Showing posts with label Palestinian policy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Palestinian policy. Show all posts

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Why is Israel More Prosperous Than the Palestinians: The Ultimate Demonstration of Media Bias

By Barry Rubin


In almost 40 years of studying these issues I’ve never seen a better case study of mass media bias and knee-jerk narrowness than an aspect of the current flap about what presidential candidate Mitt Romney said during his trip to Israel. I’m going to focus on a single point because it brings this problem into sharp focus.

If you truly understand what you are about to read, I don’t see how you can accord most of the mass media any credibility when it comes to Israel ever again. Briefly, Romney mentioned the gap between the Israeli and Palestinian economies—ironically, he vastly understated the gap—and attributed it to “culture” by which he meant, as Romney has said elsewhere, such things as democracy, individual liberty, free enterprise, and the rule of law.

But I’m not talking about Romney here or the media’s critique of him. What is interesting is this: How do you explain the reason why Israel is so more advanced in terms of economy, technology, and living standards? The media generally rejected Romney’s explanation and pretty much all made the same point. To quote the Associated Press story, that was:

“Comparison of the two economies did not take into account the stifling effect the Israeli occupation has had on the Palestinian economy in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem—areas Israel captured in 1967 where the Palestinians hope to establish a state.

"In the West Bank, Palestinians have only limited self-rule. Israel controls all border crossings in and out of the territory, and continues to restrict Palestinian trade and movement. Israel annexed east Jerusalem in 1967, but has invested much less heavily there than in Jewish west Jerusalem.”

Or, in other words, it’s all Israel’s fault. Yet in choosing to blame Israel, the media generally showed no interest at all in additional factors which are equally or more valid. 

I’m not suggesting that journalists and editors thought through the following list of factors and deliberately decided not to mention them. I think that these things never entered their minds. Yet how can that be? Some of these points require knowledge of the situation on the ground and its history. Still, many should be obvious to those who have read past newspaper accounts or just use logic, not to mention research.

Consider the points made below. You might count them for less but anyone honest should admit that they add up to a compelling case:

1.      The most devastating problem for the Palestinian economy has been the leadership’s refusal to make peace with Israel and to get a state. Most notably, the opportunities thrown away in 1948, 1979, and 2000 doomed both countries to years of suffering, casualties, and lower development. Today, in 2012, both Palestinian leaderships—Fatah and Hamas—continue this strategy.

2.      Statistics show major advances in the West Bank and Gaza Strip during the period of Israeli occupation.  A lot of money also came in from Palestinians working in Israel (or to a surprising extent on the Jewish settlements).

3.      The media should be expected to explain why Israel interfered at all once, by around 1994, almost all West Bank and Gaza Palestinians were under Palestinian rule. The reason, of course, was Palestinian violence against Israel and Israelis. If there had not been such attacks, Israeli forces would not have set foot in Palestinian-ruled areas. Stability would have encouraged development and foreign investment. There would be no roadblocks. Incidentally, roadblocks and restrictions on travel have changed constantly and at times of relative quiet became almost non-existent. Of course, Israel maintained control of the borders to prevent weapons from coming in.

4.      There was a  large transfer of funds (as provided in the Oslo agreement but PA behavior did not make Israel violate the agreement) from Israel to the PA regarding refunds on customs' duties and workers' fringe benefits.

5.      The well-documented incompetence and corruption of the Palestinian Authority. For example, there is no reliable body of law that a company could depend on there. Bribes determine who gets contracts. Literally billions of dollars have been stolen and mostly ended up in the European accounts of Palestinian leaders.

6.      And where did those billions of dollars come from? They came from foreign donors who showered huge amounts of money on a relatively small population. Yet, even aside from theft, the money was not used productively or to benefit the people.

7.      Because of the risks and attacks on Israel, the country stopped admitting Palestinian workers except for a far smaller number. Tens of thousands thus lost lucrative jobs and the PA could not replace these.

8.      The unequal status of women in the Palestinian society throws away up to one-half of the potential labor and talent that could otherwise have made a big contribution to development.

9.      And then there are the special factors relating to the Gaza Strip. Under the rule of Hamas, a group committing many acts of terror and openly calling for genocide against Israel, the emphasis was not put on economic development but on war-fighting. The shooting of rockets at Israel created an economic blockade. Note also, however, that Hamas also alienated the Mubarak regime in Egypt which also had no incentive to help it, instituting its own restrictions that were as intense as those of Israel.

10.  The Palestinian leadership generally antagonized Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and other oil-rich Arab states that were consequently not interested in helping them develop.

11.  Finally, compare the Palestinians to the Egyptians, Jordanians, Syrians, or Lebanese. In those places the excuse of it’s all Israel’s fault is hard to sustain yet the Palestinians have done as well or better than those other Arabs who share a very similar political culture.  

12.  And incidentally remember that Israel also had to cope with war, terrorism, and defense needs unequaled by the burden faced by any other democratic state in the world. Moreover, it could not trade for most of its history with any of its neighbors--and commerce is still limited--or any of the countries in the Arabic-speaking world that surrounds it. In addition, it has almost no natural resources. So while Israel received a lot of U.S. aid most of that went into defense and not economic development. In other words, Israel's has handicaps as impressive (or almost as marked) as the Palestinian ones. 

My goal here was not so much to present these twelve points but to ask the question: Why is it that these factors were barely mentioned or not mentioned at all in the media analyses of Romney’s statement?

The answer, of course, is that most of the media is set on the blame-Israel argument. Yet even given this truth, why do they have to do so virtually 100 percent of the time with nothing about the other side of the issue? This applies to dozens of other questions such as why hasn't peace been achieved. And in this as in many other cases, they virtually take the PA's talking points as their themes and facts.

Often, one suspects there are a lot of people in the mass media and academia who are totally uninterested in presenting anything other than an anti-Israel narrative. This article doesn't mean to generalize about everyone, of course, but you who are doing that know who you are, and you readers know who they are! 

To read the entire article click here.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Jordan's Prime Minister Reads "Rubin Reports" and--guess what--doesn't like it! Plus Palestinian Leader Involved in Corruption Tells Us Culture Doesn't Matter in Undermining Economic Development

Jordan's Prime Minister Reads Rubin Reports and--guess what--doesn't like it!

