Israel is not isolated anymore
The State of Israel is not only looked up to as a beacon of light in the Middle East.
Israel is on the forefront of so much innovation that is going on in the world.
From hereon in, great companies and great countries now understand that Israel is on the cutting edge of so much that is innovative, and anyone who would like a piece of the pie of innovation knows that they need to deal with Israel.
So, the next time someone comes up to you and says that Israel has become isolated, ask them to mention one country who doesn’t benefit from Israel’s innovation in multiple ways. (the Watchman)
PM: Israel won’t return terrorists’ bodies ‘for nothing’
One day after Israel announced it is in possession of the bodies of five Gaza terrorists, killed in the demolition of an attack tunnel last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted that Israel would leverage the situation to secure the release of Israeli captives.
Calling them “our boys,” Netanyahu referred to the bodies of fallen IDF soldiers Lt. Hadar Goldin and Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul, held in Gaza since 2014, and two Israeli civilians, Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, believed to be held captive by Hamas after wandering into the territory.
“The government has two major tasks,” Netanyahu said at an event in northern Israel Monday. “The first is to defend the country and the other is to build the country. We are doing both of these things.”
“To defend the country we use a simple rule of thumb: Anyone trying to attack us, we attack them. Secondly, we don’t hand out gifts for nothing. We will bring our boys home, there are no free gifts,” he said.
According to a statement from the Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson’s Unit on Sunday, “In the past few days, forces from the IDF Southern Command and the Gaza Brigade have finished uncovering and dismantling the attack tunnel. During the work, Israel uncovered the bodies of five terrorists.”
The statement added that seven terrorists, including two Islamic Jihad members, also suffocated to death in the tunnel while trying to rescue the first five terrorist casualties.
Last Monday, in a rare flare-up along the tense border with Gaza, the IDF detonated the terror tunnel, which had been dug under the border and had entered Israeli territory. Military spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said that thanks to groundbreaking technology, this “active tunnel,” which was still being dug, was discovered, and forces blew it up inside Israeli territory. He said military intelligence had been tracking it for some time.
The Red Cross has asked that Israel allow the terrorist groups to continue searching for their missing members.
Last week, commander of the Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai spoke with the head of the Red Cross delegation in Israel, Jacques de Maio, and made it abundantly clear that Israel would not allow any search and rescue activity near the security perimeter unless progress was made on the matter of returning Israeli fallen Israeli soldiers and captive civilians held in Gaza.
Meanwhile, on Sunday the state submitted a response to a High Court petition filed by the human rights group Adala seeking permission for Palestinian search and rescue workers to continue looking for the missing terrorists. The state wanted the petition rejected, arguing that the terrorists in or near the tunnel at the time of the strike had been killed, and that IDF forces were still busy with anti-tunnel activity, which could be hampered by allowing the Palestinians to search for bodies.
Meanwhile Sunday, Goldin’s parents announced that they intended to ask the High Court to compel the government to implement the January decision by the Diplomatic-Security Cabinet to stop returning the bodies of Hamas terrorists; to impose harsher conditions and withhold family visits from Hamas prisoners; and to restrict the number of Gaza residents allowed to enter Israel for humanitarian reasons.
Goldin’s father, Simcha, said, “Israel has almost entirely halted Gaza residents’ visits to prisoners in Israel, but the vast majority of Hamas prisoners in Israel also have family in Judea and Samaria, and they continue to visit them weekly or daily.”
“Rather than exerting effective pressure, the Israeli government is winking to Hamas and yielding to its prisoners’ [demands]. We call on Netanyahu to keep his promise to stand strong against Hamas,” Goldin said, adding that “Releasing the bodies of Hamas members or any terrorists affiliated with [Hamas], yielding to all humanitarian demands and perpetuating the summer camp conditions at Israeli prisons are simply absurd and are tantamount to waving a white flag in the face of terrorism. It also means abandoning Hadar and Oron in the battlefield in Gaza.”
