Federation Plan As New Approach To Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

December 15, 2017

Throughout two decades of the Israeli-Palestinian “peace process,” direct negotiation with aim of ‘Two-State’ solution has been perceived as the only paradigm of international community and it has been the main option for Israeli and Palestinian authorities. The outcome has been a serial of repeated failures reaching peace agreements and implementing e.g. Oslo accords, combined with varying levels of violent confrontations. There is deepening lack of trust between Israelis and Palestinians and more blaming the other party for failure to progress, and destroying the belief that an agreement is possible in the foreseeable future. The bottom line: Two-State solution and the roadmap towards it seems to be the dead end at least in the short term and sure with its outdated version.

As possible solutions for Israeli-Palestinian conflict there has been besides 2-State solution also bi-national ‘One-State’ solution, partial solutions like Sinai and Jordan Options and different variations of ‘Three States’ solutions. One of course easy ‘solution’ is zero-option – ‘frozen conflict’ or ‘status quo’ scenario which can be implemented also through pseudo-talks. Today also unilateral actions – instead vain negotiations – can pave way towards some solutions.

Recently a new approach to the Jewish-Arab/Palestinian conflict was proposed by sc Federation Movement. Its Federation Plan or Federation Program presents a new approach to the Jewish-Arab/Palestinian conflict. The plan calls for a transformation of Israel’s system of governance into a federal government, such as is found in the USA, Canada, Switzerland and 25 others countries. This will be a progressive regional system whereby the State of Israel is divided into cantons (empowered provinces), which enjoy a great degree of independence in managing their affairs.

 

The Federation Program

According their webpage The Federation Movement is a public ideological movement which advocates a new political approach in order to achieve regional stability and prosperity. The key points of The Federation Program/Plan are following:

  • Application of Israeli law to Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley (the West Bank)

  • Obtaining broad international consensus to leave settlements in place

  • Granting of Israeli citizenship and rights to Palestinian residents of the West Bank who are interested

  • Formulation of one single common constitution, accepted by the majority of Israelis as well as the Arabs of the West Bank

  • Formulation of a common vision for the federal state

  • Establishment of a federal government, and the division of the country into 30 cantons, 20 of which will have a Jewish majority and ten will have Arab majorities (one of which will have a Druze majority).

  • Establishment of an additional house of representatives in the Knesset: the Council of Cantons.

  • Foster reciprocal and collaborative relations between Jewish cantons and Arab and Palestinian cantons.

  • Economic and social reconstruction of refugee camps in the West Bank and Jerusalem and Bedouin settlements in the Negev

  • Obtain international recognition and support for the application of Israeli law in the West Bank, the granting of citizenship to West Bank Palestinians, and Israel’s transformation into a federal state

  • Promotion of joint economic developments with neighboring countries, primarily Jordan and Egypt

  • Maintaining the Gaza Strip as a separate entity.

  • The Jewish population will maintain its unique relationship with the Jewish diaspora, while the Arab population will develop similar reciprocal relations with the Arab and Muslim worlds. The Druze will enhance their special relationship with the Druze population in Syria and Lebanon.

Overview

The Federation Movement believes that the enactment of Israeli law in Judea and Samaria and the bestowing of citizenship rights to their residents is the only realistic solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict that does not entail displacing hundreds of thousands of people from their homes. It believes that a federal government between the Mediterranean and the Jordan will provide all residents with security, peace, and economic and social prosperity.

The plan calls for a transformation of Israel’s system of governance into a federal government. The implementation of the federation plan entails formalizing the status quo. The State of Israel, together with the West Bank, but excluding Gaza, are already in practice one federal bi-national state: The IDF and other Israeli security forces control the West Bank; The Israeli Shekel is the coin used in the Palestinian Authority; 85% of the West Bank’s agricultural and industrial products is sold in Israel; 300 thousand out of 800 thousand Palestinians who work are employed in Israel and in Jewish settlements; approximately half of the Palestinian Authority’s budget is funded by taxes levied on Palestinian workers in Israel; about 300 thousand Palestinians in East Jerusalem hold Israeli residency cards, which allow them to work and move through all of Israel freely; more than 400 thousand Israeli Jews live in approximately 160 settlements throughout the West Bank.

Each canton – empowered province/autonomous district – will have its own government and representative council, which will legislate local law and administer education, local government, policing, planning and housing, and the like. The federal government will oversee matters of security, foreign relations and macro-economics. The Knesset will be expanded to include, in addition to the legislative assembly of today, an assembly of representatives from the cantons. The cantons’ high level of administrative autonomy will enable each canton to manage life in accordance with that canton’s population profile, the only limitation being the constitutional obligation to maintain the civil rights of all the citizens of the federation.

According an interview in Fathom The Federation Movement claims that the Israeli political system remains for all intents and purposes neutralised when it comes to a political resolution of the conflict: neither the Right which mostly objects to the two-state solution, nor the Left which will probably be too weak to implement the required withdrawal of about 30,000 households from the West Bank should it regain power in the near future, will likely be willing or able to garner the required majority in the Knesset or whip up the necessary public support to carry out such a major national undertaking and the traumatic measures it entails.

Another option raised in Israel, a unilateral withdrawal, is politically just as unlikely to materialise as is a negotiated two-state solution. After the 2005 Gaza withdrawal precedent, where Hamas took over the Gaza Strip, it is highly improbable that Israel will give up territory or remove settlers and settlements without getting anything tangible in return from the Palestinians, even if strategic thinking and common sense would call for such a move to keep the two-state solution alive.

So – according Fathom – The Federation Movement believes that their approach does have advantages, especially when looking at the alternatives, a continuation of the status-quo or an apartheid state. The biggest advantage is that political implementation appears easier since there is no need for a formal agreement, there is no need for a large scale withdrawal of Jewish settlements and the economic well-being of the whole area will improve substantially after a period of adaptation.

 

The context

There is a strong believe that regional cooperation based on the Riyadh declaration will soon led to Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. The American – President Trump’s – plan will most probably, or according most optimistic view, be made public even before X-mass 2017, and it will be of a regional nature. It will emphasize regional cooperation against radical Islamists and Iranian ambitions. The United States will lead cooperative measures and consultations with Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority and Israel. Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations should take place within this context to bring about regional peace. This is an ambitious plan, yet according to the American diplomat, a feasible one; it does not impose or rule out a two-state solution.

There is speculations that the American plan includes a Palestinian state with limited sovereignty, providing that all of the West Bank remains under Israel’s security control. The US administration will put forth plans aimed at solving the outstanding issue of the Palestinian refugees by settling them in the countries they reside in. A major emphasis will be placed on economic investments for the Palestinians, as well as regional cooperation, anti-terror measures and normalization of relations between the Arab states and Israel, on the basis of the 2002 Saudi peace initiative.

 

My view

At first place the federation idea sounds interesting as it seems to solve a basic dilemma in Israeli-Palestinian conflict: how Israel same time can survive as a Jewish state, have real democracy and keep – more or less – post-1967 boundaries especially in West Bank. In my opinion democratic One-state, Israel-Palestine federation or confederation based on cantons might work in theory but not in practice at least for decades.

My argument is that even since early times of British Mandate first the Pan-Islamic and then pan-Arab rhetoric expressed fundamental ethnic and religious objections to Jews and for the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine. The history of repeated aggressions by neighbours have also created deep distrust among Jews about Palestinians. This kind of ecosystem and peoples’ minds are challenging to transform peaceful coexistence with eternal enemy; it might take decades and generations to change fundamental ethic values. Repetitive variations of influence, education, indoctrination, culture and internationalization have grafted wide ecosystem of Palestinian nationalism – new post-1967 Palestinian national identity; which in turn appeals to latent anti-Semitism.

BICOM research team published on 31st March 2017 a policy paper proposing a new “hybrid” approach to Israeli-Palestinian peace-making. The dialogue analysed and critiqued four models for Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking: Bilateral negotiations focused on agreed parameters; a regional framework; constructive unilateralism; and Israeli-Palestinian confederation.

A consequent absence of a peace process might create the conditions for the emergence of a new paradigm to replace the defunct “two-state solution.” This new paradigm I call as [revised] “hybrid” approach to Israeli-Palestinian peace-making. (More in Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: A Revised Hybrid Model as Solution )

The difference between Herzl’s generation and post-1948 generations was a first-hand understanding of what the absence of a Jewish state means for Jewish survival. The state represents the difference between autonomy and servility, indeed between life and death. In my opinion Israel-Palestine confederation model would be too close one-state solution which would destroy Israel as “Jewish” state. Instead of this model I see Palestine-Jordan confederation – which I call as [revised] “hybrid” approach – much more better alternative.

I agree with Blue White Future co-chairmen Gilead Sher and Orni Petruschka who argue  that the two-state solution is in political trouble but it is still achievable and imperative to the respective parties. However a different paradigm is needed, one that is not based solely on bilateral negotiations towards a fully-fledged Permanent Status peace agreement and thus does not require mutual trust as a necessary condition for progress.

According Sher and Petruschka a more realistic target – than a comprehensive agreement – is a ‘divorce’ two-state agreement between the parties, focused on phased separation between the sides and an absence of violence.

Instead of moving towards an agreement to two states, we need to define our goal as moving towards a reality of two states, and to advance gradually towards that goal. This approach consists of constructive steps that each side can take, independently of the other, in order to advance a situation – both on the ground and in the political realm – which is closer to two states.

My conclusion is that now is the right moment to explore the regional alternative based on maybe soon coming American plan. From my point of view “regional peace process” can be implemented by Egypt, Jordan and Israel and instead of Arab Peace Initiative be based on Sinai and Jordan options. If there is no progress during coming months then the best way forwards from my perspective is Israeli unilateral actions hopefully based on “Constructive Unilateralism” approach.

In long term and in ideal world also with Israeli-Palestinian conflict – a deeper holistic approach is needed to make more sustainable solutions.

Sources:

The Federation Movement and Fathom

 

Related background papers:

Fathom has published an eBook – Two States for Two Peoples – a collection of  essays and interviews drawn from the pages of Fathom focused on the two-state solution and how to reinvigorate it. To download the eBook, click here.

The new “hybrid” approach to Israeli-Palestinian peace-making by BICOM

BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 425, March 15, 2017: Becoming Part of Jordan and Egypt: A Palestinian Economic Imperative By Prof. Hillel Frisch; View PDF

 

Related articles:

Peacemaking – a Holistic Approach

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: A Revised Hybrid Model as Solution

Palestinians Put Jordanian Option on the Table

Israel-Palestine Conflict: Regional Approach

Israel’s 5 Strategy Options Regarding West Bank After Abbas

Trump Presidency Brings Realpolitik Back To Mid-East

Constructive Unilateralism (II) as Solution to Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Herzog’s Plan: Security Barrier Around the Major Settlement Blocs of West Bank

Analysis: Resolving The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

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Constructive Unilateralism (II) as Solution to Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

October 28, 2016

ISRPALBrig Gen (res.) Michael Herzog has been a participant in nearly all Israeli-Palestinian negotiations since 1993. In his important essay, published in Fathom Journal , he argues that Israeli unilateral actions could later have a two-state solution as outcome.

According Herzog the bilateral Israeli-Palestinian arena looks as bleak, the last effort for negotiated peace – the Kerry-led negotiations in 2013-2014 – collapsed, adding despair on both sides to the prospects of a two-state solution.  The Palestinian Authority (PA) is weak and divided between two political entities, one in the West Bank ruled by Fatah and one in Gaza ruled by Hamas, with the current situation in Gaza resembling a powder keg. On the Israeli side, there is a right-wing coalition, reflecting the reality of Israeli society increasingly turning to the right under the pressure of repeatedly failed peace efforts and Palestinian terror waves. Meanwhile the American role in our region has weakened and the upcoming American elections paralyse potential international initiatives.

