Tag Archives: Palestinian Authority

Israelis PM seems intent on stirring conflict

As if the non-Jewish neighbors surrounding Israel need any more pretext to feel anxious about the country’s treatment of its Muslim and Christian citizens.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asserted that Israel is a “national state” only to its “Jewish citizens.” The rest of the country, which is surprisingly diverse in its religious and ethnic makeup, doesn’t matter to the Israeli government, or so Netanyahu has implied.

Hold on a minute, Mr. Prime Minister.

Ten years ago I had the honor of visiting Israel for a month. I lived in Israeli citizens’ homes, talked to them candidly about life in that beautiful land and got to understand something I always thought was a source of pride among Israelis. It is that they treat all their citizens — Christians and Muslims as well as Jews — with respect and honor.

Netanyahu is saying something quite different.

According to National Public Radio: The prime minister’s comment set off criticism, debates over Israel’s true nature ā€” and observations that with Israel’s legislative elections now less than a month away, Netanyahu’s provocative language might be calculated to help his Likud Party at the polls.

The Likud is considered one of the hardest of the hard-line parties in Israel. Netanyahu has come to embody Likud’s attitude toward the Palestinian Authority and its occupation of the West Bank.

In a sense, I understand and appreciate Netanyahu’s fear that non-Jewish residents might rebel. Indeed, Israeli armed forces are continually forced to put down resistance in places such as Gaza, which is governed by a party linked closely with Hamas, the infamous terrorist organization.

It is troubling to hear Netanyahu declare that Israel wants only to be the “national state” for its Jewish citizens. The implication is that the Israeli government cares much less about its Christian and Muslim citizens. That clearly is not the message I heard continually in the spring of 2009 while I toured the Holy Land.

It’s provocative. Indeed, the region needs little impetus for violence to erupt. Benjamin Netanyahu, of all people, should understand what such provocation can bring.

Abbas utters shameful anti-Semitic rant

The long-sought “two-state solution” to a lasting peace agreement in the Middle East might have been given a critical punch in the gut because of hideous remarks from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

The Holocaust, Abbas said, was partly caused by the behavior of Jews. According to The Hill: Abbas pointed to the Jews’ “social behavior” and “their social function related to banks and interestā€ in a speech on Monday to the Palestinian National Council.

ā€œFrom the 11th century until the Holocaust that took place in Germany, those Jews ā€” who moved to western and eastern Europe ā€” were subjected to a massacre every 10 to 15 years. But why did this happen? They say: ā€˜It is because we are Jews,ā€™ ā€ Abbas said.

Abbas’s remarks have drawn worldwide condemnation. This came from former Secretary of State John Kerry, who said, via Twitter: These comments are wrong, ugly, and unacceptable – anywhere from anyone – but particularly from anyone who says he wants to be a peacemaker. No excuses for antisemitism: words to be condemned, not explained away.Ā 

And this came from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, gave another anti-Semitic speech. With utmost ignorance and brazen gall, he claimed that European Jews were persecuted and murdered not because they were Jews but because they gave loans with interest.

Indeed, the Abbas’s comments disgrace the cause of the search for peace.

The Holocaust was caused solely by the evil intent of a regime that took control of a sovereign country, Germany, and sought to eradicate Europe of citizens merely because of their religious faith.

For Mahmoud Abbas to somehow lay part of the blame on Jews because of their “social behavior” is like blaming a child for the beating he gets from an adult because he cries too much.


Jerusalem or Tel Aviv? Peace might hang in the balance

Donald John Trump reportedly is about to announce a policy that will move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

What are the stakes? Oh, let’s see. Perhaps it’s the prospect of obtaining a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which also happens to claim Jerusalem as its own.

How I wish the president would rethink what I understand is about to occur.

I spent more than a month in Israel just a few years ago. I got an up-close look at the proximity — the tight quarters — in which Israel must exist with its Palestinian neighbors; indeed, Israel is home to many people of Palestinian descent.

Jerusalem is walled off from the Palestinian Authority because of intense security concerns caused by terrorists who have rained havoc onto Israelis for centuries.

Meanwhile, U.S. diplomats and their staffs have been ensconced in Tel Aviv, which isn’t all that far from Jerusalem, but far enough to avoid many of the direct threats posed to those who live in the holy city.

And in the midst of all this we have the still-remote prospect of a peace agreement that could be struck between Israel and the PA. What in the world might this blatantly aggressive move by the United States to do muck up that effort?

I have little faith that any talks — spearheaded on the U.S. side by Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner — is going to advance even under the best of circumstances. Kushner has zero diplomatic experience and for the life of me I cannot grasp why the president would entrust this hyper-sensitive negotiation to someone only because he is married to a member of the First Family.