Leah Goldin, Hadar’s mother, added: “Instead of making Hamas pay dearly, the Israeli leadership is busy frightening us that the missiles will come because of the pressure we want to exert. The Israeli leadership is busy making excuses about why we can’t use pressure rather than using the tools at our disposal. It’s time to say ‘enough with the excuses, it’s time for action.'”
Islamic Jihad, the group that had dug the attack tunnel, issued a threat on Sunday saying that “our response to the attack on the tunnel has already been prepared, and revenge is coming.” (Israel Hayom)
Netanyahu: When Israelis and Arabs agree on Iran, the world should listen
Iran has taken over Lebanon, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday morning, issuing a warning about Tehran’s growing regional dominance before ending a five-day trip to London.
Netanyahu was in Britain to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, but made use of the trip to persuade the British government to take steps to halt Iranian aggression.
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri’s Saturday resignation — during which he said he fears an assassination attempt — and his warning about Iran’s inference in his country appeared to underscore the message Netanyahu delivered in meetings he held with British Prime Minister Theresa May and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.
“You just heard the resigning prime minister of Lebanon, Hariri, say Hezbollah took over, which means that Iran took over,” Netanyahu said in an interview with the BBC Sunday morning.
“This is a wake up call for everyone. It says what the Middle East is really experiencing, it is experiencing the attempt of Iran to conquer the Middle East, to dominate and subjugate it,” Netanyahu said.
“When Israelis and the Arabs, all the Arabs and the Israelis, agree on one thing, people should pay attention. We should stop this Iranian take over,” Netanyahu said.
Iran is also operating in Syria and wants to colonize it, Netanyahu said, vowing that Israel would not let this happen.
“They want to bring their airfare there. They want to bring Shi’ite and Iranian forces next to Israel, we will not let that happen. We will resist it,” he said.
Netanyahu, however, sidestepped the BBC question of whether Israel was prepared to go to war over this issue.
In the same interview, he explained, the best way to move forward in the peace process is for the Palestinians to have a demilitarized state.
“They should have all the powers to govern themselves and none of the power to threaten us,” Netanyahu said.
“If its not demilitarized then it becomes a platform to continue the war against the one Jewish state,” he said.
He continued to vow that he would not uproot West Bank settlements stating: “the idea that Jews cannot live in Judea is crazy.”
The settlements, Netanyahu said, are a side issue. The real issue is the Palestinian refusal to recognize the Jewish right to a homeland. (Jerusalem Post)
British Jews concerned by Western Wall and conversion issues
British Jews are concerned about the Israeli government’s stance on the egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall and moves to limit recognition of Jewish conversion abroad, a number of communal leaders told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday morning.
They spoke with the Post in advance of meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Savoy Hotel in London where he had been staying.
“We want to see fairness between different strands of Judaism,” UK Board of Jewish Deputies President Jonathan Arkush.
Senior Reform Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner said she was also trouble by racism within Israeli society and the government’s support for anti-democratic legislation. She explained that in the past, Netanyahu has not appeared to pay heed to their concerns on these issues.
Netanyahu has said that he is the leader of the Jewish world, Janner-Klausner said.
“If he is the leader of the Jewish world, he needs to listen to the Jewish world,” she said.
Danny Rich, Senior Rabbi of Liberal Judaism said the meeting was short and he did not get a chance to substantively raise his concerns on these issues.
Arkiush said that to the extent some of them did come up in a round-a-bout way, Netanyahu responded by explaining that Israel was a democracy.
“It was very warm, substantive and open meeting,” Arkush told The Jerusalem Post.
This community is a very strong Zionist community, he said and honored by Netanyahu’s visit for such an historic occasion.
“We British Jews are incredibly proud of the part that Britain and indeed our community played in the creating and issuing of the Balfour Declaration, which was a critical milestone,” Arkus said.
