zaterdag 15 augustus 2009

Ook Amnesty International eenzijdig in rapport Gaza Oorlog

We hebben er even werk aan gehad en er kwam nog een korte vakantie tussendoor, maar hieronder dan eindelijk een samenvatting van onze kritiek op het rapport dat Amnesty International vorige maand naar buiten bracht over schendingen van het internationaal recht tijdens de Gaza Oorlog.
Enkele kernpunten van de kritiek zijn dat de hele context van de oorlog en de aard van het Hamas regime in Gaza genegeerd wordt, Palestijnse bronnen overwegend kritiekloos en andere bronnen zeer selectief worden gebruikt, en Amnesty het internationaal recht op een discutabele manier uitlegt, want dat is helemaal niet zo helder en eenduidig als vaak wordt gesuggereerd.
Een uitgebreidere bespreking staat hier:
Ratna & Wouter

Over the last half year the United Nations and a number of NGOs have been conducting investigations into the Israeli "Operation Cast Lead" a.k.a. the Gaza War, which lasted from 27 December 2008 to 18 January 2009. Several reports have been published and at least one more is forthcoming, from the UN investigation committee headed by Richard Goldstone.

The focus of these reports is basically whether Israel in the course of its military operation in the Gaza Strip has committed war crimes. Though most reports also criticize Hamas and other armed groups in Gaza to some extend, the blame is mostly put on Israel for using disproportionate force and for targeting Palestinian civilians as well as fighters.

On 2 July Amnesty International published the most comprehensive report to date, titled "Israel/Gaza - Operation 'Cast Lead': 22 Days of Death and Destruction". It suffers from a number of flaws, like neglecting the context of the war and the nature of the Hamas regime in Gaza, an uncritical approach to Palestinian witnesses and sources, selective use of Israeli sources and disregard for sources which contradict the opinions of the investigators, and a disputable view of ambiguous international laws and conventions. The most obvious of its flaws will be briefly discussed here. A more extensive review of the report by us can be found at: "Gaza War: A Review of Amnesty International's Report on Operation Cast Lead".

Neglecting the context of the war and the nature of the Hamas regime

The report ignores the causes and the context of Operation Cast Lead, making Israel look as if it attacked and devastated the Gaza Strip without warning or reason. In the years before Operation Cast Lead nearly ten thousand rockets and mortar shells were fired on Israel for this purpose, all potentially lethal and aimed at civilian targets. Hamas did not extend the cease-fire and had broken it many times in the previous month. It had used the time to smuggle vast amounts of weapons into Gaza, including Katyusha rockets with a range of over 40 kilometers. It was gaining the capacity to target major Israeli population areas and has repeatedly shown the willingness to do so. Amnesty should have provided this context.

No attention is paid to the nature and the goals of the Hamas. You cannot understand the conflict if you are unaware of Hamas's goal to liberate 'all of Palestine' by force and found an Islamic state there. Article 7 of the Hamas charter cites a Hadith calling for the killing of the Jews before the Day of Judgment will come. Hamas leader Nizar Rayan, who was killed by an Israeli air strike on January 1, called Jews a 'cursed people' who were transformed by Allah into apes and pigs and who are continually punished by Allah for their sins. Suicide terrorists and others who kill innocent Israeli civilians are hailed as martyrs by Hamas, and Palestinians are being incited against Jews and Israel. Young children are being taught that killing Jews and becoming martyrs is the highest achievable goal. Hamas celebrates the killing of Israeli civilians and aims at killing as many Jews as possible, as it openly proclaims. Hamas wants to scare all Jews away with rockets and terror attacks, and make all towns within Israel's borders ('settlements' in Hamas terminology) unlivable, as it has said repeatedly.

The report also neglects the role of Iran and the international setting. Hamas is being financed and trained by Iran and coordinates important decisions with Iran. Syria too supports Hamas and harbors its headquarters in Damascus. Israel was not merely fighting a small local movement but also a client of enemy states.

Uncritical approach to Palestinian sources, selective use of Israeli sources and disregard for sources which contradict the opinions of the investigators

The report is mainly based on testimonies by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, which are sometimes heart-rending. The researchers conclude from this series of incidents that Israel deliberately and consciously brought death and destruction upon the population, as a deterrent or collective punishment. Palestinian and some Israeli sources are selectively used and others ignored, even when freely available in the media and on the internet. Tragic stories of Palestinian victims are contrasted with selective quotes from Israeli soldiers and sources which put them in a malicious light. Soldiers are quoted who said they were ordered to fight aggressively and shoot first, ask questions later, and some disgusting graffiti which soldiers left behind in Palestinian homes are repeatedly cited. Many other stories and quotes from Israeli soldiers can be found on the Internet, which paint a much more diverse picture, telling about doing everything possible to avoid harming innocents. In fact 120 IDF officers had been given the task of coordinating humanitarian aid and helping Gazan civilians in need.

The Amnesty report however leaves no room for nuance and seems to put the blame on Israel beforehand. Cited official Israeli statements are immediately contradicted in harsh terms and dismissed as unreliable. On the other hand, statements made by Gazans the investigators spoke with and reports from Palestinian human rights groups are believed almost without question. However, Amnesty ignores Palestinian eye-witness accounts from the media, footage and photos on the Internet about how Hamas used the population as human shields, misused ambulances, hid weapons and explosives in houses, mosques and public buildings, and enrolled children in its struggle. It also ignores statements by Hamas fighters and leaders about its goals and strategy, for instance bragging about crushing the 'Zionist enemy' or boasting about using human shields. The report selects only those sources which support its main thesis that Israel is to blame for a large scale destruction and killing of innocents which serves no justifiable military goal. Meanwhile Amnesty seems mild in its judgment of the Hamas. While condemning Palestinian rockets because they are indiscriminate, it claims lack of evidence for Hamas deliberately using civilians as human shields.

The report shows little understanding for the difficulties in fighting a guerrilla army that is hardly visible and can be everywhere and nowhere. War in a densely populated area is characterized as a challenge for both parties, and Israel is basically blamed for starting it and picking this dangerous battlefield.

According to Amnesty International, aside from 5,000 people wounded, a total of 1,400 Palestinians were killed during Israel's operation, 900 of whom were civilians. Amnesty based its numbers mostly on Palestinian sources. In addition to about 300 children, Amnesty regards all 115 women, all 85 Palestinians over the age of 50, most of the 240 Hamas police officers killed and another 200 unarmed civilians as civilian casualties, adding up to about 900 civilian deaths. Amnesty's definition of a civilian is rather broad. For instance, police officers are part of the Hamas control apparatus in the Gaza Strip and its military infrastructure, and many were also involved in armed groups like the Al Qassam Brigades. The entire armed branch of Hamas, including the diverse security and guerrilla forces, should be considered a legitimate target in a war, as are its political control apparatus, propaganda institutions and infrastructure.
As a matter of fact Hamas censured the media for reporting about the death of Hamas fighters, so the number of reported deaths from Hamas' side may be lower than the real number of their casualties.

Disputable view of ambiguous international laws and conventions

Amnesty International states that Israel neglected the rules of proportionality and distinction in international humanitarian law, and that the goals of military actions were not in proportion to the expected damage or risks of civilian deaths. Israel is also being accused of making little distinction between military and civilian targets. The first accusation is almost impossible to check in retrospect, certainly not without knowing the Israeli strategy and military considerations, which could only be determined by consulting Israeli military leaders.

By ignoring the causes of the war, the fact that Hamas is steadily building its military capacity and becoming a growing threat to Israeli civilians, and that Hamas is supported and sponsored by Iran, Amnesty showed that it disregards the Israeli position and military interests, and did not consider them in its judgment of the way the military campaign was conducted. The charge that Israel did not make a distinction between military and civilian targets is contradicted by the diverse Israeli efforts to spare civilian lives. Many more civilians would have been killed in the densely populated Gaza Strip if Israel had not made these efforts to warn civilians, to use expensive high precision weapons, to gather intelligence on Hamas targets months ahead of operation Cast Lead, and to initiate daily ceasefires.

Israel knows full well that a high number of civilian casualties rapidly increases international - and internal - pressure to prematurely end its campaign, and that its maneuver space is very limited. Israel has no choice but to weigh international opinion and support because of the constant international and media focus on its actions. The obvious military goal for Cast Lead was to strike a major blow to the Hamas, not to the civilian population of Gaza.

According to Amnesty International Israel is still occupying the Gaza Strip, because it controls the borders, airspace and territorial waters. Earlier Israeli incursions into Gaza are also cited as evidence that Israel can still be considered the occupying power. Nevertheless Amnesty in its report quotes the definition of occupied territory in the Hague Regulations, as being territory "actually placed under the authority of the hostile army. The occupation extends only to the territory where such authority has been established and can be exercised." How can Israel keep order and provide for enough food for the population, when Hamas de facto controls the area, runs its government facilities and distributes the goods?
Israel's control of most of the borders and the airspace above Gaza constitutes a (partial) siege or blockade, not an occupation. Defining the Gaza Strip as occupied by Israel enables Amnesty to condemn Israel for failing to take care for the well being of the population in the Gaza Strip, while the Strip is in fact governed by Hamas, Israel's sworn enemy.

The actual status of the Gaza Strip is unclear and is assessed variously by experts in international law. The absurd situation exists that Israel is delivering water, energy and humanitarian aid to an area governed by a hostile entity. The inhabitants of Gaza are caught in between the Hamas regime and Israel's measures to weaken and undermine it. A regime that, as a matter of fact, was chosen by the population in fairly democratic elections. Amnesty reduces this complex situation to a simple story in which Israel carries all responsibilities.

