- Le centre gauche israélien cherche à s'unir contre Netanyahu (Reuters)
"Les trois principales formations de centre gauche en Israël pourraient former une alliance pour battre le Premier ministre conservateur Benjamin Netanyahu aux élections législatives du 22 janvier. L'ancienne ministre des Affaires étrangères Tzipi Livni, qui dirige le parti centriste Hatenuah, a annoncé sur Twitter qu'elle allait rencontrer ses homologues de Yesh Atid, une autre formation du centre, et du Parti travailliste "pour discuter de la création d'un 'front uni' afin de remplacer Netanyahu". Selon les sondages, ces trois partis pourraient obtenir 37 des 120 sièges à la Knesset, contre 35 pour Netanyahu et ses alliés.
Les dirigeants de Yesh Atid et du Parti travailliste, l'ex-présentateur vedette de la télévision israélienne Yaïr Lapid et l'ancienne journaliste Shelly Yachimovich, sont des nouveaux venus en politique. Tous deux ont axé leur campagne sur les réformes sociales. Shelly Yachimovich, qui dit qu'elle siégera dans l'opposition si elle n'obtient pas le poste de Premier ministre, a fait savoir cette semaine qu'il n'était pas question que le Parti travailliste participe à un futur gouvernement de coalition avec Netanyahu. Elle souhaite que Tzipi Livni et Yaïr Lapid adoptent également cette position. Yaïr Lapid a déclaré pour sa part avoir accepté de rencontrer Livni parce qu'il est un "homme poli" mais a souligné qu'il n'était pas question de parler d'une fusion des deux partis."
- Netanyahu delays E1 construction plans, Akiva Novick (Ynet) - "The Right was furious with the plans' postponement".
"After declaring his support for the controversial E1 area construction plans in December, it appears that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is hesitating to realize the plans. The controversial building plans underwent several changes since Netanyahu's statement. Their blueprints were approved by the Defense Minister Ehud Barak, but the Prime Minister's Office then ordered not to file them with the zoning committee at this time. [...]
The plans' realization now depends on the political echelon's decision – which is still forthcoming. "When it comes to planning, everything is set," a source clarified. "Instructions from the Prime Minister's Office should now go down to the civil administration. I don't know why, but so far they haven't."
The Right was furious with the plans' postponement. State Control Committee Chairman MK Uri Ariel (Habayit Hayehudi), was adamant on Thursday: "The halting of the E1 plans by the Prime Minister's Office proves that Netanyahu's statements regarding the settlements are only sleight-of-hand. A day after the elections we'll rediscover the true Netanyahu, the one who froze construction and succumbed to pressure." [...]"
- Ma’aleh Adumim mayor urges PM to sign E1 plans, Tovah Lazaroff (JP)
"Ma’aleh Adumim Mayor Benny Kashriel is urging Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to sign the plans for 3,500 housing units in E1, an empty area in his West Bank city. After waiting for 18 years, Kashriel was given permission to deposit the plans before the Higher Planning Council of Judea and Samaria last month. But the council passed the plans back to the city for revisions, according to Kashriel. The city has since made the necessary technical corrections, but Netanyahu’s signature is needed in order to deposit the plans again with the council. [...]"
- Silwan : des Arabes attaquent une maison juive (Guysen)
"A Silwan, un quartier de Jérusalem-est, des Arabes ont attaqué une maison juive avec des cocktails Molotov et des pétards. Il n'y a pas de blessés et la police a arrêté 6 personnes dont 4 mineurs."
Gaza & Hamas
- Saisie dans le Sinaï de missiles (AFP) - "Le Hamas prône la lutte armée contre Israël dont ils refusent de reconnaître l'existence. Il avait indiqué en novembre qu'il continuerait à s'armer pour combattre l'Etat hébreu après une trêve dans les combats qui avait mis fin à une offensive israélienne contre Gaza en novembre".
