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Latest Israel News – 6th June

Seeking to boost ties, Netanyahu meets with African leaders

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Sunday with West African leaders in Liberia for discussions on boosting ties.

After being greeted by Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf upon arriving in the capital Monrovia, Netanyahu met with Marcel Alain de Souza, the president of the Economic Community of West African States, to speak about how to further the relationship between Israel and the bloc, the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.

Netanyahu then met with Gambian President Adama Barrow, with whom he discussed bilateral ties. He also offered to send Israeli assistance to the country to help with its development.

During his meetings, Netanyahu also stressed that the improving relations between those nations with Israel should be reflected into support for the Jewish state at international bodies such as the United Nations.

Prior to leaving for Liberia, Netanyahu said he would use his trip to the ECOWAS summit to try and garner support for Israel at the UN and other international forums.

“The purpose of this trip is to dissolve this majority, this giant bloc of 54 African countries that is the basis of the automatic majority against Israel in the UN and international bodies,” he told journalists Saturday evening ahead of the flight.

Netanyahu said he hoped to use his attendance at the annual conference of the ECOWAS to build off his July 2016 visit to the East African nations of Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia, which marked the first time in decades an Israeli premier had traveled to Africa.

“Israel is returning to Africa in a big way,” the prime minister said Saturday, reiterating a message he repeated throughout his previous trip to the continent.

Netanyahu noted that the trip marks the first time a non-African leader will speak at ECOWAS — an organization that includes 15 nations with a combined population of some 320 million — which he called a “badge of honor for the State of Israel.”

On Friday, however, Morocco’s foreign ministry said that Mohamed VI had scrapped his plans to attend the meeting in light of Netanyahu’s attendance, saying the king “wishes his first visit to a ECOWAS summit not take place in a context of tension and controversy.”

Last July, de Souza became the first leader of the organization to visit Israel. He met with Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin to discuss economic cooperation and regional security issues.

In December, Jerusalem hosted seven ministers and many other top officials from over a dozen Western African countries at an agricultural conference in Israel, which was co-sponsored by ECOWAS and Mashav, Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation.

Starting in early 2016, Netanyahu made strengthening ties with Africa one of his main foreign policy goals. Besides seeking new markets for Israeli agriculture, high-tech and security know-how, the prime minister was also keen to improve African nations’ voting record on Israel-related matters in international forums such as the United Nations Security Council or UNESCO.

“In seizing the future, Israel is coming back to Africa in more than a verbal way,” he said in February.

Netanyahu is also scheduled to attend an Africa-Israel summit in Togo in October, where the prime minister is expected to meet with the leaders of 25 African countries to discuss cooperation in high-tech, security and development. (the Times of Israel)

Israel and Senegal mend fences after UN resolution spat

Israel and Senegal on Sunday announced the resumption of full diplomatic relations, which had been frozen after the West African nation cosponsored a UN Security Council against Israeli settlements.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Senegal’s President Macky Sall at the ECOWAS summit of West African leaders in Liberia, after which the two leaders announced the resumption of full ties. Israel will return its ambassador to Senegal, and Senegal will back Israel’s candidacy for observer status at the African Union, the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.

The leaders also agreed to advance cooperation in defense and agriculture, according to the PMO.

In the wake of the passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 in December, Israel recalled its ambassador to Dakar, Paul Hirschson, and canceled its foreign aid programs in Senegal as part of a rash of retaliatory steps against countries that sponsored the measure.

In February, Netanyahu decided not to return Israel’s ambassador to Senegal, extending the downgrading of the Jewish state’s diplomatic ties with the West African country.

The UN resolution, which passed with 14 yes votes and an American abstention, condemned Israeli settlements as having “no legal validity” and “a flagrant violation under international law.” Israel reacted furiously to the resolution, denouncing it as “shameful.”

Also on Sunday, Netanyahu met with President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita of Mali on the sidelines of the ECOWAS summit. Mali, a Muslim-majority country, does not have formal diplomatic relations with Israel. According to the PMO, Netanyahu and Keita agreed to “warm” relations between the two countries.

