between the parties, not necessarily a particular formula to get there.

U.S. President Donald Trump (R) laughs with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a joint news conference at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 15, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Consider the contrast in Obama’s approach to the negotiations and the response of the media. In May 2011 Obama said:

“I said that the United States believes that negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine.  The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps — (applause) — so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states. The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state.”

The media noted that Obama laid out a conclusion of what the final result of the compromise would look like: two states.

The Obama speech irked the Israeli government that was clear in its intention of not returning to the “Auschwitz” lines of 1967.  Obama countered that he had not laid out a conclusion that was not a matter of consensus, as he specifically included language that there would be “mutually agreed” land swaps.

From Mediator to Biased Mediator to Judge

If a mediator in a divorce announced that she was open to the father having custody or the woman having custody of the children, whichever conclusion could be worked out by the parties, her position would be considered open and balanced. However, if she stated that the mother would have custody and that the only matter to work out was whether the father would see the children on Tuesdays or Fridays, her position as mediator would be seen as clearly biased. The inclusion of a minor clause that the only point being considered was a matter of visitation, while the broad parameters were already concluded, would be seen as a jaundiced farce.

And so was the position of Obama.

He did not focus on a bringing peace agreed to by each party, but stated an outcome that he viewed as fair. Obama abandoned his position as a private unbiased mediator. Not surprisingly, the Israeli government not only questioned the content of Obama’s statement, but his role as both a mediator and important ally.

In November 2016, when Obama’s preferred presidential successor Hillary Clinton lost the Democratic election, Obama decided that ANY role for the United States as a mediator had concluded, as he did not believe that Donald Trump’s administration would be fair, competent or effective. It was therefore time to pass the Israeli-Arab Conflict to a judge: the United Nations.

In December 2016, Obama directed his UN ambassador Samantha Power to abstain from an important vote, thereby allowing United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 to pass which declared that Israelis living east of the Green Line was illegal. Obama’s Secretary of State John Kerry then went on to berate Israel (still under the guise as a “mediator”):

“Provide for secure and recognized international borders between Israel and a viable and contiguous Palestine, negotiated based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed equivalent land swaps.”

Team Obama again left the “mutually agreed” clause at the edges – literally. And Kerry added a new dimension that the land swaps should be “equivalent,” echoing a phrase (“comparable”) introduced by the Arab League.

President Obama moved his team from an impartial mediator to a biased one, happy to hand the situation to a judge that shared his animus for Israel. As he left office, Obama chose to belittle and undermine both the Trump administration and Israel, by enabling the UN and world to begin boycotting and suing the Jewish State.

Obama was well aware that the UN was anti-Israel at its core as it moved to sideline a negotiated solution between the Israelis and Palestinian Arabs. Samantha Power read a prepared statement right after UNSC 2334 passed:

“But in reality this vote for us was not straightforward, because of where it is taking place – at the United Nations. For the simple truth is that for as long as Israel has been a member of this institution, Israel has been treated differently from other nations at the United Nations. And not only in decades past – such as in the infamous resolution that the General Assembly adopted in 1975, with the support of the majority of Member States, officially determining that, “Zionism is a form of racism” – but also in 2016, this year. One need only look at the 18 resolutions against Israel adopted during the UN General Assembly in September; or the 12 Israel-specific resolutions adopted this year in the Human Rights Council – more than those focused on Syria, North Korea, Iran, and South Sudan put together – to see that in 2016 Israel continues to be treated differently from other Member States.”

In other words, Obama knew that the judge would eviscerate Israel, but if Team Obama could not bring peace, this was the best that could be hoped for.

Trump’s Two Fronts: A New Mediator and Sidelining the Judge

The Trump administration now has a two-pronged effort to resolve the century old conflict: as a new unbiased mediator, and as an active player in managing the judge.

As the UN officially declared (with Obama’s blessing) that Jews are illegally living in their homeland in a reversal of the League of Nations declarations of 1920 and 1922, the Trump administration is actively fighting back.

On March 18, 2017, after a UN agency released a report that Israel is an “apartheid state,” the US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley pressured the UN to withdraw the report. The diplomat that co-authored the report refused and resigned. Haley applauded the move, saying “When someone issues a false and defamatory report in the name of the U.N., it is appropriate that the person resign.

Earlier in the week, Trump’s new envoy to the Middle East, Jason Greenblatt, met with both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and acting President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas in an effort to re-launch the peace process that was crippled by the Obama administration. After the meeting with Abbas, the US Consulate General said that the two men “reaffirmed the commitment of both the Palestinian Authority and the United States to advance a genuine and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians.”


Obama concluded his tenure regarding the Israeli conflict as a disgrace. He proved to be a terrible and biased mediator. To add an exclamation to his failure, his hubris compelled him to undermine the Trump Administration’s role of mediator, and passed the conflict into the hands of anti-Semitic judges at the United Nations.

Obama made the odds of achieving peace in the Middle East more remote. But perhaps under the watch of Nikki Haley and Jason Greenblatt, the peace process will get another chance.


Related First.One.Through articles:

How the US and UN can Restart Relations with Israel

The Illogic of Land Swaps

Obama’s “Palestinian Land”

A “Viable” Palestinian State

John Kerry: The Declaration and Observations of a Failure

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Palestinian Jews and a Judenrein Palestine

“Now, you may hear from advocates that the settlements are not an obstacle to peace because the settlers that don’t want to leave can just stay in Palestine like the Arab Israelis who live in Israel. But that misses a critical point, my friends; the Arab Israelis are citizens of Israel, subject to Israel’s law.

Does anyone here really believe that the settlers will agree to submit to Palestinian law in Palestine?”