"Les services de sécurité égyptiens ont saisi dans le Sinaï des missiles de fabrication américaine destinés à la bande de Gaza contrôlée par les islamistes palestiniens du Hamas, ont affirmé aujourd'hui des responsables. Six missiles anti-char et anti-aérien ont été retrouvés hier dans la péninsule du Sinaï, région de l'est de l'Egypte qui jouxte la bande de Gaza, ont précisé ces responsables de la sécurité.
La cache a été découverte à la suite d'informations reçues par les forces de sécurité sur des préparatifs en cours pour le transfert de missiles vers la bande de Gaza, ont-ils ajouté. Le Hamas prône la lutte armée contre Israël dont ils refusent de reconnaître l'existence. Il avait indiqué en novembre qu'il continuerait à s'armer pour combattre l'Etat hébreu après une trêve dans les combats qui avait mis fin à une offensive israélienne contre Gaza en novembre. Le chef du groupe palestinien radical Jihad islamique, Ramadan Abdallah Challah, avait reconnu que les groupes palestiniens de Gaza utilisaient des armes iraniennes dans les attaques contre Israël.
Le Sinaï, par lequel transite illégalement des armes destinées à Gaza, connaît un regain d'instabilité depuis la chute de Hosni Moubarak en février 2011, avec une intensification des activités de groupes radicaux qui prennent régulièrement l'armée et la police pour cibles. L'armée égyptienne avait lancé une opération d'envergure en août 2012 dans cette région, après une attaque ayant coûté la vie à 16 gardes-frontière égyptiens."
- Sinaï : les forces de sécurité égyptiennes saisissent des missiles sol-air en route pour Gaza (Guysen)
"Les forces de sécurité égyptiennes ont saisi vendredi à l'aube à El Arish, dans le nord du Sinaï, un stock d'armes dont la destination était la bande de Gaza par les tunnels de contrebande. Dans l'entrepôt, situé au sud d'El Arish, les forces égyptiennes ont répertorié des missiles anti-chars, mais aussi des missiles sol-air de portée diverses. Les armes, de fabrication américaine, proviennent apparemment de Libye. Le mois dernier, 17 missiles de fabrication française, eux-aussi prévus pour être transférés dans la bande de Gaza, avaient été saisis au même endroit."
"Processus de paix"
- Netanyahu : le Hamas pourrait prendre le contrôle de l'Autorité palestinienne, Abir Sultan (AFP)
"Le mouvement islamiste Hamas pourrait prendre le contrôle de l'Autorité palestinienne, a mis en garde jeudi le Premier ministre israélien Benjamin Netanyahu en pleine campagne électorale pour les législatives du 22 janvier.
"Le Hamas peut prendre le contrôle de l'Autorité palestinienne d'un jour à l'autre", a déclaré M. Netanyahu, en référence à l'instance dirigée par le président palestinien Mahmoud Abbas qui exerce le pouvoir exécutif et législatif en Cisjordanie et la sécurité sur une partie de ce territoire. "C'est la raison pour laquelle il faut s'assurer de mesures de sécurité solides, s'assurer que tout accord (de paix avec les Palestiniens, ndlr) assurera la reconnaissance d'Israël en tant qu'Etat juif et exiger une véritable reconnaissance pour mettre fin au conflit", a ajouté le Premier ministre, cité dans un communiqué de ses services.
"Le droit du retour des réfugiés (palestiniens) signifie l'élimination de l'Etat d'Israël", a encore dit M. Netanyahu. C'est la deuxième fois en quelques jours que M. Netanyahu brandit la menace d'une prise de pouvoir du Hamas, qui contrôle la bande de Gaza, en Cisjordanie. "Tout le monde sait que le Hamas pourrait prendre le contrôle de l'Autorité palestinienne", avait-il déclaré mardi [...]"
- The Ultimate `Settlements are not the Problem’ Article, Barry Rubin (Blog) - "The problem with demonstrating that settlements are not the problem is that it is so hard to get those arguments to a big audience in the West".
"It must be a new year. The Washington Post has an editorial explaining that Israeli settlements are not the main problem in the Middle East. The Post editorial is amazing since such sanity is so rare. It begins: “Two mistaken but widely held notions regarding Israeli-Palestinian peace are that the settlements are the principal obstacle to a deal and that further construction will make a Palestinian state impossible.” And then it continues by laying down a detailed, factual case that’s worth repeating:
--“Following the 1993 Oslo accords, Prime Minister Netanyahu's government, like several before it, has limited building almost entirely to areas that both sides expect Israel to annex through territorial swaps in an eventual settlement….”