By Barry Rubin

During a recent dinner in Amman, Jordan's prime minister Prime Minister Fayez Tarawneh talked about me at some length, citing my article on Israel being in a good strategic situation. Apart from the various name-calling, insults, and snorting, he could not refute one point I made. In fact, I think he knows that everything I wrote was true. And that's what scares him and makes him angry.

 What particularly upset him was my point that a Sunni-Shia conflict would displace the Arab-Israeli conflict. Jordan, of course, is caught in the middle, being a Sunni country with a long border to Iraq and fearing Iran, not to mention its border with a Syria still ruled by Iran's ally and nearby Lebanon ruled by Shia Hizballah.

 But I think his attacking me was most unsporting. King Hussein read my articles years ago on a regular basis and I have had excellent relations with some members of the royal family and high-ranking Jordanian officials. I even advocated the Saudis and other oil-producers' plan to let Jordan into the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and give Amman $1 billion. 

Fayez, baby, don't me mad at me for passing along the bad news! And if there's anything I can do to help Jordan not be taken over by either revolutionary Shia Islamists who will want to put you up against a wall and shoot you, Sunni Islamists (most likely the Muslim Brotherhood) who will want to put you up against a wall and shoot you, or al-Qaida which won't even bother with the wall.

Also, we do have a spare guest room and you can be here within three hours by car.

 In a similar vein, my good friend David Gerstman points out that a Palestinian leader given a New York Times op-ed to  attack Mitt Romney for attributing Palestinian economic problems to cultural issues was at the center of a corruption scandal four years ago.

 Mr. Gerstman put it this way:

The other day, the New York Times added the oddest critique to its campaign, Munib Masri's op-ed Occupation not culture, Is holding Palestinians back: 

As one of the most successful businessmen and industrialists in Palestine today (there are many of us), I can tell Mr. Romney without doubt or hesitation that our economy has two arms and one foot tied behind us not by culture but by occupation."
 "It’s hard to succeed, Mr. Romney, when roadblocks, checkpoints and draconian restrictions on the movement of goods and people suffocate our business environment. It is a tribute to the indomitable spirit of our Palestinian culture that we have managed to do so well despite such onerous constraints."

 But as Barry Rubin pointed out four years ago in a column about Masri called None Dare Call in News Coverage 
 “Critics say some of the profits were made possible by a lucrative telecommunications monopoly the company held for several years.”

"We are not told from whence this monopoly came—from the PA. The word corruption is never mentioned. Such a lack of curiosity about the sources of his wealth does not accord with journalistic practices in covering other stories.
"Indeed, the story of the telecommunications monopoly is one of the best-known stories of corruption among Palestinians. How PA and Fatah factions competed over the loot, how Arafat intervened directly into the issue."

In other words if there was an exhibit of the problems Palestinian culture presented to the development of a functioning economy, Munib Masri would be a prime candidate. No doubt the editors of the New York Times don't expect its readers to know Masri's background; maybe they don't either.


To read the article on PJ Media, click here.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Yasir Arafat Is Still Dead and We Know Who Really Did Him In


Yasir Arafat Is Still Dead and We Know Who Really Did Him In

By Barry Rubin

Yasir Arafat is still dead. True, he was once alive. I sat across from him in his Gaza office, for example. And he even had a copy of my history of the PLO on his book shelf so he must have been of sound mind at the time.  It's not my fault. I told him to start jogging and cut down on sweets.But he didn't listen. On November 4, 2004, he died, a fate he previously delivered to thousands of far more innocent people.

The effort now by various Palestinian factions to imply Israel killed him is the funniest thing in the Middle East since the CIA director’s congressional briefing when he said the Muslim Brotherhood was a secular democratic organization. What’s dismaying is how much play Western media are giving this charge as if it should be taken seriously. When the West behaves in this way it signals at the least a dangerously naive credulousness and amnesia; at worst, it signals a profound anti-Jewish and anti-Israel complex on their part.

But there's something else in this story, something very chilling indeed. Revolutionary Islamists especially, but many Muslims otherwise, believe that Jews tried to murder Muhammad, the founder of Islam, and even if they failed that the poison shortened his life. The accusation that Jews are the murderer of prophets--with Muslims throwing in the founder of Christianity also--is a phrase that derives from this story. It is frequently heard from Hamas and others. 

This is a blood libel, an alleged crime that then leads to the view that Jews are absolutely evil and should be wiped out. In short, it is a rationale for genocide. When Iran, Hamas, Hizballah, and the Muslim Brotherhood say that Israel should be wiped off the map and Jews generally should be murdered that incitement is the inevitable consequence of this line of thinking.

That Western observers are unaware of all of this history, and repeated every day in inciteful sermons found often in Middle East mosques, is quite evident. Such a lack of knowledge leads them to believe that the conflicts they say are easily resolvable, quickly settled by more Israeli concessions or still continuing because of Israeli actions when the causes are much deeper and the solutions far more remote. Western societies today are obsessed with searching everywhere for racism and hate speech. Well, the idea that the Jews murdered Arafat (rather than that Arafat spent most of his career murdering Jews) falls into that category.

As for the specific claims in the Arafat case, they are easily disposed of:

Friday, May 4, 2012

New York Times coverage of Israel: What Comes After Ridiculously Biased?

By Barry Rubin

With the arrival of Jodi Rudoren as correspondent, New York Times coverage of Israel and related issues has now gone to a new level of ridiculous bias, especially after a predecessor who really did try to be fair.

 What is most impressive about Rudoren's record so far is that there is no attempt to give the faintest appearance of balance. She probably doesn't understand what that concept means. And she certainly knows that the editors and ombudsman won't hold her accountable.

We in Israel have grown used to media prejudice and, given our low expectations, probably accept more of it without complaint than anyone else in the world.

Yet the following lead was the absolute last straw for me, in an article entitled "Palestinians Go Hungry to Make Their Voices Heard":

"The newest heroes of the Palestinian cause are not burly young men hurling stones or wielding automatic weapons. They are gaunt adults, wrists in chains, starving themselves inside Israeli prisons."'

