Abbas’s Palestine is the Real Apartheid State, by Jonathan Tobin

In recent weeks, critics of Israel have been crying foul over the fact that Jews have moved into some apartments in East Jerusalem neighborhoods.The fact that the homes were legally purchased and that the new residents were merely attempting to reside in the country’s as-yet-undivided capital was seen as irrelevant since the presence of Jews in Arab-majority areas is considered to be an obstacle to a potential partition of the city should a peace agreement with the Palestinians ever be signed. But even if we were to concede that such moves do infuriate Arabs, surely no one, not even Israel’s most adamant opponents, would be comfortable with laws that banned the presence of Jews in parts of Jerusalem or anywhere else. Right? Wrong.

Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas reacted to the fact that Jews have bought homes from Palestinians in parts of Jerusalem by vowing to toughen existing PA laws that forbid such sales. Yes, that’s right. In “Palestine”—be it the existing PA or Hamas states or the future independent Palestinian state that Europe is so eager to recognize even without it having to make peace with Israel—it is against the law to sell land or a home to a Jew.

The question of whether Jews should move into majority Arab neighborhoods or towns is a question of judgment. Let’s ignore for the moment the fact that the Palestinians have repeatedly rejected any peace deal that would give them an independent state and a share of Jerusalem since it would require them to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders are drawn. It is possible to argue that the two communities are better off living separately. But voluntary separation is one thing, legal restrictions on the right of Jews to live in some areas is something very different.

After all, in the State of Israel, which is routinely and falsely accused of being an “apartheid state,” Arabs may live where they please. When some areas have tried to restrict sales of property to Arabs, Israel’s courts have ruled that this is inconsistent with the principles enunciated in the country’s basic laws. While Israel is not a perfect society and the Arab minority faces challenges that are often rooted in the century-old war over the land, the principle of equality before the law for all citizens is upheld.

But in “Palestine,” not only are there no courts or government to prevent individuals or groups from discriminating, but there it is the government itself that both promulgates and ruthlessly enforces such bias.

As the Times of Israel reports:

According to the official Palestinian Wafa news agency, Abbas on Monday imposed a sentence of hard labor for life on “anyone diverting, renting or selling land to an enemy state or one of its subjects.”

Jordan’s penal code number 16 article 114, applicable in the Palestinian territories, previously subscribed “temporary hard labor” to perpetrators of the crime.

In practice, this means Jews may not buy, rent, or sell land. In other words, should the state of Palestine that sits in the United Nations ever become a real sovereign country it will be the apartheid state, not democratic Israel.

The purpose of such laws is to thwart the Zionist enterprise by which Jews have returned to their ancient homeland by legally purchasing land. But the motivating factor here is Jew hatred. Should Palestine ever become a reality, the neighborhoods where Jews have bought homes would be part of it. At that point these few Jews would be no threat to the Arab majority. But the Palestinian vision of statehood remains one in which Israel would be a country where Jews and Arabs live while Palestine will be a Judenrein—Jew-free—entity.

The point here is that peace is possible if both sides are prepared to compromise and recognize each other’s legitimacy. But the supposedly moderate Palestinian Authority of Abbas, that both President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry constantly praise as a true peace partner for Israel, is not only not interested in compromising. It is also promulgating and attempting to enforce laws that are based in anti-Semitic incitement. Were Israel to ban Arabs from moving into homes they owned in West Jerusalem, it would prompt an international outcry and condemnations from the United States. But instead America condemns Jews who move into Arab neighborhoods and stays silent when Abbas seeks to treat those who sell to Jews as criminals.

Instead of the Jewish home buying in Jerusalem being an obstacle to peace as Israel’s critics claim, it is the Arab attempt to criminalize selling to a Jew that best illustrates why peace is not yet possible

What The "Two State Solution" Has to Do with the Rise of Islamic Extremism

What The "Two State Solution" Has to Do with the Rise of Islamic Extremism: Zero
by Khaled Abu Toameh
October 20, 2014 at 5:00 am
http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/4801/two-state-solution-isis

The "Arab Spring" did not erupt as a result of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Rather, it was the outcome of decades of tyranny and corruption in the Arab world. The Tunisians, Egyptians, Libyans and Yemenis who removed their dictators from power did not do so because of the lack of a "two-state solution." This is the last thing they had in mind.