Recommendations and conclusions

Among the recommendations in the report is an arms embargo against both parties until they abide by international law as perceived by Amnesty. Israel should adjust its military rules and combat instructions so that incidents like the ones described in the report can no longer happen, and both parties and the international community should put perpetrators of war crimes on trail. While Israeli military policies and practices should be evaluated carefully and criminal conduct needs to be punished, it is not the place of the international community to pass such judgment where a legitimate, sovereign and democratic state is concerned.

Amnesty International proposes requirements for Israeli battle conduct which make it close to impossible to win a war against Hamas, demanding from Israel a rigid interpretation of international law which disqualifies most Hamas targets as legitimate targets. Meanwhile recommendations regarding Hamas are not likely to have any impact, as Hamas and its sponsors already refuse to meet the international demands placed on it, such as recognizing Israel and ending terrorism, and it receives its weaponry through illegal smuggling and self fabrication.
Israel on the other hand could face diplomatic, political, economic and security repercussions from a proposed arms embargo, as its military is dependant on trade and imports, and it has other enemies in the region it needs to defend itself against, like Hezbollah, Syria and Iran.

It is unfortunate that an organization as renowned as Amnesty International, which engages in defending human rights worldwide, publishes a report as biased and unfair as the one discussed here. Evidently awful things happened in Gaza, and Israeli forces did not always observe the internationally established rules of combat. The scale on which this occurred, the question of Israel's motives, and the role of Hamas are issues that have not been properly addressed by Amnesty International.

Ratna Pelle and Wouter Brassé, the Netherlands
August 15, 2009

As a response to allegations made against the IDF, the Israeli government has published a paper dealing with a number of issues. See: "The Operation in Gaza - Factual and Legal Aspects".

Original content is Copyright by the author 2009. Posted at ZioNation-Zionism and Israel Web Log, where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Disributed by ZNN list. Subscribe by sending a message to Please forward by e-mail with this notice, cite this article and link to it. Other uses by permission only.


Fatah eist deadline vooraf aan vredesonderhandelingen

Alweer een nieuwe voorwaarde die Fatah stelt aan onderhandelingen met Israel. Wie zoveel, en ook zulke onmogelijke voorwaarden stelt wil niet onderhandelen en zoekt naar een uitvlucht hiervoor. Ondertussen zal Amerika, om beide partijen weer bij elkaar te krijgen, waarschijnlijk toch naar die voorwaarden luisteren en een middenweg zoeken. Het is opvallend dat onder Bush Fatah niet zoveel voorwaarden stelde, en zelfs accepteerde dat Israel (onder voorwaarden) verder bouwde in de nederzettingen. Israel doet er dan ook goed aan zelf ook voorwaarden te stellen, zoals een einde aan de anti-Israel en antisemitische opruiing in Palestijnse media onder PA of Fatah controle, hernoemen van de honderden scholen die naar (zelfmoord)terroristen zijn vernoemd, en erkenning van Israel als nationaal thuis voor het Joodse volk.

The Jerusalem Post
Aug 11, 2009 8:06 | Updated Aug 11, 2009 15:07
Dahlan: No peace talks without deadline

Former Palestinian security commander Mohammed Dahlan, who was apparently elected Tuesday to Fatah's Central Committee, said that he would allow no one to negotiate with Israel unless a deadline for peace talks is announced in advance, according to Israel Radio.

Fatah elected a group of younger leaders to its top council, according to preliminary voting results.

"This election is setting a new future for the movement, a new democratic era," added the 47-year-old Dahlan.

Fatah's first conference in two decades, while plagued by the movement's characteristic wrangling and intrigue, appeared to rejuvenate the pre-eminent Palestinian organization at a critical moment, weeks before US President Barack Obama is to unveil a comprehensive plan to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace.

The results indicate that pragmatic leaders who never left the Palestinian territories - and who often spent years in Israeli jails, worked with Israelis and speak Hebrew - won out over exiled hard-liners from places like Lebanon and Syria.

Also elected were Marwan Barghouti, a 50-year-old Tanzim leader now jailed by Israel and seen as a likely future president, and Jibril Rajoub, 56, a former aide to the late Yasser Arafat who led several crackdowns against Hamas.

Rajoub said the outcome represented a break from the movement's previous leaders, many of whom are in their 70s.

"This is a coup against a leadership that had monopolized the movement for a long time without even presenting a report about its work," he said.

All told, 14 of the Central Committee's 18 elected seats went to new members, with the remaining four going to incumbents from the old guard. Palestinian Authority President Abbas, also a member, will appoint four others.

The final results, along with the results of the vote for the 80 elected seats of Fatah's 120-seat Revolutionary Council, which together with the Central Committee sets the movement's policies, were expected later Tuesday. Abbas remains the group's overall leader.

Fatah held its last conference in 1989 in Tunisia, some 1,500 miles (2,400 kilometers) away from the delegates' hoped-for homeland.
Since that time, Fatah's reputation has been tainted by rampant corruption, electoral and territorial losses to Hamas and its failure to deliver a Palestinian state despite decades of both fighting and negotiations.

While some Palestinians welcomed the new leadership, others doubted Fatah's ability to change.

"The old generation or the new, they're all the same," said Abu Qusei Asaf, 35, a Bethlehem bookstore owner. "The struggle for them is nothing, just papers on the table. They all fight over seats but don't help the people."

Fatah's fortunes have also been boosted by recent gains in the West Bank economy, thanks in part to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to remove roadblocks and loosen restrictions.

Interviewed on Israel Radio, Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilna'i said he hoped Fatah's new leaders could work toward a peace deal, which he said was "the only way we can get out of the situation we have been stuck in now for three generations."

Hamas terroristen misbruikten witte vlag en burgers in Gaza Oorlog

Het probleem is dat iedereen een witte vlag omhoog kan houden om zo veilig weg te kunnen komen, en Hamas daar tijdens de Gaza Oorlog ook misbruik van heeft gemaakt. Zou Hamas Israelische burgers met een witte vlag niet meer beschieten? Moeten ze in Sderot en omgeving eens uitproberen, bij wijze van symbolische actie. Ik zou persoonlijk toch meer op de schuilkelders en de sirenes vertrouwen.

HRW Report on Civilian Targeting Based on Unreliable Witnesses
IDF Spokesperson
The Human Rights Watch report which claims that IDF soldiers killed eleven Palestinian civilians holding "white flags" is based on unreliable witness reports.

The report in question is based upon the testimony of a number of Palestinians whose credibility has not been substantiated.

The soldiers and officers of the Israel Defense Forces are obliged to respect any individual presenting a white flag as a symbol of surrender or of non-combatant status and to avoid causing him or her harm.  The wartime reality in the Gaza Strip was made especially complex due to the intensive nature of combat and Hamas' cynical exploitation of civilians as human shields.  Furthermore, Hamas took advantage of Israel's obligation to avoid harming civilians to the greatest extent possible and deliberately chose to locate the battlefield in the middle of a populated civilian area.

Sadly, Hamas terror operatives ruthlessly pervert the intent of the IDF's obligations to prevent harm to civilians by exploiting those with white flags as cover for belligerent action and to protect themselves from return fire. Any person who displays a white flag in this way acts illegally, does not enjoy protection from retaliatory action, and endangers nearby civilian populations. As a clear example of this practice, the video below shows a Hamas terrorist planting an explosive device and hiding amongst civilians who are waving white flags.

Merely displaying a white flag does not automatically grant immunity, and in cases of suspicion that a person holding a white flag is endangering security forces, they are authorized to take necessary precautionary steps and, in accordance with rules of engagement, to verify and neutralize the threat.

IDF forces received unambiguous orders prohibiting fire upon identifiable non-combatants and to assist, to the greatest extent possible, injured Palestinians, even under fire.  Throughout combat operations, the IDF did all it could to warn civilian populations via the distribution of more than two million flyers, more than 300,000 phone calls to Palestinian homes, and warnings issued through local media outlets in an attempt to move residents as far as possible from combat zones.
The Israel Defense Forces operate without compromise in accordance to normative morals that guide them in all missions, even under difficult and complex circumstances.  IDF troops were instructed prior to and during Operation Cast Lead based on standing orders, best-practices, and international law.  Investigations into IDF combat operations have clearly shown that IDF soldiers acted in accordance with the rule of war as defined by international law despite the complex nature of combat.

That said, the Israel Defense Forces are obligated to investigate any claim of behavior that allegedly deviates from IDF codes of conduct, commands, or international law.  As the IDF has done and continues to do so, a number of incidents are currently under investigation, some of which are criminal. Within the framework of these investigations, relevant information is gathered from within the IDF and other sources with regard to the incidents. The Military Advocate General then decides whether to continue the investigations and what additional steps, if any, are to be taken.  The IDF will not hesitate to thoroughly investigate any incident or testimony that provides cause for such.

See video:

Waarom links in Israel verdwenen is

Ik ben het wel met Strenger eens, maar dit geldt natuurlijk ook voor rechts. Hoe vaak komt het voor dat een partij, ideologie of beweging erkent het mis te hebben? Erkent rechts dat de nederzettingenpolitiek een grote strategische fout was (los van de morele kant), en Israel deze gebieden niet zal kunnen houden? Sharon had de visie en moed om dit te erkennen, maar dat is uitzonderlijk. Ondertussen in het buiten Israel niet aan links voorbehouden om alleen Israel verantwoordelijk te houden voor het conflict en de Palestijnen als passieve slachtoffers neer te zetten.