 This is not news coverage but revolutionary romanticism. And consider the implications:
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--The article does not tell us that they are in prison for a reason. These are overwhelmingly people who have murdered or tried to murder civilians during a period, by the way, when their supposed governmental representative, the Palestinian Authority, was not at war with Israel.

--They were in fact "burly young men...wielding automatic weapons" when thrown into prison after trials. Most of them admit--indeed brag about--their crimes and make it clear that they would continue such deeds if released.

--Consequently, these people are NOT heroes to Palestinians, a macho society generally, because they are pitiful, gaunt, and starving but because they were heroes of an armed struggle defined in genocidal terms.

--The Palestinian Authority and Hamas holds these people as role models to young people so that they will be inspired to grow up to kill more Israelis.

--"Gaunt adults, wrists in chains" seems pulled from the nineteenth century novels of Victor Hugo.

--Remember, these are the people still in prison because of the bloodiness of their crimes after Israel has released hundreds of others in prisoner exchanges or amnesties designed to indicate good will and promote negotiations.  They are still in jost ail not out of cruelty or even out of a sense of justice and self-defense but because they generally are the most merciless in deliberately slaying those who are weak and helpless.

--The author's goal is to make readers say, "Those horrible Israelis are so mean and repressive, mistreating those poor people! We must do something!" And it is to make Jewish readers to say, "We must distance ourselves from this evil country (or government) that so betrays basic Jewish principles of mercy and justice." The former call for pressuring Israel in order to hurt it; the latter urge pressuring Israel for its own good and talk about a crisis of Zionism in producing such a terrible system.    


Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His book, Israel: An Introduction, has just been published by Yale University Press. Other recent books include The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center  and of his blog, Rubin Reports. His original articles are published at PJMedia.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Will the Palestinians Launch a Third "Intifadah" War on Israel?

By Barry Rubin

 Is there going to be a “third intifada?” I have no idea. That is a question most likely to be determined by those who set Palestinian strategy and they will surely differ among themselves. What interests me is the question of what factors would determine their choice.

When this issue is discussed publicly it is attributed almost entirely to the idea that frustration will motivate revolt. This is certainly the point made by Palestinian Authority (PA) leaders. The argument is that unless they get their way diplomatically violence will be the logical outcome.

But that’s just a tactic to use violence as leverage, scaring Western countries—because such threats won’t scare Israel—into concessions.  Moreover, since Western countries will not hand the PA unilateral independence on its own terms, without any deal with Israel or concessions, violence would ultimately either be useless or show that the PA's claim of making progress through violence would prove to be a bluff.



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There are other considerations that will determine Palestinian policy.

Would a “third intifada” actually bring Palestinian gains? I would argue that neither of the first two did, though of course that didn’t stop them from happening. Political profitability is not the only factor involved and Yasir Arafat had his own way of assessing the balance of forces.  But whether violence would bring any benefit is going to be an important issue for the PA leadership.
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Why would a PA leadership launch a new war if it didn’t expect rationally to gain from it? Ideological enthusiasm and irrational wishful thinking do play some part here. Yet the current leadership has had some lessons in the cost of wrecking their own infrastructure. That kind of thinking in itself is insufficient.

There’s another point that must be raised. Would a “third intifadah” and the wrecking of Palestinian infrastructure once again enhance or destroy the PA and Fatah dominance on the West Bank? On the positive side, demagoguery about heroic fighters, martyrdom, and liberating Palestine by fire and sword has proven to be useful for building mass support.

Yet that has usually been true when Fatah, through the PLO, either had a monopoly on violence or Hamas was content to play second fiddle to Arafat. Those conditions no longer apply.  

On the other hand, wouldn’t Hamas, with its greater degree of specialization in terror and triumphalism be in a better position to benefit? After all, Fatah does rule the West Bank and provoking anarchy and chaos could destroy its standing. By having to cooperate with Hamas, Fatah would legalize its organizations and actions, allowing it to heap new glory on itself by murdering Israeli civilians. That is very risky.

In contrast, Fatah would gain nothing in the Gaza Strip which would stay firmly under Hamas control. Small Fatah groups might be able to operate there but so what? They would have no political influence and be under the thumb of Hamas. A “third intifadah” is politically beneficial to Hamas and that is a point that no Fatah or PA leader can easily ignore.

More likely, then, is a situation in which either Hamas forces an outbreak of uprising or some leaders in Fatah do so. The latter’s motivations would include a genuine belief in revolutionary methods, which a significant sector of the Fatah leadership does accept, or the use of an intifadah as part of a leadership struggle.

The fact is that Mahmoud Abbas is in the closing phase of his leadership and there is no clear successor. Complicating the situation is the specter of a generational transition. People can put forward in conversation their preferred person to lead the PA, PLO, and Fatah or speculate as to who it might be. But the truth is that nobody has the least idea who will be the new leader or even who are the most likely candidates.  

A leader or faction or elements of the “young guard” might well decide that an intifadah would suit their purposes. It would distance themselves from the “failed” policies of Abbas and the current establishment. By focusing on youth, violence, and the security forces, such a strategy could benefit a takeover bid by “military” officials or by young anti-establishment forces.

There is a difference between those two sectors. The PA “military” tends to dislike Hamas but those who came of political age in the “first intifadah” see things differently. They might view a war as the best way to fuse Fatah-Hamas cooperation with themselves taking a leading role.

Of course, an uprising could take place due to some major or symbolic incident, forcing the leaders to rush to the front of the army. That is also possible. But least likely of all would be Abbas and the current leadership making a calculated decision to launch a war that they expect to gain from.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His book, Israel: An Introduction, has just been published by Yale University Press. Other recent books include The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center is at http://www.gloria-center.org and of his blog, Rubin Reports,http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.com

This article was published in "Bitter Lemons."

Friday, February 3, 2012

Why No Peace? Because the PA Tells Its People that Murdering Israeli Civilians Makes You a Hero

By Barry Rubin

The trouble with the Palestinian Authority (PA) is that while in the Western mass media it is virtually always portrayed as moderate the PA simply doesn’t act that way. Its contrary behavior involves not keeping its commitments, daily incitement to kill Israelis and destroy Israel in its institutions, and refusal to negotiate seriously.

