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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Inescapable conclusion: Israel must probe the Gaza war

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2010/01/inescapable-conclusion-israel-must.html

There is no doubt about it. The Goldstone report about Operation Cast Lead (the Gaza war of 2008) is not about "justice." It is based on an investigation initiated with the most malicious intent, by a UN body, the UNHRC, that is obsessed with the mission of delegitimizing Israel. Its major conclusions were decided before there was any "investigation," and the investigation that was undertaken was a bad joke, consisting mostly of collecting Israel-bashing libels from anti-Israel NGOs. Judge Goldstone was enlisted in this nefarious project to provide a fig leaf of respectability for the "human rights" advocacy of countries like Libya and Sudan. He did not exercise the best judgment in accepting the charge and did not conduct a fair investigation.

The Goldstone report was meant to be, and will be, the centerpiece of a vicious PR campaign and UN propaganda persecution against Israel. It gives the usual sources many opportunities to rant about "Zionist war criminals" and "Zionist war crimes" and to attempt to force a UN Security Council condemnation of Israel. Alan Dershowitz has pointed out that Goldstone went beyond the various human rights organizations with his fantastic contention that the Israeli government diabolically planned in advance to murder Palestinian civilians and destroy civilian infrastructure. (see THE CASE AGAINST THE GOLDSTONE REPORT: A STUDY IN EVIDENTIARY BIAS).

However, it is time to say what everyone knows and will not admit. Israel's army probes of the Gaza war crime allegations are not going to satisfy many critics, nor will documents like the one issued recently by the Israeli government, and other reports that are either in preparation or submitted. The Israeli MAG (Military Advocate General) reported that they investigated X number of cases raised ( about 140 at this time) by the infamous Goldstone report and closed them. But the skeptics will dismiss it all as "Zionist propaganda" because they have been convinced, rightly or wrongly, that only an independent civilian inquiry will discover the truth.

Contrary to the impression that some people seem to have, the report presented to UN Secretary General Ban was not the final Israeli rejoinder to the Goldstone report. Israel is preparing a very long report that will be a point by point refutation:

The 40-page “letter” was delivered to Ban, explaining the independence of ’s legal system, and the efficacy of the justice system in the military.

Diplomatic officials stressed that this letter is not the IDF’s answer to the Goldstone Commission report. The IDF rebuttal is currently being completed, and will number more than 1,000 pages and will answer point-by-point all the allegations in the Goldstone Report

The "40 page letter" referred to above may or may not be the 46 page document that is posed at the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs Website - Gaza Operation Investigations - an update. That document details the structure and independence of the Military Advocate General's office and the Israeli investigation process, as well as giving finding regarding some of the cases.

These efforts, which impress Israel's friends, are not necessarily going to convince the the world, and do not change the fact that there were, and are, real problems that require both judicial and administrative or legislative remedies.

The problems are evident even in the handling of the rebuttal. According to Haaretz, newspaper, the letter sent to Secretary General Ban claimed that two IDF officers were disciplined for improper use of white phosphorus in one incident on January 15, 2009. But according to Haaretz newspaper, the IDF promptly denied that any officers were disciplined!

The Israel Defense Forces on Monday denied that two of its senior officers had been summoned for disciplinary action after headquarters staff found that the men exceeded their authority in approving the use of phosphorus shells during last year's military campaign in the Gaza Strip, as the Israeli government wrote in a recent report.

The report, which was a sensation for a day, seems to have vanished without a final resolution - either a clear official confirmation or a clear denial. This is not indicative of an orderly process of investigation, to say the least. If Haaretz is referring to the 46 page update document, there is indeed a report that officers were disciplined in section 100 and what is apparently the same report for the same incident is given in Section 108:

One of these incidents involved alleged damage to the UNRWA field office compound in Tel El Hawa.102 The special command investigation revealed that, during the course of a military operation in Tel El Hawa, IDF forces fired several artillery shells in violation of the rules of engagement prohibiting use of such artillery near populated areas. Based on these findings, the Commander of the Southern Command disciplined a Brigadier General and a Colonel for exceeding their authority in a manner that jeopardized the lives of others.