The thousands of Muslims who are volunteering to join the Islamic State [IS] are not doing so because they are frustrated with the lack of progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

The only solution the Islamic State believes in is a Sunni Islamic Caliphate where the surviving non-Muslims who are not massacred would be subject to sharia law.

What Kerry perhaps does not know is that the Islamic State is not interested in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at all. Unlike Kerry, Sunni scholars fully understand that the Islamic State has more to do with Islam and terrorism than with any other conflict.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's claim that the lack of a "two-state solution" has fueled the rise of the Islamic State [IS] terrorist group reinforces how clueless the U.S. Administration is about what is happening in the Arab and Islamic countries.

Speaking at a State Department ceremony marking the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, Kerry said that the resumption of peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians was vital in the fight against Islamic extremism, including Islamic State.

"There wasn't a leader I met with in the region who didn't raise with me spontaneously the need to try to get peace between Israel and the Palestinians, because it was a cause of recruitment and of street anger and agitation," Kerry said. "People need to understand the connection of that. And it has something to do with the humiliation and denial and absence of dignity."

The U.S. State Department later denied that Kerry had made the statement attributed to him.

Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf told reporters that Kerry's comments were distorted for political gains; she pointed a finger at Israeli Economy Minister Naftali Bennett.

"What [Kerry] said was that during his travels to build a coalition against the Islamic State, he was told that should the Israeli-Palestinian conflict be resolved, the Middle East would be a better place," Harf explained.

The Islamic State is one of the by-products of the "Arab Spring," which began as a secular revolt against Arab dictatorships and degenerated into anarchy, lawlessness, terrorism and massacres that have claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of Arabs and Muslims.

The "Arab Spring" did not erupt as a result of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Rather, it was the natural and inevitable outcome of decades of tyranny and corruption in the Arab world.

The Tunisians, Egyptians, Libyans and Yemenis who removed their dictators from power did not do so because of the lack of a "two-state solution."

Nor did the Arabs revolt because of the failure of the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. This is the last thing these Arabs had in mind when they took to the streets to protest against decades of dictatorship and bad government.

It is this "Arab Spring," and not the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, that brought the Muslim Brotherhood to power in Egypt. And it is the same "Arab Spring" that saw the emergence of Islamic terror groups such as the Al-Nusra Front, the Islamic Front, the Army of Mujahedeen, Jund al-Sham and, most recently, the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

The rise of the Islamic State is a direct result of the anarchy and extremism that have been sweeping the Arab and Islamic countries over the past few years.

The thousands of Muslims who are volunteering to join Islamic State are not doing so because they are frustrated with the lack of progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. They are not knocking on the Islamic State's doors because they are disappointed that the two-state solution has not materialized.

Kerry is anyway naïve to think that the jihadis believe in something called a "two-state" solution. The only solution the Islamic State believes in is the one that would lead to the establishment of a radical Sunni Islamic Caliphate across the Middle East where the surviving non-Muslims who are not massacred would be subject to sharia law.

Not only is the Islamic State opposed to the "two-state solution," it is also opposed to the existence of both Israel and a Palestinian state. Under the new Islamic Caliphate, there is no room for Israel or Palestine or any of the Arab and Islamic countries.

Had Kerry studied the goals and ideology of the Islamic State, he would have discovered that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not even at the top of the group's list of priorities.

In fact, the "liberation of Bait al-Maqdis" [Jerusalem] is ranked sixth among Islamic State's objectives.

The group's first goal envisages stirring chaos in the Arab and Islamic countries.

Second, the group will move on to what it calls "management of savagery" in these countries.

Third, Islamic State will embark on the process of establishing an Islamic Caliphate.

Fourth, it will proceed with "liberating neighboring countries and expanding the size of the Islamic Caliphate.

Fifth, the group will start the process of "liberating the Islamic countries," including Bait al-Maqdis.

Obviously, Kerry must have missed the speech delivered by Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi last July.

Al-Baghdadi did not talk about the "two-state solution." Nor did he call on Muslims to join his group because of the lack of progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Instead, al-Baghdadi told his followers that, "Allah likes us to kill his enemies, and make jihad for his sake. O Allah, give Islam victory over the disbelief and the disbelievers, and give victory to the mujahideen, in the East of this earth and its West."

