Weird formatting on this thing, it cant decide whether it is an interview or what – RB
Israel gathering intelligence on Paris peace summit, Danon says
Dana Somberg, Transl. Hannah Hochner, JPost, May 2 2016
According to Danny Danon, the current Israeli Ambassador to the UN, the upcoming weeks will be especially critical. On May 30, dozens of foreign ministers will gather in Paris for the Isro Pal peace summit, which is a preliminary event leading up to the peace summit that will take place in the summer in Paris. The Isros & Pals have not been invited to this preliminary gathering. Danon, who fears that a political settlement will be forced upon Israel, says that we are currently in a state of emergency and so he has begun gathering intelligence. From his point of view, each country that Israel succeeds in preventing from attending the conference will be considered an achievement. He says:
There’s so much going on, we don’t have a moment to rest. I’m curious to see who comes and who doesn’t. Even if we wanted to attend, we weren’t invited. So I’m meeting with as many ambassadors as I can to hear what their stance is. The Pandosis have not yet made their position public.
State Dept spox Kirby saisd last week that Jackass Kerry has not decided yet whether he will attend the foreign ministers’ conference. The Pindo government is still examining the French proposal, Kirby said, and consulting with other administrations around the world. Netanyahu, on the other hand, has already clearly announced Israel’s stance, and a few hours before the Passover holiday began, the PMO released a strongly-worded statement about the upcoming session, which said:
Israel adheres to the position that the best solution to the Isro-Pal conflict is direct, bilateral negotiations. Israel is ready and willing to enter into immediate direct negotiations with the Pals without preconditions. All other initiatives push the Pals further away from the negotiating table and direct negotiations.
Danon says (this is a typically undiplomatic thing to say, btw):
We will wait to hear what the Pindo position is on the issue, and then we will reiterate that the two sides need to sit down together and hold negotiations. The Pals are doing everything in their power to prevent direct negotiations from taking place, and instead are supporting initiatives that just push negotiations further out of reach. The Pals believe they will receive a better deal if Israel is not involved, if outsiders dictate to Israel what the outcome will be, and this is a mistake. They don’t understand that we are right here, and that at some point they will need to sit down together with us, in the same room, but they prefer to take detours and look for short cuts. Maybe this makes them look better to their own people, but it won’t help us get the peace process back on track.
Interview format commences)
Q: Do you think Netanyahu is being sincere when he says his government is ready to return to negotiations? After all, construction in the settlements is still going on.
A: Do you know how many hours Netanyahu sat with Abbas in negotiations over the last seven years? The answer is seven. In other words, there have been practically no negotiations. The Pals say that they have no interest in sitting down with us, and so we have not been able to discuss any matters with them. Even when you go to buy an apartment, you don’t know what the outcome is going to be ahead of time, (but) the Pals want to know in advance who the players will be, who the judge will be, and what the outcome of the game will be.
Q: So in your opinion, do you think that construction in Yesha should continue, or should there be a settlement freeze?
A: The government makes these decisions, and I haven’t heard about any decisions to freeze construction. But if you look at the numbers, you don’t see any massive building going on in Yesha. The UN relies on reports coming out of Israel, and one of the ambassadors quoted a Peace Now report that claimed that 1,500 units were built this past year. I don’t know if this number is correct but even if it is, 1,500 apartments for all of Yesha cannot be considered massive building under any definition. No one can say that.
But one thing is certain: the Pindosis are very unhappy with the expansion of settlements, and from time to time they “express deep concern” about the resumption of the peace process, and how this cannot happen if there’s continued construction. When you add the condemnations and expressions of “concern” to the escalation of the security situation and the poor relations between Netanyahu and Obama, you get diplomatic isolation, which shows its ugly head from time to time at the UN, the very place where Israel is in dire need of Pindostan’s veto power in the UNSC. Danon says reassuringly:
At the UN, we don’t feel any tension with the Pindosi administration. I have an excellent relationship with Ambassador Samantha Power (and her husband Cass Sunstein too, I don’t doubt – RB). The Pindosis have lost hope though, and have expressed to us informally that they’re tired of dealing with both sides, but we’re definitely not in crisis mode.
Again returns to interview format:
Q: Do you feel a sense of hopelessness during your conversations with the prime minister?
A: Of course I do. But this is no secret. After Jackass completed his tour of the region, he said he felt like he did his duty and there’s nothing he can do if neither of the parties wants to make progress. But I believe that if Netanyahu were to receive an invitation to meet with the Pals in Jayloomia or Ramallah, he would attend such a meeting. It’s the Pals who keep rejecting such a meeting.
Q: So, there isn’t even a glimmer of hope for a political solution?
