Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Will Mahmoud Abbas Reject Israeli Protection? - Steven J. Rosen

by Steven J. Rosen

Palestinian officials have generally been silent about security cooperation with Israel. They are loath to acknowledge how important it is for the survival of the Palestinian Authority [PA], and fear that critics, especially Hamas, will consider it "collaboration with the enemy."
"You smuggle weapons, explosives and cash to the West Bank, not for the fight with Israel, but for a coup against the Palestinian Authority. The Israeli intelligence chief visited me two weeks ago and told me about the [Hamas] group they arrested that was planning for a coup... We have a national unity government and you are thinking about a coup against me." — Mahmoud Abbas, PA President, to Khaled Mashaal, Hamas leader.
According to Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, if the IDF leaves the West Bank, Hamas will take over, and other terrorists groups such as the Islamic Jihad, Al-Qaeda and Islamic State would operate there.
In recent months, Abbas has been making a series of threats against Israel. If Abbas becomes another Arafat, it could be the Israeli side that loses interest in security cooperation.

Shortly after the death of Yasser Arafat on November 11, 2004, and the election of Mahmoud Abbas to the Palestinian Authority [PA] presidency in January 2005, the U.S. Department of State increased its security assistance to the PA and began to promote Palestinian security cooperation with the Israeli security services. The motive was not personal support for Abbas, but a belief that Fatah under Abbas could become a more reliable partner for maintaining order and keeping peaceful relations with Israel.

President Bush had declared in 2002, "The United States will not support the establishment of a Palestinian state until its leaders engage in a sustained fight against terrorists and dismantle their infrastructure. This will require an externally supervised effort to rebuild and reform the Palestinian security services." To establish his leadership, Abbas was determined to have a monopoly over the use of force. So in 2005, the office of the United States Security Coordinator [USSC] for Israel and the Palestinian territories was created to train Palestinian Authority security forces, especially the Palestinian National Security Forces [NSF] and the Presidential Guard.

This process was credited, particularly during the leadership of U.S. Security Coordinator LTG Keith Dayton from 2005-2010, with measurable improvements in the capacity and effectiveness of the Palestinian security services. It led to a great expansion of Palestinian cooperation and enhanced coordination with counterpart Israeli security services. Today, security makes up a sizeable proportion of the PA budget, accounting for 26% of 2013 expenditures. More public servants are now employed in the security sector than in any other sector. Of the 83,000 PA civil servants in the West Bank, 31,000 (37%) are "defense workers." There is now one security person for every 52 Palestinian residents compared to one educator for every 75 residents.

By 2009, General Dayton was able to report that, "The Palestinians have engaged upon a series of what they call security offensives throughout the West Bank, surprisingly well coordinated with the Israeli army, in a serious and sustained effort to return the rule of law to the West Bank and reestablish the authority of the Palestinian Authority."

The head of Israel's Shin Bet, Yuval Diskin, agreed that the Israeli security services "have established a very good working relationship with the [Palestinian Authority's] Preventive Security Organization (PSO) and [its] General Intelligence Organization (GIO)." Diskin added that the PSO shares with his agency "almost all the intelligence that it collects." The Palestinian Authority, he said, "understands that Israel's security is central to their survival in the struggle with Hamas in the West Bank."
In April 2010, the government of Israel submitted an official report on enhanced Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation to the international Palestinian donors' group, known as the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee [AHLC], which stated:
"Growing coordination between Israeli and Palestinian security forces enabled Israel to take significant steps to help improve the security capacity of the Palestinian Security Forces (PSF)...This reflects an understanding that the higher the level of security reached on the ground... the less Israel will need to act on the ground... A mechanism for enhanced coordination has also been established between the two sides. Priority requests are now processed within just a few minutes. In 2009, coordinated operations numbered 1,297, a 72% increase over 2008."
A year later Israel reported that, in 2011, 764 joint security meetings were held between Israeli and Palestinian security authorities. Israel's Ministry of Justice maintains ongoing relations with its Palestinian counterpart, and the Israeli security network maintains close ties with General Dayton.
Although there has been little public acknowledgement, the Palestinian and Israeli forces have developed an elaborate system of detailed security cooperation. Israel produces a great volume of intelligence that is essential for early warning of terrorist threats. Unit 8200, the Central Collection Unit of the Israeli Intelligence Corps, comprising several thousand soldiers, monitors phone calls, emails, and other communication, and maintains covert listening units in the West Bank. In addition, Israel's Shin Bet has a network of Palestinian informers in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, who help target militants and tip off security services to imminent attacks. Important pieces of the Israeli intelligence are shared with Palestinian security services, facilitating preventive action to interdict terrorist plots before they can be consummated.

On enforcement, the two sides share the burden of arresting and detaining Hamas and other militants in the West Bank. Sometimes, Israel asks the Palestinian agencies to perform the arrests, while in other cases the Palestinians stand aside while special IDF forces arrest them. As of August 2014, 5,505 Palestinian security detainees and prisoners, more than 90% of whom were from the West Bank, were held in Israel's Ofer, Ktzi'ot, and Megiddo prisons.

On the PA side, according to one study, Palestinian security services detained 13,271 Palestinians during the years 2007-2011, an average of 2,654 per year, although many were released without prosecution. Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said, "We counted 1,040 cases that were handled by the Palestinian security services in 2013. How many of them went to trial? Zero." In the same period, Ya'alon said, Israel had arrested some 3,000 Palestinians, many of whom were later imprisoned.

