Friday, January 27, 2012

When the President (of Palestine) is a mass murderer

When the President (of Palestine) is a mass murderer

[Marwan] Barghouti, who is likely to become the next Palestinian President, was convicted by the Israeli justice system of five counts of murder – four Israelis and a Greek monk – during the second intifada. There is no question he supported and encouraged violence.
Actually, as the head of the Fatah Tanzim during the second intifada,  he was almost certainly responsible for many other murders. But the prosecution was unable to provide sufficient evidence to convict him of more than five, for which he received five life sentences.
In a normal world it would be impossible to imagine that one country would release a convicted mass murderer so that he could become the president of a state to be established next door. In Russia (or Texas) he would be executed. Here in California, he might be sentenced to death but then remain in prison for life (while running up astronomical legal costs). But he would not be released to become, for example, Governor of Nevada.
The Ha’aretz story continues,
Barghouti’s involvement in past terror attacks does not change the fact that in light of the political developments on the Palestinian side – the possible reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah and especially the lack of contenders against President Mahmoud Abbas – Barghouti remains the only Fatah member who could inherit Abbas’ place when the time comes.
In other words, since he is the one murderer that two murderous terrorist organizations find acceptable, then by all means Israel should facilitate unifying them by letting him go free. Incredible logic!
Barghouti appeared at a court hearing concerning a lawsuit filed by the family of Esther Kleiman, who was shot to death in 2002:
Esther Kleiman z"l
Esther Kleiman z"l
March 24, 2002 – Esther Kleiman, 23, of Neve Tzuf, was killed in a shooting attack northwest of Ramallah, while traveling to work in a reinforced Egged bus.
Esther was on the bus on her way to the Samaria community of Ofra where she worked as a special education kindergarten teacher for Downs Syndrome children. At least one terrorist on a ridge overlooking the Abud bypass road fired at the bus as it passed the village of Umm Safah, near Ateret. A bullet apparently penetrated an unprotected part of the bus above the bullet-proof windows, hitting her in the head…
Esther completed high school at Ulpanat Zvia and then volunteered for National Service for two years in the Neveh Sha’anan School for disturbed children in Jaffa, where she worked with both Arab and Jewish children. After completing her service, she studied special education at the Talpiot teacher’s college in Jaffa. Esther was quiet and shy, but she loved working with children, her father said, and preferred relating to the youngsters on a one-to-one basis, rather than in a classroom.
Neve Tzuf residents described Esther as a very kind and pleasant person who always had a smile on her face. She worked as a volunteer with disabled and disadvantaged children in addition to her regular job.
Kleiman’s family is suing the Palestinian Authority for several million dollars, because the Fatah al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades killed her. Barghouti is supposed to testify on the connection between Fatah, the PA, and the al-Aqsa Brigades. Of course he refused to testify on the grounds that he does not recognize the authority of the court (to be precise, he does not recognize the Jewish state).
One wonders why he was brought to the courtroom in the first place, since he refused to speak at his own murder trial for the same reason. He was, however, given a platform to speak on an unrelated question:
The court hearing provided Bargouti with a rare opportunity to communicate with the Palestinian – and the Israeli public. One of the most important messages he conveyed to the many journalists surrounding him was that an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 lines and the establishment of a Palestinian state will bring an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
An ‘important message’ indeed! As one popular pro-Israel blogger would write, “what could go wrong?”
You might be forgiven for wondering if it would be a good idea to take the word of a mass murderer who in effect promises that if you give him half of what you possess, then he won’t try to take the rest. But the Ha’aretz reporter assures us that Barghouti has repented from his evil ways:
In the past, Barghouti spearheaded the Fatah faction that called for terrorist attacks against Israeli targets in the West Bank, and from January 2002 he even supported attacks within the Green Line. Like many Palestinians, Barghouti drew inspiration from Hezbollah, which forced Israel to retreat from southern Lebanon in May 2000, and thought that adopting the Shiite group’s tactics will cause Israel to withdraw from the Palestinian territories.
However, in recent years Barghouti admitted that the Palestinians made a grave mistake by turning to terrorism. In countless interviews he said he supports “popular resistance” – that is, unarmed resistance.
I don’t know about that last argument. For example,
The Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) (Arabic: لجان المقاومة الشعبية, Lijān al-Muqāwama al-Shaʿbiyya) are a coalition of various armed Palestinian factions that oppose the conciliatory approach adopted by the Palestinian Authority and Fatah towards Israel…
Set up in late 2000 by former Fatah and Tanzim member Jamal Abu Samhadana, the PRC are composed primarily of ex-Fatah fighters and al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades members and are alleged by Israel to be inspired and financed by Hezbollah. The PRC specializes in planting roadside bombs and vehicle explosive charges – directed against military and civilian convoys in the Gaza Strip. The PRC is described as a terrorist organization by Israel and the United States. — Wikipedia
Is that the way ‘popular’ means ‘nonviolent’?
According to the reporter, Israel will have no choice if he is elected ‘President of Palestine’:
…some of the people close to Barghouti have no doubt he intends to run for president, even if it means being elected while still behind bars. He also understands that after the Gilad Shalit prisoner swap – in which he was not included – his only chance of being released is to be elected president. Israel will have a hard time dealing with the international pressure to release an imprisoned president.
It’s hard to think of an analogy. Could California mass murderer Charles Manson be elected Governor of Nevada? Of course not. But then, Nevada is not an artificial entity created simply to oppose and destroy California.
Israel is still a sovereign state, which can keep its convicted murderers in prison despite the pretensions of its enemies. Releasing Barghouti because he may become ‘President of Palestine’, or even if he is elected, would be a surrender of sovereignty, and cannot be permitted.
The best solution, going forward, will be the establishment of a death penalty for terrorist murderers like Barghouti.

