Tag Archives: Middle East

Palestine at the Crossroads

The main issue currently in the public eye is the possibility that the Palestinians may declare their own state independent of negotiations with Israel. Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said as much last week, and since then, PA spokesman Saeb Erekat has been heavily pumping that message.

The idea hasn’t been gaining much traction with Security Council members — or the Israeli government, which has announced that it could also act unilaterally; possibly by protectively annexing existing Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

Ultimately, the Palestinians certainly will have to declare a state for themselves — I mean, no one else can declare your independence for you — but the idea that all the Palestinian factions could come together and decide upon definitive boundaries for their intended state seems far-fatched. Hamas and Islamic Jihad (just to name two) are convinced that their state should also include all of Israel!

The one to watch in this situation is not President Abbas, but Salaam Fayad, the Fatah-backed PM. He’s smart and pragmatic and has proven in the past to be an honest partner for the Israelis. He readily admits that Palestine doesn’t yet have the necessary infrastructure to properly govern itself, but feels that this goal is attainable within two years.

Of course, Iran and its proxies always have to be treated as a wildcard.

So does Avigdor Lieberman; whatever will he say next? (Perhaps I’m being unfair to the Israeli Foreign Minister. Most people will–even if reluctantly–agree that Mr. Lieberman has been a great deal less controversial than expected.)

UPDATE: (Nov. 18) Erekat is now singing a different tune, saying that the aim is only to get international bodies on-side with recognising the pre-1967 borders of Palestine.

(Note: This notion will get some lip service, but a final resolution on borders will only come during negotiations with Israel. The most likely result will be a state line that follows the pre-’67 border though about 93% of its length, with any shortfalls in Palestinian land area being supplemented by land grants from adjoining Israeli properties to the northwest and southwest of the current West Bank territory. Gaza’s borders would remain unchanged since there are absolutely no Israelis living there.

However, a nice cherry on top of any final agreement of the situation would be a minimum 20% expansion of the Gaza territory through donations of property from both Egypt and Israel. This would provide more room for growth and development; reduce population crowding; and mitigate many risks to Israeli and Egyptian security now posed by Gaza’s extensive tunnel network.)

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Read our take on Middle East peace: A Peace of Jerusalem

Short wikipedia entry on Salaam Fayad.

JPost article about Mr. Fayad’s stance on the current issue.

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Filed under Conflict, Reason

Chavez: Prepare for War Against U.S?

Hugo Chavez in painting

(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez has told his military to prepare for war against the United States.

Citing American use of Colombian military bases for anti-drug interdictions, Chavez asserts that Colombia has now become part of the United States and that American troops may attempt to invade Venezuela.

(Bloomberg) […] “The empire hopes to send them to fight against their Venezuelan and Ecuadorean brothers and other Bolivarian and Alba peoples to crush the Venezuelan revolution, just as they tried to do with the Cuban revolution in April 1961,” Castro wrote in a “reflection” published on the Cubadebate.cu Web site. The Alba bloc is a nine-member group of Latin American countries led by Chavez.

The presence of U.S. troops in Colombia is a “shameless foreign intervention in their internal affairs,” Castro said. The agreement amounts to the U.S.’s “annexation” of the South American country, he said.

A military attack on Venezuela would spread to other countries in the region because Venezuela has “friends” from Mexico to Argentina, Chavez said during the program.

“If the Yankee empire tries to use Colombia to attack Venezuela, the war of 100 years would begin,” he said. “The war would extend to other countries in the continent, from Mexico to Argentina. No one believes that a war against Venezuela would only be in Venezuela.” […]

Continue reading

Another interesting aspect of Venezuelan politics under Chavez

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Saudis Roll into Yemen

s_6360Saudi forces have crossed the border into northern Yemen in response to Houthi rebel incursions into the kingdom. Debkafile is reporting that a Saudi tank column rolled into Yemeni territory in support of the government in Sanaa, accompanied by Saudi armoured infantry with F-15s providing air support. This move is intended to counter growing IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps) influence on the western coast of the Arabian Peninsula and forestall a possible northward move by Yemeni rebels.

