23 July 2017

Israeli Sovereignty Over the Temple Mount Is Crucial for Peace

From BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 539, July 24, 2017, by Prof. Hillel Frisch:

Temple Mount, Dome of The Rock, Jerusalem, Israel

Regardless of its direct security merits, Israel’s decision to place metal detectors at the entrances to the Temple Mount has been transformed by adversaries and Israel alike into an issue of sovereignty over the Temple Mount. Power-sharing there has always constituted a slippery slope to disaster. 

The murder of two Israeli policemen at the Temple Mount is an appropriate moment to rectify the situation by reasserting Israeli sovereignty over the holy site.

Why is Israeli sovereignty over the Temple Mount so important? Because international “partnership” arrangements in political hotspots not only rarely (if ever) work, but make matters much more volatile and dangerous. At the Temple Mount, only exclusive Israeli sovereignty can work.

Many partnerships over contested areas have been attempted, and they have led to only one outcome: failure.  In 1949, for example, the UN tried to broker deals between Israel and Syria over demilitarized zones delimited in the Armistice Agreement. The three areas were perennial hotspots over which much blood was shed. They were only resolved (as are most Middle Eastern political conflicts) by a decisive victory and the establishment of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Before that, it was bedlam. Since then, there have been 40 years of quiet.

In Jordan, after the 1967 Six Day War, Arab states tried to broker power-sharing arrangements over Jordanian territory between the beleaguered Hashemite monarchy and the Palestinian terrorist organizations. During three years of bargaining and meddling, massive firefights took place between the two sides in which hundreds if not thousands of civilians were killed.

This was but a prelude to the final showdown when the monarchy said enough is enough: sovereignty now. That period, dubbed Black September (1970), was in fact the beginning of a full year of bloodletting. It ended only when the Jordanian monarchy won a decisive victory.

The Jordanian victory was so decisively won that hundreds of Palestinian terrorists fled westward into Israeli hands to avert the fate that awaited them. Only then did the Jordanian state achieve the Biblical “40 years of peace.” Ironically, Amman is now demanding that Israel share sovereignty, a prescription that proved disastrous in its own political history.

The same goes for Lebanon. Arab attempts to induce a partnership over sovereignty between the Lebanese state and the Palestinians after the Six Day War ended in unprecedented violence. Unfortunately, the Lebanese state, unlike Jordan, has never been able to reassert sovereignty. The result is that Lebanon suffers from perennial internal political violence only a powder keg away from reverting back to the fifteen-year civil war that more or less ended in 1989.

In Cyprus, attempts by foreign powers to establish power-sharing between the Greek and Turkish populations resulted in violence and have never succeeded. Peace came when the Turkish invasion of 1974 achieved a decisive victory resulting in the partition of the island.

Fast-forward to the Oslo “peace” process. There, too, the paradigm was built on shared power. Informally, in Jerusalem, the Palestinian Authority (PA) controlled east Jerusalem through Orient House, Faisal Husseini’s political headquarters.

Husseini, dubbed a peace advocate, in fact headed the Fatah militia, the Tanzim, in Jerusalem. The PA police frequently kidnapped east Jerusalemites suspected of being informants or who were accused of selling land to Jews, as well as journalists (on rarer occasions) who took a critical view of the PA.

Advocates of the “peace” process often pointed to that “partnership” as a success. In September 1996, however, riots over the tunnel built along the Western Wall – riots that cost the lives of 25 Israeli security personnel who were killed by heavily armed members of the Palestinian security forces – dispelled that illusion. Never before had tens of Israeli security force personnel been killed in firefights with Palestinians in an Israeli-controlled area.

Alas, bowing to international pressure, Israel did not close down Orient House, and paid the price tenfold during the “al-Aqsa Intifada.” Ultimately, Israeli “cohabitation” with the PA in east Jerusalem came to an end – at least on the purely political level – with the closing of Orient House in August 2001 and the Defensive Shield offensive nine months later. Once again, decisive victory and the imposition of exclusive Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem brought about a relatively durable peace.

Many in Israel, as well as foreign actors such as the PA and Jordan, are now calling on Israel to repeat the costly mistake of persevering in the illusion of power-sharing over the Temple Mount. They want not only Israeli cooperation with the Waqf but also considerable augmentation of Waqf personnel.

There is no doubt that Israel will make a decisive move to reassert the sovereignty it has lost over the past three decades on the Temple Mount, just as it rid Jerusalem of Orient House and destroyed terrorist sanctuaries in major PA towns in 2002.  The question is, why wait until more Israelis and Palestinians have been killed or maimed before acting to ensure decisive victory and the reassertion of Israeli sovereignty?

Israel is a light unto the nations that surround it. Their populations widely acknowledged this when Israel sent a former prime minister and president to jail – a move unthinkable in a region plagued by violence and dictatorship.

Now is the time for Israeli sovereignty to shine on the Temple Mount, for the benefit of Muslims and Jews alike.

22 July 2017

Man pretending to be "in the middle"

John Lyons, journalist for The Australian, and inveterate Israel-basher, published a self-serving article in this weekend's Australian Magazine, promoting his book.

I attempted, twice, to post the following comment below the article, but it was deleted. (And Lyons is the one complaining about intimidation and censorship.)

John Lyons

Here's the comment:

Lyons asks “Are there any factual mistakes in it?” ... as if the specific details he chooses to examine are all we need to know. But the accuracy of the facts and images he cherry-picks for his stories is not the sole determinant of the extent of his bias.