Palestinian Silence about Security Cooperation

Palestinian officials have generally been silent about security cooperation with Israel. They are loath to acknowledge how important it is for the very survival of the Palestinian Authority. There is also a fear that internal critics -- especially Hamas -- will disparage coordination as "collaboration with the enemy." In 2011, Said Abu Ali, then minister of interior in the Palestinian provisional government, emphasized in a leaked cable that it was "necessary" that the security collaboration with the Israelis remain confidential: "Keep them [the contacts] out of the public eye."

Shlomi Eldar, a seasoned Israeli observer of Palestinian affairs, explained that, "Throughout the years, the Palestinians had one absolutely necessary condition... They demanded that security cooperation remained absolutely secret, [especially] exchanges of intelligence information that led to the arrest of suspects for activities against Israelis. The authority's security men did not want to be perceived by the West Bank population as Israeli collaborators."

On rare occasions, when he is under pressure from the international community, PA President Mahmoud Abbas has felt obligated to defend security cooperation with Israel as a necessity because it serves "the Palestinian national interest". Even then, he is defensive. In a speech to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation on June 18, 2014, he said, "We don't want to go back to chaos and destruction, as we did in the second [Palestinian] intifadah. I say it openly and frankly. We will not go back to an uprising that will destroy us." He used another formulation in 2010, "We are not Israel's security guards. We are partners. If they want us to cooperate, then we stand ready to do that within the limits of our national interests." And he waxes almost enthusiastic when he assures Jewish leaders, as he did on May 31, 2014: "The security relationship [with Israel]…and I say it on air, security coordination is sacred, sacred. And we will continue it whether we disagree or agree over policy."

A spokesman for the Israeli Defense Forces, Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, observed dryly that the Palestinians "don't operate out of our interest, but they operate out of their own interests. We have a mutual concern with Hamas terrorism." In interviews with Palestinian security officials, the independent International Crisis Group found, that "The PA believes that the... realm in which the IDF truly facilitates its work is the one where there is... a true convergence of interests, namely the fight against Hamas and other militant groups."

Mahmoud Abbas Threatens to Cancel Security Cooperation

Recent events have put a strain on the security cooperation that Dayton built in 2005-2010. 50 days of fighting in Gaza, from July 8 to August 26, 2014, resulted in over 2,100 Palestinian fatalities and vast physical destruction, changing the climate for relations with Israel. Many Palestinians in the West Bank as well as Gaza were heartened by the fact that Hamas was able to launch 4,564 rockets and mortars from Gaza into the Israeli heartland, even though few found their targets. Hamas was seen as an effective fighting force standing up to the Israelis, while the Palestinian Authority was dismissed as ineffectual. Many voices were raised calling on Abbas to adopt a more militant posture toward Israel and to end his cooperation with the hated "Israeli regime".

Under this pressure, in recent months PA President Mahmoud Abbas has been making a series of threats against Israel, even including the idea that he will terminate the security cooperation with Israel if his political demands are not met. On August 21, 2014, he said that he had told Israeli Shin Bet chief Yoram Cohen, "If [the U.S.] does not agree [to Palestinian demands], we will stop security coordination and cooperation with Israel," and repeated the threat publicly in a press briefing at his Ramallah office on October 1, 2014 .

Israel Warned Abbas that Hamas Was Plotting a Coup

Abbas, however, has ample evidence that this security cooperation he is threatening to cancel is at least as important to his security, and to control of the territory by Fatah and the PA, as it is to Israel. Just weeks ago, in a private meeting that was transcribed and leaked, Abbas told Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani that Israeli security forces had discovered and thwarted a Hamas plot to overthrow his government in the West Bank. His own words were:
"The Israeli intelligence chief [Yoram Cohen, head of Shin Bet, the Israel Security Agency] came to me two weeks ago in Ramallah... He told me I want to keep you appraised of several dangerous issues that threaten your existence and the existence of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank... [The Israelis] had arrested 93 Hamas members who were preparing for a coup against the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank... He said we have names and details about weapons and tunnels they prepared for the coup against you... I have sensed it, and my security agencies gave me reports about this. All the weapons and explosives we seized were not meant for Israel, but for us.... This is proven information... My intelligence chief... Maj. Gen. Majid often tells me we caught Hamas cells seeking to stage a coup."
Additional details of the plot have been reported. During Israeli interrogation sessions after his arrest in June 2014, the head of the Hamas network in the West Bank, Riad Nasser, described his conversations with a high-ranking Hamas operative in Jordan. The operative, Salah Arouri, was in control of the conspiracy in the West Bank to launch a third intifada, which would lead to a collapse of the PA. The overall plan was "strengthening Hamas so that it would take the place of the PA the day the PA collapsed." Toward this end, "We spoke about providing arms and ammunition to the various regions [of the West Bank] and also about bringing in large sums of money to make the takeover of the West Bank areas possible... It was believed that it was just a matter of time and that sooner or later, the PA would collapse, and Hamas wanted to move into the vacuum that would be created. "

On August 21, 2014, at a meeting in Doha, Abbas confronted Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal directly about the Hamas plot in the West Bank:
"You smuggle weapons, explosives, and cash to the West Bank, not for the fight with Israel, but for a coup against the Palestinian Authority. This continued until the Israeli intelligence chief visited me two weeks ago and told me about the [Hamas] group they arrested that was planning for a coup. ... In addition, my security agencies have proof.... We have a national unity government and you are thinking about a coup against me... If you say this is not true, I will tell you I have images.... We believe [the Israeli report]. "
Mahmoud Abbas (r) meets with the Hamas political bureau chief Khaled Mashaal in Qatar, July 20, 2014. (Image source: Handout from the Palestinian Authority President's Office/Thaer Ghanem)

A senior Shin Bet source described the scope of the plot to the Jerusalem Post: The conspiracy began in 2010 and was orchestrated by overseas Hamas operatives headquartered in Turkey. Khaled Mashaal, Hamas's overseas leader in Qatar, was aware of it. 93 Hamas members are in Israeli custody, and security forces plan to indict 70. "This infrastructure stretched from Jenin in the North to Hebron in the South. It is one of the biggest we've seen in Judea and Samaria since Hamas's formation in 1987. They planned to carry out a coup and topple the Palestinian Authority." The head of Hamas in the West Bank since 2010 was indicted in the Judea and Samaria military court in August 2014 for organizing dozens of terrorist cells to advance the plot.

