Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010
US Says Golan-Jerusalem Referendum Is ‘Internal Israeli Issue’
by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
The United States says the new Golan-Jerusalem referndum law is an Israeli issue, and it declined to comment on it despite criticism from the Arab world . The law blocks any surrender of United Jerusalem or the strategic Golan Heights without approval by the public in a referendum.
Asked if the Obama administration is “concerned" by the new law, the U.S. State Department replied, “This is an internal Israeli issue, and the Israeli government is in the best position to address inquiries related to its process.”
The United States does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Western Wall, the Temple Mount, all of the Old City and all other areas of the capital that were restored to Israel in the Six-Day War in 1967. The current and previous American governments also have encouraged a peace treaty with Syria based on Israel's surrendering the strategic Golan Heights and its rich water resources.
The State Department’s “no comment” stands in stark contrast to statements by U.S. President Barack Obama, who has labeled as “settlements” all Jewish presence in areas of Jerusalem claimed by the Palestinian Authority.
The new law makes it extremely unlikely that any government can surrender any of the land covered by the law, barring a drastic shift in political leanings against the growing nationalist mood.
While the United States said the referendum law is an “internal issue,” Syria's foreign ministry lambasted Israel for what it called “a disregard of international law and the will of the international community. The Golan Heights, which were occupied by Israel in 1967, are not negotiable and a peace process is out of question until Syria gets these territories back.”
Senior Palestinian Authority negotiator Saeb Erekat also condemned Israel for what he called making "a mockery of international law, which is not subject to the whims of Israeli public opinion.”
Leaning on the international community’s refusal to recognize Israeli sovereignty over all of the capital, he added, "Ending the occupation of our land is not and cannot be dependent on any sort of referendum. Under international law there is a clear and absolute obligation on Israel to withdraw not only from east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, but from all of the territories that it has occupied since 1967."
Erekat said the proper international response to the bill should be recognition of the Palestinian Authority as a country with borders based on the 1949 Armistice Line. The borders fell in 1967 when seven Arab countries engaged Israel in a war that they assumed would annihilate the Jewish state in a matter of days.
Instead, Egypt fled from Gaza, which it controlled, and Jordan left Judea and Samaria, most of which it occupied without an international mandate.
US letter on freeze deal has been completed, 'Post' learns
By HILARY LEILA KRIEGER AND HERB KEINON
Middle East expert says text doesn't contain references to long-term Israeli presence in Jordan Valley, but issue would most likely come up again; also says Netanyahu looking for "fallback understanding."
The parties have finalized the text for the US letter to Israel concerning the terms of a renewed settlement freeze, according to Middle East expert David Makovsky.
He recently returned to the US after extensive conversations with Israeli and Arab leaders.
Analysis: A US statement on e. J'lem is hard to come by
PA looks for its own incentive package for negotiations
Makovsky highlighted, however, complicating factors in the effort to get a deal on paper approved and signed, speaking at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy on Tuesday.
The crux of the deal centers on the US providing Israel with advanced fighter jets in return for a three-month West Bank settlement freeze that both the US administration and the government in Jerusalem hope will get Palestinians back to the negotiating table, he said.
Makovsky pointed out that while the Obama administration is making the offer, it’s Congress that must approve such a deal. Although Congress is typically supportive of Israeli aid and military acquisitions, incoming Republicans who will be taking over the US House have been talking about the need to save money and perhaps cut foreign aid.
In this climate, Makovsky said that Netanyahu is looking for some sort of “fallback understanding” so that he can present the security cabinet with an iron-clad arrangement for the planes in order to get the ministers’ backing for the freeze.
He also referred to a “verbal affirmation” from Netanyahu to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that the there would be “meaningful progress” on border issues during the 90-day freeze. He said that Israeli officials have concerns about a solitary focus on territory, or even on territory and security, over those 90 days, since Israel sees its best “chips” as being land. Officials are worried that if they give ground on this issue it will leave them in a weaker position when it comes to dealing with the even more sensitive issues of Jerusalem and refugees, so they are looking to find a formula they feel comfortable with.