There is no mention of white phosphorus in that section. In Sections 118-120, the document states categorically that all IDF use of white phosphorus was found to be legal and there were no violations. The Haaretz article related an entirely narrative that is not taken from the document, and their source is not clear. The IDF denial that officers were disciplined for any reason that is quoted in Ha'aretz is also unexplained.

If we don't believe our own report, it is not likely that anyone else will believe it. If different branches of the IDF cannot ascertain whom the IDF punished and for what, there must be at least some procedures that require investigation and correction.

According to the report, about 150 cases were investigated and 36 were referred for disciplinary action. Details are not given for every case. In the entire Gaza operation, we are supposed to believe, almost nobody made serious errors in judgment. We are to believe that almost all the decisions were correct, even though soldiers died from friendly fire, and three little Palestinian girls, whom everyone admits were blameless, daughters of a blameless physician, Dr. Izzeldin AbuelAish, were killed by mistake..Those are three wrongful deaths that we can identify by name. Even the most pro-Israel enthusiast might think it is suspicious if the IDF says, "We investigated ourselves and we found ourselves almost blameless."

If all the IDF decisions were correct, then how did it happen that we waged an expensive and risky war, and at the end of the war there was a lot of destruction in Gaza, but the Hamas remained stronger than ever? It is unlikely that Israeli generals are war criminals as Goldstone charges, but nobody should get a prize for the planning and execution of the Gaza war. The Goldstone report or some similar kangaroo proceeding, should also have been foreseen by the planners since allegations of Israeli "war crimes" are not new. Even if there were no instances of criminal malfeasance, there was certainly a failure of decision making, and there errors of judgment and lapses in discipline. We all know about the graffiti left in Gaza by various IDF soldiers, and about the inciteful pamphlets initiated by fanatic rabbis and distributed by the IDF "through an oversight." What mechanisms were put into place to correct these problems?

We were assured, from the start, that the Gaza war would not be like the Second Lebanon war. Officers and government officials would not speak out of turn, and would not make pointless bellicose remarks. But pointless bellicosity continued long after the Second Lebanon war, and the Goldstone report used them as "evidence" against Israel. For example, In October 2008, just before General Eisenkott said, regarding Lebanon:

What happened in the Dahiya quarter of Beirut in 2006 will happen in every village from which Israel is fired on. […] We will apply disproportionate force on it and cause great damage and destruction there. From our standpoint, these are not civilian villages, they are military bases. […] This is not a recommendation. This is a plan. And it has been approved.”

This is the sort of primitive and needless bragging and bullying that used to characterize Arab leaders. It is in a class with the threats made by Gamal Abdul Nasser before the Six day war. Whatever policies the government adopts, they are not set by the IDF, and whatever military doctrines the IDF adopts, they are not more effective if discussed in public. Wars are not won by rhetoric. If the Israeli government wanted to warn the Lebanese against testing Israeli patience, there were other, more credible and more civilized ways to do it.

Even more pointless were the remarks of Eli Yishai, Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor. He said on February 2, 2009

Even if the rockets fall in an open air or to the sea, we should hit their infrastructure, and destroy 100 homes for every rocket fired.

We can point out that these remarks were made after the conclusion of Operation Cast Lead and cannot prove intent, though they might say something about general policy and state of mind They are not evidence surely, as Yishai didn't plan the operation. They were utterly pointless because unlike General Eisenkott, Yishai is not a military authority and is not in charge of military planning. He should stick to what he knows.