The 2007 Hamas Plot Against the PA

The attempted coup in 2014 was not the first time that Hamas has moved to overthrow the Palestinian Authority. On June 12, 2007, less than three months after agreeing to an earlier national unity government with Abbas, Hamas launched a coup in Gaza. A major Fatah base in the northern town of Jabaliya fell to Hamas fighters, and heavy fighting raged around the main Fatah headquarters in Gaza City, where Hamas militants attacked with rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons. On June 13, Hamas seized the headquarters of the Fatah-controlled National Security Forces in northern Gaza, and an explosion wrecked the Khan Younis headquarters of the Fatah-linked Preventive Security Service. On June 14, Hamas gunmen completed the takeover of the central building of the Preventive Security Service's headquarters in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas even made an attempt on the life of Abbas, as the PA President revealed in a speech in June 2007. Abbas accused Hamas of trying to assassinate him during a planned 2007 visit to Gaza and said he had seen videotapes in which Hamas militants discussed the explosives that would be used to kill him. After he revealed this information in a speech at a meeting of the PLO in Ramallah, thousands of Hamas supporters demonstrated in Gaza, burning an effigy of him. After the group's takeover of Gaza, Abbas publicly condemned Hamas as "murderous terrorists" and "coup plotters." He said the takeover was a premeditated attack that had been agreed upon with unspecified "foreign elements" in the region. On June 20, 2007, Abbas reacted to the Hamas takeover by announcing the dissolution of the unity government. Yediot Aharonot reported at the time that,
"Four large explosive devices were uncovered by Abbas' security officers on the road leading from the Erez crossing to Gaza, as the Palestinian president left Ramallah and was about to travel on that route... The assassination attempt took place while the Palestinian president was on his way to meet Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh to discuss the establishment of a national unity government... Fatah officials accused Hamas of digging several tunnels... to place explosive devices under... the Salah al-Din route... Israeli defense officials have also said that Hamas plans to assassinate Abbas."
Recently, Abbas repeated his accusations regarding the 2007 plot and gave the Qatari Emir a CD containing some of the evidence. Abbas told the Emir,
"Since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, they [Hamas] have been working to undermine it and to topple it. ... In 2006 [sic], they planted explosives in my route. They want to bomb me. They also dug a tunnel straight under my house in Gaza, and here's a CD containing images of everything. They were heard saying this is a mine meant for Abu Mazen; where are you going with this?.... This is proven information. Ask Majid, my intelligence chief, he has information as well, and not Israel alone. Maj. Gen. Majid often tells me we caught Hamas cells seeking to stage a coup."
When faced with the Hamas insurrection in 2007, the PA turned to the Israelis for assistance, just as it did in 2014. According to a secret cable dated June 11, 2007 (later disclosed by Wikileaks), the head of Israel's Shin Bet, Yuval Diskin, told U.S. Ambassador Richard Jones that the PA had "ask[ed] us to attack Hamas...[and] to train [Fatah] forces in Egypt and Yemen...This is a new development. We have never seen this before. They are desperate."

Will Abbas Reject Israeli Protection?

There is a consensus in Israel that the IDF, the Shin Bet, and other Israeli security services in the West Bank play a greater role in suppressing Hamas than the Palestinian Authority's own security agencies. Most experts inside the IDF and the Israeli intelligence believe that withdrawal of the IDF from the West Bank would quickly lead to the end of the PA and the rise of Hamas. Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon reflected this view when he said in September that, if the IDF were not there, Hamas would take over and other terrorists groups such as the Islamic Jihad, Al-Qaeda and Islamic State would be able to operate freely in the West Bank.

Hamas's leaders covet the West Bank: they know that its proximity to the Israeli heartland would make it a far more effective platform for attacks on Israel than firing at it from Gaza. In September 2014, Hamas founder Mahmoud Al-Zahar said that if his movement were to "transfer what it has or just a small part of it to the West Bank, we would be able to settle the battle of the final promise with a speed that no one can imagine." In another speech, he said, "If only the West Bank had one quarter of what Gaza has of resistance tools, the Israeli entity would end in one day... Can you imagine what would happen if the enemy is targeted from the West Bank...?"

If Abbas ends Palestinian security cooperation with the Israeli security services, the move would not remove the IDF from the West Bank, but it might erode the Israeli agencies' performance by reducing intelligence and early warning. While reduced intelligence could be harmful to Israel, for Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority it could be fatal.

Will Abbas end security cooperation with Israel, even knowing this could be a suicidal decision for himself and his government?

What makes Abbas' decision less than certain is that Abbas is under cross-pressure from two different threats to the future of Fatah and the Palestinian Authority. One pressure is that "Since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority," Hamas has "been working to undermine it and to topple it," as Abbas told the Emir of Qatar. Hamas is apparently now more determined than ever to establish itself in the West Bank. Against this threat, cooperation with Israel is vital.

The other pressure is that the government of Fatah is also threatened by the political acclaim that Hamas has achieved in the Arab world by confronting Israel. This shift puts Abbas under pressure to adopt a more belligerent posture to compete with "the strong horse" in Gaza. In the current political environment, any hint of "collaboration" with Israel could be fatal to Abbas's credibility with an increasingly militant public.