US Secretary of State John Kerry

December 28, 2016

US Secretary of State John Kerry made a public speech after the UN Security Council voted to condemn Israelis living east of the Green Line as “illegal” and an obstacle to peace. In his speech, Kerry chose to continue to attack Israel’s actions as being illegal and contrary to peace, even though the US didn’t technically vote in favor of the resolution (the US abstention alone was enough to let it pass).

The quote above is symbolic of the Kerry’s passive-aggressive vitriol against the Jewish State.

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John Kerry admonishing Israel December 28, 2016
(photo: AP)

Kerry chose to ignore the vile anti-Semitism that is the essence of the Palestinian Authority’s demand that no Jews be allowed to live in a new Palestinian State. Instead, he placed the blame on Israeli Jews, commenting that no Jew would consider living in a home subject to Palestinian law. Really?

Does Kerry realize that there were 1 million Jews living in Muslim lands from Morocco to Afghanistan during this century? Most of those Jews fled countries like Egypt and Morocco during the 1950s and 1960s when those governments began Anti-Semitic edicts. The Jews in Afghanistan fled in the 1930s. Jews from Yemen started to leave in the 1880s, and established communities like Silwan in the eastern part of Jerusalem (which the UN claims is “occupied Palestinian territory.”)

During the Ottoman rule in Palestine, Jews were the fastest growing group by far. Consider that from 1800 to 1922, the number of Jews in Palestine grew by almost 3.5 times, while the number of Muslims grew by less than 2 times.  Further, Jews have been a MAJORITY in Jerusalem since the 1860s. During this time period, the Jews in Jerusalem called themselves Palestinian Jews.

Until the reestablishment of the Jewish State in 1948, there was no exclusive use of the term “Palestinian” to refer to only Arabs. People called themselves Palestinian Jews, Palestinian Christians or Palestinian Arabs for centuries before the Palestinian Liberation Organization adopted the term for their exclusive use under the 1964 PLO Charter Article 6: The Palestinians are those Arab citizens who were living normally in Palestine up to 1947, whether they remained or were expelled. Every child who was born to a Palestinian parent after this date whether in Palestine or outside is a Palestinian.

Jews once had a long history of living in Muslim countries, including in Palestine under the Ottoman Turks. However, the history of Jews willingly living in Muslim countries disappeared when rabid anti-Semitism took hold of their governments and forced Jews to flee their homes throughout the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region, with the sole exception of Palestine/Israel.

Anti-Semitism is still rife in Muslim countries, and the Palestinian Arabs are the most anti-Semitic, with 93% holding anti-Semitic opinions according to the latest ADL poll.  Is that the reason that Kerry believes that no settler “will agree to submit to Palestinian law in Palestine,” as such laws would likely be completely anti-Semitic (like current laws in which selling land to a Jew is a capital offense)?

If that is the case, why doesn’t the Obama administration EVER castigate the Palestinian Arabs and its leadership for their gross anti-Semitism? Does the desire for Palestinian Arab self-determination trump the fact that the Arabs would likely impose anti-Jewish laws? Are the United States and United Nations actively seeking to create a Nazi state alongside Israel?

If the United States believes that the Palestinian Arabs are grossly anti-Semitic, how does it pretend that the two-state solution will have Israel “living side by side in peace and security with its neighbors?” How could any country expect Israel to go along with such a dangerous plan?

Which goes to the essence of Kerry’s comment above. To sell the notion of a peace agreement, the core of the problem MUST be the Israelis.

If Kerry were to admit that the lack of a peace agreement stems from Palestinian Authority anti-Semitism and the rejection of the basic human rights of Jews to live in the land, he would be tacitly admitting that there can never be peace. However, by portraying the problem as stemming from Israel’s settlements, he cut off the line of reasoning. A Judenrein Palestine that is the GOAL would indicate that the entire peace process is a sham; however, a Judenrein Palestine that is simply a BYPRODUCT of arriving at a two-state solution, masks the lethal inherent flaw.

As Kerry casually tossed out the notion that Israeli Jews should “self-deport” from lands that international law mandated to them in the 1920s but which the UN Security Council now has ignored, he threw a red herring before people hungry for peace.  All but the deaf and blind saw through the deception.


Related First.One.Through articles:

The United States Joins the Silent Chorus

The US State Department’s Selective Preference of “Status Quos”

International-Domestic Abuse: Obama and Netanyahu

Extreme and Mainstream. Germany 1933; West Bank & Gaza Today

The Cancer in the Arab-Israeli Conflict

The UN is Watering the Seeds of Anti-Jewish Hate Speech for Future Massacres

John Kerry: The Declaration and Observations of a Failure

The Parameters of Palestinian Dignity

The US State Department Does Not Want Israel to Fight Terrorism

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John Kerry: The Declaration and Observations of a Failure

Over the past decades, the literary world has seen the introduction of a new specialized category of books enter the mainstream and become very popular: do-it-yourself books, or DIY for short.  Books like the “…For Dummies” have been written on a wide range of topics, ranging from auto repair, to football, to computer programming. People believed that they could understand – or at least become proficient at a subject – by reading a book by someone they never heard of or knew.

Yet people purchased the books without knowledge of the author for a few reasons: 1) they obviously wanted to learn the material, and wanted an easy to understand tutorial;  2) they knew the brand covered lot of topics and was widely popular; and 3) they may have heard good reviews from a friend. One would imagine that  if the people heard bad reviews or knew that the author was a failure, no one would touch the books.

Is this formulation true in politics? If people want to learn something from a former politician, would they care if the person was a failure? If no one they respect likes the politician’s opinion would they listen? Or would the brand of their position (their title) hold enough clout that they would pay any attention to what that person had to say?

kerry

US Secretary of State John Kerry traveled the world for the last four years with a fantastic brand: the global diplomat for the most powerful country in the world and a leading democracy. His credentials opened doors in every part of the globe, as countries sought to trade with US, or to obtain US protection and aid.

