+61 3 9272 5644

Latest News in Israel – 2nd March

Netanyahu: Palestinian terrorism not motivated by despair

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday said attempts to explain Palestinian terrorism as motivated by despair were “incorrect.” Terror attacks, he said, “don’t come because of their despair and the frustration over the inability to build. They come because of their despair and the frustration over inability to destroy.”

He took issue with the desperation claim, saying it “exonerates the Palestinians from being responsible for their actions.” He noted that Arabs had attacked Jews in Israel “before the state was founded and afterwards, before there were territories and settlements and afterwards, when there was a peace process and when there wasn’t one.”

The prime minister was speaking at an event in honor of the late prime minister Yitzhak Shamir at Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem.

The premier added that much of the Palestinian violence against Israelis was a result of incitement. He noted that Arab attacks on Jews in Israel in the 1920s “started because of the claims of (Jerusalem’s grand mufti) Haj Amin al-Husseini, that the Jews were about to destroy the al-Aqsa Mosque and build the Third Temple in its stead. Sounds familiar? The incitement continues, and the waves of terror continue.”

Twenty-eight Israelis and three foreign nationals have been killed in a wave of Palestinian terrorism and violence since October. Nearly 170 Palestinians have also been killed, some two-thirds of them while attacking Israelis, and the rest during clashes with troops, according to the Israeli army.

Iran announced last week that it would offer assistance to families of those killed in the wave of Palestinian attacks. The Palestinian Authority has said direct financial assistance would be unacceptable, and called for such funding to be directed through the PA .

The day after Iran’s announcement, Israel denounced the decision, with Netanyahu saying it showed Tehran was “continuing to aid terrorism.” Netanyahu has also repeatedly accused the PA of helping to incite the current round of Palestinian terrorism.                   (The Times of Israel)

Former Military Intelligence officer: Palestinian leaders not paying price for promoting terror

Israel has been too soft on Fatah and Palestinian Authority leaders who promote incitement to terrorism, a former Military Intelligence senior officer said on Monday.

Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, former head of the Research Division at Military Intelligence, said that a decision by PA President Mahmoud Abbas last year to talk about “dangers” to the Al-Aksa Mosque in Jerusalem in speeches was a way to signal to Palestinians that he wanted “popular resistance,” which then turned into a five-month-long wave of knife, gun, and car ramming attacks against Israelis.

He was asked to comment on current military intelligence assessments that attribute the violence primarily to social media incitement, and call for greater economic opportunities and the introduction of a diplomatic horizon as steps to calm the area.

“These have a role. But first and foremost, it was the decision by Palestinian leaders in October, according to which, they needed something more significant to bring world attention to the Palestinian issue. The leadership saw that the world was tired of the Palestinian issue, and wasn’t dealing with it. Abbas gave two speeches, one of which was about the need to ‘do something’ regarding al-Aksa.”

There was no explicit order to commit acts of terrorism, Kuperwasser said, but Abbas did “act in a way that allowed everyone to understand what he wanted. He talked about the need to prevent infiltration of settlers to al-Aksa.

He has not stopped talking about the importance of ‘popular resistance.’” Kuperwasser outlined his views in his paper, entitled The Palestinian Knife Campaign: A Policy of Limited Liability.

“It is not surprising, then, that up to this point the Palestinians are quite satisfied with the results of the campaign, and in discussions held by the Fatah Central Committee and other leaderships forums, the decision was made to continue supporting and encouraging this effort unabatedly. The assumption of the leadership is that the terrorism campaign would continue as long as there is no decision to stop it. This is based on the assessment that the psychological inculcation of the Palestinian youth will guarantee that at any given time, there will still be young Palestinians who will decide to go out and stab a Jew.

Just like popcorn kernels explode in the microwave at random with no indication when the first will explode and which will not, so are the Palestinian youngsters randomly ready to explode when the indirect message comes from their leadership.”

