Opinion | The Oslo Accords’ Last Remnants Are Under Fire. Don’t Let Them Die. – By Michael J. Koplow – The New York Times

By 

Dr. Koplow is an advocate for a viable two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.

CreditCreditHazem Bader/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“Last Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced his intention to immediately annex the West Bank’s Jordan Valley after Israel’s election on Sept. 17, should he emerge victorious. He further pledged to apply sovereignty to Israel’s settlements throughout the West Bank after President Trump unveils his Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative.

But Mr. Netanyahu’s fortunes and Mr. Trump’s plan may not matter. Under the radar, the Israelis and Palestinians have already set ominous precedents in administering their divided territories that will be extremely difficult to back away from and promise an incendiary environment for any talks about a lasting peace.

In short, the longstanding rules of temporary side-by-side coexistence in the West Bank, as set out under the Oslo Accords in the 1990s, are already being violated, and bit by bit both sides are taking steps that would nullify the remaining vestiges of the accords. If that trend continues, what is shaping events on the ground now may render any type of future division impossible.

Here is the problem: Oslo created clear lines of administrative control in the West Bank for Israel and the Palestinians by dividing the territory into distinct zones in which each side is responsible for day-to-day governing. Areas A and B are under Palestinian Authority administrative control, and Area C is under Israeli administrative control. While there have been numerous and continuing violations by both sides when it comes to security responsibility, that has not been the case with administrative responsibility. Until recently, Israel exercised its administrative control of Area C without attempting to extend its administrative reach into Areas A and B, while the Palestinian Authority ran Areas A and B with respect for Israel’s monopoly on governing Area C.”

 

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Comment at the NYT
Thank you Michael J. Koplow for this disturbing report. Ever since reading “Exodus” by Leon Uris as a teenager, I have been a supporter of Israel. But over decades, the picture has slowly changed, and the victims have become the victimizers.
It is time for the US to stop its $3 Billion subsidy to Israel, or explain what clear purpose it serves. My heart goes out to both sides, but the Palestinians, despite their faults, deserve a place to live.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion” and blogs at InconvenientNews.net.

Opinion | Can This Man Oust Netanyahu? – By Bari Weiss – The New York Times

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“. . . .  Mr. Lapid is aware of this. “Security will be the first demand every Israeli in his right mind will talk to you about,” he told me.

“There several issues in which the majority of Israelis — 70 to 80 percent — think approximately the same,” he said. “We are all students of the disengagement of 2005, in which Israel did what the world asked us to do. We left Gaza. We dismantled the settlements. And I supported it at the time. But you know what? It was a mistake, doing it unilaterally. The only thing that happened is that less than a year later they voted Hamas into power. We left them with 3,000 greenhouses for them to build an economy and instead they built training camps” for jihadis.

So where does that leave the West Bank? Can the occupation go on indefinitely?

He paused. “It’s a very American question.” Because Americans think “everything is fixable.”

“Really, really wanting something or desiring something strongly is just not enough,” he said. “I’m not willing to see one Jew die because someone took an unnecessary risk in the name of values I really cherish. Like peace, like humanity, like people’s need for self-recognition.” “

via Opinion | Can This Man Oust Netanyahu? – The New York Times

Opinion | Ilhan Omar- Aipac and Me – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

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by Thomas L. Friedman
Opinion Columnist

March 6, 2011248 c
Representative Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota, on Capitol Hill in January.
Credit
Jim Watson/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
“I’ve been watching with more than a little interest the controversial statements about Israel and the Israel lobby by Ilhan Omar, a freshman Democratic congresswoman from the Fifth District of Minnesota, because it turns out that we have a lot in common — up to a point.

The first thing we have in common is that I was raised in the Fifth District of Minnesota, specifically the Minneapolis suburb of St. Louis Park. I lived there until I was 20. It was a freaky place — a crazy mix of Minnesota Jews (we called ourselves “the Frozen Chosen’’) and Scandinavians that produced a uniquely tolerant civic culture and an interesting group of neighbors: Al Franken, the Coen brothers, Peggy Orenstein, Norm Ornstein, Michael Sandel, Sharon Isbin, Marc Trestman and lots of others you can find on the St. Louis Park Wikipedia page. Our little town was immortalized in the Coen brothers’ 2009 movie “A Serious Man.’’