Another Tack: The Perry Mason school of life

Another Tack: The Perry Mason school of life

Back in 1940, as whodunit author Erle Stanley Gardner’s The Case of the Baited Hook got typically tangled, fictional legal wizard Perry Mason opined to his trusty secretary Della Street that “Every time you stop to figure what the other fellow’s going to do, you unconsciously figure what you’d do in his place.
“The result is that you’re not fighting him, but yourself. You always come to a stalemate. Every time you think of a move, you think of a perfect defense. The best fighters don’t worry about what the other man may do.”
Words to live by – unless, like America’s current commander-in-chief, the last thing you want is to conceive of yourself as a fighter.
Clearly, President Barack Obama didn’t attend the Perry Mason School of Law. Instead he honed his attitudes at Harvard Law. It’s a crucial difference – quite possibly the single biggest danger to global peace and, most immediately and acutely, to Israel.
Regardless of whether he lacks the intellectual integrity to unfetter himself from what was inculcated into him or whether he cannot resist the expediency of exploiting superficial truisms for political ends, Obama appears to expect all international arena players to abide by Harvard conventions. All are required to non-judgmentally tolerate adversarial viewpoints, to submit a priori that no cause is unavoidably more just than any other and to effectively prefer Third World ostensible underdogs with a peeve.
My country, Obama was taught at Harvard, isn’t necessarily more right, democracy isn’t necessarily democratic or superior and belligerents can be soothed with sufficient sympathy, flattery and concessions. Obama’s 2009 tour de force at Cairo University epitomized the ethos of post-hippie-era Harvard.
Its bottom line is that fanatics like Iran’s ayatollahs or the Muslim Brotherhood have compelling grievances and that it behooves us to see things through their eyes. This would, in theory, enable us to get a feel for their strategy and anticipate their tactical moves. They’d thereby be humanized in our view, the fear factor would abate and levelheaded accommodation would ensue.
So while Obama ups his anti-Iranian nukes rhetoric, he simultaneously escalates his pressure to prevent Israel from launching a preemptive operation against Tehran’s nuclear facilities. Despite years of Israel warning and Washington dithering, the plain fact of the matter is that not much has changed. Israel still warns and Obamaesque Washington still dithers.
Despite a tough Senate sanctions bill, Obama is loath to fully impose it. He still palavers about that elusive international coalition to browbeat Iran, although it cannot evade the cognizance of even his most starry-eyed spinmeisters that Russia, China and assorted hangers-on won’t do their utmost to foil Iranian nuclear ambitions (that is, if they at all go through the motions).
Why, then, would the ayatollahs see reason, as Obama supposes they should? Iran consistently receives indications that it isn’t obliged to mend its thuggish ways.
For example, when Obama’s top defense officials underscore the negative consequences of resorting to military means, the Iranians get a message diametrically contradictory to the one Obama insists he’s sending. Rather than abide by his Harvard guidelines, the Iranians deduce that they can proceed with impunity to make whatever mischief strikes their fancy – nuclear or otherwise.
It boggles the mind that at this exceedingly late stage the delusion still persists that Iran can be somehow dissuaded from its nefarious plots, that it’ll be wowed by dynamic diplomacy and see last-minute sense.
Obama may have been given a stick by America’s legislators but he’s hesitant to wield it. He’s still trying to figure out what Ahmadinejad is going to do, which, as per Perry Mason’s insightful observation, means that Obama subconsciously strives to envisage what he’d do in Ahmadinejad’s place.
Here, however, the result isn’t a stalemate because the Iranian bomb becomes a more potent threat with each wasted day. Counting on a miraculous Iranian epiphany is as far-sighted as believing in the blossoming of the Arab spring that has so far only sprouted Muslim Brotherhood weeds throughout the region.
Rarefied Harvard moral relativism, though, can portray invasive noxious weeds as desirable fragrant roses. And so Obama rationalizes that the Brotherhood (its rabidly pro-Nazi roots dismissed from mind) could well become the nurturer of the tardy flowering of democracy and civil liberties in the Arab sphere.
His secretary of state Hillary Clinton confirmed reports that the Obama administration would work with ascendant Islamist parties in the Muslim world.
She’s willing to do business with the infidel- bashers, arguing that they might not be quite as bad as depicted by their deposed antagonists: “For years, dictators told their people they had to accept the autocrats they knew in order to avoid the extremists they feared. Too often we accepted the narrative ourselves.”
The line now is that moderate Islamists comprise the Brotherhood’s mainstream, that they can be counted upon to conduct a sane foreign policy, uphold the rights of women and religious minorities and justify Obama’s Harvard hopes.
They probably will. Just like Tehran’s ayatollahs did.
This is painfully reminiscent of Neville Chamberlain’s foreign secretary Lord Halifax, one of the prime architects of appeasement, who signaled Hitler that German designs on Austria, chunks of Czechoslovakia and Poland weren’t altogether unpalatable to British tastes, so long as German territorial expansion was “peaceful.”
Only after the Axis bully began misbehaving with particular impudence following 1938’s Munich pact did Halifax finally work out that this wasn’t quite cricket. But to his credit Halifax did agonize, even if belatedly, and he did draw some extremely cogent conclusions. “I often think how much easier the world would have been to manage,” he mused, “if Herr Hitler and Signor Mussolini had been at Oxford.”
But they weren’t – just as the entire Middle Eastern coterie of baddies never imbibed Harvard liberalism. However, nothing suits these jihadists better than a leader of the free world who so dutifully complies with Harvard rules. So what if he assumes that they would too. Let him. They’ll do as they please, undeterred because he’s Harvard-bound to consider their perspective.
Israel, in contrast, is ineligible for similar indulgence and is slated to pay the price for Obama’s broadmindedness toward our region’s Muslim warlords.
The onus for quelling the chaos isn’t on the merchants of mass-murder but on Israel.
While Israel doesn’t ask that a single US soldier lay his life on the line for it, neither should Israel’s elected leaders be subjected to diktats whereby they must suppliantly seek permission to save Israel from annihilation. No Israeli government was elected to preside over another Holocaust.
That’s why the Jewish state’s coalition and opposition both must memorize Perry Mason’s precept.
Obama might kid himself that he’s playing for time till after November’s Election Day. Only by then, all bets will likely be off. Obama’s inaction inexorably pushes Israel to the desperate unilateral action it itself is leery of. We cannot remain pawns in Obama’s gamble that Ahmadinejad can be converted to Harvard niceties. Or as Perry Mason reiterated: “You can’t sit back and wait for things to happen to you.”