Abbas is fearful of Hamas, and does not want it to do “worse things,” Kuperwasser said. “He tries to control the level [of violence], and is frightened of losing control,” he added. “It is a complex situation.”

Israel, for its part, should “increase the pressure on the Palestinian leadership,” and not make due with only responding directly to the terrorists, Kuperwasser added.

“There is no price for encouraging the Palestinian public to continue carrying out attacks. I think this is too soft. I do not see any effort to change their [the Palestinian leadership’s] policy. They can continue to support terrorism, refrain from condemning it, and there is no price for that.”

Kuperwasser, formerly director general of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, added in his paper that “the availability of the stealth terrorism tool” is a “result of the long-standing and ongoing incitement and the inculcation of the people in the pillars of Palestinian national identity, with particular impact on children’s psychological make-up.”

Introducing religiously sensitive issues easily turns this option into action, “almost instantly,” he added.

He cited “the existence of a comprehensive Palestinian strategy adopted in the sixth Fatah conference in 2009, which is based on a combination of unilateral diplomatic effort in the international arena and ‘popular resistance,’ of which the current terrorism campaign is an example.”                        (Jerusalem Post)

Netanyahu: Many countries growing closer to Israel

In speech at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says countries around the world are attracted to Israel’s expertise in anti-terrorism, technology and agriculture.

“Basic hostility toward Israel exists and it is embedded in various international organizations, but there is a huge shift taking place right now which did not occur in the past, in which many countries are growing closer to Israel,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday, speaking at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem at an event marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir.

Netanyahu said countries around the world were attracted to Israel’s expertise in anti-terrorism, technology and agriculture.

Referring to the ongoing wave of Palestinian terrorism, Netanyahu vowed that the terrorists “would not achieve their goal.”

President Reuven Rivlin also attended Sunday’s event.

“Shamir was faithful to his principles, but he also knew how to walk between the raindrops,” Rivlin said. “He was willing to make political compromises necessary for achieving his primary goal: ensuring the security and wellbeing of the State of Israel.”

Shamir’s son, Yair, praised his father’s ability to “turn policy into reality and lead a determined struggle for what at first seemed impossible.”                       (Israel Hayom)

IDF rescues 2 soldiers from massive Kalandia riot

The IDF launched a dramatic rescue operation to extract two Oketz K-9 unit soldiers who accidentally strayed into the Palestinian Kalandia neighborhood north of Jerusalem on Monday night, and found themselves in the midst of a massive riot.

An army source said the incident began at around 10:50 PM, when the vehicle carrying both soldiers entered Kalandia.

“We don’t yet fully understand how it got there. The soldiers became surrounded in a very big riot, with many rocks thrown at their vehicle. They continued driving, and then Molotov cocktails were thrown at them, setting the vehicle on fire,” the source said.

At that stage, the soldiers escaped their vehicle and split up.

IDF Central Command dispatched large numbers of forces to Kalandia to rescue the soldiers. One maintained cell phone contact with the army throughout the incident, and was rescued within 30 minutes as he hid in a yard. The second soldier was rescued shortly before midnight.

Neither soldier was harmed in the incident.

A number of Palestinians were injured in clashes with the IDF.

“Our soldiers are in our hands. We are currently getting the vehicle out of the area,” the source said.

“There are a number of things we will have to check, including the circumstances of how the soldiers entered Kalandia,” he added.

There was no live fire directed at security forces, he said.                          (Jerusalem Post)

Palestinian FM to international community: Ban Israeli settlers from your countries

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad Malki on Tuesday called on the international community not to allow Israeli settlers to enter their countries and to boycott products from those West Bank communities.

“They must not deal directly or indirectly with the occupation system, in addition to not allowing the entry of illegal settlers into their country,” Malki said.

He spoke to the UNHRC during the opening of the high level segment of the 31st session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

It marks the first time that he or any high level Palestinian official has delivered a speech under the high level segment of the meeting.

The UN General Assembly in 2012 recognized Palestine as a non-member state and as such has granted its top officials the same speaking rights as member states.

