Archive for Israel

The Israeli Timebomb

Posted in Arab, Gaza and Hamas, Iran, Islamic Revolution, Israel, Modern World, Muslim, Netanyahu, Nuclear Weapons, Obama, Palestine, United Nations with tags , , , , , , on 12/12/2009 by floroy1942

Once again Israel and it’s stance against the Palestinians have hit the headlines. This week settlers have been accused of damaging a mosque in the village of Yasuf, and leaving behind graffiti. It would seem there is little doubt about their guilt. The crux of the whole problem in this Middle-East conflict seems to be three sided; the extremists who consider the whole of the West Bank theirs by right; the Government which is trying to satisfy the international community by curbing settlements in the area, and the Palestinians who have lived there for over a century.

Under International Law, all settlements in the West Bank are considered illegal because it is Palestinian land under the United Nations charter of 1947 that first formed the country of Israel in modern times. The Palestinians had the land for thirteen hundred years before that, and claim it as their own. So who is right?

The Israeli’s lay claim over the land in accordance with the Bible which states that Israel, including the West Bank, is ‘The Promised Land’. However, the land has changed hands many times since Moses led his people there. It was conquered  by the Romans, Byzantines, Islam, the Crusaders, the Mamluk Dynasty and the Ottomans to name but a few.

Following the First World War, Britain administered Palestine on behalf of the League of Nations until 1948 when Israel proclaimed independence. It was only the horror of the Holocaust in World War 2, and the need to find somewhere for all the Jewish refugees to call home, that prompted the fledgling United Nations to proclaim the existence of Israel as the Jewish homeland in 1947. The boundaries were laid  by UN Charter and Jews from all over war torn Europe flocked there in their tens of thousands.

The main point of all this is, the land has been one of the most contested in history, and say what you will, but lands taken so often by war preclude any biblical claim by the Jewish settlers. A look at a map of the region shows that half of Palestine has been taken over by Jewish settlements, many of which are on land stolen from the Palestinians.

The Israeli government removed all settlements in Gaza in 2005 which caused an uproar within the country, but to try this with the West Bank could probably result in civil war within the country. The settlements on the West Bank have become so numerous, and spread so wide, that the situation will never be resolved to the satisfaction of the International Community and the Palestinians. Despite attempts by the government to halt building on Arab land the settlers refuse to listen and continue to take land for themselves.

The red areas on the map indicate the huge swathes of Palestine where the local people have severely restricted or no access due to restrictions placed upon them by these communities in the name of security. Roads are controlled by the settlers, and access to areas near settlements is forbidden to most Palestinians. I have to ask; Is this is what God intended when he told Moses to lead his people to the ‘Promised Land’?

It makes you wonder what the reaction would be if e.g. Mexicans started building homes and settlements in Texas and then closed off the roads and areas around them to all Americans? I think we would see war between Mexico and America in a very short time if these moves were supported by the Mexican government. Just as the Jews lay biblical claim to the land of Palestine, the Mexicans have an historical claim to parts of the southern United States. So what is the difference?

To say that one party is right over the other is difficult in the charged atmosphere that has surrounded this issue for decades. President Obama is the latest in a long line of U.S Presidents who have tried to resolve the conflict, and he does not seem to be making any headway either. The main reason is clearly the settlers refusal to accept restrictions on building on Arab land. This mosque attack is only the latest indication of that.

The Israeli government is also guilty insofar as they have sanctioned, and in some cases actively encouraged  the building of Jewish homes on Arab land for several decades. To now do an about face in the light of international pressure is paramount to suicide for the government. Another factor is the Jewish population living on Arab land is now in excess of 300,000. To forcibly remove such a number of militant settlers would require the Israeli Army as it did in Gaza.

Jewish males and females are required to do their national service, and the number of serving recruits who have grown up in the settlements is growing. As a consequence, one of the additional problems facing the government is they can no longer guarantee the co-operation of the army for fear of a mutiny. Soldiers have already refused to fight in Gaza, and remove settlers from small outposts ordered closed down by the government. So in reality there is little chance the army could be persuaded to remove 300,000 settlers and tear down their houses. And so it goes on.

