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

No, Israelis and Palestinians Can’t Simply Sit Down and Solve the “Israel-Palestinian Conflict”

Jan. 17 2019

By “zooming out” from the blinkered perspective with which most Westerners see the affairs of the Jewish state, argues Matti Friedman, one can begin to see things the way Israelis do:

Many [in Israel] believe that an agreement signed by a Western-backed Palestinian leader in the West Bank won’t end the conflict, because it will wind up creating not a state but a power vacuum destined to be filled by intra-Muslim chaos, or Iranian proxies, or some combination of both. That’s exactly what has happened . . . in Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq. One of Israel’s nightmares is that the fragile monarchy in Jordan could follow its neighbors . . . into dissolution and into Iran’s orbit, which would mean that if Israel doesn’t hold the West Bank, an Iranian tank will be able to drive directly from Tehran to the outskirts of Tel Aviv. . . .

In the “Israeli-Palestinian” framing, with all other regional components obscured, an Israeli withdrawal in the West Bank seems like a good idea—“like a real-estate deal,” in President Trump’s formulation—if not a moral imperative. And if the regional context were peace, as it was in Northern Ireland, for example, a power vacuum could indeed be filled by calm.

But anyone using a wider lens sees that the actual context here is a complex, multifaceted war, or a set of linked wars, devastating this part of the world. The scope of this conflict is hard to grasp in fragmented news reports but easy to see if you pull out a map and look at Israel’s surroundings, from Libya through Syria and Iraq to Yemen.

The fault lines have little to do with Israel. They run between dictators and the people they’ve been oppressing for generations; between progressives and medievalists; between Sunnis and Shiites; between majority populations and minorities. If [Israel’s] small sub-war were somehow resolved, or even if Israel vanished tonight, the Middle East would remain the same volatile place it is now.

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Read more at New York Times

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israel & Zionism, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Middle East