The Festival of Lights exhibit on display in Jerusalem's Old City. (Flash90)
Enraged Palestinians weigh return to terror for Netanyahu speech
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report
June 15, 2009, 2:38 PM (GMT+02:00)
Palestinian "special forces"
Senior Palestinian officials in Ramallah, enraged by the Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu's conditional offer of a Palestinian state Sunday, June 14 - and even more by what they see as US president Barack Obama's perfidious welcome - are weighing extreme options for reprisal, DEBKAfile's military sources report.
Advisers of Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmud Abbas blame him for falling for a phony clash between Washington and Jerusalem, when all the time Obama and Binyamin were scheming together to devise a formula for trapping the Palestinians into discussing a statehood bereft of military and political power.
Netanyahu's acceptance of a Palestinian state hedged in with conditions the Palestinians would never contemplate has had the effect of placing the onus of rejection at their door.
More and more Palestinian politicians in Ramallah argue that because the Israeli prime minister placed new obstacles on the road to the Middle East peace process, they are entitled to revert to the late Yasser Arafat's two-stage tactics of synchronized terror and diplomacy. This would mean resuscitating the Fatah's al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and Tanzim terrorist organizations because, they say, Abbas would be ill-advised to engage in peace talks with Israel unarmed with the Palestinians' primary tool of pressure, terror.
Some even argue that Abbas' Fatah, by going back to violence, would force the US president to accept that they will never give up any of their principles, i.e. Israel's total withdrawal to pre-1967 borders, a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem its capital and the right of 1948 refugees to return to their homes.
They also want to telegraph Obama that the Palestinian Fatah is not totally dependent on the military aid and training provided Palestinian Authority security forces by US, British and Canadian military experts, but have their own independent "military" resources.
This would also be the Palestinian rejoinder to Israeli prime minister's demand for a demilitarized state.
Fatah's resort to terrorist tactics would, in the view of some Palestinian officials, heal the internecine quarrel with the radical Hamas and help the Palestinians present a united front not only to America and Israel but also to Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
As for Netanyahu's demand for recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, Palestinian spokesmen said that never in a thousand years would any Palestinian comply. Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak supported this assertion when he accused Netanyahu Monday, June 15, of "scuppering" the Middle East peace process because "no one will support this in Egypt or anywhere else."
Israeli military circles are reported by DEBKAfile to be acutely troubled that Mahmoud Abbas may be tempted to accept the advice of his aides. This would mean a revival of the deadly format Arafat devised for PA security forces' members, to act as serving officers a few hours a day and as terror activists the rest of the time. Their new American training and weaponry would certainly enhance their performance in their second capacity.
Israeli UAVs expected to steal the show at Paris expo A hovercraft designed to evacuate from an urban battlefield, an unmanned helicopter and a kamikaze drone will be unveiled to the public on Monday at Israel's official pavilion at the 48th . One new platform that will be on display is the MULE medical evacuation unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) under development by Urban Aeronautics, based in Yavne. The IDF has expressed interest in the MULE, which the company has said is capable of delivering supplies and ferrying casualties within a battle zone. The MULE can carry approximately 317 kilograms over an 80-kilometer radius. The speed of the MULE is expected to be in the range of 100 knots, with a maximum operating altitude of 3,660 meters. Another UAV slated to be unveiled on Monday is the Picador, an unmanned helicopter developed by Aeronautics Defense Systems. The Picador has already made its first test and is designed for naval and land-based operations. It has a range of 200 km. and is reportedly capable of carrying a 180-kg. payload.
