Prayer zone for a better, empowering, inspiring, promoting, prospering, progressing and more successful life through Christ Jesus

Posts tagged ‘Mahmoud Abbas’

Palestinians: Kerry Appeasing Israel Over Iran — at Their Expense.


JERUSALEM — A senior Palestinian official said the United States was asking Palestinians to make security concessions in peace talks with Israel in order to silence the Jewish state’s criticism of world power diplomacy over Iran’s nuclear program.The accusations by Yasser Abed Rabbo, who joined Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in a meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry last week, further clouded hopes of achieving a negotiated accord by an April target date.

Kerry, who is expected to return to the region late this week, presented both sides with suggestions on Thursday about how Israel might fend off future threats from a Palestinian state envisaged in West Bank land it now occupies.

Israel has long demanded that under any eventual accord it retain swaths of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, as well as military control of the territory’s eastern Jordan Valley — effectively, the prospective Palestine’s border with Jordan.

But Abed Rabbo told Voice of Palestine radio that Kerry had plunged the process into crisis by seeking to “appease Israel through agreeing to its expansion demands in the [Jordan] Valley under the pretext of security.”

U.S. acquiescence to Israel’s security demands was aimed at “silencing the Israelis over the deal with Iran and achieving a fake progress in the Palestinian-Israeli track at our expense,” he said.

Abed Rabbo was referring to the Nov. 24 interim accord reached in Geneva between world powers and Iran, whereby it agreed to some curbs on its disputed nuclear program in exchange for the easing of international sanctions.

Dan Shapiro, the U.S. ambassador to Israel, said on Monday there was no quid pro quo between the Iran and Palestine talks.

“These two issues concern both Israel’s security and our security and the interests of all the Middle East, that it be a more quiet and stable region. But we do not see any linkage in which we seek to give on one issue and receive on the other,” Shapiro told Israel’s Army Radio.

STRAINED TIES

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu initially condemned Geneva as an “historic mistake” that risked helping Iran’s limping economy, while leaving it with the means to make a nuclear bomb. Iran says its nuclear drive is peaceful.

The Geneva deal further strained the Netanyahu government’s ties with the Obama administration, which is mindful of support for the Jewish state in Congress, though Netanyahu struck a more conciliatory tone last week.

Israel has not commented on the U.S. proposals but Cabinet minister Yaakov Peri said on Sunday the government had not yet agreed to them.

He said deep Palestinian pessimism over prospects for a deal, many Israelis also question whether Abbas would be able to keep his armed Islamist Hamas rivals, who rule the Gaza Strip and spurn coexistence with the Jewish state, to an eventual accord.

Shapiro said Gaza’s government would have to change for Palestinian statehood to be fully realized.

“We are talking about two states for two peoples,” Shapiro said. “The Palestinian state will also include Gaza. But there has to be a change to the regime there. That is clear.”

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Source: Newsmax.com

Palestinians Spurn US Security Ideas for Peace with Israel.


RAMALLAH, West Bank — The Palestinians rejected ideas raised by visiting Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday for security arrangements under a possible future peace accord with Israel, a Palestinian official said.There was no immediate response from the United States or Israel, which has long insisted on keeping swathes of its West Bank settlements, as well as a military presence on the territory’s eastern boundary with Jordan, under any peace deal.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity and declined to elaborate on the proposals, said Kerry presented them to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas after discussing them separately with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“The Palestinian side rejected them because they would only lead to prolonging and maintaining the occupation,” the official told Reuters, referring to Israel’s hold on the West Bank, where, along with Gaza and east Jerusalem, Palestinians seek an independent state.

In remarks to reporters after his three-hour meeting with Abbas in the West Bank hub city of Ramallah, Kerry commended “his steadfast commitment to stay at the peace negotiations, despite the difficulties that he and the Palestinians have perceived in the process”.

Kerry said they had discussed “at great length issues of security in the region, security for the state of Israel, security for a future Palestine.”

PESSIMISM

“I think the interests are very similar, but there are questions of sovereignty, questions of respect and dignity which are obviously significant to the Palestinians, and for the Israelis very serious questions of security and also of longer-term issues of how we end this conflict once and for all,” Kerry added.

Abbas did not join Kerry at the Ramallah media appearance.

