Tag Archives: President Abbas

Magical thinking

Donald (you know which Donald) wants to make the “deal of the century” in the Middle East and he’s assigned that task to his son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

Here’s what we know about the “deal” thus far.

  • Make the issue of East Jerusalem as the capital of the future State of Palestine disappear by moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem, and declaring Jerusalem the undivided capital of Israel. (See here.) No capital for Palestine, no problem.
  • Strip the more than 2 million Palestinian refugees in Jordan of their status as refugees, and pay Jordan to absorb them as new citizens of Jordan. That would solve the ‘right of return’ problem, at least for those 2 million Palestinians. (See here.)  No refugees in Jordan, no problem.
  • Dissolve the U.N. agency (UNRWA) that was created in 1949 to provide relief to the Palestinians displaced by the creation of the State of Israel. (See here.) No UN agency requiring funding to sustain the refugees, no problem.
  • Redefine who qualifies as a refugee to include only those individuals who were displaced 70 years ago, not their descendants. Of course, this would drastically reduce the refugee population which is around 5 million, nearly one-third of whom live in camps across Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank, and Gaza. (See here.) No descendants of Palestinian refugees to be concerned about, no problem. JUST WAIT THEM OUT AND THOSE PESKY REFUGEES FROM 70 YEARS AGO WILL DIE.
  • Provide aid to the Palestinians in a way that makes clear that the international community does not recognize the vast majority of Palestinians who are currently registered as refugees are deserving of refugee status. (See here.) Again, no refugees, no problem.

Lest you think this is all magical thinking, H.R. 6451 – UNRWA Reform and Refugee Act of 2018 was introduced in July and would accomplish many of these points pushed by Jared Kushner.

By any objective measure, this is a war between the U.S. Congress and Palestinians with a clear goal to erase the impediments to the “deal of the century”. No refugees, no UNRWA, no capital in Jerusalem, no ‘right of return’ – such a headache for Israelis to contemplate – this deal will certainly fall right into place.

And Congress wants to ensure that the State of Israel maintains a military advantage which translates on the ground to Israeli snipers shooting and killing Palestinian journalists, nurses, doctors, women and children (some in the back, others who were merely standing and observing) — a total of 156 since the weekly protest marches at the Gaza fence began in March this year.

iStock 20492165 MD - American and Israeli flags

America and Israel flags

My delegation from New Mexico (Heinrich, Lujan-Grisham, Lujan and Pearce) have signed on as cosponsors to H.R. 5141 and S.2497 – United States-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act of 2018 which states in part:

It is the policy of the United States to ensure that Israel maintains its ability to counter and defeat any credible conventional military or emerging threat from any individual state or possible coalition of states or from non-state actors, while sustaining minimal damages and casualties, through the use of superior military means, possessed in sufficient quantity, including weapons, command, control, communication, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities that in their technical characteristics are superior in capability to those of such other individual or possible coalition states or non-state actors.

(1) The quantity and type of precision guided munitions that are necessary for Israel to combat Hezbollah in the event of a sustained armed confrontation between Israel and Hezbollah.

(2) The quantity and type of precision guided munitions that are necessary for Israel in the event of a sustained armed confrontation with other armed groups and terrorist organizations such as Hamas.

(3) The resources the Government of Israel can plan to dedicate to acquire such precision guided munitions.

(4) United States planning to assist Israel to prepare for the sustained armed confrontations described in paragraphs (1) and (2) as well as the ability of the United States to resupply Israel in the event of such confrontations described in paragraphs (1) and (2), if any.

Read this language carefully and it’s clear that the U.S. Congress wishes to re-write the rules of war, and international humanitarian law, by authorizing the State of Israel to preemptively strike anyone (civilians included) who, in their sole discretion, poses a threat.

I suspect that many members of Congress don’t understand what they’ve signed onto, and they trust AIPAC’s propaganda. But the words speak for themselves, and anyone who values the rule of law must remove their name as a cosponsor.

That’s the message I’m sending to my delegation from New Mexico.

Palestinian President Abbas condemned the ‘deal of the century’ as the ‘slap of the century’.

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Filed under Israel, People, Politics, Uncategorized, United Nations, US Policy, Video

A military coup – now what?

The events in Egypt this week have many commentators and pundits asking “When is a coup not a coup?”

Just to be clear, the definition of a coup –

  1. A sudden, violent, and illegal seizure of power from a government.
  2. A notable or successful stroke or move.

I’ve been watching the “debate” between my pro- and anti-Morsi friends on my Facebook page.   Those in favor of getting rid of Morsi prefer to focus on his misdeeds and missteps and avoid the term “coup” because that connotes a misdeed as well.

My friends who support Morsi are outraged by the mob rule and the military coup.  They have no qualms calling it a coup.  Neither does Turkey.