Makovsky said that while the text didn’t contain any references to a long-term Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley – a key point Palestinians objected to – that issue would most likely come up again.
Meanwhile, the wide gaps inside the government were on full display on Tuesday, with Defense Minister Ehud Barak saying Israel must work toward a two-state solution or face losing its Jewish or democratic character, and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman saying that a final agreement with the Palestinians is unrealistic, and that the diplomatic focus should instead be on reaching a long-term interim agreement.
These widely varying visions of the future came as Jerusalem continued to wait for the just finalized letter of commitment from the US.
But while Barak indicated that direct talks with the Palestinians were absolutely vital for Israel, Lieberman said they were as important for the Palestinians as they were for Israel.
“There is no choice but to separate from the Palestinians,” the defense minister said at a conference of regional authority heads in the Negev. “Two states for two peoples is not a formula or slogan and is not a favor that we are doing for the Palestinians. That is the only way to ensure the future of the Jewish people.”
Barak said two states were necessary because if a boundary could not be drawn through the Land of Israel and there were only one political entity, that entity would have to be either Jewish or democratic, but it could not be both.
Barak said it was critical for Israel to come to an agreement with the US over the understandings regarding settlement construction.
“Either we will reach an understanding with the Americans, and the Palestinians and the Arab world will have to suit themselves to it, or the opposite will occur – the Arab world and the Palestinians will reach an understanding with the Americans, and we will have to suit ourselves to the conclusions,” he said.
Barak said a way had to be found to end the disagreement with the US over the construction issues, “because this is our greatest vulnerability in the world; there is not a government in the world that recognizes our right to build in Judea and Samaria.”
Lieberman, meanwhile, displayed the government’s other approach, saying at a press conference with visiting Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini that it would be wise to move from the current track of trying to resolve the conflict with the Palestinians – reaching a final agreement – to a different track where the goal would be a long-term interim agreement.
“I think we have a deep political, diplomatic disagreement, which is very emotional,” Lieberman said of the conflict with the Palestinians. “So it is preferable now to focus on the two issues where there is joint interest and cooperation that has proven itself in the past: in the spheres of security and economics.”
Regarding negotiations with the Americans over the document concerning a settlement freeze, Lieberman said that if the Palestinians were truly interested in talks, then the “guarantees and the document are much less important than starting the direct talks.”
Lieberman said that while he didn’t know the status of the talks with the US, “I am not willing to pay another additional price for the joy of conducting negotiations . This is in their interests just as it is in ours.”
Frattini, meanwhile, related to recent Palestinian threats to get the world to recognize a Palestinians state inside the June 4, 1967, lines, thereby imposing a solution on the parties, by saying that “so far” there is an understanding among the EU states that “we should support negotiations and negotiators, not replace the negotiations and negotiators.
“What is very important is to let the negotiators sit around the table and get an agreement including on the borders, not to decide from Brussels or elsewhere what should the Palestinian state be,” Frattini said. “We do want a Palestinian state as soon as possible, but there is no consensus and there are no proposals in Europe to have a decision on behalf of the two negotiators.”
As Frattini was meeting with top Israeli officials, in Brussels foreign ministers and other senior representatives of EU countries were discussing the Middle East at the monthly Foreign Affairs Council.
Following the meeting, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton issued a statement saying that the ministers exchanged views and “voiced their concern at the current lack of progress and the ongoing settlement activities, particularly in east Jerusalem. The High Representative pointed to the Council’s December 2009 conclusions and recalled that settlements are illegal under international law, are an obstacle to peace and threaten to make a two-state solution impossible.”
According to the statement, the “ministers also expressed their ongoing concern at the situation in Gaza, calling for the Gaza crossings to be opened and, in particular, for exports to be allowed out of Gaza.”
One Israeli diplomatic official said that what was so striking was that the statement was completely out of sync with the message that Frattini brought to Israel, one reason why the EU’s influence here is so limited.
Regarding the EU statement, the official said that “as long as this is their world view, they will continue to remain locked in their own fantasy work, without any possibility of influencing the real one.”
It is also mind boggling, the official said, that the statements routinely issued from the EU “make no acknowledgment of Israeli positions. They hold on to their slogans for dear life, and no reality makes them change it.”
