The Day In Israel: Tuesday Mar 23rd, 2010

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu yesterday met with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Israeli sources described Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s meeting on Monday as “friendly and concise.” The two met privately for an hour and a half and were later joined by officials from both sides, including Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

Netanyahu presented Clinton with a sketch illustrating the long bureaucratic process entailed in securing building permits for houses in Israel, including in Jerusalem. He described a process consisting of dozens of stages, including ones that many Israeli government ministers are not adept at.

Netanyahu explained that each stage has the potential of sparking an international controversy, trying to demonstrate the origin of the diplomatic crisis which erupted between the US and Israel last week.

Netanyahu told Clinton that he cannot guarantee that similar crises won’t happen in the future, regardless of the prime minister’s political stance on Jerusalem.

During the meeting, Clinton and Netanyahu tried to find ways of speedily advancing towards direct talks.

The Israeli stance as presented is that Israel is willing to hold immediate direct negotiations and that the US administration should recognize that the Palestinians do not help advance the process, and on several occasions have even stalled it.

After the meeting Netanyahu met US Vice President Joe Biden for dinner.

The prime minister is scheduled to meet President Barack Obama on Tuesday for what was described by the White House spokesman as a “private meeting.”

That is what he presented?

Here’s what he should have presented:

  • History of the Arab-Israeli conflict or, with a special focus on palestinian terror attacks, and rejection of Israeli offers for peace
  • More information on Ramat Shlomo, including the fact it is not a “new settlement”, is within Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries despite its location just beyond the 1967 Green Line (and thus not part of Netanyahu’s 10-month building freeze), and is considered a part of Israel by an overwhelming majority of Israelis
  • That it is Fatah who is in control of Ramallah and who planned to renames a square after a terrorist who murdered innocent Israelis, not Hamas

Updates (Israel time; most recent at top)?

10:45PM: Must-read article of the day: Is this one by former New York City mayor Ed Koch.

Excerpt:

In 1947, the United Nations passed a resolution authorizing the creation of a Jewish state within the British Mandate of Palestine. After it declared independence in 1948, Israel was immediately attacked by the combined armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Although Israel repelled the attack, Jordan conquered East Jerusalem, separating it from its Western half. Ultimately, a cease fire was arranged by the U.N. and for the next 19 years until 1967, Jordan occupied East Jerusalem, including the old city, which historically had been the capital of King David’s ancient kingdom. In 1967, the Arab armies of Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria again sought to destroy the State of Israel, but Israel prevailed in six days and conquered the Jordanian-held East Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip. During the 19 years that Jordan occupied East Jerusalem, it expelled all of the Jews living in what was historically the Jewish Quarter, and literally destroyed every synagogue and the homes of the Jews. When Israel reunited all of Jerusalem, Jews were, of course, allowed to live in any part of the city, and today, more than a quarter of a million Jews live in East Jerusalem. Numerous Arabs live there as well.

For quite some time and certainly since the Gaza War, the Palestinian Authority has broken off direct negotiations with Israel which had been ongoing since about 1993, in an effort to create two states, one Jewish and one Palestinian, living side-by-side in peace. This so-called two-state solution always seemed out of reach, notwithstanding the efforts of Presidents Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush to jumpstart negotiations.

President Obama has sought to revive the negotiations between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority. He called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to assist by committing Israel to stop building new apartments in East Jerusalem and new settlements on the West Bank. In a move that Hillary Clinton, according to The New York Times, praised as “unprecedented,” Netanyahu agreed to a ten-month settlement moratorium on the West Bank. However, he refused to stop Jews from living in any part of East Jerusalem, which is considered by Israelis to be an inseparable part of their capital. Both the Palestinian Authority and the U.S. government, ultimately accepted Netanyahu’s offer, albeit grudgingly, and the Palestinian Authority agreed to engage in indirect talks through the American mediator George Mitchell.

Given this history, it was a shock to the Israeli and American supporters of Israel to have Joe Biden, a great friend of Israel, make the extraordinary harsh statement he made denouncing the future construction of 1,600 apartments in East Jerusalem. The Vice President’s condemnation was even more baffling because, as The Times of March 12th reported, “he spent most [of the previous day] expressing his personal devotion to Israel, as well as the Obama administration’s ‘iron-clad commitment to Israel’s security.'” As someone high in political life once said to me after I mentioned to him the violation of his iron-clad commitment to me on a subject involving the mass transit fares in New York City, “Next time, get it in steel. Iron breaks.”

But even more disturbing than the Vice President’s reaction were the comments and implicit threats voiced by Hillary Clinton in a telephone conversation she had with Prime Minister Netanyahu, described in The Times of March 12th. “In a tense, 43-minute phone call on Friday morning, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Israel’s plan for new housing units for Jews in East Jerusalem sent a ‘deeply negative signal’ about Israeli-American relations.”

10:30PM: Via MEMRI:

The following excerpts are from a sermon delivered by Gaza Hamas official Sheik Ismail Radhwan, which aired on Al-Aqsa TV on March 12, 2010.

Sheik Ismail Radhwan: People who refrain from supporting Jerusalem and Palestine, people who refrain from gathering [to fight the enemies], will find themselves in the Hellfire, together with the apes and pigs, together with the Jews, whom they supported, and whom Allah transformed into apes and pigs.

Here’s hoping one of our hellfires finds this pig.

8:32PM: UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband’s statement before the British parliament

7:42PM: Ynet reports on the Biden-Netanyahu meeting:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s meeting with US Vice President Joe Biden was “efficient and honest” and covered a wide variety of issues, the White House said Tuesday.

That bad, huh?

7:35PM: Not news: Research finding the BBC is biased in its coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Still not news: BBC Arabic.

Israellycool: Biased in favor of Israel!