Above all, it means refusing to make peace in the context of a two-state solution. Among other things, it rejects the idea off a peace treaty ending the conflict--a pretty remarkable stance--or resettling its people within the state of Palestine but insisting many should go to Israel to live--a pretty remarkable stance for what's supposed to be a nationalist movement.

But then there are the symbolic things that persuade Israelis not to trust the PA with their future fate, even if Israel must deal with the PA and even save it from being overthrown by Hamas.

To put it in one sentence; there is nothing the PA won’t do in terms of justifying the murder of Israelis as a heroic deed that should be considered. Here is a case so extreme—publicized by the praiseworthy Palestinian Media Watch (PMW)  that it should reverberate internationally, making people understand the true reason why this conflict cannot be settled. Oh, and it immediately follows PMW's revelation that the highest-ranking, PA-appointed Palestinian Muslim cleric called for genocide against the Jews. 

Now, twice in one week, a PA television host praised Hakim Awad, the murderer of the Fogel family who, last March, carried out the bloody slaughter of an unarmed father, mother, and three children (11 years, 4 years, and 2 months, respectively) in their home. The program held him up as a good role model for Palestinians.

There are hundreds of such events--you can visit the PMW site to read about them and see them on video--yet the Western mass media, not to mention governments, never take this incitement seriously even though it violates many agreements made by the PA.
What do you think their effect is going to be? 


Friday, August 12, 2011

The Middle East Today: August 12, 2011

Summary: Turkey moves toward Islamism; Syria heads toward bloodbath; Egypt strides toward anti-Americanism, Afghanistan heads toward a Taliban comeback. Palestinian leader threatens to murder Americans if they don’t get everything they want.  Obama Administration continues to be clueless. The good news? You’re among the first to hear about it! 

By Barry Rubin
http://pajamasmedia.com/barryrubin/2011/08/12/the-middle-east-today-august-12-2011/


All of these are “little stories” that reflect wider trends.

Read it all

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

"Peace Process" Silliness from Obama and Abbas

By Barry Rubin

Speaking to Jewish donors (or should we say possible Jewish donors?) to his presidential campaign, President Barack Obama pledged that his administration would "devote all of its creative powers" to trying to bring about Mideast peace.

This is not an art project. What is needed is not "creative powers" but to deal with the actual, real situation. To me, "creative powers" (Samantha creative Powers?) means to come up with gimmicks, to do anything possible to bring about the supposed signing of a peace of paper [pun] as fast as possible. If they know the Palestinian Authority is inflexible, then they will just demand more concessions from Israel. And they won't bother to ask whether the "peace agreement" they are pushing would last a month or produce a more stable region and a more secure Israel.

Every time Obama says that the "status quo is unsustainable," he's suggesting that anything would be better than the status quo. What he would produce, then, is a worse status quo.

Meanwhile, as if to prove the point,  Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas said  he would drop seeking UN approval of unilateral Palestinian independence if the United States offers something better: "I don't know if the U.S. has another option, but if it does, we will not go to the U.N.."

Read more

Friday, June 3, 2011

How Obama Administration Mishandling of the Palestinian Unilateral Independence Bid is Wasting 2011—And What He Should Have Done

This article is published in the Jerusalem Post but I have added additional material. I own the rights so link to this site if you forward or reprint.

By Barry Rubin

And so he rushes off to Europe to muster support so that the United States is not alone. It’s the end of May already. Besides, the UK, France, Germany, and Italy have already made clear that they won’t support unilateral independence.

In a real sense this issue has illustrated Obama’s incompetence and the mess created by his world view. What would a “real” president have done?

First, get an early start. The moment the PA announced it was considering this scheme, he would have coordinated with European allies to get a joint statement that this was unacceptable and that there would be negative consequences for the PA in pursuing it and refusing to negotiate with Israel. What’s being done in May should (and could) have been done in January. Why is Obama trying to get a joint stand with Europe now when the issue has been discussed for months?

Second, lobby hard in the Third World. American diplomats should be limousining into the offices of presidents, prime ministers, and foreign ministers all over the world to make it clear that the United States wants them to oppose this initiative. Favors should be called in; gentle warnings made. Yet as Latin American countries—a traditional area of U.S. influence--unilaterally recognized a Palestinian state, Obama stood by and did nothing.

Third, make the consequences clear to the PA. The PA has done many things to sabotage Obama’s prized peace process. Here’s a partial list:

--Went back on its promise to him not to push the Goldstone Report, which even its principal author now disowns, at the UN.

--Sabotaged his September 2009 initiative for a Camp David-style summit to be held in December, after he publicly announced it at the UN.

--Refused to negotiate seriously with Israel when Israel accepted and implemented a nine-month-long freeze of construction on settlements and then even added Jerusalem to it. The PA waited a few days before the expiration, held a couple of formal chats, and then demanded that the freeze be renewed!

--Made a deal with Hamas that obviously runs counter to U.S. policy and puts a big hole in the side of the already sinking peace process.

--Going to the UN in this time-wasting, negotiations’ killing maneuver.

Ironically, the Palestinians are almost universally portrayed as the world’s leading victims. Yet in a very real sense, they are the world’s most spoiled political grouping. Decades of refusal to negotiate, intransigence, and terrorism are rewarded while massive subsidies continue ignoring political behavior, incitement, violation of commitments, terrorism, and corruption.

Maybe that’s the real problem making this conflict persist.

Fourth, Obama has not put any sanctions on the PA, refused to threaten it, and has barely criticized it in public. Indeed, the money and diplomatic support continues no matter what the PA does. Obama’s level of backing for Israel does not go up in response to PA behavior either. So he has taught the PA that sabotaging American policy pays because it makes him (and the world) criticize Israel, widens the U.S.-Israel rift, and even brings more U.S. concessions for the Palestinians in a desperate effort to make peace, even if the Palestinian leadership cares less about that achievement than the United States, EU, and UN.

It is an amazing example of Obama’s exaltation of weakness that even a deal between the PA and Hamas has barely brought a squeak from him, after a period of saying “we’ll see what happens.” The administration’s great defense is that maybe the deal will collapse of its own weight. We’re also told that Congress will declare U.S. aid to the PA illegal and stop it because of this alliance with a terrorist group.

