Netanyahu won’t deliver

Posted: July 12th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, The Right, The Settlements, the US and us | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

A year and a half into Benjamin Netanyahu’s second term, it’s clear that no matter what the Palestinians do or say, this Israeli PM will not sign a final agreement. I don’t think that even the US administration can change that. At most, it could ignite a process that the next government can carry on; much in the way President Bush forced PM Yitzhak Shamir into the Madrid conference.

Every Israeli leader is more likely to prefer the statues quo to concessions on the Palestinian issue (I explained why here). But in Netanyahu’s case, stalling the process doesn’t seem to be a tactical decision, but a strategic one.

As Akiva Eldar points in Haaretz today, in recent weeks, the Palestinians have agreed to everything Israel always asked them. They are ready for border changes that will leave the big settlements on the Israeli side; they agree to international forces in the West Bank that would monitor the situation and help protect the border; they are ready to give up the right of return into the state of Israel; and it seems that they are ready for a reasonable compromise in Jerusalem.

The Palestinian leadership explained its positions on all the core issues in details, both to the American envoy and in public – something that surly didn’t help them in their political battle against the Hamas hardliners – yet they got no response from Israel. Netanyahu refused to reveal Israel’s positions, in public or in private.

Every step Netanyahu took, from the partial settlement moratorium to allowing more goods into Gaza, was done under tremendous international pressure, and only after any other alternative failed. When felt cornered, he preferred to take the political battle to Washington, where, with the help of AIPAC, he repeatedly embarrassed the US president. By doing so, he made the support of Israel a partisan issue, divided the Jewish community and used much of the Israeli lobby’s political credit. All of this didn’t matter as long as he got what he wanted: for now, it seems that the administration is finally off his back.

Netanyahu is no fool. He knows what price this sort of maneuvering carries. Yet he prefers it to every alternative. I guess he estimates that the maximum he is willing to give is not even close to the minimum the Palestinians can settle with. So why do anything that would start a political fight with the right?

I don’t know the roots of Netanayhu’s positions: is it his upbringing, his reading of the political map in Israel or his view of the country’s long-term interests. Yet the bottom line couldn’t have been clearer: Netanyahu simply prefers the statues quo.

Read the rest of this entry »


Jewlicious.com advocating the right of return?

Posted: April 2nd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: The Right, The Settlements, the US and us | Tags: , , , | 29 Comments »

I just ran across this post on Jewlicious.com site, which demonstrates so much of what is so absurd about the Israeli policy in East Jerusalem. It also teaches something about the people defending these policies.

The article deals with a Synagogue in occupied old Jerusalem and how Jews finally managed to reconstruct it in spite of Palestinian protest. The anonymous author praises the synagogue as “a symbol of return for the Jewish people to Jerusalem”.

Read the core of his argument:

The Hurva Synagogue has been rebuilt in the Old City of Jerusalem. The Old City is part of what is meant by “east Jerusalem” when people claim it belongs to the Palestinians. The Old City was all of Jerusalem until the mid-1800s and it had a Jewish majority at the time. As the population grew and Zionists from Europe funded growth of other neighborhoods, Jerusalem expanded beyond the Old City. However, a Jewish population remained there until 1948, when, in Israel’s War of Independence all of the Jews were evicted by the Jordanians and their allies, the local Arab forces (nee, Palestinians). In that war, Jordan, with its British trained forces, conquered east Jerusalem as well as the area west of the Jordan River which they promptly renamed “West Bank.”

When signing a cease fire agreement with Israel, the Jordanians refused to consider the cease fire lines as borders. Indeed, those borders have never been drawn and in a complex dance, when peace was signed with Jordan, the question of the “West Bank” was still incomplete because in 1988 the Jordanians renounced all rights to the territory. When people demand that Israel go back to 1967 lines, what they mean is that Israel should return to 1949 armistice lines. The problem with those lines, however, is that the Old City, with its Jewish Quarter and the Temple Mount and its Western Wall are on the non-Israel side because they fell into Jordanian hands.

(…)

Rebuilding the Hurva Synagogue is a symbol of return for the Jewish people to Jerusalem.

Now, this is the same logic that the supporters of the Jewish settlements in Sheikh Jerrah and Silwan follow: that this land belonged to Jews before 1948, and that by building there unilaterally and ignoring all Palestinian claims, Jews are not colonizing the land, but rather returning to it.

But this is actually the worst arguments Israelis can raise! If it’s in someone’s interest to recognize ownership of land according to the situation prior to 1948, it’s obviously the Palestinians. Palestinians have legitimate claims to houses and land inside Israel, most of them well documented by the British and the Ottomanians. Some families even hold the keys to the houses they abandoned (and in many cases, expelled from) in 1948. And If Israel was to return to the 1947 partition lines rather than the armistice lines, it would actually lose much more land that it would gain.  This is the reason Israel’s first condition is to base all negotiations on the situation in 1949, not 1947.

In their typical rush to defend everything Israel is doing, the Jewish hipsters of Jewlicious are actually backing the most radical Palestinian claim – the one for a full right of return. Read the rest of this entry »