March 20, 2013: The king of Jordan has gone public with his criticism of regional leaders who tend to overlook the enormous internal problems the Palestinians suffer from. Jordanians know Palestinians better than anyone else in the region (with the possible exception of the Israelis). The West Bank used to belong to Jordan but when they saw that the locals had begun to identify themselves as “Palestinians” that claim was abandoned in 1988, and the kingdom recognized the people there as Palestinians. About a third of Jordanians are Palestinians and that makes it hard to ignore the mind set of Palestinians. The king openly complains about the Palestinian fixation with destroying Israel, not making peace (as Jordan did in the 1990s). Israel and Jordan have since cooperated on security and economic matters. While there are still disagreements, Jordan and Israel both agreed that there cannot be peace with the Palestinians until the Palestinians drop the “death to Israel” goal. That is not happening and Palestinian media and official propaganda is still full of “destroy Israel” themes.
The American president is visiting Israel this week and will meet with Palestinian leaders. While American leaders are aware of Palestinian attitudes on peace with Israel, the U.S. still assumes that a peace deal is possible. For years Palestinian leaders have agreed with that when speaking to Western leaders and reporters, then turning around and saying to their followers that, of course Israel must be destroyed, there is no other solution. For most Western leaders the disunity, corruption, and general chaos within the Palestinian community is seen as a larger problem. That may be true but without a positive attitude towards a peace deal, there won’t be any peace. Many Palestinians are talking about a “Third Intifada” (uprising) as if more civil disorder will change anything. Peace is not on the agenda. Most Israelis and, according to a recent U.S. opinion poll, 66 percent of Americans agree.
Even without a new intifada, casual violence in the West Bank is increasing. This usually takes the form of young men throwing stones at Israeli soldiers or civilians. Israeli women and children are the preferred targets because they are the least likely to shoot back if the rocks begin to inflict injuries. Palestinian propaganda praises those who kill children just as much as those who kill soldiers or police. All are heroes of the Palestinian struggle to destroy Israel. This is becoming embarrassing for some Western nations when it was pointed out that their aid money was being used directly for some of this propaganda.
Meanwhile, as Israelis have noted for over thirty years, Israel is “turning into a Middle Eastern country.” That means more corruption, teenage violence, and religious fanaticism (from ultra-conservative Jews). Israeli police commanders are making an issue about all this because a lot of this activity eventually becomes a police matter.
In Egypt the police are investigating possible Hamas involvement in making phony army and police uniforms. These are used by Islamic terrorists to carry out attacks in Egypt. Some of the cloth used for these uniforms was captured during a raid on smugglers who provide goods (via tunnels) to Gaza. Egyptian police are investigating Hamas for participation in other terrorist incidents. The new Egyptian government tried to establish friendly relations with Hamas but an increase in Islamic terror attacks in the last year led back to Hamas involvement. Hamas denies all this but the evidence is piling up.
March 18, 2013: Israeli aircraft dropped 30 flares off the Lebanese coast. This was apparently some kind of military exercise. It annoys Lebanese that Israeli warplanes are constantly flying overhead. The Israelis do that to keep an eye on Hezbollah (who, like their patron Iran, is openly pledged to destroying Israel). Israel has openly told Lebanon that if Hezbollah attacks Israel again (like they did in 2006) the damage to all of Lebanon would be great. All those Israeli aircraft overhead are a reminder of that. The majority of Lebanese are hostile to Hezbollah which, since the end of the 15 year civil war in 1990, has refused to disarm like the other factions and has maintained control of the south and much of central Lebanon. No one wants to start another civil war in an attempt to disarm Hezbollah. Many Lebanese hope that the rebellion in Syria will weaken Hezbollah (which has long used Syria as a base area and a conduit for weapons and other supplies from Iran).
March 10, 2013: On the Syrian border a UN peacekeeper post came under fire from the Syrian side. There were no injuries. Less than 24 hours earlier 21 UN peacekeepers were freed by Syrian rebels who had taken the 21 Filipinos prisoner on the 6th. The UN has a thousand peacekeepers (from the Philippines, India, and Austria) on the border to ensure the 1973 ceasefire between Syria and Israel.