Israel, MENA

Jordan Gate

Syyrian sisällissodasta, palestiinalaisten väkivaltaisuuksista ja Temppelivuoren jännitteistä huolimatta Israel ja Jordania ovat tiivistäneet yhteistyötään. Maaliskuussa 2015 maat allekirjoittivat historiallisen lopullisen sopimuksen ns ’Red-Dead’ –hankkeesta – Punaisen meren ja Kuolleenmeren yhdistävästä putkilinjasta (ks. Red-Med kanaali ja Sininen rauha askeleen eteenpäin) – ja nyt puolestaan ns. ’Jordan Gate’ nytkähti liikkeelle.

Beit_shean_valleyIsraelilais-jordanialainen turvallisuus- ja liikennekomitea keskusteli tiistaina – 27.10.2015 – ns. ’Jordan Gate’ hankkeen edistämisestä. Kyseessä on yhteisen israelilais-jordanialaisen teollisuus- ja työssäkäyntialueen perustaminen ’Valley of Springs’n alueelle kuusi kilometriä etelään Jordanjoen ylityspaikasta Israelin koillisosassa. Kokouksessa sovittiin tulevien kuukausien keskinäisiin sopimuksiin pohjautuvasta työohjelmasta.

Alueellisen koordinaation varaministeri ja hankkeen ohjausryhmän johtaja Ayoob Kara totesi ’Jordan Gate’n olevan suuren mittakaavan taloudellinen projekti kahden maan välillä tuottaen jatkossa työtä ja hyvinvointia molemmin puolin rajaa. Yhteinen teollisuusalue Jordanian puolella käsittää israelilaisia ja jordanialaisia teollisuuslaitoksia kun taas Israelin puoleinen osa palvelee logistisena ja liikennepalvelujen alueena siirtäen tuotteet Israelin satamien kautta ulkomaille. Tavara- ja henkilöliikennettä varten alueiden väliin rakennetaan silta. Yhteinen teollisuusalue syventää Jordanian ja Israelin kaupallisia suhteita ja tuonee vakautta alueelle. Lähde: GPO

Op-Ed kommentti:

Jordanian ja Israelin rauhansopimuksessa lokakuussa 1994 sovittiin myös keskinäisistä rajoista

Jordanian ja Israelin rauhansopimuksessa lokakuussa 1994 sovittiin myös keskinäisistä rajoista

Viime viikkoina suomalaisen median uutisointi Israelista on liittynyt lähinnä palestiinalaisterroriin ja Israelin turvallisuusviranomaisten liian kovina pidettyihin otteisiin sen hillitsemiseksi; edelleen Temppelivuoren levottomuudet, osin kuviteltu Gazan saarto ja Gazasta tehdyt iskut ja erityisesti niitä seuranneet vastaiskut, israelilais-palestiinalaisen konfliktin osapuolten keskinäinen syyttely sekä Syyrian ja Irakin sisällissotien heijastusvaikutukset leimaavat suomalaislukijoiden saamaa kuvaa Israelista.

Mielestäni tämä ‘Jordan Gate’ kirjoitus osaltaan maalaa kuvaa myös toisenlaisesta, väkivallattomasta Israelista, jossa katse suuntautuu paremman tulevaisuuden rakentamiseen. Israelin ja Egyptin sekä Israelin ja Jordanian keskinäiset rauhansopimukset osoittavat että sekä sopiminen että rauha ovat mahdollisia; Israelin ja Jordanian yhteishankkeet osoittavat myös sen miten rajat madaltuvat rauhan myötä. Toivoa sopii että myös palestiinalaiset näkisivät sopimisen edut ehkä katkerienkin kompromissien läpi

Liite: ’Valley of Springs’n alue ja kibbutsismi

’Valley of Springs’n alueella elää 9700 asukasta 26 kibbutsissa ja kuudessa moshavim’ssa. Koko Israelin ensimmäinen moshavim perustettiin v. 1921 Valley of Springs’n länsinaapuriin – Jezreel valley’hin.

kibbutsismi ja moshavit

Standard
BalkanBlog, MENA, Middle-East

Does Israeli Society explain Its Superiority in The Middle East?

In Arab and Iranian dictators’ propaganda there is almost no problem that is not caused by the existence of Israel, the Middle East’s sole democracy. Most of the Arab and Muslim states do not recognize Israel’s right to exist. However the freest Arabs and Muslims in the Middle East live in Israel. The Israeli government is the only one in the Middle East that is elected by free citizens — including Arabs and Muslims. Ironically even Islamic values seems better to be implemented in Western countries than in any country in world dominated by Islam.
In my opinion the modern society based on (Western or European) civilization or cultural history might explain the huge imbalance in the Great Middle East.The core reason for the imbalance between societies in the great Middle East might be from my point of view in the role of religion in different societies – in the lines between religion and secularism , between state and religion, between theocracy and democracy.

 

Why are Muslims so backward and powerless?

All the world’s Muslims have fewer Nobel Prizes than Trinity College, Cambridge. They did great things in the Middle Ages, though.(Richard Dawkins)

Why Arabic Spring transformed itself Islamic winter and why also after that it is so difficult to establish some kind of constititional democracy in any Arab country even if the majority of population demands the change of regime. A quite good answer I found from article Why are Muslims so backward and powerless? written by Dr.Farrukh Saleem, the Pakistani Executive Director of the Centre for Research and Security Studies, a think tank established in 2007 and an Islamabad-based freelance columnist. Some highlights from his article describing not only Arab states but Muslim world in general:

  • There are an estimated 1,476,233,470 Muslims on the face of the planet: one billion in Asia, 400 million in Africa, 44 million in Europe and six million in the Americas . Every fifth human being is a Muslim; for every single Hindu there are two Muslims, for every Buddhist there are two Muslims and for every Jew there are one hundred Muslims. There are 57 member-countries of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC), and all of them put together have around 500 universities; one university for every three million Muslims. The United States has 5,758 universities and India has 8,407. In 2004, Shanghai Jiao Tong University compiled an ‘Academic Ranking of World Universities’ , and intriguingly, not one university from Muslim-majority states was in the top-500.
  • As per data collected by the UNDP, literacy in the Christian world stands at nearly 90 per cent and 15 Christian-majority states have a literacy rate of 100 per cent. A Muslim-majority state, as a sharp contrast, has an average literacy rate of around 40 per cent and there is no Muslim-majority state with a literacy rate of 100 per cent.
  • Some 98 per cent of the ‘literates’ in the Christian world had completed primary school, while less than 50 per cent of the ‘literates’ in the Muslim world did the same.
  • Around 40 per cent of the ‘literates’ in the Christian world attended university while no more than two per cent of the ‘literates’ in the Muslim world did the same.
  • Muslim-majority countries have 230 scientists per one million Muslims. The US has 4,000 scientists per million and Japan has 5,000 per million. In the entire Arab world, the total number of full-time researchers is 35,000 and there are only 50 technicians per one million Arabs. (in the Christian world there are up to 1,000 technicians per one million).
  • Furthermore, the Muslim world spends 0.2 per cent of its GDP on research and development, while the Christian world spends around five per cent of its GDP.

Dr. Saleem concludes that the Muslim world lacks the capacity to produce knowledgeand continues his statistics:

  • Daily newspapers per 1,000 people and number of book titles per million are two indicators of whether knowledge is being diffused in a society.
  • In Pakistan, there are 23 daily newspapers per 1,000 Pakistanis while the same ratio in Singapore is 360. In the UK , the number of book titles per million stands at 2,000 while the same in Egypt is 20.

Sothe Muslim world is failing to diffuse knowledge.Exports of high technology products as a percentage of total exports are an important indicator of knowledge application. Pakistan’s export of high technology products as a percentage of total exports stands at one per cent. The same for Saudi Arabia is 0.3 per cent; Kuwait , Morocco , and Algeria are all at 0.3 per cent, while Singapore is at 58 per cent. So the Muslim world is failing to apply knowledge. Interestingly, the combined annual GDP of 57 OIC-countries is under $2 trillion. America , just by herself, produces goods and services worth $12 trillion; China $8 trillion, Japan $3.8 trillion and Germany $2.4 trillion (purchasing power parity basis). Oil rich Saudi Arabia , UAE, Kuwait and Qatar collectively produce goods and services (mostly oil) worth $500 billion; Spain alone produces goods and services worth over $1 trillion, Catholic Poland $489 billion and Buddhist Thailand $545 billion. In addition Muslim GDP as a percentage of world GDP is fast declining.