Expert: Behavioral Profiling Could Help US Travelers
by David Lev
American air travelers would be subject to fewer body scans and patdowns if the Transport Safety Administration implemented some Israeli profiling techniques, an expert says.
While there is no danger in using the new full body scanners that have been implemented in most airports in the United States, subjecting travelers to the invasive body scans – or their even more invasive alternatives, the “enhanced body search” - wouldn't be as necessary if the United States “profiled” travelers as Israel does, says Israeli security expert Alon Wainer, owner of Level Five HLS Consulting.
“The United States and Israel share a great deal of, information and techniques on air security, and we both use the same equipment, including the full-body scanner. The difference is that in the U.S., the scanner is the default security check method, while in Israel it is an exceptional method,” he says.
Those scanners, Wainer says, are used at Ben Gurion Airport to check suspected smugglers, and are in use at several land border crossings. But all Israeli border points also utilize a form of profiling, which the United States has decided to forgo. “Since they don't do profiling, they have no way to determine who is a greater and lesser risk – so they have to treat everyone as a potential security risk,” Wainer told Israel National News.
The profiling done by Israel, however, is not based on race or ethnicity, but is based more on behavior and other cues that highly trained Israeli security personnel are trained to pick up. “In the U.S., they don't even profile on the basis of flight destination anymore, but they realize the bad people are out there – so they have no choice but to treat everyone as potentially guilty unless proven innocent, and check them in the scanners," Wainer says.
In fact, he adds, profiling techniques would help U.S. security officials even more than they help Israeli officials. “There's no question that the Transport Safety Administration has a much harder job than us, and many of the things done in Israel would be much harder to implement in the U.S., given the much higher volume of passengers,” Wainer says. But it is precisely for that reason behavioral profiling would be so helpful – to eliminate the large majority of passengers that are safe, and to use limited resources more efficiently.
The scanners themselves, by the way, are not dangerous, Wainer says, despite the fears of many Americans that they are going to get “zapped” by X-rays or other radiation when going through the machines. “The scanners work using radio waves that bounce off the body and form an image on the display,” Wainer explains.
“The waves are too weak to penetrate the body, and the image also does not reveal any specific physical components of the body. However, they are definitely invasive to the passenger's privacy – you can see what brand of underwear they are wearing, along with other information most people would probably prefer to keep secret.” And while the scanners are now a part of travel life – and probably will be for the foreseeable future – Israeli-style profiling could go a long way to making a difficult process a bit easier, he adds.
British MP Says Israel is 'Cause of Terrorism'
by Elad Benari
A controversial British politician has accused Israel of being the “cause of terrorism” and has said that the West's treatment of Muslims was caused by what she called “Holocaust guilt” and the “power of the pro-Israel lobby”.
According to a report published in the European Jewish Press website, Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Jenny Tonge made the comments in the British House of Lords on Friday during the Strategic Defence and Security Review, which defines how the British government is to handle the priorities identified in its national security strategy.
“The treatment of Palestinians by Israel is held up as an example of how the West treats Muslims and is at the root cause of terrorism worldwide,” said Tonge. “Even Tony Blair has now admitted this publicly. Why do we let it continue? Is it Holocaust guilt? We should be guilty -- of course we should. Is it the power of the pro-Israel lobby here and in the USA? I do not know.”
Tonge also said that she feels “sorry for the people of Israel”, since as she put it “their government's policies have made that country the cause of a lot of the world's problems, yet now they are seen as the remedy and the base for the West to fight back.”
This is not the first time that Tonge has made statements against Israel. In 2004, she said that she would consider becoming a suicide bomber if she were an Arab living in the Palestinian Authority. She originally made the remarks before a pro-Palestinian group, but later told Sky News that she stands by her words. “I think if I had to live in that situation -- and I say that advisedly -- I might just consider becoming one myself,” she said.
In 2006 Tonge said that “the pro-Israeli lobby has got its grips on the western world, its financial grips. I think they've probably got a grip on our party.”
