Palestinian stance has peace talks on uneven ground

St. Petersburg Times – Thursday September 9, 2010

Consul General Ofer Bavly

As the prime minister of Israel relaunched direct talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, I was reflecting about the unique opportunity we in the Middle East face, along with the inherent risks. The very fact of talking face to face for the first time after the Palestinians walked out on negotiations a year and a half ago is certainly auspicious.

The presence of President Barack Obama was crucial, as was that of Jordan’s King Abdullah and Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak. The support of the international community, especially moderate Arab leaders, will be important as we move forward. However, ceremonies, speeches, summits and even agreements are worthless unless there is real content, true understanding and implementation to serve as the basis and foundation of peace.

Israeli society has made a profound shift over the course of the past decade or two. From a view that there can be no compromise or agreement with the Palestinians, it is now at a point where the vast majority of Israelis have come to accept the two-state solution as the viable route for the future of Israel and the Palestinians.

Israelis, driven by realism and led by a series of leaders who have prepared our public opinion for compromise and coexistence, realize that true peace requires paying a price. Security requires compromise with our neighbors. The educational system reflects our collective desire for, and belief in, true peace. Our children, the future of our country, are raised with the ideal of coexistence and the need to share the land with the Palestinians.

Sadly, I do not see a parallel and commensurate shift on the other side of the table, yet. I do not hear Palestinian leaders calling on their people to accept Israel as the Jewish homeland. I do not see them educating the next generation for peaceful coexistence. When the Palestinian Authority dedicates streets and town squares to suicide bombers (“martyrs” in their language), the signal sent to their people is clear: Killing Israelis brings honor and prestige. Dying in a suicide bombing is an ideal to be aspired to.

When the Palestinians continue to educate their children in the belief that only violence, rather than dialogue, will bring them independence, there can be no hope of a true peace between our peoples. We may sign a pact or a treaty, but as long as there is incitement to hatred of Israel, such a treaty will be written on ice.

This fundamental asymmetry needs to be redressed. It will take a great deal of courage from President Abbas to lead a shift in Palestinian public opinion. He will have to stand up to the radicals in his camp and start educating his youth to coexistence and acceptance.

Israel is determined to reach a peaceful, permanent agreement with our Palestinian neighbors. We are ready to pay a price and have proven it in the past. We have recently dismantled hundreds of roadblocks in the West Bank, we have incentivized the Palestinian economy and we have implemented an unprecedented moratorium on construction in the West Bank.

It is now time for the international community to demand a similar commitment from the Palestinians. Without the same level of determination on their part, the Washington Summit will go down in history as just another missed opportunity.

Ofer Bavly is consul general of Israel to Florida and Puerto Rico.

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Israel Condemns Terrorist Attacks

August 31, 2010

Four Israelis were killed today in a brutal terrorist attack near Kiryat Arba in the West Bank. This severe attack comes one day prior to the start of the direct peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians in Washington DC. Israeli officials further stated this attack will not deter its leaders from entering the talks and finding a path to peace.

Remarks by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:

“We witnessed today a savage murder of four innocent Israelis. There are seven new orphans that were added to the circle of grief in Israel. We will not let the blood of Israeli civilians go unpunished. We will find the murderers. We will punish their dispatchers. We will not let terror decide where Israelis live or the configuration of our final borders. These and other issues will be determined in the negotiations for peace that we’re conducting, and in these negotiations I will set clearly the security needs that are required precisely to address this kind of terror; and I hope to have the opportunity to go into greater detail in my conversations with President Obama tomorrow and with you, Secretary Clinton, today, and the leaders of Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestinians as well. Thank you.”

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Israeli Palestinian Collaboration – A threat to BDS?

“What is is about Israeli Palestinian collaboration that so threatens BDS?” http://ht.ly/2jJvd

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Israel is world’s 8th happiest place!

Ask any Israeli relaxing on the beach at Eilat or eating at an oceanview restaurant in Tel Aviv, Israel is one of the best places in the world to live, work and play. Now a Forbes Gallup poll confirms what all Israelis and anyone who has traveled to Israel already know.

http://www.forbes.com/2010/07/14/world-happiest-countries-lifestyle-realestate-gallup-table.html

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TLV #9 on National Geographic top 10 beaches!

9. Tel Aviv, Israel

Photograph by Alessandro Grassani, EK Pictures

Call it Miami Beach on the Med. Tel Aviv is the Dionysian counterpart to religious Jerusalem. In the “bubble,” as it’s known for its inhabitants’ tendency to tune out regional skirmishes, some restaurants, discos, and clubs are open until dawn. By day, the scene shifts to the city’s promenade and eight miles (13 kilometers) of beach literally steps from town. Head to wide and sandy Gordon Beach to sit in a seaside café or take a dip in the saltwater pool.