Perhaps the skill of Alan Dershowitz can convince friends of Israel that it is not illegal to call for destruction of homes, as he does so well. But if you require a Dershowitz or a Clarence Darrow to defend you and to produce an exegesis of your remarks in the manner of the Rashi and the Rambam, you are in trouble. Those who are not so well disposed to our cause will take the remarks literally. As the Israeli government had to be aware of the hostile international environment, what possible excuse was there for remarks such as these, intended evidently to garner support from Shas party voters. What is a minister of a religious party doing meddling in foreign policy and military strategy in public? Yishai probably knows even less about military strategy than he knows about industry, trade or labor. What purpose did these remarks serve?

At least some Israeli authorities have understood that an independent investigation is required. Col. Pnina Sharvit-Baruch, who headed the Military Advocate General's international law department during Operation Cast Lead called for an investigation, though she is apparently convinced that all is well in the best of all possible worlds:

"There is not necessarily a need for a commission of inquiry because we essentially know more or less what happened in terms of decision making, orders and targets," she said. "As for the top brass, we have the protocols of government meetings."

Nonetheless, she added, "We are now in a situation in which we need to give our friends - who don't want to see lawsuits filed against us in their own courts - the tools to do away such claims, along with other charges against us," she said.

"If they need a commission of inquiry then that's what we'll give them," she added. "I really don't think we have anything we need to hide."

It is not so clear that everything is under control and nothing can go wrong, as Sharvit-Baruch implied. If she had done her job right during the Gaza war, there might not have been a Goldstone report. Moreover, if everything is just fine, then how did it happen that her remarks, made in confidence to a closed forum, were published the next day in Haaretz? Leaks of this sort are the rule, rather than the exception. What sort of army cannot keep secrets?

Menachem Mazuz, Israel's outgoing government counsel (a title erroneously translated in English as "Attorney General") also explained why an independent investigation is needed:

"There is a danger here of a 'Serbianization' of Israel," even though the report on the Gaza war was biased and contains unsubstantiated conclusions, Mazuz said. "Therefore I believe that Israel has a clear interest in conducting a serious, expert examination that will deal with the report and produce an opposing report. It would be a serious mistake not to establish some sort of committee. We must remove the shame of accusing Israel of being a country that commits war crimes."

"Some sort of committee" is not enough. There must be a judicial committee of inquiry or judicial proceedings in regular courts regarding criminal allegations. The investigation or trials would not satisfy everyone. The Palestinians, notwithstanding the fact that they won't try any of their "alleged" war criminals and their supporters will continue to rant about Zionist war criminals, backed by the Arab world and degenerates like the Dutch socialite Greta Duisenberg. But friendly governments will at least have a solid basis to reject the Goldstone allegations and to combat the campaign of pseudo-legal war criminal proceedings being waged by Palestinians and their supporters.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak and IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi are opposed to a probe. But they are among the "suspects," because part of Goldstone's allegations, the most serious ones, claim that the Gaza operation was planned to harm civilians and to harm infrastructure in order to hurt civilians. Of course, intentional destruction of some infrastructure may have been done based on the doctrine that we must destroy "infrastructure" of terrorists. That is not criminal, but since terror groups do not have and do not need much infrastructure, it is probable that this doctrine is mistaken. But it is clear that suspects in a possible investigation should not be deciding whether or not to have an investigation.

A second investigation, non-judicial, is needed to examine the tactical and strategic and policy aspects of Operation Cast Lead. Before the next war, we must find out what really went wrong in Operation Cast Lead, and in the Second Lebanon War. Obviously, not all the lessons of the Second Lebanon war were learned, because in some respects the Gaza war was a repeat performance. This is true despite the great strides taken by the IDF in repairing itself, and despite the fact that both the Chief of Staff and the Defense Minister had been replaced, and nobody doubts the professional qualifications of the present incumbents. And the problem is not confined to military planning.

The two wars share too many negative characteristics in common: Both were long drawn out operations that generated a lot of destruction and civilian deaths on the enemy side, but did not inflict a decisive blow on the enemy. Both brought charges of Israeli "war crimes."

