‘All hands’ needed in September, Oren tells Jewish Dems

Israeli ambassador Michael Oren told Jewish Democrats that Israel needs “all hands on deck” ahead of a Palestinian push for statehood.

Oren, in a conference call Monday with the National Jewish Democratic Council leadership, also called for bipartisanship, saying it is in Israel’s strategic interest.

Oren said United Nations recognition of “Palestine” next month during the General Assembly “will not bring peace, it will bring more instability,” according to a readout provided by the embassy.

Such a resolution has no force without the backing of the U.N. Security Council, where the United States is certain to exercise its veto, but Israel fears that its introduction will nonetheless spur unrest in the West Bank.

The resolution likely has the support of a majority of nations, but Israel and pro-Israel groups hope to mitigate its effect by persuading the most influential nations – especially in Europe – not to vote for it.

“We hope the United States will use its influence to try and persuade other delegations to oppose the resolution,” Oren said.

David Harris, NJDC’s president, said rallying the Jewish community to oppose the resolution was Oren’s key message.

“He told us that what’s coming up in September is deeply troubling and it’s all hands on deck,” Harris said. “He stressed the need for us to echo this message loudly from the rooftops.”

On achieving Israeli-Palestinian peace Oren acknowledged “tactical” differences between the United States and Israel, according to the embassy readout, but “substantially we share the same goal: two states that can only be achieved negotiation mutual recognition and security guarantees.”

There was considerable diplomatic tension between Israel and the United States in May when Obama called for negotiations based on the 1967 lines, although Israel has reportedly now accepted the premise.

Oren criticized the use of Israel as a partisan wedge, saying support for Israel by both parties was in the Jewish state’s “strategic national interest.”

He thanked the Obama administration for funding Israel’s short-range anti-missile program, Iron Dome, a cooperation that officials of both countries have touted in recent days.

Argentina joins Brazil in recognizing Palestinian state

Argentina has recognized a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, according to a note sent from President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner to Mahmoud Abbas.

Kirchner on Monday sent the note to Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president, announcing that her government recognizes Palestine as a free and independent state within 1967 borders and according to what the parties determined during the negotiation process.

“The recognition of Palestine as free and independent is part of a tradition of friendship and solidarity with the Palestinian people,” said a statement issued by Argentina’s Foreign Ministry.

The Palestinian Authority opened a diplomatic mission in Buenos Aires in 1996, and Argentina in 2008 established a diplomatic representation in Ramallah, the Foreign Ministry noted. In November 2009, Kirchner received Abbas on a visit to Argentina.

“Argentina ratified the irrevocable position for the right of Israel to be recognized by all and live in peace and security within its borders,” the ministry statement also said.

“Argentina´s decision to recognize the Palestinian state is part of the desire of the authorities to promote the negotiation process leading to the end of the conflict, and is motivated by the deep commitment to the coexistence of all peoples that is the deep conviction of all Argentinean society,” the statement concluded.

Brazil last week also recognized a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva announced in a public letter. The letter recognized what it called the “legitimate aspiration of the Palestinian people for a secure, united, democratic and economically viable state coexisting peacefully with Israel.”

The American Jewish Committee on Monday called the recognition of an independent Palestinian state by Brazil and Argentina a worrisome and counterproductive development.

“Circumventing the established peace process will only encourage the P.A. to unilaterally declare independence, a move that would undermine the prospect for durable peace that can only emerge as an outcome of direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations,” said AJC Executive Director David Harris.

“If Latin American countries truly want to support Arab-Israeli peace, they should be pressing President Abbas to return to the direct talks that were revived with U.S. assistance three months ago and suspended a few weeks later by Abbas,” he said. “Otherwise, however unintentionally, they are only further complicating an already complex situation and, for practical purposes, throwing a diplomatic monkey wrench into the process.”

After 1,000 Days

“We will not allow anyone to drag us into a civil war,” declared Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas on June 8.

His disloyal opposition — Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Yasser Arafat’s Al Aqsa suicide brigades — sent a different message to Abbas and other Arab leaders who had just met with President Bush in Aqaba.

The three terrorist groups, acting jointly, sent a trio of suicides dressed in Israeli uniforms into an Israeli army post near Gaza. They killed four soldiers before being shot dead themselves. The terrorist front then released a video showing the killers posing with assault rifles and a Quran, and informed the world that “the blood of Palestinians says that we are unified in the trench of resistance.”

Could there be any more dramatic declaration of Palestinian civil war?

On one side is Abbas, duly elected by the Palestinian Authority’s Legislative Council, reviled by the terrorist front because he believes more war on Israel will bring only further misery to Palestinians.

On the other side is the fundamentalist Hamas-Jihad-Aqsa front, whose sworn mission is to drive the hated Jews out of the Middle East. United as never before, these fundamentalists are determined to overthrow Abbas and any “moderates” able to negotiate a peace.

Playing both sides as usual is Arafat, helping the front undermine Abbas before that veteran negotiator builds a local following that would end the war. Arafat tried to make Abbas seem like an Israeli-American stooge at the recent summit by having an aide hint that American pressure edited a deal-breaking “right of return” out of the Palestinian’s remarks.

Thus we have one side, the terror front, abetted by Arafat, openly waging civil war to take over the Palestinian cause, while the other side — the Palestinian Authority, newly headed by Abbas — protests that it won’t let anyone “drag us into a civil war.” The side that is fighting is winning.

But how can there be a civil war if Palestinians are not killing Palestinians? Simple: the rebel front kills Israelis, forcing Ariel Sharon to order retaliation against terrorists, and Palestinians, both terrorists and bystanders, are casualties — by rebel Palestinian design.

The rebels know that no government under sustained terrorist attack can afford to remain supine. Israel must continue to strike back until the new leadership of the Palestinian Authority takes control of the killers within its own population.

The main excuse for inaction in the past has been that the Palestinian police force — a sizable, well-equipped army, aware of the hideouts and logistics of the rebels — is supposedly demoralized, beaten down by Israeli counterattacks, helpless against the fanatic rebels of the front.

Maybe, maybe not. Giving Abbas the benefit of the doubt, Sharon directed his defense minister, Shaul Mofaz, to work out a step-by-step arrangement with Muhammad Dahlan, Abbas’ new security chief.

Dahlan is to choose a given area to assert loyalist Palestinian Authority control. The Israeli Defense Forces will pull out. As 100 percent effort to stop terror in that area is demonstrated, on to the turnover of the next village or city, until rebel-held neighborhoods are shrunk and the Palestinian Authority gains internal control — the necessary prerequisite to statehood.

Will Sharon respond to the diminution of terror by dismantling unauthorized hilltop outposts, removing travel restrictions and otherwise making life easier? Of course; despite what he calls “1,000 days” of the intifada, Sharon has the national backing to make concessions that do not undercut security despite anguished outcries from longtime supporters.

Can Abbas build similar backing to confront and defeat the terrorist front — or will he settle for a meaningless “cease-fire,” allowing terror to rearm and prolong his people’s agony?

He will get no help from Europe, Russia or the United Nations, which will berate Israel and treat with Arafat. He may get grudging financial aid from the Saudis and security help from Egyptians, only because President Bush, after liberating Iraq, has timed his intervention so he can be the credible “steward of accountability.”

But no comprehensive outside imposition will bring durable peace to the Middle East. It will follow the Palestinians’ victory over a terrorist minority that dragged them into civil war.

William Safire is a columnist with The New York Times.