Mixed reactions characterise Vladimir Putin’s visit to Israel-Palestine, with Palestinians tired of empty words and Russia’s support for Bashar Al-Assad against the Syrian people”
writes Khaled Amayreh in Bethlehem
In a brief visit to Israel-occupied Palestine this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin sought to reassert Russian influence in the region, especially in Israel where more than a million Russian immigrants live.
Putin received a warm welcome from his Israeli hosts who sought to influence the Russian leader’s thinking with regard to the Iranian nuclear programme.
Israeli President Shimon Peres drew analogy between Russia’s fierce resistance to Nazism during World War II and current efforts to stop Iran from enriching uranium and possibly possessing nuclear weapons.
“I am confident that under your leadership Russia will fulfil a key role in restoring security and peace,” he said.
However, it seems the excessive commendations Putin received in Israel failed to change his mind on the basic issues.
He told Israeli leaders that he wouldn’t advise them to carry out a hasty or rash strike on Iran since this would create more problems and complicate an already complicated situation.
Israel, which possesses a huge nuclear arsenal that includes 250-300 nuclear weapons, views Russia and China as “weak links” in the international front against Iran.
In his few and terse public remarks, the Russian president spoke in general terms about “changes in the region” and “the need to make peace”.
“Once again, we see that friendship and warm relations between our people is more than words,” Putin told Peres.
However, according to one Israeli newspaper, the warm handshakes and pleasantries that marked the visit hid a sharp division between the two countries on significant foreign policy issues, such as Iran and Syria.
Putin, who many observers argue has on his hands the innocent blood of many Syrians, thanks to his unwavering support for the Bashar Al-Assad regime, told an equally tainted Israeli president that Russia opposed the extermination of any people, including the Israeli people. (In 1996, Peres in his capacity as prime minister following the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin ordered the Israeli army to commit a massacre in the village of Qana in southern Lebanon, murdering more than 100 women and children. He never apologised for the horrific carnage.)
Putin added that he was looking to make peace in the world and the region. “The region and the world are rapidly changing. We need to find ways to work together that will enable every one to live in peace,” he said.
The Russian leader again spoke in general terms following a lengthy meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, saying it was important to resolve ancient conflicts, especially the Palestinian issue.
“We call on all sides to resume negotiations. It is the only way to solve this problem.”
Russia is part of the International Quartet on Middle East Peace, which also includes the US, EU, and the United Nations.
On Monday, Putin was taken directly to Netanya where he participated in the dedication ceremony for a large memorial commemorating the Red Army’s victory over Nazi Germany.
For his part, Netanyahu asked Putin to make every possible effort to make sure that in the event of the collapse of the Syrian regime, Syria’s purported chemical arsenal won’t find its way into the wrong hands.
As to peace with the Palestinians, the Israeli premier said he was willing and ready to meet with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas at any time and in any place.
The latest phrase, often uttered by Israeli leaders, is widely thought to be a public relations ruse meant to divert attention from phenomenal Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank, which many observers believe has effectively killed any remaining chances for pursuing a meaningful peace process based on the two-state solution formula.
In characteristic prevarication and verbal juggling, Netanyahu told Putin: “The key to peace is complex, but in the end it is very simple. Either President Abbas must come here or I must go to him, and I am willing for either of these possibilities to occur. However, we must begin to talk. I hope you will convey this message when you meet Abbas tomorrow.”
The truth, however, is that Palestinian and Israeli leaders met numerous times over the years, but without making any real progress towards ending the Israeli occupation, which began in 1967. The main reason for this failure stems from Israel’s recalcitrant refusal to give up the spoils of the 1967 war.
Abbas and other Palestinian leaders on Tuesday received Putin in the city of Bethlehem where a gigantic wall erected by Israel is throttling the town, giving it the air of a detention camp.
Putin told his Palestinian hosts that Russia was still supporting endeavours to establish a viable state, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
“Russia has no problem recognising a Palestinian state,” Putin told Abbas.
The Russian leader also praised Abbas for his “responsible” position in negotiations with Israel, an allusion to the Palestinian leader’s refusal to resume stalled peace talks with Israel until the latter halts settlement expansion activities.