Israel and some of the major Arab states have been drawn closer together by strong converging interests, namely the threats of extreme violent Islamist jihadism, an empowered Iranian-led axis, regional instability as a whole and the weakening US role; however, according Herzog, this should be regarded as an opportunity.

 

Multi-dimensional solutions to multi-dimensional challenges

After 20 years of failed peace efforts, the first thing to realise is that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is extremely complex. Simplistic black-and-white characterisations, such as blaming the failure entirely on one party or suggesting that it could be easily resolved if only the leadership were changed, are unhelpful in trying to reach a solution. While Palestinians point to continued Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank and to Israel’s security heavy-handedness, Israelis point to repeated Palestinian rejection of Israeli peace offers over the years, the most recent example being the US proposal of parameters in March 2014, which to this day awaits a Palestinian response.

Jordan is Palestine Map low resThere is a natural tendency to single out one specific issue – Israeli settlement policy, Palestinian rejection of recognising Israel’s Jewish character, Palestinian incitement and terror, a return to negotiations, an imposed international plan etc. – and argue that if only that single issue was successfully dealt with, everything else would fall into place.

Herzog writes that

the challenge is multi-dimensional with inter-connected components and needs to be addressed as such. The pieces of the puzzle include the security situation on the ground and future security arrangements in a permanent status solution; Israeli settlement activity and practices; bottom-up processes of laying the foundation and infrastructure on the ground for future Palestinian statehood, including economic development as well as access and movement on the ground; the situation in Gaza and the relationship between Gaza and the West Bank; creating a top-down political horizon – either through negotiations or through laying out parameters on the core issues; and the regional dimension.

Herzog concludes that for now, further bilateral negotiations are not the answer – it is thus time to consider different paradigms. As an Israeli who cares deeply about the future of Israel as the democratic nation-state of the Jewish people Herzog believes that

Israel should shape its own future and destiny, not just respond to other parties’ initiatives or external attempted dictates. Because the logic of separating the two communities is in Israel’s interest, the country should signal that direction and start moving towards shaping a two-state reality, preferably with Palestinian partners but also with regional and international actors. Even without a Palestinian partner at this stage, Israel should implement a policy of constructive unilateralism that improves its security situation, maintains the possibility of a two state solution and keeps an extended hand open to the Palestinians to renew negotiations at a later date.

barrier_route_july_2011-2

The components

According Herzog this policy should include the following components:

Security – Israel should complete the security barrier between the West Bank and Israel in order to reduce friction between the two sides. While taking security measures against terror attacks, Israel should continue to encourage authorised Palestinian labourers in Israel. Almost all perpetrators of terror attacks have been illegals, and legal Palestinian labour in Israel has proven a stabilising factor.

Cessation of settlement activity beyond the security barrier – Israel should not authorise construction in areas where we assume a future Palestinian state will be established. Israel should try and elicit some form of quiet understanding for strengthening the settlement blocs – areas which are essential to Israel’s security and which are widely acknowledged as being part of Israel in a future agreement (based on territorial swaps).

It is hard to envisage Israel unilaterally removing settlements in the West Bank. Following Israel’s unilateral pull out from Gaza in 2005, which included all settlements, it is highly doubtful that an Israeli leader could remove settlements outside the context of an Israeli-Palestinian comprehensive agreement and survive politically.

Additional Israeli measures towards political separation – There is a public debate in Israel on whether to implement measures separating the two communities in Jerusalem. Tthe current situation in which there is no overlap between the municipal boundaries of the city and the route of the security barrier has bred instability and chaos and should be altered. Herzog would seek to amend the municipal boundaries and adjust the barrier accordingly.

Strengthening the PA’s economic and security capacity – Israel, regional actors and the international community should offer and facilitate (with proper auditing) a significant economic package to boost the PA. Israel should further improve access and movement for Palestinians in the West Bank and upgrade all existing fixed passages. It should also seek to expand its current policy of limiting incursions into area A to security threats the PA cannot or will not deal with.

Area C – In the context of enhancing the PA’s capacity, Israel can and should transfer powers and responsibilities to the PA in Area C (which constitutes about 60 per cent of the West Bank), such as planning, zoning and building adjacent to Area A – even without changing the territory’s legal designation, a task which falls within the purview of the bilateral political negotiations. This was already discussed between the parties and Israel recently announced initial steps in this direction. Israel has also allowed the PA’s police forces to function in Palestinian population centres in Area C and could further expand this.

Palestinian governance – Hand in hand with enhancing the PA’s economic capacity, the international community should pay much greater attention to Palestinian governance. Particular focus should be paid to encouraging a smooth transition to a post-Abu Mazen era, with an eye to preventing it from being chaotic and endangering the stability of the PA.

Establishing a long-term ceasefire in Gaza – Based on the deterrence achieved in the last round of armed conflict in Gaza (2014) Israel should try to achieve a long-term ceasefire arrangement with Hamas in Gaza, involving the PA with an active role in Gaza.

Greater investment in the regional dimension –conditions are now ripe for working together with major Arab countries in order to generate progress between Israelis and Palestinians. Egypt is ready to sponsor such a move. To facilitate such a regional process, Israel has to relate positively to the Arab Peace Initiative, which it has begun to do. Moreover, both Egypt and Jordan could definitely play a role in the security arrangements in Gaza and the West Bank respectively.

While pushing the parties to negotiate currently serves little purpose, creating a political horizon is crucial and should not be neglected. Based on Herzog’s experience, the initial focus should be on defined parameters for negotiating and resolving the core issues that separate the parties. Israelis and Palestinians failed to achieve this bilaterally and are unlikely to succeed in the foreseeable future. Ultimately out of all the existing initiatives currently on the table, the regional approach has the most potential. The parties should be willing to invest in it and the US and Europe should support it.

IPConf

My view

Michael Herzog’s view to solve Israeli-Palestinian conflict is vell based on his +20 years experience about negotiations between these to parties.  Also from my perspective a new framework is needed, even if some apparent negotiations start the outcome probably will be a placebo to status quo.  I also agree with establishing a long-term ceasefire in Gaza as well with  regional approach:  The best possibilities to develop negotiated peace process might be in a regional peace track proposed by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, in which Egypt would facilitate direct peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians as well as between Israel and its Arab neighbors.

Earlier I have referred two new leftist initiatives in my article Constructive Unilateralism: Leftist Approach to Israel-Palestine Conflict  – ‘it’s in our hands’ by Omer Bar-Lev, an MK for the Zionist Union and ‘Constructive unilateralism’ by Blue White Future, leftist think tank – which both in my opinion are steps forward and also to the right direction as well including required new roadmap for better future.

On January 2016, the leader of Israel’s opposition and head of the Zionist Union party Isaac Herzog, unveiled an alternative approach to the issue of Israel’s nearly 49-year old presence in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. The main point of Herzog’s plan is, that Israel will complete the security barrier around the major settlement blocs. “We will be here and you, Palestinians, will be there,” Herzog said. “Live your lives, improve your economy, create employment. The blocs under Israeli sovereignty will be part of the permanent solution. They will serve as recipients of settlers from outside the major blocs.” (more in Herzog’s Plan: Security Barrier Around the Major Settlement Blocs of West Bank )

Michael Herzog has doubts about removing settlements from West Bank behind the security barrier while Isaac Herzog and leftist initiatives see it necessary and I agree with them.

From Israeli side unilateral withdrawal and unilateral annexation are the main strategy options related to West Bank. I think that unilateral withdrawal is both feasible and doable; its main benefit might be that Israel can deside it individually.

Cold-Peace-Solution by Ari Rusila


My previous related articles:

Gaza Seaport – A Threat or Change

Israel’s 5 Strategy Options Regarding West Bank After Abbas

Constructive Unilateralism: Leftist Approach to Israel-Palestine Conflict

Herzog’s Plan: Security Barrier Around the Major Settlement Blocs of West Bank

Analysis: Resolving The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Gaza’s Tunnel War Continues On All Fronts

Sinai Option again

Hamas and Israel on Verge of the Deal

Gaza State Under Construction, West Bank Remains Bystander

Gaza Blockade – It’s Egypt not Israel!

Israeli-Palestinian conflict roadmaps to peace


Analysis: Resolving The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

November 17, 2015

Israeli-Palestinian conflict maps by Ari RusilaThe Israeli-Palestinian peace process – or lack of that – is now at the  crossroads.  To start or not direct  negotiations, between Israel and Palestinian Authority or at regional level,  with or without preconditions, with or without facilitators, with 2-State
solution as only aim or not, or would unilateral actions be the better option  than keep the status quo.  Is there  Intifada-3  going on or not?   A massive peace effort – the Madrid  Conference and the Oslo Accords – ended the First Intifada; a massive military  campaign –  Operation Defensive Shield –  ended the Second Intifada; how it will end the Intifada-3 if it really  starts?  These are some questions around  the conflict.  With this analysis I try  to clarify main options to solve Israeli-Palestinian conflict in relation to  current situation.

Throughout two decades of the Israeli-Palestinian “peace process,” direct negotiation with aim of ‘Two-State’ solution has been perceived as the only paradigm of international community and it has been the main option for Israeli and Palestinian authorities. To keep negotiations ongoing has came de facto as the goal in itself instead of the means to reach an agreement. The failure to reach an agreement has given excuses to the politicians on both sides, allowing them to blame the other party for failure to progress, and destroying the belief that an agreement is possible in the foreseeable future.

Main options to solve Israeli-Palestinian conflict by Ari Rusila

As possible solutions for Israeli-Palestinian conflict there has been besides 2-State solution also binational ‘One-State’ solution, partial solutions like Sinai an Jordan Options and different variations of ‘Three States’ solutions. One of course easy ‘solution’ is zero-option – ‘frozen conflict’ or ‘status quo’ scenario which can be implemented also through pseudo-talks. Today also unilateral actions – instead vain negotiations – can pave way towards some solutions.

 

One-State Solution

Israeli-Palestinian conflict, one.state solutionOne State scenario means “Isralestine”, a binational state to West from Jordan River or federation/confederation. Omer Bar-Lev – an MK for the Zionist Union – claims that Israel’s approach to security lacks creativity and initiative. He hits the nail on the head by concluding the one-state dilemma as follows:

If Israel wants to be a democratic state, which it does, then it has to either grant them full citizenship rights, which will subsequently destroy Zionism (one state for two nations) or separate from the Palestinians (two states for two nations). In that case, Israel can keep the Zionist spirit. Then, it is for the Palestinians to decide to create their Palestinian State, which is in their interests and they will make their own decisions. (Source: Fathom)

Indeed one-state option in my opinion would destroy Israel as ‘Jewish homeland’ as both democracy and ‘Jewish Israel’ could not survive in this solution. Failure of negotiations or lack of unilateral actions is shaping Israel and West-Bank more and more towards de facto ‘1-State’.

 

Two-State solution

To this day, I cannot understand why the Palestinian leadership did not accept the far-reaching and unprecedented proposal I offered them. My proposal included a solution to all outstanding issues: territorial compromise, security arrangements, Jerusalem and refugees.

( How to Achieve a Lasting Peace: Stop Focusing on the Settlements By Ehud Olmert Israel PM 2006-2009)

A bit provocative 2-state vision

A bit provocative 2-state vision

A couple of decades the international community has preached a doctrine of ‘Two states for two peoples’, without any progress for its implementation. Sure also in my opinion a two-state solution might be possible. The final status agreement – negotiated compromise – has been very close at least since Beilin-Abu Mazen understandings / agreement / plan (1995) where nearly all issues were agreed. The Olmert proposal (2008) was probably the last serious try (both plans can be found from my document library ). These plans have been refined many times and serious work can be seen e.g. in leaked Palestine Papers/PaliLeaks (More in ”Pali-Leaks, land swaps and desperate search of peace).