Disputes over proposed Israeli land handovers have bedevilled peace efforts for two decades, along with other issues like the status of Jerusalem and fate of Palestinian refugees. Kerry revived the talks in July and set a nine-month target for an accord, but both sides have signaled pessimism.

Palestinians worry that Israel’s settlements — deemed illegal by most world powers — will not leave room for a viable state. Israelis question whether Abbas could commit the rival, armed Palestinian Hamas Islamists who govern Gaza to coexistence with the Jewish state.

Kerry, who met Netanyahu earlier on Thursday and returned to Jerusalem in the evening to confer again with the Israeli leader, said “some progress” had been made in the peace talks.

Acknowledging Israel’s fear that ceding the West Bank could make it vulnerable to attack, Kerry said he offered Netanyahu “some thoughts about that particular security challenge.”

Neither he nor Netanyahu gave further details, citing the need to keep the diplomacy discreet. Both described Israeli security as paramount, something Netanyahu said would require that his country “be able to defend itself by itself.”

Israel quit Gaza unilaterally in 2005, after which Hamas came to power. The sides have repeatedly exchanged fire since.

Israeli media have reported that Kerry’s proposals included security arrangements for the Jordan Valley, between the West Bank and Jordan. An Israeli official said that in recent weeks U.S. officials had visited Jordan Valley crossing points.

Kerry was due to depart on Friday after a helicopter tour of the West Bank and other areas with Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon. In Ramallah, Kerry said he may return to the region for more talks next week “depending on where we are”.

“So the discussions will go on, the effort will continue, and our hopes with them for the possibilities of peace for the region,” he said.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Source: Newsmax.com

Netanyahu Heads to Rome for First Talks With Pope.


JERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu left for Rome on Sunday for a two-day official visit during which he will meet Pope Francis for the first time.

The Israeli leader took off around midday accompanied by six of his ministers, including his newly reappointed Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, public radio said.

During the visit, Netanyahu would also meet with his Italian counterpart Enrico Letta, and hold a joint session with the Italian Cabinet, it said.

On Monday, he will be granted his first audience with Pope Francis, who took over as the worldwide head of the Catholic Church in March.

Special: Camo Hat — Like Our Troops Wear. On Sale $3.99. You Save $21! 

Six weeks ago, Netanyahu’s office had said he would meet the Pope during a visit to Rome in late October, but the meeting never happened — with a diplomatic source telling AFP it would not happen because it had not been coordinated in advance with the Vatican.

When the two meet on Monday, they are likely to discuss the Iranian nuclear issue and the ongoing peace talks with the Palestinians.

And they are also likely to discuss the Pope’s planned visit to the Holy Land early next year.

Pope Francis has already been invited to visit the Christian holy sites by Israeli President Shimon Peres in April, and by Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas, who met him on October 17.

Israeli sources say the visit is likely to take place before Peres ends his term as president in July. Although no date has been made official, sources on both sides say it is likely to take place on May 25-26.

The papal visit will reportedly begin in Jordan, a senior Vatican official said on Saturday, according to Jordanian state news agency Petra.

“The Pope’s visit to the Holy Land will begin in Jordan,” Vatican foreign affairs official Dominique Mamberti said in Amman after meeting Jordan’s Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh.

Israel and the Holy See first established diplomatic relations in 1993.

Special: Newsmax Holiday Sale. This Year Give a Unique Gift – Shop Now. 

© AFP 2013
Source: Newsmax.com

Iran Deal Threatens Prospects for Israeli-Palestinian Talks.


JERUSALEM — Israeli-Palestinian peace talks may suffer collateral damage from the accord world powers reached with Iran if Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu persists in linking his two biggest diplomatic challenges.

Netanyahu, who called the Iran deal a “historic mistake,” often cites the Islamic republic’s repeated talk of Israel’s destruction as a reason to be more cautious in peacemaking with the Palestinians.

“Our aspiration for peace is liable to be severely affected if Iran succeeds” in winning a relaxation of penalties that have devastated its economy, he said in an Oct. 23 Twitter message.

The U.S.-led peace effort “was facing long odds to begin with,” said Aaron David Miller, a former Middle East negotiator. “The problem is now, if, in the wake of this agreement you have an angry, aggrieved Israeli prime minister, then that is going to only increase those odds” against reaching an accord.

Netanyahu spokesman Mark Regev had no comment when asked if the prime minister stands by his October statement about peacemaking.