By his own admission, Lyons based himself on “the best balcony in Jerusalem” which he regards as his “base” and “private time machine”. Ensconced in his foreigner’s bubble, Lyons scans the environment for juicy stories that fit the narrative he has swallowed, hook, line and sinker. “If things were really bad ...Sylvie and I would jump into our car and head towards the trouble spot...”

Well, if all you have is a hammer, then everything looks like a nail. And that sums up Lyons’ body of work from his private balcony. If you accept, as Lyons apparently, long ago, has done, that that Israel is an illegitimate Western, colonial implant that has dispossessed a blameless, innocent people, then every act of self-defense by Israel can be portrayed as an example of Jewish fascism.

As a fig leaf for his blatant bias, Lyons grudgingly acknowledges that “some of these children should ...be seriously dealt with...”, but he nevertheless churns out dozens of “stories” about the treatment of defenseless children by well-equipped Israeli soldiers. How many stories has he devoted to the thousands of Jewish men, women and children murdered on the streets, in their homes and in their beds by generations of Arabs nurtured and groomed, from their cradles, to hate and murder?

The Arabs persecuted the Jews in Palestine from the 1920s, and launched a relentless campaign, against their own interests, to obliterate the Jewish national revival …before any “occupation” and even before the establishment of the State of Israel. Since their self-inflicted, violent and catastrophic rejection of the 1947 UN partition, misguided, self-serving Arab leaders have kept the refugees of their 1948 war, and their descendants, in squalor and dependent on international aid, as cannon fodder, fed on hatred and false hope, and squandered repeated opportunities for statehood and economic progress.

And along comes John Lyons, decades into this century-long conflict, to sit on his luxurious balcony waiting for the next “really bad” flare-up of violence, to photograph and bear witness to armed soldiers confronting stone-throwing children. And he portrays all objections to his myopic interpretation of events around him, as “intimidation” ...

21 July 2017

The ABC should get rid of Al Jazeera propaganda

From The Daily Telegraph, 21 July 2017, by Gareth Narunsky:

... Qatar's Arab neighbours have made it known they've had enough of Al Jazeera's promotion of fundamentalism and that Arab monarchy's support for extremist groups across the region.

After all, this network has provided a platform for extremists such as Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Yusuf al-Qaradawi, infamous for his anti-semitism, including praise of Hitler, and Ahmad Muaffaq Zaidan, named by the US government as a member of al-Qaeda. 

The mother and sister of London Bridge terrorist Youssef Zaghba told Britain's The Times on June 8 that the network, along with the internet, had played a role in his radicalisation.

Former Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste, who was jailed in Egypt on charges of conspiring with the Muslim Brotherhood, told ABC radio on June 9 that "there may be some truth at a higher level, a management level" of collusion between the network and terrorists and that "it seems pretty clear from watching some of Al Jazeera's Arabic coverage and the coverage of Al Jazeera's Egyptian channel Mubasher that there was a bias in favour of the Muslim Brotherhood". One-time Cairo bureau chief Mohamed Fahmy, who was arrested and sentenced alongside Greste and is now suing his former employer, stated in June that the network is indeed a propaganda channel for Islamists and an arm of Qatari foreign policy, telling Bloomberg "Al Jazeera is a voice for terrorists".

Yet, Australia's taxpayer-funded ABC continues to use Al Jazeera broadcasts despite its own editorial policies calling for content demonstrating independence and integrity.

In addition, none of this context was brought up when visiting Al Jazeera host Mehdi Hasan appeared on the ABC's Q&A last Monday night.

... claiming, as he did, that "you're more likely to be killed falling out of bed in the morning" than by a terrorist suggests there's no difference between a bed and a group actively trying to kill people and impose their will on society. Hasan's omissions were even more telling. He singled out Saudi Arabia alone as an incubator of extremism and terrorism, while completely ignoring Iran's threatening regional network, sponsorship of terrorism and global disharmony, and Qatar's support for extremist groups.

Is Hasan unaware of Qatar's unsavoury activities? Indeed he need only read arguably the most high profile newspaper in his country of residence, The New York Times, where David D. Kirkpatrick wrote in September 2014: "Qatar has for many years helped support a spectrum of Islamist groups around the region by providing safe haven, diplomatic mediation, financial aid and, in certain instances, weapons."

In addition to bankrolling al-Qaeda-linked groups in Syria, Qatar continues to provide financial and logistical support to radical Islamist groups across the Middle East.

It has for years been providing finances and, more recently, weapons to radical factions in Libya. Qatar also propped up the destabilising Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt and provides safe haven to members who fled after its downfall.

Mehdi Hasan may not be "a spokesman for Al Jazeera or Qatar" as he told Lateline the week before, but his omission of any of the above context is concerning.

... the failure of Australia's own government-owned broadcaster to ...review its use of Al Jazeera content in light of its statutory obligations to provide balance and fairness [is concerning].

20 July 2017

Labor: Don’t Reward Incitement to Hatred and Violence

19 July 2017, by Steve Lieblich

The recent proposals in State Labor Party Conferences to recommend the unilateral recognition of a “Palestinian state” are misguided and counterproductive.   Such recognition will only encourage further Arab terrorism, prolong the conflict, and would be contrary to the interests of all people in the region, above all the Arabs.

Israel’s Arab neighbours, since the late 1800s, have rejected peaceful coexistence with Jewish immigrants to the region seeking self-determination in the ancient Jewish homeland. The first proposal for a “two-state solution” was the 1935 British Peel Commission Report, in response to Arab pogroms and riots in the 1920s and 1930s. The Arabs refused that proposal to share the land then, and have continually refused to do so since then, through to the most recent generous offers of statehood in 2000, 2001 and 2008.