23boundar_map-popup (2)

The endgame with 2-state solution will probably be according The Clinton Parameters . The key element with 2-State Solutions are negotiated borders based to pre-1967 armistice lines with land swaps;  the state of Palestine as the homeland of the Palestinian people and the state of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people; Palestinian sovereignty over the Temple Mount/Haram, and Israeli sovereignty over the Western Wall and the space sacred to Judaism; Palestine defined as a “demilitarized state”, solving the refugee question by giving limited return to Israel, return to the new State of Palestine or rehabilitation refugees in host country.

 

Sinai Option

Sinai OptionGreenWith “official” 2-State Solution there is other 2-State options such as Gaza and Palestine option (more e.g. in Gaza State Under Construction, West Bank Remains Bystander ). With this version Israel and Hamas could negotiate a deal which could lead to Gaza State while the future of Palestine state in West-Bank would stay unclear. This (part) solution could be stronger by combining it to recently again proposed Sinai option.

According Middle East Monitor (MEMO) report Egypt offers Palestinian Authority’s President Abbas a Palestinian state in Sinai.   Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi offered Palestinian Authority 620 square miles of land adjacent to Gaza in exchange for relinquishing claims to 1967 borders for the purpose of establishing a Palestinian state. PA President Abbas reportedly rejects proposal. Speaking in a meeting of Fatah leaders in Ramallah, Abbas said: “The plan, which was proposed in 1956, included annexing 1,600 square kilometres from the Sinai Peninsula to the Gaza Strip in order to receive Palestinian refugees.” He continued: “The plan is being proposed again, but we refused it.” One idea with offer was to resettle “Palestinian refugees” in the Sinai. At its core, the Egyptian initiatives proposes expanding the Gaza Strip to three – five times its current size (360 km2 ) and settling all the Palestinian refugees – who want to move – in a state to be established there. Under the initiative, this state will be demilitarized.

israel-palestinian-state-mediterranean-red-sea-west-bank-removalThere is also some versions of Sinai option created by outside NGOs such as “The Institute for the Study of Globalization and Covert Politics”, which might have conspiracy theoretical approach on issue.  Anyway ISGP proposes that under United Nations and NATO supervision and with financial support of the world community, humanely transport ALL Palestinians from the West Bank to a newly-created Palestinian state consisting of the south of Israel and preferably a small part of Egypt’s largely uninhabited Sinai Desert. In order to help make Palestine a viable state, extend its borders from Gaza on the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea.

More about ‘Sinai Option’ in my article:  Sinai Option again .

 

Three-State solution

I have long been advocating Three State (return) Option – described also as no-state option – as the most pragmatic solution to Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In this 3-state scenario Amman rules the Cairo West Bank and Cairo runs Gaza. This scenario includes a Jordanian option meaning recognition and development of Jordan as the Palestinian State – Israel, the United States and the international community will recognize the Kingdom of Jordan as the only legitimate representative of the Palestinians. Jordan will once again recognize itself as the Palestinian nation-state.

3-state return option by Ari RusilaFor 19 years, Judea and Samaria were part of Jordan, its population Jordanian citizens, and the geographic juxtaposition between Israel and Jordan should make delineating the border between the two countries in an agreement considerably easier than reaching a deal on a border between Israel and a Palestinian state that might be established in the area. If three state solution will be implemented so Israel would receive security guarantees from Jordan’s monarchy, which made peace with Israel in 1994, rather than from a politically enfeebled Palestinian president as well from Egypt, which has peace deal with Israel since 1978, rather than from outside supervised Hamas.

Related to Egypt this ‘3-State’ solution can include sc ‘Sinai Option’ and it is possible to agree some level autonomy to so formed ‘Great Gaza’.

Three-State [Return] proposal would eliminate the main logistical complication pertaining to the communication between the two parts of the Palestinian state. In addition two separate states for Palestinians would accord more realistically with a key current political reality. The idea of 2-State solution is to create a land corridor between Gaza and the West Bank, with a free flow of people and commerce between the two; however this kind of corridor effectively cuts Israel in half; sure connecting tunnels or bridges could be a solution, but these too are a logistical challenge.

From my point of view this solution is both pragmatic and doable and now more actual than ever as two-state solution is more and more utopia and road map towards it has been death for years. (More in A Jordanian-Palestinian Confederation Is On The Move and The Three-State Option could solve Gaza Conflict )

The three-state solution essentially replicates – with some minor land swaps – the situation that existed between the 1949 Armistice Agreements and the 1967 Six-Day War.

 

Roadmaps to solution

In my opinion there is three main pathways to solution of Israeli-Palestinian conflict and they are following:

  • (Re)starting negotiations,
  • Constructive unilateralism, and
  • Cold Peace

Israeli-Palestinian conflict roadmaps to peace

(Re)starting negotiations

(Re)starting negotiations has two alternatives which are

  1. start negotiations between Israel and Palestine Authority – local approach leading possibly to 2-State solution
  2. restart negotiations between Israel, Egypt and Jordan – regional approach leading to 3-State solution

Both of these alternatives can be implemented directly between shareholders or they can be implemented with help of outside facilitators (USA, Arab League, UN).

I would like to conclude that instead of rigid high-flown statements and dead road maps international community should facilitate the Middle East peace process through following three principles

  • Negotiations will be restored without prior conditions.
  • The talks should be implemented by local stakeholders, not under supervision of outside powers
  • The international community – outside powers – should support any common agreed outcome of talks e.g. with financial aid programs

This approach means that an outcome – which I describe with term ‘quality peace’ – is not possible to achieve imposed from top to field e.g forced by international community or other outsiders; with that kind of approach one can only freeze the conflict not solve it. The only way for ‘quality peace’ is through motivation or at least commitment of individual, clan, community, ethnic groups, wider society or state to resolve conflicts through dialogue by acceptance and at least tolerance of differences. (More in my articles Peacemaking – How about solving Conflicts too? and Quality Peace )

quality peace by Ari Rusila

 

Constructive unilateralism

Already 2012 then Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that Israel should consider imposing the borders of a future Palestinian state, becoming the most senior government official to suggest bypassing a stagnant peace process.

The plan titled “It’s in Our Hands,” by Omer Bar-Lev – an MK for the Zionist Union – calls for Israel to unilaterally define its own borders to ensure its security, would keep control of all of Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley and bequeath about 60 percent of the West Bank to the Palestinians, evacuating 35,000 Jewish settlers — less than 10 percent of the total.

An example from history

An example from history

According BWF  – an Israeli NGO Blue White Future – Israel should prepare for a reality of two states for two people, most notably by declaring that it does not have claims of sovereignty over most of the occupied territories, and by planning and acting accordingly, including preparing for the relocation of settlers residing east of the security fence to Israel proper. BWF proposes that the international community should adopt a paradigm that allows all stakeholders – Israel, Palestinians, the US and the other players – to take independent steps that will advance a reality of two states. (More in Constructive Unilateralism: Leftist Approach to Israel-Palestine Conflict )

A possible Hamas-Israel Deal can pave the way for Cold Peace Solution (More in Hamas and Israel on Verge of the Deal ); the final outcome can be 2- or 3-State solution.

Cold Peace

Israel could also independently implement a ‘Cold Peace Solution’, a minimal level of peace relations, to ensure its character as a Jewish and democratic state, by fixing a border between Israel and a future Palestinian state in the West Bank unilaterally. Creating a reality of two states for two peoples by separation into two nation states so that Israel annexes all Judea and Samaria (West-Bank) inside security fence and draws all outposts inside fence on the route of a permanent border on the basis of agreed-upon land swaps or independently in case negotiations does not take place. In the event that negotiations are not renewed, the temporary border will become permanent. As long as there is no agreement, the IDF and Israel would retain control of the outer borders and surrounding areas of the territories to be evacuated by Israelis who would be resettled within the state’s new borders. With this kind of unilateral “cold peace” solution Palestinians can do whatever they want in remaining territory but however this ‘Cold Peace’ in my opinion might – in the course of years – develop to permanent state of affairs and thus end Israeli-Palestinian conflict. An example could be the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel signed in 1979 which most Egyptians view as a cold peace; retrospectively not so bad deal anyway.

In my opinion the situation now is leading Israel toward a de facto binational future toward one-state solution and this might be the worst option for both sides. If negotiations now fail so I think that unilateral moves might not be so bad idea. If three-state option can not now replace the buried two-state solution so then the way forward for Israel seems to be annex the main settlements to Israel, finalize the security fence and wait if and when the Palestinian side and international facilitator want negotiate about some details based on this reality on the ground.

Cold-Peace-Solution by Ari Rusila


Article Analysis: Resolving The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict first appeared in Conflicts By Ari Rusila

 


Jordanian Sheikh: Allah gave Israel to the Jews

August 20, 2014

Jordanian Sheikh Ahmad al-Adwan adheres to his unconventional interpretation of the Koran, and is not afraid to enrage the Palestinians and their supporters. A Jordanian Quranic scholar, and former postal worker, cited the Quranic sources that affirm Islam and Judaism should have friendly relations and that ‘Palestine’ should be for Jews.

In December 2012, Sheikh al-Adwan visited Israel and met with Jewish Rabbis including Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu in order to discuss peace and reconciliation between the religions. He was interviewed after the visit, which was published a few months ago on the ‘Israel in Arabic’ site. ‘Mida’ (a news and intellectual website which aims to present the public with information and opinions not common in the Israeli media) has now presented an English translation of this important interview, which allows a look into unconventional positions and facts, which are not sufficiently well-known in the Israeli and worldwide media.

Jordanian Sheikh Adwan

Here are some of the key points of this interview (Note: Koran verses were taken from Abdullah Yusuf Ali’s translation, available at Project Gutenberg ):

Allah may He be praised wrote in the Torah that this is the land of the sons of Israel, he bequeathed the Holy Land to the sons of Israel and called the land by this name (the Land of Israel) and so it is stated by the Holy Koran: “O my people! Enter the holy land which Allah hath assigned unto you, and turn not back ignominiously, for then will ye be overthrown, to your own ruin.” [Koran 5:21]. This holy verse is a “Kushan” (deed) which confirms that this land is granted to the Jews. It is also said “We made the Children of Israel inheritors of such things.” [Koran 26:59], and in the following verse “And We said thereafter to the Children of Israel, “Dwell securely in the land (of promise)”” [Koran 17:104] and there are many additional holy verses which prove and confirm this.

All should know that the Holy Land is their [the Jews’] land and that Jerusalem is the direction towards which they pray and during their readings and ceremonies, as God said in the Koran “Turn then Thy face in the direction of the sacred Mosque” (in Mecca) [Koran 2:144]. This verse effectively cancels out the prayer towards al-Aqsa (the Temple Mount) and all traditions regarding al-Aqsa for Muslims.

It is also said in the Koran “Even if thou were to bring to the people of the Book all the Signs (together), they would not follow Thy Qibla; nor art thou going to follow their Qibla;” [Koran 2:145]. That is, God created two directions for prayer [“Qibla” in Arabic]. One he designated for Muslims – this is the Kaaba in holy Mecca, while the Jews’ prayer direction is al-Aqsa which is holy to the Jews, this in spite of the nations of the world, because this is the command of God, the King of Kings who chooses how to run His world.

The Palestinians are the killers of children, the elderly and women. They attack the Jews and then they use those (children, the elderly and women) as human shields and hide behind them, without mercy for their children as if they weren’t their own children, in order to tell the public opinion that the Jews intended to kill them. This is exactly what I saw with my own two eyes in the 70’s, when they attacked the Jordanian army, which sheltered and protected them. Instead of thanking it (the Jordanian army), they brought their children forward to (face) the Jordanian army, in order to make the world believe that the army kills their children. This is their habit and custom, their viciousness, their having hearts of stones towards their children, and their lying to public opinion, in order to get its support.” (Source: ‘Mida’ )

Palestine?