Why are Muslims powerless?
Dr. Farrukh Saleem‘s final conclusion: Because they aren’t producing, diffusing and applying knowledge. And, the future belongs to knowledge-based societies.

Country Literacy rate (all) Male Literacy Female Literacy
World

Israel

Egypt

Iran

Iraq

Lebanon

Jordan

Morocco

Libya

Tunisia

Syria

Saudi Arabia

84.1%

97.1%

72%

85%

78.2%

87.4%

93.4%

56.1%

89.2%

74.3%

79.6%

86.6%

88.6%

98.5%

80.3%

89.3%

86%

93.1%

96.6%

68.9%

95.6%

83.4%

86%

90.4%

79.7%

95.9%

63.5%

80.7%

70.6%

82.2%

90.2%

43.9%

82.7%

65.3%

73.6%

81.3%

 

Quite the contrary in Israel

For comparison Israel, the 100th smallest country, with less than 1/1000th of the world’s population, can lay claim to the following:

  • Israel has the highest ratio of university degrees to the population in the world. Three Israeli universities are ranked within the top 100 universities in the world. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem has risen 4 points from number 57 in 2011 to 53 in 2012, according to the Shanghai Academic Ranking. The Technion (Israel Institute of Technology) was ranked 78th, and the Weizmann Institute of Science was ranked 93rd. The Tel Aviv University ranked in the top 150 while the Bar Ilan University and the Ben Gurion University were both ranked in the top 400. When ranked according to specific fields, Israel fares even better. In Mathematics, three universities made it to the top 100; The Hebrew University in 16th place, Tel Aviv in 30th and the Technion in the top 74. In Computer Science, four Israeli schools were ranked in the top 100. The Weizmann Institute was ranked 12th, the Technion came in 15th, the Hebrew University 27th, and Tel Aviv University – 29th.
  • Israel produces more scientific papers per capita than any other nation by a large margin – 109 per 10,000 people – as well as one of the highest per capita rates of patents filed. Twenty-four percent of Israel’s workforce holds university degrees – ranking third in the industrialized world, after the United States and Holland – and 12 percent hold advanced degrees.
  • Israel leads the world in the number of scientists and technicians in the workforce, with 145 per 10,000, as opposed to 85 in the U. S., over 70 in Japan, and less than 60 in Germany. With over 25% of its work force employed in technical professions. Israel places first in this category as well.
  • In proportion to its population, Israel has the largest number of startup companies in the world. In absolute terms, Israel has the largest number of startup companies than any other country in the world, except the US (3,500 companies mostly in hi-tech). On a per capita basis, Israel has the largest number of biotech start-ups. Israel is ranked #2 in the world for venture capital funds right behind the US and outside the United States and Canada, Israel has the largest number of NASDAQ listed companies. Israel has the third highest rate of entrepreneurship – and the highest rate among women and among people over 55 – in the world.
  • Israel has the highest average living standards in the Middle East. The per capita income in 2000 was over $17,500, exceeding that of the UK.
  • Israel’s $100 billion economy is larger than all of its immediate neighbors combined.
  • Relative to its population, Israel is the largest immigrant-absorbing nation on earth. Immigrants come in search of democracy, religious freedom, and economic opportunity.
  • Israel has the highest percentage in the world of home computers per capita as well Israel has the world’s second highest per capita of new books and has more museums per capita than any other country. Israel has the highest percentage in the world of home computers per capita.

All this from a country just 60 years young while engaged in regular wars with an implacable enemy that seeks its destruction, and an economy continuously under strain by having to spend more per capita on its own protection than any other country on earth. Israel is a success story, and it seems that it will continue: Israel’s acceptance into the exclusive club of OECD, as well last year into EU’s Horizon 2020 program and CERN constitutes recognition of its accomplishments. Its integration into the global economy is further evidence that it is not isolated internationally. In the peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, Israel will be negotiating from a position of strength. By contrast, the Arab states that are dealing with the challenges of modernity are in a severe economic, social and political crisis, particularly since the Arab Spring, and the power gap between Israel and its Arab neighbors has steadily widened. A strong economy is a significant factor in the building of military might and also in a society’s ability to withstand a protracted conflict.

Despite Islam’s rise in the region, which is problematic for Israel, Egypt and Jordan have stuck to the peace treaties. Israel continues to have unofficial relations with the Gulf emirates and the North African states. The fluctuations in relations between Israel and the Palestinians have almost no effect on the relations between Israel and most of the world. Relations with the Muslim world have actually improved since Israel established good relations with Muslim states in the Caucasus and central Asia, which became independent after the disintegration of the Soviet Union.

Non-Muslim Countries Lead in Islamic Values!

We must emphasize that many countries that profess Islam and are called Islamic are unjust, corrupt, and underdeveloped and are in fact not ‘Islamic’ by any stretch of the imagination.”( Hossein Askari)

In a BBC interview, Hossein Askari, an Iranian-born academic, Professor of International Business and International Affairs at George Washington University said a study by himself and colleague Dr Scheherazde S Rehman, also rates Israel (27) as being more compliant with the ideals of the Koran than any predominantly Muslim country. Not a single majority Muslim country made the top 25 and no Arab country is in the top 50. In doing the study they applied the ideals of Islam in the areas of a society’s economic achievements, governance, human and political rights, and international relations, he said. On that index “Muslim countries do very badly,” he said and accused them of using religion as an instrument of power.

Looking at an index of Economic Islamicity, or how closely the policies and achievements of countries reflect Islamic economic teachings – Ireland, Denmark, Luxembourg, Sweden, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Singapore, Finland, Norway, and Belgium round up the first 10”. In their ‘Overall Islamicity Index’, a measure that encompasses laws and governance, human and political rights, international relations, and economic factors, “the rankings are much the same: New Zealand, Luxembourg, Ireland, Iceland, Finland, Denmark, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Netherlands; and again only Malaysia (38) and Kuwait (48) make it into the top 50 from Muslim countries,” he said.
If a country, society, or community displays characteristics such as unelected, corrupt, oppressive, and unjust rulers, inequality before the law, unequal opportunities for human development, absence of freedom of choice (including that of religion), opulence alongside poverty, force, and aggression as the instruments of conflict resolution as opposed to dialogue and reconciliation, and, above all, the prevalence of injustice of any kind, it is prima facie evidence that it is not an Islamic community,” he said.

Source and more in An Economic IslamicityIndex by Scheherazade S. Rehman and Hossein Askari and in BBC interview .

My conclusions

So, why are Muslims so powerless? Answer: Lack of education. All we do is shouting to Allah the whole day and blame everyone else for our multiple failures! ( Dr. Farrukh Saleem)

In my opinion the core obstacle to democracy in Arab countries is that a big share of population does not have access to many-sided information sources nor they don’t have means to make a critical analysis even about that limited information which they can reach. When biased (ruling regime) tv-broadcasts, rumours and fanatic provocatours lay the basis to ones personal decisions the public opinion easily reflects the will of others.

The cause for the huge imbalance between societies in the Great Middle East might be in the role of religion in different societies. In Israel there is a clear line between religion and state, and in overall European or Western countries have embraced secularism. In Arab or Muslim dominated countries Islam is more than a religion and it is primarily a political system controlling all aspects of the life of the believer. The main difference of approaches is that in democracy, laws are made by people but in Islam the laws made by people are not recognized as the laws are made by God and the ruler, as the executioner of divine law, is not accountable to the people. In a strict theocratic system with Allah alone at its head and where allah’s law is interpreted by a ruling body of clerics is absolutely incompatible with democracy as there is no room for a secular political system in which all people are treated as equals.

The progress and the political and economic reforms that spread across the world during the 20th Century largely skipped the Arab world and much of the Muslim world. Come the 21st Century, with all the new technological power and information, not only with Al-Jazeera, through the internet and social networks that we are familiar with; and it hits these societies with a harsh blow; it exposed the citizens of these countries to what they had been missing. This caused a huge turmoil as these changes did not occur gradually, allowing for economic and political liberalism. The irony of the Arab Spring was that in opening the door for popular discontent, it demonstrated that while the discontent was real, it was neither decisive nor clearly inclined toward constitutional democracy.

Different paths of development – or lack of that – in Israel vs Arab countries are creating in my opinion basic obstacle to solve Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As democratic constitutional state Israel must deal with more or less undemocratic regimes, tyrannies,dictatorships. At best the peace treaties can gain time for some period, at worst the treaty is immediately forgot after ceremonies and photo-opportunity. From my perspective peace process can be successful only if it sprouts from the grassroots of society – otherwise it is both pointless and useless.

