Monday, March 27, 2017

Jordan Has Extradited A Terrorist to the US Once Before -- Why Won't It Extradite Tamimi Now?

According to the Jordanian government, the terrorist Ahlam Tamimi, who masterminded the Sbarro massacre in 2001, cannot be extradited to the US, because there is no treaty. According to the Jordanian High Court an extradition treaty was signed with the US in 1995, but that it is null:
The Court of Cassation approved a decision taken by the Amman Court of Appeal not to extradite Jordanian citizen Ahlam Tamimi, to the US authorities.

A judicial source told Jordan News Agency, Petra that Kingdom and the United States singed [sic] an extradition treaty on March 28, 1995, but was not approved by the Jordanian parliament.

Monday, March 20, 2017

No, This Is Not Your Father’s UNRWA

[T]he reintegration of the refugees into the economic life of the Near East, either by repatriation or resettlement, is essential in preparation for the time when international assistance is no longer available, and for the realization of conditions of peace and stability in the area
United Nations General Assembly Resolution 393 (V), December 2, 1950

The goal and purpose of UNRWA is simple and straightforward -- if not immensely challenging: to either repatriate Palestine refugees into what is now Israel or to resettle them elsewhere, while recognizing the obvious reality that there will come a time "when international assistance is no longer available."

Yet here we are, 67 years later.

Those Palestine refugees have not been either repatriated nor resettled.
And that international assistance?
Lo and behold: its being offered and provided.

So what happened to the whole purpose of UNRWA?
It changed.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Are The Arab Gulf States Really Ready for a Regional Alliance With Israel?

“[Besides Egypt and Jordan,] many other states in the region recognize that Israel is not their enemy. They recognize that Israel is their ally. Our common enemies are ISIS and Iran. Our common goals are security, prosperity and peace. I believe that in the years ahead we will work together to achieve these goals.”
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, in speech to UN General Assembly, September 22, 2016

Is The Enemy of My Enemy -- My Friend, or My Ally?


At a time when there are still some who insist that Israel is isolated in the international community, it is becoming increasingly clear that Israel is in fact building new friendships and alliances. In his speech at the end of December last year, criticizing Israel, Kerry described Israel's friends as United Kingdom, France and Russia. But Netanyahu's recent trip to Singapore and Australia extends Israel's circle beyond that. Meanwhile closer to home, Netanyahu has visited Africa, visiting Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia.

And then, even closer to home, are the Arab countries.

Israel has diplomatic relations with Egypt and Jordan.
It has no relations with Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Iran.
Israel has unofficial relations with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE and Oman.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

For A While Gaza Actually Was Another Singapore -- Before They Blew It In the 1970's

A couple of weeks ago, Israeli Defense Minister Liberman offered to provide Gaza with a huge level of assistance in return for Hamas shutting down their rocket attacks and closing their attack tunnels. In return, senior Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar turned down the offer, claiming that if Gaza wanted to be like Singapore, it would have already done so.

The truth is that for a while, in the 1970's, Gaza rivalled -- and even surpassed -- Singapore.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

How UNRWA Keeps Remaking Itself: Defining, Re-Defining and Re-Re-Defining Who Is a Palestinian Refugee

The Report of the Commissioner-General of UNRWA in 2007 indicates that
...The mission of UNRWA is to contribute to the human development of Palestine refugees in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic until a durable and just solution is found to the refugee issue. The Agency fulfills this purpose by providing a variety of essential services within the framework of international standards...

The Agency’s vision is for every Palestine refugee to enjoy the best possible standards of human development, including attaining his or her full potential individually and as a family and community member; being an active and productive participant in socio-economic and cultural life; and feeling assured that his or her rights are being defended, protected and preserved.

UNRWA is a global advocate for the protection and care of Palestine refugees. In humanitarian crisis and armed conflict, the Agency’s emergency interventions, and its presence, serve as tangible symbols of the international community’s concern and ultimately contribute to a stable environment.
This is UNRWA?

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

On The Palestinian "Option" -- Not The Right -- Of Return

There are many aspects to the issue of Palestinian Arab refugees, a problem that persists nearly 70 years after the 1948 War that created the current situation. One question is whether Israel is actually obligated to allow those Arabs back in.

In other words, do the Palestinian Arabs have a legal "Right of Return"?

That is the argument made by pro-Arab advocate Hussein Ibish and Electronic Intifada founder Ali Abunimah in The Palestinian Right of Return, an article they wrote together in 2001, using many of the basic arguments still being used to make the case.

They start with establishing a right according to international law -- and immediately run into a problem.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem Has Never Been An Easy Issue -- For Israel



It is 1967. What would become known as the Six Day War has begun and Menachem Begin, invited by Prime Minister Levi Eshkol to join an expanded emergency cabinet, has an idea.

There is a meeting in the basement shelter of the Knesset and the news is announced that Jordan has decided to join Egypt and Syria in battle. Begin and Labor Minister Yigal Allon suggest that the reaction to Jordan's shelling of Israel should be the liberation of the Old City of Jerusalem, lost in the 1948 War following a UN ceasefire. Begin urges quick action before a similar ceasefire again leave the city divided.

Moshe Dayan opposes the idea based on the human cost of expected house-to-house fighting in addition to the potential damage to Christian and Muslim holy places -- leading to a world-wide outcry against Israel and opposition to Israeli control over Christian and Muslim holy places. Instead, Dayan suggests it would be enough to just surround the Old City and wait for it to fall.

Friday, February 03, 2017

What Is It About "Israeli Settlements Are Not An Impedimet To Peace" That The Media Can't Understand?

It did seem like a straightforward statement by Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Israeli settlements:
“The American desire for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians has remained unchanged for 50 years. While we don’t believe the existence of settlements is an impediment to peace, the construction of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements beyond their current borders may not be helpful in achieving that goal. As the President has expressed many times, he hopes to achieve peace throughout the Middle East region. The Trump administration has not taken an official position on settlement activity and looks forward to continuing discussions, including with Prime Minister Netanyahu when he visits with President Trump later this month.”

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

As Trump Takes Office, A Last Look At Obama and Bush

As of Friday, January 20, we have a new president -- President Donald Trump.

Comparisons have been made between Trump and Obama, and we can expect many more comparisons to be made over the next four years. One of those comparisons is in connection with Israel.

Obama allowed passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, calling the settlements illegal and putting renewed pressure on Israel. Now along comes Trump, who has promised -- and has reiterated his intention to keep that promise -- to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Yet both claim to be friends of Israel.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

If Israel Has Not Been Building Settlements, Why Are the White House and Media Claiming It Is?


"[T]housands of new settlements are being constructed...you saw tens of thousands of settlements being constructed"
Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser, December 23, 2016


On December 23rd, United Nations Security Council Resolution 2344 was passed 14-0 with one abstension --  the United States. One of the key points of that resolution was the clear declaration that Israeli settlements are illegal. Not "illegitimate", as per US policy in the past, but "illegal". The settlements were described as an impediment to peace that must be removed.

Are There Tens of Thousands of Israeli Settlements... Or 228?


That same day, Ben Rhodes, the White House deputy security advisor, gave an interview to Judy Woodruff.

Recall that Rhodes is noted for having bragged about his manipulation of the media in creating the narrative that made the Iran deal possible, despite both popular and congressional opposition. He boasted at the time about the media's lack of knowledge of world events:
Most of the outlets are reporting on world events from Washington. The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing...We created an echo chamber...They [the seemingly independent experts] were saying things that validated what we had given them to say.