Yet what kind of president let’s something happen that would lead to Congress forcibly terminating one of his priority policy initiatives? This is not leadership and, of course, if it happens that will be a major embarrassment for the White House. The obvious criticism is: Why didn’t you do anything?

Fifth, the president should have explained very clearly why he is opposed to this maneuver. The problem is that he cannot really do so without blaming the PA.

Let us remember that in the year 2000—that’s eleven years ago! How time flies when you’re fantasizing about an unworkable peace process—the Palestinian leadership rejected peace. (Note: So did the Syrian leadership and the U.S. government is still treating that regime as a friend!) President Bill Clinton denounced the PA rulers. Then President George W. Bush discovered that PA leader Yasir Arafat was lying to him and trying to import Iranian weapons to launch a full-scale war on Israel. He, too, got angry.

Obama, however, has not caught on and probably never will. The PA does not want to make a compromise peace resulting in a two-state solution. Going to the UN to circumvent talks and allying with Hamas are two major ways that the PA is violating the Oslo agreement, the very basis of its existence. In fact, by rejecting peace and instead launching a terrorist war on Israel they violated it eleven years ago. And, as far as Western diplomacy goes, they never pay the price.

It will pull the rug out from under the United States every time and make its president look foolish. And that’s sure what’s happening with the PA’s unilateral independence bid.

In short, this is a huge mess. And while the PA is responsible for it, the president is, too. The PA is showing by how it behaves that it doesn’t want peace. Still, the West just doesn’t want to recognize this fact. It’s far easier and cost-free to blame Israel.

But what’s the point in Obama coming up with a new peace plan when it should be clear that it isn’t going anywhere, and why it isn’t going anywhere. People talk of a “cycle of violence.” Well what about the cycle of diplomacy? Here’s how that works:

U.S. and Europe propose plan, demand is made for both sides to make concessions, Israel makes concessions, PA doesn’t implement its part; plan fails; Israel blamed; new cycle begins.

Of course, sometimes Israel refuses also or only makes partial concessions. Yet every time the PA’s score is zero. At least Israel is always willing to talk. The PA has now refused serious talks for 2.5 years and there’s no doubt it will get to the three-year-mark.

The fact that Israel has caught onto this game and refuses to play anymore has provoked astonishment in Europe and America. Don’t those Israelis realize that it’s for their own good? No, they realize it is against their interests and also realize that these countries either haven’t been paying attention or don’t care.

But to return to the PA’s UN maneuver. The Obama Administration has botched it. In the end, the unilateral independence gimmick will be defeated but at the cost of at least one year wasted diplomacy and an increasingly reckless PA strategy. This time, though, the U.S. government will have to stick its neck out and (very possibly) do a unilateral veto.

In an article in the Wall Street Journal, former U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Bolton explained how a previous president dealt with a previous such situation. Secretary of State James Baker, someone personally unfriendly to Israel by the way, made it clear in 1989 that if the UN were to take such a step the United States would cut off all of its financial donations to that institution. The problem immediately disappeared.

That's called using power, unapologetically taking leadership, and getting your way. It's a concept totally alien to the Obama Administration. But not to America's enemies.

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Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal, and a featured columnist at PajamasMedia http://pajamasmedia.com/barryrubin/ His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center is http://www.gloria-center.org. His PajamaMedia columns are mirrored and other articles available at http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.com/.






Saturday, April 9, 2011

Who Won't Talk? The Palestinian Authority, Not Israel

This article appears on my blog at PajamasMedia here. Please visit my blog at PajamasMedia. If you reprint please link to the PajamasMedia site. The text is reprinted here for your convenience.

By Barry Rubin

There’s a wonderful line in the great film, “Arsenic and Old Lace” in which the main character, played by Cary Grant, learns that his relatives are all quite insane. He remarks, “Insanity doesn’t just run in my family. It gallops!” So it is with anti-Israel bias in the New York Times.

The effort to make Israel look bad is simply ridiculous. But even in this context, the following lead paragraph caught my eye:

“As Germany moves closer to other European countries in adopting an increasingly tough stance toward Israel’s reluctance to resume peace negotiations with the Palestinians, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday that it was more urgent than ever that the talks be restarted.”

The article as a whole is pretty shoddy stuff, based on rumor and diplomatic gossip. But I want to focus on that phrase about “Israel’s reluctance to resume peace negotiations with the Palestinians.”

It is a matter of public record that at no time during the past half-dozen years has Israel been reluctant to hold peace negotiations with the Palestinians. The talks were broken off by the Palestinians, that is the Palestinian Authority (PA), in January 2009 during the Hamas-Israel war, begun by a Hamas attack on Israel.

The PA then refused to negotiate, despite almost daily statements about his desire for talks by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for more than 18 months. When President Barack Obama called for talks in Washington to be held in December 2009, Netanyahu agreed and PA “president” Mahmoud Abbas, refused.

Then Obama asked Israel for a nine-month freeze on new construction in the West Bank. Netanyahu agreed, to be warmly praised by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as having made an unprecedented concession, on October 31, 2009. Until the very end of that freeze, the PA again refused to talk. Finally, knowing that the freeze would end within days, the PA agreed. A couple of rounds of talks (one each two weeks) were held. Then the freeze expired, as everyone knew it would, and the PA walked out of talks.

Since then, Israel has continued to propose negotiations; the PA has refused. Yet over and over we see in the Western media that the lack of talks is Israel’s fault. This is such an obvious fabrication—a total reversal of the truth—that it is downright staggering. Incidentally, I haven’t seen anyone in the Obama Administration make any statement of this sort. The U.S. government knows very well that the PA is the one refusing to negotiate.

And why? First, the PA leadership is generally too hardline to negotiate any conceivable peace with Israel, unwilling to make any compromises. Second, it is too weak to negotiate any conceivable peace with Israel, unable to make any compromises. It fears its own people—whose extremism has been stoked by every Palestinian institution, leaders fear their rivals, and the ruling Fatah fears Hamas.