Taking a dig at the notion that Israel is isolated internationally because of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Netanyahu tweeted a photo of his itinerary of meetings with African leaders scheduled for Sunday, writing sarcastically, “‘Diplomatic isolation,’ Africa edition, 2017.”

Earlier on Sunday, Netanyahu was put in an awkward situation when his scheduled meeting with Togo’s President Faure Gnassingbé was postponed after Israeli security personnel refused to allow the Togolese security detail to enter.

Israeli diplomatic reporters said that a physical altercation between Netanyahu’s bodyguards and those of Gnassingbé led to the cancellation of the meeting between the two leaders at the ECOWAS summit in Monrovia, Liberia.

The PMO later said that the meeting had been rescheduled and was set to take place later in the day.

Prior to leaving for Liberia, Netanyahu said he would use his trip to the ECOWAS summit to try and garner support for Israel at the UN and other international forums.

“The purpose of this trip is to dissolve this majority, this giant bloc of 54 African countries that is the basis of the automatic majority against Israel in the UN and international bodies,” he told journalists Saturday evening ahead of the flight.

Netanyahu said he hoped to use his attendance at the annual conference of the ECOWAS to build off his July 2016 visit to the East African nations of Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia, which marked the first time in decades an Israeli premier had traveled to Africa.

“Israel is returning to Africa in a big way,” the prime minister said Saturday, reiterating a message he repeated throughout his previous trip to the continent.

Netanyahu noted that the trip would mark the first time a non-African leader would speak at ECOWAS — an organization that includes 15 nations with a combined population of some 320 million — which he called a “badge of honor for the State of Israel.”  (the Times of Israel)

Israel expects change in UN voting patterns, Netanyahu says after Africa trip

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returned Monday morning from less than 12 hours in Liberia, stating that his appearance at the 15 member ECOWAS summit opened numerous doors for Israel in Africa.

Netanyahu met with 10 African leaders one after the next until his plane left Liberia at 8 p.m. Sunday, meeting each for about 30 minutes.

Netanyahu told reporters on the plane on the way back to Israel that in each of the meetings he told the African leaders that Israel expected a change in their voting patterns in international forums.

PM Netanyahu arrives in Liberia (credit: GPO)

He said this would take some time but the trend was “in the right direction.”

The prime minister said it was significant that the doors were opening to Israel in countries in Sub-Saharan West Africa, in countries with majority or large Muslim populations.

“The most interesting thing about this,” he said “was that it was all done in public.”

Netanyahu was the first non-African leader to be invited to be a  keynote speaker at an ECOWAS summit.  (Jerusalem Post)

Danny Danon Exposes UNRWA’s Lies

Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon slammed UNRWA for its use of a Syrian girl’s picture in order to fundraise for Gaza, which “has long suffered a siege.”

In a Facebook post, Danon wrote, “UNRWA does not let facts confuse them. In 2015, the little girl in the picture was Syrian, and lived in the outskirts of Damascus.”

“But in 2017, she became a girl from Gaza, which is under Israeli siege.”

Danon’s post was “shared” thousands of times on the social media platform.

Last week, Danon was elected as deputy president of the UN General Assembly. He will begin his new job when the General Assembly convenes in September.

Danon’s role will include chairing the meetings of the General Assembly as well as taking an active role in establishing the schedule of the discussions in the General Assembly.

“I am proud to represent Israel in this important role,” said Danon. “We have proven once again that Israel can become involved in every role in the UN and the obsessive attempts to prevent Israel from maintaining its proper place in the UN will not succeed.”  (Arutz Sheva)

Shin Bet arrests terrorists suspected of planning attack at Temple Mount

Activists of the al-Shabab al-Aqsa organization, who were involved in an attempted terrorist attack against security forces and visitors of Temple Mount, were arrested over the previous month by the Shin Bet and Jerusalem Police. Five people were indicted in accordance to the Anti-Terrorism Law.

One the organization’s activists killed policeman Yosef Karmia and former Knesset employer Levana Malihi in Jerusalem during last October.

Israel considers al-Shabab al-Aqsa as a terrorism organization. Its activists identify with Hamas and act to discourage visitors to Temple Mount, in addition to orchestrating violent brawls that have resulted in injured security officers.