Israel's friends may be willing to help us, especially as the United States, Britain and others may be accused of similar war "war crimes" in Iraq and Afghanistan by the same coalition of terror groupies But friends can only help those who help themselves. And we need a real investigation, because there are real problems that exist regardless of the Goldstone report. The same sorts of problems have been dogging the IDF and Israeli government since the Yom Kippur War: poor intelligence, poor decision making, poor strategy, neglect of essential preparation, flaws in implementation. Israelis who do not believe me, should consider this example, which is easy to check. What is the status of the air raid shelters in your town. Are they all clean and ready? Were they all opened and ready for use when there was a drill?

After each war there is an "investigation" and we are assured that the problems will not recur, but they do. Condemning the Goldstone report is not enough. Friends of Israel have to understand that along with condemning the Goldstone report, we must call for independent inquiries.

What is more important than the last war or last wars, is the next one. The next Lebanon or Gaza war, if there will be one, is being planned according to the same formula: a long war of attrition featuring air and ground operations. The minister of religion and the minister of rabbit growing will issue bellicose announcements about grinding the enemy to dust and will be duly quoted in the media. The confidential remarks of every military official in closed door forums will make daily headlines. The network and media photographers and correspondents will have weeks to report about the real or imagined agony of innocent Lebanese civilians. The enemy will be able to generate a great deal of Pallywood and Hoaxbulla - dead bodies taken from morgues, staged ambulance emergencies, the same person losing a different home on different days. The anti-Israel lobby will have a PR festival, and Israel will accomplish no strategic objective other than to strengthen its enemies.

Well-meaning polemics against the Goldstone report, as bad as the report is, miss the point. It is always valid to ask for an independent civilian investigation of criminal actions when there are reasonable suspicions. Justice must be seen as well as done. When the military and civilian decision process has produced two catastrophic failures in a brief period, it is also imperative to hold a serious and probing technical and policy review as well. It is not unpatriotic to mount these investigations. It is common sense, good government and good Zionism.

Ami Isseroff

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Has the Obama government misread Israeli opinion on Jerusalem?

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2009/11/has-obama-government-misread-israeli.html

Herb Keinon's Analysis: Obama's press on Gilo shows a continued misread of Israel is one of the more astute analyses of why Israel is building in Gilo, and why most Israelis are backing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on this issue. Anyone who thought about it could recognize immediately that the heart of the "innocent" seeming Palestinian demand to stop settlements was really the issue of Jerusalem (see Will Jerusalem be a frozen settlement? - which I wrote last May - and O! No! Jerusalem and the Settlement Freeze!). It was obvious what the Palestinians were trying to do with their "settlement freeze." But it was hard to believe that U.S. would be obtuse enough to fall for the ploy or arrogant enough to ignore Israeli opinion entirely.


Herb Keinon is absolutely on the money when he writes: ... Gilo - not in a far-flung settlement overlooking Nablus, nor even in one of the settlement blocs like Gush Etzion, nor even a Jewish complex in one of the Arab neighborhoods of the capital, but in Gilo, one of the large new neighborhoods built in the city following the Six Day War. If Israel cannot build in Gilo without US approval, than it cannot build in Ramot Eshkol, French Hill, Ramot, Neveh Yaakov, Pisgat Ze'ev, East Talpiot or Har Homa. However, the issue, as we shall see, is not quite what most Israelis - or most Americans think it is.