Third, the PA has another strategy: go to the UN, have the world declare Palestine a state, and there's no need to negotiate with Israel at all or to make any compromises. What's there to negotiate about when they already have most of what they want?

If you don’t understand why the PA doesn’t want to make peace with Israel, can’t make peace with Israel, and has an alternative in mind to making peace with Israel, you can’t understand anything about the Israel-Palestinian conflict, the Arab-Israeli conflict, or the Middle East in general.


Monday, March 14, 2011

Why Palestinian Terror Attacks Ensure There Will Be No Peace

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By Barry Rubin

Events like the massacre of an Israeli family by terrorists aren't just tragedies or crimes, they are events of huge political and international importance. They reveal issues and stories that Western governments and media refuse to understand yet which foil their plans and contradict their assumptions.

While the Itamar massacre of the Fogel family--an Israeli couple and three of their young children--is only one in a long chain of such terrorist attacks and murders, it points to major issues that U.S. policy has never addressed and which poses as much--and arguably more--threat to the possibility of peace than do settlements. That issue is incitement.

The main political impact of terrorist attacks is not on Israelis but rather on Palestinians. Inciting beforehand and justifying--even celebrating--afterward has far less effect on hardening Israeli attitudes than on ensuring that the Palestinian political atmosphere remains extremist and the Palestinian Authority's (PA) policies on any real chance for a peace agreement remain hard line.

To put it a different way, if the day after a horrendous terrorist attack the PA offered a real and credible comprehensive peace deal, Israel would still accept it. But the political culture of terrorism makes it certain that the PA will do no such thing and ensures that such a peace is--to put it in the most optimistic possible terms--at least a generation away.

During the 1990s' peace process, the PA sometimes acted to stop attacks and to punish the perpetrators afterward minimally, temporarily, and more for their inconvenient timing than for their crime. Yet it continued to promote the culture of martyrdom and blind hatred that promoted terrorism. Thus, the process of war by terrorism was easily restarted when Arafat wanted to do so in 2000.

Then and since then, day in and day out, the PA's official media--television, radio, and newspaper (al-Hayat al-Jadida)--and schools incite violence against Israel; glorify terrorists as heroes and role models who will also receive great heavenly rewards; portray Israelis as monsters; and teach Palestinians that Israel has no right to exist and should be wiped off the map.

The PA's summer camp is named after a terrorist. Just last week, a football tournament was announced named in honor of a suicide bomber. Last year a major square in Ramallah, the PA's capital, was renamed to honor another terrorist. Mahmoud Abbas extolled a band that called for war on Israelis. The PA's minister of religion states that Allah commands that Muslims rule the entire land and eliminate Israel. Is there some pattern here, perhaps a phenomenon worthy of a little international attention, a story meriting some reporting?

In this latest case, there was an especially pointed example: just three weeks before this latest attack Palestinian Authority television showed a program celebrating the terrorist who murdered three Israeli civilians in the same town nine years ago.

And as if all this were not enough, the day after--let me repeat that--the day after the killing of the Fogel family, the PA renamed a square in the town of el-Bireh after a terrorist who murdered Israeli civilians. It is conceivable--fully conceivable--that if one day the murderers of the Fogel family will be honored by the PA.

There is no such situation on the Israeli side save for extraordinarily marginal extremists who receive no social sanction and often face real punishment. Any attempt to portray the two sides as equivalent in this respect is a flat and conscious lie.

As for the PA leadership, what we see over and over again is a showy but routine denunciation of terrorism in English for the international audience coupled with encouragement to commit terrorism in Arabic to the Palestinian audience. It is easy to demonstrate that this is the actual situation. Yet the Western news media almost totally ignore this issue.

Thus, even the naming of squares, sporting events, and institutions by the Palestinian Authority after specific terrorists who murdered Israeli civilians draws no major U.S. government criticism (much less pressure or punishment) or media coverage.

The U.S. State Department has already issued a statement criticizing an Israeli government decision, in response to the massacre, to build  a couple of hundred more apartments on the West Bank. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the plan "runs counter to efforts to resume direct negotiations.” Doesn't what the PA does every day sabotage negotiations and progress? And incidentally, the PA refuses to talk even when Israel does freeze construction. They aren't rejecting negotiations because of settlements; they are rejecting negotiations because they don't want to negotiate.

Yet there is no real criticism or pressure over incitement. If you want to understand why there is no peace now or hope for it in the foreseeable future, the U.S. government's failure to deal with this issue--or condition aid and support for the PA on some change-is a large part of the answer.

It is not only that the terrorist violence makes Israel and Israelis mistrustful of the Palestinian Authority and about making more concessions, when those in the past have cost so many lives of Israeli civilians. In addition, the incitement and even celebration of terrorist acts creates a Palestinian public opinion favoring endless conflict and demanding total victory; elevates the gunmen and their supporters to real power in Palestinian politics ("President" Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad are largely front men kept there to keep foreign donors happy); and persuade Palestinians that compromise is equivalent to treason.

When Western governments denounce Palestinian terrorist acts in the same terms they decry an earthquake in Japan or a tsunami in Thailand they miss the point. These are not just regrettable events but arise from Palestinian--either Palestinian Authority or Hamas--decisions. The key question is not whether Israeli police can prove a case in court but the atmosphere that produces a Palestinian cult and strategy of terrorism that has lasted decades.

The real cycle of violence isn't that settlements create terrorism, or between Israeli violence and terrorism, but rather the relationship between Palestinian incitement and terrorism. Incitement itself is built on the idea that terrorism mobilizes public approval, demoralizes the enemy, and is justified morally.

This is not some sideshow or minor issue but is at the very core of the problem. Incidentally, the same basic points apply to revolutionary Islamism. The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood has not "renounced" violence. It glorifies, extols, and encourages violence, portraying its enemies as subhumans whom the deity wants killed. At a given moment--like the PA--it might not implement violence but the justifications have been made and its followers are ready to murder when the signal is given.

As for the Israel-Palestinian conflict, until this issue is addressed--and there is no current sign that it ever will be--there won't be any diplomatic progress. Regarding the wider regional battle for control of Arabic-speaking countries, the revolutionary Islamists believe they are just getting started.