Indeed, I am trying to think of any worse move the United States could make that could throw a serious dirt clod into the quest for peace in the region. I keep coming back to a potential decision to place our nation’s embassy in a city that Israel’s sworn enemy claims for itself.

Good grief, Mr. President. Keep our embassy in Tel Aviv. It’s doesn’t take long to drive there from Jerusalem.

Where have you gone, Ivanka and Jared?

It turns out that the president of the United States reportedly is angry that two of his “key advisers” were absent during the run-up to the historic non-vote on a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Donald J. Trump is none too happy about it at that!

The advisers? Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner.

Where were they? They were on a ski vacation. They were absent from the negotiation that took place between Daddy POTUS and his new best friend, House Speaker Paul Ryan, and those stubborn House of Representatives conservatives who torpedoed the legislation.

Here is the Big Question: What on Earth could either of these individuals have done to persuade balky congressmen and women to change their votes? Must anyone remind the president that Ivanka and Jared are political novices, as is the president of the United States himself?

There. I just did remind him. Not that he’ll even see this gentle rhetorical jab, let alone take it to heart.

Ivanka has just acquired a West Wing office, where she’ll work as a sort of unofficial adviser with no specific job description; nor will she draw a federal salary. Kushner already is the president’s point man on U.S.-Israel relations and reportedly plans to play a key role in searching for a comprehensiveĀ peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Are either of them skilled political operatives? Are they experts on health care, on the ACA or on the failed bill to replace it, the American Health Care Act? Do they even have any relationships with congressional naysayers? Umm. Nope.

What could they have done to affect the outcome? Maybe it’s just me, but my hunch is that it would have beenĀ not a damn thing!

So, they took a trip to the mountains to ski and enjoy each other’s company.

Dad didn’t need their “help” in scuttling this bill. He and the speaker did a fine job of it all by themselves.

Oh! And that’s a good thing.

Trump: Who needs a ‘two-state solution’?

Donald J. Trump hasĀ performed yet another amazing diplomatic deed.

While visiting today with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump managed to pull back from the United States’ traditional support for a “two-state solution” in the search for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Trump now all but indicated he’d support a “one-state solution” that doesn’t allow a Palestinian state that could live peacefully with Israel.


I’ve long sought to give Netanyahu support in his fight against terrorists who keep bringing violence to Israel. I believe the Israelis deserve to protect themselves using any means necessary to defeat the forces of evil that seek to destroy their nation.

However, U.S. presidents of both political parties have been correct for decades in seeking a peace agreement that sets up an independent Palestinian state that would function alongside Israel.

I understand fully the difficulty facing Israel and the Palestinians in achieving a full-fledged peace. Terrorist groups operating in Gaza, which is run by the Palestinians, keep launching rockets and other ordnance against Israel. West Bank operatives keep bringing havoc as well.

However, to deny the Palestinians an opportunity to have their own state is an utterly insane strategy. It is counterproductive in the extreme. It would inflame the terrorists and it would result in continued violence, death, mayhem and heartache.

How do the two sides reach a “two-state accord”? I have no idea. Neither do the principals. However, they must continue the effort.

For the president of the United States — as the premier broker in seeking a lasting peace agreement — to forgo the search for such an agreement is irresponsible to a maximum degree.

Welcome aboard, Palestinians

This just in …

High Plains Blogger just recorded two hits from the Palestinian Territories.

That makes 122 countries/sovereign governments that have responded to commentary on this blog.

There might be more from Palestine, given that I like writing about the dispute between the Palestinians and the Israelis. That, and the fact that I’ve actually been to the West Bank, which is governed by the Palestinian Authority.

A little more than 190 countries belong to the United Nations. I’m hoping to hear from all of them. Only about 70 more to go and then we’ll have a worldwide sweep.

Keep reading. Pass it on. Share with your friends.

SCOTUS hands White House an unexpected victory

The Supreme Court has decided that the United States needs to remain neutral in an ancient debate over who controls one of the world’s holiest cities.

The issue is aĀ passport and whether the parents of a child born in Jerusalem could put the word “Israel” on the document’s listing of one’s place of birth.

It’s kind of convoluted. The court — in a 6-3 decision — sided with the executive branch of government, which contended that “Jerusalem” should stand alone onĀ passports, given the contentious nature of the debate over who actually controls the city.


Longstanding policy had stated thatĀ passports marking the place of birth of those who hold themĀ shouldn’t put JerusalemĀ in Israel, as it remains a key sticking point in the on-going dispute between the Israelis and Palestinian Authority.

