Friday, May 27, 2011

Hamas/Nabka/1967 Borders

There have been three major stories in recent weeks involving the Israeli Palestinian conflict. I want to discuss them all in the one post. The first is the reconciliation of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority which occurred shortly after the Bin Laden raid resulting in less international coverage than you might expect. The second was the violence surrounding the Nabka anniversary which many feared would trigger a third intifada. And finally there was the Netenyahu Obama spat at AIPAC, a largely manufactured controversy in my opinion but I want to talk about it nonetheless.

Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.
Most people have interpreted this development as a negative thing and a set back for the Peace Process. It is a reasonable conclusion as Hamas are a ruthless terrorist organisation that intentionally target Israeli civilians. However, since Israeli efforts to defeat the organisation have continually failed and in my opinion will continue to, I believe that some realities have to be faced. I can't help thinking back to Northern Ireland. The SDLP and the UUP (moderate nationalist and loyalist parties) could not make peace together. It took the hard line DUP and Sinn Fein to make it work because they carried everybody with them. One thing we can say about Hamas is that they are disciplined. If Hamas were ever to sign up to a deal you can be fairly sure they will be capable of enforcing it amongst its members. The key as I see it is for Hamas to be moderated, enough to recognise Israel and all previous agreements between the PA and Israel. I hope that all who are intimately involved in the Peace Process recognise the value of encouraging Hamas to moderate by showing them the benefits of recognising Israel and striving for a two state solution. Some will say that I am naive and that I am encouraging appeasement. No, because first of all I would never expect Israel to, and know it never will put itself in a more vulnerable position militarily while Hamas remain fanatically committed to the destruction of Israel, or as they might like to phrase it, the liberation of Tel Aviv. Secondly, the Irish experience has thought us, that talking to terrorists (while not giving into them) is worth while and I will not be interested in listening to anyone who says I am a terrorist sympathiser for saying this any more than John Hume should apologise for secretly having talks with the IRA. In my view the moderation of Hamas is I believe the only realistic objective assuming that a permanent state of conflict is not seen as a viable option for Israel.

President of the Palestinian Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas Prime Minister Ismael Haniyeh have made up since the violent conflict between the two erupted in 2006.

Nabka, the Palestinian word for catastrophe is commemorated in Palestine on May 15th every year in memory of those who were expelled from their homes in 1948. I have always avoided discussions about the demographics of the Holy Land prior to the foundation of Israel in 1948. Mainly because I don't know what they were and I don't trust any source to be objective. The Israelis say the area was dominated by Jews and that the Arabs left for the most part voluntarily where as the Palestinians claim the areas was heavily dominated by Arabs and that they were expelled by force during the 1948 war. The truth is probably somewhere in between. Generally I don't have a problem with Palestinians commemorating the event as it was a moment when many were killed and uprooted but on this occasion I was completely unconvinced. This year the event was I believe a stunt orchestrated by Hamas, Hezbollah but primarily Syria in order to distract attention from the mass murder being committed by the regime in Damascus against its own people. But more importantly it was an effort by Syria to associate the uprisings across the Arab World with the Palestinian cause. It failed, mainly because I see no evidence of a third intifada. And this is simply because the people of Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Yemen, Iran and Bahrain have been demonstrating on their streets, not against Israel but in favour of liberalisation of their authoritarian regimes. Playing the anti Israel card is the last desperate tactic of the despotic scoundrel in Damascus. But that is what Bashar Al Assad did and he is responsible for the 15 people who were killed in the clashes that followed.

Thousands of Arabs gather at the disputed Syrian border with Israel at the Golan Heights.

1967 Borders
President Obama said last week that in the event of a peace agreement between Israel and Palestine, Israel will have to withdraw to its previous border before it conquered the West Bank in 1967. This prompted those who have been claiming for years that Obama is a weak, liberal, anti Israeli and anti Semitic to go into overdrive. Obama said nothing that George Bush had not said, which is that for a two state solution to succeed Israel will have to give back territory. Below is his entire speech delivered to the America Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) last Saturday. It is an excellent speech in my view. The second half addresses the issue of the 1967 borders.