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Palestinians: Peace negotiations with Israel have ended...BUT IN ALL REALISM, THEY NEVER STARTED!!!

Palestinians: Peace negotiations with Israel have ended

Last-minute efforts are underway to head off the talks' collapse, but the prospects seem slim.

By Barak Ravid
The time frame that the Palestinians have allowed for talks with Israel in Amman under Jordanian auspices expires on Thursday. According to diplomatic sources associated with the Middle East Quartet - the United States, United Nations, European Union and Russia - last-minute efforts are underway to head off the talks' collapse, but the prospects seem slim.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's representative to the Amman talks, Isaac Molho, met on Wednesday in the Jordanian capital for a fifth time with the head of the Palestinian negotiating team Saeb Erekat - but at this point no formula has been reached that would enable the talks to continue. Erekat made it clear that because Israel has not presented its position on the issue of borders with a Palestinian state, from the Palestinians' standpoint, the talks have ended.
Abbas Erekat - AFP - 26012012
Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas speaks to reporters in front of Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat (R), after his talks with King Abdullah II of Jordan in Amman on Wednesday.
Photo by: AFP
After Wednesday's meeting, Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, under whose auspices the five rounds of discussions have taken place, issued a statement in which he did his best to avoid proclaiming the talks a failure. He said the results of the discussions are being evaluated and that consultations would be undertaken with Israel, the Palestinians and members of the Quartet over a future course.
Before the latest Molho-Erekat meeting, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met in Amman with Jordanian King Abdullah and told the monarch from his standpoint talks with Israel had run their course without results. Abbas said that Israel had refused to recognize the borders of a Palestinian state, but if there was a change there was nothing preventing a return to the negotiating table.
Abbas said he would consult with Arab allies next week to figure out how to proceed. He is under pressure to extend the Jordanian-mediated exploratory talks, which the international community hopes will lead to a resumption of long-stalled formal negotiations on establishing a Palestinian state.
Israel said on Wednesday that it is willing to continue the dialogue. Abbas did not close the door to continued meetings, saying he will decide after consultations with the Arab League on February 4. A Palestinian walkout could cost Abbas international sympathy at a time when he seeks global recognition of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.
The gaps between the leaders are vast, and Abbas apparently believes there is no point in returning to formal negotiations without assurances, such as marking the pre-1967 war lines as a basis for border talks and halting Israeli settlement construction. Netanyahu says everything should be discussed in negotiations and insists he is serious about reaching a deal by year's end.
Though there have been talks off and on, the last substantive round was in late 2008, when Israel informally proposed a deal and the Palestinians did not respond. When Netanyahu took office the next year, he took the proposal, including a state in most of the territories the Palestinians claim, off the table. A round of talks started in late 2010 by President Barack Obama quickly sputtered over the settlement issue.
Visiting European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has also scheduled two separate meetings with Abbas and Netanyahu to try to salvage the exploratory talks. Two officials involved in the contacts said she is trying to put together a package of Israeli incentives that would keep the Palestinians from walking away.
"We need to keep talks going and increase the potential of these talks to become genuine negotiations," Ashton said.
Before his meeting with Ashton, Netanyahu said, "We've been trying to make sure that the talks between us and the Palestinians will continue. That is our desire." 

MENL: U.S. Used Intel To Pressure Israel

MENL: U.S. Used Intel To Pressure Israel
MENL: U.S. Used Intel To Pressure Israel
Middle East Newsline - January 25, 2012,24911-U-S-Used-Intel-To-Pressure-Israe.aspx

WASHINGTON [MENL] -- The United States was said to have used its
intelligence community to pressure Israel.

A leading former U.S. senator said Washington has employed intelligence as
a lever for concessions from Israel. Former Senate Intelligence Committee
chairman Dennis DeConcini cited a victim impact statement in the case of
former U.S. Navy analyst Jonathan Pollard, sentenced to life in 1986 for
relaying classified information to Israel.

"In short, Mr. Pollard's activities have adversely affected U.S. relations
with both its Middle East Arab allies and the government of Israel," the
impact statement quoted by DeConcini said.

The former Senate committee chairman said Pollard upset the balance of
power between Jerusalem and the Arab world. The statement by prosecutors,
who at one point agreed to a 10-year sentence, said Pollard's transfer of
intelligence denied Washington the option of pressuring the Jewish state.

"In summary, the [victim impact] statement said Pollard gave Israel U.S.
information on the weaponry of the Arab countries and this information
deprived the U.S. of its bargaining leverage with Israel on
intelligence-sharing and assisted Israel in its balance of power with the
Arab countries," DeConcini wrote in a column in the U.S. newspaper Arizona
Republic on Jan. 22.

DeConcini, one of the few to review the classified material on Pollard,
has been calling for the latter's release since 1995. He said numerous
former members of Congress as well as senior officials have also concluded
that Pollard should be released.

The victim impact statement quoted by DeConcini was the first disclosure
of how Washington viewed its intelligence exchange with Israel. Israeli
officials have long complained of being short-changed in the amount of
intelligence released by Washington in exchange for Israeli information on
Middle East and other countries, including Iraq and Iran.

"It is a fact that Israel provides far more intelligence to the United
States than it receives," a former Israeli official said.

In 2011, former members of Congress and the intelligence community have
called for Pollard's release. They included former CIA director James
Woolsey, former Deputy Attorney General Philip Heymann and former White
House counsel Bernard Nussbaum, all of whom were given access to the
classified material on Pollard.

