“I accepted the invitation to the Presidential Conference with the intention that this would not only allow me to express my opinion on the prospects for a peace settlement but also because it would allow me to lecture on the West Bank. However, I have received a number of emails from Palestinian academics. They are unanimous that I should respect the boycott. In view of this, I must withdraw from the conference. Had I attended, I would have stated my opinion that the policy of the present Israeli government is likely to lead to disaster.”
Israel, which daily steals Palestinian land and resources, is like a wealthy person who insists on burglarizing his neighbor, and naturally after a while the dinner invitations in polite society drop off.
Meanwhile Syrian leader Bashar al-Asad’s decision to permit guerrilla attacks on Israel from Syrian soil was welcomed by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a small radical group with offices in Damascus. Whether the leftist group still has any significant operational capacity has yet to be seen.
The USG Open Source Center translates an article from Izvestia:
Russian Newspaper Claims Syria Planning To Attack Israel Through Palestinian Group
Report by Timur Khursandov and Konstantin Volkov: “Syria To Fight Israel With Palestinian Hands”
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Document Type: OSC Translated Text
On 7 May it became clear that statements emanating from Damascus to the effect that the recent Israeli Air Force attack on Syria would not remain unpunished were not just an idle threat. Izvestiya has learned that Syrian President Bashir al-Asad has decided to fight the Israelis with the hands of others — the task will be undertaken by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which is traditionally sponsored from Damascus and is essentially subordinate to it.
“We have received a clear signal — a green light to carry out operations in the Golan Heights,” the PFLP’s official spokesman Anwar Raja told Izvestiya. “There was no immediate direct discussion, but I think that there is no need for this, because for us, this is a natural decision.”
He added that the PFLP’s leadership plans to discuss the details of upcoming operations with the Syrian authorities soon.
“I do not rule out that we will discuss this directly with the Syrian authorities in the very near future,” Raja noted. “We welcome this decision, which is natural on the basis of the role that Syria plays in supporting the Palestinian resistance.”
Representatives of the Syrian authorities were unable for comments at the time that this issue was published.
Experts, in turn, believe that Al-Asad had to resort to the aid of the Palestinians because beggars cannot be choosers. In the words of Near East Institute President Yevgeniy Satanovskiy, the Syrians have no one else to send against Israel.
“Hamas does not want to go to war, nor does Hezbollah. Both groups fear that if combat operations begin, Israel will undertake them in earnest. It is for the same reason that Al-Asad does not wish to activate the Syrian Army against his neighbor either,” the expert explained to Izvestiya.
At the same time, in his opinion, PLFP operations are not dangerous for Israel.
“An attack by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine poses no threat to Israel,” Satanovskiy believes. “The latter is quite capable of liquidating terrorists.”
The expert, who is currently in the Golan Heights himself, noted that no panic is noticeable in the region.
“The Golan Heights are calm right now,” Satanovskiy says. “Heightened security measures have been introduced, the skies have been closed to flights by civilian aircraft, and therefore the airports situated in northern Israel are not functioning either.”
As for Al-Asad’s opponents in the various Sunni Muslim groups, according to Satanovskiy, they are in a state of confusion. It turns out that their perennial foe Israel is fighting on their side, and they are so far undecided as to how to react to this.
(Description of Source: Moscow Izvestiya Online in Russian — Website of large-circulation daily that is majority-owned by Yuriy Kovalchuk’s National Media Group and usually supports the Kremlin; URL: http://www.izvestia.ru/)
The wingnut psychopathology of Glenn Beck and many other hyper-conservatives doesn’t prevent them from being lionized in the media, turned into millionaires by media corporations, and having their own media (“The Blaze”) taken seriously on television. Meanwhile, we ordinary everyday liberals are considered by the corporate media to be too controversial to put on the air.
One of the more profound contradictions in wing-nuttery is an absolute idolatry of Israel’s Likud government combined with a lightly veiled contempt for American Jews and their liberal values. Back in the 1990s the Conservative code word for Jews was the “Hollywood elite”, seen as promoting sex outside traditional marriage, gay rights, gun control, workers’ rights, etc. Go back and look at Dan Quayle’s attack on the sitcom Murphy Brown with Candace Bergen, the real target of which was the imaginary “Hollywood elite.” (Hollywood is actually a diverse enterprise.). Most American Jews vote Democratic.