This past February, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg sacked Tonge from her position as the party's spokeswoman on health after she suggested that an inquiry should be established regarding the accuracy of allegations of organ harvesting by IDF medical teams at the scene of the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Clegg said the comments were “wrong, distasteful and provocative” before dismissing her from her post.
In response to her latest anti-Israel comments, Jon Benjamin, head of the Board of Deputies of British Jews (BOD), was quoted in European Jewish Press as saying: “Baroness Tonge has once again used language that has crossed every red line that her party colleagues have tried to lay down for her.”
The Jewish Chronicle reported on Tonge’s latest remarks and noted that they came only two days after Clegg admitted that Israel’s voice had not been well enough represented within the party.
During a conversation with the Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel, Clegg had said: “Israel’s right to thrive in peace and security is non-negotiable for Liberal Democrats. No other country so continually has its right to exist called into question as does Israel, and that is intolerable.”
A spokesman for the Liberal Democrat party told The Jewish Chronicle that Tonge’s comments did not reflect the views of the party.
Israel to PA: Reject ‘findings’ on claims to Kotel
By BY HERB KEINON, GIL HOFFMAN AND KHALED ABU TOAM
Israeli peace activist calls Palestinian Authority’s denial of Jewish ties to site a "stain" and a "serious mistake."
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s spokesman Mark Regev called on the Palestinian leadership Tuesday to publicly disassociate itself from the Palestinian Authority “study” denying Jewish claims to the Western Wall, saying “this is not the sort of statement to be expected from a partner in peace.”
“Denying the Jewish connection to the Western Wall is to deny reality. If you deny the Jewish connection to the Western Wall you are in fact denying the Jewish connection to Jerusalem and the land of Israel itself,” Regev said. “When they deny the Jewish connection, they are unfortunately raising very serious questions as to their true commitment to reconciliation.”
PA slams NIS 85 million Kotel development project
Kotel Plaza renovations plan gets initial okay
PM’s associates: He’ll never give up Western Wall
Regev said this type of statement was to be expected from “Ahmadinejad’s Iran, Hizbullah or Hamas, but to deny the Jewish connection to the Western Wall is something that we wouldn’t expect from a partner in peace, and I call upon the Palestinian leadership – President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad – to publicly disassociate themselves from it.”
Likud MK Tzipi Hotovely said the government must fight to prevent the world from adopting the libels spread by the PA against the Jewish people. She warned that the “study” could be endorsed by UNESCO, which recently declared that Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem was a Muslim holy site and not a Jewish one.
“We must declare war on the culture of lies circulated by the Palestinians before the world starts believing them,” she said. “One can only hope that the more the Palestinians talk about the lack of a connection between the Jewish people to their land, the less people will take seriously whatever claims they make.”
Meanwhile, the PA officially endorsed the “study.”
The PA’s Ministry of Information posted the results on its official website, and these findings were first published in The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.
The project was prepared by al-Mutawakel Taha, a senior official with the PA Ministry of Information. He is also a prominent Palestinian poet and writer.
Taha’s “study” concluded that the Western Wall was never a Jewish site, but had always belonged to Muslims. He wrote that the Western Wall, known to Muslims as Al-Buraq Wall, is actually the western wall of the Al-Aksa Mosque.
Gershon Baskin, the joint CEO of the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information, sent a letter to the Palestinian leadership in the wake of the Post article, calling the findings “a serious mistake” and “a stain on the Palestinian Authority.”
“If the content of the article is correct, you should take immediate action against the author of the report in question (if he is in fact employed by the PA or by the PLO) because his baseless claims are a serious blow to the legitimacy of Palestinian claims and make a mockery of the idea of peace between the Palestinians and the Jews,” Baskin wrote. “This is a most serious mistake, similar to the one of the late President Arafat when he denied any Jewish connection to the Holy Temple Mount (Haram Al-Sharif) in Jerusalem.
“Any observer, even a non-professional archeologist, can discern that the stones used to construct the Western Wall (the Kotel) are from the era of Solomon’s Temple and the Temple rebuilt by King Herod which was hundreds of years before Islam appeared on the world stage.