So far, President Barack Obama has not replied to both the former
officials as well as Israel, which publicly apologized for the Pollard case.
In 2011, Obama told a Jewish donor to the Democratic Party that he was being
pestered to release Pollard. In late 2011, Vice President Joseph Biden met
Jewish leaders in the highest-level discussion of Pollard's fate.

"It is obvious that across the Jewish community there is widespread
support for Pollard's release, and this view is shared by major American
figures from both sides of the political aisle," DeConcini said. "Netanyahu
asked for Pollard's release from prison. So far this request has gone

Better late than never

Better late than never

For the UN secretary general the military capacity of Hezbollah is not acceptable - for Israel, as for any other nation faced by a similar terrorist threat, it is intolerable.

By Moshe Arens
For a change, here is good news from Beirut. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon made news during his recent visit. "I am deeply concerned about the military capacity of Hezbollah and the lack of progress in disarmament," he told a news conference in Beirut after meeting Lebanese leaders. "All these arms outside of the authorized state authority, it's not acceptable," he declared.
It's about time somebody made things clear to the Lebanese.
Hasan Nasrallah - AP
Hasan Nasrallah could launch tens of thousands of ballistic missiles at Israel.
Photo by: AP
The response of Hezbollah's leader Hasan Nassrallah could have been predicted. "We are pleased by your concern," he said, addressing the UN secretary general. "We want you, the U.S. and Israel to be concerned ... Hezbollah will not relinquish its weapons."
Nassrallah should know that we are all really concerned, and what's more we intend to do something about it.
The weapons in question are tens of thousands of ballistic missiles in addition to all sorts of additional modern weaponry that have been supplied to Hezbollah over the years by Iran and shipped to Lebanon via Syria, and are not under the authority of the Lebanese government. They are deployed all over Lebanon and aimed at Israel. The range of the ballistic missiles in the Hezbollah inventory is sufficient to cover all of Israel and rain destruction on Israel's civilian population. They are terror weapons in the hands of a terrorist organization.
For the UN secretary general this situation is not acceptable - for Israel, as for any other nation faced by a similar terrorist threat, it is intolerable. For a number of years now Israel has been faced by the Hezbollah missile threat from Lebanon, and that threat has been growing from year to year. It is a ticking time bomb threatening stability in the Middle East, and in addition it is a violation of Lebanese sovereignty.
But the Lebanese should not forget that it also represents a threat to the physical existence of Lebanon and the people of Lebanon. The Hezbollah missiles are deployed throughout Lebanon and have been deliberately emplaced in the midst of Lebanon's civilian population centers, in the vicinity of schools, mosques and hospitals. They will be launched against Israel whenever Nassrallah so decides, or the order is given in Teheran. They are a protective shield for Iran's nuclear ambitions.
Like the deployment of Soviet missiles in Cuba in 1962 that brought about the Cuban missile crisis and the removal of these missiles, the Hezbollah missiles will have to be removed. When the time comes for Israel to neutralize this missile threat - and that time will come sooner or later if the missiles are not dismantled - there is bound to result wholesale destruction all over Lebanon. Hezbollah's missiles are a suicidal invitation to the destruction of Lebanon.
However, it is clear that the Lebanese government and the Lebanese army are not capable of pursuing Lebanon's national interest by overpowering the Hezbollah militia and forcing the dismantlement of the missiles, which pose so great a threat to Lebanon itself. So the time bomb keeps ticking away.
Of course, it is preferable that the removal of the Hezbollah missiles in Lebanon be accomplished by diplomatic action rather than by military measures. The Lebanese government should be encouraged to insist on demonstrating its sovereign rights in all of Lebanon and order Hezbollah to remove the missiles. Any assistance that it would require should be provided. The international community should make it clear that the deployment of these missiles is a violation of Lebanese sovereignty and constitutes a danger to peace in the region.
For too long has there been a conspiracy of silence about the deployment of these missiles in Lebanon. The statement made by the UN secretary general on his recent visit to Beirut has come just in time. The issue should be taken up at the UN Security Council, and the necessary diplomatic action should be taken by the U.S. and the countries of Europe and Asia. The Hezbollah missiles represent a threat to peace in the area. Ban Ki-moon has finally sounded the alarm. Better late than never.

New meme: Daily aid to Gaza proves it is a "ghetto"

New meme: Daily aid to Gaza proves it is a "ghetto"

Ma'an reports:
Israeli forces partially opened the Kerem Shalom crossing with Gaza on Thursday in order to allow in 300 truckloads of commercial and agricultural goods.Israel has also allowed two trucks of flowers and strawberries to be exported from the coastal enclave, Palestinian border crossing official Raed Fattuh told Ma'an.

Twenty-two cars will also enter Gaza together with communications equipment and cement for international projects, he said.
This is pretty much a daily event. Although Ma'an didn't mention it, yesterday there were 270 to 280 trucks loaded with aid and both commercial and agricultural supplies, including 12 trucks loaded with cement and iron for construction and 48 truck of gravel for UNRWA and USAID projects, as well as the construction of a French cultural center. On Tuesday there were 227 trucks of aid.

The amount of aid going through Kerem Shalom has been steadily increasing over the past year, almost doubling.

So how to the commenters at Ma'an view this?

Sarah from Holland says "Whenever I read this kind of messages, I think: feeding time! Say thank you! The zionists are so sick. They really forgot the holocaust, the getto's, how it feld to be humiliated and treated like animals. Zionists are NO Jews."

"AKeenReader" from the UK adds: "sarah/holland - your views are absolutley spot on. It seems they are taking revenge against the Palestinians for what happend to them, although if one experience such terrible acts you would expect them to understand human suffering. Seems they haven't learnt any lesson. Shame as they are digging their own grave. Maybe Iran's attitude towards Israel is to give some comfort to the Palestinains because Iran can deal with Israel unlike defenceless Palestinians. Soon time will tell."

These aren't Arabs saying this - they are "cultured" Europeans who are often more anti-semitic than the Arabs are. But their Jew-hatred is buried under the pretense of caring about Gazans, most of whom are doing economically better than the Egyptians just over the border (whom they naturally don't give a damn about. Guess why?)

