Thursday, 23 January 2014

Secret plans for a diplomatic intafada

Some time after April 2014, when the nine months allotted to the current round of peace talks expires, Israel will face a disastrous Palestinian diplomatic assault on its legitimacy, backed by the many countries friendly to Palestine, claims the authoritative political website Debkafile.

Despite the US “framework agreement” due to be published shortly, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas is likely to wait until the full nine months are over before launching the diplomatic intafada predicted by Debkafile if only to ensure the release by Israel of the final batch of Palestinian terrorist prisoners which was part of the deal for joining the talks in the first place.  So, it is believed, April 30 is the key date on which the PA will cast aside the cloak of seeking a peace agreement with Israel

It is no surprise, therefore, that on January 21 Abbas is reported as saying: “It was agreed that the negotiations would continue for nine months. There is not talk about an extension. We need to focus on the remaining time and not think about prolonging the talks.”  His chief negotiator, Saeeb Erekat, also dismissed the idea that the peace talks could extend beyond the April deadline.  The Palestinians, he asserted, would not agree even to a one-day extension.

Soon after April 30 then, if the intelligence reports are to be believed, all hell will be let loose against Israel, diplomatically speaking.  Teams within the PA organization, we are told, are even now concluding plans to enlist 63 international organizations for a massive and co-ordinated anti-Israel boycott, each in its own sphere of activity. Among them is the International Court of Justice at the Hague, which is to be asked to indict Israel for hundreds of alleged war crimes and the practice of apartheid.

This carefully designed operation will, if the reports are to be believed, sit nicely with events planned by the little known United Nations Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP) yes, it really does exist, and has done so since 1975, when it was set up under a resolution of the UN General Assembly. 

In 1977, following the establishment of CEIRPP, the General Assembly provided it with a fully-fledged secretariat, designated the Division for Palestinian Rights, as part of the UN’s Department of Political Affairs. Its mandate includes organizing international meetings and conferences, a publications programme, and setting up an online information system called the United Nations Information System on the Question of Palestine (UNISPAL). Each year, on or around November 29, CEIRPP organizes an International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

One day of solidarity with the Palestinian people is now  apparently too modest a gesture for the UN.  So under their wide and elaborately constructed umbrella, Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon announced to the world that January 16, 2014 marked the start of an International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinians. A detailed programme of events for the year has not yet been announced, but at the launch the UN’s Palestinian Rights Committee adopted a 12-page manifesto which proposes a global campaign to blanket the airwaves, social media, legislative and judicial forums, and schools, with a propaganda exercise aimed at promoting “international awareness of the obstacles to the ongoing peace process... including the settlements, Jerusalem, the blockade of Gaza, and the humanitarian situation in the occupied Palestinian territory.” 

Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, was not fooled into believing that the exercise was anything but a massive effort to delegitimize the state of Israel, and that the UN was compliant in the exercise.

"The UN is used as a tool in the service of Palestinian propaganda,” he said. “Instead of trying to end the campaign of Palestinian incitement against Israel, the UN provides a stage for Palestinian productions for the media. While the Palestinians seek UN solidarity, they continue to educate an entire generation to hate Israel and deny the connection between the Jewish people to their homeland. It's time to stop the hypocrisy and ask, where is solidarity with the victims of terrorism in Israel and their families?"

If the threatened outbreak of a Palestinian diplomatic war by the PA occurs, potentiated, as it would be, by the UN’s own efforts via CEIRPP and the programme  of activities associated with the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, Israel’s legitimacy and international credibility will be gravely jeopardized.

Is the Israeli government aware of the brewing storm – and if so, is it planning to do anything about it?

Counter-measures of a sort are, in fact, in hand – though whether they are likely to be adequate against the massive offensive being planned is open to question.

On January 21, Ze’ev Elkin, Israel’s deputy foreign minister, disclosed that he was heading a new, sustained and pro-active effort to combat the worldwide, and growing, attempt to delegitimize Israel through the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

“I believe the most effective way to combat delegitimization,” he wrote, “is a pre-emptive strike. We must not be limited to reacting to threats but rather must work actively to make Israel a positive part of the public consciousness.”

For this purpose, Israel’s Foreign Ministry has created “Face of Israel”, a joint venture between the Foreign Ministry and diaspora Jewry.  Based on the successful model of Birthright, the educational organization that sponsors heritage trips to Israel for Jewish young adults, this new organization will be responsible for fighting Israel’s image battle internationally, under the guidance of the Foreign Ministry.

“We chose this model of operation,” says Elkin, “a joint venture between Israel and diaspora Jewry, because we deeply believe that Israel’s positive image and the threat of delegitimization, with its anti-Semitic tinge, is a global Jewish challenge. I believe that we, along with our partners in diaspora Jewry, have the knowledge, expertise and skills to combat delegitimization.”

A diplomatic intafada, no less than an active terrorist one, needs to be countered forcefully.  In light of the anti-Israel initiatives already in full operation, such as academic and commercial boycotts, to say nothing of what is being planned both openly by the UN and so far in secret by the PA (if what we read is indeed the case), friends of Israel must hope that “Face of Israel” is as effective as Ze’ev Elkin presumes it will be.

Israel has been given fair warning.  “Too little, too late,” as an epitaph on its counter measures, would be difficult to justify.

Published in the Jerusalem Post on-line, 23 January 2014:

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