What Kerry perhaps does not know is that the Islamic State is not interested in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at all. The terrorist group did not even bother to comment on the last military confrontation between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The failure of the Islamic State to express solidarity with the Palestinians or Hamas during the war drew strong condemnations from some of the Arab world's leading columnists.

"What is shocking and strange is that the Islamic State and other terrorist groups that claim to speak on behalf of Islam did not make a single move as Israeli planes were shelling civilians inside the Gaza Strip," remarked Egyptian columnist Jamil al-Afifi. "Nor did any of their wise men come out to condemn the ruthless killings (in the Gaza Strip).

Kerry did not reveal the identity of the "leaders" who told him that the absence of peace between Israel and the Palestinians was a "cause of recruitment and of street anger and agitation" in the Arab and Islamic countries.

What is clear, however, is that Sunni scholars do not seem to share Kerry's assessment.

Last month, over 120 Sunni scholars issued an open letter denouncing the Islamic State and its religious arguments. "You have misinterpreted Islam into a religion of harshness, brutality, torture and murder," the letter said. "This is a great wrong and an offence to Islam, to Muslims and to the entire world."

Needless to say, the scholars did not mention the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a cause for the rise of Islamic State.

That is because unlike Kerry, the Sunni scholars know that the Islamic State is completely unrelated to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And unlike Kerry, the Muslim scholars fully understand that Islamic State has more to do with Islam and terrorism than with any other conflict.

Amb. Ayalon corrects Kerry & why Israel is not Connected to ISIL's Rise

The denial released by the State Department's deputy spokesperson, according to which Secretary Kerry did not connect between Israel and the growth of ISIL was a standard and expected diplomatic move. However, the denial is not enough to fix the immense damage caused by Kerry's words from this past Thursday. While the junior spokesperson's denial was laconic and brief, Kerry's words were spoken to the cameras, and furthermore, his words were read off paper, after being carefully formulated and written with deliberate forethought.

If Kerry the politician wanted to curry favor with the large audience which filled the event hall at the top floor of the State Department building in Washington, he succeeded. This crowd was comprised of leaders of the Muslim community in the United States, who all nodded in agreement as Kerry boasted on the pulpit.

His words may have had a diplomatic goal, raising support and sympathy from Muslim and Arab states for the military moves made by the Americans against Islamist radicals in the Middle East. So far, the US-led coalition forces have failed to stop the spread of ISIL in the Middle East or of the Al-Qaeda offshoots in the heart of Africa. According to the estimates of US military experts, it will be impossible to defeat ISIL without the use of ground forces, which will lead to an unavoidable increase in the number of casualties among the civilian populace.

Or maybe Secretary Kerry, who cast all his hopes, as well as his reputation, on solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, wanted to increase the pressure on Israel. Kerry fears that the political leadership in Israel is taking advantage of the world's focus on ISIL in order to avoid a diplomatic process with the Palestinians.

Whether he meant to or not, Kerry linked the ISIL terror and radical Islam in the Middle East to Israel and the Palestinian problem, completely ignoring the true cause of violence and terror in the Middle East and beyond, which is a result of a radical Islamist ideology. The Islamist terror groups take advantage of the despair in Arab society, which suffers under backward dictatorial regimes who do not allow hope for a better future.

Providing a stage for such a twist of reality is dangerous as well as harmful, because it provides a boost for ISIL terror and supplies leaders of the region with an excuse with which to avoid true, painful reforms. If Kerry meant to pressure Israel to be more flexible when dealing with the Palestinians, in order to achieve a diplomatic breakthrough, the opposite is true, and his words merely strengthen the Palestinians' tough and uncompromising positions.

Precisely in front of the leaders of the Muslim community in the United States, Kerry should have repeated the words of his President, who stated last month at the United Nations General Assembly: "The situation in Iraq and Syria and Libya should cure anybody of the illusion that the Arab-Israeli conflict is the main source of problems in the region".

To read the article in the original Hebrew: 

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The Vanishing Two-State Solution

AUGUST 1, 2014 11:57 AM 

Ben Cohen / JNS.org

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is greeted by Saeb Erekat, chief negotiator for the Palestinian Authority in the eventually collapsed American-brokered Israel-Palestinian peace talks, before a meeting in Amman, Jordan, on June 28, 2013. 

JNS.org – Speaking to a British television network this week, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron bemoaned that “facts on the ground” were on the verge of wrecking the prospects for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Cameron, it should be said, has consistently supported Israel’s right to defend itself from the stream of rocket attacks launched from Hamas-ruled Gaza. At the same time, he believes that there is no substitute for a robust, lasting political solution.