“The world’s most important imperial and military power, as Great Britain was then, was declaring that it supported the establishment a Jewish homeland in Palestine as it was then called,” said Arkush.
Without that declaration its unlikely the state of Israel would have been created, he said.
Dozens of events have been held including Thursday’s gala dinner at Lancaster House with Netanyahu and British Prime Minister Theresa May, Arkush said.
The government’s decision to mark the centenary with pride is significant and overrides the voices who have objected to it, he said.
“It is by no means sizable and almost meaningless,” he said.
May is a “genuine friend” of Israel, he said and her speech, particularly its strong condemnation of anti-Semitism was very well received.
The British government has been strongly supportive of Israel, Arkush said. This includes its refusal to unilaterally recognize a Palestinian state.
“Our government understands it would be a futile gesture at the moment,” he said. (Jerusalem Post)
President Rivlin to the Jews of Spain ‘Let us stand together’
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin met Spanish Jewish community leaders David Hatsoel, the president of the Madrid Jewish community, and president of the Jewish federation of Spain Yitzhak Karov.
President Rivlin met children who study in the Iben Gvirol school and unveiled a sign honoring the presidential visit as well as celebrating the return of Jewish life to Spain, a land that expelled the Jews in 1492. The expulsion from Spain was seen as one of the darkest moment in Jewish history until it was eclipsed by the Holocaust during WWII.
The President remarked that the restoration of Jewish life in Spain is a “great triumph of history and of the Jewish spirit.”
Rivlin also applauded the efforts undertaken by the Spanish government to combat antisemitism, as recent reports claim that antisemitic incidents had increased dramatically.
Rivlin in Spain
President of the Jewish communities of Spain Yitzhak Karov told Rivlin that as the unity of Spain in under threat today [due to the Catalonian demand for independence] “so is the economic stability and the shared life [among Jews and non-Jews in Spain] and social stability.”
Karov emphasized that the Spanish Jewish community needs Israel, and Israel can count on their loyalty. (the Times of Israel)
US ambassador to UN: Days of standing by while is Israel bashed at UN are over
At Israeli American Council conference in Washington, U.S. envoy Nikki Haley praises Israel for remaining in U.N. despite “almost constant harassment and hostility” • IAC an “important bridge” between U.S. and Israel, says
“The days of standing by passively while Israel is bashed at the United Nations [are] over,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley vowed in a speech on Saturday at fourth annual Israeli American Council conference in Washington.
“It’s no secret that the U.N. is a hostile place for Israel,” Haley said. “The rough breakdown at the U.N. is half the time on Israel, and half the time on the other 192 countries.”
Haley, until this year the governor of South Carolina, quickly turned into a rising star for the Jewish and pro-Israel community from the start of her term as ambassador, when she declared she would put an end to the persecution of Israel in the international body.
In her speech, Haley thanked Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon for the close collaboration between the Israeli and American missions, as well as for the close personal relationship that has developed between them.
On Iran, she agreed with U.S. President Donald Trump that “the Iran nuclear deal is very, very flawed,” she said.
“The president’s action has put the Iran deal back in play. It has opened a lot of eyes to the dangerous Iranian conduct the world has overlooked to preserve a deeply flawed deal.”
She praised Israel for staying in the U.N. despite the “almost constant harassment and hostility.”
This hostility culminated in both the U.S. and Israel withdrawing from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization last month.
“Israel has long been UNESCO’s punching bag,” she said. Despite this, she said Israel must remain in the U.N. “to stay and fight for the principles of democracy, tolerance, and openness that it alone upholds in the Middle East.”
Some 3,000 people attended the opening of the fourth annual IAC conference in Washington on Friday. The conference, which ends on Monday, has grown to become the largest conference of Israelis living in the United States.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin could not attend the event but sent messages praising the conference. Rivlin called the IAC “an important bridge” that protects the relationship between the U.S. and Israel.