To the opinion that the Kingdom of Jordan in its present borders is the Palestinian State Sheikh al-Adwan has clear position:

The State (Jordan) was blessed with the glorious and honorable leadership of the Hashemites, a strong Jordanian nation connected to its land of tribes and families, and proud and brave men who support and embrace the present leadership and support its call for peace. Anyone who says this is the Palestinian State is either asleep or a daydreamer…a terrorist and a wicked person.

A quote from the answer to question if Sheikh al-Adwan believes that those who call themselves “Palestinians” have a right to establish a state on the Jews’ historic land?

How can they (the Palestinians) have the right to establish a State on the Jewish Land of Israel, which Allah granted and bequeathed to the Jews? More than that, even if all the inhabitants of the land forgot their right, or went crazy and collaborated with those who call themselves “Palestinians” to establish a state for the latter, they won’t succeed, and Allah will not allow this until the Day of Judgment, this because Allah Himself willed and specifically wrote in His book that this land will be the land of the People of Israel under Israeli sovereignty so that no-one would later dispute it.

Mandate for PalestineWith this question I have a bit different approach as I see Palestine in relation to British mandate. From Israeli point of view the legal rights to the land are based to the Balfour Declaration of 1917 and the League of Nations San Remo Conference of 1920. The geographical area called Palestine was to become a homeland for the Jewish Homeland. The land was administered as British mandate. Britain split off 75% of Palestine to establish the Emirate of Transjordan split off 75% of Palestine to establish the Emirate of Transjordan on the eastern bank of the River Jordan. This part is now known as the modern Kingdom of Jordan. The Peel Commission of the late 1930’s endeavored to partition the western portion of the original Jewish Homeland into Jewish and Arab mini-states, the latter to mollify Arab rioters fomented by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al Husseini, an close ally with Hitler during WWII

Coming back to the present time for example Farouk Kaddoumi, a veteran PLO official, dropped a political bomb (on 31st Oct. 2012) with a call for “returning” the West Bank to Jordan during an interview with the London-based Al- Quds Al-Arabi newspaper. Kaddoumi, who is based in Tunisia, said he supported the idea of a federation or confederation between the West Bank and Jordan(More in A Jordanian-Palestinian Confederation Is On The Move , Palestinians Put Jordanian Option on the Table and The Three-State Option could solve Gaza Conflict )

Palestinian state
Similar approach

Besides Al-Adwan few other muslim scholars have similar approach. For example Abdul Hadi Palazzi – secretary general of the Italian Muslim Assembly – accepts Israel’s sovereignty over the Holy Land, and says the Qur’an supports it as the will of God as a necessary prerequisite for the Final Judgment. He accepts Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem, if the rights of other religions are protected. He quotes the Qur’an to support Judaism’s special connection to the Temple Mount. (Source: Wiki) Also Muhammad Al-Hussaini (Leo Baeck Rabbinical College, London) has similar Muslim-zionist position as he understands the text of the Qur’an to award the Holy Land to the Jews for all time, and he holds that Muslims can be convinced of this interpretation. (Source: Wiki )

Opposite approach

On the other hand the Islamic State (IS) – formerly known as ISIS – the terror group wreaking havoc and death across Iraq and Syria, has promised a Holocaust against the Jews. The Algemeiner brings us this report of a disguised Israeli reporter who interviewed an American-born member of IS, a report that shows the terrorists’ intentions, as well as the truth behind their many foreign-born members. Posing as “Abed al-Islam Afifi,” 26, from Paris, the reporter contacted Abu Turab via a cellphone app.

From Syria, we’ll expand the caliphate, Allah willing, and Hizbullah and the Jews will meet their fate, and soon,” vowed an American-born 26-year-old Islamic State (IS) fighter in Aleppo, Syria …

IS boasts that dozens of American youths, and hundreds from various countries in Europe have joined its ranks and have already entered Syria and Iraq to fight alongside various factions, in part, thanks to easy access to information on the internet …

Dr. Muhammad Al Atawneh, a senior faculty member in the Department of Middle Eastern Studies at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, suggested that these young people understand Islam and organizations like IS via non-religious sources. “For these young people, this is a protest. They see radical Islam as an alternative to the failure of nation-states. They go to the edge of the edge, talking about the caliphate, but no one there knows what ‘caliphate’ really means,” he said. “There is tremendous ignorance on the subject,” Al Atawneh said. “They’re very confused in matters of religion. The distortions and gaps are so abysmal, it is impossible to understand what texts people who chop off heads are following.” (Source: The Algemeiner )

ISIS five-year plan

ISIS five-year plan

My view

Personally, from my perspective the religious aspects related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are insignificant. In my opinion the legitimacy of Israel is based on anti-Semitism through centuries and especially implementation of Holocaust during WWII. Based to this unique experience – as far as I can see – the Jews have all right to their newly established homeland; sure newborn Israel same time has violated the rights of Arabs living West side of the River Jordan but as said in my opinion the claim of Jews compared to Arabs is more justified in this region.

Thub logo Israel


Fatah-Hamas Accord can be more an Opportunity than an Obstacle

May 2, 2014

hamas-fatah flagPresident Abbas’ Fatah movement – the dominant group in the PLO and which governs parts of the West Bank – and Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip announced a unity agreementon 23rd Apr. 2014. The seven-year split between Fatah and Hamas aka the Islamic Resistance Movement has cut off Gaza and its 1.7 million people from the West Bank and e.g from negotiating efforts. The move envisions forming a unity government within five weeks, resumption of Palestinian Legislative Council (the parliament of the PA, was dissolved following the 2007 Hamas takeover of Gaza) and holding national elections six months after a vote of confidence by the Palestinian parliament. Discussions would also continue about “general freedoms,” including the release of Fatah and Hamas prisoners held by the opposite party, the return of Fatah-affiliated public employees to Gaza.

 

The Palestinians are fundamentally divided: Hamas, which represents about half of them, rejects any dialogue with Israel and seeks a Palestinian state on all Israeli land while the PA wants a state within 1967 borders. The earlier reconciliation agreements between Fatah and Hamas were signed in Mecca (2007) , Cairo (May 2011) and Doha (February 2012) but had never come to fruition. More earlier deal in Fatah-Hamas Deal: Three Scenarios )If the agreement this time holds the unity deal could in my opinion create a game changer in Mideast peace process – either by establishing Palestinian negotiation partner strong enough to make painful compromise deal with Israel or leading to unitary actions of both sides.

Timing

Hamas, the weaker party, has suffered from stagnation in Gaza and the loss of support from Egypt after the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood so the deal now was the best option. Hamas’ economic well-being was in large part dependent on its system of smuggling tunnels snaking underneath the Gaza border with Egypt. The supply lines that have fed it cash, arms, goods, fuel, and cement for its terror-tunnel industry suddenly were gone. These goods, which were smuggled into Gaza at obscenely low prices at the expense of Egyptian citizens, were no longer flowing in due to the closure of the tunnels.

Since Egypt’s military ousted President Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood on July 2013, Sinai has become increasingly lawless and plagued by violence. The Sinai violence since last summer has killed around 500 people. The violence has also targeted Israel on occasion. In January, two rockets were fired on Eilat, an important Israeli tourist resort and commercial port. The city came under fire last year too and its airport was closed in August as a precaution. In February, four people were killed after an Islamist group exploded a bomb on a tourist bus carrying South Korean pilgrims across the Egyptian border into Israel. However, now Egypt claims that the military had complete control over the situation and there is obvious stability in Sinai. Some 1,380 operations had been conducted by the military against Islamists since September 2013 and the Egyptian army had destroyed more than 1,500 smuggling tunnels into Sinai from the Gaza Strip. (Source e.g Bicom )

Israel and the Palestinians have been negotiating since 1993. The current unity deal came only few days before last U.S. led negotiation process expired. Now it is again time for stand-by, all parties are waiting the outcome and reactions about Fatah-Hamas deal and coming months will show its effects.

The expired talks

To summarize these last talks one can claim that the negotiations have failed once again. From the beginning the two sides decided that the talks would be held without any preconditions, but with commitments. Israel accepted the Palestinian commitment not to approach U.N. institutions to advance Palestinian statehood. The Palestinian demanded that Israel release the “heavy” prisoners and got dozens of murderous terrorists released.

That process is now seemingly officially dead and results or progress practically non-existent if not backward development. In previous talks at Camp David and Annapolis as well in Olmert’s proposal at last final status negotiations 2008 the core questions were almost agreed. In 2008, then Prime Minister Ehud Olmert presented Abbas with another generous peace offer: most of the West Bank, plus some Israeli territory in land swaps, for a Palestinian state; removal of tens of thousands of settlers; a division of Jerusalem; a secure corridor linking the West Bank and Gaza; a symbolic return of 5,000 Palestinian refugees to Israel, and multi-national supervision of holy sites in Jerusalem. To me the progress seems now to be going backwards. ( More about earlier negotiations in PaliLeaks, land swaps and desperate search of peacehttps://arirusila.wordpress.com/2011/01/29/palileaks-land-swaps-and-desperate-search-of-peace/ ) However one should appreciate that in any case Kerry had held over 50 meetings with Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during last nine months. As peace talks now expired or went to stand-by, there is good or bad change for further unilateral actions.

Reactions

Israeli and American officials expressed fears after the reconciliation was announced that Jerusalem would be left to negotiate a peace treaty with a terror group that does not recognize its right to exist. Israeli official has described that Abbas speech after unity agreement as “administered the coup de grace to the peace process today”.I disagree; from my perspective US efforts to broker a peace deal had not totally failed, but were after “reality check” currently in a “holding period” waiting next moves from Palestinian and Israeli sides. “There is no reason to be alarmed by the Fatah-Hamas agreement. This actually could be an opportunity for us,” says Knesset member Meir Sheetrit (the Hatnua Party chairman) as he attempts to moderate the aggressive responses evinced by Israel’s prime minister and the right-wing ministers toward the news of the Palestinian reconciliation. (Source: Al-Monitor )

On the Israeli left, opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Labor) said the reconciliation was the result of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s lack of initiative. “The burden of proof on [the agreement’s] meaning is on Abbas,” Herzog stated. “Its advantage is that it may include Gaza in future agreements with the Palestinians.” On Saturday (26.4.2014) Herzog called on key coalition partners Tzipi Livni and Yair Lapid to abandon Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government in the likely event that the peace process cannot be revived, and to form a coalition with Labor that would make serious advances towards peace. Justice Minister Livni, who heads the Hatnua faction and who is the chief Israeli negotiator with the Palestinians, and Finance Minister Lapid, who is the leader of the Yesh Atid faction – the second largest in the Knesset – are both seen as center-left leaning politicians. Both have called peace negotiations a central component of their coalition membership. (Source The Times of Israel ) Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On said Netanyahu had pushed Abbas toward Hamas and then asked the PA president to choose between Hamas and Israel. “Any reconciliation between Gaza and the West Bank is necessary, as long as any agreement between Abbas and Israel includes Hamas, which would include the end of violence [from Gaza],” she explained.