 

Standard
BalkanBlog, MENA, Middle-East

Reality Check Time of Mideast Peace Process

The Mideast peace process is now on the edge of collapse and the parties desperately are looking for a package of measures which would be the basis for extending talks beyond the original deadline at the end of April 2014. Ironically one could note that now talks are ongoing only to find whom to blame about failure of peace process.

peace logoThe Obama administration’s efforts to impose a peace settlement seems to be a disastrous failure despite whether the negotiations formally break down or a face-saving formula is adopted which is nonbinding and incorporates sufficient reservations to make it meaningless. It seems that U.S. is preparing for a possible reduction of its involvement in the Israel-Palestinian peace process and Obama administration is taking position that Israel and Palestinians need to work through current deadlock themselves. Abed Rabbo (SG of PLO) might hit the nail on the head saying “We can’t return to the empty routine, a search for a framework for talks – this empty routine which is negotiating about negotiating,”.

Is it time issue a death certificate for the peace process or keep the facade?

The apparent breakdown in the American-brokered Israeli-Palestinian negotiations is a good time to re-evaluate basic assumptions of the diplomatic process. As reports about possible deal and even changes for deal differ it remains to see if there will be extension of negotiations or not. Even if formal meetings take place the peace deal in my opinion would be extremely unlikely. “The way it’s looking now, the talks as they were several weeks ago are no longer relevant. Last week’s package deal (offered to the Palestinians) is now off the table and Israel is preparing to return to routine dealings with the Palestinians as they were before the negotiations started nine months ago,” one official said. “As far as we’re concerned, the coordination on the ground with the different security forces continues, but the peace process is no longer relevant,” he added. (Source: YnetNews )

mideast peace talks

However Channel 2 reported that based on a source in Washington Israel and the Palestinians were close to finalizing a deal that would see peace talks extended by nine months. Also the head of the Arab League – Nabil Elaraby – said he was confident that Israel and the Palestinians would resolve the crisis soon and extend peace talks beyond April. (Source: The Times of Israel )

The Palestinians reportedly issued a long list of new preconditions for resuming talks — demands that Israeli officials privately dismissed immediately. These preconditions, according to the Ma’an news agency, included a demand for official Israeli agreement to the establishment of a Palestinian state along the pre-1967 lines with East Jerusalem as its capital; the release of 1,200 Palestinian prisoners including convicted terrorist chiefs Marwan Barghouti and Ahmad Saadat; a building freeze in East Jerusalem and the West Bank; granting Israeli citizenship to 15,000 Palestinians under a family reunification program; the termination of Israel’s security blockade of Gaza; permission to bar the IDF from West Bank Area A (areas under full PA control) for entrance to arrest or kill terror operatives; and increased Palestinian control in Area C (areas under full Israeli control). (Source: The Times of Israel ) However, according to Haaretz, Erekat denied that his team presented such a list, arguing instead the demands had been issued by Fatah officials, rather than the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organisation), and did not represent the official Palestinian negotiating position.


A potential deal which would extend final status negotiations between the two sides for a further year would include a Palestinian commitment not to make use of international conventions they have already joined and suspend additional applications for membership. In exchange, Israel would go ahead with the suspended release of the fourth group of 26 prisoners serving long sentences for terror offences agreed in July 2013, including Arab-Israelis. Israel would further release hundreds of additional Palestinian prisoners described as “high calibre,” and also agree to a quiet freeze on settlement construction. It is expected that the deal will include the release from prison of Jonathan Pollard, a former US intelligence officer convicted of spying for Israel 30 years ago.

Unilateral options

After Israel initially postponed the fourth prisoner release, Abbas retaliated by resuming efforts to win further recognition of a state of Palestine, over Israeli and U.S. objections. Among Palestinians, lead negotiator Saeb Erekat recommended his government unify with militant groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad – designated as terrorist organizations by the U.S. – to govern the Gaza Strip. Probably the PA would now continue their unilateral steps by applying to numerous other international organizations, including pushing for boycotts of Israel and seeking legal rulings against Israel via international courts in The Hague. Earlier the Palestinian leadership was planning to apply for member in 48 additional international treaties if peace talks with Israel failed. The immediate implications might be: international legitimization of the Palestinian appeal to the UN for recognition, with European backing, and a parallel intensification of the settlement boycott phenomenon – with it leaking across the Green Line – causing harm to the Israeli economy.

American legislators – in senate and Congress and both Republican and Democratic leaders – have expressed disappointment with Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas’s latest move – applying for membership in United Nations organizations as the “state of Palestine.” Both said that the U.S. should seriously consider cutting aid – about $400 million annually from the US – to the PA if Abbas continues with the process. The PA’s applications are violating the agreed framework of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Israel area CFrom Israeli point of view if even three-state solution does not come true so then unilateral solution would be in my opinion the best option. To connect main blocs up to Israel will require a land swap of about 6% and 20-30,000 households will have to be absorbed back into Israel. That is doable as this has been almost accepted in previous talks at Camp David and Annapolis as well in Olmert’s proposal at last final status negotiations 2008. (More in PaliLeaks, land swaps and desperate search of peace )

Recently Mr Yoaz Hendel (chairman of the Institute for Zionist Strategies ) offered his solution in his column in the Guardian as follows:

For the international community to remain relevant it must understand the restrictions and the available options. The most realistic practical option in the current circumstances is the drawing of borders along demographic lines. Most Palestinians (98%) in the West Bank live in Areas A and B, under the control of the Palestinian Authority. These areas are spread over 40% of Judea and Samaria. Most Israelis live in 12% of the West Bank in large settlement blocks.
The remaining 48% of the territory has 100,000 Israelis and an equal number of Palestinians. The Palestinians’ territories should be upgraded to the status of demilitarised state with interim borders and continuity based on A and B. The large settlement blocks can be annexed to Israel, and as result of that the disputed territory would be immediately halved.
It is not a permanent solution, but it would be progress. If the money from the various pro-peace organisations were to be invested in the Palestinian education system, encouraging support for democracy, it would be possible to restart negotiations in a generation. If the international community can let go of its attachment to the phrase “an end to the conflict” who knows – maybe we will have a glimmer of a practical peace on the ground, which would improve the chances for a comprehensive peace in the future.

Indeed Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett has urged PM Netanyahu to turn his back on the failed negotiations and annex portions of the West Bank. In a letter to Netanyahu, Bennett requested “to have a session as soon as possible on an alternative plan (Plan B) to begin the process of applying Israeli sovereignty on areas in Judea and Samaria that are under Israeli control.” The economy minister listed some of the blocs he wants to annex, including Gush Etzion, Maale Adumim, the settlements of Ofra and Beit El and more. These areas are home to 440,000 Israeli settlers, Bennett argued, and only tens of thousands of Palestinians, and would therefore not cause a demographic crisis and undermine the Jewish majority. Bennett compared the process of absorbing these areas into Israel to the incorporation of Jerusalem during the Six-Day War, and the Golan Heights during then-prime minister Menachem Begin’s reign. (Source: Times of Israel )

palestine mapAnnexation the main (settlement) blocs from sc Area C to Israel in my opinion means inheriting the arabs: Israel would be obligated – while excluding mass population transfer as option – to give the Arabs full citizenship which would change the demographic balance. Palestinians could then have full autonomy in areas A and Band most parts of area C. While the situation is not ideal, until the Palestinians agree to full peace with Israel, they could build capacity of their society as well be welcomed as neighbors in the Israeli economic system – participating in Israel’s commercial and creative life.

Negotiating about negotiating or minor points

The whole April so far has been mostly empty talks about wheater to negotiate after April or not. In addition issues outside this formality have in my opinion been only secondary ones. From my point of view the core issues are borders, Jerusalem, refugees and security. The dispute over recognition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people is only secondary one and simply hides that chasm.

Recognizing Israel as ‘Jewish State’ has been from Israeli side a core element in peace deal as from my point of view it is only unnecessary and empty phrase. The Palestinians have already recognized the State of Israel de facto, through Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat and then by PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas. In addition, the Arab peace initiative also officially recognized the State of Israel, as have Jordan and Egypt, which signed peace treaties with it. Moreover, Israel has no need of specific recognition by any country or entity. “‘Jewish state’ was resolved in 1947 in resolution 181, where there are more than 30 mentions of ‘Jewish state’ and this in my opinion should be enough. Even if that kind of formulation would be in agreement so what is the worth of this kind of lip-service without any commitment from PA side.