Each year the conference focuses on issues and events relevant to the Jewish community, and specifically the Israeli community in the U.S. Participants discuss identity, education, heritage and connection to Israel in the Diaspora as well as the challenges and threats to the State of Israel and the Jewish community.
This year, beyond dealing with “routine” issues, it seems IAC leaders are stressing the collaboration between Israeli-Americans and the American Jewish community. Leaders from the Jewish community, organizations and federations from across the U.S. appeared at the conference.
“The size of the conference this year shows the significantly long way the Israeli-American community has come since the establishment of the organization about a decade ago,” IAC CEO and co-founder Shoham Nicolet told Israel Hayom.
“No one paid attention to us 10 years ago, but today the prime minister and president send us messages. We were treated as a mishap 10 years ago, but today we are seen as an asset.”
On current events, Nicolet said, “Today, Nov. 4, we remember Prime Minister [Yitzhak] Rabin, but see all the talk of schism. Here we talk about unity. Here there is a feeling of one family. We came here as some 1,000 people on Friday to eat the Shabbat meal together. I have no idea who among them was Orthodox, who was Conservative, who was Reform and who votes for whom – and that wasn’t at all relevant in this conference. It sounds banal, but it is very rare.”
IAC Chairman Adam Milstein said Saturday night that this was an “event of historic proportions. … We are turning Israeli-Americans into a strategic asset for the State of Israel and the Jewish people in general.”
In addition to Haley, a wide range of Israeli and American leaders appeared at the conference, including Education and Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, and Zionist Union MK Merav Michaeli. Among the American lawmakers at the conference were House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce and his Democrat counterpart, Brad Sherman. (Israel Hayom)
Liberman asks Rivlin to commute Hebron shooter’s sentence
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Sunday formally requested President Reuven Rivlin to commute the 14-month jail sentence of “Hebron shooter” Elor Azaria.
Azaria entered jail on August 9 after being convicted of manslaughter for shooting neutralized Palestinian attacker Abdel Fatah al-Sharif on March 24, 2016.
Gadi Eisenkot shortened Azaria’s original sentence of 18 months to 14 months in September.
“Elor and his family paid a heavy personal and family- wide price as they struggled with Elor’s trial and with the unprecedented and drawn-out public exposure,” Liberman wrote.
Videos of the incident, which went viral globally and brought widespread international condemnation, show Azaria shooting the incapacitated terrorist lying on the ground – although Azaria claimed his shots were in self-defense, fearing a possible knife attack or concealed explosive vest.
The President’s Office confirmed it received Liberman’s request to commute Azaria’s sentence, but said that Rivlin would not begin reviewing the issue until he returns from a four-day state visit to Spain.
“The president received relevant opinions to continue the examination of the request of the soldier Elor Azaria for a commuted sentence. He will examine the opinions submitted to him, along with all the materials on file when he returns from abroad… and will discuss matters with the professional level as is customary,” his office said.
In July, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, along with much of the political class and the public, supported a pardon for Azaria. Moshe Yaalon, who was defense minister when the incident occurred, supported the court’s sentence; most of the legal establishment has opposed a pardon.
Two weeks ago, Liberman called for Azaria’s immediate release, claiming that the affair is damaging to the IDF and that, “we should leave it behind us as soon as possible.”
In his letter to Rivlin on Sunday, Liberman wrote of the extraordinary burdens asked of IDF soldiers and pleaded for national healing in light of the visceral divisiveness put on display during the trial.
He said: “I believe that in this unique case, the public interest should also be considered – the need to heal the rifts in society, and the impact of the event and the trial on the citizens of the country and the soldiers of the IDF in the face of the enemy.”
“We send our daughters and sons to defend, as fighters, the security of the country and public safety, putting them in complex situations that are incomparable anywhere else in the world,” he wrote.
The defense minister said that he did not think that commuting Azaria’s sentence would detract from Israeli values and the country’s commitment to the highest ideals and to human rights.
But Eisenkot said that his reducing Azaria’s sentence by four months had already struck the balance of giving a clear message to all soldiers not to act like the “Hebron shooter”, while showing compassion.
