Forgetting Our Past Promises To Israel

Evidently the Middle East peace process has unraveled. Yesterday Commentary Magazine posted an article reminding us of some of the promises made in the past.

The article points out:

As it happens, tomorrow is the 10th anniversary of one of the more important items of history the Brzezinski group ignored: the April 14, 2004 letter from President George W. Bush to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. In Tested by Zion: The Bush Administration and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Abrams recounts how the letter went through “many drafts, as words, phrases, and paragraphs came in and out,” ending with a “headline” that was clear: “There would be no return to 1967 and Israel could keep the major settlement blocks.” In her  own memoir, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recounted spending three hours on the letter with Sharon the night before it was issued, and described the agreement to apply a “Google Earth test” for settlements: no new ones, no expanding the boundaries of them, but allowing building within existing settlements, since that would not reduce the land available for a Palestinian state.

When John Kerry was running for President, he went on the record supporting that agreement.

The Obama Administration has taken a slightly different view:

The Obama administration, when it took office in 2009, repeatedly refused to answer whether it was bound by the Bush letter. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton denied there were any “enforceable” understandings with Israel. The day before Palestinian President Abbas met with President Obama, Clinton told the press Obama had been “very clear” with Prime Minister Netanyahu that he “wants to see a stop to settlements – not some settlements, not outposts, not natural growth exceptions”–and that this had been “communicated very clearly, not only to the Israelis but to the Palestinians and others.” The same day, Abbas told the Washington Post he would do nothing but watch the Obama administration pressure Netanyahu. The administration eventually got a ten-month construction freeze, which both Clinton and Obama envoy George Mitchell called “unprecedented.” It produced nothing from the Palestinians other than a demand in the tenth month that it be continued.

The article explains the specifics of why the negotiations fell apart:

The peace process went “poof” not because of 700 units in Jerusalem, but because–for the third time in three years–the Palestinians violated the foundational agreement of the process, which obligates them not to take “any step” outside bilateral negotiations to change the status of the disputed territories. For the third time, the Palestinians went to the UN; for the third time, there was no American response; for the third time, there was no penalty for the violation; and on April 8, there was not even an honest assessment of the situation by the secretary of state.

Unfortunately the Obama Administration has unilaterally undone many past agreements made with our allies. This has resulted in many of our allies wondering if they can trust agreements made with America. President Obama has considerably lowered America’s standing in the world.

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An Update On A Very Old Story

One of the things we need to remember when viewing events in the Middle East is that regardless of what is going on with any nation’s military at any given time, there is always a propaganda war.

In 2000, the world was shown pictures of 12-year-old Muhammad al-Dura, who was supposedly killed by Israeli troops. Well, that’s not the end of the story–even for Muhammad al-Dura. Yesterday, Scott Johnson at Power Line posted a very interesting update. Muhammad al-Dura was not only not killed by Israeli forces–he was not killed!

The article at Power Line links to a story in the Times of Israel also posted on Sunday.

The article in the Times of Israel states:

Muhammad al-Dura, the Palestinian child who appeared to have been gruesomely killed at his father’s feet in Gaza on September 30, 2000 — as filmed in iconic footage that helped fuel the Second Intifada — was not harmed by Israeli forces and did not die in the exchange of fire, according to an Israeli government report released Sunday, three days before a French court rules on a related matter.

“Contrary to the report’s claim that the boy was killed, the committee’s review of the raw footage showed that in the final scenes, which were not broadcast by France 2, the boy is seen to be alive,” the Ministry of International Affairs and Strategy report stated regarding the television report.

The Israel Times further reports:

The 55 seconds of edited footage, filmed two days after Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, contributed to the October 2000 protest in which 13 Arab citizens of Israel were killed and quickly became the defining image of the second Palestinian intifada uprising and terror war against Israel.