By the way, Egypt closed Rafah yesterday to celebrate the January 25th revolution, and on Tuesday Gazans were complaining that there were extra restrictions on them passing through Rafah. Sounds like Egypt is imprisoning Gazans and treating it like a "ghetto," but you won't hear these European human rights defenders say a word about that. (They used to, claiming that Egypt was following Israeli policy, but they can no longer do that - so they just ignore it.)

Internal Palestinian Debate over 1967 Borders

Internal Palestinian Debate over 1967 Borders
By: L. Barkan*
"...Because we believe in peace, and because of our conviction in international legitimacy, and because we had the courage to make difficult decisions for our people, and in the absence of absolute justice, we decided to adopt the path of relative justice, justice that is possible, a justice that could correct part of the grave historical injustice committed against our people. Thus, we agreed to establish the state of Palestine on only 22 percent of the territory of historical Palestine, on all the Palestinian territory occupied by Israel in 1967."  –PA President Mahmoud 'Abbas speaking before the UN General Assembly upon submitting the bid for UN recognition of a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders[1]
"Hamas has agreed to the establishment of a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital and with the implementation of the [refugees'] right of return. This is a position that is largely shared by all the Palestinian forces and all the Arab and Islamic elements... The two-state solution includes recognizing Israel. We in Hamas have a clear position that rejects recognition of Israel... Over half of the Palestinian people belong to the 1948 territories, [since] they were born there or else their parents or grandparents were born there. So they belong to this land and are not newcomers to it; they were expelled from it by force. [Therefore], it would not be fair for any Palestinian movement to come along and recognize Israel."– Hamas political bureau head Khaled Mash'al in an interview with the daily Al-Hayat[2]
At the December 9 opening ceremony of the 2011 Pan-Arab Games in Doha, a map was presented depicting a Palestinian state limited to the West Bank and Gaza– namely a state on the 1967 borders (see image below).[3] Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud 'Abbas, who was present at the ceremony, did not react to the map. The incident sparked a public debate among the Palestinians regarding the borders of Palestine.
This debate reflects a controversy among the Palestinians regarding their aspirations for statehood and their dealings vis-à-vis Israel and the international community. Specifically, the debate underscores the reluctance among many Palestinians – including PA supporters – to accept the 1967 borders and relinquish the dream of "historical Palestine," notwithstanding the Oslo Accords, the PLO's recognition of Israel, the Palestinian leadership's avowed commitment to a two-state solution, and this leadership's recent bid for UN membership for the Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders. The debate also brought to the fore the differences between the PA's and Hamas's understanding of the notion of a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders. Though both assert that such a state constitutes the basis for their joint political program, the PA considers it part of a two-state solution and a comprehensive permanent agreement with Israel, including a resolution of the refugee issue (which the PA has presented ambiguously in two versions: "a just and agreed-upon solution" and "the refugees' right to return to their pre-1948 homes"). Senior Hamas officials, on the other hand, stress that, though they accept a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders, they refuse to recognize Israel, relinquish the full right of return for refugees, or renounce armed resistance.