As part of the Shin Bet’s investigation, Mahmoud Abed al-Wahab and Said Abed al-Latif—a top official at al-Shabab al-Aqsa—was arrested on suspicion of recruiting new members to the organization. Israeli security officials are seeking to keep the suspects under arrest until the end of all legal proceedings.  (Ynet News)


PA official: Western Wall belongs to Israel, Temple Mount to Palestinians


A top Palestinian Authority official said that the Western Wall should remain under Israeli sovereignty but that the Temple Mount belongs to the Palestinians.

“We understand that the wall (U.S. President Donald Trump) visited is sacred to the Jews and ultimately it has to remain under Jewish sovereignty. There is no argument over this. Obviously, it’s a holy place for Jews,” Jibril Rajoub said Saturday evening on the Israeli news magazine Channel 2’s “Meet the Press.”

He added, however: “The Temple Mount is ours, not yours, and I think you should stop talking as if it’s yours. That’s the status quo since 1967, as established by Moshe Dayan, and we both have to strive for that. If you want to create an explosion just keep saying ‘it’s ours, it’s ours.’”

Rajoub, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, is also head of the Palestinian Football Association. Fatah is the political party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Hamas slammed Rajoub for his comments, saying in a statement that he  sent “a clear message to the occupation, officially ceding a holy, national, and historic place,” the Palestinian Maan news agency reported

During the interview, Rajoub also said that Trump, presents “an opportunity” for both for the Palestinians and the Israelis.

“He comes with clear intentions for an ultimate deal to end the suffering of both peoples. I think this is an unprecedented initative,” he said.

He asserted that Israel has a “partner for peace on the Palestinian side” and that “we need to do it today and not tomorrow.”  (JTA)

Liberman hails Qatar schism as opportunity for Israel

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Monday said the diplomatic fallout between several Arab states and Qatar had created opportunities for Israel to collaborate with others in the region to combat terrorism.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE, Egypt, Yemen and the Maldives all announced they were cutting ties to Qatar and booting the country from an Arab coalition fighting in Yemen early Monday on allegations of supporting terrorism and destabilizing the region, amid a deepening fissure.

The crisis is “not because of Israel, not because of Jews, not because of Zionism,” but “rather from fears of terrorism,” Liberman told the Knesset plenum during an hour-long Question Time session.

“There is no doubt this opens many possibilities for collaboration in the fight against terror,” the defense minister added, in the first official Israeli government response to the regional shake-up.

Israel reportedly maintains quiet security cooperation with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, with their shared distrust of Iran trumping a lack of formalized ties.

Qatar has in the past expressed openness to maintaining trade relations with Israel and has hosted Israeli officials. However, the country also hosts top officials of the Hamas terror group. On Sunday, a report indicated Doha would demand some Hamas leaders leave, citing “external pressure.”

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog also addressed the Qatar rift on Monday, urging Israel to push for a regional peace process now that the moderate states have “cut ties from a country that funds terrorism against the Western world and Israel in particular.”

“Now is the time to show leadership and head toward a brave regional effort,” said Herzog.

During the Knesset session, Liberman maintained that Israel’s rapprochement with these countries must not be contingent on resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

He also toned down his concerns over the massive arms deal between the United States and Saudi Arabia, expressing confidence the Jewish state would continue to uphold its qualitative military edge in the region.

Attempts to condition ties between Israel and Arab states on Palestinian statehood are “a mistake,” said Liberman, pointing to Israel’s successful treaties with Egypt and Jordan, which were independent of the conflict.

“You must not condition the ties between Israel and the moderate states on the Palestinian issue,” he said.

Trump has signaled his interest in restarting Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, while touting a “rare opportunity” for Israel to build ties with Arab countries. However, while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has argued that peace with Arab countries and shared concerns over Iran could preempt a resolution with the Palestinians, the US president has stressed that Arab countries were eager for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal to lay the groundwork.

The defense minister also appeared somewhat resigned to the $110 billion arms deal between the US and Saudi Arabia. Liberman last month had said the deal, inked by US President Donald Trump during his trip to Riyadh last month, left him uneasy, as it could prompt a “crazy” arms race in the region.