There was early news that Hamas had not ruled out recognizing Israel – instead the decision would be made in the framework of the group’s efforts to join the Palestine Liberation Organization, which is managing peace negotiations with Israel, as part of the new reconciliation effort. The statement came hours after Abbas said that PLO would continue to recognize Israel and renounce violence. (Source and more: The Times of Israel ) However Taher al-Nunu, Ismail Haniya’s media advisor, strongly denied a remark attributed to him by the Washington Post, according to which Hamas intended to recognize Israel (Quds.net, April 27, 2014). He said Hamas would never recognize Israel. Hamas’ international spokesman Hossam Badran also rejected the idea that Hamas had any intention of “recognizing so-called Israel.” He said that recognizing “the legitimacy of the Zionists” was something that was to be rejected and not even discussed (Facebook page of Hossam Badran, April 27, 2014). (Source: The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)

On April 29 (2014), Israel began economic sanctions on the Palestinian Authority (PA) on the heels of the reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas. This is accomplished by deducting the PA’s debts from the tax money that Israel collects on the PA’s behalf in accordance with economic agreements signed following the Oslo Accord. A major source of these funds is the taxes imposed on merchandise imported to the territories via Israel, and these funds often comprise as much as a third of the PA’s budget.These funds serve the PA for payment of its employees’ salaries. (Source: Al-Monitor )

Israel’s Plan B

Ten years ago, when Mr Lieberman first proposed moving Arab-populated Israeli towns near the present border into Palestine in exchange for Jewish settlement blocs in the Palestinians’ West Bank being incorporated into Israel. On Jan 2014 FM Lieberman proposed again to transfer the towns and villages of the Wadi Ara Triangle (“The Triangle” including Umm al-Fahm, Taibe, Tira and Kfar Kassem) to the Palestinians. The swap would see Israel cede sovereignty over 10 towns, home to 300,000 Israeli-Arabs, along the Green Line, to the PA. Israeli-Arabs and their representatives in the Knesset refuse to consider a territory swap. PM Netanyahu nor Israel’s left-wing movements condemned this proposal. On April 2014 FM Lieberman reiterated his proposal on his Facebook page: “I can promise that [the city of] Umm al-Fahm will be part of the Palestinian state and not part of Israel”.A bit different idea came from economy Minister Naftali Bennett, a coalition hawk who heads the Orthodox-nationalist Jewish Home party, who proposed to annex Area C – about 60 % of the West Bank- to Israel; in Area C Israel maintains civilian and security control over as part of the Oslo Accords. Palestinians living in those areas would become full Israeli citizens, Bennett said. (Source The Times of Israel ) I don’t keep this proposal realistic for long term as for Palestinians it would be very hard to rule the remaining WB with or without own state. This problem might lead practically towards one-state solution from Israeli point of view negative demographic outcome.

territorial cahanges in possible mideast peace talksIsrael well might implement a ‘Plan B’ (Institute for National Security Studies, 2014), to ensure its character as a Jewish and democratic state, by fixing a border between Israel and a future Palestinian state in the West Bank unilaterally. Creating a reality of two states for two peoples by separation into two nation states would be based on voluntary Israeli concession of territories outside of the large with Israel on the route of a permanent border on the basis of agreed-upon land swaps or independently in case negotiations does not take place. In the event that negotiations are not renewed, the temporary border will become permanent. As long as there is no agreement, the IDF and Israel would retain control of the outer borders and surrounding areas of the territories to be evacuated by Israelis who would be resett within the state’s temporary borders.

Other unilateral actions could be to cement Israel’s hold in by establishing a Jewish prayer facility alongside the Muslim mosques on the vast Temple Mount plaza, and to build the strategic E1 quadrant that connects Jerusalem to its eastern security anchor in Maaleh Adumim. This would give a signal that Israel is serious about keeping Jerusalem united under their sovereignty.

Dr. Mordechai Keidar, an expert on the Israeli-Arab sector, and an Arabic literature professor at Bar-Ilan University has even more radical proposal – sc Eight State Solution. Keidar called for Israel to divide the PA into seven emirates according to regional clans. The eighth location is Gaza (not shown) which already operates as a de facto state.

“Israel should dismantle the PA by stopping [the transfer of] money and by all other kinds of measures,” he stated. “[And] then, [it] should create on the ruins of the PA seven emirates in the West Bank based on the cities – Ramallah, Jericho, Nablus (Shechem), Tul-Karim, Qalqaliya, and the Arab part of Hevron…Each of these emirates should be based on the local clans, which are powerful – which are loyal to themselves, unlike the PLO.” (Source: Arutz Sheva )

8-state mideast solution
Palestinian actions

Fatah Central Committee member Tawfiq Tirawi stated “the two-state solution does not exist. The two-state solution is over. We must return to the option of one Palestine from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea.” Tirawi added “Palestinians, Palestinian leadership, listen to me: The only solution before us is the historic solution presented by Fatah in 1968.” The reference to 1968 constitutes a clear call for Israel’s destruction through armed conflict.

 

PA President Abbas has few times quoted as saying that if the diplomatic stalemate continued, he would ask Israel to “take the keys” and resume responsibility for areas where the Palestinian Authority (PA) currently operates. This position was echoed by Palestinian Religious Affairs Minister Mahmoud al-Habash who warned Israel that the PA would be dismantled if the situation does not change by the end of 2014. ( Source: Bicom )The dissolution of the authority would thrust the whole responsibility for the disputed territories on to the Israeli government, the pragmatic arrangements which keep the relations between the two Peoples within a framework of limited normality would fall away and finally there would not only be no partner for peace; there would be no partner for anything.

Responding to Netanyahu’s announcement on Thursday that he plans to push forward a new Basic Law to “legally anchor” Israel’s status as “the nation-state of the Jewish people,” the Palestinian official issued a statement that the PLO already recognized Israel in 1988 and again in the 1993 mutual recognition agreement signed by Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin. “If Netanyahu wants to push the Palestinians into the corner he should also remember that the only reference to the Jewish State is the 1947 UN Resolution 181. The Palestinians, as such, will be ready to consider recognizing Israel as the Jewish State only based on Resolution 181. (Source: Haaretz )

My view

We cannot underestimate the danger of long-range missiles and short-range minds.” (Ron Prosor)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas does not have a mandate from his people to reach any agreement with Israel: his term in office expired in January 2009. For Abbas Hamas-Fatah deal is a boost to his sagging popularity and same time a likely blow to any challenge from Mohammed Dahlan and other potential rivals if elections go ahead. For Hamas, ending the dispute means the Islamist movement would have to cede exclusive control over the Gaza Strip — an area that has been turned into a semi-independent Islamic emirate over the past five years. As for Fatah, unity with Hamas means paving the way for the Islamist movement to extend its control to West Bank — something Abbas and his supporters are afraid of and cannot afford. (More e.g in Al-Monitor )

hamas rocket threadOne should remember that militant Hamas won a Palestinian election in 2006 and seized control of the Gaza Strip from forces loyal to Western-backed Abbas in 2007 who’s legal authority expired already few years ago. For years, the Israelis have been telling the world that there was no Palestinian to negotiate with – because Mr Abbas did not represent the Palestinians of Gaza. After Hamas-Fatah agreement – if it now is also implemented – and especially after possible Palestinian parliamentary and presidential electons this obstacle is removed. Sure it remains to see how Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (apparently also party to the deal) will be integrated into the PLO, which officially represents the Palestinian people internationally.

Both the US and Israel have expressed disappointment with the announcement of a unity deal between Fatah and Hamas, which further complicates efforts to secure an agreement to extend peace talks with Israel. I agree this in short term but in general consider the deal giving more possiblities for long term solution. During this and previous peace talks it seems that at final stages President Abbas allways avoided to make decisions. One reason might be that he knows that he could not implement the compromise deal, he could even be ousted from his already illegitimate position as president. Secondly even if Abbas would sign the deal what would its worth be as he represents at best only one fraction of West Bank Arabs. After Hamas-Fatah deal Abbas in my opinion can represent wider Arab population in WB and Gaza as well even better the selected leaders after parliamentary and presidential elections hopefully in 2014..

US, EU and the Quarted demands that future Palestinian government must agree to recognition of Israel, renunciation of violence and acceptance of all previous agreements between Israel and the Palestinians. I don’t have doubts that future Palestinian leaders couldn’t at least formally agree these conditions.

Read more from my earlier articles:


P.S:

The Facts Of Life In The Middle East  by Avi Bell is a good description about Israeli-Palestinian dilemma – and Western hypocrisy – as follows:

The Facts Of Life In The Middle East by Avi Bell

If Israel refuses to negotiate, that proves Israel is not interested in peace, because it refuses to negotiate. If the Palestinians refuse to negotiate, that proves Israel is not interested in peace, because the Palestinians can see negotiations with Israel are pointless.

If Israel makes preconditions to negotiations, that proves Israel is not interested in peace, because it is trying to avoid negotiations. If the Palestinians make preconditions to negotiations, that proves Israel is not interested in peace, because the Palestinians have to force Israel to be serious in the negotiations.

If Israel makes no offer of peace, that proves Israel is not interested in peace. If the Palestinians make no offer of peace, that proves Israel is not interested in peace, because the Palestinians can see that making offers of peace with Israel are pointless.

If Israel makes an offer of peace and the Palestinians reject it, that proves Israel is not interested in peace, because Israel is not willing to make the kind of offer the Palestinians would accept.

There are variations on this, e.g.,:

If Arabs make war, but offer to end it, that proves that Israel is interested in war and Arabs are interested in peace, because the Arabs offered peace. (Thomas Friedman/Arab “peace” initiative) If Israel makes war, but offers to end it, that proves that Israel is interested in war and Arabs are interested in peace, because Israel made war. (Defensive Pillar, Lebanon II, etc.)

If Arabs attack, that proves Israel is interested in war and Arabs are interested in peace, because Israel provoked the Arabs to attack. If Israel attacks, that proves Israel is interested in war and Arabs are interested in peace, because Israel attacked.

If Palestinians carry out acts of terrorism, that proves that Israel is mistreating the Palestinians, because the Palestinians feel they have no choice but to carry out acts of terrorism. If Palestinians try to carry out acts of terrorism, but Israel foils them, that proves that Israel is mistreating the Palestinians, because Israel is carrying out anti-terror actions against the Palestinians even while there is no terrorism.

If Palestinians don’t try to carry out acts of terrorism, that proves that Israel is mistreating the Palestinians, because the Palestinians are good and innocent and Israel uses terrorism as an excuse to mistreat Palestinians.

fatah-hamas signs

 


Blogging & Web 2.0 As A Tool In The Media War by Ari Rusila

October 2, 2013

(Editors note: This article is a modified web-version of my article printed in A Flying Finn : Finnish Civil Society Actors in the Global Sphere Melasuo, Tuomo; Nissinen, Petter; Tomperi, Outi (ed.), 2013, published by Tampere Peace Research Institute; ISBN: 978-951-44-9191-7.)

Ari Rusila, MA SocSc, is a Finnish freelancer and project management expert who lives in Jyväskylä, Finland. He has worked mostly in the Barents region, the Murmansk region of Russia and Kosovo/Serbia (Balkans). His main blog, Ari Rusila’s BalkanBlog, covers issues such as conflicts, crisis management and geopolitics.

 

Blogging statue

Introduction

Blogging is a part of the social media and Web 2.0 environment. While the first-stage web mainly included websites where people were limited to passive viewing of the content, the new-generation Web 2.0 creates highly interactive platforms that allow the creation of user-generated content, discussion and sharing in the virtual community. Besides blogging, the social media includes social networking sites (Facebook, LinkedIn…), microblogs (e.g. Twitter), wikis (wikipedia, wikimedia, wikileaks…), video sharing sites (e.g. Youtube), folksonomies (social bookmarking, tags) and other web applications (e.g. JavaScript). In conclusion, Web 2.0 has created a totally new level for communication between organizations, communities and individuals, far from the still-existing traditional and industrial media.

I have been blogging1 for over five years and have used some other social media applications for a few years. I have average computer and Internet skills, but programming is beyond my ability. So my experience of using social media is much the same as any ordinary citizen and not at any kind of expertise level. As my blog covers issues such as conflicts, crisis management and geopolitics – and regionally, the Balkans, the Black Sea, the Caucasus and MENA (the greater Middle East and North Africa) regions – I describe my experiences of the social media from that perspective. Another aspect should also be mentioned: I try to have blog articles with a message; in general, I take a position, describe a conflict from my perspective and give arguments for it. As my motto is “the other side of the story”, I never claim that my articles are neutral, or an academic description of different issues – the printed media and broadcasts can more or less pretend to have that kind of approach. In my opinion, when a reader compares my provocative or biased post with information collected from the mainstream media, he or she can get a more comprehensive picture of the related issues or events.

