An attempt is made to share the truth regarding issues concerning Israel and her right to exist as a Jewish nation. This blog has expanded to present information about radical Islam and its potential impact upon Israel and the West. Yes, I do mix in a bit of opinion from time to time.
Thursday, April 03, 2014
“The Insanity Deepens”
The current situation regarding “peace negotiations” has evolved into one
beyond imagining. I do not use the term “evolved” to suggest progress to a
higher state, I assure you.
What is more, everything is in almost hour-to-hour flux. And so,
while I hope to send this out today, I advise my readers that within hours of
your reading this, the situation may have again shifted. In point of fact,
I had written an extensive posting yesterday, and before I transmitted it, news
broke that so changed the situation that I had to table it.
In the last posting I sent out, I had touched upon a number of rumors –
explaining that media reports on this situation were so conflicting that it was
impossible to determine what was accurate and what not. Now, we have a
considerably clearer – but still muddled - picture.
The genesis of the current tangled situation was a major disagreement
between Israel and the PA with regard to the release of that last group of 26
Israel had information that it was the intention of the PA to celebrate the
release of this last group and then walk out on negotiations and head to the UN
and international tribunals:
“Erekat himself stated last month that Abbas was staying in talks
solely for the sake of the terrorist releases.”
Thus did Netanyahu call a halt, saying that there had to be a quid pro quo
before he would approve that release. What heappeared to
be looking for was a commitment by the PA to stay at the table past the April
29th deadline, thereby keeping the PA from its “international” path. That he may
have had other motives as well is altogether possible.
The PA leadership, on the other hand, was firm in its conviction that
Israel committed to the release of 104 prisoners, no matter what, and that the
last group had to be released with no further commitment from their side.
News reports were that they were very angry. Furious. They referred
to the Israeli conditions as “blackmail.”
On the Palestinian Arab street, securing the release of prisoners is a huge
matter. Support for Abbas’s administration is affected by what he can
accomplish in this regard: for him to fail to secure release of prisoners as
promised weakens his base.
Thus was there a “stalemate” – if you can call a hitch in a process that
was going nowhere a stalemate. And thus did John Kerry fly into the area
once again on Monday, this time from Paris, according to White House press
secretary Jay Carney, to “narrow the gaps and get things moving forward.”
(Continue reading after you’ve stopped laughing.)
Kerry did not meet with Abbas because of scheduling conflicts. At
least that is what we were told. But it is possible that Abbas simply said
that Kerry knew his terms and there was nothing to discuss: For, Monday night,
PA officials gave Kerry 24 hours to resolve the prisoner dispute. If it
wasn’t resolved by Tuesday, they said, they would turn to UN agencies for
US envoy Martin Indyk (no friend of Israel) and a considerable US
“negotiating team” were on the scene speaking to both sides before the secretary
of state arrived. And then, Kerry did meet with chief PA negotiation Saeb
Erekat, although there was no word on what was discussed.
Kerry met with Netanyahu late Monday night and again Tuesday morning.
It seemed that the second meeting followed some communication with the PA, but
this is where it all got fuzzy, with the rumors and unofficial reports
The PA wanted the 26 prisoners (including Arab Israeli citizens) released
with no conditions attached. Then, if they were to remain at the table (this is
metaphorically speaking only, because there haven’t been direct talks between
the parties for months), they wanted additional concessions from Israel.
Media sources have been reporting various demands and various things that
Netanyahu presumably agreed to. Now that the air has cleared a bit, it is
possible to pinpoint several exaggerations. But concessions there were:
In the last posting I sent out, I had expressed doubt about the veracity of
reports that our prime minister had agreed to release an additional 400
prisoners, suggesting that his coalition would crumble were he to attempt to do
this. It turns out that, indeed, he did agree – and possibly to
Originally, Israel said that only prisoners with no blood on their hands
would be chosen. But then the PA insisted on the right to participate in
selection, which sets off bells. On some media sites I have seen reports
that Barghouti would be included. But today I checked with someone who has first
hand information from inside the government, and I’ve been told this is not
The big news was that there had become a real possibility that
Jonathan Pollard might be released in mid-April in return for
this. As “incentive.”
There are US sources who were confirming this possibility, but there was no
official statement from the American government. Jay Carney, White House press
secretary, said that the president had not decided yet. Obama was weighing his
options and whether this would bring political gain. He’s been hostile to
the concept of releasing Pollard from the beginning of his presidency.
What this would do is shift the dynamic and make it more likely that
Netanyahu would be able to release more Arab prisoners without bringing down his
Was this a good thing? No, it is a vile and immoral
Jonathan Pollard deserves to be released because his continued
incarceration is unjust and inhumane. Released, period. Not in
exchange for the release of more terrorists.
Please see the case made today by Alan Dershowitz and Irwin Cotler
regarding Pollard’s right to be released:
To offer his release in the fashion proposed is extortion. Even among
those enormously eager to see Pollard brought home to Israel, there are those
who oppose such a deal.