The map of Palestine (marked yellow) presented at the opening ceremony of Pan-Arab Games in Doha[4]
The Arab and Palestinian media reported on the public outrage in response to the map presented in Doha. For instance, it was reported that a heated debate broke out among spectators at the opening ceremony of the Pan-Arab Games, and that Arab youth called for their countries' delegations to the games to withdraw and return home.[5] Daoud Mutawalli, head of the Palestinian delegation, demanded a clarification from the Arab Games Organizing Committee (AGOC). Gaza's labor unions, which took part in organizing the games, demanded an apology for the map and called on the Arab League to investigate the matter and demand an account from those responsible. According to the union, the map was unacceptable, as it represented a clear recognition of the "Zionist entity" and submission to American plans for a new Middle East.[6] Palestinian youth launched a Facebook page called "No Partition of Palestine, Qatar."[7] Jordanian activists staged demonstrations outside the Qatari embassy in Amman,[8] while at another demonstration in Jordan, Palestinians burned pictures of the Qatari emir.[9] The Islamic Jihad student movement organized a demonstration in Gaza calling to boycott Qatar and recall the Palestinian ambassador from Doha unless Qatar apologized for the map. The protestors, who numbered in the hundreds, demanded not to relinquish historical Palestine, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.[10]
As mentioned, the matter sparked a public debate over the borders of the Palestinian state and the proper way for the Palestinians to conduct their affairs vis-à-vis Israel. The press and websites belonging to the PA, Hamas, and independent Palestinian bodies fervently discussed the matter, with reactions falling into two categories: on the one hand, attacks on Qatar, accusing it of presenting a distorted and partial map of Palestine, and even of being party to a Western plot against the Arabs and Muslims; and on the other hand, calls for the Palestinians to recognize that the borders shown in the Qatari map are the very ones they themselves are demanding.
Palestinian officials, from both the PA and Hamas, avoided joining the public debate. Their silence led a number of writers to question why the PLO had not voiced any official protest to the map, and if this indicated that Palestinian officials had relinquished the dream of historical Palestine.
Criticism of Palestinian Officials' Silence over the Incident
The silence of Palestinian officials over the incident, from both the PA and Hamas, aroused amazement and anger among the Palestinian public and press.  According to reports, many Palestinians on the social networks asked why Mahmoud 'Abbas, who was present at the ceremony beside Qatar's emir, had made no attempt to protest the Qatari map.[11] Al-Ayyamcolumnist Ghassan Zaqtan wrote: "The official Palestinian silence is painful. Worse yet is the silence of the heads of the 'rejectionists' [i.e., Hamas], the allies and friends of Qatar who held up pictures of its emir in the streets and marches in Gaza, while preventing [people from holding up] pictures and flags of natives of this land [i.e., Fatah members]... who sacrificed their lives on its soil..."[12]
In an article published by the independent Palestinian news agency Ma'an, publicist and researcher Fares 'Abdallah asked why Hamas and the PA were silent over the affair. He asked why Hamas had not organized protest rallies in the streets of Gaza, and wondered how its silence could be reconciled with its fundamental principles, such as its commitment to a Palestinian state on all the land between the river and the sea:
"What is the role of the PA, whose president participated in the festivities in Qatar? And what is Hamas's stance on this crime? Why didn't the Palestinian sports delegation leave in protest over the crime of cutting up Palestine?... Some might say that President 'Abbas is not part of the resistance to begin with, since he already recognized 'Israel' as the state of the Zionists when he signed the Oslo Accords, and [considering that] he reiterates this recognition every chance he gets! Do not expect an official stance from the PA. The educational materials [presented] to our students describe Palestine as extending from Rafah to Jenin, rather than from Rafah to Ras Naqura.
"The great and heavy burden lies with the Hamas movement, which is celebrating the 24th anniversary of its founding. Does it accept a Palestinian [state] on the Qatari scale? What is the stance of its public, which will gather at Al-Katiba Square [in Gaza] on December 14 and read out Hamas's fundamental principles, [including the principle] that Palestine stretches from the sea and the river, and that every handbreadth and grain of Palestinian soil is Muslim property that cannot be relinquished under any circumstances? And why is the Hamas media silent over this abominable act by the Qatari regime? Why don't we see marches and protests in Gaza's streets, such as Hamas would organize over any domestic incident in the [West] Bank, which has been abandoned to its fate?..."[13]
PA Columnists: A Map of Palestine on the 1967 Borders – A Distortion of History, a Premature Decision of the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict
Articles published in PA dailies and by the Ma'an news agency criticized the Qatari map. PA columnists claimed that, as long as there was no permanent peace agreement with Israel which clearly defined the borders of the Palestinian state, it was a mistake to present a map with any borders other than those of historical Palestine – because doing so would decide the outcome of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict prematurely. Independent Palestinian columnists wrote that, by ignoring the "historical Palestine" ingrained in the collective Palestinian memory, Qatar had distorted history as part of a Western plot against the Arab region. In addition, Qatar was criticized generally for its conduct in various Middle East affairs and for its ties to the West, especially the US and Israel. It should be noted that the PA has criticized Qatar on several pervious occasions over various issues.[14]
Mahmoud Abu Al-Haijaa, columnist for the PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, said that, as long as there was no peace agreement with Israel with clearly defined borders for a Palestinian state, only the map of historical Palestine should be presented: "Qatar will tell us that the map that was presented at the Arab Olympics was the essence of the Oslo Accords and their final outcome. We will reply that this is true, but that Oslo was an agreement of principles and a political move, and not a peace agreement. The conflict is not yet over, and the negotiations have encountered difficulties that do not suggest any progress which might allow one to envisage finalized maps [outlining] a geography of peace in the region... Had we reached a true and final peace with Israel, we would have accepted the innovative[15] Qatari interpretation... regarding the borders of the 'new Palestine.' We would have even been pleased if Qatar were able to stop the Israeli settlement within the boundaries of this map. But there is no peace in the region, and Qatar does not stand up to the Israeli settlements..."[16]
A similar claim was raised by Ghassan Zaqtan, columnist for the PA daily Al-Ayyam, who said that Qatar had "ignored historical Palestine as it exists in the imagination, memory, geography, and history of the region." He added: "The committee that organized the Pan-Arab Games in Doha decided the Palestinian-Israeli conflict [prematurely]. It [presented] the Palestinian flag with its four colors, and added the two separate [maps] of Gaza and the [West] Bank, with the name 'Palestine' in Arabic and English. What is also striking about this Qatari farce is that it avoided indicating the Israeli settlements in the [West] Bank, and [addressing] the question of Jerusalem... Where is the capital of Palestine located according to this innovative[17] interpretation by Qatar's rulers and allies, the representatives of the rising political Islam in the Arab region?"[18]
Notwithstanding the PA's silence over the Qatari map affair, several days after the incident, the PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, published two cartoons addressing the importance of historical Palestine, though avoiding any explicit reference to the incident in Qatar.

"In the name of Allah, the merciful and the compassionate. A lesson in history, geography, Arabic, English, all languages, life and death, literature, and grammar: [even] before the Messenger's hijra or the hijra of the Palestinians, this is my land."[19]

A map of historical Palestine with a shadda, the Arabic sign of emphasis[20]
Bahaa Rahal, columnist for the independent Palestinian news agency Ma'an, wrote that Qatar had "changed the historical map of natural Palestine, replacing it with a new map that it invented... This is a clear fabrication of history and of the cause of a people which continues to make sacrifices for the sake of freedom and independence. This is the main part of a greater plot in the region, to which Qatar is party, along with the US – one aimed at realizing the aspirations of the Western countries... Qatar is also party to the plot of the Israeli occupation state. It presented a map of Palestine to the world in a false and despicable manner... and thus did what [even] the enemies do not do. It renounced its nationalism and Arabness and followed the devil..."[21]
In another Ma'an article, Palestinian publicist and researcher Fares 'Abdallah wrote: "It would seem that the first phase of [the plan to] redivide the Arab region according to Zionist-American interests has begun. The new map of Palestine, drafted in Qatar, perhaps exposes a [new] Sykes-Picot [Agreement] under the guise of the Arab Spring... [This is suggested by the fact that] the Egyptian regime of Mubarak is [actually] still in power, and the crises which Egypt has experienced daily since Mubarak's ouster are an attempt by the [Supreme] Council of the Armed Forces to force [on the Egyptian people] the American position on the character the regime [should take] following the revolution..."[22]
In another article published by Ma'an, Palestinian publicist 'Ali 'Obeidat wrote that all the Palestinian factions owed the Palestinian people an apology for having accepted the Oslo Accords and agreeing to relinquish historical Palestine: "My heart goes out to Qatar, which aroused the world's unremitting anger by showing a map of Palestine with missing parts, without the river and the sea. Were it not for Allah's mercy, we would attack Qatar with ballistic missiles for its great sin... [However,] wasn't it the Oslo authority [i.e., the PA]... that extinguished the dream of historical Palestine? Wasn't it you [the Palestinian factions] who said that Haifa and Jaffa no longer belong to us, and that we want [only] Nablus, Ramallah, and Jenin, or whatever Israel [chooses to] give us?
"Find [me] a single Palestinian faction that wants historical Palestine – and don't say 'Hamas' or 'the left,' [because] all of them are party to the disgrace of Oslo... The dubious frankness of Qatar removed the fig leaf and exposed our inmost [nature]. You [Palestinian factions] must all apologize to the martyrs, the prisoners, the oranges of the Galilee, the cypresses of [Mount] Carmel, the pomegranates of Kafr Kana, and the old woman who continues to defend her Palestinian [identity] there... Ultimately, if Qatar needs to apologize for the deliberate step [it took], it should apologize to the refugees in the camps of the diaspora, to the steadfast [Palestinians living] 'inside' the occupation [state], and to the small group that continues to believe in an indivisible historical Palestine, from the sea to the river..."[23]