Last year the UNHRC held a special session to allow PA President Mahmoud Abbas to address the UNHRC in Geneva.

On Wednesday, Malki urged the international community to help push Israel to withdraw to the pre-1967 lines and to end its military rule of the West Bank.

Israel’s continued settlement activity over the Green Line undermines international law and is a “crime of war,” Malki said.

“I call on all the countries to boycott settlements and to boycott the products of settlements and to warn of the possibility of imposing economic and commercial sanctions on the occupying power and that in accordance with the guidelines on businesses and human rights,” Malki said.

The UN Security Council in New York must pass a resolution against the settlements based on international consensus with regard to their “illegal nature,” Malki said.

“This will contribute to the success of the French efforts to hold a peace conference very soon,” Malki said.

The UNHRC’s role is more important than ever in a time when the voices of extremists and murders are louder than the voice of human rights, Malki said.

“When we can hear the sound of bullets and crimes perpetrated by ISIS and we can hear the sounds of bulldozers and the Israeli occupation while establishing illegal colonies and settlements and we can not hear the voices of those defending peace and human rights, then we must stop and ask: where is human rights going?,” Malki said.

Palestinians have abided by human rights conventions, but they continue to suffer at Israel’s hands, he said.

He urged UNHRC member states to support Agenda Item 7 which mandates that Israeli violations of human rights against the Palestinians be addressed three times a year at each UNHRC session.

Israel’s human rights violations are addressed under a separate agenda item. Human rights abuses by all other countries, including Iran and Syria, are addressed under Agenda Item 4.

To protest Agenda Item 7, western countries have begun addressing their concerns with regard to Israeli behavior in the West Bank and Gaza under Agenda Item 4.

“Until the end of occupation, I call on states to discuss the situation of human rights in Palestine under [Agenda Item 7] and not to allow attempts to undermine this item on the agenda,” Malki said.

“The people of Palestine face systematic terror by Israel, the occupying power and security forces that are exercising extrajudicial killings and field executions of unarmed Palestinian civilians,” Malki said.

During his 11 minute speech he didn’t reference the knife, shooting and vehicular attacks by Palestinians against Israelis, in which 33 people have been killed since mid-September.

At least 112 of those Palestinian assailants were killed by the IDF during the attacks.

When Malki described the “last popular wave” he said that over 180 Palestinians have died, 46% of them are children.”

Israel is demolishing Palestinian homes, has exiled and arbitrarily arrested others and has refused to “return the corpses of the martyrs,” Malki said.

It has acted aggressively in Hebron and east Jerusalem, particularly in and around the al-Aksa Mosque, Malki said.

“The Israeli forces and the extremist militias and settlers have started a wave of violence and hatred against the Palestinian people,” Malki said.

He charged that Israel had changed history and facts, plundered natural resources and promoted racism, segregation and discrimination.

The impunity with which Israel continues to violate Palestinian human rights undermines the credibility of the UN and the human rights system as a whole, Malki said.

The Palestinians, he added, were committed to a two-state resolution to the conflict, achieved through international efforts.

East Jerusalem would be their capital and there would be a just solution to the issue of Palestinian refugees in accordance with UN resolution 194, Malki said.

“The aspiration of our people is to live in freedom, peace and security away from occupation,” Malki said.             (Jerusalem Post)

PM Netanyahu welcomes new Egyptian ambassador

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday met the new Egyptian ambassador to Israel, Hazem Khairat, several days after he presented his credentials to President Reuven Rivlin.

“Welcome to Israel, Mr. Ambassador!” Netanyahu wrote on his Facebook page following the meeting.

Netanyahu’s office released a statement, saying the meeting dealt with relations between Israel and Egypt as well as the peace process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

The meeting was the first one between the prime minister and the ambassador since his appointment.

It comes amid tensions in Egypt over a meeting between parliamentarian Tawfik Okasha and Israel’s ambassador to Egypt, Haim Koren.

