Obama likely to appoint Ross, Kurtzer and Indyk says Haaretz

Alistair Lyon captures the zibdeh of the Bush shoe story: ANALYSIS-Iraqi shoe-thrower captures Mideast rage at Bush: Reuters, Alistair Lyon

The hurling of shoes at U.S. President George W. Bush on his farewell visit to Iraq strikes many in the Middle East as a fittingly furious comment on what they see as his calamitous legacy in the region.

Arab and Iranian TV stations have gleefully replayed the clip, sometimes in slow motion, of an Iraqi reporter calling Bush a “dog” and throwing his shoes at him — the Middle East’s tastiest insults — at a Baghdad news conference on Sunday.

The affront was a twisted echo of the triumphal moment for Bush when joyous Iraqis used their footwear to beat a statue of Saddam Hussein toppled by U.S. invading troops in 2003.

“It indicates how much antagonism he’s been able to create in the whole region,” former Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher told Reuters, adding that the incident was regrettable.

Bush had harmed America’s reputation and the friendship many had felt for it. “Despite past mistakes in its policies, there was always a redeeming factor. In this particular case, there doesn’t seem to have ever been a redeeming factor,” Maher said.

Muntazer al-Zaidi, who works for independent al-Baghdadiya television, has shot to local stardom for his attack on Bush and his cry: “This is a goodbye kiss from the Iraqi people, dog.”….

Some Palestinians, whose hopes of independent statehood have withered in the eight-year Bush era, relished the moment.

“A shoe company in Hebron claimed the attack on Bush and they will give the attacker shoes all his life,” runs one joke being exchanged on mobile telephones in the Gaza Strip…

London Times reports some palestinian families so poor they eat grass

“We had one meal today – khobbeizeh,” said Abu Amra, 43, showing the leaves of a plant that grows along the streets of Gaza. “Every day, I wake up and start looking for wood and plastic to burn for fuel and I beg. When I find nothing, we eat this grass.”

PRESS FREEDOM IN JORDAN: A gift from the king
By Tim Sebastian Published: December 12, 2008 in the IHT

AMMAN: An odd thing happened the other day in the Arab world. …. King Abdullah of Jordan gathered together the chief editors of Jordan’s main newspapers and told them: “Detention of journalists is prohibited.”… “I do not see a reason for detaining a journalist because he/she wrote something or for expressing a view.”

And yet it’s hardly surprising that local journalists were unimpressed. …More than 20 laws continue to govern media conduct in Jordan… No single statement from the royal palace can airbrush away years of harassment and interference. Besides, the king’s statement comes in the same year that his country has been downgraded by the Paris-based organization “Reporters without Borders” in its 2008 Worldwide Press Freedom Index. Jordan now stands at 128th position out of 173 countries – six places lower than last year…..So was the king serious about pushing through improvements?….

Syrian Court Overrules Release Of Dissidents, Dow Jones, 2008-12-15

DAMASCUS (AFP)–A Syrian court has ordered two leading dissidents to remain behind bars after accepting a prosecutor’s appeal against a lower court order for their release, a human rights lawyer said Monday.  “The Court of Cassation upheld the application of the Damascus prosecutor general for the release of (Michel) Kilo and (Mahmud) Issa to be stayed,” Khalil Maatouk told AFP.

Kilo, a journalist, and Issa, a translator, were among seven activists arrested in May, 2006, and jailed for three years a year later for signing a petition calling for Syrian recognition of Lebanon’s independence. They ought to have benefited from a law providing for the early release of all prisoners who have served three-quarters of their sentences and been freed on Nov. 2.   But the prosecution appealed against an order by the court of appeal for their release under the law. They will now serve their prison sentences in full.

Kilo and Issa were convicted in May 2007 on charges of having “weakened national sentiment” and for “undermining the image of the state.”  They were also accused of fomenting sectarian strife.

Carter Visit to Beirut and Damascus:

See Borzou Daragahi’s coverage in the LA Times. It is excellent as usual.

“Carter was in Beirut over the last few days meeting with Lebanese officials and other luminaries. He also appeared before an overflow crowd at AUB.”

Arabs concerned that Hillary Clinton will tilt the incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama strongly toward Israel need not worry, says Jimmy Carter.