I still feel very close to the community there and go home often. St. Louis Park welcomed Jews who wanted to get out of the inner city of Minneapolis back in the 1950s — when other suburbs still had restrictions on selling homes to “Hebrews.’’ So I was proud to see St. Louis Park also welcome Muslim Somali refugees like Omar a half-century later, and then elect her to Congress.

The other thing that Omar and I have in common, as others have noted, is that we both don’t like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac) — the organization at the center of the Israel lobby — and have spoken in very blunt language about its strong-arm political tactics.”

via Opinion | Ilhan Omar, Aipac and Me – The New York Times

Opinion | The Broken Pieces of Middle East Peace – by Thomas Friedman – The New York Times

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. .. . An agreement by the Palestinians and America’s Arab allies on their minimum foundations for negotiations, adds Ross, gives Palestinians cover to come back to the table and puts pressure on the Trump team to deliver a credible plan or be exposed as not being serious. And “it gives Israel a partner and some fateful choices to make.”

Say what you will about Anwar el-Sadat and Menachem Begin and Jimmy Carter 40 years ago, but they came to a point at Camp David where there were only hard choices — and they made them, and they made the right ones.

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President Jimmy Carter hosted the Egyptian president, Anwar el-Sadat, left, and the Israeli prime minister, Menachem Begin, right, at the White House in September 1978.CreditAssociated Press
We’re again at a fateful moment. For the Palestinians, it’s choose nihilism or pacifism. For Israel, it’s choose separation from the Palestinians or get bi-nationalism or apartheid. For Jared and Donald, it’s either be serious — and be ready to take a tough stance with all parties, including Israel — or stay home.

Making progress toward peace requires telling everyone the truth, twisting everyone’s arms and not letting any party drive drunk. Not ready for that? Then stick to building condos and golf courses.

via Opinion | The Broken Pieces of Middle East Peace – The New York Times

Opinion | Hamas- Netanyahu and Mother Nature – by Thomas Friedman – NYT

Princess Diana once famously observed that there were three people in her marriage, “so it was a bit crowded.” The same is true of Israelis and Palestinians. The third person in their marriage is Mother Nature — and she’ll batter both of them if they do not come to their senses.

Let’s start with Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist organization that rules the Gaza Strip. If there were an anti-Nobel Peace Prize — that is, the Nobel Prize for Cynicism and Reckless Disregard for One’s Own People in Pursuit of a Political Fantasy — it would surely be conferred on Hamas, which just facilitated the tragic and wasted deaths of roughly 60 Gazans by encouraging their march, some with arms, on the Israeli border fence in pursuit of a “return” to their ancestral homes in what is now Israel.

While the march idea emerged from Palestinian society in Gaza, Hamas seized on it to disguise its utter failure to produce any kind of decent life for the Palestinians there, whom Hamas has ruled since 2007.

You hear people say: “What choice did they have? They’re desperate.” Well, I’ll give you a choice — one that almost certainly would lead to an improved life for Gazans, one that I first proposed in 2011.

via Opinion | Hamas, Netanyahu and Mother Nature – The New York Times

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval
Thank you Thomas Friedman, for another useful and informative op-ed. All the comments I read but the NYT pick were extremely negative, but, as Dad said, don’t let the bastards get you down.
I particularly liked your paragraph, “Moreover, the renewable extraction rate for Gaza’s underground aquifer is about 60 million cubic meters of rain water annually, noted Bromberg, but Gazans have been drawing about 200 million cubic meters a year for over a decade, “so the aquifer has gotten drained and seawater has seeped into it, and many people are now drinking water that is both salty and polluted with sewage.””
You are right, mother nature is about to play a big role in Gaza and the entire middle east. You are right to call out the Israelis, since they have the stronger hand, and they have the land of the Palestinians. Overtime, they are a doomed people, if they don’t figure out how to take care of the Palestinians.
Turning Gaza into a smaller Singapore is a good idea. I wonder if it requires a brutal re-occupation of Gaza to wipe out Hamas. It is impossible to support Israel, when they keep taking even more Palestinian land and property through illegal and immoral settlement building. With these new displacements, they act like terrorists in their own obnoxious way.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNews.wordpress.com

Opinion | Gaza’s Miseries Have Palestinian Authors – by Bret Stephens – NYT

For the third time in two weeks, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have set fire to the Kerem Shalom border crossing, through which they get medicine, fuel and other humanitarian essentials from Israel. Soon we’ll surely hear a great deal about the misery of Gaza. Try not to forget that the authors of that misery are also the presumptive victims.

