Israel Should Tell the International Observer Force to Leave Hebron

Jan. 11 2019

After Baruch Goldstein gunned down 29 Palestinian worshippers in 1994, Israel was pressured to accept the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH), a peacekeeping force whose presence has proved anything but temporary. Every three months, Jerusalem must renew its permission for the force to remain. Eugene Kontorovich argues that it’s time to send the observers home:

The anti-Israel bias of TIPH is built into its . . . mission of “promoting by [its] presence a feeling of security” for Palestinians in Hebron. Protecting Jews from constant terrorist attacks is not part of its job description. Members of the organization even veered from this narrow definition by attacking Jews in Hebron in the last year. The attackers were later pulled out of the country by the TIPH leadership without ever having to stand trial. TIPH has cooperated with radical [Israeli] groups like Breaking the Silence and leaked confidential reports to the press. The organization’s reports are full of anti-Israel claims that have no connection to its stated task. . . .

Unlike comparable UN forces, TIPH is not a separate international organization but an operational framework for security officials from five countries: Norway, Sweden, Turkey, Italy, and Switzerland. These countries are themselves . . . often hostile to Israel. Turkey, the most blatant example, treats Israel as an enemy state. Ankara supports Hamas and has dispatched anti-Israel flotillas to Gaza, promotes anti-Semitic defamation, and works to undermine Israel’s sovereignty in Jerusalem. Despite all this, Israel grants official immunity to Turkish representatives who photograph and video record Israeli soldiers and citizens. . . .

The continuation of TIPH’s mandate sends these countries the message that no matter how much they harm Israel, Israel will turn the other cheek. TIPH symbolizes the failure of Israeli foreign policy. Faced with a series of constant and ongoing campaigns against it, . . . Israel always reacts out of diplomatic anxiety; . . . as a result, the status quo continues unabated at the country’s expense.

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Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Baruch Goldstein, Breaking the Silence, Europe and Israel, Hebron, Israel & Zionism, Turkey

By Recognizing Israeli Sovereignty over the Golan, the U.S. Has Freed Israel from “Land for Peace”

March 25 2019

In the 52 years since Israel seized the Golan Heights from Syria, there have been multiple efforts to negotiate their return in exchange for Damascus ending its continuous war against the Jewish state. Shmuel Rosner argues that, with his announcement on Thursday acknowledging the legitimacy of Jerusalem’s claim to the Golan, Donald Trump has finally decoupled territorial concessions from peacemaking:

[With] the takeover of much of Syria by Iran and its proxies, . . . Israel had no choice but to give up on the idea of withdrawing from the Golan Heights. But this reality involves a complete overhaul of the way the international community thinks not just about the Golan Heights but also about all of the lands Israel occupied in 1967. . . .

Withdrawal worked for Israel once, in 1979, when it signed a peace agreement with Egypt and left the Sinai Peninsula, which had also been occupied in 1967. But that also set a problematic precedent. President Anwar Sadat of Egypt insisted that Israel hand back the entire peninsula to the last inch. Israel decided that the reward was worth the price, as a major Arab country agreed to break with other Arab states and accept Israel’s legitimacy.

But there was a hidden, unanticipated cost: Israel’s adversaries, in future negotiations, would demand the same kind of compensation. The 1967 line—what Israel controlled before the war—became the starting point for all Arab countries, including Syria. It became a sacred formula, worshiped by the international community.

What President Trump is doing extends far beyond the ability of Israel to control the Golan Heights, to settle it, and to invest in it. The American president is setting the clock back to before the peace deal with Egypt, to a time when Israel could argue that the reward for peace is peace—not land. Syria, of course, is unlikely to accept this. At least not in the short term. But maybe someday, a Syrian leader will come along who doesn’t entertain the thought that Israel might agree to return to the pre-1967 line and who will accept a different formula for achieving peace.

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Read more at New York Times

More about: Donald Trump, Golan Heights, Israel & Zionis, Peace Process, Sinai Peninsula, Syria