Why Israel's left has disappeared
By Carlo Strenger
Israel's left has disappeared; it has nearly no parliamentary representation and remarkably little public presence. At first glance, this is a paradox, because the left's program has, in many ways, won, as Yossi Sarid said when he left the Knesset for good. The idea of a Palestinian state, anathema in Israeli society a few decades ago, is now accepted by the mainstream.

The left has dissipated because it has failed to provide a realistic picture of the conflict with the Palestinians. Its ideological foundation was based on a simple prediction: If we offer the Palestinians a state in the territories occupied in 1967, there will be "peace now."

Then things started to go wrong. After the Oslo process began, the newly formed Palestinian Authority educated its children with violently anti-Israeli and often straightforwardly anti-Semitic textbooks. The suicide bombings of 1996 were not prevented by Arafat (some say they were supported). What brought the left down completely were the failures of Camp David in 2000 and Taba in 2001, as well as the onset of the second intifada.
On the face of it, Israel's left should have said "we were wrong in our predictions. We underestimated the complexity of the situation. We didn't see that the Palestinians were not ready to renounce the right of return and we underestimated how much murderous rage there was against Israel. We still believe that we need to end the occupation as quickly as possible, but we need to face reality."

Instead of admitting that it had been partially wrong, the left tried to explain away all the facts that didn't square with its theory by putting the onus of responsibility for Palestinian actions exclusively on Israel's policies. The left argued that the bombings in 1996 happened because the Oslo process was too slow and the Palestinians wanted to avenge the targeted killing of Yihye Ayash; Camp David failed because prime minister Ehud Barak's offers were insufficient. The second intifada started because of Ariel Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount in September 2000. Hamas came to power because we turned Fatah into collaborators with the Zionists, and so on.

The Israeli left's thinking is governed by what I call SLES (Standard Left Explanatory System). This intellectual construct gained popularity in Europe and the United States in the 1960s after the demise of European colonialism. The basic principle of SLES is simple: Always support the underdog, particularly when non-Western, and always accuse Western powers, preferably the United States and its allies, for what the underdog does. Anything aggressive or destructive a non-Western group says or does must be explained by Western dominance or oppression. This ranges from the emergence of Al-Qaida, which is blamed on the United States' dropping of its support for the Mujahideen in Afghanistan after the Soviets were expelled, to corruption and violence in Africa, which is blamed on the aftereffects of European colonialism.

SLES is built on very questionable psychology: It assumes that if you are nice to people, all conflicts will disappear. It simply disregards the human desire for dominance, power and a belief system that gives them self-respect. As a result, SLES, under the guise of humanitarianism, assumes that non-Western groups don't have a will of their own; that all they do, feel or want is purely reactive to the West. It is also devoid of respect for non-Western groups: It assumes that they are not responsible for their deeds, and that all they do must be explained by victimization by the West.

If you listen to the left's explanations of Palestinian behavior, you might easily conclude that Israel is omnipotent and that Palestinians have no self will. In conversations with Palestinians I have heard more than once that they feel that the right wing respects them more than the left because the left always presumes to know what the Palestinians really want.

I want to make one thing very clear. I completely endorse Yeshayahu Leibowitz's famous saying that he is not sure whether Israel's policies since 1967 are evil stupidity or stupidly evil, and I continue to think that the occupation must end as quickly as possible. But I believe that Israel's stupidity is matched by the Palestinians making every conceivable mistake along the way, and I think the left should give them the respect of holding them responsible for their actions rather than talking about them as if they were abused children, as SLES prescribes.

Israel's most urgent problem is ending the conflict with the Palestinians, and the left will not gain popularity by turning greener or more socialist. If Israel's left wants to regain some credibility and convince voters that it has a role to play, it needs to give the Israeli public a reasonable picture of reality. And it needs a plan of action that is more intelligent than the right's tactic of trying (unsuccessfully) to explain to the world that the conflict cannot be solved but only managed.
The writer teaches at the psychology department of Tel Aviv University and is a member of the Permanent Monitoring Panel on Terrorism of the World Federation of Scientists.

Boek Dries van Agt einde van uitgeverij De Bezige Bij

Wat zou er in het boek van Van Agt staan? Zou er iets in staan dat we niet allang van hem hebben vernomen, in een van de vele opinieartikelen of televisie optredens? Zou er ergens een woord van nuance in staan, iets van twijfel doorklinken, van het besef dat het best complexe materie is en er niet op alle vragen een duidelijk antwoord is, en het soms verdomd lastig uit te maken is wie er gelijk heeft of wat er is gebeurd? Dat je sympathie naar een van beide kanten uitgaat is één ding en volkomen legitiem, maar ook dan kun je er op zijn minst naar streven een open blik te behouden. De antwoorden op deze vragen zijn al duidelijk: het boek is een lange aanklacht tegen Israel; gebruikmakend van op zijn best selectieve feiten en soms complete fabels, zal hij het verhaal vertellen van een zielig onderdrukt volk en een wreed, sadistisch en oppermachtig land, oftewel goed tegen fout. Wat hooguit nog ter discussie staat is of Van Agt slechts antizionistisch is of ook een antisemiet. Ellian betoogt, niet zonder overtuiging, het laatste.
Zie ook:
Boek Van Agt is einde van uitgeverij De Bezige Bij
vrijdag 14 augustus 2009 10:24

Valkyrie is een waardeloze film. Een mislukte Mission Imposible. Carice van Houten vond het natuurlijk geweldig dat zij een bijrolletje naast Tom Cruise mocht spelen. Deze houding noemen sommigen een minderwaardigheidscomplex.

Defiance daarentegen is een prachtig meesterwerk. Drie topacteurs die een topprestatie leveren: Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber en Jamie Bell. De Nederlandse producent van deze film mag trots zijn op deze meesterlijke verfilming van het waar gebeurde verhaald over het joodse verzet tegen de nazi's.

Het gaat om de Bielski broers. Zij vluchtten uiteindelijk met 1.200 joden de bossen van Wit-Rusland in (toen in de Sovjet-Unie). In 1941 vielen de nazi's de Sovjet-Unie binnen. Wat zij daar hebben aangericht, is onbeschrijfelijk.

Het enige woord dat de misdaden van nazi's in de Sovjet-Unie tegen de joden kan dekken, is het woord duivels. De nazi's traden daar op duivelse wijze op tegen het joodse volk.

De Bielski-broers besloten om zich te verzetten tegen de nazi's. Ze bouwden een gemeenschap in het bos. Niet alleen de nazi's, ook de Sovjet-partizanen waren door en door antisemiet. Het lot van joden interesseerde werkelijke niemand.

Defiance is een hommage aan die joden die zich niet zomaar wilden uitleveren aan de nazi's. Wat was het uitgangspunt van de joden in het bos? 'We worden opgejaagd als dieren, maar we zullen geen dieren worden,' aldus één van de Bielski broers. Op wie leken de joden?

Op de joden van Mozes, de slaven van de farao's. Ironisch genoeg begon de totale aanval van de nazi's op de joden van Bielski broers op de eerste Paasdag van 1942. Zij vochten terug. De Bielski broers vervulden dezelfde rol als die van Mozes en zijn broer.

Tegelijkertijd zien we in deze film paralellen met het ontstaan van de staat Israël. Opgejaagd door de nazi's richtten de joden een staat op, een beschermde gemeenschap in een vijandig politiek en cultureel klimaat.

Defiance, verzet, doet me een beetje denken aan de Bezige Bij. De oprichters van deze uitgeverij pleegden ook verzet tegen de nazi's in Nederland. De Bezige Bij is niet zo maar een uitgeverij. De Bezige Bij, verzet en Endlösung zijn met elkaar verbonden.

Is dat niet een romantisch beeld? Of hebben ze bij de Bezige Bij niks meer met dat verleden, omdat het een gewoon bedrijf is. Is dat waar? Is De Bezige Bij gestorven? Is de herinnering aan het verzet gestorven?

Deze uitgeverij geeft binnenkort een boek uit van een gerenommeerde anti-joodse (vermomd als anti-Israëlische) politicus die zichzelf ooit als 'Ariër' heeft omschreven.

De Volkskrant schreef hierover:

'Socioloog Abram de Swaan, die in 2005 een invloedrijk artikel schreef over "anti-Israëlisch enthousiasme", refereert vrijwel meteen aan deze anekdote. Maar hoe relevant is die nog na 38 jaar? De Swaan: "Toch zit daar iets geks. Dat orthodox-katholieke milieu in dat Heilig Landstichting. Iemand zou daar eens in moeten duiken. Wat is het wezen van anti-joodse elementen bij Van Agt?"

'Alfred Pijpers, Midden-Oostendeskundige van onderzoeksinstituut Clingendael weet het antwoord: "De Swaan heeft gelijk, hoor. Ik vind het wél relevant. Ik geloof wel degelijk dat Van Agt voortborduurt op een anti-joodse stroming in de katholieke traditie. Let wel, anti-joods, niet antisemitisch. Maar hij heeft iets met joden, en ook tégen joden."

Natuurlijk gaat het hier om: de ordinaire, ouderwetse, plattelands-katholieke anti-joodse traditie. Dat vertelde mij overigens een van die oude vrienden van Van Agt.

Van Agt leeft in een vrij land, hij mag zeggen en schrijven wat hij wil. En als we het oneens zijn met hem, schrijven wij teksten. Maar is ook De Bezige Bij op dezelfde manier vrij?