This century of Arab intransigence is apparently motivated by a persistent rejection of Israel's right to exist, and an incalcitrant attempt to destroy the re-established Jewish state by insisting on a "right of return" to Israel, for the uniquely-defined “Palestinian refugees”, which includes not only those who lost their homes in war, but also their millions of descendants.

The Arabs of the region don’t have the fundamental elements of statehood. Its borders are not defined, and it doesn’t have a central government with a monopoly on military force.

In Gaza, Hamas brutally seized power in 2005, and holds it by violent intimidation. It is globally recognized as a terrorist entity with an open objective of genocide. Mahmoud Abbas, the purported President of the proposed “Palestinian State” dare not visit Gaza for fear of his life.

In Judea and Samaria, Abbas who rules the Palestinian Authority, is in the 12th year of his 4-year term. While he feigns statesmanship globally, he leads a regime with the same genocidal objectives as that of Hamas.

The PA incites antisemitism, glorifies martyrdom and encourages terrorism, by awarding generous lifetime pensions to terrorists and their families, on a sliding scale – the more Jews they kill, the higher the pension.

A recently-apprehended terrorist told interrogators: "I've accumulated large debts... I decided to do something serious, such as committing murder... and then my family will get money (i.e., from the PA) and will live comfortably... "

Just a few days ago, PA District Governor, Laila Ghannam, praised the "Martyrdom " of a 17-year-old terrorist who was shot and killed while throwing Molotov cocktails at Jewish civilians, praising the fact that rather than obtaining his matriculation this summer, the terrorist "achieved the highest Martyrdom".

The PA’s incessant incitement perpetuates the conflict and grooms the next generation of terrorists by naming streets, public squares and even children's soccer tournaments after terrorists. In May the PA inaugurated the Martyr Dalal Mughrabi Center, named after a terrorist leader in the murder of 37 civilians including 12 children, in the Nablus district. In April, Safa, the daughter of Abdallah Barghouti, a terrorist who prepared explosives for attacks in which 67 were murdered, read a letter to her father at her school assembly saying: "Father, I am very proud of you".

Rather than negotiating a peaceful resolution to the conflict with Israel, the PA has focused on promoting recognition of their non-existent “state” from as many governments and international organisations as possible. This avoids having to reconcile themselves to living peacefully with a neighbouring Jewish state and making the compromises necessary for genuine peace. Regretfully, some elements within the Australian Labor Party have fallen for this ploy.

Supporting unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state rewards and encourages the most destructive Arab tactics, to the detriment of the future of all people in the region. People of good will should be urging the Arabs to negotiate in good faith with Israel, and to genuinely accept Israel's right to exist, which is the only way to achieve peace. Rewarding them for inciting hatred and violence, and for refusing to negotiate, only makes peace more distant.

World Vision Australia Implicated with Supporting Another Terrorist Group

From the International Legal Forum, 20 July 2017:

The Israeli Authorities have now confirmed allegations made against World Vision Australia (WVA) in 2012 regarding their funding of the Palestinian NGO: the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (“UAWC”). These include that:

  • The UAWC is linked to the proscribed terrorist organization the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (“PFLP”);
  • The Committee of Agricultural Works (“CAW”), an Israeli NGO, is also linked to the PFLP and exists solely to allow the fraudulent use of its official Israeli Government registration documents;
  • The use of the CAW’s documents in relation to the UAWC was “intended to deceive the Australian Parliament and Australian Government Relief Organization (AusAid) in order to mobilize funds for the UAWC, which as stated above, is a body operating on behalf of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.”
This revelation follows, and is additional to, the exposure of World Vision’s head of Gaza operations as a Hamas agent who diverted the millions of charitable funds to the terrorist group. This time World Vision is even more heavily implicated as it was put on notice of the terror links and fraud 5 years ago and chose to do nothing despite being presented with extensive evidence.

For many years since being first put on notice, WVA has apparently deceived the Australian Government into providing millions of dollars of aid funding to the UAWC. Total Australian government funding of the UAWC via WVA since 2006 is estimated at A$9 million.

The ILF has requested that a criminal investigation be launched by the Australian Government against the WVA for providing false, misleading and deceptive information to the Australian Government in order to obtain taxpayer funds for a terror linked group. 

World Vision Australia's CEO, Tim Costello says “you need to get your hands dirty to do good work”

In a meeting in early 2013, after being presented with the large dossier of evidence of the terror links and fraud, WVA’s CEO Tim Costello refused to accept the obvious conclusions from the evidence and stated “you need to get your hands dirty to do good work”

According to the ILF 
"It is clear that World Vision is guilty of criminal negligence at best, wilful blindness or conspiracy with terror linked groups at worst. Either way, it is time that a clear message be sent to World Vision, as well as other charities around the world; providing support for a terror organization is a serious crime under international law, if you won't conduct proper due diligence and ignore warnings, you are putting yourselves at risk of paying a heavy price."
This becomes even more imperative given the fact that this is not the first time WVA is implicated in a multi-million dollar fraud to fund a proscribed terrorist group. The criminal process against the head of World Vision in Gaza as a Hamas agent who diverted the majority of charitable funds to Hamas is underway. These two serious incidents highlight the need for a complete re-assessment of WVA’s protocols and policies concerning funds provided to NGOs working in areas of the world where proscribed terrorist organisations are active and have substantial support.