More details from AFP

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_46693692_yemen_saada_hajja2_1109

Map: BBC News

The Shi’a Houthi (also referred to as Zaidi or Yazdi) rebels in northern Yemen have been armed and supported by Iran and are thought to be part of a broader, more ambitious Iranian government plan to displace the House of Saud, guardians of the Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

 

IranPlanVizReport published a chilling strategic analysis of Iran’s broader regional aspirations in 2005. Though our current timeframe is somewhat later than originally suggested in the report, the methods and conclusions suggested therein remain as relevant today as they were then. (Editor’s note: While we are presently unable to bring you the complete presentation, we did secure permission to post a much-condensed, low-resolution version of the report that was distributed in early 2006.)

Exclusive: Iran’s ChokePoint Strategy

QuickTime Player required. Right-click to download.

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IAEA to Iran: Explanation Required ASAP

Linear_implosion_schematicAs disclosed in VizReport in 2005, Iran has likely been working with small-scale nuclear weapon designs since shortly after they received them from the A.Q. Khan proliferation network in the 1990s, along with some advanced centrifuge designs.

The warhead schematics, probably for Soviet-era scalable-yield nuclear landmine configurations, were designed to be small enough to be hidden inconspicuously on the battlefield, even inside hollowed-out rocks or logs. This also makes them ideal for deployment on small- to medium-scale ballistic or cruise missiles.

The same A.Q. Khan ‘care packages’ were received by Libya, North Korea and Iran, though Libya subsequently came clean and turned their materials over to the IAEA, effectively terminating their covert nuclear program. North Korea went on to produce a small arsenal of plutonium-driven atomic weapons, while Iran claims to be pursuing only a peaceful nuclear energy program. Today’s revelation, however, would seem to strongly suggest otherwise.

Furthermore, because the former Soviet designs were mostly plutonium-based, the IAEA investigation of Iran’s nuclear program may have perhaps focused erringly on its acknowledged uranium capabilities, rather than the possibility that it had initiated a dual-track weapons development approach.

More imahd.ca Iran coverage

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For information on today’s disclosure, please read The Guardian’s story:

Exclusive coverage from The Guardian:

Iran tested advanced nuclear
warhead design – secret report

Watchdog fears Tehran has key component to put bombs in missiles

The UN’s nuclear watchdog has asked Iran to explain evidence suggesting that Iranian scientists have experimented with an advanced nuclear warhead design, the Guardian has learned.

The very existence of the technology, known as a “two-point implosion” device, is officially secret in both the US and Britain, but according to previously unpublished documentation in a dossier compiled by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iranian scientists may have tested high-explosive components of the design. The development was today described by nuclear experts as “breathtaking” and has added urgency to the effort to find a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear crisis.

The sophisticated technology, once mastered, allows for the production of smaller and simpler warheads than older models. It reduces the diameter of a warhead and makes it easier to put a nuclear warhead on a missile.

Documentation referring to experiments testing a two-point detonation design are part of the evidence of nuclear weaponisation gathered by the IAEA and presented to Iran for its response.

The dossier, titled “Possible Military Dimensions of Iran’s Nuclear Program”, is drawn in part from reports submitted to it by western intelligence agencies.

The agency has in the past treated such reports with scepticism, particularly after the Iraq war. But its director general, Mohamed ElBaradei, has said the evidence of Iranian weaponisation “appears to have been derived from multiple sources over different periods of time, appears to be generally consistent, and is sufficiently comprehensive and detailed that it needs to be addressed by Iran”…

Continue reading

For more background on Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan’s proliferation
network, see this
September 10th story from the Economist.

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Filed under Chicanery, Conflict, Science

A Peace of Jerusalem

NB: This document version is frozen as it appeared on Feb. 4, 2013.
The live, evolving version of the document can be found @ apoji.org

 

An innovative proposal for long-term Semitic harmony in the Middle East based on ideas from hundreds of ordinary people — 2,000 words (or less!)


 

Initiated: October 27, 2009

 
  First iteration: November 5, 2009
  2010 core text agreed: August 7, 2010
  2010 print edition: December 13, 2010
  2011 edits: February 11 — May 12, 2011
  2012 edits finalised: December 22, 2012
 

Updated: January 31, 2013 — 10:05 JT

 


 
Participation is open to all. Your creative ideas are the lifeblood of this initiative and all constructive criticisms are welcome. The privacy default is ‘anonymous’ but participants are free to self-identify.