Downplaying concerns, Liberman on Monday said he believes Israel will preserve its military edge.

“Our job is not to prevent deals between the US and moderate states,” Liberman said. “Our job is to preserve our qualitative edge.”

“I am certain, despite the incredible scope of the deal, we will be able uphold the qualitative edge,” he opined, adding that the Americans have been responsive to Israel.

He also denied that Israel was caught off-guard by the deal and found out about it from media reports. “We dealt with the deal before it became known to the public, during [the announcement], and we are dealing with it now,” he said.

Liberman was asked by several lawmakers about Israel’s efforts to rescue the two Israelis being held in the Gaza Strip by Hamas — Avraham Abera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, both of whom entered the enclave several years ago and are believed to suffer from mental illness — as well as the bodies of two IDF soldiers — Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin — being held by the terror group.

In response, Liberman slammed international human rights groups, saying they have not even attempted to contact the Hamas-held captives.

He said there would be no humanitarian improvements for Gaza until “the Red Cross at least visits them,” referring to both the living Israelis and the remains of the soldiers.

“There is no attempt we haven’t tried [to bring them back], no idea we haven’t raised,” Liberman told lawmakers.

The defense minister also criticized international groups over the execution of three Gazans accused of collaborating with Israel to assassinate Gaza terror chief Mazen Faqha, saying “I didn’t hear a single condemnation.”

The terror group were as successful in proving the connection between the three to the killing of Faqha as much as they could to the 1914 assassination of Austrian archduke Franz Ferdinand, he said wryly.

The wide-ranging session also saw the defense minister fielding questions on defense exports, prompted by Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg.

Asked about sales to Burma, the defense minister said “on the matter of defense exports, we subject ourselves to the norms of the enlightened world.” He said arms sales require the approval of the foreign minister, defense minister, and prime minister, and restrictions are tight. However, he added that not all military equipment — listing riot dispersal methods as an example — were beyond the pale for sales to various countries, without elaborating.

Liberman also dismissed a UN report that linked Israeli spy tech to South Sudan, saying the information is “simply not correct,” while cautioning Knesset members not to speak about the issue publicly.

In his remarks, Liberman further said the Defense Ministry was seeking to improve conditions at West Bank checkpoints, noting that “I acknowledge and agree that the situation is not okay.” (The Times of Israel)

Israel poised to approve construction of 2,000 homes in Judea and Samaria

The Civil Administration’s Planning Committee is expected to finalize approval for the construction of some 2,000 homes across Judea and Samaria this week, after the political echelon already approved the plans.

This will be the first time the committee approves settlement construction since U.S. President Donald Trump took office in January.

The committee, scheduled to convene on Tuesday or Wednesday, is set to greenlight various construction projects, including 102 homes earmarked for residents evicted from the Amona outpost in February on order of the High Court of Justice.

Several construction projects are already underway, and the committee is expected to issue some permits retroactively.

Still, some on the Right were critical of the move, especially over the fact that fewer than 1,500 of the housing units slated for approval constitute new construction.

A statement by the Yesha Council, the umbrella organization of municipal councils of Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria, said that “the heads of the communities were excluded from the discussion and this [construction plan] falls short of meeting the settlement enterprise’s needs.”

Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan criticized the plan, saying, “1,300 housing units for half a million residents after eight years of the Obama administration is, for all intents and purposes, a [construction] freeze. If this decision is not changed, the Likud will have to find another leader.”

The Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement saying, “There is no construction freeze. Thousands of housing units have been approved over the past few months, and for the first time in decades, the construction of a new community has been approved as well. Repeating a lie does not make it true. No one cares about the settlement enterprise more than Netanyahu.” (Israel Hayom)

Israel and New Zealand likely to renew ties

Israel and New Zealand are expected to announce a full restoration of ties in the near future, following Sunday’s announcement that Israel and Senegal have mended relations, a senior diplomatic official said.

Israel recalled its ambassadors from both countries in December, after Senegal and New Zealand – along with Venezuela and Malaysia – sponsored anti-settlement UN Security Council resolution 2334. Israel has no diplomatic ties with Venezuela or Malaysia.