The future secretary of State’s pro-Israel stance will be balanced out by Obama’s national security adviser, Gen. Jim Jones, who Carter said will adopt a more nuanced view toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Jones helped train Palestinian security forces, leading to one of the most successful recent experiments in Palestinian autonomy.

From Reuters: Dec. 12

Carter said that while Obama had picked Hillary Clinton as secretary of state and Rahm Emmanuel as White House chief of staff, there was hope in his choice of retired Marine Gen. James Jones as national security advisor.

“As far as Rahm Emmanuel is concerned, yes, he is closely affiliated with Israel… But I think that another hopeful sign is that General Jim Jones will be his national security advisor,” Carter said.

Clinton had “been quite close to AIPAC’s position in the past,” Carter added, in reference to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a pro-Israel lobby group.

“But I think that Jim Jones is thoroughly familiar with the situation in Palestine,” Carter said. Diplomats say Jones was critical of Israel in a confidential report this year on how Israelis and Palestinians had met security commitments.

Obama to base his Middle East policy on army of envoys
By Barak Ravid, Dec 14, 2008, Haaretz

Jerusalem has received various reports in recent weeks indicating that American foreign policy in the Middle East and in Southeast Asia after president-elect Barack Obama takes office will operate on the basis of special envoys who will report directly to Obama and his designated secretary of state, Hillary Clinton.

Obama and Clinton’s transition teams are maintaining secrecy and minimal ties with Israeli diplomats. Obama and Clinton also directed their people not to take part in the policy debates of the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center forum, attended by Israeli politicians and officials, which took place earlier this month in Washington, D.C.

However, senior government sources in Jerusalem said that the information they have received indicates that the new administration is planning a hierarchy of about five special envoys to various regions, overseen by a kind of “super coordinator,” who would answer directly to the president and the secretary of state.

The sources said that the new policy is part of Obama’s and Clinton’s understanding that all the conflicts in the Middle East and Southeast Asia are to some extent connected to the Iranian nuclear program and withdrawal from Iraq. Therefore, it is important to operate in a number of parallel but coordinated channels to attain achievements on all fronts.

The most prominent name in consideration for the top coordinator post is Dennis Ross, who served as President Bill Clinton’s special envoy to the Middle East. Ross’ name has also come up as a possible senior adviser to Hillary Clinton.

The envoy to the Middle East would oversee the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, negotiations between Syria and Israel and the situation in Lebanon.

Short-listed for this job are Colin Powell, who was President George W. Bush’s secretary of state during his first term; Dan Kurtzer, U.S. ambassador to Israel from 2001 to 2005; and Martin Indyk, who is close to Hillary Clinton and who served as U.S. ambassador to Israel from 1995 to 1997 and from 2000 to 2001.

The other four envoys would be: to Iraq to liaise with the Iraqi government on U.S. troop withdrawal; to Iran to oversee the beginning of dialogue and participate in international discussions on an incentive package; to Afghanistan and Pakistan to stabilize the security situation; and to North Korea to watch over denuclearization and the lifting of international sanctions.

Israeli Uncensored News explains that the US quarrel with Syria over nuclear inspections is welcome because it may prevent progress on peace negotiations and stall possibility of the Golan’s return. Their editor writes:

 “On a positive note, any international confrontation with Syria freezes the Syrian-Israeli peace talks which would cost Israel the Golan Heights and half the Lake Kineret, her only significant water source.”

Iraq urges Obama to talk to Iran, Syria
AFP, 11 December 2008

US president-elect Barack Obama and his future administration must open dialogue with Iran and Syria to “solve” long-standing issues plaguing the Middle East, the Iraqi government said Thursday.

“I call on the new administration to open a dialogue with Iran to resolve the exceptional problems which are affecting stability in the region,” government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said in a statement released at the outset of an international conference in Washington….”Whether the US would like Iraq to initiate that dialogue with Syria, we are ready.”

But the outgoing administration of President George W. Bush has cut nearly all diplomatic ties with Damascus,….”Without having that dialogue between Iraq and its neighbors, between the US and the region, I think we will not solve the problems between Iraq and its neighbors,” Dabbagh said.

In a televised interview Sunday, Obama confirmed he wants to hold talks with Iran, stating his readiness to end a 30-year stand-off between Washington and Tehran.

“We need to ratchet up tough but direct diplomacy with Iran,” Obama said, promising a “set of carrots and sticks.”Despite security improvements in Iraq this year, some US officials continue to accuse Iran of financing, arming and training Iraqi Shiite militias — a claim Tehran denies.