Confidential submissions can be made using this form. Public comments are subject to reasonable moderation. This document may change incrementally over time and without notice. How would you improve it?

Be creative but concise, fearless but polite… 

 

 

  

a peace of jerusalem

 

Preamble    


THERE
S A celebrated tale that provides insight into the wisdom of Solomon (Shlomo/Suleiman), son of David (Dovid/Dawoud), King of ancient Israel, and builder of the Temple of Jerusalem:

A newborn was brought before the King in his judgment of a case between two women, each of whom claimed to be the mother of the infant. 

Though a judge of the rarest quality—and despite having conducted a series of tests—Solomon could not determine who was telling the truth. Seeming to be stumped, he called for his swordsman to evenly divide the baby between the women, whereupon one of them tearfully begged the King to spare the child’s life and award it to the other.

By this mercy he discerned the identity of the true mother.

Despite its great antiquity, Jerusalem is easily imagined in the role of the child. The world stands divided over it, some battling for sole custody, some pleading for a split, and all appearing eager to receive their due. However, according to Solomon’s judgment, and as reflected in modern-day family case law, any such critical decisions must clearly favour the interests of the child.

Imagination, pragmatism, love and divine inspiration will surely be central to the creation of any successful plan for enduring peace, but who would have the authority (and the right) to judge the merits of such a case? In the absence of Solomon and his legendary wisdom, it would have to be ‘the people’.

Each individual is a well of possibility and a reservoir of sacred sovereignty. United in common purpose, even the impossible seems somehow less so.

 
    Respectfully,

    – the editors
 
 


 

 
 
Index

I.
   Land of the Covenant
II.
   States in the Balance
III.
   Mutually-Independent Rights of Return
IV.
   Representation and Taxation
V.
   Basic Services, Education & Health Care
VI.
   National Borders
VII.
   Rights of Passage
VIII.
   The Jerusalem Capital Region
IX.
   The Old City
X.
   Security, Order & Defence

 
 
 
 


Word count: 1,867 (2K max.)

 

 

I. Land of the Covenant
 
Let us imagine: two states, conjoined in peace; and two peoples, bound by blood and by a shared love for Jerusalem (Yerushalayim/Ursalim), the place so deeply revered by their common patriarch Abraham (Avraham/Ibrahim).

It was in Jerusalem, upon the Mount (Har haBayith/Haram Ash-Sharif), that the angel stayed Abraham’s hand, as G‑d dramatically (and forever) repudiated ritual human sacrifice — a torturous test of a man’s utter devotion to G‑d and a stirring, implied decree to guard against the senseless forfeiture of life.

The foundations of the Arab and Jewish peoples were both laid in Jerusalem, where Abraham circumcised his son Ishmael (Yishmael/Ismail) and his son Isaac (Yitzhak/Ishaq).

Isaac’s son Jacob (Ya’acov/Yacoub), also known as Israel, would father twelve tribes (B’nai Yisrael/Bani Israil) and become namesake to the modern Jewish state. The destiny of Ishmael (though a Jew by patrimony and rite) would carry him South, to sire the twelve tribes of Arabia.

 

II. States in the Balance
 
To mitigate problems arising from inevitable demographic shifts over time, a special permanent resident class (endowed with rights of residency that are irrevocable but renounceable and non-inheritable) should be established in Medinat Yisrael (the State of Israel) and in the new Arab state, such that:

  • an Arab citizen of Israel could:
       retain Israeli citizenship; or
       claim citizenship in the Arab state, while retaining…
           – special permanent residency rights in Israel; and
           – a future one-time right to reclaim individual Israeli citizenship
     
  • an Israeli citizen currently residing in the West Bank could:
       retain Israeli citizenship and become a
         special permanent resident of the Arab state; or
       claim citizenship in the Arab state, while retaining…
           – a future one-time right to reclaim individual Israeli citizenship
               with special permanent residency rights in the Arab state

This arrangement should limit the need for physical population exchanges upon execution of a final agreement while allowing Israel to democratically maintain its character as a uniquely Jewish state that guarantees political participation for its citizens and permanent residents — and freedom of worship for all.