NINE-MONTH TIMELINE

Secretary of State John Kerry brought Israelis and Palestinians together for talks in July after a three-year deadlock and mapped out a nine-month framework to reach a peace agreement that has eluded them since they began negotiating more than 20 years ago.

Throughout his tenure, President Barack Obama has wrestled with Netanyahu over Israel’s push to take tougher action — and perhaps use military force — against Iran and Netanyahu’s resistance to U.S. pressure to stop settlement construction on land Palestinians claim for a state.

The accord reached in Geneva broke a decade-long diplomatic stalemate, setting limits on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for about $7 billion in relief from sanctions over six months.

Netanyahu maintains the deal will embolden Iran to pursue nuclear weapons work, rather than encourage it to halt it. Iran denies it aims to build bombs.

The six-month accord is designed to give negotiators time to reach a final accord that would ensure Iran doesn’t acquire nuclear weapons.

Miller, the former negotiator, said the similar timelines for reaching final deals with both Iran and the Palestinians will mean “tremendous angst and anxiety on the Israeli side.”

“FIRM COMMITMENT”

Obama called Netanyahu on Nov. 24 in a bid to reassure him of the administration’s “firm commitment” to Israel, “which has good reason to be skeptical about Iran’s intentions,” Josh Earnest, a White House spokesman, told reporters traveling with Obama to the West Coast.

Amid snags in the talks, Palestinians articulated their own linkage of the Iranian deal, saying it should reinforce the need to reach an agreement with Israel.

“What was achieved in Geneva is an important message to Israel that peace is the only option for the Middle East,” said Nabil Abu Rudeina, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Kerry, who has made eight visits to the region since taking office in February, expressed frustration with Netanyahu in a Nov. 7 television interview after Israeli plans to build thousands of apartments in settlements were publicized.

“How can you say we’re planning to build in the place that will eventually be Palestine?” Kerry said. “It sends a message that somehow, perhaps you’re not really serious.”

BREAK STALEMATE

Other peace process veterans predict renewed efforts to break the stalemate between Netanyahu and Abbas as Kerry expands his mediation team led by Martin Indyk, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel.

“I don’t think there’s any quid pro quo, but now that Iran has been put aside to some extent, America can concentrate more on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” said Gilad Sher, who led negotiations in the late 1990s under former Prime Minister Ehud Barak.

Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and east Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war, turning them into bargaining chips for Palestinian aspirations to statehood. Since then, more than 350,000 Israelis have moved to the West Bank, populating settlements most countries consider to be illegal under international law.

HAMAS-RULED GAZA

Israel left Gaza to Abbas’ control when it pulled out all settlers and soldiers there in 2005. The territory has since been taken over by the Islamist Hamas movement, which is considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. and European Union.

Both Abbas and Netanyahu have pledged their commitment to carrying through with the current round of peace talks even while jousting over who deserves blame for the lack of progress.

Netanyahu called on the Palestinian leader last week to address the Knesset in Jerusalem and recognize the “historic truth” of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.

“If he wants me to come and say the things I want to say,” Abbas responded, “then I am ready to do it.”

© Copyright 2013 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.com

Israel Approves Plans for More Than 800 Settler Homes.


JERUSALEM — Israel approved Monday plans to build more than 800 settler homes on occupied land, in a move Palestinians said was aimed at venting Israeli anger toward a historic deal Western powers have struck with Iran over its nuclear program.

Lior Amihai, a spokesman for Israeli settler watch group Peace Now, said authorities first advanced the plans for 831 homes in five West Bank settlements earlier this month.

These plans were in addition to thousands of other settler homes Israel has announced since U.S.-brokered peace negotiations with the Palestinians resumed in July after a three-year stalemate.

The Israeli civil administration in the West Bank which approves settlement plans had no immediate comment.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ top aide, Nabil Abu Rdeineh, condemned the announcement and said Palestinians “consider it the continuation of a policy of escalation aimed at putting obstacles in front of the peace process.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “shouldn’t settle his scores with the United States at the expense of our people,” Abu Rdeineh told Reuters, connecting the latest settlement plan with Israel’s objections to world powers’ deal with Iran on Saturday to curb its nuclear program.

Israel feels the deal with Iran fails to strip the Islamic republic of a future ability to build a nuclear bomb. Iran denies seeking nuclear weapons.