But Kerry’s impact on the Middle East was terrible.  The eight years of the Obama administration watched the region spiral into killing fields and a race for nuclear weapons. One of the results for the failures in word and deed has been the worst refugee crisis in generations, with millions of Muslims and Arabs fleeing into the western world.

Americans noted the failed foreign policy (and domestic too), and voted out any continuation of Obama’s policies.

So as he was leaving office, Obama doubled down on his failure. He gave tacit approval to a UN Security Council resolution condemening Israelis living across an invisible line as “illegal,” and then his Secretary of Defense John Kerry condemned Israel in a long speech.  Presumably the speech was for Israelis and Palestinian Arab consumption, as well as their leadership. It was likely intended for in the incoming Trump administration as well.

The issue for all of these consumers is that the authors are confirmed failures.  The Obama administration could not get the Palestinian Authoity to even engage seriously with Israel. Instead, the PA sought unilateral action at the United Nations to become a state. It was rewarded by the Obama administration with another UN victory, but no movement towards peace.

With such a tarnished image, and a step from retirement, why would Israelis or their leadership pay heed to the actions and comments of Obama and Kerry?  Have any of their supporters “bought the book” and think there are pearls of wisdom to be found?

The Pro Israel Community Reaction

Virtually the entire pro-Israel community condemned Kerry’s remarks. AIPAC, the Zionist Organization of America, Bnai Brith, the Simon Weisenthal Center and the Anti Defamation League were all highly critical of Kerry’s thoughts about Israel.

Only the left-wing fringe group, J Street, that has long pushed the Obama administration to condemn Israel at the United Nations, applauded the UN resolution and Kerry’s speech. In language that masked the far flung liberal mindset of the group, it stated that such a move was “bipartisan” in the hope of swinging would-be “pro-Israel, pro-peace” consumers to ingest the bile.


John Kerry spoke to the world about the centrality of Israel’s security to any peace agreement, even after a history of the State Department giving only scant lip service to Israel’s need to fight terrorism, while the US enabled Iran to keep its entire nuclear weapons infrastructure. Kerry said that “friendships require mutual repect.” Is that why Obama snubbed Israel by turning down an invitation to speak to the Knesset and opted to address Israeli students – long before Netanyahu came to address Congress in 2015?

Neither the Israeli people nor Israeli leadership was listening to Kerry. The Trump administration made clear that they think the Obama/ Kerry policies were total failures. The major pro-Israel groups came out against the UN vote and Kerry speech and educated the broader pro-Israel community that the remarks were disgraceful, and the approach unacceptable.

Which leaves a person to wonder who Kerry was actually addressing.

The reality was that the speech was not meant as a call to action for Israel or the incoming Trump administration to move the region towards peace.  Kerry was addressing the Arab world and telling them they were right all along. Kerry followed a long list of Democrats seeking a lavish life in retirement, like Jimmy Carter, the Clinton Foundation and Al Gore.

Kerry used the western world as a vehicle to show his devotion to the Palestinian cause. He treated the Israelis as mere tools so that he can enjoy the splendors of the Arab world.

For those that seek actual peace in the Middle East, the declaration and observations of a failure should be treated in the manner it deserves.


Related First.One.Through articles:

The US State Department’s Selective Preference of “Status Quos”

The United States Joins the Silent Chorus

Select Support in Fighting Terrorism from the US State Department

US State Department Comments on Terrorism in Israel and the Territories

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“Peace” According to Palestinian “Moderates”

Liberals, including the left-wing paper The New York Times, often suggest that there are many leading Palestinian Arab and Israeli Arab moderates who genuinely want peace with Israel. US Secretary of State John Kerry warned Jews and Israelis about failing to fully engage “the moderate Palestinian leadership,” which could lead to “extremism.

Over the past six weeks, one has to wonder what kind of “peace” these “moderates” have in mind.

Mahmoud Abbas

On October 28, 2015, the acting-President of the Palestinian Authority addressed the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland. In his prepared remarks he said that Israeli occupation of Palestine has been in place since Israel’s founding in 1948. He viewed all of Israel as illegitimate, and Palestinian land.

Abbas is a proud Holocaust denier as well as denier of Jewish history in the holy land. His anti-Semitic call for a Jew-free country has been endorsed by the Obama administration, and his basic refusal to recognize Israel as the Jewish State make the goal of achieving peace with this straw man a laughable fantasy.

Ayman Odeh

The NY Times was very quick to promote the prospects for Israeli-Arab peace as one of the leaders of the Joint Arab List, Ayman Odeh, was coming to New York to address groups of Jews.  On December 10, the Times ran an article “Arab-Israeli Parliament Member sees Prospect for Peace,” which described a hopeful Ayman Odeh’s thoughts about peace because “many parts of the Jewish population were able for the first time to hear us.”  Somehow, the deafness on the part of Arabs to recognize the Jewish State doesn’t seem to bother him.

IMG_3659
New York Times article on December 10, 2015

On December 10, Ayman’s vision of Israel was brought to the open (except for readers of the NY Times since it opted not to print the follow-up story).

Ayman was due to speak to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.  However, when Ayman noticed that the meeting was taking place on the same floor in the building as the Jewish Agency (a group that facilitates Jews moving to Israel) and other Zionist organizations, he refused to go up the elevator.  He insisted that the meeting location be moved so he would not have to be on the same floor as “organizations whose work displaces Arab citizens.  The organization’s leader, Malcolm Hoenlein refused to change the meeting location and the meeting was cancelled.