At the same time, the right wing developed a fascination with muscular Zionism in Israel. They configured Israel as the Alamo of White People, surrounded by barbarian hordes and terrorists. Glenn Beck developed ties to the Israeli Likud Party and was praised by PM Binyamin Netanyahu even though 8 of his “9 most dangerous men” are Jews. He has said slanderous things about George Soros. He characterized the young Israeli protesters for social justice in summer, 2011, as a leftist Islamic Nazi plot. He compared Reform Judaism to al-Qaeda.
Now Beck has compared Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s stances on controlling hand guns and his public health campaign against huge doses of sugary soda to a Nazi salute.
The true friends of Israel are the ones working against the occupation of the Palestinian territories captured in 1967, an Occupation that is deeply harming Israeli interests. For Beck, Israelis are merely Gurkhas for American Empire, and when they decline to serve far rightwing US interests, he is happy to smear them as Nazis.
This video report on China’s new interest in Middle East diplomacy begins by pointing out that the Obama administration has announced a pivot toward Asia (i.e. US interests lie more in the Pacific Rim than the Middle East.). At the same time, China (which dislikes this pivot, fearing it is aimed against Beijing) is moving into Middle East diplomacy. The young, cosmopolitan new president, Xi Jinping, is separately hosting Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas.
The USG Open Source Center translates commentary from the Chinese Communist Party’s ‘People’s Daily’, making clear that the Chinese Communist Party is increasingly interested in playing the role of a Great Power in world affairs. This step is a change from the policy of ‘harmonious development, which implied avoidance of such entanglements while. concentrating on growing the economy.
Zhong Sheng Article on China’s More Active Role in Palestine-Israel Peace Talks
Zhong Sheng: “The Positive Energy of Peace in the Middle East”
Renmin Ribao Online
Monday, May 6, 2013
Document Type: OSC Translated Text
With the development and growth of the comprehensive national strength, China will participate in the international affairs and strive to play well its constructive role in an even more active way.
President Abbas of Palestine begins his state visit to China from 5 May. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu will also begin his official visit to China from 6 May. China maintains friendly exchanges with both Palestine and Israel, always supports the Middle East peace process, and supports Palestine and Israel to resolve differences and disputes through peace talks. The Chinese side’s invitation of the visits of the two countries’ leaders is also a part of the aforementioned efforts.
BOTh Palestine and Israel have expectations for the “China role” on the Middle East issue. The international community also pays high attention to it. Such attention includes concerns on Palestine-Israel relations and on the situation in the Middle East, which also realizes the strong hope for observing and grasping the direction of China’s diplomacy.
Turmoil in west Asia and in North Africa and the war in Syria bring about new political ecology in the Middle East. The Palestine-Israel issue, however, has not faded from the “eye of the storm” and whose acute nature and impact have not diminished in the least. Serious lack of security and trust lead to the serious confrontation over position between the two sides over border, security, return of refugees, distribution of water resource, final status of Jerusalem, and over other issues. King Abdullah II of Jordan stated frankly: Now is the “final moment” to resolve the Palestine-Israel issue. If there is no action and no breakthrough “all will be finished four years later.”
On the eve of the visits of Palestine’s and Israel’s leaders to China, some individuals suddenly indulged in fantasy and stated as follows: China wants to secure its own “foothold” in the Middle East, and tries to erode the influence of a certain big power in that region.
The international arena is not the sole preserve of any one. Pushing for the resolution of the hot-button issues is the common responsibility of all. Turf war and scrambling for interests are totally unrelated. The parties concerned know best in their heart where the source of the aforementioned view lies.
The positive move made by China on the Palestine-Israel issue is a natural extension of its independent foreign policy of peace. China does not want to take over the roles of other major powers and of international organizations like the United Nations; it also has not the intention to act like an “umpire.” China supports all proposals that help to promote peace talks between Palestine and Israel, and will, as always, contribute its efforts to promote achieving real results in peace talks.
As a responsible power, China defends the purpose and principle of the “UN Charter,” stresses fairness and justice, helps maintain obligations and norms in international relations, and strenuously promote the resolution of differences and disputes through peace talks. This is also China’s basic position on the Middle East issue.
One of the major reasons that many regional hot-button issues are not resolved at an early date lies in the failure to fully abide by the aforementioned principles. The line of thinking for resolving problems will open even wider, the opportunities for restarting peace talks will be even more, and the possibility of achieving a breakthrough will increase if we tilt a bit more to the side of these principles.