One of the conditions of Israel and Senegal declaring an end to their diplomatic crisis, and of Israel sending its ambassador back to Dakar, was Senegal’s commitment to support Israel’s efforts to gain observer status in the African Union.

Regarding New Zealand, new Foreign Affairs Minister Gerry Brownlee wrote a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last month on the occasion of Independence Day, trying to smooth over the difficulties.

“Our goal is to get the relationship between New Zealand and Israel back on track,” he said in a statement. “I’m hopeful this will provide a positive platform to re-establish communication between officials from our respective foreign affairs ministries.”

Brownlee, who said that restoring relations with Israel was one of his immediate priorities, then said in a later interview that the UN resolution was “just premature.”

This caused some ire in the New Zealand government, and Prime Minister Bill English stepped that comment back.

One cabinet minister told the country’s parliament that Brownlee simply meant that New Zealand did not give Israel enough notice before sponsoring the resolution.

That, indeed, was one of the reasons Israel was so furious at New Zealand. A senior diplomat told The Jerusalem Post earlier this year that Jerusalem was stunned by New Zealand’s sponsorship of the resolution because the country’s foreign minister at the time, Murray McCully, was in Israel just weeks before the vote, met with Netanyahu for 90 minutes, and did not mention the likelihood of such an initiative.

Since Jerusalem believes McCully was the driving force behind the move, it was widely expected that relations with Wellington would improve when he left office. Brownlee took over for him on May 2. (Jerusalem Post)

Six Days and 50 Years of War

by Bret Stephens                  The New York Times

In June 1967 Arab leaders declared their intention to annihilate the Jewish state, and the Jews decided they wouldn’t sit still for it. For the crime of self-preservation, Israel remains a nation unforgiven.

Unforgiven, Israel’s milder critics say, because the Six-Day War, even if justified at the time, does not justify 50 years of occupation. They argue, also, that Israel can rely on its own strength as well as international guarantees to take risks for peace.

This is a historic nonsense.


On June 4, 1967, the day before the war, Israel faced the fact that United Nations peacekeepers in Sinai, intended as a buffer with Egypt, had been withdrawn at Cairo’s insistence; that France, hitherto Israel’s ally, had imposed an arms embargo on it; and that Lyndon Johnson had failed to deliver on previous American assurances to break any Egyptian blockade of the Israeli port of Eilat.

On June 5, the first day of the war, the Israeli government used three separate diplomatic channels to warn Jordan — then occupying the West Bank — not to initiate hostilities. The Jordanians ignored the warning and opened fire with planes and artillery. Some 6,000 shells landed on the western side of Jerusalem alone.

If Israel would honor Palestinians’ right of return, Palestinians might well be able to manage without finding their own Sadat.

On June 19, 1967 — nine days after the end of the war — the Israeli cabinet decided it would offer the return of territories conquered from Egypt and Syria in exchange for peace, security and recognition. The Arab League categorically rejected peace with Israel at its summit in Khartoum later that year.

In 1973 Egypt and Syria unleashed a devastating surprise attack on Israel, puncturing the myth of Israeli invulnerability.

It took a decade after 1967 for the Egyptian government of Anwar Sadat finally to accept Israel’s legitimacy. When he did he recovered every inch of Sinai — from Menachem Begin, Israel’s right-wing prime minister. Syria remains unreconciled.

It took another decade for Yasir Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organization to recognize Israel and formally forswear terrorism. But its pledges were insincere. Only after the Soviet Union’s collapse and Arafat’s disastrous support for Saddam Hussein in the gulf war did the P.L.O. finally seem to get serious. It led to the Oslo Accords of 1993 and further Israeli withdrawals.


Israeli paratroopers standing next to the Western Wall after it was captured in the Six-Day War. Credit David Rubinger/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

In 2000, at Camp David, Israel offered Arafat a state. He rejected it. “I regret that in 2000 he missed the opportunity to bring that nation” — Palestine — “into being,” was Bill Clinton’s bitter verdict on the summit’s outcome. Within two years Arafat was calling on a million “martyrs” to march on Jerusalem.