Abbas surprised Putin by announcing that the city of Bethlehem intended to name one of the town’s streets after him. He was also awarded the Palestinian Authority (PA) Medal of Honour. The PA also refused to allow any demonstration against Putin, particularly protest against Russia’s support and backing of the Assad regime. A solid majority of Palestinians are believed to identify with the Syrian revolution against the minority-Alawite regime in power.
Given Russia’s clear complicity in the Syrian bloodbath, many Palestinians believe Putin stands to be condemned, not commended, for his alliance with the Assad regime.
However, for the Palestinian leadership, whatever happens in Syria must not interfere with the need to put Palestinian interests first.
It is unlikely that Putin’s visit to occupied Bethlehem and occupied Jerusalem will have a far-reaching impact on the basic elements of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, where the United States has a virtual monopoly on the so-called peace process.
source: Ahram Weekly
Writing an obituary about a terrorist? I couldn’t degrade myself into that; yet, the topic was amusing to the extent of irresistible. “The Digger” had died. Yesterday, June 30, 2012, Israel’s seventh Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir died in Tel Aviv. He was 96 years old and had suffered a severe case of Alzheimer for more than a decade. In 1947, he earned his peculiar nickname after having escaping a British prison in Palestine through a 200 foot tunnel he had allegedly dug with a spoon. Even these colorful details weren’t enough to justify an obituary. Oddly, he is being praised by all Zionist leaders, even those belonging to the left. The state funeral will take place on Monday in Mount Herzl.
Born in the Russian Empire, in 1935 he settled down in Palestine. Yitzhak Shamir joined Irgun Tzvai Leumi (Etzel, the “National Military Organization,” sometimes shortened “Irgun”) until 1940, when this paramilitary group split. He chose to follow the smaller faction, known as Lehi (Hebrew acronym for “Fighters for Israel’s Freedom,” more commonly known in Israel as the Stern Gang, after its leader Avraham “Yair” Stern). Its declared aim was to evict violently the British authorities from Palestine, to the extent that they contacted Nazi Germany with a proposal to aid German conquest in the Middle East in return for recognition of a Jewish state open to unlimited immigration. Unsurprisingly, they were outlawed by the British, who offered generous rewards for the capture of its leaders. In 1941, Shamir was imprisoned for the first time, shortly before “Yair” was killed by the British police. Following the extrajudicial assassination, Shamir escaped prison and became one of the three leaders of Lehi, together with Nathan Yellin-Mor and Israel Eldad. Shamir reorganized the movement into an efficient organization of semi-independent cells. In the summer of 1946 he was caught, and imprisoned in Africa by British Mandatory authorities; yet, the following January he escaped through the abovementioned tunnel. He crossed to French Somalia, was arrested by the French, but eventually granted political asylum in France. His underground sent him a forged passport, with which he returned to Israel after the Israeli Declaration of Independence in 1948.
After 1948, the Irgun was incorporated into the Israeli Defense Forces; the bulk of the latter was made by former “Haganah” forces, the leftist faction of the Zionists. However, Lehi members were considered too extremist to be incorporated into the army. The answer came a few years later when an agreement was achieved and the remaining Lehi leaders joined the Mossad. Shamir was there between 1955 and 1965, reaching the position of Deputy Director. Later on, he joined Menahem Begin’s Herut Party (nowadays known as Likud and led by Benjamin Netanyahu). Eventually, he served two terms as Prime Minister, in 1983–1984 and 1986–1992. He is best remembered by his idleness, especially during the First Gulf War, during which he refrained from reacting to the Iraqi Scud missiles landing on Israel. During his turbulent lifetime, he raised a family. His son, Yair, looks almost as his father and offers an extraordinary addition to this unusual obituary.
Lehi Leaders Wanted | Yitzhak Shamir at Center
At first, Yair Shamir looks like the antithesis of his father. He was named after Avraham “Yair” Stern, the Lehi leader killed by the British police, but this is his only connection with extra-official organizations. Mr. Shamir served in the Israeli Air Force as a pilot and squadron commander from 1963 to 1988, reaching the rank of colonel. Considering that his education is just a B.Sc. degree from the Technion, his meteoric ascend in the industrial world after he left the army is odd, but then, his father provided all the “Vitamin P” (“protection” in Hebrew slang) that Yair needed. Bloomberg Businessweek defines him as “this person is connected to 11 Board Members in 11 different organizations across 16 different industries.” Consequently, the list of his business activity is long and complex. The most impressive detail is that Mr. Shamir served as the Chairman of IAI, Israel Aerospace between July 2005 and July 2011. In other words, he is a senior member of the Israeli industry.