The Palestinians knew that by posing a demand to end "settlement construction" before resuming peace talks, they would have an iron-clad guarantee that there would never be peace talks, because Israel is not going to give up its claim to Jerusalem, certainly not before there are any negotiations, and Israel will not allow Jerusalem to be treated as a "settlement." The Palestinians don't want to negotiate peace with Israel, because they have finally understood that in negotiations, Israel will never agree to allow the descendants of Palestinian Arab refugees to return to Israel and turn the country into an Arab state, and Israel is not going to give up all of East Jerusalem. "Moderate" Mahmoud Abbas has stated repeatedly that the Palestinians insist on "Right" of return, insist on getting every inch of "East Jerusalem" for their capital city, and insist Israeli withdrawal to the Armistice borders of 1949. Abbas said it first, perhaps in an interview he gave in 2000, and he has never budged an inch from those positions. If they cannot obtain the destruction and dismemberment of Israel by negotiations, the Palestinian "moderates" will turn to unilateral declaration of a state or to other means to accomplish the same end. If Israel agrees to the settlement freeze, the Palestinians can use it as an admission that Israel is giving up all rights to the areas in question, and will seek to ensure that it is a permanent freeze.

Not only would the Palestinians not have to negotiate about peace, but they get an added bonus, since by refusing to agree to the conditions of the nice President Obama, Israel is seen as the "obstacle to peace."

To most Israelis, the issues are obvious. What is a wonder to me, at least, is that some of my American Jewish friends cannot understand why the bad Mr. Netanyahu is putting a monkey wrench in the machinery of peace being operated by their Nobel prize winning president, over another silly settlement. It is surprising to me because you don't have to be a religious fanatic or even Jewish to know that Jerusalem is central to the Jewish people, and has been a central national symbol for the Zionist movement (Zion is a place in Jerusalem, remember?) and modern Israel. You don't have to have much background in the history of the Middle East to understand that since the time of the Emperor Vespasian at least, whoever controls Jerusalem is considered to control the land of Israel (AKA Palestine), an idea ratified, at least in the eyes of the Muslims by the conquest of Jerusalem from the Crusaders by Salah al-din (Saladin). Our American Jewish friends might disagree, but surely they can understand the reasons. Yet one of them wrote that the construction in Gilo looks like Israel is saying,

"We don't give a sh*t what you think or how hard you want to work for peace we will do what we want to do."

The perceptions of Americans about the peace process seem to be a bit strange. Israelis lost over a thousand lives "taking risks for peace," but were are supposed to be considerate of the hard working Americans, burning the midnight bourbon in Washington, who only want us to give up our capital city, a minor sacrifice, in order to advance their political agenda. What bad, ungrateful people we Israelis are, after all Mrs Clinton and Mr. Obama did in order to bring us peace!

The lady who wrote that is not ignorant. She not anti-Zionist. She considers herself knowledgable about dialogue. Dialogue people are supposed to know how to listen. Is it possible that she was totally deaf to Israeli opinion about Jerusalem? Does it really look like that? Perhaps to this nice Jewish lady, and a lot of Americans it does. From here, it looks rather like it is the Obama administration that is saying

"We don't give a sh*t about Israeli opinion, or three thousand years of history, or decisions of the Israeli government. We are an arrogant 800 pound gorilla and we will make you do whatever we want you to do."

Herb Keinon explained the Israeli position very well, though foreigners may not grasp that for most Israelis, Ramat Eshkol and French Hill are as much a part of Israel and Israeli Jerusalem as Pennsylvania avenue is part of Washington DC for Americans. It seems probable however, that it is Keinon who is misreading the American position, rather than the Americans who are misreading the Israeli position. Not only Herb Keinon, but a lot of Israelis may have been misreading the American position on Jerusalem for a long time and have also misunderstood the actual position of the Israeli government and the actual status of Jerusalem as well.

In order for the United States to "misread" the Israeli position on Jerusalem, we would have to assume that Mr. Obama and and his advisors do not know any of the following:

1. Jerusalem was the ancient capital of the Jewish people and has been a central part of Jewish culture in exile. President Obama held a Passover Seder at which he and other attendees presumably read from the Haggadah, including the pledge at the end "Next year in Jerusalem." He had to know that for Jews, this city is not like some town in the West Bank - it is not the same as Efrat, or Ariel or even Gush Etzion.