Okasha has been coming under fire from his fellow lawmakers after inviting Koren to dinner, where the two reportedly discussed issues pertaining to Israel and Egypt.

Several parliamentarians in Egypt demanded that Okasha be sanctioned over the meeting, which they claimed shows willingness for “normalization with Israeli officials”.

On Sunday, Okasha came under physical attack in parliament, as MP Kamal Ahmed furiously threw his shoe at his colleague in protest of his meeting with the Israeli envoy.

Ahmed was thrown out of the session by the parliament speaker, but so was Okasha according to the parliament website.

The incident reflects the fact that the Egypt-Israel peace treaty still comes under scrutiny in Egypt, more than 35 years after it was signed.

A recent poll found that Egyptians see Israel as the “most hostile” of their neighbors, despite the treaty.

In 2013, the movement that led the opposition to former Muslim Brotherhood president Mohammed Morsi said it would target the peace treaty with Israel, by collecting signatures to a petition calling for its cancellation.

On the other hand, under the rule of President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi relations between Cairo and Jerusalem have strengthened, both in the realm of security coordination and in the diplomatic arena, as can be seen with the appointment of Khairat, which marked a period of more than three years without an Egyptian envoy to Israel.   (Arutz Sheva)

Peres defies threats on South Africa visit

Shimon Peres, the country’s ninth president, doesn’t scare easily.

At 92, he has faced many threats and attempts on his life. Thus when the South African Muslim Lawyers Association filed for him to be arrested and prosecuted for war crimes if he proceeded with his plan to address the South African-Jewish community’s gala Salute to Israel Sunday night, he remained singularly unimpressed and unafraid.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry and Jewish leaders had pulled out all the stops to ensure that the MLA’s actions with regard to Peres would come to naught, and the people responsible for Peres’s safety in Johannesburg, put a heavy security cordon around his hotel and sealed off nearby streets.

Peres arrived in Johannesburg on Thursday night.

On Sunday evening, supporters of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, which is very active in South Africa, staged a protest demonstration outside the Intercontinental Hotel where Peres was staying and where the gala was held.

Thanks to the heavy police presence, efforts to disrupt the Salute to Israel were thwarted.

Peres, who was the keynote speaker at the event, declared in his opening remarks: “No threat or attempt to harm us or the State of Israel will prevent me from standing on this stage, here in South Africa and to fight the just war of the State of Israel.”

Reaching back into prestate history, Peres said: “The State of Israel was established against all odds when it was surrounded by enemies and wilderness. We transformed it into a strong, morally just, progressive and democratic state with human rights, justice and the pursuit of peace.

We evolved into a start-up nation. Today, Israel contributes to the world and has the most advanced agriculture, the most advanced medicine and incomparable technology.”

Peres said he was proud to stand before thousands of members of the Jewish community of Johannesburg.

“You are a warm, Zionist, loving community,” he told them. “I know that you are experiencing uneasy days, and I have come here to bring you, the strength, the encouragement and the love of the State of Israel.”


Former president Shimon Peres meets with former South African first lady Winnie Madikizela-Mandela in Johannesburg

Peres also addressed the claims by protesters outside the hotel that Israel is an “apartheid state” because of the way it treats Palestinians.

Peres insisted that there is not a single word in Israeli law that discriminates against people for reasons of creed, color, ethnicity or nationality.

“Apartheid was racism,” he said, “and in Israel, racism is a crime.”

Again harking back to history, Peres recalled: “We were attacked several times and we were outgunned and outmanned.

We were 650,000 people surrounded by 50 million Arabs. Without sufficient equipment or ammunition we fought for our rights. You call that apartheid? People tend to forget that we made peace with the Arabs,” he stated, citing Egypt and Jordan.

In relating to the peace process Peres said that other than the two-state solution, there is no solution to bringing about peace. Things change very quickly in the Middle East, he continued, “but one thing that will not change is the resolve of the Jewish people, of the citizens of the State of Israel to live side by side with our neighbors. That will never change.”