Obama clarifies in the above speech what every honest observer already knew to be true which was that that "1967 lines" involves land swaps as well. The pre 1967 border, in other words the original 1948 line cannot be the border in the event of a peace agreement. This is because Jewish settlements, too large to dismantle have been built on land conquered after 1967. If there is a settlement, Palestine will have to be allocated some land that was actually part of Israel after the 1948 armistice. The exact amount of land will be subject to negotiations. Furthermore the original line is no longer defensible given modern weaponry.It is quite simple really, Israel will never withdraw and rely on the good will of its neighbours not to attack it. They will withdraw when it is safe to do so. It is not safe when your neighbours remain committed to your destruction. If you have any doubt, watch this excellent video which illustrates the military situation that Israel is confronted with at its borders.


thesystemworks said...

Here's a good round-up of the Netanyahu-Obama controversy and why there really wasn't much between them:

Its been an exciting few weeks alright!

Netanyahu did a great interview on Hannity also. I think a lot of Americans would prefer Bibi as President than Obama!

Yusuf said...

Considering Bibi is a war mongering, conversationalist corpocrat your probably right :D

thesystemworks said...

The only Israeli party I ever actively supported was Shinui. I don't like a lot of the Likud, though I know they will be the only party capable of making peace due to the effect Ted described in the post.

Even so, I have always had a soft spot for Netanyahu. I think he's a good man, from a great family and has a real sense of purpose and Jewish identity. He has lost a brother in this conflict and has often fought successfully as an outsider inside Israel and abroad. I didn't see this with Olmert, who I spoke to in Israel at a Birthright Israel event. Olmert was a career politician for a PM, the first in Israeli history. Netanyahu is certainly not.

Ted Leddy said...


Thanks for the link. Thats a great clip that I really think nails it.

Bibi is very popular in the US, even among some on the far left. Bill maher seems to adore him

thesystemworks said...

Sean Hannity jokingly asked if Bibi would consider running in 2012!

Anonymous said...

Here's a Lefty who likes Netanyahu. I also agree, no surprise, that Obama is still a friend of Israel.
Very interesting to hear from a person who lives in an atmosphere not that different from the Israeli/Palestinian situation.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, the Jews say they don't target civilians but have more blood on their hands than Hamas and all the other freedom groups you castigate. Leddy flying the blue and white yet again, eh?

Ted Leddy said...


I am becoming an admirer of Netenyahuu too. I recently read the account of his brothers death in Entebbe. That is some story.

The clip of Hannity and Netenyahu is interesting. He certainly seems to have the US in the palm of his hands. Conservative pundits are always giving him anti Obama bait but he never bites. He is a smart guy, he aways seems to be courting the liberal pro Israeli.

Ted Leddy said...


I don't think Netenyahu is a war monger. But Israel does need to work on its image.

Ted Leddy said...

Thanks Jenny

Always enjoy your comments

Ted Leddy said...


The only flag I fly is the Green White and orange of my own country. But if I do fly the blue and white every now and then, it is because I identify the centuries old Jewish struggle with the Irish one.

Anonymous said...

How dare you sully the good name of the Irish by drawing a link with the pariah Jewish state - have you now shame!

Anonymous said...

The ONLY solution and the ONLY way to bring about lasting peace is for the Jewish settlers to revert to pre-1948 borders!

thesystemworks said...

It wouldn't be very peaceful for the indigenous Jewish nation in the face of Islamic and Arabist supremacism, anonymous.

