Wednesday, 12 May 2010

RubinReports: Obama's Talk with Mahmoud Abbas: A Recital of U.S. Policy

Obama's Talk with Mahmoud Abbas: A Recital of U.S. Policy

By Barry Rubin

The White House released what it calls a "Readout of the President’s Call with President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority" which summarizes President Barack Obama's telephone conversation with Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Mahmoud Abbas. Let's analyze it.

"The President congratulated President Abbas on the start of Israeli-Palestinian proximity talks."

The U.S. government wants to encourage continued talks and to ensure that nothing should interfere with them continuing. These talks are the administration's main (sole?) "achievement" in foreign policy and woe to he--unless "he" is on the Palestinian side--who jeopardized their continuation.

"He reiterated his strong support for the establishment of an independent, viable Palestinian state living in peace and security with Israel."

This is the basic stance of U.S. presidents going back at least to the Oslo agreements of 17 years ago: the Palestinians get a state, Israel gets security, both get peace. In many ways, the Obama Administration has not changed the framework of U.S. policy as it was under Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. It is the atmospherics that are done quite differently, and often counterproductively.

"The President and President Abbas discussed the need for both parties to negotiate seriously and in good faith, and to move from proximity talks to direct negotiations as soon as possible in order to reach an agreement on permanent status issues."

So the U.S. goal is to get the talks going directly--which is possible--and to obtain a full peace agreement--which isn't. The key question is how much will the Obama administration push in that direction. Will it be satisfied to let the indirect talks go on for many months? I tend to think that the White House isn't going to go all-out for a final-status agreement it knows isn't going to happen. But the effort to make these two transitions--indirect to direct, general talks to negotiations--is going to be the centerpiece of U.S. policy on this issue during the rest of this term.

"The President expressed appreciation for President’s Abbas recent outreach to the Israeli people by appearing on Israeli television...

Abbas's performance in the television interview was conciliatory in terms of style but not very persuasive, especially since Israelis know very well how hostile he is toward Israel in speaking to his own internal audience.

The main problem, though, is that Abbas's message basically came down to saying that Israelis should trust him. Needless to say, this kind of thing has been tried in the past but hasn't worked out very well.

His claim to speak for "all Palestinians," that is including those under Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip, and insistence the two sides would achieve unity was particularly emerging. Incidentally, one of the most interesting aspects of the interview is that Abbas flatly refused to say that he preferred Obama to his predecessor, George W. Bush. That's a point that should inspire some thinking in Washington DC.

"and [Obama] urged that President Abbas do everything he can to prevent acts of incitement or delegitimization of Israel."

This is interesting and could be encouraging. Obama is asking Abbas to do something and that was the right thing to say. But here's the problem: as Abbas engages in incitement, the PA incites, and the PA doesn't interfere with incitement, will Obama say or do something?

After all, we know that if an Israeli construction crew turns over some shovels of dirt for a construction project in east Jerusalem, the United States will scream out protest. But if the PA names squares for terrorists, produces broadcasts delegitimizing Israel, secretly lets terrorists out of jail, and so on, there will not be a peep.

"The President confirmed his intention to hold both sides accountable for actions that undermine trust during the talks."

Both sides? One certainly hopes so but sort of doubts that.

"He said he looks forward to receiving President Abbas at the White House soon."

No doubt he will receive a warmer greeting than the one given to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on his last visit.

Any way, that's the thing about official statements. If the government making them actually did what it said things wouldn't be so bad.

RubinReports: Obama's Talk with Mahmoud Abbas: A Recital of U.S. Policy

RubinReports: Hillary Clinton: Pakistan Isn't Helping Against al-Qaida

Hillary Clinton: Pakistan Isn't Helping Against al-Qaida

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By Barry Rubin

Every week or so, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reminds us that the wrong Democrat was elected president in 2008. In these cases, she gets off-script, showing her skepticism about engagement with Iran before it became obvious even in the White House, or expressing the novel idea that U.S. policy should view Israel as a valuable ally.

Now she's addressed legitimate frustration with Pakistan, a country which has received billions in U.S. aid yet barely lifts a finger to help U.S. policy. The Pakistani government pretends to fight terrorism but only the terrorists who directly challenge the regime. There is ample reason to believe that Pakistani intelligence helps the Taliban in Afghanistan, sponsors terrorists who attack India, and does little to help against al-Qaida forces operating within Pakistan and along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

Remember the bloody attack by Pakistan-based and sponsored terrorists in Mumbai, India? What has the Pakistani regime done about that. People with access to intelligence information say that Chinese flights carrying military equipment--including things that can be used for weapons' of mass destruction--to Iran pass through Pakistan, too.

And take a look at my article HERE on Pakistani public opinion to see just how "allied" this country is with the United States.

So here's what Clinton just explained:

"I'm not saying that they're at the highest levels but I believe that somewhere in this government are people who know where Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda is, where Mullah Omar and the leadership of the Afghan Taliban is and we expect more cooperation to help us bring to justice, capture or kill, those who attacked us on 9/11."

Yes, a country to which the United States is giving full support and billions of dollars is doing little or nothing against those responsible for the September 11 attacks and killing about 3,000 Americans. But this administration doesn't believe in getting tough or putting on pressure against those countries actually giving America trouble. Ah, maybe the Obama administration does understand. After all, if they really regarded Pakistan as an ally, instead of a hostile state, they wouldn't be treating it so well!