“The falsification of history, as done in the report by the Palestinian poet Al- Mutawakel Taha, a senior official with the Ministry of Information, is a serious stain on the Palestinian Authority.”
Erdogan to visit Lebanon, meet with Hezbollah officials
By JPOST.COM STAFF
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that his country "would not allow civil war to break out in Lebanon."
In an interview with the Lebanese daily As-Safir, Erdogan said he will meet with all of Lebanon's political parties, including Hezbollah, when he arrives in Beirut Wednesday morning for a two-day visit.
Erdogan's comments come amid tensions in Lebanon ahead of the expected publication of the findings of the UN Hariri tribunal.
Jerusalem: A cup of trembling and a burdensome stone
This is a guest post by Nicole Horrelt, an up and coming writer from Canada who has been a long-time reader of Israel Today.
The prophecy of Zechariah Chapter 12 was written approximately 2500 years ago predicting a future day when the world’s focus would be on Jerusalem:
“Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem.”
“And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.”
Further in verses 7, 8 and 9, the prophecy makes it clear that God will ultimately save the city and its people, but to the surrounding nations, the attempted conquest of Jerusalem will cause them great trouble, and to every nation pressuring to lift Jerusalem out of Jewish control, it will prove to be a heavy burden, and be injurious to them all.
This is widely regarded as an End Time prophecy, and by examining the current geo-political and spiritual situation of the Middle East conflict, it is safe to say the time-frame of this prophecy is upon us.
The words to Israel’s national anthem, “Hatikvah” (The Hope) written in 1886 by Naphtali Herz Imber, express the powerful emotion and inmost God-given desire of the Jewish people, and the deep longing of the Jewish heart while living in exile among the nations, for their homeland. Praying, they faced Jerusalem, and never gave up the hope for their promised return there, as prophesied in the word of God. (Isaiah 11:11-12; Ezekiel 36:8-11 Ezekiel 37:21-22; Ezekiel 38:8, Isaiah 43:5-6; Jeremiah 31:7-10)
Today, millions of Jewish people have returned, and many are still making aliyah, as prophesied in the Bible.
However, the Islamic community, the nations surrounding Israel (Psalm 83:4-8), the international community, and the Vatican - all have a different goal in mind for Jerusalem. They would all remove complete Jewish control over the city and erase the Jewish victory in the June 1967 (miraculous) Six Day War, and either divide Jerusalem, or attempt a complete conquest of it, if they could.
The call of the world at this time then is the attempt to lift this ‘immovable rock,’ but in return, to only find that the word of God is the unshakeable truth. All who burden themselves with pressuring Israel in changing what God has said in His word concerning Jerusalem, will find themselves facing nothing less than God’s judgment. Jerusalem will be a cup of trembling to the surrounding nations attempting to take it over from Israel; the Six Day War is an example of the supernatural protection around this Holy Land. His word is faithful and true.
At present, the US and Israel are negotiating a deal that would effectively bring both the Palestinians and Israel back to the table for direct peace talks, under the pressure from the international community, with the prospect to bring about a “two-state solution” that would supposedly solve the Middle East conflict.
The negotiations are stalled at the moment as Israel is waiting for a written letter of promise back from the Obama Administration assuring them that this current construction freeze demand does not include “East Jerusalem”; it is “only” imposed on construction in Judea and Samaria. Israel is to receive certain military gestures, security guarantees, and 20 aircraft, in return for agreeing to the freeze.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has strongly declared to the Obama Administration that “Jerusalem is not a settlement, it is our Capital!” He has stated previously that Jerusalem is not to be included in this round of talks. However, the letter from the US is slow in coming back - apparently the Obama Administration does not want Israel to continue building in East Jerusalem. Jerusalem is a burdensome stone!
Israel is like a banner to the entire world that the word of God is the truth. With each passing day, as Jerusalem becomes more and more the center of the world’s attention, it will become increasingly difficult for anyone to dispute the incredible accuracy of these ancient prophecies. Truly, the time to seek God is now, if you don’t know Him. Zechariah Chapter 12 ends with the Messiah’s prophesied return:
“And in that day I will set about to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.”
Let us Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem - Psalm 122.