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat denounced what he called an Israeli plan to destroy chances of negotiating the terms of Palestinian statehood alongside Israel.

More than 500,000 Israeli settlers live in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem alongside 2.5 million Palestinians. Israel cites historical and Biblical links to those areas.

Most countries consider the settlements Israel has built on land it captured in the 1967 Middle East war to be illegal.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.com

Are We Witnessing the Death of the Jewish State?.


Kerry and Abbas
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas. Picture of the Mosque of Omar symbolizes the Palestinian goal of decreeing the ancient city of Jerusalem the Muslim Arab capital of a Palestinian state. (Reuters)

The world’s most prestigious newspaper, The New York Times, recently produced an article predicting Israel’s soon-coming demise.

Written by an illustrious University of Pennsylvania professor, Ian S. Lustick, it carefully outlined the reasons Lustick believes Israel will disappear.

Lustick’s logic is impeccable. From man’s perspective, there is no way Israel will be able to forever fight off those who want to destroy her. In fact, in the 46 years I have lived in Israel, I have watched almost the entire world turn against Israel.

Yes, there are still a few friends. Very few. The U.S., Canada, Australia with its new prime minister. Then there are a few fair-weather friends—off and on as the wind blows.

But how can a nation of 7 million Jews continue to fight off the whole world?

Professor Lustick ticks off his reasons with brilliant insight. On second thought, you don’t have to be a genius to see the insurmountable obstacles to peace facing little Israel surrounded by 23 Arab states filled with jihadists.

Yet most democratic nations are in denial as to Israel’s genuine vulnerability. On the other hand, the Islamic and autocratic regimes like Iran simply believe Israel’s destruction is on its way. Time is on Islam’s side.

As Lustick sees it, for 30 years every American president has enthusiastically brought his entire might and influence to the Middle East in order to “solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” Only one time was there a tiny window for a possible breakthrough—in 1993, with the Oslo agreements.

That accord provided for the creation of a Palestinian interim self-government, the Palestinian National Authority (PNA). But the “insurmountable obstacles” were left for later. Nothing ever came of it.

Palestinian Demands

The obstacles are well known. Palestinians demand:

  1. Israel must hand over the Old City of Jerusalem to Muslim control, including the Western Wall—and including the surrounding “settlements” suburbs of Jerusalem.
  2. The 5 million Arab “refugees,” including children and grandchildren who have never been near Israel, must be allowed to move into Israel proper (and thus overwhelm the democratic state with several million new Muslim voters).
  3. The 500,000 Jews who live in East Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria must vacate their homes for a new Arab population to take occupancy.

Will this happen? Of course not. If only one of these hurdles existed, there would never be a negotiated peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

Israel’s Demands

I must quickly admit that Israel does have some non-negotiable demands also:

  1. The Palestinians must officially agree to recognize the right of the Jewish state of Israel to exist.
  2. The Palestinians must officially agree to cease all violence and terrorist attacks against Israel and to stop pressing the U.N. to take steps to destroy Israel’s economy.

Practically speaking, the Palestinians would have to agree to allow the Israel Defense Forces to be stationed along the borders of a Palestinian state to keep terrorists from crossing into a new Palestinian state in order to infiltrate Israel.

Secondly, the Palestinians would have to pledge to make peace with the Jewish state once and for all and renounce all further demands in the future.

The Injustice of It All

But that’s not all. There are numerous other issues that are equally impossible to solve to the satisfaction of both sides. Here is an incomplete list:

  1. Jerusalem has never been the capital of any Arab state since the city’s existence of 4,000 years. It has been the capital of the Jewish people whenever they were allowed to live in the Holy Land.Arabs never thought about Jerusalem being their capital until the Jewish people began returning in droves to the city in the early 1900s. Now the Palestinians claim their incontrovertible right to make the entire eastern part of Jerusalem their capital.
  2. There has never been an Arab democratic state. Ever! The Palestinian Authority (PA) in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) is, as expected, a dictatorship under President Mahmoud Abbas. His elected term was over in January 2009, but he still rules. An Islamic dictatorial regime on Israel’s borders would not produce “two states for two peoples living in peace and security.”
  3. The other half of the so-called future Palestinian state was supposed to be Gaza, but when Hamas leadership was democratically elected, it quickly seized absolute control of the Gaza Strip and now rules it with a rod of iron. PA officials in Gaza were either killed, jailed or are living very quietly so as not to rouse the anger of their Hamas rulers. Today there are two “Palestines” with two rulers.
  4. Every place from which Israel has withdrawn—Gaza, Southern Lebanon, the Sinai Desert—is now jam-packed with terrorists looking to attack and destroy Israel.
  5. Israel learned a very strong lesson: When Israel’s military troops and civilian settlers cleared out of Gaza, to the last Israeli, it did nothing to help Israel gain favor with the U.N., the European Union or the rest of the world. Israel gained only one thing: terrorists.
  6. The Palestinians refuse to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, claiming that Zionism is racism. (Zionism is the movement for the return of the Jewish people to their homeland and the resumption of Jewish sovereignty in Israel.) Arab arrogance is astonishing. There are 23 Arab Islamic states, and no one anywhere in the world labels them as racist states.
  7. The Palestinians and other Arab states continue to educate their citizens—claiming Israel illegally occupies Islamic land—through their school textbooks, music, TV and movies and through idolizing suicide bombers by naming streets and squares after them. They brainwash children from kindergarten on up to believe all of the land now occupied by Israel belongs to the Arab people and will one day be conquered and returned to the people of the Quran.
  8. A large percentage of the funding from Western states that is given to the PA goes into the pockets of its leaders. Everybody knows it. No one does a thing about it. Corruption in the PA is over the top. Predictably, it leaves the common Palestinians in poverty.
  9. The U.N. has cooperated closely with the Palestinians, the General Assembly giving them status in a first step as a nonmember observer, while other U.N. branches have embraced them wholeheartedly into their various agencies. Therefore, there is little motivation for Palestinians to make any concessions toward Israel’s security needs or to stop the fierce hostilities against Israel in the U.N.
  10. For example, from its beginning in 2006 to 2010, the U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) passed 48 percent of all its resolutions against Israel, the only country it has ever specifically condemned. (The UNHRC, of course, is dominated by Islamic states.) The council makes a yearly review of alleged human rights abuses of only one country in the world: Israel. Therefore, there is no motivation for Palestinians to negotiate a peace treaty with Israel; they are convinced that over time, the world will destroy Israel.
  11. The U.N. has created a special agency for Palestinians only (called UNRWA), giving hundreds of millions of dollars a year to them and hiring tens of thousands of Palestinians to work there. Why would the Palestinians give up the world’s bankrolling in exchange for renouncing its goal of destroying Israel?
  12. The world regularly blames Israel alone for the lack of progress in making peace with the Palestinians. Why would the Palestinians change their successful tactics one millimeter?
  13. Arabs have much larger families than Jews. One day they believe the Palestinians will take over Israel just through sheer demographics. (Popular saying: The Palestinians will destroy Israel through the Palestinian womb.) Why not just wait?

Conclusion: No Peace Treaty

For just some of these reasons, the professor whose article appeared in the New York Times has come to a reasonable conclusion: The time for a peace treaty creating “two states for two peoples living side by side in peace and security is past.”

He lays the responsibility for this calamity, unsurprisingly, at the feet of Israel, which because of its government’s obstinancy is producing “isolation, emigration and hopelessness.” Lustick suggests that Israel will have to give up its “Zionism dream” of being a Jewish state and just melt into the Middle East. He writes, “Israelis whose families came from Arab countries might find new reasons to think of themselves not as ‘Eastern,’ but as Arab.”

Lustick then drifts into La La Land, suggesting “masses of downtrodden and exploited Muslim and Arab refugees, in Gaza, the West Bank and in Israel itself could see democracy, not Islam, as the solution.”

Lustick forgot that earlier in his article he had explained that one of the reasons for the inability to create two peace-loving states is that “strong Islamist trends make a fundamentalist [under Shariah law] Palestine more likely than a small state under a secular [i.e., democratic] government.”

Hence the question remains: Why would both Israel and the Palestinians agree to another round of emotionally draining talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry when both sides know there is absolutely no chance of a peace agreement?

The answer is so very simple. Both Israelis and Palestinians fear the loss of financial help from the U.S. and the EU, not to speak of the world’s disapproval if they don’t enthusiastically and vigorously engage in peace talks.