2. A sizeable Jewish community had lived in what Palestinian Arabs like to call "Arab East Jerusalem" - inside the old city in fact, for hundreds of years before being ethnically cleansed in 1948.

3. Jerusalem does not have the same status in international law as the rest of the West Bank. The United Nations partition plan called for Jerusalem to be internationalized. It was never supposed to be part of any Palestinian Arab state. The Palestinian claims of a "right" to a capital in East Jerusalem based on "international legitimacy" are completely bogus and without foundation. Subsequent UN resolutions reaffirmed the international status of Jerusalem in law, even though it was de facto divided and the eastern part was illegally annexed to Jordan. For example, UN General Assembly Resolution 303 reaffirmed that Jerusalem is a "corpus separatum." The international status of Jerusalem - fictional as it may be, has also been recognized in security council resolutions, which have the status of international law. Therefore it is not possible that the US doesn't know that settlement construction in Jerusalem is different from settlement construction in the West Bank.

4. Mr. Obama and Mrs Clinton both must know that the The Clinton Bridging Proposalsrecognized the special status of Jerusalem and called for the Jewish neighborhoods to remain under Israeli sovereignty.

5. Presumably, even the U.S. intelligence services, admittedly not too knowledgeable about the Middle East, at least monitor the Jerusalem Day declarations of every Israeli Prime Minister, all of whom pledge that "United Jerusalem is Israel's capital. Jerusalem was always ours and will always be ours. It will never again be partitioned and divided." in those or similar words. Yithak Rabin said, in October of 1995, "First and foremost, united Jerusalem …as the capital of Israel under Israeli sovereignty." Mr Obama and his team had to know that for Israelis, Jerusalem is not just another settlement. They had to know that this issue is political dynamite.

American politicians must also know that these declarations of Israeli leaders are not just political hot air on the same order as the "unbreakable bond" between the United States and Israel, to be trotted out on festive occasions. Too much blood was spilled in Jerusalem for the Israeli position to melt away in the face of political expediency.

But perhaps Israelis have also been misled by our own leaders.and have misread the situation. Most Israelis, and many others, have the impression that Israel annexed East Jerusalem either in 1967 or in 1980, when the Knesset passed the Basic Law: Jerusalem.

The 1967 laws, Law and Administration Ordinance (Amendment No. 11) Law, 1967 and Law and Administration Order (No. 1) of 28 June 1967, extended Israeli juridiction to the area added to the Jerusalem municipality, but these related to internal Israeli law and did not make any declaration regarding the international status of Jerusalem.

Likewise, the 1980 Basic Law simply declares that United Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. The word "annexation" is not used, the 1948 law regarding annexation is not referenced. The law does not even mention anything about the citizenship status of non-Israeli Arabs living in Jerusalem. This is the entire law, which the government of Menachem Begin passed with so much fanfare:

1. Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel.


2. Jerusalem is the seat of the President of the State, the Knesset, the Government and the Supreme Court.

3. The Holy Places shall be protected from desecration and any other violation and from anything likely to violate the freedom of access of the members of the different religions to the places sacred to them or their feelings towards those places.


4. (a) The Government shall provide for the development and prosperity of Jerusalem and the well-being of its inhabitants by allocating special funds, including a special annual grant to the Municipality of Jerusalem (Capital City Grant) with the approval of the Finance Committee of the Knesset.

(b) Jerusalem shall be given special priority in the activities of the authorities of the State so as to further its development in economic and other matters.

(c) The Government shall set up a special body or special bodies for the implementation of this section.

The law is at least very ambiguous. There is no other law that annexed east Jerusalem. Jerusalem is therefore suspended in a sort of legal vacuum in Israeli law. Even that timid attempt to assert Israeli internal jurisdiction over east Jerusalem evoked an international storm of protest. The United Nations Security Council repudiated the law in Resolution 478, a kind of backhanded admission that Israel annexed or tried to annex Jerusalem. The United States abstained; it did not veto the resolution. All foreign governments moved their embassies out of Jerusalem. The United States never had an embassy in Jerusalem. Those "enthusiasts" who are pressing for Israeli annexation of parts or all of the West Bank should take into account that is doubtful if Israel even annexed east Jerusalem, and even that is not recognized by any other government.

