Tuesday, May 26, 2009

On Democracy and Demonology

MK Arieh Eldad attended a discussion in the Knesset today - which was not an actual parliamentary activity but an outside conference convened to exchange ideas and thoughts on the theme "Alternatives to the Concept of "Two States" and sponsored by MK Tzipi Hotovely. I also attended although due to overcrowding I entered the room late.

These types of meetings have nothing to do with Israel or the Knesset in any official fashion.

Around 200 people attended the conference on Tuesday, including Knesset members and representatives of the Yesha council of West Bank settlements.

Organizer MK Hotovely stressed that the forum did not represent "an assembly of Likud rebels," but that it aimed to open channels of thinking on ways of ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict aside from the two-state plan.

Hotovely said the conference was intended to "strengthen the hand of the prime minister, returning from Washington after standing firm againstU.S. President Barack Obama."

Jordan doesn't quite understand that this is an expression of democratic exchange of ideas on the one hand and not an official representation of Israel's government. They would prefer some sort of "Elders of Zion" demonology.

And what happened that bothered Jordan?

As Haaretz reports:

Eldad told lawmakers during a Knesset plenum last week that Palestinians must be given Jordanian citizenship, claiming that Jordan is essentially the Palestinian state.

Jordan lodged a strongly-worded protest with Israel on Tuesday over the proposal. Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh summoned the Israeli ambassador in Amman, Yaakov Rosen, and handed him a protest that "categorically rejects the ongoing discussion at the Israeli Knesset on a proposal by one of its members entitled 'two states for two peoples on the two banks of River Jordan'," a statement carried by the official Petra news agency said.

Actually, Jordan should have been more upset over the words of someone else who spoke there:

Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya'alon, who participated in the conference on Tuesday, said past peace plans urging Israel to give up captured land to the Palestinians have failed.

"The Western way of thinking has proven irrelevant and dangerous to this region," the former Israel Defense Forces chief of staff said, adding that Israel should stop looking for an immediate solution to the conflict with the Palestinians.

"We have to disavow the commonly held perception that we should find an imminent solution," he added. "The Disengagement from Gaza in 2005 was the Palestinians' golden opportunity to show the world that the end of the occupation would lead to political and economic stability."

"Hamas' violent takeover of Gaza and the ongoing missile fire at Israel proves that the problem was not the occupation. For them, the entire land, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean, is occupied."

"[Late Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser] Arafat came very close to achieving independence, but he chose to launch a war against Israel in September 2000 instead," he said. "The issue wasn't the ability to give them independence, but their desire to get it."

"Instead of a state, Arafat chose to set up a terror regime," Ya'alon continued. "Abu Mazen [Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas] is behaving the same way and exercises political weakness as a strategy."

And what do the Pals. say?

Ahmed Qureia (Abu Ala), who heads the Palestinian negotiating team with Israel:

"[Former U.S. secretary of state] Condoleezza Rice told me she understood our position about Ariel but that Ma'aleh Adumim was a different matter. I told her, and Livni, that those residents of Ma'aleh Adumim or Ariel who would rather stay in their homes could live under Palestinian rule and law, just like the Israeli Arabs who live among you. They could hold Palestinian and Israeli nationalities. If they want it - welcome. Israeli settlements in the heart of the territories would be a recipe for problems. Israel evacuated all the settlements in Yamit and in the Gaza Strip. All the prime ministers who negotiated with Syria, including Netanyahu, agreed to evacuate all the settlements from [the Golan] Heights. So why is it so difficult for you to evacuate the settlements in the West Bank?

Here are a few pictures:

MK Tzipi Hotovely with Adi Mintz -

MK Robert Ilatov -

Some of the attendees -

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