Response to Thomas Friedman Article:"The Arab Awakening and Israel" / DR.Rivka Shpak Lissak

Response to Thomas Friedman's article in the NYT OPINION PAGES Nov.29 2001
Disregard of the facts

I never supported the Likud or B.Netanyahu, but Thomas Friedman is not giving all the facts.

A. "Arab dictators were convenient for Israel."

This is an unjustified accusation. Israel had no saying on the character of the Arab regimes. The Western countries, including the USA, cooperated with those rulers who ruled the Arab states.

The character of the regime in Arab states was and is in the hands of its people. But, democracy can develop only in countries where the educational system teaches democratic values and rulers develop an economic- social policy to advance the situation of the people, create a middle class that will support democracy, and allow free speech and political parties.

I agree that "Mubarak had three decades to gradually open up Egpytian politics and save himself." The same is the case with all other Arab dictators.

The Arab dictators not only did nothing to create the background for democracy. They encouraged and took active part in demonizing and de - legitimizing Israel through constant incitement against Israel and Jews in the media and the educational system. They also gave free hand to religious leaders
to incite against Israel and Jews in Mosqes in order to divert the people's attention from their condition. Arabs were indoctrinated to blame Israel and Jews for everything.

Friedman totally ignore the atmosphere of incitement encouraged by the Arab dictators.

In short, "Arab dictators were not convenient for Israel." Israel had no saying about the character of Arab regimes.

B. "Israel best defense is to strengthen Fayyadism."

Fayyad is not a political leader. He is a technocrat nominated by Abu Mazen. He will be Prime Minister as long as Abu Mazen wishes him to be.

The Hamas has been opposed to the nomination of Fayyad from the beginning and one of the conditions for a reunion between the Fatah and the Hamas is to nominate another Prime Minister since Fayyad is supported by the West and considered by Hamas their nomination.

Israel has no influence on the nomination of Palestinian Prime Ministers. The renewed negotiations between the Fatah and Hamas might end with the nomination of another Prime Minister.

C. The two states solution.

Abu Mazen is considered by Friedman and Western leaders as a moderate Palestinian leader, who is dedicated to a 2 state solution and peace with Israel. Netanyahu, on the other hand is considered the main obstacle to these goals.

About 50% of Israelis support a 2 state solution, including myself. Netanyahu's policy is not accepted by these 50%.

But, Is Abu Mazen really a moderate leader who supports a two state solution and peace with Israel?

Friedman seems to be unaware of the real situation.

Unfortunately, Abu Mazen and the Palestinian people consider a Palestinian state on the Western Bank only as stage one in the plan to eliminate the Jewish state, as stage two.

The Facts Friedman doesn't know or ignores:

The Palestinian refugee problem is one of the main obstacles because the PA refuses to settle the refugees in the Palestinian state.

Arafat rejected the Clinton – Barak peace proposal at Camp David in 2000. The proposal included the settlement of the Palestinian refugees in the Palestinian state, by an international project.

Arafat rejected the proposal but did not propose an alternative because the official demand of the Palestinian Authority is to settle the refugees in Israel.

The settling of even part of the refugees in Israel will turn the Jews into a minority, and the Palestinian majority will put an end to the Jewish state by democratic vote.
Abu Mazen supported Arafat rejection of the proposal in 2000.

Prime Minister Ehude Ulmert gave Abu Mazen, the new chairman of the PA after Arafat's death, a new proposal in 2008. Condoleeza Rice wrote in her last book, "No Higher Honor" that Ulmert's proposal was far more generous than the Clinton – Barak proposal, and Abu Mazen himself admitted on an interview to the Washington Post on May 29, 2009 that Ulmert's proposal was better than the Clinton- Barak proposal.

Condoleeza Rice wrote that Ulmert asked her to bring his proposal before Abu Mazen and ask him to agree to negotiate. Ulmet's proposal included the settling of 5000 refugees in Israel. Abu Mazen told Condoleeza Rice that this was not enough and she answered that this should be discussed with Ulmert.

Nothing came out of the negotiations between Ulmert and Abu Mazen. There are different opinions about the reasons nothing came out.

But, all the explanations to the reasons why nothing came out fail to bring the real reason.

The real reason is that all Palestinian organizations, including the Fatah, signed an agreement never to give up the Right of Return.

The document on this agreement was published by Gregory S.Mahler, in his Documentary Reader, THE ARAB – ISRAELI CONFLICT, 2010. The document was published on pages 140 – 142. The date of the document: 1974.

The Middle East expert Jonathan D.Halevi, proved in his article: "The Palestinian Right of Return Law Leaves no Room for Palestinian Flexibility," published October 25 2011, that nothing has been changed since 1974. Halvi brought in his article the details of the Right of Return Law accepted in 2008 by the Palestinian parliament.

Halevi wrote;"In 2008, the uncompromising Palestinian adherence to the “right of return” was anchored in legislation passed by the Palestinian Parliament and ratified by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. (The stances of the Fatah movement, the Palestine Liberation Organization [PLO], and the PA regarding the “right of return” were analyzed in detail in The Palestinian Refugees on the Day after Independence.1)
The provisions of the “Right of Return” Law block any possibilities of compromise and political flexibility for Palestinian negotiators and prohibit even the slightest amendment of this right. Understanding the Palestinian political stance is highly important for shaping future Israeli policy".

The 2 stages goal of the original plan of the PLO to put an end to the Jewish state has not changed. The Palestinian charter calling for the destruction of Israel is still valid.

When Abu Mazen held talks with Ulmert he had no intention to accept any proposal by Israel that will not include the settling of the refugees in Israel, according to the 2008 law of return accepted by the Palestinian parliament.

Abu Mazen went to the UN in order to get a state from the UN without an agreement with Israel. After getting a Palestinian state the conflict with Israel will continue and stage no.2 is to go to the UN again and demand the implementation of resolution 194.

194 Resolution was accepted by the UN General Assembly, on December 11, 1948. Section No.11 dealt with the refugees:
• "Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible; Instructs the Conciliation Commission to facilitate the repatriation, resettlement and economic and social rehabilitation of the refugees and the payment of compensation, and to maintain close relations with the Director of the United Nations Relief for Palestine Refugees and, through him, with the appropriate organs and agencies of the United Nations;"

The Palestinian refugees and their leadership were active in the war started on May 15 1948 by all Arab states against Israel. They are not peaceful people intended to live in peace, but a Trojan horse to put an end to the Jewish state.

In short, when Abu Mazen declared he was willing to end the conflict he was not telling the truth. His so called "moderation" is a deception.

The Palestinian people are against giving up the right of return:
POLL No.180, Nov.2 2011
Issue of the Palestinian Refugees
In regard to the question: “Do you think that Palestinians – in exchange for
having their own independent state and concluding a peace deal with Israel –
should give up their insistence about the Right of Return, which Israel will
never accept, or not ?”, the striking majority of (89.8%) answered:”No, they
shouldn’t do that even if no peace deal would be concluded”, whilst only
(6.8%) said “Yes, Palestinians should do that”, and (3.4%) said “ I don’t
And responding to the question: “In case the Palestinian leadership would
waive the Right of Return and accept in exchange for that the monetary
compensation, would you accept that too, or refuse it ?”, (89.5%) said “I
would refuse that”, whilst only (7.3%) said “I would accept that” and (3.2%)
said “I don’t know”.

Thomas Friedman should tell the whole truth: both Netanyahu and Abu Mazen are obstacles to peace. While about 50% of Israelis support a tw0 stste solution, most Palestinians still dream to put an end to the Jewish state.

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