American leaders did not "misread" Israeli opinion. Israeli leaders, of the right as well as those of the left, are fully cognizant of international opinion and United States policy regarding Jerusalem. They know very well that the US embassy has remained in Tel Aviv, and that the United States will not register "Israel" as the country of birth of any American born there, and they know exactly why. Israeli leaders have taken it into account even while making the most adamant assertions about Jerusalem to the Israeli public.

The difference of opinion between the US and Israel regarding Jerusalem seems to be something unpleasant that in fact everyone knows, but nobody usually talks about, something like a toilet in Victorian society, or an embarrassing relative who is never mentioned in polite company. Each side jockeys for position and pushes the envelope to see how far it can be pushed. The United States knew exactly what it was doing in insisting on stopping construction in east Jerusalem, and the Netanyahu government knew exactly what it is doing by announcing construction in Gilo. Isn't it time that the Israeli public understood and admitted the real situation, and isn't it time that the American public, especially American Jews, understood how Israelis feel about Jerusalem?

Ami Isseroff

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Palestinians: No rights for Israel in East Jerusalem

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2009/04/palestinians-no-rights-for-israel-in.html

This is the Palestinian position:

There will be no peace whatsoever unless East Jerusalem – with every single stone in it – becomes the capital of Palestine.

Yasser Arafat said to Clinton defiantly: "I will not be a traitor. Someone will come to liberate it after 10, 50, or 100 years. Jerusalem will be nothing but the capital of the Palestinian state, and there is nothing underneath or above the Haram Al-Sharif except for Allah." That is why Yasser Arafat was besieged, and that is why he was killed unjustly.

In November 2008… Let me finish… Olmert, who talked today about his proposal to Abu Mazen, offered the 1967 borders, but said: "We will take 6.5% of the West Bank, and give in return 5.8% from the 1948 lands, and the 0.7% will constitute the safe passage, and East Jerusalem will be the capital, but there is a problem with the Haram and with what they called the Holy Basin." Abu Mazen too answered with defiance, saying: "I am not in a marketplace or a bazaar. I came to demarcate the borders of Palestine – the June 4, 1967 borders – without detracting a single inch, and without detracting a single stone from Jerusalem, or from the holy Christian and Muslim places. This is why the Palestinian negotiators did not sign

This claim made below is false:

East Jerusalem is an occupied area, just like Khan Yunis, Jericho, and Nablus were. Its status in international law will never be anything else. Therefore, any arrangements regarding East Jerusalem are categorically unacceptable.

The truth is that under international law, according to UN Security Council resolution 252 of 1968, passed following the Six Day War, and reaffirming several previous resolutions, Jerusalem does not have the same status as the rest of the "West Bank" at all. Jerusalem is a corpus separatum that was to have been an internationalized area. It was occupied illegally by Jordan. It is a myth that East Jerusalem is "Arab East Jerusalem." Jews lived in the Old City of Jerusalem for hundreds of years until they were ethnically cleansed from Jerusalem in 1948. According to international law, there is no reason to favor Arab sovereignty in East Jerusalem over Israeli sovereignty.

Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erekat: Abu Mazen Rejected the Israeli Proposal in Annapolis Like Arafat Rejected the Camp David 2000 Proposal

Following are excerpts from a TV debate with chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, which aired on Al-Jazeera TV on March 27, 2009.

Saeb Erekat: I am sitting in Jericho, in the house where I was born, four kilometers from the Jordan River, and there are Israeli flags from the Jordan River all the way to the Mediterranean Sea. Therefore, we are living under Israeli occupation. But let me say that Jerusalem has not been – and will not be – lost. 300,000 Palestinian citizens live in Jerusalem.

