Tag Archives: West Bank

THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY DISINTEGRATING?

BLOG 380 January 29, 2018

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In a continuing analysis of the current situation in Israel and the West Bank since President Trump announced the USA would move their embassy to Jerusalem, a number of re-positioning’s have occurred. As expected, most of the Arab world grumbled, but did nothing because it was in their best interest to stay on solid footing with Washington. They remain far more concerned with Iran. However, the Palestinians went ballistic.

Because they are now losing “big time,” Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the US in every possible way and declared America was no longer a fair negotiator in the peace process, characterized Trump’s move as criminal, and a gift to the Zionist Movement. For two hours, Abbas talked endlessly of Trump abandoning the peace process. Vice-President Pence was snubbed when he came through. Washington responded that Abbas’ accusations were far from the truth. Another “he said,” “she said,” exchange.

Taking the problem one step further, Trump was irate at the rejection of Pence and made the bold statement, “Money is not going to them unless they sit down and negotiate peace.” Previous US presidents have been irritated with the Palestinian opposition and obstinacy, but none threatened to cut off assistance if the Palestinians didn’t negotiate.

The issue now before the world is would the PA collapse if the USA cut off all funding? A major problem indeed!

An issue that has long wrangled American politicians is that the PA uses American assistance to fund terrorists and their families. American taxpayers find rewarding terrorists to be particularly abhorrent. Responding to this issue, The House Representatives and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee have approved th Taylor Force legislation which would force the PA to choose between US assistance and their morally reprehensible policy of funding terrorist. If approved, the legislation could bring the house down on the PA.

What next? The frightening possibly would be Abbas being replace by a more radical group like Hama. No negotiations would follow this entity and American security interest would be hurt.

However, what is ahead is fundamentally in the hands of the Palestinians. Trump has emboldened the Israelites and pushed the Palestinians further back in the corner. They know it and can only scream.

But before we draw any conclusions, it is well to remember that the sun always rises on the unexpected in the Middle East. Let’s hope this does not mean more killing.

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ISRAEL:THE FALLOUT CONTINUES

BLOG 376 December 18, 2017

The cost of President Trump’s arbitrary decision to move the American Embassy to Jerusalem and recognize it as the solidarity capital of Israel has mounted during the last week. Here’s some of the aftermath.

Four Palestinians were killed and dozens wounded. Eighty were known downed or wounded. Westerns often don’t realize many Arab Palestinians are Christian and caught up in the chaos. All of America’s allies stood firm in opposing Trump’s arbitrary action. Seeing an opportunity for change, Prime Minister Netanyahu flew to Brussels to ask for members of the European Union to follow Trump’s lead. Their answer was a firm no. Netanyahu then turned to French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris. Once more, the Israeli Prime Minister received an emphatic no. Czech foreign minister Lubomir Zaoralek said Monday that Trump’s announcement last week “can’t help us.”  All want an international commission to settle these issues with a two-state solution. They all had harsh words for Trump.

That’s the response from America’s friends.

In Palestine, President Mahmoud Abbas called for the United Nations to replace Washington as a Mideast mediator and suggested he would not cooperate with the Trump administration’s effort for Israeli-Palestinians. Abbas considers Trump’s actions to disqualify the United States as a participant in any further negotiations. Moreover, Abbas will not meet with Vice-President Pence’s visit to the Middle East. In other words, Trumps action has hung his son-in-law Jared Kushner’s efforts to head a peace delegation out to dry.

The Middle East peace process is in shambles.

Anticipating this response, the Jewish community remains divided with most opposed to President Trump’s action.

Where does the Middle East go from here? Critics of Israel, who claim the country is an occupier imposing their will on the Palestinian minority, are emboldened by Trump’s action. Many will see Israel as becoming further isolated.

Within Israel many citizens have already decided a two-state solution is not possible. In the West Bank, many young Palestinians agree. Their position is, “Let’s make one state and then we’ll insist on civil rights. The Jews will succumb to ethical pressure and be forced to treat as equals. There will be more Arabs than Israelis and we will win by default.” The Israeli government is certainly aware of this position.

What’s ahead? Peace? Sorry. I’m afraid not. More chaos to follow.

YOU CAN PUT THE MIDDLE-EAST INTO PERSPECTIVE WITH Robert L. Wise’s Bible Land’s: An Illustrated Guide to Scriptural Places published by Barbour Books.

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IS THE TWO- STATE SOLUTION DEAD? A LAST LOOK

BLOG 340 March 6, 2017

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With all the turmoil in Washington D.C., during the last month, a number of things have become clear. The capacity of the executive branch of government has proven more limited than President Trump thought or realized. With the court blocking his immigration policy and now his back-peddling on many issues, the checks and balances of the America system is working.

