Why does Israel spy on its allies?

Israeli flags

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A report in Le Monde last weekend revealed new details of how Israel spies on the most enthusiastic state-supporters of its war crimes and apartheid against the Palestinian people. The newspaper reportedly revealed details of how Israel’s Mossad spy agency may have infiltrated French intelligence, possibly even at its highest level.

Why does Israel do such a thing? Does it really need to spy on its allies in Paris, given that France is already an enthusiastic supporter of its brutal and racist colonisation of occupied Palestine?

Although France, like Israel’s other European allies, makes toothless public objections to its wars and continued settlement building on stolen Palestinian land, these are understood, quite correctly, to be meaningless. While the governments of France and Britain claim in public to be against Israel’s settlements, they actually support them in practice, by continuing not only to allow goods produced in the illegal colonies to be sold in Europe, but also to seek more and upgraded economic ties with the apartheid state.

Furthermore, both countries go out of their way to undermine BDS, the Palestinian-initiated and led boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, and other forms of pro-Palestine solidarity. The British government last year initiated new regulations for universities, local councils and other public bodies which it touted in the press as a “BDS ban”. A closer look at the actual policy revealed that it was no such thing, and BDS is still very much legal.

Nevertheless, the guidance did make it harder for public bodies to make ethical investment decisions which might have an impact on trade with Israel. Hurdles were put in the way of, for example, councils deciding to withdraw investments from companies — such as Veolia and G4S — which have been complicit in Israel’s occupation, prisons and torture in the West Bank.

France has also joined the Israeli-led “war” against BDS. It has pursued BDS activists aggressively, banned Palestine solidarity demonstrations and maintains an extremely laissez faire attitude towards the French branch of the Jewish Defence League (the LDJ) and its acts of terror against Palestine solidarity campaigners, especially Jewish comrades, who the LDJ regards as “traitors”.

The France Palestine Solidarity Association (AFPS) revealed earlier this month that an apparent front group for the LDJ has issued death threats against the movement, warning it off from continuing its BDS activism. The group in question posted online personal information about AFPS activists, revealing home phone numbers and addresses in a clear attempt to intimidate them, a malicious practice known as doxxing.

The LDJ is probably the world’s most extreme, violent and organised branch of the JDL outside of occupied Palestine. In June last year, one of its leaders was allowed by the French authorities to skip the country and head to Israel in order to avoid a year in jail after a series of “extremely violent and coordinated attacks” against pro-Palestine activists in Paris in 2012.

The AFPS said that it considers the French authorities to be directly liable for this. “Their inaction is interpreted as encouragement by violent groups such as the LDJ, which the French authorities have permitted to thrive instead of disbanding them.” Describing the decision by the French authorities to criminalise the call for boycotts in the sole case of the State of Israel as “internationally unique”, the Palestine solidarity group labelled as “intolerable” the statements of France’s then prime minister, who equated criticism of the State of Israel with anti-Semitism. “His statements have given free rein to fanatics who believe that they are immune to our laws,” it added.

Considering all of this, it was interesting to read about the new report in Le Monde. The paper apparently revealed how the Mossad used a joint French-Israeli operation to recruit a Syrian engineer in order to spy on France itself. The Israelis attempted to “turn” two French spies into double agents. The two were reportedly demoted after failing to disclose meetings that they had in Israel with Mossad agents as well as “suspicious sums of money” deposited in their bank accounts.

This Israeli infiltration of French intelligence may even have gone to the very top. It is reported that a French judge “is seeking to build on the internal investigative report and broaden the investigation into whether the Mossad infiltrated French intelligence” under Bernard Squarcini. He was the head of the General Directorate for Internal Security until 2012 and is suspected of maintaining unauthorised and unreported ties with the Mossad’s Paris bureau chief.

Israel has a long track record of spying on its Western “allies”, who have a record of spying right back on Israel. The US and Britain seemingly do not really trust their “great friend” Israel when push comes to shove, which really begs us to ask why, if that is the case, our governments spend so much energy on protecting and supporting the Zionist state.