The new Arab state, herein provisionally referred to as Dawlat Ismail (State of Ishmael) or simply as Ismail, would enshrine similar guarantees of religious and secular freedom in its founding charter.

A child born in Israel or Ismail to a special permanent resident of that state would inherit citizenship from his/her parent(s) and, upon attaining age of majority, might opt to become a citizen of the state in which s/he was born.

Each state would pledge to make every reasonable effort to accommodate the safe passage of pilgrims, tourists and other visitors between the two states.

Each state would vow to serve and protect the personal and collective interests of the people under its jurisdiction, regardless of religion, race, gender, political affiliation or citizenship.

Each state would aver to protect and to preserve, without prejudice, all the Holy Places under its mandate.

 

III. Mutually-Independent Rights of Return
 
Each state would be free to set its own policy for the return of its people from the diaspora, with all future “returnees” (Hebrew: olim; Arabic: waa’ilin) becoming resident citizens of whichever state repatriates them.

A “returned citizen” of either nation, once established in his/her new homeland for two years, could petition for residency in the other state, with the approval of both governments, and with priority being given to requests from waa’ilin who resided in present-day Israeli territory prior to 1948. Urgent humanitarian cases would be considered on an expedited basis.

A regime for the compensation of displaced persons should be agreed by all regional states under a comprehensive treaty on refugees and human rights.

 

IV. Representation and Taxation
 
Citizens would vote in the national elections of their respective homelands but would vote in municipal and district/governate elections based on residency.

Revenues from income taxes paid by individuals who are citizens of one state, but who are special permanent residents of the other, would be divided equally between the two states. Tax would be calculated using the methods established by the state in which the income is earned.

Given the disparity between average incomes in Israel and those in the West Bank and Gaza, this revenue splitting arrangement should provide significant economic stimulus for Dawlat Ismail and help to fund the settlement of those making the Arab “ruqia” (Hebrew: aliyah; English: ascent). 

Property tax would be paid to the state, district/governate or municipality in which the property is located.

Sales tax, if applicable, would be paid to the state in which a purchase is made.

 

V. Basic Services, Education & Health Care
 
The enhanced tax base of Dawlat Ismail, along with an expected surge in foreign investment and donations, should contribute substantially to the development of critical infrastructure for the diffusion of services across Ismail’s numerous, fast-growing communities.

State-funded education programs (on either side of a future border) would be required to openly publish their curricula in order to encourage fairness and accuracy of content.

National health insurance premiums, if applicable, would be paid based upon residency, but a citizen of either state would always be free to seek treatment in his/her national homeland.

 

VI. National Borders
 
The division of territory between the West Bank and Israel is seen as generally agreeing with the path of the “Green Line”, with any deviations and associated land-swaps to be negotiated by the parties to a final-status agreement.

The Israel-Gaza border is well-defined, having effectively gained international recognition via the 1949 Egypt-Israel Armistice Agreement, but this proposal suggests a modest expansion of Gaza by gifts of territory from Israel and Egypt, as a gesture of goodwill, and to contribute to the security of these nations by distancing Gaza’s extensive tunnel network from its newly-enlarged borders.

 

VII. Rights of Passage
 
Israel would apportion lands for the creation of road and light rail corridors (above- and/or below-ground) to facilitate travel, commerce and social links between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Security at both ends of each pathway would be jointly managed by Ismail and Israel, with security of the intervening distance (in-corridor) being managed by Ismail and remotely monitored by Israel. The efficacy of this regime should be reviewed periodically to improve system effectiveness and eventually obviate the need for Israeli inspection of rail & motor passengers at the termini.

Commercial goods passing through such conduits would be subject to on-going inspection by customs officials of both states.

Recognising the importance of these corridors to Ismail’s culture and economy, Israel would undertake to minimise delays or closures associated with imminent security threats, health or weather emergencies, natural disasters, etc.

Sovereignty over all such apportioned lands would remain with Israel.

A suitable air traffic regime should be agreed between the parties.

 

VIII. The Jerusalem Capital Region
 
Jerusalem is the national capital of the modern state of Israel and remains, as ever, the singular direction of prayer (mizrach/qibla) for all Jews worldwide.