Web updated the media war

The traditional media has had a role in wars and international conflicts for at least a hundred years, e.g during the Armenian genocide it had some influence on the small humanitarian aid from the U.S. and afterwards influenced the trials against the perpetrators in Turkey. However, it was not until a half-century ago that it came clear that media hype can be far more effective than military combat success – as the Vietnam war amply demonstrated. It is said that Vietnam was the first conflict waged and won by the U.S. media.

The civil war in Yugoslavia lifted the media war to a more professional level when Croatian, Bosnian Muslim and Kosovo Albanian separatists employed PR firms to get U.S. public opinion and political leaders on their side, while the Serbs totally ignored the importance of the media. This proved to be a fatal Serb error in twentieth century hostilities, where public relations and media hype can be far more effective than military combat success. Barry Lituchu hit the nail on the head with these sentences2:

It is said that the first casualty of war is the truth. Of course, today with the appalling spectacle of the civil war in Yugoslavia filling our TV screens and newspapers, this old axiom has taken on an uglier, more sinister meaning. If four years ago we could say that the American public was totally uninformed about the conflict ready to unfold, today we can say with equal justification that Americans are doubly or triply misinformed, and dangerously so, about this tragic and completely unnecessary war.

Referring to the Yugoslav civil wars, Barry Lituchy describes the methods as follows3:

All public relations firms working for foreign governments must register with the Justice Department. I found in documents obtained from the Justice Department that while Croatia was contracted to pay Ruder Finn $16,000 a month and Bosnia was to pay $12,000 in 1992, payments in some later months were as high as $200,000, and total payments per year were ultimately in the millions of dollars. Moreover, Ruder Finn was not the only P.R. firm employed in Bosnia. Hill and Knowlton was also contracted early in the war. Waterman & Associates was employed by Croatia. Financial backing came from countries such as Saudi Arabia, which alone funneled nearly $1 billion to the Sarajevo regime from 1993 to 1996, according to the Washington Post, 2 February 1996. Ruder Finn was also contracted by the non-existent “Republic of Kosovo” for $5,000 a month, according to a Justice Department document dated 1 November 1992.

The outcome of this demonizing anti-Serb campaign was so effective that there was no market for stories by a journalist who discovered that the reported Serbian “rape camps” did not exist, or who included information about Muslim or Croat crimes against Serbs. Challenging the dominant interpretation in the major media became increasingly impossible.

Two decades ago the role of the average citizen with regard to printed or broadcast media was still passive; with social media the situation totally changed to the opposite – ordinary people can be creative through interactive media. The new trend in the present decade seems to be the ‘Internet revolution’. One of the first examples of this was way back in 2001 when the Filipinos famously overthrew their government with the help of text messaging. The latest example of the use of social media in the context of catastrophes or terrorist acts comes from the U.S., where, immediately after the bombs had exploded during the Boston marathon (Spring 2013), tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands or even millions, of social media users began to comb through still and video images from the explosion sites, like so many self-deputized CIA agents. These instant vigilantes not only shared images and theories on Reddit, Imgur, Tumbler and countless blogs but also fingered (innocent) suspects, most of them dark-skinned, as potential terrorists.

The use of social media in present day conflicts can be seen from a few examples I have studied or participated in in different roles (as a neutral observer, as writing articles from the grassroots level perspective or as an active participant in the virtual media war).

Case Moldova – Twitter revolution 4,5

After the Orange (Ukraine), Rose (Georgia) and Tulip (Kyrgyzstan) revolutions, the first attempt at a next-generation demonstration took place in Moldova after the 2009 parliamentary elections. Known now as “The Twitter Revolution” the protest was organized by two youth movements – Hyde Park and ThinkMoldova – using their generation’s social messaging network to gather 10,000-15,000 demonstrators on the streets in Moldova’s capital Chisinau at an event billed as “I am a not a Communist”, which included ransacking the presidential palace and parliament building.

As many as 50 per cent of the eligible Moldovan voters cast their votes for the Communist Party (PCRM). Thus the ruling party won a landslide victory, leaving the other three political parties that made it to parliament far behind. Three other parties managed to pass the 6 per cent threshold required to enter the legislature. All three are in favour of closer ties with the European Union, free-market policies and pursuing NATO membership. The Communists (PCRM) are pro-EU, anti-NATO and less market-friendly.

Election observers from the EU and OSCE accepted6 the voting as fair, though they expressed some concern about interference from the authorities. But the results were a deep disappointment in the capital. Expectation of change was in the air before the voting, but that did not happen.

On the other hand, the demonstration has been characterized in discussion forums (by government supporters perhaps?) as an act where

youth, paid by older internationally-acting manipulators with money, alcohol and drugs, seized a presidential office, planted a Romania’s flag on a president palace and set on fire country’s parliament, demanding inclusion as a province in Romania.”

Natalia Morar, one of the leaders of ThinkMoldova7, described the effort in her blog as “six people, 10 minutes for brainstorming and decision-making, several hours of disseminating information through networks, Facebook, blogs, SMSs and e-mails.” She said the protests organized under the slogan were organized online: “All the organization was through the Internet, and 15,000 people came on to the street.”

To create a demonstration via social media was easy, but to have a common view of its purpose and manage the crowd seems to have been problematic. That the demonstration turned violent was a surprise to the activists. Mr. Moscovici said the protests were never intended to turn in that direction. “The situation got beyond any expectations,” he said. “If it would have been planned in advance, they would have used Molotov cocktails or other bad stuff. Today they didn’t have any tools to fight back. The stones they got from the ground, from the pavement.” Ms. Morar of ThinkMoldova also distanced her organization from the violence, shifting the blame onto the opposition parties. What bothers her the most, she said, is the suggestion that she and her friends somehow contributed to the violence, which she watched on television. “Believe me, there is nothing at all enjoyable about it,” she said8.

ThinkMoldova gives an example of how a debate can be brought to the street level. One problem is manipulation by the media, etc, which is a common phenomenon in political actions, as well hijacking a demonstration for the purpose of one interest group. In the Moldova case, the two organizations behind the protest condemned the violence and were of the opinion that the opposition parties were behind these acts. The opposition parties deny this and of course it is possible that the Establishment orchestrated the hooligan part of the demonstration to weaken the NGOs. The truth – I don’t know.

The Moldovan experiment showed that Twitter has made some difference since the demonstrations in Ukraine 2004 and Belorussia 2006, which were mainly organized with SMS. It is practical and effective, but from my point of view not a sufficient method for democratic revolution. For protest certainly, for revolution maybe, sometime, somewhere.

Arab Streets: Social media gave good start and bad follow-up

The uprisings and revolutions on the Arab streets a couple of years ago clearly demonstrated the force of the social media in the early stages of those events. A sort of warm-up to the recent cyber war came with the release of a number of US diplomatic cables on Tunisia9by WikiLeaksin late November and early December 2010. The cables gave details about the “Family Mafia” led by the Tunisian President. A Lebanese news website that published the cables, Al-Akhbar, was blocked in Tunisia and attacked by hackers. The political campaign on the Internet escalated with Operation Tunisia10(an open letter to the media, a request for help from journalists, bloggers and hackers) in which activists targeted government sites with Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. The hackers also got their Open Letter onto the main page of the Government of Tunisia website. During critical days, the social media have been used to help get people out on the streets.

In Egypt the social media played a decisive role by bringing the protest onto the streets. Anonymous leaflets11How to Protest Intelligently – circulating in Cairo also provided practical and tactical advice for mass demonstrations, confronting riot police, and besieging and taking control of government offices. The leaflet asked recipients to redistribute it by email and photocopying, but not to use social media such as Facebook and Twitter, which were being monitored by the security forces.

While the social media was so effective during the uprisings, its role became insignificant immediately after the change of regime. Traditional, better organized religious groups got an almost landslide victory over different “ad hoc” temporary action groups. It seems that with Tweet and FB it is difficult to create any deeper group identity, common vision or commitment.

Iran: Unsuccessful Green revolution, but successful cyber war

The “green revolution” in Tehran started after the elections in the summer of 2009. The Western media relied on its reporters covering the mass demonstrations by opposition supporters. The most news coverage came from Tehran via English-speaking students – the bulk of the opposition demonstrators were drawn from the upper and middle-class students, business and professional classes.

From the post-election surveys it can be seen that the only demographic groups where the opposition candidate Mousavi was leading or competing with Ahmadinejad were the university students and graduates, and the highest-income Iranians. This group had the language skills, equipment and skills for using the social media for their purpose. But relying on them as a source of information gives a totally false picture about the grassroots level in Iran as, according to surveys, only one-third of Iranians have access to the Internet. Commentators portrayed Iranian youth and the Internet as harbingers of change in the 2009 election, whereas in reality, 18-to-24-year-olds comprised the strongest voting bloc for Ahmadinejad.

While distributing real-time tweets and pictures of the “revolution”, the Western media totally ignored and downplayed the huge turnout for Ahmadinejad. Worse still, the Western media ignored the class composition of the competing demonstrations – the fact that Ahmadinejad was drawing his support from the far more numerous poor working class, peasant, artisan and public employee sectors while ignoring the provinces, small and medium sized cities and villages where Ahmadinejad had his mass base of support.12, 13

Later, when the core problem (information coming from English-speaking students and highest income class) of the social media as a source of information was clear, and to give a deeper view, I published the traditional information from the Iranian opposition and, especially, from a group named The Organization of Iranian People’s Fadaian (Majority) – in Persian: سازمان فدائیان خلق ایران اکثریتSāzmān-e fedaiyān-e khalq-e Irān (aksariat) – which is the largest socialist party in Iran and advocates the overthrow of the Islamic regime there. The group is banned from open activity within the Islamic Republic, and works clandestinely inside Iran and openly abroad. I published their letter to EU leaders14 as such, and their other letter15 to President Obama related to a planned Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities as, in my opinion, their wise words reflected the grassroots attitude among the Iranian opposition

While social media like Twitter at a regional/local level can be a decisive factor by encouraging the masses to throw out an existing regime, one should remember that the stakes are on a different scale in a real cyber war. The best examples are the introduction of the Stuxnet computer virus into 30,000 computers in Iran’s nuclear reactors and the explosions in October 2009 in which 18 Iranian technicians were killed at a factory in the Zagros mountains that manufactured Shihab missiles.16

Israel: The most sophisticated use of social media as a tool of war

The old tradition (called also Pallywood) in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been the use of some respected media, such as the BBC, to show “Israel’s aggression” and, at the same time, Palestinians as innocent civilian victims. During earlier conflicts it was usual to bring the dead – anyone who had died or been murdered for reasons of crime during these wars – out from the hospitals in front of the cameras as victims of “Israel’s aggression”. This kind of media war is still continuing on the Internet. The difference with the old times is that while it is easy to create and publish (mis)information, it is just as easy for the public to detect photo manipulations and other fabrications.

During the Israeli Pillar of Defence operation against Hamas terrorists in Gaza, an Arab news site called Alarab Net released a photo17 that shows a family who were allegedly ‘massacred’ in Gaza on its Facebook page on Sunday, 18 November 2012. The caption in Arabic roughly translates into English as “martyred massacred family in Gaza shortly before…” Thanks to Tazpit News Agency’s investigative work, it was found that the photo had originally been published on a news site called Moheet based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, one month earlier, on 9 October 2012. October 19. On the Moheet website, the photo18 was entitled “Syria killed 122 Friday…Assad Used Cluster Bombs.”