The IDF prosecutors had opposed any reduction in sentence, as they had sought a three-to-five-year prison sentence, which a minority of justices at each court level also supported. (Jerusalem Post)
IAF hosts largest-ever ‘Blue Flag’ aerial exercise
Delegations from seven visiting air forces—Greece, Poland, Italy, USA and for the first time also India, France and Germany—on Sunday began Blue Flag 2017, the biggest ever version of the Blue Flag bi-annual joint military exercise hosted by Israel.
Close to 100 aircraft and more than a thousand support crew and pilots from seven different air forces will take part in the 11-day drill taking place in IAF’s Ovda Base north of Eilat, while officers and attaches from nearly 40 other countries are expected to attend the exercise which the Israel Air Force has described as aiming to “simulate extreme combat scenarios and coalition flights as realistically as possible.”
Dr. Eran Lerman of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies told Tazpit Press Service (TPS) that the exercise shows the importance and quality of the IAF and exposes it to the methods of other air forces, but added that its strategic importance was first and foremost in the symbolic participation of pilots from several countries with whom strategic, diplomatic and security relations are getting stronger and stronger.
“It is a very interesting list, which includes two countries in the Mediterranean with whom we have defense ties, Italy and Greece; of course the United States, Germany—which in itself is noteworthy, German fighter pilots coming to Israel to train; Poland and India. It is a list of countries that are key to Israel’s long-term strategic perceptions and with whom Israel is deepening its ties on a broad spectrum of issues, not just defense ties but also economic, technological and diplomatic ties. The exercise emphasizes that Israel’s strategic horizons are broadening,” Lerman said.
Lt. Col. Nadav, Commander of the 133rd Squadron (“Knights of the Twin Tail”), which operates “Falcon” (F-15) fighter jets and is leading the exercise, described it as a “significant milestone in the relationship between the IAF and international air forces.”
“This exercise will allow us to continue cooperating with these forces in the future as well,” he told the IAF website.
Lt. Col. Guy, Head of the IAF’s Training Branch, said that besides the tactical advantage gained by training with hundreds of international aircrew members, aircraft and weapon systems, the IAF will also gain a strategic advantage.
“The IAF has two main goals in the exercise,” he said, “the first is to improve the operational readiness of all air forces involved via a quality mutual training experience, while also creating fertile ground for mutual learning. The second is to show the world that the IAF is an advanced, strong and leading force and improve Israel’s international status as a result.”
India, which is participating in a military exercise in Israel exercise for the first time on the heels of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit, dispatched a C-130J ‘Super Hercules’ aircraft, along with a 45-member contingent, including Garud commandos.
“This is the first time the Indian Air Force is training with the Israeli Air Force in a multilateral exercise setting,” the Indian Defense Ministry said in a statement. “Exercise Blue Flag gives us the opportunity to share and learn best practices with some of the best professionals from other air forces. (Ynet News)
Two party heads say won’t join leftist coalition
The chairmen of Yisrael Beytenu and Kulanu, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, announced Saturday in two separate interviews on Channel 2 News that they will not join a government headed by Zionist Union Chairman Avi Gabbay.
Sources in the coalition claimed that the move between Lieberman and Kahlon was coordinated.
“I can say in the clearest way possible: We will not all be a fig leaf in a leftist government,” Kahlon said. “I’m not angry at Avi Gabbay, but I’m disappointed in his conduct. I am a member of the national camp, unlike the Labor Party. Therefore, I do not see any situation in which we all join the leftist Labor government.”
Lieberman also announced that his party would not sit with Gabbay.
“There are at least two parties, Yisrael Beytenu and Kulanu, who will never join the coalition with Gabbay,” Lieberman said, adding that if they won’t, Gabbay would not succeed in forming a coalition. “This is not in ill will, but because of a thousand and one different reasons.”