But the number of Iranian-made explosively formed penetrators (EFPs) in Iraq has decreased appreciably in recent months, indicating Tehran’s support for Iraqi insurgents is waning, according to US Army Lieutenant General Thomas Metz.

EFP attacks, which can penetrate heavy armor, are down to “a dozen, 20 in Iraq in a month from maybe 60, 80,” Metz told reporters …

A Syrian embassy in Beirut – the Syrian embassy would be located in the Beirut area of Ramlet al-Baida and the Lebanese embassy in the Damascus neighborhood of Abu Rummaneh…

Book Review

ENEMY MINE, the National
For years, Gilles Kepel has risen above the patter of news-hour terrorism experts. Max Rodenbeck reads the French scholar’s latest book, in which he observes the violent symbiosis between jihadists and their foes

Comments (66)

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51. Shai said:


You must agree with me, that with each day that passes, and with each new settlement that is built, we are getting closer and closer to a One State solution, are we not? The more Jews there are in the West Bank, the more likely it is we’ll have to annex it one day. And when we do, we’ll have to incorporate all the 3.4 million Palestinians within our territory. What else can we do “with them”? Place them on buses, and send them out of Greater Israel? Few in Israel still dream of that.

So if indeed Israel is exercising a policy of expansionism, and if indeed Israel is terrified of a One State solution, then our policy is a terribly ineffective and quite possibly suicidal one, no?

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December 17th, 2008, 5:29 am


52. Alex said:


I can tell you that almost everyone here disagrees with you over this point:

You seem to believe that decision by Israeli leaders concerning peace settlement with the Palestinians or with Syria are mostly a matter of personal preferences, personal opinions, and political games played pre or post elections by Israeli politicians of the day.

Most Syrians here believe that Israeli leaders, allies or not, understand the long term strategies that they have to stick to … For example, Olmert does not negotiate away the Golan merely to escape his legal issues …

Peace loving former Prime Minister Peres also killed Arabs … all prime ministers pursued nuclear technology, all prime ministers financed settlements, all prime ministers failed to offer the obvious deal that the Arab to the Arab world (based on UN 242 and 338)

One exception, former Prime minister Rabin, was ready for the real deal … but he was eliminated.

What do you say?

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December 17th, 2008, 5:51 am


53. Shai said:


No, absolutely not. And I apologize if I am not making myself clear (or indicating the opposite of what I mean). It was indeed Israeli leaders and governments that supported settlements all these years. I fully accept that. It was not merely pre or post election tactics. But I claim it wasn’t about “Lebensraum” or even “Greater Israel”. It wasn’t intended forever. Few Israelis politicians have ever dreamt of a Greater Israel, and even fewer think (or thought) we could ever achieve it. Settlement activity, therefore, was intended to cause pressure. I disagree with Rumyal about the possibility of pressure intended for “voluntary transfer” of millions of Palestinians. I do believe it was meant to force them to find a way to settle their conflict with us peacefully.

Again, if Israel has had, or still has, an active policy of expansionism, why did we offer 97% of the West Bank, and 100% of Gaza? Why are there only 260,000 Jews living in the relatively-large territory of the West Bank? We could have easily encouraged 50,000 per year, over the past 40 years, and have had a powerful 2,000,000 Jews in this territory today. If we intended to expand, why only bring in 3% of our population into this territory? And why offer almost its entirety to the Palestinians over the past 15 years? Those who believe in Expansionism need to answer these questions.

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December 17th, 2008, 6:02 am


54. Rumyal said:


I don’t think that this is in our mutual interest to argue over this here, but what you believe in can be disproved or seriously questioned, and I can point you at the relevant sources if you wish.

Perhaps the most important thing to note is that Oslo *did not* commit Israel to returning any particular fraction of the land and it also *did not* commit Israel in any way to stopping the settlement activity and Rabin *did not* stop settlement activity after signing Oslo but rather he accelerated the pace. What conclusions can be drawn from that? The fact that the Palestinians, actually the Tunis folks, signed such a lousy deal is the main reason for the agreement’s eventual failure and a huge betrayal of their people which was motivated by the lure of power, as you noted.

Maale Adomim has 33,000+ residents with huge expansion plans. It will never be evacuated. Who’s army is going to do this?