In 2005, another right-wing Israeli government removed its soldiers, settlers and settlements from the Gaza Strip. Two years later Hamas seized control of the territory and used it to start three wars in seven years.

In 2008, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered a Palestinian state in Gaza and 93 percent of the West Bank. The Palestinians rejected the proposal out of hand.

This is a truncated history. Israel is not a nation of saints and has made its mistakes. The most serious of those is proliferation of West Bank settlements beyond those in historically recognized blocs.

But before we fall prey to the lazy trope of “50 years of occupation,” inevitably used to indict Israel, let’s note the following:

There would have been no occupation, and no settlements, if Egypt and its allies hadn’t recklessly provoked a war. Or if the “international community” hadn’t fecklessly abandoned Israel in its desperate hours. Or if Jordan hadn’t foolishly ignored Israel’s warnings to stay out of it. Or if the Arab League hadn’t arrogantly rejected the possibility of peace.

A Palestinian state would most likely exist if Arafat hadn’t adopted terrorism as the calling card of Palestinian aspirations. Or if he hadn’t rejected the offer of a state 17 years ago. Or if he hadn’t renounced his renunciation of terror.

A Palestinian state would also most likely exist if Arafat’s successor, Mahmoud Abbas — now in the 13th year of his elected four-year term — hadn’t rejected it again nine years ago, and if Gazans hadn’t turned their territory into a terrifying model of Palestinian statehood, and if the United Nations didn’t treat Hamas’s attacks on Israel as a nuisance but Israel’s self-defense as a crime against humanity.

The cover of a recent issue of The Economist purports to answer the question “Why Israel Needs a Palestinian State.” The argument isn’t wrong. It just isn’t wise.

Israel needs a Palestinian state to safeguard its democratic future — in the long term. But the character of such a state matters at least as much as its mere existence. The Middle East doesn’t need another failed state in its midst. Israel doesn’t need another Hamastan on its border. Palestinians in the West Bank don’t need it over their heads.

In 1967 Israel was forced into a war against enemies who then begrudged it the peace. Egypt, at least, found its Sadat. The drama of the Six-Day War will close when Palestinians find theirs.

Fifty years after the Six-Day War

Israel now, as much as ever, must convince Palestinians that it is a permanent state

By Daniel Pipes   The Washington Times


Israel’s military triumph over three enemy states in June 1967 is the most outstandingly successful war of all recorded history. The Six-Day War was also deeply consequential for the Middle East, establishing the permanence of the Jewish state, dealing a deathblow to Pan-Arab nationalism, and (ironically) worsening Israel’s place in the world because of its occupation of the West Bank and Jerusalem.

Focusing on this last point: how did a spectacular battlefield victory translate into problems that still torment Israel today? Because it stuck Israelis in an unwanted role they cannot escape.

First, Israeli leftists and foreign do-gooders wrongly blame Israel’s government for not making sufficient efforts to leave the West Bank, as though greater efforts could have found a true peace partner. In this, critics ignore rejectionism, the attitude of refusing to accept anything Zionist that has dominated Palestinian politics for the past century. Its founding figure, Amin al-Husseini, collaborated with Hitler and even had a key role in formulating the Final Solution; recent manifestations include the “anti-normalization” and the boycott, divestment, and sanction (BDS) movements. Rejectionism renders Israeli concessions useless, even counterproductive, because Palestinians respond to them with more hostility and violence.

Second, Israel faces a conundrum of geography and demography in the West Bank. While its strategists want to control the highlands, its nationalists want to build towns, and its religious want to possess Jewish holy sites, Israel’s continued ultimate rule over a West Bank population of 1.7 million mostly hostile Arabic-speaking, Muslim Palestinians takes an immense toll both domestically and internationally. Various schemes to keep the land and defang an enemy people — by integrating them, buying them off, dividing them, pushing them out, or finding another ruler for them — have all come to naught.

Third, the Israelis in 1967 took three unilateral steps in Jerusalem that created future time bombs: vastly expanding the city’s borders, annexing it, and offering Israeli citizenship to the city’s new Arab residents. In combination, these led to a long-term demographic and housing competition that Palestinians are winning, jeopardizing the Jewish nature of the Jews’ historic capital. Worse, 300,000 Arabs could at any time choose to take Israeli citizenship.