Persisting in these principles means building and mending the platform for peace. The purpose of China’s diplomacy is to build more and mend more platforms, and help create more opportunities for resolving problems and for realizing peace. China is strongly convinced that no matter how complicated various hot-button issues are, as long as one can grasp the major direction, various conflicting parties will be moved to advance in the same direction and a peaceful resolution plan can finally be found.
Peace is like air and sunshine. You are not aware of them when you are benefitted from them. But when you lose them, you can hardly survive. If there is no peace, we cannot talk about development. The Chinese people have deep-seated memory of the distress brought about by wars and turmoil, and pursue peace tirelessly. Such a memory and pursuit is the special nature of the Chinese culture, and the spiritual temperament of the Chinese diplomacy.
Develop oneself through striving for a peaceful international environment and maintain and promote world peace through one’s own development are complementary and are inseparable. With the development and growth of the comprehensive national strength, China will take part in the international affairs in an even more active way, strive to play well its constructive role, and inject a strong positive energy to promote an early resolution of the Palestine-Israel issue and of other international and regional hot-button issues.
(Description of Source: Beijing Renmin Ribao Online in Chinese — Online version of the daily newspaper (People’s Daily) of the CPC Central Committee. URL: http://paper.people.com.cn)
Secretary of State John Kerry has wrung a concession from the Arab League, which now says that some minor changes in the 1967 border between Israel and the Palestinians are acceptable, with small land swaps. This position would have been important if there were a peace process, since many Israeli settlements on the Palestinian West Bank are not very deep into it, and so could remain on that land if Israel relinquished some territory of its own to the Palestinians in recompense. All of this is a bit of a fantasy, of course, since the Israelis don’t intend to relinquish anything at all, and are plotting some way to steal all Palestinian land and resources and find a way to keep the Palestinians stateless or perhaps ultimately to ethnically cleanse them. Since the initiation of the Oslo Peace process, the Israelis have settled hundreds of thousands of squatters on Palestinian territory and grabbed almost all the water on the West Bank.
Netanyahu is not the only one unsettled by this unwelcome outbreak of reasonable diplomacy. Many Israeli pundits in the Hebrew press attacked, minimized or ridiculed the Arab League announcement. Insofar as they don’t want a Palestinian state or to halt Israeli squatting, they aren’t happy about Kerry acting as though there were real peace negotiations going on. There were a few peaceniks who welcomed the Arab League statement, but they seem to be being outshouted.
The USG Open Source Center translates comments from the Hebrew press in Israel:
Israeli Writers Unmoved by Arab League Announcement, Note Influence of ‘Messianic’ Kerry Activism
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Document Type: OSC Summary
Israeli commentators on 1 May discuss the 29 April Arab League decision to embrace a modified version of their decade-old Peace Initiative with an emphasis on mutually agreed land swaps between Israel and the Palestinians. Most writers estimate that the Arab League announcement is not likely to cause a breakthrough in the peace process, and one prominent commentator notes that the United States’ “activism” on the issue is detrimental and motivates Palestinians seeking to “leave mark” on reality by carrying out terror attacks.
Activism of “Messianic” Kerry Motivates Palestinian Militants
Shim’on Shiffer writes in “Terror Raises Its Head” on page 4 of Yedi’ot Aharonot : “The security establishment refuses, as of now, to define the large number of Palestinian attempts to attack settlers in the recent period as the start of a third Intifada. However, officials in the political-security establishment are willing to admit that unrest can be identified under the surface — unrest that could turn into a kind of uprising. According to our intelligence officials, the activism being displayed by US Secretary of State John Kerry, who believes that an arrangement between Israel and the PA can be promoted, actually assists this worrying trend: It motivates Palestinian elements that wish to make a mark on reality by encouraging terror attacks.”
“On the Israeli side too, Kerry has difficulty finding buyers for his merchandise. People here call him ‘naive,’ and say that he is behaving in an irrational manner, even ‘messianic.’ Kerry’s interlocutors in Israel rejected with contempt the proposals he raised for gestures towards Abu Mazin. ‘We will not free prisoners and we won’t be anyone’s patsies,’ said to me yesterday a senior official who is involved in the talks. Moreover, officials on the Israeli side have discerned tension between the White House and the State Department. In other words, they understand that Obama shows no interest in renewing the negotiations. The US president, my sources tell me, doesn’t believe–unlike Kerry–that solving the conflict will resolve all the problems of the region.