West bank settlements mapSpeaking about settlements one should note that besides allowing to build new homes in disputed territories Israel also tries to remove some illegal (according Israeli law) constructions and outposts. Last example was on 8th Apr. 2014 when Israel Defence Forces (IDF) soldiers met with violent resistance from extremist Jewish settlers in the West Bank as they moved in to destroy four illegally constructed buildings in the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar. Hundreds of settlers participated, throwing stones, burning tires, blocking roads, and damaging IDF vehicles. An IDF post in the area to protect the settlement was also attacked. The soldiers responded with riot dispersal methods. According to reports six soldiers and four settlers were hurt in the clashes. Yitzhar is a small mainly Orthodox settlement with a population of just 1000, situated just south of the Palestinians city Nablus in the northern West Bank. It is known as one of the most extreme settlements, and its residents have a history of clashes with IDF forces and local Palestinians. (Source: Bicom )

The Mideast peace process with or without Kerry

(Kerry) has come to us determined and is acting out of an incomprehensible obsession and a messianic feeling – (he) cannot teach me a single thing about the conflict … The only thing that can save us is if (he) wins the Nobel Prize and leaves us alone … The security plan is not worth the paper it is written on.” (Israel’s Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon)


In wider perspective I have some doubts if the negotiations with PA will have real impact to the Mideast peace process. One should remember that with the exception of Fatah, all PLO factions were against the resumption of the peace talks under Kerry’s terms. These factions include the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Peoples’ Party, in addition to Hamas and Islamic Jihad. With this background the options of President Abbas and PA are quite limited.


One possible scenario could be a partial – temporary – deal; a gradual deal that would require neither dividing east Jerusalem nor an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 borders, despite fears that any partial agreement will end up constituting a permanent arrangement the partial deal not necessry solve any core problems.


Failure with the Mideast peace process might be the last nail to Kerry’s Nobel Peace Prize coffin. “He doesn’t understand the situation on the ground,” Israel’s Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon said, adding that Kerry’s motives were illegitimate, “messianic” and “obsessive.” Washington Post columnist Jackson Diehl echoed Yaalon’s sentiments, saying that the secretary was “delusional” and “detached from reality.” At the same time, the Palestinians view Kerry as someone incapable of pressuring Israel and getting results, deeming him irrelevant.

From my point of view FM Kerry’s commitment to the success of the diplomatic process and the time he has invested in solving the Mideast problem, regardless of the other unresolved conflicts (Ukraine, Syria, Iran…) in the world, should to be appreciated. Regrettably, the U.S. intervention has only exacerbated the situation and even undermined the chances of low-profile interim progress and economic cooperation. One way to continue the Mideast peace process could be to dig the archives and pull out two or three documents bearing the signatures of various Israeli prime ministers, including the present one, dust them off and implement them. Fulfilling the existing agreements could completely change the skeptical and even gloomy mood hanging over the diplomatic negotiations. The United States, which was an active partner in formulating these documents and which provided them with its imprimatur, cannot absolve itself from them. (More e.g in Al-Monitor )

peace sign israelThe peace settlements between Israel and Egypt and Jordan were achieved because both parties sought to come to an accommodation. The U.S. did not then seek to impose solutions. It only became involved as a facilitator and honest broker after both parties had taken the initial steps and invited them.

Three State Solution(s)

One interesting approach for replacing two-state solution is a new kind of three-state solution proposed by Georgetown University lecturer Ori Z Soltes few years ago. In his article A Modest Proposal: The Three-State Solution he uses the experience of India and Pakistan. Having primarily Muslim Pakistan divided into two parts by primarily Hindu India proved disastrous for decades, until finally the two Muslim states were disconnected from each other, leaving one as Pakistan and the other as Bangladesh. Why not do the same with non-Israeli Palestine?


According Mr Soltes, this proposal would eliminate the main logistical complication pertaining to the communication between the two parts of the Palestinian state. The notion of creating a land corridor between Gaza and the West Bank, with a free flow of people and commerce between the two, seems ill-conceived as an on-the-ground practicality. It effectively cuts Israel in half: how do Israelis then flow from north to south of the corridor? There have been other proposals, for extensive connecting tunnels or bridges, but these, too, are a logistical challenge. Moreover, two separate states for Palestinians would accord more realistically with a key current political reality: Hamas controls Gaza and the Palestinian Authority controls the West Bank. Creating two separate states would allow each to develop according to its own plans.

The three-state solution would make it possible for Israel to focus toward normalized relations with the West Bank, PA-led Palestinians; and on defense measures with regard to the Gazans. The possibility of Hamas being voted out by the Gazan Palestinians themselves would increase. But the potential isolation might also increase the incentive for Hamas to accept peaceful co-existence with Israel.

The idea of Mr Soltes is different than that three-state approach, which I have propagated a half decade. There Gaza is returned to Egyptian control and the West Bank in some configuration reverts to Jordanian sovereignty. From my point of view this solution is both pragmatic and doable and now more actual than ever as two-state solution is more and more utopia and road map towards it has been death for years. (More in A Jordanian-Palestinian Confederation Is On The Move and The Three-State Option could solve Gaza Conflict )

The three-state solution essentially replicates the situation that existed between the 1949 Armistice Agreements and the 1967 Six-Day War. Beginning in 1949, Egypt occupied the Gaza Strip, Jordan occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and no Palestinian Arab state existed. In 1950, Jordan officially annexed the West Bank and granted the Arab residents Jordanian citizenship.

 

Potential scenarios

A monthly peace index, last published in March by the Israel Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University, found 69 percent of Israelis “somewhat don’t believe” or “don’t believe at all” that the negotiations will lead to peace. A poll conducted last month in the West Bank and Gaza Strip by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Research showed that about three-quarters of those surveyed believed chances for establishing a Palestinian state in the next five years are “slim or non-existent.” (Source: The Jerusalem Post )

An face-saving win-win deal now could be following: The Palestinian Authority terminates their U.N. bid, Israel withdraw their plans for economic retaliation, the Palestinian prisoners who were going to be released are released, the U.S. releases convicted spy Jonathan Pollard, and possibly the Israelis make some muted statement about restraint on construction in disputed territories in the future. Each side would be able to state that had it not been for their tough actions, a deal would have been impossible.


intifada logoThe crisis in the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians has shaken up the Israeli political scene. The stability of the governing coalition has once again come into question, with Yisrael Beytenu’s leader, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, saying that he would prefer new elections over the release of more terrorists, and Opposition Leader Isaac Herzog (Labor) calling for the formation of a new government comprised of the Left and haredi parties without holding new elections.

Publicly all sides want the peace talks to continue, but also know that they will not lead to anything. Negotiations and attaining a peace agreement that will, in the short-term, prevent regional violence and isolation of Israel, and in the long-term avoid a binational state with a Palestinian majority, are essential interests of the State of Israel. It is therefore believed that, just like in previous rounds of gestures to the Palestinians, Netanyahu will manage to reach a series of silent understandings with them and attempt to win their approval for a quiet freeze in settlement construction, rather than engage in a demonstrative release of terrorists. Such a scenario would grant Netanyahu another half a year of quiet and enable him to maintain the diplomatic status quo. In the end, however, even this six-month grace period will end, and Netanyahu will no longer be able to avoid anymore making political decisions and then the outcome might be that Netanyahu will be forced to make the necessary changes to his coalition.

In my opinion the situation now is leading Israel toward a de facto binational future toward one-state solution and this might be the worst option for both sides. If negotiations now fail so I think that unilateral moves might not be so bad idea. If three-state option can not replace the buried two-state solution so then the way forward for Israel seems to be annex the main settlements to Israel, finalize the security fence and wait if and when the Palestinian side and international facilitator want negotiate about some details based on this reality on the ground.

anti-obama plakat

Appendix:

An excellent background information in concerning the guidelines on European funding of Israeli entities in the “Occupied Palestinian Territories”:


ECI Open Letter to Ashton April 2014

israel peace sign

 

Standard
lähi-itä, MENA

Kerryn raamit Lähi-idän konfliktin ratkaisuna?

Israel's US lobbyY hdysvaltain UM John Kerryn kesällä 2013 liikkeelle polkaisemat lähi-idän rauhanneuvottelut ovat nyt tulleet ratkaisevaan vaiheeseen jossa Kerryn lähiviikkoina oletetaan julkistavan Israelin ja Palestiinalaishallinnon rauhansopimukseen johtavan raamisuunnitelmansa. Kumpikaan osapuoli ei tällä hetkellä esiinnouseeseen luonnokseen ole tyytyväinen mutta ei-sitovana ja osapuolten varauksin laimennettuna raamisuunnitelma kuitenkin hyväksyttäneen ja sen pohjalta pyritään lopullinen sopimus aikaansaamaan vuoden 2014 aikana.