Historisch gezien niet. Zolang de uitgeverij als een symbool uit de Tweede Wereldoorlog wil worden herinnerd, moet de directeur boeken geen boeken van  antisemieten en anti-joodse mensen uitgeven.

Ik meen een foto gezien te hebben van Van Agt met een Palestijnse sjaal die hij van zijn Hamas-vrienden had gekregen.

Dezelfde sjaal draagt Khamenei, en soms Ahmadinedjad. De sjaal is het symbool van de Basij. Weet u het nog? De Basij zijn Iraanse SA-ers die ongewapende burgers doodknuppelen en doodschieten. Zo schoot een Basij-man Neda Agha Sultan dood.

Van Agt droeg zo'n sjaal, het symbool van hedendaagse islamitische fascisten in het Midden-Oosten. Hopelijk gaat het Iraanse volk met behulp van Allah korte metten maken met de vrienden van Van Agt in Iran en in de hele regio.

Heeft de directeur van De Bezige Bij niet ook denkbeeldig een sjaal en knuppel gekregen van Van Agt? De directeur van de verzetsuitgeverij met een Palestijnse sjaal en een knuppel samen met zijn geliefde auteur?

De gedachte alleen al is walgelijk. Deze directeur is immers niet de directeur van een gewone uitgeverij. Hij had Van Agt moeten zeggen; 'Ik zal dit boek bij collega's aanbevelen, want ik vind dat het moet worden uitgegeven. Maar niet bij mijn uitgeverij. Want die is voor altijd verbonden met de joden, en dus ook met Israël.'

Maar dat heeft de directeur niet gezegd. En dat is een beetje een schandaal.

donderdag 13 augustus 2009

IDF soldaat krijgt 7,5 maand cel voor plunderen in Gaza

Hopelijk moedigt dit meer Palestijnen aan om incidenten te melden.


Aug 11, 2009 16:41 | Updated Aug 11, 2009 16:56
Soldier gets 7.5 months for Gaza looting

The Southern Command Military Court on Tuesday sentenced an IDF soldier to 7.5 months in prison for looting during Operation Cast Lead. The soldier was found guilty of stealing a credit card from a Gaza home and using it to withdraw NIS 1,600 from ATMs in Israel.

The court called the theft "a serious incident which requires a deterring punishment." The soldier's attorney said the sentencing was harsh and that he would consider his next legal move after reviewing the verdict.

The investigation was launched after Ahmed Rafia, a resident of Gaza City, filed a complaint with the IDF's Gaza Coordination and Liaison Administration (CLA) regarding the theft.

Rafia, whose account is at Bank of Palestine, told CLA officers that his card was stolen and that NIS 1,600 was withdrawn from ATMs following the conclusion of the operation in January.

About two months ago, the soldier, who serves in the Givati Brigade's elite Reconnaissance Unit, sent a letter of apology to Rafia together with NIS 1,620, equivalent to the sum he had stolen plus the interest.

Military Police are conducting several more investigations into allegations of looting and stealing during the operation in the Gaza Strip. Some of the investigations were launched following internal IDF inquiries and others are based on complaints filed at the CLA.
Yaakov Katz contributed to the report

Vernieuwde Fatah Centraal Comité geen hervormers maar hardliners

Het feit dat een groot deel van de nieuw gekozen leden van het Centrale Comité van Fatah relatief jong is en niet bij de oude kliek hoort die indertijd met Arafat in Tunis zat, wil niet zeggen dat zij minder corrupt of meer compromisbereid zullen zijn, aldus Khaled Abu Toameh. Bovendien heeft de Algemene Vergadering een aantal rode lijnen aangegeven voor de onderhandelingen met Israel, die het weinig meer doen verschillen van Hamas. Men eist de gehele Westoever en geheel (!) Jeruzalem, een 'recht' op terugkeer van alle vluchtelingen en hun nakomelingen, vrijlating van alle gevangenen, en heeft zich expliciet voor gewapend verzet als strategie uitgesproken. In het handvest van Fatah wordt de bevrijding van geheel Palestina bepleit, en dit is indertijd slechts mondeling herroepen, en nooit in het document zelf aangepast.
During the Fatah meetings in Bethlehem, most of the young guard activists appeared to be more radical than their older colleagues, especially with regards to the peace process with Israel.
Ook betwijfelt Toameh of zij populairder zijn onder het Palestijnse volk dan hun voorgangers. Een en ander stemt niet bepaald hoopvol.

Analysis: New faces of an unreformed, hard-line Fatah
Khaled Abu Toameh , THE JERUSALEM POST
Many of the newly-elected members of Fatah's Central Committee may be younger than their ousted predecessors, but that does not necessarily mean that they are more reform-minded or less corrupt.

Nor does the election of the young guard representatives signal a shift toward moderation.

Fatah must be given credit for getting rid of many old guard figures whose names have become synonymous with embezzlement, financial corruption and abuse of power.

But who said that the new members of the Central Committee are any better?

The assumption that Muhammad Dahlan, Jibril Rajoub, Marwan Barghouti and Tawfik Tirawi are more moderate than old-timers like Ahmed Qurei, Nabil Sha'ath and Hani al-Hassan is completely mistaken.

Fatah's strongman in Lebanon, Sultan Abu al-Aynain, who was also elected as member of the committee, is being described by some media outlets as one of Fatah's "fresh faces."

But Fatah insiders say Abu al-Aynain is known as a "ruthless thug who does not hesitate to liquidate anyone who stands in his way."

In fact, all the newly-elected Central Committee members voted during the Fatah convention in Bethlehem last week in favor of a political platform that does not rule out the armed struggle option against Israel.

The young guard members also voted in favor of a series of hard-line resolutions that were brought before the conference, including one that endorses Fatah's armed militia, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, as an official organ of the faction, and another that states that the Palestinians will never relinquish the "right of return" for refugees to Israel proper and that they are willing to make "sacrifices" to liberate Jerusalem.

It's unrealistic to expect changes in Fatah's policies now that younger leaders are sitting in the Central Committee. Even if Barghouti, Dahlan and Rajoub wanted to adopt a more moderate approach in peace talks with Israel, they would face fierce opposition from the Fatah General Assembly.

The assembly has actually tied the hands of the Fatah leadership by setting a series of "red lines" that no Palestinian - not even Mahmoud Abbas - is entitled to cross.

Fatah has said quite loudly and clearly that it's either 100 percent or nothing. Israel must withdraw to the pre-1967 borders, including from all of the eastern part of Jerusalem, allow Palestinian refugees to return to their original homes inside Israel, dismantle all the settlements, including ones built in Jerusalem such as Pisgat Ze'ev and Ramot, and evict all settlers living there and in the West Bank. Only then, according to Fatah, will there be a chance for peace with Israel.

Barghouti, Dahlan and Rajoub neither have the will nor the mandate to cross any of these red lines.

Fatah's young guard operatives may be popular among the faction's 2,200 delegates who met in Bethlehem over the past week, but there is much doubt as to the extent of the support they enjoy among the larger Palestinian public.

Barghouti, who is serving five life terms in Israeli prison, was the head of the Fatah list that lost to Hamas in the January 2006 parliamentary election. The fact that he was in prison back then did not prevent a majority of Palestinians from casting their ballots for the rival Hamas movement.

Dahlan, Rajoub and Tirawi are all former security commanders who served as Yasser Arafat's henchmen and enforcers after the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in 2004. The three men can be described as anything but reformists and moderates. They are best remembered for building detention centers, prisons, big villas and a casino for the Palestinians.

The main task of the security forces they presided over was to suppress and intimidate political opponents, human rights workers, journalists and anyone who dared to challenge Fatah's corruption-riddled regime.

Moreover, one of the trio's missions was to hunt down Palestinians suspected of "collaboration" with Israel, many of whom were later executed by firing squad. At one stage, Tirawi's men kidnapped and murdered a number of Palestinians from Jerusalem who were suspected of selling land and houses to Jews.

During the Fatah meetings in Bethlehem, most of the young guard activists appeared to be more radical than their older colleagues, especially with regards to the peace process with Israel.

The power struggle between the old and new guards in Fatah has never been over ideology or the future of the peace process. On these issues, there's almost no difference between Barghouti's views and those of Sha'ath and Qurei.

Rather, it's a power struggle between a camp that for two decades denied young guard activists a larger say in decision-making and access to public funds and jobs, and those younger activists.

What's certain is that the change of guard does not necessarily mean that Fatah is about to regain the confidence of a majority of disillusioned Palestinians. Nor does it show that Fatah is on its way to reforming itself or softening its policies.

Bevriezing nederzettingenbouw: kunnen huizen in Ariel afgebouwd worden?

Meanwhile, a number of settlement heads met in Ma'aleh Adumim on Tuesday to protest a de facto settlement freeze already in effect, noting that Netanyahu has not authorized a single new construction project in the West Bank since taking office at the end of March.
Ook onder het laatste jaar van Olmert zijn niet veel nieuwe plannen meer goedgekeurd. De plannen die nu worden uitgevoerd zijn jaren geleden goedgekeurd. Als er de facto al sprake is van een settlement freeze, vraag je je af waarom Israel zo moeilijk doet, maar veel is uiteraard ook symbolisch: officieel aankondigen te stoppen met bouwen is wat anders dan projecten eventjes in de wacht zetten. De vraag is reëel of, waar en wanneer Israel weer mag bouwen als de overeengekomen periode afloopt. De VS zal graag zien dat deze wordt verlengd, ook als concrete resultaten (lees: Palestijnse/Arabische concessies) uitblijven, de Israelische regering wil Israels aanwezigheid in op zijn minst de grote blokken juist versterken en heeft het gevoel die met een bouwstop al een beetje op te moeten geven. Ondertussen eisen de Palestijnen niet alleen Oost-Jeruzalem, maar ook het Westen van de stad op.