“Similarly, the statement made by the Qatari prime minister, according to which the Arab League would consent to a land swap between Israel and the Palestinians, did not find an attentive ear on the Israeli side. More precisely, the only person who is willing to adopt the proposal is Justice Minister Tzipi Livni. But the justice minister has no partners in the current government. On the contrary, the Netanyahu government has a solid majority that is opposed to the two-state idea. And so the deadlock intensifies –and terror raises its head, as we saw yesterday.” (Tel Aviv Yedi’ot Aharonot in Hebrew — Independent, centrist, second-largest circulation daily) . . .
‘External’ Arab Initiative Has ‘No Meaning’
In Maqor Rishon’s editorial “The Seriousness of the Arab Initiative,” David Merhav claims that the Arab Initiative has “no meaning,” as it cannot generate a “Palestinian agreement on a political roadmap” that will put an end to the conflict. “HAMAS answers to Iran, not to the Qatari prime minister. Abu Mazin — who is dependent on funds from the United States, Europe and Israel, and lacks support in the Palestinian Authority — cannot afford to obey the Arab countries and risk an internal uprising that will topple the rule of the PLO. This doesn’t mean that a political settlement to the conflict is unattainable — but it relies on an internal Palestinian decision, and not on an external decision made by Arab countries.” (Jerusalem Maqor Rishon in Hebrew — right-of-center daily)
Netanyahu, Abbas ‘Can’t Reach’ Comprehensive Peace Agreement
In his piece titled “Nothing New in the Arab League Proposal” in Israel Hayom, Dan Margalit states: “It’s clear that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas can’t reach a comprehensive peace agreement. Perhaps they might be able to come to a partial, interim agreement, but neither wants to be the first to say so to the other. Discussions about real or imagined flexibility, like the Qatari prime minister’s statement, are helpful, while the renewal of terror, as seen at Tapu’ah Junction on Tuesday, is harmful.” (Tel Aviv Israel Hayom in English — Website of English-language version of Yisra’el Hayom, Israel’s largest circulation daily distributed free of charge; owned by American businessman Sheldon Adelson, a staunch supporter of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu; URL: http://www.israelhayom.com)
Ball Is “In the Palestinian Court”
In a commentary on page 22 of Ma’ariv titled “Hollow Initiative,” Eli Avidar, former Israeli representative in Qatar, states that “since the outbreak of the wave of revolutions known as the Arab Spring, the Arab League has been having difficulty functioning; its weakness was revealed to the entire world in the Syrian civil war.” “If the Americans need the Arab League to achieve a breakthrough, this is a sign that the situation is truly difficult. The ball is not in Qatar, it is in the Palestinian court. During his latest visit to Ramallah, President Obama asked the PA chairman, ‘what are you Palestinians willing to do in order to renew the negotiations?’ The administration is still waiting for an answer. As long as Abu Mazin continues his purge of the moderate camp in the Palestinian government, instead of making a commitment to the peace process, the chance of resuming meaningful talks remains slim. No festive declaration in Washington will change this.” (Tel Aviv Ma’ariv in Hebrew — Independent, centrist, third-largest circulation daily)
Reaching Solution “Almost Impossible” But “We Must Try”
Another commentator in the same paper, Ben-Dror Yemini, thinks differently. In a column titled “Say Yes,” Yemini writes: “This does not mean a dramatic breakthrough has been reached; the major contested issues are still on the table — the refugee problem, the status of Jerusalem, the security arrangements, and especially how to prevent the West Bank from becoming a branch of the Gaza Strip. It isn’t easy nor simple, almost impossible. But it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. On the contrary, we must try. It’s important to remember that Israel succeeded to flourish because it said ‘yes’ more often than not. The Arabs, and particularly the Palestinians, are down in the dumps due to their insistence to say ‘no.’ There is no need to trade places.”
One of the horrible things about being stateless is that you are a flying Dutchman, never assured of being able to live in your own home. Being stateless, you have no state and no citizenship in anything. It means that you don’t have firm title to your own property, because you have no access to the courts (which are foreign).
The instability of refugee life is demonstrated again by what is happening to the families who were forced out of what is now Israel and who fled to Syria, are now being displaced yet again by the war. They are fleeing to Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.