Of course, such will continue to be the case with the Israel-Palestinian situation. Initial actions and reactions will feel the pressure to think twice before taking precipitous actions. Nevertheless, considerable pressure exists in Israel for radical change in a current situation that is going nowhere.

Professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania Ian Lustick has not backed away from his statement in The New York Times that a two-state solution is an illusion. His position is that clinging to this ideal only clouds the political process. During his time working in Israel, what he observed led him to the conclusion that Prime Minister Netanyahu’s actual position only camouflages his true objective which is the de facto annexation of the West Bank. Lustick believes the aim of extensive settlement development is to accomplish that goal. While the professor believes future blood-shed and confrontations are inevitable, he proposes that ending what he calls “outdated ideas” will move the world forward.

Voices within Israel remind the world that the dominant religion beyond their borders is radical Islam. As long as this terrorist-oriented religion is strong (and there’s no end in sight), the nation of Israel must take extra precautions to protect their citizens. They vote to stop a non-functioning Arab state from bordering Israel. Looming on the horizon is the possible takeover of the PLO by Hamas. Such an option only further defeats the possibility of a two-state compromise.

Let’s add one other element that may finally be paramount in this problem. The Arabs vehemently deny Israel the right to exist. Arafat turned down a good solution for the Palestinians because his ultimate objection was to defeat Israel. Such has not changed!

As Israel continues to grow stronger, the PLO grows weaker. If this trend continues, somewhere there will be a crunch … and it won‘t be Israel.

Think about it, friends. How would you solve this crisis? If you come up with an answer, they are waiting for you to join them at the conference table.

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MEET THE PALESTINIAN Part 2

Blog 330 December 19, 2019

westbankhouses

            In our last blog, we looked at the Palestinian struggle in the West Bank and Gaza areas. Not a good scene.

Regardless of where they came from or their claims, the Palestinians are human beings living in the midst of an ongoing and unresolved struggle. As of this past week, it appears matters will get worse. The incoming Trump administration appears to be plowing ahead to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem under the leadership of Ambassador to Israel nominee David Friedman who rejects a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian struggle. Friedman supports Israel annexing a large section of the West Bank. Such a move would effectively eliminate a Palestinian state. Once again, the Palestinians could be pushed against the wall.

As Abba Ebon once note, “the Arabs never miss the opportunity to miss the opportunity.” A remark no longer funny or ironic if one is a Palestinian.

Building on the information I sketched out last week, let’s look at Gaza City. Nearly two years after the 50-Day War, the Gaza Strip remains in ruins. Piles of broken concrete are everywhere. Because of the fear of new violence, international donors haven’t met their pledges. Out of the nearly 18,000 destroyed homes hardly a single house has been rebuilt. One reason is that sacks of cement ended up on Gaza’s black market and much of the substance for building has been used in creating militant’s attack tunnels. Bags of the mix sit untouched. A year ago, it was estimated that 37,000 tons of cement still sat unused in warehouses. After authorities get through blaming each other, families without homes are still living in tents in refugee camps!

Camp life isn’t exactly positive (to say the least). For example, in the Shuafat Refugee Camp there are no laws in spite of the fact, the camp is near Jerusalem. Life is marginal.

And who is to blame? It’s easy to say Israel created the mess, but that’s a vast over simplification. Yasser Arafat had a national state in hand and walked out of the conference because his actual objective was the total destruction of Israel. What prompted the 50-Day war was Palestinian militants firing rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel. Tit-for-tat leaves the blame on both sides.

The leadership of Hamas and Hezbullah are equally guilty. The leadership of these groups has emptied their coffers into their own pockets, making themselves extraordinarily wealth while nothing is spent on the human needs of their Palestinian followers. Their one goal is the same as was Arafat’s.

Are the Israelis insensitive to this situation? Many are. But they would answer that Arab knife attacks on their children and women gives them no reason to worry about their enemy’s well-being. The “knife intifada” continues to this day.

And so the immigrations out of this land continue while the death toll mounts.

The coming months do not appear good for the Palestinians. And they remain human beings worthy of our concern. The time has come to transcend politics, but will we? Probably not.

Merry Christmas from the West Bank.

 

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THE NEW STATUS QUO IN ISRAEL AND GAZA

Everyone is sickened by the death of women and children in Gaza’s death toll of over 1,830 Palestinians in the military skirmish. The 64 Israeli casualties were all soldiers. Hamas fired 3,200 rockets at Israel during the battle and the rockets were destroyed or hit virtually nothing. The Iron Dome defense held. Gaza had no such defense.

Because Hamas used civilians as human shields, blame will be placed on Israel by those who already are negative. In America, 53% of citizens 65 or older blame Hamas. On the other hand, only 29% of citizens aged 18 to 29 support Israel. Growing numbers of Europeans believe that not to be angry at Israel is tantamount to not having a conscience. Of course, part of the growth of European anti-Semitism is in the expanding large Muslim communities.