There’s a pattern here — harm yourself, blame the other — and it deserves to be highlighted amid the torrent of morally blind, historically illiterate criticism to which Israelis are subjected every time they defend themselves against violent Palestinian attack.

In 1970, Israel set up an industrial zone along the border with Gaza to promote economic cooperation and provide Palestinians with jobs. It had to be shut down in 2004 amid multiple terrorist attacks that left 11 Israelis dead.

In 2005, Jewish-American donors forked over $14 million dollars to pay for greenhouses that had been used by Israeli settlers until the government of Ariel Sharon withdrew from the Strip. Palestinians looted dozens of the greenhouses almost immediately upon Israel’s exit.

via Opinion | Gaza’s Miseries Have Palestinian Authors – The New York Times

David Lindsay:  A strong and effective argument by Bret Stephens.  I remain unconvinced. Here are two comments I recommended:

Jeffrey Waingrow
Sheffield, MA

On the face of it, this is a reasonably compelling argument. But It would be even more persuasive if Mr. Stephens would explain how the continuing building of settlements is not a provocation that realistically says to the Palestinians that they have no future. I’ve yet to hear a compelling argument to justify the building of settlements in contested areas.

 

Rob commented May 16

R
Rob

The Israelis have all the power and with power comes responsibility. The Palestinians have zero power and nothing to lose. That is why I have expectations of the Israelis. They are supposed to be better than this and have a lot more to lose.

What Is the Gaza Fence and Why Has It Set Off Protests Against Israel? – By Megan Specia and Rick Gladstone – NYT

By Megan Specia and Rick Gladstone

May 16, 2018
A snaking metal fence that divides the Gaza Strip from Israel has become the latest focal point in a generations-long conflict between Arabs and Jews in the area.

It was along this fence that at least 60 Palestinians were killed and many hundreds wounded on Monday as thousands converged to protest what they call an arbitrarily enforced demarcation line by an occupier. As protesters rushed toward the fence, some throwing rocks or homemade fire bombs, Israeli soldiers fired live bullets, which the Israeli military said was done as a last resort.

What are the fence’s origins and purpose in separating Gaza, a 25-mile-long, five-mile-wide Mediterranean coastal enclave where nearly two million Palestinians live? Is the fence recognized as an international border? And how has Israel justified deadly force to stop mostly unarmed Palestinians from breaching it? Here are the basics:

via What Is the Gaza Fence and Why Has It Set Off Protests Against Israel? – The New York Times

Opinion | Israel’s Got Its Own Refugee Dilemma: African ‘Dreamers’ – by Thomas Friedman – NYT

TEL AVIV — It’s been obvious to me for some time that the Israeli-Arab conflict is to wider global geopolitical trends what Off Broadway is to Broadway. If you want a hint of what’s coming to a geopolitical theater near you, study this region. You can see it all here in miniature. That certainly applies to what’s becoming the most destabilizing and morally wrenching geopolitical divide on the planet today — the divide between what I call the “World of Order” and the “World of Disorder.”

And Israel is right on the seam — which is why the last major fence Israel built was not to keep West Bank Palestinians from crossing into Israel but to keep more Africans from walking from their homes in Africa, across the Sinai Desert, into Israel.

So many new nations that were created in the last century are failing or falling apart under the stresses of population explosions, climate change, corruption, tribalism and unemployment. As these states deteriorate, they’re hemorrhaging millions of people — more refugees and migrants are on the road today than at any other time since World War II — people trying to get out of the violent and unstable World of Disorder and into the World of Order.

The Broadway versions are the vast number of migrants from failing states in Central America trying to get into the U.S. and from the Arab world and Africa trying to get into Europe. The Off Broadway version is playing out in Israel, to which, since 2012, roughly 60,000 Africans from Sudan, Eritrea and Ethiopia have trekked — not to find kosher food, Al Aqsa Mosque or the Via Dolorosa, but stability and a job.

via Opinion | Israel’s Got Its Own Refugee Dilemma: African ‘Dreamers’ – The New York Times

Yes, yes yes. Ugh. Tom Friedman asks the right difficult questions.