It is possible that neither pressure will prevail. In a typical Middle Eastern solution, Abbas could retreat to a posture of calculated ambiguity, pursuing two incompatible strategic policies at the same time, as did his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, who offered an olive branch and a gun. But security cooperation, especially the sharing of intelligence, requires trust. If the Israeli side believes that its information about Hamas might be passed along by double agents, there are bound to be restrictions on what is shared. If Abbas becomes another Arafat, it could be the Israeli side that loses interest in security cooperation.

There is much tension and distrust on both sides of the Israel-PA relationship. So far, the daily cooperation between their respective security and intelligence services has survived in spite of these tensions. The question is whether this precarious balance can hold if Mahmoud Abbas continues to escalate his diplomatic assault on Israel at the United Nations, as he has threatened to do.

For security cooperation to survive, the political leadership on both sides will have to decide what is vital to their respective interests.

Steven J. Rosen

Source: http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/4800/abbas-israeli-protection

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Ed Milband and the Palestine-Firster Beast inside Labour - Raheem Kassam

by Raheem Kassam

[Originally published by Breitbart under the title "Ed Miliband Reveals That He Is Unable to Sit on a Chair"]

Labour Party leader Ed Milband
Over the course of the next 24 hours, international news outlets will mindlessly report that the UK Parliament has "voted in favour/against a motion to recognise the State of Palestine". And that would be true, save for the fact that tonight's backbench business debate led by Grahame Morris MP is non-binding, and non-sensical.

The anti-Semitic Labour MP, who is also the "chair" of the Labour Friends of Palestine group, has popped the following words down on a bit of paper, in his latest bid to change the world: "This House urges the government to recognise the State of Palestine alongside the State of Israel".

Looks alright at first, doesn't it? Seems fair. Recognise one, recognise the other, right?

There isn't even a unified Palestinian governance structure, and the Palestinian Authority is almost wholly reliant upon Israel for its administrative, financial, as well as security concerns. In other words, Palestine isn't a state.

Unfortunately, this is flawed logic which Mr Morris perpetuates through his role as a "chair". Israel has passed the litmus test of a fully fledged sovereign state that deserves Western recognition. It is a functioning democracy, it has a robust judiciary, and manages (against all odds) to defend its sovereignty and can protect its own citizens.

On the other hand – there isn't even a unified Palestinian governance structure, and the Palestinian Authority is almost wholly reliant upon Israel for its administrative, financial, as well as security concerns. In other words: Palestine isn't a state.

It is so not a state, that in fact, every so often the leaders of the Palestinian Authority call up their pals in the globally recognised terrorist organisation Hamas, and say, "Hey, wanna do a deal?"

This shouldn't just affect "Palestine's" position in the minds of British lawmakers, it should immediately take unilateral recognition of any state of Palestine off the table for the United Nations, and indeed any Western ally.

But since the world lost its moral compass, this doesn't seem to matter. Now the only reason given for a rejection of a Palestinian state is "something something two state solution" – as is reflected by Ed Miliband's attempt to tame the Palestine-firster beast within his own party.

The Labour leadership has begged Mr Morris to include the words, "contributing towards a negotiated settlement" – and it remains to be seen as to whether the Speaker will allow any amendments to the backbench business motion at 10pm tonight.

But the fact that a large number of Labour MPs are presenting the original motion as a sign that the Labour Party is keen to unilaterally recognise a State of Palestine that doesn't actually exist is not the historic move in terms of foreign policy that they suggest, but rather, an historic indicator that Ed Miliband has truly lost control of his party. It's quite embarrassing actually. The Labour Party is three-line whipping the vote, but also telling front benchers who don't want to vote for a Palestinian State that they can and should steer clear of the Commons tonight.

It has happened on domestic policy, and now, with his inability to support Britain's foreign policy geared towards a two-state solution (that won't be changed as a result of this vote), Ed Miliband has revealed that a Labour government would be one of constant internal strife.

His failure to sit on the Labour Friends of Palestine "chair", and effectively have his party's foreign policy dictated to him from his backbenches, could be the straw that breaks Miliband's leadership. As far as his MPs will be concerned after tonight: it is open season on any and all wack-job policies they might be lobbied to believe.

Raheem Kassam is a London-based writer and managing editor of BreitbartLondon.com. Kassam is the Larry and Brian Grodman Writing Fellow for the Middle East Forum, and an Associate Fellow at the Henry Jackson Society.

Source: http://www.meforum.org/4860/ed-milband-and-the-palestine-firster-beast-inside

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

What The "Two State Solution" Has to Do with the Rise of Islamic Extremism: Zero - Khaled Abu Toameh

by Khaled Abu Toameh

The "Arab Spring" did not erupt as a result of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Rather, it was the outcome of decades of tyranny and corruption in the Arab world. The Tunisians, Egyptians, Libyans and Yemenis who removed their dictators from power did not do so because of the lack of a "two-state solution." This is the last thing they had in mind.
The thousands of Muslims who are volunteering to join the Islamic State [IS] are not doing so because they are frustrated with the lack of progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
The only solution the Islamic State believes in is a Sunni Islamic Caliphate where the surviving non-Muslims who are not massacred would be subject to sharia law.
What Kerry perhaps does not know is that the Islamic State is not interested in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at all. Unlike Kerry, Sunni scholars fully understand that the Islamic State has more to do with Islam and terrorism than with any other conflict.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's claim that the lack of a "two-state solution" has fueled the rise of the Islamic State [IS] terrorist group reinforces how clueless the U.S. Administration is about what is happening in the Arab and Islamic countries.

