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Obama Administration Tries To Squeeze Israel And Is Heading For Another Mideast Train Wreck

By Missing Peace

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Last week, Western Journalism reported about a dramatic change in longstanding U.S. policy toward Israel. The Obama administration now appears to side with the European Union on key issues in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and no longer opposes boycott measures against the Jewish State, the story revealed. The report dealt with recent examples of statements by Obama officials who criticized Israel over its policies towards the Palestinian Arabs in Judea and Samaria (West Bank).

One Israeli expert on U.S.-Israel relations believes Obama will not act like a lame duck president but, instead, will use his last year in office to mobilize the international community for a political campaign that will force Israel to make further concessions to the Palestinian Authority.

The expert, Professor Eytan Gilboa, a senior researcher at Bar-Ilan University in Israel, told a Jerusalem Post columnist that Obama will probably seek to achieve a comprehensive solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — not by organizing a new round of negotiations, but by trying to get the EU, UN and all sorts of international bodies to pressure Israel on the issue of the settlements in Judea and Samaria.

Gilboa said if those international organizations will focus on the issue of the Israeli settlements, “then you can get Israel to make concessions (to the Palestinian Arabs) that will pave the way to an agreement.”

The use of international bodies to weaken Israel’s position vis-a-vis the Palestinians is a strategy first used by the PA and its leader, Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas refuses to return to the negotiation table because he thinks he can obtain more concessions from Israel via international pressure and international recognition of the Palestinian Authority as an independent state. The decision to grant upgraded UN membership to the PA is a good example of this strategy; the admission of the PA to UNESCO is another.

The change in America’s policy towards Israel on the issue of the Israeli presence in Judea and Samaria became apparent when Secretary of State John Kerry delivered an address during the Saban Forum in Washington last year.

Kerry said “continued settlement growth raises honest questions about Israel’s long-term intentions and will only make separating from the Palestinians much more difficult.” Kerry then threatened that if Israel were not willing to change its policies in Judea and Samaria, it would be treated as South Africa under the Apartheid regime.

If Israel retains the West Bank, “would Israelis and Palestinians living in such close quarters have segregated roads and transportation systems with different laws applying in the Palestinian enclaves? Would anyone really believe they were being treated equally? What would the international response be to that, my friends?,” Kerry said while using the false Palestinian claim there would be a form of Apartheid in Judea and Samaria.

Last week, Obama used his envoy in Israel, Ambassador Dan Shapiro, to make clear he has departed from long-standing U.S. policy on Israel’s policies in the so-called West Bank. Shapiro suggested there was already a form of Apartheid in Judea and Samaria when he said “too much Israeli vigilantism in the West Bank goes on unchecked,” while adding “there is a lack of thorough investigations. At times it seems Israel has two standards of adherence to the rule of law in the West Bank — one for Israelis and one for Palestinians.”

Shapiro later apologized for the timing of his comments that were made on the same day a Palestinian Arab stabbed a pregnant woman and a day after another Palestinian Arab terrorist murdered a mother of six in her home in Judea. But he stood by the content of his remarks that led to an outcry in Israel and were harshly condemned by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In fact, the legal situation in Judea and Samaria where Israeli law applies to the Jewish residents — and laws that in majority date back to the Jordanian occupation and Ottoman rule are still applied by the Palestinian Authority — is a direct result of the Oslo agreements between Israel and the PLO. The Palestinian leadership was opposed to applying Israeli law in all of Judea and Samaria because it would legitimize Israel’s presence in these territories.

Jerusalem Post Star columnist Caroline Glick believes the recent remarks by Obama officials are part of a coordinated assault on Israel. She wrote we’re in the midst of a coordinated U.S.-led political offensive against Israel and thinks the Israeli government “should change the focus of its public diplomacy.” Israeli officials should direct their remarks against Palestinian society as a whole that harbors a vicious hatred of Israel and Jews in general, according to Glick.