Tammikuun lopulla Davosissa pidetyn maaiman talousfoorumin yhteydessä sekä eräiden intressiryhmien erillistapaamisissa Kerry esitti muutamia raamisuunnitelman avainkohtia:

  • Israel vetäytyy vaiheittain pääosasta vihreän asepepolinjan takana olevilta Länsirannan alueilta joille Palestiinalaishallinto perustaa Palestiinan valtion
  • Israelin turvallisuutta parannetaan vielä määrittelemättömin järjestelyin Länsirannalla
  • 1948 jälkeisten sotien pakolaisilla ei ole oikeuksia palata Israeliin (nykyinen ja liitettävät alueet)
  • Palestiinalaishallinto voi perustaa pääkaupunkinsa itä-Jerusalemin arabikortteileihin
  • molemminpuoliset tunnustukset kansalaisvaltioina

Rajanvedon osalta raamisuunnitelman pohjana toimii Arabiliiton vuoden 2002 rauhansuunnitelma jota se modifioi keväällä 2013 siten ettei enää vaadittu Israelin vetäytymistä ennen 1967 sotaa edeltäneille linjoille. Rajanvedosta päästiin melko lähelle sopimusta jo Camp Davidin ja Annapolisin neuvotteluissa ja myös PM Olmertin vuonna 2008 ehdottaman kartan mukaiset rajat antanevat suunnan mahdolliselle nyt kehitteillä olevalle uudellekin sopimukselle.

Olmert proposal 2008 for Israeli-Palestinian bordersRaamisopimuksen mukaan 75-80 % Länsirannan israelilaisista uudisasukkaista jäisi asuinsijoilleen sopimuksen jälkeiseen Israeliin joten 20-30 000 kotitaloutta joutuisi jollakin aikataululla muuttamaan setlementeistään. On tosin väläytetty että he voisivat jäädä asuinsijoilleen Palestiinan kansalaisina mutta kyseessä lienee retorinen koepallo joka saikin jäätävän vastaanoton molemmin puolin. Rajankäynnin tautoja käyn lähemmin läpi kirjoituksessani PaliLeaks, land swaps and desperate search of peace .

Turvajärjestelyjen osalta Kerry on konsultoinut Israelin, Palestiinalaishallinnon ja Jordanian kanssa tavoitteenaan huippukehittynyt tekninen rajavalvonta ja siirtymäkauden aikaiset ulkopuoliset joukot tämän varmistamiseksi. Palestiinalaishallinto on myöntyväinen jopa israelilaisjoukkojen oleskeluun Palestiinalaisvaltion alueella viiden vuoden ajan mutta lähinnä on keskusteltu IDF:n joukkojen korvaamisesta Nato-joukoilla. Itse Palestiinan valtiolle hallinto ei edes suunnittele omaa armeijaa joten salakuljetuksen ja terrorismin torjunta olisivat rajaturvallisuuden ohella Nato-joukkojen vastuulla. Turvasuunnitelmissa on otettu huomioon myös se että niiden tulisi kestää esimerkiksi Palestiinalaishallinnossa tapahtuva vallankaappaus tai vaikkapa Hamasin tai vastaavan ääriryhmän vaalivoitto.

Julkisuuteen vuotaneen raamisuunnitelman heikkoutena pidän sitä että Gazan kysymys näytetään sivuutetun keskustelussa kokonaan. Hamasin ote on Mursin syrjäyttämisen jälkeen kylläkin heikentynyt Egyptiläisjoukkojen suljettua Hamisin hallinnollekin tuottoisista salakuljetustunneleista (noin 1 000 tunnelia tuoden noin 700 miljoonan euron vuosiliikevaihdon) pääosan ja ottaessa muutoinkin lujemman otteen Siinailla. Ehkä Hamasin vaikeutuneen tilanteen takia taistelujen painopiste on siirtynyt Siinaille josta käsin rakettihyökkäyksiä on alkuvuonna ollut mm Eilatia kohden ja pääosin Jordanian kaasuhuollosta vastaava Egyptistä tuleva kaasuputki on jälleen räjäytetty.

Gazan osalta mielestäni tarvitaan uudelleenintegrointistrategiaa eristämispyrkimysten sijaan. Sen osia voisi olla keskiluokan vahvistaminen kauppasuhteiden ja kuljetusväylien avulla, Länsirannan ja Gazan asukkaiden sosiialisten suhteiden ennallistaminen ja ylipäätään kyseisten alueiden kansallisen itsetietoisuuden kasvattaminen. Kaikki tämä voisi edesauttaa Palestiinalaishallinnon/Fatahin menestystä tulevissa vaaleissa Hamasin kustannuksella.

Davosin puheessaan Kerry totesi että jos neuvottelut nyt epäonnistuvat on uhkana Israelin kansainvälinen eristyminen ja sen kaikin puolisen boikotoinnin kasvu. Israelilaiset oikeistopoliitikot näkivät tämän uhkauksena mutta itse näkisin Kerryn vain todenneen tosiasian. Jo nykyisten neuvottelujen aikana boikotointi on kasvanut esimerkiksi tammikuussa 2014 Hollanin suurin eläkerahasto veti investointinsa Bank Hapoalimilta ja samoin teki Danske Bank ko Israelin suurimman pankin rahoitettua länsirannan uudisrakennuskohteita. Nordeapankilla vastaava prosessi on vireillä kahden muun israelilaispankin kanssa ja Norjan, Nordean ja ABP eläkerahastot harkitsevat myös boikotin toteuttamista. Toisaalta viime kuukausina on ollut myös päinvastaista kehitystä ja Israel hyväksyttiin EU:n miljardiluokan kehityshanke Horizon 2020 jäseneksi kuin myös ydintutkimuslaitos CERin jäsenvaltioksi. Joka tapauksessa boikottiliikkeellä on jossain määrin vaikutusta mm israelilaisyritysten talouteen.

BDS

Ilmeisesti yli puolet niin israelilaisista kuin palestiinalaisistakaan uskoo etteivät neuvottelut tälläkään kertaa johda sopimukseen. Israel toki saattaisi tehdä tässä tapauksessa omiakin ratkaisujaan esimerkiksi liittämällä haluamansa länsirannan ja Jerusalemin alueet virallisestikin turvamuurin taakse Israeliin mutta nähdäkseni heikkokin kompromissi olisi parempi ratkaisu. Loppuvuoden neuvottelutilannetta voi myös muuttaa Israelin hallituksen sisäiset erimielisyydet, on esitty arvioita että PM Netanyahu voisi heittää Bennetin Bayit Yehud puolueen ulos ja korvata sen työväenpuolueella. Laborin uusi johtaja Isaac Herzog on lisäksi ilmoittanut tukevansa rauhansopimusta vaikka oppositiosta ellei hallitus saa sen puolelle omasta takaa riittävää kannatusta.

Näitä teemoja käsittelen tarkemmin pääblogini kirjoituksessa

The Kerry Plan For Israel And Palestine – Can It Work?

P.S:

Mielestäni bloggari Avi Bell kiteyttää kirjoituksessaan The Facts Of Life In The Middle East” erinomaisesti Lähi-idän rauhanprosessin dilemmaa seuraavalla tavalla:

The Facts Of Life In The Middle East” by Avi Bell

  • If Israel refuses to negotiate, that proves Israel is not interested in peace, because it refuses to negotiate. If the Palestinians refuse to negotiate, that proves Israel is not interested in peace, because the Palestinians can see negotiations with Israel are pointless.

  • If Israel makes preconditions to negotiations, that proves Israel is not interested in peace, because it is trying to avoid negotiations. If the Palestinians make preconditions to negotiations, that proves Israel is not interested in peace, because the Palestinians have to force Israel to be serious in the negotiations.

  • If Israel makes no offer of peace, that proves Israel is not interested in peace. If the Palestinians make no offer of peace, that proves Israel is not interested in peace, because the Palestinians can see that making offers of peace with Israel are pointless.

  • If Israel makes an offer of peace and the Palestinians reject it, that proves Israel is not interested in peace, because Israel is not willing to make the kind of offer the Palestinians would accept.

There are variations on this, e.g.,:

  • If Arabs make war, but offer to end it, that proves that Israel is interested in war and Arabs are interested in peace, because the Arabs offered peace. (Thomas Friedman/Arab “peace” initiative) If Israel makes war, but offers to end it, that proves that Israel is interested in war and Arabs are interested in pece, because Israel made war. (Defensive Pillar, Lebanon II, etc.)