I share your thinking of the possible good that may come out of the accelerated settlement activity, in the sense it will force a single secular nation eventually. But before this will happen, we are likely to see more dispossession, racism, war and maybe even military and de jure racist regime in Israel before we see the light. I fear this is the most likely scenario for the future. The only ones that are in position to save us are the Americans, if only they stopped listening to AIPAC.

So if indeed Israel is exercising a policy of expansionism, and if indeed Israel is terrified of a One State solution, then our policy is a terribly ineffective and quite possibly suicidal one, no?

No, that’s not the correct conclusion. The end-game is depicted quite well in the map I provided a link to. i.e., all the Pals crammed into three Bantustans, hopefully getting the message and leaving for the greener pastures of America and Europe, Jordan river valley stays under Israeli control, we get to keep the major settlement blocs and all of Jerusalem etc. etc. AND a PLO puppet such as Abu Mazen accepts all of this as a fair deal. I listened to the podcast by Alon Liel you provided a link to, it reminded me of something similar: obviously like all deals that are too good to be true (such as Oslo and the Bantustans induced by the separation wall and Jewish-only roads) this will blow up in our faces, much like the Bashir Goumayel presidency in the Lebanon war.

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December 17th, 2008, 6:33 am


55. Shai said:


I admit that you make valid points, and ones that cannot be ignored. But at the heart of your belief is this “endgame” plan that, you claim, Israeli leaders have always had in mind. We disagree on what the “endgame” is. As you see it, it is that map you included. But I dare ask, when was this map planned? Before 1967? Never. If after 1967, then when? You see, I reject the notion that “a plan” to split up the West Bank has been official Israeli policy in the past, or even today. The “endgame”, as I see it, is the withdrawal of Israel from the West Bank (Gaza already done), period. That today this plan includes the three large pockets of settlements does not indicate that 40 years ago, or 30 years ago, or even 20, this was the case. If you look at the settlements throughout the W. Bank, there are hundreds of strongholds, that are spread in all directions, in and out of these major pockets (especially outside). To the Settlers, each one of these is a potential “Ariel”. They’ll expand as long as they are allowed to.

If Israel indeed has a policy of expansionism, why stop at Ariel, Ma’ale Adumim, and Qiryat Arba? Why not truly expand? We have so many other settlements to expand, to turn into towns, to create further pockets, to divide the Palestinian territories into a truly impossible area to ever govern – and to cause them infinitely greater frustration which may push them to leave. But even this dream of causing Palestinians to leave their land is utterly unrealistic to even contemplate. The majority of Palestinians barely have enough money to put a single warm meal on their table each day – but they’ll be able to board a plane and emigrate? Are there some Arab countries, or Western ones for that matter, that are offering even temporary shelter, not to mention permanent one? None. If you have a policy, it needs to be based on some reasonable analysis and a potential for success.

By the way, just as we didn’t plan in advance to have these three large pockets in the West Bank, the more we wait, the more likely we’ll find ourselves a decade from now with four or five such pockets, from which we will no longer be able to withdraw. Is this something we are planning? If you ask me, the answer is clearly no. Because it means, without a doubt, that we are de facto forming a single state, with what seems to be (according to a recent Israel Bureau of Statistics study) a majority non-Jewish population. No Israeli wants that today. And yet we want to expand? Sorry, Rumyal, I’ve yet to be convinced of it. Show me the same map, made 40 years ago, or even 30 years ago, and I’ll consider your thesis. But with a map that is changing every other month (for the worse), and a reality that has taken the place of any sane policy, indeed ANY policy whatsoever, I cannot accept the theory of planned-expansionism. Or that if it indeed exists, it is a truly idiotic and suicidal one.

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December 17th, 2008, 6:56 am


56. Alex said:


Recently we had a stunning demonstration, on Wall street, of how power and lack of accountability, can lead to greed.

It is hard for Israelis (or non Israelis) to stick to “we only want to convince our enemies to make peace with us” when they have hundreds of nuclear weapons and when their enemies are highly ineffective.

I agree with Rumyal when it comes to your leaders’ long term strategy… I believe they are all sticking (more or less) to the plan(s).

But when it comes to normal Israeli people, may I suggest that both you and Rumyal are right … depending at what year we are looking at?