The Israeli government is caught between the proverbial ‘rock and a hard place’, because it must be seen to satisfy the demands of the Arab World and the International Community, but at the same time cannot go against the strength of feeling within its borders on the settlement question.

The possibility of a lasting solution to the Jewish/Palestinian problem is yet a long way ahead, and I doubt if President Obama will have any more success than his predecessors. I commend him for trying, but so long as the settlement question remains unsolved I see no end to the dispute. With Iran obviously attempting to become a nuclear power perhaps they are the ones who will finally solve the crisis. I hope not for all our sakes.

Some problems can only be solved by time, lots of it!

Roy.

A Missed Opportunity.

Posted in Israel, Netanyahu, Obama, Palestine with tags , , , , , on 15/06/2009 by floroy1942

With his speech yesterday, Binjamin Netanyahu the Israeli Premier, stood on the dockside and watched the ‘Peace Boat’ sail without him. Most people were not expecting any earth-moving changes to the Israeli stance on a Palestinian State, and they were not disappointed.

Apart from a reference to the existence of a Palestinian State, which clearly had to be dragged out of him, he didn’t make a single move that could be called constructive when it came to ending the dispute. Both the USA and European governments voiced muted acceptance of the speech, stating that at least the recognition for a Palestinian State was “a step in the right direction”.

Netanyahu called for a de-militarised State for Palestinians with no control over its airspace, and recognition by the Palestinians of a ‘Jewish State’. This latter statement alone was not acceptable to any of the Arab countries listening. It would mean that refugees from the 1948 founding of Israel would have no right of return to their ancestral home, or as many fear, be second class citizens in a state for Jews.

The speech made no reference to the removal of Jewish settlements on Palestinian land, much of it stolen, and all declared illegal by the United Nations, the EU and USA. It is clear this speech was an attempt to defuse the tension between President Obama and the Israeli’s on the settlement situation. In that I am sure it failed miserably.

President Obama, quite rightly in my view, has insisted that all settlement enlargement on Palestinian land be halted immediately. If you read my post of June 3rd you will see a UN map of the restrictions placed on Palestinians in the West Bank. Not only have the Israeli’s taken over huge tracts of land for the settlements, but severely restricted Palestinian access and travel to more than half of the West Bank (see map-Orange area).

It would be like England taking over half of Ireland, or the USA taking half of Mexico, and saying the local people can neither live nor travel in these areas because of ‘our’ security.

Firstly, I believe Israel does have a right to exist right where it is, but the Israeli hard-line Right attitude of, “It all belonged to us two thousand years ago” will not hold water. Netanyahu’s problem is that this grouping in The Knesset is very strong, and if he wishes his government to remain in power he cannot be seen to make concessions on the settlements. This puts him on a direct collision course with not only the Arab World and The Palestinians, but with the Obama camp. Obama can also not be seen to give in on his demand for all settlement activity to stop, because he made a promise to the Muslim world in his Cairo speech, and let’s face it, why should he, they are all illegal under International Law.

This in effect brings us back to the age-old impasse that has been going on for more than half a century. While I have a certain sympathy with the Israeli cause for a homeland, I cannot approve of the way they have being doing things for the last thirty years at least. I have often come out on the side of Israel’s right to defend itself against attacks by the likes of Hamas and Hezbollah, and I still believe that to be true. Israel has had to fight for its very existence on several occasions and I agree with that, but the current atmosphere is of Israeli making because of their intransigence with regard to the settlements which they believe is their right because of history.

I have to say that were it my choice, all the settlements would be turned over to the Palestinians lock, stock, and barrel! The Israeli’s have no right to be there, and for them to continue in existence would be pure land theft on a grand scale.

I can imagine the outcry if American citizens started building townships on Mexican or Canadian soil along the border and banned the locals from entering this territory. Imagine if you will that all nations acted in this way, WW3 here we come. But the Israeli’s have gotten away with it for the past forty years! Incredible!!