Jerusalem, Washington debate: Is Ariel a settlement bloc?
Jerusalem and Washington are currently discussing whether Ariel constitutes one of the settlement blocs where - under a compromise agreement being worked out - construction that has already begun can continue, diplomatic sources told The Jerusalem Post Tuesday.

According to the sources, the two sides are continuing to discuss a compromise solution on settlement construction whereby most of the 2,500 housing units currently under construction in the West Bank would continue to be built, but Israel would declare a temporary moratorium on any new projects.

Most of those 2,500 units are in the large settlement blocs that straddle the Green Line. A question, however, has emerged regarding Ariel, which juts deeper inside the West Bank then the other settlement blocks, such as Ma'aleh Adumim, Givat Ze'ev, Gush Etzion and Betar Illit.

There are currently some 98 units under construction in Ariel.

The sources said the Americans want to take Ariel out of the equation and stop all building there. Israel, on the other hand, defines Ariel as one of the large settlement blocs.

Discussions on the matter are continuing in advance of the planned meeting in about two weeks between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US Mideast envoy George Mitchell in London.

Officials in the Prime Minister's Office denied any knowledge of this discussion, saying that nothing was being released about the negotiations, and that only a few people truly knew what was happening in the ongoing meetings on the matter between Israeli and US officials.

Another issue that still needs to be worked out between the US and Israel is an "exit strategy" for a settlement freeze, or what building the US will permit once the freeze ends.

Israel is keen on returning to the understandings that it had with the US under the Bush Administration, whereby settlement construction would be permitted in the large settlement blocks as long as this building took place inside the settlement's current construction lines.

The widespread feeling among diplomatic officials is that when and if Israel and the US reach an agreement on a settlement freeze, it would be just a matter of time before Israeli-Palestinian talks were renewed.

This is based on a sense that even though Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has conditioned talks with Israel on a settlement freeze - something he did not do with former prime minister Ehud Olmert - nevertheless, once the US and Israel agreed on a formula, the Palestinians would have little choice but to re-start the talks.

There is also an expectation that once the talks begin, some Arab countries such as Morocco, Bahrain and perhaps other Persian Gulf countries, would ante up with some normalization gestures toward Israel. There is little belief, however, that Saudi Arabia would make any such gestures.

Ariel Mayor Ran Nachman, said he knew nothing of any plans to stop existing building projects in his city.

Dani Dayan, who heads the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, said his understanding was that there was "no legal way to stop the ongoing construction." He dismissed all talk to the contrary as merely "spin."

However, MK David Rotem (Israel Beiteinu), a former legal adviser to the council, told the Post recently that since the settlements were under military administration, the government could order a halt to existing projects, but it would have to compensate the contractors, investors and buyers.

Nachman blamed the American attitude against settlements in part on what he termed the "Jew boys" in the White House, such as Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and senior Obama adviser David Axelrod.

There was no peace before the Six Day war in 1967, and at that time there were no settlements, Nachman said. Similarly, he said, Ariel did not even exist until 1977, but the fact that it did not exist did not facilitate peace. And again, he added, Israel destroyed its settlements in Gaza four years ago, but nothing changed.

The only way to achieve peace, he said, was to come to permanent status solution and deal with the settlements within that context. The issue of settlements, he said, was "purely symbolic."

Meanwhile, a number of settlement heads met in Ma'aleh Adumim on Tuesday to protest a de facto settlement freeze already in effect, noting that Netanyahu has not authorized a single new construction project in the West Bank since taking office at the end of March.

The settlement leaders plan to launch a campaign against both the de facto freeze and any freeze that may be agreed upon with the Americans. They plan to hold protest vigils outside Netanyahu's residence and to call on right-wing parties to leave the coalition if the current refusal to authorize new projects continues.

Uitslag verkiezingen centraal comité Fatah

De definitieve uitslag van de verkiezingen voor het Centrale Comité van Fatah.

Fatah elections: Seven members miscounted;
Abdul Rahim in
Published today (updated) 12/08/2009 20:42

Bethlehem - Ma'an - Elections Committee Chair Ahmad Sayyad announced the final results of the Fatah Central Committee, confirming a 19-member leading body and announcing new numbers for the votes of seven elected members.

The announcement followed two days of counting and re-counting, with Fatah officials releasing preliminary results Monday, confirming them Tuesday, then announcing a tie, with Abbas' aide At-Tayyib Abdul Rahim as having gained 16th place, when he had not been on the top 20 in the first count.

In the final count Abdul Rahim remained in 16th place, with the would-be bumped Shtayeh ending in a tie with formerly 17th place Fatah member Abbas Zaki.

Results are listed below with numbers changed from the preliminary announcement changed in bold.

1 - Muhammad (Abu Maher) Ghneim: 1,338 + 30 = 1,368
2 - Mahmoud Al-Aloul: 1,112 -10 = 1,102
3 - Marwan Barghouti: 1,063
4 - Nasser Al-Kidwa: 964
5 - Salim Za'noun: 920
6 - Jibril Rajoub: 908
7 - Tawfiq Tirawi: 903
8 - Saeb Erekat: 863
9 - Othman Abu Gharbiya: 854
10 - Muhammad Dahlan: 853
11 - Muhammad Al-Madani: 841 -20 = 821
12 - Jamal Muheisen: 733
13 - Hussein Ash-Sheikh: 726
14 - Azzam Al-Ahmad: 690
15 - Sultan Abu Aynein: 677
16 - At-Tayyib Abdul Rahim (no first count numbers available) 663
17 - Abbas Zaki 641 + 1 = 642
18 - Muhammad Shtayeh 638 + 4 = 641
18 - Nabil Sha'ath 645 - 4 = 641

Following the announcement of the latest results, Sayyid noted, "as head of the elections committee I hereby announce the official results as supervised by President Abbas, and with the acknowledgement of Presidency spokesman Nabil Abu Rdeineh said that the elections were free, clear and so accurate."

The unannounced Wednesday evening recount of the Fatah Central Committee elections ballots saw officials announce a tie for the 18th and final place in the movement's highest governing body.

Officials had confirmed the preliminary results published on Monday, but refused to confirm the rankings by Tuesday evening. One unnamed official hinted that there was one box being recounted.

Despite the rumored single-box recount, Jericho Governor and Fatah leader Kamil Hmeid announced on Wednesday morning that the results of the preliminary list were confirmed as official. A statement from Hmeid said the names for the Central Committee "will not change."

Three hours later sources in Fatah said a tie for 18th place was confirmed, and that both men would be part of the council.

The confusion came after Fatah's Palestinian Authority-linked establishment suffered major upsets in the leadership vote. Top peace negotiator Ahmad Quriea, who was in the top 20 at first count, remains ousted in the unexpectedly competitive race for 18 elected seats on the 23-member committee.

Others, including jailed resistance leader Marwan Barghouthi and controversial former Gaza strongman Muhammad Dahlan, won seats for the first time.

Abdul Rahim

In late July sources said Abdul Rahim had decided not to stand for election to Fatah's Central Committee, noting he hoped to make room for younger leaders to step up. The Fatah leader had earlier described the younger generation of Fatah as the "spine of the Palestinian national project."

According to the same sources, Abdul-Rahim was set to become a member of a new governing entity Fatah intended to form called the Higher Council, or Advisors' Council. No such council has yet been made public, and no further mention of any higher council has been made.

Revolutionary Council votes being counted

Vote counting for Fatah's second-highest governing body, the Revolutionary Council, started on Wednesday morning and will last three days, according to Munir Salameh, the executive director of the Fatah congress in Bethlehem.

An elected member of the movement's top body, the Central Committee, Muhammad Al-Madani, said counting would take a significant period of time because of the large number of candidates (617) and large number of voters (2,241). He also said that the vote count would take place under the supervision of the party's election committee along with monitors.

There are 80 elected seats on the 130-member revolutionary council, with the rest to be appointed after the election. Prominent candidates include the former member of the Al-Aqsa Brigades in Jenin, Zakariya Zubeidi, Jewish intellectual Uri Davis, and Fadwa Barghouthi, the wife of the charismatic Fatah leader Marwan Barghouthi.

Arabische staten wijzen normalisatie met Israel af

Zonder noemenswaardige druk van de VS lijken de Arabische staten geenszins van plan om concrete handreikingen naar Israel te doen om het vredesproces uit de slop te halen, omdat zij dit als niet in hun belang ervaren. Ze hebben tot nu toe Obama wat dit betreft nog helemaal niets geboden, en lijken ervan uit te gaan dat Amerika ook zo wel Israel tot concessies zal dwingen. De gespierde taal van de VS over de nederzettingen geeft daar ook aanleiding toe.

The Jerusalem Post
Aug 5, 2009 22:19 | Updated Aug 5, 2009 22:29
Analysis: Arab states 'just say no' to normalization

The idea of gestures of 'normalization' from Arab states to Israel is a central component in the US administration's plan for reviving the Mideast peace process.