Earlier in the day, Peres had a meaningful meeting with Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, 79, the second of the three wives of the late president Nelson Mandela.

Peres apologized that due to illness, he had been unable to attend Mandela’s funeral a little over two years ago. The meeting was so moving for both that each had tears in their eyes.

Although there was a long bitter period between Winnie and Nelson Mandela, she appeared to have made her peace with him since his death. Clasping Peres’s hand, and speaking in an emotional tone of voice, she thanked him and the State of Israel for preserving the memory and the values of Mandela.

Peres, who was equally emotional, replied: “There is a little of Nelson Mandela in all of us that shows us the way to peace, reconciliation and wholeness.

Nelson was a dear friend to me, and his moral path was noble and courageous and lit the road to the future.”

Both Peres and Winnie Mandela agreed that peace and equality were always worth pursing no matter how elusive and that no one should raise their hands in defeat in the face of this elusiveness or the attempts by negative forces to torpedo the peace process.

Peres said after the meeting that for him it represented the closing of a circle.                             (Jerusalem Post)

Netanyahu tells African envoys: This will mark Israel’s return to continent

A prime ministerial trip to Africa will illustrate clearly Israel’s coming back to Africa, and Africa’s return to Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday.

Netanyahu, speaking in the Knesset at the launch of the new Knesset Caucus for Israel-Africa relations, confirmed what was first reported in The Jerusalem Post last month that he intends to visit around the 40th anniversary of the Entebbe raid that took place on July 4, 1976.

Among the countries that Netanyahu plans to visit are Kenya and Uganda.

The last sitting Israeli prime minister to visit the neighboring continent was Yitzhak Shamir in 1987.

“For too long you have come here and we have not come there, and we are going to change that,” he said in English at the meeting, which included 13 African ambassadors, five honorary consuls and a smattering of MKs, mostly from the Likud.

Over the last two months Netanyahu has met in Jerusalem with the president of Kenya, who was here last week and extended an invitation to visit, and the foreign minister of Rwanda. Ghana’s foreign minister is scheduled to arrive later this month, as is Ethiopia’s deputy prime minister.

Netanyahu said that Israel was formulating an “Africa strategy,” and that Israel and Africa’s rediscovery “should have happened a long time ago. It’s happening now because it’s so clear that this is good for Africa and it’s good for Israel. We face a multitude of challenges and opportunities.”

The prime minister said that he would like to see “the closeness of our relationships reflected also in the voting pattern of the African Union.

“I would like to eventually get to that point with the African Union, because you should vote for the interests of your own countries and you should vote for the interests of Africa,” he said. “And I have no doubt whatsoever that today the interests of Africa and the interests of Israel cohere.

They’re almost identical, and in some respects… and in many respects they are identical. So, I want to see that reflected in our bilateral relationship and also in our multilateral relationship.”

The strongest common interest, he said, was to defeat Islamist extremism.

“It threatens every land in Africa,” he said. “Its nexus is in the Middle East, but it is rapidly spreading. It can be defeated. It can only be defeated if the nations that are attacked by it, make a common cause. We understand the dangers of al-Shabaab. We understand the dangers of the other militants that threaten your countries in Africa, and we are prepared to work with you to defeat them. And it is possible to do so.”

Likewise, Netanyahu said, Israel is prepared to help Africa in other spheres as well: agriculture, healthcare, water, irrigation, science, technology, investment, tourism and cyber.

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein addressed the group, pointing out that relations with African countries was a priority for Israel as early as the 1960s.

“I believe that if we want to base relations between our countries on a solid platform, it is important to strengthen it on the level of parliaments,” he said.

Caucus chairman MK Avraham Neguise (Likud) said, “The Jewish people and the people of Africa have a sense of sharing a common destiny, because both have suffered from discrimination and foreign rule…. This struggle can bring us together.”