And here another example where the Alqassam Brigades published an image which was taken in during the Syrian civil war weeks ago and attempted to pass it off as a picture taken in Gaza during current conflict.

media manipulation in the middle east, Pallywood

Trevor Asserson in YNetNews19:

The only force in the Middle East that can beat the Israeli army is a bunch of ragged reporters. Had it not been for the fear of world opinion the Army would have rooted out Hamas and its rockets… World opinion matters because Israel’s natural friends are democracies. Politicians in democracies will follow public opinion. In today’s digital world, where people can communicate across the world in seconds and access information anonymously from their own homes, the internet is the new battlefield. The BBC, with its halo of ‘impartiality,’ is the world leader in dissimulation. The BBC aired dead Syrian children passed off as Palestinians; a ‘badly injured victim of Israeli bombing’ was filmed moments later walking around healthily. The BBC shrugged it off – “perhaps he just recovered quickly.”

A couple of years ago, the General Staff of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) established a Cyber Defense Division in the C4I Directorate, which is responsible for protecting the IDF networks from hackers and infiltrations, to combat this new virtual frontier. While modern cyber warfare is more between skilled specialists, the information war in the social media is possible for anyone who has some kind of equipment and access to the web.

In my opinion, the most sophisticated use of social media as tool of war is the official blog of the Israel Defense Forces (IDFBlog)20. This is a source of information where one can find news from the field, including operational updates, photos and videos. Besides news, the IDF blog also includes wide background information and facts about related issues via different means (images, videos, FB discussions, interactive means, contacts …) and in many languages. The IDF are using Twitter as a means of making conflict, and their part in it, as transparent as possible. They are letting the world know exactly what they are doing, as well as why they are doing it. I think this is incredibly important as Israel is too easily cast in the role of “the bully” by the mainstream press abroad.

Besides blogging, the IDF also work with Facebook21, Youtube22, Twitter23 and Flickr24.

IDF leaflets during Gaza operation

As not all people have access to the social media, Israel has also used old-fashioned methods such as aircraft dropping leaflets in Gaza stating that the residents should “keep their distance from Hamas terror operatives”. There were similar warnings via Twitter. The reason for this kind of early warning was to minimize collateral damage (very bad for the public image) in any conflict.25

A very good example of how the IDF information unit works with the social media is its actions on 14th November 2012, when Operation Pillar of Defence was starting: in the morning, around 9:30 a.m. Eastern time, @IDFSpokesperson tweeted that “The IDF has begun a widespread campaign on terror sites & operatives in the #Gaza Strip, chief among them #Hamas & Islamic Jihad targets.” Minutes later they tweeted26, “The first target hit, minutes ago, was Ahmed Al-Jabari, head of the #Hamas military wing.” The tweet linked to a post on the IDF blog27 that explained: “The purpose of this operation was to severely impair the command and control chain of the Hamas leadership, as well as its terrorist infrastructure.”…“The IDF will continue to target sites that are used for carrying out terror attacks against the citizens of Israel while improving their daily security.” Soon after, a video of the IDF Pinpoint Strike on Ahmed Jabari28 hit YouTube, where it has accrued over 800,000 views so far (despite being blocked and reinstated by YouTube) 29. On the opposition’s side, the Alqassam Brigades30have been live-tweeting their attacks on Israel as well – e.g during Operation Pillar of Defence, tweeting the news of rockets being fired at different cities in Israel every few minutes.

Web 2.0 As a Tool – My conclusions

The Egyptian autocrats removed the Internet from Egypt; the Chinese autocrats removed Egypt from the Internet (an anonymous quote from a web forum)

The Web 2.0 revolution created a collective consciousness over the Internet, and, in addition, the social media also made it possible for large numbers of people to organize and, in certain cases create, attacks against the establishment – in the virtual or real sphere. The social media is different from the traditional/industrial media in many ways, such as quality, reach, frequency, usability, immediacy and permanence. A Web 2.0 site may allow users to interact and collaborate with each other in the social media. This new Internet culture reflects the fact of, or is a process by which, the centre of gravity of the news cycle has shifted to the social media. The critical task is, of course, criticism of the sources, so that what seems like complete democratization of information and news reporting can lead to a tyranny of the mob, even erupting into “virtual” and perhaps even physical violence.

Today’s communication tools are providing new aspects for election campaigns and politics in general. One of them is that modern technology can inspire young voters. Another aspect is that protest is not necessarily channelled via voting but through street democracy.

One can claim that both of these aspects can include undemocratic elements because the majority of the population are not familiar with these tools and directing democracy with violence can gain more than a fair share of power. On the other hand, one can claim that the Establishment has such strong means with which to exercise power that normal elections are insignificant. My position is not clear, because the situation is different in every society.

Web 2.0 has been excellent tool with which to mobilize huge segments of the population with “Colour revolutions” or uprisings. However, the problems start after the demonstrations or even when the regime changes. After changing the regime or ousting a dictator, any further goals are rarely discussed and accepted by the mobilized demonstrators. Indeed, the real aims – labelled the promotion of democracy – can be imported abroad to serve foreign interests (like pro-American economic and foreign policies on Arab streets) or at least one leading domestic interest group. So, in my opinion, the criticism is the core question from this aspect.

I do not think the Western traditional mainstream media are so interested in in-depth critical analysis or investigations, which are a thread for advertising money or other publishers’ interests. The Internet is an excellent medium for alternative critical citizen journalism and even investigative journalism. Speaking about today’s whistle-blowers – the most famous being WikiLeaks – it may be the only medium where these kinds of actions are possible. One can, of course, find a lot of nonsense and what I call Facebook journalism on the Internet. I personally prefer more op-ed articles, alternative perspectives, etc, with good links to background information. In blogging I have changed my approach from daily commentaries to longer and not-so-frequent articles.

I think that at best, the social media can challenge the existing system, policy and initiatives by looking behind the picture from the mainstream media and finding the core interests in ongoing and coming (e.g. Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities, military intervention in Syria, etc) interventions, conflicts and high-flown statements, and investigate how the actions are implementing the interests of different lobby groups. The blogosphere can tell what’s really happening and why. The blogosphere can liberate us and our thinking from the mainstream media box. It delivers a huge amount of information and raw material from different shareholders. The critical task is criticism of the sources, but even with this reservation it makes a real change as a virtual think tank – far more than the traditional media.

¤ ¤ ¤

Excerpt: Ari Rusila – My Blogosphere

My motivation for blogging originates from my experience of working in the Balkans. While working in the Balkans I saw a huge gap between the mainstream media and reality, and between high-flown ideas from Washington and Brussels from one side and the grassroots from the other. To change the situation I started to write e-mails and memorandums to policy-makers and comments to different forums – although the response was modest at best. Then I went to different web forums and started blogging, and got much more feedback. My motto is “The other side of the story”.

My main blog is Ari Rusila’s BalkanBlog31, which covers issues relating to conflicts, crisis management and geopolitics, and regionally the Balkans, the Black Sea, the Caucasus and MENA (the greater Middle East and North Africa) regions. The content of the blog is more in-depth analysis or essays from my personal viewpoint on topics mentioned, not daily posts about current events. The main blog has visitors from more than 140 countries, mostly from North America.

There is a Finnish version of the main blog with a little different content: Ari Rusilan BalkanBlog32. I also launched a news portal, Ari Rusila’s Conflicts, where real-time news on diffferent topics was automatically generated from different sources – but no more, as the service provider ended this option. Then there is Themes of Ari Rusila33, which includes some minicourses for e-learning purposes. This site is still partly under construction. In addition to this, there is a more static website, Ari Rusila WebS34. I also participate in a number of community blogs with the same content as my main blog but with a different audience.

Blogosphere of Ari Rusila, Balkanblog, Web 2.0, blogging, social media

Highlights & Achievements 2008-

2013

2012

  • TOP 10 political blogs rank in Finland (Cision)

  • Translations of my articles are spreading my message

  • Interviews in international printed and online media: Crimea Policy Dialogue Project (Ukraine)

  • Blog-Zug Hall of Fame (week 43/2012)

  • Blog-Zug Top (week 43/2012)

  • Google Search can give a good score depending how high each article is at any given time (my best is 603,000 hits, normal variation is 7,000 – 200,000)

  • Technorati authority changes according tro article popularity (my scores between 1 -150) h

2011

2010

  • Blog got 1st position among the most visited Babelblogs in Cafebabel.com (The European Magazine)

  • 4,782 views on main blog in one day

  • TOP 10 political blogs rank in Finland (Cision)

  • Article for AC Policy Team/NATO Strategic Concept

  • Translations and forum activities disseminate views

2009

  • TH!NK ABOUT IT blogging competition by European Journalism Centre, only two selected to participate from Finland

  • Quality Blogging Award in TH!NK ABOUT IT blogging competition by European Journalism Centre

  • Intercultural Dialogue” Training workshop of Anna Lindh Foundation in Luxemburg for EuroMed bloggers. I was the only one selected from the Nordic countries

  • Platinium contributor to Atlantic-Community

2008

  • Article in New Kosova Report (Kosovo/Serbia)

  • Active participation in different forums and articles referred to

  • International Press Card

Other outcomes

  • Citations in a few academic works

  • Answering questions from researchers and students for their studies or publications

  • Contacted by a few writers and discussions of common issues

  • Helping aid or development workers with advice when they are going on missions

  • Giving official statements to, for example, asylum seekers

  • Contacted by a few moviemakers and giving background information and hints for documentary movies.

Notes:

1See “Excerpt: My Blogoshere

2 The Spectator (http://www.iacenter.org/bosnia/lituchy.htm)

3 The Spectator (http://www.iacenter.org/bosnia/lituchy.htm)

4 More in Twitter revolution – no coup d’etat but big drama anyway (https://arirusila.wordpress.com/2009/04/19/twitter-revolution-) and

5 Twitter Revolution-Case Moldova (https://arirusila.wordpress.com/2009/04/10/twitter-revolution-)

6 OSCE report (http://www.osce.org/documents/odihr/2009/04/37142_en.pdf )

7 Source NYT (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/08/world/europe/08moldova.html?_r=0)

8 Source NYT (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/08/world/europe/08moldova.html?_r=0 )

9 (http://213.251.145.96/origin/19_0.html)

10 (http://www.pdf-archive.com/2011/01/04/an-open-letter-to-all-media/an-open-letter-to-all-media.pdf)

11 (http://assets.theatlantic.com/static/mt/assets/science/assets_c/2011/01/Page%201_rev2-thumb-600×424-41204.jpg) and (http://assets.theatlantic.com/static/mt/assets/science/assets_c/2011/01/Page%204_rev-thumb-600×424-41213.jpg)

12 More in my articles IRAN – revolution postponed (https://arirusila.wordpress.com/2009/07/07/iran-) and

13 Iran – Twitter – Revolution (https://arirusila.wordpress.com/2009/06/22/iran-)

14 Support for Iranian Opposition (https://arirusila.wordpress.com/2011/03/04/support-for-iranian-opposition/)

15 US Giving a “Yellow Light” to an Israeli Strike (https://arirusila.wordpress.com/2012/03/06/us-giving-a-yellow-light-to-an-israeli-strike/)

16 More in my article Cyber war has became a tool between political and military options (https://arirusila.wordpress.com/2011/01/18/cyber-war-has-became-a-tool-between-political-and-military-options/)

17 The “recycled” massacre, transplanted to Gaza. (http://www.jewishpress.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/forgery-1.jpg)

18 The original massacre, in Syria. http://www.jewishpress.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/forgery-21-422×486.jpg )

19 (http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4315343,00.html)

20 (http://www.idfblog.com/ )

21 (http://www.facebook.com/idfonline )

22 (http://www.youtube.com/idfnadesk )

23 (http://www.twitter.com/idfspokesperson )

24 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/idfonline )

25 Minimizing Collateral Damage In Gaza Conflict (https://arirusila.wordpress.com/2012/11/20/minimizing-collateral-damage-in-gaza-conflict/)

26 (http://twitter.com/IDFSpokesperson/status/268722815300169729 )

27 (http://www.idfblog.com/2012/11/14/idf-begins-widespread-attack-on-terror-sites-in-the-gaza-strip/ )

28 (http://youtu.be/P6U2ZQ0EhN4 )

29 (http://allthingsd.com/20121115/youtube-blocks-israeli-hamas-assassination-video/ )

30 (http://twitter.com/AlqassamBrigade )

31 (https://arirusila.wordpress.com )

32 (http://arirusila.blogit.fi/ )

33 (http://arirusilathemes.wordpress.com/ )

34 (http://arirusila.webs.com/ )


Resumption Of Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks

July 21, 2013

<img source="http://t1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSLHPjqrrmKitfMzTIeUfoIZkim6sHG2DWE2cCzuaT2NXztmjpVNA" alt="Israel and Palestine map."</img>Some hope to break the Israeli-Palestinian vicious circle emerged when it was announced about resumption of peace talks . Dr. Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian chief negotiator, will travel to Washington next week to meet Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, for what is supposed to be direct negotiations after five years of stagnation. Both representatives participated formal negotiations in 2008 when the final agreement almost was reached.