The innocent imprisoned. Movement restricted. Trade suffocated. Homes demolished. Human rights abuses are rife in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

We do not take a position on issues of statehood.

We stand with those demanding that all sides respect human rights, and that perpetrators of human rights abuses are brought to justice.

What are the repercussions of Israel’s secret Aqaba meeting?

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi attends the India-Africa Forum Summit in New Delhi on October 29, 2015

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi attends the India-Africa Forum Summit in New Delhi on October 29, 2015

When Israeli newspaper Haaretz revealed last Sunday the news about a secret meeting that took place on 21 February 2016 between Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, Jordanian King Abdullah II, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former US Secretary of State John Kerry, it gave an idea of how much willingness there is by the regimes in Cairo and in Amman to make concessions and to lower Arab demands and adapt them to meet the demands of the Zionists in order to please and satisfy their arrogance.

At the same time, the meeting represented the first opportunity to get to practically know the nature and objectives of the “regional settlement” of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, promoted by Netanyahu and the US administration, and to discuss the motives of Aqaba meeting, its implications, consequences and repercussions.

Employing Arab leverages

Journalist Park Refid, who exposed the Aqaba meeting, said that the US administration is the one who took the initiative to convene this meeting, to test the seriousness of the promise made by Netanyahu to former US President Barack Obama in late 2015 about his willingness to reach a solution to the conflict with the Palestinian people in the context of a regional settlement.

According to Netanyahu’s logic, Arab states can have an active role in reaching a political settlement to the conflict, claiming that Palestinian representatives are not ready for a settlement, and that there is a need to employ some leverage by Arab states and use it against the Palestinians to force them to show more flexibility.

The Americans responded to Netanyahu’s request and asked the regimes in Amman and Cairo to arrange a “summit” with Netanyahu, and with the participation of Kerry. This would allow the meeting to provide the regional dimension sought by the Israeli prime minister, and constitute at the same time a justification for exercising Arab pressure on the Palestinians to accept what Kerry will present.

The Aqaba meeting, according to the testimony of Kerry’s assistants, as documented by Haaretz, came after Netanyahu thwarted intense efforts made by Kerry in 2015 to resume negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.

The problem is that the initiative put forward by Kerry during the Aqaba meeting – after obtaining the approval of Al-Sisi and King Abdullah – which was refused by Netanyahu on the spot, not only represents a serious setback to the “Arab Peace Initiative” endorsed by the Arab summit in Beirut in 2002, but in reality represents a real end to the Palestinian cause.

Although the initiative was based on the “two-state solution” on the basis of the 1967 borders, it practically included items that can turn the idea of a Palestinian state into a distorted version of autonomy.

The most dangerous thing that was proposed by Kerry – accepted by Al-Sisi and Abdullah – was the acceptance of the Arab world of any settlement that meets Israel’s security needs and guarantees its ability to defend itself. When interpreting this item, based on Israeli criteria, it would mean a Palestinian willingness to give up areas of land in the West Bank which Tel Aviv believes is necessary for its security needs.

Hence, all the parties participating in the ruling coalition in Tel Aviv and the opposition forces – which represent Israel’s centrists – oppose withdrawal from the Jordan Valley, which constitutes about 28 per cent of the West Bank, arguing that retaining this region reduces the ability of any party to surprise Israel through launching an attack from the east.

At the same time, the fact that the initiative calls for “security arrangements” that improve Israel’s ability to defend itself means that Arabs accept a Palestinian state without sovereignty over its borders, as to guarantee Israel’s right to defend itself requires controlling the borders with Jordan. If we take into account that the initiative allows Israel to retain the biggest settlement blocs – which extend over 12 per cent of the area of the West Bank – then this practically means a Palestinian concession for 40 per cent of the West Bank area.

It is true that the initiative speaks of Israel’s annexation of the settlement clusters within a land swap formula under which Israel gives up land to be annexed to the Palestinian state. But the land that the Netanyahu government is willing to give up is the “Triangle” area, in order to get rid of as much of the demographic weight of the Palestinians inside as possible. This represents a rationed deportation and violations against this Palestinian group through equating them with settlers who stole the land.