– We are proud to see Tel Aviv on the list of top ten beaches in the world by National Geographic! Check out the other beaches, Miami Beach has made the list as well!

http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/top-10/beach-cities-photos/#beaches-tel-aviv-cities_22323_600x450.jpg

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Spanish Inquisition, Part II

The consulate found this interesting, read here and tell us your thoughts.

BY JAMES KIRCHICK

Madrid

Earlier this month Madrid celebrated its annual gay pride festival, reputed to be the largest in Europe. It featured the usual mixture of calls for tolerance, righteous political speechifying, and raucous display of sexuality. But the Spanish capital also earned a dubious distinction this year not for anything it included, but for what it excluded: Israel.

The municipality of Tel Aviv had originally planned to sponsor a float in the Madrid parade. But Spain’s Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Transgenders and Bisexuals revoked the invitation following Israel’s raid on the Gaza flotilla that ended with nine dead pro-Hamas activists.

http://online.wsj.com/article/NA_WSJ_PUB:SB10001424052748704535004575348762519857870.html#

 

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Israel’s blockade: Big picture puts blame right on Hamas

Sun Sentinel – Sunday June 20,2010

Consul General Ofer Bavly

There is much debate in the media and among opinion-makers regarding the legality of Israel’s enforcement of a naval blockade on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. At times, we get bogged down in minute details of legalese that, while interesting to historians 50 years down the road, can make us lose focus in the short term. It is important to step back and look at the big picture.

The “Quartet” (the United States, the UN, the European Union and Russia) imposed a boycott on Hamas until it renounces terrorism, recognizes Israel and accepts previously signed agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Hamas promises never to fulfill any of these conditions. It imposed a death penalty on Palestinians doing business with Israel or supporting peace with Israel.

The boycott means the international community will not deal with Hamas or trade with it.

Following the bloody coup in Gaza in 2005, Hamas launched a vicious missile campaign against Israeli towns bordering on Gaza. They have launched over 10,000 missiles. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis live under an almost daily barrage of rockets, all of which were smuggled into Gaza through underground tunnels from Egypt or by ship from the Mediterranean Sea.

This is why Israel imposed a naval blockade on Gaza. The aim of the blockade is to deny terrorists more missiles and more weapons.

Hamas is a terrorist organization sponsored, armed and financed by Iran. Its objective is the destruction of Israel, to be replaced by a fundamentalist theology-based regime similar to that of the Ayatollahs. Hamas officially opposes negotiation with Israel and refuses to contemplate coexistence with the state of Israel. Hamas ousted the Palestinian Authority led by Mahmud Abbas and expelled it from the Gaza Strip in a violent coup.

Against this background, we must examine the clash between “peace activists” on the Turkish ship Marmara and forces of the Israeli navy.

Make no mistake: Any aid on board was a cover for its real intention. It was designed to strengthen Hamas and show support for its radical ideology. Israel was absolutely correct in demanding to screen the ships’ cargo. Previous ships, such as Karin-A and Francop, were loaded with thousands of missiles and weapons on their way to Hamas and Hezbollah.

In 1962, the United States imposed a naval blockade on Cuba, designated an enemy country. Soviet plans to smuggle nuclear missiles into Cuba led to an American decision to deny access to Soviet ships attempting to unload cargo in Cuba. This was legal according to International Laws of War. The U.S. Navy had orders, as per standard operating procedures, to shoot any ship breaking the blockade and sink it.

Fortunately, Soviet ships turned around and did not try to break the blockade. In the case of the Marmara, all calls from the Israeli navy were ignored. The ship tried to run the blockade.

When Israeli navy forces boarded the Marmara to take it to an Israeli port, they were brutally attacked with weapons, including guns, knives and metal pipes, amassed on board in preparation for a clash.

Responsibility for the ensuing violence and casualties rests squarely with the instigators of this farce masquerading as a humanitarian operation. They refused our offer to transfer aid to Gaza through Israel and chose violence.

Whether surprised or not, Israel’s soldiers were obligated to defend themselves. Five of the six ships presented no opposition, and their passengers were unharmed. The passengers on the sixth ship tried to kill our soldiers. Self-defense is absolutely legal.

Let us not forget the big picture. Hamas is a terror organization targeting innocent Israeli civilians. The ships in the flotilla of hate and violence came to support Hamas and supply it and were looking for a violent clash with Israelis.

We put a stop to this operation. Sometimes, the big picture is quite simple to understand.

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