But back to Professor Lustick’s warning that the Jewish state at some not-too-distant future is about to disappear.

Human Wisdom Says Israel Is Fated to Disappear

Lustick is right! According to human reasoning, Israel is on its way out. It’s one thing to have 42 million armed Arabs working toward your demise. It’s still another to have 1.6 billion Muslims whose Quran says to kill the Jews. It’s even a greater threat when the entire United Nations continuously bashes Israel by passing resolution after resolution against Israel’s “apartheid state,” designed to brand her a parasite nation.

But when almost all of the Western democratic states—Europe, Scandinavia and sadly even Great Britain—stand against Israel and launch serious sanctions to choke off her economy, the peril is undeniable.

But alas, that is not all. When Israelis watch the United States, the No. 1 world power and Israel’s most faithful ally, weakening as a nation before their very eyes, reality says hope seems lost. But God!

Why Did God Repeat Himself So Often?

I used to wonder years ago why God repeated Himself so many times through His prophets, saying in the last days He was going to bring the Jewish people back to their homeland, declaring He would save, heal and deliver them. He would open their eyes. He would forgive their sins. He would heal their backsliding. He would make them strong against their enemies.

There are literally hundreds of such Scriptures. As I heard an amazing Orthodox rabbi say last night at the Eagles Wings’ Day of Prayer in Jerusalem, “The Bible is more powerful than the New York Times!”

The reason for this repetition is obvious. God did not want us to miss His intentions for Israel. Without God’s miraculous intervention, without His protection, without His promise to preserve Israel from her enemies, there is absolutely no hope at all.

What About Israel’s Salvation?

Here in Israel we see a nation of Jewish people who are yet far away from their God and His Word. In the midst of this spiritual wasteland, the Messianic Jewish believers are giving their lives to see our people come to salvation. We don’t see it yet. Well, perhaps we see a cloud the size of a man’s hand. But you can be sure that it is entirely a walk of faith. Strong faith.

So we are greatly encouraged when we see how year after year, God protects this nation against all odds. It’s just as it was when Yeshua the Messiah told a paralyzed man that his sins were forgiven. The Pharisees didn’t believe He had authority to do that. But then Yeshua said, “Which is easier—to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’?”

If God has been displaying His amazing power by preserving the modern state of Israel through countless wars, physical and verbal attacks from every side, and the determination of the world body to sanction her out of existence, then we know He will forgive Israel’s sins and the day will surely come when “all Israel shall be saved.”

This article was originally posted on the Maoz Israel Report.

Source: STANDING WITH ISRAEL.

Jonathan’s Fate In Stella’s Hands By Sonala Olumhense.


 

Columnist:

Sonala Olumhense

President Goodluck Jonathan slipped out of town last week, smart man.   With Abuja increasingly hotter over the Stella Oduah corruption allegations, his spokesman issued a statement disclosing that the Nigeria leader was heading for Israel.

The State House statement was a curiously-worded statement, outstanding for an admixture of wordiness and wordlessness.

For instance, rather than say Jonathan would tour the Holy Land or visit Holy Sites or undertake a holy pilgrimage, as Christians usually say, the statement said he would “undertake a tour of some locations in Israel which are revered by Christians because of their association with the earthly mission of Jesus Christ.”

But Jonathan was also going to be doing a spot of work, meeting with Israeli leaders, the presidency said.

“Talks between President Jonathan’s delegation and Israeli government officials are expected to focus on the enhancement of bilateral relations between Nigeria and Israel in areas including trade, economic development, infrastructure, transportation, agriculture, communications, culture, education and tourism.”

If those were the areas slated for discussion, it was curious that the official delegation included Rtd. Col. Sambo Dasuki, the National Security Adviser.  The statement suggested Nigeria would not be discussing security or terrorism with the Israelis.  Perhaps Dasuki would simply tour the Christian sites with Mr. Jonathan and sample the luxuries of presidential travel.

The presidency took care to list members of Mr. Jonathan’s delegation, but it disingenuously omitted Mrs. Oduah.  The embattled Minister was sent to Tel Aviv ahead of the Nigeria leader perhaps because someone felt Nigerians would be offended if she were to be seen entering the presidential jet with the President.