The notion represents a variant of the Oslo-style approach whereby a series of confidence-building measures will create a climate conducive to the successful conclusion of final-status negotiations. President Barack Obama's approach seeks to expand the circle of confidence-building, so that the Arab states, and not only the Palestinians and Israelis, will be drawn into it.

According to reports, the US is now in the final stages before the announcement of its new, comprehensive peace plan. In the past week, meanwhile, three Arab states appear to have rejected the possibility of gestures of normalization.

Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal last Friday openly dismissed the idea of "incrementalism" and "confidence-building measures." Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh took a more ambiguous but still critical stance regarding such measures early this week in a meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Kuwaiti Emir Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, meanwhile, reiterated his country's support for the Arab peace initiative after a meeting with Obama. By failing to give any hint of a forthcoming gesture to Israel, or to express any support for the idea of normalization in principle, the emir appeared to be adding Kuwait to the list of Arab countries who prefer to politely decline the administration's request for assistance.

So far, the score-card for gestures of normalization from the Arab states to Israel stands at close to zero. Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Kuwait are all close allies of the US. Yet none have yet been willing to make a positive gesture in Washington's direction on this issue. What lies behind their refusal?

One explanation for this holds that the administration's pressure on Israel is leading to a hardening of Arab positions. Since Obama demanded a complete freeze on all construction in settlements, it would now be futile to expect Arab gestures of normalization unless Israel first accepts this demand. However, the Arab rejection of incremental measures has not been solely predicated on Israel's refusal of a comprehensive freeze on all construction in West Bank settlements. Rather, the very principle of normalization in the period prior to a final-status accord between Israelis and Palestinians appears to be rejected.

The rejection of this idea derives from two elements. Firstly, the near-universal, though rarely expressed, belief that the current attempt to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is doomed to failure. Secondly, the distinct lack of urgency felt in Arab capitals regarding this issue.

Regarding the first issue, the factors that caused the failure of the peace process in the 1990s have not disappeared. They are waiting to trip up any negotiation should final-status talks begin.

The demand that Palestinian refugees and their descendants be permitted to make their homes in Israel, the demand for exclusive Muslim sovereignty over the holy places in Jerusalem, the refusal to countenance recognition of Israel as a Jewish state - all these remain part of the non-negotiable core position of the Palestinian national movement. Indeed, in so far as the situation on the ground has changed since 2000, it is for the worse.

The split in the Palestinian national movement between nationalist Fatah and Islamist Hamas increasingly has the look of permanency about it. And since militancy against Israel remains the currency of legitimacy in Palestinian politics, the effect of this is to induce the ageing Fatah movement to dress itself up in radical array once again.

This may currently be seen at the Fatah congress in Bethlehem. There is simply no prospect in the foreseeable future of a united Palestinian leadership willing to make the compromises with reality which alone would render a repartition of the country feasible.

For Arab countries aligned with the US, this situation is not so terrible. They suffer no tangible consequence as a result of it. But the Palestinian issue remains the great mobilizing cause for the populations of the Arab states.

Since this is the case, Arab regimes do not consider it in their interests to appear to be making concessions to Israel. On the contrary - given that from the Kuwaiti, or Saudi, or even Jordanian point of view there is no urgent practical need to resolve the conflict, the leaders of these countries have an obvious interest in playing to the gallery of their own publics by striking occasional militant poses.

These poses must not go beyond a certain point, of course. The American protector must not be unduly provoked. But the Obama administration has made abundantly clear that there will be no price to be paid by the Arab states for their refusal to get on the Obama peace wagon.

As a result, these states may happily continue their comfortable stance of verbal support for the Palestinian cause and refusal to undertake any potentially detrimental gesture of rapprochement toward Israel, while continuing to enjoy the benefits of American patronage.

The fact is that, as everyone in the region knows, there is no chance of a final-status accord between Israelis and Palestinians any time soon. And the absence of such an accord is very far from being the most urgent problem facing the region. All sides now await the moment that this knowledge finds its way to the US administration.

The writer is a senior researcher at the Global Research in International Affairs Center, IDC, Herzliya.

Hamas legt de hand op hulpgelden voor wederopbouw Gazastrook


So far, Hamas has taken control of millions of dollars transferred monthly by Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salaam Fayad to the UNDP and designated for Gazans whose homes were destroyed during Operation Cast Lead last winter.
En dat geld komt weer van de EU, de grootste donor van de Palestijnse Autoriteit. Het is moeilijk voor te stellen hoe je in Gaza miljoenen kunt verdelen zonder intensief met Hamas samen te moeten werken, ondanks de mooie beloftes die Europese en andere politici wat dat betreft hebben gedaan, en Israels informatie bevestigt dat. Hoe de bevolking van Gaza toch te helpen is een bijna onmogelijke opgave, maar doen alsof het probleem niet bestaat is zeker geen oplossing. Beter toezicht, Hamas dwingen waarnemers te accepteren en in het algemeen een hardere opstelling tegenover Hamas, dat de macht in Gaza via een illegale coup heeft verkregen, zijn vereist.

'Hamas may get its claws into Gaza reconstruction funds'
Increasingly concerned that Hamas will steal money donated for Gaza's rehabilitation, the Defense Ministry distributed a document this week revealing that unions affiliated with the terrorist group have set up joint committees with UN agencies that dispense humanitarian aid.

The document was distributed to the Foreign Ministry, Finance Ministry and the Israeli intelligence community, and was also sent to the United States to warn it that the $900 million it has pledged to help rebuild the Gaza Strip could fall into Hamas hands.

"All humanitarian aid sent into the Gaza Strip today needs to receive Hamas clearance," a senior defense official told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday. "Hamas uses violence against international organizations, including UNRWA, if they do not cooperate."

Hamas recently published an ad in a Palestinian newspaper warning that "whoever does not follow its orders will be forced to leave Gaza."

The internal Defense Ministry document revealed that on July 12, a meeting was held between UNRWA, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and Hamas officials who are in charge of the contractors and engineer unions in the Gaza Strip.

The objective was to establish a mechanism which will be responsible for distributing the billions of dollars pledged for the rehabilitation of the Strip by the US and European and Arab countries.

So far, Hamas has taken control of millions of dollars transferred monthly by Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salaam Fayad to the UNDP and designated for Gazans whose homes were destroyed during Operation Cast Lead last winter.

At the meeting, Hamas officials told the UN representatives they wanted to be able to draw up the list of people who would receive the money, according to the Defense Ministry document. The sides decided to set up joint committees and to continue to meet in the future.

"This is an indication to us that there is no effective mechanism that can be established that will bypass Hamas and ensure the money goes straight to the Palestinian people," the senior defense official said.

Israeli government sources said it was "no secret" that UN officials in Gaza were having talks on a technical level with Hamas regarding the distribution of humanitarian aid there.

According to the officials, UNRWA and UNDP had "no choice" but to have some contact with Hamas officials in order for the assistance to be transferred. They added that Israel could live with that situation as long as the talks remained only at the technical level and did not become political in nature.

One official said efforts to develop a mechanism through which money for the rehabilitation of Gaza could be channeled into the region, without in any way strengthening or helping Hamas, is continuing. This effort has been going on since the end of Operation Cast Lead in January, and hundreds of millions of dollars of international aid that has been contributed for rebuilding the Gaza Strip is not being allowed in until such a mechanism is created.

In response to the report, UNRWA Spokesman Chris Gunness released a statement saying: "UNRWA distributes its aid on basis of need. Humanitarian need dictates the way we distribute aid and nothing else."

Hamas heeft 3 ambulances van UNRWA in beslag genomen - UNRWA ontkent

Dit komt niet zo vaak voor: Israel en Hamas die tegenover de UNRWA staan. Volgens Israel heeft Hamas drie ambulances van de UNRWA geconfisceerd, en Hamas bevestigde dit gisteren, maar de UNRWA ontkent dit en heeft zelf foto's uitgegeven waaruit moet blijken dat de ambulances nog steeds in haar bezit zijn. Als het verhaal klopt, is wel te begrijpen waarom UNRWA het ontkent, want dit tast haar positie duidelijk aan. Het is ook te begrijpen waarom Israel een dergelijk verhaal de wereld in stuurt, maar moeilijker te begrijpen is waarom Hamas dit zou bevestigen als het niet klopt (en zelfs als het wel klopt). Het maakt Israelische claims over misbruik van humanitaire hulp immers alleen maar geloofwaardiger. Zou men tegenover UNRWA willen laten zien wie in Gaza de baas is? Zou men er achter de schermen een en ander voor krijgen, of een volgzamere houding van UNRWA af willen dwingen?

Hamas: We've got UNRWA's ambulances
Hamas on Monday claimed to have confiscated three ambulances that were imported into the Gaza Strip for UNRWA several weeks ago, backing up an earlier IDF claim that the ambulances had been seized.

But UNRWA, which last week denied an earlier Jerusalem Post article quoting IDF claims that the ambulances had been confiscated, reiterated Monday that the reports were false, said that the ambulances were safe and sound in its Gaza compound, and even distributed a photograph of one of its officials, Christer Nordal, posing with what it said were the vehicles in question.

According to a statement released by the Hamas-controlled Gaza Crossings Directorate on Monday, the ambulances were confiscated in late July because UNRWA did not have proper documentation to import them into Gaza via the Kerem Shalom crossing.

In an August 4 e-mail obtained by the Post, UNRWA official Jodi Clark wrote to Israeli defense officials to state that the ambulances had been "impounded by the authorities in Gaza." The e-mail was sent by Clark to several Israeli defense officials as well as to John Ging, the director of UNRWA, and Nordal, his deputy. The e-mail later circulated throughout the Defense Ministry.