The ILA’s request to pursue criminal charges in this regard aims to serve not only the particular justice of this case, but for the Australian Government to send a clear message, setting the bar high in its expectations from organisations such as WVA when it comes to risks of terror funding, particularly when it involves its taxpayers' funds.

Terrorist organisations are masters of deception and NGOs working in these risky areas are wide-open to being infiltrated and co-opted by terrorist groups. As these incidents have demonstrated, the risk of the Australian Government unwittingly funding terrorist organisations is too high for the Australian taxpayer to accept and needs to be stopped.

13 July 2017

Kim Beazley’s wise counsel to the ALP

From The Australian, 13 July 2017, by Greg Sheridan:

Kim Beazley. 
Picture: Allison Shelley

Ex-Labor leader Kim Beazley has savaged a proposed resolution to be considered by the NSW branch which calls for a future Labor government to extend unconditional and immediate diplomatic recognition to a state of Palestine.

He said the resolution “is gesture politics and is simply not helpful”. In an interview with The Australian, the former ambassador to the US said the resolution “assumes the status of a gesture without any merit in reality”.

The resolution is supported by the ALP’s NSW left and appears to have won the support also of the NSW right. It would fundamentally reverse Labor’s long-held position in support of Israel, and in support of a negotiated, two-state solution which provides for Israel’s right to exist within ¬secure borders and the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for an independent state.

Mr Beazley said that ...The NSW resolution makes no requests or demands of the Palestinian leadership.

Dennis Ross, the former Middle East co-ordinator for Bill Clinton and later a senior adviser on the Middle East for Barack Obama’s administration, also told The Australian that he opposed unconditional, unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state.

“The Palestinians have been plagued by a historic emphasis on symbols not substance,” Mr Ross said. “Instead of building a state they want a flag at the UN. With symbols, nothing is required of the Palestinians.”

Mr Beazley said extending formal diplomatic recognition “is a serious international legal business”. “There’s a recognised set of criteria that bring about diplomatic recognition,” he said. “They are that a state has recognised boundaries, a clear-cut government and control of the affairs of state. On any of those criteria, Palestine does not meet it.

“Its borders are not settled. It is not in control of the affairs of state. And it has two governments (one in Gaza, one in the West Bank).”

Bill Shorten has reiterated his support for existing Labor policy, which is embodied in a more balanced and moderate resolution ...

Labor deputy leader Tanya Plibersek and foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong have both distanced themselves from the proposed NSW resolution.

Mr Ross told The Australian [that he] had demands of the Palestinian leadership, such as that it stop funding the Martyrs Foundation which rewards the families of terrorists who kill Israeli civilians. “Rewarding those who kill Israelis reinforces the idea it’s OK to kill Israelis,” Mr Ross said. ...no comprehensive agreement is possible in the short term, calling for Israel to immediately withdraw from the West Bank was unrealistic.

In an exclusive interview with The Australian earlier this year, ¬Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu [said that] “The question is not whether the Palestinians get a state but whether that state will recognise Israel or continue to seek Israel’s destruction...’
also by Greg Sheridan:

Nod to Palestine an ignorant and regressive idea

The NSW Labor Party, under the shameful influence of its once great right-wing faction, is about to pass a resolution on the Middle East that is a disgrace in principle, is semi-publicly but earnestly opposed by Bill Shorten, Tanya Plibersek, Richard Marles and Penny Wong, and will be an embarrassment to the Labor Party.

Former leader Kim Beazley describes it as gesture politics unrelated to the real world. The resolution reflects a kind of sectarian nastiness and regression in the party’s internal culture.‘Oh, and one more thing. It will make it that bit harder for Labor to win the next federal election.

The resolution will call on the next Labor government to unconditionally and immediately extend diplomatic recognition to the state of Palestine. The sponsors want it to become national Labor policy at a federal conference next year.

It would replace the 2015 national resolution, which supports the two-state solution and calls on the Israeli government to halt building settlements in the West Bank, but also calls for a negotiated agreement between the two parties.

That resolution acknowledges Israel’s right to exist within secure borders and the Palestinians’ legitimate aspiration to nationhood. The existing resolution says if there is no progress a future Labor government could discuss with like-minded nations possible future recognition of a Palestinian state, if that contributes to the peace process.

The last part is ill advised because it encourages the Palestinian leadership to believe it can get a state without having to compromise on those of its demands that are unreasonable and impossible to implement. Nonetheless it is a balanced policy that a self-respecting social democratic party can -defend.

The proposed unilateral and unconditional recognition of a Palestinian state, on the other hand, can really emanate only from an unbalanced hostility to Israel or an ignorance of the circumstances on the ground. Either way, the support by the NSW right for this demonstrates the complete death of its old culture of decency and strategic responsibility.

Once the NSW right was the best strand in Australian political culture, the guardian of Labor’s strategic common sense, its connection with the values of ordinary Australians. Now it looks like a self-seeking machine prepared to cave in on any principle to avoid a fight. Numerous NSW unions know this is a dud resolution but won’t fight.

Typically, former Labor ministers become less reliable guides to good policy the further away they are from holding office. Beazley, who until five minutes ago was ambassador to the US, is by a long distance the most authoritative Labor figure on strategic issues and the Middle East.

His assessment of the NSW resolution? “It has the status of a gesture without merit in reality. The issue of diplomatic recognition is a serious international legal business. There’s a recognised set of criteria that bring about diplomatic recognition. These are that a state has recognised boundaries, a clear-cut government and control of the affairs of state. On any of those criteria Palestine does not meet it. Its borders are not settled. It is not in control of the affairs of state. And it has two governments (one in Gaza, one in the West Bank).