  • If Arabs attack, that proves Israel is interested in war and Arabs are interested in peace, because Israel provoked the Arabs to attack. If Israel attacks, that proves Israel is interested in war and Arabs are interested in peace, because Israel attacked.

  • If Palestinians carry out acts of terrorism, that proves that Israel is mistreating the Palestinians, because the Palestinians feel they have no choice but to carry out acts of terrorism. If Palestinians try to carry out acts of terrorism, but Israel foils them, that proves that Israel is mistreating the Palestinians, because Israel is carrying out anti-terror actions against the Palestinians even while there is no terrorism.

  • If Palestinians don’t try to carry out acts of terrorism, that proves that Israel is mistreating the Palestinians, because the Palestinians are good and innocent and Israel uses terrorism as an excuse to mistreat Palestinians.

Standard
MENA, Middle-East

The Kerry Plan For Israel And Palestine – Can It Work?

Israeli-Palestinian peace talksUS Secretary of State John Kerry’s intense shuttle diplomacy helped resume Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in July 2013 and were to take up to nine months, until April 29 this year. Now Kerry is now planning to present a US framework plan that will lay out what Washington considers the core concessions Israelis and Palestinians need to make for a fair, lasting deal.

The exact content of the US framework plan remains uncertain for peace deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA). However it is preindicated that it will call for a phased Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria based on the 1949 lines, with “unprecedented” security arrangements in the strategic Jordan Valley. The framework plan includes Israeli withdrawal from disputed territories of West Bank but will not include certain settlement blocs, Israel will compensate the Arab side for this with Israeli territory. The plan will call for Palestine to have a capital in Arab East Jerusalem and to recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. It will not include any right of return for Palestinian refugees into pre-1967 Israel.

Neither side is pleased with framework plan as such however both sides probably are poised to accept the forthcoming, non-binding agreement with sufficient reservations to make it meaningless, yet enabling Kerry to demonstrate a “successful diplomatic coup.”

Kerry’s plan

Israel lobby in USAUS Secretary of State John Kerry’s is now finalizing a framework for final status talks with both Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Kerry‘s plan will include following components according his speech to the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos on 24 January 2014:

  • an independent state for Palestinians wherever they may be”
  • security arrangements for Israel that leave it more secure, not less”
  • a just and agreed solution to the Palestinian refugee problem; an end to the conflict and all claims”
  • mutual recognition of the nation-state of the Palestinian people and the nation-state of the Jewish people”

Kerry gave specific attention to security, commenting, “the Israelis rightfully will not withdraw unless they know that the West Bank will not become a new Gaza.” There has been consultations with Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian leaders over a “security structure that meets the highest standards anywhere in the world” in the Jordan Valley, incorporating “a layered defence” system. Israel and the PA disagree over the necessity of Israeli troops to stay in the Jordan Valley in the event of an Israeli withdrawal.

Security

In a New York Times interview published on Sunday (Feb. 2nd 2014), Abbas presented his positions on security issues, saying that Israeli troops could remain in the territory of a Palestinian state for five years after the signing of a peace agreement. Abbas also said that an American-led NATO force could patrol a future Palestinian state indefinitely. Abbas said the NATO force could stay “for a long time, and wherever they want, not only on the eastern borders, but also on the western borders, everywhere. The third-party can stay. They can stay to reassure the Israelis, and to protect us.” “We will be demilitarized,” Abbas said. “Do you think we have any illusion that we can have any security if the Israelis do not feel they have security?” Abbas said the Palestinian state would not have its own army, but only a police force, meaning that the NATO force would be responsible for preventing weapons smuggling and terrorism. Abbas also suggested that Israeli settlements could be phased out over the course of a timetable similar to his five-year proposal for the Israeli military withdrawal.

Territory

“What Israel has won on the battlefield, it is determined not to yield at the [U.N. Security] Council table.” (David Ben-Gurion when threatened with U.N. Security Council sanctions)

New talks are possible due active and skilled shuttle diplomacy implemented by US Secretary of State John Kerry, who succeeded where both his predecessor Hillary Clinton and his superior, President Barack Obama, failed. Kerry has highlighted a 2002 offer by the 22-nation Arab League to make peace with Israel  in return for a Palestinian state broadly inside borders that existed before Israel occupied the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem in 1967.In May 2013, a high level Arab League delegation, after meeting with Kerry, agreed to change the language of the Arab Peace Initiative from its rigid demand for a Palestinian state on the 1967 lines to accepting “comparable,” mutually agreed and “minor” land swaps.80% of the settlers live in large blocs close to the Green Line. To connect those blocs up to Little Israel will need a land swap of about 6%. That is doable. This has been almost accepted in earlier talks at Camp David and Annapolis as well in Olmert’s proposal at last final status negotiations 2008. While 20% of the settlers live outside these green line blocs, these settlements will not be part of Israel proper, after a proposed deal so some 20-30,000 households will have to be absorbed back into Israel and this is doable.

Martin Indyk, the State Department’s lead envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, told the Jewish leaders on 30th Jan. 2014 that under the framework agreement about 75-80 percent of settlers would stay in what would become Israeli sovereign territory through land swaps; he added that it was his impression that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was not averse to allowing settlers who want to remain as citizens of the Palestinian state. The sides, he said, will negotiate with the expectation of reaching a final deal by the end of 2014. (Source: The Times of Israel)

An official in the Israeli prime minister’s office said Sunday Binyamin Netanyahu believes Jewish settlers should have the option of staying in a future Palestinian state. In Davos, he told the World Economic Forum Saturday that he did not intend to uproot any Israelis in a peace deal. The prime minister sees no reason why a Palestinian state should be “ethnically cleansed.” An official in the Israeli prime minister’s office said Sunday Binyamin Netanyahu believes Jewish settlers should have the option of staying in a future Palestinian state. In Davos, he told the World Economic Forum Saturday that he did not intend to uproot any Israelis in a peace deal. The prime minister sees no reason a Palestinian state should be “ethnically cleansed.”

More about earlier negotiations in PaliLeaks, land swaps and desperate search of peace .

Israeli proposal for borders of West Bank according PM Olmert

For peace deal I consider that Israel needs to agree to a Palestinian state based on the 1967 lines with territorial swaps, when just 60 to 90 percent of settlers need to be included in the settlement blocs. The outcome of Kerry’s plan might well be close to that what PM Olmert offered to PA on 2008. Themap  of this earlier proposal can be downloaded also from my Document library.

BDS as thread?

In WEF/Davos Kerry commented that “for Israel there is an increasing de-legitimization campaign that has been building up. People are very sensitive to it, there is talk of boycott and other kinds of things,” implying that such a campaign would gain traction if peace talks should fail. Netanyahu said that efforts to boycott Israel will “cause the Palestinians to become entrenched behind their obstinate positions and push peace farther away.” He added that, “no pressure will cause me to give up Israeli vital interests, first and foremost the security of Israeli citizens.” However, Labour MK Merav Michaeli blamed Netanyahu for the volatile rhetoric surrounding boycotts, saying “Netanyahu exposed us to the threat of sanctions … Israeli security is a fantasy if we don’t have a diplomatic treaty, and that includes our economic security.” (Source BICOM ) Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon later responded that a European boycott is preferable to rocket attacks on Ben-Gurion Airport.

