“In truth the question of what Netanyahu would concede is irrelevant”

September 21, 2011

* Jeff Jacoby: “If the Palestinian Authority genuinely desired international recognition as a sovereign state, Mahmoud Abbas wouldn’t have come to New York to seek membership in the UN this week. There would have been no need to, for Palestine would have long since taken its seat in the UN. But for the better part of a century, the Arabs of Palestine have consistently said no when presented with the chance to build a state of their own.”

* “Kurds or Tamils or Tibetans – whose longstanding quests for a nation-state the world ignores – must find it maddening to watch the international community trip over itself in its eagerness to proclaim, again and again, the need for a Palestinian state. And they must be baffled by the Palestinians’ invariable refusal to take yes for an answer.”

* “It is no mystery, however. The raison d’être of the Palestinian movement has never been the establishment and building-up of a sovereign Palestinian homeland. It has always been the negation of a sovereign Jewish homeland.”

* Palestinian official: Even Palestinian “refugees” in the West Bank (i.e. the majority of the population there by Palestinian definitions) won’t get citizenship in the new Palestine. They have to move to Israel.

* Evelyn Gordon: “For years, the world has backed a Palestinian state on the grounds Palestinians are stateless people who deserve a country of their own. And now, a senior Palestinian official has announced once they have received a state, most Palestinians will still be stateless – even those who actually live in ‘Palestine.’”

* “Moreover, the new state won’t provide these residents with any services: It expects UNRWA – or, more accurately, the American and European taxpayers who fund it – to continue providing their schooling, healthcare, welfare allowances, etc.”

* Yossi Klein Halevi: “The Netanyahu government isn’t the cause of the breakdown of the peace process but its result.”

Palestinian strongman Abbas, who has clung on to power despite his term ending last year, now seeks international legitimacy



1. “Thank you Mr. Erdogan for supporting the establishment of an independent Kurdish state”
2. “‘Palestine’ to deny citizenship to 45 percent of its Palestinian residents” (By Evelyn Gordon, Commentary, Sept. 21, 2011)
3. “There is no Palestinian state” (By Efraim Karsh, The Daily Beast, Sept. 16, 2011)
4. “A Palestinian state? Don’t count on it” (By Jeff Jacoby, Boston Globe, Sept. 21, 2011)
5. “No Apologies: Israel isn’t to blame for its growing isolation” (By Yossi Klein Halevi, New Republic, Sept. 19, 2011)
6. “The Palestinian Bid for Statehood and ICC Jurisdiction” (By David Benjamin, The Weekly Standard, Sept. 19, 2011)
7. “Direct negotiations are the true path to peace in the Middle East,” (By Julia Gillard, The Australian, Sept. 21, 2011)


[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach seven pieces relating to the Palestinian intention to seek an independent state at the UN on Friday. (Of these writers, Efraim Karsh, Jeff Jacoby, Yossi Klein Halevi and David Benjamin, are subscribers to this email list.)

I have removed the email address of the first writer to protect his privacy.



Date: Tue, 20 Sep 20 2011 at 2:37 PM
Subject: Thank You Mr. Erdogan for Supporting the Establishment of an Independent Kurdish State

Thank you PM Erdogan,

Selam Aleykum!

I am a Turkish citizen of Kurdish origin living in Western Canada. I wanted to thank you very much for your support for the establishment of a Palestinian state, because logically, that means that you must also strongly support the establishment of a Kurdish state on the traditional territory where our ancient Kurdish people have been living for time immemorial.

Historically, it is clear that the Palestinians have been part of the great Arab nation for many generations. Until Catastrophe/Nakba War1948, the Muslims living in what was British Mandatory Palestine considered themselves Muslims and Arabs. Never did they refer to themselves as Palestinians. Only the Jews living there called themselves Palestinian.

But there is no doubt that today, there is a Palestinian people because the Muslims living there today and those who were kicked out by the Zionists consider themselves Palestinians.

The Palestinian people is therefore at most 63 years old. Many of their lauded nation did not even consider themselves Palestinians until after the June, 1967 war.

Whatever is the case, what is clear that the glorious Kurdish nation is not 63 years old. It has been in existence for more than 2,000 years and we have considered ourselves as Kurds during these long milleniums.