Before any progress can be made towards a lasting settlement of the Israeli/Palestinian question the problem of the settlements has to be addressed by the Knesset.

Last but not least, Netanyahu did not give any ground on the question of Jerusalem. He told his audience, and the world, that the city would remain in Jewish Hands. The Palestinians of course want their Capitol to be in Jerusalem as do the Jews. So once again we have an impasse.

According to the original boundary’s laid down for the State of Israel by the United Nations in 1947, the border runs through the city with Jews and Palestinians sharing. If Jesus were to return today and see the turmoil surrounding this Holy City he would be livid!

I fear this is a problem that will go on and on. I wish President Obama luck in his attempt and I hope he succeeds. I believe the answer lies with the US President and Government, for only they have the power to make the Israeli’s come to the negotiating table with real gifts of compromise. Without the backing of America Israel will become a smoking hole, especially if the Iranians get nuclear weapons, although the Israeli Government may not let it get that far. If they do attack Iran and knock out their nuclear capability, they will bring upon themselves the wrath of the entire Arab and Muslim world, although I think in private many will be relieved.

I do not wish to reiterate my suggested solution to the problems here, for that you would need to read my earlier posts, but suffice it to say, at the moment the whole argument is going nowhere, and things will not improve until Israel starts facing up to reality instead of the past.

Abraham, your people need you – again!

Roy.

Israel – Obama’s Dilemma

Posted in Israel, Obama, Palestine, Six Day War with tags , , , , on 03/06/2009 by floroy1942

No-one in their right mind would think President Obama is looking forward to a direct confrontation with Israel, but things seem to be headed in that direction.

After recent discussions between the President and Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel, in which Obama made it plain that all West Bank settlement construction must cease, it would appear the Israeli Government is not prepared to play ball.

Since his return to Israel, Prime Minister Netanyahu has made it clear they will stick to an agreement made with George W. Bush, i.e. that construction would be restricted to ‘natural growth’ in established settlements. This can be interpreted to mean; We will continue to build and expand all existing settlements, but we promise not to start any more!

Both sides of the argument are easy to understand. On the one hand, President Obama cannot be seen by the Arab World to be favouring the Israeli’s, while on the other, any attempt by the Israel government to halt construction would mean their downfall, with perhaps even more serious repercussions.

You have to look a long way back in history to find the Israeli justification for the settlements. They say the West Bank and Gaza was their land two thousand years ago, which gives them the right to build. The fact that the land has belonged to the Palestinians since then is, in their eyes, irrelevant.

There is a comparison to Argentina claiming the Falkland Isles and Spain claiming Gibraltar from Britain, both of which were taken by the British three hundred years ago by conflict. In today’s world you cannot claim something because it used to be yours centuries ago. I do not think the case for the Israeli settlers under those rules is acceptable.

The settlements first began some time after the 1967 Six-Day War with Syria, Jordan, and Egypt. For a time the Israeli Government would not allow settlements to be built, but this rule was relaxed and eventually it actively participated in the plan. With regard to the West Bank, religious Zionists claimed the lands of ‘Judea and Samaria’ (ancient Jewish lands) had finally been liberated, while the Government thought building the settlements would give them an extra bargaining chip at any future negotiations. For the Military, it was an opportunity to have a buffer zone between Israel and its Arab neighbours, Jordan and Syria.

On the accompanying UN map, the orange areas mark places in the West Bank that are restricted or forbidden for Palestinians. Many of the roads that service the Jewish communities have military roadblocks and are forbidden to local Palestinian people. Most of the world population is not aware of these measures taken by the Israeli’s. You must also bear in mind that all the settlements, and the travel restrictions placed on the Palestinians, have been pronounced illegal by the United Nations and the International Courts of Justice under International Law.

President Obama arrived in Saudi Arabia today on an official visit, prior to giving what will probably be his most important speech so far. He will leave Saudi for Egypt where he will address the Arab World, and possibly the subject of Israel will come up. This speech is eagerly awaited by the whole Arab and Muslim World, and I am sure they will judge him, and his intentions, on it. Successive US presidents have tried to settle the thorny issue of the Israeli Palestinian conflict, but none have yet come up with the magic formula.