New talks are possible due active and skilled shuttle diplomacy implemented by US Secretary of State John Kerry, who succeeded where both his predecessor Hillary Clinton and his superior, President Barack Obama, failed. However this is only start of the process and before final status talks there is need to agree over the foundations of the negotiations themselves, how to start, how and when to finish. A lot of obstacles is waiting, for example involvement of Hamas and Gaza to negotiations. Also from its part European Union tries to sabotage negotiations with its groping foreign policy and its foolish directives.

Kerry’s shuttle diplomacy

For years the Palestinian Authority (PA) has refused to negotiate unless some preconditions are accepted. The main demands before peace talks have been that the border of the future Palestinian state would be along lines that existed before the 1967 Six-Day War and that Israel halts all construction in West Bank settlements. Israel has refused, saying negotiations should resume without conditions.

On his sixth trip to the Middle East in five months as America’s top diplomat, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, continued his effort to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks that floundered and collapsed in 2008. And on 19th July 2013 Kerry was able to announce that Israel and the Palestinians will meet end of July 2013 in Washington to finalize an agreement on relaunching peace negotiations for the first time in five years.

According to media reports, but not confirmed by Secretary Kerry, Israel has agreed a package of incentives for the Palestinians – including restraint in settlement building, the gradual release of prisoner serving long sentences for terror offenses, and economic projects in the West Bank – whilst the Palestinians are expected to suspend unilateral efforts to seek recognition in international bodies.

<img source="https://i1.wp.com/mfa.gov.il/mfa_Graphics/content/accumulator_default_img.jpg" alt="Israel government sign."</img>After Kerry’s announcement on the Resumption of the Diplomatic Process PM Netanyahu released the following statement: “With the resumption of the diplomatic process, we are faced with two main goals: Preventing the creation of a bi-national state between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River that would endanger the future of the Jewish state and preventing the establishment of an additional Iranian-sponsored terrorist state on Israel’s borders, which would endanger us no less.”

The carrots

Kerry has highlighted a 2002 offer by the 22-nation Arab League to make peace with Israel in return for a Palestinian state broadly inside borders that existed before Israel occupied the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem in 1967. At the 2002 Arab League Initiative, which proposed full Arab recognition of Israel in exchange for a series of conditions, including the return of Palestinian refugees to what is now Israel. However, in May this year, a high level Arab League delegation, after meeting with Kerry, agreed to change the language of the Arab Peace Initiative from its rigid demand for a Palestinian state on the 1967 lines to accepting “comparable,” mutually agreed and “minor” land swaps.

Related to settlements it has claimed that they kill the two-state solution but this from my perspective is not obstacle after the now revised Arab League Initiative. 80% of the settlers live in large blocs close to the Green Line. To connect those blocs up to Little Israel will require a land swap of about 6%. That is doable. This has been almost accepted in previous talks at Camp David and Annapolis as well in Olmert’s proposal at last final status negotiations 2008. While 20% of the settlers live outside these green line blocs, these settlements will not be part of Israel proper, after a proposed deal so some 20-30,000 households will have to be absorbed back into Israel and also this is doable.

Kerry has offered the Palestinians a package of economic incentives to restart the talks.According to the secret Kerry plan (not confirmed anywhere) as one of these concessions, Kerry wants Israel to permit the Palestinians to build in Jericho for their prospective state an international airport for direct civilian flights to and from America and Europe. Those flights would cross Israeli air space and be coordinated with Israeli flight control authorities. Kerry envisages the transformation of the entire Jericho region north of the Dead Sea and near the Jordanian border into a busy hub for galvanizing the economy of the future Palestinian state. He wants Israel to hand over to the Palestinians the Kalia region on the northern shore of the Dead Sea. Kibbutz Kalia, albeit part of sovereign Israel from its inception in 1948, is nonetheless one of the assets Kerry wants Israel to cede to the Palestinians. Israeli concessions would not end at the northern Dead Sea coast, according to the secret Kerry plan; it would be just the first in a series of land and sovereignty handover granted the Palestinians in trilateral negotiations among Israel, the Palestinians and the United States. The Palestinians would also be awarded by the process a three-year economic reconstruction program for boosting their Gross National Product by 50 percent and slashing unemployment from 21 to 8 percent.

The Olmert proposal

“Reaching an agreement is possible; it is realistic, but you need to want it and you need to pray that the leadership will want it.” (Ehud Olmert)

<img source="https://arirusila.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/olmertpage002.png" alt="Olmert proposal for Israeli-Palestinian future borders."</img>

The last time Israelis and Palestinians conducted formal final status talks was under former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. But his successor PM Netanyahu has formally rejected the proposals that Olmert made at the time to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

New negotiations are not starting from scratch, both Livni and Erekat have many times been looking the same almost agreed map according which Israel would annex 6.3% of the area of the West Bank, a move which would enable around 75% of the population of Jewish West Bank settlements to remain in their homes. In return for this, land would be transferred to the Palestinians equivalent to 5.8% of the area of the West Bank. In addition, a ‘safe passage’ route linking Hebron in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip would be established. Besides border issue also other core questions – such as future arrangements in Jerusalem and the refugee issue – were earlier almost solved. More about earlier negotiations in PaliLeaks, land swaps and desperate search of peace .

<img source="https://i0.wp.com/scm-l3.technorati.com/13/03/17/75487/Olmertpage003.png" alt="Olmert proposal for future borders of Jerusalem, map."</img>

EU trying to sabotage peace negotiations

While U.S. has implemented their active shuttle diplomacy in the front line the EU’s rearguard are trying to put obstacles for peace process. Just when peace diplomacy on the ground was at crucial point the EU published its directive which mandates that “all agreements between the State of Israel and the EU must unequivocally and explicitly indicate their inapplicability to the territories occupied by Israel in 1967.” The EU explained that the goal of the directive was to draw a solid line between the state of Israel and the “occupied territories,” especially over issues that concern EU cooperation.

In Jerusalem, officials said that the EU directive essentially determines that – given the absence of an agreement signed between Israel and the Palestinians – 100 percent of the territory in Judea and Samaria belong de facto to the Palestinians.

Trade with the EU in 2012 amounted to $36.6 billion. Israel imported $22.4 billion worth of goods from the EU that same year. Also the Palestinians were not so pleased as the Arab side is also going to be harmed by this EU directive; Palestinian laborers are going to lose their livelihoods as a result of the decision to exclude settlement enterprises from future cooperative agreements. A generous portion of the labor in Judea and Samaria is Palestinian and for example many joint Israeli-Palestinian agricultural projects situated in West Bank are funded by members of the EU and now in danger.

According to a report in Ma’ariv, Israel has threatened to pull out of the EU’s massive science and technology project, “Horizon 2020″. Israel is the only non-European full partner in the project, and is supposed to invest 600 million Euro (785 million US dollars) in the project over 7 years. Besides the financial hit the EU project would take as a result, the move would be a serious blow to the project’s prestige and success. Israel is a central partner in the projects that Horizon 2020 undertakes, and part of these project’s successes are dependent on Israeli human resources and research.

EU wishing to be included in the peace process should change their directive for example expressing that the territories of east Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and the Golan Heights are in dispute and their fate will be determined through direct negotiations.

<img source="https://arirusila.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/unslogans.jpg?w=296&h=314" alt="UN slogans."</img>

These principles might describe EU too?

Gaza question

In my opinion question about Gaza should be solved at early stage during coming negotiations. Gaza’s isolation was imposed originally to delegitimize and undermine Hamas’ leadership. Palestinian Authority or better say Fatah was hoping to produce positive economic development in the West Bank which could lead Gazans to overturn Hamas rule.The opposite came true as Hamas’ control grew tighter. Though Israel and Egypt allow limited imports into Gaza, the economy of Gaza largely relies on illicit trade that flourishes via an alternative “tunnel economy.” Hamas enriches itself at the expense of the Palestinian Authority (PA) by collecting tolls from tunnel operators and import taxes on goods brought into Gaza. This second economy increases ordinary Gazans’ reliance on Hamas rule, which most would prefer to see end. Making peace deal only between Israel and the PA does not solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and ignoring Gaza further incentives Hamas to oppose peace with Israel and any deal its Palestinian adversaries conclude.

A new reintegration strategy is needed instead of isolation, it should reconnect Gaza with the West Bank to lessen Hamas’ grip on Gaza. To be effective at least following components should be included to the new strategy for Gaza:

1) Economic component encouraging Israel and the PA to reestablish trade links with Gaza. Israel should expand the amount of trade allowed from its territory, and also reopen trade from the West Bank. Gazans should be allowed to open an export corridor through Israel. Allowing goods to flow between Gaza and the West Bank will change Gaza’s economy away from illicit trade with Egypt and strengthen the moderate middle class

2) Social component encouraging Israel and the PA to reestablish the suspended transit corridor for Palestinians to travel between the West Bank and Gaza.Allowing Gazans to visit the West Bank and vice versa will help restore the social bonds and build national consciousness required for statehood.prepare Palestinian institutions for elections and to empower PA for peace deal..

3) Political component preparing the PA for Palestinian national elections.The Palestinians have not held national elections since 2006, and governing institutions required for statehood are losing legitimacy as a result.

Implementation of this new approach could be made with help of international advisory group composed of those countries already friendly with Hamas (Turkey, Qatar, and Egypt), plus countries (Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia) more likely to take into account the Fatah-dominated PA’s views. Sure this policy change poses risk, however the more certain danger is in perpetuating a status quo that benefits Hamas.

My conclusion

In Israel big part of population thinks that Israel as strong Jewish state can best defense their interests and hard line government to implement their wish. Palestinian leadership is defending rights of local Muslim population, refugees and vision of Palestine state. Hard line Palestine groups – with remarkable popular support – is implementing their vision with terrorist acts. In outside power centres especially in Anglo-Saxon world both Israeli and Palestinian interest groups are putting their pressure to western capitals. Many outsiders admit that both sides have good base for their claims.

Now I am more optimist than pessimist with this new round of talks. The status quo is too expensive situation both economically and politically for both Israel and Palestine. The deal would allow both parties to look forwards – the deal would release resources for economic development and for building capacities in society. There is also regional need to solve Israeli-Palestinian conflict as other more serious conflicts are spreading in the (Great) Middle East

If negotiations however again fail so from my perspective Israel could concentrate to talk solution with Egypt and Jordan. I have propagated long for “three-state” approach, where Gaza is returned to Egyptian control and the West Bank in some configuration reverts to Jordanian sovereignty. From my point of view this solution is both pragmatic and doable. (More in The Three-State Option could solve Gaza Conflict )


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