Speaking at a State Department ceremony marking the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, Kerry said that the resumption of peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians was vital in the fight against Islamic extremism, including Islamic State.

'Forget ISIS... let's talk more about a Palestinian state.' Above, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry greets U.S. Special Representative to Muslim Communities Shaarik Zafar during an Eid al-Adha reception on Oct. 16, 2014 at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. (Image source: State Dept.)

"There wasn't a leader I met with in the region who didn't raise with me spontaneously the need to try to get peace between Israel and the Palestinians, because it was a cause of recruitment and of street anger and agitation," Kerry said. "People need to understand the connection of that. And it has something to do with the humiliation and denial and absence of dignity."

The U.S. State Department later denied that Kerry had made the statement attributed to him.

Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf told reporters that Kerry's comments were distorted for political gains; she pointed a finger at Israeli Economy Minister Naftali Bennett.

"What [Kerry] said was that during his travels to build a coalition against the Islamic State, he was told that should the Israeli-Palestinian conflict be resolved, the Middle East would be a better place," Harf explained.

The Islamic State is one of the by-products of the "Arab Spring," which began as a secular revolt against Arab dictatorships and degenerated into anarchy, lawlessness, terrorism and massacres that have claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of Arabs and Muslims.

The "Arab Spring" did not erupt as a result of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Rather, it was the natural and inevitable outcome of decades of tyranny and corruption in the Arab world.

The Tunisians, Egyptians, Libyans and Yemenis who removed their dictators from power did not do so because of the lack of a "two-state solution."

Nor did the Arabs revolt because of the failure of the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. This is the last thing these Arabs had in mind when they took to the streets to protest against decades of dictatorship and bad government.

It is this "Arab Spring," and not the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, that brought the Muslim Brotherhood to power in Egypt. And it is the same "Arab Spring" that saw the emergence of Islamic terror groups such as the Al-Nusra Front, the Islamic Front, the Army of Mujahedeen, Jund al-Sham and, most recently, the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

The rise of the Islamic State is a direct result of the anarchy and extremism that have been sweeping the Arab and Islamic countries over the past few years.

The thousands of Muslims who are volunteering to join Islamic State are not doing so because they are frustrated with the lack of progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. They are not knocking on the Islamic State's doors because they are disappointed that the two-state solution has not materialized.

Kerry is anyway naïve to think that the jihadis believe in something called a "two-state" solution. The only solution the Islamic State believes in is the one that would lead to the establishment of a radical Sunni Islamic Caliphate across the Middle East where the surviving non-Muslims who are not massacred would be subject to sharia law.

Not only is the Islamic State opposed to the "two-state solution," it is also opposed to the existence of both Israel and a Palestinian state. Under the new Islamic Caliphate, there is no room for Israel or Palestine or any of the Arab and Islamic countries.

Had Kerry studied the goals and ideology of the Islamic State, he would have discovered that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not even at the top of the group's list of priorities.

In fact, the "liberation of Bait al-Maqdis" [Jerusalem] is ranked sixth among Islamic State's objectives.

The group's first goal envisages stirring chaos in the Arab and Islamic countries.

Second, the group will move on to what it calls "management of savagery" in these countries.

Third, Islamic State will embark on the process of establishing an Islamic Caliphate.

Fourth, it will proceed with "liberating neighboring countries and expanding the size of the Islamic Caliphate.

Fifth, the group will start the process of "liberating the Islamic countries," including Bait al-Maqdis.

Obviously, Kerry must have missed the speech delivered by Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi last July.

Al-Baghdadi did not talk about the "two-state solution." Nor did he call on Muslims to join his group because of the lack of progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Instead, al-Baghdadi told his followers that, "Allah likes us to kill his enemies, and make jihad for his sake. O Allah, give Islam victory over the disbelief and the disbelievers, and give victory to the mujahideen, in the East of this earth and its West."

What Kerry perhaps does not know is that the Islamic State is not interested in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at all. The terrorist group did not even bother to comment on the last military confrontation between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The failure of the Islamic State to express solidarity with the Palestinians or Hamas during the war drew strong condemnations from some of the Arab world's leading columnists.

"What is shocking and strange is that the Islamic State and other terrorist groups that claim to speak on behalf of Islam did not make a single move as Israeli planes were shelling civilians inside the Gaza Strip," remarked Egyptian columnist Jamil al-Afifi. "Nor did any of their wise men come out to condemn the ruthless killings (in the Gaza Strip).

Kerry did not reveal the identity of the "leaders" who told him that the absence of peace between Israel and the Palestinians was a "cause of recruitment and of street anger and agitation" in the Arab and Islamic countries.

What is clear, however, is that Sunni scholars do not seem to share Kerry's assessment.
Last month, over 120 Sunni scholars issued an open letter denouncing the Islamic State and its religious arguments. "You have misinterpreted Islam into a religion of harshness, brutality, torture and murder," the letter said. "This is a great wrong and an offence to Islam, to Muslims and to the entire world."

Needless to say, the scholars did not mention the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a cause for the rise of Islamic State.

That is because unlike Kerry, the Sunni scholars know that the Islamic State is completely unrelated to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And unlike Kerry, the Muslim scholars fully understand that Islamic State has more to do with Islam and terrorism than with any other conflict.

Khaled Abu Toameh

Source: http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/4801/two-state-solution-isis

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Janet Yellen Shills for the Democrats - Bruce Thornton

by Bruce Thornton

At a conference last week, Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen recycled a shopworn Democrat talking point about the supposed crisis of income inequality and stalled economic mobility. “The extent and continuing increase in inequality in the United States greatly concerns me,” Yellen said, going on to wonder “whether this trend is compatible with values rooted in our nation’s history,” especially “equality of opportunity.”