So, where are we today? Probably the depressing reality is that the Gaza conflict is heading toward a familiar conclusion. People get killed; nothing changes. Some groups will probably attempt to create a U.N. condemnation of alleged war crimes committed by Israel. The Palestinian Authority (PA) may make another attempt to gain recognition as a state. Probably neither of those approaches will produce any significant result. Mahmoud Abbas will go hobbling along affecting little, but making extreme accusations. Benjamin Netanyahu will continue building settlements to put the squeeze on the PA. A weak PA and a defeated Hamas will create a void that well may attempt to be filled by jihadists like ISIS or al-Qaida. The struggle continues.

A new shift may follow as Israel demands not only recognition of their right to exist, but may demand a long-term military presence in the West Bank. Increasing numbers of Israelis already question whether a two-state solution is possible. Many Arabs have already become Israeli citizens because they believe this is the only possible alternative for a productive life. Unless some significant action is taken, Hamas will again be trying to smuggle weapons into Gaza while manufacturing there own rockets in people’s homes. Israel wants to see the international community halt arms shipments from Iran and Sudan. But will they?

Many Arabs are already opposed to Hamas. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates view Hamas as frightening extremists that pose a threat to peace and tranquility in the entire region. By its own actions, Hamas has isolated itself. Now is the time for Israel to stop their warring capacities if Isrealis are to be secure.

Thoughtful citizens in Gaza must recognize that Hamas has only made their lives worse. Will they? At the least, they won’t say so out loud, but they will be thinking. The Hamas strategy of using humans as shields with schools, hospitals, mosques as rocket launching sites has cost the average citizen dearly. At the same time, the hatred of Israel only deepens. The problem is that with over 1,800 deaths, a new generation of young people will rise up bent on revenge even at the cost of their own lives. And the war starts over again.

Sorry. That’s all I can see.

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WILL HAMAS STOP FIGHTING?

The current warfare with Israel began because Hamas kept firing rockets into Israel and dug tunnels under the border to infiltrate Israel with night attacks. In response, Israel has flattened Gaza City that is controlled by Hamas. To date, the Palestinian death toll has topped 1,030 with only 45 Israeli soldiers killed in battle. Gaza City now looks like a junk pile. Over this past weekend, CBS journalist Charlie Rose ask Khaled Meshal, the leader of Hamas, if he would ever accept the existence of the state of Israel. His answer?  No.

Before the current altercation began, matters were not good for Hamas. The suppression of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt ended their hopes of ties with that country. Funds were lost and the borders closed. Residents of Gaza were bottled up. One would conclude a cease-fire would be a no brainer. Sorry. That’s not how Hamas thinks.

As I have reported in earlier blogs, the radical jihadist element views themselves in a holy war with Israel and the West. Religious wars are the most deadly of conflicts because the combatants believe God is on their side and they become blind to reason. In this case, hatred for the existence of Israel only fuels the fire. Khaled Meshal’s rejection of the state of Israel is a “to-the-death” response. Yasser Arafat had an agreement in sight, including receiving East Jerusalem as their capital and walked out because his only acceptable political solution was the annihilation of Israel. Political solutions are impossible in a climate of such hate.

This weekend Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu charged Hamas with “double war crimes.” The first issues is firing rockets indiscriminately at Israel and the second is using and sacrificing Palestinians as human shields by placing rockets in schools, mosques, and residential neighborhoods.

To make matters worse, virtually all communication between Jews and Palestinians has ceased with mutual disdain and distrust existing on both sides. In past decades, normal communication existed, but today each side despises the other. And of course, Israel will not negotiate with a terrorist organization.

With the lopsided death toll, the pressure on Israel to cease fighting is increasing. Support from abroad is decreasing, but ironically, Netanyahu’s support within Israel has greatly risen. At recent poll showed more that 80% of Israelis applaud his efforts. A unified consensus in his cabinet supports  cleaning out the Hamas military operation before they stop fighting. Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts have largely been rebuffed, again discrediting Kerry.

Israel will not disappear. It is a flourishing state with significant income from high tech developments, tourism, and agricultural. On the other hand, the Palestinian Authority depends on outside financing to stay afloat. Virtually no economic developments within the West Bank are making a difference in their situation.

Obviously, a political settlement is needed. Israel must stop building new settlements in territory claimed by the West Bank Palestinians.  Attention must be giving to the economic plight of the citizens of Gaza who suffer greatly because of the blockade of their ports and exit routes.  Hamas must accept the state of Israel as legitimate and stop initiating attacks. Israel has a right to demand attacks stop. Will they?

No.

The war goes on and the future is grim for the inhabitants of Gaza.

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