For example, after Sadat visited Israel … there was a genuine desire for peace with Egypt. Same after King Hussein showed Israelis how he is a trustworthy friend.

On the other hand, in 2004 … after Prime minister Sharon really succeeded in stopping the Intifada and stopping all attempts to carry out suicide bombing missions, and especially after the Americans took Baghdad without encountering any resistance … and especially after President Bush completely ignored the utter hate in the Arab street to Prime minister Sharon (“the butcher”) and called him “a man of peace”

in 2004 … many more Israelis were ready to offer the Arabs peace for peace … take or leave it .. if you don’t like it … let us show you our nuclear weapons… no one will dare criticize us with the Americans behind us.

Israeli people are like other people … I don’t see why they would not go through phases of utter greed and arrogance after a demonstration of the incredible gap between their military capabilities and that of their enemies… and after the non conditional support that AIPAC puppets in Washington DC provided to Israel.

Most humans, including Israelis, are selfish and they would act in a selfish way if they are allowed to … and … the same absolute power that corrupts Arab dictators can only corrupt Israelis who got exposed to near absolute power.

That’s why I was delighted with Hizbollah’s “victory” in 2006 … it was needed to partially correct this mentality

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December 17th, 2008, 7:18 am


57. Rumyal said:

The answers to the questions that you raise are varied as Israel politics are.

Some aspects of desired expansion were known prior to 67 in geographic terms. For example:
1) The desire to control the tributaries of the Jordan river (water security).
2) The desire to control the Jordan river (to prevent an Eastern attack).
3) The desire to expand Israeli control in and around Jerusalem (to increase security in the capital and avoid cutoff of neighborhoods as has happened in 48).
4) The desire to provide more strategic depth around Natanya (to prevent cutoff and shelling of large population centers).

I agree that these were not Lebensraum considerations, at least not initially.

I agree that after 67 a lot has been left for “chance”, but only if you look at it from the point-of-view of a centrist government. From the settlers’ and the right’s perspective the agenda has always been clear and unrelenting. You may not know where the 5th pocket of settlements will appear, but they already know where they want it to be, and they have all the resources to make it happen. And they just need somebody like Bibi to make it happen.

Beyond the right, I think the majority of Israelis, including the labor governments, perhaps don’t have a clear map for expansion but they definitely don’t reject the concept of expansion. Their end-game doesn’t include a full-fledged map but they definitely believe that if we can hold-on to some of the “finds”, then why not… But even these people do have a sketch of a map in their head (Jerusalem, Maale Adumim, Ariel, River crossings…)

As for the 200,000 vs. 2,000,000 question, the answer to that is twofold: first, it’s not that much fun to live there. You need to either have the ideology or it needs to match your financial profile, usually both. Heck, Haifa is struggling to attract people, so you can imagine that West bank will be a tough sell. Second, the difference between 200,000 and 2,000,000 is the difference between a limping yet-still-welcome Israel vs. a boycotted South African pariah. Like I said, it’s not an all-out by all sectors of society type of expansionism, it’s more subtle and selective than that, and it didn’t trump all other considerations (such as acceptance in the international community).

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December 17th, 2008, 7:35 am


58. Shai said:


Again, I don’t disagree. Indeed Israelis are like many others around the world, also greedy. In many ways, we are far worse, because this “greed” has indeed come at the expense of people other than ourselves, and through blatant criminal behavior. And I also agree that we, as a people, go through cycles. Sometimes most of us want peace, and other times, most of us don’t.

But things are much more complicated that, I believe, what either you or Rumyal are suggesting. Because 70% of Israelis do not trust Syria enough to make peace with it today (by returning the Golan), does not mean they’ve always planned to expand into the Golan, to occupy it, to annex it, and to stay forever. A mere decade ago, most Israelis were ready to give back the Golan. Why were Israelis EVER willing to give back any territory occupied (or certainly annexed), if there was official policy of expansion? Why have there been periods in our history, where land-for-peace was offered, and not peace-for-peace? There is no such thing as “Israeli leaders” different from “Israeli people”. They are the same thing. Do you honestly believe that Shimon Peres, Ariel Sharon, Netanyahu, Barak, Olmert, all congregate periodically and decide to continue this policy of expansionism, if it wasn’t something the Israeli people wanted? What each and every one of them has done, and in that has indeed partaken in furthering this criminal behavior, is looked the other way. Quite often also enabling certain funds for settlement activity.