A: Unfortunately, we don’t see any Pal leaders who are willing to take responsibility. But the Iran Agreement has had an impact on the Arab world. In the past, most Arab countries would say to us, “First, solve your problems with the Pals, and then come back to talk with us.” But this is not the case any more. Now we are forming relationships with Arab countries, which is helping us create a dialogue with the Pals. This is happening at the UN too. I can’t mention any specific names at this point in time, but during my discussions with Arab ambassadors at the UN, I’ve come to understand that we have a chance to work together in the future.
Q: Can you give us a hint about which ambassadors you’ve spoken with?
A: Moderate countries that are also unhappy about the Iran Agreement. On a personal level, I must say that it’s absolutely fascinating to see the difference between public and private discourse. For example, I can just have finished a discussion with an ambassador in which he expressed moderate views, who then watch as he takes the podium in the plenary session and lambastes Israel. I’ve discovered that there’s the public UN and then there’s what everyone really thinks. The public attitude towards Israel is very anti-Israel, but in one-on-one discussions, many ambassadors tell me that Israel is not the problem, but radical Islam and global terrorism. And these are the issues that are most worrisome for them. (He always says this, btw – RB)
The past seven months during which Danon has been serving as Israel’s Ambassador to the UN have been quite turbulent. There’s been the Iran Agreement, Netanyahu’s fiery speech at the UNGA in which he stated that he refuses to be silent, and Danon’s verbal wrangling with the PA Ambassador to the UN, Riyad Mansour. Over and over again, Danon has exclaimed from the podium that the UN is biased in its support of the Pals. He says:
I don’t think the entire world is against us. At the UN, people are busy with other things such as refugees in Europe, the Syrian issue, the South China Sea, and tensions between Russia and Pindostan. Israel is just one of the issues. But people need to understand that the situation is not black and white, and that we can’t talk about Israel without bringing up Hamas. Any scenario involving negotiations or a conference must acknowledge that Hamas is leading a regime of terror in Gaza (whatever that deliberately ambiguous phrase is supposed to mean, everybody has to agree with it – RB). Many people prefer to ignore this fact, even though it is a daily reality for us. (I’ve said before, Hamas could be removed tomorrow without difficulty, if Israel actually wished it – RB).
Two weeks ago (at the Cabinet meeting he pitched cinematically on a hill there – RB), Netanyahu declared that the Golan will remain under Israel’s sovereignty forever. Germany and Pindostan expressed their criticism of the statement, but Danon believes there is no reason to sweep this controversy under the rug. He says:
Our position regarding the Golan Heights is cut and clear. Menachem Begin’s government passed the Golan Heights Law, and Begin said that this was one of the most important laws that was ratified during his tenure. The international community is also in disagreement about Jayloomia. Should we then give up our rights in Jayloomia? Just because there are debates about a variety of topics, such as settlements in Yesha, doesn’t mean we should try to hide them or take the other side’s stance. (This is typical avoiding of all substance, quite a trick but Danon has mastered it – RB)
Until his appointment as ambassador to the UN, Danon served as chairman of the Likud Central Committee and in the most recent internal Likud elections, Danon ran against Netanyahu for leadership of the party. Some sources have said that Danon was making life difficult for Netanyahu, and that he accepted the UN appointment just to remove himself from political goings-on in Israel.
So again finally:
Q: Do you miss Israeli politics or being a Likud activist in the Knesset?
A: I miss the day-to-day living in Israel. My family, the traffic and the energy (Really? He left his family at home for the duration? Not necessary at all – RB). At the UN, you make a speech and no one reacts. Even if you made an emotional, powerful speech, people just sit there staring at you. The Knesset has a very different dynamic. But it’s also very challenging here at the UN, because there are so many different issues being discussed. I run from one event to another. It’s very fast-paced, and I love all the energy that’s created. In Israel, we mostly deal with domestic issues. Here, no one knows or cares about Likud or the left wing or which of us are settlers or living in Gilo. To them, we’re all just Israelis.
Q: What’s easier, dealing with struggles at the UN or in the Knesset?
A: In the Knesset, there are factions making deals with each other all the time. Here, no one supports Israel openly. And those who do support Israel only do so quietly behind the scenes. (As I said, he always says this – RB) It’s much easier to gather support at the Knesset.
Q: Was your appointment political?
A: No. I am the right person for the position. I’ve always been emotionally involved in my work, and now I’m exposed to so many things that I wouldn’t have been back in the Knesset. Of course, it’s hard being so far from home, especially away from my family, but I consider this kind of like miluim (IDF reserve duty), and soon I’ll be back to my normal life in Israel.
Q: Will you run against Netanyahu again?
A: I’m too busy now with the upcoming summit and the UNGA to think about such issues. (hooey – RB).