Indeed, I am sure that you will agree that if comparing an identity of people which is a most 63 years old which that of an ancient people more than 2,000 years old, that if the 63 year old people – maybe about 6-7 million of them – deserve a state, then we Kurds who number much more than 30 million in Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria, and other places, deserve our own country.

Turkey is the country which has the most Kurds. Our birthrate in Turkey is much higher than the ethnic Turks, and if your government’s statistics are correct, then there are probably 6–7 million Kurds alone in Istanbul (out of about total of 20 million in the Istanbul greater region), means that there are probably more Kurds in Istanbul than in all of northern Iraq.

So Istanbul is therefore the largest Kurdish city in the world. Indeed, since that is in western Turkey of today, let us grant you and the ethnic Turks that city. But the traditional Kurdish heartland of today’s southeast Turkey is one of the great centers of Kurdistan, and by that definition, should be part of the Kurdish state.

And since you are such a strong supporter of the now relatively young Palestinian nation, and you also supported the creation of Kosovo for the Albanian majority in this territory which has been part of Serbia for many generations, you have, Mr. Prime Minister, by this same logic, to support our cause to create an independent Kurdistan including areas today in northern Iraq, Iran, northern Syria, and Turkey.

If you disagree, then, excuse me, you are being intellectually dishonest and politically expedient. If this is true, then how can we trust you to guide our country honestly, because you are oppressing the Kurds in Turkey and forcing them to become Turks.
But surely, Mr. Prime Minister, as the great leader you are of our country, you are an honest and true man, so that leaves us to come to only one conclusion – that is that you must done everything you can to help create Kurdistan, just as you are doing to help create a Palestine for the young Palestinian nation.

Thank you in advance for support the creation of a political nation called Kurdistan.

Warmest regards to the ethnic Turks of Turkey.


Feridun Turk (the name my family was forced to take)
True name: Goran Paloyi



“Palestine” to deny citizenship to 45 percent of its Palestinian residents
By Evelyn Gordon
Commentary magazine
September 21, 2011

It’s eminently fitting the woman the Palestinian Authority chose to formally launch its statehood bid is a proud mother of five murderers, of whom one is now dead while the other four are serving life sentences in Israel. After all, a woman who teaches her sons to kill Israelis even at the expense of their own welfare is the perfect emblem of a Palestinian state dedicated to destroying Israel even at the expense of its people’s welfare. And if that accusation seems far-fetched, just consider the shocking interview the PLO’s ambassador to Lebanon, Abdullah Abdullah, gave the Lebanese Daily Star last week:

The ambassador unequivocally says that Palestinian refugees would not become citizens of the sought for U.N.-recognized Palestinian state…

This would not only apply to refugees in countries such as Lebanon, Egypt, Syria and Jordan or the other 132 countries where Abdullah says Palestinians reside. Abdullah said that “even Palestinian refugees who are living in [refugee camps] inside the [Palestinian] state, they are still refugees. They will not be considered citizens.”

Abdullah said that the new Palestinian state would “absolutely not” be issuing Palestinian passports to refugees…

“When we have a state accepted as a member of the United Nations, this is not the end of the conflict. This is not a solution to the conflict. This is only a new framework that will change the rules of the game.”

The Palestinian Liberation Organization would remain responsible for refugees, and Abdullah says that UNRWA would continue its work as usual.

This is simply unbelievable. For years, the world has backed a Palestinian state on the grounds Palestinians are stateless people who deserve a country of their own. And now, a senior Palestinian official has announced once they have received a state, MOST Palestinians will still be stateless – EVEN those who actually live in “Palestine.”

Moreover, the new state won’t provide these residents with any services: It expects UNRWA – or, more accurately, the American and European taxpayers who provide the bulk of that organization’s funding – to continue providing their schooling, healthcare, welfare allowances, etc.

According to UNRWA, some 689,000 of the West Bank’s 2.4 million Palestinians and 1.1 million of Gaza’s 1.5 million Palestinians are refugees. Thus, aside from the 2.9 million Diaspora refugees, a whopping 45 percent of the new state’s residents will also remain stateless, deprived of both citizenship and services by the country the world fondly imagines is being created to serve their needs.

But of course, the PA doesn’t want a state to serve its people’s needs; it wants a state to further its goal of destroying Israel. Hence the refugees can’t be given citizenship; that would undermine its demand to resettle them in Israel, thereby destroying the Jewish state demographically.