Whatever happens, the settlements will remain at the heart of the solution. One only has to look at a map of the West Bank showing their locations to realise that Israeli settlers have colonised much of the West Bank as far as the Jordanian border, and as some Jewish web sites record, a proportion of them are on land stolen from the Palestinians. There is no way you can justify this!

Ideally, all these towns and villages built by Israeli’s in the West Bank must be torn down and their residents rehoused inside the 1967 borders of Israel. When you consider that in excess of half-a-million people now live in the occupied areas, it must seem impossible.

President Abbas of the West Bank Palestinians stated during his visit to Washington that he is no longer prepared to talk of peace until the building programme on the West Bank is halted. This seems a reasonable request considering how vast the Israeli occupation of the West Bank is and it’s illegal status. Unfortunately for Obama, he must walk a tightrope between the two.

While he is reaching out to the Muslim world in a way no previous president ever has, he must be mindful he doesn’t alienate the Jewish State, especially with Iran’s nuclear ambitions in the mix, and the threat of an Israeli ‘solution’ to the problem.

So what is the answer to this half-century old problem? Could there in fact ever be a Palestinian State in co-existence with an Israeli State recognised by the Arab World? Personally, I think yes, but it will take many years and a lot of soul-searching and tough action by the Israeli Government.

In 2005 the Israeli Government removed all the settlements in the Gaza Strip by force and rehoused its citizens within it’s borders. The same is possible logistically for the West Bank, but it would be a huge undertaking. Any who refused to be removed could have the right to become citizens of Palestine. One measure that could force many to leave would be the withdrawal of protection by the Israeli Armed Forces.

Of course there is also the option of the land of Israelistine being run by a joint Jewish/Palestinian government with Arabs and Jews living side by side in harmony. Now wouldn’t that be a miracle!

Whatever happens, eventually common sense must prevail, and both sides will realise they cannot go through the rest of eternity at each others throats. Either that or the Iranians will solve the problem for them.

I wish President Obama success in his mission.

Roy.

How Do We Solve The Arab-Israeli Conflict?

Posted in Arab, Britain, England, Europe, Gaza and Hamas, Human Rights, Israel, Justice, Muslim, Netanyahu, Obama, Palestine, President, Religion, Six Day War, Terrorism, UK, UN, United Nations, USA with tags , , on 21/05/2009 by floroy1942

For sixty-one years the Israeli’s and Palestinians have been at each others throats, and what has been achieved? The answer is, nothing!

The divisions are now as deep as they were in November 1947 when the United Nations decided to form a partitioned homeland for the Jews in Palestine.

This was not as arbitrary as it may sound. Europe was awash with Jewish refugees from the infamous Nazi concentration camps, and there was a historical precedent for the positioning of a Jewish State in Palestine, namely ancient Judea, the original Jewish lands of biblical times.

Judea had been conquered by the Assyrians, Babylonians, and Byzantines among others, before eventually being made part of the Ottoman empire in 1516, to which it belonged until the 20th Century. Each conqueror tried to remove the Jews from the land and almost succeeded, but a small number always managed to remain around Galilee.

Following the United Nations decree, Israel declared independence on the 14th of May 1948 and the new Jewish state was born. Since then, a continuous conflict has been raging between the Jews, Palestinians, and bordering Arab nations.

Several wars were fought between Israel and its Arab neighbours, and each time Israel came out on top. This led to the formation of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) under Yasser Arrafat in the late sixties-early seventies, which carried out devastating attacks against Jews and Jewish interests world-wide, including the killing of the Israeli Olympic Athletic Team at the 1972 Summer Games.

In 1967 Syria, Jordan and Egypt massed armies on Israel’s borders, but were defeated in a pre-emptive strike by Israeli Forces in what is now referred to as the Six-Day War. Israel occupied the Left Bank, the Golan Heights, Gaza, and Sinai peninsular to the Red Sea. There followed another war in November 1973 when they were again attacked. Once more Israel carried the day, despite suffering heavy losses.