Like the mythic “war on women,” this progressive sound bite is misleading and duplicitous, based on statistical sleight of hand. Worse yet, it is a pretext for more and more government expansion and intrusion into the economy, and for more and more redistribution of income through entitlement programs. It makes one wonder what one of the most powerful government officials impacting the economy, supposedly a politically neutral technocrat, is doing recycling Democratic campaign slogans.

The “income inequality” claim depends on ignoring numerous data that contradict it. For one thing, it glosses over the mobility among the 5 income cohorts over time, assuming that the same people are rich or poor year after year. But as Stephen Moore and James Pierson point out, “In America they [the rich] don’t generally stay rich for long. A few years ago the Department of Treasury examined what happens to the wealth of families across several generations. Guess what: the poor got richer and the rich got poorer. The incomes of poor households rose 80 percent from 1987 to 1996 and then more than doubled from 1996 to 2005. The richer people were at the start of this period, the more income losses they suffered in subsequent years.”

The Treasury study indeed confirms this mobility, finding that between 1996 and 2005 over half of taxpayers moved to a different income quintile. Half of taxpayers in the bottom quintile in 1996 moved to a higher income group in 2005. Meanwhile, only 25% of the richest 1/100 of 1% in 1996 were still that rich in 2005. This mobility has indeed stalled, but not for “several decades,” as Yellen claimed, and not because of the sinister machinations of the wealthy. Its cause rather is the sluggish economic growth after the recession ended 5 years ago, and the blame for that in large part falls on Obama and the Democrats’ regulatory overreach, trillion-dollar deficits, “you didn’t build that” anti-business rhetoric, and redistributionist economic policies. Get the feds out of the way of the economy so it can grow, and we will see income growth and mobility again.

The “income inequality” meme ignores other facts as well. It focuses only on “money income,” neglecting the value of government transfers like Medicaid, Electronic Benefit Transfer cards (formerly known as food stamps and welfare checks), emergency-room health care, Section 8 housing subsidies, and the Earned Income Tax Credit, all of which boost the buying power of the statistical poor and lower middle class. For the middle class, “money income” ignores the value of employer-provided fringe benefits such as health care. As for the rich, “money income” ignores the highly progressive taxes they pay to fund those government programs. As Gary Burtless of the Brookings Institution writes, “To disregard the impact of transfers and progressive taxation on the distribution of income and family well-being is to ignore America’s most expensive efforts to lessen the gap between the nation’s rich, middle class, and poor.”

Finally, consumption––how much people spend–– is more revealing than “money income” as a measurement of economic wellbeing. In fact, consumption rates of the lowest income quintile have increased over the years, reaching nearly twice of income in 2005. As a result, Kip Hagopian and Lee Ohanian write, “A family claiming $22,300 in income in 2005 would have reported about $44,000 in expenditures in that year. As noted earlier, the gap between reported income and consumption is filled by various categories of government transfer payments (including Medicaid, food stamps, subsidized housing, the Earned Income Tax Credit, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, etc.), family savings, imputed income from owner-occupied housing, barter, support from family and friends, and income from the underground economy.” Indeed, if one takes into account consumption, the statistical poor enjoy living standards higher than the average European. The obsession on “money income” ignores how well all Americans live.

Yellen’s second claim, that income inequality contradicts “values rooted in our nation’s history” like “equality of opportunity,” is equally muddled. If we look at the political order of the Constitution––our most important “national values”–– income inequality was taken for granted, a reflection of an unchanging and flawed human nature. In his famous comments on “factions” in Federalist 10, James Madison wrote, “As long as the reason of man continues fallible, and he is at liberty to exercise it, different opinions will be formed. As long as the connection subsists between his reason and his self-love, his opinions and his passions will have a reciprocal influence on each other; and the former will be objects to which the latter will attach themselves. The diversity in the faculties of men, from which the rights of property originate, is not less an insuperable obstacle to a uniformity of interests. The protection of these faculties is the first object of government [emphasis added]. From the protection of different and unequal faculties of acquiring property, the possession of different degrees and kinds of property immediately results; and from the influence of these on the sentiments and views of the respective proprietors, ensues a division of the society into different interests and parties.” Hence “the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold and those who are without property have ever formed distinct interests in society.” Income inequality is a fact of life, not a failure of government or the economy.

Indeed, the clashing interests of those with property and those without, and the political discord they create, were continually on the minds of the delegates to the Constitutional convention. New Yorker Gouverneur Morris, arguing for an appointed rather than a popularly elected Senate, frankly said, “The Rich will strive to establish their dominion and enslave the rest. They always did. They always will. The proper security against them is to form them into a separate interest. The two forces will then control each other . . . By thus combining and setting apart, the aristocratic interest, the popular interest will be combined against it. There will be a mutual check and mutual security.”

Thus the “mixed government” of the Constitution was designed not to eliminate property inequality, which is rooted in the differences of talent, hard work, virtue, and luck among people. Rather, it was created to prevent any faction, whether the rich or the poor, from taking control of the government in order to aggrandize its own power and serve its own interests at the expense of others’. Only that way can the freedom, property, and opportunity of all be kept safe.