--Almost all of the Jewish settlers live on only four percent of the West Bank, the sector that Israel has been seeking to annex as part of a peace plan that was first presented twelve years ago.
--Israel’s latest construction, which will connect Maale Adumim—a short walk from Jerusalem—with the rest of the city is hardly the destruction of any chance for peace which has been portrayed in much of the Western media and by some Western governments. The worst-case scenario would be that if this corridor determined the ultimate border between two states, Palestinian motorists might have to take a detour of about ten minutes.
--Those who “are really interested in progress toward Palestinian statehood…will press [Palestinian Authority leader Mahmud] Abbas to stop using settlements as an excuse for intransigence - and cool their own overheated rhetoric.”
One of the questions I’m most often asked is about Israeli settlements. It is ridiculously easy to prove they are not the factor preventing Israel-Palestinian peace. I favor the eventual dismantlement of almost all of them--but only if and when there is a comprehensive peace which results in the annexation of some--that would be in Palestine's territory. That is a long way off.
The problem with demonstrating that settlements are not the problem is that it is so hard to get those arguments to a big audience in the West. Many people also have a pre-1993 image of the situation in their minds."
- Fallacy of pre-1967 borders, Riccardo Dugulin (holds a Master degree from the Paris School of International Affairs (Sciences Po) and is specialized in International Security) - "calling for the return to these borders is an effective strategy the Palestinian leadership chooses to follow while trying to bypass historical realities and omit two decades of military defeats. The real puzzle is then why international organizations, Western governments and pressure groups are so easily seduced by an idea that lacks any meaningful rationale".
"At the end of May 2011, President Obama stepped away from a long-standing US policy and recognized the necessity for Israel to accept pre-1967 borders as a condition for peace with the Palestinian Authority. Centered on a quasi-dogmatic view of the region, the idea evokes a basic misconception that has been jeopardizing the already feeble chances for durable peace and security both for Israel and the Palestinians. When addressing the issue of the territorial changes that followed the 1967 war, it has now become common knowledge for Western and Arab decision-making circles that the most moderate position available is the one offering a two-state solution broadly defined by the borders Israel had with Arab states prior to the Six Day War.
This theoretical situation offers a major insight into the fallacy crippling peace-oriented groups and pro-Palestinians activists. In reality, never as in the period between 1948 and 1967 were the Palestinians in Gaza, Judea and Samaria under a more overt and transparent military rule by foreign powers. Prior to 1967, Arab populations living in those areas did not see their aspirations of self-administration addressed and the notion of a separate state for the Palestinians was merely utilized to negate the existence of a Jewish State.
If the basic idea for Nasser or King Hussein of Jordan was to "drive the Jews to the sea," their personal intentions were linked to the glory with which such an event would provide them. The ultimate defeat of pan-Arab nationalism left the Palestinians as shattered as their previous protectors since, deprived of the relative safety of Arab-controlled safe havens, they no longer had the impunity to prepare terrorist operations.
The logical question that arises from such considerations is why the notion of "1967 borders" has become so sacred in the political discourse of international organizations, pressure groups and militant groups? Beyond the simple control of land, the call for returning to the "1967 borders" may be read as an implicit way of negating reality by those who have not been favored by it.
While Arab states denounce the Israeli military presence in Gaza, Judea and Samaria, little is mentioned about their persistent military occupation of these territories for two decades. The underlying reason originates from the fact that Western commentators have bought into the 'Arab solidarity' argument, which in some twisted logic would consider the perpetrator of an injustice less of a criminal if both the criminal and the victim were Arabs in the process of fighting a non-Arab power.