But she was part of the delegation, present in Israel to sign a bilateral air agreement on behalf of Nigeria that some other official could have signed.  I have seen the Jonathan presidency do some pretty filthy things, but smuggling Mrs. Oduah into Israel at the height of the corruption uproar against her at a time she was supposed to be facing an investigating panel is one of the dirtiest.

There was more.  The State House statement also said, almost in a whisper, that during his trip, Mr. Jonathan would also meet with Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian National Authority.

Absent in the announcement was the highly significant detail as to whether Mr. Abbas would come into Israel to meet with him—which would be a major diplomatic statement on all three sides—or Mr. Jonathan would travel to the West Bank.  If it was the latter, it would have meant Mr. Jonathan was making three trips, not the two that the government told the Nigerian people.

Still, with a few hours left to his departure, Mr. Jonathan returned to the inescapable heat of Mrs. Oduah’s embarrassing corruption allegations, including illegally and corruptly buying two luxury cars for an incredible $1.6 million with the funds of an agency in her Ministry.

His unconvincing afterthought however raises two problems, one of them practical; the other, philosophical.

The practical: the panel, according to the government’s announcement, has two weeks to submit its report in what should be no more than a simple two or three-day enquiry.  But of the two weeks, a member of the panel, Col. Dasuki, was spending the first in the Middle East as part of Mr. Jonathan’s traveling party.  Is it possible that the retired colonel has been cloned so the faithful servant can be in two places running different errands for the same master?  Or has Nigeria run out of manpower?

The philosophical: first, by setting up an ‘administrative’ panel, Mr. Jonathan undermined Nigeria’s so-called anti-corruption agencies and the police, which have the expertise and the structures to undertake such a task expeditiously.  The President suggests that privileged Nigerians cannot be investigated by the same agencies that investigate the not-so-privileged, and casts doubt that the objective is justice.

Of equal importance, by setting up the panel, Mr. Jonathan steps over the see-no-evil-hear-no-evil-smell-no-evil altitude about corruption in high places he has adopted since he first bragged he would “fight” it.  In particular, he arrives in the stables of SaharaReporters, a website known for its relentless exposés about corruption.

By deciding to investigate Mrs. Oduah, one of his former campaign stalwarts, Mr. Jonathan acknowledges SaharaReporters, which broke the story, and all the journals and petitioners that have courageously reported corruption throughout his thoroughly ambivalent presidency.

But where does that acknowledgement end?  Even Mr. Jonathan knows he lacks a true anti-corruption bone in his body.  Is the objective to punish Mrs. Oduah for the same self-enrichment and impunity that has been the fare of the media in the past seven years?   With what credibility will Mr. Jonathan explain away the mountain of corruption reports and petitions he has ignored since he first took over leadership?

It looks more likely that the probe is only a ruse, part of a strategy aimed at keeping the game going.  After all, corruption allegations do not stick to anyone for long in Nigeria, especially if you are sufficiently close to the center of power.  James Ibori brushed them off his sleeves.  Several governors who faced them are now Senators and best friends of the Jonathan presidency. Dipreye Alamieyeseigha enjoys presidential pardon.

The point is that the Oduah matter, including the purported probe being undertaken the House of Representatives and the presidential panel, only makes good theatre.

That probe is no more than the latest in a growing trail of strategic errors that Mr. Jonathan has made as he gropes his way to 2015, highlighted last week by his irresponsibly taking of the beleaguered Minister to Israel.

Another such error is the National Conference Advisory Committee he announced on National Day.

Mr. Jonathan does not have a good track record of implementing reports, but even before this particular process could begin, he betrayed his own cause by clarifying he does not understand, or accept, that sovereignty belongs to the people, not the National Assembly.  It is the equivalent of stabbing your only son to death before his umbilical cord has even been cut.  He demonstrated he is only playing politics.

These are extremely significant developments, but also dangerous ones for Mr. Jonathan’s political future.  By making some of his recent choices, Mr. Jonathan may well have made Mrs. Oduah the new face of corruption and inadvertently given her control of his political destiny.

Next week, he will return from Israel with both a Minister he is probing and a man who is supposed to be probing her.

No matter how innocent Madam Minister may have been, it will be interesting to see how his storytellers convince the Nigerian people that during the trip, the President, the Minister and the National Security Adviser did not discuss the Minister’s fate.

Jonathan may be probing her now, but in the end, she may well determine how far he travels, and in what direction.

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

Tag Cloud