Ma’an reports:

A researcher at Birzeit University submitted findings Saturday outlining what she found to be un-objective coverage around “the question of Palestine” on BBC Arabic’s broadcast news.

The study, focusing on the daily news program World News This Evening’s broadcasts between 8 November and 8 December 2008, found external political motivations swayed coverage of Palestine only weeks before Israel launched its Operation Cast Lead on 26 December 2008.

Masters student Buthayna Hamdan, who pioneered the study, explained that she measured the objectivity of the reports by BBC’s own standards, and basic precepts of news coverage.

Benchmarks for measurement included: Omission of facts, clear differentiation of facts and opinions, and avoiding prioritization of accounts.

The research found that the news coverage employed Israeli terminology, describing the military as “defense forces” when its actions were offensive, labeling locations with Israeli place names like the illegal settlement Har Homa, built on appropriated land known as Jabal Abu Ghnaim.

Because the settlement and the expropriation of land is illegal under international law, the study argued, the area where the settlement is located should retain its Arabic name.

Not once in the month of broadcasts on BBC Arabic did newscasters say the word “occupation” in relation to Israel or Palestine, the study said. It also noted the use of the term “military arsenal” to describe home made projectiles fired toward Israel by militant factions in Gaza.

During the study period, the research found 25 news events in Palestine, including the death, injury and detention of Palestinians including children, that went unreported by the news program. The same period saw the full coverage of every home made projectile launched from Gaza into Israeli territory, a total of 14.

The report found the coverage of projectile launches “exaggerated,” given all 14 incidents resulted in no deaths or injuries.

Following the analysis, and citing works by British journalist Robert Fisk, the report suggested that BBC Arabic’s news coverage was influenced by an Israeli lobby, and a mass supply of Israeli government-produced news and information. The study cited the publication of several opinion articles by Israeli consular staff in London, but no corresponding articles from Palestinian sources.

To prove the point, the study compared the suggested bias in reporting on Israel and Palestine to the case of alleged weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Citing studies on the station’s coverage, the study noted research found the station was shown to be independent in its coverage, despite the fact that its government was preparing to go to war in Iraq when the coverage was aired.

The study concluded that the presence of an Israeli lobby, and its absence in the coverage on Iraq, was the single largest factor in the discrepancy of coverage.

To substantiate the arguement, the study cited BBC Director-General Mark Thompson’s relationship with former Israeli Prime Minister Airel Sharon, relating the relationship to Thompson’s decision not to air an appeal for humanitarian aid to Gaza paid for by several international agencies.

Buthayna Hamdan, a student in International Studies, presented her research to a thesis committee on Saturday. Her committee included Dr Samih Shabib from the Department of Culture, Dr George Jaqaman from the Department of Culture and director of the Muwatin Foundation (Citizen Foundation), and Dr Samir Awad, from the Department of International Relations and director of the university’s Center for Development Studies.

The committee passed the research and awarded Hamdan her Master of Arts. In their comments, the committee applauded the research as a “remarkable contribution to the field of media research.”

I can assure you, this story was not taken from The Onion.

5:48PM: Ynet:

In an appearance before British Parliament, Foreign Minister David Miliband said that Israel is responsible for the misuse and forgery of British passports in the Dubai assassination of senior Hamas official, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh.

Miliband said that as a result the UK will advise its travel advisories to Israel and will issue biometric passports to its citizens to prevent further abuses.

5:40PM: The UK is set to expel an Israeli diplomat from London following the Dubai assassination passport  crisis. And by Israeli diplomat, I mean Mossad representative.

At 5:30 pm (Israeli time), UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband will give a statement on the issue before the British parliament. He also cancelled his attendance at the reopening ceremony of the renovated Israeli Embassy in London which was due to take place one hour later.

The Israeli Embassy confirmed that Permanent Under-Secretary of the British Foreign Office Sir Peter Ricketts had met with Israel’s ambassador to the UK Ron Prosor.

All Foreign Office staff members have been instructed to keep their mouths shut about the affair. Sources have said unofficially that they don’t have any official news, and are waiting for clarifications. When the upper echelons decide, they said, they may be able to provide further details.

5:30PM was 10 minutes ago. No word yet on what Milliband said in his statement.

5:28PM: Someone has submitted to Digg my post on the palestinian brick thrower. Please help Digg it up here, so it is seen by those who need to be seeing it.

2:45PM: Here’s footage of an “anti-war” march in Seattle, on the 7th anniversary of the second Gulf War.

About 30 seconds in, you’ll see just how much at least one of these protesters opposes violence and killing (hat tip: geobent).

12:02PM: Britain’s Daily Telegraph reports that Britain is set to formally name the Mossad as responsible for the Dubai Hamashole killing and the cloning of up to 15 British passports.

‘Speculation grew last night that a senior Israeli diplomat would be expelled as a mark of the “anger” within the Government that British passport holders had been put at risk as a result of the operation.

A ministerial statement to be made to Parliament will formally name the Israeli security services as responsible for the cloning of up to 15 British passports, which were copied after being taken away by airport officials.

The statement will say that it proved impossible to confirm definitively whether Mossad, the feared Israeli secret intelligence service, was responsible for the operation, with suspicion also resting on the Military Intelligence Directorate.

But the probe had determined for certain that the passports were cloned when British citizens passed through airports on their way into Israel, with officials taking them away for “checks” which lasted around 20 minutes.

Foreign Office sources expressed frustration that there was little more that could be done to “punish” Israel over the affair.

Meanwhile, the Israeli Foreign Ministry has confirmed that Israeli Ambassador to the UK Ron Proser was yesterday summoned by the British Foreign Office.

9:15AM: A J Street blunder?

6:15AM: I’ve had to issue a correction on a post from yesterday.

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David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media