Our “national values,” then, are for equality of opportunity, not equality of result. Yellen pays lip service to the former, yet that sentiment contradicts the whole complaint about income inequality, which is about result, not opportunity. Like most progressives, Yellen is really concerned with equality of result, something the Founders abhorred, for a tyrannical government always promises the masses equality of result, in the form of a redistribution of property, in order to secure the support of the people for centralizing and increasing government power and limiting personal freedom. But equality of result, as the sorry and bloody history of communism shows, is contrary to the reality of human nature and the unequal distribution of talent and character. As Plato wrote, it is “numerical” equality rather than “proportionate equality,” which takes into account the differences of character and virtue that exist among people, and “assigns in proportion what is fitting to each. Indeed, it is precisely this which constitutes for us political justice.”

America’s “national values” have traditionally included equality of opportunity, not equality of result. People should be free to rise to whatever levels their differing talents and virtues can take them. Differences of wealth over time and over large populations reflect those differences more than any unjust manipulation of the economy by the rich. Moreover, in a dynamic, free-market economy, the success of the well off improves the well being of the rest, whether by creating jobs or paying the trillions of dollars in taxes that fund the redistributive programs that have allowed millions of American to enjoy a material existence only dreamed of by most of the human race.

We still have equality of opportunity, whether measured by the millions of ordinary people who create and run businesses big and small, or the 11 million illegal aliens who didn’t risk their lives coming to America because it lacks economic opportunity. The Chairman of the Federal Reserve has no business indulging a progressive canard that exploits envy and resentment for electoral gain.

Bruce Thornton is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, a Research Fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution, and a Professor of Classics and Humanities at the California State University.

Source: http://www.frontpagemag.com/2014/bruce-thornton/janet-yellen-shills-for-the-democrats/

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Cold Turkey - Michael Curtis

by Michael Curtis

College students should be able to answer some simple questions. Which country in the Middle East has been declared guilty of “ethnic cleansing?” Which country in the area has prevented the return of refugees to their homes and former properties? Which country has flouted Article 49 of the 4th Geneva Convention of August 1949 that prohibits an occupying power from deporting or transferring parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies? Which country is responsible for a unilateral declaration of independence?  Contrary to what they may hear from their professors, the correct answer is that all these things are performed by Turkey.

Turkey is not the flavor of the month. To say that Turkey is a disappointment in the fight against Islamist terrorism is to state, even understate, a truism. Turkey is a member of NATO, the only Muslim member of the organization, and President Barack Obama still regards it as a regional ally, and as a symbol of Islamic moderation and liberalism.  However, in view of its behavior in recent years, no one can view it as a helpful partner to the US and the other countries prepared to counter Islamic terrorism. In 2003, before the Second Gulf War, the invasion of Iraq against Saddam Hussein, Turkey refused to allow the US to use its bases in the country.  It is still refusing to support the US led coalition to deal with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and again has prevented US reconnaissance and bombing sorties over Syria from the US air base at Incirlik.

To this unhelpful and uncooperative policy has been added even more negative behavior, the direct and indirect help given by Turkey to terrorist groups, Hamas in the Gaza Strip, the Islamic State, and other terrorist groups.  Turkey provided logistical support and sheltered Hamas operatives. It helped the Nusra Front, the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria. It helped the Islamic State (IS) by allowing arms, material, and personnel to pass through Turkish territory, and through black market transactions with Iran it enables IS to sell the oil from the 10 oil fields and refineries it has seized.  By these sales IS gains about $2 million a day. Erdogan denies this relationship with Iran, which is continuing, thus violating the policy of sanctions against that state.

All this is familiar and distressing. Equally well known and deplorable is the refusal of Turkish President Recep Yayyip Erdogan to allow the considerable Kurdish minority some form of autonomy or self-determination in Turkey.  He views and executes the fight by military attacks and fighter jets against Kurdish groups, especially the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that he regards as a terrorist group, as more important than the fight against the Islamic State.   Erdogan has even refused to allow US arms transfers to go to the Kurds who are really fighting the main threat to the world, the Islamic State.

What is less familiar or ignored is that Turkey is guilty of crimes as defined by international law because of its occupying of territory and encouraging settlements in a country to which it has no rightful claim. President Erdogan has been all too ready to criticize the State of Israel for occupation, its settlements, and its actions.  Sometimes this criticism is expressed mildly but more often it is in excessive and belligerent language. In May 2010 he accused Israel of “state terrorism” for preventing the flotilla organized from Turkey from sailing into Gaza.  He remarked of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in July 2014 that it was “worse than Nazi genocide…and (Israeli) barbarism has surpassed even Hitler’s.”

Erdogan’s rhetoric suggests may be a believer in “Jewish world conspiracy or Jewish power,” and even in the blood libel, ritual murder accusations of Jews killing Christians for their blood to make matzos for Passover. Either consciously or unconsciously, this kind of rhetoric echoes antisemitism. He asserted that Israel was behind the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi in Egypt who was removed from power in July 2013 by Field Marshal el-Sisi. Erdogan also called on the world to stop Israel’s desire for genocide because its lust for blood would not end

Erdogan is eager to call on the world for action concerning Israel, but when the “world” speaks about his own misdeeds or those of his country he ignores it. He refuses to acknowledge the opposition of the world to Turkey’s illegal occupation of part of the island of Cyprus. The issue is a simple one. Cyprus, which had been under British administration since 1878 and had been a British Crown Colony since 1925, became an independent country, the Republic of Cyprus, in 1960, according to a Treaty of Guarantee signed by Britain, Greece, and Turkey. However, hostilities between Greek and Turkish Cypriots began in 1963. A UN force, the Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), was set up in March 1964 to help restore normal conditions following this violence. Fifty years later UNFICYP is still there, now under the leadership of a woman general from Norway, trying to maintain stability in the area.