These problems raise the question: Had Israeli leaders in 1967 foreseen the current problems, what might they have done differently in the West Bank and Jerusalem? They could have:

  • Made the battle against rejectionism their highest priority through unremitting censorship of every aspect of life in the West Bank and Jerusalem, severe punishments for incitement, and an intense effort to imbue a more positive attitude toward Israel.
  • Invited back in the Jordanian authorities, rulers of the West Bank since 1949, to run that area’s (but not Jerusalem‘s) internal affairs, leaving the Israel Defense Forces with only the burden to protect borders and Jewish populations.
  • Extended the borders of Jerusalem only to the Old City and to uninhabited areas.
  • Thought through the full ramifications of building Jewish towns on the West Bank.

And today, what can Israelis do? The Jerusalem issue is relatively easy, as most Arab residents have not yet taken out Israeli citizenship, so Israel’s government can still stop this process by reducing the size of Jerusalem’s 1967 borders and terminating the offer of Israeli citizenship to all the city residents. Though it may lead to unrest, cracking down on illegal housing sites is imperative.

The West Bank is tougher. So long as Palestinian rejectionism prevails, Israel is stuck with overseeing an intensely hostile population that it dare not release ultimate control of. This situation generates a vicious, impassioned debate among Israelis (recall the Rabin assassination) and harms the country’s international standing (think of U.N. Security Council Resolution 2334). But returning to 1949’s “Auschwitz lines” and abandoning 400,000 Israeli residents of the West Bank to the Palestinians’ tender mercies is obviously not a solution.

Instead, Israel needs to confront and undermine Palestinian rejectionism, which means convincing Palestinians that Israel is a permanent state, that the dream to eliminate it is futile, and that they are sacrificing for naught. Israel can achieve these goals by making victory its goal, by showing Palestinians that continued rejectionism brings them only repression and failure. The U.S. government can help by green lighting the path to an Israel victory.

Only through victory can the astonishing triumph of those six days in 1967 be translated into the lasting solution of Palestinians accepting the permanence of the Jewish state.

Palestinians: Israel’s Goodwill Gestures Send Wrong Messages

by Bassam Tawil            The Gatestone Institute


Here is what is being said on the Palestinian street: Today Israel runs away from the West Bank or the Gaza Strip; tomorrow Israel will run away from Ashkelon, then from Tel Aviv and from there to the sea, and we have achieved our goal of destroying Israel. Therefore, we need to continue attacking Israel.

As with the Gaza Strip, the withdrawal from Lebanon taught the Palestinians that terrorism could drive Israelis out of their country.

Never have the Palestinians given Israel credit for its goodwill steps. On the contrary, they scoff at these moves and describe them as “cosmetic changes”. The Palestinian line is that Israel’s steps are “insufficient” and “unhelpful.” Its concessions are regarded as gestures of a terrified people and as the rightful reward for terrorism. Far from satiating the appetite of the terrorists, such steps prompt them to step up their attacks against Israelis.

The West suffers under a major misconception concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: that “goodwill gestures” and territorial concessions on the part of Israel boost the prospects of peace in the Middle East. The facts, however, suggest that precisely the opposite is true.

Last week, Israel’s Channel 10 television station reported that the U.S. administration was pushing Israel to transfer parts of Area C — areas under full Israeli security and civilian control in the West Bank — to the control of Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority (PA). According to the report, the U.S. believes that the transfer of the territory to the PA would be a “goodwill step” towards the Palestinians, paving the way for the revival of the stalled peace process with Israel.

This assumption, of course, has already proven wrong. The experiences of the past few decades have shown clearly that Israeli concessions have always sent the wrong message to the Palestinians.

In fact, Palestinians read Israeli goodwill steps as signs of weakness and retreat. This misinterpretation on the part of the Palestinians then leads to more violence against Israel. It would be hard for anyone not to conclude that if pressure works, keep on pressuring.

The past 24 years are littered with examples of how the Palestinians react to Israeli concessions.