I recommended the two most popular comments:

Enough Humans
Nevada

I was expecting a doctrinaire recommendation that Israel take anyone that can make it to its borders be accepted for asylum. Instead you conclude with realistic questions to which no one has answers. Also, I noticed that over population was the first on the “list” of problems. Hopefully human overpopulation deniers will reconsider their positions – too many humans is the root cause of all environmental problems including climate change and the sixth mass extinction of non-humans happening right now.

JohnB commented April 24

J
JohnB
Staten Island

The Israelis have the right idea — I wish America was that sane!

Sub-Saharan Africa is the one place in the world where, for whatever reason, birth rates have not dropped very much and the population continues to explode. It is projected that by the end of this century the population of Sub-Saharan African is going to quadruple to 4 billion people — nearly half of the world’s population! Many of them are understandably going to want to live anywhere but Africa, so there is a tsunami of African migrants on the horizon. Any nation — large or small — that doesn’t take serious measures to secure its borders will find itself overwhelmed, and sooner rather than later.

Trump- Israel and the Art of the Giveaway – by Thomas Friedman – NYT

 

I’m contemplating writing a book on the first year of President Trump’s foreign policy, and I already know the name: “The Art of the Giveaway.”

In nearly 30 years of covering United States foreign policy, I’ve never seen a president give up so much to so many for so little, starting with China and Israel. In both the Middle Kingdom and in the Land of Israel, Christmas came early this year. The Chinese and the Jews are both whispering to their kids: “There really is a Santa Claus.”

And his name is Donald Trump.

Who can blame them? Let’s start with Israel, every Israeli government since its founding has craved United States recognition of Jerusalem as its capital. And every United States government has refrained from doing that, arguing that such a recognition should come only in the wake of an agreed final status peace accord between Israelis and Palestinians — until now.

Today, Trump just gave it away — for free. Such a deal! Why in the world would you just give this away for free and not even use it as a lever to advance the prospect of an Israeli-Palestinian deal?

Trump could have said two things to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. First, he could have said: “Bibi, you keep asking me to declare Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. O.K., I will do that. But I want a deal. Here’s what I want from you in return: You will declare an end to all Israeli settlement building in the West Bank, outside of the existing settlement bloc that everyone expects to be part of Israel in any two-state solution.”

David Linday Jr:  Thank you Tom Friedman. What terrible losses this oaf is causing for the United States.  Here is comment that I endorse:

MGP

Frankfurt, Germany 15 hours ago

Your point that Trump does not see himself as president of the United States but only of those who elected him is so true. It is why, as you rightly point out, that he pursues policies that are not in the national interest, but which only serve to whip up sentiment among the shrinking group of folks who support him– increasingly the far right or alt-right. He will or should soon lose the support of those working class people who bet on him– destroying NAFTA, TPP and now passing this windfall tax bill for the rich, should disabuse them of the idea he ever was interesting in anyones welfare other than his own. The news from the US gets worse every day.

via Trump, Israel and the Art of the Giveaway – The New York Times

Steve Bannon Is Bad for the Jews – by Brett Stephens

“The Zionist Organization of America feted Stephen K. Bannon at a gala dinner in New York on Sunday night. What a disgrace.

What a mistake, too.

It’s a disgrace because no organization that purports to represent the interests of the Jewish people should ever embrace anyone who embraces anti-Semites. Jews have enemies enough. To provide those enemies with moral cover for the sake of political convenience or ideology corroborates the worst anti-Semitic stereotypes and strengthens the hand of those who mean us harm.”

via Steve Bannon Is Bad for the Jews – The New York Times

Complicated. I liked the top comment, about how some terrorists are OK, if they are on your side. Overall, Stephens has a point, Bannon is bad on many counts.

There was one critical comment that caught my perspective pretty well”

Tansu Otunbayeva

Palo Alto, California 5 hours ago

“Simply put, support for Israel is a necessary but not sufficient condition for being a friend to Jews.”

Simply? I guess it depends upon what you mean by “support”. I consider myself to be a friend to Jews. I see no quibble or hedge in my heart when I say that. I support the right of Israel to exist. And yet, I can’t support Israel’s brutal occupation of Palestine.

Somehow, alone among nations, supporting Israel seems to boils down to supporting everything Israel does. Personally, I can’t extend that level of support to any nation.