Neguise said ties between Israel and African states have improved in recent years, and that Israeli agricultural technologies combined with fertile soil in Africa can help alleviate hunger.

“Israeli technologies have raised the quality of life and saved countless lives,” in Africa, he said.

Cameroon’s ambassador to Israel, Henri Etoundi Essomba, who is also the dean of the Diplomatic Corps stationed in Israel, thanked Netanyahu for joining the envoys in “brainstorming how best we can confront the challenges the prime minister just mentioned together.”

Essomba praised Netanyahu for being a rarity among Israeli leaders in that he has emphasized ties with African states and heads of state.

“We welcome this initiative and would like to be as instrumental as possible to strengthen and give opportunities to both sides, Israel and Africa,” he stated.

Kenyan Ambassador Augostino Njoroge said the Kenyan president’s recent visit to Israel was his best international trip ever, and the country is anticipating Netanyahu’s arrival.

South Sudan’s Ambassador Ruben Marial Benjamin asked Netanyahu to visit his country, saying that such a trip could “unite the divided tribes and bring peace and an end to bloodshed.

“The African attitude towards Israel has changed and the time has come to look at our shared interests.The people of South Sudan love Israel,” he stated.            (Jerusalem Post)

A 3,000-yr-old schmatta discovery

The ancient copper mines in Timna are located deep in Israel’s Arava Valley and are believed by some to be the site of King Solomon’s mines. The arid conditions of the mines have seen the remarkable preservation of 3,000-year-old organic materials, including seeds, leather and fabric, and other extremely rare artifacts that provide a unique window into the culture and practices of this period.

A Timna excavation team from Tel Aviv University led by Dr. Erez Ben-Yosef has uncovered an extensive fabric collection of diverse color, design and origin. This is the first discovery of textiles dating from the era of David and Solomon, and sheds new light on the historical fashions of the Holy Land. The textiles also offer insight into the complex society of the early Edomites, the semi-nomadic people believed to have operated the mines at Timna.

The tiny pieces of fabric, some only 5 x 5 centimeters in size, vary in color, weaving technique and ornamentation. “Some of these fabrics resemble textiles only known from the Roman era,” said Dr. Orit Shamir, a senior researcher at the Israel Antiquities Authority, who led the study of the fabrics themselves.

“No textiles have ever been found at excavation sites like Jerusalem, Megiddo and Hazor, so this provides a unique window into an entire aspect of life from which we’ve never had physical evidence before,” Dr. Ben-Yosef said. “We found fragments of textiles that originated from bags, clothing, tents, ropes and cords.


An undyed wool textile found at Site 34; this type of fabric is the most common to be found at Iron Age Timna.

“The wide variety of fabrics also provides new and important information about the Edomites, who, according to the Bible, warred with the Kingdom of Israel. We found simply woven, elaborately decorated fabrics worn by the upper echelon of their stratified society. Luxury grade fabric adorned the highly skilled, highly respected craftsmen managing the copper furnaces. They were responsible for smelting the copper, which was a very complicated process.”

The archaeologists also recently discovered thousands of seeds of the Biblical “Seven Species” at the site — the two grains and five fruits considered unique products of the Land of Israel. Some of the seeds were subjected to radiocarbon dating, providing robust confirmation for the age of the site.

“This is the first time seeds from this period have been found uncharred and in such large quantities,” said Dr. Ben-Yosef. “With the advancement of modern science, we now enjoy research options that were unthinkable a few decades ago. We can reconstruct wine typical of King David’s era, for example, and understand the cultivation and domestication processes that have been preserved in the DNA of the seed.”

Copper was used to produce tools and weapons and was the most valuable resource in ancient societies. Its production required many levels of expertise.

Miners in ancient Timna may have been slaves or prisoners — theirs was a simple task performed under difficult conditions. But the act of smelting, of turning stone into metal, required an enormous amount of skill and organization. The smelter had to manage some 30 to 40 variables in order to produce the coveted copper ingots.