...The NSW resolution is, of course, entirely one-sided. It is born out prejudice and baked in ignorance. Almost nothing said in its defence is true.

Last week I had lunch with Dennis Ross, who was the Middle East co-ordinator for Bill Clinton and then a senior adviser on the Middle East for Barack Obama...

Ross told me he strongly opposed gestures such as the unconditional recognition of a Palestinian state. Such gestures contribute nothing to the peace process and are counterproductive because they reinforce the tragic mistake the Palestinian leadership has made in always preferring symbolism over substance, “to seek a flag rather than build a society”.

Ross... also says [that] Israel could not possibly immediately withdraw from the West Bank.

...At the time of the Oslo Accords, and as late as 2000, the overwhelming Israeli sentiment was in favour of an immediate and generous two-state solution. As Bill Clinton has recounted, the Palestinian leadership walked away from these offers. Since then, the history of Palestinian terrorism, and especially the missile attacks on Israel launched from the Gaza Strip, from which Israel withdrew unilaterally, and the internal bloodletting among Palestinian factions there, has convinced all parts of Israeli politics that no such solution is available right now.

Nonetheless the Netanyahu government, and Israeli public opinion, still favour a two-state solution when that becomes possible. Netanyahu has many times reaffirmed this publicly...

Ross also tells me one of the main obstacles to peace is that the Palestinian leadership has never accepted the legitimacy of a Jewish national movement, which is why it won’t recognise Israel as a Jewish state.

Both Kevin Rudd and Penny Wong have criticised the inflammatory language around the NSW resolution, which plainly encourages rejectionism.

So much of the propaganda around this resolution is wrong....

This resolution is jejune, irresponsible, and destructive in any effect it might have. It embarrasses the party and Labor’s leadership. That the NSW right could associate itself with such an effort speaks eloquently to its appalling decline.

From The Australian editorial, 13 July 2017:

ALP must stand firm on Israel

The ALP will do itself no favours if it ignores Kim Beazley’s wise counsel against the push at the upcoming NSW party conference for a resolution demanding unconditional recognition of Palestinian statehood by a future Labor government. Mr Beazley, who has vast experience as a senior minister, party leader and ambassador to Washington, recognises the unhelpful proposal would create unnecessary problems for the ALP.

Deep divisions within the party are apparent, with Bill Shorten, Tanya Plibersek and others uncomfortable about the proposal but facing a challenge from the NSW right, including frontbenchers Tony Burke and Jason Clare, who want votes among western Sydney’s migrants. Such MPs are aligned with former foreign minister Bob Carr. But while the ALP left, including Anthony Albanese, is united behind Mr Carr’s push, the right is divided.

The ALP should listen to Mr Beazley and retain its decades-long moderate stance on Israel. It would be a grave error to fall for Mr Carr’s campaign against the Middle East’s only functioning democracy, where people of all faiths are safe under the law.

Failing to recognise the reality that there is no such thing, yet, as a Palestinian state with any of the conditions for recognition demanded by international law would put a future Labor government in an invidious position. It would be aligned with the thinking of bodies such as UNESCO, which has senselessly decreed the ancient Jewish holy site, the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, a “Palestinian world heritage site”. As part of the push to gain backdoor recognition for a Palestinian state, UNESCO has previously declared Israel an “occupying power” in East Jerusalem, home of the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site.

The global drive to delegitimise Israel and confect a Palestinian state will do nothing to achieve what should be the main imperative, restarting peace negotiations ... That, not bogus backdoor efforts through the UN, is the only credible path...

04 July 2017

Recognising Palestine ignores need for peace

From the Australian Financial Review, 5 July 2017, by Colin Rubenstein:


Those supporting a motion at the upcoming ALP NSW State Conference calling for recognising a Palestinian state argue they are aiming to advance prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace. Yet an informed look at the current situation would make it clear that recognition of "Palestine" as a state would actually have the opposite effect.

The main obstacle to peace over the past two decades has been the Palestinian inability to take yes for an answer, as exemplified by the failure to accept generous Israeli offers of statehood in 2000, 2001 and 2008, and by the terrorism that erupted after Israel withdrew completely from Gaza in 2005.
In 2009, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu instituted a 10-month near total moratorium on building of houses in settlements as a confidence-building measure to encourage negotiations. However, Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas refused to talk for the first nine months, and then only wanted to talk about extending the moratorium.

In 2013-14, Netanyahu tried again. This time, as a confidence-building measure, he agreed to progressively release groups of Palestinians imprisoned for murdering Israelis. Unfortunately, the talks did not prove fruitful. US mediator Martin Indyk, has said of Netanyahu, "I saw him sweating bullets to find a way to reach an agreement". He added: "We tried to get [Abbas] to the zone of possible agreement but we were surprised to learn he had shut down. We were ready to go beyond policy positions the US had taken on the core issues to bridge the gaps ... and he didn't answer us."
Since his re-election in 2015 Netanyahu has on several occasions reaffirmed his support for a Palestinian state and offered to meet and negotiate anywhere, at any time, without preconditions. Abbas has failed to take up this offer.

This Palestinian intransigence appears to be based on an unwillingness to offer a genuine acceptance of Israel's right to exist - which any peace deal would and should require. This would include an undertaking that there would be no further claims against Israel, and that there would be no "right of return" for Palestinian refugees and their millions of descendants to Israel. Flooding Israel with 5 million hostile descendants of refugees is simply incompatible with a genuine peace.