Facebook page titled "No Partition of Palestine, Qatar"[24]
PA Columnists: A State on the 1967 Borders Is the Realistic Solution
More pragmatic views were presented by PA and Fatah columnists and media outlets. They justified Qatar's presentation of the Palestinian map by pointing out that the Palestinians themselves were demanding that the world recognize the same borders as those it depicted. They called on the Palestinians to differentiate between the dream of historical Palestine and the reality on the ground, in which the Palestinians could, in fact, establish a state on the 1967 borders.
Yahya Rabbah, former PLO ambassador to Yemen and columnist for the PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, said that the map presented by Qatar was the same map presented by 'Abbas to the UN, and that all Palestinians accept it: "[This] map has been accepted by all of us, without exception – Fatah, Hamas and everyone in between. It was first approved as part of the 1974 Ten-Point Program and again as part of the 1988 declaration of independence. These are the borders that our courageous president, Abu Mazen, has asked the UN and the Security Council to recognize. We Palestinians insist on continuing our quest for full membership on the basis [of these borders]! So what is so new and shocking here? Why are you so angry?"
Rabbah added that the Palestinians, like all peoples, are nostalgic for a glorious past, but must distinguish this yearning from the reality and the rules of the political game: "The event [in Qatar] reveals, perhaps, that many who claim to be politically aware do not really have the slightest awareness of the rules of politics... They are torn between the pain of their yearning [for the dream of historical Palestine] and the cold hard facts of merciless politics... The pain of yearning has been ingrained in mankind since its creation... Do we Arabs not yearn for Andalusia?... Is there a Russian [in the world] who does not yearn for the time of the empire? And what about the Italians, whose capital, Rome, was once the capital of the world, or the Greeks, whose land was once the [homeland] of all the gods...? All peoples have a past and glory that no longer exist...
"We Palestinians want... to be recognized as an independent state. We want the name [of our state] to appear in the world atlas and to appear as an address on letters... Why is it that, when we come close to achieving this goal, and when there are those who are helping us to realize it, we [suddenly] get angry? Why do we turn the pain of our yearning, which is a natural human [emotion], into a club with which to bludgeon one another?  I am grateful to my brothers in Qatar... for organizing this beautiful event and using it to convey a serious and clear  message, different [from what we usually hear]: [namely] that the Palestinian state is possible, real, and justified – and that its enemies, who refuse to let it become a reality, are the ones in the wrong."[25]
Palestinian publicist Maher Al-Hussein wrote in a similar vein on a Fatah-affiliated website. He argued that a distinction must be drawn between the map of historical Palestine, which is part of the Palestinians' collective memory, and the map of the Palestinian state, which is a political reality that must be accepted and promoted: "The map of Palestine as remembered by our fathers and grandfathers, which our sons learn about... is known and familiar, and there is only one [such map]. We see it [in our minds], imagine it, and learn about it. It is not a matter of controversy among us. This is the map accepted by all Palestinians, no matter where they come from. There are no 1967 or 1948 [borders] and no refugee [camps]. This map is the basis, and the distinctions between 1967, 1948, and the refugee [camps] is the anomaly... There is no controversy over historical Palestine. There is no controversy about the borders and status of the holy [land of] Palestine that is sacred to the three [monotheistic] religions...
"At the same time, there is the Palestinian state: Palestine of the negotiations, the international resolutions, and the Arab [peace] initiative. We must accept this, and acknowledge a clear fact that must be free of lies and deception: we are not talking about liberating Lod, Ramla, Haifa, and Jaffa. We must acknowledge that the Palestinian enterprise that is [accepted] by all is the enterprise of [establishing] a state with Jerusalem as its capital on the territories occupied in 1967. In other words, we must accept the distinction between the 'map of the state' and the 'map of Palestine.'
Al-Hussein went on to say that the map presented at the games has been recognized by Hamas, and by Khaled Mash'al himself: "What Qatar presented [at the games], in the presence of Palestinian President Abu Mazen, was the map of the Palestinian state, which Israel is occupying, and which we demanded be accepted as a full UN member... So where is the problem? Why can't we accept this reality?... The Palestinian state is accepted by all Palestinians, and lately [even] Hamas joined this consensus! Khaled Mash'al of Hamas presented our people's demand: an [independent] state in Gaza, the West Bank, and Jerusalem... Hamas did not have a problem with the map of the Palestinian state as presented by Qatar. It did not criticize it or oppose it. [Even International Union of Muslim Scholars head] Sheikh [Youssef Al-Qaradhawi] did not regard the presentation of the map of the Palestinian state as an [act of] heresy or slander... Palestine is Palestine, but the state is a different matter. Its territory is smaller... This is the state we can attain in order to live in, and we must get used to this [fact]..."[26]
Hamas Supporters: The PLO and the PA Are at Fault, Not Qatar
Hamas supporters likewise claimed that Qatar had merely reflected the Palestinian and Arab diplomatic reality on the ground, and that therefore there was no reason to criticize it. They added that the ones to blame for this reality are the PA and the PLO, whose concessions over the years led to the launching of the Arab peace initiative, which, according to Hamas, means relinquishing 78% of historical Palestine.
The Falastin daily, which is close to Hamas, reported on another event, similar to Qatar's presentation of the map: at the Arab-Turkish Industrial Cooperation Conference, held on December 6-7, 2011, in Istanbul, Ramallah was described as the capital of the Palestinian state. The conference organizers later explained that this was a technical error. In response to this incident, Amin Dabour, a lecturer at the Islamic University in Gaza, said that the PA's policy of giving up armed resistance and suppressing demonstrations (such as those recently staged in the West) had prepared the ground for the talk in Qatar and Turkey about a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders, with Ramallah as its capital. He called to create a unified Palestinian narrative that defines historical Palestine as the homeland.[27]
'Issam Shawer, a columnist in Falastin, wrote: "At the opening of the Pan-Arab games in Qatar, Arab and Palestinian spectators were 'surprised' to see an eroded map of Palestine, which included nothing but a few morsels representing the [West] Bank and Gaza... The Arab regimes are the ones who cut up [the map of Palestine] so they could willingly give it as easy prey to the Israeli occupier at the Beirut Summit in 2002. The Arabs, in their initiative of capitulation, relinquished all the Palestinian areas occupied since 1948, after the PLO did the same.
"Qatar presented to us with bitter realism the state of the Palestinian cause: [a willingness] to agree to a mini-state that does not exceed the boundaries of the [West] Bank and Gaza. It seems that our imaginative powers are blinding us to reality... Those who recognize the occupation state and the Oslo Accords – if they wanted to show the truth to the Arab and Palestinian street, they wouldn't have presented the full map of Palestine [but one like Qatar's].
"They have given up 78% of Palestine... The ones whom Qatar has enraged must bring to the Arab League their appeals to rescind its peace initiative and for the PLO to rescind its recognition of the occupation state [called] 'Israel.' If the initiative and the recognition are rescinded, the map will once again become whole..."[28]