PS: After publishing this article I found an index of incitement issued after the Itamar attack here.

Barry Rubin is Director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His books include Islamic Fundamentalists in Egyptian Politics and The Muslim Brotherhood (Palgrave-Macmillan); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East, a study of Arab reform movements (Wiley). GLORIA Center site: http://www.gloria-center.org His blog, Rubin Reports, http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.com/.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Palestinian Authority: We Never Listen to What America Says, We Just Take the Money

By Barry Rubin

Palestinian Media Watch has a round-up of anti-Obama and anti-American material from the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the wake of the U.S. veto of a one-sided anti-Israel UN resolution. The U.S. government had made clear that it would vote in favor of a resolution condemning Israel for building on existing settlements in the West Bank if it also included some language criticizing terrorism and the behavior of both sides.

Two quotes are particularly interesting. One is from Hafez Barghouti, editor of the official PA newspaper, al-Hayat al-Jadida:

"We understand very well that the protests and revolutions blazing in the Arab countries have economic and social roots, and that they are related to corruption and social injustice. However, this is a result of police states which enforced oppression, first and foremost for the sake of their ties with the Americans. Every corrupt Arab has a foreign or Israeli partner, and the most corrupt and the richest in Egypt have partners in Israel in the field of gas and the like. Therefore, the rebellion against oppression and corruption must be directed towards the godfathers of the thieves of natural resources and the oppressors of nations, not only against their agents."

There is, of course, a bit of remarkable humor in this statement, “Every corrupt Arab has a foreign or Israeli partner.” After all, the corrupt leaders of the PA have plenty of such partners. Of course, the PA never gives thanks for the partners who have provided it with billions of dollars of aid, despite its consistent failure to live up to its commitments. The Palestinians, you see, are eternal victims and so are entitled to unlimited support. And, of course, “corrupt” PA leaders have stolen a remarkable amount of that money.

What Barghouti is saying, though, is that the main fire of the Arab upheavals should be directed against America and Israel as—in language basically borrowed from historical antisemitism—“the oppressors of nations.”

Talk about biting, munching, and even wolfing down the hand that feeds you! Of course, the joke is on the PA since the Mubarak regime—though it had its differences with the PA—was basically sympathetic to it. Now Egypt is likely to be friendlier to Hamas, even without an Islamist government in Cairo.

The most important point is, however, what PA leader Mahmoud Abbas says in the January 24 edition of the newspaper:

"The US is assisting us in the amount of $460 million annually. This does not mean that they dictate to us whatever they want, because we do what we view as beneficial to our cause. I recall that they said, 'Don't go to the Arab Summit in Damascus,' but we went. They demanded that we should not sign the Egyptian reconciliation document [between Fatah and Hamas], but we…[signed] it."

Of course, the PA has a right to act in what it perceives to be in its own interests. And of course Israel also doesn’t do whatever the United States asks it to do.

But here are the differences: First, Israel tries to accommodate the U.S. government. For example, when the United States pressed for a freeze of construction on settlements, Israel did so. When President Obama demanded there be no construction in Jerusalem, Israel complied. When the White House pushed for Israel-PA negotiations, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately and repeatedly agreed.

Second, Israel knows that if the U.S. government is dissatisfied with its policy, this will be loudly stated by the White House and State Department. In other words, there is a price to pay for disagreement. Certainly not as high a price as other countries might face—given Israel’s support in Congress and in American public opinion polls—but a real cost nonetheless.

Now, compare this with the PA. On one occasion, not sponsoring the Goldstone report, defaming Israel’s war against Hamas while almost void of any critique of the actual aggressor, in the UN, Abbas quickly reversed himself under local political pressure. On every other point for more than two years the PA has not done a single thing requested by the United States.

In addition to the two examples Abbas gave in the quote above, he has refused to negotiate seriously with Israel—or even talk at all—despite persistent U.S. efforts during the last two years. The PA has also ignored U.S. requests to reduce incitement and to do a range of other things, including hunting down and punishing the murderers of several U.S. government employees.

But to show for sure who's boss and who is doing who a favor, 28 PA-ruled towns and villages on the West Bank have announced "a boycott of the American consulate, its diplomats, and the American institutions in Jerusalem." This is being sponsored by Fatah, the recipient of so much U.S. aid. I wonder. Hatem Abd Al-Qader, one of Fatah's more fiery grassroots-oriented guys, explains, that the Americans "cannot extort the Palestinian people and humiliate it with a bit of aid."

Does this mean they'll stop taking the money? Somehow I don't think so. In fact, the Palestinians and many others are humiliating the United States. And the U.S. government doesn't seem to mind at all.

Ignoring U.S. requests and even consistently and publicly attacking the United States, however, never brings any real criticism, much less material pressure, from the U.S. government. In short, not only cannot the United States “dictate to us,” as Abbas says, but it never even tries. For the PA, there is no cost whatsoever in making the president of the United States look foolish and sabotaging his policies. Even the U.S. media, with rare exceptions, doesn’t even recognize that this is happening.

No wonder, then, that the PA leadership sabotages U.S. government policies and opposes American interests. Given the circumstances, it would be foolish not to do so. Of course, to give the PA so much money and so little criticism is not a brilliant--or productive--strategy for the U.S. government either.

Now if you have any doubt that U.S. policy is still on another planet altogether and seems incapable of learning from facts, events, and experience, just read this:

After meeting with President Obama, several Jewish leaders recounted that he, "Implied that Israel bears primary responsibility for advancing the peace process. They interpreted the president’s comments either as hostile, naive or unsurprising. Obama said Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is eager to secure his legacy by establishing a Palestinian state and would accept a decent offer if one were on the table....`The Palestinians don't feel confident that the Netanyahu government is serious about territorial concessions.'..."

That's the problem in a nutshell. The Palestinian leadership never listens to what America asks while the U.S. government believes everything these leaders tell them.

Barry Rubin is Director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His books include Islamic Fundamentalists in Egyptian Politics and The Muslim Brotherhood (Palgrave-Macmillan); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East, a study of Arab reform movements (Wiley). GLORIA Center site: http://www.gloria-center.org His blog, Rubin Reports, http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.com.