The different calls from Arab states to go back to the 1967 demarcation lines highlight their relative willingness to at least recognize the existence of Israel as a Jewish state, yet depriving the region of the basic tool for attaining peace: The common assurance of security. In fact, "1967 borders" embody the collective Arab ethos of the period during which the sovereignty and security of the State of Israel could be put in danger. The years prior to 1967 represent an era during which Arab States, not the Palestinians, were at the heart of the war against Israel. As a result, the defeat also meant the beginning of a cycle in which states would solely be sponsors of terrorist organizations, thus no longer being in the spotlight.
For the Palestinians, the 1967 defeat meant what may be considered as an entry into adulthood. They lost the ability to use the territory they claim as "theirs" under the protection assured by the presence of powerful armies, thus also losing the opportunity to wage terrorist attacks. Consequently, calling for the return to these borders is an effective strategy the Palestinian leadership chooses to follow while trying to bypass historical realities and omit two decades of military defeats.
The real puzzle is then why international organizations, Western governments and pressure groups are so easily seduced by an idea that lacks any meaningful rationale. Similarly to 1948, in 1967 the borders between Arab states and Israel were not recognized as an official start for a two-state solution, as it was revealed in the notorious Khartoum resolution of 1967. The reality on the ground is that Palestinian factions do revert to previously rejected positions as soon as the situation is no longer in their relative favor.
The notion of "1967 borders" should be argued against, not only in the light of the arguments brought up by political parties and security experts but because it stems from a discourse clearly divergent from peace. Enduring peace and stability can only be achieved by a clear recognition of the events that took place in the past and of the concrete situation unfolding at present, notably the Palestinians’ unwillingness to enter negotiations based on shared interests.
By supporting the concept of "1967 borders" the international community reverts back to a period in which Arab powers established military occupation in Gaza, Judea and Samaria while waging and supporting terror attacks on Israel, a fallacy drastically undermining peace-oriented efforts."
- Egypt's Islamic Jihad: Jews Deserve to be Killed, Elad Benari (Arutz 7)
"The Islamic Jihad terrorist group has vowed to fight Jews if they return to Egypt, saying they deserve to be killed, the Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm reported Thursday. The Islamic Jihad called on the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party’s Essam al-Erian to resign from his role as advisor to the president and apologize to the Egyptian people for his statement asking Egyptian Jews to leave Israel and reclaim their properties back at home. [...]
Mohamed Abou Samra, a leading figure in the Islamic Jihad said, according to Al-Masry Al-Youm, “We shall fight them vigorously if they return, especially the Egyptian-Israeli Jews. Islamic Sharia says they deserve to be killed.” He added, “Erian is violating religion to be a national hero for the Jews at the expense of the Islamists. And the Brotherhood’s denouncement of his remarks was too mild.” “They will destroy the economy and foment sedition,” said Samra, according to Al-Masry Al-Youm. “Their return will be over our dead bodies.” “We will continue fighting the Jews until the liberation of Palestine or Doomsday,” he stressed. [...]"
- European settlements and double standards, Dore Gold (Israel Hayom) - "some 5,000 British citizens have purchased homes in Northern Cyprus despite it being a clear-cut case of an "occupied territory" ; "it appeared that the international community should have judged the dispute over Northern Cyprus far more severely than the way it viewed the dispute over the West Bank" ; "Ironically, while the EU releases harsh statements of this sort against Israel for any construction activity in West Bank settlements, it has nothing to say about tens of thousands of Turkish settlers that have moved into Northern Cyprus".
"Anyone flipping through cable television channels with his or her remote control has undoubtedly come across programs about British and other retirees from Northern Europe seeking to escape the harsh climate where they live by venturing to one of the well-known vacation spots along the Mediterranean coast. The difficult problem that these buyers face is the soaring prices of properties over the last decade in places like Marbella, Spain, the French Riviera, or Italy's Amalfi Coast, which leads many to look for more economical alternatives. As a result, many European buyers after 2002 have been flocking to Northern Cyprus, where a villa with a swimming pool can be bought at discount prices.