In a response, MK Eitan Cabel (Labor) dismissed the two’s comments as wild assertions.
“If Lieberman and Kahlon predict that Gabbay will head the coalition, then I predict that they will want to be part of it.” (Ynet News)
Details of new Kahlon-Netanyahu economic plan unveiled
A new economic plan, set to enter into force January 1, 2018, is in the final stages of planning, but can be said to include income tax reductions for persons making NIS 11,000 or less, decreasing import taxes on non-luxury items, tax breaks for companies and small businesses and reducing the country’s debts.
The plan will be financed using unexpected tax overcharges, totaling NIS 17 billion this year alone.
The original intent was to implement a new and far-reaching plan to reduce taxes due to the tax collection surcharge this year. Surprisingly, the Israel Tax Authority is expected to collect a much higher sum than the one appearing in the collection estimate article in the country’s 2017 budget.
While calculating the collection forecast, according to which the Israeli budget was constructed at the end of 2016, the significantly high NIS four billion revenue brought in as a result of the Mobileye sale was not yet known, for instance.
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, as well as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, consider the scenario of a surplus in the country’s treasury to be an opportunity—on the eve of what may well be an election year—to benefit the public.
As a result, the pair came up with separate plans to reduced taxes in a few weeks’ time.
The finance minister’s plan, which has thus far been designed almost completely independently of the prime minister or his staff, wishes to reduce income taxes rates starting with incomes of NIS 11,000. The reason is similar to the prime minister’s reasoning of reducing the relatively high taxes levied on persons of non-modest incomes to prevent them leaving the country and to benefit those perceived to be providing great contributions to Israel’s economy.
The finance minister plans to carry out part of this planned income tax reduction by providing additional tax credit points.
In addition, Kahlon’s program includes lowering import taxes on imported items, especially ones not made in Israel, as well as on products used by young couples.
The prime minister and finance minister also intended to make life easier for small businesses, partially by forgoing tax collection on small businesses for a set duration after their founding. The prime minister also intends to reduce corporate taxes within a year or two to 20 percent, in order to encourage international firms to invest in Israel.
In the coming days, Finance Ministry and Prime Minister’s Office teams are expected to meet and hold talks on putting together the joint economic plan, conceivably this coalition’s last.
A senior economic official said Saturday there can be little doubt going public with the plan will be accompanied by a war on who is to be credited for it, the prime minister or his rival in the Finance Ministry, whose relationship have been tensed for a while now over the latter’s political ambitions. (Ynet News)
The Balfour Declaration and Palestinian Denial
by David Gerstman The Tower
In her speech on Thursday honoring the hundredth anniversary of the Balfour Declaration that called for the “establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people,” British Prime Minister Theresa May said that she would “absolutely not” apologize for the document as Palestinians were demanding. Rather, she said, “we are proud of our pioneering role in the creation of the State of Israel.”
And what would May’s government apologize for?
According to the Palestinian Ministry of Information, the Balfour Declaration is “the greatest political crime in the history of mankind.”
The idea that Britain wronged the Palestinians with the Balfour Declaration is premised on two beliefs. The first is that Britain acted unilaterally in promoting a Jewish national home. The second is that it is the Balfour Declaration that has prevented the Palestinians from statehood.
Martin Kramer wrote an extensive essay earlier this year showing that the declaration was in fact approved of by the United Kingdom’s major allies, including France and the United States. Without the approvals of the major powers at the time, Britain would not have issued the declaration. “In expressing a broad consensus of the Allies,” Kramer wrote, “it might even be seen as roughly comparable to a UN Security Council resolution today.”
Regarding the second premise, Lior Weintraub, vice president of The Israel Project wrote this week that it wasn’t the Balfour Declaration that prevented the Palestinians from achieving statehood.