The British consul in Jerusalem William Young sent fairly chilling report to the British Foreign Office in 1839 on the condition of Jews in the city of Jerusalem in at that time:

‘‘I think it my duty to inform you that there has been a Proclamation issued this week by the Governor in the Jewish quarter — that no Jew is to be permitted to pray in his own house under pain of being severely punished — such as want to pray are to go into the Synagogue…

There has also been a punishment inflicted on a Jew and Jewess — most revolting to human nature which I think it my duty to relate. In the early part of this week, a House was entered in the Jewish Quarter, and a robbery was committed — the House was in quarantine — and the guardian was a Jew — he was taken before the Governor-he denied having any knowledge of the thief or the circumstances. In order to compel him to confess, he was laid down and beaten, and afterwards imprisoned. The following day he was again brought before the Governor, when he still declared his innocence. He was then burned with a hot iron over his face, and in various parts of the body — and beaten on the lower parts of his body to that extent that the flesh hung in pieces from him. The following day the poor creature died. He was a young Jew of Salonica about 28 years of age — who had been here but a very short time, he had only the week before been applying to enter my service.

A young man-a Jew — having a French passport — was also suspected — he fled — his character was known to be an indifferent one — his mother an aged woman was taken under the suspicion of concealing her son — She was tied up and beaten in the most brutal way…

I must say I am sorry and am surprised that the Governor could have acted so savage a part-for certainly what I have seen of him, I should have thought him superior to such wanton inhumanity — but it was a Jew — without friends or protection-it serves well to show, that it is not without reason that the poor Jew, even in the nineteenth century, lives from day to day in terror of his life’’.

As a persecuted minority, Jews had no legal redress, as the report observed:

”Like the miserable dog without an owner he is kicked by one because he crosses his path, and cuffed by another because he cries out – to seek redress he is afraid, lest it bring worse upon him; he thinks it better to endure than to live in the expectation of his complaint being revenged upon him.

Scarcely a day passes that I do not hear of some act of Tyranny and oppression against a Jew — chiefly by the soldiers, who enter their Houses and borrow whatever they require without asking any permission-sometimes they return the article, but more frequently not. In two instances, I have succeeded in obtaining justice for Jews against Turks-But it is quite a new thing in the eyes of these people to claim justice for a Jew-and I have good reason to think that my endeavors to protect the Jews, have been — and may be for some little time to come, detrimental to influence with other classes — Christians as well as Turks….”

Anonymous said...

That was wrong systemworks - but for Jews to have suffered that and then readily submit others to it is abominable. Truly they are a people rightly despised, only the most base amongst us could vindicate their actions - which doesn't say a lot for Leddystone or yourself.

builder man said...

I am astonished by the complete ignorance of the history by some of your bloggers. They could start by reading Jewish historian Ron David's 'Arabs and Israel for beginners' in which he states: 'We stole Palestine
-we stole it. And Jerusalem is NOT the recognised capital of Israel, nor
is their brutal occupation and evictions. If you don't accept International Law (like the Israelis)
then war is inevitable.

builder man said...

After reading the volume of right wing pro Israeli propaganda on this site,I realise how England's rule of Ireland went astray. We were much too
soft.We should have used the Israeli solution. Put up 20' high concrete walls around troublesome areas like the Bogside; only allow them out with
hard to get permits and bomb them like Gaza when they get a bit uppity.
Armed settlements with English only roads. No intermarriage. No justice. Nothing allowed to interfere with the divine right of the English to rule the world. But we had traitors aiding the rebels. Soft lefties who believed in the right of every human being to live in dignity and freedom, who valued and lauded artistic endeavour and the writings of genius. Now all is lost, but at least the Israelis have learnt the lesson and must value your support.

builder man said...

Just in case there are some who have read my remarks and dismissed them as anti-Semitic (aside from the fact that the Palestinians are the majority of true Semitics in the region), I would like to state:
The Jews are a gifted people who have
suffered much for centuries; that nevertheless they have enriched the whole world in every sphere of human endeavour. My admiration for the Jewish people who, both in Israel and in the diaspora, protest
against the brutal and repressive actions of the Israeli government, is boundless. They take real risks
for justice and peace.