The main legal question that is not addressed with this new European property boom is the legal status of the area where these new homes are being built. It should be recalled that in 1974 the Turkish army invaded Cyprus, which had been an independent state since 1960 and took over 37 percent of the island. Tens of thousands of Greek Cypriots were expelled in this period in what they viewed was a deliberate policy of ethnic cleansing by the Turkish army. In the aftermath of the invasion, the U.N. Security Council adopted Resolution 353 which demanded "an immediate end to foreign military intervention" and called for "the withdrawal without delay from the Republic of Cyprus of foreign military personnel."
The Turkish Cypriots declared their independence in 1983 by forming the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus," an act that the U.N. condemned as "null and void." Over the years, an estimated 160,000 "settlers" who came from Turkey moved into Northern Cyprus. In many cases, properties that had been left behind by Greek Cypriot refugees were given by the Northern Cyprus administration to Turkish Cypriots and to the Turkish settlers, who sold them to European buyers. To date, some 5,000 British citizens have purchased homes in Northern Cyprus despite it being a clear-cut case of an "occupied territory." According to a BBC report, as many as 10,000 foreigners have bought up former Greek Cypriot properties in Northern Cyprus.
Is there any basis for comparing Northern Cyprus to the situation with the West Bank?
A number of glaring differences stand out. First, Israel entered the West Bank in a war of self-defense in 1967 when it faced an Arab war coalition that was massing forces along its borders. In contrast, the circumstances of the Turkish invasion were very different. Turkey did not face imminent attack from Cyprus, but rather was concerned with intercommunal tensions in Cyprus.
Second, there was no established sovereignty in the West Bank in 1967 that Israel violated; there was no Palestinian state while Jordan's claim to sovereignty was rejected by most of the international community except for Britain and Pakistan. Moreover, there were earlier Jewish rights under the British Mandate, which never expired. Looking at the Cypriot case, prior to the Turkish invasion in 1974, the Republic of Cyprus was the undisputed sovereign over the entire island, including the area of Northern Cyprus.
Finally, the resolutions adopted by the U.N. Security Council in the two conflicts were very different. In the aftermath of the Six-Day War, the U.N. Security Council adopted Resolution 242 which did not call for an Israeli withdrawal from all the territories it captured as a result of the conflict. The resolution suggested that the old armistice lines be replaced with secure and recognized borders.
Yet in the case of Northern Cyprus, the U.N. did not qualify its demand for a Turkish withdrawal by allowing, for example, the Turkish military to remain in even part of the island. Looking at these different considerations, it appeared that the international community should have judged the dispute over Northern Cyprus far more severely than the way it viewed the dispute over the West Bank, where Israel had multiple rights that it could exercise if it decided to do so.
However, in practice, that was not the case. As usual, on Dec. 10, the European Union declared yet again that it was "deeply dismayed by and strongly opposes Israeli plans to expand settlements in the West Bank, including in east Jerusalem." Its statement made wild charges that Israeli construction in E1 "could also entail forced transfer of civilian population."
It finally added that "the European Union reiterates that settlements are illegal under international law and constitute an obstacle to peace." Ironically, while the EU releases harsh statements of this sort against Israel for any construction activity in West Bank settlements, it has nothing to say about tens of thousands of Turkish settlers that have moved into Northern Cyprus.
Nor are European governments condemning their own citizens who are seeking to build beachfront villas with swimming pools in territory that is technically still under Turkish occupation. European governments have warned their citizens that former Greek residents of Northern Cyprus may initiate legal proceedings in European courts against those who take over their properties. But there is no objection being stated in principle against European citizens moving into these territories in order to build vacation homes.
How does international law apply in these situations? There is a long-standing dispute over whether Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, for the protection of civilians, should be understood narrowly as prohibiting an occupying power from forcibly transferring its population into an occupied territory (the traditional Israeli and U.S. view) or should be interpreted broadly so that it even prohibits an occupying power from letting its citizens voluntarily move into an occupied territory (the European and Arab view).
But the European foreign ministries cannot have it both ways: they cannot condemn Israelis who build homes in the West Bank for violating international law, while they approve, in principle, or are at least silent about Turkish settlers and their European business partners who benefit from the lands Turkish Cypriots have taken over, as they develop what has been one of the hottest Mediterranean real estate markets for Europeans seeking a place in the sun."