Since 2014, the Palestinians have pursued a strategy of using various international organisations from the UN down to gain recognition of their state from as many governments and bodies as possible. In this way, they hope to avoid having to make the compromises necessary for genuine peace, and to be awarded their state in a way that enables them to continue their conflict with Israel, including demanding the "right of return". This is a recipe not for peace, but for worsening conflict.

Meanwhile the PA has continued to incite and encourage terrorism against Israel - through overt calls for violence, leading to the spate of car and knife attacks that have seen more than 40 Israelis killed since late 2015 and hundreds of others wounded - by awarding generous lifetime pensions to terrorists and their families, and by naming streets, facilities and even children's soccer tournaments after terrorists.

Supporting unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state just rewards and encourages these destructive Palestinian tactics. As long as they believe they just need to keep doing more of the same to achieve a state without any concessions to Israel's right to exist in peace, they will continue to do so. Peace requires the international community to make it very clear to the Palestinian leadership that they must cease their intransigence and support for terrorism if they wish to advance their cause (if that is indeed a state alongside, rather than one instead of Israel) - while also making it clear to Israel that it will be supported as long as it continues to offer a genuine two-state resolution.

Those favouring recognition of "Palestine" often cite Israeli settlements as the reason, claiming Palestine must be recognised now because continued settlement expansion will soon make a Palestinian state impossible to achieve. While settlements are certainly an important issue, this claim is just not true.

Since 2003, no new settlements have been established and existing settlements have not been permitted to expand their current geographic boundaries. Even Palestinian leaders admit settlements take up less than 2 per cent of the West Bank - and again, that proportion is not growing. Furthermore, most population growth has been within settlements it is generally accepted Israel will keep in exchange for land swaps in any peace agreement. Settlements certainly did not prevent generous Israeli offers of Palestinian statehood in 2000-01 and 2008, which involved evacuating many outlying settlements.

Those who genuinely have the best interests of the Palestinians at heart should be urging them to negotiate in good faith with Israel, and to genuinely accept Israel's right to exist - which is the only way they can achieve peace - not rewarding them for doing the opposite.

Carr attacks Israel’s ‘foul’ occupation

From The Australian  July 5, 2017, by BRAD NORINGTON, Associate Editor:

Former foreign minister Bob Carr. 
Picture: Hollie Adams

Former Labor foreign minister Bob Carr has spoken out against Israel’s “cruel” and “foul” occupation of Palestinian land, and its “ruinous path” in rejecting the creation of a state of Palestine.

Leading a push for the ALP to give Palestine immediate state recognition, Mr Carr has also backed the Israeli opposition’s condemnation ­of a new law ­allowing further property seizures as amounting to “war crimes” if families are forced off privately owned land.

The comments were delivered by Mr Carr, who served as Julia Gillard’s foreign minister, last week when he appeared as a “special guest” of Labor frontbenchers Anthony Albanese and Tony Burke, joint hosts of a NSW ALP federal electorate council meeting in Sydney. A recording of the event has been ­obtained by The Australian.

Now head of the Australia China Relations Institute at the University of Technology Sydney, Mr Carr has been accused by pro-­Israel opponents in his party of acting behind the scenes to ­orchestrate passage of a resolution at this month’s NSW ALP conference that “urges the next Labor government to recognise Palestine”.

The resolution by the ALP’s largest state branch, which looks set to pass with majority support from right and left factions, would be the precursor to federal Labor supporting recognition of Palestine at next year’s national party conference. Such a move would mark a dramatic break with 40 years of unqualified ALP support for ­Israel, and create unwanted ructions for Bill Shorten in the lead-up to the federal election due in 2019.

Census data released yesterday shows that key NSW Labor seats such as Watson, held by Mr Burke, and McMahon, held by ­opposition Treasury spokesman Chris Bowen, have among the largest populations with Arab ­ancestry. Mr Burke’s Sydney seat has 18 per cent of voters with Arab ancestry while Mr Bowen’s has 13.2 per cent. The seat with the largest proportion of voters with Arab ancestry is Blaxland, held by NSW right figure and Labor frontbencher Jason Clare, at 19.5 per cent.

In contrast, the seat with the largest Jewish population is held by Malcolm Turnbull — Wentworth, in Sydney’s east, at 12.5 per cent of its population. The seat with the second-highest concentration of Jewish people is Melbourne Ports held by Labor’s Michael Danby, who has been a trenchant critic of the push for Palestinian recognition by the NSW ALP.

Mr Carr, who was NSW Labor premier for a decade before his stint in Canberra, acknowledges the attending head of the ­Palestinian delegation in Australia, Izzat Abdulhadi, as “His Excellency, the ambassador of Palestine”.

In the recording he praises Anthony Albanese and Tony Burke for accepting, like him, that “now is the time to recognise Palestine” at an ALP state and federal level.

Mr Carr speaks highly of them and other former colleagues — Chris Bowen and now-retired minister Craig Emerson — for standing “one by one” with him against Ms Gillard in 2012 when she tried to pressure her cabinet into accepting a “no vote” by Australia opposing UN observer status for Palestine.

Mr Carr, who said he was aware the recording was being made, castigates his successor, Liberal Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, for failing to criticise Israeli settlements on Palestinian land that are “all illegal” and growing in such numbers they are “planted in areas never contemplated”. Her unquestioning support “just encouraged Israel to be more aggressive and chauvinist’’.

Quoting Israeli critics, and then agreeing with them, Mr Carr says the left-leaning Tel Aviv-based Haaretz newspaper had “correctly” called Israel an occupying power — but the occupation was “getting crueller”.