Saeb Erekat

On December 13, 2015, perennial spokesperson for the Palestinians, Saeb Erekat came to speak at a conference run by the left-wing Israeli newspaper Haaretz and left-wing foundation, the New Israel Fund. Before taking the stage, he demanded that the Israeli flag be removed from the room.  The event organizers quickly complied.

“Moderates” seek a new State of Palestine,
not Peace with Israel

Many progressives have opened up various venues for engagement with Arabs to move a peace process forward.  As part of those efforts, they have chosen to label various Arab leaders as “moderates” and partners for peace.

However, these Arab “moderates” repeatedly make clear – in public, and in front of them – that they view the Jewish State of Israel as illegitimate.  The only rightful rights in the holy land belong to Arabs; if Jews are to remain in the land, it will only be subject to Arab review and approval.

Consider what these “moderates” say in private to their own constituents.

For Palestinian Arabs, there is one goal in the “peace process” and it is not peace with the Jewish State, but the establishment of a new State of Palestine.  The only difference between Arab moderates and extremists, is that extremists want to remove Israel in its entirety immediately, while moderates want to start with a Palestine in half of the holy land, before they assume complete control of the land.

John Kerry, Haaretz, the New York Times and other liberals loudly proclaim that the Palestinian Arab leadership are moderates who seek peace with Israel, but refuse to describe and detail all of the Arab comments and actions which clearly spell out their permanent hostility towards the Jewish State.

The fact that these “moderates” do not represent the general Palestinian public is yet all the more frightening, as 67% of Palestinian support the “stabbing intifada” according to the latest Palestinian poll.

The New York Times may highlight Ayman Odeh’s call that peace is possible since the “Jewish population can hear us.” But the world has news sources and blogs like First.One.Through that are read broadly around the world, that listen to more than just the sound-bites that dreamy liberals promote.

Peace partners are still not present.


Related First.One.Through articles:

The Israeli Peace Process versus the Palestinian Divorce Proceedings

The Narrative that Prevents Peace in the Arab-Israeli Conflict

Israel was never a British Colony; Judea and Samaria are not Israeli Colonies

What do you Recognize in the Palestinians?

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Not Seeing the Eiffel Tower for the Girders

In November 2015, right after terrorists attacked Paris, France again, US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke of the logic of Islamic terrorists killing the people at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in January:

“There’s something different about what happened from Charlie Hebdo, and I think everybody would feel that. There was a sort of particularized focus and perhaps even a legitimacy in terms of – not a legitimacy, but a rationale that you could attach yourself to somehow and say, okay, they’re really angry because of this and that.”

The statement highlighted many flaws in Kerry’s worldview:

  • A desire to find a logic in the minds of the terrorists, with a very narrow focus (as Obama would say “legitimate grievances”)
  • An implication that the victims were to blame for causing such “legitimate grievances”
  • A desire to assume the entire world shared this flawed worldview.

DSC_0071
Part of the Eiffel Tower
(photo: First.One.Through)

As detailed in “I’m Offended, You’re Dead,” a narrow focus on blasphemy misses the bigger agenda of radical Islam. Refusing to listen to terrorist groups’ own words and charters in which they call for the killing of infidels and destruction of countries is a blindness that simply is unacceptable in the Secretary of State of the most powerful country on earth.

Kerry and the Obama administration’s hyper-narrow focus on these so-called “legitimate grievances” led them to explore ways of trying to placate terrorists:

Is the failure of the US administration’s foreign policies due to blindness from narrow-focus, open-mindedness that the jihadists have “legitimate grievances,” or just bad policies and/or implementation of those strategies?

What do you think?


Related First.One.Through articles:

The Banners of Jihad

Failures of the Obama Doctrine and the Obama Rationale

Obama supports Anti-Semitic Palestinian Agenda of Jew-Free State

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An Inconvenient Truth: Palestinian Polls

There were a growing number of violent attacks by Palestinians against Israelis in October 2015.  Various politicians such as the US Secretary of State John Kerry blamed the root cause as Palestinian frustration about ongoing Jewish “settlements” east of the Green Line.  Acting President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas pointed the finger at defending Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem from Israelis changing the status quo.  United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon considered that it was due to Palestinians frustration about the failed peace talks and lack of progress towards creating a Palestinian state.

Why all of the guessing for identifying the root cause when the Palestinians poll themselves every three months?

The Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research conducts a poll every quarter on a range of issues.  It breaks the analysis between Palestinian Arabs living in the West Bank/ east of the Green Line and the Gaza Strip.  A review of the poll numbers gives a much better sense of Palestinian Arabs sentiments about their situation than biased and bogus statements from Kerry, Abbas and Ban Ki-Moon.

A Growing Majority of Palestinians Support Attacking Israeli Civilians

The poll figures do show a growing support of attacking innocent Israeli civilians.  In December 2013, the percentage of Arabs supporting unprovoked attacks was 34% and 58% in the West Bank and Gaza, respectively.  Those figures jumped to 48% and 68% for WB and Gaza in September 2014 and then to 50% and 70% in September 2015.  Overall, a clear majority of 57.2% of Palestinians were in favor of terrorism as of September 2015, up from 42.9% in December 2013.

Terrifying numbers about terrorism in both the absolute percentage and in the terrible trendline of support.

No heightened Palestinian fear regarding Annexing the West Bank and Changing the Status Quo on the Temple Mount. Palestinians are ALWAYS afraid.