Jerusalem and its many surrounding communities (on either side of an agreed border) would constitute the Jerusalem Capital Region and share in a common infrastructure network for meeting such basic needs as water, power and waste management.

This network would be directed by a proposed Jerusalem Stewardship Board dedicated to ensuring the highest quality of life for all Capital Region residents. The Board, half elected by the residents of the Capital Region, half appointed by the governments of Israel and Ismail, would shepherd the implementation of appropriate planning, building and environmental codes.

Ismail’s capital would be established in an eastward expansion of Jerusalem contiguous to the Old City along some measure of its easterly perimeter. The exact determination of this contiguity (as well as the basic configuration of the Capital Region) would be decided between the negotiating parties, taking into account matters of culture and faith, geography and demographics, as well as concerns related to the land and its waters, and to the preservation of peace upon them.

There would be a city council and mayoralty office for each side of the border.

The official work week in the Capital Region would be four days, Monday through Thursday, with all government offices closed Friday through Sunday.

 

IX. The Old City (less than 1 km² of land)
 
Rising above Jerusalem’s Holy Basin, the Old City, with its hallowed steps and ancient quarters, serves as sacred platform to the stony font from which the spirit of Jerusalem flows.

As it can be considered neither “east” nor “west” of itself, Jerusalem’s Old City would constitute a separate legal entity managed by a Regency Council with an identical number of members appointed by Israel, Ismail, the Chief Rabbinate, the Islamic Waqf, and the Vatican.

Council activities would be officiated by a Civil Sheriff elected to a five-year term by the residents of the Capital Region from a slate of candidates pre-approved by four of the Council’s five primary seats, with unanimity preferred.

Passage of routine measures in Council would require five primary-level votes, whether obtained by consensus of the five primary Council members or by support of four seats with the assent of the Sheriff.

Critical issues, such as those relating to the status quo of the Old City, would require unanimous support in Council and confirmation by twin, national referenda in Medinat Yisrael and Dawlat Ismail.

Religious and cultural groups could petition the offices of any of the primary members to represent their interests at Council. Those with current standing in the Old City (houses of worship, shrines, cemeteries and other properties) could petition the Council directly on a case-by-case basis.

Mundane civil disputes and crimes committed in the Old City (G‑d forbid) would devolve to a special Magistrate’s court operating independently of either state’s judiciary but affiliated to both. Appointments to the court would be made by Council with the assent of each state’s Chief Justice.

Basic services to the Old City should be freely provided by the Capital Region infrastructure network.

 

X. Security, Order & Defence
 
Responsibility for security in West Bank Areas “B” & “C” would be transferred to Dawlat Ismail on a flexible timetable based upon clear goals decided between the parties. Responsibility for security in Gaza would pass to Ismail within 90 days. (The Palestinian Authority, whose mandate will be subsumed by the new state, presently commands security in Area “A”.)

A permanent Canadian peacekeeping force, reporting to the Sheriff and engaging cooperatively with the security services of both states, would provide general security within the Old City; render personal protection for the Regency Council; guide Ismail in its development of a robust, responsible and accountable police force; ensure reasonable freedom of access to designated Holy Places; and help to maintain order in the Capital Region.

Protection of Ismail against foreign attack would be undertaken by Israel acting in concert with Ismail’s security services and the peacekeeping team. Ismail’s defence would be bolstered by Jordan in the East and by Egypt in the West.

The security of Israel would be tremendously enhanced by a peace treaty with the League of Arab States and by Israel’s formal diplomatic recognition by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.
 
 
 
 
 


 
 

 

.

 

There’s a sort of existential futility–and no small irony–inherent in
man’s claiming of land, for in the end, it’s the land that claims us all.
 
This may nowhere be so true as it is in Jerusalem.
 

.
 
 
.
 

It is our fondest hope that the boundaries which separate us
will
be overgrown in time with vines bearing fruit enriched
by the bloom
of tolerance; that we might all derive sustenance
from such bounty; and that, years from now, it will be difficult
to remember
why it seemed so incredibly hard to find peace
 
.
 
 

.


May this work be found pleasing

in the eyes of G‑d, Blessed be He,

to Whom all glory is due
 
.
 
.


 


XI. Suggest an edit (confidential)


 

 

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