To the contrary, it is because they rejected it and every subsequent agreement that would have accorded them a state – alongside that of the Jews. The Palestinian leadership refused the British offer of a two-state solution in 1937. They rejected the U.N. partition plan of 1947. They failed to deliver their end of the bargain during President Clinton’s peace initiative in 2000 and, again, in 2007 during the Annapolis Conference initiated by the George W. Bush administration.
The Palestinian objection to the Balfour Declaration is enshrined in its national charter, which states, “The Balfour Declaration, the Mandate for Palestine, and everything that has been based upon them, are deemed null and void.” The very same article of the charter also denies “claims of historical or religious ties of Jews with Palestine,” calling them “incompatible with the facts of history.”
Israeli political commentator Dan Margalit described the Palestinian request that May apologize for the declaration a “declaration stating that even if the Palestinians reconcile themselves to Israel’s existence, Israel will remain a foreign transplant in their eyes, a sort of illegal diplomatic bastard.”
While the language of the declaration doesn’t explicitly mention the Palestinians, it does call on the Jews who would be establishing their national home to respect “the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.”
In other words, the Balfour Declaration is not incompatible with Palestinian statehood.
Shany Mor observed in The Mendacious Maps of Palestinian “Loss,” which was published in the January 2015 issue of The Tower Magazine, that contrary to the narrative that the Palestinians had gained nothing from negotiations with Israel, “All of these Palestinian land gains have taken place in the last 20 years and every square meter of it came not from Turkey or Britain or Jordan or Egypt, but from Israel alone; and nearly all of it through peace negotiations.”
Instead of cursing the past, Palestinians would be better served if they looked towards the future and negotiated with Israel. By ruling out territorial concessions for one reason or another, the Palestinians have ensured that they will not achieve statehood, or, at least, separation from Israel.
The Palestinian denial of the legitimacy of the Balfour Declaration is a reminder that twenty-four years after Yasser Arafat committed to a “peaceful resolution” of all issues between Israel and the Palestinians “through negotiations,” and to render “inoperative” all articles of the Palestinian charter that deny Israel’s right to exist, the Palestinian leadership prefers embracing the latter than engaging in the former.
Weintraub, observed that this Palestinian rejectionism hasn’t significantly harmed Israel, however, “across the seam, the Palestinian people’s greatest tragedy is their betrayal by their own leaders. Time and again, their well-being has been sacrificed on the altar of cynical political maneuvers, leaving the Palestinian people impoverished, the Palestinian Authority unaccountable, and the Hamas leadership dwelling in luxury in exile.”
Miriam Elman, a professor of political science at Syracuse University summed it up, “the current hostility to the Balfour Declaration Centennial tells us a lot about why the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains so intractable. It isn’t really about post-1967 settlements or post-1967 borders, but about a very basic and visceral intolerance to Jewish sovereign legitimacy anywhere in the Jewish people’s ancestral homeland.”
And until the Palestinian leadership stops denying Israel’s legitimacy, and negotiates seriously for peace, it is the Palestinian people who will suffer most.
Why Is the West Financing Palestinian Terrorism?
by Daniel Schwammenthal Emet News Service
Imagine terrorists who have killed hundreds of people in Europe and the U.S. receiving generous rewards for their crimes.
And imagine further this blood money being indirectly funded by Western taxpayers.
As outrageous as it sounds, this is exactly what the Palestinian Authority (PA)—financially dependent on U.S. and European generosity—is doing.
Each year it pays about $140 million to terrorists who are or have been in Israeli prisons, and $175 million to families of terrorists killed in action, such as suicide bombers.
To leave no doubt about what this incentive system seeks to achieve, the salaries are indexed to the length of the prison sentence. In other words, the more gruesome the crime, the more money the terrorist gets.
In total, the otherwise always-so-cash-strapped PA is dedicating an astonishing 7 percent of its budget to ensure that killing Israelis remains a lucrative and sought-after business.
This terrorist salary scheme is no minor detail in the Arab-Israeli conflict but rather a manifestation of its root cause–Palestinian rejection of the very legitimacy of a Jewish state.