Despite Kerry’s assertion that Palestinians are increasingly fearful of Israelis living east of the Green Line and Abbas’s statement about Israel changing the status quo on the Temple Mount, the statements are untrue.

kerry harvard
John Kerry at Harvard attacking Israeli settlements
(photo: Brian Snyder/Reuters)

Settlements: Palestinians have always been afraid of Israeli intentions regarding annexing land. In December 2013, 85.3% and 80.5% of Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza, respectively, believed that Israel would annex the entire region.  Those figures dropped after the 2014 Gaza War to 81.2% and 75.3% in September 2014, before rising again to 88.5% and 78% one year later.

In every quarter over the past two years, between 80% and 90% Palestinian Arabs in the West Bank thought Israel was intending to annex both the West Bank and Gaza.  The range was 70% to 82.5% for Palestinians living in Gaza.  Presumably the Arabs in Gaza did not have as great a fear as the Arabs in the West Bank since they clearly saw that Israel left Gaza in 2005.  The question remained why the fear factor numbers remain so consistently high, even in Gaza.  In any event, there was no correlation between the increased Arab desire to kill Jews and their fear of Israelis annexing territory.

Al Aqsa: The poll numbers show similar results for the Temple Mount/ Al Aqsa.  In March 2014, the PCPSR asked whether people were concerned that Israel would change the status quo on the Temple Mount.  Almost everyone – 93% – believed Israel intended to make changes to access and prayer rights.

In December 2014, 66.2% of West Bank Arabs, and 38.8% of Gazans thought that Israel intended to completely destroy the Al Aqsa mosque.  In the most recent September 2015 poll, those figures dropped to 60% and 33.4% for the West Bank and Gaza, respectively.  Again, there was no correlation between the uptick in violence due to Palestinian fears, despite the October 2015 protestations of John Kerry and Mahmoud Abbas.

The UN Fantasy of Palestinian Support for a Two State Solution
and Negotiated Process

Despite the United Nations repeated comments that the key to peace lies in a two state solution, it has never been a particularly popular dream of the Palestinians. In March 2014, a slim majority of 51.2% of Palestinians supported the idea. In the last poll of September 2015, 47.9% of Palestinians were in favor of two states.

Further, throughout 2015 a majority of Palestinians favored an armed struggle with Israel more than negotiations.  In December 2014, Arabs broke down as 41.9%, 25.6% and 28.3% in favor of using either violence, negotiations and non-violent protests, respectively. In September 2015, the polls showed little movement, with a breakdown of 41.6%, 29.2% and 24.2%.

The Palestinian polls show that the two state solution has never been a very popular idea, and those that favor it believe it can best be accomplished through violence. The recent uptick in actual violence actually accompanied a move from a preference for negotiations, counter to expectations.

Safety and Social Media

The poll numbers do show some trends that correlate to the spike in what Wall Street Journal’s Brett Stephens referred to as a Palestinian “blood lust.”

Safety: In December 2013, a majority of Arabs east of the Green Line (54.4%) and in Gaza (61.7%) felt safe.  That changed dramatically after the 2014 Gaza war.  Between June 2014 and December 2014 the sense of safety in the West Bank dropped from 51% to 38.3%, and in Gaza from 63.9% to 46.1%.  The numbers continued to stay low over 2015, with a perceived safety growing from 38.3% to 48.7% in September 2015 in the West Bank, and dropping further in Gaza from 46.1% to 39.5%.  Those are very dramatic declines from two years earlier.

Social Media: Palestinians, particularly those in the West Bank, have been getting their news from social media in much greater numbers.  In the West Bank, Arabs that use Facebook and Twitter jumped from 14.7% (June 2014) to 19% (December 2014) to 26.4% (September 2015). The numbers in Gaza over that time period went from 21.3% to 21.6% to 24.1%.  These are significant changes, particularly in the West Bank.

The survey does not cover what kind of items people are watching and sharing on social media.  According to some news reports, videos of Israeli forces shooting Palestinians and “how to” videos showing ways to stab Jews, have gone viral.

The Palestinian Authority

The Palestinian Authority has always been viewed as corrupt by Palestinians according to polls.  Anywhere from 78% to 84% of West Bank Arabs that live under the PA consider the government corrupt according to every poll.  In Gaza, the percentage is lower, from 72% to 82%, but the overall sentiment is the same.

However, what has not stayed the same is the confidence in Abbas.  While coming in dead last in a theoretical three-person presidential election each quarter, his support has plummeted in the West Bank, while it has grown in Gaza.  In the WB: 32.1% (12/13); 28.5% (6/14); 26.7% (12/14); 21.5% (9/15). In Gaza: 17.2% (12/13); 27.1% (6/14); 20.8% (12/14); and 27.4% (9/15).  By September 2015, 62.9% of West Bank Arabs and 67.4% of Gazans wanted Abbas to resign.

Conclusion

Principal players in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are using stale and incorrect information to describe the current violence, and as such, are focused on irrelevant solutions.  The settlements and the Temple Mount are not reasons for violent attacks.  A negotiated two state solution was never popular, despite the many efforts of those who strongly advocate for it.  Like the corruption of the Palestinian Authority, these things are constant white noise that don’t suddenly motivate people to murder.

Today’s violence is erupting due to concerns over safety, and fueled by the credibility and incitement of Palestinians on new media.

Abbas announced the beginning of his retreat from the Oslo Accords and managing security in the West Bank. The West Bank Arabs now feel more threatened and communicate directly with each other over social media about attacks and injuries.  The raw videos of families and friends being injured make them feel more unsafe and angry.  They, in turn, make videos for their friends to attack Israelis and reject Palestinian leadership, which fuels the security fears on all sides.

World and regional leaders are rehashing old misconceptions about a pathway towards peace and security in the region.  They should look at what Palestinians are actually saying: they are ambivalent about of a negotiated two state solution. They do not believe or trust their own leadership any more than the intentions of the Israelis.