However, looking at the details one discovers the similitude between the two. The secretiveness of Yair is remarkable, as well as his dealing with some of the most delicate industries of Israel. In essence the differences between father and son parallel the changes in the state along their lifetimes. The father dealt with the destruction of the Egyptian missiles program in the infamous Operation Damocles. This was a Mossad operation that in August 1962 targeted German scientists formerly employed in Nazi Germany’s rocket program, who were developing rockets for Egypt. The son dealt with the most delicate aerospace deals of Israel, which includes the covert supply of missiles to countries. It is easy to see how these two symbolize the spirit of Israel. What is its true nature of this spirit?
and the Unholy Devil
Before the foundation of the IDF, the Zionist paramilitary units were divided in three organizations: “Haganah,” belonging to the left, and the rightists Etzel and Lehi. Among them, they were bitter enemies. In the 1940s, Ben Gurion and Begin fought over arms and ammunition smuggled by the Irgun aboard the Altalena. Ben Gurion feared the creation of a Fifth Column within the IDF, loyal to Begin rather than to the chain of command. Thus, he issued an ultimatum to the ship. The taunt was refused, and the subsequent armed conflict between the two forces led to the Altalena sinking and the death of sixteen Irgun and three IDF men. Nothing else mattered to all involved; neither the ongoing war with Arab countries nor the shaky international position of Ben Gurion’s fiefdom. The only thing that counted was the Ben Gurion-Begin war. Even now, mentioning the event in Israeli circles is considered bad taste.
The situation between the Haganah and the Lehi was not better. Stern was persecuted by the British when Stern’s Lehi “contact,” Hisia Shapiro, brought a last message from the Haganah on February 12, 1942. The message included offering to house Stern for the duration of the war if he would give up his fight against the British; in reply, Stern declined the safe haven and suggested cooperation between Lehi and the Haganah in fighting the British. Unsurprisingly, he was detained two hours later. While under the custody of three armed men, he was shot dead. There is no way of proving the rumors, but they are credible and consistent with the Zionists’ behavior patterns. There is no way the British would have performed an extrajudicial killing of such a magnitude if they wouldn’t have been assured “industrial silence” by the main Zionist faction. When the Haganah received Stern’s decline, the first thing they did was to give away his address to his persecutors.
According to some Israeli strategic thinkers, “darkness” has descended with the victory of the Islamist current in Egypt’s presidential race, writes Khaled Amayreh in occupied Jerusalem…
Palestinians wave green Islamic flags that represent Hamas and the Egyptian national flag as they celebrate the victory of Mohamed Mursi in the Egyptian presidential elections, in Gaza City on Sunday
Despite Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s diplomatic remarks, the Israeli media reacted to the victory of president-elect Mohamed Mursi gloomily, mournfully and sometimes hysterically.
Netanyahu said Israel respected the democratic process in Egypt, calling on President Mursi to maintain the 1979 peace treaty between Israel and Egypt.
Israel expects continued cooperation with the [new] Egyptian administration on the peace accord between the two countries, which is in the interest of the two peoples and contributes to regional stability,” read a terse statement issued by Netanyahu’s office.
As of now, Netanyahu has not sent a formal letter of congratulation to the new Egyptian leader.
Other Israeli officials sought to reassure Israelis, arguing that Mursi’s powers would be diluted by the Egyptian military and that his time and energy would be devoted to Egypt’s internal and economic problems, not to Palestinian affairs.
Nonetheless, prominent Israeli commentators almost unanimously caricatured a depressive image of relations between Israel and Egypt under Mursi, with the main headline of the top-selling Yediot Aharonot newspaper reading “Darkness in Egypt”.
Ron Ben-Yishai, a veteran journalist and editor-in-chief of Ynet, the English-language website of Yediot Aharonot, noted that for the first time in Egypt’s history, the country’s government adhered to what he called “blatant religious ideology”.
He dutifully ignored the fact that the current Israeli government is essentially a government of rightwing and Talmudic parties whose extremism, racism and fascism make the Islamists of Egypt look extremely moderate in comparison.
Yishai took note of the fact that Mursi was the first Egyptian president to be elected in truly democratic elections, adding that the era of secular colonels who ruled Egypt since the 1950s was over.