I agree with Kerry, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement is picking up speed. Danske Bank, Denmark’s largest bank, has decided to sever its ties with Israel’s Bank Hapoalim, citing “legal and ethical conflicts” with the bank’s activities beyond the Green Line. A Bank Hapoalim statement said that “Denmark’s Danske Bank has no investments, of any kind, with Bank Hapoalim.” The Danish bank’s decision followed a similar decision by PGGM, the Netherlands’ largest pension fund management company, which on Jan 2014 decided to divest from Israel’s five largest banks, saying they either have branches in the West Bank or are involved in financing settlement construction. On the other hand Dutch pension fund ABP, one of the largest pension funds in the world, announced on Wednesday that after looking into the matter it sees no reason to end its relationship with three Israeli banks. Sweden’s Nordea Bank — the largest bank in Scandinavia – has asked Bank Leumi and Mizrahi-Tefahot Bank for clarifications over their activities beyond the Green Line, in what banking experts in Israel defined as a potential pre-divestment move. According to a Jan. 19 report in the Financial Times, the ABP pension fund — the world’s third-largest — and two of Europe’s biggest investment firms, Scandinavian pension fund Nordea and Norway’s DNB Asset Management Group, are also reviewing their holdings in Israeli banks. Sources in the Israeli banking sector said Saturday that the recent moves were, for the most part, only declarative in nature, attempts to make political statements, and are unlikely to come to fruition. (Source Israel Hayom )

anti-BDS postcard

A new study that debunks the myth that Israel is a liability to Europe Added Value: Israel’s Strategic Worth to the European Union and its Member States, a joint report by The Henry Jackson Society and Friends of Israel Initiative, examines the extent to which Israel represents a strategic asset to the EU. The report looks at three key arenas: military, economic and scientific/technological. It finds that Europe is more secure, more innovative and more relevant on the world stage thanks to the tools Israel provides: from unmanned aerial vehicles to intelligence; from energy to pharmaceuticals; and from particle accelerators to high tech start-up. Among the report’s key findings there are e.g thatcontrary to news reports of EU-Israel disagreements – such as European Commission directives to label Israeli goods from the West Bank – by the most important measures, the EU’s relations with Israel are closer than at any time in the Union’s history. With nearly €30 billion in bilateral trade, the EU is Israel’s top source of imports and Israel is Europe’s leading trade partner in the Eastern Mediterranean. As the European economy continues to falter, EU exports to Israel are growing by roughly 5% a year. A world leader in high-tech innovation, Israel is vital in keeping Europe competitive in science and technological. (Full report can be downloaded from my Document Library.)

Israeli government effectively succumbed to a boycott of settlements in order to be eligible for the EU’s Horizon 2020 scientific cooperation agreement, the guiding blueprints for the EU’s scientific research. Also on Jan. 2014, the Israeli flag was hoisted for the first time to join the other 20 flags of the organization’s member states, after UNESCO officially recorded Israel’s accession as a new CERN (Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire/European Council for Nuclear Research) member state.

Central Bureau of Statistics’ data indicated that Israeli exports came to $92.5 billion in 2013, despite the global recession and slumping dollar exchange rates, compared to $60 billion in exports in 2010. Broken down by blocs, Europe received the largest share of Israel’s exports (32 percent), followed by Asia (25%) and the United States (21%).

Jewish state?

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said thatIt would be “absurd” to expect Israel to recognize a nation state for the Palestinian people without reciprocal recognition of Israel as the nation state for the Jewish people. But issue was first raised already 2000 (by Tzipi Livni) and later at the 2007 Annapolis Conference. Today Livni might not view this recognition as a precondition to negotiations. However in my opinion when one state recognizes another it does not imply recognition of its political structure, for example U.S. in 1933 formally recognized the Soviet Union simply as state and not as a communist or Marxist state; and when most of the world’s democracies recognized Israel after its establishment, that too was as a state and nothing more.

From Israeli point of view the meaning of the term “Jewish state” is a state that cannot be flooded by foreigners to the point where it changes its demographic character, meaning there can be no “right of return” for the descendants of the 1948 refugees. So anyone who would recognize Israel as the Jewish state as part of a peace deal would announce the de facto end of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and relinquish any future demands of Israel. From Palestinian side President Abbas stuck to his intransigence on the issue of recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, saying it was “out of the question.” Abbas mentioned that Jordan and Egypt were not asked to do so when they signed peace agreements with Israel.

Jordan will not recognize Israel as a Jewish state, the Kingdom’s foreign minister declared, expressing a latent Hashemite fear of Jordan becoming the de-facto Palestinian state. Jordan is concerned that defining Israel as a Jewish state may eventually lead to the forced deportation of Palestinians eastward across the Jordan river. According to some estimates, approximately half of Jordan’s population of 6.4 million does not hold citizenship. The massive number of non-citizens is comprised mostly of Palestinian refugees, but also war refugees from Iraq and Syria more recently. Over 3 million Jordanian residents are of Palestinian origin. Ever-mindful of a demographic takeover, Jordan has recently begun blocking the entry of Palestinian refugees fleeing the civil war in Syria. (Source The Times of Israel )

Missing Gaza question?

In my opinion question about Gaza should have been solved at early stage during negotiations. Hamas still has its grip on Gaza even weakened after Sisi’s coup in Egypt. The economy of Hamas is weakening as Egypt has closed main part of over one thousand smuggling tunnels on Gaza border; before that Hamas administration got remarkable income from smuggling activities.

Rockets are still fired from there and conflict – fights between Egypt armed forces and Islamic militants and rocket fire from Sinai towards Eilat – has more and more moved to Sinai peninsula. For example February 01st, 2014 saw the pipeline that transports gas from Egypt to Jordan being subject of a blow up by militants. The attack is the third of its type in less than a month. The pipeline that connected Egypt to Jordan and Israel has been the target of various attacks ever since the start of the Egyptian revolution in 2011 for ending the Hosni Mubarak regime. These acts of rebellion led to severe disruptions in the flow of gas from Egypt to Jordan and to a complete halt of Egyptian natural gas supply to Israel. On the other hand Israel is less affected by the damage to the pipeline given that it has since discovered enough gas off its shores to keep the natural gas coming for decades to come. Israel’s Leviathan field contains around 19 Tcf of natural gas and is expected to come online sometime in 2017 while its 10 Tcf Tamar field started supplying gas in March 2013. (See more in Realpolitik: The Energy Triangle As Game Changer For The Eastern Mediterranean )

So a new reintegration strategy is needed instead of isolation, it should reconnect Gaza with the West Bank to lessen Hamas’ grip on Gaza. Israel and PA should encourage to re-establish trade links with Gaza strengthen the moderate middle class; a transit corridor between Gaza and West Bank would help to restore the social bonds and build national consciousness required for statehood. The Palestinians want territory within Israel to build a transport link that connects Gaza and the West Bank, and this could form part of an exchange deal. All this can help politically PA to be ready for Palestinian national elections.

Jerusalem – Two peoples, One Capital?

Jerusalem is one of the key challenge to a deal and at least three dimensions should be solved. The negotiators need to delineate the territorial borders, the political arrangements (for example on the Temple Mount), and then to begin work on the security arrangements that would address all the concerns regarding the territorial and political questions. It is anticipated that the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem will be under Palestinian control.

A solution whereby Arab neighbourhoods would come under Palestinian sovereignty and Jewish neighbourhoods would stay under Israeli sovereignty is needed. Israel will have to agree to a Palestinian presence in Jerusalem to the point where the Palestinians realize their goal of establishing a capital in the city. Palestinian side has criticized Kerry for offering the Palestinians a capital in the villages of Abu Dis and al-Ram, and not in Jerusalem. Previous negotiations have also proposed a special regime for the Old City.

Jerusalem deal according Olmert proposal

Bottom line

“I hope we reach a deal with the Palestinians, if not, we’ll manage.” (Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon )

“A peace deal will ensure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state as well as its social and economic prosperity. If Ya’alon does not understand this, he is not fit to continue in his position, and we would certainly be able to manage better without him.” (MK Nitzan Horowitz/Meretz)

The British Guardian newspaper quoted   a “Jerusalem-based source close to the negotiations” as saying that Indyk’s negotiating team has “only have maybe 10% chance of success” in its efforts to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. The Guardian also quoted a former American diplomat who worked on previous rounds of Israel-Palestinian peace talks as dismissing most members of the current American negotiating team as “pencil sharpeners” and “bag carriers.”

Inside Israeli government there is different views as well more or less rude critics against FM Kerry personally and about his peace plan. The outcome might even be that PM Netanyahu will remove Bayit Yehudi from the coalition and replace it with Labor, which is more amenable to a peace treaty. Labour Party leader Isaac Herzog has repeatedly stated that if the coalition lacks support for a peace agreement, Labour is prepared to act as a ‘safety net’ and pledge the support of its 15 Knesset members. However coalition crisis can occur more likely over religion and state than security.

As for the Palestinians, Palestinian Authority (PA) needs to agree to declare an end to the conflict, an end to all claims, and to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, PA needs to renounce the right of return of refugees and PA needs to agree to limits on Palestinian sovereignty in deference to Israeli security arrangements. The security arrangements need to provide an answer even in the scenario of a coup – or Hamas can win in elections too – in the Palestinian state so the key question is if Palestinian state has the will or the strength to deal with terrorism.

If negotiations again fail so from my perspective Israel could concentrate to talk solution with Egypt and Jordan (e.g. from base of Three-State-Solution) or with Arab League. And of course one option are unilateral solutions – Israel annexing Israeli populated areas officially to Israel and PA seeking recognition from international community as state. As any of these options in my opinion are worse than even worst mutual compromise and peace deal I hope all the best for further talks.