With such understanding, it is time to rethink always propping up Abbas, ignoring Hamas and condemning the Israelis. It is time to stop obsessing about the settlements and Temple Mount and focus on security and communications.

The inconvenient truth is that Palestinians don’t like and don’t trust any of today’s leaders, and those same leaders refuse to listen to what the Palestinians are telling them.  It is hard to imagine peace and security emerging from such a dynamic.

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Snack-Pack Inspections

A Satire

Scene: A conference room with dozens of politicians, including the senior members of the P5+1 team and Iran, negotiating terms to the comprehensive nuclear agreement. The hour is late and people are agitated and sleepy. Each country team is mostly talking amongst themselves.

P5+1
(photo: Getty Images)

Sensing the moment is right to bring up a new deal point, US Secretary of State John Kerry attempts to catch everyone’s attention.

US Secretary John Kerry (in a loud clear voice): “We have gone through the various points of this agreement and concluded that we cannot approve it without additional security precautions. As such, we insist on automatic ‘snapback sanctions’ if there is a material breach of the terms of the agreement.”

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi: “What are ‘snack-pack sanctions’?”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov: “’’Snack-pack inspections’. It is another excuse for the Americans to snoop around.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif: “I won’t agree to it. That is outrageous. Why must you Americans continue to compromise on our dignity?!”

Germany’s Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle: “Mohammad, please. It is not that big a condition. Use the American request to push forward some of your own ideas.”

Zarif: “Why are Iranian snacks anyone’s concern? You have pushed too far!”

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius: “The Americans are big snackers, they cannot help themselves! Eating all of that fast food and potato chips!”

Aide to Kerry blurts out: “Potato chips are just cold French fries!”

Fabius: “Your ‘French Fries’ are not from France, you idiot!”

Westerwelle (laughing while patting his stomach): “The Americans don’t just snack- they snack BIG. They turn warehouses into giant snack stores.  That’s why they have snacks in packs. Can you imagine!”

Kerry: “People! I said ‘snapback sanctions’ not ‘snack-pack inspections’. We need some teeth in this agreement.”

Fabius: “You Americans are real gluttons, sinking you teeth into everything. Why do you have to always focus on consuming so much garbage?”

Zarif: “I cannot agree!”

Lavrov (in a loud, condescending voice): “Hey, Mr. Ketchup, let’s say we agree with snack-pack inspections. But you would have to agree to import some of our snacks too. For example, some Beluga caviar. It would be a nice improvement for your abused tongues.”

Zarif: “We get to export our caviar to the Americans again? This would be excellent!”

Lavrov (in a hushed voice to Zarif): “You and I will discuss later where the caviar will actually come from.”

British Foreign Secretary William Hague: “Does that satisfy your appetite, John?”

Yi: “Be careful Mohammad. Your country is about to be flooded with McDonalds!”

Zarif: “I’ll tell you, I will take up to 20 McDonalds, but America must agree to take our pistachios as well.”

Lavrov (out loud, but absent-mindedly): “But Russia doesn’t export pistachios.”

Hague: “Well, maybe Iran could also start to import our ‘Smarties’ now.”

Kerry: “People! This is not about exporting chocolate to Iran!”

Lavrov: “Hey Mr. Heinz! Did you marry a Hershey too? Keep quiet and we’ll handle the details of your new request.”

The conference room breaks down into lots of side conversations. After a minute, Kerry pushes away from the table disgusted, and leaves the room with some aides.


Scene: Outside the conference room, Secretary Kerry walks the halls with two assistants with a phone clutched in his hand.

Kerry (agitated): “Yes, Mr. President…. Yes, I brought it up…. How did it go?.. Well, let me sum it up this way. The other members of the P5+1 team are now renaming the streets in front of the American embassies in their cities ‘Hershey Highway’.”


Related First One Through article:

The Joys of Iranian Pistachios and Caviar

John Kerry’s Hypocrisy: “Can You Deliver?”

Listening to US Secretary of State John Kerry try to explain and defend the P5+1 Iranian nuclear deal to various audiences is a spectacle to behold, regardless of one’s position on the best course of action.  One of the people who might want to watch the sessions and learn something from John Kerry is John Kerry.

Kerry CFR
John Kerry speaking at the Council of Foreign Relations
July 2015

Secretary Kerry argued at the Council for Foreign Relations (CFR) that Congress must support the deal or it would undermine his ability to negotiate any treaty with any government in the future. At 29:55 of the CFR talk, Kerry said: “Other people in the world are going to sit there and say ‘hey, let’s negotiate with the United States, they have 535 Secretaries of State. I mean, please! I would be embarrassed to try to go out… I mean, what am I going to say to people after this as Secretary of State? ‘Come negotiate with us?’ ‘Can you deliver?’ Please!

Kerry made the point that when two parties sit down to negotiate, it is critical for the sides to know that the negotiating parties are both authorized to negotiate and have the ability to fulfill their sides of the deal. If no such authority or ability exists, the discussions are an irrelevant waste of time.

Despite Kerry being quite clear about his logic, he has nevertheless insisted that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sit down and negotiate with Acting-President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas, even though it is clearly understood that Abbas can deliver nothing.

  • No Mandate: Abbas’s four-year term as president ran out in 2009. No presidential elections have been held since then.
  • No Authority: Abbas’s Fatah party lost legislative elections in 2006, winning only 33% of the parliament. No legislative elections have been held since then.
  • No Support: Abbas lags in every Palestinian poll held since 2006.
  • No Control: Abbas has no control of Gaza since his Fatah party was kicked out in 2007.
  • No Track Record: Abbas has shown zero credibility in being able to strike compromises to govern his own people, let alone deliver compromises with Israel.