RubinReports: Hillary Clinton: Pakistan Isn't Helping Against al-Qaida

Elder of Ziyon: Abbas plays games with the PLO

Abbas plays games with the PLO

The JCPA Hebrew site notices something interesting from Al Quds al Arabi.

Over the weekend there were a number of news outlets that reported:

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas agreed to U.S.-mediated indirect talks with Israel after receiving Palestine Liberation Organization approval that cleared the way for the first negotiations in 17 months.

However, Al Quds al Arabi noticed that the PLO meeting did not have the required quorum. Seven senior members did not attend. According to the PLO's own laws, there was no approval.

That didn't stop serial liar Saeb Erekat from announcing that the PLO approved the talks.

The game, as Pinchas Inbari at JCPA points out, is that Abbas will try to extract major concessions from Israel while pretending to agree to a couple of minor concessions himself - but the PLO will not approve them. At that point it will be too late for Israel to go back on its promises, which will have been publicized widely.

(h/t Daled Amos)

Elder of Ziyon: Abbas plays games with the PLO

Elder of Ziyon: Fatah in unification talks with other terrorists

Fatah in unification talks with other terrorists

From Ma'an:

As independent figures unveiled a new unity plan in Gaza, leaders of the Fatah, and leftist parties held a consultation meeting in Abu Dis on Tuesday afternoon to talk about political harmony.

Representing the leftists were senior officials from the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, with the latter party hosting the meeting at their headquarters in the Palestinian municipality of Jerusalem.

The PFLP is on the State Department's list of foreign terror organizations, as is Fatah's own Al Aqsa Martyr's Brigades and Hamas.

The DFLP dropped off the list in 1999 because of the "absence of terrorist activity, as defined by relevant law...during the past two years." But they enthusiastically participated in Hamas' Operation Oil Stain, later called the Battle of the Criterion, known to the West as Operation Cast Lead.

Birds of a feather....

If the policy of the State Department is to drop terrorist groups that haven't done any attacks for two years, then what terror attacks have I missed from Kach/Kahane Chai, which is still on the list?

Imagine the outcry if the State Department decided to remove the lone Jewish group from that list using their own criteria!

Elder of Ziyon: Fatah in unification talks with other terrorists

Elder of Ziyon: Ancient "Palestine" in Syria?

Ancient "Palestine" in Syria?

From JPost:

The great kingdom of 'Palestine' once existed within Syrian and Turkish boundaries, Professor J.P Dessel of the University of Tennessee claimed in a statement released on Tuesday.

The professor, who is a member of the Tell Tayinat archeological digs in Turkey, and who presided at the Haifa University Ancient East Research Conference, asserted that the commonwealth was located between the cities of Aleppo, Hama and Antakya and the Turkish-Syrian border in the 12th and 11th centuries BC.

The significance of this find, which was being discussed in a special meeting, is that the ancient Philistine empire was not limited to the lands of Canaan.

Following the collapse of the Hittite dynasty in the 13th century BC, smaller states sprung up in areas that were previously under Hittite rule, one of which was Palestine. In his lecture, Dessel explained that this was concluded from new-found evidence which was unearthed in the Tell Tayinat excavations.

Hittite hieroglyphics were found on the Antakya site reading "Palestine." Similar hieroglyphics were found in the cities of Aleppo and Hama.

"This is a significant discovery which shows that the Philistines did not just hold land in Israel, but in Syria as well," Haifa University Professor Gershon Glil, the conference coordinator, said.

Since "Palestine" was a word made up by the Romans some 1400 years after this kingdom supposedly existed, either the Hittites had clairvoyance or our esteemed archaeologists are making a basic mistake of mixing up Philistines and "Palestine." Of course, Philistines were not Arabs and have nothing to do with the people who call themselves "Palestinian" today.

I couldn't possibly consider the idea that a professor would purposefully mislead people for political purposes by saying "Palestine" when he really mean "Philistina." No, of course not.

But, as Gentile Warrior points out, if Palestinian Arabs want to claim parts of Syria as their ancient land, are the Syrians going to stop their illegal occupation of "Palestine"?

Elder of Ziyon: Ancient "Palestine" in Syria?

Elder of Ziyon: Real organ theft in Egypt

Real organ theft in Egypt

Here are cases of real organ theft:

An Egyptian doctor, operating on a five-month old baby for a hernia, has been accused of stealing the baby's left testicle.

When confronted, he said he did it for scientific research.

Another Egyptian doctor has been accused to stealing the kidney of another patient in order to make it available for the doctor's younger brother.

Elder of Ziyon: Real organ theft in Egypt

Elder of Ziyon: Egypt seizes more Hamas arms, explosives

Egypt seizes more Hamas arms, explosives

Ma'an (Arabic only) reports that Egyptian authorities have seized two more caches of arms and explosives near the Rafah border with Gaza.

One cache, which included anti-tank mines, was discovered in a graveyard some 3 km from the border. The other was found in a nearby warehouse, and Egyptian authorities have been increasing monitoring of Sinai warehouses.

These sorts of stories have not been making it into the English-language media very often, although they are regular events.

Elder of Ziyon: Egypt seizes more Hamas arms, explosives
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