And if the price is leaving half its people in stateless squalor for the next several decades or centuries, it’s a perfectly acceptable one to pay for the goal of killing the Jewish state. Just like Latifa Abu Hmeid thinks one son dead and four in jail is an acceptable price to pay for the goal of killing Jews.


EU foreign policy chief Baroness Ashton enjoys a meeting in Ramallah last week with Palestinian leader Abbas



There is no Palestinian state
By Efraim Karsh
The Daily Beast
September 16, 2011

As the United Nations prepares to vote on the issue of Palestinian statehood, it might be worth bearing in mind that whatever the outcome, the result will certainly not be the creation of an actual Palestinian state, any more than the November 1947 partition resolution spelled the inevitable creation of a Jewish one.

In 1948, Israel came into being due to the extraordinary cohesion of Palestine’s Jewish community (the Yishuv). Armed with an unwavering sense of purpose and an extensive network of institutions, the Yishuv managed to surmount a bevy of international obstacles and fend off a pan-Arab attempt to destroy it. Likewise, it was the total lack of communal solidarity – the willingness to subordinate personal interest to the collective good – that accounted for the collapse and dispersion of Palestinian Arab society as its leaders tried to subvert partition.

Sixty-four years later, Palestinian society seems no better prepared for statehood. And the U.N. would be doing the Palestinians a great disservice by accepting the corrupt and dysfunctional Palestinian Authority as its newest member. While this would hardly be the first failed state to be delivered by the world organization, the unique circumstances of its possible birth make failure a foregone conclusion, and the consequences are too dire to contemplate.

The building of the Jewish state began in the Swiss town of Basel in 1897 at the First Zionist Congress, which defined Zionism’s goal as “the creation of a home for the Jewish people in Palestine to be secured by public law,” and established institutions to promote it. By the time the League of Nations appointed Britain as the mandatory for Palestine 23 years later, the Yishuv had been transformed into a cohesive and organized national community that provided most of Palestine’s Jewry with work, trade union protection as well as with education, health care, and defense.

By contrast, it was the tragedy of the Palestinians that the two leaders who determined their national development during the 20th century – Hajj Amin Husseini and Yasser Arafat – were far more interested in destroying the Jewish national cause than leading their own people. As far back as 1978, Arafat told his close friend and collaborator, Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, that the Palestinians lacked the traditions, unity, and discipline to have a successful state. Once given control of parts of the West Bank and Gaza, this prognosis became a self-fulfilling prophecy, as his regime quickly became oppressive and corrupt. Later it helped launch the second intifada, the bloodiest and most destructive confrontation between Israelis and Palestinians since the 1948 war. In the process, he destroyed the fragile civil society and relatively productive economy that had developed during the previous decade.

Paradoxically, it was Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip during the June 1967 war that laid the groundwork for Palestinian civil society. Not only did it bring the issue of Palestinian independence to the forefront of the international agenda, but it also produced dramatic improvements in the Palestinians’ quality of life. During the occupation, the territories became the fourth fastest-growing economy in the world – ahead of Singapore, Hong Kong, Korea, and substantially ahead of Israel itself. From 1967 to 2000, life expectancy rose from 48 to 72, while infant mortality fell from 60 per 1,000 live births in 1968 to 15 per 1,000 births in 2000. And while there was not a single university that existed in the West Bank or Gaza before Israeli rule, by the mid-1990s, there were seven such institutions, boasting more than 16,000 students.

All of these achievements were steadily undone after Oslo, as Arafat’s regime took control over parts of the territories. In September of 1993, conditions in the West Bank and Gaza were still better than those in most neighboring Arab states – and this despite the economic decline caused by the first intifada. Within six months of Arafat’s arrival in Gaza, the standard of living in the strip fell by 25 percent, and more than half of the area’s residents claimed to have been happier under Israeli rule. The launch of the second intifada six years later dealt the death blow to the economic and institutional gains that Israel bequeathed.

In an apparent departure from this destructive path, in the summer of 2007, PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad embarked on the first true state-building effort in Palestinian history. And he has had some modest successes, most notably a sustained economic recovery that has nearly restored the West Bank’s pre-intifada levels of performance. Yet Fayyad has created no new institutions, and the PA remains a corrupt and wholly dysfunctional organization. The Palestinian prime minister may claim to have laid the groundwork for a democratic Palestine, but the presidency of Mahmoud Abbas, and by extension his own position, are totally unconstitutional. Not only did Abbas defy Hamas’s landslide victory in the January 2006 parliamentary election, but Abbas’s presidency expired more than two years ago.