Despite the glaringly obvious impotence of Abbas, the Obama administration continued to pressure Israel to negotiate with this straw man.

The Obama administration publicly acknowledged that the Palestinian Authority has absolutely no ability to deliver peace a few years ago. During the Gaza war on Israel in 2012, then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tried to broker a cease-fire. She made a dozen calls to various world leaders to halt the war- but not ONCE called the Abbas and the Palestinian Authority.

Compounding the inherent flaws in Abbas and the Palestinian Authority is Abbas’s insistence on bringing terms of any deal with Israel to a referendum. Abbas stated that he cannot decide on the “Right of Return” for all Palestinians, but that each of the 5 million Palestinian Arab “refugees” must make a decision for themselves. Hey Kerry- 535 “second-guessers” looks pretty good compared to 5 million! In terms of the rest of the components of a final agreement, Abbas stated that he “would go to a referendum everywhere because the agreement represents Palestinians everywhere.”  That’s impressive – he seeks the approval of 11 million “Palestinian” Arabs from all around the world!


Kerry’s comments regarding Iran are both on- and off-the-mark.  Iran and all of the parties in the negotiations know that the United States is a democracy and the political process must run its course.  Once the American people’s representatives in Congress make a decision, the government will deliver on its commitments.

However, Abbas – a complete straw man if ever there was one – with no authority or control whatsoever, openly states that millions of individuals will ultimately not only decide the fate of an Israeli-PA deal overall, but even on certain components on an individual basis.

 

Kerry fully appreciates that before negotiators start a process that they want to know the answer to the fundamental question: “Can you deliver“? However, he doesn’t care when he forces Israel to do exactly that with Abbas and the Palestinian Authority.


Related FirstOneThrough video and articles:

Abbas demands R-E-S-P-E-C-T

The Disappointing 4+6 Abbas Anniversary

Palestinian “Refugees” or “SAPs”?

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The Joys of Iranian Pistachios and Caviar

This is not a Satire (?)

The full text of the Iranian nuclear deal completed in Vienna on July 14, 2015 was a weighty 159 pages. The many members of the negotiating teams clearly used their time very productively as they worked through months of discussions and debates, even working past several deadlines on complicated scientific matters of nuclear fission.

The great citizens of the United States can thank the members of Secretary of State John Kerry’s team who negotiated endlessly on behalf of every American. His negotiating skills were clearly evident as he secured important points to benefit the country in these tense talks. In particular, Americans may not have caught a key clause buried inside the deal points. I offer one here (see page 67 of the agreement):

“Section 5.1.3 License the importation into the United States of Iranian-origin carpets and foodstuffs, including pistachios and caviar.”

kerry green tieThis was an important concession that Kerry’s team was able to secure.  Americans have grown tired of California pistachios and miss their Beluga Caviar from the Caspian Sea.  While the Iranian team was busy focused on centrifuges, missiles and fissile material, Kerry scored a big hit for US bellies.

Over the coming weeks, Obama will surely point out this key item in emphasizing that this is a “good deal” for the United States. The American people have suffered long enough from the sanction regime that has denied them these delectable treats from Iran.

pistachios

To paraphrase Robin Leach in Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous to the Obama Administration trying to sell this “good deal” to Congress:  “Wishing you pistachio wishes and caviar dreams.”

Netanyahu’s View of Obama: Trust and Consequences

Summary: Obama has asked Netanyahu to trust him on an issue (Iranian nuclear power) that is an existential threat to his country, even though Obama hasn’t earned that trust on more basic issues. Obama then compounds Netanyahu’s fear by stating Obama will act completely alone in controlling the outcome. Netanyahu’s nightmare is not just becoming “1938 Czechoslovakia”, but “2014 Ukraine”.

 obama netanyahu2
Netanyahu and Obama

TRUST

Trust is the bedrock of a functional relationship. It enables one party to rely on the other. A trust that includes both intention and capability permits a sharing of responsibility and workload.

The relationship between US President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu started off badly and further deteriorated over the years. Personalities aside, the lack of a shared vision about the path to peace and security in the violent Middle East damaged relations.  However, it was a series of bad decisions which destroyed the trust between the two leaders.

Negotiation with Palestinians. Obama’s actions early in his presidency, hurt his credibility with Netanyahu. Obama insisted on an Israeli settlement freeze as a pre-condition to negotiations with the Palestinians- a pre-condition that was never introduced before, even by the Palestinians. Despite Netanyahu’s serious reservations, he instituted a ten-month freeze on building new homes in the west bank of the Jordan River. In exchange, Obama could not get acting-Palestinian President Abbas to even show up to talk for the first nine months, and when he did, all Abbas offered was extending the freeze even longer.

When US Secretary of State John Kerry tried another round of negotiations with Abbas in the fall of 2013, the US again asked Israel to give up something to start talks while it made no demand of the Palestinians. Israel released dozens of terrorists that were convicted of murder from its prisons. In exchange, Kerry could not even get Abbas to recognize Israel as a Jewish State, let alone any compromises for a Palestinian state. The negotiations failed again.

In both situations the US pressured Israel to give up something just to initiate negotiations and asked nothing of the Palestinians. In the end, the Palestinians continued to give exactly the same: nothing.

Giving it away upfront. The Obama administration has used the tactic of giving away bargaining points upfront in the hope of gaining something in the negotiations down the road. In Cuba, Obama has pulled back sanctions, in the hope that the country reforms. In Iran, the US eased sanctions to get Iran to consider allowing monitors to watch it build nuclear power.

Netanyahu does not believe in such negotiating tactics and it has not worked out well for Israel.