Friday, February 4, 2011

You Can Believe That PA Television has Banned Anti-Israel Incitement...As Long as You Never Watch It

By Barry Rubin

The genuinely (relatively) moderate Palestinian Daoud Kuttab wrote an op-ed in The New York Times that beautifully shows the kind of thing Israel and Israelis and those friendly to Israel have to deal with daily.

He wrote:

"Palestine television, which falls under the president’s [Mahmoud Abbas's] powers, was totally revamped and cleaned of anti-Israeli incitement."

Now, I will give Kuttab the credit for wishing that this was true but he knows it isn't true. Consequently, I have not the slightest reservation to saying that he is lying and that he knows that he is lying.

And I also know that hundreds of thousands of people will read and believe him, saying that it must be true or the Times wouldn't print it. Or if it weren't true they'd be reading about such anti-Israel incitement in the Times and other newspapers.

At any rate, no one raised the interesting question in any mass media environment: Why would it have taken until November 2010 to do this when it was supposed to have been done  about 16 years earlier according to the 1993 Israel-PLO agreement?
And of course it hasn't happened even as of today. On the contrary.

One expert on Palestinian media and incitement therein remarked, "It so absurd a statement that to prove it wrong would be easy." Yet no Western journalist seems interested in tapping his remote control, turning the television on, and checking it out.

That's a funny thing about today's world. We have instantaneous reporting: You are IN Tahrir Square with the demonstrators; Yet this situation requires a higher level of understanding on the part of the journalists and their pontificating guests. And instead the opposite is true.
So here is one example of how simple it is to get the true story. In this case, of course, incitement on PA television has not declined. Here, a blogger provides three videos of songs on PA television inciting to violence against Israel and Israelis. The third one honors one of the most vicious terrorists in the history of the conflict.

But keep in mind that it is possible to provide dozens of examples, as Palestinian Media Watch has done.

Now multiply this little case study by one thousand, ten thousand or more in terms of the propaganda campaign and the Western media's collaboration in it.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Why Obama Administration Peace Process Policy Will Be A Total Waste of Time in 2011

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By Barry Rubin

Since predicting the future is hard, to say the least, it's always interesting when one can clearly see a crisis looming months ahead of time. The usual pattern is for the impending problem to be ignored until the last minute, then it is suddenly discovered by journalists and policymakers with great astonishment.

Often, they then misdiagnose the causes of the problem precisely because they never understood why it happened in the first place.

In this case, the Palestinian Authority (PA) foreign minister--remember when the 1993 Israel-PLO agreement said that the PA wouldn't conduct foreign policy? Ha-ha-ha--Riyad Malki says he will seek recognition of a Palestinian state in September at the UN. For many years, Malki ran the terrorist group, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) on the West Bank. But it's ok! He quit.

So far, recognition has been obtained from Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia and Ecuador, with Uruguay, Paraguay, Peru, and Chile considered next. Of course, almost 100 countries recognized the Palestinian state a long time ago, often 20 years ago, and that didn't change anything. Indeed, I was present when a unilateral declaration of independence was made near Algiers on November 15, 1988, by the Palestinian National Council, the PLO's parliament.

Everything the PA has obtained in the last 17 years has been due not to those diplomatic recognitions but to the 1993 agreement with Israel. To walk away from that agreement and negotiations in general would be a serious matter of violating every commitment the PA has understaken. It tells something about the PA's pattern of behavior and reliability in keeping agreements. But who cares, right?

More immediately, though, I have not seen a single article in any mass media outlet that makes these most simple and obvious points:

First, the PA has basically refused to negotiate with Israel for two full years, though one would scarcely know that from media coverage.

Second, this intransigence is now being parlayed into a unilateral action. The PA won't negotiate with Israel at all. Thus, it will not have to make any commitments, compromises, or concessions. It will simply get a state on a silver platter on all of the territory it claims.

That, at least is the strategy: If the world gives me everything I want who needs you?

I have also not seen a single mass media outlet even mention that the problem here is that the Palestinians would be offered a state without having to declare that this is their final demand. In other words, as the Palestinians have always wanted, the door would be open for a second round of conflict to wipe Israel off the map.

Who will be the big loser if this happens? In theory, you would think it would be Israel. But in fact even the PA realizes that this is going to have limited effect on the ground. The PA does need Israel for many things, including, for example, helping keep it from being overthrown by Hamas and passing through needed goods.

Even PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has admitted, in the words of an AP dispatch, "that the recognition drive at the UN will not necessarily bring realization of a state. But it helps the Palestinians enshrine their demand that the 1967 borders serve as the basis for drawing their nation's shape."

Or in Malki's words: "Such recognition would create political and legal pressure on Israel to withdraw its forces from the land of another state that is recognized within the 1967 borders by the international organization."

But it won't affect Israel very much at all. Nothing really will change.

By the way, let's remember that contrary to international practice, the PA cannot claim to be a state in those borders because it doesn't control that territory. And I'm referring here to the Gaza Strip, east Jerusalem, and much of the West Bank. Moreover, it is asking for recognition in contradiction to its existing treaty commitments. But again, who cares?

The UN General Assembly will no doubt accept Palestinian statehood by a resounding majority without that country making any commitments to peace, security guarantees, an end of the conflict, or anything else. Then the issue will go to the UN Security Council where the United States will veto it. Yes, President Barack Obama will do that. And so there will be no real change in the situation.

And that brings me back to my point. The big loser here is the United States. After all, why should the PA make any attempt whatsoever to negotiate seriously if at the end of nine months it can get everything it wants for free? How can the U.S. government ignore this reality?

In other words, the next nine months of U.S. policy on the peace process will be a complete and total waste of time. And  nothing Israel does, for good or bad, will affect that reality.

There is, of course, something the U.S. government can do: maximum pressure on other states not to recognize; maximum pressure on the PA to drop the idea. Of course, this is not going to happen.

So, surer than the Titanic was going to hit that iceberg if it didn't change course, the Obama Administration is headed for getting a big hole in its side and taking on considerable water. Remember, you heard it here first. And you probably won't hear it anywhere else until about August.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center is at http://www.gloria-center.org and of his blog, Rubin Reports, http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.com.










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