“The possession of copper was a source of great power, much as oil is today,” Dr. Ben-Yosef said. “If a person had the exceptional knowledge to ‘create copper,’ he was considered well-versed in an extremely sophisticated technology. He would have been considered magical or supernatural, and his social status would have reflected this.”

To support this “silicon valley” of copper production in the middle of the desert, food, water and textiles had to be transported long distances through the unforgiving desert climate and into the valley. The latest discovery of fabrics, many of which were made far from Timna in specialized textile workshops, provides a glimpse into the trade practices and regional economy of the day.

“We found linen, which was not produced locally. It was most likely from the Jordan Valley or Northern Israel. The majority of the fabrics were made of sheep’s wool, a cloth that is seldom found in this ancient period,” said TAU masters student Vanessa Workman. “This tells us how developed and sophisticated both their textile craft and trade networks must have been.”

“‘Nomad’ does not mean ‘simple,’” said Dr. Ben-Yosef. “This discovery strengthens our understanding of the Edomites as an important geopolitical presence. The fabrics are of a very high quality, with complex designs and beautiful dyes.”                   (J Wire)

The Mideast Peace Process’ Biggest Myth – Benny Morris (National Interest)

Did the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin on Nov. 4, 1995, reverse the course of history and definitively halt the Israeli-Palestinian peace process? In September 1993, Israel and the PLO exchanged letters of mutual recognition, with Arafat stating that the PLO “recognize[s] the right of the State of Israel to exist in peace and security” and committing to renunciation of terrorism and “a peaceful resolution of the conflict.” He added that the clauses of the PLO Charter denying Israel’s right to exist were “now inoperative.”

But a week later, Arafat, unaware that he was being recorded, told a Muslim audience in Johannesburg that the agreements the PLO had just signed were like the pact Mohammed had signed with a Jewish tribe in Hijaz in the year 628, a tactical move the Muslims abrogated unilaterally a few years later. Arafat also called for “Jihad” to recover Jerusalem. He seemed to be saying that he would renege upon the agreements as soon as it suited his purposes.

In July 2000 at Camp David, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered Arafat a sovereign, albeit largely demilitarized, Palestinian state in 91% of the West Bank and 100% of Gaza, with administrative control over parts of Jerusalem – and Arafat said “no.”

In December 2000, President Clinton upped the ante, offering Arafat – in the so-called “Clinton Parameters” – 94-96% of the West Bank, Gaza, and sovereignty over the Arab-speaking neighborhoods of east Jerusalem, including the bulk of the Old City, and Palestinian sovereignty over the surface area of the Temple Mount. The Palestinians not only said “no,” but proceeded to launch the Second Intifada. Some 1,400 Israelis were blown up, knifed and shot to death, and many more were wounded, during the following three years.

In 2005, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon unilaterally pulled Israel’s troops and settlements out of the Gaza Strip. In 2008, Ehud Olmert offered Mahmoud Abbas 97% of the West Bank and 100% of Gaza, with a Palestinian capital in east Jerusalem. But Abbas rejected the offer.

If one believes that the Palestinian national movement, represented by Hamas and Fatah respectively, has never reconciled itself to sharing Palestine with a Jewish state, whatever the exact territorial configuration, then the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin probably made very little difference. As they had rejected a two-state solution back in 1937 and 1947, so they would have rejected such solutions after 1995. There was nothing that Rabin could conceivably have done or offered that would have persuaded Arafat or his successors to acquiesce in a two-state solution and to sharing Palestine with a Jewish state.

The multiple issues dividing the two peoples are of such depth, weight and consequence – most prominently, the Palestinian Arab refugee problem and the problem of Jerusalem and its Temple Mount – that no reasonable amount of good will by Rabin could conceivably overcome them.

The writer is a professor of history in the Middle East Studies Department of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

Great rendition of Hatikvah with fantastic visuals of Israel


This information is compiled by Dr Ron Wiseman, Board Member of the Zionist Council of NSW