P.S:

The Facts Of Life In The Middle East”   by Avi Bell is a good description about Israeli-Palestinian dilemma – and Western hypocrisy – as follows:

The Facts Of Life In The Middle East” by Avi Bell

If Israel refuses to negotiate, that proves Israel is not interested in peace, because it refuses to negotiate. If the Palestinians refuse to negotiate, that proves Israel is not interested in peace, because the Palestinians can see negotiations with Israel are pointless.

If Israel makes preconditions to negotiations, that proves Israel is not interested in peace, because it is trying to avoid negotiations. If the Palestinians make preconditions to negotiations, that proves Israel is not interested in peace, because the Palestinians have to force Israel to be serious in the negotiations.

If Israel makes no offer of peace, that proves Israel is not interested in peace. If the Palestinians make no offer of peace, that proves Israel is not interested in peace, because the Palestinians can see that making offers of peace with Israel are pointless.

If Israel makes an offer of peace and the Palestinians reject it, that proves Israel is not interested in peace, because Israel is not willing to make the kind of offer the Palestinians would accept.

There are variations on this, e.g.,:

If Arabs make war, but offer to end it, that proves that Israel is interested in war and Arabs are interested in peace, because the Arabs offered peace. (Thomas Friedman/Arab “peace” initiative) If Israel makes war, but offers to end it, that proves that Israel is interested in war and Arabs are interested in peace, because Israel made war. (Defensive Pillar, Lebanon II, etc.)

If Arabs attack, that proves Israel is interested in war and Arabs are interested in peace, because Israel provoked the Arabs to attack. If Israel attacks, that proves Israel is interested in war and Arabs are interested in peace, because Israel attacked.

If Palestinians carry out acts of terrorism, that proves that Israel is mistreating the Palestinians, because the Palestinians feel they have no choice but to carry out acts of terrorism. If Palestinians try to carry out acts of terrorism, but Israel foils them, that proves that Israel is mistreating the Palestinians, because Israel is carrying out anti-terror actions against the Palestinians even while there is no terrorism.

If Palestinians don’t try to carry out acts of terrorism, that proves that Israel is mistreating the Palestinians, because the Palestinians are good and innocent and Israel uses terrorism as an excuse to mistreat Palestinians.

Israeli-Palestinian peace talks


Standard
konfliktit, lähi-itä, MENA

Kuudella miljardilla Assadia kaatamaan

USAn Syyriaan suunnitellun sotilaallisen intervention peruuntuminen ja myönteisesti kehittynyt Iranin ydinohjelma -ratkaisu olivat katkera tappio varsinkin saudeille kansainvälisen terrorismin päärahoittajina. Saudidiplomatia teki kuitenkin nopean uudelleenarvion pyrkien tavoitteisiinsa uusin keinoin. Joulukuun alussa ns Persianlahden yhteistyöneuvosto – The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – aloitti kuuden miljardin dollarin keräyskampanjan uuden Islamilaisen rintaman (IF) perustamiseksi Syyriaan. GCC pyrkii houkuttelemaan USAn mukaan päärahoittajaksi perustellen mm hankkeen edullisuutta verrattuna USAn terrorin vastaiseen sotaan jo arviolta kulutettuun tuhatkertaiseen rahamäärään (=6 biljoonaa taalaa).

Uusi Islamilainen rintama käsittää useita suurimpia kapinallisprikaateja Syyrian eri osissa ja näistä mikään ei – vielä – ole luokiteltu USAn toimesta terroristiorganisaatioksi joten maan mukaantulolle ei tältä osin olisi esteitä. Rintaman tavoitteena on al-Assadin hallinnon kumoaminen inhimillisistä ja materiaalisista kuluista välittämättä ja nykyhallinnon korvaus Islamistisella valtiolla ja sharia -lailla. Rintaman vahvuudeksi arvioidaan 75 000 taistelijaa yhden komennon alaisina. Huomionarvoista on ettei kyseiseen rintamaan kuulu opposition merkittävin – ulkomaisella rahoituksella ulkomailta tuotettu taisteluvoima Daash or al-Nusra aka the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
syyrian kapinallisryhmät uudessa islamilaisessa rintamassa

Parhallaan Washingtonissa pohditaan voisiko USAn mukaantulo yhdistää nyt sekä keskenään taistelevia että Syyrian siviileitä terrorisoivia ryhmäkuntia al-Assadia vastaan ja rajoittaa opposition merkittävimmän taisteluryhmittymän – al-Qaedan – etenemistä Syyriassa. Vastaus on vaikea koska perustellusti on syytä epäillä kyseessä olevan vain saudien uusi yritys oman alueellisen asemansa turvaamiseksi tosiasiassa al-Qaedan avulla jolloin operaation lopputulemana voisi olla militantin USA vihamielisen islamilaisuuden valtaannousu Damaskoksessa.

Edellä viitatusta problematiikasta tarkemmin pääblogini kirjoituksessa

Syria Updates: The New Islamic Front And Whodunnit III

jossa käsittelen myös Syyrian kaasuhyökkäyksiä koskevan YK-raportin uutta tarkistettua versiota sekä tutkivan journalismin uusia paljastuksia koskien sitä että Obama oli tietoinen jo hyvissä ajoin kapinallisten valmiudesta käyttää kemiallisia aseita al-Assadia vastaan USAn houkuttelemiseksi interventioon.
kuvankaappaus: obama valahteli syyrian kaasuiskusta

Standard
lähi-itä, MENA

Sininen rauha: Red Sea-Dead Sea hanke allekirjoitettu

dead-sea-signLähi-idän rauhanponnistelujen ”edistyessä” totuttuun tapaan on ilolla pantava merkille myös todellista yhteistoimintaa konfliktialueella. Toissapäivänä Israelin, Jordanian ja Palestiinalaishallinnon edustajat allekirjoittivat Washingtonissa kolmikantaisen Punainen meri-Kuollut meri hankesopimuksen Maailmanpankin pääkonttorissa. Kyseessä on jo ainakin 20 vuotta vanha idea pumpata Punaisesta merestä vettä kuivuvaan Kuolleeseen mereen rakennettavan 180 km pitkän putkiston kautta.

Vielä 1960-luvulla Kuolleen meren taso oli 390 metriä merenpinnan tason alapuolella ollen nyt 420 metriä ja ennusteen mukaan 450 metriä vuonna 2040. Näin siis ellei mitään tehtäisi. Rakennettava putkisto ottaa 200 miljoonaa kuutiometriä vettä vuodessa Punaisesta merestä ja siitä noin puolet johdetaan Kuolleeseen mereen. Toinen puoli kulkeutuu Aqabaan rakennettavaan suolanpoistolaitokseen ja näin käsitelty vesi palvelee Aravan laakson sekä Israelin ja Jordanian eteläosien tarpeita. Hankekokonaisuuteen kuuluu myös sopimus jolla Israel myy Jordanialle 50 miljoonaa m3 vettä Kinnaret järvestä Jordanian pohjoisosien tarpeisiin. Muita hankkeen liitännäisiä ovat sähköntuotanto putkiston varrella sekä matkailufasiliteettien parantaminen.

Red-Sea-Dead-Sea-Pipeline

Red Sea – Dead Sea Pipeline. Images courtesy of ESA.

Myös ”Kahden meren kanaali” nimellä kutsuttu hanke on yksi keskeisimmistä suosituksista vuonna 2011 julkaistussa raportissa Blue Peace: Rethinking Middle East Water. Sveitsiläis-ruotsalaisella rahoituksella tuettu ja intialaisen asiantuntijaryhmän vetämä suunnitteluhanke lähti ajatuksesta että vesikriisi voitaisiin muuntaa sosiaallis-taloudellisen kehityksen voimavaraksi ja alueellisen rauhan mahdollisuudeksi. Tämä ”hydro-diplomatia” on kuvattavissa alueelliseksi yhteistyöksi joka luo taloudellista dynamiikkaa ylikansallisesti kaikille osapuolille. ”Sininen rauha” raportti esittää tiekartan tälle yhteistyölle ja nyt sovittu putkistohanke liitännäisineen on sen merkittävin toteutukseen päässyt osa.

Putkistohankkeen kustannusarvio on 300-400 miljoonaa dollaria, tarjouskilpailu käynnistyy vuoden 2014 puolella ja itse toteutusaika on kolme vuotta. Edellä kuvatusta hankkeesta enemmän pääblogini kirjoituksessa

Blue Peace: Red Sea-Dead Sea Pipeline Plan Signed


Standard