“The regularisation bill … confirms everything I’ve said about the foulness of this occupation, and about the poisonous effect it is having on Israel, and yes, it confirms ... the suffering of Palestinians which must be first and foremost in our concerns,” he says.

Mr Carr interprets comments by Israel’s Labor opposition leader Isaac Herzog as equating the new legislation with a “war crime”, and notes politician Benny Begin, son of the former Likud Party prime minister, calling it “a looting bill”.

A Palestinian family’s property could be seized by the Israeli state even if it had land title going back to the days of the Ottoman Empire, Mr Carr says.

He says Palestinians had stories to tell that had been “blotted out” until Israeli historian Danny Morris checked defence archives and found Palestinians were expelled when Israel was set up as a Jewish state in 1948. “There were massacres,” Mr Carr says in his speech. “And that feeds into the stories you’re familiar with; of Palestinians having to flee their houses, leave their houses behind, and flee for the borders.”

He says the people of Gaza are refugees with links not to that area but with the homes, real or imagined, inside Israel’s borders of 1948. Mr Carr berates Israel’s continued occupation of territories as a “cruel” and “hateful thing” that forces more suffering on Palestinian people.

He recounts one Haaretz report about “apartheid” coming to an ancient swimming pool used by Palestinian children, who were booted out by authorities for a group of touring Israeli settlers.

Federal Labor’s current policy on the Israel-Palestinian issue was publicly endorsed this week by Mr Shorten’s deputy Tanya Plibersek, serving as acting party leader, despite her own harsh criticism of Israel in the past, and her long factional alignment with Mr Albanese.

The current ALP policy supports a two-state solution — but only commits the party in government to “discussing” joining like-minded nations in recognising a Palestinian state if there is no progress in peace talks.

Jewish leaders in Australia consider the proposed change not only odious but potentially “dangerous” because of the encouragement it could give Palestinians to pursue their cause without concessions, including a pledge to end hostilities.

Mr Shorten, politically close to Mr Danby, is known for his own pro-Israel sympathies and good relations with Melbourne’s Jewish community. Mr Shorten has shown no sign of resisting the ALP policy shift, possibly aware he is in the minority with the party’s pro-Palestinian left faction now dominating national conference numbers, and backed by the NSW right on this issue.

Mr Carr was unequivocal in saying he wants Labor support for a Palestinian state “now” during his speech at the Canterbury-Hurlstone Park RSL Club.

02 July 2017

ABC ignores editorial policy to run Al Jazeera stories

From The Australian, July 3, 2017, by COLIN RUBENSTEIN:

ABC runs Al Jazeera stories despite perceptions of bias. 
Picture: Bob Finlayson.

The recent decision by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the UAE to blockade Qatar over its regional policies, including alleged support for terror organisations, Muslim fundamentalist groups and Iran, has put the spotlight once again on ABC and SBS telecasts and broadcasts of full news programs and smaller packaged stories and interviews by Al Jazeera, Qatar’s state-owned and funded global news outlet.

For years, ABC has defended its use of Al Jazeera’s English language news programming, despite mounting evidence that its use violates the editorial policy that the taxpayer-funded ABC must respect, according to its charter.

On ABC radio’s news program The World Today on June 9, Australian journalist Peter Greste — a former Al Jazeera employee who Egypt imprisoned for months as part of a thinly veiled political row with Qatar — gave further reason to question ABC’s ongoing relationship with Al Jazeera.

Greste said that he and his colleagues at Al Jazeera were not aware of any connection between the network and terrorist organisations or the Muslim Brotherhood, but that “there may be some truth in that at a higher level, a management level (there was)”.

Greste added: “It seems pretty clear from watching some of Al Jazeera’s Arabic coverage and the coverage of Al Jazeera’s Egyptian channel Mubasher (Misr) that there was a bias in favour of the Muslim Brotherhood,” he said. “Politically they seemed quite aligned with the Brotherhood.”

According to ABC’s editorial policies, section 13 (external funding and relationships), section 1 (standards), arrangements such as the content sourcing and rebroadcasting deal ABC has with Al Jazeera “must be scrutinised by an appropriately senior ABC person designated for the purpose who must reject the arrangement unless satisfied that the independence and integrity of the ABC are fully protected”.

“Factors to consider include … c) the nature of the external partners’ interest in the subject matter of the content and in broadcast or publication of the content by the ABC, and how that interest — whether it be political, commercial, sectional, personal or otherwise — is likely to be perceived.” ABC has long defended its use of Al Jazeera even in the face of official complaints that have pointed out Al Jazeera’s clear conflict of interest where the stories overlap with the interests of the Qatari ruling family.

This includes coverage of political events in the Middle East and, obviously, Israel and the Palestinians. Nevertheless, ABC continues to give Al Jazeera two unedited hour-long programming slots daily, for Newshour and Newsgrid.

Meanwhile, audio from Al Jazeera is commonly used at length on ABC Newsradio, including stories clearly the subject of Qatari foreign policy interests.

Claims of Al Jazeera’s bias aren’t only coming from Peter Greste and they’re not only about the network’s Arabic programming.

For example, in 2015, two former employees of Al Jazeera America, Shannon High-Bassalik and Matthew Luke, filed separate lawsuits alleging pervasive antisemitism and sexism in the newsroom.

High-Bassalik also said journalists at the network were ­instructed by management to attack Israel in their stories, including through the use of inflammatory taglines and captions.

Her lawsuit was met with resignations by three top Al Jazeera executives in human resources and communications, on the grounds that they could not support the decisions or direction of the network.