“Whatever the reason is, it is unacceptable that a democratically-elected government was overthrown by illegitimate means, even more, with a military coup,” the Turkish minister added, calling for an immediate end to Morsi’s arrest.

Contrast that with the statement made by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who expressed hope that [the new acting President Adli Mansour] would fulfill the aspirations of the Egyptian people to “live in freedom, dignity and stability.”  Abbas praised the Egyptian army and its commanders for preserving the country’s security and preventing it from slipping toward the abyss.  Tayeb Abdel Rahim, a top aide to Abbas, saluted the Egyptian army for the “wonderful achievement.”

Robert Fisk’s piece in the Independent (July 5) exposes the West’s [and I might add Abbas’] hypocrisy.  Obama certainly won’t call it a coup because the U.S. law would require him to withhold the $1.5 billion our government sends Egypt regularly. Fisk also notes:

And there is one salient fact about the events of the last 48 hours in Egypt. No one is happier – no one more satisfied nor more conscious of the correctness of his own national struggle against ‘Islamists’ and ‘terrorists’ — than Assad. The West has been wetting itself to destroy Assad – but does absolutely nothing when the Egyptian army destroys its democratically-elected president for lining up with Assad’s armed Islamist opponents.

Cairo Skyline

Cairo Skyline

A medical doctor, Hassaan Choudry, wrote:

Today is a throbbing day for democracy, rule of law, legitimacy, truth, factuality, principle and any other word that fits into the same category. An elected head of the state, with a victory margin of a million votes, was overthrown by an army chief who said blatantly and shamelessly ‘this is not a coup‘.  Shadi Hamid, a renowned analyst on Egypt and the director of research at the Brookings Institute, Doha, was almost spontaneous when he replied‘If this is not a coup, the word “military coup” no longer have any meaning‘.

The Economist, in my opinion, has provided the most cogent description of Morsi’s one year in office, the role of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and the events leading up to the coup.  Check it out here.  I must agree with the editor of The Economist:

“This week we put Egypt on the cover, without enthusiasm. Some people—including many Egyptians—are cheering the ouster of the Islamist president, Muhammad Morsi. We think it a tragedy. It sets a dreadful precedent for the region, in that it encourages discontented people to get rid of their leaders by disrupting their rule, not by voting them out, and it encourages Islamists to distrust democracy. The army can mitigate the situation by holding elections swiftly and cleanly, but much damage has already been done.”

Young Egyptian selling flags near Tahrir Square.

Young Egyptian selling flags near Tahrir Square.

What can the world expect now?

  • Violence, a lot of it.  For days, weeks, and maybe months to come.
  • At least one commentator thinks this revolt will fuel the Al-Qaeda fires.
  • Military rulers will delay elections until calm is restored, or so they will say.
  • Tourists and tourism dollars, tepid before the coup, will dry up completely now.  And forget foreign investment.
  • That IMF loan?  Forget it.  And there’s a good chance that loan from Qatar will disappear too.
  • The long lines at the fueling stations will disappear because the fuel will all but disappear too.
  • Hunger will rise because the lack of fuel means farmers can’t run their wells and can’t irrigate their fields and can’t get the wheat to markets.
  • The 13+% unemployment in Egypt has nowhere to go but up.
Rafah border between Egypt and Gaza

Rafah border between Egypt and Gaza

As dire as all of this sounds for Egyptians, my concern (truth be told) is with Gaza.  How will this coup impact the Palestinians in Gaza who share a border with Egypt, the only lifeline to the outside world since Israel has hermetically sealed this small enclave (air, land, and sea)?

  • Israel must be pleased that the Egyptian army is back in power.  They can count on the Egyptian military being good sycophants, just as they can with the U.S. Congress, to keep the Palestinians penned in.  
  • Hamas will again be blamed for the unrest in Egypt. Many Egyptians believe Hamas is responsible for the abduction and killing of Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai.  Hamas denies it, but how do you prove a negative?  Israel must be pleased with that predicament.
  • Movement in and out of Gaza through the Rafah border crossing will be much more difficult, if not impossible, for the next days and weeks. Two Palestinian friends of mine are outside waiting to return home.  I wonder how long they can wait.
  • Food, fuel, medicine and many other goods that enter Gaza illegally through the tunnels will not come. I’ve heard some Palestinian officials outside of Gaza call for the closure of the tunnels because all trade should be transparent and legal.  My response? “Damn right it should be. Tell that to the Israelis who have blockaded Gaza for the past 7 years, forcing this tunnel economy to emerge.”
  • PA President Abbas is calling for Palestinians to overthrow Hamas now.  Whatever happened to the notion of reconciliation and building a democratic Palestinian state? Hamas was democratically elected, right?
  • Finally, will I be able to return to Gaza now?   That’s on my mind.

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Filed under Egypt, Elections, Gaza, Hamas, Israel, People, US Policy