"The three ambulances we imported into Gaza two weeks ago are still impounded by the authorities in Gaza and we continue to negotiate their release which is not going well at this stage," Clark wrote in the e-mail.

She went on to ask the Israeli defense officials for their assistance in coordinating the transfer of three new ambulances into Gaza, but through the Erez crossing, "to avoid the authorities having the opportunity to seize the vehicles from us."

Asked about Clark's e-mail, and about the official Hamas-run Gaza Crossings Directorate's claim to be holding the ambulances, UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness said that the e-mail had been recalled by Clark immediately after being sent and that the story based on its content was untrue. The Post was able to confirm that the e-mail was indeed recalled.

"The e-mail was recalled within minutes because the information contained in it was wrong," Gunness said. "The story is a house of cards based on information that was wrong. We have circulated pictures which prove it was wrong."

And after the e-mail was sent, Gunness added, there was a follow-up communication with an Israeli official "to make it quite certain that he knew that the information was wrong."

In the Gaza Crossings Directorate statement, released to several Palestinian news sites on Monday, Hamas said it confiscated the ambulances since they "did not have proper identification and documentation to confirm UNRWA's ownership."

The directorate said that the ambulances were being stored near the Kerem Shalom crossing and would be released once UNRWA provided the necessary documentation.

On Monday, Gunness released photos of what he said were the three ambulances, with Nordal standing alongside them.

"The story that UNRWA had its vehicles stolen continues to not be true," Gunness said. "The pictures show clearly that these ambulances were not stolen."

Asked if he could provide proof that the ambulances in the picture were the ambulances imported into Gaza in late July, Gunness repeated that the pictures proved that the IDF and Hamas claims were inaccurate.

The ambulance saga began last Thursday with a report on Army Radio claiming that three ambulances transferred into Gaza had been seized by Hamas. The Post's Web site published a story on the reported seizure of the ambulances, attributing it to Army Radio.

The next day, Gunness called the Post and asked that a follow-up report be published, making plain that UNRWA denied the ambulances had been confiscated.

Palestijns persbureau vindt Joodse staat 'bedreiging voor mensheid'

Zie het volgende verzoenende artikel dat onlangs werd gepubliceerd door het officiële persbureau WAFA van de gematigde Palestijnse Autoriteit van president Abbas. Het biedt zeker een goede basis voor samenwerking en onderhandelingen met Israel, op basis van wederzijds respect voor de eigen identiteit en nationale rechten van beide volken.
"A Jewish state endangers not only Palestinians, but also the Arab World, and the global security. It is a call for legitimizing a racist entity, built on pure ethnic and theocratic criteria. They apparently think that they are a race, and they want a racist state! All of this doesn't end with the Palestinian issue; it becomes a general [international] matter, which raises the question:
"Will the present international system, with its modernity and development, and after banishing the racist entities, allow the development of a theocratic regime, successor of racist regimes that have disappeared, where anyone who does not recognize it cannot live there?"
In de Palestijnse voorlopige grondwet staat een duidelijke verwijzing naar de islam als nationale religie, en naar het Arabische karakter van de staat. Dit geldt voor een aantal Arabische staten. Is de PA ervoor dat uit de eigen grondwet te schrappen en alle Arabische staten op te roepen hetzelfde te doen? Zo nee, vanwaar deze dubbele maatstaven? Joods-nationale rechten als racistisch bestempelen en als gevaar voor de hele wereld is ziekmakend en in zichzelf racistisch.
"The Jewish State, or People, or Land is a synonym of the black nightmare of Racism. It is a war waged on us; a new war aimed at eradicating Palestinians, with slogans first, then by practice. Such a practice is the most dangerous in this land's history; Exile, or 'Transfer' and eliminating everything related to the Arabism of this homeland, which has witnessed years of organized transfer of its people. Are we now witnessing our complete, final expulsion?
"We still do not understand, and we have not learned the lesson. We merely repeat our reactions, and every time they escalate their actions, we respond as they [Israelis] want us to respond. Protest alone will not change or influence things, because it is devoid of roots and flows not from a united people, but rather from streams, groups and divided parties... fighting for government that is not worthy of being called government. We are still under occupation; we are still ruled, in every aspect of life: livelihoods, sovereignty, and decision....

"If we do not wake up, perhaps we will be outside of our homeland and without residence.
"The Jewish State is clear in its objectives, even implementation and application. It means eliminating 20 per cent of the Jewish entity's citizens; Arabs and Palestinians. It probably means forcing them out; transferring them.
"Those who are calling for the Jewishness of 'the State' are performing a political act... whose fundamental aim is the complete closure of the right of return. And it is not only the right of return that is being rejected here: Also prohibited is the remaining of the Palestinians who are upon their lands and forbidden houses in the Galilee and in the Triangle and in the Negev and in Jerusalem, as a 'first stage,' and in every place where there are Palestinians.
"In terms of all this, should we expect that they are deliberately trying to violate the inalienable right of return, considered a priority on the negotiations agenda, by the United Nations and its Security Council?
"A Jewish state endangers not only Palestinians, but also the Arab World, and the global security. It is a call for legitimizing a racist entity, built on pure ethnic and theocratic criteria. They apparently think that they are a race, and they want a racist state! All of this doesn't end with the Palestinian issue; it becomes a general [international] matter, which raises the question:
"Will the present international system, with its modernity and development, and after banishing the racist entities, allow the development of a theocratic regime, successor of racist regimes that have disappeared, where anyone who does not recognize it cannot live there?"
[WAFA News Agency, July 27, 2009]

woensdag 12 augustus 2009

Spanje financiert actiegroep die illegale huizen herbouwt in Oost-Jeruzalem

Hoe zou Spanje het vinden wanneer Israel en andere landen allerlei organisaties en activiteiten zouden ondersteunen die verbonden zijn met de Baskische separatisten, of voor hun 'rechten' ijveren, en vanuit dit perspectief Spanje zwart maken, oproepen tot een internationale boycot van Spanje, en Spanjes bestaansrecht ter discussie stellen? Zo'n type is Jeff Halper van het ICAHD.


The Jerusalem Post
Aug 10, 2009 0:07 | Updated Aug 10, 2009 15:27
Spain helping to rebuild illegal homes in e. J'lem

The Spanish government is paying for 42 people to come here and help rebuild two Palestinian homes that Israel deemed illegal and tore down in Anata in northeast Jerusalem, according to the director of the organization in charge of the project.

Jeff Halper, the director of the Israel Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), which is holding its seventh annual summer "rebuilding camp," said volunteers from all over Europe, Latin America, Spain, the United States, South Africa, Asia, and Australia are currently in the country to rebuild two homes demolished in Anata.

"In particular, there are about 42 people from Spain in the camp, and the Spanish government is funding the camp again this year. They have paid for the 42 tickets of young people to come to the work camp, so that is pretty interesting that governments are starting to encourage people to come and resist the occupation," Halper told The Jerusalem Post.

The Spanish Foreign Ministry's agency for international development cooperation, Aecid, allocated some €80,000 in 2009 to ICAHD. In addition, it allocated €80,000 this year for Breaking the Silence, €100,000 for the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, and has promised to allocate €70,000 for Rabbis for Human Rights.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's spokesman Mark Regev slammed the involvement of European governments in the Anata project.

"Europe believes in peace and reconciliation, in a two-state solution with a non-violent path to that solution," he said. "It would indeed be strange if European money were going to an NGO headed by an individual who both rejects a two-state solution, and who justifies terrorism."

Regev was referring to past comments and writings by Halper, a veteran activist on the extreme Left.

One Israeli-based Spanish diplomat, who did not know the details of the camp, had no comment on the matter. He said that while there were discussions with Israel following Jerusalem Post revelations last month that Spain was helping to fund Breaking the Silence, Spain did not receive any formal request from Israel to stop funding that organization or any other NGO.

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, who did not know about the ICAHD summer camp, said that Israel respected "all countries, especially democracies, and we expect them to respect us.

"Israel is a very strong democracy, with a democratic tradition - a strong one - with the rule of law and independence of the judicial branch. NGOs are entitled to have their agendas, but when they cross the line into domestic issues, into internal political issues, it is a dangerous line."

According to Halper, some 80 volunteers are helping rebuild the two homes, which were demolished for not having the necessary building permits. The homes belonged to the families of Younes Muhammad Abdalla Sbaih and Saleh Nimer Abed-Ajwad.

Halper said that 60 volunteers were sleeping at the site during the two-week "camp."

Over the past 10 years, ICAHD has rebuilt more than 160 homes throughout the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

A complete report on the "camp" will appear in Friday's In Jerusalem

Terroristen uit Irak komen Gazastrook binnen

Het is opvallend dat Hamas niet alleen zelf geen raketten afschiet en andere aanslagen voorbereidt, maar ook andere groeperingen hiervan afhoudt, zoals Islamitische Jihad en de volksverzetscomité's.

Hamas is echter zeker niet van Israel gaan houden, en is druk bezig wapens te smokkelen en zelf te fabriceren. Uit onvrede met Hamas' passieve houding zijn sommige leden naar nog radikalere, aan Al Qaida verwante groepen overgelopen, die wel proberen aanslagen uit te voeren. Ook zijn terroristen uit Irak Gaza binnengekomen.