In a complaint AIJAC submitted to ABC in 2013 over News­radio’s use of a malevolent Al Jazeera report on Israel’s treatment of Bedouin Arabs in the Negev region, ABC defended its decision to air the story purely on its merits, while “acknowledging” parts of the story were “inflammatory”.

The ABC’s defence begged incredulity. Qatar’s ruling family, the owner of Al Jazeera, is one of the main supporters of Hamas — a terror group committed to Is­rael’s destruction. Al Jazeera’s anti-Israel obsession has seen English language “documentaries” alleging — for example — Israel’s “lobby” controls Washington and London, that Israel poisoned Yasser Arafat, and that Israel stole Egypt’s natural gas. None of these so-called exposes stand up to fact-checking.

...By any fair assessment, Al Jazeera’s political interest in its content should preclude the ABC from using any content from Al Jazeera..

Section 13 of ABC’s editorial policy actually forbids the public broadcaster from entering into content-sharing relationships with entities like Al Jazeera, because ethical journalism demands that ABC evaluate the source and intent of the producer of the content...

It’s high time for ABC and SBS executives to re-evaluate their relationships with Al Jazeera and ask themselves at what point Al Jazeera’s political baggage and inherent bias finally becomes too blatant for Australia’s public broadcasters to carry.

Will Australian Labor Abandon Support for Israel?

From The Australian, July 3, 2017, by SIMON BENSON, National Political Editor, Sydney:

Leading Labor Israel-bashers

Labor will formally abandon ­almost 40 years of explicit ideological support for Israel with a resolution expected to be passed at this month’s NSW state conference, a move that would ultim­ately bind Bill Shorten to an unconditional recognition of a Palestinian state should he ­become prime minister.

A dramatic shift in language from the NSW branch is set to force the ALP national conference to adopt the same position next year, effectively ensuring federal Labor goes to the next election with a foreign policy position of unqualified recognition for a state of Palestine.

A significant hardening in the position contained in a motion endorsed by the NSW conference foreign affairs committee, obtaine­d by The Australian, has elevated what was previously conditional support for a Palestinian state based on a negotiated peace settlement and consult­ation with other countries, to a policy of categorical and immed­iate recognition of statehood.

A senior source close to the drafting of the motion claimed it was a “historic” move by Labor to effectively drop decades of ­“instinctive” support for Israel, which was cemented in 1977 with the creation of the Labor Friends of Israel.
“It is inevitable that the same motion will go before the national conference next year and, with the numbers as they are, it would be adopted,” the source said.

But the move risks a bitter split within Labor ranks, with pro-­Israeli Labor MPs meeting last night to resolve to oppose it. The Labor Israel Action Committee said that motions came from individual local branches and did not represent the final NSW conference position, ­despite the foreign affairs committee recommending that it be supported.

NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel deputy chairman and Labor Israel Action Committee patron Walt Secord said LIAC opposed the motions. “We see them as one-sided and do not promote a peaceful resolution to the conflict resulting in a two-state solution,” he told The Australian.

...Despite Mr Shorten’s own Victorian faction, Centre Unity, now being the only significant pro-Israel­i bloc left in the ALP, the Labor leader — who in February faced calls by Kevin Rudd and Bob Hawke for Palestinian recognition — is believed not to have lobbied against the NSW motion, recognising that with the numbers backing it within the party membership­ and the caucus, a policy shift at the national level was unavoidable.

The NSW motion, obtained by The Australian, marks a fundamental shift in language from the national platform and the previous NSW position, which called for a Labor government to consult first with other countries on recognition if no progress had been made toward­s a peace settlement.

The motion states conference “notes previous resolutions on Israel­/Palestine carried at the 2015 ALP national conference and the 2016 NSW Labor annual conference and urges the next Labor government to recognise Palestine”.

In 2014, following a motion sponsored by then Labor foreign minister Bob Carr, NSW Labor adopted a position that if there was no progress to “a two-state solution, and Israel continues to build and expand settlements, a future Labor government will consult like­minded nations towards ­recognition of the Palestinian state”. The Tasmanian ALP state conference passed a similar but more strident resolution at the weekend, affirming that the next federal Labor government would ­“immediately recognise the state of Palestine”.

The same words are expected to be adopted by the Queensland state conference, which will be held on the same weekend as the NSW conference, July 29 and 30.

The South Australian Labor government used its majority to pass a motion last week that also recognised a state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel, marking the first formal recognition by a parliament in Australia.

A senior Labor source said it was now impossible for next year’s national conference to not adopt the same policy, with the numbers on the floor of the national­ conference dominated by the left, which on this issue would now be supported by the NSW right.

A source close to Mr Shorten said that the Labor leader, who has been a staunch defender of Israel, now believed Labor’s unequivocal support for Israel could not be maintained...

“He did not lobby against it,” the source said. “He is smart enough to know it is happening and is allowing it to happen.”

The biggest push has come from within the NSW right, includi­ng some of Mr Shorten’s most committed supporters, who are also facing pressure within their own branches to support a stronger resolution. Mr Shorten expressed Labor’s support for Israe­l at the time of his meeting with Mr Netanyahu but had also raised the contentious issue of settlem­ents in a meeting with the Israeli leader.

“We want to see Israel safe and secure of its borders; we support the rights of the Palestinians people­ to have their own state,” Mr Shorten said at the time.

The outgoing vice-president of the Queensland ALP, Wendy Turner, welcomed the move by NSW and said that momentum was now there for the national conference to adopt the policy.... She confirmed that the Queensland conference would seek to re-affirm its resolution passed last year for a federal Labor government to unconditionally recognise a state of Palestine.