Later that same year, the Egyptian President Anwar Sadat became the first leader of an Arab country to recognize Israel’s right to exist, and signed a peace accord. He was later assassinated by members of the Egyptian military during a parade.

Since that time, several US Presidents, and many different governments have tried, and failed, to get the two sides to agree on a solution to the problems. But what are the problems?

They are, not necessarily in order of importance, the return of Israel to the pre-1967 war boundary’s i.e. return of the West Bank and Gaza to Palestinian control, the Golan heights to Syria and the Sinai to Egypt, removal of all Israeli settlements on Arab land, and the return of East Jerusalem to the Palestinians.

Each of these have been rejected by successive Israeli governments for a variety of reasons.

First lets look at the boundary’s. Israel insists on having a buffer zone between it and its Arab neighbours, and, there are a large number of Jewish settlements on Palestinian land. Israel would also lose its vital port on the Red Sea, Elat.

Secondly, the removal of all settlements on Arab land would be very unpopular with the settlers, causing widespread condemnation of any government that tried it.

Thirdly, the returning of East Jerusalem to the Palestinians, who also want it as their capitol, is a very thorny issue, being as it is probably the most important religious site in the world. Judaism, Islam and Christianity all lay claim to the city as one of their most holy sites. On top of this, there are 465,000 Jews living mostly in West Jerusalem, and 232,000 Muslims living for the greater part in East Jerusalem.

The Israeli government insists the city remain united under their control and should be their capitol. Meanwhile, the Palestinians insist Israel retreat to its pre-1967 borders, thereby giving up East Jerusalem. Like two dogs fighting over a single bone.

There are without doubt very tough problems to solve, because Israel sees its security as a number one priority, which is understandable; and the Palestinians want their lands back, which is a reasonable request.

Perhaps the biggest stumbling block to a peace deal is purely the length of time this conflict has been going on. So much mistrust and hatred has built up on both sides over the years, that the two sides may never agree on a solution. Then of course there is Hamas.

The Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, has taken a softer line with the Israeli government, and appears more willing to negotiate than Hamas, who refuse to recognise Israels right to exist.

Hamas is a terrorist organization that still continues to attack Israel at every opportunity, most recently evoking a week long attack by Israeli Forces on Gaza after they attacked southern Israel with rockets. The stand Hamas has taken is also responsible for splitting the Palestinian nation.

In my opinion, both sides have to be prepared to make big sacrifices if peace in the Middle East is to be achieved.

With regard to Israel’s safety, I believe the only solution is for the Palestinians to accept a de-militarized zone around Israel until such time as sufficient trust is established. Israel should be allowed an observation post on the Golan Heights to ensure no militarization of the land around the Heights by Syria.

So far as the settlements are concerned, the inhabitants should be given the ultimatum of returning behind Israel’s borders with government financial help, or remain where they are under Palestinian control.

Jerusalem should become an open city, perhaps under UN or joint 50/50 Israeli-Palestinian control, so neither side can claim sovereignty. Both sides will need to find somewhere else for their capitol.

For its part, the Palestinian government, along with Hamas, must recognise Israel as a sovereign state and guarantee its borders.

It may seem to some that Israel is making more concessions than the Palestinians, and that may be true, but if they are to live in security with their neighbours I believe this is the only way. At least both nations will be able to flourish and prosper without the continued threat of war.

I further believe that such an agreement will take the wind from the sails of Iran, who has for decades been fermenting hatred and distrust of the Jewish State, plus arming people like Hamas. If the rest of the Muslim world can accept such an agreement, they in their turn should bring the necessary pressure to bear on this rogue state and bring it into line with the rest of humanity.


Here’s hoping Allah and God can shake hands on this agreement.


Roy.