The American citizens of a boy born in Jerusalem in 2002 wanted hisĀ passport to contain the word “Israel.”Ā Congress enacted aĀ bill declaring that birth certificates could identify the birthplace as Jerusalem, Israel if parents requested. President Bush signed the bill into law, but complained that it interfered with the president’s ability to conduct foreign policy.

The court sided with the executive branch.

I’ve been to Jerusalem.Ā Much of it clearly is inĀ Israel. The Israeli government has its capital there. However, the city also is divided by a large, forbidding wall, on the other side of which is the West Bank, governed by the Palestinian Authority.

The Supreme Court has decided correctly in not interfering in this most sensitive dispute.

As NBC News’s Pete Williams reported: “The administration, under presidents of both parities, has insisted that because sovereignty over Jerusalem is one of the major sticking points in any Middle East peace agreement, the U.S. would remain neutral. Being forced to say that Jerusalem was under the control of Israel, the idea went, would be taking sides.”


Barack and Bibi: Are they actually friends?

OK, so now it turns out that President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have a better relationship than what’s been reported.

Is that the case?


It is, according to Netanyahu.

That’s good to know, given that the United States has so few dependable Middle East allies.

None of them compares with Israel, which has been at our side — and vice versa — since the founding of Israel more than six decades ago.

The supposed tension between the leaders has been the subject of much discussion over the years. Indeed, they’ve appeared to be at odds on occasion as it relates to U.S. views on Israeli settlement-building in the West Bank region and on how to achieve a “two-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.

Netanyahu said Sunday on “Face the Nation” that the relationship is like that of an “old married couple.” He declared that he and the president have a “relationship of mutual respect and mutual appreciation.”

Can we expect them to be BFF’s — best friends, forever? Hardly. Mutual respect and appreciation, though, is pretty darn good in this troubling time in the region of the world where Netanyahu lives and works.

For his part, Obama has made it abundantly clear time and again: The United States stands solidly behind Israel and that alliance is unshakable and unbreakable.

There you have it.

Hamas is the villain … period!

What in the world am I missing here?

Hamas is dedicated to the destruction of Israel. It launched missiles into Israeli neighborhoods, targeting civilians. Israel has responded with brute force. The Israeli counterattack has killed many Palestinians, including children — which, of course, is a tragic consequence of this action.

The United Nations is now criticizing Israel because of the force it has used to seek an end to the terrorist rocket attacks?

Give me a break.


I totally understand that the Palestinians are living in squalor in Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas. I also understand their anger at the Israeli settlements going up there and along the West Bank, which is territory seized by Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War.

However, don’t Israelis want to live in peace alongside their Palestinian neighbors? Haven’t the Israelis been included Palestinian Arabs in their society, even into the government?

I keep coming back to the question: How would the United States react if missiles started flying into cities along our borders with Canada and Mexico?

The world is watching the unraveling of a deeply complicated situation. It does, however, contain a relatively simple solution.

Hamas should lay down its arms, recognize that Israel is going to stay in the region, renounce its ancient hatred of Israel, and then it should get out of the way and let the Palestinian Authority negotiate in good faith a permanent peace treaty with Israel.

Launch a tunnel offensive

Egypt has ratcheted up its campaign against the tunnels that burrow from the Sinai Peninsula into Gaza.

Now, finally, we might be getting somewhere.


The Egyptian army reports it has destroyed 13 more tunnels through which Hamas terrorists are transporting arms — such as rockets — from Egypt into the region governed by the Palestinian Authority. It’s also the origin of the rocket attacks that have resulted in the violence that has killed nearly 1,000 Palestinians and Israelis.

As Yahoo.com reports: “The Palestinian militant group Hamas, which is the main power in Gaza, reportedly uses the tunnels to smuggle arms, food and money into the blockaded coastal enclave.”

Let’s look for a moment at a key element in this struggle.

Israel signed a peace agreement with Egypt during the Carter administration. As such, the treaty bound Egypt with Israel as a de facto ally in the Middle East. To my way of thinking, it then becomes incumbent on Egypt to do what it can to help Israel protect itself.

Doesn’t it make sense, then, for Egypt to do all it can to destroy these passages through which Hamas — one of the world’s most notorious terrorist organizations — wages war against Israel?

That the Egyptians haven’t yet declared their intention to destroy all the tunnels and to do what they can to prevent future construction of them speaks to my own distrust of Egypt’s commitment to the peace agreement it signed with Israel.

It’s good that Hamas’s ties to Egypt have worsened since the ouster of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, an ally of Hamas. Now that Morsi is out of power, the Egyptians will make good on that treaty that should help Israel protect itself against the terrorists who seek to do them so much harm.