No less important, the two factions dominating Palestinian life, the Hamas and Fatah, remain armed groups, and active practitioners of terrorism – an assured recipe for a failed state. The Oslo Accords charged the PA to dismantle all armed groups in the West Bank and Gaza, but Arafat never complied; David Ben-Gurion, by contrast, dissolved all Jewish underground movements within a fortnight from Israel’s independence, incorporating them into the newly established Israeli Defense Forces. Following statehood, even if Abbas were to make a genuine commitment to reform, Hamas would continue to defy his tenuous authority; not only does the group rule the Gaza Strip, which it has transformed into an Islamist micro-state, but it also wields considerable power in the West Bank.

Small wonder that recent surveys show that more Palestinians in east Jerusalem, who are entitled to Israeli social benefits and are free to travel across Israel’s pre-1967 borders, would rather become citizens of the Jewish state than citizens of a new Palestinian one. Two thirds of them believe that a unilateral declaration of Palestinian independence backed by the U.N. would have no positive effect. And they’re right. Unfortunately the ramifications – increased conflict with Israel and a deepening rift in an already divided Palestinian society – are manifold. Once again, the Palestinian leadership is leading its people astray.



A Palestinian state? Don’t count on it
By Jeff Jacoby
The Boston Globe
September 21, 2011

IF THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY genuinely desired international recognition as a sovereign state, Mahmoud Abbas wouldn’t have come to New York to seek membership in the UN General Assembly this week. There would have been no need to, for Palestine would have long since taken its seat in the United Nations.

Were Palestinian statehood Abbas’s real goal, after all, he could have delivered it to his people three years ago. In 2008, then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert proposed the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state on territory equal (after land swaps) to 100 percent of the West Bank and Gaza, with free passage between the two plus a capital in the Arab section of Jerusalem. Yet Abbas turned down the Israeli offer. And he has refused ever since even to engage in negotiations.

“It is our legitimate right to demand the full membership of the state of Palestine in the UN,” Abbas declared in Ramallah on Friday, “to put an end to a historical injustice by attaining liberty and independence, like the other peoples of the earth.”

But for the better part of a century, the Arabs of Palestine have consistently said no when presented with the chance to build a state of their own. They said no in 1937, when the British government, which then ruled Palestine, proposed to divide the land into separate Arab and Jewish states. Arab leaders said no again in 1947, choosing to go to war rather than accept the UN’s decision to partition Palestine between its Jewish and Arab populations. When Israel in 1967 offered to relinquish the land it had acquired in exchange for peace with its neighbors, the Arab world’s response, issued at a summit in Khartoum, was not one no, but three: “No peace with Israel, no negotiations with Israel, no recognition of Israel.”

At Camp David in 2000, Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered the Palestinians a sovereign state with shared control of Jerusalem and billions of dollars in compensation for Palestinian refugees. Yasser Arafat refused the offer, and returned to launch the deadly terror war known as the Second Intifada.

There is no shortage in this world of stateless peoples yearning for a homeland, many of them ethnic groups with centuries of history, unique in language and culture. Kurds or Tamils or Tibetans – whose longstanding quests for a nation-state the world ignores – must find it maddening to watch the international community trip over itself in its eagerness to proclaim, again and again, the need for a Palestinian state. And they must be baffled by the Palestinians’ invariable refusal to take yes for an answer.

It is no mystery, however. The raison d’être of the Palestinian movement has never been the establishment and building-up of a sovereign Palestinian homeland. It has always been the negation of a sovereign Jewish homeland. That is why well-intended proposals for a “two-state solution” have never come to fruition, no matter how earnestly proposed by US presidents or UN secretaries-general. That is why the basic charter not just of Hamas but even of Abbas’s supposedly moderate Fatah vows to continue the “armed struggle” until “the Zionist state is demolished.” And that is why Abbas and other Palestinian leaders insist that a Palestinian state would be explicitly Arab and Muslim, but adamantly refuse to acknowledge that Israel is legitimately the Jewish state.

The goal of the Palestinian movement has always been the negation of the Jewish state. Both Fatah and Hamas feature logos that depict crossed weapons imposed against the map of Israel.