Giving up on Allies. The disagreement on negotiating style is only part of Netanyahu’s issue.  Israel and the Middle East watched the Obama administration turn its back on its allies. Egyptian President Mubarak was once a close ally of the United States. One day, the Obama administration decided it would no longer stand by its ally and called for Mubarak’s ouster. He was rushed off to jail.

The US’s Middle Eastern allies were dumb-founded by Obama’s action. A senior Arab government official stated “[The Saudis] are at odds with the U.S. position, publicly pushing Mubarak out. And frankly so are we—this isn’t how you handle issues in region.”

Failure to Understand Regional Dynamics. Obama’s turn on Egypt’s Mubarak was followed by an embrace of the democratically-elected Muslim Brotherhood. Obama’s infatuation with the “Turkish model” of democratic Islam made him welcome the new Egyptian ruler Mohammed Morsi. Morsi reopened Egypt’s ties with Hamas (the Muslim Brotherhood in Gaza) , much to the chagrin of Israel’s Netanyahu. Those actions also undermined the more moderate (on a relative basis) acting PA President Abbas.

Obama back-tracked from his support of democracy in Egypt by not objecting to the replacement of Morsi via a takeover by Abdul Fattah el-Sisi. El-Sisi clamped down on Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood which won praise in Israel. From Israel’s perspective, a mistake was rectified to some degree, but the damage done by Obama of not standing by an ally and not appreciating the regional dynamics was etched in memory.

Obama not standing by Treaties or Comments. In addition to not standing by allied leaders, Obama has not stood by his own word or by US treaties with governments. For example, Obama’s declared “red line” on Syria’s use of chemical weapons came and went without ramifications for Syrian President Assad. While Obama claimed credit for negotiating a solution to get rid of Syria’s known chemical weapons, there was no personal penalty for Assad. Assad continues to remain in power and murder his countrymen.

Saudi Arabia was incredulous and stated“We’ve seen several red lines put forward by the president, which went along and became pinkish as time grew, and eventually ended up completely white…When that kind of assurance comes from a leader of a country like the United States, we expect him to stand by it.”

obama syrian red line
Obama asserting a “red line” on Syrian chemical weapons

The Ukrainian situation is even more telling. In 1994, Ukraine signed onto the Budapest Memorandum which was to guarantee its territorial integrity in exchange for giving up its nuclear weapons. While it adhered to its upfront part of the bargain by giving up its weapons, the Obama administration refused to enforce its end of the agreement by coming to the aid of Ukraine when Russia invaded and annexed Crimea in 2014. Russian leader Putin correctly assessed the temperament of Obama that he would fail to honor his obligation, just as he failed to take action in Syria. Putin has continued to move past Crimea to other parts of Ukraine while the US not only fails to come to the defense of Ukraine, but drags its feet in sending weapons to defend itself.

The situation is not lost on Netanyahu (while it is on the knee-jerk liberal New York Times which stated in its lead editorial on March 12, 2015 that “Republicans are perfectly willing to diminish America’s standing as a global power capable of crafting international commitments and adhering to them.”  As detailed above, Obama has made very clear that HE has diminished America’s commitments, not the Republicans).

Obfuscation. The last loose thread in the unraveling fabric of trust is the lack of transparency.

While Obama touted his goal of transparency when he ran for office, his administration has been one of the least transparent. Witness Obamacare, where House Speaker Nancy Pelosi famously said “We have to pass the bill to that you can find out what is in it.” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ran her own email server outside of the State Department and deleted emails at her own whim. Now, Obama refuses to provide details of the Iranian negotiations with Israel.

The trust between Obama and Netanyahu is broken.

ACTING ALONE

Compounding the Israeli frustration with the lack of trust in the Obama administration’s dealing with Iran, is the unilateral course that Obama has taken. Obama has effectively barred Israel from attacking Iran and is attempting to seal negotiations without legislative approval.

Blocking an Israeli attack. As soon as Obama began to negotiate with Iran, it became impossible for Israel to attack Iran. How could Israel attack the facilities while the US was pursuing a diplomatic initiative? The start of Obama’s talks signaled the end of Israel’s ability to destroy their nuclear program.

Skipping Congress. Obama repeatedly stated that he does not believe that he needs congressional approval to sign a deal with Iran. As such, he has asserted that he has complete authority to negotiate and finalize a deal.  The Republicans, which now have majority control of both the House and Senate, strongly disagree and have taken steps to make their position known to both the Obama administration and Iran itself.

COMPETENCIES and CONSEQUENCES

Israel’s Netanyahu is left in a precarious situation.  As his country is under threat of annihilation by Iran, its close ally has put itself in the lead seat in negotiations.  However, Netanyahu is looking at the current US president as:

  • Lacking an understanding of regional dynamics;
  • Incapable of negotiating;
  • Refusing to be transparent about the negotiations;
  • Unwilling to stand by statements and treaties in support of allies;
  • Determined to act alone without the legislative branch of government

The Trust in Competencies and Fear of Consequences leaves Israel in a vulnerable and lonely spot.  While Israel fears it will be sacrificed at the alter of larger players like Czechoslovakia in 1938, it sees how the lead negotiator will not enforce any security agreements that may be struck, as in the embattled Ukraine today.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Arab states agree with Netanyahu in speech to Congress: https://firstonethrough.wordpress.com/2015/03/08/missing-netanyahus-speech-those-not-listening-and-those-not-speaking/

Conservative focus on safety: https://firstonethrough.wordpress.com/2015/03/01/the-gap-between-fairness-and-ramifications-wmds-in-iraq-and-iran/

Obama’s Iranian red line: https://firstonethrough.wordpress.com/2014/11/24/obamas-iranian-red-line/

The need for a global public reaction to Iran’s nuclear aspiration: https://firstonethrough.wordpress.com/2015/03/03/hidden-reactor-silent-reaction/