Two days later, Israel’s acting Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely did exactly that when she wrote a devastating critique of the way the international community prolongs the century-old conflict by funding Palestinian terror and stimulates Palestinian hatred and intransigence by ignoring incitement against Israel. Hotolovely revealed 16 percent of foreign donations to the PA were used to support Palestinian terrorists and their families.

Below are the most important parts of her article in the Wall Street Journal.

“The Palestinian regime in Ramallah pays monthly stipends of between $400 and $3,500 to terrorists and their families, the latter of which is more than five times the average monthly salary of a Palestinian worker.

“According to data from its budgetary reports, compiled in June 2014 by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the PA’s annual budget for supporting Palestinian terrorists was then roughly $75 million. That amounted to some 16 percent of the foreign donations the PA received annually. Overall in 2012, foreign aid made up about a quarter of the PA’s $3.1 billion budget. More recent figures are inaccessible since the Palestinian Authority is no longer transparent about the stipend transfers.

“Embarrassed by public revelations of the misuse of the foreign aid, in August 2014 the Palestinian Authority passed the task of paying stipends to terrorists and their families to a fund managed by the Palestine Liberation Organization, also led by Mr. Abbas. Lest there be any doubt as to the purely cosmetic nature of the change, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah made assurances as recently as September 2015 that the PA will provide the ‘necessary assistance’ to ensure these terror stipends.

“This procedural ruse apparently calmed the consciences of donor governments that continue to transfer aid. It is difficult to think of another case in which such a forgiving attitude would be taken regarding foreign aid to an entity that sponsors terror.

“This situation is particularly disturbing given the disproportionate share of development assistance the Palestinians receive, which comes at the expense of needy populations elsewhere. According to a report last year by Global Humanitarian Assistance, in 2013 the Palestinians received $793 million in international aid, second only to Syria. This amounts to $176 for each Palestinian, by far the highest per capita assistance in the world. Syria, where more than 250,000 people have been killed and 6.5 million refugees displaced since 2011, received only $106 per capita.

“Aside from funding terrorists and investing in hate speech, the PA stubbornly refuses to remove hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from ‘refugee’ rosters, deliberately keeping them in a state of dependence and underdevelopment for no purpose other than to stoke animosity toward Israel.

“It is difficult to come away from these facts without realizing the deep connection between the huge amounts of foreign aid being spent, the bizarre international tolerance for patently unacceptable conduct by the Palestinians and the lack of progress toward peace on the ground.”

Hotovely advised foreign donors of the Palestinian Authority to rethink the financial aid to the Palestinian Arabs. But Times of Israel editor-in-chief David Horovitz thinks that won’t be enough to force the Palestinian leadership to stop inciting against Israel and supporting terrorists.

Horovitz wrote that a new grassroots approach is needed.

“What’s needed, what has always been needed, to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is a grassroots approach to peacemaking. An approach focused on education. An approach under which international resources and leverage are utilized to rewrite educational curricula, to marginalize extremist political and spiritual leaders, to promote moderation and peaceful interaction.”

He advised the Obama administration to follow the example of Isaac Herzog, leader of the Israeli left, who last week publicly admitted the Two-State-Solution is not attainable at the moment.

“Perhaps the international community — so insistently led by President Barack Obama in seeking to persuade Israelis that they can afford to take risks for peace when the bloody evidence all around them shows the contrary — will learn Herzog’s lesson. Perhaps it will move to adopt the grassroots approach. Perhaps it will use its immense leverage to gradually help create a climate in which it is not the most natural thing in the world for teenage Palestinians to set out with knives and kill Israeli mothers of six and 23-year-old industrial design graduates,” Horovitz concluded.

Professor Gilboa, however, is thinking Obama will not listen to his Israeli critics and is heading for another train wreck in the Middle East.

Gilboa says Obama’s policy can only backfire.

“I don’t think the Obama administration has ever understood Israeli public opinion and politics. The more the US and the EU apply pressure, the more we will see resistance in Israeli society, and secondly, this will strengthen the Palestinian resistance to make any concession and to make any move that could facilitate negotiations, let alone an agreement.”