Israel: The Bribe


August 16, 2010: Israel is making a big deal about how Hezbollah is violating the 2006 peace agreement, and putting armed men and weapons in the "neutral zone" (between the Israeli border and the Litani river). The Israelis have released some aerial photos documenting their accusations. But the UN peacekeepers and the Lebanese army refuses to go after these violations, often by denying that there are any violations. Civilian reporters attempting to follow up on the Israeli accusations, are stopped by hostile civilians (who the Israelis say are Hezbollah members and pro-Hezbollah villagers in the pay of the Islamic terror organization.)

Over the last the last week, (public and political) outrage in the United States over Lebanese Army troops opening fire on Israeli soldiers inside Israel, caused the U.S. Congress to block another $100 million in aid for the Lebanese military. Since 2006 (as part of the peace deal that ended that year's war with Israel), the U.S. has given Lebanon over $700 million in military aid. This was provided so that the Lebanese army could take control in the south, along the Israeli border, where the pro-Iranian Shia Hezbollah has run things since the civil war ended twenty years ago. But the Lebanese army has refused to confront Hezbollah, and admitted it had attacked the Israeli soldiers to show that it could be as badass against the Israelis as Hezbollah. In response to the American cutoff of aid, the Lebanese Army has begun a public campaign to solicit cash contributions from the public to help replace the American aid.

Meanwhile, Lebanese police arrested a retired general (Fayez Karam) and accused him of spying for Israel. Karam is a Christian and an official in a pro-Hezbollah political party.

U.S. and other Western nations believe they have persuaded at least one (Fatah) of the two Palestinian governments to sit down and resume peace negotiations with Israel. But such negotiations are futile because of a mistake made by the Arab world over sixty years ago. Any peace deal is dependent on Israel recognizing "right of return without discrimination." That means that the 600,000 Palestinians who fled the newly formed Israel in the late 1940s, and their millions of descendents, can return to Israel and get all their abandoned property back. Israel would also have to pay compensation. While many Palestinians would not return, enough could to change the demographic composition of Israel, turning it into a country with an Arab majority. This, for both the Palestinians and Israel, is the equivalent of  "destroying Israel." This is something all Palestinian factions want to accomplish, and Israelis want to avoid. Getting around this obstacle would be very difficult, as the Palestinian public has endured decades of Palestinian (and Arab) media messages insisting that the right of return is an essential part of any peace deal. Westerners believe that money (a bribe) might make this problem go away. That could backfire, because the real problem is the Arab decision in the late 1940s to not offer citizenship to any Palestinian refugees. The Palestinian refugees must remain stateless, preferably living in refugee camps (and receiving food and other aid from largely Western donors). At the time, an equal number of Jews were expelled from Arab countries. All these Jewish refugees found new homes, most of them in Israel. Thus just giving the Palestinian refugees a few hundred billion dollars would not be sufficient. They need citizenship somewhere, either in the country where they are currently refugees, or in the West. Undoing this old Arab error, which the Arabs won't even admit was an error, is a formidable negotiating obstacle.

 August 13, 2010: Just across the border in Rafah, Egypt, a group of armed Bedouin smugglers got into a gun battle with the Africans they were taking across the border into Egypt. The smugglers were negotiating with the police over the size of the bribe to be paid, when several of the 300 Africans grabbed Bedouin weapons and began shooting at the smugglers. Many other Africans joined in the mayhem and made a break for the border. At that point, Egyptian border guards began shooting. At least six of the Africans were killed, but dozens made it across the border. The Bedouin smugglers and Egyptian border guards have an understanding (of sorts) with the Israelis that they will not move terrorists or terrorist weapons across the border. The Israelis still try to stop the smuggling, but not as vigorously as they would if terrorists were involved.

August 7, 2010: The only power plant in Gaza shut down because Hamas refused to pay for the fuel used to run it. Rival Fatah buys and ships in the fuel, but Hamas refuses to collect money from electricity users and turn the cash over to Fatah. Hamas has a cash shortage, and has been using the electricity payments for more immediate needs (like paying and arming its militia force).

August 5, 2010:  Egyptian police are searching the Sinai for trucks used by Palestinian terrorists to carry and fire rockets at the Israeli city of Eliat. The rockets missed and landed in Jordan, causing several casualties.

Israeli police arrested an Israeli Arab and two Syrian Druze living in the Golan Heights, and charged them with working for Syrian intelligence, and planning terrorist acts.




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