Things do not stop at this point, but Kerry informed Netanyahu about the consent of the Arabs to “recognise Israel as a Jewish state and ensuring the preservation of its basic character.” There is no dispute that recognising the Jewishness of Israel means a voluntarily and advance waiver for the right of Palestinian refugees to return to lands which they were expelled from in 1948.

According to Israeli logic, recognition of the Jewishness of Israel gives legitimacy to whatever it takes to preserve the Jewish character and on top of this the demographic composition. Hence, there is no Palestinian party – regardless of its political orientation – that is willing to recognise the Jewishness of Israel, because of the seriousness of the potential energy in this recognition.

Israel goes beyond concessions of Aqaba

What Kerry proposed has become history, because facts on the ground established by Israel after the meeting torpedoed any chance of putting Kerry’s humble proposal into practice.

For example, Kerry’s initiative called for the launch of a Palestinian state on a territory that is geographically connected. But what Israel did recently practically undermines this point, where the government approved the “E1” settlement project which connects the city of Jerusalem to the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement in the northeast of the holy city. Knowing that the road connecting the northern parts of West Bank to its southern parts passes through the buffer zone between the settlement and Jerusalem, then launching project “E1” eliminates any possibility to establish a “state that is geographically connected.”

The irony is that despite Netanyahu’s rejection of Arab concessions made at the Aqaba meeting a year ago, he continues to express enthusiasm for the idea of “regional settlement,” and hints to Arab readiness to provide the conditions that Israel can live with. Netanyahu’s optimism of the possible realisation of regional settlement has grown after President Donald Trump became president of the United States.

The question that arises here is: has Netanyahu, through other similar secret meetings, got more concessions that make him optimistic about a regional settlement that meets the demands of the far-right coalition led by him that is governing Israel?

Asking this question is of great importance in the wake of what Druze Israeli minister Ayoub Kara revealed, in that Al-Sisi had proposed a plan to establish a Palestinian state in the Sinai and the Gaza Strip which allows Israel to have sole control of the West Bank.

Despite denials by the Al-Sisi regime and by Netanyahu, the continuous talk about regional settlement pushes people to believe that Kara has set a test to detect the nature of the responses to such idea.

Significance of Egyptian and Jordanian silence

Although the Aqaba meeting did not mention the idea of a Palestinian state in the Sinai, it can be assumed that other secret meetings that brought Netanyahu and Al-Sisi together may have broached the topic, as the Israeli media pointed out that Al-Sisi put this idea forward by late 2014.

What gives credibility to these doubts is the fact that the newspaper Maariv claimed on 31 May 2016 that Al-Sisi calls Netanyahu by telephone twice a week. It is obvious, if what Maariv said is true, that the pace of intensive communications between Al-Sisi and Netanyahu allows for addressing a lot of issues, including the future of the settlement.

What is provocative and bitter is that at a time when criticism poured on Netanyahu in Israel because he wasted an opportunity to reach an unbelievable settlement for the conflict, accusing him of prolonging the conflict for no reason, Al-Sisi and King Abdullah, who were eyewitnesses to Netanyahu’s arrogance, are keeping silent.

The absence of a coherent narrative by the Jordanian king and Al-Sisi about what happened in the Aqaba conference represents, on one hand, a direct contribution to Zionist propaganda efforts through allowing Netanyahu to continue to talk about “regional settlement.”

On the other hand, this silence lends credibility to fears that there is an Arab willingness to make further concessions. It is clear that until Al-Sisi and King Abdullah offer a credible narrative for what happened at the Aqaba meeting, that no one in the Arab world and the whole world will be fooled by the theatrical play of “regional settlement” promoted by Netanyahu.

In short, regardless of what took place in Aqaba, and what could have happened and is happening in other secret meetings that were held or can be held in the future, the Palestinians, supported by other Arabs and especially the Egyptians, cannot allow the liquidation of their cause through patterns of collusion some of which were uncovered in at Aqaba.

Translated from  Aljazeera.net, 21 February, 2017

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