The Oslo Accords that were signed between Israel and the PLO in 1993 were seen by Palestinians as a first step by Israel towards total capitulation.

The accords, which brought the PLO from several Arab countries to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, came after five years of the first Palestinian Intifada. By allowing the PLO to assume control over large parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Israel sent a message that it was caving in to the violence and terrorism of the First Intifada.

Barely a breath after Oslo, Israel was again asked to conciliate the Palestinians: this time, hundreds of prisoners, many with Jewish (and Arab) blood on their hands, were released from Israeli prison in order to create an atmosphere “conducive” to the peace process.

Instead of viewing the prisoner release for what it was, namely a generous gesture, many Palestinians considered it a “victory” for terrorism and violence. Worse, it was not long before many of the released prisoners were rearrested for their role in further terrorism against Israel. The release of prisoners also sent a message of recidivism to Palestinians: terror does indeed pay! A short stint in an Israeli prison is sure to lead to release in some Israeli “confidence-building measure” or other.

According to statistics, at least half of released Palestinian prisoners have returned to terrorism.

Despite the grim statistics, the international community regularly demands that Israel release more convicted terrorists as a “gesture” towards Mahmoud Abbas and other Palestinians.

Palestinian terrorists who were released from prison by Israel as a “goodwill gesture” are honored at Mahmoud Abbas’ presidential compound in Ramallah, on October 30, 2013. According to statistics, at least half of released Palestinian prisoners have returned to terrorism. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Getty Images)

Since 1993, Israel has complied again and again with such international pressure, only to reinforce the message to Palestinians: terrorism is indeed worth the trouble.

Let us consider, for a moment, Gaza. In 2005, Israel unilaterally withdrew from the Gaza Strip, after destroying 21 Jewish settlements and expelling more than 8,000 Jews from their homes there.

In Palestinian eyes, however, the Israeli “disengagement” from the Gaza Strip was anything but an olive branch of peace. The withdrawal came after five years of the bloody Second Intifada, when Palestinians waged a massive campaign of suicide bombings and rocket attacks against Israelis.

Thus, for Palestinians, Israel was once again retreating in the face of unremitting bloodshed.

Here is what is being said on the Palestinian street: Today Israel runs away from the West Bank or the Gaza Strip, tomorrow Israel will run away from Ashkelon, then from Ashdod and Tel Aviv and from there to the sea, and we have achieved our goal of destroying Israel. Therefore, we need to continue attacking Israel.

Moreover, it was also precisely the Israeli pullout from Gaza that launched Hamas to its current pinnacle of popularity among Palestinians. Hamas took credit for expelling the Jews from the Gaza Strip through terrorism. A few months later, Hamas even won the Palestinian parliamentary election because Palestinians gave Hamas total credit for driving Israel out of the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli pullout told Palestinians in no uncertain terms: Why bother negotiating when terror will do the trick?

Five years earlier, the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon also had the same effect: it emboldened the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terror group. As with the Gaza Strip, the withdrawal from Lebanon taught the Palestinians that terrorism could drive Israelis out of their country.

In the past few years, additional Israeli goodwill gestures, such as removing security checkpoints and the easing travel restrictions in the West Bank, led to yet more violence, claiming the lives of yet more Israelis.

Abbas and his top officials have always responded to Israeli gestures with cynicism. Never have they given Israel credit for its goodwill steps. On the contrary, they scoff at these moves, and describe them as “cosmetic changes aimed at beautifying Israel’s ugly face” or as public-relations stunts.

For the sake of clarity, let us say it clearly: handing over areas in the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority, and the release of convicted murderers, does not contribute to any sort of “peace process;” it only contributes to the death of more Israelis.

The Palestinian line is that Israel’s steps are “insufficient” and “unhelpful.” Its concessions are regarded as gestures of a terrified people and as the rightful reward for terrorism. Far from satiating the appetite of the terrorists, such steps prompt them to step up their attacks against Israelis. The next time Americans and Europeans think of asking Israel to cede yet more to the Palestinians, let them consider what Israel might be receiving in return, other than the spilling of more Jewish blood.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley blasts the UN’s Human Rights Council for its “painful” bullying and abuse of the Jewish state.