The man recognized by the Palestine government based in Ramallah as prime minister, Salam Fayyad, has tendered his resignation to President Mahmoud Abbas. The most immediate cause of the dispute between the two was that, under pressure from crowds and from the Fateh party, the minister of finance, Nabil Qassis, tendered his resignation. Fayyad rejected that resignation, but President Abbas accepted it, overruling his prime minister. The finance portfolio is so controversial because the Palestine government is broke.
A respected economist, Fayyad was undone in part by punitive Israeli and American policies that cut off money to the Palestinian government because it sought observer state status at the United Nations. (Israel collects taxes and tariffs for Palestine and then turns the money over to Ramallah, but had declined to release the funds since November.) The money was released after President Obama’s recent visit to the region, but far too late to save Fayyad.
The US really only has itself to blame for the loss of Fayyad, with whom Washington liked to deal. If they liked him so well they shouldn’t have cut his government off from funding or allowed their Israeli clients to do so. As for the hard line ruling Likud Party in Israel, it is dedicated to keeping the Palestinians stateless and little more than slaves, whose property can be usurped at will. So no doubt Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his allies will greet the news of disarray in Palestine with great glee, whatever they say publicly.
Israel also undermined Fayyad by flooding Israeli settlers into the Palestinian West Bank and grabbing Palestinian resources such as water, making Fayyad look helpless and clueless as the territory over which he allegedly ruled looked more and more like Swiss cheese, settled by hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens. The United States government sometimes timidly demurs from Israel’s policy of stealing Palestinian land, but de facto Washington is Israel’s enabler in this regard.
Hamas in Gaza has its own prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh. The Hamas government was elected in January, 2006, but the Israelis and the Bush administration declined to recognize the elected government and connived at a coup against it. The coup succeeded in the West Bank, bringing the Palestine Liberation Organization back to power there. But it failed in Gaza, where Hamas retained power. Attempts by Israel in 2008-2009 and fall of 2012 to dislodge Hamas militarily from Gaza were miserable failures.
Some analysts think that President Abbas wants to move to a national unity government with Hamas, and that Hamas’s rejection of Fayyad as prime minister was an obstacle to that step. After that, Abbas is said to want to move to new elections. The Israeli right wing will squawk about Hamas, but then they should not have undermined Fayyad.
The USG Open Source Center translates an account from al-Sharq al-Awsat dated April 13, 2013, which appeared in the run-up to the final resignation:
“The Fatah Movement wants to get rid of Fayyad and made several attempts in this regard over several years through closed meetings and the media, and by inciting trade unions against him. It finally motivated the Palestinian street against his policies.
However, Abu-Mazin [Mahmoud Abbas], who was angry at Fayyad in the past months, has different calculations related to the continuation of the flow of funds. Also, he does not wish to engage in a clash with Western powers that support and want Fayyad. If Fayyad leaves his post, his move will affect the level of the Western aid to the Palestinian Authority and harm measures that were announced by US Secretary of State to consolidate growth in the West Bank.
Fayyad enjoys large US support. US President Barack Obama praised him several times when he visited Palestine and Israel last month. He also met privately with Fayyad in Ramallah. Kerry too did the same.
Abu-Mazin disagreed with Fayyad many times. But what Fayyad considered a challenge to him when Abu-Mazin accepted Finance minister Nabil Qassis’s resignation last month after he personally rejected it was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Abu-Mazin may wait for an agreement with HAMAS in order to get rid of Fayyad. He received yesterday President of the Central Elections Commission Hanna Nasir who handed him a file on the results of the registration of voters. The voter list has been updated in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Nasir told the president that the central elections commission will be ready to hold elections when a presidential decree setting a date for the elections will be issued.
Before issuing two simultaneous decrees to form a government and set a date for elections, Abu-Mazin wants to agree with HAMAS on the formation of a unity government to be led by himself, so that elections may be held afterward in three months’ time.
However, many problems concerning the priority and importance of issues stand in the way at a time when HAMAS accuses Fatah of being selective and says that all issues, including the status of the PLO, must be resolved at the same time.
(Description of Source: London Al-Sharq al-Awsat (Internet Version-WWW) in Arabic — Influential Saudi-owned London daily providing independent coverage of Arab and international issues; editorials reflect official Saudi views on foreign policy)”