Obama: PM's speech shows possibility for 'serious talks' US President Barack Obama on Monday welcomed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's endorsement of Palestinian independence, saying the development shows the "possibility we can restart serious talks." "The Netanyahu government took a big step forward yesterday in acknowledging for the first time the need for a two-state solution," said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs Monday. "I think the president believes that there is a and many in the road to get there, but is pleased thus far with the progress that's being made. And I think yesterday's speech certainly is a big part of that." In his speech, Netanyahu said that "in my vision of peace, in this small land of ours, two peoples live freely, side-by-side, in amity and mutual respect; each will have its own flag, its own national anthem, its own government." The Obama administration has been pushing for him to embrace a two-state solution, though Netanyahu also said Sunday that it must be a "demilitarized Palestinian state" accompanied by a recognition that Israel is a Jewish state, which Palestinians have so far refused to do. When it came to settlements, he was less accommodating, as he reiterated that natural growth would continue despite US demands that it stop. "We have no intention of building new settlements or of expropriating additional land for existing settlements. But there is a need to enable the residents to live normal lives, to allow mothers and fathers to raise their children like families elsewhere," he said. Still, members of Congress also welcomed Netanyahu's remarks. "It's encouraging because he's moving in the right direction," said Robert Wexler (D-Florida), one of the Jewish Congressmen closest to US President Barack Obama and someone who has pushed Israel on halting settlements. "There has not been a meeting of the minds between the US and Israel on settlements, but I'm confident that there will be, and I'm confident that Prime Minister Netanyahu's speech is a positive step in the direction of the US and Israel reaching a mutually acceptable position on all the important issues." Yet since the speech - perceived as directed at the Obama administration as much as Israelis ¬- conditions Palestinian statehood in a way likely to make it difficult for the Obama administration to move as quickly as it would like with negotiations, while showing little flexibility on settlements, some suggest the administration is straining to see its positive elements. "This is a way of taking the edge off the tension between the US and Israel in the last few weeks," said David Makovsky of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. "They have made a virtue of necessity here, because I'm not sure they wanted to get into a fight with Israel," assessed Aaron David Miller, a former State Department Middle East official. He said that to succeed, the speech would need to give "at least give the administration some political time and space and reduce some of the unhappiness on the part of the administration with what the prime minister hasn't said" on a two-state solution and settlements. Based on the White House reaction, Miller said the speech seemed to have worked, and in the process given Netanyahu some political time and space as well. While the settlement issue was unresolved, the two-state solution got a boost, he said. State Department Spokesman Ian Kelly reiterated US demands for a freeze in settlement expansion and declined to back Netanyahu's conditions for Palestinian statehood, though he made some remarks supporting the Israeli perspective. When it came to Netanyahu's stipulation that Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state, Kelly said, "You know that yesterday said he was committed to the Jewish state of Israel. Senator Mitchell said it. And I'll just let it stand at that." And asked about demilitarization, he responded, "Israel needs to have its security concerns taken very seriously and worked out." He also appeared to address some of the concerns that some Israelis have expressed over the link Obama's speech in Cairo made between the Holocaust and the creation of the State of Israel. Netanyahu in his speech stressed that "our right to build our sovereign state here, in the land of Israel, arises from one simple fact: this is the homeland of the Jewish people, this is where our identity was forged." On Monday, Kelly emphasized, "We are committed to two states living side by side in their historic homeland." Gibbs, in his comments, also said that it was important for both sides to contribute to making progress. Wexler echoed that point when he said, "It shifts the discussion to the Arab world." Yet experts such as Miller didn't think it had changed the dynamic enough to spur the Obama administration to put the ball squarely in the Arabs' court. "Did this give them any leverage to go to the Arabs and say, Okay, your turn?" he asked. "My judgment is no." Tamara Wittes, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution's Saban Center, said it merely reinforced the Obama administrations position that all sides had to contribute, which fitted into its overall approach that "they're in it for the long haul." "I think it represents a baby step or two towards where the Obama administration has been heading, but not a great leap," she said. Wittes contended that the Netanyahu government had been testing to get a sense of how serious the Obama administration was about the demands it had been making of Israel. "This is another bid," she said. "It's the second round of bidding, and it's going to be a long ."
The White House welcomed Benjamin Netanyahu's support for the creation of a Palestinian state. For the first time, Netanyahu stated he would support a Palestinian state but under certain conditions.
Netanyahu came to Israel's Bar-Ilan University and delivered what many believed was one of the most important of his political career. He said he would accept a Palestinian state but only after Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Click here for more insight on the potential effect Netanyahu's speech could have.
"Prime Minister Netanyahu articulated tonight a vision of peace, of mutual recognition, of Israelis recognizing the rights of Palestinians to have a state of their own, of course demilitarized and of Palestinian recognizing the Jewish peoples' right to self-determination in our country too," said Mark Regev, Israeli government spokesperson.
Netanyahu put a number of other conditions on a future Palestinian state. He said it could not field an army, control its own air space or make military pacts with groups like Hezbollah or nations like Iran. He said Israel couldn't afford another "Hamastan" on its borders. He also stated Jerusalem would not be divided with the Palestiniants, but would remain the eternal capital of Israel.
While Netanyahu called for a stop to new settlement construction, he said "natural growth" or what he called "normal life" within existing settlements, would continue.
"I think the world won't agree to the conditions of Mr. Netanyahu from my point of view or a majority of the Jewish people in Israel it's a must conditions, we can not allow to have army for the Palestinians and to activate terror against Israel like they do in Gaza," said Shaul Goldstein, Mayor of Gush Etzion.
Chief Palestinian authority negotiator Saeb Erekat rejected Netanyahu's conditions.
"He is not with the two state solution, he is not going to stop settlements including natural growth," Erekat said. "So, we have attempts to move a peace process which was moving like a turtle in the region, now Netanyahu tonight flipped it on its back."
Some interpret Netanyahu's acceptance of a Palestinian state - even with his conditions - as giving into U.S. pressure from the Obama Administration. How his speech will affect U.S.-Israel relations remains to be seen.