JERUSALEM – Far left-leaning American Jewish organizations urged U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to pressure Israel during her brokering this week of a deal that for the first time hands to the Palestinians final control of the Gaza border, telling Rice her tough line against Israel will win her American Jewish support.
Rice Tuesday extended her stay in Jerusalem to push through the deal on the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza that restricts Israel to monitor the area by camera, calls for a European presence at the border station, and gives the Palestinians final veto power on all vehicles and persons entering Gaza.
The deal was blasted yesterday by Israel’s military establishment in urgent messages sent to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s office.
Prior to her departure to the Middle East, Rice met with leading liberal New York Jews and Jewish organization. The groups encouraged her to take a tough line with Israel against settlement expansion and involvement in Palestinian border affairs.
After a meeting in Washington with the Israel Policy Forum, a far-leftist Mideast Jewish think tank, the Forum sent the State Department a paper titled “Building a Bridge from disengagement to Two States” in which it urged the U.S. to take “aggressive” action on three issues:
“The U.S. should embark on these steps immediately and vigorously. The three steps are interrelated. The success or failure of one will impact on the success or failure of the others. The program presented will allow the United States to help build and reinforce the first section of the bridge that began with this summer’s disengagement and must end with the viable and realistic two-state solution,” the paper said.
“The three steps that should be implemented in tandem, rather than in sequence, are as follows: Unambiguous and effective efforts by the PA to control terror and prevent attacks on Israelis; an Israeli freeze on extending existing settlements, including roads and other associated infrastructure, and removal of unauthorized settlement outposts; and efforts to help grow the Palestinian economy so the Palestinian Authority can provide jobs and basic services for Palestinians. This effort would help strengthen the PA’s position among the various Palestinian factions, including Hamas.”
Forum President Seymour Reich, who participated in the meeting with Rice, said, “I have no doubt that we bolstered the secretary of state’s instinct and strengthened her opinion that aggressive American involvement was needed to achieve practical results.”
A participant in the meeting with Forum told WND one Jewish leader said to Rice her tough stance against Israel will result in strong support from American Jews.
The border agreement, reportedly sealed after marathon diplomatic sessions lasting all night Tuesday between Rice and diplomats from Israel and the Palestinian Authority, also gives the Palestinians a sea port and calls for discussion on the possibility of opening a Palestinian airport in Gaza. The deal takes effect Nov. 25.
This morning, only three days after the agreement was announced, the Gaza border already was shut down for a terror alert. Israel says it received intelligence information indicating a terror organization was planning to carry out an attack at the Erez terminal, which borders Gaza and Israel.
Yesterday, heads of Israel’s top military brass – including the Israeli Defense Forces military intelligence unit, the Israeli border police and the general Israeli police authority – voiced opposition to the border deal, WND has learned.
In written letters sent to Sharon’s office, military representatives blasted the deal as “hazardous” and warned the Palestinians are likely to smuggle into Gaza foreign terrorists and heavy weaponry, including possibly antiaircraft missiles. They also took issue with the allowance of a sea port, upon which construction is set to begin next month.
The last time the Palestinians had control over a seaport, they were caught trying to smuggle large quantities of heavy weaponry.
In January 2002, Israeli commandos stopped the Karine-A vessel about 300 miles off the coast of Israel. The ship, which late PA leader Yasser Arafat admitted to ordering, was carrying 50 tons of Iranian-made weapons, including Katyusha rockets, ammunition and explosives.
Sharon described the vessel as a “ship of terror” which “would have changed the strategic balance” between Israel and the Palestinians.