…Sunday’s report embraces what is known as the maximalist approach, asserting that not only was al-Dura not killed by IDF bullets but that, at the end of the raw footage, he was categorically alive. “Contrary to (France 2 reporter Charles) Enderlin’s claim, the raw footage shows clearly that in the final scenes, the boy is not dead. In the final seconds of the footage, the boy raises his arm and turns his head in the direction of (cameraman Talal) Abu-Rahma in what are clearly intentional and controlled movements. This should have been readily-apparent to Enderlin. Yet rather than reconsidering the claim before producing the report, or providing viewers with the full picture so that they could fairly judge the credibility of his declaration that ‘Muhammad is dead’, Enderlin edited out these last scenes from the report, thereby creating the false impression that the footage substantiated his claims.”

Israel soldiers are traditionally very careful to avoid civilian casualties–they understand the bias in the worldwide media against Israel, and they choose not to provide any ammunition for that media. It has taken thirteen years for the truth to come out about the non-murder of this child, and it will be interesting to see any of the major media bothers to report it. Meanwhile enemies of Israel lob rockets at the civilian population daily, and the media somehow does not report that.

 

 

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How We Got Where We Are In The Middle East

Dr. Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and senior lecturer at the Naval Postgraduate School. He posted an article at CNN on Friday entitled, “Why Land For Peace Is Dead.”

The article reminds us that September 18, 1978, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin signed the so-called Camp David Accords.This agreement set up the idea that Israel could trade land and receive peace in exchange. In 1979, a peace treaty was signed between Israel and Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood assassinated Anwar Sadat for signing that treaty. Despite the loss of Anwar Sadat, the idea that the Sinal Peninsula had been successfully traded to bring peace brought hope.

Dr. Rubin reminds us:

It was this example that Bill Clinton sought to capitalize upon in the 1993 Oslo Accords. The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) agreed to recognize Israel and work toward peace in exchange for land in historical Palestine. I was in Bahrain in 1994 when PLO chairman Yasser Arafat entered the Gaza Strip to establish the Palestinian Authority. Enthusiasm was palpable across the region. Within weeks, Jordan had signed its own peace accord with Israel, and Persian Gulf emirates, Tunisia, and Morocco looked like they might follow suit.

The concept of land for peace was also the reason Israel withdrew from Lebanon in 2000.

Dr. Rubin further reminds us:

The logic of land for peace became the basis for Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from southern Lebanon in May 2000. The formula of trading land for peace had already begun to unravel. Israel expected if not peace, then quiet. They had removed the last remaining dispute between Israel and Lebanon. Alas, Israel’s withdrawal foreshadowed greater conflict. Even though the United Nations certified Israel’s withdrawal as complete, Hezbollah laid claim not only to the Shebaa Farms – an Israeli occupied area which historically is part of Syria – but also seven villages in the Galilee, a region well within Israel’s recognized borders.

It sounds as if the concept of land for peace was being exploited early on. From there, things go downhill quickly.

The article reports:

Peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority was also rapidly deteriorating. Certainly, when it comes to the Arab-Israel conflict, there are always mutual recriminations. What is clear, however, is that Arafat had voided his pledge to resolve future conflict with Israel at the negotiating table. Many commentators mark the beginning of the “Second Intifada” as Likud leader Ariel Sharon’s September 28, 2000 visit to the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif. But this is dishonest. On August 24, 2000, several weeks before Sharon’s visit, Palestinian Justice Minister Freih Abu Middein threatened, “Violence is near, and the Palestinian people are willing to sacrifice even 5,000 casualties.” Communications Minister Imad al-Faluji reportedly admitted to Palestinian radio that “Arafat ordered preparations for the current intifada immediately after the Camp David summit, as part of the negotiating process with Israel.” The Oslo Process and the land-for-peace formula that underlay it had begun to breakdown.

There are two very telling quotes in the conclusion of the article:

Most Israelis view their experience of land-for-peace in the same fashion that Native Americans consider their experience with the concept.

...Hamas’ decision to turn Gaza into a forward missile base rather than the engine for an independent Palestine condemns 35 years of peacemaking to history’s garbage bin and sets the stage for a conflict far more disruptive than anyone in the region has seen in a half century.

Israel has been seeking peace since 1948. They are not the problem. Until Hamas seeks peace and acknowledges Israel’s right to exist, there will be no peace.

 

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