“Palestinian nationalism,” Edward Said told an interviewer in 1999, “was based on driving all Israelis out.” Sadly, it still is.

Last week, to kick off its campaign seeking UN recognition as a state, the Palestinian Authority staged a highly publicized march to the UN offices in Ramallah, where a letter was delivered for Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. Officials named Latifa Abu Hmeid to lead the procession and hand over the letter. “She was chosen,” reported the Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam, “because she is a symbol of Palestinian suffering as a result of the occupation.”

What the paper did not mention is that Abu Hmeid is the mother of four murderers, whose sons are serving a total of 18 life sentences for their involvement in multiple terrorist attacks. According to Palestinian Media Watch, this is not the first time Abu Hmeid has been honored. Last year, the Palestinian Authority awarded her “the Plaque of Resoluteness and Giving,” and a government minister publicly extolled her virtues: “It is she who gave birth to the fighters, and she deserves that we bow to her in salute and in honor.”

It is this grotesque and bloody culture that Palestinian leaders want the UN to affirm as worthy of statehood. The wonder is not they make the request, but that anyone thinks it should be granted.



No Apologies: Israel isn’t to blame for its growing isolation
By Yossi Klein Halevi
The New Republic
September 19, 2011

Jerusalem – As the U.N. votes on Palestinian statehood, and former regional allies of the Jewish state like Turkey and Egypt turn openly hostile, much of the international community is blaming Israel for its own isolation.

If only Israel had apologized to Turkey for killing nine of its nationals on last year’s Gaza flotilla, so the argument goes, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erodgan would not be threatening now to send warships against the Israeli coast. If only Israel had apologized to Egypt for the accidental killing of six of their soldiers when Israeli helicopters entered Egyptian territory in pursuit of terrorists last August, an Egyptian mob wouldn’t have ransacked the Israeli embassy in Cairo, as Egyptian leaders refused to take calls from desperate Israeli leaders. And if only Israel had stopped building in settlements and offered the Palestinians a fair solution, they would not now be turning to the U.N. to substitute an imposed solution for the negotiating process.

This convergence of blame comes at a time of spiritual vulnerability for Jews. This is, after all, our season of contrition. As we approach Rosh Hashanah, the process of self-examination intensifies. And as Jewish tradition emphasizes, the basis for penitence is apology. Before seeking forgiveness from God, we are to seek forgiveness from those we have hurt, even inadvertently.

But in the present atmosphere Jews should resist the temptation for self-blame. Apology is intended to heal. Yet those demanding apologies of Israel aren’t seeking reconciliation, but the opposite – to criminalize the Jewish state and rescind its right to defend itself.

If any apologies are forthcoming, they must be on the basis of facts. Erdogan began dismantling the Israeli-Turkish alliance well before the flotilla incident, which he then seized as a pretext to sever ties with Israel: his goal is not to restore Israeli-Turkish relations but to bolster his image in the Muslim world as the leader who humiliated Israel. Still, in the spirit of this season of penitence, Israel could offer Erdogan the following solution: We apologize for the loss of life, and you apologize for encouraging Turkish jihadists to violate Israel’s legal and moral siege against the terrorist regime in Gaza.

So too with Egypt: Israel will apologize for the accidental killing of Egyptian soldiers – even though it’s not clear whether they were killed by Israeli fire or by a Palestinian suicide bomber – while Egypt apologizes for the atmosphere of government-instigated hatred against Israel, like the recent cover of one of Egypt’s leading magazines, October, which portrayed Netanyahu as Hitler.

The Palestinian issue, of course, is far more complicated. Israel, the Arab world and Palestinian leaders themselves all share blame for the Palestinian tragedy. Under the right circumstances – in an atmosphere of mutual penitence – Israel would apologize for its role in the displacement and occupation of the Palestinians. And the Palestinians would apologize for their role in encouraging the Arab world’s rejection of the Jewish people’s return home and encouraging too the renewal of anti-Semitism on a global scale. And then each side would forgive the other for having been so caught in its own trauma that it failed to recognize the trauma of the other.

But Israel is not to blame for the absence of peace.

I want to see my government declare an open-ended settlement freeze, convey the message to the Palestinians and to the Arab world that it has no interest in maintaining the occupation aside from security needs, that the Jewish people didn’t return home to deny another people its sense of home.

