Thursday, November 17, 2005

 

From Israel: Further Clarifications on Rafah Agreement -- Perfidy indeed, Arlene Kushner, November 16, 2005

From Israel: Further Clarifications on Rafah Agreement -- Perfidy indeed

To subscribe contact: Arlene Kushner akushner@netvision.net.il
November 16, 2005

Yesterday I outlined the basic parameters and deep security concerns regarding an agreement arrived at between Israel and the PA -- with major coercion from Sec. of State Condoleezza Rice -- regarding the Rafah crossing and other matters of passage for the Palestinians.

The documents that were negotiated -- "Agreement on Movement and Access" and "Agreed Principles for Rafah Crossing" can be found on the US State Department website (usinfo.state.gov/mena/Archive/2005/Nov/15-381874.html).

Following here is further clarification re: these agreements, accompanied by comments/analysis -- some mine, and much drawn from Dr. Aaron Lerner of IMRA (imra.org.il/story.php3?id=27517). Information also comes from the Middle East News Line (MENL) -- a top notch security-oriented news service headed by veteran journalist Steve Rodan.

In fact I begin by noting that MENL says that as of today the accords have not actually been signed yet by the PA or Israel. MENL further says that "security arrangements at Rafah were dictated by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice." Dictated. (Commented Quartet special envoy James Wolfensohn on Israel Radio, "she [Condoleezza] was able to bring the sort of necessary weight...")
________
At the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza: Egypt will handle traffic on the Egyptian side and the PA on the Gaza side. The EU (called in the official agreement "the third party") will "monitor," but has no authority to enforce anything.

Israel relinquished the right to have a live video feed directly to an Israeli source so that passage could be monitored in real time, as well as the right to have a data link to the computers at Rafah to monitor those coming and going. These functions will be assumed by a "control center liason office" in Israel near Gaza, headed by the EU.

Israel will be privy to the information but will not be able to act on it in a definitive way. The PA is "the decision maker." Israel can register protest about any of the PA ID-card carrying persons coming and going (all such persons in theory being permitted passage), and the PA agrees to consult with Israel and the EU before making a decision on whether to let this person pass or not, with a maximum time allotment of six hours for making this decision. The PA, however, is under no obligation to honor the security concerns of Israel.

Now, for anyone who knows anything about how the PA has been operating, it is as clear as anything could possibly be that "questionable" persons, not to mention out and out terrorists, will be given passage by the PA.
As Lerner put it: "Israeli duty officers can stare at the screens all day but there is no mechanism for them to actually have any impact on what they are watching."

According to MENL: "Israeli officials said they expected the PA to frequently disrupt the live feed from Rafah to the C2 center in Israel. They said the PA, which has enabled the smuggling of insurgents and weapons from Egypt, has repeatedly failed to honor security commitments demanded by the United States." And so I ask a question regarding the sincerity of the US: Knowing from American experience that the PA does not honor security commitments, how could Condoleezza deign to put us at risk this way?
A second catagory of persons permitted passage will be special cases -- diplomats, foreign investors, representatives of international organizations, etc. The PA will notify Israel 48 hours before such a person is scheduled to pass; Israel will have 24 hours to register any objection; the PA will then have 24 hours to inform Israel of its decision in the matter. (Can anyone reading this visualize a situation in which the PA advances the name of someone who will be coming through, and then on the strength of an Israeli objection, decides not to let that person pass?)

With regard to permission for the PA to build the seaport: The agreement says that the same sort of security arrangements used with regard to Rafah will apply here. Israel "will undertake to assure donors that it will not interfere with operation of the port." Lerner asks if this means that Israel is promising no inspections at sea: "The agreement may be interpreted to lock Israel into assuring the donor states that even if security is a shambles that it will not carry out its own inspections at sea as a stop-gap measure since this could be seen as 'interfering' with the 'operation of the port.'" A ghastly prospect, this.

On Israel's commitment to work to remove checkpoints in Judea and Samaria.
The agreement says: "Consistent with Israel's security needs, to facilitate movement of people and goods within the West Bank and to minimize disruption to Palestinian lives, the ongoing work between Israel and the U.S. to establish an agreed list of obstacles to movement and develop a plan to reduce them to the maximum extent possible will be accelerated so that the work can be completed by December 31."

What does this mean in real terms -- the sop to Israel regarding her security needs aside? It means that Israel is not able to determine for herself what "obstacles" to Palestinian movement can safely be removed, but is now committed to reducing them to the maximum in agreement with the US. What gives the US, which has no real concern for our security, the right to help determine which checkpoints and roadblocks should be removed??? This agreement gives the US that right.

I share here news from Arutz Sheva today regarding the Hawara checkpoint, which has been effective several times in catching terrorists attempting to smuggle in weapons out of the Shechem area: A Palestinian has just been caught there with a suicide belt, planned for a major population area. Arutz Sheva notes that a group called MachsomWatch, that claims to protect the civil rights of Arabs at checkpoints, has frequently targeted the Hawara checkpoint in its protests. Why? Precisely because the monitoring there interferes with Palestinian terrorist intentions, I would say. But imagine what happens now, with the US involved, if such an obstensible "human rights" group voices protest about the checkpoint.

"Israel's hands [are] tied on security arrangements inside the West Bank," says Aaron Lerner, pointing out that "there is no provision to add 'obstacles' in the future if they are needed." (I.e., if there is an attack or matters heat up and Israeli security requires new checkpoints or roadblocks to be set up to catch certain persons.)

Other provisions.
Yesterday I outlined basic provisions of the agreement regarding convoys of Palestinians to be permitted movement between Gaza and Judea/Samaria, and convoys of PA trucks carrying merchandise for export to be permitted into Israel in large numbers. I have no details on the security arrangements to be employed, but have scant hope that they will be satisfactory for Israel. There are many questions to be asked regarding procedures at the point of passage of these convoys, Israeli rights to monitor on Israeli soil, ultimate destination of the trucks carrying merchandise etc. I have picked up rumors with regard to some of these questions, but will refrain from passing them -- I will utilize only the most dependable sources for this information. Undoubtedly, more will follow.

I note here in closing that PA officials, who are delighted about the above arrangements, are taking the offensive to the maximum and now declaring that "if Israel has good intentions" a final status agreement can be completed in months. Responses to this -- predicated on exposure of the total failure of the PA -- must be forceful, convincing and widespread. We must take the offensive before even greater damage follows.

Arlene

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