To complicate matters further, there were conflicting reports regarding
whether Pollard would cooperate in such a trade-off. Pollard refused a
parole hearing yesterday, which many read as a sign that he would not
cooperate. As well, there are those who have spoken to him over time, or
are in touch with those who are, who say Pollard wants no part of such a
Others – such as the JPost’s Gil Hoffman - insist that Pollard would
cooperate. Pollard’s health is poor and, whatever his distaste for the
situation, this may be his only chance for an improvement in his living
conditions that would sustain or prolong his life:
And obviously, there are serious objections to this deal here in
Israel: Much of Bayit Yehudi is negative; as is Danny Danon (Likud),
fiercely so; and Yair Shamir, Uzi Landau, and Israel Katz (all Yisrael
Beitenu). I’ve heard that Ze’ev Elkin may object, and Foreign Minister
Lieberman (head of Yisrael Beitenu) has said he would. So it was not a
sure thing that this deal would pass muster in the government.
And now... add to this the fact that there is another way in which
Netanyahu caved. Reportedly he agreed to institute an eight-month partial de
facto freeze in Judea and Samaria, as well.
Unbelievable? Believe it. Unbearable?
Absolutely. Incomprehensible? That
And what would the PA give in return for all
of this? They would continue at the table into 2015.
But wait! This is not the end of the
saga. Kerry, who had to fly out to other locales on Monday afternoon, was
due back yesterday to meet with PA officials in Ramallah and secure their final
agreement on these new terms.
But Abbas dropped a bombshell: He
announced that – with full PLO approval - he had signed applications to 15
international agencies, thereby abrogating the understanding that was the
linchpin for all of these Israeli concessions.
Kerry cancelled plans for going to Ramallah,
and for a brief time I thought the issue was dead. In fact, I figured this
was the perfect scenario for Netanyahu: See, he would be able to announce, we
were willing to go that extra mile (kilometer), we wanted to cooperate. But
look, Abbas has not cooperated, and now Israel must call a halt. The PA
has sabotaged “talks.”
Foolish me: Subsequently, both the Americans
and the Israelis hedged the issue, saying that the Palestinian
Arabs were only playing hardball in order to get even more concessions and
besides, Abbas hadn’t mailed the applications yet and maybe he wouldn’t, and in
addition to this, he was not actually applying to any UN agencies, just other
That is, they were saying that in spite of
what Abbas announced, plans for extended negotiations could continue.
This is what Kerry said:
“What is important to
say about the Middle East right now is it is completely premature tonight to
draw any kind of judgment, certainly any final judgment, about today’s events
and where things are.”
It was at this point that I felt the impulse
to run my head into the wall.
Is the fear of what Abbas might do
so great, is the hunger to keep him on board so overwhelming, that this
penny-ante terrorist in a suit, who has no real political base, and whose term
of office ran out years ago, is permitted complete latitude and excused
Abbas, for his part, was playing both ends
against the middle – saying that he was only doing what the PA had every right
to do, but that this did not mean he wasn’t for negotiations.
[appealing to international agencies] is our fundamental right and we will not
give it up...
interested in peace and in an independent Palestinian state that will be
established in peace beside Israel, but we keep facing delays -- more and more
delays. So the Palestinian leadership unanimously decided to join international
organizations and institutions. We are not closing the door and we have hope for
the peace process.”
Ashraf Khatib, a communications adviser for
the PLO’s Negotiations Affairs Department, put it this way“
"These treaties and conventions will help to protect and
promote basic rights of the Palestinian people and will enable the State of
Palestine to be a responsible actor on the international stage. These treaties
are vital to continued Palestinian institutional building, good governance and
the upholding of human rights, all of which form the basis for an independent
and sovereign State of Palestine.”
“good governance and the upholding of human
rights...” Unmitigated nonsense where the PA is concerned. But for
the uninitiated, the naïve and those eager to believe, he makes a convincing
It is important to note that, despite what
Kerry said to minimize the issue, agencies Abbas applied to
were, indeed, connected to the UN, and at this point the
applications have been delivered. Some were handed to UN
Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry .
It is broadly understood that if Obama and
Kerry were ready to consider releasing Pollard, then they were desperate.
But this gambit is nothing if not cruel. First, of course, for
Pollard. But it’s also a heartbreak for many here, to so badly want to see
Jonathan Pollard released, and yet to know that the price demanded is
exceedingly detrimental to the state of Israel.
My own guess is that this will fall
apart. In his recent statements Kerry shows signs of stepping back:
“A senior American official told
The [Washington] Post that Kerry has ‘gone as far as he can as
mediator’ and that the release of Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard,
seen as a bargaining chip, would no longer be on table unless the Palestinians
and Israelis made ‘significant moves forward.’ (Emphasis
added) It was now up to the two parties
to work things out, Kerry is reported as saying. http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/1.583342
Never mind that he continues to babble in public about
how there’s still hope for peace.
As to Netanyahu, even now – and in the face
of claims to the contrary – I do not believe his goal is the facilitation of a
Palestinian state. Had that been the case, there would have been much he might
have done a la Olmert to make territorial concessions during the last eight
No, I think that our prime minister is under
extreme pressure from a ruthless Kerry. But I do not excuse him because of
this. Not at all. He shows himself to be spineless and ever eager to
please and appear the good guy. In the process he makes Israel weak.
Then there is, of course, this irrational
fear he harbors that we will suffer severe damage if the PA goes to the UN and
other international forums. This is undoubtedly a piece of the
As my readers know, with Jeff Daube, I
co-chair Legal Grounds: The Campaign for Israel’s Rights. Just today we
met to discuss our approach in coming weeks and months.
That fear of Abbas and the UN comes
from a lack of Israeli confidence about our legitimate rights and a reluctance
to speak out on this issue.
Changing this is what we are about, and
there will be much to say about this in the time ahead. If you have an
interest, where you are, please be in touch with me.
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