But a settlement freeze, however essential for our own integrity, will not bring the Palestinians back to the negotiating table. Netanyahu’s ten-month settlement freeze was unprecedented – that was the word used by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Yet the Palestinian Authority continued to boycott talks.

Would Netanyahu offer the Palestinians a state along the equivalent of the 1967 lines? In exchange for Palestinian acceptance of a Jewish state and abandonment of the demand for refugee return to Israel: My sense is yes. I wish he would explicitly say so, even if that meant risking his coalition.

But in truth the question of what Netanyahu would concede is irrelevant. The Palestinians were offered the equivalent of the 1967 borders by former Israeli prime ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert. Yet Palestinian leaders rejected the offers because they refused to concede the “sacred” right of return, as P.A. head Mahmoud Abbas calls it – that is, the sacred right to destroy the Jewish state through demographic subversion. The Netanyahu government isn’t the cause of the breakdown of the peace process but its result.

The temptation for Jewish self-recrimination is deeply rooted in Zionist psychology. Zionism, after all, was a revolt against Jewish fatalism. If the Jewish situation is untenable, then clearly the fault lies with a lack of Jewish initiative. If you will it, said Zionist founder Theodore Herzl, it is no dream.

Israeli rightists and leftists agree, in effect, that Israel can unilaterally determine its own reality, regardless of outside circumstances. If Israel lacks security, insists the right, that’s because we haven’t projected enough power and deterrence. And if Israel lacks peace, insists the left, that’s because we haven’t been sufficiently forthcoming in offering concessions.

Both right and left, then, implicitly dismiss the Arabs as an independent factor, with their own wills and agendas. But what if the Arab world doesn’t accept Israel’s legitimacy? What if the Middle East is undergoing transformations that have little if anything to do with what Israel wills?

This Rosh Hashanah I will ask forgiveness for my own sins and for the collective sins of Israel, as the liturgy insists. But I will withhold my political apologies for a time when those confessions won’t be manipulated against me. There is no religious obligation to collaborate in my own demonization. I will not be seeking forgiveness from those who deny my right to be.



The Palestinian Bid for Statehood and ICC Jurisdiction
By David Benjamin
The Weekly Standard
September 19, 2011

One of the supposed “benefits” for the Palestinians of achieving U.N. recognition of statehood in the West Bank and Gaza would be the possibility for the new “state” to submit itself to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC), thereby paving the way for prosecutions of Israeli military personnel and government officials for alleged “war crimes” committed in the territory.

In January 2009, the Palestinian Authority’s minister of justice, Ali Khashan, submitted a formal declaration accepting the jurisdiction of the ICC over the “Territory of Palestine” for all alleged crimes committed since 2002. The Rome Statute governing the ICC allows for such declarations to be made by states that have not yet submitted themselves to the court’s jurisdiction. The legal question the chief ICC prosecutor has been mulling over for the last two-and-a-half years is whether the PA can qualify as a “state” for this purpose. The prosecutor has yet to make a determination on the matter.

The original point of the Palestinian declaration was to create a situation wherein Israelis could be prosecuted in the ICC. Without such a declaration being recognized by the ICC (or a referral by the U.N. Security Council), the court has no jurisdiction over Israel (since Israel is not an ICC member).

Whether the prosecutor would be more inclined to accept the Palestinians’ position if the U.N. were to recognize a Palestinian “state” is unknown. However, an unavoidable side effect of the PA’s declaration being recognized would be that the Palestinians themselves would then become subject to ICC jurisdiction.

This was a price the Fatah-run PA was willing to pay in the past, since the only Palestinians whom they saw as being potentially susceptible to accusations of war crimes and crimes against humanity were the mortal enemies of Fatah, the terrorist gang Hamas. Hamas is now senior partner with a Palestinian “government” hoping to achieve international acceptance.

The reality is: The persistent, deliberate and indiscriminate launchings of Hamas rockets at Israeli communities, the suicide bombings, and the shootings all constitute heinous war crimes or crimes against humanity. Moreover, there is little or no factual dispute about whether these attacks took place, who was behind them, at whom they were directed, and what their purpose was. On the contrary, attacks on Israeli civilians are a source of pride for Hamas. The Hamas leadership bears responsibility for these crimes. No investigations have been carried out by Palestinian authorities into any of these violations. For the ICC prosecutor, this would largely be a simple case. Moreover, members of other Palestinians factions engaged in terrorism, including elements of Fatah itself, would also become potential defendants if the ICC obtained jurisdiction.