On July 20, 1974, 30,000 Turkish troops invaded the island, and they seized and held about a third of it.  In what can be seen as Turkish ethnic cleansing, more than 180,000 Greek Cypriots were evicted from their homes in the north of the island, while 50,000 Turkish Cypriots moved to areas under the control of the Turkish forces.  Contrary to the Geneva and other international Conventions, Turkey has transferred some of its own population into the area.

On November 15, 1983 Turkish Cypriot authorities unilaterally declared the establishment of an independent state, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). The United Nations Security Council immediately considered this declaration legally invalid and called for its withdrawal. The European Union also condemned this unilateral declaration of independence. Nevertheless, Turkey has ignored this “call on the world for action,” even though no country except Turkey has recognized the legitimacy of the TRNC state.

Those concerned with Middle East issues should not be oblivious, as many have been, to the improper nature and significance of Turkish behavior in Cyprus, the illegal occupation of part of a country, the establishment of Turkish settlements in the area, the continuing presence of Turkish troops, and even the imposition of a Green Line that separates the two political entities in Cyprus. For some years the UN Security Council has been passing resolutions about this situation, the most recent one being Resolution UNSC Res. 2135 of January 30, 2014, commenting on the degree of stability along the Green Line.

But Turkey has not only defied the UN regarding its illegal occupation and settlement policies. It has blatantly denied political reality and threatened hostilities against the legitimate Republic of Cyprus. On October 13, 2014, President Erdogan reprimanded a Greek Cypriot member of the European Parliament who referred to Turkish troops in North Cyprus as “invaders.” He also refused to listen to proposals for withdrawal of Turkish troops.  When the EU admitted Cyprus as a member, Erdogan commented that it should have been admitted as “southern Cyprus….there was no country named Cyprus.” In fact the whole island had been admitted as a member, but EU common rights and obligations refer only to the part under the internationally recognized government, the Republic of Cyprus. In January 2014 Turkey refused to implement fully the customs agreement with the EU because it would include Cyprus.

Erdogan, an authoritarian and belligerent ruler, who has been accused of corruption and of undermining the independence of the judiciary, had already in September 2011 threatened to attack the Republic of Cyprus if it allowed the US based Noble Energy Company to drill for gas in the large Leviathan natural gas field that Israel is exploring. The international community, to which Erdogan so often appeals regarding the actions of Israel, should now condemn Turkey for its displacement of persons, ethnic cleansing, deprivation of the rights of individuals, and racist and ethnic discrimination against minorities that are not Muslim or Sunnis.

Michael Curtis

Source: http://www.americanthinker.com/2014/10/cold_turkey.html

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Obama looking to go around Congress on Iran nuclear deal? - Rick Moran

by Rick Moran

The New York Times is reporting that if the US and Iran strike a deal on Iran's nuclear program, the president will do "everything in his power" to avoid allowing Congress to vote on it.
Even while negotiators argue over the number of centrifuges Iran would be allowed to spin and where inspectors could roam, the Iranians have signaled that they would accept, at least temporarily, a “suspension” of the stringent sanctions that have drastically cut their oil revenues and terminated their banking relationships with the West, according to American and Iranian officials. The Treasury Department, in a detailed study it declined to make public, has concluded Mr. Obama has the authority to suspend the vast majority of those sanctions without seeking a vote by Congress, officials say.
But Mr. Obama cannot permanently terminate those sanctions. Only Congress can take that step. And even if Democrats held on to the Senate next month, Mr. Obama’s advisers have concluded they would probably lose such a vote.
“We wouldn’t seek congressional legislation in any comprehensive agreement for years,” one senior official said.
White House officials say Congress should not be surprised by this plan. They point to testimony earlier this year when top negotiators argued that the best way to assure that Iran complies with its obligations is a step-by-step suspension of sanctions — with the implicit understanding that the president could turn them back on as fast as he turned them off.
“We have been clear that initially there would be suspension of any of the U.S. and international sanctions regime, and that the lifting of sanctions will only come when the I.A.E.A. verifies that Iran has met serious and substantive benchmarks,” Bernadette Meehan, the spokeswoman for the National Security Council, said Friday, referring to the International Atomic Energy Agency. “We must be confident that Iran’s compliance is real and sustainable over a period of time.”
But many members of Congress see the plan as an effort by the administration to freeze them out, a view shared by some Israeli officials who see a congressional vote as the best way to constrain the kind of deal that Mr. Obama might strike.
Ms. Meehan says there “is a role for Congress in our Iran policy,” but members of Congress want a role larger than consultation and advice. An agreement between Iran and the countries it is negotiating with — the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China — would not be a formal treaty, and thus would not require a two-thirds vote of the Senate.
To the president, it's all a matter of semantics. "Treaty" or "agreement"? Or, perhaps, "understanding"? In the language of diplomats, each word has a specific meaning. The bottom line is that the US would be obligated to fulfill its responsibilities as a result of an accord with a sovereign nation. Call it what you will, Congress should have its say in the matter.

But an attempt to circumvent the Senate would have nothing to do with semantics. The president is negotiating with an enemy sworn to destroy us and has already abandoned long standing US policy by talking with Tehran while the regime continiues to enrich uranium. A clear majority in Congress have expressed the belief that Iran cannot be trusted and that any deal would be meaningless. So rather than bow to the will of the people, the president has decided that making history is more important than the democratic process and Constitutional requirements. 

No one believes that once sanctions are lifted that they can be reimposed. To do so would mean Obama admitting he made a mistake. That's not going to happen. So Iran will almost certainly get the bomb, have sanctions lifted, and proceed to play the role of regional hegemon while setting off a nuclear arms race.

Yes...but the president made history.

Rick Moran

Source: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2014/10/report_obama_looking_to_go_around_congress_on_iran_nuclear_deal.html

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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