But if Israel had a policy of expansionism, please tell me why on earth we only have 260,000 Jews in the West Bank, instead of 2 million? And when in Israel’s history, was it planned to have 260,000 Jews there? And why do we only have about 16,000 Jews in the Golan, a territory we annexed and consider Israel proper? We are a nation of 7 million people. If the majority of these people believe the West Bank is ours, why don’t you see at least 10%, or 20% of us living there? I’ve been many times to the West Bank and, believe me, it has some of the most beautiful spots on earth. If I believed it belonged to Israel, I would have long ago moved there. Yet in 40 years, only 260,000 Jews – why?

Ehud Barak thinks ten times before approving the building of another 15 housing units in Ariel. Why doesn’t he approve 50 each day? Why isn’t there a huge demand to move into “Greater Israel”? I have yet to hear an answer to this. I know my answer, and it is because most of us know that we will one day (soon hopefully) vacate almost its entirety. No point moving your entire family and your life into a place you’ll need to vacate. This is not the rationale exercised merely by peace-loving Leftists. Most Israelis believe in it. And so do their leaders.

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December 17th, 2008, 7:39 am


59. Rumyal said:


Look at me, I forgot the salutation! It’s getting late…


Catchy tune, middle-eastern beat… I agree with everything you said above.

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December 17th, 2008, 7:50 am


60. Shai said:


You’ve been to the West Bank, and you’ve probably been to some settlements as part of your army service. Some places are as close to “heavenly” as you can get in our part of the world. Trust me, if Israeli governments wanted to encourage more Israelis to move there, they could do it in a second. But, more logically, they could simply annex the Territories. Why haven’t they? Again, no one in 1967 thought about Ariel, Ma’ale Adumim, or Qiryat Arba – they simply didn’t.

I agree with you that the religious settler movement, as well as certain elements within the Right, have always sought to take over (not to expand into pockets) the entire West Bank. They believed, and some still do, in Greater Israel. To them, it’s not about pockets, it’s about the entire territory. Ariel Sharon himself confessed once, not too long ago, that the first time he began considering that controlling the West Bank was a terrible mistake was when a friend of his, professor of Geography from Haifa University, presented him with a demographic map of Greater Israel. In that map, it was crystal clear that within just a few years, more non-Jews would be living under Israeli law than Jews. That made him rethink everything. And, as you’ll recall, he finally changed 180 degrees, and was ready to pull out of the West Bank. You’d have never thought of hearing this from Ariel Sharon, right?

So let us end this argument with a simple agreement – that whether there is or isn’t official policy of expansionism in Israel, further settlements in the West Bank are, with each day that passes, bringing us closer and closer to a One State solution. You and I fear this far less than the average Israeli does. In that sense, we are in an extreme-minority. But given that Israelis (leaders or the people) did not know in advance 40, 30, and 20 years ago where settlement activity would stop, so do Israelis today not know about the future. The Settlers may have maps with 50 pockets planned out, and some on the Right may strongly support them, but most Israelis already understand that this activity is in full contradiction to their national aspiration, namely of remaining a Jewish State. And, as such, most Israelis should not support this policy (or non-policy) of expansionism. Do you agree?

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December 17th, 2008, 7:54 am


61. Rumyal said:


I disagree with the initial arguments you present, for reasons I have already listed and in addition I think you make some factual errors. But let’s skip to this:

So let us end this argument with a simple agreement – that whether there is or isn’t official policy of expansionism in Israel, further settlements in the West Bank are, with each day that passes, bringing us closer and closer to a One State solution. You and I fear this far less than the average Israeli does. In that sense, we are in an extreme-minority. But given that Israelis (leaders or the people) did not know in advance 40, 30, and 20 years ago where settlement activity would stop, so do Israelis today not know about the future. The Settlers may have maps with 50 pockets planned out, and some on the Right may strongly support them, but most Israelis already understand that this activity is in full contradiction to their national aspiration, namely of remaining a Jewish State. And, as such, most Israelis should not support this policy (or non-policy) of expansionism. Do you agree?