Gaza – The Dirty War

Posted in Arab, Gaza and Hamas, Insurgents, Islamic Revolution, Israel, Muslim, Netanyahu, Palestine, Religion, Security Council, Sharia Law, Terrorism, Terrorists with tags , , on 25/01/2009 by floroy1942

Once again the news headlines are full of recrimination against Israel for the deaths of children and women in Gaza. Oh how the TV reporters love to show us the suffering of these people, and stir up hatred of the Israeli’s who committed such a barbarous act! BUT! Just stop and think with your mind, and not your heart, about what is going on here.

As a soldier of whatever army, what do you do when someone shoots at you again and again, ducking into the nearest family home, crowded market, or Mosque for cover between attacks? What do you do when an organization like Hamas uses children? What do you do when your enemy fires rockets at your family and friends from the middle of a dense housing area? Something to think about perhaps?. None of this ever gets reported. Why?

Gaza is the worst form of dirty war because the Hamas fighters are cowards who use the dead women and children for propaganda purposes. If anyone is to be vilified in the Media it should be them. It is part of their strategy to get as many civilians, and in particular women and children, killed by the Israeli’s to feed the frenzy of world media that is so gullible as to accept on face value the ‘Facts’.

I like to think the more intelligent among us can see through this smoke-screen, and appreciate what is really happening here.

The Americans had to deal with a similar situation during the Vietnam War, but it has taken the Muslim insurgents to refine this strategy to perfection. Because we are confronted daily with TV pictures of dead and wounded women and children, the general public is up in arms against Israel. Demonstrations left right and centre by people who have never really studied the facts, but are swayed by the news reports.

Think People, Think! You are playing into the hands of the Hamas propaganda machine! If you have thought it through, you should be condemning Hamas for its cowardly strategy, not the Israeli’s for doing the only thing possible in such a situation.

Now the Hamas Leadership has agreed to a truce, probably because, as in the past, they are running short of rockets and ammunition, and a truce is a golden opportunity to replenish. Yet another tragedy of this war.

Everyone wants to open the borders so humanitarian aid can be shipped in, but Hamas always use these situations to re-arm ready for their next offensive. The Israeli Government knows this, and that is why the borders stay sealed. Logical! Also, if the borders remain open for the passage of people, the perpetrators of this atrocity slip into Egypt when the noose tightens, leaving the ordinary Palastinians to face the guns, missiles and bombs .

If Hamas cared anything for what they proclaim to be their goal, ‘The People’, they would come to the table and talk without a weapon in their hand. Instead this ‘No Surrender’, ‘Tit-for-Tat’ war drags on and on for decades. Successive Israeli Governments have offered peace for the region, many U.S. Presidents, and Leaders of other countries, have done their best to solve this crisis, all for nought, because people like Hamas cannot be trusted.

Perhaps they are trying to incite other Muslim countries to fight on their side once again. It is worthy of note that all other Muslim countries, including the West Bank Palestinians, have stayed very quiet about this conflict. Not one is prepared to go to war against Israel for their Palestinian Brothers in Gaza. Why do you think that is?

Sure, we get a little ‘Sabre-rattling’ from countries like Iran now and again, but we all know that for what it is. Could it be they can all see this conflict for what it is?

From reading this blog you may think I am anti-Muslim or pro-Israeli. Nothing could be further from the truth. Like everyone else, I deplore the unnecessary loss of human life, and the terrible conditions of of the Gaza People, but it should be for the people to decide, not the renegades of Hamas.

I do not excuse the mistakes that have been made by Israeli soldiers, these things happen in war. You only have to look at the Americans, whose favourite past-time is shooting at each other. A soldier, in the heat of battle, does make mistakes, and there are those without conscience who kill indiscriminately, or order others to do so. Remember Mei-Lai in Vietnam?. Where a true atrocity has been committed, those concerned should be dealt with in the severest manner.

I have looked at the cold facts and formed an opinion from them, not from sensationalist reporting on the TV News or newspaper reports. Reporters have for years been totally incapable of unbiased reporting of the facts, preferring to go with the most sensational pictures possible in order to gain the biggest slice of a TV audience, or the most readers. Editors love them if it gets more readers for their Rag, or TV News Channel.

I am aware that not everyone will agree with my assesment of this conflict, and I would be interested to hear your views on the subject.

Roy.

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