Only if you believe your opponents have no right to even exist would you reward their killers and constantly incite against them. And mind you, this is not Hamas, the genocidal terror group running Gaza, but Israel’s purported peace partner, the PA in Ramallah.
It is under PA President Mahmoud Abbas that schools and public places are named after terrorists and that the official PA and Fatah media glorify these ‘martyrs’ while vilifying Israelis and Jews.
Not even children’s programs are off-limits in a system that seems determined to ensure this conflict continues well into the next generation. Why else would little children be put before TV cameras to recite ‘poems’ that describe Israelis as ‘barbaric monkeys” and “most evil among creations”?
In recent years, President Abbas has also done his best to turn an already intractable but largely national conflict into a religious war. Vicious lies are being spread that Israel wants to destroy the Al Aqsa Mosque or change the status of the Temple Mount, which Israel left under Muslim religious control when it conquered the Old City in 1967.
Listen to President Abbas speaking on September 16, 2015 on official PA TV: ‘They [the Jews] have no right to defile them [Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher] with their filthy feet,” and, adding for good measure: “We salute every drop of blood spilled for the sake of Jerusalem.”
And blood has been spilled aplenty. Since Abbas’s fateful speech, Palestinian attackers, claiming to ‘protect al Aqsa,’ have killed some 60 people, most recently the three Israeli victims of the shooting attack in Har Adar. Mostly, though, the terrorists have used knife attacks and car rammings.
It is in this context that both the U.S. and the EU are trying to revive Israeli-Palestinian talks. But to achieve any progress they need first to take an honest and evidence-based look at why, 25 years after Oslo, there still is no peace.
One key reason is that for too long the West ignored or downplayed Palestinian incitement and violence, and even when it did take them into account, misdiagnosed these phenomena as consequences of the conflict, thus reversing cause and effect. By doing so it predictably emboldened the PA to cling to their extremist positions and to repeatedly spurn peace offers.
This culture of rejectionism has not only left its mark on Palestinian society but also on Israel. And whether one likes it or not, a Palestinian state will come into being only if and when a majority of Israelis is convinced that such a state won’t be more dangerous than the status quo.
After the rejected Israeli peace offers in 1999, 2000, and 2008, the terror Intifada of the early 2000s and the rocket fire Israel received in return for withdrawing from Gaza in 2005, many Israelis no longer believe that a Palestinian state just a few miles from Israel’s major population centers will bring peace and security. Hearing Abbas praise so-called martyrs and learning about lavish PA salaries to the killers of their fellow countrymen is unlikely to convince them otherwise.
There is, fortunately, growing Western recognition that the Palestinians are not innocent bystanders to their own misfortune.
Last year, the Mideast Quartet, composed of the EU, the U.S., the UN, and Russia, for the first time clearly stated that Palestinian terror and incitement ‘are fundamentally incompatible with a peaceful resolution.’
While signed by the EU, not every EU member state really shares this basic insight. But the best service to peace the West can do is to translate the Quartet’s words into policy.
In the U.S., the Taylor Force Act, which is making its way through Congress with strong bipartisan support, would extract a steep economic price from the PA if it continued subsidizing terror. What can the EU do?
To be sure, no one would gain from the financial collapse of the PA. Nevertheless, public EU criticism of the PA could well trigger a change of policy.
If that doesn’t work, the EU could consider deducting from their aid the 7 percent of the budget the PA pays to terrorists, and let the Palestinian people know the reason.
Or the EU could announce it is willing to spend that money on NGOs dedicated to fighting incitement in Palestinian society. Such credible threats might be enough.
These and other measures designed to help change Palestinian internal discourse and policies won’t bring peace overnight, but may lay the foundations for a future agreement.
What is certain, however, is that if the West follows the same worn-out peace-processing formula that simplistically sees the Israelis as all powerful and chiefly to blame for the conflict, and the Palestinians as innocent victims without agency, their efforts will be no more successful than previous attempts.