That is why his anxiety about the two-state solution is likely shared by other world leaders. What’s so frustrating, the international community reasons, is that everyone knows what a final settlement will look like, yet no one is willing to take the steps necessary to get us there.

Insofar as a negotiated two-state solution is essentially a pipe dream at the present time, I think Cameron is correct to be worried. One of the reasons it’s a pipe dream is because, especially on the Palestinian side, the consensus behind it isn’t nearly as strong as Cameron and others would like us to think. Hamas rejects it outright, of course, as its goal—as CBS’s Charlie Rose confirmed when he recently interviewed Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal—is the elimination of the Jewish state.

The Fatah movement of Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas is formally committed to a two-state solution, but its continued backing of the “right of return” for the descendants of Palestinian refugees, as well as its pursuit of unilateral recognition in international bodies, has left Israelis skeptical.

As for the Israeli government, it’s no secret that any willingness there may have been to make territorial concessions to the PA has been badly eroded by both the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank and the renewed missile attacks from Gaza—after, remember, Fatah and Hamas formed a unity government of sorts.

In this grim context, appeals for an immediate, unconditional cease-fire in Gaza—a stance shared by the Obama administration, the U.N., and the Europeans—seem rather fanciful. Examined from the Israeli perspective, this demand is actually counter-productive. For if world leaders seriously think that the Israelis will return, when it comes to Gaza, to the status quo ante, then they either don’t understand or don’t care about Israel’s strategic calculus.

There are two big decisions facing Israel right now. The first one concerns the end goals of Operation Protective Edge in Gaza. The second one concerns its future relations with the U.S. Both are closely related, but all indications suggest that Jerusalem regards the first as more pressing than the second.

A growing chorus of influential voices in Israel, from right-wing Jewish Home party leader Minister Naftali Bennett to the respected historian Benny Morris, is arguing that Israel needs to finish the job in Gaza. What that means, ultimately, is the defeat of Hamas militarily and politically. The Israel Defense Forces is reported to have made good progress in destroying the network of attack tunnels constructed by Hamas beneath the ground in Gaza (at the same time, as much of the Hebrew press has recently noted, as the general realization dawned that successive Israeli governments had misread the strategic threat posed by these below-the-surface corridors).

Egypt, too, has joined the Israeli efforts to choke Hamas, destroying tunnels connecting the Sinai and Gaza. In these circumstances, it is hardly sensible to allow Hamas the breathing space that a cease-fire would afford. Instead of permitting Hamas to regroup and rebuild, the logic goes, strike the killer blow in the coming days.

This is not a conclusion that the Obama administration wants Israel to reach—and that, ironically, provides another reason for the Israelis to bring Hamas rule in Gaza to an end. Given that this administration has over two years left in office, Israel wants to avoid another Gazan firestorm, say six months from now, that would lead to yet more demands from Washington for an immediate cease-fire and more opprobrium against the IDF’s field operations.

With Hamas out of the picture, Israel is in a much better position to talk about peace and Palestinian statehood. Moreover, there will be an understandable desire among the battered Gazan population for a new authority to fill the vacuum left by Hamas, and that outcome can’t be secured without Israel’s consent.

I don’t believe that much diplomatic progress will be made while President Barack Obama remains in the White House. Trust between the Israeli and American governments has declined sharply, to the point where questions are being raised about Secretary of State John Kerry’s personal commitment to the alliance with Israel. All I’ll say for now is that there is reason to doubt Kerry’s commitment—he hasn’t taken Israeli concerns over Iran sanctions at all seriously, he has warned apocalyptically that Israel faces boycotts and isolation, and he was amiably cooking up a cease-fire proposal with the Turkish foreign minister just days after Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared that Israel was worse than Hitler.

Three to five years from now, the twin absences of the Hamas military threat and Obama’s bungling diplomacy may propel genuinely meaningful negotiations. In large part that will depend on who is in the White House. For now, though, Israel’s first priority is its national security. That is how it should be.

Ben Cohen is the Shillman Analyst for JNS.org and a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, Commentary, Haaretz, and other publications. His book, “Some Of My Best Friends: A Journey Through Twenty-First Century Antisemitism” (Edition Critic, 2014), is now available through Amazon.