A Palestinian soccer player protests the map, following a victory for the Palestinian team[29]
It should be noted that, while criticizing the PA and PLO for concessions they have made, Hamas supporters stressed that their movement, which refuses to recognize Israel, was also willing to accept a state in the 1967 borders, as long as the refugees' right of return was realized. This condition, in essence, voids Hamas's offer of any substance. Moreover, Hamas senior officials continue to assert that their goal is to liberate all of Palestine, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, and to continue supporting the resistance and the aspiration of recapturing all of historical Palestine.
'Issam Shawer, columnist for Falastin, wrote: "Accepting a [Palestinian] state in the areas that have been occupied since 1967, without recognizing the legitimacy of the occupation in the rest of the areas, is different [from accepting a state in the occupied areas, while] recognizing the legitimacy [of the occupation]. In the former [arrangement], the [Palestinian] state has temporary borders because it does not represent the homeland, while in the latter, the borders are permanent – which is to say, this mini-state does represent the homeland, which is unrealistic and impractical... In the first case, we can hold up a map of Palestine in its entirety without criticism or rebuke, but in the second, we can only hold up [the map presented by our] sister-state Qatar..."[30]
Amin Dabour, a lecturer at the Islamic University in Gaza, told Falastin: "There is a huge difference between the '67 borders for Hamas and for Fatah. For Hamas, recognizing the 1967 borders does not [mean] ending the conflict, disarming, recognizing 'Israel,' or stopping the resistance; for Fatah, on the other hand, recognizing the 1967 borders does... involve ending the conflict, giving up large parts of occupied Jerusalem, and perhaps even relinquishing the refugees' rights."[31]
*L. Barkan is a research fellow at MEMRI.

[1] WAFA (Palestinian Authority), September 23, 2011.
[2] Al-Hayat (London), June 2, 2010.
[3] It should be noted that, at the same ceremony, a map of Morocco was presented that did not include the Western Sahara, a disputed region which was annexed by Morocco in 1979, and whose annexation has not been recognized by the international community. The map aroused anger among Moroccans, which prompted a Qatari apology.
[4], December 10, 2011.
[5], December 10, 2011.
[6], December 11, 2011.
[8], December 11, 2011.
[9] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), December 19, 2011.
[10] Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), December 25, 2011.
[11], December 11, 2011.
[12] Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), December 12, 2011.
[13], December 12, 2011.
[14] This was the case, for instance, after Al-Jazeera exposed leaked protocols from the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, in which the PA purportedly expressed a willingness to make far-reaching concessions.
[15] In Arabic, the word which appears is ijtihad, meaning illegitimate independent judgment in a religious matter.
[16] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), December 18, 2011.
[17] Again, the word used in Arabic is ijtihad.
[18] Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), December 12, 2011. Zaqtan went on to attack Qatar's conduct before and during the Arab Spring: "For many years, Qatar pretended to [support] 'the rejectionist front' with financial and media aid, which gave it some maneuvering space and distracted the 'rejectionist forces' – Hizbullah, Hamas, and the Syrian regime – [from Qatar's true nature]. Now it is trying to play the same game with the 'Arab Spring,' [pretending to] 'oppose' dictatorships like its old ally from the rejectionist era, the Syrian regime. In recent years, [Qatar] has created real confusion in the Arab political [arena] due to its double message..."
[19] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), December 11, 2011.
[20] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), December 13, 2011.
[21], December 11, 2011.
[22], December 12, 2011.
[23], December 16, 2011.
[25] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), December 14, 2011.
[26], December 14, 2011.
[27] Falastin (Gaza), December 14, 2011.
[28] Falastin (Gaza), December 11, 2011.
[29] Al-Quds (Jerusalem), December 18, 2011.
[30] (Gaza), December 11, 2011.
[31] Falastin (Gaza), December 14, 2011.