Yes I agree that most Israelis should not, by their own preferences, support further settlement and I further think that currently (as opposed to the past) they actually realize that. However, I think that this majority is absolutely powerless to do anything about it. There is a collusion of interests in the economic (public and private) domains, security services, ministry of interior and the settler and right political power that is irresistible, till this day, in Israel. If Barak or Livni were being elected on a platform of stopping settlement activity (which they are not) then you could potentially expect some sort of voter accountability (but when was accountability ever a factor in Israeli politics). A case in point is Rabin’s government on the morning after Oslo—not stopping settlements. If Bibi would be voted in, what incentive would he have to stop settlement activity? Absolutely nothing, except international pressure. Stopping the settlements would be political suicide for him, unless he can demonstrate that he has no choice.

In short, your best bet to stop settlement activity is have your American relatives write a letter to their congressman and AIPAC rep…

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December 17th, 2008, 8:14 am


62. Shai said:


Finally something we can agree on… 🙂

Yes, the scenario I envision with Bibi is also with one Hillary Clinton making a less-than-polite suggestion that continued settlement activity will bring about rethinking of financial and military support by the U.S. She will, hopefully, mimic James Baker’s threats to Shamir. That will stop settlements in the West Bank.

But much sooner than that, I hope, will come American pressure to close a deal with Syria. When Bibi starts sending his advisers to meet with Syrians in Turkey, Cyprus, or Jamaica, people within his own party will start their own countdown. And it won’t be to the end of Netanyahu’s leadership of the Likud, but rather to the end of, as you called it, Expansionism.

Incidentally, there is a not-insignificant number of settlers today, living in the West Bank, who are ready to voluntarily vacate their homes “yesterday”, if only the Disengagement-Reimbursement law came into effect. And their numbers are growing. They too realize that the clock is ticking to the end of Israeli Occupation of Palestine, and they are ready to start their new lives inside Israel. But I agree, perhaps it will indeed be the U.S. that will force us to do so, much faster than we would otherwise.

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December 17th, 2008, 8:29 am


63. Rumyal said:


We’ll wait and see. I hope you’re right.

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December 17th, 2008, 9:14 am


64. Akbar Palace said:


The number was indeed the Cairo number. I got a response back from them. The number also seems to match the number in the third link below. Apparently there are LOTS of Israel embassies throughout the world, including a number of Arab countries. Setting the record straignt, as long as a Palestinian (or any Arab for that matter) lives in a country that has an Israeli embassy, he/she can visit Israel and thus visit Jaffa.

Observer was wrong.

Dear Sir,

The number is a local number in Cairo. If you are calling from Cairo, don’t dial the 02 at the beginning. You can also try 33321537.


From: XXXX [mailto:XXXX]
Sent: Tuesday, December 16, 2008 3:38 PM
To: consular-assist
Subject: RE: Visa to visit Israel

Dear Sirs:

Thank you for the phone number, however, it seems as though the number is no good as I can’t get through.

Perhaps there is a local phone number I can call in Cairo?




From: consular-assist [mailto:consulsec@cairo.mfa.gov.il]
Sent: Tuesday, December 16, 2008 6:44 AM
Subject: RE: Visa to visit Israel

Dear Sir,

Please call us to 02-33321515 and we will be happy to answer all your questions.

Have a nice day.


From: info
Sent: Monday, December 15, 2008 11:55 AM
To: consular-assist
Subject: FW: Visa to visit Israel


From: XXXX [mailto:XXXX]
Sent: Wednesday, December 10, 2008 7:21 PM
To: info
Subject: Visa to visit Israel

Dear Sirs:

I am an Egyptian who is interested in visiting Israel on a tourist visa.

What do I need to bring with me to the Israeli embassy in Cairo in order for me to obtain this type of visa?

Thank you,


Here are some links to the Embassy of Israel in Cairo, Egypt:




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December 17th, 2008, 11:43 am


65. Akbar Palace said:

Kudos to Saudi columnist Turki Al-Hamad. There is hope…

Thus, in any Arab political analysis of American policy, the first thing the Arab ‘analyst’ always looks for is the extent of the Jewish presence in the American ruling institution, and especially in the institution of the presidency, in order to gauge the extent of Jewish influence, and in consequence the extent of Israeli penetration. In other words, one of the fixed principles of political analysis for many Arab analysts is to start with the assertion of Jewish influence in American policy; what remains is only to determine the extent of this influence – and not whether it exists or not.


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December 17th, 2008, 7:41 pm


66. Rumyal said:

(the comment here needs to go on a different thread…)

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December 18th, 2008, 2:53 am


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