However, he argued that an Islamist-ideological regime, as moderate as it may be and even if it didn’t impose Islamic law on Egypt, would be hostile to Israel based on its very nature and worldview.
In addition to highlighting the so-called “terror threat”, Yishai invoked the “danger” posed by the ascendancy of the Muslim Brotherhood to the helm of power in the most important and populous Arab country.
Hence, Egypt’s Islamicisation constitutes a very negative harbinger for secular regimes that rely on the army, not only in Lebanon and Syria, but also in Jordan and the Palestinian Authority.”
Another prominent commentator, Samadar Peri, wrote that Mursi’s victory was a dangerous development for Israel.
From our standpoint, when the presidential palace in Cairo is painted for the first time in Islamic colours, this is a black day for Israel.”
Another columnist, Alex Fishman, opined that Mursi’s victory meant that everything was open and that the future was unclear.
Israel should be prepared for every eventuality, evoking the possibility of an Islamist intelligence minister, a re-examination of the peace treaty, a collapse of the economic agreement and lack of security coordination.”
The Hebrew daily, Maariv, lamented that in the new Middle East,
the fear has become reality, and the Muslim Brotherhood are in power in Egypt.”
To be sure, most Israelis are not really worried about an immediate worsening of relations with Egypt, calculating that the new Egyptian leadership will be preoccupied with domestic affairs. This gives Israeli military leaders sufficient time to draw “contingency plans” and scenarios in order to “meet all possibilities”.
And while Israel is not worried about the possibility of war, at least in the immediate and foreseeable future, Tel Aviv is concerned with the change and how to respond.
“What happens, for example, if in a year from now Mursi gives the military an order to move a division to the Sinai Peninsula for training. This would be a violation of the peace treaty, but would Israel go to war in such a case? Probably not,” wrote Yaccov Kats in the English language daily The Jerusalem Post.
Kats pointed out that Mursi’s victory would hinder Israel’s operational freedom the next time there is a flare up with Hamas, saying that air strikes in Gaza would quickly lead to a crisis with Cairo.
There is no doubt that Israel views the collapse of the Mubarak regime as a great political calamity. Indeed, the ascendancy to power in Cairo of an Islamist president must be even a greater calamity for Israeli leaders and strategic planners.
According to diplomatic sources in Jerusalem, Israel is mostly worried about the likelihood that the new Egyptian leadership will link its commitment to the Camp David Accords to Israel’s behaviour towards the Palestinians.
That would pose a real dilemma to Israel. On the one hand, Israel views stable relations with Egypt as a strategic asset. On the other hand, Israel cannot appear soft on the Palestinians, especially Hamas,” one Western diplomat told Al-Ahram Weekly.
In its 65 years of existence, Israel relied on two main pillars in pursuing territorial aggrandisement and defeating actual and potential enemies. First, securing and guaranteeing constant US political, economic and especially military backing, which gave Israel a qualitative military edge over all Arab adversaries combined.
The second pillar was courting and neutralising Arab dictators who proved highly effective in pacifying their own masses. Now, that Israel is beginning to lose the second pillar, alarm bells are sounding in the chambers of Israeli strategic planning.
Israel’s lugubrious reactions to Mursi’s win have been contrasted by almost euphoric and spontaneous celebrations by Islamist groups in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
Ismail Haniyeh, the elected prime minister of the Hamas-run government in Gaza, was seen holding a picture of Mursi aloft. And as night fell, popular rallies and marches were held all over the coastal enclave. Islamist speakers hailed Mursi’s victory as a victory for Egypt, Palestine and the entire Arab world, as well as for all free men and women in the world.
In contrast, Fatah’s reactions have been generally circumspect, lacking the enthusiasm characterising reactions by Islamists.
Fatah President Mahmoud Abbas has congratulated Mursi in a formal letter. However, it is widely thought that Fatah is worried that Egypt under Mursi will be closer to its rival, Hamas, a fear downplayed by the new Egyptian leadership.
In this episode, Max Keiser and co-host, Stacy Herbert, discuss ‘big boys’ and carding crimes, marmite pots and Olympic has-beens, wash trades and perfect games. In the second half of the show Max talks to former commodities analyst and blogger, Michael Krieger, about the meaning of the escalating and blatant financial crime wave.