By contrast, the most serious accusations made against Israelis seem to be crumbling: Recently, the chief U.N. fact-finder on the Gaza conflict, Richard Goldstone, acknowledged that initial allegations of a deliberate Israeli policy to attack civilians were unfounded. Moreover, U.N. experts have pointed to a concerted investigation process on the part of Israel into alleged violations by Israeli personnel. This is important since in cases where a country has undertaken genuine steps to investigate and prosecute wrongdoing, the ICC is precluded from acting.

If the ICC recognizes the PA’s declaration and extends its jurisdiction to the territories, the PA will be obliged to either conduct genuine prosecutions against Hamas leaders and other perpetrators or render them to the ICC. Whatever the status of the Fatah-Hamas Unity Agreement, this would certainly become a highly divisive issue for the Palestinians.

The parallel with Lebanon looms large: There, the Lebanese government supported an international tribunal to investigate the murder of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Subsequently, Hezbollah – the prime suspects in the crime – became partners in the Lebanese government. Now the findings of that tribunal threaten to plunge Lebanon into civil war.

Thus, for the Palestinians, the cost benefit analysis with respect to their ICC jurisdiction gambit has changed somewhat. It would seem they have much more to lose than to gain if the ICC grants their wish.

(David Benjamin is a former senior legal advisor to the Israel Defense Forces.)



Direct negotiations are the true path to peace in the Middle East
By Julia Gillard
The Australian
September 21, 2011

AS we approach leaders’ week at the UN General Assembly in New York this month, much of the world’s attention will be on the conflict in the Middle East and Palestinian aspirations for the creation of a state of their own.

Like most people across the world, not least our friends in Israel and the Palestinian Territories, Australia aspires to see a future Palestinian state existing alongside Israel in peace and security. We are strong backers of a two-state solution and we firmly support all initiatives that contribute constructively to this end.

Australia approaches this challenge as a good friend of both the Israeli and the Palestinian people.

Australia is proud of the close bonds between Israel and Australia and our unwavering support for Israel’s right to exist in peace and security. When in 1949 the UN was called on to consider Israel’s membership as a member state, Australia cast its vote in support. And when Israel has faced its darkest hours, Australia has stood by it and its right to defend itself.

We are also great friends of the Palestinian people. In 1947, when considering the Palestinian question, Australia was the first country to vote in support of the establishment of a Jewish and an Arab state. Today, our commitment to the establishment of a state for the Palestinian people is firm, as is our support for the fundamental right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.

Under the stewardship of President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian people have made great strides towards their ultimate goal and their achievements should be acknowledged. Australia has provided concrete support for these efforts, through humanitarian support, contributions to the UN and non-governmental organisations working in the region, and direct assistance to the Palestinian Authority. Australia and the Palestinian Authority finalised a five-year partnership agreement recently under which Australia will provide up to $120 million in support across the next five years.

As is well known, efforts to reach a peace between the Israeli and Palestinian people face significant challenges and progress has been halting for many years. Many sincere and determined efforts to break the impasse have not succeeded and the sense of stalemate has led many to look for alternative answers.

Ultimately, however, the only durable basis for resolution of this conflict is negotiation. However hard it may be, it is only through negotiation between the two sides that final status issues such as borders, security and Jerusalem can be solved.

Australia understands the sense of frustration the impasse in peace talks has brought and we understand the strong desire of Palestinians to have their own state. If a Palestinian statehood resolution is introduced to the General Assembly we will consider it carefully and will consult widely before making our decision on how we will vote. But no UN resolution will change present realities on the ground. That is why we believe direct negotiation is the only true path to peace.

And that is why I have just written to President Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to urge them to return to direct negotiations.

I would like to acknowledge the efforts of Dennis Ross, Catherine Ashton and UN, EU, US and Russia quartet envoy Tony Blair in attempting to create common ground for a return to talks. Australia supports all efforts to bring the parties back to the negotiating table.

The path ahead will be difficult and progress will require courage, sacrifice and mutual compromise. As change comes elsewhere to the region, the Israeli and Palestinian people - for too long living in uncertainty and insecurity - deserve nothing less than that.

(Julia Gillard is Prime Minister of Australia.)

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.