[…]

Jerusalem has not gone anywhere. Jerusalem is here to stay – in the same place throughout the ages. The important thing is for us to return and to liberate Jerusalem.

[…]

It is true that the negotiations continued for many years, but don't you know that President Yasser Arafat was besieged in Camp David and was killed unjustly, only because he adhered to Jerusalem, and because he refused to let the Israeli measures on the ground give rise to any [Israeli] right or any [Palestinian] obligation? The Palestinian negotiators could have given in in 1994, 1998, or 2000, and too months ago, brother Abu Mazen could have accepted a proposal that talked about Jerusalem and almost 100% of the West Bank, but it is not our goal to score points against one another here. Our strategic goal, when we strive for peace, is not to do so at any price. We strive for peace on the basis of an Israeli withdrawal to the June 4, 1967 borders, the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem as its capital, and with the West Bank and the Gaza Strip geographically connected.

[…]

There will be no peace whatsoever unless East Jerusalem – with every single stone in it – becomes the capital of Palestine.

[…]

In my family, we are seven siblings. My six brothers and sisters are in the diaspora. But this does not deny them the right to inherit this land. Ten million Palestinians own Palestine, just like I do. Our survival and steadfastness on this land, our wresting of an independent Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital – this is what we can achieve in our generation.

[…]

Let me recount two historical events, even if I am revealing a secret. On July 23, 200, in his meeting with President Arafat in Camp David, President Clinton said: "You will be the first president of a Palestinian state, within the 1967 borders – give or take, considering the land swap – and East Jerusalem will be the capital of the Palestinian state, but we want you, as a religious man, to acknowledge that the Temple of Solomon is located underneath the Haram Al-Sharif." Yasser Arafat said to Clinton defiantly: "I will not be a traitor. Someone will come to liberate it after 10, 50, or 100 years. Jerusalem will be nothing but the capital of the Palestinian state, and there is nothing underneath or above the Haram Al-Sharif except for Allah." That is why Yasser Arafat was besieged, and that is why he was killed unjustly.

In November 2008… Let me finish… Olmert, who talked today about his proposal to Abu Mazen, offered the 1967 borders, but said: "We will take 6.5% of the West Bank, and give in return 5.8% from the 1948 lands, and the 0.7% will constitute the safe passage, and East Jerusalem will be the capital, but there is a problem with the Haram and with what they called the Holy Basin." Abu Mazen too answered with defiance, saying: "I am not in a marketplace or a bazaar. I came to demarcate the borders of Palestine – the June 4, 1967 borders – without detracting a single inch, and without detracting a single stone from Jerusalem, or from the holy Christian and Muslim places. This is why the Palestinian negotiators did not sign…

TV host: Okay…

Saeb Erekat: This is the Palestinian position.

TV host: But let's return to Camp David. When you were in the meetings with Shlomo Ben-Ami… After two weeks of meetings between Barak, Arafat, and Clinton, which led to nothing, there was a meeting in which you proposed that there be [Palestinian] sovereignty, with arrangements in the Old City, including the Haram Al-Sharif. In other words, you proposed Palestinian sovereignty, with Israel playing a role in the administrative aspects. In other words, Israel would participate in the administration of the Haram area – unlike the "reduced sovereignty" demanded by Shlomo Ben-Ami at that meeting. In other words, you wanted to let [Israel] play a role, one way or another, with regard to the so-called Holy Basin.

Saeb Erekat: They will never have this. Like President Abu Mazen said in front of President Bush and PM Olmert: I am not in a marketplace or a bazaar. East Jerusalem is an occupied area, just like Khan Yunis, Jericho, and Nablus were. Its status in international law will never be anything else. Therefore, any arrangements regarding East Jerusalem are categorically unacceptable.

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