Terrorists who fought U.S. in Iraq make way to Gaza
By Amos Harel
Dozens of Islamic terrorists have entered the Gaza Strip over the past year and are operating there in the framework of extremist organizations identified with the "Worldwide Jihad." The terrorists are Sunni Muslims, many of whom have taken part in the fighting against American forces in Iraq. So far, as much as is known, these terrorists have been involved in a relatively small number of attacks.

Various groups inspired by Al-Qaida and other similar organizations are responsible for the relatively recent attempts to launch terror attacks from Gaza. Two months ago the Israel Defense Forces and Shin Bet security service prevented an attempted attack which involved sending booby-trapped horses to the Erez crossing point. An extremist splinter group was behind the failed terror attack, but despite the reports in the Palestinian press, Israel did not identify the involvement of any foreign terrorists in the attack.

The flow of foreign terrorists to Gaza will gradually increase, defense officials forecast, as the friction between the extremist Sunni groups and U.S. forces in Iraq diminishes in advance of the expected American withdrawal. Israeli officials are of the opinion that Hamas is not particularly interested in having these foreigners enter the Strip since they do not act under Hamas instructions and are identified with even more extremist and uncompromising ideologies than Hamas itself.

Hamas has a relatively high level of control over the actions of established groups such as Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. But Hamas is finding it difficult to rein in the smaller and newer groups, which are identified with Al-Qaida and Worldwide Jihad, and are made up primarily of former Hamas activists.

The months of quiet since the IDF's Operation Cast Lead in Gaza this past winter have increased the number of those deserting Hamas in favor of Worldwide Jihad, as front-line Hamas military activists have increased their criticism of what they view as the impotence of the organization's leadership against Israel.

Senior Israeli defense officials confirmed that Hamas in Gaza is not presently involved in attacks against Israel. The organization is not initiating terror attacks and in many cases is even preventing such attempts by the smaller organizations. A senior IDF officer claimed Hamas has moved from just holding back the groups to actually preventing attacks. He said this was due to Hamas' "temporary interest in quiet and not from any sudden love for Israel, but those are the facts for now."

Hamas is interested in a long time-out, say defense officials, in order to rebuild its military capabilities and strengthen its control of Gaza. Even when the IDF sends small forces inside the Strip - usually to defuse bombs or clear areas it suspects are booby-trapped - Hamas prefers to show self-restraint, even though it feels it has a legitimate cause for a military response against Israel.

At the same time, Hamas is continuing its intensive efforts to smuggle arms into Gaza. The Islamic Jihad is also organizing its own arms smuggling, but on a much smaller basis. Since January, the smuggling has faced more and more difficulties. Israel attributes much of this to increasing Egyptian motivation to stop the smuggling, but also to preventative steps taken by other countries. Hamas' main efforts are focused on smuggling in munitions that will give it a concrete advantage in a conflict with Israel: medium-range rockets, anti-aircraft missiles and advanced anti-tank missiles.

Israeli intelligence has no exact information on the missiles that have already been smuggled in, but the assumption is that Hamas has managed to receive very few of the advanced missiles. Due to the difficulties in smuggling arms, the Gazan weapons industry is making great efforts to improve its capabilities, and in particular to extend the range of its homemade rockets. Hamas seems to have succeeded in stockpiling a similar number of rockets, in addition to what it had on hand before Cast Lead.

Hamas continues to send dozens of activists for military training in foreign countries, particularly in Iran and Lebanon. They travel via Rafa and Egypt.

dinsdag 11 augustus 2009

Vooruitgang op de Westelijke Jordaanoever

Friedmans optimisme is aanstekelijk, en een welkome afwisseling op de vele negatieve en cynische commentaren en artikelen die er over het conflict verschijnen.
Hij ziet echter iets wezenlijks over het hoofd. Hij schrijft:
But men and women do not live by shoe sales alone. The only way the Palestinian leadership running this show can maintain its legitimacy is if it is eventually given political authority, not just policing powers, over the West Bank — or at least a map that indicates they are on a pathway there.
"Our people need to see we are governing ourselves and are not simply subcontractors for Israeli security," Prime Minister Fayyad told me. Khalil Shikaki, a leading Palestinian pollster, added that Abbas and Fayyad want "to be seen as building a Palestinian state — not security without a state." That is why "there has to be political progress alongside the security progress. Without it, it hurts them very much."
Op het Fatah congres dat afgelopen week in Bethlehem werd gehouden, nam deze partij een aantal hardline resoluties aan, die een politieke oplossing van het conflict er, eufemistisch gezegd, niet gemakkelijker op maken. Zo eist Fatah, als voorwaarde voor verdere onderhandelingen, heel Jeruzalem, ook het Westen en de Joodse heilige plaatsen, op, en eist het dat alle gevangenen worden vrijgelaten. Ook werd het 'recht op terugkeer' van alle Palestijnse vluchtelingen en hun miljoenen nakomelingen nog eens benadrukt, net als het recht op alle vormen van verzet. De Al Aqsa Martelaren Brigade werd, tegen eerdere afspraken met Israel in, als de officiële gewapende tak van Fatah erkend. Deze beweging heeft honderden bloedige aanslagen gepleegd tijdens de tweede intifadah. Abbas kan niet enerzijds de rol spelen van de welwillende gematigde politicus die wel wil maar niet kan, en anderzijds voornoemde standpunten goedkeuren en uitdragen naar het eigen publiek toe. Om ook meer politieke macht te krijgen, zal de Palestijnse Autoriteit bereid moeten zijn tot compromissen en een andere toon aanslaan naar Israel toe.
Green Shoots in Palestine II
Published: August 8, 2009

Ever since the collapse of the Oslo peace accords in 2000, and the horror-show violence that followed, there has been only one thing to say about the West Bank: Nothing ever changes here, except for the worst. That is just not the case anymore — much to my surprise.

For Palestinians, long trapped between burgeoning Israeli settlements and an Israeli occupation army, subject to lawlessness in their own cities and the fecklessness of their own political leadership, life has clearly started to improve a bit, thanks to a new virtuous cycle: improved Palestinian policing that has led to more Palestinian investment and trade that has led to the Israeli Army dismantling more checkpoints in the West Bank that has led to more Palestinian travel and commerce.

Because the West Bank today is largely hidden from Israelis by a wall, Israelis are just starting to learn from their own press what is going on there. On July 31, many Israelis were no doubt surprised to read this quote in the Maariv daily from Omar Hashim, deputy chairman of the Chamber of Commerce of Nablus, the commercial center of the West Bank: "Traders here are satisfied," said Hashim. "Their sales are rising. They feel that life is returning to normal. There is a strong sense of optimism."

Make no mistake: Palestinians still want the Israeli occupation to end, and their own state to emerge, tomorrow. That is not going to happen. But for the first time since Oslo, there is an economic-security dynamic emerging on the ground in the West Bank that has the potential — the potential — to give the post-Yasir Arafat Palestinians another chance to build the sort of self-governing authority, army and economy that are prerequisites for securing their own independent state. A Palestinian peace partner for Israel may be taking shape again.

The key to this rebirth was the recruitment, training and deployment of four battalions of new Palestinian National Security Forces — a move spearheaded by President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad of the Palestinian Authority. Trained in Jordan in a program paid for by the U.S., three of these battalions have fanned out since May 2008 and brought order to the major Palestinian towns: Nablus, Jericho, Hebron, Ramallah, Jenin and Bethlehem.

These N.S.F. troops, who replaced either Israeli soldiers or Palestinian gangs, have been warmly received by the locals. Recently, N.S.F. forces wiped out a Hamas cell in Qalqilya, and took losses themselves. The death of the Hamas fighters drew nary a peep, but a memorial service for the N.S.F. soldiers killed drew thousands of people. For the first time, I've heard top Israeli military officers say these new Palestinian troops are professional and for real.

The Israeli Army's chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, has backed that up by taking down roughly two-thirds of the 41 manned checkpoints Israel set up around the West Bank, many since 2000, to stifle Palestinian suicide bombers. Those checkpoints — where Palestinians often had to wait for two hours to just pass from one city to the next and often could not drive their own cars through but had to go from cab to cab — choked Palestinian commerce. Israel is also again letting Israeli Arabs drive their own cars into the West Bank on Saturdays to shop.

"You can feel the movement," said Olfat Hammad, the associate director of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, who lives in Nablus and works in Ramallah. "It is not a burden anymore to move around to Ramallah for business meetings and social meetings." Nablus recently opened its first multiplex, "Cinema City," as well as a multistory furniture mart designed to cater to Israelis. Ramallah's real estate prices have skyrocketed.

"I have had a 70 percent increase in sales," Maariv quoted a Nablus shoe store owner as saying. "People are coming from the villages nearby, and from other cities in the West Bank and from Israel."

But men and women do not live by shoe sales alone. The only way the Palestinian leadership running this show can maintain its legitimacy is if it is eventually given political authority, not just policing powers, over the West Bank — or at least a map that indicates they are on a pathway there.

"Our people need to see we are governing ourselves and are not simply subcontractors for Israeli security," Prime Minister Fayyad told me. Khalil Shikaki, a leading Palestinian pollster, added that Abbas and Fayyad want "to be seen as building a Palestinian state — not security without a state." That is why "there has to be political progress alongside the security progress. Without it, it hurts them very much."

America must nurture this virtuous cycle: more money to train credible Palestinian troops, more encouragement for Israel's risk-taking in eliminating checkpoints, more Palestinian economic growth and quicker negotiations on the contours of a Palestinian state in the West Bank. Hamas and Gaza can join later. Don't wait for them. If we build it, they will come.